Sunday, 30 September 2018

One day one photo - 30: Ending on a high at Brigg Triathlon

End of September is generally sees the finale of the triathlon season. It's not that I really got into it - I only actually managed to do one other triathlon in Chantilly, France plus a couple of aquathlons in London.

So today's race was the first triathlon of my season in the UK! And I have to say it was a nice way to end the season. As a child I leaved in what is now known as North-East Lincolnshire (in those days it was South Humberside) but for some reason I never had the opportunity to go to Brigg.

Transition at Brigg triathlon - definitely my weakest link!
So today was my first time. The town centre, from what I saw during the run section of the triathlon looked pretty.

The bike course was pan flat, and was a typical time trial profile. I think the route, which was an out and back to Redbourne village, is regularly used for time trials.

I just rode the event on my road bike, as I don't tend to bother with tri bars or disc wheels. It didn't put me at any disadvantage as there were folks on a whole variety of bicycles, including some people on mountain bikes.

What was great was the encouragement given by the other spectators as we passed each other in opposite directions both on the bike and on the run, and the cheers given to us by the spectators along the side of the road. It seemed like this was a big event in Brigg.

I was pleased with the way my race went, as for once I didn't completely mess up the swim - which was in the pool at Ancholme Leisure Centre. The bike and the run also went to form. I wasn't in contention for any prizes but I was just pleased to do a clean race on the three disciplines. The only problem was my fourth discipline. I do need to work on my transitions though. I spent 7 minutes in T1 and 3 minutes in T2.

A woman who I got talking to at the start set off in the same way as me. It was her first ever triathlon and she beat me. She was only marginally quicker than me on the swim, and slower than me on the bike and the run, but she spent a total of 3 minutes in both tranistions where I spent 10 minutes!

Still, I enjoyed my morning, and the goody bag was pretty generous - Clif Bars, drink, medal, T-shirt, and a  Buff. All good value for £15.

I now just need to practice getting shoes on and off very quickly between now and next season! 

Saturday, 29 September 2018

One day one photo - 29: Hornsea Beach Race with East Hull Harriers

I seem to collect sports club membership like people collect stamps! I am a member of more than one cycling club, and a member of a hockey club. As for running, I am first claim at Serpentine Running Club, second claim at South London Harriers, and I am now also a member of a running club in Yorkshire which I run with when I visit my family in East Yorkshire. East Hull Harriers are a very friendly club, and they have been very welcoming when I have been up and run with them. I have done their Saturday afternoon Pack Runs, group runs in the rural villages to the north and east of Hull, and I attended their 125th anniversary club dinner earlier this year.

At the back of the pack and enjoying it!
I was really pleased to get out and do the first race of the winter handicap league, the Hornsea Beach race. When doing running races we get to run on a variety of terrains, but I don't know a time when did a race on the beach. The sand was compacted so it wasn't too hard to run through, however the tide was coming in, so there were parts where we just had to run straight through the water.

I did try as much as possible to avoid getting my feet wet, and probably ended up running further than the advertised 6 miles! Also, another small detail was that I missed the start by a few minutes as I couldn't find the steps to get down from the road onto beach. So it was a heartsink moment to hear the whistle go, and see a sea of red running shirts sail off into the distance while I was still on the road! I also felt a bit silly, once I eventually got onto the beach, being a lone runner with a race number on, and no one else around me.

Funnily enough, despite my late start I managed to catch a few of the back markers so I wasn't in last place in the scratch rankings - though I probably am on handicap.

But hey, it was a pleasant afternoon, and as ever it was good to catch up with them for the first time since May.

Friday, 28 September 2018

One day one photo - 28: Velovixen at the Cycle Show

As well as browsing round the stands and meeting cycling folks at the Cycle Show at the Birmingham NEC I was also involved in a presentation at the Velovixen/HSBC British Cycling Breeze women's cycling hub.

Phil Bingham, Ishbel Holmes and I after presenting at the Cycle Show
The idea was to have a stand sponsored by two organisations heavily involved in the promotion of women's cycling, and to have presentations from different women throughout the Cycle Show, talking about their cycling and different adventures and experiences that they've had.

Anna Glowinski, the designer behind Annanichoola and Anna's Legs was the anchorwoman and she did a stirling job. She also gave a presentation about her life in cycling, and how she now has had to learn to live with fibromyalgia, a condition which has stopped her from cycling as much as she wants. Presentations were given by folks like Olympic track cyclist Joanna Rowsell, BMX World Champion Shanaze Reade, and Ishbel Holmes, who talked about her round the world cycling expeditions.

I had the privilege of being one of the presenters too, and spoke about my cycling and how I got into it. I think I was the warm-up act for the other folks to follow, so was the first presenter. I didn't have them packed to the rafters where I spoke, but I did get a fair bit of engagement from the folks who were there, and the Breeze champions who were there found my talk interesting.

