B is for…

Cover of Care for Your BudgerigarBobby, a blue and white budgie that I remember from childhood – he could say his name, address and telephone number (presumably in case he got lost?) and ‘beak-planted’ onto the floor of the cage from his perch one lunchtime when my brother and I were listening to Listen with Mother on the radio. We buried him with great sorrow and solemnity in the garden – his casket a no longer required Berlei Bra Box.

B is for ‘Bubble & Squeak’ – several sets of gerbils that lived with us for a time that all had the same name because my brother wasn’t that creative in the name department. Any visitors to our house had to be careful where they walked in our garden as the ‘headstones’ indicating where they had been ‘finally rested’ eroded over a period of time.

B is for Brenda who hated rodents with a passion and wouldn’t enter our house unless the gerbils were either back in their cage or playing in an old yellow baby bath. Unfortunately she didn’t realise they could hop out of the bath and it invariably meant she clambered onto the nearest chair (no mean feat wearing stilettos) and screamed the place down until we found them, picked them up by their long tails and put them back in their cage. Ah, memories!!

B is for Boris the parrot. I looked after him for three long weeks when his owner went into hospital. The owner had spent a lot of time at sea in his earlier days and that bird had picked up some very salty language! Boris was a fantastic mimic – he had me dashing to my intercom several times before I realised he was making the buzzer sound. He kept me giggling with his ‘falling off a cliff’ routine. I would say ‘fall of a cliff, Boris’ and he would eagerly respond with ‘Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrggggggh SPLAT’ in a very deep cockney voice. The downside to our brief relationship was his affinity for profane vernacular. It wasn’t long before the other residents in the building were giving me a wide berth as they wondered what uncouth lunatic I had living with me in my flat.

Cover of Games and House Design for ParakeetsSeveral years on B is for ‘Budgie’ again… I would like another one and have been searching the non-fiction section of several libraries in my daily travels.

So if you are interested in budgerigars, parakeets, parrots, cockatiels and macaws as pets then head straight to the 636 section in the non-fiction and see what it entails. As for me, I’m going to be choosing my words very carefully with the budgerigar.

Tales from a bicycle seat

Triathlon ScienceTriathlon cycling must be the second of the three Shakespeare witches – gnarled, ugly and capable of doing wicked things to your legs. Perhaps it’s because I feel like one of those ladies when I get off the bike – drooling, hunched, and capable of nothing faster than a painful shuffle.

The cycle leg in a triathlon comes after the swim, and before the run, so it serves as a sort of no-mans land, where you try to drink and eat as much as you can to set you up for the last bit, the run. The fact that you have to be able to do this at 30 km an hour while dodging other cyclists, abandoned water bottles and spectators’ dogs just adds another layer of entertainment. Despite this, I quite enjoy the cycle – I mean, you get to sit down, how good is that? Getting sufficiently fit for such a thing – and the event I’m aiming for, a half-ironman, has a 90km cycle – takes a little while. I confess to being a nervous bicycle rider these days, so a fair amount of training time happens on the stationary trainer in the garden shed, just so I don’t have to deal with disintegrating roads and jostle with Christchurch motorists. Strange then, I used to fearlessly cycle around London as a younger man, but maybe this is wisdom coming from my advancing years.

The Complete Guide to StretchingIf you’re on a similar journey to my own, I would point you towards two books mentioned in an earlier blog, Triathlon Science by Joe Friel, and Triathlon For Masters And Beyond by Ian Stokell. They both have good sections devoted to cycling fitness; there are other titles as well that cover much the same ground. As an – ahem – older person, I have to say that stretching is also an important thing, for me anyway. I find that I don’t need to stretch before I start exercising – people, I exercise slow! But if I don’t stretch afterwards, on the following day I feel like I’ve run a marathon. If you find you have the same issues, I can recommend a read of Anatomy, Stretching and Training for Cyclists, edited by Lisa Purcell, and also The Complete Guide to Stretching by Christopher Norris. No doubt a yoga class would help, if only I had the time.

If you need some general reading around cycling and how to do it better, the library provides access to a range of magazines about cycling specific magazines in print and electronic form. You’ll need a valid library card and a password/PIN to access the electronic ones.  You can also find more cycling resources on our cycling page.

For more about Colin’s triathlon endeavours and some reading suggestions, check out our other triathlon blog posts.

Ten mile championship of New Zealand, File Reference CCL PhotoCD 1, IMG0057
Ten mile championship of New Zealand, File Reference CCL PhotoCD 1, IMG0057

Running on empty

Book cover of You are an ironmanIt’s now less than 12 months before I have a go at my first middle distance triathlon, the Half Ironman. That in itself is a worrying thought, but at least it’s 11 months away, and not 11 weeks – now that would be a cause for concern. Who decided that a half ironman was middle distance? I bet it doesn’t feel like middle distance when you’re out there, half way through the run with 10 kilometres still to go. Yes, I know that a full ironman is considered long distance, but really – middle distance? It sounds as unglamorous as “middle age”.

Anyway, there are no shortage of triathlon training books on the library shelves, should you need some guidance. I have to say I do dip into them occasionally, if only to discover the things I’m doing wrong with my own self-led training. I have tried to do the group exercise thing with swimming and running, just to see if it helped, but I found myself daunted by the prowess of the other group members, and so didn’t continue with that idea. Training by yourself isn’t for everyone, I agree, but it beats having to make friendly conversation – have you tried that when you’re out of breath? It’s all to do with the psychology, and if you wanted to work on your sports psychology, the library – naturally – has that covered.

Cover of 80/20 runningIf you would like a bit of help with your own running activities, you could try this book – 80/20 Running. The subtitle is “Run Stronger And Race Faster By Training Slower”. Anything that involves running slowly would have to be right up my street. Can I also recommend the American edition of Runner’s World magazine, not only because of the excellent content, but because of their endpiece article every month, written by John Bingham, aka ‘the Penguin’, who is an unrepentant advocate of slow running. For a comprehensive look at the whole subject of running and how to do it right, there’s Running Science. Just don’t take it too seriously – it’s supposed to be fun, after all.

For more about Colin’s triathlon endeavours and some reading suggestions, check out our other triathlon blog posts.