Three falls, but no submission

November 17, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

After detouring off-road on the cross bike with some mountain-bike-(ish) orienteering earlier this year, part two of bending the edges of my comfort zone was to actually race some cyclocross.

I did a little bit of practising with Roy, who did his best to teach me not to do a Joey. And, I did find that the cross mount/dismount is very handy for free speed in T1 & T2 at tris.

Wellington was first, in September; I’d fancied cross because of the potential, er, crossover with fellrunning. Wellington turned out to have about 20m of running between barriers… hey ho.

I did a practice lap and had to wipe the blood off after stabbing myself in the face with an overhanging branch, which reminded me of getting lost on the way to orienteering.

Loved the race though, especially once I’d remembered some of the training advice, such as looking at where you want to go rather than where the bike is pointing.  First two laps, I kept on trying to wear a certain tree. Third lap onwards, my mantra was “don’t look at the tree Tom, don’t look at the seductive, siren, tree”. Miracle. As was my puncture saving itself for the last lap.

Bit of a gap after that because of poncing round in girly socks at the Dawlish and Dartington duathlons, but today was back to mud-dling through at Chard cyclocross.

Someone said the course was fast and slippy, and I sort of half agree. My tyres stayed up this time, even if I didn’t.

Becki was supporting, if ‘supporting’ means laughing hysterically when I fall off.  One or two slides round grassy corners were the normal sort of knockabout fun, but when I hit the sandpit for the third or fourth time, something went a bit more spectacular than I was planning.

I do know that sand is all about going in a straight line, so I didn’t consciously fling the bike left. That would have been silly, and would surely have meant that I would have done a sort of sandcastle-face-plant. And would have heard Becki trying to hold the camera still instead of rushing to help…

But, as my parents would say, “apart from that Mrs Lincoln how did you enjoy the play?”

Got back on, fell off a bit more, worked like a worky thing to try to get back up where I had been. The best races are sometimes where I cross the line with a big smile, a little bit of sick in my mouth, and maybe a tiny bit of wee down my leg. Tick.


Seaweed, seaward and seawood

November 2, 2013 at 11:42 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

dawlishI like a nice ritual (Catholic upbringing and all that), and all through the summer my reflective yellow winter running bib hangs on the end of the bannister, huddled against the sun, waiting for autumn to be in the air. It gradually gets covered in Stuff, before nudging its way forwards about the same time as the clocks go backwards.

Getting the yellow bib on is an annual declaration to me and the world (normally it’s only me listening though) that I’m still a runner. I don’t know when I became a runner; I wouldn’t call myself a triathlete – I’m someone that does a bit of triathlon. I wouldn’t call myself a fellrunner – I run on the hills sometimes, and I’m certainly not a racing cyclist, although I’ve raced(ish). I was definitely a smoker before though; the entry qualification for that seems lower.

Anyway, on with the reflective yellowbibness, and along the seawall with a moonlit shadow. It’s a plodding scrunch through the sand that’s escaped from the beach, but when I head towards the sea in search of firmer ground, it all gets even sinkier. A stop for a wee makes the sea bigger (and warmer for swimming in next year).

If I ran here all the time I might not notice the smells of seaweed and beach, woodsmoke and coalsmoke, driftwood and darkness. But I don’t, so I do.

While I was out I remembered that writing (and I’m not a writer either, see above) is like running. One foot in front of another, one word in front of another. Just get on with it.

Someone once told me that for effective training, I should always have a specific purpose for each run. But sometimes, I think that “going for a run” is quite specific enough. 


November 2, 2013 at 10:08 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s good to note that after some years of trying, I finally got round the Plymouth tri without my bike exploding. My time and position were mildly disappointing, but then again so were my training, so I cant squabble much about them.

I had the Saunders still in my legs, and a lack of swimming in my arms, and the swim and bike were just a hot and crowded waiting room for the run (“Mr Nausea will see you now”).

Will I race it again? Probably not. It’s not that I’ve slayed any demons – they just change shape and place – but more that I hated the run course so much. I always think a good running race route is one that you might pick if you were just going out for a run. Or, more selfishly I suppose, a route that I might pick for a run. Some sort of reason to it, some sort of journey. By their nature, fell and moor races tend to this (though some don’t, which may be why I’ve gone off the Grizzly a bit) but the best of road races and tris can manage it too.

The old course for Plymouth tri took you up Murder Hill (although my mother later pointed out to me that she used to push a pram up there when heavily pregnant, so maybe it’s not a hill at all), but then a brilliant stagger back along the coast path (no prams). The new one takes you twice up behind the Hooe Looes (Mont vent-Hooe), but is a dreary two-lapper with a draining out-and-back along Mountbatten pier. Maybe it was just too hot a day, but even my happy hat didn’t cheer me up on the run.

I think I need to get out on the hills.

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