Half Marathon Registration and Illness

Well the past two weeks have been absolutely awful from a training point of view. I came down with a horrible cold that saw me coughing, struggling to breathe with asthma symptoms and just facially dripping. It was awful and I got absolutely zero training done.  I think for the first time since owning my fitbit I didn’t get over 5,000 steps for like a week.

Anyway all better now so that’s in the past. I’ve had a pretty good week far and have swapped focus to running for now as myself and Alex have registered for Newport Half Marathon which will be my first ever long distance race. It’s on the 6th of March and I’ve got a 3 month training plan that I’ve largely ignored for the first week. I’ve ignored the Monday rest day and replaced that with a 5km run around Bristol harbour, followed by an hour and twenty minute session of “sports/intervals” down at the sports hall. Fairly low intensity mind you but none the less a pretty heavy day. Tuesday I decided to reward myself with a day off and a burrito, which incidentally is a good day to get a burrito because you get double stamps on the loyalty card! Wednesday, I was asked if I wanted to go on a run with a chap from the office who recently completed the Bristol – Bath Marathon. I figured it would be a chilled lunchtime run but it ended up a fairly intense 10.2km with 125m of Incline. The Zig-Zag trail up to the Clifton Suspension bridge is not for the light hearted and I think it took it out of me for the next kilometer or so. We followed the bridge over to Ashton Court and then did a decent loop back to the office. 54 minutes or so of running made for a good lunchtime and it was worth it because when I got back I ate so much and it was incredible. I was pretty chuffed with the time all in all because of the really steep incline and the only 10k I’ve ran that isn’t my Prestatyn beach run.

Now my Bupa training plan reckons I should have done 4 runs this week and one cross train. I’m on track to do 4 runs, a swim and a bike including my Tuesday off. I’m looking to make sure that I get a weights session in at some point as well for a little conditioning but as usual I’m conscious not to over train at this early stage in my fitness antics.

Winter really is putting a dampener on things and at some point I’d like to be getting out on the flood route in Usk to get some hills and mileage in but it’s never light. Solstice on the 22nd and then things should be looking up, or cold. One of the two, probably both actually. I’m actually now off work until New Year so I can probably pick up swimming, biking and running for further distances up until that point. I’ve also just finished reading the Brownlee Brothers book: “Swim, Bike, Run”. Inspirational to say the least but they’ve had the perfect upbringing for it. Something makes me wish I’d kept at swimming lessons a little longer than the point where you pick up a brick in your pajamas. Maybe it would of been nice to show some interest in anything other than technology when I was younger as well. Something very clear to me is that they the time they put into Triathlon is beyond what I ever could, especially whilst holding a full time job. Alistair gets in at least 6-7 hours of Swimming a week and between 7-10 hours running. I’m not even close to either of those at the moment and would probably be looking at building up to 10 hours of training a week collectively across the three disciplines.

Anyway looking forward to the Newport Half!

10km Progress and Plan

So it’s safe to say my distance running is at its best ever at the moment but I am by no means content with it. I’ve managed to sink my 10 kilometer time down each time I’ve ran it which is currently about once a month.



Soon I intend to start following a plan of some sorts probably adapted from one of the triathlon magazine websites such as 220 so that I can build a good fitness level, exceeding that of the requirements for sprint distance triathlon. Perhaps aim for Olympic level fitness by end of next season ready to dive right in for 2017. I don’t think there is a 1 size fits all type plan out of the ones I’ve seen as they seem to be for people who have the exact same routine 365 days a year.


One thing I do need to take from these plans and more experienced runners/swimmers/cyclists is drills and proper training. There is a habit of, swim the distance, run the distance, cycle the distance, then go a bit further in the hope I can replicate all three on race day. It’s working for getting fitter at the moment but I’m told drills will boost my speed. It never occurred to me that swimming 5 sets of 100m with 20s rest periods would be helpful. Also every time I go out for a 5 or 10 kilometre run I tend to be pushing for personal bests.

