Month: July 2019

Decision Time.

I’ve got to commit to triathlon or quit.

I wanted to go faster this time, but that 2 month bug knocked spots off me. Then I was lazy. I didn’t do enough training. What I did wasn’t structured or consistent.

I had the Outlaw today, after which I was taking a year off from tri anyway, but now I’m not sure I want to carry on.

It was a bit of a disaster from start to finish, to be honest. I went down yesterday to register and rack my bike and stash my kit for today. That was OK, apart from the driving in torrential rain. Seriously reduced visibility from the rain and spray, wheels skipping on the huge puddles of standing water, want-to-live-forever morons doing 50 and 60 in the outside lane (of 4 in some places). There’s a lane for doing 50. It’s called the bus lane. In a bus.

Today I had to get up at 02.50 and drive to Nottingham. It was just as bad, but luckily very little traffic.

I was halfway across the A50 when I realised I’d forgotten the drinks for the bike leg. I had to pull in and buy some water. I got to the event later than planned, by the time I’d queued to get on to a distant car park I only had 15 minutes to get to the changing area and struggle into my wetsuit. They are designed to be clingy and are really hard to put on.

I was just outside the changing area when I realised I’d let my timing chip in the car. I had to sprint back and get it and sprint back to the changing area. The race started at 06.00. At 05.57 I was starting to put my wetsuit on. I got it on and sprinted out to the lake. They let me start but I was a minute behind everyone else before I got into the water.

I really thought I was going to batter the swim a bit this time. I thought I’d been making good progress with technique. Aided by the buoyancy of the wetsuit I thought I was going to fly. Nope. I was just weak and slow. My worst ever time. And I was hating it.

I got out of the late inside the cut-off only to be told “Take your time, there’s no rush, the bike leg has been cancelled.”

The battering rain had left parts of the course under a few inches of water. And a good chunk of it is on open roads. So loads of bikes, on skinny tyres, going flat out in monsoon rain, being close passed by cars. It was a recipe for fatalities.

Fair play to them. But it turned my tri into a splash about and a bit of a jog.

Then, inexplicably, they started all of us on the run individually! I was waiting 2 hours 43 minutes before I got going.

I was treating it like a stand alone marathon as there was no bike leg, but my legs didn’t believe me. My right tendon was pulling then the calf cramped. I kept running but it was really hard work. I did it in 3.57:33. Poor for a solo marathon, good for a tri marathon, but it was neither.

I think the swim, and then the waiting around, must have battered my legs.

I came out to the lake in position 906 (out of 900, possibly) by the end of the run I was position 489.

Anyway, the thing is that was too, too hard. And bad.

If I’m going to go back to tri I need to commit to disciplined, consistent training.  I don’t know if I can. I find it so hard to force myself to swim. And I don’t like road biking much better.

I’m really tired, and it’s been a long, painful and stressful day. I’m not committing either way right now, but quitting is definitely on the table.



New Bike!

A few weeks ago I said to a driver at work that I’d found a great route into work but it was cruel on my fancy bike taking it along the canal. He said I should get a gravel bike.

I googled one later. It seems it’s much like a road bike (or ‘racer’ as they were called when I was a yoof) but with a wider frame clearance to take fatter tyres, a more relaxed geometry, and a slightly higher crank (for clearance).

I had a look. Some of them were dearer than my tri bike. I only wanted a knock about commuter. I had a moan on Twitter and was told that gravel bikes were the latest trend, that’s why they were so expensive, I should look at Cyclocross (CX) bikes (the sport where idiots race through mud then carry their bikes at a run up hills that are too steep and muddy to ride) as it is basically the same thing, but not trendy, therefore loads cheaper.

In my usual obsessive way I went from never having heard of one to armchair expert in 24 hours. I decided the one with the best spec on the gears, brakes and brand name frame was the Giant TCX.

Then I thrashed eBay and Gumtree for a bike. The problem I had is Giant were most specific that my statuesque 5’ 6½” meant I had to get a Small. Hardly any to be had, and dear. One for £600+.

I saw one on Gumtree for £250, with better gears and spec than a £350 on eBay that still had a few days bidding left on it (so sure to go up a lot at the last minute).

It was in Bristol.

Of course it was.

He said it was in average condition. Everything worked but it had a few scratches. Sounds good to me.

I arranged to go and look at it on the Saturday, but then he pulled the advert on the Thursday. I was gutted. I did another thrash of the internet and confirmed I was going to have to pay a lot more for less spec.
I text him to confirm he’d sold it. He hadn’t! Yay! A lot of muppets had been hassling him over the bike so he’d just pulled the advert. He said they were giving him 20 questions about the scratches. “It’s a £200 bike”.

Hmmm, I’d been happy at £250. I said if it was the bike in the pic, and it all worked, I’d give him £230, consider it sold.

He said I could have it for £200!

It was a long, tedious drive, but the bike is perfect for me.

I’ve done some basic tinkering; cleaned years of built up oil off the chain and sprockets, lowered the seat, lowered the handlebars (put the stem under the spacers) fitted clip in pedals, adjusted the (disc) brakes so it now does stoppies, and pumped the tyres to their feeble max. On my tri bike the tyres are 23mm, 105psi front and 115psi rear. This is 40mm, 75psi and 85psi. So soft, wide, grippy tyres.


