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Sunday, 29 March 2015

Running a Beer Mile: Belching & Impersonating a Police Officer

I’m not much for celebrity culture. People famous for not doing a lot? Nah ... not interested thanks. But athletics stars ... they’re different.

And I’ve finally found an athlete I want to emulate. 

A recent world record holder whose dedication, determination and hard training had no doubt led to this worthy record. 

Did I mention the record was the beer mile? And James Nielsen ran it in 5:17 ... and that includes beer drinking time. FOUR beers.

Reasons I should be awesome at this:
  • Sitting in a pub drinking counts as training.
  • Downing pints counts as training. 
  • There’s running involved which I’ve been known to do a bit of occasionally. 
  • I’ve run to the kebab shop after a night out. That practically counts as a beer run. Right?

However, I hit a problem.  There seemed to be NO beer miles scheduled. AT ALL.


How am I supposed to break the beer world record  - or at least the Rugby drink beer, run in circles and vomit in a park mile record if there isn’t one planned anywhere in the UK?

I was just going to have to organise one myself. 

Having taken part in the beer mile at ‘Equinox-24’, ‘The Whale Ale Relay’ and ‘The 12 miles – and mulled wines - of Christmas’, I decided I knew the main ingredients of a successful beer run.

  1. Beer.
  2. Running.
  3. Trophy.

Easy, right? 

Not quite. I’d also decided to do it in fancy dress.

Fancy dress is huge amounts of fun when there’s a group of you but when you’re trying to get changed at the side of a road because gypsies have taken over the car park and it’s freezing cold and you’ve got bare legs and you’re doing a beer mile in a public park and you’re worried you’re going to have to explain either a or b to the police and c you’re dressed as a police officer. I was wondering whether I was going to actually get to finish the beer mile before I was arrested for drinking in public or impersonating a police officer. Or public nudity while getting changed into said police officer’s uniform in my car while attempting to hide under a coat.

(Can I find a ‘insert face in mugshot photo style app?)

It was all getting a bit confusing. And this was even before the alcohol was opened ...

I was timer and beer distributor for the first run. My job was to do the timing, cheer extra loudly, take the tops off the beers, pass them over and hide the empties in a carrier bag before one of the old ladies walking their poodles should complain about the park being taken over by fast-moving drunken louts. In lycra. 

Dressed in a police officer outfit, chugging beers, burping and running in circles around a park might be a difficult one to explain to law enforcement should they turn up and demand an explanation. And it wouldn’t be much of a beer mile if the beers got confiscated.

I did some superb beer opening, cheering and standing around timing. And then it was my turn to run.

My 1st beer was drunk in 22 seconds. And I set off around the park, sounding like an inebriated frog and running as fast as I could. It was like running a bit too soon after eating with that slightly too full feeling but every time I burped, the pressure was relieved slightly and I deflated a bit. If I could keep up the burping, I might be ok ...

I flew onwards overtaking bemused grannies pushing be-prammed grandchildren around the park. In true fancy dress style, I ran my first lap holding my police officer’s truncheon but after putting the Fear of S&M into one Granny, I realised it looked as though I was running at her brandishing a massive black d1ld0 and ditched it at the end of lap one. 

After I’d lost the truncheon I was handed my 2nd beer. Ugh. This one was downed a LOT slower. And this is where I realised that the running was the easy part.

Do you realise how much beer you have to drink for a beer mile? 4 x 440ml cans – that’s almost 4 pints. I don’t drink 4 pints when I’m NOT going for a run. 

I set off unsteadily and decided I REALLY should have had a wee before I started this run. I could hear the beer sloshing around in my stomach –  which didn’t bode well. Especially not when I had 3 more laps to run including this one. 

Lap 3 – 3rd beer.  The running wasn’t getting harder, it was the drinking that was getting more difficult. The sheer volume of liquid. Maybe I should have suggested a VODKA mile instead ... 

