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Monday, August 28, 2017

How to Lose a Belly When You're 42 (part 36 )

As expected, my summer holiday was more beer and cake than protein and running. As a result, I've put weight on over the last 7 weeks.
Time to get back into training...

My first day of healthy eating for a while: no cake, no crisps, no chocolate, no biscuits, no sweets, no choc ices!
I soon realised that I was experiencing food cravings, not hunger. I was eating enough healthy food to not be hungry, I was simply craving the sugar rush that I was used to topping up with during the day.
I did a decent weight training session and found that I was really aching afterwards! I'm still having to keep the weights relatively light because of my martial arts injury in my right arm. I've had this injury since March - how long does it take before an injury goes away?
No alcohol, no junkfood.

I went to the hospital today to have my blood cholesterol tested. I won't know the results until I visit my doctor.
About ten years ago, a blood test for something else revealed I had high cholesterol, and it's been monitored ever since.
Martha and I attended dojo this evening.  Sensei Julian Cunningham, five times British champion, led an intense, non-stop, sweaty session concentrating on basic techniques but then culminating in kata Bassai Dai four times on the trot. I was running with sweat! Just what I needed.
However, Martha was not as enthusiastic about such a demanding session and complained rather a lot. She later admitted that her enthusiasm for karate is dropping. I need to have a think about how to approach this new problem.
After contacting Sensei Gary about it, he suggested entering Martha for a competition in Wolverhampton in two months time. I hope she agrees to it!
No alcohol, no junkfood.
So hungry!

We went back to work and began the process of enrolling new students on to courses.
I felt hungry all day but remembered to drink plenty of fluids.
When I got back home, I mentioned to Martha that I was going to do some weight lifting. To my surprise, she asked if she could join in!
We did an intense session over 50 minutes that included 400 body weight reps and 150 weighted reps. Phew! She did complain a little and discussed stopping after about 30 minutes, but she managed to complete the session. I hope she joins in again.
I cooked a fairly healthy Chinese stir fry.
Almost had a beer with my dinner, but managed to resist!
Cycled to work and back. No alcohol, no junkfood.

I managed to avoid/resist all the biscuits at work.
Back at home, I went out for a 10K run. I got back 65 minutes later a sweaty mess with a feeling of accomplishment.
Mouse and friends were celebrating their GCSE results in the back garden and they were quick to point out a huge vein at my temple!
I felt I deserved a drink with my dinner tonight and ended up having three bottles of ale while watching the Vuelta with Lucy.
Cycled to work and back. No junkfood.


Up at 2.30am with an upset stomach.
I had a lie-in for an extra hour this morning and ended up getting to work at 9am instead of 8!
I ate healthily at work. At home, I couldn't face going to dojo when the weather was so nice. So I jumped on my bike and did 17 miles in the sunshine instead.
I drank three ales in the evening.
Cycled to work and back. No junkfood.


Nigel cycled round in the morning on his reserve bike. His number one bike was being serviced. He needed the saddle to be raised so we set about doing that. Then we decided to see if we could tighten the cones on his rear hub. Jonnie joined us when we had my box of spanners out and the bike up on the stand. Unfortunately, it was a bigger job than I'd anticipated so we decided to leave it for another day. Nigel led us out over most of his Shrewley route before we turned off on to the High Cross route. Jonnie was full of beans and was dashing off into the distance at regular intervals! I noticed that Nigel was moving around a lot on his bike and doing lots of stretches while going along...
Soon, Jonnie had a puncture. This was the first puncture that our little group has had to deal with since the Mad March Hare. Jonnie did a grand job of swapping the tubes while Nigel watched and I went for a wee and then did some stretching.
We were soon back on the road, enjoying the weather and cruising down to Snitterfield. Nigel was quite a way behind which was very unlike him. He'd been out for a curry the night before (which became obvious while he was watching Jonnie deal with the puncture!) and he's been playing a lot of racquetball lately.
We rode together through Snitterfield, past the Stratford Armories, along the A3400 and then down Featherbed Lane. It was on Featherbed that my legs decided to give up. So I eased into a recovery phase* and tooled along at 19mph while the other two scampered off into the distance.
At the tea stop I was charged with certain technical duties so I ended up munching homemade coffee cake in front of a computer while everyone else sat out in the sunshine! Time constraints meant that we decided to ride straight back home instead of via the Purity Brewery detour I had planned for.
On the way back, it was obvious Nigel was suffering. He couldn't get used to his old saddle and was in all sorts of discomfort. I rode back with him while Jonnie put on a good pace and waited for us every now and then.
One beer at Jonnie's and then back home to walk the dogs.
My good friend Chris came to visit tonight. We had an excellent evening playing old records while sipping ales in my backgarden and then heading off to the pub for three more ales (including Purity UBU on tap!)

I woke up with a bit a fuzzy head...
After breakfast, Chris headed off home and I took the dogs to the park for an hour. It was a gorgeous sunny day and I decided it would be a waste to spend it inside. When I got home, I dragged myself back on to the bike and span out another 15 miles and a leisurely pace. I went a mostly flat route and felt a lot better when I got home!

