Tuesday, 31 January 2012

200+ miles

I have run 205 miles in the month of January. Not bad going, and running-wise I feel okay, but its leaving me knackered and the Norway training is suffering. The conflict of interest reveals itself... Need to ramp up the ice training now with only 25 days to go, yet in 19 days I have my first ultra (50k) and of course with three weeks off running in Norway I can hardly slack off the run training. Am I doomed?

Monday, 30 January 2012

Nick does a speech

Following from that last post, I thought I would post up my speech, mainly so I can refer to it in years to come:

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
Start by saying ta to G&J on behalf of bridesmaids and usher for making us part of special day
Sure you’ll agree, lovely ceremony & great venue for tonights celebrations
Looks like we all made it here, glad because put wayne in charge of the directions here
When G asked me, v honoured, agreed immediately
Didn’t know what was involved in BM duties, so turned to Google.
Top of first list was ‘make the groom look good’
Blimey, tall order i thought
Fortunately J is much better than i ever could be at making Gav look good, and she’s done a fine job again today.
For those that don’t know me, I’m Nick
Known G for 16yrs, and J almost as long
Met on sqn, and Gav and I actually joined together in Oct 95 and worked way thru ranks to be CWO together, alongside many faces around the room
Nice to see so many of old crew here today
Tight group of friends
Several years tradition was to earn money at Saturday jobs before heading out on the town in the evening – actually the Hope in Ilford, a grotty little nightclub.  I guess to try our luck with the ladies
J need not worry – wholly and completely unsuccessful
Hindsight obvious why
Didn’t mention what these Saturday jobs were – G at tescos cafe, me on a milk round
So actually went out stinking of deep fat fryers and gone off milk
We then always went back to Gavs, via kebab of course, and proceeded to drink all of his father’s Sambuca.  Not sure if Ray was really oblivious as we believed or just turned bind eye.
Gav always obsessed with the FLAMMING sambuca, had to be FLAMMING, and one night failed to notice he had poured it over his had – i watched as flames spread across his hand and pain across his face as he desperately tried to keep our secret by reaching the table – for a burnt patch on carpet would give the game away.
As cadets we’d spend a lot of time in the mountains, and we did Gold DofE exped in Lake District together.  After running out of food on day two of four, we, being teenagers, decided to take short cut.  Off a cliff.
Which we slid down on our butts.
Gav was behind me when i first heard the screaming.  As he careered out of control, i did the only sensible thing i could do, and step to the side.  He came to a halt a couple of hundred feet below us and after several moments, groaned.
So that, along with the infamous cutlery incident, meant i was quite surprised when he asked me to be his best man
On the same expedition, gav came to find himself with a shortage of cutlery – and instead of choosing to believe he lost it and that i kindly lent him some of mine, he chose to believe i stole it so i could eat more food than him, and cruelly only lent him a knife to eat noodles with.  I mention this cos he still hasn’t let it go, and will bring it up when he is my best man.
But he has asked me to be his best man, so he must have forgiven me at some level – and gav has always been the kind and forgiving type.
Infact only two recollections of him ever getting really angry
First – while skiing, the group had to return to the apartment for some reason, leaving me, matt and gav waiting at the lifts.  They returned to find a furious Gav as me and Matt had been in a 45min fit of hysterics aimed at Gavs now oozing sun burnt nose.
The second was when a poor chap was on the end of a five min tirade for having Golden Balls written on back of his England top because, according  to Gav, ‘he aint David Beckham!’
not list of cadet anecdotes asked wayne
‘I seem to remember farting on Gavin’s head quite a bit when he was still little enough to be pinned down’
‘incessant bogey wiper’ – stalactites, blamed Donna
 Last comment from Wayne was that his present buying skills left a lot to be desired – he once gave his father broken pencil stuck back together with plasticine.  Safe to say Jane has trained him out of that though
cancer - don't remember much
missed some school, but mostly down the sqn - no fuss at all
matt - ‘he was a pretty big boy about the whole cancer thing’
despite setback, fantastic career, now fantastic wife in Jane
matts comment says a lot about Gav in general
he is my best friend, and the best man i know. 
I have always been able to count on him, as i know Jane has
I look forward to being part of their life as they enter this new chapter and wish them many many happy years together
So on that note, propose toast
...to Mr and Mrs Hayes

Gav gets hitched

This weekend I had the privilege of being Best Man at my buddies Gav and Jane’s wedding.  I can honestly say I haven’t been that nervous for an awfully long time – but my speech seemed quite well received in the end.  It was a fantastic day and I was pleased I could play a small part in making it such a success (a very small part it must be said).

