Monday, 30 March 2009

Sports Massage

After my century on Saturday (I like the way that sounds), I had a little discomfort above my right knee and it was very stuff on Sunday morning (stop giggling at the back). It felt ok by Monday morning but I could still feel it as I rode to the shops in the afternoon and ran in the evening.

So, I booked a sports massage at Balance Physio in Clapham. They are excellent and have fixed me twice before when I strained my abductor playing football and had knee trouble when training for the Edinburgh marathon. My guess was that I had tight quads and ITB which was resulting in pain above the kneecap.

It turned out I was spot on. Rene was superb and really punished me for not stretching enough after rides. Its my own fault as I am very lazy when it comes to stretching. I got 45 minutes of agony for my money as she tried to loosen up my tight muscles and ITB. It was painful for me and really hard work for her but I'm sure it will help. I feel very sore (so many innuendos) now but it should be fine for my long ride on Friday.

I've got another appointment booked in two weeks time and I intend to start stretching every day.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Wind, hail, sun, sleet, rain and more wind

What miserable weather! After the beautiful sun we had last week, it was very depressing to have a week of wind and rain.

Monday was supposed to be a 4 mile run whilst my daughter was swimming and I don't mind running in bad weather so that was fine. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were meant to be rides outside but I just couldn't be bothered to get all my cold weather gear out.

So, Tuesday was a rest day and Wednesday was a run and a spin class in the gym. On Thursday is was supposed to meet Stephen for a long ride but we both agreed that the weather so too foul so I went for a run instead.

Saturday was earmarked for a long ride and even though the weather was terrible, I knew I had to go out. I planned to go down to Box Hill and do the 65 mile route but I also had a route planned out for a century ride. I wanted to get one done as it was becoming an issue in my head. The Fred, Dave Lloyd, Dartmoor and Etape are all over 100 miles.

I was up at 7 and got all my gear on - base layer, bibbed shorts (padded), winter bibbed tights (unpadded), winter gloves and shower coat. I finally forced myself out at 8:15 and my parting words to my wife were "bloody hell its cold".

I made my way to Box Hill and in the first two hours I had everything the heavens had to offer apart from snow. The hail was particularly unpleasant. It hurt. I got to the National Trust cafe and stopped for a cup of tea to decided where to go. I was coping ok with most of the weather but the wind was making progress very slow. Every time I got some speed up, a big gust would slow me right down.

I decided that I had done 40 miles so I might as was press on. I went down to Westcott and towards Leith Hill only to take a wrong turning. I managed to get back on track but only after doing an extra hill. It was all hard work with the wind and constantly changing weather but I got back to Box Hill and had done 77 miles. I didn't stop this time and just headed home through a very heavy shower.

I was very pleased as I rode through Wandsworth as the cycle computer ticked over to 100 miles. That is my first century for 6 years and felt easier than it did then (but still tough). I am shattered now and I don't plan to do too much before I go away to Devon next week for 4 days hard riding.

Distance: 103.4 miles
Time: 7:01:10
Average: 14.7 mph (well, it was windy :-)
Food: Two bars, three bottles of SiS PSP22
Weather: Rubbish

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

New Wheels

So I took the plunge and spent all my savings on new wheels. The Fulcrum Racing 7 wheels on my bike were the weakest component and I always planned to change them before the Etape. I was going to wait a little bit but I have a long weekend away riding in Devon and then the Fred Whitton so I decided the time was now. I also needed my new cassette fitted and a service done so I have scheduled them all together.

After many hours research online and visiting many shops, I finally went for a pair of Mavic Ksyrium Elite 2009. I got a great deal at Prologue cycles in East Sheen. I got them £65 cheaper than Sigma Sports (another local shop specialising in road bikes) and £15 cheaper than anywhere on the net that had them in stock.

They are 1550 grams which was the second lightest on my shortlist (only the Easton EA90 SLX were lighter). They are stiff which is good as I'm not the lightest rider and I can be quite aggressive. They have bladed spokes which might make me go faster but definitely look good.

