Cricket… hmmm

Well, it turns out that I am rubbish at cricket.

Perhaps that’s not altogether unexpected as it’s about 30 years since I last played, but it’s still hard to have the truth so brutally revealed to you.

Actually, I’m going to blame my son for all of this. He started going to the kids’ sessions at the local cricket club and it was great fun to take him and then sit in the sun with a pint in hand watching them all play. After the sessions he would want to have some more practice so I would bowl for him a bit. As I was doing that I was giving him tips and hints about his batting, or advising him about his bowling technique. And to be honest I sounded like I knew what I was talking about (or at least I did to me).

Time to put my money where my mouth was. I went to the adult nets session and didn’t disgrace myself, so I put myself forward for selection.

It turns out that on the actual cricket pitch things are a bit different.

I’ve now played two matches and the stats don’t make great reading:

– Matches lost – 2
– Over bowled – 0
– Catches dropped – 2 (although 1 was genuinely only a half chance at best)
– Fielding errors – 2 (at least)
– Balls faced – 7 (in two innings!)
– Runs scored – 0
– Pulled muscles – 2

My batting stats. Ouch!

My batting stats. Ouch!

It’s the kind of stats that light up Wisden.

In the first match I thought I fielded ok. I dropped a good chance for a catch in the deep, and also had a very hard chance that I was just pleased to get a hand to. But other than that I ran about quite well and made what I felt were a few decent stops in the field.

When it came to batting I hit my first ball straight to the square leg fielder, but it was a good contact. But then in the next over I got over excited and pushed an easy catch back to the bowler. I wasn’t too disappointed as I could rationalise it as being a bit rusty – but at least I hit the ball cleanly and can [kind of] do it.

The second match was awful though. In the very first over in the field I chased a ball to the boundary and within about five paces I felt two muscles go – the very top of my thing on my right leg and my gluteus in my left leg – or if you’re not an expert in anatomy, my bum muscle! I spent the next few hours hobbling round the field trying to do the best I possibly could, which wasn’t very good at all.

Then when it came to batting I faced three balls. The first I confidently left to the off side. The second I confidently left to the on side. The third I swung at, missed completely and ended up being stumped! I didn’t even hit a single bloody ball!

Absolutely rubbish. And now that’s it for about seven weeks as swimming stuff, holidays and childcare take over.

Having said all of that, I might be rubbish, but I loved it. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon and at times I would pinch myself that I was actually a part of a ‘picture postcard’ scene. So if they’ll have me back I think I’ll give it another go in a few weeks time.

A picture postcard scene. Photo courtesy of @135notout

A picture postcard scene. Photo courtesy of @135notout

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DNS

Today was the BLDSA’s Wykeham lakes swim and although I was entered, although I was there at the venue in time to register, although I’d had a brief dip yesterday and wanted to swim I did not start (DNS).

It’s the first time I’ve ever done that when it wasn’t fitness or injury that prevented me from starting. Today it was life that got in the way.

Yesterday I did a kayaking course at the Trafford Water Sports Centre (which I’ll blog about later). The early start and full day on (and partly in) the water meant I was tired by the end of it. However, I’d arrange to stay with a friend in York to make me closer to Wykeham – which is just down the road from Scarborough – so I drove over there. But it was to be no quiet night in. Instead my friends had an 80s night to go out to, so I went along with them.

If I’d been determined to swim I’m sure I could have drank less, got to bed earlier and generally been more committed to the whole exercise. But I wasn’t. I decided to relax and spend time with friends that I’ve not seen properly for at least a year – and so this was the result:

It was a good night!

It was a good night!

So I drove up to start, said hello to a few people and then left them all to their swim and drove home again.

I’m quite comfortable with that though. As I said before, I’m being more relaxed about my swimming at the moment and I’ve also got to spend the afternoon working in preparation for a busy week next week.

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A Change of Pace

I’m a big fan of the Team Bear ethos of “Suffer, but never surrender”. In fact I like nothing more than being the first into the lake and the last out, or pushing myself so that I can hardly breathe at the end of a sprint session in the pool, or using the weights and feeling an ache the next day in places that you didn’t realise you had, or doing a cardio session and almost literally having to wring your t-shirt dry afterwards. I love all that.

But I’m not sure I can do that anymore. Or at least not right now.

Let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger (none of us are, sorry to break that to you) and how I have adopted the suffer but never surrender mentality up until this point is to think that unless I’m suffering, then it’s not worth it. So, if I can’t run 10k, then why run? Or if I can’t swim at least a 3k pyramid session, is there any point going to the pool at all?

