Sunday, 29 July 2007

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Interruptions

We go off on holiday today but first we have a leisurely morning. Interruptions by Son, Daughter, Doggo and my letting agent before we finally get down to some mind blowing sex.

Once up, Son goes to Warhammer, Daughter to see the Simpsons Movie and we pack the car. Doggo looks concerned as he always does when we start packing. Wondering if he'll get the nod to come or not.

In the Tour de France, Levi Leipheimer wins the final time trial, but Alberto Contador holds on to the yellow yersey, just 23 seconds in front of Cadel Evans, with Leipheimer a further 8 seconds back.

Then we're off to our cottage for a week. After being messed around with our booking in the Lakes, we managed to get another sorted, although this one’s in Yorkshire not Cumbria. It’s very close to where we went last year. Should be good.

Back in a week.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Mere Mortal

I have a day off because I’m supposed to be helping out a dog show both today and tomorrow but the weather has claimed another victim and it is off. So I have a free day. How odd, don’t get many of them.

This means that I get a lie-in and L does too because although she’s at work she doesn’t have to take Doggo out because he’s going to be with me all day. This gives us chance to catch up on a little sex but only a little because somehow L has talked me into joining her at the gym this morning.

At the gym I do a little treadmill first which just reminds how much my thighs ache after the 5 miler and yesterdays biking. So after 10 mins I think sitting down on the bike might be better. It is but it’s dull, not at all like a real bike so after five minutes on that I go for the rowing machine. This is more like it, much more fun. I row for a kilometre and then make my re-acquaintance with the medieval leg press. It gets the better of me again and I head for the pool.

L remarks that she noticed I got into the ‘Slow’ lane and called me a coward for doing so. It looked far too competitive in the ‘Fast’ lane for mere mortal like me. Afterwards in the changing rooms the two chaps who had been hogging it, flip turning and the like, were discussing how much training they‘d do between the Vitruvian and Robin Hood triathlons that are on consecutive weekends. I kept my head down, although my ‘Top 105 T-shirt’ did get noticed but they were probably too embarrassed for me to say anything.

I get home and everything aches after my session and Doggo is nagging me to go out. So we go and do an hour on the park with his ball.

He’s knackered after that and I spend the rest of the day fetching him off the settee. Each time I chuck him off, as soon as my back is turned he’s back on. I fetch him out of the room entirely and close the door, much to his disgust.

L’s had a busy day, she says it’s so bad she’s bringing home a whole carrot cake and she’s going to sit and eat the lot. So I might have to save her from herself.

In the evening we walk to Beeston and the Victoria. Full Mash Catalyst 5.2% and Caythorpe Stout 4.2%. Doggo’s hard day with me at home seems to have left him knackered. He spends most of the night asleep under a table in the pub.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

The De-caff Runs Out

Last night I was defeated by Harry Potter, he got taken to bed by L but despite plying her with coffee and chocolate, there was no energy left in her for me. This morning though, I got my own back with a quickie. Ha. Beat that Harry.

No squash today, his back is playing up. I was obviously too much for him last week. So I get to cycle again after all. Only problem is as I get up the rain is pounding on the windows. I don’t fancy a wet walk to the bus either so looks like it might have to be the car. L and Doggo head out into the elements for their walk. Then suddenly it fines up. I slip into my lyrca and go for it. I manage to get to work without it raining on me but almost as soon as I’m changed and at my desk, tucking into my porridge, it starts to chuck it down again.

The winner of the Tour de France isn't Michael Rasmussen because he has been sensationally sacked by his team for lying about his whereabouts when he should have been taking out of competition drug tests. He said he was in Mexico when really he was in Italy. The Dane has passed as many as 17 drugs tests during this years tour but the real question is what has he been taking during altitude training to boost his body in preparation for the race.

The question now is, can Cadel Evans, who now lies second behind the new leader Alberto Contador, beat him by 1 minute 57 seconds in the final time trail on Saturday to take victory.

I have a busy day at work as it’s my last working day before my holiday. I have to deal with a particularly awkward customer. It's made even more stressful when the de-caff runs out. So now we have no coffee at all.

It rains all day but then stops at 4.30, just in time for me to cycle home but then I have to stop late to sort out a few problems. My colleagues are praying for the delay to make it rain again but it doesn’t. When I leave at 6.00 it is still fine. It does rain a little on my way home but not enough to warrant putting my waterproof on.

I again make use of my new white lines. A fan of mine and a regular reader of this blog has requested that I publish details of where these famous lines are so that fans like her can go and see them. Ok so I admit it was L who suggested it. My lines are at what is know as the Asda roundabout at Spondon near Derby. They are as you go onto the A52, Nottingham bound. Multimap here.

I get home but by now I’m too late to do my planned swim. L cooks up some pasta then we take Doggo across the park and have a few drinks at the Rodney. Its certainly more pleasant there now it's smoke free. A Wentworth 4.0% and two Directors 4.8%.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Resisting The Temptation

On the bus today but there's no gossip to report. Gobby girl, who supplies it all, seems to have lost her friend, which is perhaps hardly surprising. To compensate she seems to have bought herself an Ipod and she’s been quiet as a mouse ever since. Perhaps she can no longer hear her phone when it rings.

The bus driver was a pain though, the A52 didn't seem any worse than usual but he took it upon himself to detour down Raynesway and through Alvaston. Of course, and I've said this before, this tactic never works. Just don't do it. Consequently I was late for work.

Interesting stuff in the papers. I've always sneered at Daughters Guides sessions and it seems, apparently with good cause. According to a survey by Girlguiding UK, girls are fed up with Guides too. They want to learn about more relevant stuff than baking fairy cakes and learning how to be bitchy to each other. One of the things they were demanding was sessions on how to practice safe sex, 4th place on the list in fact. They'll probably want a badge for it too. How standards have slipped, in the old days the Boy Scouts used to show them the ropes. Now the boys are probably too busy on their playstations.

Mind you top of the list was managing money and assembling flat pack furniture came 8th. So it's not all excitement.

L emails, fresh from the gym again. She'll be such a bouncing fit bunny; I just hope she kept off the leg press today. She been in contact with Daughter by email. Daughter enquires whether L's mood is 'Bright and Beautiful' or 'Moody and Manky'. How well put, she obviously in tune with her own moods, or at least one of them.

L says she's currently in the former category but it could all deteriorate to the latter by this evening. Sounds like a job for alcohol. Hopefully she'll be somewhere in between. 'Beautiful and Moody' is such a sexy combination.

Talking of Daughter, she's been listening to the Editors, 'Smoke outside the summit or other'. Good lyrics are wasted on that girl.

I get home and yet again I am pinning a number to my shirt and heading out for an event. Where will it all end?

I have another foe to fight tonight. I'm sporting the biggest loads of bites you've ever seen, midge bites that is, not anything more pleasurable. I have a feeling they could get worse tonight. The run is down by the river on the Embankment. The midges are sure to be out to get me.

Doggo and I drive down, L is meeting us there. Doggo helps me warm up, him and his ball. Then I shut him in the car and head to the start.

No bravado tonight, I start three rows back, I mustn't let the young whippersnappers drag me towards exhaustion and a pace I can't keep up. I see the Girl With The Unnecessary Ponytail, just the one tonight. I consider using her to pace me round.

We start, it's an odd sensation without Doggo's vocal support. I resist the temptation to tag on behind two girls in very sparse outfits and pigtails. They could be almost twins. I keep to my own pace. I wave at Doggo as I pass the car; he's not looking. I think he's ignoring me. A guy dressed as though he's come straight from work, judging by the totally unsuitable trousers that he has on, goes past me. I resist the temptation. I keep to my own pace. He soon flags, he's gone off too soon and he's history. We pass the first mile marker. The Girl With The Unnecessary Ponytail goes past me, she's annoyingly always a slow starter but I resist the temptation. I keep to my own pace.

The route is on nice flat tarmac most of the way, although littered with pot holes, apart from one strange bit where rather than go round the edge of the field on the tarmac they cut across the grass. This involves running down one bank and up another. This seems an unnecessary chore to me and as I descend down the bank my car key, which I have stashed down my lycra, moves around and digs me in the balls. Ouch. I have to dig around in said lycra to rearrange things.

I get myself into a nice little group, I like the pace they are running at, so I allow them to tow me round. Only problem is every time we take a tight turn of which there are several, they all jockey for position and surge forwards. Bloody annoying but I keep to my own pace and eventually rejoin them. What do they think this is? A serious race!

At the end of lap two I have the same problem with the downhill bit and have to indulge in more rearranging. I pass the car for a second time; Doggo is still ignoring me. I think he looks a tad pissed off. No sign of L, she must be delayed at work.

A not terribly fit looking chap with shaved head and tattoos down all four limbs passes me around the three-mile point. Finally I crack, I can't resist the temptation. I tag on behind him, he's not getting away with that. Even worse there's another girl 30m in front wearing surgical stockings like Paula Radcliffe wears. Obviously she’s worried about deep vein thrombosis. I'd like to have her before the finish but I'm not sure it's feasible, well not in this life.

I pass the car for a third and final time. Still no acknowledgment from Doggo and still no L. I wonder whether it's safe to drop out now, she'd never know that I didn't complete it but I don't, I've got still got Tattoo boy to burn off. Then I see L and it's too late to hide behind a tree.

As it happens Tattoo boy burns me off, he ups the pace at about the same time as I do. Together we pass around half a dozen people on the run in but I can't pass him. Nor can I catch Paula’s friend, those stockings obviously give her an advantage. Don’t think they’d suit me though. I cross the line and someone offers me a special event t-shirt. 'Top 105 in the Notts 5', seems I wasn't last then. L will be so jealous. I collapse on the grass because some bright spark has put the drinks up on top of the banking. Do they seriously expect me to crawl up there in my state? I lie on the grass trying to smile at everyone hoping someone will take pity on me and feed me some water.

Eventually L arrives at the finish, so now I can stand up because I can lean on her. I give her a snog, hoping she won't notice I'm using her to hold me up. She's pissed off at my t-shirt but she still holds me up. She's a treasure; she must love me. Eventually I feel strong enough to hobble up the hill to get a drink. My body doesn't seem to agree that I've taken it easy.

Results are soon up. 57th in 32.08. I bump into a former work colleague. He's immediately jealous of my t-shirt. Obviously not in the top 105 then. He tells me his time was 35 minutes, practically walking pace.

