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Saturday 31 January 2015

Crying, Trapping Fingers and De-Eyeballing Self: Setting up your Turbo Trainer

How to set up the perfect turbo trainer for a road bike.
  • Unpack box. Look at everything for a few moments to check is packed properly. 
  • Unpack box and lay out separate bags.  
  • Use scissors to carefully open bags and lay parts out on top of bags so I can see everything and check items off from part list with special ticking-parts-off-part-list-pen.
  • Start assembling parts carefully. Double-checking each item. Successfully put turbo together with all correct components and it DOESN’T FALL APART.
  • Decide am like super engineer. Just call me Isambard.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel - Super Engineer

  • Get all smug and decide to put new saddle on bike too so have comfy bottom for turbo training session. 
  • Look at old saddle and decide that I will need an allen key to undo bolts. Have EXACT allen key in special bike tool kit. Am definitely Good at Engineering.
  • Use allen key to undo saddle. Bolts promptly fall off and washer disappears never to be seen again.
  • Move all furniture and lie on floor trying to find washer. 
  • Decide washer is mainly for show anyway. And may not actually have been on bolt to begin with. 
  • Remove saddle like a pro. (Lifts off saddle).
  • Unable to remove new saddle from packaging. Try to gently lift new saddle off of cardboard backing. Cannot remove saddle. 
  • Attack packaging with nails. Does not work and am in danger of ruining nails further. Use scissors to hack apart cardboard packaging to finally remove new  saddle.
  • Realise I don’t have measurements to put new saddle back into correct position of old one.
  • Attempt to sit on saddle to check height and fall off as it isn’t done up. Check no-one saw. No-one saw.
  • Position saddle randomly between ‘stop’ measurements and put bolts back in with allen key.
  • Saddle is slightly wonky as no washer. Decided this is probably how it is supposed to look.
  • Job well done.

Frank Whittle - Jet Engine Inventor
  • Next job is to attach cadence sensor to bike so I can tell how fast I’m pedalling and how far without having to count or actually go outside. Sounds like magical unicorn cycling. 
  • Look at sensor instructions. They tell me to fit Bit A without telling me what Bit A is. There is no part list.
  • Instructions are talking about parts of the bike I’ve never heard of. Stupid instructions. Suspect instructions are making words up to confuse me.  
  • They tell me to attach *madeup word* to the bike ... but without telling me where on the part of the bike. Resist urge to tear instructions into confetti and sprinkle around room and stamp on them. 
  •  Am organised and calm. I can do this. 
  • And why are there are only 2 bits ... I’m sure there are meant to be 3. Oh. They’re all stuck together. This bit has to ... might go ... there? 
  • Is like a 3D jigsaw puzzle without a picture. Or a clue as to the shape. Is this a TRICK?
  • Attach part to bike with cable ties.
  • Cut part off bike with scissors. Stupid instructions. 
  • Moment of epiphany: There really IS a YouTube video for everything! 
  • Attach parts to bike. 
  • Parts fall off bike. Attach tighter. Bits stay on. But wibble a bit. Ignore wibble.
  • Am technology guru.
  • Get watch to pair with sensor. It works. It totally works. 
  • Am definitely technology guru.

DeLorean DMC-12
  • Decide am doing so well, I will set up bike specs on watch for super-dooper accurate information. 
  • Weight of bike. Am I allowed to ask a lady bike that? 
  • Decide to use power of the internet. Log onto bike website (which is inexplicably hard to find) to find out they won’t tell you the weight of the bike as “we want you to try it.” You utter bastards. Weight of bike appears to be unavailable anywhere on entire internet. 
  • Sigh.
  • Moment of epiphany. Get bathroom scales, weigh self then weigh again while holding bike. 
  • Would have been smug at ‘thinking outside box’ if I hadn’t noticed that 6lb of Xmas pudding and Quality Street appears to attached itself to body. Huff. Knew there was a reason I’d been avoiding scales.
  • Wheel size. Huh? Well it says 700 on the tyres. I’ll just put 1400 in. That should be ok, right? Odometer. Huh? *Googles odometer*. *Leaves ‘odometer blank* 
  • Sorted. 

