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Chester Marathon.

I actually learned my lesson this time! I got all my kit ready last night. I did a trial pack of my helmet and whatever kit I could fit into my backpack. I ended up sawing down an old, cheapo, pair of boots so they would fit in my bag, to save me from riding to the race in trainers. They must be 10 years old, fake leather bike boots. Basically steel toecap wellies. I’d forgotten I still had them. Anyway; improvise, adapt, overcome.

So last night I went to bed knowing all was set for this morning.  The race didn’t start until 09.00, I set out out 07.00. Which meant a fairly stress-free ride to the race, even though it was raining and the satnav took me a way I wasn’t expecting. The first car park was so full it wasn’t even letting people in, but due to my new strategy of leaving myself sufficient time, I just turned around and found another one. Took off my bike kit, sauntered to the bag drop, and had 40 minutes or so to wait for the race.

The difference to the stressfest of the journey to the Outlaw triathlon was incredible. So that was a success.

The rest, not so much.

As I never stop saying, I want to go sub 3 hours for the marathon. My best to date was 3.41:40.

Today, seeing as I’ve been doing a bit of speed training and such, I really wanted to get down to 3.15.

I set off just behind the 3.15 pacer. (They have pacers who run around holding a sign with the speed they are going to finish.) It was all going swimmingly. The pacers seemed to be too fast, they would charge along at 7.09m/m pace, then slow down just before the end of the mile to come in at the right time of 7.30. So it seemed to me, anyway. The good thing was it wasn’t bothering me. I was thinking of staying with them, fast and slow, until the half way mark and then carrying on at the fast pace. Then we started hitting hills. Stupidly, I’ve been doing my training down the canal and on a local 10 mile road lap that has one slight hill. The hills just smashed my legs. I tried easing up on the pace going up, then sprinting to catch up with pace markers downhill.

I was holding the pace for the first 10 miles but the hills just kept coming and my legs were wasted. At 13 miles I got the psychological boost of the halfway point which in my mind is turning towards home, so picked up the pace again. But the next mile there were more hills and my legs had set. I was still fighting up until about mile 20 when I just couldn’t get back up to speed. If it had been a training run I would have quit by then. As it was I just had to shuffle on. The last few miles were misery. They scored about a ‘3 stone twins, no anaesthetic childbirth’ on the suffering scale. Still more hills.

I was staggering into the last mile when the 3.30 pacer ran past me! I drew on everything I had and chased him for the whole mile. I finished in 3.30:33.

The negatives, obviously, are that I crashed and burned due to no hill training. Also, that I should have know that it was a hilly course and prepared. It runs from Chester into Wales, of course it’s going to be hilly! Not sure how I missed that. I’ve run it before. Apparently I forgot.

The positives: preparation and allowing yourself extra time is totally the way to go. I beat my PB by 11.07, (which was set on a flat course) and death doesn’t seem as bad now.

I’ve just got an email with my stats from the marathon. I finished 51 out of 347 in my age/ sex group. (Male 50- 54). I’ve done the maths (well, a calculator has) and that puts me in the top 15% for my category. 14.7% , to be exact. It’s no excuse for crashing that badly, but it shows that it was a tough course, and absolutely not one to be chasing PB.

I might do it next year, but if so it will be as a fun run.

The other bit of good news, as I’m this done in, is I asked for an extra shift at work for tomorrow, but they’ve knocked me back, so I’ve got an unexpected day off to recover. I’ll do a small, gentle, recovery run (jog) to try and break my legs up and get them working again.

I’m off next Sunday, if I’ve recovered I’ll do a flat marathon around here and see what my real time is.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Later,

Buck.

General.

Just a catch up.

I had a low patch a few weeks ago. I was worried I was coming down with loony again, happily it was just a blip, but it’s always a wake up call. However well you’re doing in life, job, training, personal goals, if you go loony it all counts for nothing. 

They say that running is actually good for your mental health. It de-stresses you, focuses your mind on the task in hand (suffering and trying not to die, I assume) and releases endorphins, which are painkillers and a natural “high”.

I should be immune from loon. Yay!