Go home and somehow manage to stay AF. L cooks up corned beef hash.

In the Tour de France, Rasmussen wins the final mountain stage and his lead is now big enough to ensure him victory even if he rides badly in Saturday's time trail.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

And I Though I Was Very Gentle With Her

Cycled in today. Unfortunately the fact that I've foolhardily entered another run tomorrow and a dog show on Friday mean this will be my only bike this week. It was a very pleasant one though. It was even nice weather.

L reports that the dog didn't delay her with his socialising this morning and she even describes him as being 'quite a poppet' How odd, she never usually describe the dog as being a poppet.

Seems though, that her injury has flared up again, she had to skip the gym. She blames my 'medieval leg press'. Oh dear and I though I was very gentle with her last night. A little mild stretching should have done it some good. She's lucky I'm no longer the young man I was when she met me, all those years ago. She wouldn't have got off so lightly then. She points out to me later that I've got the wrong end of the stick and she's referring to the 'medieval leg press' in John Carroll gym. Ah, my fault after all.

I bike home and I'm surprised to see that my white lines have been painted already. They’re not at all how I would have done them but they’re better than nothing.

I'm heading to the pool for a swim and I get a text from L to say she's at the pool herself. I put my head down and power along but I just miss her. We must have almost crossed in the changing rooms.

My first thought when I get in the pool is to rescue the big fat woman who has fallen in fully clothed. Then I realise that the flapping around she is doing is actually some kind of swim stroke rather than her actually drowning. Why is she clothed? Who knows? Probably too embarrassed to get undressed but if someone had tried to swim in cut-off jeans I bet they’d have been hauled out.

Do some good lengths although my lane gets very crowded, I consider moving up to the 'serious' lane but notice that a female psycho in an all black swimsuit with matching swim hat has moved in there. Something I've learnt in my short swimming career is to not mess with anyone in all black. This seems like a good time in get out.

Once in the safety of the changing rooms I notice that the guy next to me is getting changed out of his grey drongo shorts and putting on a brightly coloured pair instead but on top of his boxer shorts, which he doesn't take off and then goes swimming. People get odder and odder.

Get home and I cut the grass with Doggo; it's a really good way of exercising him. The house gym bunnies, L and Daughter are out having a gym and sauna session. I cook keema and peas in readiness for their return.

It's all action on the rest day in the Tour de France as pre-race favourite Alexandre Vinokourov tests positive for blood doping after winning Saturday's time-trial stage in Albi. The two types of red blood cells in Vinokourov's sample indicate he had had a blood transfusion before Saturday's stage. Vinokourov says simply because he has an enormous amount of blood in his thighs. Hmmm. The entire Astana team have now withdrawn from the race.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Harry Or Me?

I took the car in today so I left quiet late. Doggo and L were back from their walk before I left. They'd bumped into a dog called Titch and their owner. Apparently Doggo wasn't particularly sociable, not that he ever is, although apparently Titch worships him.

L managed to leave early now it's the school holidays. Which confused Doggo immensely when she left before I did. He didn't know whether to eat his breakfast or not. He was eating as I was getting reading to go. I had to leave him to it, life’s too short, so he may have stopped once I’d left.

The Leeds United saga rumbles on, there's still no decision on them being allowed to compete next season. They might have to do what Lancaster City did. Lancaster went bust last season and lost all their players. So they went round all the local parks and head hunted the best of the local talent and got them to play for a can of coke and a hot dog. It kept them in existence, although they did finish bottom. Unfortunately the football league then decided to relegate them two divisions rather than one, which seemed a bit unfair.

In the evening it's our last dog class before a summer break and it went well, so a good one to finish on. We collect Daughter and L from the gym on our way back, although it's made difficult because the A52 is completely closed overnight for road works.

L cooks pasta and I catch up on the cycling. Then I offer her the choice of Harry or me. It's a split decision. Harry Potter gets priority and gets half an hour first, which is about as long as I get. Not that I'm not jealous of Harry.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

So Here I Am Again

So here I am again. That is the thought that goes through my head as I stand at the start of the Hathersage Triathlon. My earlier trepidation had been tempered by the fact that I'd seen people in transition having a picnic and a game of cards between disciplines. One girl dropped her lunch as she wheeled her bike out for the bike leg. So it clearly wasn't all psychos. Phew. Relief.

As I stand waiting for my start time, a 54-year-old woman, who is jabbering away to me, reassures me further. She may be an open-water swimmer but she's the only person I've heard of who got lost during the swim. Apparently a marshal in a canoe had to unceremoniously tap her on the head with his paddle to turn her around.

A fit looking girl next to her bemoans her last Triathlon when she overdid it on the bike course and therefore hit the wall on the run, only registering 55 minutes for the 10k. The 54-year-old nearly chokes at that, saying that's a time she can only dream about. Must keep my eye on the other lass, she could be trouble.

I get distracted by a couple of nice swimsuits and suddenly realise that there is no longer anyone in front of me in the queue. I ask the marshal what start number we're upto. He looks at the number written on my arm and tell me I've got loads of time; it's three minutes until I start but I best make my way to the start. Three minutes, isn't loads of time in my vocabulary.

The starter is equally laid back. As he starts 188, two places and only one minute before me, he still hasn't called me to my lane. When he does he says I've got 18 seconds. Don't tell me, loads of time. I jump in and the thought of the disappearing into the deep end (as at Mansfield) enters my mind but this time it is definitely the shallow end.

Then we're off, or rather I'm off, because you start in ones here. After two lengths, I overtake someone but then they immediately get out. So it's a hollow victory but has shades of practice at John Carroll, where it's satisfying to see the opposition exit the pool when I get in.

Swim goes ok; I keep my pace steady and don’t get out of breath. My stroke is ok but my turns are rubbish. Then the unthinkable happens. Someone overtakes me. At least I think it was person, it was travelling so quickly I didn't get a good look. I'll let him off and not put him on my list but only because I doubt I could ever live with that sort of pace. Just hope his chain comes off his bike. Suppose I should be thankful that at least it wasn't a girl. I try and up the pace, the speed he's swimming at, there's still time for him to lap me. I'm not letting that happen, I'll use my elbows if I have to.

I complete the swim with being humiliated by being overtaken again. Done. So to the bike.

I really enjoy the bike. Having already ridden it I know what is coming and I pace myself just right. I go for it over the first bit before the big hills start. Then on the main hill I overtake six people including a few on the dreaded mountain bikes. Hurrah. Only one guy comes past me and I'm pleased to say that wasn't on the hill. Then it's all downhill from there, literally. The only problem with the bike course is that the traffic is heavy and holds me up occasionally, particularly in Hathersage itself. Mind you I still manage to contravene the rules and break the 30mph speed limit coming into the village. Despite that someone is catching me up but I daren't go any faster or I'll end up through one of the shop windows. The pedestrian crossing changes just as I come to it, I think I sneak through on amber but hopefully it'll stop my pursuant. If not he ought to be disqualified.

When I arrive at transition it is not obvious, particularly at the speed I'm travelling where to stop. There is a line on the road, which I don’t see but there is no sign. There is a 'Police Stop' sign but I'm not sure whether this is anything to do with the event or not. Eventually several marshals yelling at me convinces me to dismount.

Once in transition, the marshals get their own back by directing me to the wrong bike rack. Nice of them to direct me but the right one would have been nice.

I wave at L, Doggo and my father who all offer support. I think I might even have smiled. How odd, I must be dehydrated.

So now on to the bit I was dreading. The run. It actually starts very pleasantly. Flat and a nice jog along the river. I enjoy the view, hum a little tune, and think how much L would have enjoyed the route.

Then after about a mile and a half it got grim. It went seriously up hill, some bits were so steep I could barely walk up them let alone run them. I pass a girl scrabbling up on her hands and knees, I resist telling her how nice it is to see a girl on all fours but the look on her face puts me off. She looks like she was hoping someone would chuck her a rope and pull her up from the top. No chance, she's not attractive enough for charity and in any case I can barely scale the blessed hill myself.

I pass a couple more people and then after so much uphill, a marshal tells me it's all downhill from here. Yeah right, I've heard that one before. In fact I've used the same phrase myself when watching or marshalling. Totally untrue of course. Except in this case he's right, in a death defying sort of way and I plummet downhill back to that nice river that I jogged along earlier.

Once on the flat I up the pace to almost a sprint. I overtake one chap who is going through all the gates while I totter, quickly, past him using the cattle grids. I catch another chap at the next cattle grid and he holds opens the gate for me. I thank him but wonder why he did it, what it is to not be competitively natured. I honestly have to say that I haven't added anyone to my hit list yet. They've all been so thoroughly nice. Had it been me with that fast swimmer behind me, I would have shut the gate on him.

Then that's it, I come to the finish. Bizarrely the clock says 3 hours 6 minutes. That can't be right. It's not. Who knows what it's supposed to mean.

The organisers get everyone to applaud the last one home. L tells me it's a girl with a big chest. She's even taken a photo of her in a bikini for me. Bless her. We all stand to applaud her but she's not my type and her chest isn't that impressive. So instead, I take L (and my father) to a local pub for a quick pint instead. Then we head home. I'm even in time to watch the cycling live.

After that, a delayed quick bath and a warm down between L's legs. Then we dump Doggo and head into town. The Burton Ale at Cast is on the turn so we move on. The Brains SA Gold is dull at the Borlase and the food doesn't look interesting, so we move on again. We enter dangerous territory and go to Scruffys. We eat there, we have pate to start and then I have lamb shank while L has pasta. Washed down, of course, with a couple of the obligatory dark Leffes.

42 Units - not my fault, I blame work for Tuesday night.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

You Always Remember The First Time

I'm supposed to be in Grantham for 8.30 to reccie my first course at the dog show there but I'm not due to run the course until around 11.30. So rather than hang around in the rain for three hours, I opt for lie-in instead. I'll just turn up late and wing-and-a-prayer it.

So after a lie-in, and the vitally important sex, Doggo and I trawl over to Grantham. Only to get there and find it's been cancelled. Waterlogged pitch. Apparently it was cancelled late last night. Damn, should have checked on internet before I left. My parents, now hardened dog show groupies, turn up too. Spot of rain doesn't put them off. We have a coffee in the car then we drive back home.

