Juneathon, The Great London Swim, (Nearly) 100 Mile Bike and Being Broken

Juneathon

Well, it didn’t really happen for me did it. Congratulations, and major respect, to everyone that did complete it – and hey, respect to everyone that even entered and did a little turn with it. I’ll be back on board for Janathon hopefully.

Unlike Janathon, I only half heartedly entered Juneathon this time round. I knew I wouldn’t be able to complete it due to Glastonbury (which was excellent by the way), and I wasn’t planning on running everyday, rather hoping to use it to cycle and swim more often.

Then a little thing called life got in the way. Things seem to be progressing nicely at the moment (I’m sure they’ll be a spanner in the works shortly), but we’ve had an offer accepted on a house and thus that has taken a lot of time to organise stuff for when I would have much rather have been out training.

The Great London Swim

On Friday night I found myself strangely nervous. The kind of nerves that used to hit me when I first entered running races. Loads of questions running through my mind like Would I finish? Will I be last? etc… On Thursday night I’d gone to Redricks and managed to swim 2 complete laps, not suffering any of the breathing problems I’d been struggling with up to now.

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Practising at Redricks

And so Saturday morning I found myself in a wetsuit and a bright Orange swim hat at the start of the Great London Swim. It really was a fantastically organised event, everything went very smoothly, and I had no problems once in the water.

I had hoped to sneak under the 40 minute timer, but unfortunately came in a few seconds over 45 minutes. On the back of this I’ve decided I really do need to get along to a local tri club to try and help develop my swimming. I’m happy I can do the distance for my triathlon now, I just need to pick up some speed from somewhere. Judging by the Great Swim time, I’d do the swim part of the triathlon in about 21m 30s, so I’d be hoping with some speed work I might be able to go sub 20.

The only downside of the day was that towards the end I managed to catch up with a group of 5 swimmers who seemed to have very poor sighting, and I kept banging into them. Just as I was approaching the finish one just stopped right in front of me. My left calf seized up and I thought it was just cramp, but I couldn’t get it to wear off. Sitting here 2 days on and my left calf is still in agony – not sure what I’ve done but it doesn’t seem good – even worse when this was my major return to running to start preparing for Liverpool Marathon and to try and get some speed into my legs for the triathlon. I guess I’ll have to watch this space to see what happens.

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The (Nearly) 100 Mile Bike Ride

So Sunday morning I met up with my father-in-law for a bike ride. I’d just found out that the Fairlands Valley Spartans Challenge Race I’d entered clashed with the weekend of the Dunwich Dynamos and so had resigned myself to the idea of no more (majorly) long rides. When asking how far we were going, 90 miles wasn’t the reply I was expecting. Ah well, see how I get on I thought – especially having ridden the 4.5 miles over to his house to start with.

Things started well and the 1st 30 miles or so went very quickly. At around 30 miles though my left knee started to give me some pain. I was thinking if it got no worse I’d easily be able to continue and was quite relieved to stop at Grafham Water for a sandwich, cake and coffee. Upon leaving though my knee started giving me some major grief, and after about another 10 miles I had to concede defeat to my father-in-law to say I’d continue but I’d probably have to slow right down (in his mind I was probably going at snail pace anyway). Another 10 miles or so further in, I completely conceded defeat saying we’d have to find a shortcut home, or I could sit in the pub all afternoon while he cycled home and then later collected me.

I don’t think he was up for the leaving me in the pub without him option, so we cycled to the nearest train station – which seemed to be mainly uphill and another 7 miles away. Finding out the trains only went once an hour to my little village I had to get off one stop early and cycle the 3 miles from there.

So all in all I think I managed just short of 80 miles in total, although admittedly those from about 55 miles onwards were freewheeling were possible and incredibly slow. On the bright side I do appear to have taught my father-in-law how to fall of his bike. Just after Grafham Water I did catch him having a little sleep in the road much to the amusement of the workman sorting out some utility pipes.

