Month: January 2018


Last week I was saying it was just the swim I need to worry about. Hmmm. Good news and bad. The good news is I bought a clicky ring lap counter. You wear it like a ring and click it every length (otherwise you quickly lose count.) After my first swim in 4 years, when I was quietly pleased to complete 40 lengths (two thirds of a mile) I thought I’d up it to 50 lengths this time. I forgot I was only clicking every time I got back to the shallow end. I was getting changed into my gym bunny kit when I suddenly realised, “hang on, that’s 100 laps!”  A bit over one and a half miles! On my second swim!  Well pleased with that.

The not so good news is I’ve had to cut right back on the running. I’ve been getting warning pains up the side of my shins. Not bad, but enough that I’m scared of getting a proper injury.

Instead I did a two mile run on the treadmill (after the 100 length swim and 25 minutes on the gym pushbike.)

Rather than irritating the injury I’ve been beasting myself on the turbo trainer. 3x hour+ long sessions this week. That is some graft!  Also, thanks to me losing my sense of taste last March, and this training, I’ve gone from a jammy doughnut shy of 12 stones, to 10½ stones. So that is great. Less weight means less effort to drag my lardarse around the Outlaw. 


More exciting news is I’ve been forced to go on a spending spree.

Bought a new Ironman GPS watch. 12 hours of GPS battery. So, once you get out of the swim and transition (not GPS), you’ve got 12 hours of battery (enough to finish the race) to tell you how you are doing and how much further you have to suffer.

Amongst the features that attracted me to it (other than that it’s designed for Iron distance tri’s, obviously) is that you can choose how many lines of information to display on each screen. This means, if you choose just one line, you get a big, clearly visible, display. I’m getting to the stage where reading glasses are no longer an option but a necessity, making my old watch illegible.


Also I’m totally moving the turbo trainer to the shed. I sweat so much I have to clean up puddles off the mat when I’m finished. This is not making for a pleasant house smell.

The thing with that is, I’ve currently got it facing my PC to take my mind off my misery as I train. So I started shopping for a refurbished laptop. The online opinion is that refurbs are a pig in a poke though.  In the end I’ve got a cheap, new, Chromebook. A laptop built on a Google platform and down to a budget.

After ages spent reading the reviews of what I can get for my money I plumped for a Samsung Chromebook 3 as my best bet. Then I couldn’t get it in the UK. Of course. Anyway, after the excitement of the reviews, the tracking down of my best option and the buying thereof, I think I may have gone massively over spec for what I actually need. I’ll give Wendy a go, if she prefers it, I’ll just use her current tablet, she can have the Chromebook. Either way, get outside, with a big arse fan, and I’ll be sorted.

Also I bought some tri (aero) bars as I was getting back ache from crouching in my drop handlebars. I’ve been doing my turbo sessions on them quite comfortably.


To stay in the aero position I’ve had to order some bar end shifters (the standard gear shifters are built into the brake levers, flick them to either side to shift up or down.) The bar end shifters will fit, as the name implies, into the end of my aero bars so I can maintain my position through the gears.

I’ve yet to buy a big arse fan, but other than that I’ve bought everything I could possibly want now.

Oh, one thing. One of the reasons I want a computer for turbo training is the bike has a device that connects to the internet. You can then run videos of scenic rides, races, your own routes, get a virtual speed and distance, and then either compete with others or your previous best. Also, it can vary the degree of difficulty on the trainer for hills and such.


Can I buggery get it to connect. I’m to-ing and fro-ing with the company by email at the moment.  Most irksome. The only feature I’ve got at the moment is a resistance trainer set to god knows how hard, that I pump around for an hour or so.  To be fair, I bought it just as resistance trainer, and it is goddamn awesome at that. The rest will just make it more interesting to use.


In other news, I went on my awareness course today. It was raining but in case of traffic I went on my motorbike. There was a guy there, a bit older than me, wearing a Harley Davidson hoodie with “Hogfather” across the back (Harley’s are called Hogs. Terry Pratchett did a book called Hogfather. You see the hilarity.) Also he had a Harley Davidson coat with the logo on the back and the sleeves. And a manbag. I couldn’t make out details but I’d bet a pound to a pinch of shit it was Harley Davidson one. The biggest clue of all was that he’d come in a car.  How I laughed.


I put the car through it’s MOT on Friday. It passed with a £30-£40 advisory. The amount it gets used, that can wait.