As Doggo has now missed out on his exercise, I take him on the park in the rain. We have plans that don't include him tonight.

Then I get the bonus of being able to watch the Tour de France mountain stage live.

L serves up a carbo-loading Weigh Watchers curry for tea. I have the Hathersage event tomorrow. She makes the curry mild; I don't want to spend all my pre-race prep time in the little boy's room.

In the evening we head of to Rock City to see Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Daughter joins us, she is now allowed in because she is fourteen. I'm not sure if this is a momentous moment for L or not, being there when her Daughter loses her concert virginity at Rock City. Of course she been to concerts before but this is a real venue complete with all the weirdo's you'll ever wish to meet and many that you didn't. However one of the most striking things tonight about the place is the lack of smoke. I never thought they'd get the smoking ban to stick in places like this but there are no dissenters tonight.

Black Rebel are a no-frills three-piece rock band, and a bit of an acquired taste. As Daughter isn't really familiar with their music, I wouldn't say this was a good choice for her first time but then again do we ever get to really choose our first time? It is though a typical Rock City gig. Take the support band for instance - The Black Angels. Also from the US they claim to be inspired by The Velvet Underground which I can see but to me they remind me of some of the darker bands of the 1980's Goth era. They're quite good in a dark and brooding sort of way, jolly they're certainly not. There slogan is 'The Black Angels are marching forward into battle for your souls'. Quite.

Black Rebel themselves are late taking the stage which means it could be a short show, as Saturday is a club night and they're supposed to be off stage for 10.15.

Rock experience wise, it starts well, Robert Turner is in the crowd before the first song 'Took Out A Loan' is even half way through. When he isn't strutting around the stage or jumping into the crowd he often puts his hood up, like a sulky teenager. Before he goes down on his knees with his guitar and tries to stoke up the feedback, with seemingly little success. I think the sound engineer won that particular battle. Little did I know at the time but the gig nearly didn’t happen. Last nights show in Bristol was cancelled because Turner had a throat infection. So I suppose he deserves extra credit for the tracks he took vocals on.



A lot of the set is taken from their new album 'Baby 81', although the band regularly dip back into their earlier albums and even pull songs from their country detour 'Howl'.

As they mix their old and new, it occurs to me that they are even a bit like Daughter, or perhaps like any woman, in that they have a penchant for dramatic mood swings. E.g. here's a song to jump around to (e.g. 'What Ever Happened'), here's a folk song to make you cry (anything from 'Howl'), here's a moody one to have sex to (e.g. the long brooding 'American X').



Towards the end most of the band go off stage leaving lead guitarist and singer Peter Hayes on his own. With his guitar and his harmonica he delivers a couple more songs from 'Howl'. The rest of the band return to play two requests. The crowd shout, predictably, for 'Spread Your Love' and 'Six Barrel Shotgun'. Although not necessarily my choices, they go down well, particularly with the crowd surfers who seem to have turned up late. My favourite 'Stop' goes unplayed.



They play one more, 'All You Do Is Talk' from the current album. Then they are gone, although I think they would have happily played on if there hadn't been the club night induced curfew.

A good performance, although not as good as when I've seen them before. I thought it was all a bit disjointed, perhaps trying to hard to knit their differing material together.

As for Daughter, I think she enjoyed it. It was certainly an experience and you do always remember the first time.

Friday, 20 July 2007

The 3am Habit

After both of us falling asleep last night I wake up in the middle of the night, face to face with L. A peck on the lips turns into a passionate snog. Either she's awake or she having a great dream. It seems a shame to waste the opportunity, so I don't. 3am sex is becoming a bit of a habit, but a very nice one.

I get sarcasm from Daughter when I wake her as I leave, so she’s back to normal. I take the bus to work. The bus is back to being late rather than early, which I can handle. So normality restored there too.

Must have been a good squash game last night. My opponent emails to say he aches all over, has a sore back and legs, and even a mild hangover from his one pint of beer. Sounds like a good evenings work.

Tonight's plan is that L wants to gym at Harvey Haddon. I can then walk up to meet her there and then together with Doggo; we can meander through the houses to the Fox and Crown. However it looks like the rain might put pay to our plans.

L is now at home and says that the dog's tongue is sticking out about a foot but he’s just faking it. He's just trying to get out of going out in the rain; he's even refusing to go out the back door for a wee.

L's got soaked yet again as she walked home but I'll be ok on the bus because I’ve got full cover waterproofs with me, I’d seen the forecast.

The upshot of L getting drenched is that she says she's got nothing dry to wear tonight. Bonus. I can’t wait to get home.

Daughter is at a sleepover, which includes queuing at midnight for the new Harry Potter book, so with no one else in the house, Son doesn't count, L and I end up in bed, where I'm defeated 2-1.

Talking of Harry Potter, L will be reading it too, the minute Daughter has finished with it. She is worried how she is going to get through the next week without the ending being blabbed to her. Apparently Childline are putting on extra staff over the weekend because of the death of a main character. The worlds gone mad but who are all the adults going to ring? I heard that it was worse than that and at least half a dozen characters meet their untimely death. That news has probably increased L's alcohol consumption tonight.

Personally I don't know what all the fuss is about, surely it'll all turn out to be a dream, or backwards.

The weather fines up a touch and we walk to Fox and Crown after all.
Three and a half pints of Brush.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Coffee Crises

L seems to think I'm very relaxed about leaving for work this morning but I think she's just confused knackered for relaxed. Drive in.

Still no coffee. I've no idea whose job it is to replace these things and nobody else seems to either. This must be what it's like all the time in the NHS.

L's work has a much darker crisis than our kettle and coffee problems. They have no water at all. I did hear on the radio that the whole of the NG1 area was suffering from lack of water pressure. Well that seems to have been putting it mildly. How can the wheels of the UK economy function without coffee?

L and Doggo aren't speaking, again. All because he growled at a baby Jack Russell that's a particular favourite of hers. She did pick it up, so what does she expect, I would have growled at her if I'd seen her go all goo-goo over a baby Jack Russell.

We go to the Flowerpot for lunch. Due to the smoking ban we have difficulty getting served. The entire bar staff were in the garden having a fag. I get a warning from L that if I've had cottage pie, chips and beer then she will go out and get herself a piece of cake. Hmmm I tell her I haven't but she won't believe that I've had a salad sandwich, on brown bread naturally, and a glass of mineral water. She thinks it's just a trick to stop her having cake. I think in the interests of her own well-being, that it’s better that she doesn’t know what I had but, for the record, it was very nice cottage pie and the Sharpe's Doom Bar Bitter from the Rock Inn in Cornwall wasn't bad either.

L gets a call from the Water Board warning them that the water may be going off shortly. So they're on the ball, another company who hasn't got a clue what planet it's on.

I get home and take Doggo for a quick ball session on the park. After which he looks a total wreck but still manages to drag himself out on another walk with L.

After all the trouble I've had with bloody Amazon, they've gone and sent one of my CD's out individually wrapped ‘at no extra charge to give you the speediest service possible’. Speediest service possible! They're taking the piss, why couldn't they have done that when I ordered the blessed thing a month ago. L reckons I need a good game of squash to let off some steam.

Squash doesn't help. Bit of a first though and I win the second game. I often win the first but not usually the second game and I come from behind to do so, another first. Don't win any others though. At least I look a lot better than my opponent does afterwards.

I have a choice of two beers, Springhead Liberty 3.8% or Church End Goats Milk 3.8%. I go for the Liberty, not wanting to order something called Goats Milk. The Liberty is very pale and nothing special. So I try the Goats Milk after all, much the same, but the better of the two.

I manage to stay awake through two lots of Tour de France highlights. I was a day behind due to the Maidstone trip.

Bad news. The cottage we had booked for our holiday from next weekend is no longer available to us. So I'm going to have to try and find another one at very short notice. At least we have been given quite a sizeable compensation figure from the cottage company.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Keeping My Mind On The Job

7.10am. L texts to say she’s already up and out on the park for a roll. Blimey she’s on the ball. She’d have had plenty of time to have climbed on top of me before they hit the park, had I been there of course but I’m not. I’m all alone in my huge bed. Oops I’m not supposed to be thinking about the S word. She's already told me to enjoy my meeting but to keep my mind off sex. She’s referring to the fact that everyone supposedly thinks about sex during meetings.

She asks if she can reserve a slot for tonight. Of course. What a silly question, L knows full well I'd never turn down a request like that. Sounds like she might have missed me. I’m certainly gagging for her. She reminds me to keep my mind on my job.

Amazingly I have no hangover and fully enjoy my full English breakfast, unhealthy though it is.

As it turns out, keep my mind on the meeting isn't easy. We do a tour of the company looking into their whole business process and almost every task is staffed by young girls. Well you do just have to wonder whether each one would be a goer or a prude, dominant or submissive, a quiet one or a screamer etc. Can't wait to get home to L.

Shares in Microsoft will fall when we get our system in here as everything is currently done with Excel spreadsheets. Hundreds of them. All in all, a useful day and I even managed occasionally to keep my mind on the meeting. Wonder if the receptionist...

Arrive back and after a kick around with Doggo, I go for a swim. I take Doggo with me of course. It's a bit warm for him in the car but I find a nice bit of shade for him. There's the usual crowd in the pool. Psycho Girl No. 1 doing her quick bursts of two lengths front crawl. Psycho Girl No. 2 doing length after length perfect breaststroke, far quicker than me. Psycho Male just simply doing everything better and faster than me. In the middle of this is the Iceberg (good to have her back...) obstructing her lane and a chap tootling up and down in mine.

After that its dog class which goes ok but Doggo is just so slow tonight. Perhaps I overdid the kick around.

Then when I get home I'm faced with that big dilemma that all households must be familiar with at this time of year. The big question - Tour De France or sex?

It's 10.30 and I look at L, will she still be awake in an hours time after the highlights or is it best to strike now whilst the iron's hot, so to speak. In the end we have a glass or two of white wine and watch the highlights. Then we go to bed. She must have missed me because she seems to have no qualms about breaking her watershed.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Stella And The Big Empty Bed

I cycle in to work; despite the fact that I've got to go down to Maidstone tonight. Luckily I'm not driving. L is out power walking with Doggo and she says she's feeling less of a slug this morning. Which sounds promising.

Still no coffee at work, we are surviving by using three times the amount of de-caff. Which means the de-caff will soon run out too.