I have to admit that this choice is a bit of a gamble. The 2008 model was not favourably reviewed and were said to be heavy and not value for money. The new versions look very different and have taken a lot of the technology from the more expensive Mavic wheels and I did found some good reviews. I hope I'll notice a huge difference and I'll report back when I get them on the 31st.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

The Spring Ballbuster

Another weekend, another race. This time it was the Spring Ballbuster, a duathlon in Surrey based around Box Hill. The course was an 8 mile circuit finishing up Box Hill and was to be run once, cycled three times and then run again.

I was meant to get up at 5:40 am but woke at 4:50 and couldn't get back to sleep. For some reason, I was particularly nervous about this event. A duathlon is out of my comfort zone as I've only done one before and that was a short one.

The sun came up as I drove to the start and the early morning mist cleared to show another beautiful day. It was chilly but I knew it would be warm for the last run. I got there on time, queued for the loo, got my race number and racked my bike in the transition area. It felt like a very serious race with lots of athletic looking people with tight lycra and expensive bikes. This didn't help my nerves and my Garmin said my heart rate was all the way up to 110 bpm and we hadn't even started.

There was warning after warning in the build-up to the event that told us not to go out too fast otherwise you will blow up on the final run so with this in mind, I took it easy on the first run. I was aiming for around 1 hr 10 mins which was slower than I did it in training. I got chatting to some people which helped the miles go quick and before I knew it, I was at the base of Box Hill. I plodded up it trying to keep my HR below 160.

I got to the top in 1:08 and went to get my bike. I was very slow with my transition in the London Duathlon so I tried to make it quicker but still faffed around taking over 3 minutes.

The first lap on the bike was painful. My quads hurt and I couldn't get going. I tried to find people in the distance and reel them in but it was hard going. After the ascent of Box Hill, my legs seemed to loosen up and my second lap was better. I was catching people and I passed 7 or 8 riders on Box Hill. The last lap was even better as I managed to keep going and again passed about 5 people on the hill.

My second transition was also about 3 minutes. It was warm by now and I should have taken my compression base layer off but I couldn't be bothered. I quick swig of SiS and I was off again.

The first mile of the run was slow and I was worried that I would miss out on the sub-4 I was trying for. If I couldn't go faster, I wouldn't make it. A Serpentine runner was going a little faster so I latched onto the back of him and forced the pace. This helped and with 4 miles to go, I passed him and got faster. I was really pleased with how I was feeling and I made up many places before getting to Box Hill. The last 1.7 miles up the hill was hard work but I just kept picking out people ahead and trying to catch them. I even managed a sprint finish to beat someone in a one-piece triathlon suit.

I was very pleased with my performance. In hindsight, I could have gone a bit quicker on the first run and with practice, I could get quicker after the transitions.

Run 1: 01:08:20
Average Speed: 8:32 minute miles
Transition 1: 00:03:11
Bike 1: 00:30:06
Average Speed: 15.95 mph
Bike 2: 00:28:20
Average Speed: 16.95 mph
Bike 3: 00:27:29
Average Speed: 17.47 mph
Transition 2: 00:03:19
Run 2: 01:05:26
Average Speed: 8:10 minute miles

Average Heart Rate: 154 bpm (83% of max)
Elevation Gain: 3,651 feet
Calories: 3,800

Position after 1st run: 212th
Position after Bike: 179th
Final Position: 161st
Starters: 248
Finishers: 2311st
First Place: 2:37:14
Last Place: 4:58:15

Friday, 20 March 2009

Another great ride and road rage

I had another great ride yesterday. Out in Richmond Park again with Ed. We also met up with Stephen, a friend from the Dad's group. He is riding the Etape Caledonia in May and needed to get some training in. We all did three good laps before Ed and I went to Sigma Sports in Kingston.

I did have a bit of a road rage incident. I was riding next too Ed at around 18mph when I could feel a car behind sitting very close. The speed limit in the park is 20mph so I wasn't exactly holding them up but I decided not to annoy them and pulled back in behind Ed.

