Chalgrove Festival 10k 2013

There’s a definite pattern emerging with running and this blooming shoulder. Try and push out of the comfort zone and end up with a disappointing result and a sore arm – slow and easy gets much the same result without the disappointment and a slightly less sore arm. Unlike last year, when it rained a little, this years Chalgrove Festival 10k promised to be a proper Bank Holiday scorcher. So I applied a good layer of sun-cream and left myself plenty of time for the 10 mile ride there and arrived with a vague intention of finishing under the hour but not if this meant any excessive huffing and puffing.

I had no trouble passing the spare 40 minutes after I’d picked up my timing chip. The festival was already starting to build up and I went and had a look at the old cars and the huge Merlin helicopter in one field. Then a visit to the vintage and miniature engines chuffing away pumping water to nowhere or lighting electric lamps, should have taken a photo of the slightly surreal set-up with a vintage pump circulating water in and out of a bowl in which a plastic lady from a later era sitting in a deck chair cooled her feet. The strong, warm sunshine, the smell of warm oil and sound of early Beatles blasting out from the merry-go-round coming together to make a fine environment.

I ate a gel, drank half a pint of water, said hello to the IWCA contingent and a couple of other familiar faces then we were summoned to the start area. The Race Director announced that the starting gun today was in fact going to be some old canon and might be a bit loud. I avoided the warm-up gymnastics and found a quiet bit of field to get the blood flowing. I hung round near the back of the field and chatted with a bloke doing his first race and explained how the timing chip thing worked and how his published time might be a bit slower that he thought if it turned out to be gun to chip, I couldn’t remember from last year. We couldn’t really hear the announcer and the canon was not visible to us so we’d half forgotten about it. I think everyone jumped in unison when it did go off!

Chalgrove 10k Starting Canon 2013

Thanks to Chalgrove Festival for the pictures

We were off, backwards down the finish straight with the beep of the timing mat confirming it was chip to chip. I started my Garmin but just had it showing the time of day with no flashing up the mile pace etc. A view people gathered to see us off, many with ‘rather you than me’ looks – good viewing as the start/finish straight cleverly cuts right through the middle of the festival ground.

Chalgrove 10k Start 2013Out of the field, down a tatty drive with a couple of bigger potholes marked in yellow, then onto the road where I spotted Howard who looked like he’d cycled out to support someone. A few faster runners who’d been trapped at the back passed us, I gently overtook a few gone off too fasts. By the time we’d turned into the lanes before the first mile was done several red sweaty faces were making an appearance. The forecast only predicted 20 degrees C but it was more like 25 according to my weather station when I got home. After our extended winter and recent, bitter, north-easterlies we weren’t fully ready for proper sunny weather.

We continued on, a bit of descent but a very slight headwind, I resisted getting carried along when the occasional faster runner passed and held back to be sure before passing others. I was quite warm enough and was glad of a squirt from some kids water gun as we passed through Berrick Salome. An unfortunate but appropriate earworm had taken hold courtesy of Simon and Garfunkel – over 30 minutes running left and the same 6 lines before the words ran out and someone pushed the repeat button.

Slow down, you move too fast ...

Slow down, you move too fast …

Halfway and we had changed direction and were glad of the water station at Roke. I walked a couple of steps to make sure a full cup went down. Gently climbing for a mile now with a steeper bit and a false summit. Several walked, several charged up it like it wasn’t there – a few did a bit of both. I just eased off a bit, but not too much, and plodded on. A bit of sweat dripping into my eyes to remind me that a hill in the sun is always going to be taxing.

Then gently down for a good way which was welcome as I had a slightly sore foot and my arm was having a grumble. Good thing I’d not pushed my self or I might have ended up joining the ranks of run a bit – walk a bits of which there were a few complete with that ‘angry at my body for letting me down’ look. I picked up a couple of easy places but had neither urge nor energy to challenge the threesome who passed me on the finish straight. The festival was really bustling now and there was lots of cheering near the finish, this is a great race to bring your family to if you’ve got one.

