A moment of madness

A few weeks ago this image popped up in my inbox, and I was about to hit the delete button, when I noticed that this year there would be a 20km event. Before giving it further thought, I signed up. I’m now committed.

Then I thought, I just need a plan to carry me from the sofa to the start line – and across the finish too! It’s time to get off the sofa and move. Thanks to my beloved’s hip-replacement I haven’t worked out much in months and, if I’m honest, I’ve got a little more around the waistline than I’d like.

My plan

I’ve got plenty of time to get in shape and this is how I’m going about it. I’ve started with run-walk workouts which begin with a brisk walking warm-up, then alternate minutes of running with minutes of walking, finishing with a walking cool-down. In my first workouts in week one, I ran at a comfortable effort (just a bit quicker than my fastest walking speed) for one minute and then followed it with two minutes of brisk walking. I repeated this a total of 10 times. Obviously, as I build towards my goal, so does my running time.

Once a week, I undertake a longer workout which is vital to getting my body used to spending time on my feet, utilising fat  – I’ve plenty of that – as an energy source and simulating the half-marathon distance. I’m not planning on going the distance until the day of the race. My plan builds to running two 16km (10 mile) long runs to prepare me for the 20km (12.5 mile) distance on race day.

Why not go the whole way in training? Because when you push to run longer too quickly, your risk for injury skyrockets. I’ve read than 16km (10 miles) is plenty to prepare you well for a half-marathon race.

Tune In

It’s crucial that I listen to my body during this process. If I’m struggling to finish a workout or have aches or pains, it means my body isn’t recovering properly. If that’s the case, I can easily repeat the week I’m currently on, or keep the distance the same as the plan, but do more walking and less running. Of course, I’m planning to run all the way on race day but, like my husband’s niece who completed last year’s marathon, I may just use run-walk intervals to cover the distance. I used to run 10km (6 1/4 miles) comfortably within an hour, so I’m aiming for a time of around 2:30 – just don’t hold me to it.


I have to remember to have fun and keep smiling. I’ve got this! 

However, if any of you have any helpful words of wisdom, please pass them on. Any assistance will be most gratefully received.

Marathon madness

Each year, when the Nice-Cannes marathon takes place, I mull over whether or not I should train for the following year’s race. This lasts for all of ten minutes before common sense asserts itself. More so since I’ve learnt that 5 hours is the cut-off time!

This year however I really felt part of the action as my  beloved’s niece stayed with us and took part in the race. This is the relative for whom I recently made a wedding cake. She came with five friends, one of whom stayed with us while the other four were in a hotel in Nice. These ladies are seriously good runners with marathon times ranging from 2:45 – 3:45 hours.

The girls arrived Saturday lunchtime and, having checked their dietary preferences beforehand, prepared their meals and snacks accordingly. They all carbo-load before the race but eat normally the day before. I knew that all these long-legged gazelles would have hollow legs and, if I wasn’t careful, eat me out of house and home.

When mealtimes are uncertain, I ensure I have dishes that can happily sit and wait at room temperature or be cooked at the last moment. I also made sure that I had plenty of snacks to hand for them to eat, particularly directly after the race.

To be fair the catering wasn’t too onerous: lunch and dinner on the Saturday (the day before the race),  early breakfast and lunch on the day, plus post-race snacks and finally breakfast on the Monday. The rest of the time, the six were out enjoying themselves in Nice. And, aside from the snacks for six, I was only catering for an additional two.

The week before the race we’d had torrential rains and high winds which had whipped the sea into a maelstrom, depositing tons of stones and sand on the coast road where the race largely takes place. Fortunately, the weather was fine on the week-end of the race  – aside from the persistent cross or head-wind – and probably warmer than expected.

They arrived at lunchtime on Saturday, ate lunch, dropped off the luggage and headed into Nice to collect their numbers etc I’d made a cheese and onion quiche for lunch which I served with  variety of salads. My beloved adores my quiches but I rarely make them unless we have company, otherwise he has to eat all of it and you really can have too much of a good thing. Dinner was a vegan shepherd’s pie with lentils and mushrooms, not lamb, topped with sweet potato. Dessert was vegan rice pudding with raspberry compote.

I rose early on Sunday to prepare their respective breakfasts and post-race snacks – egg sandwich for one and porridge for the other. I think it’s important to have a routine and eat the same thing before a race so that there’s less likelihood of tummy troubles. I watched the MotoGP races from Malaysia – now you know why I didn’t mind an early call!

Later I watched the runners stream past on the coast road from the relative shelter of the terrace. At that distance, even with my binoculars, I couldn’t pick out the girls as, only just over 10km from the start, the leading ladies are still quite tightly bunched although it does take a while for everyone to thunder past. Had I been watching from the roadside, I would have given plenty of encouragement to the tail-end Charlies, I know what that feels like.

In no time at all they were back demanding to be fed lunch. I’d whipped up an Italian style take on my Sunday roast serving the roast beef with polenta, wild mushroom sauce and spinach, followed by bread & butter pudding. Much to my beloved’s dismay, there were no leftovers. Those girls had worked up a serious appetite! This probably stood them in good stead for a night out in Nice.

Monday they ate a copious breakfast before leaving for a post-race hike in the nearby hills before flying back that evening to Blighty. It’s always enjoyable having house guests, particularly those that entertain themselves. As long as I know when, what and where they need feeding, I’m fine.