This week is Cycle Hero week and there's an article about it on the BBC's website. The article isn't exactly pro-cycling. A London van driver describes cyclists as "my worst nightmare", "You never know what they're going to do", "They're unpredictable, especially at the lights", "Some of them think they own the roads - roads that we motorists pay for through our road tax."

Hmmm. It's a bit rich for any motorist, let alone a van driver to accuse cyclists of not obeying the laws of the road. How many drivers jump red lights, don't indicate, sit in the cycle box etc etc. As for arguing that it's car drivers who pay for the roads. Errr yes but 99.9% of cyclists are car owners too and therefore pay the same amount of road tax. Not that road tax gets spent on roads in any case.

The start times and all the other details for Hathersage are up on their website but it's all a bit confusing. It's about as straightforward as a Leeds United takeover bid.

Everyone starts individually at 30-second intervals, which is a different. My start time is 9.05 and only four people start after me. Which is very worrying. I'll be doing a lot of chasing down. Luckily the starts don’t appear to be in time order because last years winners start in the middle somewhere. It appears they've put a lot of the oldies, like me, at the end. Perhaps they’ve put all the psychos out first, when the traffic is at its lightest. Well, at least they haven’t changed the bike course, it's still the same as the route I practiced on. Also there are TWO separate transition areas, so I've got to make sure I leave the right stuff at each one.

Tour de France news. Patrick Sinkewitz had to pull out of the race after being involved in a crash with a spectator while riding back to his hotel. Bad luck or what! You survive two mountain stages and then collide with a spectator on the way to your hotel. Not so good for the spectator, he has been hospitalised.

Then during today's stage Marcus Burghardt ran into a dog that crossed the road just as the peloton was passing. The dog was probably chasing one of the riders, thinking it was its owner... It was a golden retriever apparently, so it wouldn’t have got any sympathy from Doggo. Dog and rider were both fine but not the bike, the front wheel collapsed. L says the cyclist should have been looking where he was going, they think they own the roads. She sounds so like a van driver.

Black clouds are gathering over work, so it looks like the conditions will be excellent for cycling home. Not. No sign of the hail that was forecast, yet, I'm sure it'll turn up later.

In the end it doesn't rain on me at all and I have a good bike home. I even feel relatively fit and find the hills quite easy. Which is a good job really considering what is ahead of me on Sunday. L and Daughter are not so lucky and they get soaked on their way to the gym, again.

After a quick kick around with Doggo, I drive to the M1 junction to meet my lift down to Maidstone. We are going down tonight in order to be in good shape for a meeting first thing tomorrow. The traffic is amazingly light and we are soon skipping through the road works at Luton, which I didn't think was possible. Another first is I have a decent motorway coffee or is it just that I've overdosed on de-caff. The fresh coffee counter was closed so we had to have one from a machine instead, which turned out to be much nicer and a lot cheaper.

We get to Maidstone in an impressive two and quarter hours. Mind you when your lift drives most of the way at 110mph it's bound to be quick. I had my eyes closed most of the time.

I get a room with a huge bed. What fun we could have had, had my girl been here with me. There would even have been enough room for Doggo to kip on it and not get in the way. We go down to the bar to meet up with another colleague.

I have a pint of Stella because it's the most drinkable thing they have. So at least I'm almost AF. Everything is labelled ‘extra cold’ even the Boddingtons. Ugh. That is except the Castlemaine XXXX which is labelled ‘Xtra Cold’. I’m happy to spend a few hours in the bar because I'm hoping to stay up until 12.20 to catch the late Tour de France highlights. That is if they’ve got ITV4 on the TV’s in the rooms.

At 10pm I get a text from L, saying that Doggo and she are tucked up in bed. Bugger she’s having an early night without me. Sob. Apparently even Doggo is exhausted, don’t know how, I only kicked his ball about twice before I left. He was supposed to be distraught that his master wasn't be there tonight but it doesn't sound like that is the case. I hope L is missing me more than he is.

I have a second Stella, although it isn’t very pleasant and smells foul. The stuff in the bottles is much nicer. It’s still only just past 11pm. As I'm hoping to pad the evening out to midnight, I agree to a third. It's all on expenses after all. The barmaid is getting ready to go home and has her coat on but she still serves us.

After that one has been downed we have a fourth, the night porter is now serving us because everyone else went home long ago. I realise that it’s now past 12.20, so I've missed the highlights.

After a Brandy it’s almost 1.30. So much for being in good shape for the meeting tomorrow. Unable to find the porter we help ourselves to the roasted nuts machine. My colleague even gets himself a top up of Stella.

Stagger off to my big empty bed.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Another Disaster At Work

A good drive in, traffic ok.

I arrive at work to the usual selection of spam emails. Including nine greeting postcards from family members, classmates, school friends, neighbours etc etc. I've never been so popular.

L tells me that she is about to commit a cardinal sin and buy a basket for her bike. That may look rather cool at next years Erewash Tri, almost as good as a child seat. It will totally ruin the streamlining of the bike but this isn't something L will worry too much about, if at all. She could even sit Doggo in it. He’ll absolutely love that. Not that he would be able to sit still for long.

Another disaster at work. It's almost as bad as the kettle packing up last week, we've ran out of coffee. I try the de-caff, it's not pleasant.

I go to the dentist straight from work and worryingly they are waiting for me and I get straight in. Luckily they aren't so short of business that they have to manufacture any work on me and I escape with all my teeth intact.

Dog class. We are rubbish but I think this time it's me rather than Doggo. I'm just not with it tonight. L and Daughter go off to the gym and get soaked on the way. I pick up them up on the way back.

Home to sausage and cheese rolls and sex.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

I'm Just A Mere Muggle.

I get up early and drive down to Rugby for a dog show. All our three courses are set up from the moment we arrive and we have finished competing by 10.50. Although bizarrely our first course becomes our last as the judge decides, 40 dogs in, that the courses is dangerous. He changes it and restarts the class, wasting an hour of the day. Yes it was tricky if you brought your dog over the wrong side of the jump before the A-Frame but the solution was to bring the dog over the correct side or if you're not clever enough to do that, take the time to straight the dog up before you send it up the A-Frame. Just my opinion. It wasn't supposed to be a course for beginners.

Funnily enough, that A Frame causes us our only disaster of the day but it's because Doggo fails to stop on the other side of it and therefore misses the next jump, rather than anything to do with the trickiness of the ascent of it.

Other than that we have clears in the other two courses and a rosette for 11th. The problem with finishing before 11am was we had to wait three hours for the presentation but we were still home for 3pm.

L tells me that she's done a fitness check that was in the newspaper. I think it involves climbing on and off a step for several hours. She says she’s in the excellent range. So she's fitter than she thought, personally I’ve always thought she was pretty ‘fit’ or else I wouldn't have spent the last x years shagging her now would I. Talking of which, as Daughter isn't back from her father's yet, the best use of the afternoon is to take L to bed, which I do.

The Tour de France doesn't tape, which really annoys me. I was looking forward to watching two and a half hours of the mountain stage 'as live', now I'll have to make do with the highlights.

L goes to collect Daughter while I feast on the cottage pie she has been organised enough to cook.

Then when Daughter gets back the three of us go off to see Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix. Son wanted to come but his hectic schedule meant that he was fully booked all weekend and couldn't fit us in until Wednesday.

I don't feel qualified to review Harry Potter. Having not read any of the books, I found it all very confusing and got very lost at times, even though I have seen all the other films. This wasn't helped by dozing off occasionally. Not really the fault of the film, I'd had a hard day. Still enjoyed it though. I asked L whether it was backwards but she said it wasn't. Visually it was as impressive as ever and the acting from Daniel Radcliffe seems to be getting better, just don't ask me about the plot. I'm just a mere Muggle.



(I've always liked fiery women)

Get home and finally catch up on the Tour de France. I'm knackered but we still manage to fit in a sexual nightcap.

30 Units for the week.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

So It Appears He Did Have It In Him After All

We have a fairly relaxed lie-in with double sex. Then I drive over to Newark to visit a letting agent about a property I am hopefully buying over there. L accompanies me, although she's very sceptical about the whole affair. I show her the house which, I think, at least reassures her I'm not buying anywhere that's better than what we have. We then trip over to the Derby runner shop to look at trainers but come away with nothing. Looks like another victory for Wiggle.

I spend the afternoon watching the first mountain stage of this year's Tour de France and then take myself off for a 10K run without Doggo. I do a good loop round the park but then end up doing laps around the estate until my watch shows that I've been out for around 45 minutes, approximate 10k time. Not very scientific. I don't think I ever got near to race pace so it was probably nearer 8K than 10K.

L goes to the gym at the Tennis Centre. Then later, Doggo and I walk across the park to meet her, although, I'm late thanks to a wine order I've been placing at Virgin Wines. Their website is so crap it takes far longer than it should have done.

We walk to the Victoria. I have a pint of Wentworth 4.1% and then three pints of Broadside 4.8%, which is on particularly good form. L too is on the Broadside but she finishes with a Leffe. Yep, I know she'll be on her back.

One of L's friends finds us in the pub. We haven't seen her for ages. She's fairly recently divorced and supposedly a devout Christian so we are particularly stunned to see that she is very very pregnant. Luckily I think we had finished our discussion on drunken rape by the time they turned up.

I was just wondering whom the father was, when a long-term 'friend' of hers appears. Blimey, so it appears he did have it in him after all or should that be she's had it in her. They tell us that they got married a few weeks ago. Yes... but... she is a lot more than a few weeks pregnant. I'm dying to ask whether she's been to church looking like that, I'd have loved to have seen the reaction. The church has had people burned at the stake for less.

Friday, 13 July 2007

What Do I Follow It With?

A couple of odd things happen this morning. First, I get praise from Daughter. She seemed genuinely pleased when I woke her up. Normally this is offence punishable by death, although an essential one if she is to catch the bus to school. What dangerous lives we lead.

Near death experience over, I have to run for the bus. Not because I'm late but because the bus is early. Which brings me to odd happening number two, the driver waits for me. She doesn’t drive off laughing or try and run me over; she does however give me a right telling off. On what grounds I'm not quite sure. I consider pointing out that she is a good five minutes early but decide not to waste my breath. At least I get into Derby early and have a leisurely walk to work.