I bent down to re-tie my shoelaces and the bending was not good. I didn’t feel nauseous when upright but bending over made me light headed and feel sick. Then my shoelaces came undone AGAIN. I tied them up and kept my mouth firmly shut. Vomiting meant a penalty lap.

Just keep running, just keep running. 

Lap 3 finished ... just one more lap. And one more sodding beer. Ugh. I was sloshing like a washing machine now and was genuinely struggling to drink more liquid. My running pace didn’t change much, but the beer downing had turned into beer sipping. I was drinking my lager like an old lady sips her cup of tea. But in fancy dress. And with alcohol. 

I was still burping, but every time I burped my beer handler took a step backwards. I tried to reassure him that I wasn’t going to throw up but I wasn’t too convinced either.

Right. Fourth and final beer in. Go! I sloshed my way around the last lap, punctuating my footsteps with belches, weaving around the grannies and finished triumphantly. Arms in the air, beer in the stomach, belches in the mouth.

And trophy in my hand. Despite my appallingly slow drinking times, I’d still managed a 6:30 min/mile pace for the running and that was enough to net me the trophy. Just don’t fill it with beer for me.

Would I do one of these again?

Yes. It was good fun but a LOT harder than I’d expected. The running part was fine, but the drinking was immensely hard. Might be worth practising with pints of water beforehand as 4 pints is a LOT! Especially when you aren’t allowed to stop to go to the loo!!

We’re thinking about doing another one of these in a few months and maybe make them a regular thing. Like parkrun ... but with beer. 

And instead of Don’t Forget Your Barcode we’d have Don’t Forget Your Beer.


Thursday, 26 March 2015

Dambuster triathlon recce: How To Embarrass Yourself On a Bike

I’ve finally got comfortable on the turbo trainer. In one sense anyway.

There has been a distinct lack of adventures. No falling off it, no breaking it, no kicking it, no throwing it into a cupboard, padlocking the door and eating the key. There has been a distinct lack of adventures. ACTUAL comfort is a completely different issue and one which I’m using padded shorts for. But I hadn’t attempted a group ride. 

Cue dramatic music ...

I may have accidentally entered a half iron triathlonWhich will involve riding a bike. *gasp* With other people *bigger gasp*. 

So when I was offered the chance of a recce of the bike section of the race I jumped at itA ride on the race route with experienced cyclists? Heck yes! Would I be a liability and downright danger? Same answer. 

I was still feeling a bit under the weather but would try to avoid throwing up on any expensive looking bikes and try not to cough on anyone who mentioned they had an important race coming upI’m kind like that. 

Due to the trusty Ford blowing up its turbo, I had a borrowed car – a little Peugeot. A REALLY little Peugeot. My first crisis was discovering that the bike rack didn’t fit on this miniature motor

However, by putting all the seats down, removing the headrests and moving all the seats forward, I could fit the bike in the back without having to remove bike wheels (important as I’m likely to forget to reconnect brakes). I can drive fine with my knees under my chin. Honest. It’s actually incredibly comfortable. Who needs to be able to change gear, anyway?

I took everything I could think of including floor pump, 2 sets of clothes, sunglasses with multiple lenses, trainers, bike shoes, drink bottles, hydration tablets and snacks. 

Arrived at the car park and discovered 15 different people each with their own floor pump, multiple changes of clothes, sunglasses, trainers, bike shoes, drink bottles and nutrition and other assorted kit. Maybe I hadn’t over packed after all.The sound of bumpers dragging the road was obviously the norm among triathletes. 

There were more bikes in that car park than at the bottom of a Dutch canal. Lots of bikes. I can’t tell the difference between an expensive bike and a cheap one. So I just avoided touching ANY of them.

Everyone else looked a bit serious and as though they knew exactly what they were doing. All expensive kit and shiny bikes. And they all knew each other. They didn’t look at all as though they fell over at major roundabouts because they couldn’t get their foot unclippedNo one else was dressed head to toe in budget kit or wearing their padded shorts over their running tights. I got the sinking feeling that I wasn’t going to fit in ...