The night before, we went for a curry at The Ghandi, about 15 years after I had my first ever proper curry there, also with Gav – then we had a Sambuca as used to be tradition:

And the next morning, Gav spent some time contemplating his fate:

Because Gav and Jane sometimes look like this:

But often they look more like this:

I'll put up some photos of the actual wedding when I have a chance.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Burrito burrito

Yesterday I saw these in Tesco's.  So I ate one, and it was good.  So I ate another today.  After reading Born to Run, I thought they might be a viable candidate for my secret fuel, just as they are for those Tarahumara types - super high calorie, compact, tasty, reasonably resilient to squashing.

Then I turned it over and saw the ingredients - near on 80 seperate things!!!  Yes, that white box is almost entirely the intredients list.  I shall eat these no more.  However, some kind of improved homemade version...

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Nick does sports science

I was just accosted by a student in the gym, doing some kind of survey thing.  At least he said he was at uni, seemed more GCSE level to me, but I suppose this is Southwark.  Anyway he measured my bicep and I had to do as many press ups in a minute as I could.  I didn’t point out all the shortcomings in his data gathering, or the missed opportunities by not asking a few extra questions such as what my training emphasis is. And I suspect there will be little correlation between upper arm circumference and pressupability.

Anyways, suffice to say, I didn’t do many.  22 according to him in fact (24 according to me) – ah, I remember the day I could have done 22 in 22 seconds.  The question is, other than an ego battering, should I be bothered?  Probably not, a whole lot – I am a big believer in specificity.  And I run and I climb, I don’t press.  That said, a major muscle imbalance is a bit of a recipe for injury and I recently identified that, weirdly, my left tricep is weaker than my right – so I think a few more press ups may be in order, but not many.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Nick does food

Yes, this is the recipe for my famous bircher...
(well, an amalgam of several different recipes from the internet anyway, and I am only posting so I can stop Googling it every time I make it)

Porridge oats – 500- 700g depending on sloppiness requirements
Semi-skimmed milk – 500ml
Apple juice – 200ml
Lime – juice of one
Yoghurt – 500ml
Raisins – some
Apple x 3, peeled and grated
Banana x 2, mushed
Frozen berries – one packet
Vanilla extract – one teaspoon
Honey – to taste

Step 1:  Mix the oats, milk, apple juice, vanilla and raisins in a bowl and leave for a couple of hours.

Step 2: Squeeze lime into a bowl, grate the peeled apples into the bowl (the juice stops the apples going manky), mix into the oats mixture.

Step 3: Mix in the yoghurt.

Step 4: Mush the bananas and half the berries (now defrosted) and the stir into the oats mixtures.

Step 5: Mix in honey bit by bit until its sweet enough - warning, its easy to over sweeten.

This makes a lot!  Enough for a week of Nick sized breakfasts - it seems to keep for upwards of three days in the fridge and freezes fine.  If it separates, stir it - it'll be fine.

I also guess the ratios differently each time, it doesn't seem to make much odds.


Saturday, 21 January 2012

No hope for us then...

Yesterday, Holly informed me that the happiest couple in showbiz, Heidi Klum and Seal, are getting divorced.  She followed this with 'what hope do we have? they were MUCH happier than us!'  Charming.  Of course, we have the advantage that I am not an aquatic mammal.
In other news I should be climbing right now, yet I am not.  Less than one month until Norway so midweek sessions this week need to get serious.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

What's the time Officer?

A reason to keep active...

I read quite a few blogs, most of them climbing, but I think my favourite must be Alex Hutchinson's Sweat Science blog.

This article should be enough to encourage you to stay active for, well, ever...


The 2012 reading list

I don't read a lot.  But this year I WILL read the following books:
  1. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest - Steig Larson (finish it)
  2. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running - Haruki Murakami (finish it)
  3. Full of Myself - Johnny Dawes (finish it)
  4. What Comes First? Weights or Cardio - Alex Hutchinson
  5. Bad Science - Ben Goldacre
  6. A Brief History of Time - Steven Hawking
  7. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
  8. Matterhorn - Karl Marlantes
  9. The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins

Monday, 16 January 2012

50 mile week

Last week was my second 50 mile week.  The first was the week before xmas.  These were both to and from work on Monday and Friday and to work on Wednesday.  I'm quite pleased that I have managed to ramp up the mileage quite quickly with relatively few problems.  I have had the odd niggle, and it's weird how the pain moves around, one day my quads will ache the next my ankles - and it even moves around during a single run.  I hope its just my body hardening up to it all rather than any precursor to more injuries.

