Fight Night at Ministry of Sound

Last Friday I went to Ministry of Sound.  However, in stark contrast to the days of the past where I would turn up to a nightclub in impossible-to-walk-in sky high heels and too-short miniskirt, I was comfortably in my favourite lycra and trainers.  That may have been the only thing that was comfortable about the evening however…

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One of the girls at work introduced me to Ministry does Fitness.  It used to be the club’s ‘hidden booze vault’ but has been transformed into a training studio where, as they say, you will sweat your arse off for results.  However, it wasn’t the reasonable sounding ‘cardio’, ‘core’ or ‘endurance’ classes she had in mind, no, it was Hiitbox Volume V.

What is Hiitbox?

“Sonja Moses and her team of Hiitbox Ninjas will deliver that fight night feeling, challenging you to unleash your inner badass and bring your A-game to this high energy HIIT boxing experience! 12 rounds of pads interspersed with high intensity fitness moves accompanied by a live DJ and MC”

Slightly different to the usual Ministry does Fitness classes, Hiitbox is a special event that takes place in the famous London nightclub itself and is all wrapped up by 9pm so the traditional revelers can take over.  I didn’t really know what to expect but, for £30, I was expecting something a little bit special.

Genna and I turned up to the club just before 18.30 where we wrapped our hands up and waited outside for the fun to begin.  I wasn’t overly impressed by this bit, we had already handed our bags over and had to wait outside for just a little too long, it was cold despite the heaters.

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Eventually we were invited inside, reds to the left, blues to the right, accompanied by some hooded Hiitbox Ninjas.  They didn’t look friendly.  It was dark, I was separated from Genna who was on the other side, and we were all lined up against a wall in a corridor.  It was a little eerie.

Before I knew it, there were 3 hooded ninjas jumping up and down and screaming in my face to squat, ‘lower, lower, f**king LOWER’.  It was still dark.  ‘On the floor, push ups, NOW’.  ‘Get up, knees up, higher, higher.’  And that was just the warm up.  Fast, intense and bloody exhausting.  The lead ninja then simply laughed and said ‘now you’re all gonna get f**ked up’.  He was right.

Inside the club I was reunited with Genna and the real fight started.  It’s difficult to describe the atmosphere but the lights were low, the lasers were on, the DJ was in full force and, in true boxing style, an MC was on stage to introduce each of the ninjas and our instructor, Sonja Moses (this is a lady who personifies badass).

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We were then put through 12 rounds of 4 minute high intensity boxing routines each taking it in turns on the pads and gloves.  Starting with some simple punch sequences, that began slowly with, a focus on technique, and finished fast, with a focus on trying not to be sick, these progressed into more complex routines including roundhouse kicks and knee strikes.  The final round consisted of 4 solid minutes of punches and burpees, it was a killer.  I hated it. I loved it. I didn’t know how I felt.  My whole body was shaking.

Hiitbox is more than just an exercise class, it’s an experience that’s geared up to create a proper ‘fight night’ feeling.  There are full on theatrics, fighting talk, and ring girls, with an electric, high energy atmosphere brought about through a live DJ and Sonja herself.  Each round left you gasping for breath, it was intense, sweaty, challenging and totally exhilarating.

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In hindsight, although £30 isn’t cheap, it’s in keeping with London’s boutique spinning studios and bootcamps that easily charge £20 an hour for a regular class, plus you were supplied with water throughout and drinks and snacks at the end.  I was promised “the freshest beats, biggest sound-system, legendary coaches and an epic full body workout” and that’s exactly what I got.

Be warned though, at some point in the middle of the night I woke up and realised I could barely move my entire body.  You will go hard and you will hurt, but if you like being pushed to your limits, you’re gonna love it.

Go with a friend, go with your hand wraps, go with an open mind and go with bags of energy.  But GO!

The Crew. Photo: Tom Webb @tomwebb_photographer

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Do you know how healthy you really are?

Last year, when I was training for the London Marathon, I was tired.  ALL THE TIME.  I’m more than aware that marathon training is tough, but I’ve trained a lot and I know the difference between being overtrained or run down, and something being wrong.  And something was wrong.

