Coffeeneuring #1 – my kind of challenge!

I was sat reading a very boring text book today, grumbling that I hadn’t made it out on my bike this week, and thinking that I now wouldn’t manage it, but that I’d have liked a ride today but I couldn’t quite motivate myself but but but… then as a distraction I looked on Instagram. I saw one of my friends (a proper triathlon Ironman!) had posted about a cycle ride which included a cafe stop, with the hashtag #coffeeneuring2016

coffee what-ing? 

A quick google told me “Now in its sixth year, the Chasing Mailboxes Coffeeneuring Challenge is a relaxed cycling endeavor for people everywhere. If you like riding a bike and enjoy drinking coffee or tea (or even hot chocolate or cider), consider this challenge.”

Sounded like just my kind of challenge, but I thought I’d better read on to make sure there were no catches. No compulsory 100 mile rides. No double espressos. No failing if you fall off. I read on, and no, it all seemed fine.

There are some rules of course, like in all good challenges, but they’re pretty straightforward. 7 rides, in 7 weeks, no more than 2 rides in one week, a round trip of at least 2 miles, a drink of some description, coffee or not, hot or cold. You can even take your own drink and drink (or brew it) outside as long as you go to 7 different places. 

Totally inspired, I immediately leapt onto my lovely “happy shopper” bike and pedalled the two and a half miles to our local farm shop & cafe* and enjoyed a lovely mocha. 

I’m going to enjoy this challenge, and it will definitely make me get out on my bike. 

For more information have a look here:-coffeeneuring

*Allington Farm Shop, Allington, Chippenham SN14 6LJ

Two runs (one race), one swim and a cycle ride. Boom!

So I finally did it. In one week I managed a swim, two runs AND a cycle ride. Never mind that, one of the runs was a race. I know – get me, eh?

The bike ride went surprisingly well. I enjoyed it, especially as it just *happened* to include one of my favourite cafes* as a stop to warm up.


Unfortunately it was also a chance for me to prove as true the old saying “pride comes before a fall” by also including a stationary “couldn’t unclip in time” tumble off the bike in front of an admiring audience.

The swimming lesson went well, the first (short) run was fine and I was feeling quite enthusiastic for the Marshfield Mudlark on the Sunday.

Finally got to wear my club vest again
Finally got to wear my club vest again

First real race for nearly a year, so I was feeling nervous, and glad I would be meeting up with other runners from my running club – the race to be “last harrier home” was on! It was only as I stepped out of the car, I realised I’d left my trail shoes at home. Sigh. The recently-retired road running shoes I was wearing to drive in would have to suffice.

Fortunately it wasn’t very muddy at all this year, and there were zero cattle on the course (woo hoo!) it was just a lovely run through the countryside. Wearing a number. With a bunch of other people. In old road shoes.

Felt so good afterwards I was persuaded to enter another trail race. I’ve just noticed it’s described as “quad burning”. What have I done??!

* Merkin’s Farm, Bradford Leigh, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, BA15 2RW   GO!

Two stories featuring a coffee shop

Two stories featuring a coffee shop. Only one has a vague fitness connection, but I found both quite funny.

I didn’t think I could be embarrassed being in Lycra anymore

Once you’ve been running (or cycling, or anything outdoors-y that requires well-fitting clothing) for a while you just don’t care. It’s your badge of honour, it says “I’ve just done / am about to do / am in the process of doing something awesome”.  Last Sunday, this changed. Due to a complicated set of arrangements, my car had been left on the other side of Chippenham and needed to be collected. In a rare moment of keenness I decided to cycle over, put my bike in the back of the car and then drive home.

As I drove home with a smug feeling of “I actually went on my road bike – on my own!” I decided to call into my new favourite coffee shop and buy a takeaway drink (in my reusable cup, natch). I parked right in front of the plate glass windows, strode in in my all-Lycra glory and waited my turn. As I strode back out I was aware of the stares of fellow cafe go-ers (you know when you see thought bubbles coming out of people’s heads? These said “wow – I don’t know what she’s wearing, but she’s obviously in the middle of some epic sporting endeavour”).  I then ruined it by not climbing back onto a bike and cycling off into the sunset, but by getting back into my car in full view of the entire cafe and driving off. Sigh.

cappuccino cup with drawing on scum

“We’re in England for God’s sake!”

