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

Digging, Mindfulness and a Powerpoint Presentation

So I’ve managed a few runs lately, and my swimming lessons are going, well, swimmingly, so it only remained for me to get back on my bike to complete the triathlon triplet. Frustratingly I’ve been suffering from self-sabotaging thoughts which have prevented me from just getting on with it.

One of the things I’ve missed most about running is the thinking time. I’ve always found that whilst running my mind will chew over problems, worries, and aggravations and come up with calm, sane, and sensible solutions. Funnily enough, I found that working on the allotment has had the same wondrous results. I guess this is what all this mindfulness stuff is about – not just colouring books.

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All that digging

Last week I arrived at my allotment with my brain full of ridiculous “reasons” why I couldn’t ride my bike, and spent the next few hours digging, weeding, planting and watering. As if by magic, later on that day my brain presented me with a full colour PowerPoint presentation (complete with whizzy slide transitions and sound effects) detailing exactly what I needed to do. Here are the highlights, without the eye bleeding effects:-

What if I can’t remember how to use my cleats and just fall off again? Well, a bit of practice will remind me how to get my feet out, and it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve fallen off. (Twenty first more like!)
What if I get a puncture? How about I just ask my lovely husband to show me again how to change an inner tube.
Will I look silly in my lycra gear for just a short test ride?Just buy some bargain cycle clips and then just nip out in jeans.
What if I’m out too late and it starts to get dark? Back to the bargain shop for some cheap and cheerful lights.
What if … what if … what if …. Oh for Heavens sake Lucy – this mindfulness thing is all well and good, but just get back on your bike!

If your brain could make you a PowerPoint presentation, what would it say to you? What would it say to me?!

Trying a tri?

Foot has  been feeling good, and I thought about maybe going on my bike. I was also tentatively thinking about trying out a little run.. I felt excited at the prospect, but also weirdly nervous (What if I still couldn’t cycle without pain? What if I couldn’t remember how to run? How the hell did I ever ride with clipless pedals??!)

Monday. Swim

With these thoughts rumbling around in the background, the weekend rolled by and it was Monday again – swim lesson day! This week’s excitement was being moved up into the ‘big’ class. This is the class where the teacher says things like “front crawl, breathing every third stroke, four lengths” rather than “kick from your hips, straight knees, floppy ankles, go to the life guard and back”. Still quietly thinking about floppy ankles I survived the lesson but blotted my copybook by accidentally telling a lovely (male) classmate that he was like a broken woman by the end. Whoops!

Tuesday. Bike

My daughter went to a spin class the other week, and I’d been wondering if this would be a good way to see if my foot would manage cycling without then getting stuck miles from home if it didn’t. Tuesday gave me the chance, as her friend cried off the session having already booked (and paid for) a place. Off I trundled, clutching a water bottle and towel.

The experience is summed up in the conversation I had with my (spin class loving) husband later that night:-

Him “So how was it? Was it okay?”

Me “umm. It was okay. Bit weird”

Him. “Ah. Did you try and freewheel?”

Me “ummmm. Yes. Didn’t work”

It came to me as I tried to fall asleep on Tuesday that with swimming and then cycling, I only needed a run to complete a triathlon, in the right order. So I thought, laughing to myself, “Well I could try a run tomorrow!”

Wednesday … RUN!

The thought stuck, and kept popping back into my head throughout the day. It was louder even the sensible voice which muttered “You should probably rest that foot today”. In the interests of a good story, it finally persuaded me to try a little run. 3 miles later after a torrential downpour, with a tad of walking and a smidge of Tweeting, I’d done it! My first run since January 14th this year!

So, Swim, Bike, Run – triathlon done! Three events in three days, (so slowest triathalon ever) but more importantly first run in months. I’m happy, and sitting with my foot on a bottle of iced water just in case.

