A week of achievements

In the last ten days, I’ve had a run of extremely positive moments. Since this blog exists partly to document my ego, I thought I’d pull them together and see what they all looked like in order. It started on Saturday July 4th…

tl:dr I did lots of brilliant stuff. Aren’t I epic?

Half Marathon Personal Best

The Birmingham & Black Country Marathon is a very pleasant run from the Boatyard in Wolverhampton to Birmingham City Centre along the canal towpaths. It was a hot day and as a slower runner I left in one of the late waves, all of us started individually to prevent jostling in the restricted space.

Running along a canal is lovely and flat, except for canal bridges which tend to be punishing inclines followed by rapid descents. The run includes the Coseley tunnel, and a rather fine moment under the motorway by Spon Lane junction where a spur of the upper canal crosses over on an aqueduct as the railway crosses the spur, as all are crossed by the M5.

With water points on narrowboats at miles 3,6,9 and 12 the heat was offset by regular refills of my water bottle, although I ran out at about mile 8 and had to plod on in sun and heat for the next mile without. After the last water point a series of bridge crossings put us on the path to the finish line and although I limped home hot and sweaty and rather more tanned than I had been in the morning, I set a new Personal Best of 3:36:49, an improvement of 14:22 over my first ever Half Marathon.

More to the point, I finished!

2015-07-04 19.12.53

Fundraising Concert in the Arboretum Bandstand

This summer, Margaret Toon’s annual outing to the Arboretum bandstand, although punctuated by occasional showers, was a roaring success, raising serious money for Birmingham Children’s Hospital. A scratch band of all-stars provided intermissions between younger performers, alongside a drinks stall, barbecue, and all manner of face painting and general fayre activities. It was a brilliant afternoon, and I got to jam with a load of rather decent musicians in a good cause. That’s a result if ever I saw one!

Starting my new job (same as the old job)

I started this week working in local government on a fixed term contract. I’ve been temping in the department for a while, and the role was put out to interview. I was successful and started this week. I’m delighted to be working with businesses helping them to grow and develop, and it’s come as a huge morale boost too.

Cycling foolish distances in a group

Yesterday a number of riders who will be completing the Coast to Coast challenge next month went for a romp around Derbyshire. We took a ride along the Tissington and High Peaks trails starting in Ashbourne and going via Carsington Water and Parsley Hay.

It was very tough for me to keep up. I’m not a rapid cyclist and quite easily the least fit of the group, but I’m grateful to my fellow cyclists for hanging around and waiting for me, especially on the hills where frankly I struggled to keep my end up.

The good news is that I have five weeks left to get some hill practice in. The bad news is most of my problem is related to how heavy I am and the physics of dragging that kind of mass to the top of the world.

Ashbourne Map

Walsall Triathlon 2015 Personal Best

Obviously forty miles on a bike I’m unused to riding on cycle trails isn’t the best warm up for a triathlon the following day, but I’d agreed to put the dates in my diary so I had to deal with it.

The triathlon today was great fun and well organised by Walsall Council and their partners. Despite the rain, which threatened to carry the swim element through my cycle and run as well, it was great fun. Surface water on Chester Road, slightly increased stopping distances and the unfortunate effect of rain on saddle abrasion were small prices to pay for realising that I’ve improved on last year. See table below because if there’s one thing I like more than success it’s quantifying it!

My cycle time for this year is provisional pending penalties for any highway code infractions and allowances for stops at lights. I’d say “your mileage may vary” but frankly, mine didn’t.

Tri Times

A big thankyou must also be said to brother Jimm and son number 2 who guided me when I’d removed my glasses and couldn’t read the gents/ladies signs on the changing rooms, then shouted me round from swim to transition and again for five laps of the sodden field for the run. And most especially for getting the whole crowd to notice me and cheer my sprint finish. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that people applaud a fat chap going quickly.

2015-07-12 11.32.33a

I might not be the fastest but this year I was also not the slowest. Major respect and best wishes are due to Andrew who started in the pool in the same wave as me but was hobbling by the run due to injury. He still completed the triathlon though, earning himself that medal the hard way.

In fact, everyone finishing this deserved the cheers and the rewards (to say nothing of T-shirts and medals). It’s a funny thing that since I began running in 2013 I recognise more and more faces at these events. I’m not exactly forgettable myself and the positivity of people when they see me having a go is a remarkable boost both to my morale and my performance. The cheerleader award though goes to Emma who personally shouted every single triathlete from swim to transition with her inherent American enthusiasm and joie de vivre. Awesome effort, everyone. Cheers.

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One Response to A week of achievements

  1. peter says:

    Andy, You should be very proud of yourself mate……..theres no way I would have done a triathlon the day after Derbyshire………. you deserve a medal just for starting let alone finishing. If you’re planning on doing any hill climbs or rides out in the next 5 weeks let me know and if it suits I’ll meet up with you and we can help each other eh?
    Well done mate…..

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