Next weekend is Hathersage Tri. This is the biggy that I've been building up to. Problem is, what do I follow it with? October is Duathlon season but I ought to do something before then. I find two triathlons during August; hilly ones in the deepest peak district but it will be difficult to fit them in around our holiday plans. I suppose I could just quit while I'm ahead and take up golf. Hmmm, perhaps not.

Triathlons apart, I had kind of planned to do another 10k, just don't tell L. Then just to mess up my plans, work arrange a night out on the same night. It's a free meal, so I'm loathed to turn it down but as L points out, when I confess to her that I'm considering another 10k, doing the run and then staggering into the Victoria, sounds a much better option. She's right and it's not as if they're considering anywhere exciting. They have asked for suggestions of other restaurants, but to be honest I can’t think of anywhere I want to go to in Derby. The 10k/pub combo sounds much more fun. Although perhaps fun is the wrong word.

Tour De France news. Vinokourov has had stitches in his leg and elbow and Kloeden has fractured his tailbone but being hardened psychos both have started today's stage. L says that Kloeden's injury (his coccyx) is a difficult one to treat. The pain takes about 18 months to 2 years to settle. Sounds like the chance of him getting up the mountains this weekend is perhaps remote. Of course he could have an injection to numb the pain but that would be classed as cheating. As if anyone in cycling would take drugs and cheat. What an absurd suggestion.

Looking on the internet, Britain's Bradley Wiggins seems to be taking today's stage as one long time trail. He's built up a lead in excess of 16 minutes. There's just a small matter of over 100 kilometres to go.

L leaves work early to walk the dog, that is if she can drag him out in the rain. Then L and Daughter get the bus over and we all head off to the Flowerpot for food. I have a pint of Thornbridge bitter, which is good. Not as evil as the Jaipur or the Russian Stout but very nice. Then Daughter goes over to her fathers on the bus and we go to the beer festival.

L's a bit off beer festivals after we perhaps had a few too many at the Ilkeston one. She says she plans on skulking in a corner and limiting herself to four crap beers. Daughter tests her resolve for a low alcohol night by getting off the bus too early and L has to guide her by mobile phone to her Fathers.

The beer festival isn't bad but we have no beers that are really special. I think we limit it to seven halves. Although some of them are thirds. Some beer festivals will now serve the beer in thirds which is good for trying more.

We leave in plenty of time to catch the Red Arrow, knowing it'll leave early, which is does but at least we catch it this time.

Bacon sandwiches at home.

Bradley had a real go but he didn't quite manage it. Caught with 5km to go.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Urban Legend?

L says I looked pretty bad this morning; I can always rely on her for compliments. It is true that I'm a bit knackered but I'll soon perk up. It was a busy night but it's a case of fitting the training in when you get chance. The same goes for the early nights. I've got squash tonight, so I might need L to give me a good rub down afterwards if I’m not going to be even stiffer in the morning.

I take the bus and I was a bit worried which driver I would get because I'd only got a £20 note but he was oddly nice. He said that was more than enough and gave me a tenner and a fiver in change, no loose change, how odd. Have they been training the staff?

I've reviewed my results at Erewash and have just realised that an old foe of mine, Mr Beach Shorts, beat me again. Again I out swam him but he out biked and ran me. L thinks I take too much time looking at people's ponytails, outfits, and numbers. Don't know if she means that that slows me down or whether she thinks I'm just too preoccupied with other people's results.

A while ago, I complained to Derby City Council that there were no road markings at the Asda roundabout when approached from the Derby side. This makes it difficult for cyclists because cars roar past you on both sides going on to the A52. If the road was marked then it should be obvious where I’m going and that the cars should pass me on my left. This was back in November, so they’ve not actually rushed and I have had to nag them, but today they finally reply. Saying, that the relevant investigations have now been carried out and it has been agreed to provide carriageway markings. They even attach a copy of the proposed road markings for my approval. Blimey. Didn’t expect a result like that.

L says I'm becoming a bit of an urban legend. Hmmm. Spurred on by that I may just contact Erewash Council about the state of the road through Sandiacre.

I get the bus home and then take Doggo for a quickie on the park. Then it's squash. I'm very rusty after three weeks off and I lose the first three games, although I should really have won the first one. Opponent is by now totally knackered, three weeks off hasn't done him much good either. I win the fourth but he rallies to win the last two.

Two beers in the pub. First Full Mash Séance, I can't remember which of the many Full Mash beers I like, turns out this wasn't one of them. Second, a Holdens ale. It's slightly better but almost as dull. They're both pale beers. Even my opponent has beer. His first is also pale. So he has a pint of mixed next, so a least he gets a dark one.

Get home and L bless her, has does a spam curry. Excellent.

Go to bed with a glass of white wine. My libido says a quickie would go down nicely. My legs say not on your life. Libido wins but it's hard work. They do says that all the best things take a bit of effort.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Everything Is Well In The World Again

Wake up and scowl at Doggo, who didn't give me the 3am alarm call that I requested. It still tempting to jump L but as much as I wanted to, another task demanded my attention. Namely cycling to work and a spot of hill training.

I take the Ilkeston Route, which is the hilly way. It's not anything like Hathersage but it'll have to do. It just had to rain on me though, didn’t it. L doesn't believe me but it definitely rained. It may have only been drizzle but it was heavy drizzle.

Daughter has still not recovered from the battering that was Ponds Forge last night. L says she looked worse than the dog this morning and was half-asleep in front of the TV, although that may have had something to do with the tedium that is Big Brother.

At work, everything is well in the world again. We have a new kettle.

L's in optimistic mood, she's been to the gym and done a 10 minute run. She's now planning her assault on the Windermere Marathon.

Gripping stuff at Leeds United. Apparently a decision on who will be the new owners is imminent. Four bids on the table, so it looks like they got my bid. Just hope they don't rumble the fact that I’m not a South American dictator with loads of other people's money to squander.

The hours pass and the decision is still imminent. I check the online dictionary for the definition of imminent. Yep, that's what I though it meant. Bet they all went down the pub at lunchtime, sunk a few pints and forgot all about it, not realising that’s there’s about half a dozen people out here waiting for a decision. They'll be embarrassed when they get home and the wife asks them how the day went and they get the feeling they have forgotten to do something.

Eventually a decision, the new owner of Leeds United is... the same as the old one. What an anticlimax.

Bike home, hilly route again and go straight to the pool for a quick paddle. Goes ok, legs not bad but there's an old chap in pool who puts me to shame. He must be in his sixties, my sort of age, and he's doing the most perfect flip turns. I really must learn how to do them.

Get home and the next part of the schedule is to cut the lawn, which after all the rain we've had is about six foot high, and exercise doggo at the same time.

Then it's steak and more Tour de France. Thor Hushovd wins the stage despite having a trapped nerve in his back. L says she has patients who claim they can't get up the stairs with such an injury, let alone ride 200+ km on a bike and win.

L says it's now or never for sex, which I think was a romantic offer, so I escort her, and a couple of glasses of red wine, to the bedroom. She soon downs her wine, so I let her get started without me, while I chill out with my wine. Then she has the good grace to go on top.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Comedy Shorts

3am and I'm in the middle of quite a pleasurable dream, when suddenly Doggo starts digging the bedroom carpet and wakes me up. I am particularly annoyed because in my dream I appear to have parked my bike in a lay-by in order to receive some very welcome TLC from a female supporter, who had lashed her collie to a nearby tree, so that she could come to my aid.

I console myself by rubbing myself up against L. As I don't get told to 'go to sleep' I push my luck a little and it pays off. So, I can’t complain, it all turned out rather well in the end. Perhaps she was having the same dream.

I take the bus into work. The journey was good, even though a police car had parked half in and half out of the road works simply because someone had broken down in the middle of them. The person had managed to get their car through the cones and was therefore not blocking the road, so the policeman obviously thought he’d do the blocking for them.

L reports that the young up and coming tri-athlete has obviously asked the girlie in pink for a second date because they were out running again. The girlie was putting her hair up as she was running. As you do. He wasn't wearing a tri t-shirt, probably too embarrassed to wear his Erewash ‘novice’ one.

L's tells me all this as she is tucking into Grasmere Gingerbread while I’m snacking on grapes. Suppose I should feel virtuous rather than hard done by.

The kettle packs up a work, so I don't even get an afternoon hot drink to go with my grapes.

After work we drive up to Sheffield for a swim in the International Competition Pool at Ponds Forge. Even Daughter comes with us, and Doggo of course. It's a full-length 50m pool. Nottingham doesn't have one despite the fact they keep saying they're going to build one. Their swimming etiquette says that customers must be able to swim 100m unaided, without stopping. Sounds like a challenge.

When we eventually find it, the signposting isn't great, we get lost both outside and again inside the complex. Doggo as usual gets to guard the car but it's not a great experience for him as it's an indoor one. Nothing to look at but concrete walls.

The swimming clubs have taken over five of the eight lanes; we mortals have the other three. The fast lane is a definite psycho only lane. I try it but soon downgrade myself to the medium lane. Even here it's at times dog eat dog, a woman kicks me in the face, twice, and she's not even in my lane. People should at least be able to keep their limbs within the lane they're supposed to be swimming in. That should be in the etiquette.



L points out to me a girl in one of the swimming clubs who is wearing comedy shorts. L tells me that these are called drag pants, which is a new one on me. She says that they're a training aid; it's supposed to make swimming harder on the legs. Sounds like a bit of a wheeze to me. That's probably what the boys in the club told the girl, they've really just weighed her down because she's a faster swimmer than they are. A clever tactic. Now if only I can figure out a way of getting all my female opponents in my triathlons to wear them, I'd have the perfect strategy.

The whole experience is too much for Daughter, she's creased and when we get home, she collapses on her bed without any tea. Shame the pool isn’t nearer, if we could take her there twice a week, we'd soon get her fit.

I cook up a chilli and catch up on the Tour de France. After the big crash yesterday Tomas Vaitkus pulls out having broken his thumb in five places. Ouch. Can you imagine? Does a thumb even have five places to break? Fred Rodriguez was luckier, he had expected to pull out with a broken collarbone, but he'd forgotten that it had been surgically replaced with a titanium plate after an earlier accident, meaning that, technically, he no longer had a collarbone to break. Just slipped his mind obviously. Mark Cavendish stays upright and comes in ninth.

