Bike ride to work

Stupid ideas

I have had many stupid ideas in my time, mostly when I was younger, you get wiser as you get older, not quite true in my case, ok, so maybe slightly wiser.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I was going on a bike ride to work, I was going to borrow a company pool car for a weekend, I couldn’t drive my car and pool car home so I decided to ride my bike to work and put it in the boot and drive home.

My journey to work when I drive is 16 miles door to door. I had mapped a more ‘direct’ (?) route at about 20 miles for the bike ride in. I reckoned I could cover a mile every 5 minutes, quick calculations indicate a journey time of about 1 hour 40 minutes.

I must be nuts

I woke up the following morning and checked the weather outside, it looked like it was going to be a warm one, a slight breeze and the odd cloud.

I showered, dressed and went down stairs. I felt ok considering yesterday’s hard run and biking to and from the running club, I was pretty sure, well maybe only quite sure, that my legs would hold up for the next couple of hours or so.

I left home at 6am, heading for the country lanes and back roads and as fewer hills as possible. The first 4 miles were good. Mile 5 was mainly up hill to Danbury, turned right went through Bicknacre, along to Hanningfield.

I came to a T junction which was where I picked up my normal route to work. I had to turn left and face a rather large up hill ride. I took a breather for a couple of minutes, swallowed and energy gel and some water before battling on again.

I’d reached 12 miles and was feeling pretty good, I was an hour into it, and reckoned another half hour and I would be there.

What goes up must come down

The ride up the hill wasn’t as bad as I had expected, after pedaling through Retendon village it was a case of what goes up must come down…a nice steady downward, effortless glide to the bottom of the hill to the main roundabout, straight over that, and the next one immediately after.

Then it was a slow grinding battle up an ongoing hill to the lights at Rawreth, and then another ‘legs in the air’ and ‘flies in your teeth’ few moments as I sped down hill towards another roundabout.

I was very close to work now, a mile and a half, two miles tops maybe. I threw a right at the roundabout, my thighs were aching and my backside was sore.

The last few hundred yards were both annoyingly slow yet exhilarating, and as I got off my bike when I pulled into the car park I was very happy to be off of that bloody saddle! My bike ride to work had been amazing, a challenge and rewarding.

It had taken me an hour and a half to cover 18.5 miles, a lovely sunny morning through some stunning countryside…should do it more often really.

Here’s the bike ride to work.


Thursday 28th June 2012 – multi terrain running

A cunning plan

Whilst driving to work today I was thinking about tomorrow morning. Already thinking ahead. The reason for this was I would be riding my bicycle to work (I would be using a company car over the weekend – unable to drive two cars home), the plan would be to put the bike in the boot for the journey home.

So anyway, this got me thinking, why not ride my bike to the running club tonight, complete the run / route and then ride the bike home. Simples. It was four miles from home to the running club. That was manageable right?

I’d forgotten one thing

I was looking forward to tonight’s mini endurance test. Like the fool that I am.

To be honest the ride to the club wasn’t too bad, it took me just over 20 minutes to get there. That was the easy part. I had failed to do one thing today, and that was to check which route we would be running is evening at the club. The route is always posted on the website on the day, this was something I had totally over looked.

It turned out the route wasn’t a simple 5 miler, along tarmac covered pathways, nope, this was partly along pathways, but mainly running along the river bank, through fields, and around fields for about 8.5 miles.

The run was far from easy, I struggle running through fields, I struggle with the uneven surface and nigh on running one foot inline with the other…and hoping the person in front of you doesn’t go for a burton.

Back on my bike

It was tough but enjoyable. I managed to run it in 1 hour 15 minutes, not bad considering the multi terrain running challenge.

So once we were back at the running club HQ it time for stretch and then back on my bike for the four mile ride home. Perhaps a little slower than the ride to the club, and a little more up hill.

In had ridden 8 miles and ran 8.5 miles. I was knackered..but buzzing..!

This is the run.