Sony BetaMax
  • I’ve set up turbo, put saddle on, attached and calibrated cadence sensor and set up bike specs. Am obviously amazing and this and destined to become a turbo trainer hero. *Starts mentally designing superhero costume and cape*
  • So all I need to do now is put the red training tyre on the bike and I’m good to go! 
  • ... Seriously. Do they superglue these things on??
  • *Open YouTube* 
  • Use tyre tool and manage to wedge it under the edge of the tyre. Tyre isn’t coming off. Attack tyre in different place with 2nd tool like man on YouTube who removes tyre with ease.
  • *Swear at YouTube* It ISN’T that easy!
  • Stupid man. Stupid YouTube.
  • Catch fingers. Cries.
  • *Tyre tool pings off*
  • *Nearly lose eyeball to tyre tool*
  • Start swearing.
  • Swearing helps and I get first edge of tyre out of rim. It’s called a bead apparently. (Get me. Am all technical and stuff) 
  • So the inner tube. Does that stay on or do I take it off with tyre and then put it back on with turbo tyre? 
  • Take inner tube out. Get confused. Poke it back in again. 
  • Bizarrely road tyre then comes off easily like a magic trick. 
  • Remove turbo tyre from box. It’s flat. It’s red. It's like an anorexic salami. THIS is supposed to go on the wheel?
  • So this turbo tyre. Why's it flat? How do I get it on? Do I just lie it on the tube? Attempt to bend tyre into tyre shape. Start poking tyre-shape tyre over inner tube and moving along rim ... as I do this it’s coming out the other side. Notice this after circling tyre twice.
  • Use knees to hold tyre in place and crouch to keep hold of wheel. Have discovered new yoga pose. It’s called Upward Tyre. Don’t think it’s going to catch on.
  • But it’s working. Finally have 90% of tyre on rim of wheel.
  • However hit a snag. There is NO WAY the rest of this tyre is going on.
  • Check box. Yep right size.
  • Look at tyre. Look at wheel.
  • It’s like Lola Ferrari trying to put on my bra. It’s never going to happen.

Lola Ferrari
  • Try to push on tyre quickly to catch wheel off guard. It’s not fooled.
  • Attack with all tyre levering tools. Tyre attacks back  and pings tools back at me. 
  • Catch fingers in tyre again.
  • Sit down in huff. It’s now 11:30pm and I haven’t even started my turbo session.
  • Try and roll tyre onto wheel. It rolls back off again.
  • Eat crème egg in frustration. 
  • Huff some more.
  • Give up and call The Mr. *Silence* Call him and tell him to get out of bed even though it’s 11:45pm as am in peril from tyre attacks.
  • Grumpy The Mr comes into room and inspects wheel.
  • He tells me the tyre isn’t going to fit. Then he rolls tyre onto wheel. Like magic.
  • Embrace The Mr and he grumbles off back to bed. 
  • Pump up tyre. Flat.
  • Cry. Actually cry. 
  • Take the tyre off and start again. Repeat steps 43 – 72. Whilst sobbing. 
  • Attach pump to tyre valve. Which doesn’t work. Discover through experimentation that valve has a rolling bit to stop tube going down.
  • Discover this again after pumping tyre up and when trying to put valve cap back on tube.
  • Pump tube up again.  TYRE STAYS UP.
  • Have bike. Actually have bike. That works and has turbo tyre on. AND I have turbo trainer. Finally.
  • Take off wheel skewer so bike can be attached to turbo trainer. Spring disappears as though dropped into black hole. Lie on floor looking for spring. Get up as temptation to lie there and go to sleep overwhelming as now past midnight. 
  • As I am getting off floor spring embeds itself into knee. Remove spring from knee and put back on skewer. 
Sir Clive Sinclair - mastermind behind the Sinclair C5

