"for the happy, the sad, I don't want to be, another page in your diary"

Saturday 31 May 2014

This Is More Like It

Today I have to register for the half a***d and attend a race briefing, of which there are four sprinkled throughout the day and I aim for the 12:30 one. I take the dogs with me whilst L runs there.

As we wait for her we watch the Nottingham Triathlon that is going on all day. This is merely a sprint distance event 750m swim/20k bike/5k run but the buoys in the rowing lake look well spaced out to me... and that is only 750m! It’s going to be 1900m tomorrow. Gulp.

I go to registration and get my race numbers, timing chip, swim hat, tattoos etc. Yes I did say tattoos, this year they are using ITU style tattoo numbers that you stick onto your skin.

Then they hand me a pint of beer as I head into the briefing. This is more like it. Sadly it turns out to be non-alcoholic.

The briefing is more or less what is in the published race guide, only with added humour and photographs that you can’t actually see because it’s too light in the tent where they’re holding it. No matter, we’re all hyped up now. Although I feel some of my fellow ‘athletes’ are contemplating not coming back tomorrow.

Then I go for a pre-race massage in the capable hands of the former landlord of one of our local pubs. I kid you not. It’s a small world as they say.

Back home, L says she was once told that you should drink alcohol the night before a race because it helps you sleep. So I have a beer, a real one, to go with my pasta and the athletic looking Bakewell Tart that is lurking threateningly in the fridge.

(Saturday 31st May)

Friday 30 May 2014

Steadying The Nerves

Two days to go. 

L asks if everyone at work is excited for me? I’m not sure excited is the word they’re using. Certainly no one appears to be jealous of me. L, however, does seems to be very excited by the whole thing.

Many moons ago we ordered some souvenir Sochi T-shirts. Remember them? Apparently they’ve just been dispatched from Moscow. They could be a while yet though and have they’ve also got to negotiate customs.

My final training session tonight, a swim. I do 70 lengths and L joins me, although not doing quite so many.

Then perhaps just a couple glasses of wine to steady the nerves. 

(Friday 30th May)

Thursday 29 May 2014

A Miserable Last Few Days

No squash this week due to Sunday’s impending Half Ironman. Getting maimed tonight on the squash court wouldn’t be helpful. Instead I have a miserable last few days of tapering and carbo loading to look forward to.

I dedicate today to the latter. First we go to the pub at lunchtime for a small snack. High carb of course. I consider going pre-race AF but on reflection I think the advantages of beer outweigh the disadvantages.

In the evening we head over to Leamington to visit Son as it’s his birthday. We take my Mum and Dad over to visit. We go to our usual, the White Horse. The last time we were there someone had decked the horse and it was lying on the floor prone. Now it’s no longer there at all, gone for repairs I hope.

(Thursday 29th May)

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Plodding Up And Down A Damp Canal Path

Tonight I have the Trent 5 Mile Race at Beeston down as an option depending on the state of my knees. My knees tell me to give it a go, so then it’s just down to the weather. This seems to fine up just at the right moment.

L still isn’t over keen. She feels she should be curled up with a book, a glass of wine and a cute little dog at her feet, not plodding up and down a damp canal path. Problem is the cute little dog will have a ball in his mouth and he’ll want the back door open. We do the run.

My knees actually get rather carried away and run 7 minute miles, which is the fastest I’ve done this sort of event in for years. My pace was helped by the guy with noisy shoes who was running behind me, as I spent all five miles trying to get away from him. Still 35.02, pleased with that.

(Wednesday 28th May)

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Just Like Paddington Made

Back to work after the bank holiday and its now just five days to go. Still time for some last minute training on bike in the wet. Oh the joy. In the end it’s not too bad and I am merely lightly drizzled upon.

Despite the play off final defeat the Forest fan at work is still very pliant. You just have to whisper 5-0 under your breath and he shuts up.

We head up to Sheffield in the evening to meet Daughter for a post course meal. We go to a place called Mud Crab Industries. It’s an odd menu, a mix of tapas, pizza, burgers, Mexican, Asian, Jamaican, Spanish... My paella is pretty good.

They also have Baked Alaska, which I have always wanted to try since Paddington Bear cooked it when I was about 10 years old but I’ve never ever seen it on a menu before. Paddington, by the way, misread the recipe and thought it said elastic. An easy mistake to make. We try it and its... ok. Nothing too exciting.

(Tuesday 27th May)

Monday 26 May 2014

The Countdown Stops For No Man

It’s a bank holiday today, yet the countdown stops for no man. Six days to go.