The group of cyclists. I'm skulking at the back. This is PRE pushing-up-the-hill. (Source: Inspire2Tri

The organiser gave a briefing of the route and safety instructions and checked that everyone had done a group ride before. I tentatively raised my hand and was immediately outed as ‘person-not-to-ride-next-to-in-case-they-fell-off-and-scratched-my-expensive-bike-on-the-way-down.  

In fact at least one person looked as though they were probably wondering whether it would be good form to send me off in a group on my own.

I was relieved when they announced the faster groups were going first. Good. The ones with the most expensive bikes and the shiniest gear would go off first and there would be less people to watch me attempt to start but fall off / drop my bike / hit the kerb / embarrass selfAs I undoubtedly would.

Then they decided the slow group would go first. 

Bugger. Despite having spent the last 2 months pedalling furiously and going precisely nowhere on the turbo and most up my childhood years cycling to whichever pub the parents had decided would make a good bike ride destination, I am NOT a confident road cyclist. Especially not when trying to balance on a road bike with tyres the width of a chipolata sausage and with my feet attached to the pedals.

I also really, really hadn’t helped myself by leaving the bike in the hardest gear. Sigh. I clipped right foot into pedal, prepared to push off ... and didn’t go anywhere at all thanks to the start being up a steep hill and my bike being in completely the wrong gear.

had a flashback to the time I’d jammed the spin bike in a class by spinning the resistance dial the wrong way and couldn’t remember which way to turn the knob to get it back to the able-to-turn-pedals-by-human-force-setting and had to creep off the bike in the middle of the class and find a different oneThere wasn’t the option to nab someone else’s bike this time. They were all standing over them looking disapproving. 

But one of the ride leaders took pity on me and actually PUSHED ME UP THE HILL.

The shame.

Was completely unable to clip feet into pedals due to mortification of being pushed up hill and waved them around in the air in my attempts to find the pedals, change into an easier gear and keep the momentum up. I am SO smooth at this cycling. 


I finally got my feet clipped in and was so relieved to actually be moving and clipped in that in attempt to join rest of cycle group, I zipped across road andalmost threw myself under the wheels of a Volvo

So to recap so far: 

  • NOT wearing proper gear instead a strange medley of running and cycle gear culminating in the padded cycling shorts on top of leggings look.
  • NOT being able to actually get bike to go and having to be pushed up a hill.
  • NOT able to actually pedal bike.
  • NOT able to clip in without waving legs around.
  • Attempting to kill self by throwing self –and bike – under passing car.

Decided only way to redeem self was by keeping up with rest of group and keeping quiet. And not getting pushed up any more hills. 

Kept quiet, kept head down and kept pedalling. 

But all of a sudden the road seemed to disappear and we were at the crest of what would be called in a kids playground a death slideAmazing.

Was extremely disappointed that the rest of the group didn’t cycle as fast as they could down the massive hill as I did look slightly odd doing that and shouting “Wheeeeeee!” on my own. Maybe they didn’t understand how to do downhills.  

I was relieved I did give it a bit of welly on the downhill as it gave me momentum to inch up what appeared to be an even bigger mountain on the other side. It was definitely a mountain and it all but had snow at the top and people with crampons and ropes.

While I appreciate that the midlands aren’t particularly mountainous, this hill didn’t seem to be stopping. It was the hill that kept on giving. I’d run out of gears a fair way back and I was running out of available breath and I was already at what felt like max heart rate. In fact I felt as though I was exceeding that by some way. I was EXPECTING a mountain goat or a Sherpa at any moment. But I was HOPING for a St Bernard with a flask of brandy around its neck. 

On the plus side I wasn’t stopping ... but only because I couldn’t unclip my feet to get off and walk because there wasn’t anyone around to push me off the hill to get me going again.

Just as my legs were about to give out and my breathing hit 0906 caller volume, I arrived at the peak. Well. Top.

The group stopped at the top to wait for everyone. Thank goodness. A chance to try and regain composure and get breathing down to normal volume or at least down to ‘barking sea lion volume level.