Job’s a good ‘un.

Oh, the other thing about these bikes is they have fittings for attaching mudguards! (How did that become a notable design feature?) So I can stick some of them on as well.

I took it to work. I can ride the first 5 miles off road, through the park and along he canal path (above). Which just leaves the last 3.8 miles of quiet roads.That’s the other thing about CX bikes, they have the gearing and tyres and geometry to be capable on the road as well as off it.

It is liberating. My tri bike you have to wear the kit, go like stink, and look miserable. I wouldn’t dream of nipping to the shops on it. It’s just not the right tool for the job, and it’s so expensive I’d be too nervous someone would nick it.

On my CX I can ride to work, nip the shop, or ride to the leisure centre and leave it locked up outside. It’s just a no hassle, do anything and everything bike. And because it’s not a race bike, not on the road, and doesn’t have race tyres, or tri bars even, I don’t feel the pressure to be going as fast as I possibly can. I can enjoy cycling again. Especially as I can now ride away from traffic.

Today, as a final bit of training before next week’s Outlaw triathlon, I took it for a ride along the TransPennine Trail (TPT). It’s a route of canal paths and tracks linked occasionally by short blasts on very quiet roads that stretches from the West to the East coast. I wanted to ride to the top of the Pennines. By road, Google said it was 44 miles. HA!

It’s a great route. Very quiet and with enough challenging surfaces to keep you from getting bored.

However, the signposting is rubbish.

I’d been out hours, got lost a bunch of times, and only made it to Stockport Pyramid. Google said I had another 2 hours to go. Then I lost the trail completely, so I came home.

This is how well is was signposted:

Screenshot_2019-07-18 Garmin Connect

That red line (the route I took) should be a single line from top left to bottom, then up.

Still, the bike took everything the paths could throw at it. I’ll buy the official route map and do it again after my tri.

Last pic; lost again.

20190718_130810 (2)

Happy days!



Unrealistic Expectations.

I’ve known for ages that I have unrealistic expectations. Whenever I come back from an injury I expect to be out of the blocks as fast and as fit as I was before. Usually injuring myself again in the process.

Today an idle reply to someone saying I was too hard on myself crystallised my position.

“I always have unrealistic expectations, then am miffed if I don’t achieve them first go. If I do achieve them I think I should have done it faster.”



That’s not the point though, the point is I’ve changed my unrealistic expectations. I wanted to do a sub hour marathon and a sub 10 hour triathlon. Wendy has been going on about how mad I am to keep punishing myself in a sport I don’t enjoy. (I hate the swimming and the cycling really bores me. I like the running.)

My only reply is that it’s a big challenge. As she rightly points out, there are plenty of running challenges.

After mulling it over for a few days I’ve decided on a compromise. I’ve got the Outlaw triathlon in 24 days, after that I’m going to take a year off triathlon and concentrate on achieving my running goals. Which I will actually enjoy. So I’ve lined up a bunch of races. The Warrington half marathon (on my doorstep, rude not to) in September, the Chester marathon in October and the Manchester marathon in April. I’ve put in a holiday form, if I get it I’ll be doing the Crewe 20 mile run in September as well.


*drum roll*

The Leeds Endure24 (24 hour running race) in July next year!

As soon as I get my tri done I’m going to get stuck into a running plan to get me up to speed for a sub 3 in Manchester, and I’m going to be building lots of miles for the 24.

Apparently about 15- 20 runners each year get the yellow ‘100 miles’ T-shirt. Guess what I’m expecting to do?

I can run 26 miles now, and for Ultra marathons (technically anything beyond 26.2 miles –a marathon- distance) there is a lot of walking/ running. It’s building up the stamina. I did the Ladybower 50 mile ultra in 2014, I’d only trained up to 40 miles so it hit me really hard after 40 miles in the race. I ended up walking most of the last 8 miles. I did it in 10.06. That was without the proper training. Also I’d been training run X minutes, walk Y. When I got there no-one was walking. So I ran it all until I couldn’t run any more. Always follow your training. My point is, 100 miles is do-able.  But I’m going to have to train right up to that distance.

The thing is, it’s a timed endurance race, there is no set distance, it’s as many 5 mile laps as you can finish in 24 hours. There’s only me putting an arbitrary distance on it.

That’s where I am. Somewhere between terror and excitement.

I don’t want to mess up my sub 3 chances with the 24 training, but if I can juggle both, that will tick a lot of my ambitions. Sub 30, ultra, 100 miler, 24 hour.

The speed and stamina will be transferable to tri when I’m done.

If you’re going to have a challenge, make it an awesome one!


In other news, Wendy’s insurance over doubled with her provider if she wanted to renew. We got it elsewhere. Today I got a text off the bank saying you’re overdrawn, we’re ripping you off. WHAT!? Went on to the bank website, we paid the £800 for Wendy’s new insurance a week or so ago, her old provider have taken out £1600 to renew. Without asking. Super. Wendy was on the ‘phone to the them twice tonight, both times they claimed they would send an email for her to sign to to confirm she was cancelling the policy. Both times they didn’t. They said it’s going to be 5- 10 working days until they repay it. Super. It wasn’t a direct debit, they just had my card details from when I paid for it last time, took it out without asking.

They said to Wendy that she should tell them about bank charges, but it’s not the point.

Apart from that irritation, all is well.