We chill out, lie in, taper. Call it what you will. Although me and the boys do hit the park.

Where Doggo stalks a dandelion thinking it is his yellow ball, until I throw said ball at which point he shrugs off the slight misunderstanding and chases after it. I would say it’s his age but he’s always done odd things like that. 

(Monday 26th May)

Sunday 25 May 2014

Treachery And Double Dealing

I find out today that Nottingham are hosting the British Short Track Speed Skating Championships. No great surprise there I suppose as Nottingham is where the GB team train but it hasn’t been promoted at all and it turns out all the sessions end mid afternoon. So not very spectator friendly. I would certainly have gone if it had been organised better particularly as I have a free day now the dog show is off.

Something that has been heavily promoted and I had dismissed as I wasn’t free was the Milk Race. Now I am free I forget about it completely until we head into town, to find it’s all over. While in town we bump in to many Dot-2-dotters, something else I had forgotten about. Dot-2-dot is a music festival held across many venues in town and all on one ticket.

We have a few beers in the Falcon before heading to Broadway to see The Two Faces of January, which is based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith.

Chester MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen) and his wife Colette (Kirsten Dunst) are touring the sights of Athens when we first meet them. They appear to be a normal-ish couple, affluent and with a largish age gap between them but seemingly happy together.

They meet an American tour guide called Rydal (Oscar Isaac), who makes most of his money scamming tourists. Rydal sticks with them, thinking he’s found another rich and easy target. Along with the fact he clearly likes the look of Colette and hopes there might be some fringe benefits in that direction as well.

Rydal quickly finds out that he just a small time crook compared to Chester. Who is mixed up in something far dodgier and more lucrative. When someone comes calling to get their money back, they wind up dead and the MacFarlands suddenly end up trying to flee the country.

Now lured by prospect of even more money and of Colette of course, Rydal decides to help them. He knows someone who can get them new passports and get them out of Greece. 

It’s a promising setup with three promising characters. Rydal doesn’t trust Chester and Chester certainly doesn’t trust Rydal. We get treachery upon treachery and double-double-dealing but the interplay between them just doesn’t quite stack up. The relationship between Colette and Rydal is undeveloped and in the end the plot resolution is far from convincing. Still the acting is good and the film moderately engaging. Not bad.

We debrief in Brewdog which we finally manage to get into for a change and hit some seriously strong beers.

(Sunday 25th May)

Saturday 24 May 2014

Play Off Final

With the train looking very expensive my Dad and I drive down to Wembley, park at Watford for £2 all day, then get the Piccadilly line into London. Although the M1 is a nightmare and one big queue from Leicester down to the M25. It is also a sea of black and white scarves and flags, hanging out of everyone’s cars. A slightly sodden black and white as it rains all the way down.

We meet L’s sister at Harrow on the Hill and we grab a pint in the local Wetherspoons, where we are massively outnumbered by QPR fans. All very good natured QPR fans though.

We jump back on the tube to Wembley and wander down Wembley Way stopping at one of the local dining establishments on the way (burger van). Then after a bit of a queue at the turnstile, we’re in.

Son texts me, to say he’s here as well. Blimey, he kept that quiet.

The match itself is a very cagey affair at first but gradually Derby take control and by the time the second half starts there’s only one side who’s going to win it. Derby spend the entire half camped in front of QPR’s goal and also right in front of us. Then just as Jonny Russell is about to put us ahead his legs are whipped from under him and QPR are down to 10 men. It is outside the area, so no penalty and still it stays scoreless.

We hit the post and Rob Green in the QPR goal makes several fantastic (out of character) saves. The winning goal is clearly on its way but with time running out it looked like we were going to need extra time to get it. The stats say it all - 58% possession, 14 corners to 1, 16 shots to 11, 5 on target to 1.

Ah, and that one QPR shot on target didn’t come until the 90th minute but sadly, it went in. Cue disbelief, injustice and total pandemonium down the wrong end of the stadium. The QPR fans simply couldn’t believe their good fortune.

Oh well, we’ll just have to do things the proper way and go up as champions next season.

This has, easily, been the best season in eons. From the moment McClaren took over, bizarrely half way through the Ipswich game with the team 4-1 down at half time, everything has turned to gold. On that day, somehow he rallied the troops, tweaked the team and delivered a 4-4 draw. Since then we have moved from 14th in the league to 3rd and have outscored everyone else along the way. Next season could be even better.

L has been in Sheffield all day and we rendezvous back at home, where we tuck into a consolation curry.

