I have been going through what I think are fairly normal MdS withdrawal symptoms.
Getting back from an event which is in such stark contrast to most others, and far removed from anything most of us would experience in ‘real-life’ is bound the have such an impact.
Perhaps less so on those brave individuals in the armed forces, or perhaps civilian firemen, police, etc., who frequently put their lives on the line and who have a familiarity with imposed hardships and the challenges of being out of routine in physically and mentally demanding situations on a regular basis, since I believe that is part of the reason why people want to take up such a challenge.
[singlepic id=710 w=320 h=240 float=right]There is little in ‘normal’ life, in our cosseted modern western routines that can really satisfy what are probably primal urges and instincts to compete with others in physical challenges, where often survival may have been at stake and adrenalin fuelled success would have resulted in the ultimate proliferation of a particular branch of the gene pool.
Possibly, but imagine opposing tribes of hunter/gatherers, both chasing after dwindling stocks of wildlife before the onset of the winter season. It is not hard to imagine that the more successful persistence hunters might have successfully ensured the survival of their tribe through the winter while another failed and the impact on them would have been more extreme.
Still, back to the present and my recovery, which I glad to say has has been going well and I’ve not experienced any extremes; until yesterday, that is.
I had rather more swelling in my feet that I had realised, but I had been able to run a couple of times last week, and despite singularly failing to wake up for a long run on Sunday, I even managed to swim on Monday night.
Then things started to go horribly wrong. Tuesday’s has now transmuted to my cross-training day, and I duly went to the gym and cycled and did some squats and lunges, and although tough, I thought no more of it. Shortly afterwards I gave blood, and felt none the worse for that either.
However, two days afterwards, my muscles are aching an order of magnitude more than ever they were from 150 miles across the Sahara.
In one of life’s little ironies, I can trek my way through the toughest footrace on Earth without a hint of DOMS, but put me on a bike for 20 minutes and I may as well have been poked with hot needles dipped in vinegar for the last 6 months. The aching is starting to die down now, but I’m seriously considering whether my cross-training sessions will become a thing of the past after this week 🙂
The Tour of Britain, the British equivalent of the Tour de France, was destined to finish in Guildford today.
There had been plenty of warning that the roads around our area, through which the entourage were planning to circuit twice, were to be closed for most of the day and it was interesting to see that the old bridge at the bottom of Guildford High Street, less than 200 yards from our house, was open once more to traffic, having been pedestrianized some time ago.
We had all been out on our bikes yesterday, but this morning I wanted to get a bit of a run in; although I’m not running to a schedule yet, I am still trying to ramp my distance back up to an acceptable level for training for the next few months before the MdS. So early this morning I popped out to see what was happening along the North Downs.
The first part of the run was a well trodden path up Pewley Hill, along the backbone of the North Downs and I saw many other individuals walking dogs, etc, at the time I was around. Things were pretty normal up to Newlands Corner, which is a gradual uphill, although nothing to be concerned about. At Newlands I barely stopped, but it was clear that their was a Lotus owners group meeting, as the car park was laden with Exiges, Elans, Elises, Eclats and Esprits, which were accompanying the normal gathering of motorbikes which always congregate on a Sunday morning. I tried not to drool as I ran past.
As I crossed over the road the Sun was trying to break through, but the cloud were winning, by-and-large. Nevertheless, the unfamiliar rays of light breaking through the canopy of the forest, I suddenly realised I had rarely run this way to Coombe Lane, normally taking in the extra hills down to the Dorking Road towards Shere and then back up the testing Coombe Bottom.
The sunlight was short lived. By the time I had reached the top of Coombe Lane, it was overcast again and emerging from the undergrowth at West Hangar car park, I darted quickly across Staple Lane. Given the TOB cyclists were to be coming up this road in an hour or so, I was slightly disappointed there was not another human in sight – I was expecting at least 20 sponsor vans at each easily reachable vantage point.
I ran on through Netley Woods for a couple of miles, passing more walkers and a couple of horses and, at one point, I startled 3 young roe deer who were crossing the path just before me 🙂 great to see. At between 10-11km I turned round and made my way back, changing route only after I got to Newlands and heading north west to the town rather than the more direct route home. Big mistake!
