Monday, May 2, 2016

And finally....

Those of you who have occasionally read this will have noticed the total lack of posts since, well, a long time ago last year... There were good reasons for this. The Melodeon Master's Mother became very unwell and a very close friend developed acute lymphatic leukaemia - the nasty kind. The Melodeon Master and I really had other things to think about than rubbish running - and the running kind of stopped anyway.

Sadly the Melodeon Master's Mother died at the beginning of August. She was delightful, brave and kind to the end, and I miss her. The friend with leukaemia was very very ill, he had a bone marrow transplant, he is now 6 months post-transplant, and he's beginning to look more like himself. Life will never be the same again for him and his family, and we're all acutely aware of the need to get on and enjoy life while we can.

I ran the Christmas Pudding Race in December with the wife of the friend - she went off like a bloody train and damned nearly finished me off, so I haven't run since. Until today - a little 3k jog with Happy Running Dog who said it was BRILLIANT to be out again and We Should Really Do This More Often - and I agree. I have no events planned this year (I'm sad the MudRunner events aren't being held, and the Velothon is only the long ride which I don't fancy this year) so there's no real incentive to train. I have also discovered that practically everybody I know runs without making such a fuss about it, so I think it's time to put this blog to bed...

And besides, the Melodeon Master and I have a new project. We're building a house.

Of course there's a blog:  sarahandguybuildahouse

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Muddy Running

So, Race for Life yesterday with the doggy training group in Bute Park.  How muddy can it be?  A few bits of plastic with a bit of water…

I was very clean and I had a lovely pair of ears:

We looked good at the start:

Note the appropriate umbrella.  

I found the mud early on…  Within 50 yards of the start there was a ‘muddy puddle’ so I lay down in it, to the cheers of the assembled throng.  Both of them.

The group had split into various factions - young, less young, middle years and ancients.  I stuck with the ancients at the back - Trish (lovely spaniel) who is 71.  She was thrilled to be able to walk the 5k and I was happy to jog beside her.  She bounded over all the obstacles and was an absolute trouper.  Also with us was Sian, wife of John the dog trainer (cute poodle) and Sharon (mixed dog who was very ill recently but is now well again).  

I was the muddiest:

Sian and I sat on top of the cargo nets:

And we all finished together:

That’s Vinnie’s mum taking a photo…

And the time?  Well, let’s just say we finished on Saturday….

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Velothon photos

Yep, we have official photos....  And they're nice.  Well, nice-ish!

They're all taken at the finish and I thought I was going faster than it looks.... the one above is me saying thank yoooooooo to some lovely people waving and cheering - even though they didn't know me.

That's me looking relieved...

Me doing some more waving.  It would have been rude not to...

And finally me concentrating on not falling off at the end - there were two cable 'bumps' which looked menacing, so I'm concentrating...

I've met a few people in the week who had all done the 'big' route - maybe I'll have to move up to that next year.  I've also met someone who called it 'that bloody bike ride' because she couldn't get out to do her shopping...

I loved it, and I'm still purring about it.  Bring on next year!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Velothon Wales

Whilst 13,000 people tackled 140km including the Abergavenny Tumble and Caerphilly Mountain, I was sensible and opted for the much easier 52km around Cardiff, Rudry, Caerphilly and back to Cardiff.

I set my alarm for 4.45 and left the house soon after 5.  It was sooooo early - I did ask the Melodeon Master why I was doing it ("because you wanted to") and said "don't let me enter anything again ever".

I was way too early....  When I arrived in Cardiff (parking behind a client's office with my parking permit) I was still far too early, so I prepared my water bottles, sat them on the ground outside the driver's door to keep them upright, and sat to listen to the radio.  It was then that I saw the sign saying about permits being within date.  Date?  Date?  Does it have a date?  Yes it does.  'Expires March 2015'.  Ah.  No problem, I'll park on the road on the other side of the office and pay at a meter.  I back out and drive out of the car park.  Running over BOTH my water bottles.  Oops.  A quick trot over to the event village got me some more water, luckily the bottles weren't split - they just popped their tops off.  Must be tough plastic!

So, water sorted, ticket for parking sorted, bike sorted, off we go.

I set off far too fast - I went at 19mph which was fine, but by the time we hit the bumpy stuff (hills) my legs were already tired.

However, I had secret weapons - Fit Mark and the Melodeon Master.