(Saturday 24th May)

Friday 23 May 2014

D-Day Approaching

Nine days to go. One day to go.

Today, my second last swim before d-day.

L says ‘enjoy it’. Well that depends who’s in my lane and how many there are of them. I suppose if it’s busy it’s a useful preparation for race day, all that elbowing everyone out the way is good practice.

As it turns out, there’s just the one. Although he’s a very quick one.

(Friday 23rd May)

Thursday 22 May 2014

Counting Down

Ten days to go.

Or only two, if you’re counting down to Wembley as I suppose I ought to be.

Despite a dodgy knee and the rain, I cycle to work. The rain wasn’t too bad once you got out in it and the knee is actually much better today. Squash will be a good test for it later.

We have a mini celebration/commiseration at work. Somebody has been here for 30 years, having joined straight from school. She has problems cramming all the balloons into her car.

After a wet start, the weather has been fine most of the day, then it rains again as I cycle home. Somehow I avoid getting washed away, make it to squash and later to the Riverbank pub. Which we try afterwards. It’s ok but nothing special.

All the rain has wrecked one part of the weekend. Sunday’s dog show is off. So that’s our Crufts Team campaign down the pan. The club had an impressive six teams entered.

(Thursday 22nd May)

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Ridiculously Cheap

Eleven days to go.

I hobble to the bus, which perhaps isn’t the best omen. I catch one of those rare Citylink things and pay only £3.60 return using the previously pointless Genie card. This is ridiculously cheap. If they actually told somebody about it then they might actually get some customers.

I’m on the bus because I’m meeting an old school chum after work for a few pints and a meal at Wetherspoons. We really must stop eating at Wetherspoons.

(Wednesday 21st May)

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Another Video Nasty

L goes to work on her bike and promptly makes it rain. As I'm also on the bike, I get wet too.

It’s now two weeks to go, as a helpful email from ‘my coach’ tells me. He’s sent me another video nasty. In which, he goes on about something called tapering, even for those who haven’t trained...

L asks if he’s recommending dog shows and days at Wembley. I imagine days at Wembley are perfect tapering, not sure about the dog show though.

Talking of Wembley, I’ve been spending at the Derby County shop. I fancied a football shirt for Wembley as they’ve reduced them to clear, unfortunately they’d cleared the lot. So I get myself a Play Off t-shirt instead.

I give L a lift over to her parents because having been delayed at work, she can no longer fit in her planned cycled ride over there. The bonus is I now get to meet her for swift one in the Masons pub in Mickleover after dog training.

(Tuesday 20th May)

Monday 19 May 2014

Down The Back Of The Sofa

At work there is hardly anyone in to brag to about my weekend, which is a touch disappointing. 

My legs are cheering loudly about it though. Very loudly. At least I think that's what they're doing.
I also have a sort of radioactive glow. Too much sun perhaps.

At 3pm Derby County announce that Wembley have found another 1,200 tickets down the back of the sofa and they will be going on sale at 9am tomorrow from the Pride Park ticket office. By 3.10 a queue has formed.

L is out in Ockbrook running tonight with the contents of the petty cash box, which she confesses to smashing open with a letter opener and a pair of scissors. It was jammed apparently...

The boys and I head off dogging.

(Monday 19th May)

Sunday 18 May 2014

Phase Three

Phase three is the Burton 10 Mile run from Meadowside Leisure Centre, which is a really nice location with easy parking and good facilities at the leisure centre itself.

So with legs now even more tired after yesterday’s sportive we set out on the two lap course. It is largely flat apart from a half mile or so of gentle climbing half way around. That would have been more tolerable had it not been on the least scenic part of the route through a housing estate.

There are two drinks stations on the lap, both with casks from Burton Bridge Brewery. Sadly the casks have only been filled with water.

It’s hot again, so the dogs are at home and I try out my new running hat. Bought with the Half Ironman in mind, should that also be warm.

At the end they hand over a technical t-shirt and a Mars bar. L hates Mars bar, so I’ll get two. My time 1:23, which is slower than I would normal expect but in the circumstances, acceptable.

In the evening we take the dogs to another local pub, the Admiral Rodney. The two beers I have are dodgy. The first is clearly off and is replaced, the second just not very good. We order a bottle of wine instead of having a third. The food we order is off as well, as in not defrosted yet. I never thought that would stop a pub personally. We reorder and get partial refunds on both beer and food. 

(Sunday 18th May)

Saturday 17 May 2014

Phase Two

Phase 2 of the training weekend is today’s Thoresby Cycle Fest Sportive, which I’m doing on deliberately tired legs. I’m on the 50 mile route, L’s on the 34 mile.