I was a regular at morning yoga and spin classes but, when my alarm went off, I just couldn’t get up.  I wasn’t just a bit sleepy, I really couldn’t get up.  After I had finished my long run at the weekend I had to go straight back to bed again.  It wasn’t normal for me.

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Doctors.  They just didn’t get it.  They told me to rest.  But I didn’t just ‘need a rest’ because I know my body can cope (usually).  After demanding a blood test, they simply told me everything was ‘normal’.  But they never gave me the details of those results.

A couple of weeks ago I went for a private blood test with Werlabs which meant I got a full analysis of absolutely everything.

Who are Werlabs?

Werlabs are a service that uses blood testing to help you monitor your health and understand what’s going on inside your body.  The beauty of this test is that, not only is it quick and easy, the results are ready in 48 hours and you can access them in an online journal.

What do they test?

Their main package consists of 44 separate analyses broken down into different risk categories:

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1. Cardiovascular Disease

This looks at your total cholesterol level and how much good and bad cholesterol you have.  In all honesty, I’ve never worried too much about my cholesterol, but my results showed that, whilst I am safely in the ‘healthy’ range, it’s heading towards the higher end so may be something to be aware of.  On the plus side, they made it clear I’m not at risk of CV disease at the moment!

2. Diabetes

This checks your glucose levels to look at your risk of developing diabetes.  I was all clear on this front which was good because I’m sure I have way more sugar than I should!

3. Full Blood Count

A whole range of things are measured in this section including platelets, and the volume and size of red and white blood cells.  This can show up issues such as anemia, long-standing inflammation, and the ability to form blood clots.

I was pleased to see a higher than average haemoglobin level because this is what absorbs and releases oxygen and carries it from the lungs to the body’s tissues.  Just what runners need!

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4. Inflammation and Immune System

This measures your levels of a protein in the blood called ‘C-reactive protein’ which shows general levels of inflammation in the body.  It’s important to test this because it identifies infections and diseases causing inflammation, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Diseases of the immune system
  • Swelling of blood vessels in the head and neck
  • Swelling and bleeding of the intestines
  • Bone infection

5. Iron

A combination of things are tested:

  • Iron – important in the formation of red blood cells and needed for energy metabolism, this helps our muscles and organs work correctly
  • Ferritin – this is the primary way our body stores iron absorbed from our food, the amount of ferritin in your blood indicates the amount of iron stored in your body
  • Transferrin – the main protein in the blood that binds to the iron absorbed from food and transports it throughout the body

Low iron levels are fairly common in female runners and cause, among other things, tiredness, so I wasn’t really surprised that, whilst I was in the ‘normal’ range, I was right at the bottom of it.  I was also in the red zone for transferrin saturation which means I am likely to have an iron deficiency – it explains a lot!

6. Liver and Kidneys

A range of enzymes, protein, potassium and salt levels are tested to check if the liver and kidneys are working correctly and to detect early damage or risk of disease.

Potassium results, my reading is the red dot

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7. Vitamins and Minerals

  • Folic Acid (B9) – an important growth factor required for cell division
  • Magnesium – plays a role in metabolism and can only be absorbed from food
  • B12 –  maintains the functions of your nervous system and can also only be absorbed from food

8. Thyroid

The thyroid is a gland that produces hormones that are released into the blood to stimulate growth and metabolism, it has a direct effect on our energy levels and overall wellbeing.  Three types of thyroid hormones are tested to determine how effectively the thyroid is working and if it’s over or under active.

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Why is this test good?

What I loved most about Werlabs is that each analysis is explained in easy-to-understand language, with a clear explanation of why it has been tested.  It also clearly explains what it means if you are too high or too low on the scale.  On top of this, a doctor goes through all of your results and gives you a personal analysis of your current state of health.

How does it work?

To take the test you simply need to visit the Werlabs website and select the blood test you want.  You then just take your confirmation email to one of their testing locations in London or Manchester for your blood test (many of these are walk-in, I went to St Thomas Hospital and only waited for 5 minutes) and you will receive a text message as soon as the results are available online.