Oh, and finally got back down the gym today so I think I will easily slip back in to the habit.

Friday, 13 January 2012


My Asus Transformer Prime has arrived. Its the new Android tablet that I'll be using to write most of this.  After some worries about it arriving broken, it seems great and immediately updated to Ice Cream Sandwich.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Training for Ice

On Tuesday I managed the landmark of one hour of laps on the boulder with no rest - this consisted of a lap of v2, then v1, then vb (using any hold) then repeat.  So I reckon probably in the region of 40 - 45 laps.  Unfortunately this has given me actual blisters on my hands which will put me out of climbing for a few days, but hopefully I will be okay by the weekend for two sessions on the chalk.

This got me to thinking about the ways I have trained for ice climbing over the last few years.  The first thing to point out would be that, despite improving ever year, I am still desperately weak if you put me on a dry tooling route or any remotely difficult Scottish mixed.  But I can definitely hang on axes longer every year, so here are my thought thus far...

The limiting factor for me is holding on to the bloody axes.  All the rest – core strength, calf endurance, tricep strength for repeated swinging – are important, but pale into comparison to gripping the axes.  This last trip to Norway was the first time I have been properly comfortable climbing leashless at my limit – in previous years I have had deploy the leash at the top end of my grade.  Gripping something metal, above your head, in freezing temperatures, is no way to have either warm hands or good forearm endurance – there ends up being no blood in there to do the work – so relaxing and shaking out are key.

Chalk – short of actual ice climbing, traversing the chalk cliffs at Saltdean, near Brighton, is probably the most effective training I have found.  I say probably because one could argue that the time may be spent better down the wall as it’s a much shorter drive and so would leave more time for the training – but I think chalk still wins.  It’s very steep so in some ways is more demanding than ice, but it tends to be hooking rather than swinging.  It is surprisingly similar to ice though.  I guess upward climbing would be better, but a) it’s a faff and b) its dodgy as hell.

Fig4’ing – These are like wooden axes with a loop of rubber instead of a pick, intended for use on indoor walls.  I was persuaded to enter a completion using Alpkit’s Fig4s just before xmas.  I came third from last (and I won’t mention James’ performance).  But actually I was satisfied at my performance, given the routes and who else was competing.  In preparation for this we did a few sessions at The Reach with the Schmoolz (very similar but not quite as good imo).  They are bloody hard work, and if chalk takes too long, then they are a good fall back.  Walls could do with specific routes for them though.

Bouldering laps – see the beginning of this blog.  Before Canada, three years ago, I worked up to twenty mins of traversing laps which I thought was quite good at the time.  That was holding anything.  So I have obviously improved no end.  Infact even my V2/V1/VB circuit is too easy I think.  After a while I seem to stop getting more pumped. 

Repeats on the wall – climb up, climb down, climb up, etc. Very dull, but a good workout – for ice purposes, steep on big jugs are best.  I try to finish off a climbing session with some of this.

Gym work – so far, for this year’s trip I have done very little as I had to lay off the pull ups after getting various worrying niggles.  A few exercises I like for lunchtime gym sessions though: pull ups, levers (well, half levers), rockring training, and kettlebell swings.  I have, in the past, tried doing the bar work off some old bike bar ends with a loop of rope tied to the end – hook these over the bar and you have something similar to ice axe handles to dangle from, but without the extra two feet of length (or the carrying Nomics into the gym).  Works quite well.

So far, my bouldering laps are going well, I have once chalk session under my belt, and have done some Fig4’ing.  So performance wise I am on target, but volume of training I am behind (ie I should be even better than I am at this point in the season).  So time to step it up, starting with a weekend in Brighton this weekend, and then back down the gym at lunchtimes next week.  Boo-yow.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

It starts now...