I’ve booked my lovely red VFR800i Honda in for the forks to be done on the 8th. Then I’ll MOT it early and get it sold with a 12 month ticket. I couldn’t in all conscience sell it without alerting the buyer to the iffy front end, but get that sorted and it is a gorgeous bike for the money.

I’ll just keep my ratty old VFR750. It’s a solid, bike that should last forever. To be honest it seems I’ve only got enough energy to compulsively obsess about one thing at a time, and right now it’s triathlon. The motorbike isn’t really getting  a look in. Plus my close call with the coppers has taken the shine off of it. If I can’t have fun, why the hell am I doing it? It’s cold, wet, and dangerous, verging on suicidal. If I can’t thrash it about between the traffic and enjoy myself, what’s the point?

I’ll doubtless get over my sulk when the warm weather gets here.  If I can fit biking into my training regime.




Spin to win.

I got that turbo trainer for us. It’s proving to be completely impractical to try and get Wendy’s bike on it. Which is a bugger.

The idea is you take your back wheel off and mount the bike on the turbo, running your chain on to a gear cassette (cogs) mounted directly on the turbo.

Like this


Which is all good and well. Until you come to try to mount Wendy’s bike. Apparently the modern fancy-pants gear cassettes (as on mine) fit each cog individually onto spines on the spindle, and need a special thin chain to fit the cogs, because they in turn  have to be so thin so they can get 11 cogs on the back wheel.

Wendy had a go on the turbo with my bike and a lowered seat. She lasted about 2, maybe 3, minutes. That was a shitload of cash well spent.

I gave it a try out. After a few minutes your legs are burning. I set myself a target of 20 minutes for my first go as I was in a rush to get to work. It was hellish. And that was in a low gear.

Today I upped it to an hour. I was sat in just a pair of shorts and my clip-on shoes, window open, freezing day, sweat pouring off my whole body. Hence the towel and that strip from seat post to handlebars. Seems sweat is corrosive on the bike.

It is non-stop burn. It’s like you are going up hill constantly. There is no let up, no flat bits, no coasting. An hour of solid pushing.

I was moaning about riding in to work nearly killing me when I first got the bike, someone on twitter said “Spin to win!”. (Spin classes being the name of group sessions of people doing turbo. Seen them at the gym.)

He may well be on to something. If I can build up my time on the turbo, and put it through the gears, I am going to batter my bike time at the Outlaw. Usually I just grind out loads of tedious long rides and gradually improve. With this I’m pushing it the whole time.

I’ve joined the gym again, like a proper January Gym Bunny. Primarily for the swim sessions, but I’ve got a new pair of trainers so I can do small bricks. Possibly do an hour swim, half hour ride, half hour run. Getting your legs used to switching from one discipline to the next is half the battle.

I’m going to give it another 2 weeks to build up some slight fitness, then join Warrington Tri Club. They hold an hour’s tutored swim lesson every Saturday afternoon, which is my day off. If I can get swim training and turbo the crap out of my legs I reckon I’m well on for a personal best this year. Which is quite the ambition in seven months, from scratch.

(Day after. Saturday.)

Feeling good about my training. Last week I did 10 miles for my “long” run, but it was such hard work after about 7 miles that I was just going to do 10 again this week and not up the distance.  As I said above, I battered my legs yesterday with the turbo, so I was a bit apprehensive about my big run today.

It was groovy. I felt good enough on the way out to up it to 5.5 miles, for an 11 mile run. And on the way back, about mile 8-9 I was so deep in thought about my training plans I actually forgot I was running! That is brilliant progress. I’ve only been back to running for 18 days and I’ve already had a moment of set-your-legs-to-running-and-forget-about-it! This means I’m still 3 weeks ahead of schedule for the Manchester marathon.

Now I’m wondering about the bike. The idea was to ride in to work every day and build my fitness as part of my commute. I’ve only got so much time. Combining training and commuting means I get 60- 75 minutes of training for a 30 minutes extra on my working day. But now I’m thinking an hour on the trainer is worth many days of commute. I suppose I can do both.

Now it’s just the swimming I need to worry about.


This is boring stuff to read, I’m sure, but this is a whole life turn-around for me. I’ve not done an Outlaw since 2013, I’ve not done a marathon in about 2 or 3 years. I’ve been letting everything slide. I didn’t even do the Warrington half marathon last year. It’s not just the fitness or the races. It’s having a purpose and a sense of achievement. I am focused and happy again. I hadn’t realised it, but bit by bit I’d just given up. All I was doing was working and sleeping. My day’s off were just catching up on or, more usually, putting off, chores. Then back to work. That was it. Now work is the necessary interruption to my training.

