21st challenge completed – Beach Volleyball

Reached the half way point of the challenge today after a day playing Beach Volleyball. Got a message from my Tennis doubles partner early in the week that he and a few of his friends were heading down to Barn Elms Sports Centre in Barnes for the Beach Volleyball open day. They have been running these every Saturday over the summer from 11am – 3pm. It’s £10 for unlimited play and for this you get an organised session, instruction, matches and a mini tournament.

I played for around 3 hours – it was great fun and by the end of it I really felt like I was getting the hang of the technique. Looks like I’ll be playing again in a couple of weeks for Ed’s birthday weekend.

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20th challenge completed – Judo

Tonight I took part in my 2nd Judo session with Ealing Judo Club.

I started the Judo challenge last week by joining the beginners session at West Acton Community Centre in West London. A session described as ‘Seniors – Novice to Green Belt’. I was hoping that there would be others in a similar situation to myself – maybe not attending for the first time, but at least relatively new to the sport. Unfortunately most of the people, whilst not professional, were experienced. This meant that the session was run with the assumption that everyone knew the basics – which I clearly didn’t. We mainly practiced joint locks, which largely involved locking the arm into a position that causes your opponent to tap-out as a result of the pain. The first time I was subjected to an arm lock I almost passed out and it was only when the instructor came round to see how we were getting on that she informed me that if I was in too much pain I should tap-out. Might have helped to know this at the start.

Bruised and battered, I didn’t really enjoy the first session, but decided to go back for another week to make sure that I got more of a rounded experience of the sport. Tonight was a lot better. There were more people taking part and as a result a few people closer to my level. We focused more on grappling, throws and technique and I felt that I was able to go at a pace that suited me. Ultimately we were trying to get the opponent into a choke but this didn’t feel like the main focus, so I was more comfortable. The session finished with Randori (free-style practice). This was hard work but it was great to put some of the skills to practice. I felt like I was able to hold my own from a strength perspective but my lack of experience ultimately told.

I think I could be ok at Judo, but I’m not sure I really enjoy the close physical contact. I may do another session but I feel after my 2 sessions that I have a decent idea of the sport of Judo.

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19th challenge completed – Canoe Slalom

Latest Olympic challenge completed at Cardiff International White Water.

Thanks to Rhian Linney, Sian Steen, Alun Steen and Kirsty Davies for doing it with me. Also thanks to Jan Steen and Pete Steen for filming and photography.


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Ealing Eagles

It’s been a busy weekend, starting with supporting Rhian in running the Grasshoppers Netball tournament on Saturday followed by Battersea park summer league, 5-aside football and a BBQ with the Ealing Eagles.

One of the running goals I set myself following the Manchester Marathon was to run a 10k in sub-45. I had 2 attempts earlier in the summer and managed a 47.03 and a 46.07. I was actually really happy with these at the time as my previous 10k PB was 53.14. Sunday’s summer league was my last chance for a while as I don’t have any other 10k in the diary until next year. As part of trying to achieve a sub-45 10k, I worked out I needed to get my 5k time down to around 21.30. Unfortunately, despite running a 22.33 a few months ago, the next two 5k’s failed to improve on this time. I did however achieve a 22.02 in a handicap race last Wednesday and this gave me the confidence to at least try and run sub-45.

My preparation for yesterday’s race was perfect. I’d had a couple of days off, I felt good, the weather was cool and the course was flat. No excuses. So I set off with sub-45 as my goal. The first mile was spot on, running at around 7.10min/mile, but I lost a bit of concentration in the second mile and my pace dropped off a bit. I picked it up for the 3rd mile but at the half way stage I was 15 seconds behind target – I would have to run close to my 5k PB during the second half of the race. I picked up the pace slightly for mile 4 and still felt really good. Mile 5 was slightly faster again and I decided to go for it over the last mile and a bit. I was running at below 7min/miles. It was tough but I kept on going. A couple of fellow Eagles were going for sub-45 as well and I knew if I could catch them I would be ok. I felt awful coming into the last half a mile but I kept on going and maintained the quicker pace and came home in 44.46. The 2nd 5k was 22.01 (a new PB). I clearly haven’ been pushing myself during my 5k’s.

I was over the moon. This was a real stretch target for the year and I’m confident now of achieving the my last running goal of the year – a sub 1.40 half marathon. My first attempt will be at the Maidenhead half on 7th September – watch this space.

And we won the Eagles 5-aside football tournament.

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The plan for the rest of 2014

Since returning from honeymoon I’ve been busy contacting various organisations, clubs and individuals to enquire about the sports I have yet to complete. The rest of 2014 is going to be busy, but here is a summary of what I hope to achieve.

Gymnastics – Heathrow gymnastics club runs a beginners club on Mondays. Looking to start my first session on 25th August.

Judo – I have booked a place on an Ealing Judo beginners session starting 20th August. These sessions take place every Wednesday.

Diving – Booked a 16 week beginner course at the Guildford Spectrum starting Monday 1st September. Can’t see myself attending all 16, but £99 for the lot is a bargain in my opinion.

Canoe Slalom – 2 hour session booked at the Cardiff International White Water Centre on Sunday 24th August.

Canoe Sprint – This is one of the events that I wanted to compete in, so luckily my company is organising a canoe race as part of our company conference on Wednesday 10th September.

Football – Still can’t believe this hasn’t been ticked off. Said to Jimmy that I’m keen to play one more season of football so looking to get my first run out with Hampton Old Boys in the next couple of months.

Sailing – Will be crewing a boat in the Hampton sailing club regatta on 21st September.

Rowing – Booked my first private sculling sessions with Team Keane Sculling School in Chiswick. Takes place on 14th September.

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Wellington Triathlon

Having completed the Thames Turbo Triathlon in May, I still wasn’t sure whether I was convinced with the sport. The wet weather, early start and almost crashing my bike certainly didn’t help things.

I decided to give it another try, only this time over a longer distance. I still struggle with the swimming so when I came across the Wellington Triathlon (set in the beautiful grounds of Wellington college), the 400m swim, 20 mile cycle and 10k run was ideal. I managed to persuade Jimmy and Katie (recently engaged, congratulations guys) to compete with me.

It was a great day, glorious sunshine, beautiful scenery, 9am start and no accidents. It was a really enjoyable experience and one that has really given us all the bug for triathlons. Unlike last time, when the post race discussion was all about the weather, we dared to dream about open water swims, Olympic distance triathlons and at one point I think I even mentioned ‘Iron Man’. Probably getting a bit far ahead of myself.

So Triathlon is another sport that I have fallen in love with through this process. My focus (after the half marathons) will be to concentrate on the other challenges for a few months, but no doubt I’ll be back with a triathlon update sometime next year.

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