Chalgrove 10k Finish 2013I handed in my chip then, after queuing a minute, realised I really didn’t need yet another running shirt however nice so went to the water. They were struggling to keep enough  full cups on the table to sate the roasting runners so I headed back to get my bottle off my bike instead managing to intercept a bottle on the way. I cheered in a few later arrivals then back on my bike for a gentle, tiring, but not unpleasant ride home. Result was 56:56 243rd of 352 – as good, maybe better, than expected.

Interesting twist back at work the next day when I wander over to the other building to see a chap who’s been there as long as me but I’ve hardly had cause to talk to. There he was wearing his Chalgrove 10k shirt – 5th over all and won his age group – well done Rob 🙂


Brill Hilly 2013

Having taken it easy at the Oxford parkrun on Saturday and refrained from beer drinking the evening before I was reasonably confident I could get round this years Brill Hilly in about 55 minutes despite my new found slowness and constant diet of painkillers. What with a strong and gusty wind and a big hill 12 miles seems like a long ride at the moment so I opted to dust off the geared road bike and carry my running shoes to change into at the start. This proved to be a big mistake because after a mile or so my frozen shoulder was having a good old grumble about the extra weight and different position forced on it by riding with drop bars for the first time this year. On top of the ache I was fighting to keep the bike stable in the gusty wind and down-hills I’d have loved a year ago became frightening as I tried to relax on the bike while hanging on the brakes. I suspect I was inadvertently favouring the duff shoulder and putting too much weight on the left arm causing the bike to feel really unstable and skippy.

So it was feeling somewhat jittery and with a numbly sore arm, sort of like shin splints in the wrong limb, despite the ibuprofen I’d taken earlier, that I arrived at the start venue. An energy gel, a drink, taking a moment to appreciate the sunshine and a chat with various familiar faces and I was feeling a little more invigorated by the time we needed to make our way to the start by Brill windmill. Considering strategy I had a dilemma – it was unlikely I was going to finish far from the back in my present decrepit state, but I was quite capable of storming down the hill that makes up the first couple of kilometres with the first half of the field. Where to start? I opted for starting far enough forward not to get blocked by slower descenders and to accept that lots of runners would pass me later as they reclaimed their rightful places.

Caught unaware we were off! Ailments forgotten I flew down the hill to a sub 7:30 minute first mile and, the descent much gentler, an 8:10 2nd mile. As the excitement and the descent eased I weakened though and let myself slow to a sustainable pace. Around the halfway mark, with about 90 seconds ‘in the bank’, we turned into a powerful headwind and I knew 55 minutes wasn’t going to happen. We continued along pretty lanes on the well marshalled course with hardly any traffic. The climb back up started earlier than I expected and I found myself struggling unreasonably. Efforts to push harder made me feel sick and wobbly, my upper arm ached like someone had punched it, my Achilles moaned like I’d run 14 miles not 4.

I reverted to the walk-run strategy before we’d even got to the steep bit, it wasn’t that hard psychologically as I’d drifted far enough back down the field to be amongst other walkers. I made a point of choosing in advance where I was going to start, or stop, running so as to keep control and on a walk bit chatted to another walker about the advantages of this strategy. I used the example of saying I was now going to run as far as those 2 spectators 200 metres up ahead then decide on how far I’d let myself walk before I actually slowed to walk. Unfortunately said spectators took this moment to start marching off towards the top of the hill so I had to revise the plan a bit.

Knowledge of the course from last year proved useful when I remembered how the 9k marker seemed to be a long time coming but shortly after it the road levelled off and even I could get running again. We continued through the middle of Brill, me feeling not so bad now considering, and followed the road curving left towards our turn for the finish field. Now still into the strong wind I realised we were about to turn left into a road then left again meaning a tailwind finish. A glance at my watch and a sub-hour finish looked just possible. I wound up the pace – which is about the equivalent of a tortoise making a break for freedom at the moment – passed someone for the first time in a while – and turned into the finish field. Almost there and there was a 1 hour announcement but at least I’d tried for it. Final score was 1 hour and 23 seconds 149th of 178 finishers.