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The full test is quite expensive at £125 but there are cheaper options if you just want to test something specific.  If you’re keen, you can get a 20% discount using code GRUNC20.

I have been genuinely impressed by the whole Werlabs experience and found the level of results fascinating.  I make an effort to keep myself fit and healthy so I’ve never worried too much about my general health, however this experience has highlighted that, if there was something to worry about, I probably wouldn’t even know until it was too late.

It’s safe to say I’ve learned a lot from this and is definitely something I would do again.

Werlabs kindly invited me to try out their service, as always, all opinions are my own.

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Moreno Boxing – Be Who You Want To Be

I absolutely love boxing.  It’s fast, furious, intense and sweaty.  I used to be a regular at a gritty boxing gym in Old Street until I changed jobs and, sadly, it wasn’t local anymore.  Boxing is a phenomenal form of fitness that combines strength and co-ordination with a full body workout that is great for de-stressing and focusing the mind.  Despite popular belief, it is also a sport that is open to all.

Last week I headed down to Moreno Boxing, Clapham’s newest Boxing Gym, and it’s pretty swish.  Complete with a crossfit rig, Olympic weights, full-size boxing ring and water-filled punch bags, it offers you a ‘real’ boxing experience.  What it is not is a boxercise class.

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When I met Carlos, the founding director of Moreno Boxing, the thing that struck me was how passionate he was about his sport, and in that moment I knew I was going to love this place.

After having his first fight at 18, Carlos went on to compete in over 30 amateur boxing fights, he has several international championship medals under his belt, and even took the National Championship Title in Portugal in 2014.  It’s fair to say he knows a thing or two about boxing and he’s keen to share that knowledge, and those skills, with ordinary people.

Why should the best training methods be reserved for professional athletes only? At
Moreno Boxing we give everyone the opportunity to learn proper boxing from experienced athletes. It’s about giving everyone the opportunity to be the greatest boxer they can be; it’s about helping others be who they want to be!

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Carlos also talked about how important it was to be ‘present’ in his sessions and it’s this focus and attention that’s one of the things I love about boxing.  It’s all too easy when you’re out on a run or on the bike to mentally switch off.  But you can’t do that in boxing, and if you do you will only make that mistake once, trust me!

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Keeping it simple, Moreno Boxing offer just two signature classes, both designed to develop different skills and afford different fitness benefits.

TIB – Technical Intensive Boxing

This class is your traditional glove and pad boxing class and it’s my favourite one.  After a warm up and a re-cap on how to throw jabs, crosses, hooks and upper cuts, were partnered up and straight into the routine.

TIB is about developing the specific skills you need to be able to box, and not just to attack, but also to defend.  This class breaks down each move into drills to give you an intense, lung busting workout that works both the arms and the legs (and in fact everything else!)

Combining power, speed, balance and co-ordination, as well as mental strength, it will push you to your limits and leave you completely knackered!

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ITXT – Intensive Boxing Cross Training

The second class is dedicated to cross-training, but don’t think that that makes it any easier!  The session is made up of a circuit which includes short, sharp bursts of exercises such as:

  • Medicine Balls
  • Push Ups
  • Punch Bags
  • Dead Lifts
  • Kettle Bells
  • Tricep Dips
  • Battle Ropes
  • Froggy Jump Squats (ahem, may not be the proper name…)
  • Sit ups

Again, it’s a full body workout and, if you’re not knackered by the end, you weren’t doing it right!

With a cheeky glint in his eye, Carlos said we would end the class with the ‘squat song’.  This turns out to be over 3 minutes of continually squatting to Moby’s Flower…errr, the perfect end to a 2 hour workout.

This is how happy we were…

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Photo credit: Sophie from Fitology UK

Boxing is pretty trendy right now, I’ll give you that.  But don’t do it because it’s trendy.  Do it because it’s one of the most intense and rewarding workouts you will find.  Do it because you want to get fitter and stronger.  Do it because you love to sweat.  Do it because you like to be challenged.  Don’t do it if you’re scared of hard work…

Moreno Boxing has two gyms in London, the original is in Dalston, and the new one is in Clapham Junction.  If you’re keen to test yourself you can find out more here and discover why Professor Green and Millie Mackintosh can’t get enough.