My run of race misfortune has hit the superstitious third event. The Outlaw triathlon cancelled the bike session so a year’s training was wasted as it wasn’t a tri. I set off late and got lost so managed to miss the South Cheshire 20 (mile race). Then, 6 days before the Warrington half marathon, I got an email saying they’d cancelled it, due to ‘safety concerns’. They said they were trying to rearrange it and we’d hear the details the next week. That was a fortnight ago, still no offer of a refund, free entry into next year’s race, or a new race date for this year.

My next race is Chester marathon in a week. Let’s see how that goes. I’m predicting asteroid strike.

 

While I was low I was window shopping for another bike. Apparently that’s part of my (BPD) condition, that I enjoy the thrill of shopping. The fact that I couldn’t get excited about it and even after I’d tracked down the bike I should get and was thinking “what’s the point?” is telling in itself.

I was thinking of an ‘adventure bike’.

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They’re big, supposedly robust, go-anywhere motorbikes. Usually bedecked with big stainless steel looking box panniers. The thing about them is, when you put a different screen on them, they create a bubble of quiet to ride in, and due to the sit up and beg riding position, they are supposed to be all day comfortable.

I forgot to say, what prompted me to look, beyond trying to find my happy place, was I’ve started getting tinnitus. Not the usual background whistle when it’s quiet, but a quite loud sound that alters pitch, making it harder to ignore. I really don’t want that to get any worse. I bought a new, so-tight-it-makes-your-eyes-bulge helmet but I was still getting motorway wind noise so I was panicking a bit.

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At least I shouldn’t get run over while I’m going deaf!

Someone on twitter said he’d fitted his adventure bike with this fancy screen to get the bubble of quiet I’ve just described.

Then it struck me, my gorgeous VFR750 is a sports/ tourer. Why buy another bike when mine is designed to be a comfy tourer? That also goes like stink, if you want.

I got the fancy screen my twitter mate was on about.

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The idea of it is that it has a bit of a lip so it pushes the air to the top of your helmet, and the funny second screen thing smoothes the air turbulence so there’s a lot less noise.

That worked a lot. The other thing is the sit up and beg position. I bought some risers. They are just collars that fit under your handlebars and lift them the maximum permissible height within the fairing (only 2cm but it’s supposed to make a big difference). And a comfier seat. I was going to get a gel pad insert, but the same guy on twitter said someone had done his seat. Apparently gel pads leak eventually and aren’t as good as they sound. What this guy does is strip out the cheapo, but fairly adequate foam the manufacturers fit, replace it with super-duper luxury foam, and fits a better, grippier, seat cover.

I’ve only got it back today, but the work looks quality. I’ll take it for a bit of a test ride tomorrow.

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Oh, I also bought a cheapo, £10, Chinese, ‘phone holder. It attaches to the handlebars and holds your mobile so you can use it as a satnav. I don’t want to get lost ever again, it’s irritating. Especially if it means you miss your race.

So that’s my bike all sorted, now I just need a day of reasonable weather to do a long distance test ride. We’re in the monsoon season at the moment, so not ideal.

Which is handy, as Wendy finally gave up asking the housing association if they were painting the exterior doors or if we should do it. Months she’s been asking. Not even for them to do the job, just to know if they were or if we should. Anyway, she gave up and we painted the doors. The paint says 16 hours between coats, in the dry. We put the first coat on, it dried, then it’s chucked it down for 8 days. Super. The forecast is for rain for the next fortnight. Super duper. I expect we’ll give them the second coat around June.

It was a double blow as the seat guy, who does a ‘while you wait’ service is based right at the bottom of Surrey, near Brighton. I looked at it. A 500 mile round trip, but was put off by the M25 (London ring road) section. That is awful at any time. Also he said on the ‘phone it was ‘first come, first served’ and it took a few hours to do the job. If I’d have ridden down and not got seen I’d have been miffed.

So I sent it by post, just got it back, 10 days later. Which meant a week of cycling to work. In the rain. It’s hardly rained for months. Until 1: we paint the doors 2: I send my seat motorbike seat away 3: I want to do a long ride to test my new motorbike set up.

Sigh.