Co-incidentally I was back at the same coffee shop whilst I killed time after my swimming lesson. It was quiet in there (Monday morning) with just a few customers. Whilst I waited for my drink a man came in and stood behind me eyeing up the menu board. As the manager asked what he’d like, the chap exclaimed “Why do they have these stupid words for the sizes? Why can’t they just say small, medium or large?”

The manager was politely explaining that a primo means a small in Italian, a Medio is medium, but he’s interrupted by “I know what the sizes ARE, but why aren’t they in English? We’re in England for God’s sake they should be in ENGLISH!”

Pauses for breath, then he added “I’ll have a cappuccino”.

I had to bite my lip from adding “Don’t you mean a frothy coffee?” whilst smiling sweetly.

Getting better all the time*

Another few weeks of trying to get out for some exercise, repeatedly telling myself that just like when I first started running, it WILL feel better eventually. Suddenly, just maybe, I might be there…

To recap, I’ve been going to my swimming lesson every Monday and still haven’t drowned (although this week it was pretty close – I thought I could do breast stroke!) I’ve been mostly managing my two runs a week but haven’t been on my bike so much**. Fantastically soggy parkrun on Saturday 1st October, which reminded me how much fun running in the rain is. Makes you feel so much more hardcore than a hot and sweaty run, that’s for sure.

Soggy parkrun. Mud and everything – including a smile

Buoyed up by that run, I entered the Marshfield Mudlark, an 11k race that consists of hills, beautiful countryside, sometimes bulls, oh yes and mud. And hills. I have run this race several (3?) times before, so I do know the course and I may have been a little too keen as the race is this Sunday.

How much hill work have I done this year? Erm – does the tiny slope at parkrun count?***
Is my longest run anywhere near 11K? Even allowing for the metric / imperial conversion I don’t think 5 miles is that close to 11K.
Oh well. It’ll be a lovely day out in the countryside anyway. A full day maybe, but lovely.

Just as I was feeling like I’d definitely bitten off more that I could chew, I popped out for a 3 mile trot around the village this morning. After the chilly mornings of the last few days, today looked sunny and beautiful. It was. This was the view looking down over the field I was running around.

Beautiful view over field
Wiltshire looking stunning in the autumn sunshine

I returned home feeling happy and satisfied. And a little smug if I’m honest. Bring it on Sunday – I’m ready for you!

*  another earworm, anyone?

** repeat after me “buying winter cycling gear from Aldi does NOT count as a cycle ride”

*** no it doesn’t

Summer’s almost gone

I can never resist giving you an ear worm. However, it is true, the heat of the summer has gone, the evenings are drawing in and road races I’ve been ummimg and arrrrhing* over have been replaced by off road trail races.

Swimming lessons are continuing, but despite buying some overly natty cycling glasses, not much biking has gone on. I did bravely venture out once, forgot my glasses, forgot a bike lock, couldn’t find the cafe I was aiming for so turned around and found a different cafe instead. 1473430402856.jpg


I’ve made it to parkrun a couple of times, which has felt hard but satisfying (masochist!)

I’ve made it out for a five mile run (longest so far this year).

Last month I thought if I could get out for one swim, one bike ride and two runs every week, then I’d be back on track whilst saving my foot. (This time last year I was managing four runs a week. How long ago does that seem!) I haven’t actually managed this yet, but I live in hope.

Right – where’s the booking form for those races…

  • Apparently today, 19th September, is International “Talk like a Pirate Day” so I guess it’s appropriate to be “arrrrhing”. It’s also my Cornish Mother-in-law’s birthday. I don’t think these two facts are related.

A Frowning Nun

Ciao! Here I am in Monza, Italy taking advantage of the fact that my husband is currently working out here (free accommodation!)

Thought I’d better try a run, seeing as the apartment is only a kilometre from the amazing Parco Reale (Royal Park). This park is so huge it contains within it the famous Monza motor racing circuit  (you know, the one that hosts the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix race. That little place).

Parco Reala Monza

The park has marked 3Km, 5Km, 10Km and half marathon routes, making it easy to find your way around. I ran up to the park, past some curious looks from locals, and then followed the 3Km yellow markers. With the run to and from the park this made around a 5Km run – quite enough in this heat!