Another plus, by the way, is I’m not dead. The chest pains have stopped, so that’s a relief. From what I read, it’s all about crap lining your arteries suddenly getting shaken free, blocking blood flow and killing parts of the heart. Or all of it. You with it. I have been *really* pushing, from a sedentary starting point, and the pains have stopped. So, either the artery crap has all passed through now, and my heart is good to go, or (far more likely) it was torn chest muscles and I panicked over nothing. Either way, it’s a relief to be able to train without worrying I’m about to drop dead.  And no need to bother the doctor. Huzzah!



Or die Tri-ing!

I’ve been eating humble pie for breakfast, dinner and tea since I started training.

I used to scorn low gear wobblers, put it in top gear and pedal you lazy bastards!

When I started training for my first Outlaw, on my first day, I did a 51 mile ride and a 13 mile run. A lifetime of bans and motorbike write-offs meant I had cycled everywhere for years.I thought that level of fitness was normal. So people who were making hard work of it needed to pull their finger out and do a bit.

Oh the humility.

I’ve found a decent route into work, it’s 9.1 mile each way. And it’s been battering me. I’ve only ridden in 2 days but I am ridiculously far away from ‘hop on and ride 51 miles’.

I took the car in to a body repair shop to have the wing fitted, pushbike in boot to ride home, and the mechanic was a tri guy. He took one look at my bike and told me to look at bike set-up tutorials on YouTube. I did. Seems I had it all set up wrong. I’ll try this, see if it’s any better.

I’m so unfit I’m not even doing a long run on the bike. I’m going to give it a month of riding to work to build up some semblance of fitness then start.


The “die tri-ing” thing was a bit of a moment. I was having persistent chest pains, smack over my heart. It wasn’t bad, that level of pain anywhere else wouldn’t have warranted a mention, but being there you have to worry. I was steering clear of ibuprofen as it has recently been linked to heart attacks. I Googled it to see if I should worry. “Survival rate outside of hospitals, 6%”. OK, that’s not ideal.

Warren Lang (school friend) said one of his RAF chaps had died of a heart attack whilst training for an Iron tri. One of the security guards at work, who looked fine, has just dropped dead of one.

I carried on training but was going to go to the doctor if it hadn’t cleared by Friday. Then on Thursday morning I was awoken by shooting pains in my left arm and pins and needles.

I really thought I was going to die, right then. I was not a happy bunny. It scared me. I was all “I don’t want to not be!”

I took a moment, “Can’t avoid it. At least I have been.”

I decided to concentrate on the dying bit and not worry about the rest.

I didn’t die, by the way. In case you were worried.

I hit Google again in the morning. “26 causes of chest pain that are not a heart attack.”

I had a read through, tons of stuff. The bit I took from it was “you can tear chest muscles from just a coughing fit… If, after taking anti-inflammatory drugs, the pain persists…”

I took some ibuprofen. Pain gone. I think the left arm thing was just some muscle spasms or something from my weaker arm (of two very weak arms) after the swim. But what are the odds?

Embarrassing, but as I said to Wendy, mild embarrassment is preferable to chronic death.

Today my ‘long’ run is 10 miles. As long as I manage that, then it should be really easy to gradually ramp up the mileage to my marathon in April. I say “easy”, I mean it is within the “no more than 10% weekly increase”, rule. So hopefully I won’t pick up an injury.


Wendy is getting onboard with the whole pushbike thing. We are going to pick up her race machine later.


It’s actually a well sorted bike for purpose. It’s got a steel frame to keep the cost down, (but oddly weighs in a 2kg lighter than the aluminium version) has 6 gears, integrated lights and dynamo, full mudguards (most road bikes don’t even have mounting points for them, you have to get stupid ones that hang off the seat post) full size 700mm (28”) wheels, fatter tyres, and a chain guard so you don’t get oil over your girly trousers. And a side stand and rack. Not sure about the utility of either for Wendy, but for it’s target market, city commuters, it’s ideal I suppose. I was looking at the gearing, weight, wheels/tyres, comfort and practicality. Wendy likes it because it’s black and “it looks pretty”.

I’ve invested in a turbo trainer. It’s a resistance device so you can train indoors. Like a treadmill for the bike. I’ll use it for training sessions, but for most of the time I can leave Wendy’s beast on it so she can build her fitness whilst waiting for spring, when she plans to start venturing out.

I’ve tried to sell her on the ‘women only’ swim sessions at the baths, with a view to her first triathlon, but she’s oddly resistant.

Right, crack on.