When I got into the town of course they were pretty much ready for the cyclists, and so I was forbidden to run down the road – even though they were a couple of hours away! I reluctantly jumped over the fence and ran a little way down the pedestrian infested pavement, until I was stopped a second time and it was explained that there was only access to the shops!
Cyclists, eh! I wonder if in a few years time the whole of Guildford will be brought to a standstill and a further dichotomy introduced as a result of a UltraMarathon? That would be the day! 🙂
Eventually I found my way home after a bit of a detour and freshened up before a quick bite and then we were all off again.
Neither Liz, the children or myself really knew what to expect, and we hadn’t investigated much, although we knew that Bradley Wiggins who had won the Tour de France and the Olympic Road Time Trial earlier in the year, had retired on Friday due to illness. Mark Cavendish was still in though and had already won a couple of stages, but this time none of the Sky team members were in contention for the overall win.
We all followed the crowds and soon found there was little point in trying to get any further. We stopped very close to the point at which we had stopped when the Olympic torch had come through Guildford, at the bottom of the High Street on the bridge over the river Wey, and just like before there were hoards of volunteers waiting for the signal to pounce into the road with barricades at the appropriate moment.
We spotted John and Steph, some of our neighbours from The Court and chatted with them as we waited. The children managed to squeeze in place to get a good view on the sloping sides of the partitions separating the empty road from the deep throngs of spectators and we all waited expectantly.
Then they started coming.
The police motorbikes, the occasional official course vehicle and of course the odd sponsor car as well. Mostly police motorbikes though. They seemed to be having great fun whizzing along the empty route, encouraging people for the anticipated cyclists who were following. The boys counted at least 24 in all, some of which were going quite sedately and others which almost came to grief on the hump of the block brick bridge, with which they were no doubt unfamiliar 😯
Eventually the cheers of the crowds from round the corner gave us an indication that the breakaway group of cyclists were on their way through and boy were they going fast! You could tell the police motorbike riders had to ride so quickly just to keep ahead of the cyclists – sportsmen at the top of their game. I missed the leading group of 4 or 5 riders as Savannah, who up until that point had been on my shoulders, was insistent about getting down at the exact instant they came past!
2½ minutes or so later they were followed by the main peloton, again speeding round the corner after cruising the hill down the Portsmouth road from Godalming, before turning up the High Street, over the Bridge, passing where we were and then powering up the cobblestones and then departing on a 2 hour loop of the surrounding countryside.
It was all over in a flash, with the sportsmen quickly replaced by the many service and team cars with spare bikes ready for any eventuality. Cycling isn’t a poor man’s sport!
We went home, but returned again ready for the finish after a couple of hours, standing a bit further back to get a better view up the High street this time.
As we suspected, the peloton had reeled in the leading bunch and Mark Cavendish was leading the Peloton at the final corner with only the final hill to climb – no problem for the Manx man and he went on to finish the stage with another win – his third of the Tour.
The series was eventually won by another Brit, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, who after being in the front position after the penultimate day, managed to stay out of trouble and finish with the main pack to take the overall win – the first British cyclist to do so on the TOB for 19 years – What a great year for British cycling!
The boys were eager to try out their new bikes this weekend, and our normal ‘easy’ route consists of driving to Bramley, to the old disused Bramley and Wonersh railway station and then cycling towards Cranleigh, so we had promised them a long cycle as they are keen and we have to jump on any enthusiasm they show for things! (early teenage years)
First, we had to get Luke to a party though; only the first week back at school at we are into the party season already – roll on Christmas! Liz popped him over mid morning and then we all went to swimming with Savannah which she thoroughly enjoyed, given the confidence she had gained throughout the summer. The boys played outside while we attempted not to expire in the heat of the covered pool at Boxgrove which for some reason was more like a sauna, without the plunge pool 🙁 While the elder boys played outside on the new playground equipment, we chatted with Ros, a friend from Pewley and HT, whose son Nate had just started with Zelda. After that it was straight off to pick up Luke from Rowley, between Bramley and Cranleigh.
Three hours later we had got home, picked up the bikes, finished the last minute adjustments and tyre pumping, before setting off down the canal, to cycle all the way to practically where we had been driving past earlier in the day – much to the consternation of the children – “Why did we come this way? Why didn’t we stay where we were?”, etc, etc.