Being Broken

So this week was meant to be the week I was going to push on with doing some serious speed work in preparation for the final countdown to my triathlon. I’m confident I can do the distance for all disciplines, but I’m not confident I’m going to be particularly fast. But as with all great laid plans a problem arises and this appears to be my left calf (my left knee is still a slight pain but I think this will pretty much clear up in the next day or 2). As far as the calf muscle is concerned, I think I’ll attempt to go swimming tomorrow to see if it loosens anything off – if not a week of rest might be in order.

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Juneathon Day ??? – Best Spinning Soundtrack Ever

Life has somewhat got in the way of Juneathon. Work commitments (conferences etc…) and other things such as life have gotten slightly in the way of exercise. Thus I don’t think I’ve done any since last weekend.

I kind of back of wagon again today, and I’ve got a few things lined up for over the weekend, but then Glastonbury is on the horizon so I expect me to fall back off fairly quickly.

So this morning saw a return to the weekly spinning class. The tutor tends to play some half decent tunes at the best of times, but pretty much excelled this morning. I’ll leave you with a small selection.

#Juneathon Day 12 – 2 Medals, 1 Day

Medal 1 – NightRider 2011 100km Bike Ride

So after leaving a friends wedding reception a couple of hours early (congratulations Mark and Jo!) and having possibly recruited one of their wedding guests to the world of running, I found myself on a train heading to Alexandra Palace for the start of NightRider 2011.

NightRider is an organised cycle though all the major landmarks of London, with 2 starting points – ours in Alexandra Palace and the ‘other lot’ from Crystal Palace.

Timing the arrival perfectly to just get registered and grab a coffee just before the masses turned up, we walked around for a bit to keep warm and see if we could spot some familiar faces. My father-in-law spent a bit of time talking to a couple of people he knew whilst I observed the first few groups of around 50 cyclist depart – there were 10 start times, presumably to reduce the risk of overcrowding and the chances of accidents.

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At around 00:30 we made our way to the start line and after a very brief safety talk we all set off. Turning right at the roundabout and going steeply downhill that had an untold number of potholes, the majority of which I think I managed to hit, I decided that if I continued like this then this cycle wouldn’t be one I’d enjoy. See I’m a bit strange in that I prefer either riding on the flat and level, or riding up hill, going down hill scares me.

Anyway, we soon got into our stride and I was quite happy to sit with a group of 10 or so riders, leaving the navigation to them and they were doing quite a nice gentle pace. I was conscious this was the longest ride I’d ever done, my first overnighter and I’d not slept all day so didn’t want to be overly adventurous with the pace at the start. Further to this I hadn’t really had a decent meal either so was a little worried that my energy stores were probably already quite low.

The 1st stop came after about 15 miles, and I nipped to the loo, grabbed a banana and a chocolate chip cookie. My father-in-law went off nattering to a couple of other people he knew, leaving me to stand with the bikes next to the motorcycle banging out some tunes. One of the stewards came over and asked if I was alright. Confirming I was, they in turn pointed out that I must be a really big Steps fan as ‘Tragedy’ was blaring out and I was standing right next to it. Only later did I realise that it was actually the Bee Gees version.

Feeling good at this stop, the next part of the route was probably the worst part of the ride. Going through Camden at kicking out time where people were generally too drunk to see moving cars let alone cyclists. Then a bit later we were riding through the central parts of tourist London that were so incredibly busy with traffic. I was happy to meander along behind buses and taxis, but other more confident cyclists were weaving in and out of traffic. I had a choice to join them or take my time and have to self navigate. To be honest I did a little mixture of both, before getting stranded by myself and having to self navigate. No problems though, the route was magnificently well signposted although I was paranoid that I hadn’t seen another cyclist for a good 10-15 minutes during this section.