At the top of the Draethen Drag, Fit Mark and Speedy Charlie had chalked on the road.

Officianados of the Tour de France will know that fans chalk their favourite riders' names on the road to spur them on.  Today it was for me.  Awesome.

I pointed it out to as many fellow riders as I could and was so proud....

Even better, Fit Mark, Speedy Charlie and the lovely Lou were waiting to cheer me on - I waved as I approached them which was just as well as Fit Mark and Speedy Charlie had just finished being filmed shouting 'Allez Allez Allez!'  Not sure where that's going to appear, it wasn't on the local news...

Then at the top of Rudry Common the Melodeon Master and Happy Running Dog were waiting for me.  I had already planned to discard one of my water bottles at this point, so I lobbed it into the grass at the side of the road (again, just like the Tour de France - I've always wanted to do that) and then waved at the Melodeon Master and yelled hello as I pedalled past.

Brilliant to have support on the route.

And then on to Caerphilly Mountain.

Nope, I didn't make it.  Got about half way and then thought I would either burst a blood vessel or have a heart attack, either of which would have been messy, and got off to push.  It's a shame, but the combination of not enough training and starting too fast meant that it wasn't going to happen.

The ride to the finish was then mostly downhill - such fun!  Cycling on traffic free roads that I drive on most weeks was absolutely amazing.  And FAST - I was pedalling as hard as I could, trying to get home in under 2 hours 10 minutes.  I had been aiming for 2 hours, but that had passed, so I chose 2 hours 10 minutes as my next target.

And my finish time?

Officially, 2.11.06.  Nearly did it.  Nearly.

My finishing selfie.  With medal.

I've already registered interest in next year - can't wait!

No, the Melodeon Master is not currently speaking to me...

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Good training. With plants.

On Wednesday when I got home from work at lunchtime and appeared in the kitchen to put my Garmin on Happy Running Dog got excited...


So we went and got the road bike out


But I had to put her back in the house, so she got a chew to make me feel less bad…


Finally I got out and did Fit Mark’s Eight - two loops of local lanes with lots of hills - 10 minutes faster than last time.  It isn’t getting any easier, but I am going faster!  I also ended up in a hedge when a tractor forced me off the road - he was going far too fast and taking up all the road.  Luckily I was going downhill with my brakes on in case I met anything coming the other way, so braked hard and aimed at the hedge.  Mud and stingers, lovely.  He didn’t even stop.  I think once he looked back and saw me gesticulating and swearing he realised I was probably ok…

When I got back Happy Running Dog was let out...


Then we got the MTB out…


And off we went again…

Machen Forge Trail to, well, Machen, alongside the river beyond the iron bridge, turned right up the Alsation Chute, straight up (that’s the ‘one mile uphill’ track), to the top of the Tardis, turned right, back down into Machen, home along the Machen Forge Trail and Happy Running Dog had a pigs ear when we got back by way of reward as she had run so fast


Yep, knackered the dog.

On Saturday I cycled to dog training.  Again.  Only this time I was doing it after two days rest, on the road bike instead of the MTB and with some food and drink for fuelling on the way.

I got there in 1 hour 33 compared to the 2 hours 10 of last week.  I did interval training (as advised by Fit Mark) on all of the flat coastal bit.  And (…. drum roll…..)


I know, proper bloke with clippy pedal thingies and matching Lycra!  I did intervals to catch him up and then wondered if it would be rude to sit on his back wheel.  I decided it would so I just wellied it past him.  I said ‘hello’ cheerily (is that what one does?  I’ve never overtaken anybody seriously before) and carried on with my intervals.  Some time later I stopped to take a photo of the ‘Velothon Wales’ road closure sign and the bloke was about 100 yards behind me.  And puffing.  Hah!

On the way back from dog training I was another 10 minutes faster.  But I went 3k further because I took my long detour route to try and find my sunglasses which I had dropped on the way.  And it was seriously into a headwind.

I am VERY pleased.  Entirely down to my cycling guru, Fit Mark.  And Jelly babies.

Today was rubbish.  I had legs like chewed string so I only did a hilly 9 miles.  Mind you, I did meet an old buddy in his garden so I cycled home with a carrier bag of two cotoneasters.  Result!

While I was cycling with my carrier bag I passed lots of Lycra clad cyclists training for the Velothon. I would like them to know I had cycled the same hills.  With weights.

