Tuesday, July 10, 2018

JP Morgan Run: The American Brexit (4th of July) Edition

"Well this is unexpected..."

This is my thought as it started to rain on my bike ride to Battersea Park. Don't get me wrong, I welcomed it mostly. I don't remember the last time London saw rain. It's been scorchio for weeks now... yes I am talking about London, England. My biggest concern was more me wearing a white t-shirt and getting drenched.

All my coworkers were wearing the same, so I supposed we would all be awkwardly British together.

The JPMorgan run had ~30,000 runners this year over two days. That only 5,000 less people than the entirety of West Somerset. So, needless to say, it was crowded. In remembering my loo-mageddon from last year as soon as I dropped my bag off  I headed towards the port-a-loos. Oh of course I choose the line with the loos that are not flushing, so I have to move to a different queue. Classic. This entire time we are being chided by the organizers to get to our starting pens and THE RACE IS STARTING IN TEN MINUTES. No one moved, so neither did I.

I started the trek to my pen, the white pen. More lines, more waiting... I felt like we were being led out of the park. Then we stopped finally and waited for 6:45pm-- we heard the shot of the starting gun and we all started to get ready for our turn to go....

We went at 7:15. 7:15. I could have had a luxurious sit on the loo instead of a fast and furious scramble. I understand they said they were staggering start times this year, but a whole 30 minutes?! People were ending by the time I was starting!

However, starting to make my way around the course I can see why they staggered the start times how they did. It was chock FULL of people. All over the place. I cant imagine what it would had been like had we only had 5 minutes between pens (I found out later they staggered people within pens too adding to the time). It basically would have been shuffling rather than running.

Still the marshalls had their hands full, people with headphones on or blatantly not listening when being asked to stay off the pavement. Seriously people, headphone use is a privilege not a right, use it wisely else they will pull their use completely.

I have a love hate relationship with the last 600m of the course. The JPM run is not 5km. No no. Its 5.6km. To account for this, they have this terrible loop where you see the finish line and if you are not paying attention, think all you have to do is round the corner and you are there. That my friend, is a mistake. So many people start their sprint 500m too early-- only to understand their mistake too late and they are depleted. Then I trudge along past them with the veteran knowledge of the loop and knowing there are a few more turns before I turn on the burners.

Given the sheer amount of people, this event is incredibly well organised. It's a bit manic and the loo situation never really seems to get any better, but as long as you know then its doable. However, they have water (although I heard reports of them running out of water?) and the food is decent enough. Plus TWO t-shirts! Not bad for a free event.

My only comment to the race directors would be to tell walkers to stay to the left or right (one or the other or heck even both). This way there is a clear lane for everyone else jogging/running/hopping along. Tell them early and tell them often, this way there is no confusion. I heard walkers being exasperated by runners and runners being exasperated by walkers. I get it. It's frustrating to both sides. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

CapitalTri Duathlon

Most importantly, I kept my shades on
throughout the duathlon. 
You know how when you are doing an athletic activity you keep telling yourself "Do your own race..."? Thats really bloody hard to do. Monday night a the Lee Valley Velopark was no different.

I saddled up (pun intended) around quarter to 7. No one was there, I started to get a bit nervous. Did I get the date wrong? I checked my email. Nope. Right date. I asked the lady at the front desk. "They normally come in around 7-7:15". I guess I was a bit too eager! Oh well, now I know.

So they open the gate and you follow the sign to the road track. I checked in with a very lovely man with CapitalTri. He wrote my number on my hand and let me know there was a race briefing at about 7:25. Plenty of time to 'rack' my bike, which in this case was to place it along the fence in the transition zone with the rest of my kit.

Whilst waiting I started chatting to a women who has done quite a few of these. She helped to put my mind at ease about how it was going to work. Big things to remember:
  1. You can't be on your bike in the transition zone 
  2. Your helmet must be on at all times when you have your bike (even whilst running with it). 
  3. When running stay to the left
  4. When cycling pass on your right and be vocal about passing to other cyclists

ME: "Are you training for anything?"
HER: "The alpe d'huez triathlon"
ME: "Oh wow!" ::internally thinking Do your own race, do your own race::

Again this sounds so easy, and I felt like I was going OK on my run. I did my 2 miles in 16:34(8:17/mile), which for me is not too bad speed wise. It had some hills (inclines, whatever) but it was good as it gave me an idea as to what the bike ride was going to be like.

Well, thats what I thought.

I felt good on the first few bits. I honestly did, then I hit the first hill, ugh this sucks. Need to drop gears faster. Zoom zoom! People are passing me. That's fine, I have 10 laps to catch up.

I don't think I caught up with anyone. At least I don't remember passing anyone. I would of remembered because I would have gotten to shout "On your right!" I did NOT say that the entire time.