The short days are also stopping me getting out on the bike in the week which is annoying. Also, once a month I nick my Dads BMW Z3 and drive to North Wales to see Mrs TimFord.co.uk and that could lead to me only cycling 3 times a month. That isn’t going to cut it. I may have to give up on the idea of only doing running and cycling outside and during the colder months get used to going to sit on a static bike and use the treadmill. How awful.

I’m pretty sure I need to introduce a bike to run brick workout just to get the joints used to transition and squeeze two sports into a day. With swimming at 6am on Thursdays the temptation is to workout after work however I’m extremely conscious not to over train. After all this is the first time in my life I’ve been training 5-6 days a week and in all honesty I’m not sure I can eat enough to keep my weight up if I doubled up training.

For now it certainly seems my running is the strongest aspect of my fitness and I will continue to build on that alongside a weekly weights conditioning session, swim and bike ride. I need to adjust how I train and potentially bring in some bricks to make the most of the time I spend training.

Cycling Begins

So I finally took my bike out on a “bike ride” rather than just up and down Park St. in Bristol. I’ve had my Carrera strapped to the back of the old mans beamer and bought over the Severn and back to the motherland.

Every Sunday a couple of the locals hop on various types of bike and go for a leisurely ride around the delights of South-East Wales. I’ve never been on one of these, mainly because my choice of steed would have been either a Raleigh Chopper or a No Logo fixie but not any more, I have my road bike!

Since this photo I’ve fitted a water bottle and a pressure gauge pump to the frame which I was originally reluctant to do because aesthetics, but I ruin almost all of my possessions so it’s only a matter of time. Whilst I have utterly no idea what an expensive, super light bike feels to ride, I’m incredibly happy with the value for money with the Carrera TDF (Wish it was TCF). I imagine the gears could feel a bit more “tight” as the shifters don’t exactly feel like top of the range plastics let alone carbon fibre. You get what you pay for and all that jazz.

So as for the ride. I’m sorry to point out if any of the chaps who came come across this (if they can find it, 1/4 don’t have smart phones), but you guys ain’t quick. This could be down to the fact that when  I went out on Sunday, I expected to train in the same way I would when I run. This was the Sunday Stroll of Bike Rides and I think I’ll keep it up. They mentioned cycling up to Big Pit is something they’ve done before and I can imagine that’d have some decent climbs.

So training aside, the bike went well. It was fast, faster than the mountain bikes and hybrids as most people would expect but as for me, I had no idea just how much a difference it would make. Especially hills. Coming down into Ponthir on some back road I’ve never heard of was stupidly scary as I don’t have all that much confidence in the brakes on these road bikes, I find I tend to slip and I’m not sure why. I also took this oppurtunity to hook up Strava and give that a try for my first long cycle. The GPS didn’t drain my battery nearly as quickly as I manage to when I’m just using my phone on a day to day basis (I tend to charge iPhone 6, 4x a day from 0-100%). Strava has some absolutely hilarious names for roads, “Llantrisant little b***ard hill that I hate” is one of my personal favorites from our route.

We even stopped at a burger van and had a sausage sandwich in a retail park. This makes the ride seem was less scenic than I may have mentioned earlier on but actually, we cycled along the canal in Cwmbran which was all in all extremely pleasant.

After covering 42km over 3 hours including a stop for a sausage sarnie and a cuppa, I’m left wanting more. I’m looking forward to getting out and training a bit on my own and continuing the weekend cycles, most likely for the 3 times a month I’m planning on being home this year.

Tri Training is Hard


I’ve made commitment. It’s no longer 4 days a week training weights. It’s no longer training for 4 days. It’s now a multi discipline sport of which I’m totally awful at all three. I have an entire winter to train before next season and whilst I know we are doing a super sprint distance, I’m sure we will all be fit enough to do sprint next year and hopefully work up to an Olympic the following year. 

