I have a lot to cover here as it’s been quite a while since my last post so if you are in for the long haul and going to try and get through to the end I suggest getting a nice cuppa and a sandwich at this point. This could take some time.
As it’s over two months since my last post and I have been up to plenty of things the way to tackle it was to write a list and then work my way through.
First up was the annual St Albans charity cycle ride, this has become a tradition and we have a regular team now, 2018 was the fifth time we rode this. To mark out the team, green has become the choice of colour for accessories, the brighter the better! In particular vivid green overshoes mean that if we spilt up it’s easy to see each other and can regroup. Decent weather meant a fast ride this year, although sadly one team member came off and that resulted in a fractured wrist. All healed up now though and happy to report she is back on two wheels again.
As mentioned in my last post the track and field season is upon us. A 2k walk for me at the first fixture, followed by a 200m and 800m at the second. My hamstring injury seems to be behind me now although I played it safe in the 800m, got into a reasonable position and then hung on making sure that no one overtook me. The 200m I was a little bit braver. It’s only 200m so really as long the legs are warmed up properly (after the 800m they were) there’s not much chance of getting hurt.
I managed to finish in sixth place, holding off a challenge from a Barnet athlete and considering I hadn’t been sprinting for almost three years was only 0.9 seconds slower than my PB so quite happy with that!
The third fixture was at Lee Valley Athletics Centre in North London, a warm, sunny evening was perfect for athletics, perhaps a tad too warm for the longer distance races but I was only down for the 1500m. Oh, and the triple jump. This is one of my favourite disciplines, a combination of speed, strength and technical ability. I get told frequently that it is probably why I got injured in the first place so haven’t done it for two years. I couldn’t resist this time though. The lack of practice was soon evident, I fluffed the run up first time, second attempt was just as bad and one of the officials asked if my ankle was ok as I had twisted it on the first landing. To be honest I hadn’t noticed, adrenaline had taken over and I carried on oblivious for my third attempt. This was also a disaster and I had just one jump left to get it right and score points. Mentally I was all over the place, I had to shut everything out, get back to basics, forget trying to get a good jump in and concentrate on just getting it right. If at first you don’t succeed… well the fourth attempt was clean and although a PW I scored 3 points for the team. My ankle was starting to feel sore so I gave it a blast of Deep Freeze spray and took the precaution of changing my running spikes for some road running shoes that offered more support. It seemed ok and once the gun went off I didn’t give it a second thought. During the first lap a group went off at the front, I settled into my own steady rhythm and had footsteps tracking me for the second and then into the third lap. I couldn’t see who it was over my shoulder but quickened my pace on the straight before the bell for the final lap and the footsteps faded. I couldn’t see a Stevenage vest in front of me so held the pace but was vigilant in case the footsteps came closer. Just before the start the current standings put us one point behind Stevenage and North Herts, the other St Albans athlete in the previous race had beaten the Stevenage and NH competitor drawing us level so I knew that my placing would score us at least one more point to take us in front.
I couldn’t run for a few days after as my ankle really became sore but sometimes you have to take one for the team as the saying goes!
I have been active on the MTB front recently, more so than the road bike. The dry weather has meant that the off road trails are very fast at the moment so plenty of adrenaline rushes to be had. I have been to Aspley Woods a couple of times, also out in Wendover Woods which is traversed by the Ridgeway long distance footpath which some of you know well as the route of Race to the Stones.
I ran a steady comeback mile at the Westminster Mile, great fun and I would recommend this to anyone that wants a ‘big race in London feel’ without having to do lots of long distance training.
Two wheels on the road adventures include riding in the wake of a ladies team time trial squad, and a rare ride with club on a Sunday morning through the Chilterns to Wilstone. I also finally got to ride the Tour de Vale this year. It’s been on my to do list for a while but each year clashed with other events (which it did again this year and I rode it alone as everyone else was busy elsewhere) such as the St Albans half marathon. The route is around 100k (Garmin clocked it at 64 miles) and it takes in some very pretty villages in North Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire before finishing at Stoke Mandeville stadium, the place where the Paralympic movement was born.
I now have a parkrun almost on my doorstep, the start line is 1.8 miles from my house according to my Garmin as I ran there from home as my warm up. I know that Nick has already written his review of Heartwood Forest parkrun but I would just like to add that Sandridge village might not be the biggest or busiest village in these parts but it does have three thriving pubs which is unusual these days when some communities can’t support even a single boozer.
As Nick mentioned sadly the venue is no longer suitable for a parkrun and the organisers are looking for somewhere in the area to move to, I will keep you posted. If you do want to run in this splendid setting before it moves then do let me know when you are coming and I will try and join you.
It seems ages ago now but the annual pilgrimage to Hawkesbury Upton (my fourth visit this time) has become a real favourite for Realbuzzers to attend and the warmth and hospitality of the locals is amazing. I suspect that I will be doing many more of these in the years ahead.
Volunteer duties for the running club have consisted of riding the lead bike for some races, including the very successful Summer Solstice 10k. It’s designed as a low key event, for those new to running or coming back to it, held on the Friday evening closest to the longest day. This year was sunny with a nice temperature for running. There is music and food at the finish which helps create a party feel, more relaxed than the highly competitive Midweek League fixture the week before.
Before I finish I must just mention the Olympic Park Relay. This was originally hatched at the club in 2012, inspired by the then soon to be held Olympics at Stratford, East London. The plan was to create a running route starting at Westminster Lodge running track (where the club meets and trains) all the way to the newly built Olympic Stadium. Breaking it down into stages as a relay meant that all abilities could join in.
Each leg of the relay had two groups running, one ‘fast’ and one ‘slow’. I joined in at leg two and was assigned the role of group leader for the slower group. This was the trickiest leg to navigate, it hadn’t been actually run before and was plotted on an Ordnance Survey map. Interestingly one bridleway on it runs straight across the runway at Elstree Aerodrome according to the map. We chose a slightly longer detour as the runway was rather busy that morning!
Somehow I managed to get everyone safely to the end of the leg, and we even managed to beat the faster group!
I was also going to run leg three which finished in Hendon, North West London and being relieved of group leader duties I opted to run with the faster group this time. It was following a defined trail this time so navigation was much easier although the temperature was rising in the sunshine now and it was slightly tough going at the faster pace, I would not have run with these guys normally but as I was only doing this leg before giving up I decided to give it all I could. It was a shorter leg this time but I was mighty relieved to get to the end as I was now tired. I ended up getting a taxi to the station to get a train home whereas I had originally planned to run it. There were a few hardy souls that ran all the legs, that’s forty miles in total, in warm sunny conditions too so huge respect to them.
That recap brings me up to the middle of July and I have got almost another month’s worth to record but that can wait, it has taken me over a month just to get this one finished!
PS There is a meet up planned for realbuzz aficionados so if you are new to the site and want to meet and run with some old hands then you are most welcome. Date 15th September, Venue, St Albans parkrun, Time, it’s parkrun so 9am of course! More about this next time..
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