N.B. I loved my run so much, I tweeted a short video with the title “I’m doing running!”, a phrase shamelessly pinched from Jay, who writes over at Born to Plod. Thanks Jay *smiles sheepishly*

Getting Emotional

If you’ve read any of my race reports you’ll know that I often feel very emotional at the start of a race, in a “I can’t believe I’m doing this!” kind of way. I also have been known to have a blub at the end of races (I’m thinking most recently at the end of last October’s Bristol to Bath marathon, when I hugged my family, snottily sobbing “Sub 5! Sub 5!”)

Today I nearly cried in my swimming lesson, and not because I was hating it, or because the big boys were splashing water in my face. Not this time. This time was with pride, and affection for my fellow swimming students.

At the end of our lesson Alison (the teacher) asked if I wanted to try swimming a whole length. Our class usually only swims half way so we’re never out of our depth, so this was a big deal.

I nodded excitedly, and after being instructed on what to do if I felt too tired to continue to the end, I set off doing backstroke. I successfully reached the end, and only then realised that Alison had swum up alongside me to make sure I was okay (bless her!). I reached the end, turned around triumphantly and the rest of my class all cheered. As an encore I then swam all the way back doing front crawl. I was delighted with myself, my classmates were cheering and congratulating me. I felt awesome!

As if I couldn’t feel any better about myself, as we left the pool a lady who’s only been coming for a few weeks spoke to me. This lady started off simply walking in the water with a float, and on this day managed to take her feet off the floor and kick herself along. She told me she’d been in an accident when she was 11 and had been scared of water ever since. She said seeing me swim my two lengths had inspired her to keep on trying so that one day she could do that. I was welling up at this point, I can tell you.

Who knew swimming could be so emotional? And who knew it could demonstrate the power of a good teacher and supportive class mates? Right, I’m all inspired now. Off to find a time to practice with Floaty McFloatface.
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I am “Captain Speedy”

I have been spending my birthday money, and today I bought myself this:-

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Can’t wait to get myself down to the pool with this beauty*. I am officially, in the words of Eddie Izzard, “Captain Speedy”**.

*Obviously I look just as sleek when swimming as the lady on the packaging.

** Eddie Izzard on swimming at school :- ”I swam widths and lengths, more of a widths person myself… It used to be, “Well, we’re going to go swimming. All of you kids who can swim, off you go and look very lean and fit and cut through the water like… things that cut through the water. All of you, fat kids, here’s a bit of a puddle. In you go and humiliate yourselves in the shallow end… We’ve got this float thing, a white, batted paddle, and you get in the shallow end… (mimes going in the shallow end of pool) and do widths across… Oh, it was terrible! It was an aqua zima frame, it was. You get to the side… (panting and turning around) And you just crawl like a really slow waiter or something, you know? You had two positions, this position or Captain Speedy! (mimes bowing down head and pushing paddle) ”

First swimming lesson in 35 years

Many years ago, when I was a child, swimming lessons were tortuous but thankfully rare. I remember in primary school being taken to the nearby town, to Greetby Hill School that had a tiny pool. After the fear of kneeling on the side of the pool to be checked for verrucas, one poor teacher tried to teach thirty children to swim. I remember getting a ribbon for making it across one length (10 feet – this was back in the Seventies), and finally another for making it three quarters of the way around the circumference (25 yards). I was too scared to tell them I’d put my feet on the bottom in case they took my ribbon back. It was enough that I’d made it round without drowning or swallowing a plaster.

At secondary school we were taken a few times to the new town swimming pool, set in the park and imaginatively called “Park Pool”. This was emblazoned on a large sign on the outside wall of the building. A highlight of my childhood was when the”l” fell off and it was apparently called “Park Poo”. Again, if you could make it from one end of the pool to the other you were deemed able to swim 25 metres and that was enough. I never reached the giddy heights of having to wear my pyjamas whilst diving for a rubber brick, and I was quite happy with that. That was the sum total of my swimming lessons until today.

