Well, today we celebrate 2 years of marriage. I am a lucky, lucky, LUCKY man. I get discouraged from gushing about how in love I am…… but Nicky truly is my miniature hero!! (and, yes, she does approve of the pet name!)
A silly pet name, really, what with, you know, us being ON IT and everything…….
SO, I shan’t go on and on and on about just how wonderful my life is with Nicky…. well, only a bit…….
Anyway, we did the Imerys Trail (half) Marathon on Sunday. Unfortunately we didn’t quite make the cut-off at 8.2 miles and were diverted on to half course. Clearly we aren’t fast enough runners for this event:-
The apparent race time limit of 5h30m (this would be 12m36s per mile) wouldn’t have been a problem, Nicky has recently ran a 4h24m marathon and whilst this is definitely a more challenging route, with her relentless and consistent pacing we would always get there. Lovely, settle in and enjoy the run……
Hang on, the cut off at 20 miles is 4 hours (12 mm). Oh, really, well, we’ll get to that relatively safely and even if we are tiring, that would mean we had 1.5 hours to do the last 10k (and as we now know, the last 3 miles are pretty quick). Smashing, we could average high 11’s and see how we felt at 20…..
Oh, HANG ON, the cut off at 8 miles is 1.5 hours, that’s 11m15s per mile!!! Er, why?? Anyway, I tried not to let this concern me as I set about pacing Nicky as best I could to this first cut off point. I can’t tell you too much about the course, as I was trying to get the right effort out of Nicky without burning up valuable energy for later in the race.
We ALWAYS start at the back. This serves two purposes – firstly, it avoids being dragged along by runners going faster than we should be and secondly it stops the demoralising process of quicker runners coming by as they find their place in the field. This was a mistake today!
It took us exactly a minute to cross the start line.
After a lap of the Cornwall College site we hit a rather bad bottle neck. Stationary. 90 seconds.
Then, an uphill very narrow grass path, at a gentle walk as there were plenty of half marathon runners enjoying the greenery as they were, of course, under no time pressure. How much quicker might we have done this section, maybe 30 seconds, maybe a minute?
The final nail in the coffin of our marathon was when we passed the 8 mile marker with 1h29m50s showing on my watch but with no sign of the split.
A few hundred yards later we were 2 minutes too late for the poor chap charged with the task of informing us! You were bravely firm and apologetic sir and I hope we weren’t rude!
We completed the ‘half’ in 2h28m feeling bright and fresh, a bit cross(!) but could merrily have gone around again.
Such a shame that my beautiful wife, a seasoned veteran of 30 marathons, including a 50 miler, 4 50ks and numerous tough off road events is now saying that she feels that she simply isn’t good, or indeed, fast enough.
I guess we’ll just have to be more careful to ensure races we enter are aimed at runners like us.
A cracking venue and course, numerous and enthusiastic marshals and volunteers and an inclusive half marathon with no time pressure.
Not all doom and gloom though, a pasty and an ice cream as we chilled on the beach at Charlestown was just splendid, followed by a lovely evening and night in our favourite bolt hole in Mevagissey.
And now we look forward to some lovely weekends of running and Nicky is getting right back into her open water swimming again.
Hopefully I haven’t come across as bitter and twisted. As I said to a nice chap in a Mudcrew vest as we stomped our way through the last few miles, I need to shut the wotsit up and stop moaning. “Oh no, he said, if you’ve developed a life skill you should definitely use it!”!!
Ahhh, the longest days of the year. Heatwaves. Festivals. It’s summer now alright.
A few tetchy people around, obviously not including yours truly, as most of us are struggling to acclimatise to sleeping in the warm nights ……. Me? I lurrve the heat…
Obviously I’d choose a chilled afternoon at Seacombe Sands with my beautiful wife over screeding floors in a sweatbox with my workmate Jamie. Nothing against Jamie of course!
It’s Giant’s Head Marathon this coming weekend, a fabulous, award
winning, brutally hilly, trail marathon in Dorset. Upon completion participants are rewarded with monstrous ice creams and a monstrous medal featuring the Giant’s, er, spinning willy…
Nicky and I have done the Giant’s Head Marathon two years running so we’ve opted for a change of scenery (more of which later) this year as we build up to the Snowdonia Trail Marathon in July. It was warm last year, but in 2015 it was HOT! Fabulous event though, I mean FABULOUS. So good luck to everyone in Dorset this weekend, hope it cools off a tad.
