Monday 28 March 2011

Run everywhere. Cycle everywhere else. - 21.03.11 - 27.03.11

I don't really have a car, so this has become somewhat of an unofficial mantra of mine. It's ironic really, because it would make a great bumper sticker! I occasionally steal Jen's little car, but in general she uses it for getting around. It's great when you're used to it, because commuting becomes a great way to keep fit, and it's a good way to fit in some long runs during the week. This week has involved a fair bit of cycling, with less running than usual, in an effort to ease into my taper.

With only 4 weeks to go until the marathon, tapering is a good idea to allow my legs to store up the energy that they're going to need to get me all the way home. This week was my first "easy week", getting progressively easier until the final week where I will hardly run at all. So instead of doing two 22 milers at the weekend, I only did one. But because I now consider cycling to be a nice day off, I decided to use my Sunday to scope out the route that I will be running overnight to make sure that I won't get lost on the day.

So at 8am on Sunday, my long suffering fiancee Jen, my crazy friend Dan (not many people would be up for a random 40 mile cycle ride in the middle of nowhere...), and I rocked up to Waltham Abbey ready to burn through the 40 mile route to Royston. Jen isn't stupid, so left the boys to it and went home to do something more productive with her day. With guidebook in hand, gps watches tracking our route, and google earth guiding from on high, we set off along the Greenwich Meridian Trail.

My first reaction; holy crap that's a lot of hills! I wasn't expecting quite so many, being a citizen of Cambridge, one of the flattest places in the country. My second reaction was that a) the route was really well planned out, and b) seemed like it was going to be fine for running on. There were one or two sections over churned fields that may be dangerous, but I now know where these are and will likely walk them to avoid turning an ankle. Similarly, now that I know about the hills I have changed my walk/run strategy to walking the hills and running the flat.

But as good as it may be on the day for running, it was certainly not made for biking! I had brought my old mountain bike out of retirement for the day, and it was looking a little the worse for wear... The gears were seized (although kicking them seemed to work), the seat needed some bodging, and the hydraulics were shot, but it went forward which was the main thing. It was a good bike at one time, and has done me proud over the years! And it didn't disappoint on the day, handling the bumpy undulating surfaces without falling apart.

Reading the map was interesting while cycling (one handed over bumpy terrain trying to focus on a description of the surrounding flora and fauna was fun), but it went surprisingly well. Other than an early point where we could not quite place where we should be (but google earth soon set us straight), an a couple of false starts, route finding was straightforward. I should remember the route on the day, and if not it is good to know that a combination of the book and google is good enough to set me straight. If I can follow the map while cycling, doing it while running should be simple enough!

The speed was slower than anticipated due to the terrain, and we didn't make it as far as I had originally hoped, but we covered the main overnight section to Royston - a total if about 38 miles. Despite the hills, I have come away feeling vey positive about things, and now Dan knows the route in case anything happens and I need saving! It's now only 3 weeks until the marathon, so I say bring it on!

Cycled 2.5 miles (park and ride to work)
Cycled 16.5 miles (work to home)

Cycled 2.5 miles (park and ride to work)
Cycled 16.5 miles (work to home)

Day off!

Ran 2.5 miles (park and ride to work)
Ran 16.5 miles (work to home)

Cycled 2.5 miles (park and ride to work)
Cycled 16.5 miles (work to home)

Ran 22 miles

Cycled 38 miles

Running 41 miles
Cycling 114 miles

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