Thursday, 6 January 2011

Paul Collingwood retires from Test match cricket

Paul Collingwood has announced his decision to retire from Test Match cricket at the end of the fifth, and final match in the Ashes series.

Collingwood divides opinion. He was never the most gifted of batsman. He never played the flashy shots. He never made the game look beautiful. However, with an average at over 40, and this achieved during some of the darker times for the England team,  he hasn't exactly done badly. He also scored runs when England most needed them, saving England from defeat on several occasions.

His bowling wasn't spectacular. He took 17 wickets I believe, and this is an okay return. He wasn't without talent.

Where he excelled was as a fielder. Bar Jonty Rhodes, I am yet to see a better fielder in my lifetime, and it will probably take a decade to find another. The number of great catches I can think of in my head mainly belong to this man.

The thing about Collingwood, and why is a fine example to people throughout the country, is he made the most of average talent. He wasn't the most gifted, he didn't have a god given talent, but he worked hard at all of his skills. There are better technical players he kept out of the side and this is because of the hard work and dedication he put in on the field.

He hasn't done bad either in terms of honours. Ashes winner twice at home, once away and a Twenty Twenty World Cup winning captain.

People mocked him, but when you look back on his record, he has been a superb servant to English cricket and we could do with a couple more players like him to have around.

Entered my first triathlon

I have taken the plunge, and decided to enter my first triathlon. I have entered the Newmarket triathlon which is a Sprint triathlon with the following distances:
  • 300m pool swim
  • 22k bike ride
  • 4k run
I decided for a sprint triathlon for several reasons. It fits into my yearly schedule quite well. I can focus on this before starting to train for the Nottingham Marathon, and will give me an excuse to focus on other sports which can only be good for training and weight loss.

The run I'm confident enough with. I need to improve my times, but 4k will be fine. I'm yet to run 4k after doing the swim/cycle so I might change my mind having completed it! It also gives me a chance to focus on improving my speed at the shorter distances, like 5k and 10k. This will help with building a base for the longer runs later in the year.

The bike I'm okay with. The area is very flat and this will help. I've only been cycling for 1 week and did a 10 mile ride in an okay time. I wasn't tired, sore or out of breath so I can push a lot more here I feel. It wasn't the quickest time in the World, but compared to where I started running from, and where I will begin swimming from, this is a good base to start from.

The swim is the section which worries me. I've never been a good swimmer, and have always been a bit timid when swimming. I need to just get time in the pool and improve my technique. I can swim lengths already, but my technique is so poor it is like swimming through treacle at times.

My aim is just to finish. I don't see that changing.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Paying for companies to upgrade their services

Perhaps it is just me, but this is getting more common.

Today, I caught the train, and as most people are aware, the price has gone up. Over 10% on my route. This is to pay for new trains, improve the tracks and so on.

2 problems:
  1. This brings it very into line with driving my car, so why catch the train?
  2. I'm paying for a company to upgrade their services
The second point is the one I have an issue with.

BT are currently doing the same thing. Everyone in the UK who pays BT line rental currently gives them money which they are putting towards the cost of upgrading their services in the future to provide quicker broadband.

I cannot work out how this is fair.

They are businesses. They generate profits. They should pay for the upgrade from their own pocket, and then reap the benefits when they are finished. They should not be charging me more now to upgrade their services, and then charge me more for their super fast broadband or trains which arrive on time.

You don't buy a holiday, only to be told that they will build the hotel when they've had enough bookings, do you?

And, having paid my extra 10%, the first train of the year was late. No improvement there then.

Monday, 3 January 2011

The start of my triathlon training

One my goals is to complete a sprint triathlon this year, so I started some training. It actually began just after Christmas while visiting family in a local pool.

It began badly. I now see swimming is not only difficult, but I'm rubbish at it. I did 2 lengths to begin with, and then thought, I cannot do this. I carried on for a bit, and probably did about 9 lengths in total.

My running has conditioned me to not get tired, and I have the fitness to cope, but I don't have the psychology to do it. When I feel I'm getting out of breath while running, what is the worst that can happen? I stop. In a pool, or a lake, what's the worst that can happen if I get out of breath/energy; I drown. This was forever in my mind.

I will need to get some proper lessons in order to get some confidence, and improve my technique in the pool. I aim to complete my first triathlon in a pool in order to help this.

I have had a road bike for a while as I knew I wanted to do a triathlon, so it was time to get it out. I went out at the end of the year for a quick 6 miles to see how the bike worked and how I'd cope. All was good. I didn't really try and did 6 miles in just over 23 minutes. Not quick, but I was comfy and didn't really expend much energy. I could've gone much quicker.

I then went out for a 10 mile jaunt along one of my running routes, and really enjoyed it. Again, I stuck to the same pace but it all felt comfortable. I'm sure when I try to go for it I will find it tough, but at the minute, I just want to get used to the bike and riding again.

As for running, I will just keep ticking over. I do 3 sessions a week and I won't change this. I have a half marathon in March, and will continue to compete in local races to improve. I also plan to complete more Parkruns in order to improve my short distance pace.

Skins Compression Clothing - Further review

I used the Skins compression clothing I have (Full Tights and Top) in a recent 10k. I hadn't used them before.


  • Make you feel good. They made me feel like an athlete. 
  • Keep you warm in the cold (and cold in the warm!)
  • Look good! I had a few comments about how good they look.
  • Trousers were very good
  • Had sore muscles after the event. Didn't wear them for long after admittedly and did run much quicker than normal.
  • Top kept riding up while running, in the end, I gave up.
The last point needs some clarification. Having lost over 12 stone, I have a bit of a stomach due to excess skin from the weight loss. Now, compression clothing should be ideal to 'hold' that in. And it did, while I stood there.

While running, it kept going over the top my stomach and up to around my rib cage which was rather annoying and off putting. It did however compress on oncoming stitch I could feel!

It's almost like it only works on flat stomached people, and do they really need compression clothing?

Ely New Years Eve 10k 2010

As an Ely Runner, this is one of our home races, and was a race I wanted to run. It happens on New Years Eve, and is a great way to end the year.

The course itself is flat, with only one real incline at about 8k, and the first 1k is rather fast as it's all downhill. It is known as a quick course and has definite PB potential.

I wanted to run around 52.30 for the 10k, which would have meant I had beaten my PB by over 7 minutes since the last 10k race I did was actually my first; the Great Yorkshire run in Sheffield in September 2010.

I almost missed the start of the race as I had been helping out on the registration desk, and made it to the start about 20 seconds before the start as I had to get changed in the toilets prior to the start. Not the best start to the race!

I set off quick (for me!) and went through the first two miles in under 16 minutes, and the 5k mark in 24.09 (which was a PB by over one and a half minutes. I flagged around mile 4-5 as I had no one to follow anymore, and was running mainly alone. I also noticed sub 50 was gone, so backed off a bit.

I went up the incline at 8k with relative ease, having time to pose for this photo

The last 1k is back in the village, so there were a few supporters to spur you along. I tried to give it a quick finish in the last half a mile, but hit the field at the end which had turned into a mud bath and had to back off for fear of drowning!

I completed the 10k in 51.17, a PB by 8 minutes and 21 seconds. A great way to end the year.

Friday, 31 December 2010

Changes to Aims for 2011

Erm, I actually ran 24.09 for 5k during the Ely New Years Eve 10k race, so I might have to rethink running sub 25 for 5k as I did that a day before 2011, and in the spirit of fairness, I did not want to lie about it...

Unlike Jon Pennington who recommended I lied about it.