The List

The off season adventures of Sam and Flic

PURE FILTH

So, many you may be of the opinion that we can’t really get much dirtier than we already are.

Well, you would be wrong. For today, we got very wet and very dirty.

We also had a whole lot of fun. Thank you Hellrunner.

Arriving at Longmoor army camp in beautiful Hampshire we had a little glimpse of what the day may bring when The Rollerskate almost got stuck in the mud.

Much reving of engine and praying to the god of grip followed and bless her, she moved forward.

Time to register as Flic’s chip hadn’t arrived in the post. On the way to registration we pass the infamous Bog of Doom. It looks deep, cold and like it might have eels in it. This is meant to a running race, not an aquathon.

Sam to Flic: “Er, how exactly does this help with our training?”

Flic to Sam: “Er, it was your idea.”

We decide to blame our mate Chris, who rather unchivalrously (or sensibly) has decided to wait in the the nice warm car.

Have we mentioned its Baltic? It’s Baltic.

Registration found. Ooooh, Builder bar samples.

How many can we eat without it being obvious we are gonna hoover up the whole plate?

With our bellies full of Builders (turns out you can snaffle quite a few without getting told off) we register, get told we’re gonna get wet and muddy – er, no shit Sherlock – and head back to the car for some defrosting before race time.

Initially we said the “race” was going to be a bit of fun. Then Flic saw other girls and that competitive spirit kicked in. Uh oh.

For Flic, race mode is activated when she sees another lady in front of her. It’s then entirely out of her control. Tractor beam goes on and tempo goes up. Eventually they all come in. Today this happened about 30 mins into the race. Another 15 mins or so and the dirty duo had been split (Flic finished 2nd, Sam 4th – could have been third if she hadn’t got too carried away with the filthiness and spent too long getting grubby in the numerous bogs).

Anyway, back to the race.

Highlights?

1) The Bog of Doom. A circa 50m (this is Flic’s estimate of length though so don’t take it as gospel) stretch of muddy, cold, rancid water. It was so deep that as both of us are a little on the petite side, there was a fear of drowning. In fact it was so deep that ironically, non swimmer Flic started breaststroking…although that might have been to keep warm as on emergence from the water both of us had one of those lightbulb moments and understood how you boys must feel when your bits go numb!

2) The hills. Some serious climbs. All about those toes and pumping your arms. Feeling the pain and ignoring it. Luckily with both of us wearing Inov8s we didn’t have to worry too much about grippage. Best off-roaders EVER (shameless plug).

3) The naughtiness. There is nothing more fun than splashing through a puddle and getting someone who was trying to evade said puddle wet and dirty. Not that we did that. Much. Honest.

4) The evilness. The clever people at TrailPlus organised a race to live up to its name. After the Bog of Doom you face several more bogs. Bogs you slide down to, scramble out of, slide back down to, scramble out of…you get the picture. Then, and this is pure genius, after the bogs, with just over a mile to go you hit the sand. The sand serves to clog up your shoes and entirely sap your legs of any strength they might have had left. It’s not flat sand running of course. Oh no. There are more hills. Brilliant. Thanks Hellrunner.

To be honest there aren’t any lowlights. Apart from some of the bare bums we glimpse at the end of the race as male runners de-robe. We don’t see much else. It is cold after all. Shame.

So, another event ticked off the list and one that has delivered some great off season training.

First and foremost it was fun. Both of us were buzzing afterwards and raring to go again. And the endless hills can’t help but make us stronger.

Hellrunner. We bow down to you. See you next year.

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GOING WITH THE FLOW

So, I’m not a complete weirdo (debatable) but I do like things to hurt a little bit. There needs to be a little bit of effort, otherwise it’s not worth doing right?

That’s why the Thames swim, a 2.25 mile river swim from Hampton to Kingston, made it onto The List.

It wasn’t that long ago that swimming 25m without stopping was a struggle, so this swim was meant to be my big challenge of the year. That chance to show any doubt in my head that I can do ANYTHING I put my mind to.

Things didn’t turn out quite as planned.

So, up I get at 4am. I’m nervous. I feel sick. But I’m obviously hungry. I shovel down the biggest bowl of porridge known to man. Briefly feel a bit better but then remember why I am up at this ungodly hour on a Sunday. I am going to get in a freezing cold Thames and swim more than 2 miles. Gulp.

I meet my bud Lil (@lilhoughton) at Kingston. She is an awesome swimmer and is off in the first wave as will swim sub 1hr (she actually swam sub 35 mins!). She’s looking forward to it, I’m just looking a bit green around the gills. In fact, I wish I had gills as that would make swimming a whole lot easier.

Anyway, off we pootle to get the ferry from Kingston to Hampton. Lil thinks this is a good thing to do as it will let me see the course. In reality it has the effect of making me feel more nauseous. I swear I see eels (or sea snakes as Flic later teases me) and the water looks cold, brown and completely uninviting.