We drive up to Thoresby Hall for the start, leaving the boys at home due to the expected hot weather.

I start off and quickly get my head down, using my aerobars (I need the practice). I whizz past several folk although the downside is the aerobars make pothole dodging difficult and there are a lot to dodge. Then 20 miles in, I find one particularly large one unmissable. I disappear down it. At first I think I’ve punctured both tyres but it just turns out to be the rear one. Good job, as I only have one spare tube. I’ve also knocked both my rear brake and my bike computer out of alignment and it takes another 10 miles to get both functioning correctly again.

That takes me to the feed station at Halam, just outside Southwell. It is a well stocked feed station, loads of cakes and a cup of tea, much better than the Kilo To Go ones. Although they don’t have any bike spares. So I can’t get another tube and therefore have to make sure I don’t fall down any more holes on the rest of the route. It is a route that seems to cover the northern most sections of the Great Nottingham Bike Ride, so I’ll be back on these roads next month.

Overall it’s all very well organised and there are other races on during the weekend as well. These include the Unicycle & British Open Penny farthing Championships and also some Paper boy racing. I really wished I’d entered the latter. They’ve even erected dummy doors to post newspapers through.

L does her 34 Miles in 03:12, I do my 50 in 03:42 but if you take off my puncture stop and the fact I had a leisurely cup of tea, perhaps I could have caught her.

We get home to the news that all the remaining 17,000 Play Off tickets, that went on general sale this morning, sold in 54 minutes. Wow. Sadly my brother didn’t get the four he was looking for.

Later we take the dogs down the local pubs for a beer, as we need to rehydrate for tomorrow. Sadly the Wheelhouse has taken the Abbot off, so we move across to the Wollaton Pub which has equally dull beer but better food. I drink the Black Sheep.

(Saturday 17th May)

Friday 16 May 2014

Final Training Weekend

It’s the bus this morning ahead of what is a hard training weekend, starting tonight. It’s also the final training weekend before my Half A**ed Ironman, next weekend will be an gentle one.

I’m late leaving work, and therefore the start of tonight’s training run is delayed, due to a bit of Play Off banter. So I miss my original bus out of Chaddesden and the initial jog to the bus stop gets extended by a few miles to Borrowash where the next bus catches me up and I jump on. I compensate by moving the start of the second leg of the run from Stapleford to Bramcote. L walks the boys up and meets me as I approach the final stretch.

For once it’s a run that actually goes quite well, I’ve earned that beer.

L is worried about tomorrow (bike) and Sunday (run). The question is, is she worried enough to be AF tonight? Nope. Alcohol is an absolute necessity tonight I’m told. We’ll both be chucking balls with a glass in our hands. 

(Friday 16th May)

Thursday 15 May 2014

The Stapleford Keirin

Today is Daughter’s final day as a student, that is unless she’s continuing as a student, which she wants to do. So just the nerve wracking wait for her results then and the busking on street corners to raise the money to continue studying.

My second day on the bike is followed by a nice reviving pub lunch, a pint and a half decent cottage pie, before cycling home again, with a bit of work in between.

The ride home is interesting, another chap and I end up doing the keirin in Stapleford behind an old lady on one of those battery powered bikes. He’s not the only one I have to race tonight either and just when I wanted to save my legs for squash.

This takes place on very tired legs. They tell you to cross train but I’m not sure anyone recommends chasing a little ball around a squash court for an hour.

(Thursday 15th May)

Wednesday 14 May 2014

The Risk Of Falling In The River

On the bike today and I even go out for the run at lunchtime. The run is a bit unpleasant down by the river with flies everywhere. It’s incredibly difficult to run if you have to keep your mouth and eyes closed. It makes breathing difficult and there’s also the risk of falling in the river.

I bike home, and then head off to dog training.

(Wednesday 14th May)

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Play Off Tickets

It’s a rather simple task buying tickets for the Play Off final this morning. Seetickets are handling the sale and it’s all rather slick. The big decision is deciding where to sit and how much to pay. Last time, in 2007, we ended up a long way from the pitch. This time I manage to get tickets five rows from the front. My Mum isn’t going, so L’s sister will be joining my Dad and I on the big day.

I’m back in training and swimming tonight. The pool is a much better temperature as well, not the overheated Sauna of last week. In fact it’s almost cold.

L asks whether I’ll continue the swimming after ‘the day’ or do we have a ‘no more swimming’ celebration. Sadly I think I need to continue swimming and if I survive this event I might even consider another one, maybe around September time. It would be shame for L to not get more use out of her WAG boots.  