The car came past but it stopped along side me. The window of the Mercedes hatchback came down and a middle aged women started shouting at me to get over onto the cycle path. She then sped off. Now, firstly, I believe I have every right to cycle on the roads even if there is a cycle path. Secondly, the highway code says "never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends" so riding next to Ed on a wide, straight rode was fine (and don't forget I pulled in for her). Lastly, the cycle path she talked about was really a pavement. It was used by cyclists but its not specifically designed for them.

So I stewed and stewed and got crosser and crosser. She was just up ahead so I decided to talk to her. I caught up with her car to see her wind up the window. I politely knocked on the window and she wound it down. I explained that I was allowed on the road, that the cycle-track was a footpath, asked her why she was speeding in the park and why she felt she couldn't share the road with me. She shouted at me to get off the road and sped off and got some distance ahead.

We were now coming down the longest hill in Richmond Park and I could still see her so I put the hammer down, got to 38 mph and caught her again. I went screaming past her with my lungs on fire and waved. Ed had no idea what was going on but decided to join in and came after me. He was much more mature and gave her the bird.

My actions were not all that clever but it makes me so angry that people just can't be chilled and patient. If she had sat behind me she wouldn't have been late for whatever important appointment she had. It was a beautiful day in a beautiful place and there was no need for anyone to get aggressive. Shame on her.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Beautiful Day

A decent start to the week. I did 10 miles bike and a 4 mile run on Monday and a 12 mile bike and a 3 mile run in the gym on Tuesday. I also did loads of stretching on both days which has really helped loosen my legs up.

Today I went out to Richmond Park and did 37 miles with Ed. It was a perfect day. Shorts and jersey weather, no wind, blue sky and a quiet park.

We didn't push it but got to a decent speed for 3 laps before heading to Prologue Bikes in East Sheen. It was just full of gorgeous bikes. If I was a rich man, I could fill my garage (if I had one) with many of these beautiful machines. I was looking for new wheels and had a chat to Bruce, who gave me some advice. I might be back next week.

We were back into Richmond Park for a little bit more riding before home. The park is full of dear at the moment. The cull happens soon where they close the park and "reduce the numbers in the herd" and fill the local restaurants with venison. Yum! Thanks to Flickr for the photo.

This is my video for Sunday's ride.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Its a Silver

Ride Facts
Distance: 71 miles
Climb: 6000 feet (approx.)
Finishing Place: 44th
Total Riders: 233
Total Finishers: 227
Rider Time: 4:21:58
Average Speed: 16.26 mph
Official Time: 4:25:00
Average Speed: 16.08 mph
Ranking: Silver

I was so delighted with top 50. That's top 20% at the 5K yesterday and top 20% today. I'm made up with that. And its my first Silver award.

The boys
Ed: 48th, 4:26:48, Silver
SimonO: 55th, 4:28:46, Silver
Bob: 56th, 4:28:47, Silver

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Burgess Hill Spring Classic Cyclosportive

I was up at 6:00am for porridge and the short drive to Wimbledon to get Ed. We were off again by 7:20 and drove the 45 miles to Burgess Hill. We got there with plenty of time, got our race number and had a free cup of coffee. We met up with friends SimonO and Bob who were also doing the Classic 71 mile route.

We set off after a small delay and were quickly flying down the roads. My plan was to try and stay with the fast people for as long as possible. Simon and Bob are quick and Ed is in great form and faster then me. The first 10 miles were crazy. I was behind SimonO and then Ed and then I took a turn on the front. But I knew it wouldn't last. At a small hill, Ed jump round two other riders and I didn't go. Within seconds, Simon and Bob were round me and they were gone. On the long hill called The Wall, I saw them nearly at the top (you can't miss Ed's Frosties jersey) and I wondered how big the gap would be at the end.

The Wall came after 25 miles and I was familiar with it. I had climbed it during the Hell of the Ashdown when it seemed quite hard but in the sunny conditions it wasn't too bad and I was up it without much trouble.

At mile 40 I arrived at the first food stop. I had only used one SiS bottle and I had a full water bottle left and a Clif Bar so I just had my chip scanned and continued. I wanted to try and keep the gap between myself and the others down to a minimum. I didn't want them beating me a 30 minutes or more.

I continued on my own as there were no groups around. No chance of drafting off anyone. It was at this point that I found myself passing people. To my surprise, I caught up with a steady stream of riders and went passed them. I got passed by a few riders by I was passing many more.