Monday, 9 July 2007

A Day Of Results

It's a day of results today. Firstly, the results for the Colwick Park run show that, as expected, I wasn't quite on top form. In fact I was 47th, in a time of 32:12. So quite a dip in performance but still not bad. My pace was still quicker than the Wollaton run, if only just.

Overall across the four races I came 30th in Men's or 35th overall. If it wasn't for me taking it easy in the 10K, I would have been quite a bit higher. Or the alternative view is, if I'd taken it easy in the other three events, then I might have enjoyed it more.

I keep checking the Erewash website for the results of the triathlon until it dawns on me that it's a council website so I could be waiting some time. So I google for the company who did the timing and come up trumps. I find their website and there are the results. I am confirmed as 15th. L says that makes me an elite athlete. Not convinced. I beat a lot of people on shopper bikes with kids seats on the back but as they say you can only beat the competition that is put in front of you. So still pleased.

L says she's exhausted, she reckons she feels like the dog looks. She can’t possible feel like the dog looks; even I don’t feel THAT bad and I'm the one who did the triathlon yesterday. Doggo does look knackered though, he'll probably start limping to get out of his agility training tonight.

Derby sign Andy Todd, a 'tough' defender, who’s good for a few red cards and the odd punch up in training. That apart, not only is he British but he was even born in Derby. He is of course the son of Derby legend, Colin Todd.

The most exciting saga in football at the moment and it's doubtful that anything will top it all season, even when they start playing, is the situation at Leeds United. It's totally enthralling, far more interesting than the football itself. I’m hooked.

Despite Ken Bates upping his offer to creditors to 8p in the pound, which is eight times what he originally offered, the Inland Revenue still intend to take him to court to recover the £7.7M that they are owed. So the Administrators are putting the corpse, sorry I mean the club, back up for sale, bids have to be in by 5pm tonight.

They must be hoping that there's some dictator somewhere who fancies a punt at the Third Division. The FA won't mind how unsavoury they are, they seem quite happy for that exiled former Thai Prime Minister with the appalling human rights record to take over at Manchester City. They could even put the frighteners on the Revenue.

The players are back in training this week, would be interesting to see who turns up at Leeds, it's rumoured they only have twelve players left.



Finally my parcel arrives from Amazon containing the OMD CD's. I spend all afternoon going retro.

Doggo doesn't reinvent his lip, so I take him to training. It goes quite well.

Huge pile up 2km from the end of the Tour De France today and Mark Cavendish is involved again. It's not going well for the poor lad.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Trying To Look Like Tim Don

Luckily after the madness of yesterday my start time for today's Erewash Triathlon isn't at the crack of dawn. In fact it's a leisurely 10:12, which means I even get time for a semi-decent breakfast. My start time is over two hours into the event, which appears to mean that they've confused me with the 'elite'.

When we arrive I can see why my start time is so late. There are loads of people on shopper bikes; one chap even still has a child seat attached to his. A woman comes into transition and abandons her bike on the end of the racking because she can't find her slot and she doesn't appear to get penalised. This is clearly not top-notch competition.

Once in the pool and waiting for my start, I notice one chap doing his sixteen lengths backstroke. Surreal.

Some of the slightly more serious competitors are debating which is the best way out of the pool, as the pool is 'L' shaped and therefore one way round is a lot longer than the other but the short route means you have to pass through all the swimmers waiting to start. Also why is no one rushing out of the swimming pool? Then a marshal blows a whistle at a competitor who breaks into a trot and shouts 'No running in the pool'. Ah. Welcome to council run triathlons.

I haven't had the benefit of seeing a start list so I'm not sure who I'm up against. I line up next to a guy from Mansfield tri club, who looks like he might be useful. Regrettably the girl in the striking patchwork two-piece swimsuit isn't in my start group or my lane but I'm looking forward to running past the babe in the long skirt that we can all see through the one-way glass. She looks a goer. Just a shame she's brought her collie with her.

As is common with my swims at the moment, now that I'm getting better at them, I make a real hash of it by trying to swim too fast. Although that's partly down to the fact that I have to immediately overtake someone. I feel that it's an awful swim, my breathing is all over the place, and I have to keep stopping to take great gulps of air. Then a quick guy gets in my lane and overtakes me, which upsets my rhythm even more. Then the girl, who is my lane counter, sticks four fingers up at me. This confuses me, until I realise she means four to go. The next time she blows a whistle at me, which means two to go.

I make it to the end of my sixteen lengths and get out. I opt to go the long way round to get out of the pool but quickly find there is no path and have to totter along the pool wall.

The babe in the skirt with the collie seems impressed, she shouts out 7.45. Which is either, the time she wants to meet me for a drink tonight or I've done quite a good time for my swim, despite nearly drowning.

I run down to transition which isn't easy as it's a very gritty path that is hard on the feet. I've decided to save time in transition by doing the bike without gloves but I waste time because I can't get my shirt on. Once on the bike I have to stop at the first roundabout to turn right and then again when a car blocks the road as it overtakes a parked car. After that the bike goes well, although three people overtake me. I chase and catch one of these psychos and then overtake him on the hill to Borrowash but he soon passes me again. I realise that I've forgotten my bike computer but thankfully I know the course well and they've even put mile markers on it which is good. I pass hundreds of people out for a Sunday morning ride on their shopper bikes and can't believe that they're all actually in the race but they certainly appear to be. Two kids on mountain bikes, who definitely aren't in the race, even overtake some of them, because they are travelling so slowly.

At the final roundabout I cut the traffic up a little and hope that the policewoman and the marshal haven’t noticed. I rack my bike but then can't get my running shoes on. The chap next to me takes even longer, which doesn't help. He's supposed to be racing me. I keep my shades on for the run. I've no idea why I do this. Was it because it was quite sunny or perhaps I simply forgot to take them off. Perhaps it was a tactical master stroke and saved me vital seconds in transition or maybe it's because I'm trying to look like Tim Don. The babe with the collie again shouts something at me but I don't catch what she says. It may have been another split time or perhaps she's calling tonight's date off, perhaps she doesn't like the Tim Don look. I try and throw my drink at her but she's standing in the wrong place. So I throw it at a bush and miss. It lands in muddy puddle instead; well at least no one will pinch it from there.

The run is really really horrible. Well the first lap is; my legs do not want to comply with my request for them to run. Even so I pass loads of people. People are running in the opposite direction to me, so from that I deduce that it must be an out and back course but after running for a couple of miles without reaching a turnaround point it can't be. I'm terribly confused. Then we start a second lap. I had hoped to dump my shades at the end of the lap, the Tim Don look isn't working, but for some reason the end of the first lap is at the other end of the field, where no spectators are.

The good news is my legs are starting to feel better and I even enjoy the second lap a little. When I complete it, I'm told to bear off to the right towards the finish. I can see the line and I start sprinting for it but then they turn us off to the right, away from it. After half a mile or so I stop sprinting. It's a very long run-in to finish. We end up coming back in the opposite direction to those just starting the run. Ah, now I understand.

Finally, the line. I collapse at the feet of the babe with the collie. It's a great spot because I can see right up her skirt from there. As I'm laying there enjoying the view, my Dad rings on her mobile to say he's waiting for me in Breaston to pass him on my bike. Hmmm, think he's underestimated my bike time.



Provisional results place me 17th which is impressive, then I'm moved up to 16th. I might even be 15th because the time of the guy who is down as first isn't valid as he actually dropped out of the race.

I opt to pay £5 for a massage from a chap called Eric. He's very good and does a good job of repairing the damage I've just done to my calves. After he's done my calves he asks if there's anywhere else I would like massaged. It's a shame he's not girl. Just the thighs please Eric.

Get home and I watch first the 'proper' stage of the Tour. I'm hoping for a Brit to make a name for himself but I expected it to be Britain's hot new sprinter Mark Cavendish. I didn't expect it to be David Millar. He goes off on a lone break and then gets joined by five others. He goes over the first small climb to take the lead in the KOTM. When the whole break is caught apart from one chap, Miller sprints from the pack on the last climb of the day to take second on the hill. Which secures him the polka dot jersey.

Mark Cavendish has a rotten day; he crashed at a very inopportune moment when he clipped a spectator. He got up and got going but his bike was damaged, which ruled out any chance of a stage win. Apparently while he was on the ground a spectator pinched his white Oakley glasses for a souvenir. Hopefully his time will come another day this week.

Robbie McEwan also has a fall but McEwan's team amazingly get him back to the field with about 5k to go and he gets to the front of the field to win the stage.

Daughter is out shopping again, how bizarre. So I take the babe in the skirt, and her collie, to bed. Where I get her to massage the bits that Eric missed. Eric obviously did a good job, as I have no problem thanking her for her support this morning.

Then we head off to the pub. Her collie seems insistent that he comes too. We walk down to Cast which confuses him. I have three of the excellent Burton Ale; she has three Leffes which should be enough to put her on her back. Tonight I'm too tired to take advantage.

Home to slag curry.

29 units for the week.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

London Is So Classy

We get up later than I intended and it's my fault because I am tempted by the female alongside me. It's probably because I'd missed my warm down last night, not that I'd done any cycling to warrant one. We then have to rush Doggo over to his minders for the day (my parents) and then L, Daughter and I head off down to London.

I'm going down to the watch the start of the Tour De France, that this year starts in London (don't ask, these things happen). L and Daughter are tagging along primarily to shop, which is a concept I don't quite understand. Why would anyone go to London for shops when we have shops in Nottingham, but then again why would anyone shop at all when we have the internet?

The journey through the road works at Luton is horrible and this makes us even later. What makes it worse is that we can see no reason for the hold up, as three lanes are open. I know they are adding a fourth lane and have been doing so for a few years but it was never this bad with three lanes before, so it appears now that adding a fourth won't make a lot of difference. Also, is the trade off of longer holds up now, and these road works have been going on for years, worth the benefit that will come later. I think not. Another total waste of money.

We survive the M1 and then ground to a halt on the M25. Having lost the will to battle any longer we bail off the motorway at Watford and try and find a tube station. When we eventually do, and manage to park, we find that the station is closed, as indeed is the whole line, for maintenance. So we have to get back in the car and drive even further into London to find one that is open.