Sea Lion Volume ... Source

I checked my watch. Yep. I’d almost hit max heart rate ... and we’d gone 0.81 of a mile. Oh. Only 24.19 miles to go then. *Screams inside head*.

Legs suggested slyly that it might hurt less if I didn’t go as fast as I could downhill and maybe saved my breath for actually breathing rather than shouting “Wheeeeeee!”. Especially as it had been scientifically proven that shouting Wheeeeeee!”doesn’t actually make you go any faster. 

Told legs to shut up and keep pedalling. But decided to keep shouts of “Wheeeeeee!” inside head from now on.

I don’t think I was the only person to overcook it on that uphill and when we reached the next peak in the range (read: hill) we were all going a bit slower than on the first one. It certainly felt easier anyway. Maybe having a chance to warm up a bit and get a few miles done made the difference. This hill was the 2nd in a group of 3 big hills (we’d go over the 1stin the set on the last part of the loop) called The Rutland Ripple. 

We were on a main road and appeared to have left the hills behind us and I’d noticed that I was getting passed by cyclist after cyclist. This was a bit worrying. I had no idea of the route we were riding and probably only a 50% chance of making it back to the car if I turned around and tried to remember the way I’d come. 

I was very relieved when I realised that I’d been caught up by the fast cyclist group rather than being dropped by the slow cyclists. I know I have to be pushed up hills, but I do have my pride. 

Well, maybe not pride but my car is in a car park 10 miles away and if I get lost I may never find my way back to it again. Or more importantly find my way to the cake we’d been promised at the end of the ride. 

We stopped to regroup a few times as the groups were getting a bit mixed up now and we took it as an opportunity to have a drink and a chat. I was relieved that I wasn’t at the back of the group. Training on the turbo is brilliant, but it meant that I had no idea of the speed I ride at on the roads. 

One thing that the ride highlighted was that it wastime to get the bike serviced. In the last 5 miles, it had developed a squeak in the right pedal and the gears were very clicky. Apparently there was more to looking after your bike than a quick wash and a liberal application of WD40 every now and then.However nothing actually fell off the bike which was a bonus. Especially as I’d be unable to stop to retrieve it due to being clipped in and having no handy chap to push start me up the hill.  

The bike ride was only just over an hour long, but it was interesting to see the difference in other road users. We started out about 9:30am on a Sunday morning so the majority of people on the road were probably driving for leisure rather than rushing to work but there were some huge variances in the amount of safe distance they gave us. 

Most people were brilliant, but one old lady overtook me on a busy main road, only to screech to a halt directly in front of me to turn left into a farm gateway. It was a bit of a close call. She just didn’t seem to get the idea that there might be other people on the road. She was beeped at by a couple of the cars behind her and it was good to know that not ALL road users are out to get the cyclists. Just apparently little old ladies.

Beware this behind the wheel of a car. Source 
The last section of the ride was mainly flat with enough small undulations to keep it interesting and it was fast with a good quality road. I’d been fairly reasonable on the uphills but I didn’t have much power on the flats so had to work much harder to keep up with the others at the front. Which was good. I want to make sure I improve on these rides. If I’m going to nearly end up under the wheels of an old lady’s Nissan Micra every time I venture out I want it at least to be a good ride up to that point

It was a good ride. Stopping for the chats every now and then gave us a chance to get to know the others and to reassure me that I wasn’t a pariah for my earlier misdemeanours and choice of kit. We were all going to be doing the Dambuster triathlon so it didn’t take long for the race chat to start.  "Have you been cycling long?” (Are you competition), “How long have you been training? (Are you competition), “What other races have you got coming up?” (Can I hobble you in these so you aren’t competition) and more importantly the discreet detective work of some of the others trying to work out how old people were. (Are you in my age group?) But it was all friendly and nice to know I wasn’t the only one there new to triathlon. (We can be nice to her, she’s not competition)

We were back to our starting point within 90 minutes and it was reassuring that I needed no help to stop, despite my less than salubrious start. 