Arriving at just under halfway at Crystal Palace we got our ‘lunch’. A ham sandwich, a massive chocolate chip muffin and a chocolate bar, along with a cup of coffee. Still feeling fairly good but realising that the traffic and traffic lights had slowed our pace right down to about 10mph (normally we’re averaging 15-17mph) we realised we could be in for quite a long night unless the roads quietened down a little. After leaving Crystal Palace the sun started to come up making everything much easier to see and the roads became very flat and empty. Cycling was so much faster (after Crystal Palace average speed seems to be around the 14-15 mph mark) but still having to wait for numerous traffic, this part of the course was much more enjoyable.

There was another fuel stop on the way back but this was probably only 10 miles from the actual finish line so we decided just to plough on. These miles seemed to drag on forever, and the biggest challenge of the night lay in the wait – the massive climb back up to Alexandra Palace.

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All in all, an excellent and really well organised route. Unfortunately due to the busyness of London’s road, most of these sights couldn’t really be taken on board. Provided you’re confident riding in traffic and don’t mind your ride being very stop/start due to traffic lights I’d thoroughly recommend this event – but overall personally it isn’t for me and I doubt I’ll be returning in the future. At Crystal Palace (29 miles) I felt as if I’d ridden the furthest distance of my life, but think this was probably due to the mental requirement of keeping an eye out for everything going on around you. Although having just checked my Garmin stats for the ride it appears my top speed was 153.2mph – so maybe I had good reason to be physical and mentally drained!

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Medal 2 – BHF Woburn 10k Jog

Knowing that the 1st train from Alexandra Palace was due at 7:06, we timed getting to the train station perfectly with 2 minutes to spare. Unfortunately no one from the train station (or First Capital Connect) had been quite as well organised to tell people about engineering works. The train was cancelled. As were the next 6. We waited on the platform for over an hour and half waiting for the next train to take us home. My father-in-law even managed to fall asleep standing up. This put getting to the start line for Woburn 10k in a bit of jeopardy and I told the planned lift I had to head off without me and I’d attempt to see them at the start line.

Arriving back, getting showered, and darting back out the door in my running gear I’d read on the race instructions that Woburn was well sign posted from both Junction 12 and 13 of the M1. I’m familiar with the sign posts at Junction 13, but had never really seen any at 12, but with 12 being closer for me I headed there hoping to pick up signs. No joy at all, and with the start time only being 20 minutes away I gave up and used the maps and GPS on my phone to direct me there. Running across a field I could see the runners lined up ready to go. And just as I was about 4-5 minutes away, running towards them, I saw them all depart.

Getting to the start line I asked if I was ok to go and I was given the all clear to be the last runner. After about 1km I managed to catch up with most of the walkers and eventually after about 2.5km I managed to catch-up with my wife and her running friend – she said there had been some confusion at the start and they thought the race had started early slightly early whilst they’d been in the queue for the toilets.

The course was mainly a trail route (running on grass and gravel) and this was something I could have done without. Not only do I own a pair of trail trainers that I very rarely use, I had my new trainers on and just kept thinking about how dirty they were going to get. Oh and I already had tired legs and struggled mentally to keep going. Unfortunately my Garmin had only 5% battery when I finished the cycle ride overnight and so I had no way of knowing what pace I was running at. It was very tempting to peel off for the 5km single lap run, but I decided to plough on and complete the full 10km.

With no Garmin I can only make an educated guess at the time I did it in. Knowing I started approximately 5 minutes after the start time and using the clock in the car that we went to shortly after finishing, I think I finished in around 55 minutes. By parking in the wrong car park and having to run to the start line, I reckon I might have added on an extra mile to a mile and a half as well.

A lovely course and certainly a great little charity run, but perhaps not something for a serious time based race. However I wasn’t using it as a proper race so really did quite enjoy it. I did overhear someone passing the 5k marker with a watch and they thought the course might have been short as ‘not even in my wildest dreams could I do a 5k in that time’ was said.

Sporting Weekend

So beginning with a mile open water swim on Saturday, an overnight 65 mile bike ride and then a 10k run to finish with, I feel in pretty good shape for my triathlon. I now need to just convince the race organisers that transitions of a few hours are the way forward and everything should be just fine.