The route was quite a challenge for them and by the time we got to Shamley Green and our favourite hostelry, the Red Lion, it was just before 5:00pm and we were all ready for some supper. Make a mental note at this point to check when these quaint country pubs actually start serving evening food; 6:30pm in our case having finished the lunch session at 3pm. Finding ourselves in the middle of no-man’s land, our window’s of opportunity well and truly closed, we got a few bags of crisps and Liz got some further ‘incentives’ for the long road home.
They all did well to do at least 20km and we ended at about 6:30pm back home outside our other favourite pub, the Britannia!
But nobody can accuse me of not trying to achieve high standards. Realistic? Well, only time will tell if that is the case or not 🙂
18 months ago now, I was supposed to have been entered in the MdS; the fabled Marathon des Sables. Those of you that regularly catch up with my blog may have noticed that I have been rather off form for the last couple of years though, due to a minor incident at Leadville in 2010.
So, ‘story short’ as my Brazillian manager says, I was unable to fulfil my initial desires to complete the MdS in 2011 with Liz (although she managed it admirably, with Greg, Ant and Ben – Liz’s Blog). Having, only a month previous to this MdS, just had my procedure to straighten things out and weld my leg back together, I anticipated (rightly so) that 2012 was also not going to be a feasible option for my competitive nature.
So, back to the present day. Having deferred to 2013, it was incumbent on me to pay the second installment to the travel agents on 1st Sept but I wanted to ensure the constant niggles, aches and twinges that I experience were nothing to worry about. Twinges I can handle, but I am a little more averse to hidden destruction. The only thing to do was to go back to Mr Elliot, in Chertsey, and consult with him on the feasibility, if not the merit, of my current running plans.
Liz managed to get an appointment for me today, and so we duly trotted off with the little ones in tow, while the elder boys stayed behind for their first Judo lessons of the new term.
Although I had to sign in as a new patient, having been discharged from Mr Elliot’s care over a year ago, he nevertheless remembered me and, to his credit, it was as if I had only left his office yesterday; his only lapse being to confirm the issue was with my ‘left’ hip when ordering an x-ray.
When we got in to see him, he said the x-rays were not good, but clearly showed the original fracture was completely remodelled and the site of the osteotomy while still visible, was heading in the same direction.
Having discussed a couple of other ‘feelings’ which I considered could conceivably be collateral to the recovering fracture, he confirmed there was little chance of these effects being related and, more to the point, there was no real reason why I should not be able to run the MdS. He had heard of the race and although I quipped that type of thing was probably his worst nightmare, he joked that on the contrary, that and ‘motorbikes’ were in the habit of bringing him a lot of business 🙂
So off we confidently and happily trotted back from Chertsey after this reassuring consultation. After picking up the boys from their Judo lesson, chatting with Pete their instructor about the Olympics and driving home, there was another surprise in store as we walked through the door!
Joshua has a cycling safety course arranged at school next week and he therefore needed a new bike. A new bike for him and Morgan had been ordered at the weekend, and they had been excitedly asking about the status of the shipping and we had played down the arrival of two large boxes to further expand on the surprise element.
Although we considered going out for a ride, in the end we had to spend quite a bit of time putting wheels and saddles in place and adjusting disc brakes (!) so after they had ridden around the garden for a bit we finished off the evening with a trip to the Britannia for a pleasant supper.
Then it was back home and after getting them settled down, it was time to do the deed! The dreaded second installment – with finger on the ‘PAY NOW’ button online I yet again committed to 6 months of hard training in an attempt to push myself to the limit – hopefully not past it, as I’ll need to ensure that I make it to the start line this time. It will be odd this time as there won’t be anyone there I know; at least not at this stage. Rory and Jen (UltraRace) will no doubt be going, and I’ll no doubt make some friends with whom to share the experience along the way.
The next journey starts here – 29 weeks and counting.
After the disappointment of the men’s cycling road race on Saturday, expectations were high for the time trial today, which took place along the streets of Surrey.
The race started and finished at Hampton Court Palace, looping round through East and West Molesey (unlike the women’s race), before going through Walton and then turning back to Esher and Kingston. The men’s race again had a slightly different route, detouring up to Twickenham before completing the 44km circuit back round to Hampton Court.
