Berlin Marathon 2015

I’d heard good things about the Berlin marathon; it’s a great city, the marathon route takes you past a lot of famous sights, and the course is flat so it is ‘fast’/’easy’.

Whilst visiting Hilla in Munich last year we got to talking about Berlin and how I should pay it a visit. The conclusion was that running the marathon and then cycling back would be a good thing to do.


Unlike the Paris marathon which I’d run a couple of years ago and the London marathon which are both in Spring, the Berlin marathon is at the end of Summer (this year it was on 27 September). This means that the training can happen in daylight and in warmth – great!

I kept a base level of running fitness since the beginning of the year by going for a run about once each week. Typically this was either an evening run near home, or a jog to work. I usually cycle to work, but jogging to work is handy sometimes, for example if I am going out in London after work and don’t want to cycle home.

One major obstacle was an ankle operation I had on 9 June to remove some of the metal work from a previous break. After the op I had two weeks complete rest followed by a month of no running. This meant I had to do all my proper marathon training in just 11 weeks (most training plans are 16 or 17 weeks). I found a 12 week plan on Strava and used that. I highly recommend Strava training plans for keeping you motivated and focused on a goal. The Strava plan fitted nicely with my aim. I had over-trained for the Paris marathon. I do a decent amount of cycling so wanted to do just three training runs each week, rather than the 4 or 5 prescribed by some plans. I did not stick religiously to the plan, but held fairly close and allowing myself deviations where sensible (e.g. illness, injury or other events).

My training went as follows:

Week 1
Tue 7 July 5.5 km
Thu 9 July 16.5 km (inc. JP Morgan Chase Challenge)
Sun 12 July 13.5 km
Week 2
Tue 14 July 6.8 km
Thu 16 July 10 km
Sun 19 July 17.8 km
Week 3
 Tue 21 July  8.8 km
 Thu 23 July  10 km
 Sun 26 July  13.7 km
Week 4
 Tue 28 July 6.9 km
 Thu 30 July 9.2 km
Week 5
 Tue 4 August 9.8 km
 Thu 6 August 10 km
 Sun 9 August  22.5 km
Week 6
 Tue 11 August  12 km
 Fri 14 August  9 km (injured neck)
Week 7
 Sun 23 August 9.7 km
Week 8
 Thu 27 August 11.7 km
 Sun 30 August 22.2 km
Week 9
Thu 3 Sep  10 km
 Sun 6 Sep  34.3 km
Week 10
 Tue 8 Sep 9.2 km
 Sun 13 Sep  17.7 km
Week 11
Tue 15 Sep 9 km
Thu 17 Sep 9.3 km
Sun 20 Sep 13.3 km
Week 12
 Wed 23 Sep 8 km
 Fri 25 Sep  1.3 km
Sun 27 Sep 46.4 km (Berlin marathon)

The marathon

Throughout the training I thought I would take it easy on the day, just enjoy it and get around in 5 hours or so. I knew the training had been a little on the light-side. On the day of the marathon the sun was shining and I was feeling ready and with no excuses, so when I saw a pacemaker with a 4hr 30 balloon I decided I would follow him.

The marathon was really well organised. There was not too much waiting around at the start, the roads were wide, so whilst they were busy, they were not too tightly packed. There were plenty of water stops on the route where I could top up my bike water bottle that I carried with me, and there was lots of music on the way.

I used my own gels which I kept in an expandable waist pouch purchased the day before at the running expo. Another waist pouch held my phone which was recording my effort using the Strava app. I also had my Garmin watch which I used as a back-up record of my progress, and it usefully displays my running time, pace and distance at a glance.

The first half-marathon was a breeze. I saw a toilet with a shortish queue and decided to take a quick break. I lost the 4hr 30 pacemaker at this point. The rest of the marathon got progressively more difficult, and the last couple of miles were really quite painful. I kept plodding along with the thought that if I stopped I wouldn’t be able to get going again.

The finish line brought a big sense of achievement and relief. I stumbled painfully back to the bag and meeting area, making my way through a couple of very welcome alcohol-free pints of lager as I did so.

After resting for an hour or so walking was super-painful! Our airbnb flat was a couple of miles away. The solution? Brompton and Jenny to the rescue.. I was able to cycle her bike back to the flat no problem (although the seat post was a little low..) 🙂

Walking to the startWaiting at the startRunning the Berlin MarathonAt the finish lineMedal and beerThe ride backBerlin marathon medal

July/August cycling

Back on the bike after my ankle operation, and in addition to the usual commute I got in a few long, fun rides. I pressed ‘pause’ on long rides in the first week of August to concentrate on running for a bit. There’s more to life than cycling after all! More of that later…

Dunwich Dynamo 2015

Dunwich Dynamo is an annual semi-organised cycling event which starts at London Fields on a Saturday evening and after cycling through the night you end up over 100 miles away at Dunwich beach sometime on Sunday.

It was a nice night. The weather was kind to us right up until we arrived at Dunwich, when it started raining.