  • Put bike on turbo. 
  • Bike fights back and oil from chain is distributed liberally over fingers and arms.  
  • Decide bike is just being stubborn and jam on turbo trainer. 
  • It’s on. Bike is finally on turbo trainer. Would throw streamers and blow party squeaker but just too exhausted.
  • Realise there is still another attachment: the gear shifter.
  • Look at gear shifter attachment.
  • Look at manual.
  •  4 more A4 pages to attach gear shifter.
  •  Who needs to change gears anyway. *Tosses gear shifter and massive phone book size manual into box*
  • Get on bike and start pedalling. Wheel sensor starts clinking. Adjust it. 
  • Garmin sensor now refuses to recognise pedal. Poke pedal sensor. It promptly falls out of cable tie. 
  • Swear like a sailor. Cry. Tie it back on.
  • Wheel sensor begins clinking again. Poke it. It stops working. 
  • Poke everything except pedal sensor which will fall off if I poke it.
  • Carefully adjust wheel sensor. 
  • Carefully adjust Garmin sensor and reset it until it‘s so sensitive it can detect a butterfly fart. In France. 
  • Everything working. 
  • Wheel sensor starts clinking starts again.
  • Turn music up until I can no longer hear clinking. 
  • Start turbo training session.  I will beat technology by sweating on it. 
  • Finish turbo training session.
  • Get off bike. 
  • Put on Smug Face as remember to unclip shoes.
  • Fall over as have legs of jelly. Land on sections of cable tie I cut off earlier and find missing washer as it imbeds itself in arse. 
  • Lie on carpet relishing opportunity to lie down and do nothing. 

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Women In Sport: My Protein New Womens Site

When I think of sport at school, I remember 4 things:

  • Being made to run around a massive field three times and feeling like I was going to DIE (Ironically the PE teacher called this form of torture The Marathon. But where were the medals, the supporters? The fully laden checkpoints?)
  • Having to play hockey in the icy cold on a frozen field and getting my cold fingers hit by hockey sticks. The pain! It was the finger equivalent of stepping on an upturned plug.
  • NOT being chosen for the netball team (I had HEAPS of enthusiasm and absolutely no skill at netball.  I had bouncing around like a jackrabbit down pat but apparently this wasn’t a ‘required skill’. Sulk.
  • All the girls being herded into the showers, cold and clutching our towels and trying desperately not to make eye contact with anyone else for fear of being branded “A Lesbian” by one of the rough girls. Although what that was we didn’t know, because no-one actually explained, except that you automatically became one if you made eye contact in the showers. Apparently.

Needless to say when I think back to sport as a young woman, it isn’t the most pleasant remembrance and a result of all of these torturous PE sessions was that as soon as I got to 6th form and was allowed to drop PE ... I did. 

I did no sport at all from about 16 upwards apart from a short foray into rollerblading bringing scabby knees and baggy jeans briefly back into my life. But as soon as I got to university I swapped exercise for drinking. 

As a student, I didn’t think more than a day ahead at a time and poor eating, dramatic amounts of alcohol and a kebab every evening was quite normal. Drinking is the complete opposite of exercise. You feel great while you drink, then feel like hell the day after.  Whereas with exercise you feel terrible while you do it but feel great afterwards. 

Although one thing they have in common is that both running and drinking photos are usually horrendous.

I was out of sports for at least 10 years before I started running again and now I was being conscious of my health there was a whole new set of questions. Although luckily no more shared showers.
  • Do I need to eat special food? And if I eat chia seeds do I magically get quicker?
  • Do I need supplements? Like special tablets that make my toenails grow faster to replace all the ones that keep falling off?
  • What about specific women’s sports and exercise products? Do I need more iron? Are there supplements to help me ‘chick’ the boys across the finishing line? If so, I want THOSE. 
I learned a bit from books and a bit from other people. But the information was a bit hit-or-miss. How do I actually find out what I need? And when your local supermarket doesn’t even stock protein bars it can be a bit of a challenge. 

So when nutrition and supplement websites like MyProtein have a specific women’s section it can be really helpful. The company had been recommended by a couple of friends for sports products and they’d found them to be pretty good.  If you haven’t heard of MyProtein they’re Europe’s number one sports nutrition brand.

I was pleased to find them and even more happy to be contacted by them to say they’d just launched a new Women’s Section of their website and would I like to try a range of the products?

What? Try some women specific sports and nutrition products? Yes please! 

I browsed the new section and was pleased to note it wasn’t garishly pink OR be-decked with flowers OR patronising. And it was easy to navigate. I had a brief moment of “How rude!” when I read that the women’s sports bottles were ‘easy clean’ ... then I checked the main website and noticed that this was a selling point on there too … phew! So they weren’t having a pop at the old housewife cliche then …!