The earlier women’s race, without the detours, was limited to 28km and was taking place at lunchtime so I decided to get into the spirit of things and cycle while I watched.
I was quite an interesting, and humbling, feeling realising that I was trying my hardest indoors in the gym, pools of sweat forming undereath my static cycle and yet I was still not doing anything near the speed that these olympians were achieving, out on the road, with hills, wind and turns to contend with as well.
The men’s race later was fantastic, with Bradley Wiggins the firm favourite after his stunning Tour de France performance, and Chris Froome, who lest we forget came second in the TDF and on any other day that by itself would have been an amazing performance by itself, but in the company of Bradley Wiggins and Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara, the master of the time trials, and Germany’s Tony Martin, World Champion, and others such as America’s Taylor Phiney, and Wiggin’s and Froome’s TDF Sky teammate, Michael Rogers, they were always going to have to work hard.
The did not disappoint this time though.
Going through the first timing point at an early 7km it was difficult to call, but after that the race was on and Wiggins showed his complete domination of the discipline, slowly pulling away from Martin all the way through the course. Froome also did a fantastic job and if Martin had failed at any point the silver would have been his. In the end the gap was too much though, and Martin could no more catch Wiggins, than Froome could catch Martin. Cancellara had a disappointing race again, coming in ‘only’ in 7th, probably down to the crash he had in the race on Saturday as he was clearly suffering with pain from his shoulder after the race.
The other triumph for the GB team earlier today was our first gold medal in the Rowing Women’s pairs for Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, so well done to them too. After many days of concern, our medal tally is starting to look a little healthier.
As cycling fever grips the UK, with Bradley Wiggins about to win the Tour de France and his Sky teammate Christopher Froome in Second, I thought it only fitting that my cycle this morning incorporated part of the route, which is to be used next weekend as part of the Olympics road cycling.
I was not up so early this morning; it seems I always have trouble motivating myself for the early morning cross-training sessions. Nevertheless, eventually I did make it out and started off on a similar route to a few weekends ago, in order to warm up.
Mercifully, the sun had also decided to put in an appearance yesterday after what seems like months of vacationing in a different part of the world, and it’s emergence continued this morning with higher temperatures and brighter skies forecast.
So it was that I started out on my now normal route around Guildford, with a bit of a flattish warmup before starting up some hills. I was constantly on the look out for additional miles though, and extending my circuit slightly, so when I was passed by a couple of guys in their TdF regalia and carbon road bikes, I decided to follow them for a bit. They turned off towards Puttenham, a route I’d run a few months back so I felt no hesitation in taking the detour. With me on my mountain bike I struggled to keep them in sight for long, an episode which was to be repeated throughout my journey today 🙁
After going through a place called Seale, I turned up towards the hogsback road; this traverses the backbone of the north downs to Guildford and after a hairpin found myself travelling back to where I had been 10 minutes ago, and although the road was quite busy, it was quite pleasant to get a bit of pace up on the long straight, and after turning off the hogsback and picking up my normal route through Normandy and Pyrford, I was pleased that I had already found an extra 10km or so.
As I have done this ‘route’ a dozen times over the last year or so, in it’s ever evolving state to add a few miles here and a few miles there, it is now interesting to note my psychological state each time I get to a particular point on the circuit. As with endurance running, the longer you run the more comfortable and at ease you become with running long distances. Sounds pretty obvious I guess but what I mean is that when you train your body for distance, your brain too becomes far more at ease with the thought of distance, and what was once a major effort to complete, suddenly becomes a mere instant in a larger part of a total training programme.
It also seems to me that you never lose this ‘brain training’. Unlike your fitness, which starts to deteriorate noticeably after only a couple of weeks at best, and other physical associations, such as muscle specificity, bone strength and the structure and flexibility of all the myriad tendons and ligaments which allow the human body to perform, are unlikely to remain adapted for long once the athlete stops training for a specific sport. A real case of use it or lose it. As the body returns to a natural state for it’s environment though, the brain training it once had seems locked away in some deep recesses of the memory, only to be awakened next time the body experiences some similar and familiar sporting effort.