Currently due to my continued lack of home I am focusing in running quite a bit and I’ve really got into it. At present 5km is definitely my gig. I enjoy that distance. I love running in different places. Working in Bristol has seen me find a nice route around the Downs that I think is absolutely gorgeous and when I head up North I really enjoy Prestatyn Beach because I’ve done two 10km runs along there and it’s straight and then air is lush.

As for Cycling, I’ve grabbed myself a cheap but reasonably specced Road bike from Cycle Republic which had absolutely great customer service. It’s a spin off of halfords which I’ve never had a problem with either. Top marks chaps. I’ve only been doing short rides to the office at the moment and am loving it. So strange riding a geared bike and having the ability to rest your feet. I’m looking forward to getting some serious miles on it once I’ve got it back to Wales and out of the office basement (genuinely,not having a “base” sucks).


 As for swimming. Good lord is it the hardest thing to do. I now realise all the effort put into getting my yellow dolphin badge is in vain because they actually teach you not to drown as opposed to how to swim well in a competitive environment. I’m in a spot where swimming non stop for a considerable amount of time seems impossible. I think I might need to get lessons again for this aspect of the tri. 

The homeless banker

Currently I have absolutely nowhere to live. I am on a graduate scheme at one of the UKs leading banking and financial services institutions and earn a fairly decent graduate salary with pretty good company benefits.

It is then, with shame, I must admit I am currently couch surfing in Wimbledon with an old school friend due to my tenancy in Maida Vale coming to an abrupt end. 

I still have two weeks working the London office and then will make my way to Wales to stay with my Mum for a bit having packed 95% of my possessions into my girlfriends Citroën C3 last weekend. 

I’m told I’m not to stay there. I’m then going to live with my brother for two weeks and see what I think of some spare rooms.  If that fails I may look into staying back in Usk, where I was partially raised and I suppose attempted to grow up. If I decide to stay at my dads place, the affectionately called “Bin Ladens Cave”. Alas it’s probably a month off before I sign a document anywhere but that also means I’m possibly going to have a month where I don’t moan about the prospect of council tax.  Student life was too easy.

On Fitness…

3 years ago, I was against any form of fitness that involved traditional methods. You know, things like running or heaven forbid playing in a team sport. I found gyms awkward and cliquey, I would quite enjoy swimming, but by that I mean I enjoyed messing about in a pool, preferably near sun loungers and slides.

Fast forward a year and I’d joined London Central YMCA. I was going to trampoline twice a week and on the other three weekdays doing an absolutely awful full body workout using various machines that I used to convince myself I was keeping fit. At this point, whilst the trampoline was good and a nice little look back at the days of Gymnastics, I was going to the gym and thinking by going to the gym I was keeping fit. I wasn’t, I was simply spending a lot of time in the gym. All in all a positive step forward, because I started to actually enjoy going to the gym even if sometimes I thought doing 5km on a cross trainer was a good workout.

Let us now fast forward another year. Now I’ve left Furnival Mansions and no longer live near Tottenham Court Road but in Maida Vale. I sign up to Bannatynes Maida Vale spurred on by my flatmate who had been training on and off for a few years. Bannatynes Maida Vale, ain’t in Maida. Sorry but it’s Kilburn. It’s also a dreadful gym. I feel like I can point that out now. We spent around 6 months there, I may have had to leave London with work due to being on a flexible location contract so after 6 months of on and off going to the gym at 6am and lifting weights without really understanding what I was doing. I don’t think I made any progress in particular but it was good to be doing something rather than nothing. I should also point out, that I was drinking regularly, probably 4 times a week and not really considering my diet whatsoever, but I am one of those people who doesn’t get fat quickly. I was still rake thin at this point. All in all, a good step, less fun because the Gymnastics was gone but we had a pretty good routine, the gym sucked though and it was stupidly expensive, something like £60 a month.