The second half of the ride had some really nasty hills. One was particularly steep at over 20%. I did hear that Ed had nearly fallen off here. I didn't do too much better as about half way up I realised I was in a much higher gear than I had thought and I couldn't change down fast enough and came to a grinding halt. When I tried to start again I very nearly fell off. I had to either walk or ride down to the bottom and do it again. I rode down and did it again.

I got to the second feed stop at mile 50 where I grabbed some cake, got my bottle filled with SiS and scanned my chip without getting off my bike. It was then a short ride with some nasty little hills before the 3rd and last stop at mile 60. It was literally stop, get scanned and get off again.

The last 11 miles were really good. I was feeling strong and had kept a pretty constant speed since being left by the boys. I made it with a ride time of 4:22 and waited in line for my official result. As I got my official time of 4:25:00 (3 stops and a wee in 3 minutes) I heard someone calling my name. I looked round and there was Ed. And further back Simon and Bob. Somehow, I had finished in front of them all. I was staggered and so were they. It turned out that they had stopped at the first food stop for a couple of minutes and I had gone past them. And for the rest of the 32 miles we had cycled at pretty much the same pace so I was 90 seconds ahead of Ed and 3 minutes ahead of the other two. I know its not a race but given than I'm usually in Ed's wake, it was nice to be in front for a change.

Saturday, 14 March 2009


I have had a good couple of days on the bike. On Wednesday I did some speedwork and on Friday, I did hill reps. I cycled to the Dad's group for a coffee and I planned to go to Richmond Park afterwards to do some laps.

However, the road from Wimbledon Park goes up quite sharply and a friend, Stephen, had told me of Home Park Road. It is a very very posh road overlooking the park and Wimbledon (as in Centre Court, Henman Hill and strawberries). It has a decent hill that gets up to 11 or 12% and you can really attack it. I did 12 laps of that 1.1 mile circuit and felt pretty good. It did over 30 miles in total.

Today, I had to drop my daughter off at school at 7:45 am as she had a morning as a magistrate in some competition. So I decided to head over to Bushy Park to do a 5K Park Run.

I haven't done a Park Run since September last year and I hadn't done Bushy Park since my first one in February 2008. I was pretty nervous but I wanted to see how quick I was. I feel faster than usual and the moment and my run in the gym last week indicated that I could beat my PB.

I set off down the long starting straight and then quickly remembered why I hate 5K runs. Within a minute I have no idea how I'm going to be able to keep this up for 5km. I tried to keep a constant pace and got to half way feeling ok. I then started to slow a little but felt I was going to come in around the 22:00 minute mark and certainly under my previous PB of 22:24. As I approached the finish line, I was sure I'd come in under 22:00 but I didn't sprint for the line. WHY!!!!! I crossed and my watch said 22:00. BLOODY HELL. I'll be back on the 28th for another go as sub 22 is there for the taking and sub 21 is a possibility.

Final Position: 123rd
Total Finishers: 503
Watch Time: 00:22:00
Official Time: 00:22:05
Winner: 00:16:02
Last Place: 00:41:33

6 seconds. Just 6 seconds!!!
Photo Courtesy of Park Run

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Ahhhhhh, warmth

Goodbye tights, hello shorts.

I hope I'm not jumping the gun but I had a lovely ride today in my bibbed shorts, base layer and jersey. No gillet, no jacket, no tights and no big gloves. Its was great.

I've never been a lover of thights. I have never ever run in tights even in the depths of winter with snow on the ground but I was told by many that knee warmth is crucial for cyclists. So I got these horrible second hand (yuk!) bibbed tights that have lasted the winter. Now its finally warm enough for shorts and my legs can breathe.

The shorts in the picture are my old shorts. My new ones arrive in the next two weeks from Wiggle. I went for the dhb Finchdean Bib Shorts. Lots of people told me to get Assos but they are really pricey and the dhb shorts got very high marks in all their reviews.

And the red ones match my bike. I was thinking of the white ones but I don't think I can pull off white lycra yet (or ever).