It’s that attitude [of mine] that has to change. Because it leads to one of two things: 1) not doing anything – “I’ll only manage a short swim, so why bother” or “the pool will be full and I won’t be able to do a proper set, so I just won’t go”; or 2) breaking myself. And the two are usually linked, as I break myself when I push too hard after not doing anything for a while: “I can do this, I’ve done it before, so what that I’ve not done it for three months… OUCH!”

Instead of suffering, for the next few months I want to just enjoy moving around. I’ve not got any big events planned this year, so no reason to suffer, and my previous mentality might have seen me become a bit of a couch potato. Instead I just want to be more active. It doesn’t have to be big and macho, but a gentle bit of exercise to counter balance all the sitting around I do for work.

Last night’s run was the perfect example. A nice 20 minute jog around a lovely village (I’m lucky to live somewhere beautiful) on a lovely evening – and all while my tea was cooking.

So from now on my plan is to take the chance to be active as much as possible and to ignore [some of the] goals and targets and just enjoy it. So more walking, more running, more gentle weights sessions at home and more quick dips in the pool and lake.

Of course it won’t last forever and at the back of my mind is the thought that I’m probably not all that fit at the moment. Instead of being fit I have trained my body to be able to perform one particular task – and even then I’ve broken it slightly as I’ve had a shoulder injury for the past week that will keep me away from swimming until at least the weekend. So a slightly more wholistic approach might improve my general fitness and put me in a much better position to be able to suffer in the future.

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You know you’ve made it…

… as a blogger when someone offers you a free haircut in return for a review.

The hairdresser in question is KH Hair and there are a few local to me (the nearest is in Newark), so it all sounded good. Unfortunately it didn’t work out this time as we couldn’t find a time that they could fit me in (which is a good sign if they’re busy).

If the chance arises again then I’ll provide a snip-by-snip account!

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I’ve been for a run

That might not be big news for most of you, but for me it means a lot. The last time I ran was the middle of March!

I didn’t go far, just a little pootle around that took just less than 20 minutes (so I’m gonna call it about 2.5kms), but it was lovely.

Post run selfie

Post run selfie

In fact it worked out perfectly. I put some veg in the oven to roast, ran, came back and had a slow and long stretch but a quick shower and by that time my veggies had roasted. A bit of Breaking Bad to keep me company while I ate and here I am now blogging about it all. I might even do it again soon!

UPDATE

I enjoyed it so much last night that I went again this morning. Same route and same process (although I didn’t roast any veggies this time), but just a gentle pootle in the sun to get me moving. And it was lovely. :-)

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Well done Bradley #MyHour

He did it. 54.526km in an hour on a push bike.

I didn’t realise I could watch it, assuming it would only be on one of the subscription channels that I don’t subscribe to. But it wasn’t, and I could, so I did. And I loved it. And so did my son. We both got hypnotised as the lap counter grew and the average speed dropped (only very slightly) and we imagined just how much the grimace was growing.

But now it’s over and he’s done, so what’s next?

Then I was reading Twitter and came across this tweet by a journalist who had attempted the same hour challenge (Bradley passed his distance after 47 minutes). So of course it made me realise that I wanted to have a go at it.

I wonder how many leisure centres or cycling clubs or even personal trainers are taking this opportunity to jump on the bandwagon and offer people the chance to see how well they could take up the challenge? How far could I go? How quickly would Wiggins has passed my distance? Could I have even managed what he did in 30 minutes?

In face if my local leisure centre arranged for me to book an hour on one of the bike machines, then a couple of dedicated coaching sessions (maybe one on technique, one on general fitness) then another hour a month later – well, I’d jump at it and pay them actual money.

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Billy Bragg

I can’t pretend that I was a huge fan, but I’ve always liked what I heard and always admired his politics and his passion. So when he played a gig about 2 miles from my house – well I had to go.

It was part of the annual Gate to Southwell Folk Festival (which lasts all weekend), but at times it felt like a strange mix. Playing to an inherently conservative (with a small c) audience of older (I was one of the youngest audience members) of folk music fans; in a strongly Conservative (with a large C) electoral area, it would be interesting to see how the politics and passion would play out.

Initially the set was very folky as Bragg talked about how he now embraces the folk scene – and how it will allow him to grow old and still be welcomed in the scene. He played his folkier tracks and also some Woody Guthrie numbers he’s been working on.

