It’s been a busy week, but the headline news has to be about the race. (Read about my cycle ride, and my discovery of “coffeeneuring” here).
The White Horse Gallop, described as a “quad-burning” 8 mile off road race basically runs up and over the Westbury White Horse. And then down again. As predicted it was hard, as someone said to me “when you’re walking in the first two miles of a race, it’s not good” this was said as we walked up the first hill, in the first two miles. To cut a long race report short, here’s the moment I spotted the White Horse:-
And here’s the moment I made it to the top of the White Horse (mostly on hands and knees):-
Now that you’re all scared, here’s me safely back home complete with finishers’ rosette:-
And just in case you’re doubting how steep it was, here’s the elevation profile:-
Impressed yet? Cause if not, I’ll have to do my scary face again.
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
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.
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.
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??!
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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”