Let’s cut to the chase. Today I made it to the swimming pool, I made it into the swimming lesson, I survived it and I ENJOYED it! Now there’s a bonus – I would have rated it a success even if I’d simply not drowned. And not swallowed a plaster.

A very patient lady called Alison gradually got me to put my face in the water and breathe out (how hard can that be? Pretty hard if you panic and try to breathe in – don’t try that at home). She gradually got me to swim with a float and with my face in the water, and as I stopped panicking it become much easier.

There were a couple of us at the same sort of level, so it was good to have some company as the rest of the class (instructed by another teacher) ploughed up and down doing ‘proper’ swimming (head in the water and EVERYTHING!) We tried lying on our backs with a float and kicking, then moved on to face-down-holding-float-kicking. For an encore we went for face down, kicking, holding a float with one hand and flailing around with the other arm. I think we were meant to be doing a beautiful front crawl arm, but cut me some slack – it was my first lesson.

By the way Alison kept shouting “HIPS!!!!” at me I don’t think I even have the kicking part sussed yet, but do you know what.? I’m going to go back and do it some more next week.

Now, can someone tell me how long it takes for goggle marks to fade? I *think* I might have had them too tight.

Goggle marks, not huge eye bags!
Goggle marks, not huge eye bags!

Oh – and a bonus cat picture. Look who I found, curled up in the foyer?

Waiting to teach the gymnastics, maybe?
Waiting to teach the gymnastics, maybe?

Not thinking about it. Still.

Last weekend I went to our cycling club’s annual dinner dance. It’s not nearly as stuffy as it sounds, and funnily enough our table turned out to be about 50% runners and triathletes so I had plenty of people to talk running to.

Obviously cycling was mentioned once or twice, and inspired by this, and still not thinking about running, I got my heavy Raleigh bike* out on Tuesday and went for a little ride. It was a lovely day, sunny but a little breezy, and I made a short trip to the next village’s shop. I pedalled, I smiled, I didn’t fall off (always a bonus). I made it home, I put my bike away and my foot started hurting. I grumbled and tried to ignore it, and started limping. Pah! So with my realistic head on, that’s running AND cycling out so I guess I’ll have to look at swimming next.

When I swim, the teenaged life guards nervously watch me, worried they’ll have to get off their plastic chair, leap into the pool and save me. I don’t swim well. I’m of the “head up – hair dry- breast stroke” school of swimming (think downing insect and you’ll get the picture). A lovely friend of mine told me about the adult swimming lessons at our local pool, and swears she spent her first session being persuaded to put her face in the water. This is good news, as six months later she took part in a one mile long charity sea swim. Pretty impressive stuff, and whilst I’m not currently planning such a feat, I’d love to be able to swim with my face slightly closer to the water.

The session is at 9am tomorrow, so yet again- wish me luck!*

* Specifically, I need luck not to chicken out, not to drown if I actually make it there, and that my foot holds up. Thank you.

* otherwise known as my ‘happy shopper’ bike because it has a basket on the front

Juneathon Day 26. Not running

So after 4 days of running which included 2 races,  I thought it best not to run today. I know people who do long running streaks and run every day, even if it’s only for a mile. I must admit I don’t know if I could be bothered getting ready to run for just one mile, but my legs are feeling very tired today so I wouldn’t want to go any further.

With my sensible head on then, I didn’t run. For today’s Juneathon I present ironing squats. 10 squats whilst ironing shirts. I can’t say I recommend this either as a great form of exercise or as an efficient way of performing household chores. However it is done.

Later in the evening husband and I went out for a second consecutive Friday (unheard of!) We went down to Bristol harbourside to see Seasick Steve. He was fabulous, very entertaining and great music. After standing, jigging, and doing that strange ‘dancing on the spot without lifting your feet off the ground’ for several hours I felt I had a proper workout. More so than the ‘ironing squats’ of earlier!
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