. .

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Birmingham 10K - How to Lose a Belly When You're 42 (part 28)

I thought my preparation for the Mad March Hare was bad - this was worse...

The night before the Birmingham 10K was the big Joshua vs Klitschko fight live on Sky Sports Box Office. (My brother had CYCLED up from London to watch it with me before we ran the 10K in the morning!) I had invited a few select friends and family to watch it with us and they all turned up! We managed to squeeze everyone into our small front room and then the beer and wine came out...

In the morning, after a late night with a few beers and a glass of wine, I was rather fuzzy-headed. Just like last year, Lucy and the girls came with us to cheer us on (remembering to stop off at Costa on the way so Sid could get his caffeine fix.) It was warmer than last year but Sid and I were taking no chances - he was wearing two base layers under his Cancer Research top while I was wearing a hat, gloves, Buff scarf and the plastic cape from Cancer Research! After a wee in the bushes, we lined up at the start to listen to terrible chart music and a man in some form of costume shouting intelligibly into a loudhailer. After attempting to stretch in a crowd of runners, with my hangover in full effect, I was nowhere near ready. But then we were off...

At the start line

Sid kept a very careful watch on our time and pace - he was still determined to finish the course in under an hour. I had explained to him beforehand that I was in no condition to run 10K in under an hour - I hadn't managed it even once in training. At the 3K mark he was trying to urge me on, to up the pace a little, even as I was explaining to him that I had no desire to do it, and that I couldn't do it...

The route this year took us through Canon Hill Park, which is a very pretty and well-maintained park opposite the Edgbaston Cricket Ground. It was here that I realised I was warm enough so off came the cape, gloves, scarf and hat. My brother stopped off for a wee at the cricket ground so I ambled on and grabbed a bottle of water from the stewards.

As some may remember from last year, when Sid and I run past Lucy and the girls, we like to make fools of ourselves. Last year, we did some press ups in the street when we reached them (and then carried on to run the 10K in under an hour!) This year, I didn't really feel up to any additional exercise so Sid, hero that he is, invited me to leap on his back to be carried past my mad family. The girls were doing a great job of encouraging everyone taking part in the race.

This 10K running lark is easy!

Shortly afterwards, spurred on by my girls, I decided to try for the hour after all. Sid explained that we had a bit of time to make up if we wanted to finish in less than 60 minutes. For the last 5K, we pushed on hard, running past dozens of people in an effort to reach our target. I was bright red and sweating profusely by the time we got in the home straight but it was clear by then that we'd make it. Still, being able to get round in less than an hour, after convincing myself that it was impossible, was an awesome feeling. As usual, it was all down to Sid who never gave up on me.

Victorious and back at home. Before Sid's toe fell apart.
After lots of water and two of the free protein drinks they were handing out, I felt great by the time we got home. Sid, however, was suffering with his feet. After 130 miles on the bike followed by a quick 10K, he was in a bit of discomfort. In fact, later on that afternoon while I was under Tilly's car trying to get its exhaust to stop rattling, Sid came out of the house holding his big toe nail. The whole nail...

Later on, Lucy and I met with Nigel and Penny for a drink or two at the pub. Sid was too tired to venture out so he spent the evening playing MarioKart with the girls and having a makeover...

Next year, I intend to run it again, this time with the family! Lucy and the girls were so inspired by the efforts of the thousands of people running the Birmingham 10K that they have decided to take part themselves.

Watch this space!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

How to Lose a Belly When You're 42 (part 27 )

A very late blog, from 16th April:

Last week started okay. I did a 4.5 mile run after work on Monday, and on Tuesday I went to a karate lesson.
By Thursday, I still hadn't had any alcohol or junkfood and I was feeling good. However, when I got back from dropping off my D&D players at 9:45pm, I couldn't face the weight lifting session I had planned for myself.
Friday was the day we broke up from work for the Easter holidays and a bit of an impromptu party started at midnight in my back garden! I didn't get up in time for the bike ride in the glorious sunshine on Saturday. After their ride, Jonnie and Nigel came round to drink my beer and take the piss (oh and to try to cheer me up!)
Sunday was Jane's 75th birthday party. After a hard 17 miles over Irelands Lane, I went round for cake, party food and beers!

So, one last chance to get my fitness on track or I don't think I'm ever going to get rid of this belly. I seem to be stuck at 10st 5lbs.