It was good to be interviewed by Anna, as I've known her for many years so I didn't get that nervous about speaking in front of an audience. In fact it was quite relaxing, convivial experience!

I think a hub like this is a great idea as it gives women a chance to hear about others' experiences, get tips and make contacts. And having it in the middle of a large cycle show means you've got a captive audience.

In fact, the hub was also popular with men too. My 23-year-old nephew came to the Cycle Show too, and he found the presentations on the hub very interesting. 

Thanks to Phil Bingham of Velovixen for giving me the opportunity to speak on their stand.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

One day one photo - 27: Cycle Show

I thought I would include two photos for this day.

It's that time of year when cycle shows take place. Some folks will have been at Interbike in Las Vegas, and Eurobike in Friedrichshafen, Germany. This is the UK version of those shows. The thing with the Cycle Show at the NEC Birmingham is that it is still of a manageable size where it is possible to get round and easily meet up with the folks that you would like see.

It was good to catch up with Claire Beaumont, marketing manager at Condor Cycles. The firm hasn't had the easiest of times this summer, with disbanding of the team they were sponsoring, JLT-Condor, and also the passing away of their founder, Monty Young. On the stand at the show there was a memorial garden, which was a nice touch.

Across the way from Condor, were Primal. I have a real penchant for their clothes. I just love the colours. So I had to get some of their socks, to go with the zany arm warmers and jerseys of theirs that I wear.

And while I was at it, why not throw in some food. Clif Bars had out some new flavours based around chocolate and peanut - my two favourite things - so there was no way I could pass on that either.

Of course, I did do other constructive stuff, like meeting with Canyon and Cube about reviewing their bikes, and interviewing Kirsten Wild about her road racing season and her goals for next year.

So it was a productive day, even with the little shopping spree!

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

One day one photo - 26: Yoga Rebel

I know it's a clothing brand based in London, but that's the only photo I could find that summed up my experience.

It was one of those days I guess. I am a member of a local gym at Crystal Palace, and as it is part of the Better network of sport centres I can also attend other sport centres within that network.

I was really in need of getting in a yoga class, especially with the increased amount of running I've been doing. It seems that everyone else also is really in need of yoga as the classes get booked up very quickly so I often end up being on the waiting list in case of cancellations. So that was the case today - I was on the waiting list for Hot Yoga at Streatham Ice and Leisure Centre or Yoga at Crystal Palace.

To my luck a place became available at both classes simultaneously, so I had to choose. I generally prefer Hot Yoga, but given that the Yoga class was happening much nearer to my home, and would be starting and therefore finishing earlier in the evening than the Hot Yoga class I plumped for Hot Yoga.

Unfortunately, train delays from London to Crystal Palace occurred and I ended up arriving at the Sport Centre a few minutes late. Then the machines for printing off receipts weren't working, there was a massive queue to get through reception so I consequently arrived at my class almost 10 minutes late.

Understand that I don't like arriving late to classes, but this one couldn't be helped. I entered the room via the back door, and went to pick up a mat at the back of the room. However, the teacher decided I couldn't join in, even though my arrival did not cause a disturbance because I was at the back of the room.

"No you can't join in," she said. "You are bringing negative energy." I was very surprised to be refused entry, particularly as another woman had arrived late a few minutes before me. Often when people are late the instructors are quite accommodating. But this instructor wasn't. "If you don't leave I will stop the class," she ordered. This wasn't reasonable, I thought. I had dashed over in good faith to do the class, I hadn't caused any disruption. Surely it was easier for her to just continue on and ignore me as I wasn't making any noise.

Well, I decided that I had dashed back to do yoga, and that was what I was going to do. So I took my mat, placed it on the ground and lay down.

The instructor was furious and immediately said that she was stopping the class and would call the management. There then ensued a farcical situation where she called the management and then told some trumped up story about how I had burst into the room, making loads of noise and wouldn't leave when asked. Also, because I had unfortunately not been able to get a receipt due to the machines not working she claimed that I had arrived at the class and hadn't paid, so shouldn't be there.

Of course, I had paid - I had membership. But I wasn't going to give my details or even my name because she was asking the management to revoke my membership for disruptive behaviour! So that gave more support to her claim that I was a disruptive freeloader.

The management didn't know who to believe or what to do. Meanwhile, the other participants in the class were getting restive and annoyed. A lot of them took the side of the yoga teacher, saying that I was disturbing their karma and why couldn't I just leave so that they could continue with their class.

Well, we were in a stand-off here as I wanted to do yoga, I was a paying customer, and my belief was that the yoga teacher could have made life easier for everyone all-round if she had just ignored me and continued with the class.