I also had a good ride today. 25 miles at a decent speed - 18 mph average. That included lots of traffic lights. I was told by a friend that just like running, if I wanted to ride faster, ride faster. So I did 5 or 6 miles of speed work riding about 20 seconds on the hammer then 30 seconds off.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Tired and heavy legged

I'm struggling. I found Saturday's 82 miler hard going. My legs felt very heavy and I couldn't get a decent spin going for long. My right knee was also twinging but that's nothing new.

I know I need more sleep. I'm terrible at getting to bed at a decent time. I mess around looking at random stuff on the computer or flicking through the TV channels and before I know it, its past midnight. I hardly ever get more than 7 hours sleep and sometimes less. I also know that having extra sleep does make a difference. Before the Edinburgh marathon last year, I made myself go to bed before 11pm every night for the week before and I felt so fresh by the weekend.

I went out today and my legs were still heavy. It was very windy which didn't help. I was meant to do 30 miles but after struggling to Richmond and doing a windy lap I was pretty much done. I did an extra little loop to make sure I was over 20 miles (the bare minimum) and headed home.

I'm also doing badly with the diet. I am hungry all the time and I'm turning to comfort foods. Its not making me gain weight but I'm also not losing it and given the amount of exercise I'm doing, this is poor.

I just need to have a good week were training goes well, I feel fresh and I lose weight. That's not too much to ask, is it?

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Long Slow Ride

After the 21 miles of the Meon Valley Plod, the start of this week was never going to be great but with the cold still lingering and my knees still feeling the hills, I decided to make it an easy week. Some small rides to keep the legs turning over was all I did but it was probably for the best.

By Saturday I was feeling OK. The knees weren't hurting and my quads were fine. Even the cold had all but gone. So I was really looking forward to my long ride with Ed. We had planned to do the 80 mile, 6 hill loop through the Surrey Hills. We'd done it before and knew it was hard but we both were keen to up the training. The main hills were Staple Lane (Hungry Hill), Brook Hill, Winterfold, Hoe Lane, Raikes Lane (with the hairpin), and Box Hill. Its about 5500 - 6000 feet of climbing so not bad for a training run.

I got to Wimbledon at 7:45 and after Ed got himself ready, we headed out at around 8. It was a little chilly but the sun was out and I was hoping it would heat up. I'd chosen my normal fingerless gloves rather than my winter ones and my fingertips were cold. Fortunately, that didn't last long and within 15 miles, I was warm.

Ed was plagued all day with minor bike problems. His gear indexing was off and his rear breaks were sticking in the on position after we rode through a rather large puddle. I have to say I didn't mind the odd mechanical stop as I wasn't in the best of forms. It was a bit annoying as I'd had an easy week. I could only put it down to running 3 hard events on three consecutive weekends.

I followed Ed up most of the hills as he was in better shape then I (even though he was complaining of a chest infection). I didn't want to be last on every hill so I sprinted a couple which helped my ego even though no one was racing. I did try and hammer it up Raikes Lane but I had forgotten how far the hill goes after the hairpin and I soon blew up and had to watch Ed ride past. Never mind.

It is pleasing to be able to go up Winterfold and Raikes without needing to stop which is a great improvement to how I was 6 months ago. My recovery rate is also much shorter once I reach the top. An obvious sign of my much improved fitness levels.

We finished up Box Hill, had out cup of tea and then bombed it home. We did pass some runners on the other side of Box Hill who were presumable training for the Ballbuster. They looked really fast which made me very worried.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Photos from the Meon Valley Plod

The Start. I was towards the back after arriving late because I left my race number in the car.

Someone (not me) climbing one of the many hills.

Not the biggest hill but still a struggle.

Me on one of the few stretches of road

Photographs by Ian J Berry, Winchester & District AC.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Meon Valley Plod

Running-wise, I had certainly not trained for this event. I had done three half-marathons in 2009 but my weekly total has obviously suffered because of the cycling. However, I was not too worried as I found out at the Abingdon marathon that cycle-training translates to running.

I picked up a fellow running at Clapham Junction who needed a lift to the race. It was nice to have someone to chat to on the drive down the A3. We got their in plenty of time and got ourselves ready.

