And so the Road Race season begins

Since my last post, I have been a little busy. There was “that” large birthday to celebrate, a new age category to rise up* into, a parkrun that I dragged family and friends along to, many presents, delicious food, and cake. Much cake. So much cake.

After all that  carb loading I’ve staggered around a few runs, and also managed my first road race of the 2017 road racing season. The Highworth 5 was on Sunday 19th March 2017, and before we go any further I should clarify it was a 5 MILE race, not 5 kilometres. The poor chap I spoke to in the first mile was wishing there’d been some clarification – he’d turned up to his first ever road race, after a longest run of 3 miles, thinking he was in a 5K race. It was a simple loop around the roads and lanes, with a sneaky hill at 4 miles. How the organisers had arranged for gale force headwinds for the last 2 miles (including the uphill section) was a puzzle to all of the runners. I have included an informative slide explaining my pace vs. conditions:-

Love a good mug

What was also a puzzle was why a runner thought it was okay to shadow me all through the windy section, thus using me as a windbreak. I could hear her behind me, and as I glanced behind could just see the red of her top. As we entered the playing field for the hated “rounding up to 5 miles” section. I could still hear her behind me, and had a horrible premonition that she was about to sprint past me and finish in front of me. Now I don’t do fast finishes, I am the runner people love to catch on the line, but the bit was firmly between my teeth now. I was seeing red, not just the red of her top,  and thinking of our club’s Tuesday nights Efforts sessions I sprinted for the line. The satisfaction of beating her by a second will last for quite some time. As will my delight in my race momento.

* I’m choosing to think of it as a promotion

Running – remember that?

Oh yes, running. Not been much talk of that lately around here. It’s all been cycling, cycling, a bit of swimming, more cycling and a little bit of running. Not much good for a blog called “Black and Tabby Runs”!

Well, I have been running. Usually twice a week (if I can fit it in with all that cycling and swimming). With the start of the cross country season I’ve been loving getting out in the mud and puddles. The softer ground seems to be kinder to my foot, and to be honest I’ve always loved getting out in the middle of nowhere, splashing around and freezing my toes off. I have a race report to write up from the weekend (I’m waiting for the photographs) so in the meantime, here are some photos from today’s run:-

img_0440
Frosty fields
img_0442
Icy puddles
img_0448
It’s icy down there!

Beautiful – and worth the cold to see it!

Coffeeneuring #7. A Flood and a Flask.

It is the final day of the Coffeeneuring Challenge (which is basically to take 7 cycle rides to 7 different cafes in 7 weeks*).  Squeezing in my final ride on the very last day was cutting things a little fine, but I’ll explain why in another post.

I decided to pedal over to Corsham again but this time go to the very lovely Methuen Arms. We’ve eaten here before (and fabtastic it was too) but I’d never popped in just for a drink. Husband decided he had a bit of a tickly throat after his big ride yesterday, so I wrapped up warm and set off alone.

Last night, Storm Angus came through over most of southern England, and the ground was really wet and full of fallen leaves. Nothing my “Happy Shpper” couldn’t handle, I thought!

Half a mile out of the village, I came across this:-

img_0384
Flood not puddle

On closer inspection, this was a very large puddle, or even a flood. Large, and very murky. I dithered for a short while, then decided to turn back. The only other road to Corsham is another small, twisty lane but much busier with cars. I don’t like cycling on that road at all as it doesn’t feel safe so my Meuthen Arms trip would have to be postponed. However, I still had to fit in my final Coffeeneuring trip.

Thinking on my feet (wheels) I headed back home, and quickly made up a flask. I then set out in the opposite direction and headed for my allotment. Another first – Coffeeneuring Without Walls! (Yes, this IS allowed in the rules!)  Not surprisingly, there were no other people at the allotments, and I quickly mixed up my packet hot chocolate.

img_0388
Allotment, not prison camp

Standing at the deserted, sodden allotments, drinking quite frankly horrible hot chocolate, whilst thinking of the lovely surroundings I’d missed out on, I had to admit to myself that if I wasn’t trying to complete this challenge I wouldn’t have bothered. Still – that’s what these challenges are for, pushing you to do things that you wouldn’t have done otherwise.

Anyway, 2.5 miles done around and about the village, and my 7th Coffeeneuring ride in the bag! I would recommend my allotment as a coffee stop on beautiful sunny days. There is plenty of bike parking (the hedge is huge!), the locals are friendly but I’ll need to rethink my choice of beverage.

A round up of my Coffeeneuring Challenge experience is coming up in the next post.

 

 

* For the full rules see here:- Chasing Mailboxes Blog

Coffeeneuring #6 Costa coffee, Chippenham 

Friday 18th November 2016.

On a morning that started with snow on our velux windows and roof, knowing I had to squeeze a ride in was not a delightful prospect. I had planned a short route to a Costa Coffee which felt like a cheat because it’s a cafe I visit every Monday morning between my swimming lesson and my Italian lesson. I have never been to it by bike though – so it still felt like a worthy challenge.

The cafe is on a small retail park just outside Chippenham and as I cycled around the car park I saw there was nowhere to lock my bike up by the cafe, but there was some cycle parking right over on the other side.

My bike at Bath Road Retail Park
My bike over here, cafe all the way over there!

It might have been a distance away, but it had the rare luxury of a roof. It was immaculate so although the park has been open for several years I think I was the first cyclist to use it!