In my case, this seems to be distance. My mind has no regard for distance. Or at least it does not intimidate me in the same way that it did in the past. I have run 100 miles. I know I can do it again. I know I will do it again. My body is just a little ‘out of phase’ at the moment 🙂
Having passed through Send, I now took my second detour, this time heading off parallel to the A3 before hitting the village of Ripley which the Olympic cycling route passes through next week. I wondered for a brief instant if I would be able to work out the route if there were any turnings to negotiate. I needn’t have worried. Following the bright yellow No Stopping and Tow Away Zone signs positioned every 100 yards, was a pretty strong indication I was on the right route.
There were quite a few cyclists out who seem to have had a similar idea to mine, although the route is always popular, taking in, as it does, a variety of climbs around the Surrey hills and the North downs. So of course even by the time I had made it along the Epsom Road towards Guildford and started up the major hill, Staple Lane, I had been passed by several other self propelled, two wheeled road users. Up the hill I didn’t fair too badly and actually managed to pass another cyclist, although admittedly, he was stopped halfway up the hill, chatting on his mobile phone 😉
Although the journey down Coombe Lane the other side was fun, by this stage I had had enough and it was a hard slog over the next 15k or so to just get home.
My ‘Goodness Shakes’ was waiting for me at home and again, after some breakfast I was feeling much better. I was chastised soon after Liz got home as I had not had any breakfast before I left and it was 11:30 by the time I had got back. Lesson learned!
It was fun to go along part of the route to be used for the Olympics next weekend, but I have no doubt whatsoever that Messer’s Wiggins and Cavendish will be travelling a lot faster up Staple Lane than I did today 🙂
A usual Monday today, although the trains conspired to spice things up a bit.
Very cramped this morning on the commute, after a power outage further down the track and cancellation of a train, leaving Guildford platform three people deep trying to squeeze into the coach with two more stops to go!
The rest of the day was fairly mundane, with a break for Pilates at lunchtime.
Pilates on a Monday used to be the soul preserve of women escaping the office routine, until a couple of other guys and myself started two or three years ago, but interestingly the word of the core benefits must have got round as there were 7 or 8 chaps today, probably a third of the class. How times change!
The elder boys had their final swimming lesson of the term this evening, and got their badges for consistency towards various efforts today and during the term. Joshua got badges for his ‘medley’ transitions, which he has done particularly well at this term. Liz said a final farewell to Jean, her friend, who she met at swimming some years ago and with whom she ‘connected’, and this was to be her last term with her son, Jack.
It was my final swim of the term as well, which turned out to be a relatively easy forty minutes of lengths. Now I must remember to swim during the summer, otherwise it will be back to square one in September – assuming we are still in Guildford at that time, which is looking likely, given the continuing state of our housing chain and the British housing market in general!
Good to see that Bradley Wiggins is extending his lead in the Tour de France as well; he won the stage today, a 40km time trial, and his Sky Procycling teammate, Christopher Froome was second. Sky are now the team to beat and it is shaping up into an interesting Tour 🙂 although with only 1:53 lead over last year’s winner, Cadel Evans, it is still anyone’s race.
I think this time of year seems to be busy for almost everyone at the EBRD. Generally speaking, there are mid-year reviews of projects and budgets to get in place and, because of the nature of the Bank, specifically the high proportion of people who come from foreign countries, August seems to be a bit of a ‘close-down’ month and as a consequence of impending two or three week holidays approaching everyone tries to get as much done during late June and July.
Of course, since we are in the middle of a financial crisis and credit from other private investment Banks has reduced, especially in Eastern Europe, and the fact that as a Bank, we are currently expanding our areas of operation to countries involved in the last year’s Arab spring, we have even more projects and investment to get through than ever before.
From an IT perspective, we are also going through a mid-year budgeting and prioritisation process in order to clarify the work plan for the rest of 2012. I have had so many requests coming through into my area that many of my projects are being put into the prioritisation hat for consideration, although this is frustrating as it means we are doing less ‘real’ work.
So my week to date has been filled with budget reviews, project investment analysis and a lot of project feasibility work, all, of course, needed yesterday!
I’ve had the chance to get down the gym a couple of times and my foot is a lot better on the top, although the side is still of concern. As a result I’ve been doing a lot more cycling again and keeping up the physio exercises as well as pilates and swimming at the beginning of the week.