The hounds in the local park.
In the evening, I set about painting the dining room chairs. I dragged them out into the back garden to enjoy the warm weather. Of course, working outdoors is rewarded with an ale or two...
Lucy did a wonderful gammon joint for dinner with homegrown green beans from her garden. I followed this with a white chocolate Magnum...
Somehow, I don't think I am going to lose this belly while I'm 42!

*The Recovery Phase of a bike ride is when you sit up and say "sod it" for a bit. This gives time to think up excuses about why you are in a Recovery Phase in the first place.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Aberdovey 2017 - How to Lose a Belly When You're 42 (part 35)

The first day of our holiday to Aberdovey saw us arrive at around 4pm. A flurry of unpacking and then down to the pub! We visited the Penhelig Arms Hotel where Lucy and I met with Jonnie, Sally, Jane, Nigel and Penny. The Penhelig is literally around the corner form where we were staying (about a 2 minute walk!)
I found a wonderful stout on tap - SA Brains Black. Highly recommended!
At about 10pm, everyone marched back up the hill to where we were staying and then 13 of us tucked into Nigel's homemade curry which he had dragged to Wales in the back of his BMW!
It was a wonderful start to the holiday although stout and curry at that time of night didn't do my indigestion any good. We didn't get to bed until 12:30am!


With no need to rush, the lads gathered at 10am and set off along the coast road. It has some breathtaking views but it also has 50mph+ traffic squeezing past you so we upped the pace to get into the country lanes as soon as possible. Once we were surrounded by high hedges and sheep we could relax a little and chat as we tooled along. We turned left at Bird Rock and then along some beautifully winding roads into Llanegryn where Nemesis begins.
Nemesis in the nickname I've given to an incredibly steep hill that rises north out of Llanegryn for nearly a mile and a half. When I first found it, I failed to complete the climb on my first 4 attempts. But I kept going back every day until I made it all the way up on the fifth day. Since then, every holiday I try to ride it without stopping. I've managed it so far but I know that one year I won't be able to make it.
Today, Nigel, Jonnie and I rode the first 150m or so of the climb and then turned off towards the coast road. I'd forgotten just how steep it was, my heart rate was already through the roof! After that, we crossed straight over the coast road into some more lovely deserted country roads. Eventually, we crossed the new Bailey Bridge (after discussing the classic film, A Bridge Too Far) and headed for Tywyn.
It was here that Nigel launched an attack! He sped off ahead, his mighty legs pumping and his head down. Jonnie and I guaged how bad the hangovers were from last night and decided to not give chase. There would be other days!
Nigel waited for us at the end of the road and then the three of us cruised up to the Tywyn sea front.
After some photos, we headed back down the coast road to base. 

All smiles at Tywyn seafront after Ride 1

I served up tea and cake while we compared Strava results. What a great start to the holiday! 24.5 miles at 14.5mph with over 1000 feet of climbing. Where we live, it usually takes us at least 30 miles to complete 1000ft of ascending.
In the evening, we headed back to the Penhelig for dinner. Unfortunately, the food didn't match the quality of the beer. I paid £15 for a little bony fish and some mashed potato. I wouldn't eat there again.

Nigel had been roped into tourism activities so it was up to Jonnie and me to force ourselves onto the bikes this morning! We took yesterday's route up to Bird Rock but instead of turning left we kept going towards Abergynolwyn. The route there was rather lumpy with a very steep descent into the village itself. We visited the Railway Inn - the pub where I first discovered the ale Reverend James. They didn't have any Rev today so we had a pint of some cloudy, hoppy IPA that had mountain bikes on the pump clip. It was okay. After a bag of nuts each we then reversed our route to Bird Rock. 

Back at the Railway Inn.

The steep climb out of the village was horrendous - made slightly funny by the ale. It was all we could do to keep pedaling!
When we reached Bird Rock, we turned off to the west and followed yesterday's route (minus the little detour up to the base of Nemesis.)
Back in Aberdovey, we drank a few more beers on the pier with our families and some of the kids jumped off the pier into the sea below!

In the morning, I visited the Markets with the girls. 

Mouse making sensible purchases at the markets.
After that, I headed back to the house to get the bike. I couldn't make contact with Jonnie (Nigel was on tourism duties again, I think) so I ended up heading out on a solo ride - something I hadn't expected to do this holiday! I tried to fool myself that I was just going for a pleasant pedal in the countryside but my route inevitably brought me to Nemesis.
It was a lovely hot sunny day and I was only wearing one layer. After the first couple of hundred metres up the ferocious climb, already in the smallest gear on the bike, I took off my helmet and tossed it without stopping, along with my tools, to the side of the road - anything to lessen the weight I was dragging up the hill! And then it was just me and the climb.
Nemesis isn't quite silent. There is the ever present buzz of the flies up there along with the cries of the sheep. The sound sheep make is sometimes startlingly human -almost as if there was someone crouching behind a hedge making "baa" noises as I struggle past.
These are the kind of thoughts that I try to distract myself with as I wait for my body to settle into the pain. After a while, there's no choice but to focus on the task at hand. I'm having to tell myself to relax, not to tense up and run the risk of cramp. It's impossible to shift position on the bike - I'm already going so slowly that I risk toppling over! I simply have to try to accept the pain in my lower back, shoulders and legs.
At the halfway point I experienced a strange sensation - belief that I was actually going to make it! On the lower half of the climb I had convinced myself that I was going to fail this year, that I had abused my body too much since Mom had passed away to be able to expect it to bear up under this punishment. But now, halfway up the steepest climb I had ever ridden, with what must have been sweat dripping off my chin, I started to believe I could do it. I concentrated on keeping my rhythm, on not becoming too tense, and gradually the metres crept past. With the end in sight and my pulse thundering in my ears, I even allowed myself a smile: I'd made it this year.
After a few photographs at the top, I made my way to Aberdovey beach and joined the rest of the gang (including the elusive Jonnie!)