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Photo credit:  Simon Zhao

Massive thanks to both Carlos and and Healthy Living London for having me, I genuinely loved it and have booked in for my nest session!  I was invited to come down to Clapham and try out Moreno Boxing, all opinions, as always, are my own.

RideLondon: 100 miles on 2 wheels

At 2am on Sunday morning I was staring out of the window watching the rain come down in sheets.  It was so loud it woke me up.  It was the worst rain I had seen in a very long time and it was far from ideal.

Just two hours later my alarm went off, but my heavy heart subsided with a quick glance outside.  The rain had stopped and it looked fairly promising.  It was going to be a good day.

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Just before 5am, after forcing some porridge down, I hopped on my bike and set off into the sunrise towards the Olympic Park.  I didn’t really know where I was going but I soon saw plenty of other cyclists heading the same way.  Following everyone else, I made the 12 mile journey to the start line taking in an eerily quiet Rotherhithe tunnel which was closed to cars.

Getting into the start area was easy, there were loads of signs, loads of toilets and plenty of space.  Luckily I bumped into my friend Laura so I had a pal to share my last minute worries with.  She had sandwiches and chicken nuggets…I did not.  Our start time was 7:24am and, although we still had an hour to go, it flew by.

Early Risers

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With credit to the organisers, the start was a military operation with each wave going off bang on time, I don’t know how many waves there were, but c.30,000 riders left the park at roughly 6 minute intervals over 4 hours.  It was an impressive set up.

Stage 1: Miles 1-25: The Jolly Bit

For the first 25 miles I felt great.  The air was cool and dry, everyone was in great spirits and I was pleasantly surprised that, not only was there more space around me than I was expecting, people were (mostly) riding considerately.  There were even some Rider Safety Captains.

After riding through London, I got a big cheer from Darren in Richmond Park, and we headed to the first ‘hub’ near Hampton Court.  As I’m really bad at drinking and riding at the same time, let alone eating, I took the opportunity to stop.

The hubs exceeded my expectations, there were tables and tables piled with bananas, Cliff Bars, gels, Shot Bloks and Graze snack boxes, as well as loads of water and electrolyte tablets.  There were toilets aplenty, and medical and mechanical help if needed.  The volunteers were all super friendly and happy, especially given the fact they had an earlier start than me!

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Stage 2: Miles 26-48: The Learning Curve Bit

The next section posed some challenges.  I hadn’t been eating anywhere near enough and I was feeling it.  Ruth had told me repeatedly that I needed to constantly scoff my face but I didn’t realise that meant literally.  A Cliff bar at the start line and a gel at the hub just wasn’t enough.  Somewhere around 40 miles I was feeling ropey and decided that if I had to stop every few miles to make sure I ate something, that was what needed to happen.

The Surrey countryside, with its beautiful views, was upon us now, and just before the second hub at mile 48 there was a fairly short, but fairly steep climb.  I was glad I had taken on some extra fuel (GU Stroopwafles for the win by the way).

At the hub at Newlands Corner, I took a longer time out, ate some proper food and had a little sit down with views over Surrey.  I was feeling much better. Onwards.

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Stage 3: Miles 48-75. The Hilly Bit

The next section brought the dreaded Surrey Hills.  Leith Hill came first, it was new to me, it was the the steepest on the course, and it was bloody hard.  People were getting a little narky with each other as the course narrowed and I eventually caved somewhere near(ish) the top and got off the bike.  I was far from the only one.

Finally at the top, with 58 miles on the clock, I got back on my bike and enjoyed some downhill rolling towards Dorking.  Soon after, we were at the bottom of Box Hill, I had already conquered this one recently and I have to say I quite enjoyed it!  There were some signs every 250m or so telling you how far you had come and some motivational words of wisdom such as ‘don’t fear the granny gear‘ and, of course, ‘shut up legs‘.

I had stuck to my new fueling plan but, as we neared the third hub at Leatherhead, I was looking forward to another break.

Thanks Buxton!

