fairweatherrunner

running blog


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n plus 1

Wobbling down the Goldhawk Road on a new road bike today I remembered it was Friday 13th! Fortunately I got home in one piece having collected bike number 3.

Number 3 you may ask? Didn’t she only get her first 8 months ago? Yes but according to the ‘rules’ the ideal number of bikes is n+1 with a suggested minimum of 3!

In my defence my first bike, an entry level hybrid, was an underestimation of how much I would cycle and how quickly I would get confident and want to ride further and more importantly faster. Maybe I’m fitter and not so middle aged after all!

My second bike is my beautiful steel framed single speed. A Foffa Bike. It’s simple speedy and very light. There are no gears to mangle and can be carried in and out the house easily. I love it. It’s perfect for pottering about in London and will be the bike I continue to use most on an everyday basis. (My son likes it too!)

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But then I got more into cycling, further afield, even out of London (shock horror) and came across these things called hills which are a bit hard work when you’ve got no gears. So I tried a great big Isle of Wight hill on my hybrid and agreed a few (more the better) gears properly used (there is where the problem lies) will get you to the top of the hill.

I also found that in comparison to my lovely Foffa the hybrid rode like a tank (not that I’ve driven one) and after dropping the chain 3 times going up the bloody hill I announced my hatred of twisty gear things that slip 2 gears each go.

The solution was a road bike. Light weight and skinny tyres like my Foffa, but with gears. Time for bike number 3.

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After riding it home (only one hairy roundabout event), I went on to Hyde park to get used to its handling and test it out. It felt smooth light and responsive and I was very impressed by the easy gear changes.  I changed gear to pass someone going uphill and almost looked like I knew what I was doing!  I did find the brake levers hard to reach because I have small hands. (Bike makers need to think about scaling down more than just the frame for smaller women’s specific bikes.) I may need to get some adjustments made to make sure I have safe breaking power before I take it downhill at full speed!

Juneathon day 13.
13 miles cycling.

. Continue reading


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Another hot one

I could just copy my last blog post because todays exercise was the same as yesterday. A BMF class plus some cycling to get there and back and collect a parcel from the post office.

Except that, apart from the hot weather, it was very different in many ways. For a start the parcel I went to collect was actually there to be collected today!

I only just made it to Ravenscourt Park in time for BMF.  We had gone out early on spec to see if my new bike was ready for collection a day early.  It wasn’t because they are flat-out in the work shop. I reverted to plan a and BMF when I got home and realised that I would be only 10 mins or so later than normal leaving and could still make it.  This  focused my mind so I took the direct route down the bigger road that I normally avoid (and meander round the back streets). I discovered that the direct road route was not any more scary than the back streets and was significantly shorter and quicker!

Ravenscourt Park is much smaller than Hyde but it didn’t stop us running lots!  I suffered in the heat today which really slowed me down.  We did explore new bits of the park, finding logs to lift for Sumo squats and a nature park round a pond for a useful lap or two between sit-ups where it was essential to keep your mouth closed because of all the insects!

Juneathon day 12.

1 hour BMF class (3 miles running) plus 7 miles cycling.


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Fell off the wagon

Yes I went to BMF everyday for 5 days as planned last week (and cycled there and back!) But no I didn’t blog every day.

My aching arms (and legs) got used to the extra exercises (many tricep dips and squats) and by the end of 5 days I was quite enjoying it. But it did take up a lot of time and left me a little knackered! So the blogging suffered.

Thursday’s BMF class, my second at the new Ravenscourt Park venue, was fun.  We had the distraction of three French women who turned up for a free trial.  Complete with video camera which they tried to use while participating!  Our instructor was the picture of patience and ended up filming everyone to try and get them to co-operate.  It all certainly made the rest of us work hard.  I really can’t not sprint my hardest to get back first when two people are walking and taking a massive short cut!  Thank you Ladies, we did think you were rather rude half participating and then giving up but you did get the best out of the rest of us!

At least it was sunny after Tuesday’s wash out.  I am finding the novelty of BMF in a new environment and in a smaller group very motivating.  I plan to go there regularly, although Hyde Park will always be my home!  Adding the extra sessions last week was exhausting but they made quite a difference in my quest to lose a bit of fat.  I’ve obviously been ticking along on a plateau so adding 2 more sessions have given me the training boost I needed to make a real difference.   I might not continue to make 5 classes a week but will certainly try and make at least 4 if I can pre holiday.