I eventually make it to Central London for 2.30, 30 minutes before the start of the race. I watch Ken Livingtone start the race and then go off to find a good place to watch. There are apparently one million people lining the streets and it feels like it. It seems to go well for the riders but it's a nightmare for spectators, there are bottlenecks everywhere and finding a good place to watch is nigh on impossible. Luckily there are giant screens everywhere. Amazingly with so many people there I see someone I know. I even eventually get a good spot to see the last forty or so riders, the top seeds, do by. Australian, Stuart O'Grady appears to clip a barrier and comes to a rather ungraceful stop not far from the finish.

Andreas Kloeden sets a storming time and then George Hincapie gets close to it. All the British riders get huge support but David Millar is disappointing and comes in 11th. Bradley Wiggins does better but can still only clock the third fastest time.



That is until the favourite Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara goes round the course an amazing 13 seconds ahead of Kloeden to push Wiggins down to fourth. Geraint Thomas comes in 45th, Mark Cavendish 69th and climber Charlie Wegelius 91st.

It's now 6.30 and I've kind of forgotten to have lunch, not that there's been anywhere that wasn't a burger van with a two mile queue. With the crowds dispersing I manage to get hold of a fruit salad and a bag of chops from a stall outside Buckingham Palace.



Not the best race preparation but it could have been worse. I eventually manage to find L and Daughter, who are sitting on road works outside Harvey Nicholls. London is so classy.

We try and head for home but Knightsbridge tube station is shut because it's full and South Kensington is just plain shut. Eventually we find one that is open and, once we get moving, the journey home is a lot better than the one on the way down. Even so it's 10.45 before we get to collect Doggo, who seems to have had an exhausting day entertaining my parents. L cooks up some good carbo-loading slag when we get home.

It was very ambitious of London to try and stage Live Earth, the Wimbledon Finals, and the Tour de France all on the one day. Amazingly it seems to have pulled it off, despite the travel chaos. So that must bode well for the Olympics particularly if they decide to open a few more tube stations whilst it's on.

Friday, 6 July 2007

My Legs Are Not My Own

Wake up with a feeling, that is becoming a worryingly common occurrence, that my legs are not my own. I think whoever's left calf it is, has been twisted and whoever's right thigh it is has been strained. I decide a hobble to the bus may do me good.

Things go quite well until I come to get off the bus. I’d had my legs crossed and couldn’t uncross them, then after I had done so, I found it difficult walking again.

Once at work, I type my rough time in to my results spreadsheet, which tells me my time wasn’t that bad after all. Better than Wollaton but slower than Rushcliffe, so no need to slit my wrists, at least not just yet.

I get a concerned email from L and when I don't see it because I'm in a meeting, a concerned text follows it. She's checking that I've made it as far as work and am not still crawling towards Pride Park or perhaps just lying collapsed in a heap somewhere. I confirm that I am indeed, still alive, just.

My squash opponent and part-time motivational coach asks how my 'jog' went and tells of how he battled through his 3k in a time of 17:41. That sounds a bit pedestrian to me, particularly as I'm sure the weather was better on his treadmill than it was in Colwick Park and I tell him so. I think that upset him, he’s sulking now.

L's been out spotting new recruits for my hit-list. She saw a young chap running down the road wearing, what she suspected was, a tri event shirt. He had in tow a totally inadequately dressed female, in all in pink and white. L helped them break into the park by shimmying through the school fence, which was accompanied by the squeals of "ooooh how exciting" from the girl. Seems she may not have ran before because she didn't get very far. Obviously a first date. Young love eh?

That girl best watch her step, before she knows it he’ll have her doing bloody triathlons. It’s a slippery slope. Trust me, I know.

L says I'll be marking her card this time next year. Never mind her, I'm worried about him, he could be doing Erewash. Sounds like I might need to keep my eye on him. Sunday's event is on, despite all the rain we've had. There might just be more swimming involved that simply 16 lengths of the pool.

Derby sign another player. Claude Davis from Sheffield United. £3M. He plays for Jamaica, so presumably he's British.

At long last Son's monitor has arrived.

Get home and we have L's sausage and beans speciality before we go out. We also attack the carrot cake. L can't believe that she let it slip through her fingers last night and she only had two halves, practically AF. I nearly started on it myself but thought it impolite to pig out on it without her help.

Daughter is at a school variety show, so we do the good parent thing and agree to walk her home. This means we have the hardship of waiting for her in the Rodney which is just down the road. I have a pint of Directors and a pint of Landlord. Unlike the other week, the Landlord is better. We also share a bottle of Chilean Merlot, which is decidedly rough at the edges.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

At Least I'm Alive

City Link left us a card on Tuesday because we were all out when they tried to deliver Son's new computer monitor to us. The card said they would reattempt delivery the next day. Which of course they didn't. When I ring up, no apology was offered. Apparently they had no intention of reattempting delivery and we were supposed to come and collect it. Ok but how are we supposed to know that. They agree to reattempt delivery tomorrow.

The results are up for Tuesday. I'm confirmed as 33rd in a time of 25.11. Which is about 6 minute 20 seconds pace for a mile. Not bad. I was 29th in the Men’s, so only four women beat me. 143 of them were behind me, so that's not a bad ratio. I'm gradually chipping them all off. Ten in front of me in the first race, five in the second, now only four and two of them were within sight but they bloody long legged stick insect type women and they were just too damn quick.

My squash opponent is again miffed because there's no game this week due to my little jaunt. I invite him along but he says he's busy with his own training, 3k on his treadmill and in any case he's washing his Squash Racket tonight. He does offer to pace me for the last 400m, although I’ve seen his 400m sprint, it's not terribly impressive. So I decline. In any case I wouldn't want to detract a finely tuned athlete such as him from his own training schedule.

L's is much more helpful. She been having a fraught day at work and says she's off out to buy a whole carrot cake at lunchtime to go with the Leffe she has planned for later. She says she'll be standing at the finish topless with a Leffe in one hand and carrot cake in the other. That would certainly get a sprint finish out of me.

We drive to the Flowerpot for lunch but the kitchen is still not open, the chef is still on holiday. That's three weeks now. Must have cost them a lot of trade. So it's the Dolphin again. Mince beef hot pot with mash. I thought this might be the healthy option but the sliced potato on top of the hot pot turned out to be deep fried chips. How novel. How unhealthy. Not good race prep. If I vomit tonight it’s got nothing to do with the run. I have a pint of 3.9% ale to wash the taste away. Good race prep.

L's a treasure. She emails to say she's got the carrot cake, a huge one, and Cycling Weekly for me, but I don't get cake if I vomit up my lunch. She'll have to feed me something to boost my post-race energy levels or else I won’t be able to do my aerobics later.

Drive home and then onto Colwick Park, where it's absolutely pissing it down. I'm not looking forward to this one at all. Lunch is making me feel like throwing up even before I start which doesn't bode well for carrot cake later.

L says she can't cope with Doggo's 'enthusiasm' and threatens to stash him in the car boot for the entire duration, with the parcel shelf on. I don't think Tuesday's false starts helped. As she was attached to a wound-up collie at the time, it probably wasn't amusing. I think she almost lost an arm.

I venture out into the rain but keep my coat on. I give Doggo a run before he is incarcerated. I try and do a warm up with him but he's as skittish as usual. He ends up back in the car while I start.

Off we go and it's not the rain that's the problem, so much as the conditions on the ground. Very muddy and some huge puddles. It's difficult to tell what's path and what's lake. I start next to Ponytail Girl but soon get ahead of her. Despite trying to hold back at the start, I am once again up near the front. I had decided to just jog round at the back or my equivalent of it. Which L reckons means somewhere in the top 20. I don't think I'm up to that sort of performance tonight.

I try and back off a touch and Butch goes past me. I tag on to her and she drags me round the first lap. Two guys in yellow go past me. One of them, the guy who shook my hand on Tuesday, says a hello as he passes. So we're best chums now are we? The other chap is the guy who usually paces Ponytail Girl. Can’t see her, so it looks likes she's been dumped again.

As I run past L at the conclusion of the first lap she is stood there with Doggo, who isn't confined to the car after all. She loves him really.

I feel better than I expected but I still wouldn't describe it as good. I start to lose touch with Butch. I hear some heavy breathing behind me, which is definitely feminine in nature. It would be sexy if the location was different. I daren't look behind me to see who it is but I suspect that I won't be able to hold my current pace and they will inevitably overtake me.

Again at around three and half miles, I feel that I'm going to chuck but this time I've got further to survive. It passes but my pace slows and suddenly the heavy breather, the Girl With The Unnecessary Ponytail, is past me. I'd obviously had her at the start but now she's well and truly had me. I try and tag on to her, and she has the nerve to give me a dirty look over her shoulder for following her. Excuse me; you're the one who's been heavy breathing down my neck for the last two miles. I'm certainly not dropping back just because she thinks I'm a pervert.

From being in a group of around six, I am suddenly alone as they all disappear up the road. GWTUP, who is actually sporting twin pigtails tonight (equally unnecessary), even has time to stop and stretch her calm muscles, to get rid of some cramp. I still don't get past her. I'm sure it wasn't really cramp; she's just trying to wind me up.

I'm sure that having no one to pace me slows me down further but even so it's a while before anyone else catches me from behind. When they go past me, I manage to get them to tow me round for a bit.

Then with around half a mile to go my legs really won't cooperate and I lose more places. Then I see a flash of yellow and I know before it happens that it's going to be Ponytail Girl. It is and she eyeballs me as she comes past. Oooh getting competitive are we dear; you need to chill out a bit, like me. Then she's gone. L will be pleased she's not running in her knickers tonight, looks like she's got shorts on. Probably still in the wash from Tuesdays mud bath.

Then, thank god, I see the line; it's nearly over but there's still time for the young whippersnapper in his premier league drongo shorts to overtake me. I look around for my topless girl but regrettably she's still got her coat on. Damn the rain. It would have been nice to have just tumbled on top of her when I collapsed across the line. Her chest would have been a great place to come around. It seems she's also forgotten the Leffe and the carrot cake.

I cross the line in 32 minutes something. Which is ok in the circumstances but nothing to shout about. At least I'm alive.

I get changed out of my wet clothes in the car and then L drives me up to the Racecourse where they're handing out the t-shirts. I'm the only one who appears to be having such trouble walking. Just think how quick some of them could run if they flogged themselves to death like I have.

Get home, quick hot bath and then we stagger off to the pub. L staggering because she's attached to a dog who can't walk in a straight line, I'm staggering because it's all I'm capable of.