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Stage 4: Miles 75-86. The Blurry Bit

The next few miles rolled by in a bit of a blur.  I was tired, my quads were complaining, and my hands were sore.  I didn’t really know where I was and I couldn’t tell you what I saw, but we were heading back to London and that was all I could focus on.

Just as I was planning to pull over for more food, I saw a sign for hub 4.  There was a HUB 4??

Pulling into the stop at Kingston I have never been so happy to see a bag of salt & vinegar crisps.  I was less happy to see yet another banana, but I ate it anyway.  After a short mental battle with myself I got back on the bike again and set off on the last 14 miles. Shut up legs.

Stage 5: Miles 86-100. The Bloody Awesome Bit

The last section was the best.  The crowds were thicker, the roads were flatter, we were back in London and the finish was near.  I found a new lease of life and powered through the last few miles, not even Wimbledon Hill could get me down now.

The miles were ticking down quickly, I got a cheer from Jen at Parsons Green, and we were soon riding along the Embankment.  It wasn’t long before we were heading up Whitehall and swinging round for a pretty spectacular finish on The Mall.  The 100 mile finish line was in sight!!

I couldn’t help but grin like a lunatic as I flew down the final few metres and over the finish line, I even made it on the telly!

I’m in the background, I’m not the man being interviewed:

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And that was that, I had completed 100 miles on two wheels and I loved it!  It actually turned out to be 119 miles in total what with cycling there and back, no wonder I was a little sleepy…

The Reflection Bit

In my opinion, Ride London was organised pretty flawlessly.  Sure, there will always be some hiccups with the complexities of an event so big, but I was really impressed with everything, it couldn’t have been easy.

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I’m aware, although disappointed, that cycling generally, and this event in particular, attracts a lot of haters, especially from those who live along the route.  Sure, it’s an inconvenience, but it’s just one weekend a year.  One weekend that not only brings a lot of positivity towards sport and fitness and inspires people to get active, but keeps the legacy of the London Olympics alive and raises millions for charity.

The Best Bits:

  • Riding on closed roads. A privilege
  • The atmosphere. Electric
  • The cheery volunteers. Incredible
  • Box Hill. It’s Fun
  • Hitting a new max speed of 38.3 mph. Weeeeee
  • The Mile 86 salt and vinegar crisps. Godsend
  • The last 5 miles. Unreal
  • The finish along the Mall towards Buckingham Palace. Epic
  • In fact, almost everything. Fan-flippin-tastic

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The Worst Bits:

  • The 4 o’clock alarm. Zzzzzz
  • Having to stop to eat and drink. Such a newb
  • Leith Hill. Ouch
  • The dude who overtook me on a Boris Bike. Really
  • My sore hands. Hurty
  • Cycling through London traffic to get home. Wobbly

The Thank Yous:

  • Thank you to all the volunteers that made it possible, there were a lot of you, your constant enthusiasm and kind words gave me strength
  • Thank you to the emergency services who responded quickly to incidents
  • Thank you to the roadside angels who were offering mechanical help to those in need, you made me worry less
  • And thank you to everyone who wholeheartedly embraced the event and lined the streets in thousands to cheer and shout at us, you made the dark times brighter

Like the London Marathon, Ride London is a true testament to the spirit of this City and I can’t wait to be part of it again.  It was tough, it was challenging, it was rewarding, and it was a whole lot of fun!

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Ride 100: Way out of my comfort zone

They say the bit outside of your comfort zone is where magical things happen.  It’s dangerous, and scary, and a little intimidating, but it’s OK because unicorns live there and they can show you a whole new world of wonderful things.  Or something like that.  On Sunday I’m taking on my first cycling sportive.  It’s 100 miles long.  And it’s a whole new world to me.

My comfort zone is all but a dot on the horizon right now.  Mostly because I know s**t all about cycling.  Or bikes.  Or how to fix my bike if it breaks.  It doesn’t bode well when you have to phone your Dad from the expo to ask him what sort of inner tube you need, and you still don’t know what you’re look at so the random dude who overhears offers some help and picks the tube out for you after you tell him you have ‘you know, a normal bike…’.  Yep, my comfort zone is basically on another planet.