By this time next week I will have completed Velothon Wales.  Hopefully.  I'm aiming for under 2 hours.  Yesterday I thought it was possible.  Today with my chewed string legs, I'm not so sure...

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Proper training continues

Weirdly for me, I've actually continued Proper Training. This week I have completed 124km with over 1,400 metres of climb. That's probably thanks to Fit Mark's ingenious (if horrible) hilly loops.  Mostly I did 'Mark's Loop' which is only 10.5k but has 190 metres of climb. My 'personal best' time went from 44 minutes to 38 minutes in the week. The 38 minutes was on Thursday, fairly late in the evening and I could barely speak or walk when I got home. So on Friday I did 'Mark's Eight' - the same loop with another different loop afterwards - 22km of cycling with 393 metres of climb, including the Draethen Drag twice. My legs were still tired from Thursday's efforts, so it felt really slow but looking at my clever watch thingy stats, it wasn't that much slower...

On Saturday I decided to take it easy and do a mostly flat route. So I cycled to and from dog training. The long way. All 43 miles of it...

I went on the mountain bike for a change and because I thought it would be more fun. Mindful of the Velominati Rules I didn't wear my super padded cycling shorts (wrong thing for a MTB) so by mile 15 I could barely sit down. And then I took a 'scenic route':

The red is where the route was the same, and the green was the direct route which I took on the way home. The pink was my scenic route on the way to dog training and I honestly thought I was NEVER going to reach it. The only bonus of this was that the Melodeon Master and Happy Running Dog were already there and had explained my absence so I got a round of applause when I eventually did rock up.

After a Snickers, a slice of Alsation Jan's birthday cake and a cup of tea I was fine, so we did dog training (including running 400m on the agility course with very wobbly legs) and I cycled home again. By the end I was pretty much running on empty, but I managed all the hills and didn't stop at all. Hooray!

Today I had a fun training session with Happy Running Dog - riding the MTB up and down a big hilly field near home. I pedalled, she ran alongside with her ears flapping. Lovely. Only 5k, but 130 metres of climb. On wet grass.

Tomorrow is a rest day.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Proper training

It's 3 weeks to go to the Velothon.  I've actually started Proper Training.  I went out yesterday morning for an hour and a half on the road bike to find as many hills as I could. I've no idea how far I went and can't prove how many hills I climbed because my clever watch thingy decided it had been unloved for Far Too Long and refused to hold its charge. We have now had words, and I am hopeful that it may yet be persuaded to work properly...

In my planned route I included 3 hills that I've never made it up before. I managed to get up 2 of them, but the third (the climb from the Cardiff side to the Maenllwyd for you locals) finished me off and I walked at least half of it. At the top I met an older cyclist who clearly knew it well as he said 'That's a tough one, isn't it?'  to which I replied, in my customary ladylike fashion 'You're right - it's a bugger.' Sigh. One day I will learn to be more polite. To be fair, I was only just managing to breathe at that point...

The lanes I cycled in were mostly clear, although I did have run-ins with two cars - one who wanted to overtake me at the precise moment I needed to pull out to not crash into a runner coming towards me. As it was I slammed on the brakes instead and both the runner and I shouted at the car.  I'm sure he didn't care. The other car was coming towards me and the driver gave me a violent, thumb jerking towards his window hand signal. Anyone know what that means? Nope, me neither...

So I thought I'd done quite well in my training. Until I spoke to Fit Mark that is. He suggested a slightly different route (bigger hills, naturally) in a figure of eight. Twice.

I tried it today but only had time to do one of the loops of the figure eight. I survived, I only got off my bike when the chain came off (twice) and it took 44 minutes. As timed by the clever watch thingy which may well still be sulking. I shall be using this as my marker to see if I'm improving. If I'm still able to breathe at the top of the farm road (first big hill) then that will also tell me I'm improving...

Fit Mark also introduced me to the The Rules as laid out by the Velominati... apparently unbreakable rules to be followed by cyclists, such as:

Rule #7 - Tan lines should be cultivated and kept razor sharp.  (Tan lines?  In this weather?)

Rule #10 - It never gets easier, you just go faster

and my personal favourite which I used as motivation on the big hills today:

Rule #5 - Harden The F**k Up.

I'm trying - really I am!