“All we have to do now
Is take these lies and make them true somehow”
Wham – Freedom! ’90
Saturday 31 October 2020 – Run hard.
“Walking out into the dark
Cutting out a different path
Led by a beating heart
All the people of the town
Cast their eyes right to the ground
In matters of the heart”
Bastille – Laura Palmer
I woke up and it looks like the higher numbers on the scales are here to stay. Slowly slowly catchy monkey. After breakfast of chocolate spread on toast, I got changed to ride on the turbo. I struggled to log on several times but could connect on my phone. I decided to restart the laptop and a hidden update reared its head and said it needed 45 minutes! I decided to start peddling and connected my Fenix 6X watch to the turbo and let it control me at 110 watts. The update finished in about 20 minutes and swapped over to Zwift and rode for another 35 minutes with one of the fun Halloween pace partners. It was quite tough to stay with them as their pace surged and eased without warning.
For lunch, I had an instant noodle pho and two sausage in buns which in hindsight were a mistake. At 1430 I left home and jogged down to the XC race. I pinned on my number, took my base layer off as it was a balmy 14 degrees and got my spikes on. My god it felt good to be stood in line, getting ready to run hard, laces tied with mud seeping into the uppers. We were called forward in small groups and set off every 10 seconds. With chip timing, start time was largely irrelevant and in fact made the mad, dash, jostle for position irrelevant. That doesn’t mean I paced it evenly! I set off fast and saw 3:45min/km on my watch, too fast? Maybe. I was in second of my group of six for the first couple of kilometres as we overhauled the groups ahead of us. It was muddy but with long spikes I didn’t lose any traction. It was muddy but leaving my prim and prudish attitude in the pre-start area I didn’t avoid puddles and attacked the course. After a while the overhauling slowed as my pace settled down and we achieved equilibrium. It didn’t stop though.
I have always been mentally strong. Give me the worst conditions, the hardest hills and I will suffer. Quitting is something I rarely do. Certainly not in the physical arena. In chess matches I know the etiquette and can tell a lost or drawn position but exercising I need to be cut off or know I am causing long term damage before I quit. Wendover Woods 50Km is a great example, I could have walked round the course and completed but there was no point; it was not an A race, no qualifying points at stake and my ankle (?) was hurting too much to enjoy it. I face-planted crossing one of the streams that should have been a leap of faith. The next stream was a wade through one so at least I got a wash down!
During final third of the course I was blowing but I hanging on. There were some inclines as we meandered round the school playing fields. I was worried about getting caught but kept the gap steady. I don’t think anyone overtook me during the whole race and I finished in 33:40 which was bang on 7:00 min/miles and around what I thought I would do. We were seeded in waves of 6-10 people and set off every 10-15 seconds. It was a nice warm late October afternoon but there wasn’t much hanging around either way. The seeding was done based on a submitted 5Km and 1.5Km time. Granted I haven’t run either distance in a while but I knew I had done a marathon in 3:55 at the start of the month so could use that as a guide. Whether I am fitter than I thought, others didn’t try as hard, I tried harder or whatever I finished in 96th of 250 having started 178th! Quite a jump.
I jogged home (uphill) and cleaned all my kit without making too much of a mess (I think) before settling down for the delayed press conference by the Prime Minister. I don’t really want to discuss the pandemic here as it is meant to be an escape but it is the strategic backdrop to which I write (10000 banal words in two weeks) and we live our days.
Eventually they (the PM and scientific advisors) briefed us. It must have been a hectic day for the staff, planning and producing the speech after a leak the night before. He appears to be seeking reassurance and wants to be liked. How so? Why show so much data? Can you imagine Churchill briefing the in-depth detail behind the reasons for his decisions? I know we live in the information age but that detail is for parliament, for a chief of staff, deputy PM or similar role to discuss and make available. I would rather a PM, especially this PM, acted more like a statesman president and just told us what we had to do and why. Those that want to dig out and argue over the figures will but most of us don’t want to waste our lives watching PowerPoint. We do too much of that at work. It was novel in March. Now it is tedious. So what? We are heading to lockdown 2 except schools (and playgrounds) can stay open and you can meet one person.
Sunday 1 November 2020 – The sword of Damocles?
With our sentence passed last night it is very easy to pack it all in. Don’t. I got on Zwift and rode up the Alpe du Zwift which is a digital version of Alpe du Huez. I rode hard, close to threshold (probably Don Fink IronFit Zone 3) and finished the 12.44Km climb in 1 hour 26 minutes. It is not a bad time for my current fatness; my Garmin gave a flat equivalent of 50Km as it just coverts trainer watts to speed and then distance. It must have burned some calories! I am now trying not to write I’d earned my breakfast as people get upset by suggesting exercise is a punishment or that food is a reward and not earned but I was looking forward to breakfast as we were going to an Indian lounge for brunch. We had these amazing egg, sausage, and bacon naans which I washed down with masala chai and a virgin mary.
Watching the cocktails come out it could be easy to say “fuck this” and enjoy the last days of so-called ‘freedom’. Remember, remember, it is the first of November. A new month and a chance to start again. Following from my recent words on motivation and habits don’t let circumstance get you down. Build a support network. Consider what you want to achieve this lockdown. It can be as simple as ‘stay healthy’. That includes mental, physical, social and spiritual. “I don’t have time”. If you’re reading this you have time, you’re just making choices and prioritising other things (that’s fine, thanks for reading). Reach out. Remember the quiz nights from lockdown 1? I will be joining a Twitter user and read Michael Stean’s Simple Chess, a chapter a week for seven weeks, to improve my chess by doing a little every day. That’s all you have to do. A little of something every day of whatever it is you want to do.
I’m going to run later for 1 Km, yes just one, to get it on the board and so I can do Fetcheveryone’s ‘run the sum’ through November – a good challenge to improve aerobic function.
So, what’s next? Don’t be a stranger. Don’t think it’s all lost.