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Genuinely, I’d much rather run a marathon on Sunday, despite not being marathon fit, because marathons are my comfort zone (did I just say that?!).  I know what’s going to happen in a marathon.  I’ve run strong, I’ve run weak, and I’ve run when I probably shouldn’t have.  I know there will be good times, dark times, painful times, and many times when you have to fight the powerful desire to crumble and quit.  There’s little that could surprise me over the course of running 26.2 miles.  Cycling 100 miles however?  I can’t even comprehend how far that is on 2 wheels.

Honestly, this is the event that I never thought I would do.  I owe a huge amount of thanks to everyone who helped get me to this stage, including the Brutterly’s for helping me get kitted out and showing me the basics, my Dad for being my personal bike mechanic (and repeatedly reminding me how dangerous cycling on the road is in case I forget), and everyone who has ridden with me and boosted my confidence.  So thank you.  Now there’s only one thing left to do.  Or two if you include eating all the carbs tomorrow.

Fingers crossed for magic.  And maybe unicorns. #Ride100

 

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Chasers Thames Path Beer Run

Saturday was the first ever Chasers Thames Path Beer Run.  Saturday I ran nearly 20 miles for the first time in over a year.  Saturday was pretty epic.

Martin (Chasers Beer Run founder, run director, die-hard Chaser, beer enthusiast and shameless short shorts poser) devised a run along the Thames Path, just shy of 13 miles, that involved 11 pub stops.  I mean, he didn’t do anything sensible like reccy the course, so he didn’t know where he was going, but given the day was a stonking success, he’s forgiven!

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A few of us met early for a jaunt over to Richmond parkrun and a hearty Bill’s breakfast to set us up for the day.  Whilst this was fun, I hadn’t quite thought through the bit where I had therefore run 7 miles before the main event…

The vibe was all about being social and having fun (apart fron Kev ‘last one to the bar buys the drinks’ Smith…who may not be invited to the next one), so there were generous time allowances for getting from one pub to the next.  As the day went on though, we started to get closer and closer the the time allowances (or was that just me?!)

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Starting in Richmond, we almost fell at the first hurdle because our opening pub wouldn’t serve us any alcohol without food!  Alas, this is London, and there was another pub just a few metres up the road who welcomed our booze-only custom.  We had a pretty good turnout, the sun was shining and we were all in good spirits.  Martin then gave us a ‘safety briefing’, which was something about drinking water and knowing your limits and…zzzzzz.

Pub 1!

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Bang on schedule we headed off to the next pub, I could already taste smoked salmon and feel the cider swishing around so I devised a new drinking strategy, because I’m sensible like that.  I decided if I alternated between cider and vodka I would be drinking less liquid and reduce the unwelcome ‘swishing’, perfect right?!

On to Pub 2

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At somepoint early into the run we lost Barry who had taken a frantic call to say his girlfriend had potentially gone into labour.  Yep, he let us all down and headed to the hospital.  Sigh.

Sans Barry, we continued on our schedule, running from pub to pub, occassionally losing a Chaser who dared to have something better to do with the rest of their day, and occassionally picking up a Chaser who clearly decided they wouldn’t make it to the end if they started from the beginning.  We had ample time to enjoy a drink (or two) in each pub and it was still sunny.

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As time wore on, day turned to evening, legs turned to jelly, tiredness set in, the miles racked up, and the pubs got busier.  It’s a strange feeling running and drinking, you don’t quite feel drunk, but you definitely don’t feel sober, everything is funny and you’re in a little happy place.

We had news that Barry had become the father of baby girl twins and we all had a toast to the newest little Chasers.   An injured Louise came to to join us on her bike and Emma decided to hop on the back, Martin moved onto the Pimms, Dez and I moved onto the prosecco and Gemma suffered a grazed knee after taking a tumble.

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Finally, we made it to The Ship in Wandsworth.  I’m not going to lie, we got some very odd looks and we were very aware that we smelt like we had been running all day…not sure it was appreciated by the folk who had got all dressed up for a night out. Soz.