I expressed to the teacher and the centre employee (who was just a receptionist rather than a manager with no powers to do anything) my right to attend my class, and continued to lie on my mat with my eyes closed.

The employee tried to persuade the teacher to resume the class, but she said she didn't feel like it, and was not going to teach while I was there. I think that she was just getting very personal with me, which was uncalled-for. In the end, the employee suggested that she resume the class in another room. So she and the remaining attendees of the class (a number of them decided to leave during the altercation) were obliged to up sticks and go elsewhere, leaving me in the room to continue my meditation and Vinyasa Flow alone.

Now, that was a bit unfortunate. But I've got to say that for someone who you would expect to be laid back, this yoga teacher was very uptight and uncool. And in my opinion her behaviour had backfired because her class was disrupted, she ended up in an angry mood, having to move to another room, and she had lost half her class. Was it really worth it? I think not.

I ended up doing yoga in my own private room, and then went home after half an hour. It wasn't quite in the way that I had expected, but it was something I needed. Yes, I had been a bit of a rebel. I am not proud to say that, but I had to make a stand in the face of an instructor who was being unreasonable.

I probably won't go to one of her classes again, and she won't want me there either. But it's no loss. There are plenty of reasonable yoga instructors around. I guess on a Wednesday night I will just stick to doing Hot Yoga in Streatham - and that's no bad thing!

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

One day one photo - 25: Yoga, hot yoga, core stability

Hot yoga Class at Streatham Ice and Leisure Centre
As well as getting regular massages when I up my running miles, I have also been attending classes that help to prevent injury.

The main stay is yoga, which I do at my local sports centre at Crystal Palace. Sometimes I get to do pilates too. Slightly further away from where I live, at Streatham Ice and Sports Centre I attend Hot Yoga classes.

I would really recommend that too. I remember the first time I attended the Hot Yoga classes (aka Bikram Yoga) and did an hour of Vinyasa flow I really struggled to cycle the 5 miles to get back home. The exercises had really taken it out of me. Sure, it was pretty hot at the time and I had to drink a fair bit, and I struggled to hold one or two of the poses. But I didn't feel the tired that I would get after running. So I still found it surprising to realise that I had actually worked quite hard. Something about specifically working on those small group sets of mucles that you don't normally work on in everyday life, does give you fatigue in parts of your body you hadn't realised existed! But it can really make a difference to your all-round strength and core stability.

Talking of core, I have been doing those too. Again, mastering the Swiss Ball is quite an art. I always thought I had decent core stability from regularly doing plank exercises. But in fact this big ball can really sort you out!

I must say that through doing these classes - yoga, pilates, core stability - on a regular basis has kept my body in check, and I have definitely had fewer sports injuries this year than in previous years. Who knows, maybe it is an placebo effect, as many folks may want to say. But I feel good about doing these classes, so I will just carry on, until my theory proven wrong!

Monday, 24 September 2018

One day one photo - 24: More running in the South Downs

I am just over a month out from a running challenge I have signed myself up for, the Beachy Head Marathon.

Earlier this year I as supposed to run the Paris Marathon. I did all the preparation, and then a couple of days before I as due to go things went wrong. My orthotics that I had sent in to be reposted arrived back to me late, and the podiatrist had messed up the settings so that they were unusable. So I as left without any orthotics and couldn't do the race.

It was very frustrating. I had toyed with doing New York, but bottled out of signing up for fear that because the money would be a lot to lose if something went wrong again. So I plumped for doing something in the UK. Initially I thought of doing a mountain marathon, but in the end I plumped for Beachy Head - which, being in Eastbourne is comparatively local for me.

It consists of running a marathon - 26 miles (or 42 km) but with loads of hills of the South Downs thrown in, meaning 1200m of climbing. That is not something I have done before, and would be a real challenge.

But thankfully, using the fitness from my Paris Marathon training I have been building on that, but just adding loads of hills. Near to me is of course Crystal Palace, but I have also been running around the North Downs. The real hills are done in the South Downs though.

So that's where I went today. Normally I cycle around these chalky hills, but running them really gives a different perspective, and also the time to notice things that you don't necessarily see when you are focused on bike handling and not falling down!

On some one run I noticed this monument near Ditchling Beacon. It's known as the Chattri Memorial, to commemorate Indians who died during the first World War. Many of them were treated in the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, which served as a hospital, and the site of the Chattri Memorial is where the dead soldiers were cremated. The memorial now has Grade II listed status. It looks great in the middle of Downs, though I have to say it does look a bit random.

Today's run went nearer to Trudleigh Hill and Edburton Hill and Devil's Dyke. That was a pretty long run, and by the time I got back to my car at Portslade and Southwick 15 miles later, my legs were like jelly! I like to think it's all miles in the bank, and hopefully it will make me stronger.