The race started at 10:30 with a short hill through a field and then down and to a farm and a short spell on a road. After the road, the first proper hill came into view. It was through two fields and then up. A small trail of people could been seen walking up the steep hill.

After that there was a loop back to the start at mile 5 before a short section on the road and then off to the next hill. This one wasn't too bad apart from a sore left knee that was bothering me. Thankfully it didn't get any worse. The middle section has two nice surprised. One is a path that can get very boggy but was fine this year and then a stretch that is used by quad bikes and motocross bikes so is really rutted and you have to pick your line really carefully to avoid ankle twists. Again, this was better than last year when it was very wet and slippy.

I was feeling ok at this point and really enjoying myself. I had taken both my Sports Beans and Cliff Blocks (both orange) which were good. The beans are sweet and the blocks an odd texture but both seemed to do the trick. I'm not sure how they were taste after 7 hours in the saddle.

Mile 15 and we started up Butser (I always called it Buster but hey, I am dyslexic) which is the tallest hill on the South Downs. The first half mile is steep and through some woods before it emerges and you see the long route to the top. There is no running up it unless you are a freak so its a slow plod to the top. I made sure I walked up at a first pace and managed to pass some people. At the top, you run around the top of a large natural bowl with a really steep drop to one side. I wasn't keen on that bit.

Then its up another short hill before you reach to summit and get to the next feed station. This is the best feed station of any race with water, jelly beans, mars bars, cake, coffee, tea and rum. I had a milky, sweet coffee and a piece of cake and it tasted brilliant.

With the biggest hill done and only 6 miles to go, I felt like I had cracked it but like any run, the last bit is the hardest. The route went down for two miles before steadily rising again. From 18 to 20 miles, it went gradually up and up and sapped the last energy in your legs. With 1 to go you see part of the outbound route and that gave me a second (or third or forth) wind and I stretched my legs. I was surprised at how good I felt and got some speed up (compared to the previous miles) finishing with an 8:40 minute mile.

This is a fantastic race. I love it every time I do it and I will be back next year. It love it because its well organised, has such friendly people, has a great route, is really hard and it gives me such a sense of achievement. Thanks to all the organisers. Now, I better stop running and start lots of cycling.

Number: 6 (same as 2008 - spooky)
Distance: 21 miles
Total Ascent: 2683 feet
Official Time: 3:32:25
Pace: 10:21 minute miles
Finishing Position: 191
Total Finishers: 364
First Place: 02:21:02
Last Place: 5:35:50


In marathon training schedules, it is often said that if you miss some sessions due to things like injury or illness, you should not attempt to play catch-up because it can lead to injury and illness. What do they know!!!!

After being rubbish last week, I was determined to have a storming 7 days and achieve my cycling targets for February. The week started well with a 63 mile ride over to Box Hill and back. My legs were very heavy after my trail half marathon on Saturday and I wasn't quick but I did work hard on all hills.

Tuesday saw me wake with a cold. Well, not a new cold as I don't think a completely shook-off the cold I can 10 days ago but it has got worse. Maybe the experts were right about catch-up. My knee was also hurting so I took the day off. I slept very badly that night and ended up on the couch to avoid keeping Cath up with my coughing.

My cold was no better on Wednesday but I went out anyway. If I'm going to feel rubbish, I might as well do it on a bike. I did the same Box Hill route with a slight extra bit at the end to do 65 miles. The ride got better as I went along. I felt rotten in the evening but slept better.

Thursday was a fast run and cycle in the gym and Friday was another 30 miles on the bike and a little run. It was actually sunny and I had to take my coat off which was great. I also cycled the 10 miles to my mates house to play poker. I only had one can of cider as I'm being good. I went to Richmond Park on Saturday morning for a gentle ride with Ed. Nothing to strenuous given Sunday's race. I was feeling tired from a late night and Ed was kind enough to wait for me several times.

Sunday was the Meon Valley Plod - read my other post for a race review.

Bike - 223.1 miles
Run - 23.5 miles
Total Time - 17 hours 43 minutes
Estimated Calories - 10,428 (using MapMyRide)