Friday I was back at Hyde Park for my 5th BMF of the week and  a well-earned coffee in the sunshine afterwards.  Saturday although a rest day (nothing logged) I did run several errands (of under a mile) on my bike and hoovered the stairs which is as good a work out as many!

Today I went out on my own for a fantastc sunny  Sunday ride in London.  It was very busy with lots going on and roads closed around Buckingham Palace.  A wonderful hour out pottering on my bike, dodging tourists and realising what a wonderful city I live in.

Juneathon week 1.

5, 1 hour BMF classes, (about 15 miles running) and  37 miles cycled.

Plan for week 2 … More of the same plus I will go out for a proper RUN!

 

 

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Confession

I have a confession to make.

This is a running blog and I call myself a runner (at times) but I have a new obsession – bikes!  I’m falling in love with cycling.

And so today I found myself pedalling a new bike across London.  Yes I know I only got my other bike a few months ago but it’s not until you cycle around for a few months that you really know what sort of bike suits your needs. I have a great hybrid bike which is comfortable and easy to ride.  A great all round work horse and good beginners bike.  But being a hybrid it’s good at many things but master of none and where it falls down for me is that although it is fairly light weight it is not light enough.

In London if you want to keep your bike you keep it indoors. We live in a typical London terraced house and our bikes are either in the shed (right through the house at the back of the garden) or like mine. which I want to use frequently, kept in the kitchen/squeezed in the kitchen hallway by the bottom door.  To get it out I have to twist it out a tight door round a corner and up a steep flight of stairs from the basement.  My hybrid might be light at 13 to 14kg but it takes a bit of strength to get it out and I’ve been put off a few very short trips because of the 5 mins effort it takes to get it out the door.

When I got the bike bug I started surfing the web and dreaming about more and more gorgeous bikes. I got a taste for traditional classic style bikes and kept showing my OH stunning looking ones with big price tags! And then we went to a drinks party where OH’s friends managed to tell me about their planned (and already booked) boys ski trip before my other half had! I took advantage of the amount of alcohol he had consumed and extracted a promise that if he could spend on a ski trip he could buy me a new bike! Result.

So my lusting after pretty bikes became research for the right one for me. I needed light, I wanted simple. I use at most 3 of the 16 gears on my hybrid and go for many trips without changing gear altogether. When trying to keep up with OH on his road bike I complain about my lack of speed, however fast my little legs pedal! I realise it’s a lot to do with my poor gear experience and choice although a lighter bike and thinner road tyres will help.

Then I found my bike. At just over 9kg its about the lightest women’s bike I could find. It’s pretty too. It’s a single speed and an ideal urban run around. And it was in a sale! OH double checked I’d be ok without gears. I reminded him of my “expert” use of the gears on the bikes I’ve had recently and that my instincts are to pedal faster when I want speed, stand up for hills and free wheel down again. After all until recently the bulk of my cycling experience was as a  pre teen  tom boy terrorising the neighbourhood in the ’70’s on my bike. A single speed!

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When I said on twitter this morning than I was about to ride my new bike back across London I was told I was brave.  I hadn’t thought about it because it was a necessary journey. In fact following OH, who knew the routes, and because it was quiet on a Saturday morning it was a stress free and lovely ride through the centre of London. It gave me confidence  that as long as you have your wits about you, choose your time and the right routes cycling in London doesn’t have to be a frightening experience.

The one thing we did notice was how many bloody traffic lights you come across when travelling across London  And they take aaages to change.  Why do you notice them more on two wheels? It’s not as if it’s hilly and you want a few minutes to get your breath back!

My new bike rode well.  It was light, fast, smooth and very quiet with no rattling gears when peddling.  OH was on a Boris Bike and was having to work a bit.  I, in comparison had to keep backing off, braking and  free wheeling to stay behind him!  The only slight problem is that it is going to take me a little while to get used to the harder ride from the more rigid frame and thin road tyres  It’s built for speed on smooth roads which made me very aware of how bad London roads are!  I’m sure my undercarriage will also adjust to the thinner saddle too.  Price you pay for speed!

pedalling home

8.11 miles in  1 hour 8 mins.  (mostly hanging around at traffic lights and saying ‘ouch’ over pot holes)

Tomorrow I have to run 14 miles for my marathon training. Can I take my new bike?


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On my bike

I realised I was missing cycling yesterday  when I saw Cathy’s Facebook posts of Janathon bike rides.   I’ve not been out on my bike for a few weeks because It was away in the shed over Christmas to get it out the kitchen!  Fortunately it is now free from its shackels and I whizzed out on it to the shops yesterday.  It wasn’t far but it felt good.

