Wednesday 22 May 2024

Will I be past it?

I watched a youtube video about burnout. Link. And it got me thinking. I'm a couple of years away from being sixty. A lot of what I see and read, or maybe take more notice of is about what happens as you age. A decline that starts in your thirties increases in pace. I got concerned that the fitness and strength I had achieved would disappear. Instead of decreasing exercise, I increased it. I thought my lack of motivation was caused by boredom; so I cut a little from my cycling and started running. But that just gave me another way to increase the load. I started running around three miles daily, then increased it to six. 

I tried to compensate by eating and sleeping more; both good strategies. Less so was more coffee. It was hard to stop, but eventually I had to. I now have days when I just go for walks instead of a ride or run. I wait for my motivation to return as a sign that normal training can resume. I do hate to use that word training though.

What am I training for? I'm not an athlete. I had the half marathon that I completed last weekend. And now I've signed up for the Brighton marathon in April next year. I'll have to be careful not to use this as another excuse to overdo it.

Should I use "keeping fit", or "maintaining good health"? Maybe that will reduce how I view all that I do; help me to sometimes switch off a little.

I've had "milestone" birthdays, but they never really bothered me. I saw them as just another day; nothing special. But sixty does seem to be building in importance. I guess I don't feel old as I expected to, but I'm aware of a decline more than in the past.

If I'm going to stay fit and healthy I'll need to adjust my outlook, otherwise I risk doing harm. I don't want to have to stop completely, it's a mental health issue as much as a physical one.

This could mean that I'm starting to wonder what that next decade will be like in a way I haven't before.

Monday 13 May 2024

Not so grim up north

transpennine way

I stayed with my brother in Warrington, and what a glorious weekend it was.

Great to catch up with him and Fraya, his daughter. The weather was brillaint and we got out on the bikes.

I borrowed his mountain bike, and he rode a brompton. This did slow us down and cause him some breathlessness but he still enjoyed the ride. The Transpennine Trail is a disused railway line so it was fairly flat, but the surface was very changable. It goes coast-to-coast between Southport and Hornsea and is 215 miles (346km) long.
A north-south route connecting Leeds and Chesterfield, a spur to York and a spur to Kirkburton means there are approximately 370 miles (595km) of Trans Pennine Trail available. We have plans to make a multi-day trip of it to explore more than we did this time.

We completed a meandering path covering nearly 30 miles. Steve did well on a bike not built for this terrain. Why didn't I take my bike? I still don't trust the rail companies; I will have to at some point. 

It took a short time from his house to join the trail. And then it was largely car free for the rest of the day.

The views were inpressive and I can image they improve as you get further into the Pennines.

We rode alongside the Mersey and crossed many canals.
Manchester Ship canal
Manchester Ship canal

 We were headed to Lymm for lunch, stopping at the Golden Fleece.
my steed for the day

The rocks were soft sand stone I think. It seemed someone had started a tradition of scratching your name onto them. We didn't partake in this vanalism.

Lymm dam
Lymm dam

Golden Fleece Lymm canal view
Canal view; Golden Fleece to the right, the other side of the wall.


The return journey extened past where we had joined in the morning and took us over a bridge across the Mersey.

bridge across the Mersey
bridge across the Mersey

An overview of the route.

It's well worth exploring this area, and next year we'll hopefully be able to do just that.

Friday 26 April 2024

Kew Gardens


Palm House kew gardens

Last weekend I visited Kew Gardens with my sister. It was a very cold day, the wind especially.

But it didn't spoil the day, it just meant we didn't stop moving. There are plenty of benches we could have sat on and admired the view. A packed lunch and warmer weather would have allowed us to cover more ground because we wouldn't have felt the need for a warming drink.

We started at Victoria Gate; just a short walk from Kew Gardens tube station. Meeting at London Bridge and then crossing the river to Embankment station to get onto the District line seemed the most hassle free way to get there. It was the same day as the London Marathon, but everyone was going to Greenwich so it didn't affect us. On the way home everywhere was a little busier than a normal Sunday, but again no problems.

My first comment is about the cost. For two adults at the weekend or Bank Holidays it's £49. Which I think is a lot. 

The Japanese Pagoda is another £4.50, and that's not good value.