Then, Training House Gym. This gym taught me something before I even did my first session. Google Reviews can suck. There were some pretty crushing reviews knocking about with Training House Gym. Stuff like, “old equipment”, “smells bad”, “cliquey”. I can honestly say I never had a problem and it was an awesome and supportive gym from day 1. It is however, different. It’s essentially a huge room with weights. The treadmills don’t have TVs, the cycling machines are hardly used and there is a lot of those cross fit types knocking about. It took me a while, but I got a routine together, I started compound lifts, deadlifts, squats and bench. Running a split of 4 days a week as a rule. I finally started making some progress with weights, going from struggling to bench 40kg at the start of 2015 to comfortably lifting sets of 70kg later in the year. I went from never deadlifting before to deadlifting 100kg and have been doing squats at 80kg. Training was actually going really well at this gym and the PTs would swing by and offer advice and stop me from injuring myself. I also had Aussie Dom, the chap from the cupboard, motivating me as lifting was the only fitness he liked other than surfing. Cliché.

Then only recently I decided to get a fit bit charge. With the heart rate monitor. So I can call it a Charge HR. Smashing. Anyway I soon realised after six months of weight lifting and eating loads of anything for “gains”, despite being stronger, on a cardio level I was not  fit. So the current thing is running and weight lifting. Aiming to increase both strength and cardio health whilst aiming towards a super sprint triathlon in the next year. Now to get swimming and buy a road bike. My fixie won’t do. 

The Lego Video Games Are Outstanding

I bought an Xbox One not long ago on a bit of a whim. Having hardly picked up my Wii U gamepad in a while and knowing full well that between work, the Chartered Banker and funding London’s various PubCos I would probably not spend much time playing it.

Then I happened to remember that I had an Australian guy living, quite literally in my cupboard who absolutely loved games, which is curious because he’s also a surfer dude and the sun comes out in Australia every now and then. He and I actually managed to get into Fifa, a game I’ve detested my entire life and especially throughout university when the chaps would prefer to play Fifa than go out.

Alas the Aussie moved out, Fifa went back on the shelf and the Xbox became a BBC iPlayer machine. An expensive one at that. Then I decided to flick through the store on Monday night as all good TV has finished (Cheers HBO) and see if there were any deals on.

There it was Lego Marvel Super Heroes. £10.34 I think it was, a weird price but near enough 3 pints in your local Sam Smiths and probably going to last a lot longer. I downloaded it and had in the back of my mind a game that was going to be similar to the previous Lego instalments I’ve played on iPhone and I think Nintendo DS. I was blown away. The console game is much more polished and much bigger.

There are fantastic scenes, decent puzzles and all in all it’s a pretty funny game. I haven’t really played a game I’ve enjoyed this much in a while. Not since I got the latest Mario game for Wii U. When Mr Fantastic turns himself into a screwdriver I was properly laughing out loud, on a Monday, in my flat, on my own. A sad sight but slightly better than sat there miserable!

Yes the Lego universe, has, to some extent began to take over the world. What I’m shocked at is how good these games actually are. I was prepared to write it off as a child’s game. Bringing another gigantic universe into the mix with the Marvel stuff was sure to be a bit too keen for this style of game but they’ve interlinked origin stories and familiar stories incredibly well and in a funny and entertaining way.

All the above said, would I spend full retail price on a Lego game. No absolutely not. But that may be, because I’m now one of those guys who looks at my phone and says is Software really worth much more than £0.79 to me? I can gain hours of entertainment from Angry Birds and it’s free. £10 is about the right price point for a game of this type and despite being incredible, I’m sad to say that I couldn’t walk into GAME and purchase the disk version for full price.

Current Windows 10 Issues.

I’ve taken the plunge and upgraded to Window 10 last night. It took a long old time to install on my old ThinkPad X1 (The original,not the carbon).

There is on crucial element missing from my experience at the moment: The Windows Store. It just won’t work. I’ve also not been able to use the search function on the start menu, there is no sign of Cortana or the Edge browser and having tried many solutions to similar problems that people had on Windows 8.1. I’ve achieved nothing.