Killed off

Yesterday morning I killed the perpetrator of some unspeakable acts of gluttony. He’d spent the previous night gorging himself on my right shoulder, as the raised red welts bore witness. He’d also dined off my right hand and fingers. Death was the only reasonable response.

The weather has been both cold and chilly this week end, with rain yesterday afternoon and evening. This has not prevented us from riding though it has restricted us to the coastal roads. Our disappointment with the weather was much ameliorated by yesterday’s football scores. After a unsatisfactory loss in the dying minutes to West Ham last Wednesday, the Villa boys bounced back to thump Bolton 5-1. This was particularly gratifying as the number of ex-Villa players at Bolton is legion. Not to be outdone, OGC Nice registered their third win on the trot, treating PSG to their first home loss of the season.

 My beloved’s gout was bothering him again this morning, so I left him in bed and cycled to the club’s rendezvous. A heated discussion ensued on how best to avoid the routes closed to traffic and cyclists alike thanks to the marathon. A solution was rapidly found and off we cycled, shortly to be joined by those from a neighbouring club. Clearly a popular solution which afforded us glimpses of the runners heading in the opposite direction. In Nice, we profited from a closed Promenade des Anglais, cycling merrily across all four of the lanes – what a treat.

 We had somehow misplaced one of our groups and I found myself cycling with the better ie faster riders who dropped me as soon as we climbed out of Nice. I didn’t see most of them again until the pointage although I did pass a few who’d punctured.  The club was continuing on to Menton and returning by way of the same route as last week end. But, given the weather, I decided to cycle straight back. That way I’d have plenty of time to prepare and enjoy lunch before settling down to watch the Chelsea v Manchester United match.

 After yesterday’s frolic in the sun, the Amstel Curacao race won by one

Bert and companion
Bert and companion in Curacao

Alberto Contador, there’s no real racing until the Tour Down Under so it’s during this period that my interest turns to football and cross-country skiing. Yes, yet another sport where the participants wear lycra!

Permanently misplaced

One of my least favourite jobs, apart from the ironing, is doing my husband’s expenses.  However, since I took over doing them I’ve realised that for many years we’ve been funding his previous employers. Yes, if he lost an invoice or receipt then he didn’t claim for it. Now I don’t have to tell you how easily my beloved misplaces things, particularly small things.

I have insisted that wherever possible he pays by card to leave me an audit trail. However, it may be any one  of a number of cards, I have to check all the statements. He also withdraws cash in a variety of currencies for sundry expenses. I have to recoup the residual on his return, and take account of the cash receipts, to determine what’s still outstanding and, believe me, there’s always something.  To piece all of this together requires a fair amount of forensic work. But, if I don’t, then someone else other than us benefits.

Prior to tackling this least favourite of jobs, I rewarded myself with a cycle in the hills. The temperature has dropped a few degrees further and the foliage is now looking distinctly autumnal. There weren’t too many other cyclists out on the same roads as me today. 

This afternoon, I became so engrossed in the trail of elusive paperwork that I forgot the passing of time and had to be forcibly reminded about my coffee date with a girlfriend. We meet up on a regular basis, in one of our haunts, to catch up on all things two-wheeled.

This week end’s pointage is in Beaulieu sur Mer but we will have to cycle Beaulieu sur Merthere without using the coastal route which will be closed for the 2nd Nice-Cannes Marathon. I suspect we may concede defeat and simply have a club ride. I am awaiting an executive decision from M Le President who has taken to calling me his favourite secretary. This is akin to my husband calling me his favourite wife.

Guilty pleasures

The alarm went off at 07:00 and we went through our usual Sunday morning routine, leaving the flat an hour later. The sky was overcast, the air was chilly but rain wasn’t forecast.

As we cycled into Nice I remarked on the lack of cyclists. Indeed, we’d only passed joggers, no doubt preparing for next Sunday’s Nice-Cannes marathon. My husband then fessed up that he’d not thought to put any of the clocks forward an hour last week end. Yes, that’s right, we’d gotten up at 06:00 am.

It was more humid and even more overcast as we rode through Monaco towards, Menton. Not knowing the location of the pointage, we headed for the beach road eventually turning off it into the town. My husband, as is his wont, disappeared up ahead. While I, unafraid to ask for directions, did just that and easily located the pointage. My husband, along with a host of other cyclists, forged on ahead to the border with Italy only to return 20 minutes later!

We returned by way of La Turbie which, this week, afforded us very little in the way of scenic views thanks to the low lying mist. We stopped off at our usual feedzone for coffee and newspapers before heading home for a hot shower and lunch. I had no plans to go out later even though OGC Nice were playing at home against Le Mans, a fixture I fully expected them to win. 

After lunch, wearing my night attire, I like to put my feet up on my sofa (yes, we have one each), read the Sunday newspapers, do the Sudoku in The Sunday Times and watch whatever sport there’s on TV. Today we were able to watch the Brits rack up another impressive array of medals in the first track cycling World Cup of the season in Manchester. 

Now, you may be wondering why I don’t  get dressed. My logic is that I’m not going anywhere, so why bother. I apply the same reasoning in the morning. If I’m going cycling around 11:00am, I’ll lounge in my nightwear before donning my lycra.  Countless courier companies and the postman, who all tend to deliver early in the morning, often catch me in my all enveloping, white, waffle dressing gown.

Postscript: OGC Nice beat Le Mans 1-0