Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Not a climber

Why hullo everyone!

I've just returned from a wee summer school in St Andrews on *drum roll* Solar Plasma Physics.

Lots of physics-y maths-y types talking about the sun and magnetospheres and things for a week. Awesome! St Andrews has also got to be the most weird city I've visited, being seemingly made up of transient populations of students and American golfing tourists wearing some truly awful clothes. And not awful in a good way. Awful in an awful way.

An example:
Awful in a good way. Photo credit
 Even better is the fact that Obama has worn it.
Casually wearing a 3 wolves 1 moon t shirt. All casual like.
Whereas awful in a bad way...
Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.....????? I swear the guy's trousers three from the left were curtains in a previous life and the guy two from the left is just wearing his wife's pyjama bottoms :D Photo credit

 Yeah. Odd place! Anyway, thought I'd share this quite cool video of the sun's outer corona, where you can see flares and mass ejections going off. The dots of light with bright lines streaming out from either side are the planets Mercury, Mars and Venus and NOT UFOs as the guy who posted the video seemed to think :-) (The sun itself has been blocked out as otherwise it just drowns out the image from the corona).

Here's the link to it so you can read its description. It's rather "OMFG LOOK AT THE ALIENS OOOOOOMMMMMMGGGGG". And the assumption that NASA would know nothing about image corruption. Lulz.

In other news I've also spent a bit of time in the Peak District again, learning the meaning of the word suffering again.

There were a lot of horrible steep valleys with tiny villages at the bottom then hugely steep roads out again.

 Also, randomly, lots of thick freezing fog - in August! Very not-fun without lights while wearing summer kit.

 When I bought my bike about a year ago (from eBay yaaaaaaaaay eBay) I was informed by the nice man I bought it off that he was selling it because he lived at the bottom of a steep hill and it didn't have any "granny gears" on it. I cheerfully ignored this and all was well as I cycled round the bloody dead flat roads of Cambridgeshire. It was only when I repeatedly found myself at the bottom of 20% climbs that I began to appreciate what he meant!

I came, I saw and I manned-the-fuck-up
So, with this picture of me labouring to get my fat arse out of various valleys, imagine my surprise when I found myself catching someone up on a hill. My mind raced. Surely I was the slowest climber this side of Derby?

Yes, there was me wishing I had never been born and there was this guy cycling round WITH NO GEARS AT ALL. I decided that bike-karma would come and bite me in the ass if I did this man the dishonour of being overtaken, so I dropped back a respectful distance (so I couldn't even be accused of drafting) and waited from him to turn off. Anyone who is nails enough to cycle round terrain like that with no gears (or free-wheeling ability) has my respect! Overtaking a guy like that on a hill when you have gears is like overtaking the yellow jersey holder in the Tour de France when they have a mechanical #contraversial.

Don't get me wrong though, I'm certainly not blaming my lack of low gears or even my being unaccustomed to hills to my being shit at hills. It's fairly clear to me that my being shit at hills in entirely due to my being a fat bastard. Simple as.

Weight can often be a bit of a sensitive topic, especially among women, athletes and female athletes. However, I like to call a spade a spade and in this case I freely admit that I am too heavy and need to lose some fat.

Rowing has done me a lot of good in general, but I think it's fair to say it has ruined my relationship with food. Everything was fine and dandy until things started to go a bit wrong in the lead up the the U23s last year.

I got up everyday at 6am, trained fucking hard, tried to not screw up my degree and went to bed religiously at 9pm. I was teetotal, single, barely went out and hardly ever went home to see my family (due to the lack of river there). When university ended for the year, I had a shitty job cleaning. All of this was fine and I could cope with while training went well. However, when the dream of U23 World Champs started slipping away my outlet became food. Essentially instead of hitting the bottle, I hit cake, chocolate and Ben & Jerry's really fucking hard. 

I largely got away with it while training twice a day, but when I packed it all in in November last year I unsurprisingly couldn't really get away with eating an entire tub of Ben & Jerry's and a bag of cookies for dinner anymore. I think my worst moment was eating an entire 1kg of Dairy Milk in one go. I have no idea how I didn't vomit after that. Bad fucking times indeed. Binge eating sure does have one hell of a feedback loop.

I now graze 80kg when at my peak I weighed 73kg. I am not fucking proud, but I knew what I was doing and I knew that it would have repercussions. However, the first step of sorting out a problem is admitting you have one and I've now reached the point where I've realised I really do want to change (the catalyst being how awful it was getting up hills!). My training volume has being going up steadily all summer (and the one great thing about starting off relatively unfit is that your rate of improvement is huge!) and with that my cravings for shit food has decreased.

Therefore the time has now come for a diet overhaul, some self discipline*, a tonne of mileage (mmmmmm mileage) and being an athlete again. I also have a Boat Race to win. Bring it fucking on!

 *You are allowed to hit me over the head with a Toblerone if you ever catch me in the confectionery aisle of Sainsbury's....


  1. Sorry to hear of your rowing / food misery. Just don't react to 'needing to lose a small amount of weight' by going far too far the other way and ending up with repeated rib stress fractures. Only someone truly idiotic would do that though I suppose...

    And yeah, good luck with the boat race. Crush the scum ;-)

  2. Good luck with all your plans!

    "I got up everyday at 6am, trained fucking hard, tried to not screw up my degree and went to bed religiously at 9pm. I was teetotal, single, barely went out and hardly ever went home to see my family (due to the lack of river there). When university ended for the year, I had a shitty job cleaning."

    May I say BLOODY HELL WELL DONE for surviving all of that and having the discipline to keep it up!

  3. @Frankie - yes, I will be careful how I do it. No crash dieting for me!

    @Eudoxia - I did chose to do it and was happy doing that for c.2 years. Just didn't have the mental capacity to keep being disciplined when stuff went pair shaped. Good journey of self discovery though!

  4. Sad to hear of your problems but glad to hear you found back to the river! Drop me a line if you need someone to chat to over a cup of tea or coffee. :-)

  5. @Anna - glad to hear you did enjoy it :). And agree about self-discovery - always useful ...

    (Although I haven't done anything as gruelling as you're describing here, I can definitely relate to "I've chosen to take all this on but that doesn't mean it's not hard work to do/stick to ...")

  6. '... when it all went pair shaped'
    Very Freudian... Too much single sculling, eh?

  7. Just to say something about the first part of this post - as a blazer-wearing people I'm not sure we can comment toooo much on those golfers' outfits...also I would quite happily wear some of those trousers on important occasions such as Suicide Sunday :D

  8. @Peter: Smart alec :p


    THAT IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Rowers have STYLE and besides, rowing >>> golf so that gives us the right to wear weird blazers and trousers.


  9. I'm sorry but I have to say that your idea of "awful in a good way" to me is still "in an awful way" but, then again, I do work with a guy who peddles that stuff. Let me know if you want his website address.

    Reading your cycling comments minds me to suggest that you could still beat rosti up those hills and he weighs less than a kilo bar of Cadburys (after a haircut and shave that is).