Brill Hilly 2013

I grabbed a banana and a drink, nice to feel hot at the end of a race after that winter, and went to see how some of the others had done. Paul Brackett’s brother Peter had won 2nd MV50, Paul told how he doesn’t bother with watches and times anymore. Adrian said he thought he was pushing too fast as he was running at my pace and hadn’t expected to beat me round –  I’d seen him in the distance halfway up the hill when I was at the bottom so he doesn’t want to be holding back for me in the future.

I collected my bag, changed into my cycling shoes, and struggled back home against that wind. The descent from Brill had been a lot more fun running than it was getting buffeted around on my bike. Not an enjoyable ride, I was totally knackered. A chuckle on the way up the hill to Stanton St John where a photographer knelt by the road taking several shots of my slow progress only to be informed I was nothing to do with the event he was attached to – turned out to be the Westminster to Islip Big Bike Ride, hope they had fun!



OX5 Run 2013

It was a sign of my diminishing fitness that I wasn’t much looking forward to cycling all the way out to Woodstock and back – a round trip of 24 miles – to run the OX5 Run at Blenhiem Palace. A few years ago I would happily cycle there just to the start of a 200k Audax, 12 years ago my 4 times a week commute was longer than that. Oh well!

Anyway the forecast said it would be cold and what with an increasing 15 mph north-easterly wind gusting to 30+ it would feel even colder. I wrapped up well for the ride out, getting quite toasty with the effort and all my layers and overshoes and winter hat and gloves on. The traffic was backed up to the Bladon roundabout and struggling to park in muddy fields so I congratulated myself for bothering to cycle. I’d allowed 30 minutes to orientate myself, peel off my layers and have a warm-up jog. I watched the official Zumba warm-up again but wasn’t tempted though a bit of music was nice.

It was so cold in that wind though. Soon enough I was back at my bike putting everything back on again I was that cold. My frozen shoulder throbbed through the layers of painkillers as it doesn’t like being double frozen. I wandered further into the Blenhiem estate to shelter behind a hedge and found Stuart, Phil and a couple of other IWCA members also tucking themselves away out of the wind. I chatted with other familiar local faces then wandered back towards my bike in time to hear the start had been delayed 30 minutes to allow the cars to park. The forecast had said it would feel even colder as the wind increased and it was dead right. I considered just getting on my bike and riding home, why I didn’t go in the cafe and have a cuppa I don’t know.

11am and at last we were off at last to the sound of an air-horn wielded by Raymond Blanc. My VRUK vest invisible beneath a fleece I decided to keep wearing though I did strip down to shorts. It was great to get going but the start was total chaos as many first timers were understandably confused which direction we were to start in and their efforts to get near the back put them right near the front. I started halfway down the field and spent much of the first, and consequently slowest, mile passing walkers and runners while faster runners passed me in turn.

There was some great fancy dress and teams of charity runners and the course is through some pretty parkland so soon enough I was warming up and glad to be there. I felt slow though and didn’t plan to push myself so just enjoyed the run, I was far enough back not to be passed by all and sundry. We went north round the lake then turned south for a bit of tailwind back towards the palace. Then continued round the lake past a gate with a ‘Please Close Gate’ notice we had laughed at when walking here at Xmas, the message made more sense now as it was attached to fencing.

Blenheim gate

‘Please Close Gate’ sometime around Xmas

Then up a short hill which felt like a big hill followed by a good descent through woodland, all on smooth paths, and a last down then up to cross the Glyme – this last bit straight into that wind. I was glad to finish and my 44:43 was as good as expected despite being almost 7 minutes slower than last time I ran the OX5 in 2011. I was 309th of 958 runners – the great thing about these fun runs is you can be slow and still finish in the first half. The ride back was exhausting and I foolishly failed to refuel properly so bonked pretty thoroughly. Glad I did it though and have just entered yet another March charity run – The Resolution Run 10k trail race up Shotover where I’d no doubt have been running anyway on the 24th 🙂

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Wrap-Up and Run 10k

I’d not heard of Age Uk’s series of Wrap-up and Run 10k races before this year and thought the Oxford one at Cutteslowe Park would be fun, particularly as this is home to Oxford parkrun so at least some of the course would be very familiar. Somewhat perversely the limitations from my frozen shoulder offered an excuse not to try very hard which just made me look forward to it more.