On this, the eighth day of the year, I think we have finally cleared the chocolate backlog from xmas.  So finally, it can begin!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Diet, not dieting

I have a very sweet tooth, and my diet is pretty appalling.  Its one of the things I really need to sort this year, and preferably soon.  Now, when I talk about diet, I don't really mean some calorie controlled dieting regime but more the quality of the fuel I consume - and with me doing all this running, that is going to be more and more important.  That said, some weight-loss, I think, will be a pleasant side effect. I am well aware I am not really fat, but my interest is in getting lighter, and not vanity (I tend not to stroll around in speedos these days). Being a climber, the less I have to haul upwards the better.  But as I said, any calorie deficit must not be at the expense of having energy to train - for that way lies only injury, demotivation and exhaustion.

So here are a few of the issues I have with my diet:

Sugar - I am fueled far too much on high GI foods - cake, chocolate, snacks, etc.  This means I am prone to sugar crashing - even on the cycle home from work.  It is also distinctly lacking in any nutrients.

Laziness - I eat breakfast at work, which means I often skip it and then getting hungry at about 11am - which means only one thing: CAKE.  So I need a better planned and sustainable source of breakfast - I am quite into bircher at the moment.

Sleeping arrangements - Splitting my time between my house and Holly's means its harder to plan my diet, especially in terms of taking in breakfast and lunches to work.  This should be easily solvable with some effort.

The 5-a-day - I don't get it, so more fruit and veg is needed.

So as soon as the last few Xmas choccies have been devoured, I shall begin...

Even is deepest, darkest Norway, I sought out the doughnuts

Monday, 2 January 2012


Welcome to my new blog.  With the beginning of 2012, I thought it a prudent time for it – it should be a big year for me, assuming the world doesn’t end.  And an even bigger one, if it does.  This will be part blog and part training diary with maybe some other thoughts thrown in.  

I have some big, and some would say conflicting, goals for this year (ordered by deadline, not importance):

Diet – My diet is based mainly on sugar and cake.  I recently quit sugar for a couple of months, and even started the world’s dullest blog, using it as a food diary.  But I didn’t stick at it.  So more veg, more fruit, more low GI stuff, less sugar crashing.  I swear I will have diabetes soon if I don’t sort it out.  Achievability: 8/10

Norway 20102 – At the end of February I am returning to the far north of Norway for three weeks of ice climbing.  The main aims are to climb some new routes, and to get myself up a WI6 graded route (think super sustained, possibly thin, vertical ice).  I have started training and my endurance is looking good at the moment.  Achievability: 7/10

Complete the Grand Union Canal Race – in October I turned 30, and then read ‘Born to Run’ and then entered the longest non-stop run in the UK.  Its 145 miles from Birmingham to London to be done within 45 hours, in June.  Lunacy.  Having said that, just before Xmas I managed my first 50-mile-week, which is good going – so provided I can avoid injury (an accomplishment in itself, given the mileage I am going to have to clock up) then I think it’s possible. Possibly.  Achievability: 5/10

Climb Left Wall (E2 5c) – I seemed to be on a good run of climbing last year, but still only managed two soft E2s.  Left Wall, a famous route on Dinas Cromlech in North Wales, could be a somewhat sterner test. Achievability: 7/10

Redpoint a 7c – I had a week of being coached in Spain in October, and by some miracle, redpointed (practiced, practiced and finally led the route cleanly) a 7b over three days.  The route was Muscleman and I think must be soft for the grade, but unfortunately it means the next obvious goal is the next grade up.  I actually don't think its a very realistic goal, but the good thing with climbing is the journey will be as good as the end result.  Achievability: 4/10

Save money - somehow in amongst the above, i need to stop spending and start saving, which will lead too...  Achievability: 8.5/10

Move out – yes, yes, I am 30 and live at home, big whoop.  I refuse to poor money down the drain in rent, so have been saving (what hasn’t been spent on climbing).  Holly, my beloved fiancĂ©e has just got a permanent job after some years temping so we finally have a combined salary that should allow us to buy a pokey hole somewhere nice or a nicer place somewhere shite.  The reason for not having a higher achievability rating is redundancy risk (see below). Achievability: 7.5/10

New job - I work for a public sector organisation, mainly on the Olympics (probably the last time I will mention work on here), and I have a distinct feeling that there will be a post-Games cull of the work force, so I need to get a new job soonish.  Besides I have been in my current job for four-ish years and need more money!  Achievability: 8/10

I also want a dog or two (a Springer Spaniel called Roger Federer and a miniature Schnauzer called Stormageddon) and then, of course, kids (human ones).  But I think we can leave those for the following year.

This blog will chart my attempt at balancing these lofty ambitions in my desperate quest to not be mediocre.

So there we have it, best I get on with it...