I couldn’t face a run first thing this morning. I couldn’t settle down to do any work or chores either.  Only one thing for it, get out on my bike!

It was a great ride, no rain and the sun was shining making me wish I’d worn my sun glasses.  It was a bit windy (the weather not me) so I had an extra workout on some sides on the park battling into the wind. I cycled to Hyde Park and did 2 laps in the Sunshine with a big grin on my face before heading home full of energy.

I continued to feel good for the rest of the day and was (a bit) more productive.  I was still feeling bouncy this evening and as it was not raining for a change I went out to run my tempo run which I wimped out of yesterday.

Janathon day 9.  1 hour cycling (9.7 miles) and   3.15 miles run.

I cut across Holland Park on my route (where I have to get off and walk).  Holland House was looking good silhouetted against the blue sky so I took a photo just to prove what a lovely day it was!

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Look – Blue sky!


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Cycling in London

I’ve lived here for over 20 years but it wasn’t until yesterday that I finally cycled on the streets of London. And what a time to start. Cycling in London is very much in the news at the moment after a bad week with 5 cyclist deaths in 9 days. As I planned to go out for the first time I read and listened to the news, hearing about vigils, campaigns and views from all parties about dangerous drivers, busses and lorries, bad road designs, reckless cyclists and so on. Whatever the reasons, with the huge growth in cycling in London lets hope some solutions and actions are found and acted upon soon.

So maybe not the best week for me as a novice (or returning) cyclist to be pushing my shiny new bike out the door. Or maybe it’s a good week because the more ordinary Londoners who take to two wheels the better for increasing understanding and communication between pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers (many of whom are users of all). More cyclists to create the demand for an increase in safe cycling routes and help to break down barriers between different road users as we learn to adapt to our congested changing city and make it better and safer for us all.

I have to add that I will be cycling in London in the mildest sense. I will be mostly cycling off-peak on quiet roads and cycle paths through the park. I’m lucky I have that option and won’t have to cycle anywhere in a hurry at busy times because I don’t have to commute nor take my exercise at peak times or after dark. I am happy to be the one you will see dismounting and using the pavement across a busy road junction before I go on my way. For now anyway while I build confidence and experience. Who knows where my cycling journey will take me.

Why has it taken me all these years to get on my bike? Fear (lack of confidence) and not having a reason to cycle until now when suddenly I find I have many reasons to get on two wheels.

Fear? Yes, London’s roads are daunting for many new comers, even in a car. I remember being petrified when driving for the first time in London as a student and it took me several years to get confident enough to drive where and when I wanted. Since then I have assumed that as an inexperienced cyclist (beast of a mountain bike in rural parts only) London cycling was not for me,

However these days, as a runner I notice that sooner or later many runners take to a bike. It follows that outdoor types will find that cycling makes sense as a form of cheap efficient transport. Cycling is one of the best forms of cross training for runners and the solace for many injured runners seeking a cardio fix. And road cycling has to be better than spinning class, hasn’t it? (Yes I hate treadmills too)

So when my OH told me he was buying another bike for training for a 3 day cycle ride next spring I decided that maybe it was time we had a joint activity (I’ll never make a runner of him) in preparation for our teenage sons flying the nest (wishful thinking) and he should buy me a bike too. I am one of the few people still driving to BMF classes and paying a fortune in parking charges when it’s only a few miles, much of which possible on cycle paths. Somewhere to start.

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So how has it been? Fantastic! I love it. As a friend said today there’s nothing like getting the wind in your hair to take you back to your youth. Straight out I felt good (yay for a bike that’s light and nippy). I have found the quiet roads far less frightening than I imagined and I have calmly coped with being passed by traffic of all sizes. I have used busier roads than I thought I would and have dismounted and walked less. I think my experience driving a very small car in London for the past year has helped me learn to be cautious of large vehicles and to adopt an assertive road position to indicate my intentions as well as learning all the back street routes.

I have new-found respect for cyclists. I’m reasonably fit and have even zoomed past Boris Bikes but have found many new muscles that other exercises haven’t touched. Today I discovered what triathletes refer to as a Brick Session. Trying to run at the start of my BMF class straight after cycling there, definitely a new wobbly legged experience! Next time I’ll leave earlier so I have a bigger rest between the two activities.

I start my marathon training proper next month. I don’t plan to use cycling as formal cross training but hope that commuting to BMF classes and running my local errands by bike will all add to my general fitness. All this extra fresh air is helping me sleep well too, which is essential for marathon training.