Japanese Pagoda

I expected red wood, not ordinary brick.

Japanese Pagoda

The guides were dressed up, I'm guessing it was appropriate to the period when it was built. But I don't think it added anything to the experience. The views were good from the top.

Japanese Pagoda view

The spiral staircase could be a tough ask for the unfit, and at busier times be very congested. I'd save your money though and not bother.

Nearby is the Japanese area.

A nice place to sit I thought, but you aren't allowed to walk on the gravel.

There is a treetop walkway. Another toughish climb, but there is a lift. And it's well worth it.

treetop walkway view

treetop walkway view

I tried to smile in a relaxed manor; not sure I pulled it off though.


If it gets a bit too chilly, then the greenhouses are a good place to go. Even the unheated ones are out of the wind.

Princess of Wales Conservatory


The Princess of Wales Conservatory with its cacti is obviously nice and warm.

Finally the food. There are a few places to eat. I thought they are reasonable value, considering the location. Outside the station were many independent places that are a little cheaper.

Sunday 21 April 2024

Every day is different.

It's been four months since Marcia died. My emotions are all over the place.

It's a mix of missing her, denial, shock at how quickly time has past, guilt at being happy, guilt at not being happy, guilt for feeling numb, guilt for getting on with my life, guilt at not getting on with my life, guilt for being upset and emotional, guilt for not being upset and unemotional.

I have family and friends with whom to talk this through. They visit me or I go to them. Great neighbours that I spend time with is massively helpful.  

I know I'll feel better in time. But I do wish the feelings would stop, or maybe stabilise. Is that another reason to feel guilty?

Thankfully I'm sleeping pretty well. I've increased the exercise I do and call it a day at roughly the same every evening, which I'm sure helps.

If I have a particularly bad day my employer understands and lets me have some time. In the early days this could be a whole day, now though I can usually get myself together in an hour or two. I go for a walk, ride or run, sometimes just a coffee at my local Coughlans.

There is an underlying empty feeling that I don't think will ever go. I'm not sure I want to lose it.

I'm confused by these swirling thoughts; are they okay to feel? Is it okay not to feel them?

I know people say whatever I think or however I cope is appropriate for me. And they are right; their words and actions help.

I guess ultimately the saying that time is a great healer is spot-on. But I don't think I want to be healed, not completely. 

My thoughts are moving from being focused on Marcia's last few days, which were the worst of my life. 

To all the great days and normal days we had together. Both are precious to me. The laughs and tears; times we just existed together.

I value my time in a way I don't think I did before. No one dwells on the fact that it's such a limited resource. Now I dread the future, and look forward to it. I want to keep busy, and doing nothing. To spend time with music forming a bubble of sound around me. Plan visits with friends and family, time on my own.

Saturday 6 April 2024

Running in circles

running in circles

I was in Cornwall recently visiting my sister. I travelled by train, so didn't want the hassle of taking my bike. But I did want to exercise, I have a half marathon in May.

The plan was to run instead. The day after I arrived I walked my intended route. I knew the area was hilly, but I wasn't prepared for how much. My home circuit around the airfield and back is almost flat. So it was with some trepidation I set off in the afternoon for a run. To my surprise it wasn't too bad. Sure it was tougher, but not as bad as I had expected. For the next couple of days I ran two laps, and again I found I coped well with the climbs. Then to stave off boredom I started to vary it by visiting villages. Until this point I had treated running as just a means to an end; getting fitter and adding variety to my day. Now I started to see it as a means of transport in the same way as my cycling. 

Now I'm home it's back to the airfield loop. And another surprise; I'm much faster, I easily knocked a minute off my pace. And my legs didn't feel as stiff as they had done. I now run at just over 9 minutes/mile, with short bursts of low 8's. Was it the increased volume or the hills that caused this? I covered more ground than normal for sure, but the ascents must have contributed more.

I ran with a friend on Saturday, the one who sort of talked me into the half marathon.

We met near Regents Park and did three loops of the outer circle. At just over eight miles it was Stephen's longest run. He said he was worried about next months half marathon, but I think on today's evidence he should do okay. We'll meet again and complete a full distance. We sat chatting at a cafe afterwards which was equally uplifting and positive. An absolutely great day.