Route markers. Blue for 5Km and yellow for 3Km. Today was a yellow day
Route markers. Blue for 5Km and yellow for 3Km. Today was a yellow day

Always reassuring to see a defibrillator, just in case…

Photo of Defibrilator
Just in case…

There were plenty of runners in the park. Also power walkers, cyclists, mums with prams, but no inline skates today. It was well marked, it was hot, and all too soon, but very gratefully, I saw the finish marker.

Photo of finish marker
Always good to see a finish marker. Even after just 3Km

After that it was just a gentle jog back to the apartment, which included the longest stop EVER at traffic lights (good for drinking water and panting, basically). I arrived back looking like this:-

Photo after hot run
Attractive, huh?

So to sum up, It was beautiful and cool, no old men stared and no nuns frowned at me. I’m also most definitely not now a red sweaty mess and sweat did NOT drip from my elbow as I took the above selfie.*

*There may be a couple of fibs in this paragraph


Three runs, one swim and a triathlon.  What a week!

I’d like to just leave it at that, but in the interests of full disclosure I’d better elaborate. 

Monday was my swimming lesson,  and I enjoyed it as much as ever. Only negative was getting home,  putting my costume into the washing machine,  and realising the costume fabric was now so thin it resembled a string vest. I  immediately shamefacedly added “swimming costume” to my shopping list. 

The three runs were a short race (the Lacock relay), a long run (4 whole miles!) and a parkrun (with cake – bonus). It’s been a fair few months still I’ve managed that many runs in a week,  and my foot felt fine, if a little stiff afterwards. 

And the triathlon?  Well it’s true I was at the Bowood Triathlon on Sunday. However I wasn’t competing,  I was helping out. If you were there I probably gave you your registration pack, along with some supposedly helpful advice and a smile. I also took the chance to go down to the Lake and have a look at the swim stage. Oh my word. How scary did it look?! I watched the start of a Super Sprint swim (400m) and how far did it look?!! Think I need to keep going to my swimming lessons….in my new costume of course. 

A race report. Yes, honestly! Lacock Relay

Still technically in the first half of the year, and I’ve finally managed my first race report of the year. Actually my first race of the year. 

The Lacock Relays are a series of 3 races organised by my running club,  Chippenham Harriers. Runners are placed into teams of 3 according to how fast they can run,  so that reach team has a fast,  a medium and a slow runner. In theory, any team can win, you’ll always be running with other people of around the same speed as you, and even if you know no one else there you’ll at least have the other members of your team cheering you on. And it’s only £2. What’s not to like? 

The course is very simple but extremely pretty. Heading out of the village the entrance to Lacock  Abbey, you cross the river and then take every left turn until you’re back at the start 2.6 miles later. The hill back down into the village gives you enough momentum to thunder through the beautiful High Street (as seen in practically every period drama), frighten the tourists and sprint over the finish line. 

I confess I wasn’t running my fastest, as I know I haven’t run much lately and I’m still cautious about my foot.  However it was still a hard run and I enjoyed it. My Harriers vest had its first outing of the year, I saw friends to chat to,  and it was the most fun I’ve had whilst wearing a vest on a cold and drizzly evening for ages.*

*I think you might have to be a runner to appreciate this

With a little help from my friends (well, husband)

Well if you’ve read my previous post, you’ll know I was caught up in dithering whilst my brain was trying to help by coming up with helpful suggestions.

So did I listen to my brain? Well,  what do you think this is?

What IS it?!

If you said it’s a tadpole, then no points to you. Mini submarine is also no points but I admire how you think it would help me back onto my bike.

Maybe this will help some more :-

Ah! Of course, bike lights and cycle clips. Now I have an answer to the worry about taking so long to cycle the light is going, and to going on my snazzy bike in ordinary (non-lycra) clothing*

When my husband was home at the weekend I locked him in the garage until he showed me again how to change my bike’s inner tube (actually he was delighted to show me, bless him!) I also made him come out on what was for him a ridiculously short easy ride, and for me the longest ride in about a year. It actually was a lovely ride. Great route, quiet lanes, lovely café stop – I really enjoyed it.

So what’s next? Well the demons have been put to bed so I guess I need to get out on my own!

*contrary to popular belief I do own some clothing that isn’t sports related.