Another bright day. This time, accompanied by a strong chilly wind. I jumped on the bike at about 10:30 and headed down to Wilmcote. With the wind behind me it was hard not to set some good times over various sections of the route. On the way, I met a chap cycling down to Wooten Wawen on his own. We got talking and it turned out that he was a former racing cyclist and tennis player. We were chatting as we climbed up some little ramps and he was keeping up with me without any issue. He then told me that he was going to be 70 years old this year! I'll be glad just get my leg over my bike when I'm 70!
He was telling me about a cruise he had been on lately where he was with a lot of people of a similar age. He said they were all fat, unwell or both! He attributed his rude health down to an active lifestyle and I tend to agree with him (although I feel luck also plays a huge part in determining how healthy we are in our retirement years.)
At Wilmcote, I bravely refused cake, ate a banana, and then headed back into the wind. I battled against a headwind for 15 miles while climbing. I watched my average speed disintegrate from 16.1mph to just 14.9. Oh well.

30 miles of cycling at 14.9mph
No alcohol
No junkfood


Determined to get fit, I forced myself to put on my running shoes this morning. I headed out on my usual 10K and was very surprised to come home in the fastest time this year! I didn't feel too bad either!
In the evening, Martha and I went to the dojo to be put through our paces by Sensei Julian Cunningham. It was a non-stop, intense kumite-training lesson (without any actual fighting unfortunately.) Martha had to sit out early on because of pain she had been experiencing in her knee. She only told me about this in the car on the way there otherwise I would have convinced her to rest.
No alcohol, no junkfood.


I had a go at some weight training today. I have a bit of a cold on me today and was feeling a bit achey. Weight lifting didn't go well and I failed at the squats at 42kg. The problem was getting the bar over my head onto my shoulders. I was aching too much to do it safely.
I jumped on the bike instead and did a leisurely 19 miles.
No junkfood, three ales in the evening.


I tried lifting again and did a little better, but still didn't finish the session.
I had some naughty food and drank a beer or two.


My brother came up from London today. His idea was to ride the Mad March Hare route with me on Saturday. He came up on the train with his brand new Specialized Tarmac: a fantastic looking carbon bike with Ultegra gearing and brakes.
We had a very healthy chicken casserole homemade by Lucy and I resisted alcohol. Sid sipped a cider while we watched pro cycling on Eurosport.

Up at 7 to find Sid changing the tyres on his Specialised. He had chosen to remove his 23mm slicks in favour of the 25mm Continental 4 Seasons all-weather tyres. I tried to convince him that he wouldn't need those today but he was determined!
We met up with Jonnie and then drove out to the start of the Mad March Hare route. We were very happy to be riding on a dry, sometimes sunny day. The ride out to the Cotswolds was very pleasant - we were chatting, not pushing too hard, and cracking jokes. We stopped at 20 miles for bananas and cereal bars.

Cycling catalogue?
Refuelling is a serious business

Saintbury Hill was a huge challenge, as always. Sid romped away up it like mountain goat, and it was all I could do to keep him in my sights for the rest of the 1.6 miles of the climb. He was the Quintana to my Froome - except I never caught him...

At the top of Saintbury Hill

At the top of Saintbury Hill

We all got to the top with out stopping and, after a few photos and a bite to eat, we were descending! As my regular readers will know, I'm not very good at going downhill. However, in the dry, with a few miles in my legs and feeling good, I can convince myself to lean into the corners and let go of the brakes. Today was one of those days: I'm sure I would have broken all of my previous records on this section of the ride, but unfortunately, I had neglected to restart my Strava after stopping it at the top of Saintbury! How frustrating! Still, when we rolled into Mickleton, I was feeling rather pleased with myself.
After the other pair had refreshed themselves with goodies from the Post Office, we set about the serious business of climbing back up to Solihull, about 30 miles away...

Mickleton Post Office. Important for Lucozade etc.

It wasn't long before my legs decided they had had enough and the cramps hit. Unfortunately, we still had plenty of miles to go. After a brief stop to give them a rub and a stretch, there was no option but to keep going. Later, after a quick consultation with my alcohol adviser (Jonnie), we decided a stop at The Bell in Tanworth was in order.
I was first to the bar and was delighted to find Timothy Taylor's Bolt Maker on tap! A fantastic best bitter! Each man dispatched 2 pints of this superb beer along with a packet of dry roasted peanuts. We got back on the road as new men, the remaining miles flying by.

First to the bar

The lads in raptures at the prospect of beer and nuts.

Back at home, Lucy had worked her magic with the pots and pans and there was a fantastic feast laid on. We were joined by our friend Naomi.
The celebrations continued long into the evening, even after Jonnie had gone home and Sid had fallen asleep in a chair.
Needless to say, the morning was rather difficult...

Sid went home early which left me free to mope about the house feeling sorry for myself. I was terribly hungover and it took all my strength just to organise a little Easter egg hunt for the girls.

Later on: recovery ales and a bit of homemade grub to set me straight.