Why am I doing this? I hate swimming. I’m crap at it. Why wasn’t I doing the Run to the Beat half marathon? That’s much more up my street. But I’m here now, and I’m no quitter so I have a word with myself and crack on.

Lil gets in the water at 8.30 and is off like the speed demon she is. I hang around for an hour, psyching myself up, trying to keep warm and trying to forget that I’ve seen on Twitter that the water temperature is 12 degrees. Brrrrrrrr.

That hour goes pretty quickly and suddenly I’m in a starting pen with a host of other fools. We are all wondering why we are doing this. It seemed like a good idea in the summer when the swim was actually meant to be – our washout of a summer put paid to that though.

There’s some good banter in the pen and we all agree to get in the water and have a group pee to increase the temperature a couple of degrees.

In we get. Yep. Cold. No, not cold. Baltic. And the current is strong. We have to swim hard to stay where we are. This is probably the hardest bit of the swim.

Suddenly the gun fires and we are off.

With the current behind me, I feel like I am flying rather than swimming. That said, it’s still not entirely comfortable for me. The current is so strong I’m a little bit scared of getting washed away. I’m getting bashed a bit as stronger swimmers power through.

After about 15 mins I get into my stroke. So much so that I forget to sight and swim straight into the bank. Oops. Then I find someone’s feet to follow. I remember to sight this time.

I’m not actually having much fun. I’ve swallowed quite a bit of water because the cold keeps taking my breath away. And now I’ve started to get a bit bored. There’s nothing to look at to distract me from the monotony of stroke, stroke, breathe (I’m not bilateral yet!) and because I’m getting bored that voice in my head is starting to question whether I can do this. Then, I look up and there in the distance is the yellow finishing chute. It’s come a lot quicker than expected due to the ridiculous current and at the moment I’m happy about that.

Suddenly I am finished and being helped out the water. I feel sick and dizzy. And I think I have finished in around 45 mins. That’s half the time I expected. I should be happy but now I feel deflated. This was meant to be a big challenge for me, something I didn’t think I could do. But it’s over now and it wasn’t THAT hard. I so wanted to tick this off The List, but looks like it is gonna have to stay. Still, at least it means I can rope my partner in crime Flic to do it with me next time so that we can swim into each other, apologise every time we do and then get a fit of the giggles.

Onwards and upwards (or downstream-wards)

Xx

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Well velo there Herne Hill

Since before Team GB smashed it up on the Olympic velodrome, Flic and I have been banging on about wanting to have another go at track cycling, having both loved it the first time.

Slightly fearful of the no gears, no brake fixies, we make our way to the wonderful Herne Hill Velodrome to give the ladies only induction a go.

Induction is great. Coaches line us up to teach us the finer points of group cycling and using the banks of the velodrome to speed up and slow down. Some people (Flic) like the speeding up bits best, others (those that have obviously only ever ridden a shopper bike complete with a basket and puppy) were practicing the slowing down bit a bit too much.

Nerves obviously setting in for some of the riders. Not so for Flic and I, we are raring to go. Engines are revved. What we really want to do now is ride. And probably hurt a little bit.

When we finally get to do a little chasing with a bit of speed, the coaches utter those four words that are like a red rag to a bull to Flic: “it’s not a race.”

Uh-oh.

There are a lot of total newbies to any kind of group riding at the track. A lot of tweedledees and tweedledums as we affectionately (not really) christen them. Neither Flic nor I are known for our patience or subtlety so a few choice words may slip out under our breaths.

The set starts off with us all riding in a big peloton then groups of four break off the front to work together to catch the back of the peloton. Flic and I hear that as: “Go off the front as fast as you can and catch the back as fast as you can.” Sadly the other two in our breakaway don’t hear that so we pull away, dropping them faster than a whore’s pants (Flic drops me after a while too. Speed demon that she is) and get told off. Oops.

Next time round we are allowed off in a two and this time get a thumbs up from the velo girls.

All too quickly the afternoon is over, but it’s had the desired effect. There is a burning in our thighs and a fire in our bellies to do more.

Ticking off The List number 1 done.

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What happens when you put two training junkies together?

The answer is that you get a very, very long list of training alternatives for the off season.

As two people who don’t really understand the word “rest”, Flic (@felicitycole) and I (@b1kerunswim) might have got the fear a little bit when we realised that the duathlon/triathlon season was coming to an end. But with (very) active (and slightly warped) imaginations we soon came up with some ideas of sports we could try our hands at that would both build our strength, endurance and speed for the 2013 duathlon/triathlon season and refresh our love for all things sweaty.

This blog is dedicated to our execution of The List.

First, however, we both have a little race in Nancy (just the Duathlon World Champs) and Miss Cole another little race in Auckland (the Triathlon World Champs) to get out of the way.

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