I also think I need to point out that I’m not a complete madman and I wasn’t originally planning to the overnight bike ride. I had already entered the 10k, and then a place became available for the ride. Focusing on the triathlon and Dunwich Dynamos its defiantly bike training that needs to be centre of my attention at the moment – and hence the 10k was going to go by the way side – but it would have been a shame to have wasted the entry fee 😉

And apologises for no photos of the 2 medals. This weekend has been a bit of a mad rush – I will attempt to get them posted on here in the next blog post!

#Juneathon Day 10 – Spinning

A different instructor this morning from the usual one. Very hyperactive, loud and perhaps a little crazy. Not my cup of tea at 7am on a Friday, but can see how she’d work for some. One good thing was the array of tunes, mainly all cracking Indie tunes. Unfortunately I’ve forgotten them all now.

Anyway, worked up a good sweat. The bike I was on didn’t seem to have any middle settings – jumping straight for very easy to incredibly hard. I was planning on going swimming this lunchtime, and/or running home from work, but have decided to head to SweatShop after work to buy some new running shoes – desperately need a new 2nd pair, and I think my current pair are just about to die as well.

Think it’s also wise not to be doing too much today completely aware of what I’m doing over this coming weekend – but I can’t reveal any more than that at the moment – will gladly blog though, so watch this space!

Juneathon Day 9–Annoying Songs in Your Head

Firstly, as promised yesterday, my cycling commute restarted today – just in time for it to stop again tomorrow as I head to spinning instead.

Not much to report – I finally overtook a couple of people today on the way in (and also on the way home), but also got overtaken by someone in full club kit as I panting up a hill – they just went speeding straight past as if going downhill.

After getting in from work, went for a 4.5 mile run with a couple of friends, and the dog they’re looking after. To be fair, the dog did incredibly well.

Only other thing to report was on the way into work I could only get one lyric in my head, and it wouldn’t shift. It wasn’t until arriving at work I managed to work out what song it was, and a couple of the other lyrics. Very annoying. Fortunately it was a very good song, so I’ll leave you with Stornoway for today.

#Janathon Day 8 – Cycling Commute Out The Window

After successfully sticking to my cycling commute for 2 days last week, this week has been slightly less than inspiring.

Due to meaning to a do a long ride on Sundays (missed last Sunday due to partying on Saturday), Mondays have become a rest day (with a gentle swim as the only exercise to be performed). Tuesday then saw a half day conference in another building. I was good and check out the cycling facilities at the conference centre – their website only too happy to boast about the number of car parking space, but no word of cycle lock-ups or shower facilities. Decided to err on the side of caution and not cycle (and therefore stink).

So last night we watched the end of Schlinders List. We both seen it before, but it got sent from Tesco DVD for some reason, and it taken us a good couple of months to get round to watching it. 10.30 came by, and the film finished. Must be time before bed to watch the extras. Wrong. Stopped playing the extras at gone midnight, and hence getting up at 6am this morning just didn’t happen.

Glad to say I did manage to do a mile swim at lunch though – straight-through, no stopping, except for a couple of seconds 3 or 4 times to let a faster swimmer past.

Cycle commute will return to normal again tomorrow – promise.

PS. Testing out a new offline blogger tool, so praying this works. It looks the business, but will it perform?!

#Janathon Day 7–I Hate Intervals

Having spent the winter and spring building up endurance, its now time to start looking towards trying to get some speed into my legs. Therefore tonight indicated the start of regular interval sessions to try and get my 5k and 10k times down – certainly too late to have any impact on this Sundays 10k in Woburn though.

Meeting up with friends to start out the run at a nice warm-up pace, we went our separate ways for me to run 6x400m repeats. As always with repeats the slowest one is the one that counts – 1m 37s (the fastest, for those interested, was 1m 29s). Fairly happy with that, and think I got the about the right number of repeats and intensity when running because it was the last one that was the slowest and my legs certainly started to give up at some point during that last rep.

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Only other thing from tonight was I started using my heart rate monitor again tonight – with the highest recorded by 189.

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