However, there was a catch. We weren’t allowed cake until we’d run 4km. This was the 2nd part of the training and a test to see how well our legs did after a bike ride. The triathlon test.

I decided to keep myself going by spotting runners in the distance and trying to catch them up. Plus the quicker I got back to Mary’s studio, the quicker I could get at the food

I stumped along the path, like a stiff-legged scarecrow in thermals and trainers and concentrated on the cake. It was a nice surprise that the garden centre was a lot closer than I’d expected and because it’s nice to be neat – it was exactly at the 1 mile mark. The backwards section of an out and back always feels so much quicker than the way there so I kept running and ignored the coldness of the wind on my face.

It was done in a blink. Then I was in the warm of the studio, surrounded by cake and with a steaming cup of coffee in my hand. 

Cake, coffee and cycling. AND I didn’t fall offThings were definitely looking up. 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

A swan tried to EAT me ... AND my bike.

You know in those dreams where something horrible is coming towards you and you're stuck? You can't run away?

Now imagine that this is happening and it's NOT a dream and there is an enormous wing-beating beady-eyed swan running towards you, intent on eating you. Now imagine you can't run away because you still have one foot clipped into your bike, it won't unclip and the path is too narrow to turn your bike around and make a getaway. 

I thought "Shit. This is it. This is how I die. Being eaten by the insides of an eiderdown". 

Picture source
I tried to run backwards, dragging the bike with me, still attached by one foot to the pedal, while the nightmare bird ran at me waving its massive wings with its mouth open (their mouths look a LOT bigger when they're coming at you at 30mph). And then just as I was about to disappear down its red gullet, it took flight over my head, nearly knocking me backwards.

I read about people making a lot of fuss about people eating swans not realising they were protected birds in England, but anyone who can capture one without being eaten alive or beaten to death by this terrifying bird surely deserves a dinner of roast swan? I won’t be volunteering for the job of swan catcher that’s for sure. 

Although it looks as though I’d probably work quite well as bait. 

Monday, 16 March 2015

Short Feel-Good-Vid

Fancy watching a very short feel good video?

... You might spot the blur of a familiar runner at about 1:43 for about 1 second ... well ... half a second.

Autographs available. *cough*

Friday, 13 March 2015

Keep Your Heart Healthy: The Children Workout ... but without children.

Now when I was asked by My Voucher Codes to write down a workout I do to keep my heart healthy, I immediately thought of a run. Running is one of my favourite things; it gets me a long way away from the housework and it means I can eat the chocolate I bought to make crispy cakes with, without feeling too guilty. 

However, I re-read the information and realised it was supposed to be 10 minutes INSIDE the house. Running wouldn’t work. My house is too small. You’d have to lap the living room 400 times to do a mile.

Running is a no-no then, but there are plenty of things that I do on a daily basis that could probably be counted as exercise. You wouldn’t find any of these in a gym class and you probably wouldn’t get #IveDoneMyGallopingWorkout trending on twitter, nevertheless these are all things, easy to do inside that you may already do on a daily basis. 

The benefit now is that you can COUNT them as exercise and put them towards your wine points. Anything that gets your heart rate raised and which means you have to concentrate on form definitely counts.    

Now I’m not a gym guru. I don’t know the difference between a kettle bell … and well, the kettle. But I DO know that my every day life has a lot of opportunities to raise my heart rate - in a good way! - and get some short exercises in, in between the school run, the dentist appointment and the dash BACK to school to drop off the PE kit which we forgot that morning. The homework? The cat ate it.

These are 5 simple exercises that can be done on a daily basis.

Exercise: The Galloping Walk to School. (Warm Up)
Motivation: Your Child Won’t Walk to School And You’re Trying to Encourage Them.

Scenario: You have 15 minutes to walk your child to school after which you’ll The Really Bad Traffic On The M1 and be late for work. The only way to make your child to hurry is to get them to gallop with you. Galloping is fun. Everyone likes a good gallop. 