For the doubters, Emma and I made it in once piece and in a sensible, coherant state.  So there.

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WHAT a day!

  • 14 hours time on feet
  • 1 x Parkrun
  • 1 x Breakfast
  • 12.8 miles of Thames Path
  • 11 Pubs
  • 1 x portion of fries
  • Several ciders
  • Several vodkas
  • A Prosecco
  • The return of the snakebite and black (not me)
  • 1 x bike (again, not me, I didn’t cheat…)
  • 1 x drunken fall and grazed knee (Gemma)
  • 19.6 miles run in total
  • 2 x new Chasers join the world (congratulations to the baby Valentine twins)
  • The realisation, for the first time in a while, that my body is stronger than I think and the Berlin Marathon is no longer an impossibility

The talented Del Huse also put together this little video of our day out – thanks Del!

Finally, when I asked Martin how he thought the day had gone his response was:

No one’s dead. So we’re all good

Thanks for a fabulous day Rutter, apart from your shorts, you did good 🙂

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From 2 Feet to 2 Wheels

Back in February I got home to find the coverted ‘Congratulations. You have been successful in gaining a ballot place in the 2017 Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100’ magazine on my doormat.  RideLondon is pretty much the London Marathon of bike rides and I’d just got myself a place…I haven’t owned a bike since I was a teenager.

So I bought me a bike.  A pretty blue bike with bright green flashes.  And I’ve named him Walter.  Walter and I haven’t known each other for long, which only gives us a short period of time to get acquainted before tackling this pretty-big-deal 100 mile ride.  Just 11 short weeks in fact.

Learning how to ride in cleats in Wimbledon Park

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RideLondon is a three day cycling festival in its’ 5th year.  It came about after we hosted the Olympic Games in 2012 and is part of London’s long term goal to create a safe, easy, and well-connected environment to get more people active through cycling.  On the 30th July, the 100 mile sportive gives participants a rare opportunity to ride on closed roads around London and Surrey, finishing on the Mall.  It’s one of those things I’ve always admired from afar but never actually thought I’d do.

I know it’s difficult to get a place, and the fact I entered the ballot without a bike annoys people, but I’ve felt the same about the London Marathon (and other events) for many years.  It’s a new challenge for me and I’m going to give it my best shot, so I refuse to be sorry.

11 weeks really isn’t very long to get used to a proper road bike, on London roads, with cleats AND get ready for the challenge in hand.  I probably should have bought a bike earlier, but I was desperately trying to build my fitness post foot surgery and throwing a new sport in the mix was all a bit too much.

Gemma taking me out for my first proper ride in Richmond Park

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Cycling doesn’t seem to be quite as easy as just chucking my trainers on and going for a run.  I have to plan ahead, I have to know where I’m going, I have to have the time to do it to get any decent miles in, and, ideally, I have to avoid as much traffic as possible.  Plus cycling for 3+ hours is exhausting so then I need a nap!

I’m lucky to have some great friends, and a great Dad, who know a lot about bikes because I literally knew NOTHING.  They helped me pick out the right bike for me and showed me the ropes (ie how to remove the front wheel when you’re panicking about getting the bike in the car, THANKS MARTIN).

But not only that, Gemma & Martin came with me to pick up Walter, which was a lifesaver because I don’t think I would have made it home on my own.  I mean, Martin did tell us 3 times we were going left at a busy junction and then proceeded to cross 3 lanes of London traffic to go right after I had been on the bike all of 2 minutes, but I survived…I forgot that Martin’s left is everyone else’s right.

A hilly ride around the Purbecks with the brother.  Ice cream stop selfie

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I’ve since been riding with Gemma, my brother, a Chasers group and even all by myself.  I’ve even got those stupid cyclist tan lines that I can’t get rid of!

Anyway, so far, so good.  A couple of near misses and a few bruises but Walter and I are progressing nicely and have made it up to 40 miles.  Whether I’ll ever be able to keep up with other people, I don’t know, I just need to figure out how to put the tiger in the Kat…so to speak.

Dad – I’m bringing my bike home for us to clean ‘together’ and do puncture repair practice soon. You’re welcome 🙂