It’s also the Glastonbury Festival this weekend. Back in the day I did a few of these too, struggling to sleep then too….. I wasn’t quite as fit back then…. Another fabulous event which, unlike the Giant’s Head Marathon,
doesn’t feature high in my list of experiences to repeat. Too old for camping, noise, crowds, late nights, debauchery…..
So, a relay this weekend. But before that, we are off to Bantham on Saturday as Nicky is participating in The Swoosh, a 6km swim from Aveton Gifford to Bantham. It’s a dawn start and we’re aiming to arrive for sunrise before Nicky is bussed to the start. Our regular accomplice at events, Martin, is also involved. Obviously it hasn’t been suggested that his breathing whilst swimming is hindered by incessant chatting….
I’m chief supporter and intend running the trails to watch the start before returning to see the finish. More and more and more, events are just that, EVENTS. The whole experience, the adventure of getting up at silly o’clock, meeting Martin, the drive on empty roads, the sunrise, the bubbling nervous excitement and sharing all of this with the most amazing person I’ve ever known. (That’s Nicky, not Martin, although, in that wetsuit mate………)
Soul mates? The two words never went together in my life, until I met Nicky and we set out on this life of outdoor pursuit and sharing everything. Everything? Well, apart from the time Nicky ran over to another path whilst we were walking one day, to ensure she didn’t have to reciprocate and give me a bite of HER crème egg!
There have been scuffles on the sofa over the last liquorice allsort on occasions….
So, to recover from Saturdays exploits, on Sunday, we’re doing a relay. A relay, I kid you not. Nicky is going to bravely swim a kilometre off South Milton Sands before handing over the, er, dibber to me as I head off for a 15km coastal and trail run. It sounds fantastic and the weather is looking good but not crazily hot luckily.
We were just chatting about how it really is the event we’re looking forward too, it takes as long as it takes. The process, the journey, the moments and memories rather than any measured ‘outcome’. Saying that, I wonder if there’s a Vet 50 Married Couple trophy!!
Nicky is having a great year of open water swimming, getting in the sea wherever possible and feeling stronger and invigorated for the experience. We are shoe horning our Snowdonia training into the available time and had a VERY hot 14 mile trail run on Tuesday evening, straight from work, which was hard but a beautiful route.
We also ran a very challenging few hours out of Kingswear together on Sunday. This too, was a stunning route.
It’s about the journey, and WOW what a journey it is.
I’m trying to mix my runs up a bit but keep mileage high, it’s ten weeks until the East Farm Frolic, where I shall endeavour to keep moving for the full 12 hours, so I need to know I’ve built an endurance base to support this. I do think that my work helps with this, some days it can be relentless. Up and down ladders or like this week mixing and carrying, it’s great work but can be very tiring, sometimes after a 10 mile run in the morning.
I firmly believe that ‘keeping going’ will be the key to ultra running and so I’m just going to keep on running. Wherever, whenever, for however long or however far, and enjoy every single step……..
The world feels like it’s under siege at the moment and so many are suffering unimaginable and unbearable sorrow and grief. We are so fortunate that we can’t even begin to imagine how life must be right now for those suffering and those who have lost. I truly hope the apparent groundswell of love, rather than hate, as a reaction to appalling events of late is the way forward for us all as a community, as a nation, as the human race and EVERYONE echoes the mantra “I refuse to neglect you”
Check out my latest running efforts on Strava if you fancy a nose.
Yeah, I don’t know where to begin so I’ll start by saying I refuse to forget you I refuse to be silenced I refuse to neglect you That’s for every last soul up in Grenfell even though I’ve never even met you That could have been my mum’s house, or that could have been my nephew Now that could have been me up there Waving my white plain T up there All my friends on the ground trying a see up there I just hope that you rest and you’re free up there I can’t feel your pain but it’s still what it is Went to the block just to chill with the kids Troubled waters come running past I’mma be right there just to build you a bridge yo
Some people have REALLY black cats. It wouldn’t matter how black yours is, there’s WILL be blacker……….
Anyway, we haven’t got a cat. We’ve got a Border Terrier. Charlie. And he’s, well, beige to be honest. Not especially beige. Just your average, run of the mill sort of beige. I don’t doubt there are people out there with beiger Charlies. But, he’s quite beige enough for us.
He looks darker when he’s wet. Which he was quite often on our jolly sunny holidays in the glorious lake district last week. We didn’t let the
weather hold us back, with a marathon, lots of other runs and walks and Nicky swimming a mile in the Great North Swim.