(Tuesday 13th May)

Monday 12 May 2014

It's QPR

It’s so wet today that I worry that Dogging might be off but it isn’t. In fact the ground turns out to be excellent and the weather actually sunny whilst we are there.

No human training today, as I rest my legs after Sunday’s exertions in my first Olympic distance Triathlon. L reckons she did hers, the London Tri, back in 2006. So it’s took me a long time to catch up.

Tonight Wigan play QPR in the second leg of their Play Off Semi Final to see who meets Derby in the final. QPR come from behind and win 2-1.

(Monday 12th May)

Sunday 11 May 2014

Doing the Mojito

I emerge from our tent in Peterborough’s Nene Park at not long past 5am to go register for today’s ECF Monster Mojito Triathlon and collect my shocking pink t-shirt. Not sure that’ll get worn much.

At 7am the serious guys doing the Mojo, the half iron middle distance race, start. This is over the distance I will race in three weeks time at the Half Outlaw. Today I am doing the Olympic distance Mojito instead. Just a 1500m swim, 23 mile cycle and a 10k mile run then.

Half an hour later we start. In theory I shouldn’t be able to drown because the water is only four feet deep. The safety briefing says if we get in trouble, stand up. Good advice. That is if it wasn’t for the weeds, which as I stand awaiting the start come up beyond my knees.

Once we’re off, the weeds are constantly trying to disrupt my doggie paddle, grabbing at my arms and legs, trying to suck me down into the four foot depths of the lake.

Doggie paddle and breast stroke is about as good as it gets for the first 750m as I struggle to catch my breath in the cold water and get anything approaching a recognisable stroke going. Once around the half way buoy and turned for home, I finally sort myself out and discover a stroke called front crawl.

I emerge from the water in just under 35 minutes. A slightly tardy three minute transition then follows as I put on extra kit for the bike leg. The bike is good fun and I even put my new aerobars to decent use. The only problem is my feet, which emerged from the lake resembling blocks of ice and they do not thaw out one jot whilst cycling.

This means that 83 minutes later I am trying to force these frozen stumps into my running shoes before attempting to hobble around two laps of Nene Park on them. The feeling does come back to them at some point and I really find the run quite easy, which is encouraging for the Half Outlaw, where I have to run twice as far, although after more than double the bike distance.

My final time of 2:52:21 sees me 50th of 78 starters. I cross the line to the acclaim of my backup team, L, Doggo and MD. Both dogs cheering loudly.

After a bit of refuelling, a hot dog and coffee, we’re heading home with L driving. We are home in good time to chill out a bit before the second stress of the day. The second leg of the Play Off Semi Final. No need to worry though, Derby coast home beating Brighton 4-1 on the night (6-2 on aggregate). Wembley here we come. ah, it’s never dull being a Derby County fan, well apart from the last five years.

So there's no need for extra time or penalties and I’m back in Nottingham in plenty of time to meet L in the pub. We pub crawl Canning Circus visiting the Borlase, the Falcon, the Hand & Heart and the Ropewalk. Those nice Pink Monster people even email me the results to digest over a pint.
(Sunday 11th May)

Saturday 10 May 2014

Force Feeding

I am entered in the Hatton Agility Festival near Warwick today and also in the Mojito Triathlon at Peterborough tomorrow. That is my test event before the big ‘Half Outlaw’ day, which is now only three weeks away.

L is persuaded into supporting at both, so she accompanies me to the dog show, then we will go direct from Warwick to Peterborough and camp overnight on site at Peterborough. I have to register and rack my bike by 6.30am.... so this will make it easier. Oh and then there’s a fairly important playoff game to get back for which is thankfully a 5:15 kick off.

L goes for a run at the show and then I drop her off in Leamington to see Son. MD and I have already cocked up a run by then and go on to mess up a few others later.

We have poles down in everything in the afternoon and a few tunnel refusals. Meaning that our very first run which was messy, slow, madly frustrating and nowhere near as good as it should have been but was clear was our best effort. We get 6th for it. Gobsmacked. It was also in a qualifier where the top five go to Malvern for the final. This is one we have qualified for before but on this occasion I’m quite pleased to have missed out to avoid the long trek down there.

We drive to Peterborough and camp on the patch of wasteland that they’ve designated as the campsite. Then we go for something to eat in the local pub. L force feeds me Abbot Ale, telling me it’ll help me sleep ahead of my event. Who am I to argue?

(Saturday 10th May)