Old brake padsDaylightDaylight pedalling

One advantage to doing this ride on the Brompton is that we were able to just fold our bikes up and put them in the hold of the coach rather than stacking them up with loads of other bikes in the trailer.

Cycling throughout the night is a tiring experience. This is what the coach home looked like(!):



In the summer we did a few extra rides mid-week after work, and explored routes in Essex, Hertfordshire and Surrey.

Country laneNice horseyTower at sunsetCycling in the suburbs at twilightPizza deliverySurrey sunsetSurrey promiseBoxhill at dusk

Saturday river ride

On a particularly sunny Saturday, three of us rode to Richmond and then continued along The Thames. This was such a nice ride we’ll have to repeat it in a larger group on another sunny day.

Sunny dirt trackRegatta on The ThamesRiver boatAt the palaceWith the deerThe Bridge

Dartmoor Hills

‘Four go down to Dartmoor’ – the sequel. We went on a day-trip to Devon, taking an early train down, a cycle around, and a late train home. Daniel planned this route, and it was packed with hills, breathtaking views and sunshine.

Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100

I did the Pru 100 on my big-wheeled bike. It was really well organised and cycling through London on closed roads is an opportunity not to be missed. There was a bit of congestion up the hills in Surrey, but otherwise a very enjoyable ride. It was really nice to see so many spectators lining the streets too. My time was 5h44m. I’ve signed up again to be considered in the ballot for 2016. If I get in I’ll probably do it on my Brompton to add extra fun 🙂

Pru 100 finish lineMedal winnerMmmedal

June (not much) cycling

I didn’t get to do much cycling this month as I had an operation to remove some metalwork from my ankle.

Five years ago I got side-swiped by a van whilst riding my scooter on the way to work. I flew through the air a bit and landed into the kerb. When I looked down my foot was pointing the wrong way, so I asked someone to call for an ambulance.

A&E 2010

Luckily I had skipped breakfast that morning, which meant I could be anaesthetised and operated on that same morning. I received excellent treatment at University College Hospital.

I had some metal work fitted. There was quite a lot of ligament damage and subsequent swelling which meant I got to spend 5 days in hospital and then another week of prescribed bed rest at home, before a month of bumbling around on crutches.

Post-op bionic X-ray

Recovery was slow, but in due course I was back on my feet.  I appreciated my mobility more, and felt motivated to do more running and cycling. The scooter was a write-off at the accident so I started cycling to work again. In fact the more I did, the better I felt.

Every day over the past 5 years the ankle has been a bit of an annoyance because it gives aches and pains e.g. whilst walking, and the two bottom screws poked out slightly which meant I couldn’t wear boots. Also if I ever knocked that part of my leg it was pretty painful! So I went to see my GP earlier this year who referred me on to a consultant back at UCLH. The consultant agreed to the removal of the metalwork from the left-hand side of the leg. So in June 2015 I had the op under general anaesthetic, spent a week with my foot up and then another on crutches. After that I received the all clear, so started cycling again, albeit taking things a little easy.

Other than commuting, I did just one longer ride in June with the London Brompton Club, on the first day I was back cycling. The route was a gentle, flat ride along the Thames to Greenwich. It felt good to be back 🙂

LBC Thames ride
LBC Thames ride


I also went to two bike-themed events at Look Mum No Hands this month.

The first was a film screening event in conjunction with the BFI. One of the films shown, Racing Cyclist, featured Barrie Witcomb. He was also at the event and did a Q&A session where he talked about his life of cycling. This included what life was like training and racing in Britain in the 60s, as well as working in the family bicycle shop and hand-building frames.

The other event I went to was the book-launch of the English language version of The Grand Tour Cookbook by Hannah Grant – nutritionist and caterer for one of the pro tour cycling teams.

The Grand Tour Cookbook
The Grand Tour Cookbook

May cycling

I did 100 km of Swains Lane loop – which turned out to be 41 ascents (Mont Ventoux is the equivalent of 24 ascents). This earned me a 2015 ‘King of the Mountain’ award for Swains Lane which I’m quite proud of. I will buy a red polkadot mug to celebrate in due course 🙂

41 laps of Swains Lane

I cycled from Otford to Whitstable on a very enjoyable London Brompton Club ride. The bike got muddy, but I’m ok with that 🙂

Whitstable winder

April cycling

The front rim was about to fail on the Brompton so I built a new front wheel.

Brompton wheel rebuild

Two days after building the new wheel I cycled to Paris on it (but got the train back).
Read the write-up

Arriving at the Eiffel Tower

I rode the Rapha ‘Hell of the North’ with Iancu. It wasn’t my idea of hell.
Watch Iancu’s video

Happiness is not a destinationHell of a bike

I built a new front wheel with hub dynamo and fitted a light to my Condor bike

Son hub dynamo

I cycled 413 km in one ride by doing a 300 km audax as well as commuting to and from the start. My bum really hurt towards the end.
Read the write up


I cycled around the Isle of Wight on the Brompton for the annual IoW randonnee. Recommended!

Isle of Wight randonee