This is Part 2 of Danielle's serialised blog leading up to her big event in June. For the other chapters, click here.

'All the leaves are brown and the skies are grey’*

It’s funny the tunes that pop, uninvited, into your head on a long ride. Mostly I ride alone, so I’ve only my own ponderings for company, but I love that. Cycling is great for shaking thoughts up or clearing blockages in your brain. It’s like all the good stuff rises to the surface and little nuggets of wisdom that were hidden decide to show themselves in mini eureka moments.

I’ve not quite managed my one long ride a week as planned, but when I have I’ve been rewarded with beautiful, life-affirming moments. Moments like watching the sun burn away the morning mist or having the whole towpath to myself so I could charge through muddy puddles and not worry about splattering someone.

Of course it’s not all been good. I’ve suffered a couple of punctures in the recent bad weather and on one ride had to push 2 miles to get home. On this occasion the earworm wriggling around my head was the rather irritating, all time classic by Wizard,  ‘Oh I wish it could be Christmas everyda-a-a-y…..’ I think you’ll forgive me for not feeling very festive at that particular moment!

So, I am just over a month into my half Ironman training and things are going pretty well. The hardest session of the week by far is triathlon club where we spin and then run on the track. It’s brutal but brilliant.

By contrast to the hippy, dippy, wistful tunes* that drift through my head on solitary rides, the music here is, well, I guess the opposite! We listen to banging, high energy, doof, doof, doofs that help us push those pedals and work our muscles. I’ve no idea who makes this music, but it does the job and we train till we drop – which is good practice, because I am going to have to keep going till I drop on race day next June.

One of the motivations for taking on this challenge is to honour the memory of a dear friend of mine, Emma, who died in 2013. Emma and I used to run together and she was always up for a challenge. She would have loved the idea of an epic triathlon.

When she was too ill to work we would share films and music; she used to say I was her cultural secretary. The last tune I shared was Facing West by the Staves which, although melancholy, is also beautiful. Inevitably this is now the tune that reminds me of Emma and although it makes me cry, it also motivates me to get out there and grab life.

So this weekend I am avoiding the Christmas shopping and aiming for my first 50 miler. Wish me luck, as I will probably have to endure another pesky little earworm or two…Ding, dong merrily on high anyone?

My aim for this month is pretty simple: not to let the momentum drop off amidst a pile of mince pies and chocolate snowmen. And Santa, if you’re listening, some pedals to go with my new shoes would be most welcome and will definitely help keep me on track!

Happy Christmas all!


*Mamas And The Papas, California Dreaming. 1966. 

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