I found having a women’s section great as it helps people like me who aren’t too sure what they should be using and steers them in the right direction towards things that might be of interest. If you’re confident about your sports nutrition, then it probably wouldn’t help you as much but it was definitely helpful for me. 

I didn’t feel it excluded women from the rest of the site, but rather it saved me having to filter the products to make the choices more tailored to me. Maybe if you were more supplement-savvy, you may find this patronising, but for me I found it really useful and it was genuinely helpful.

The selection of products I tested:

Beef Jerky

I was drawn in by the 98?% protein claim and the thought of being able to munch the equivalent of chewy bacon after a long run and not get told off for it being ‘bad for me’. Also quite liked the idea of being able to chew jerky like a trucker.

When it arrived, I was pleased. It was tasty and sweet-bitter. Perfect. I munched it all the way home in the car on the way back from 10 mile race. It was an easy snack and a quick protein blast.

Cost: £2.24 (usually £2.49 - now on special offer)

Would I buy this again? Yes but probably as a treat. I liked it but probably wouldn’t be eating it every day. 

Instant Oats Banana flavour:

I loved the idea of banana porridge. I adore bananas AND porridge and had a vision of a flashback to the days of good old banana medicine and ready brek and I was hoping that this would be like a dreamy mix of the two. 

When it arrived, I started mixing it up and it turned a bizarre colour, kind of a ‘Nuclear Yellow’ which was slightly concerning and had me wondering whether I’d be glowing in the dark after trying it. However, it smelled AMAZING. 

The oats are fine milled which is how I like my porridge. Am not keen on lumpy food after 18 years growing up with my Mum’s gravy so the consistency should have been great but I couldn’t get it smooth. This probably says more about my culinary skills than about the instant oats but the random bananary* lumps were a bit offputting and I did end up with a few teeth-stuck-together moments.

The taste took a bit of getting used to as is very bananary* but it had a lovely aftertaste which was totally worth getting my teeth stuck together for. I wasn’t too keen on it as a breakfast porridge but I will be putting it in my porridge oat biscuits and putting a scoop on top of natural yoghurt to give it a bit of a kick!

I’m not entirely convinced that the 3 Bears would approve but it was nice as a change.

*May be making up words again …

Cost: £4.99 for 1kg

Would I buy this again? Probably not. 

Protein bites

I loved the idea of these snacks. When I come in from a long run or a speed session I don’t always want a large meal. But I LOVE snacking. Running and snacking are two of my favourite activities.  So when I saw Protein Bites I couldn’t resist them.

I’m always ravenous after swimming and have to make sure I have a snack on hand to save me from the petrol-station-chocolate-bar-stops so I popped a packet of these in my bag for afterwards. The bites looked like a cross between pork scratchings and dog biscuits but tasted like creme cheese and onion heaven. 

There was only 110 calories in the bag but the packet really filled me up. I'd definitely buy these again.

Cost: £5.99 for a box of 6 packs

Would I buy this again? Yes … and have just placed an order! So convenient for after a run or a swim.

COCONPURE (COCONUT OIL) Certified Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

Having read about coconut oil and its unique combination of fatty acids and amazing health benefits including fat loss and better brain function, I have been meaning to try it for ages. So when I saw it available on My Protein I decided to give it a go.

I’m hooked. There are a multiplicity of benefits but just as importantly to me it tastes good. And goes with everything. Who would have thought coconutty* cheesy omelettes were the way forward? They really are. 

Benefits: There are multiple benefits of coconut oil. It's over 80% saturated fat and contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) – which are fatty acids of a medium length (rather than the long-chain fatty acids which most people consume regularly) and which can be used by the body as a quick source energy or turned into so-called ketone bodies, which can possibly have therapeutic effects on brain disorders like Alzheimer’s. It can also assist with weight loss as the medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil have been shown to increase 24 hour energy expenditure by as much as 5%. This can potentially lead to significant weight loss over the long term. As well as all of these benefits it can help build muscle, fight infection and lower the risk of heart disease among other things.  Source

*Making up words again …

Cost: £9.99 for 640g

Would I buy this again? Yes. Definitely. Tasted amazing and the pot has lasted me AGES. I’m now using it as a substitute for all the other cooking oils I’d previously used. 