One Supreme 5.2%, one Legend 4.0%.

Stagger home. Cheese. Bed. Still alive.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Playing The 'Poor Old Me' Card

Legs not too bad. So I cycle in to work. The only difficult bit is hobbling over the A52 bridge, that bit always kills me. No hassle from the white vans and the school runners today. Also no rain. My time is appalling but I’ll get over it. L reckons slow is good occasionally. I'm not sure where she got a silly idea like that from.

A rant about Amazon. I've received two deliveries from elsewhere since I placed an order with them. Some cycling socks came next day from the excellent Wiggle with no delivery charge. Also a CD I ordered from Play.com came in two days, again no charge. But still no CDs from Amazon that I ordered a week ago. I realise my mistake, I selected 'Dispatch in minimum number of parcels'. If this means one parcel then why don't they say so. I would have thought their system would have had the sense to split the delivery up as the order can be split into two batches and still qualify for free delivery but no. Estimated dispatch date is 24th July, nearly three weeks away. When I ordered the stuff, a week ago, it said everything would be in stock within 7-10 days, which it's still saying now. So why 24th. They should be almost in by now. So I’ve split the order into two myself. Now everything on one order is in stock, yet it says a dispatch date that is still three days away. Why is that, when the stuffs in stock? Wiggle would have it out the door by lunchtime.

Other CD delivery companies such as Play.com and CD-Wow don't have delivery charges at all and dispatch all CD's separately so that they fit through your letterbox. I have learnt my lesson well, as the Kaiser Chiefs would say.

When I come to bike home the weather is still fine but that doesn't last long, in fact only as far as Chaddesden. I end up sheltering in a bus shelter. A hoodie with a pierced eyebrow on a mountain bike joins me. Contrary to stereotype he doesn't mug me and we get chatting. Don't know if he sees me as a fellow cyclist or not because I don't really count him as one but I shouldn't be discriminating. Anyhow he's a nice chap and he wishes me a pleasant evening as he gives up on waiting for the weather to improve and disappears into the deluge.

Eventually the rain slows and I carry on but within minutes the rain is back. I stop at another bus shelter and put my waterproof on. It doesn't help a lot and I'm soon soaked. I think of crying off my planned swim but tell myself to not be such a wimp. I arrive at John Carroll, park my bike, and squelch into the centre.

The swim goes well, although as usual after a bike ride it takes me a while to get my legs working. Just one chap in my lane and we are happy poddling up and down until a girl gets in and starts swimming very impressive underwater breaststroke. I don't have the legs to try and be menacing today, so I'm the one who gets intimidated out of the pool.

In the changing rooms an overweight guy is on his mobile arranging his lift home. 'Just got out the pool' he tells them. A few minutes later when he's dressed he rings again. 'Be five minutes, just putting my shoes on'. Then as he leaves he's at it again. 'Just coming out the changing rooms'. How did we cope before mobile phones?

I get home and cook chilli with added salami. It was going cheap in the shop because it's passed its sell-by date so obviously it's ideal for a spicy dish.

Well L gets back we hit the alcohol. Bottle of Bateman's Dark Lord, 5%, and then two glasses of white, yes white, wine.

L's been extolling the virtues of dark chocolate to me today. Which reminds us that we forgot to have any when we went to bed last night. L says it was my fault for playing the 'poor old me' card so that I could get her to bed early. I was only thinking of my health. An aerobic workout is another thing that's supposed to be good for your heart. Seems that three of the best things for you are dark chocolate, red wine and 'aerobics'. My favourite night in and the bonus is that they can all be indulged in without leaving the bedroom. If only they could add slag curry to the list, life would be perfect.

Incidentally the 'poor old me' card worked again.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

The Girl With The Unnecessary Ponytail

Have time for a quickie this morning as I'm in the car again. I'm managing to leave later and later, and still be well early for work. Where is all the traffic in the mornings because it all reappears at night. Also for some odd reason today, it's not raining, how strange.

L's at the gym again but for some reason the man in the trilby isn't. Perhaps he's dealt with all the girlies at John Carroll and has now moved on elsewhere.

Over lunch I nipped (in the gridlocked Derby sort of sense) into town to get a haircut and hopefully in the process gain those few vital extra seconds in tonight's training run (aka race). While I'm in town, I see the most fantastic accident. The traffic was moving fairly quickly for Derby e.g. 5mph but even so there was no need for this chap to try and drive his car straight through some poor unsuspecting person in front of him in the queue. Huge smash. The chap jumped out of the car and the first thing you noticed is his drongos shorts. Aha that explains it, although suppose I shouldn't generalise. He's also clutching his mobile phone in his hand which is suspicious.

Get back to work and sit watching the rain come down, so I suspect it could be a wet race tonight. I'm glad I’m not spectating. It'll do our smelly dog good though; he badly needs the shower.

Drive home and then to Rushcliffe Country Park for the 'race'. As we park the car, Doggo is shaking with excitement and any hope of getting him to not pull on the lead is lost. I try and take him for an off the lead warm-up but he's terribly skittish, continually wondering where L is. I think maybe he suspects that we've thrown him a decoy and L's going to strip off her coat and jeans and run the race rather than me. I put him back on the lead and he almost has me on my back as he pulls me across the muddy field. I thankfully hand him back to L who has the unenviable task of dragging him back across the field to try and find a bench to lash him to.

I do another more successful warm-up without the hindrance of man's best friend while at the same time trying to surreptitiously spot my objective for the evening. This of course being Ponytail Girl. I catch sight of her and then try and keep her in view without looking too obvious. When we line up on the start, I stand just behind her but then she spots someone she knows, a chap in matching yellow kit, and moves across to the other side of the start, or perhaps I just intimidated her.

With her gone I notice that there are now two four-foot tall lasses, who both look about twelve, in front of me. Either they're going to be very quick or they'll get trampled to death because no one will see them.

The starter blows his air horn to gain everyone's attention and about a dozen people start running. False start number one. When they've all reassembled at the start, he tells us we'll have to run fast to beat the black clouds that are gathering overhead. Well get on with it then. Then he explains that he'll say 3-2-1 go and blow his horn. Another group of people start running. False start number two. Eventually we get to the real start and off we go, although I didn't hear the horn this time but no one calls us back.

The pace at the start seems very slow and I'm tempted to leg it to the front to enjoy a brief moment of glory but think better of it. I would pay for such extravagance later. I look across for Ponytail Girl but can't see her; she must be behind me. All I've got to do is make sure that is where she stays there for the duration. Although this isn't how I planned it, she was supposed to pace me round.

The first bit is on grass but then most of the rest of the course is on what were once gravel paths, that is before the recent rains turned them into rivers. When I did my run on the treadmill on Sunday and lost the will to live after 3km, I was longing for a muddy field to run round to liven things up. Now I'm not so sure.

I decide that trying to avoid all the puddles is futile and start to plough through the smallest ones while still trying to avoid the deeper ones, so that hopefully my socks stay dry. I occasionally divert onto the grass verges to avoid a puddle but wonder whether this is really worth it as it disrupts my pace. However when I do finally step in a deep puddle, I regret it. Socks now wet; my feet feel heavy.

I await the first distance marker with 'interest'. So far the 10K has been marked in miles but the 5K in kilometres. Don't know what they'll mark this one in. Then we past the first one, it's the one mile marker, so it's miles today then. Then soon after we pass the three-mile marker, I hate it when they do that. Presumably that's for the second lap then.

I run shoulder to shoulder with a guy in a Redhill vest. That is until a rather heavy breathing bloke, who I think is going to expire at any moment muscles their way between us. It's another runner in a Redhill vest and horror of horrors it’s a girl, albeit a very butch looking one. No tumble drying problem with this one. The chap proceeds to pace Butch round the course.

Then another girl comes up my inside on the grass, it's one of those rather fit looking Formula One types. This is getting more depressing by the minute but at least, looking on the bright side, it's not Ponytail Girl. This one has attempted to have a ponytail too but she hasn't got the hair for it, it's one of those silly unnecessary ones that a lot of chaps used to think it was cool to have in the eighties. Nice lycra though. It's just a shame that I can't tail her because she's moving too quickly. I try and keep her in view, with the hope of perhaps having her later, if I have enough energy left.

I pass L and try a surreptitious wave, so as to not alert Doggo, which isn't easy. She looks frazzled; he must be giving her a good time. The course is two laps but we seem to keep doing loops all over the place. It feels like that party game where they blindfold you and then spin you round several times. I've no longer any idea of where I am or where the finish is.

I pass L again on my second lap and she shouts out my position but I'm not sure what she said. It was something 1st. I don't believe she'd sit and count up to 101st, so it must have been 21st, 31st, or 41st because I'm certainly not 1st.

Finally hit the 'previewed' three-mile point and I tell my legs to up the pace but they ignore me. With about half a mile to go I feel like I'm about to vomit, I desperately try and suppress it. It would be terribly uncool to chuck up now and it would ruin my time. Some chap, or perhaps it's a girl, is breathing heavily down my neck. I wish he/she would go away and leave me to die in peace. Where's the finish? Have they moved it?

Eventually after another confusing loop round some trees, I see the line. The heavy breather drops back or perhaps he/she has stopped for a quick vomit but then something in yellow appears from nowhere and sprints past me just as I'm inches from the sanctuary of the finish line. Thankfully it's not Ponytail Girl but a chap from the same club. He has the cheek to turn around and commiserate with me. If he was that fussed about it, he would have let me beat him. I would love to stay and chat to him but I still feel like I'm going to vomit and I head off into the long grass just in case. A good precaution, I'm a little sick but it's not too bad. A more pressing concern is finding my way back to L. I know she's on a bench with Doggo but I couldn't possibly hazard a guess to which one and in any case my legs are refusing to move me in anything other than an embarrassing shuffle.

I have a brief look round for the girl with the unnecessary ponytail but there's no sign of her, she's probably in her car half way home by now. Perhaps I should formula Thursdays strategy around her, although I'm not sure I would live to tell the tale of that one.

Eventually I find L and she drives me home. I have a hot bath while L cooks up Chicken Slag Jalfrezi, which was at my request. It's very welcome.

L tempts me to bed with an offer of coffee and dark chocolate. I wonder if a warm-down is part of the offer too. In the end we forget about the chocolate. L's not fit enough to go on top and I'm too knackered but we get by.