How To: 
  • You’ll need a space at least 8 feet wide - I use my living room. You’re going to gallop across the room. 
  • The first gallop is with high knees: Take small steps and try to get your knees up as high as possible.  
  • The second gallop is with back kicks. Again with small steps, kick your feet up high behind you as though you’re trying to kick your own bottom. 
  • The third is the high skip, the want to swing your arms and move high with each skip. Try not to take out the lampshade.
  • The 4th is the grape vine. This is where you move sideways and alternate your right leg and left leg crossing in front and behind. If you were moving to the right you would take a step with your right leg and step your left leg behind it, then step with your right leg and step your left leg in front. 

Repeat this set twice.

Exercise: Boxing with Beans.
Motivation: The Invisible Friend Made Me Do It.

Scenario: Your child has just poured paint down the back of the television, you’ve discovered they’ve been stashing their bread crusts behind the radiators for months and they’ve used a permanent marker to colour in the screen of your mobile phone. When asked why they tell you their invisible friend made them do it.

How To: 
  • Place your feet shoulder width apart and point your knees, hips and toes forward. 
  • With elbows down clench your fists loosely in front of your face in the guard position. 
  • Punch out with your right hand until your arm is straight and twist your arm while moving so your palm in facing down. 
  • Return arm to original position and repeat with other arm. 
  • Ensure you move from the shoulder and avoid a jerky movement - keep it smooth.

Repeat 20 times per arm. Ensure you really show that invisible friend that you mean business and that you WILL NOT STAND for naughty imaginary people encouraging your children to do silly things. You will punch the air all day if necessary to prove your point. 

Have 30 seconds rest then repeat. 

This is a great de-stressing exercise and one that will tone up your arm and shoulder muscles. For a bit more resistance you can use hand weights … or a can of beans in each hand. 

Exercise: The Chocolate Button Incentive. (Lunges)
Motivation: You’re on a Diet but Your Child Has Chocolate Buttons. Eating the Ones They’ve Dropped Doesn’t Count, Right?

How To: 
  • Place your feet shoulder width apart and point your knees, hips and toes forward. 
  • Step your right leg forward and bend your right knee keeping it in line with your ankle. 
  • The heel of your left leg will lift fro the floor and your back knee will make a straight line from your hip to your shoulder. 
  • Stretch your arms down without curling your shoulders and imagine you are picking up all those delicious, delicious chocolate buttons your child has dropped. Dropped chocolate is calorie free, right?
  • Repeat with the left leg.

Repeat 15 times per leg or if you want to keep going, until you’re full up of imaginary chocolate buttons. 

Exercise: Can’t I Have 5 Minutes To Myself? (Squats)
Motivation: You’ve Just Managed to Get Some Time to Yourself in The Bathroom and Your Child Starts Banging on The Door and You Have to Get Back Up Again

How To: 
  • Place your feet shoulder width apart and point your knees, hips and toes forward. 
  • Clasp hands loosely and extend arms in front. 
  • Bend your knees and lower your bottom as though you’re going to sit on a chair.
  • Lower your bottom until it’s slightly higher than your knees then imagine you hear a child banging on the bathroom door about something urgent.
  • Raise yourself slowly to standing. 

Repeat 10 times, have 30 seconds rest then repeat.

You want your chest to be lifted and your back relaxed not arched and you don’t want your knees extending beyond your toes. 

Exercise: Confiscating the Favourite Toy (Dynamic Jumps) 
Motivation: Your Child Has Done Something Unbelievably Naughty (possibly Bolognese in Your Handbag) and You're Confiscating Their Favourite Toy. However Child Not Happy so Have to Keep it Out of Reach.

How to: 
  • Place your feet shoulder width apart and point your knees, hips and toes forward. 
  • Bend knees and move into crouch position. 
  • Look straight ahead while reaching arms down to touch floor on either side of feet. 
  • Straighten up and raise arms and move into a jump upwards, reaching arms towards ceiling. 

Repeat 20 times, have 30 seconds rest then repeat.

Note: A toot may pop out. Don’t worry. It’s like rocket power.