I can’t list the songs played as I didn’t know them to begin with, but even stood on his own on stage (apart from one person in the wings who was making him cups of herbal tea!) he held the audience’s attention throughout.

The second half of the set became more political and songs and talk of the unions and of keeping the faith and losing our cynicism to eventually overturn the Government were well, if not over-enthusiastically, received by the audience.

But then it was back to familiar territory and the encore finished with a good old-fashioned sing-a-long to New England.

The audience, young and old, c/Conservative or not, left humming along to themselves and probably musing on the fact that at the end of the day nearly all great music is about falling in or out of love.

I thought Bragg was excellent and I’m off now to try and find some of his CDs.

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Cheering, not competing

I may have mentioned that I’m a member of Team Bear – it’s a virtual Tri Club with members spread all over the country. As we’re virtual the support we offer (and lots and lots is offered) is usually over social media etc. Despite not having met each other (or possibly because of it) the team bond is very strong – in fact it a Team Bear member offered to support me in Guildford before we had ever met.

So when the chance came to support in person and to return the favour to other team members I jumped at the chance – especially when the event in question came through my village.

So that’s how my son and I found ourselves stood in the rain for about an hour and a half watching cyclists whizz past so quickly that we weren’t sure if they were team members or not – so they all got a cheer and a clap just in case.

What they were taking part in was the Outlaw Half Ironman event, organised by One Step Beyond, and in the end we managed to spot nearly all of the Team Bear entrants as they were wearing the ace team trisuits. And once we had cheered them all past we got into the car to join the rest of the cheering crew at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham – about 30 minutes away. Once there the Team Bear corner was easy to spot and hear – cowbells were the instrument of choice.

From our area we were able to see the runners twice each lap of their two lap half marathon (which was preceded by the 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile cycle ride). To see the combination of joy, pain, suffering, grit, determination and refusal to surrender was great – the competitors weren’t bad either!

Once we’d seen them all run past our vantage point we made our way round to the finish where the decibels increased and the emotions became even rawer. To see some of the people finish, often with kids joining them for the final ‘sprint’, and the look of joy and achievement on their faces was amazing.

I did a couple of sprint triathlons very badly last year and I’ve not really run since then, but the whole atmosphere on the day made me think, maybe… I’ve got more swimming goals to accomplish first, but once they’re done…

In the meantime, to read a proper blog post about the day, see Vikki’s here.

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LetJog Update

We’re now five months into the LetJog challenge and I’ve finally got ahead of a ‘par’ score. Here are my stats:

May

– Swimming – 52.5km actual – 157.5km adjusted
– No running or cycling at all in May

Year to date

– Swimming – 184.26km actual – 552.78km adjusted
– Running – 97.39km – 97.39km
– Cycling – 110.96km – 27.74km
– Total – 677.91km

Of course the May total was helped by swimming 38.4 actual kilometres over the first bank holiday weekend as part of 2Swim4Life (a total of 115.2kms adjusted), but it’s nice to be slightly ahead of the game, for now at least.

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Cricket’s hard work…

My son has joined the local cricket club and takes part in their Friday evening training sessions, so I get the really arduous job of taking him up there and then sitting in the sun reading my book or chatting to other parents, with a pint in my hand. It really is tough!

But as my son gets more and more enthusiastic I found myself throwing a few balls for him to hit and then trying to help him with his technique. I don’t claim to be any good at cricket, but listening to myself it sounded like I knew what I was talking about, so I thought I’d put that theory to the test.

Despite it being close to 30 years since I last played I thought I’d give it a go and so I went to the adult nets session last night.

I’m pleased to say that I didn’t embarrass myself.

They had the bowling machine on, which they kindly turned down to low speed for me, and I missed the first few balls bowled to me. But once I started to move my feet I managed to hit a few. Some of them might even have turned into runs in a match. Following that I then had a bowl and while I didn’t take any wickets, I didn’t launch the ball at anyone’s head either. In fact I really enjoyed it.

I’m stiff today though!

I really didn’t do that much in the grand scheme of things, but what I did do was use muscles that don’t normally see much action – or at least not in that way! I’ll be back though.

– – –

On the swimming front, I’ve definitely got my mojo back and am enjoying trying to increase my speed endurance. I’m doing a pyramid of 100m – 200m – 400m – 200m – 100m with a set time per 100m (at the moment a not too stressful 1:55, but I’ll lower that as I get into it more). On top of that, I’m going to be getting back into the lake when I can.

I’ve not got a big year of events this year, so I’ll be aiming to ‘tick over’ while improving technique and my base speed.

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