Running though the fields.

Tuesday 26th June 2012 – Taking it easy

Making the wrong decision

When I woke up this morning and turned my alarm off, I had that “can’t be arsed” feeling, I was tired and in no mood to haul my ass out of bed, even though the sun was shining through the window and it looked like it was going to be a lovely day.

I decided there and then to stay in bed and get an extra hour sleep, or at least try to.

This, as it happened, turned out to be very much the wrong decision to make, for the rest of the day I had the hump. I was annoyed with myself for not getting up and going for a run. A run wakes me up and sets me up for the day…I know that, yet felt it would be better to stay in bed.

Making the right decision

I stewed all day. I regretted not running this morning. I was snappy with people when I could be bothered to speak to anyone.

I didn’t like it. I decided to go for a run this evening instead, and to make up for being such a lazy arsed git this morning I’d run 10k instead of the 5k I was going to run. I’d managed to cheer myself up a bit, and was now looking forward to a nice steady run on a summers evening. Assuming the rain holds off, I’d be able to get a good pace going and be taking it easy, nothing too manic.

Slow and steady

So once the boys were bathed and in bed, and wifey was settling down to read them stories with Gruffalos and diggers, I was throwing my running kit on and heading out.

I’d planned a simple, slightly undulated route that took me around the village and headed over the A12 down passed the BMW dealership, up to the Sainsbury’s roundabout and then head back over the A12 and the 2 mile straight through the village home again.

The temperature was nice, the roads weren’t too busy, and I soon settled into a good stride and pace. I wanted to take it steady and try to maintain an even pace throughout. I needed to work on this in preparation for the half marathon and marathon I had entered.

Happy again

I ran just over 10k (6.65 miles), in just over an hour. Not a record breaking run by any means, but I had managed to run steadily. I was happy again.

Taking it easy.

Saturday 23rd June 2012 – New routes

A new route

With boredom comes complacency.

I’ve been running the same router variables of it for ages now. Sometimes adding a bit, sometimes running a little less. New routes are needed.

Today was time for a change. It’s Saturday so that’s long run day, minimum of 10 miles required for today.

I had planned a new route along county lanes in peace and quiet (for the most part anyway).

The early bird and all that

I woke up earlier than expected this morning, I was up and about, running kit on and doing stretches way before our cockerel had even thought of addressing the world with his cocka doodle doo.

I had a new route to try out. Out the door and raring to go (waited a while for the bloody satellites to align with the GPS), a sprightly chirp from the watch meant we were all ready to go.

The route took me along the main road into Boreham, I turned left at The 6 Bells, down Plantation Road, left again at the end of the road onto Church Road, and down hill for a few hundred yards towards the river. Over the bridge and beyond…

Running alone

This was new running territory to me, I’d ran as fas as the bridge before and then ran alongside the river. I’d just passed the 2 mile marker before the bridge, and I knew that at the end of this road was a roundabout at junction 18 of the A12.

This was the back route. This was the scenic route. This was lovely.

I was running along the road, listening to the semi hypnotic sound of my footsteps hitting the Tarmac and the steady rhythm of my breathing. A tapping noise to my right caught my attention, there about 50 yards away clinging to a tree was a woodpecker, merrily pecking away.

The road was quite flight, a few very slight hills which were only 100 or so yards long, enough to make me breath and push a bit harder. I reached the roundabout at about 4.5 miles, ran around it (keeping to the verges) over the A12 and then back on myself, heading back along the country lane, retracing my steps back towards the river and the bridge…and then the hill.

I reached the bridge and stopped for a few seconds as I took an energy gel and washed it down, preparing myself for this new never before challenged hill. I took a steady run up and tried to maintain my pace as I conquered the winding hill step by step. This was so much easier on the way down…

Back through the village

At the top of the hill the road bends round to the left, I could of gone right, back up Plantation Road, but kept running ahead, past the church and up towards the main road where I turned right.