Peanut Butter:

I LOVED that all that was in this was peanuts. I compared the ingredients to the brand I usually buy which was full of things I didn’t really want in my peanut butter.

It tasted good. The consistency in the tub was slightly runnier and I was used to sweeter recipes (with far too much added salt and sugar)  but it tasted great and was lovely in my fish and coconut oil recipe. (Which basically consists of steamed white fish put in a pan with a tablespoon of coconut oil and a tablespoon of peanut butter and all mushed up. It looks like baby poo (hence why I haven’t added a photo ...) but tastes like unicorn tears and mashed up angels.  

Peanut Butter test: Did it stick my teeth together? Yes. It’s a winner. 

I would definitely by this peanut butter again.

Cost: £5.99 for 1kg (which is a great price and comparable to the most popular supermarket brand)

Would I buy this again? Yes definitely. Ingredients were 100% peanuts compared to my usual brand which has 5 or 6 additional ingredients.

Note: my Protein gave me a voucher code and let me choose the products I wished to try from the Women’s Section of their website. So I went mad. Free fitness stuff? To eat? Yes please!!! NOM!

If you are looking to try out Myprotein, you might want to check out Fitness Discount Codes first, to save you some money. For more information see the site here.

Northbrook Awards Night: There was BLING

I went along to an awards night at my club. It was brilliant. We got fed with curry, got to laugh at lots of pics of club members doing ‘Race Faces’ on the big projector and got to see what everyone looked like out of lycra. Apart from one or two enthusiastic club members who took the theme of ‘N’ rather too seriously ... 

I went as a nacho by the way. I made a hat. I don’t have a pic, sorry. 

But the highlight of my night, apart from the opportunity to wear a hat with cheesy dip on it was this:

Am practising my Gollum "My precioussss" face ...

I was a bit excited as you can tell from the photo. I may not have let go of it yet. They may have to prise it from my hands to give it to the next winner next year. It’s alllll mine. My preciousssss.

I’m expecting a call any minute to say they’ve made a mistake and would like it back to give to the proper person. 

I’ve duct taped it to my body. Just in case. 

Monday 19 January 2015

FREE cats for all! *May be a catch* And no cats.

Free CAT to everyone who votes for Dreaming of Footpaths in the Running Awards 2015! 
I'm not going to win by my shoddy tales of running into trees and having to poo in hedges so I'll bribe you with felines instead. (I'm sneaky like that, plus I'm planning on being an old mad cat lady so I'll have lots of cats spare when I'm 80 - just remind me I owe you a cat in 50 years)

 Click HERE to Vote

Please click HERE to vote for me (don't vote for the other blogs, THEY won't save you a sausage roll)

I'm in  'Publications & Online', 
'Dreaming of Footpaths'.

p.s. Will actually NOT give you a cat. I can't get the stamps to stay on and they keep getting out of the envelopes.

Thursday 15 January 2015

I Am A Night Runner

My runs are on black roads. Sometimes dry, sometimes glistening with rain or sparkling with ice. They are lit by orange sodium lights. And at times by a white circle from the headtorch I wear. The circle bobs if I am tired but it lights my way and illuminates the eyes of cats, rabbits and foxes. The eyes glow green as the animals hide in the hedges or disappear as they run from my footsteps which pat, pat, pat on the road. 

The road scrolls away under my feet, as though the black asphalt surface is moving rather than my feet. The world is my treadmill. 

I know I am a night runner. When it is dark outside, this is my time to run. I am surefooted. Night sighted. And I have a badge of my night running membership: a small blister on my right ear where the buckle on my headtorch rubs on long runs. 

I do not care about fashion. Who is there to see me? My clothes are hardwearing, comfortable, warm. When it is cold I wear a buff over my head with my face peeking out, like a balaclava, or like a turtle peeking out from its shell. I would probably look silly, if there was someone there to see me. But there is not.

Tuesday 6 January 2015

I've Started Tri Training ... I Suck.

This is it. The first day of my brand new sparkly training schedule. Don’t screw it up, Sarah. 
It started with an hour of easy running. Fine. I could do that. Easy sounded good. But there was a catch.