What was I doing wrong? I assume it was partly my form and mostly my gear control. There definitely were times I was spinning with no resistance, which equates to no power. So quite a few things to work on. 31 minutes later, I happily finished my 10 laps.

Oh but we were not done. After that I needed to get off my bike and run another two laps. This sounded beyond not pleasant, but what the hey I am there so I plod through. I didn't do too bad considering, another 2 miles in 18:02 (9:01/mile).

Looking at the results, I was actually middle of the pack for the cycling-- which it didn't seem that way at the time. Maybe had I heeded the "Do your own race" mantra, I would have stopped worrying about others and maybe could have fixed my form/gear issues faster.

Where I was more back of the pack was running... ugh. However, in my eyes I feel I could gain back quite a few minutes if I learned to cycle better, so that would offset my running. I guess this is what they mean when they say usually triathletes are good at one skill, OK at another, and not so good on the remaining event. But which one am I strongest at? I dont feel good at any of them. I would have said running, but the results skew that a bit.

OR--- how about I just stop worrying about comparing myself to others and DO MY OWN RACE.

...and train better. Turns out the Velopark has training sessions as well (and its only £5 a go on the course if you have your own bike and helmet, if you don't you can rent making it a tad pricier).... and considering the event was a mere £13 it my not be my last one with the CapitalTri group.

Does anyone else have this problem? How do you stick true to your mantra when you have the niggling doubts?
The sun sets on the Velopark...

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Putting in the Miles-- The Dreaded First Long Ride

Everyone remembers their first. My first long bike ride was about 7 years ago when I attempted to cycle around the Bodensee, a lovely lake that is nestled between Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. It ended a bit earlier than I anticipated with a very sore bum and a burning desire for padded shorts.

Fast forward 7 years later....

I really wanted to do the Sunday Ride with DirtyWknd, a local cycle club that has weekend rides ranging from beginners to expert. However I had work and other obligations so it had to be Saturday morning. Same destination, G!ro cafe just inside the Surrey border in Esher.

Hello Battersea Park!

I set off with some reservations about somehow getting hopelessly lost (I packed a charger for my iPhone just in case). I was pretty fine until getting over Putney bridge. The CycleSuper Highway between Tower Bridge and Battersea Bridge is just wonderful. I love the segregated bit along the Embankment, it really helps you feel at ease amongst the buses shuttling tourists to and fro.

MMMMMM.... green grass and blue sky :D
My GPS told me to take the A3 which straddles Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park. I didn't really enjoy that bit. You are careening down the pavement whilst cars whizz by you. I had visions of a tyre popping and me flying over the handlebars into a sign or worse a car. Speed demon I am not on two wheels. My mom is breathing a sigh of relief.

I was very happy to turn into Richmond Park. No cars! So much lycra! No deer observed! Green space! The rest of the trip was very pleasant, with the only hairy bit coming at the Scilly Isle Roundabout. I need to remind myself that it takes me much longer to accelerate than a car. Don't worry, the car reminded me with an very pleasant and polite (of course) honk. >.<

I arrived at G!ro and was beyond pumped. I did my first (well not really) long bike ride! I didn't get (too) lost and have all my limbs intact. I had a well earned coffee and avocado on toast. There were cyclists everywhere (its a cycle shop as well as a coffee shop, they do their own rides from there as well!). I let my phone charge up a bit and got back on the saddle.

So the return route had nothing too big of note except that hills (or long steady inclines as I am sure people argue London has no hills) were terrible on tired legs. I had two bigun's: Kingston Hill (A308) and then the A3 (yeah if going down wasn't fun, going up surely is more fun than a barrel of monkeys). I was so happy to cross Putney Bridge and get back on the lovely, flat, CycleSuperHighway.

This was a big confidence booster for me. An olympic ride is 40km. I did about 60km. I did hills on tired legs. Maybe 'did' is a strong word. I didn't WALK the hills. I now feel confident that I could do a group ride during the week without getting too left behind.

So if you are hesitant about cycling, please find a local group near you and sign up for a ride. Or find a cafe/park about 10-15 miles away from you and head there. Check for quieter routes, cycle routes, etc. if you are not confident on the roads.  Get there. Rest. Relax. Have a sandwich at a cafe. Head back. Take your time, and don't be put off by the other lycra on the journey. You do you.

And yes, my bum felt fine. So I learned my lesson from the last time.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Tooting Bec Lido Aquathlon

What a day!
I had a lot of reservations about this Aquathlon. Hell, I was not even sure if I was saying 'aquathlon' right ('a qwath a lon'? 'aquacklon'?).  Then I reminded myself to shut up and stop worrying. I met a member of the Lido-- his name was Al. I met him previously the day I tested out the wetsuit. I asked if he was participating and he said, "No, I only race myself now." That should be how it always is... for everyone.