I felt great, the fresh morning air filling my lungs, the peace and tranquility and all at a good pace. I turned right onto the main road, about a mile and a half to go. I took a cheeky left at The Cock Inn and ran up and over the bridge across the A12 and back to the main road – nice to work the legs a bit before the final half mile home.

I managed to complete 10.1 miles in about 1 hour 27 minutes. Happy and ready to take on the rest of the day.

Here’s the route and the splits

Wednesday 20th June 2012 – running a faster 5K

A quick 5K

This morning when I woke up I only had one objective.

That was running a faster 5K than I had ever run.

I’ve not done this for a while, the whole “I’ve got to beat my previous time” lark. In fact the the other week at running club when we did the 5K time trials was the last time I actually tried to run 5K as quick as I could, this morning I would attempt to beat my fastest time of 23 minutes and 53 seconds ,and that was probably 8 months ago, maybe longer.

Running a faster 5K

From the moment the GPS connected with the satellites (finally…) and I pressed start I ran at a pace I thought I could maintain for 25 minutes (this should be long enough for me to complete the 5K).

My aim was a pace of 7 minutes 40 seconds per mile. I started off OK, and the first mile was 7m 15s. I tried not to ease off, but I think I over egged it a bit again, the second mule was a bit slower at 7m 25s.

Too fast too quick

Annoyingly I dropped down to 7m 48s or the 3rd mile, I just wish that was how I had started the first mile, perhaps it would of been easier. Although to be fair, the splits were a lot closer than I thought they would be.

With more practice I will be able to maintain a pace, and hopefully get my 5K time down to 22 minutes.

For now though I had achieved my goal of running a faster 5K and clocked a time of 23 minutes 10 seconds – I was very happy.

My quickest 5K so far is here!

Tuesday 19th June 2012 – Fartlek

Dinner with friends

On Saturday evening Wifey and I donned our finest and went out to dinner with a couple that we know. Nanny was babysitting the boys, and we were off to let our hair down and chill out for a few hours.

The husband of the couple we were at dinner with (let’s call him Chris – as that’s his name) happens to be an ex runner. I’d heard him mention this months ago, but never managed to talk to him about it in more detail. He’d been a very competent long distance runner.

“So then, how’s the running coming along Paul?” he asked. I told him it was going well, and that I’d recently completed my first half marathon. He asked how I got on? I told him about the race, how hot it was, how I struggled a bit, how much I enjoyed it and how nice it was to have Wifey and the boys supporting me.

Finally I said “I think I was very under prepared for it, and could of trained better for it”

Getting some advice

I’ve read various forums and articles in magazines about hill running and fartlek training, but never quite understood just how it would benefit me, or how to actually carry out the training process. How would I know if I was doing it correctly?

Chris said to me “have you been doing any hill runs?” Well that’s a good question… “What about your fartlek training?”

I explained that whilst I had heard of it, hadn’t tried it, wasn’t sure etc. Chris told me in some depth about how it works, the benefits etc and what sort of other stuff I should or could be doing in preparation for the marathon in October.

I was buzzing, I couldn’t wait to get out and carry out some different training.

I had to wait until today though.

My first fartlek session

I sprung out of bed this morning, and was soon out of the door and pounding the pavement. The first mile was at a very slow 9m 20s ish pace, just a bit of a warm up. Then it was a sub 8m pace for 2 minutes, then back to a slow pace for one minute, then quick again for 2 minutes. I repeated this several times. Slowed down to 9m 30s ish for the last mile home.

At the end of it I felt great, felt like I’d had a good work out. This was definitely going to become part of the training programme!

Fartlek rocks!

Here’s my first fartlek session.

Saturday 16th June 2012 – Mind over matter

Saturday morning

I was up and out of bed all raring to go this morning, I felt good, and was looking forward to going for my run.

After the run on Thursday at the running club I had planned to tweak one of my usual routes a little to try and incorporate part of the run from Thursday. This would form the last part of the run and entail running through the back of Beaulieu Park and round the back of Newhall School and down to the A12, before heading home.