Luxury bike parking with a roof!
Luxury bike parking with a roof!

I had a hot chocolate and sat in the window anxiously watching the dark skies before pedalling hard and fortunately beating the weather home.

Compulsory 'helmet and drink' shot
Compulsory ‘helmet and drink’ shot

7.6 miles on the trusty “Happy Shopper” bike, and just one more Coffeeneuring trip to fit in before the end of the weekend.

Coffeeneuring #2. Merkin’s Farm Cafe

Wednesday 26th October 2016.

Bouyed up by my first successful (if short and somewhat wussy) Coffeeneuring adventure, I planned a trip to Merkin’s Farm for half term, when I presumed I’d be able to drag my teenaged son with me. The promise of one of their homemade bean burgers will normally prise him away from his computer and onto his bike. Unfortunately, this time I obviously wasn’t persuasive enough, so a solo trip it was.

It looked cold and grey, so I dressed up in my new (and highly attractive) winter cycling gear.* What’s not to love about fleece-backed black and hi-viz yellow lycra? (Shall I start a list??)** Anyway, it’s warm and visible which is what matters. I planned a route and set off. Route just happened to go past Great Chalfield Manor – anyone spot Poldark there? No, just a van.

Great Chalfield Manor
Anyone seen Poldark?

I arrived, ignored the suggested cycle parking,

Bike parking
Bike parking

 

parked in front of an (unfortunately)  pink bench,img_0185


 

and headed inside for my veggie breakfast.

Veggie breakfast
Veggie breakfast

An uneventful ride back home (no falls this time!) completed an 18 mile round trip. The only downside to this ride? It wasn’t as cold outside as it looked and I was sweltering in my winter cycling gear especially on the return journey with a warm, full stomach. It was worth it though!

*Maybe, just maybe, that’s why my son didn’t want to accompany me

**You’ll be glad to hear I have no photos of me wearing this attractive outfit

 

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).

wp-image-1982143960jpg.jpeg
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

 

Juneathon Day 30. Last Chance Saloon

Day 30. We made it to the end of Juneathon. Well done everyone! To celebrate, the sun has got his hat on (all together now “hip hip hip hooray!”) and the weather is beautiful if a little hot for a run.

Never mind, time to go out with a bang*. 11 mile long run – done! Yes it was hot, yes it was sweaty, yes I wore my dorky cap and hydration backpack and yes there was some walking involved, but done.

See how much I'm enjoying this?
See how much I’m enjoying this?

And just in case you’ve not had enough of the kittens, just time to sneak a few more photos in

The paws just kill me
The paws just kill me everytime
I wouldn't want to be that close to my trainers after that run ...
I wouldn’t want to be that close to my trainers after that run …

Off to cool down. Juneathon round up tomorrow.

 

* If I’m honest, it was more of a whimper

Janathon Day 14. Tired and snowy

We woke to snow this morning. I got up and put my running gear on determined to find a route that wasn’t too snowy, icy or wet. Then our boiler stopped working. Hardcore running in the snow is one thing, doing it when you won’t be able to have a hot bath afterwards is quite another.

So I took most of my running kit back off again and rang British Gas.

image
Rockin’ the Compression socks with jeans look

Brilliantly by eleven o’clock I was back in all my running gear, ready to set off with the promise of heating and hot water on my return.

Ten miles I managed today. Ten long, hard, tired, slow miles. I would have said “ten miles in the snow” except the snow petered out just outside the village and most of my run was on wet roads in sunshine. Fortunately I managed to capture photographic evidence so I could claim my hardocre “running in the snow” points.

SNOW!!!

 

 

Janathon Day 11. The 50K Audax

Sub title “Making up for yesterday”

Before you get too impressed, this was a cycle ride and not a run. However it’s still pretty impressive for me, because I’ve only ever cycled further than this once, back in June last year (see my blog post about the Wrong Way Round And Round Ride) .

An Audax ride is sort of like orienteering on bikes, as you’re given direction to follow, and check points you have to get to, to prove you’ve ridden the route.

image
Route Instructions. I just followed Mr B&T

Although this was a long ride for me, it is the first (and shortest) of the series our cycling club put on. The only control point is in a village hall where tea and cake is provided.

image
Tea stop. That's me, looking like I've not been cycling

Today I learnt:-

– it’s flipping hard cycling into a head wind;
– winter cycling involves many more layers of clothing than winter running;
– sporting events that involve a stop for tea and cake get a thumbs up from me
– and that cyclists are a nice bunch of people.

I was also reminded of a couple of things that I already know, but sometimes forget. Mainly that running, and especially marathon training, has taught me that even if I’m cold and tired I have the strength and stamina (and stubbornness?!) to carry on. Also that I’m married to a lovely chap, who cycled the whole way with me at my slow pace instead of zooming off with his mates. He also magically produced a couple of my favourite tea bags when we reached the tea stop. Thank you!

Janathon Day 9. It was either very windy today …

… or there was a wheelie bin killer on the loose.

Dead Wheelie Bins
Dead Wheelie Bins

Nevertheless, 8 miles were run today. By me. In the wind. It felt hard, but the last time I ran this far was early November, so that was hardly surprising.

wpid-20150109_105514.jpg
Wind blown waves on the muddy puddles

Another big tick was that I managed to avoid the wheelie bin killers as well.