So I calmed down. I stretched. I listened to the race brief. I asked questions. I chatted with other participants. I kept telling myself 'This is not the end game. Just enjoy and learn.'  To be honest I was itching to get into the water... my wetsuit was a tad bit warm in the lovely London sun (yes it exists!).

Note to self-- if you are jumping in cold water, may be best to ensure the goggles are about the same temperature. Else, the fog up. Well. Now I know :)

The nine lengths went pretty well. The lanes were huge so people didn't have to stress about holding people up behind or getting stuck behind someone.

Such a badass :D 
Transition? Ehhh... let's just say practicing dry is NOT the same as when it's wet. Fair. Makes sense. Another lesson learned.

I was not feeling too hot in the beginning of the run. I am not sure if that was the quick (in some sense of the word) transition or maybe I drank too much water in the pool. Whatever it was, I kept it relatively slow in fear of vomiting. The sun was pretty strong at this point, so it was actually quite nice having a wet trisuit on. Oh, and I was rocking some sunnies. Priorities people!

We did three laps around the common. Some of those were along roads but there were volunteers at every corner to ensure no one got lost.

I rolled into the finish and tried to to a bit of a jump at the end. I was feeling pretty good-- huzzah I did an aquathlon! I got my medal and my flapjack. All one really needs at the end of a race.

Heck yeah!
If you are thinking about doing a tri-- or are doing a tri, or just want something different, I recommend this event. It's a great way of getting your body used to swimming in cold water, like an OWS, but without the murky water. It's also great to get your body used to working out when tired.

All that was left to do was tube home (Tooting Bec is about 20 minutes walk away) and soak up the sun. A great way to spend a Saturday. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Triathlon - Let's Get Serious Now

I have kind of been floating around exercise at the moment. I feel almost 'back' from my injury, but I have not really done any distance to speak of, my excuse being I have nothing to train for. To which NinjaBoy said "Then sign up for something!". Well played sir, well played.

I have been kinda training for my triathlon in August. A swim or two here and there, throw a run in somewhere, and sprinkle in a dreaded cycle (still don't like it). But you know...  I figured I have done this before *cough* 2013 *cough* and its not a crazy distance. Here it comes guys: HOW HARD CAN IT BE?!

Hard. As I found out on Wednesday.

I was going to have a weird work day (2pm-10pm) on Wednesday so I thought I would be proactive and go to the unheated Tooting Bec lido to scope out what I am getting myself into for the aquathlon this Saturday. I also (begrudgingly) decided to cycle down there. It was 0930, I had plenty of time...

About an hour later, I get to the Lido. It's overcast. It's cold. It's England summer. Luckily though that meant only the die hards are at the lido. I ask the nice woman at the desk a thousand questions:

Me: "Do I have to wear a wetsuit?"
Patient Woman: "No, not today"

Me: "Would you wear a wetsuit?" 
Patient Woman: "Oh heck yes... it's cold!"

Me: "Where do I change?"
Patient Woman: "You can change in any of the little huts or if you are more comfortable in the unisex changing area"

Me: "Where are the lockers?"
Patient Woman: "There are no lockers, but you can leave small valuables with me."

So I opt for a hut, and a wetsuit. The huts are like those ones you see in old time photos. Colourful and fun. Bit dark inside, but that's the way it is! I was getting a bit anxious about leaving stuff in my little hut, but one of the locals was telling me its perfectly safe.

Me: "Would you leave stuff on a busy weekend?"
Him: "No Way!"


Such colours! 

The swim was tough. I felt incredibly slow and I took breaks with every lap. I enviously glanced at people with no wetsuit. I thought swimming in a wetsuit is meant to be easier?! My lower back hurt, my arms hurt. Oh my god. What is going on.

Such bliss!
Such agony!
 I finished 800m in 40 minutes. See the stats on the right. Perspective: my last pool swim on the left said I did 1000m in 30 minutes. I am not saying I am very slow or very fast. I am simply saying I was, how do we say, displeased based on past performances. I also don't know why Strava is in yards... also why is Strava saying different than what my Garmin says?! Thats an investigation for another day-- ::in New York Accent:: I'M BLOGGIN 'ERE!!

It was a deflating swim. I had a cup of tea to reflect. Oh christ I needed to cycle home too...

I had a quick stop to pick up Tim Horton's Coffee from a fellow runner (I love this community!) then back home with 20 minutes to spare before my work day started.

I felt tired and depressed. Am I going to be the slowest person out there on Saturday? Are people going to tut loudly as they swim past me? What the hell am I doing here?!

I go to work (no shower! no time!). I drink Tim's coffee and stew in self-doubt.

I flop on the sofa at 10:30pm and I see I got some post... from the London Tri. Oh wonderful... icing on the cake I think to myself. I open the package. It's a t-shirt.