Isn’t there always?

This time the problem was in coordinating football training, a school inset day, the pool schedule and an easy run. One solution. Get up at the arse of the morning and go for a run then. It seemed like such a good idea at the time, but at midnight when I was laying my running kit out and setting the alarm for a time I usually only see when catching flights, I had the first twinges of misgivings. 

I told myself that it would be so early I wouldn’t be awake and could just get on with the running. I wouldn’t have cognation to slow me down and get things confusing.

I told myself I’d be back home again before I woke up. 

I told myself I could start listening to my new audiobook that I’d been looking forward to. 

I told myself it was an EASY run. No speedwork or intervals. Just run. 

According to the specifics I nailed it. If you look at the guidelines and you let me off 5 minutes (I couldn’t face any more sodium lights and grim Monday-Morning faced motorists) then my heart rate was in the right zone, I didn’t fall over, get lost or get sweaty. It was an hour’s worth of ‘Easy Run’.

However, it was NOT an easy run. It was a shit run. 

My calves were tight. Think frozen chicken fillets. But hairier. 

My entire legs refused to wake up until mile 3. Until then it felt as though I was stumping along on planks of wood like a really unlucky pirate. But without the cool pirate clothes and parrot. (Why are pirate clothes cool? They just arrrrrr.)

My shoelaces came undone. Twice.

It was too dark to run the route I’d planned. I went to run it but it all started looking like the beginning of a horror movie where the stupid girl leaves the nice bright warm house and ventures out into the dark woods. But with the stupid girl wearing lycra in this movie. I hadn’t brought my shotgun or kitchen knife and didn’t really feel prepared to fight off Michael Myers or Freddie Krueger at this time in the morning so I ended up staying on the pavements under the orange sodium lights.

I was sulking. This time of the morning is reserved for ‘Being in Bed’. ‘Being Asleep’ and ‘Catching a Red Eye Flight’. Not running around. Certainly not Shit Running which was what I was doing. 

However, there WAS a good bit. This was getting home, having a shower and getting back into bed. I fell asleep with a smug expression having done my exercise at a time that normal people were asleep.  

I wore my Smug Face for at least 2 hours. Until I remembered that today was a double day ... the double whammy of 2 training sessions in one day. I immediately became 50% less smug. 

The evening session was a swim time trial this evening but with nice short distances: 25m, 50m and 100m.  Even I couldn’t muck this up. 

You really believe that?

I’d checked that the pool was open late. It was. It was also divided into lanes. This was all good. 

What was bad was that ¾ of the pool was booked out by the local swimming club leaving the rest of it open for a free-for-all. So 75% screaming children, 25% pensioners and families. Oh goodie. This was extremely helpful for my time trial attempt. *Cries*

When exactly does a time trial stop being a time trial and turn into a farce?
Was it when I had to swim around the teenager standing up in the middle of the lane? Or when I had to do an awkward U-turn at the end of the lane to avoid the couple holding onto the wall and using up all the kick-space? Or was it when I realised they were all just swimming normally and I was the one splashing up and down the pool in a hurry and going nowhere fast? 

My swim stroke has been politely described as enthusiastic and less politely but probably more accurately as “shark attack”. I end up moving mainly because the people get out of the way and the water recedes in fear and the remaining vacuum drags me forward.  In fact, I swim much like I play tennis, swinging my arms wildly, terrifying casual observers and smacking the occasional ball in error.

My time trial wasn’t much different. 

I managed to splash up and down the pool, propelling myself along with more willpower and enthusiasm than actual technique. I got so excited about the 25m and 50m sessions that I forgot to breathe and ended up doing a bizarre ‘4 strokes then breathe’ style which I’d never tried before and which wasn’t entirely successful. My 100m was the most comfortable of all of them but this was probably because I was suffering from oxygen deprivation by this point and didn’t care or possibly because the other users of the public swim section had moved out of my way in fear, having seen my ‘swim over and drown the #BreastrokeWankers who get in the way’ approach to time trials in the 25 and 50 metre attempts. Anyway, I survived, didn’t drown and didn’t get kicked in the head by a militant breastroker. 

A win. Well ... right up until the swimming watch refused to upload my times.