It is the longest day (summer solstice) in the northern hemisphere as well today, which always reminds me of things that I have done in past years; 2 years ago I was about to do the Cotswolds 100 miler and the year before that, Tim, John, Greg and myself were off to Snowdon for our first attempt at the Welsh 3000’s. It was similar weather back then, as it is now, and at that time the rain in the Welsh hills beat us into submission very quickly. This year, the sunrise at Stonehenge was an equal washout.
As my foot is still not playing ball, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and get out on the bike today.
Looking back, I was surprised to realise it was last October when I had previously carried out a long cycle round the Guildford area, which, clearly, had been the point at which my running had started to ramp up in distance.
Hilly cycling is actually supposed to be quite good cross-training for the legs, for uphill trail running as well, so I felt comfortable planning this for the morning. The only worry had been the weather, which had been good yesterday (Saturday) but was forecast to return to the recent normal inclemency later today. Still, nothing ventured….
I have tended to stick to the roads when biking, even though I ride a beat up old mountain bike which would be more suited to trail cycling, as it is more the time and distance that I want to cover, with hills thrown in. Today, I planned on doing the 30 odd miles I had done in the past, but with the addition of the few extra miles I had been running over my last few long runs, around the Surrey hills.
When I started out, I was lucky with the weather, and although it was a touch colder than I would like on bike with the wind, I soon warmed up and forgot the cold as I battled to remove the sweat from my eyes!
The route I took today has quite a pleasant warm up section to the south of Guildford before a steep series of hills as the climb over the North Downs is completed. On the other side of this, there is the complementary downhill though, and the route through Normandy, Pirbright and Mayford has a very slight downhill gradient which is interspersed with the odd short rise here and there.
From Send to East Clandon, the trend reverses though, and the average gradient is uphill for several miles, culminating this time in a long slow ride up to the top of the downs, some 10 miles to the east, as the crow flies, of where I had been just over an hour earlier. I was now on the part of the route that I had been running on recently and although my motive force was not quite as I may have preferred, it was still great to be doing the same route under my own steam.
Of course, after the hill, comes the downhill and this one was Coombe Lane 🙂 I have done this in the opposite direction in the past and it is a challenge! This way is much more fun :wow: Unfortunately, the speed with which I covered the descent was over all too quickly and I now had another series of rises to contemplate through the villages I have come to know well in the Surrey hills; Shere, Farley Green and Shamley Green.
Knowing the route well is a huge advantage in my mind, as I’m sure it is in general. However, it is also interesting to notice that the perspective you get, on familiar routes, is totally different when on a bike. For instance, I find I am much more sensitive to changes in gradient on a bike compared to running, presumably because the differential between high and low speed on a bike is so much greater, a similar scalar is also applied to gradient sensitivity. Or maybe I just need to try a bit harder 😉 I also find that the horizon on long straight roads approaches noticeably faster than the foreground when on a bike, almost like a depth-of-field compression effect. Most bizarre.
By the end of the ride, a mere 38 miles, my quads and calves were starting to tell me about it, after over 2 1/2 hours welded to the bicycle my ‘seat’ was in danger of losing all sense of feeling and my unmentionables will have to remain unmentioned.
It was a good ride though, and I was glad to have done it, and will probably end up doing the same next weekend too.
After all, I wasn’t overtaken by any elderly women with their weekly vegetable shopping in their front baskets, so I must be improving.
Well, our children’s school certainly stimulate their minds.
Yesterday Joshua went to Intech in Winchester, which is a Science Centre and Planetarium. He said the really enjoyed it, especially the show that they had in the planetarium, but I’ll let him explain a bit more about that on his blog at the weekend.
Today Morgan went to the Science Museum in London, and delighted in telling me about the Lunar Module and spaceman, the large missiles and the show that they put on with explosive flour and a barbie doll in a canon (whose head came off apparently!) – Such is the mind of a 9 year old boy 😉
I was busy most of the day but managed to shoot out at lunchtime for a cycle which went well. I’m trying to concentrate on my stroke at the moment, pulling up and forward as well as down and back. Everytime I do, it is amazing how much easier the stroke becomes, but it still doesn’t feel natural at the moment. That is the aim, at least