On the day it was pretty cold but still and sunny so I locked my bike up in the park and kept my warm VC&AC hoodie on while I wandered up to the start to suss the layout. Then back to the bike to eat a gel and expose my arms to the cold morning. A jog to and round the start area did for a warm-up, no way was I going to attempt the Zumba many runners were participating in though I was impressed by their Gangnam Style.

I said hello to a couple of parkrun regulars then tried to position myself somewhere around halfway in the muddle near the start timing mat. A clear countdown then we were off. I soon realised I’d been over pessimistic but at least my knowledge of the course allowed me to use the wider bits to move forward about 50 places till I was comfortably in the 8:30 minute mile bunch where I planned to stay.

Slightly downhill and round the outside of the football fields in the opposite direction to the rarely used parkrun ‘summer course’. Past the pond to join the main tarmac path then down to cross the bypass via the cycle and pedestrian Millennium Bridge. I was now in unknown territory where we did a bit of rather muddy field then a path alongside the Cherwell then looped back so we could see the slower runners behind just as we’d earlier seen the fast folk come by. Then back over the bridge, up the tarmac path, across by the pond, a funny bit round the football club house and repeat to make a 2 lap course. There was water at the 5km point but I didn’t bother with it, I was nicely warm by now though. It was an interesting course, well thought out considering the limited room.

I finished in 52:57 which was pretty much as expected and was pleased that I’d managed even mile splits all round for a change. 8:29 8:28 8:28 8:33 8:24 8:22 2:14 according to Garmin. Surprisingly this time gave me 99th place of 320 finishers but I think this generous position was more due to a lot of slower runners than because the course was particularly challenging though it was mostly off-road and rather convoluted.

I grabbed my goody bag and headed back to the bike where I made a hash of putting my hoodie back on and managed to over stretch and aggravate my frozen shoulder which, once the running endorphins had worn off, complained for the rest of the day despite ample painkillers. By the time I was about to get in the bath an hour later it had got so stiff that I couldn’t get my running vest over my head and had to turn the taps off and sit and think about how this could be achieved without ripping it. I managed to get my functioning left arm inside the vest allowing me to enough slack to pull it over my head and along the right arm.

I need to constantly remember to concentrate on even simple things like getting dressed and reaching for stuff if I don’t want to be forever setting it off throbbing. It’s easy to forget for a moment there’s a problem and go about things as normal just to find I’m not only in pain but I’m stuck with a jersey half over my head, or something fragile balanced on the edge of a high shelf, and no plan on how to proceed. I know I’m going to have to put up with it for a while but I will be so pleased when it’s fixed!



Yellowing Pages

Here are some PDF scans of old books and stuff you might find interesting, note that some of the downloads are quite large to retain legibility.

‘Arrivee #26’ June 1989 – The magazine of Audax UK. BASIC code for a program to work out control timings. A call for LEL volunteers and more:

Arrivee #25′ April 1989 – The magazine of Audax UK. In which we can read an account of PBP 1891 and may consider entering LEL for the price of £10 entries ‘to arrive not later than June 25th’ (1989):

‘Arrivee #33’ Summer 1991 – The magazine of Audax United Kingdom. ‘Have you ridden round the clock yet?’ The Elenith 300. Letters – ‘A suggestion .. that we should encourage cyclists to attempt events on fixed wheel!

‘Arrivee #39’ Winter 1992. In which the new for 1993 Audax UK Fixed Wheel Challenge is announced, AUKs ‘rampant parrot’ logo is disparaged and the cover photo tells of miles in the saddle:

Why I Am A Vegetarian – An Address Delivered before the Chicago Vegetarian Society’ written by J.Howard Moore 1895:

A Simple Primer on Common-Sense Vegetarianism‘ by Henry Light (for 20 years captain of the Vegetarian Cycling and Athletic Club). Probably 1930s?:

The Vegetarian News – The Official Organ of The London Vegetarian Society‘ April to June 1943 discussing such topics as ‘The Protein Problem’ and ‘Diet in Pregnancy’:

Briault 24hr

Veggie G.H Briault rides the 1908 North Roads 24 hour (368.5 miles)

VC&AC Advert from 1928

VC&AC Advert from 1928