Today’s target was 13 miles.

Mind over matter

I may have mentioned this before, but I have struggled for quite sometime to get through the 3rd mile of each run, except when running a 5K. It’s within this mile that I get the ‘white flag’ moments.

You know those moments when you are already planning a shorter router. Or wondering how far you will get before you will stop and call someone to come and get you. Or if that ever so slightly aching leg or arm will stop your run today. Anything that will make you stop and turn around and go home. These ‘white flag’ moments drive me nuts. I hate them.

The odd thing is, as soon as the GPS or iPhone indicates that I have passed the 4 mile mark, my whole mentality changes, and I look forward to the rest of the run.

It’s a case of mind over matter really. Throughout the 3rd mile I am constantly fighting the darker thoughts and ‘using the force’ as it were.

There go my legs

The run started well, the first two miles around the village were good, I wanted to try and maintain a steady pace. I needed to complete my long runs at a continuous pace, practice for completing the half marathon and marathons I had planned.

All was going well, we’ll skip the 3rd mile and head straight to mile 6. I had ran through Chelmer Village and was now heading back up towards the running club HQ, and my legs stopped moving. Now warning. No pains, niggles or aches. They just stopped.

I walked for about 30 seconds, took and energy gel and some mouthfuls of water from the bottle and continued to run as if nothing had happened.  I was baffled, and remain so.

Heading up to Beaulieu Park I had a decision to make, did I go straight on and head for the route around the back of Newhall School or did I turn right and head for home, thus cutting the run short by a couple of miles.

I went right. Not sure why I had stopped earlier, I didn’t want to risk anything so I opted for the shorter route. I headed back towards the A12 interchange and was just starting the 2 mile straight towards home and my legs stopped again.

I walked for another 30 seconds, took another energy gel and began again, slowly making my way back home.

I managed to complete the 10 mile route in 1h 34m – ok it was slower than I would of liked, but I am still not sure why my legs stopped moving, and wasn’t going to increase the pace just in case.

Here’s the geeky bit!

Thursday 14th June 2012 – Chelmsford running routes

Club night

Thursdays seem to come round so quickly, which isn’t a bad thing as it’s the only day I really get to run with other people and always come away feeling like I have given 100%. Plus it’s nice to have a bit of a natter to other people as I run, and to find out a bit about my fellow club mates, I am after all a newbie here!

It’s always nice to get there as the room is filling up, lots of buzz about the room and every time I’ve been so far there has been someone new joining that night. Running seems to be growing in popularity as a recreational past-time and great way to keep fit, plus clubs also have a great social side too.

Back to school

Tonight’s run would be the Newhall route. A 6.5 mile run up and around the large private school next to Beaulieu Park. This was the route I first ran with the club, tonight I would try to run a bit slower than last time, my legs felt heavy around 5 miles on the previous run.

As Chelmsford running routes go, this one has a good mix. It was mainly running on pavement except for when you run along dirt tracks at the back of Beaulieu Park, then cut across a couple of fields along the back perimeter of the school, then it’s back down the long drive of the school to the roundabout at the A12. A steady mile or so along the pavement, past the BMW garage towards BnQ and then back towards HQ.

The run

It was quite overcast today and we’d been threatened with rain so I went out with my running jacket on expecting a drop of the wet stuff.

We all set off at a nice steady pace, I tagged in with a couple of guys that are quicker than me, the pace was manageable but after a couple of miles I was breathing hard. The bloody 3 mile mental block / barrier I go through each and every time is so frustrating. I wanted to stop and walk. I just had to keep going, as soon as we got to mile 4 I was fine.

Oh and as for the rain, no such thing. The sun came out and ensured I was toasty warm. Too warm at times.

I really enjoy this route, the mix of road running and off roading combined with a manageable distance make it good to run. I finished the 6.64 mile run in just under 58 minutes. A great run.

This is the route