And, after all that, I think a lot of the tinnitus was caused by earwax build up, not being deafened! We’ve been habitually using ear plugs for good sleep. It seems, obviously in retrospect, that they compact the earwax and prevent it’s natural movement out of the ears. I’ve been putting olive oil in my lugs, as per the NHS website recommendation, and it seems to be a lot better. If so, I’m still glad I got the screen and all that, better to have a false alarm prompt me into preventative measures than being stuck with damage limitation.

 

In other medical news, I’ve had a red patch on my face for about a year or so. If I don’t keep it slathered in skin cream it immediately dries out and flakes. Last week I started getting it, or something similar, on my forehead. Flaking like mad, itching, and a bit tender. I gave up and went to the doctors before my whole face fell off.

She said it’s a kind of dermatitis. Apply this cream for a fortnight, job’s a good ‘un. Huh. I’ve been using it two days and my forehead is already tons better.

While I was there I said about my loss of taste and smell. She’s given me a referral to the Ears, Nose and Throat specialist, but said that could take months, in the meantime she’s arranging an MRI to determine if there’s any obvious nerve damage. I’m not sure how that would show up or how I damaged it (with a killer cold, 2½ years ago) but at least she’s throwing everything at it. She said if it’s nerve damage then it’s permanent, but if not they can try and sort it.

 

In my training I’ve been following that Advanced Marathoning book’s plan. I’m on a taper fortnight now, for next Sunday’s marathon. I’ve never done a taper before. I’ll be interested to see how I do. My PB at the mo is 3.40:53. That was an average pace of 8.26 m/m.

I’m going to set off at 7.15 and try to keep it under 7.30. I’ve no idea if I can sustain that. If I could it would be roughly 3.15. I’m going to have to really try for that. I’ve got to be sub 3 for April.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how much fitness and stamina I’ve built. A PB is a PB but I really want a significant gain.

Right, I’ve rambled enough.

My next blog better be epic!

Later,

Buck.

Smashing It!

A bit of good news. It’s just a run but it has me buzzing.

I have two days off so I thought I’d test myself. A good, middle distance that I often run is 10 miles. I decided to do a Personal Best (PB).

I said (on my running account on Twitter) “Think I’ll do a 10 mile PB today. If the wind isn’t too bad. Neighbour’s gate has been banging. Hmmmm. It’ll be good training just making the attempt. Hahaha, way to backpedal in the space of 280 characters!”

I wanted to do 6.48 m/m pace, but was willing to settle for 7.00. My PB being 1.11:12, average of 7.07 m/m.

I set off at a reasonable pace, 6.47, then slowed slightly as I got into the wind, 7.01, then 7.05.  Then I got into a nearly 2 mile stretch that always funnels the wind and it was killer. I was beasting myself to try and get my pace down from 7.40. I clawed it back to 7.30 then 7.26.

In those two miles I knew I’d lost it. I couldn’t make up a minute of lost time. I was nearly killing myself just to keep a bad time, I had nothing left to pick up the pace for the way back. The nagging voice in your head that is always telling you to stop was shouting “YOU CAN’T DO IT!  MIGHT AS WELL JOG THE REST!”

I ignored it and pushed on, just to try and get a good time, if not PB.

At 5 miles I turned around, legs burnt out and lungs on fire, and suddenly the wind wasn’t stopping me!

6.58, for no more effort! I can do this! 6.52, 6.52, 7.00, 6.58!

I did it in 1.10:42, average pace 7.03!

A new 10 mile PB and a 10K PB along the way!

I get people telling me (rightly) I’m too negative about my achievements, but I am honestly chuffed to bits with this one. Not so much the time as the not quitting, and giving it everything, even when I knew it was a lost cause. I usually just accept a PB and think I should have done better. This one means something. Again, not the time, I fully intended to smash that next time out, but in those conditions…

I don’t know. I don’t think I’m expressing it very well.

Let me just say that was my best ever run and I’m pleased, possibly even proud.

Also, it’s given me a real boost in my confidence. If I can do 10 miles in those conditions, at 7.03, it’s not too much of a stretch to run 13.1 at 6.48, surely?  (My intermediate goal of a sub 1.30 half marathon.)

Anywho,

later,

Buck.