Suddenly I remember. THIS is why I am doing the aquathlon on Saturday. To prepare for August. This is part of my training, learning what to do and what not to do on the big day. How to relax in the water, how to get out of my wetsuit without faceplating on the pavement. How to get my body used to multisport days. Saturday is not the end goal, its just a pit stop on the way to the finish....

Oh my gosh, am I in  training mode? I think I am!!

Amazing what a shirt can do! :D

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Privacy Policy for the London Running App

This app does not collect personal information in any way. What it DOES do is scrape Facebook pages for London based running events for a Google Calendar that I created. That information can be found at the link below.

URL: https://calendar.google.com/calendar/embed?src=yeolderunningcalendaroflondon%40gmail.com&ctz=Europe%2FLondon

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Race Review: The Big Half

Has it really been so long since I have done a blog post? I guess so... but to be honest my running has been pretty terrible since Bournemouth. I was diagnosed with Tendinopathy which obviously is awesome. I have cut my running wayyyy down, like maybe 6-12 miles a week.

Which of course made The Big Half a bit of an interesting conundrum. My longest run after Bournemouth (which was October 2017) had been 8 miles and I had DOMS for about four days after. How the hell was 13.1 miles going to go on me? I had been cross training like a mofo (I can now swim a mile... huzzah) but at the end of the day would that be enough to see me to the end? Also, would my tendons play nicely or would the flare up like they sometimes do and make me cut the run short? Would I have to run/walk?

I told myself that if did not come out of The Big Half relatively OK-- I was going to give up running for 2/3 months while I majorly focused on recovery. No. Running. At. All.

Needless to say I was very apprehensive at the starting line. Sick almost. There was a lot riding on the next few hours, so I wanted to ensure I gave myself every opportunity to succeed. I stretched, I would keep my pace reasonable, I didn't over/under dress.

Mother nature decided to help out too. After #BeastFromTheEast and #StormEmma wreaking havoc across the UK a few days prior, Sunday was sunny and dare I say it.... warmish?

I am so glad the race organisers held fast against the rising tide of Twitter discontent and kept the race on. It would have been ridiculous given the weather conditions in London that day. However, I also applaud them offering to make it a virtual race for those in other parts of the country who could not make it due to transport woes. That's just good form.

Living near the area, there were really no surprises for me. I have run the most of the course in some way or another in the 6 years I have lived here. The cobbles are the stuff of legend on the Marathon course, so I knew to expect them too. Mother nature also ensured there was no ice or anything that would cause an unexpected slip.

Let's talk about #tunnelgate. People were really upset about the Limehouse Link Tunnel-- which according to some went on for forever. I can assure you it didn't go on for forever (although even I muttered something about this when I was in it), it went on for about 1 mile. I checked it on MyMyRun. 1/13th of the race. I do agree they maybe should have put that there was a tunnel on the official course route but I don't think it should have ruined anyone's race. The group I was around were having fun hooting and hollering, which of course is 1000x more fun in a tunnel. Just enhance your calm people!

I am pretty sure the highlight for everyone was going across Tower Bridge. The darn thing is just so lovely and has been around for quite a long time (opened in 1894) - it served us well for motivation after we passed the Mile 7 marker. Did I tear up a little bit? Yes. I have run over that bridge more times than I can count but running it on the road is just an awesome feeling. Thank you thank you Big Half for making that possible.

Is this moosenshoes?
I had a group of friends waiting for me on Tooley Street which was also awesome, however I think I got a cramp waving my arms like a wacky inflatable flailing arms flailing tube man. So I slowed my pace and dug in for the last 10k or so of the race.

I leave it to the audience to judge. Thanks to Laurie for the video-- and of course to the SE1 crew for the support!

I will admit-- the last bit of the race is not the most exciting. Again though I knew what to expect-- so I spent the time thanking marshalls, spectators, and just trying to keep my form on some level of respectability. I also picked up a blister somewhere and I was trying to be conscious of that. I really enjoyed the music near the Printworks building, which subsequently hosts music on a regular basis.

I finished in 2:04. I got my medal. It reminds me from something from In Living Color. It is definitely unique I will give it that. 

My tendon felt pretty good, I just had the general overall ache of someone who had not really trained well for a half marathon. Fair enough. No DOMS to speak of and I had my physio appointment and he greenlighted me to start a more 'normal' running routine as long as I kept doing the exercises and didn't go crazy too soon. I can live with that. Oh yes baby-- back at it (in a safe and controlled manner!)

Oh boy that's not all! They had some nice 'environmentally friendly' aspects of the race too! I won't get into the whole plastic water bottle debacle-- an issue in almost every race I have been on. However, they did have 'green cups' for the sports drink station and they had recycling stations for the foil blankets at the end! Bonus!

< coincidence? Methinks not! >