Victory at the top of Nemesis

That evening, we had a barbecue on the beach with music provided my the very talented Nigel and Penny.

Beers and beach

The entertainment!

Making memories

Cader Idris is a beautiful mountain not far from where we were staying. Martha, Sally and I had climbed to the top of it once before in 2014. Today, the gang were going to attempt it again using a less steep but longer route.
It was very hot at the start! It was so hot that I seriously questioned the wisdom of attempting a climb in these conditions. Some of us did struggle in the heat and there was concern about the volume of water we might need. However, I was relieved to find that as we climbed higher, the air cooled and some clouds and mist rolled in. I had an extremely enjoyable time, chatting with Martha, Mouse, Max, Jess, Sally, Harry and Jonnie as we walked. Evie came too but she was always at the front so we never got to talk! At the top, we had a picnic of sandwiches, biscuits, crisps, bananas and cider! It was cool enough for the girls to wear hoodies. On the walk back down, however, it soon warmed up and Max and I were stripped to the waist.

It's up there somewhere, according to navigator Jonnie.

Martha enjoying the views

A rest before the final push...
At the top! (Before the Hoodies came out.)

We walked over 10 miles today. Unfortunately, my phone battery ran out before I could Strava the whole thing! Here's what I did get:

We stopped at Tywyn on the way back and indulged in ice cream and beer!
Later that evening, we had dinner at the Britannia. The food was okay but the ale was awful - I ended up drinking lager!

Ride number 4 saw Jonnie, Nigel and myself head off to conquer Happy Valley. This route is simply one long road that connects two parts of the coast road, effectively cutting off the corner that is Aberdovey. We approached from the west and it involved a lot of climbing - some of it reasonably steep. We reached the peak of Happy Valley after 8.5 miles and stopped to have a bit of a debate. We had three options:
  1. complete the ride down the other side and then ride the very steep climb back again,
  2. complete the ride down the other side and then ride back on the coast road,
  3. turn around and head back the way we came.
I wanted to do option 1: the steepest and hardest of the routes would also give us an immense feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. Option 2 meant riding on a very busy coast road with a 50mph speed limit. Option 3 didn't bear thinking about...
Happily, the lads agreed on option 1 - the climber's option! The descent was very steep and Nigel and Jonnie were soon specks in the distance. I suffered on the way down - braking far too much when the woodland dropped away at the side of the road and the heights made me dizzy! I eventually got to the bottom just as the lads were starting to make their way up again. I caught up and rode with Jonnie for a while but then he sent me up the road to chase Nigel. It took quite an effort but I eventually caught up with Nigel the powerhouse and we crested the climb together. Strava lists the climb as category 4 , with 1.4 miles of climbing at 7%. The descent west to the coast road was highly enjoyable but I just couldn't find the legs to stay with the other two. I coasted down and found them occupying a bench at the bottom!
We set off for well deserved beer in Tywyn. Unfortunately, just as we were pulling up outside the pub, I heard a familiar voice: it was Martha calling to me from the seafront - Freddie the dog had gone missing!
I left Jonnie and Nigel to sample some beer while I trudged off to find Sally and Lucy on the beach. Freddie had vanished off into the dunes chasing rabbits and hadn't been seen for half an hour. It took me another half an hour of wandering through the dunes in my Lycra to find the hound and then drag him to the pub. I received a hero's welcome and a pint of local bitter!

Jonnie's family and I took our dogs up to the Bearded Lake today. It was another steep walk (but not in the same class as Cadair Idris!) which made me feel I'd earned my beers that evening.

The boys ready for their walk up to Bearded Lake

What goes up...
In the evening, we celebrated Penny's birthday with cake and cava!

Happy Birthday!

This year's holiday to Wales was fantastic, not least because of all the people who were there!
Eric and Jane; Jonnie, Sally, Harry, Jess and Max; Nigel, Penny and Evie; Lucy, Martha, Mouse, Tilly and I all made the journey and based ourselves in Aberdovey for the week. We also met up with Malcolm and Eileen who have a caravan in the village. Lots of cycling, walking, beer and cake. What more could a man ask for?

Aberdovey Beach 2017 (with Montydog)