I currently receive the message “This app can’t open” – “There’s a problem with Store. Contact your system administrator about repairing or reinstalling it.”  The issue here being is that I am that person and despite exhaustively searching the internet I’ve been unable to find the solution thus far. Other applications seem to run fine, the calculator runs fine. None of the apps like Store show up in my application either. All very strange. If I find a solution I will update this post.




I’ve actually managed to fix this. After trying to no avail to reinstall all the native applications manually using this command in an elevated powershell (administrative privileges):

Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml”}
The next best thing was to download the USB memory stick creation tool for Windows installation and do a repair install. I kept all my apps and folders but this fixed the native apps, gave me access to Cortana for the first time since I blew up my Windows Phone and now I seem to have a fully functioning copy of Windows 10.
I followed this guide to get my 8GB Usb Pen up and running. I’m posting this on Edge Browser right now and it’s absolutely blazing!







So it’s been a while….

In all honesty, I don’t know if this blog has ever had a following. I don’t get many comments, I don’t track the views on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis and I don’t worry about what who I reach out to. I do look back on some of my earlier posts and think to myself how awful my style of writing has been but that’s part of getting older I think.

In my absence, I’ve now left university. I achieved a first class degree in Computer Science studying between Kingston University London and San Francisco State. As you can imagine I was fairly happy with my grade.


This brings me on to why I haven’t really been blogging as much. I have joined the Graduate Leadership Programme at Lloyds Banking Group in September of 2014 and am now in the full swing of a professional lifestyle. I’ve left Fitzrovia and now live in West London and am thoroughly enjoying myself. Actually, thinking about it, come Tuesday I will know if I will remain in London for another 6 months or whether I’ll be packing my bags and moving somewhere else in the country. As is the nature of a rotational graduate scheme. If I may correct myself again, I will definitely be packing my bags because my landlord wants her flat back. For shame.

I will be looking to pick up blogging again in the coming weeks. I’ve been reading quite a bit lately and wouldn’t mind writing up some things about the books I’m reading. I’m also looking to do some projects outside of work that I’d like to write about. Believe it or not I’ve actually started regularly looking after my body as well!

Microsofts Surface Pro 3

I’m fairly interested in the new 12″ Microsoft Surface Pro that Redmond seems to be boasting as the answer to both the MacBook Air and the iPad. Coming in at £639 and going all the way up to £1,649 the hybrid laptablet/tablet-top is pretty steep and there is clearly a reason why it is named pro. Not many consumers are going to be smashing out almost £2,000 on a Core i7 512gb beast. Microsoft is claiming up to 9 hours for video playback on these devices which is pretty impressive given the internals. I’m intrigued to see how games perform on such a device. In fact, the tech specs overall are amazing. It’s about the size of a MacBook Air and will definitely blow it out of the water.

The interesting thing is that Microsoft can obviously make an incredible device. The specs, the size, the engineering that has gone into this machine look very good. Even the pen has had a fair amount of thought go into it but can Microsoft market such a device. I honestly never understood how appalling Microsofts marketing skills are. They have some bloody good products yet always seem to focus on something that doesn’t make people reconsider why they use what they currently do. If Microsoft showed me an advert that proved Windows 8 managed windows better than my MacBook Pro then I would be more inclined to jump ship. I’d like to try out Windows 8 for a long time but so far I’ve just not had a reason. Windows 7 runs perfectly well on my ThinkPad. My iPad does all those pesky little things like Flipboard, FaceTime and other time wasting antics. I’m not sure I’ve felt the need to have one device to rule them all yet, and I certainly don’t want to be reading Kindle books on a 12″ with an i7 processor.

I’d thoroughly recommend checking out the Surface website here for it is pretty beautiful and shows off the Surface Pro 3 quite well. Will this turn Microsofts attempt to get it’s Windows Hardware products into our hands, well that we will have to see. I look forward to the sales figures in a years time.