Talking of which, despite some serious open water swimming already this year, Nicky was a little bit, er, green after this, having not quite had the lake experience she was hoping for. She still banged out a mile in Lake Windemere. And not for the last time, I
Not as green as she looked on Sunday though. Well, green, pink, blue…
Her wonderful daughter, my step daughter, Alisa (regular readers will know how proud we are of her achievements this year) and Nicky did the Colour Rush 5k in Teignmouth. Basically three laps of the prom and beach whilst periodically having coloured powder paint thrown at them.
Alisa’s first medal. And I managed to have a full compliment of grandchildren still under my control by the time they finished. All over this grand parenting malarkey, I am…..
So, and please no giggling at the back….. We. Are. On. It.
I know, you’ve heard it before, but THIS TIME……
There’s a cut off at 20 miles in the Snowdonia Trail Marathon which is our next target. It’s probably not a shock to discover that it’s a little bit hilly, but we could probably do with sharpening our mountain goat physiques to help with that…..
Project Mountain Goat is go!
So, since we got back from our holiday Nicky has been back in the sea (twice) and quickly regained her confidence and we’ve both been enjoying the trails on our early morning jaunts.
We also went back to Brixham Harriers last night and enjoyed a loop including a beautiful section of the coast path before our (now traditional) Tuesday evening chips. A glorious summer’s evening in lovely company.
We’re still struggling with the running in the evening, mostly because of how, simply, our days are arranged, it leaves a sort of blank hour before we set off for the club. This sounds like a ‘first world problem’ I realise, but we, as I’ve alluded to in previous posts, seem to be constantly battling time…… That said, it’s great to run in a friendly and welcoming group and , well, we do enjoy the chips…
We shared a portion…
My big, BIG target for the year (*I reserve the right to change this, having not quite made my last BIG target!) is the East Farm Frolic. With that in mind, I am trying to add a few miles here and there and get more endurance fit than ever before. I’m really not sure how I’m going to respond to such a long time on my feet, but I have even BIGGER ambitions for the following two years so I really need to find out how my body (and mind) respond to a heavier training load.
Luckily, I absolutely love running, and, wherever I can, I’ll try and do my runs AND Nicky’s runs with her over a weekend and really start getting the miles in.
On that note, I read, in a running social media group, of somebody bemoaning not being allowed to wear headphones during a 10k race because “running is boring enough…”
I feel blessed that I get nothing but joy from every single run…
Some of us grew up in households more politically active than others. Some of us were born in areas of the country known to be traditional ‘hotbeds’ of one political leaning or another. Some of us accepted the tone of our ‘political’ upbringing, some of us rejected and rebelled. Some of us campaign. Some of us keep quiet but still believe in our values. Some of us see the fall out of political choices ‘on the ground’ and form our opinions accordingly.
Having become a proud Grandad and Step-Dad and an even more proud husband to a social worker, having become part of the support network for someone struggling with dementia, I, of course, have my own feelings and opinions. I’ve chosen not to share them on this blog, or on social media as I enjoy my writings being about ADVENTURE and the positive, fun challenges of our lives.
That said, I hope we wake up tomorrow in a country where it’s ok to hope, to share, to love. In a country where a random act of unpublicised kindness to a stranger is a treasured thing. As opposed to a country where we all trample each other in pursuit of personal fame and fortune. I
would love us to wake up in a country where my beautiful Grandchildren are both encouraged to, and are free to, explore the opportunities of education, health and enrichment regardless of birth right, social status or geography. A country where these children see that we care for our elderly, our young, our deprived, our disadvantaged, our disabled and our victims. A country where we welcome all, where we reject hatred and believe in each other.
Ahhhh, the Lake District, I hope our wonderful Grandchildren get to see this wonderful area in which Nicky and I are enjoying during this amazing week. Despite the relentless rain it is breath taking here, the walking and running is wild and free and truly refreshes the soul.
Ravenglass before turning up to Muncaster Fell and taking the wild route back towards Eskdale Green. We saw a cluster of walkers at the very start of our day, not seeing another soul until we crossed the road to rejoin the trail for the final couple of miles. It has truly heaved down today, but we absolutely loved it.
Nicky’s calf pain, almost certainly due to an ill advised shoe decision on Sunday, was all but absent, and Charlie was kept motivated to keep running by the constant presence of sheep up on the fells. Yup, he spends plenty of time on his lead around here, gradually losing his tiny terrier mind to the sensory overload of scents wafting over
the peaks and tarns.
As promised, a week of the previous mentioned R’s & W’s (reading, running, writing, walking) has been enjoyed, along with the glorious absence of an alarm clock, and it is, all too soon, heading to its conclusion.
We’re both inspired, both determined to get home and train hard towards our goals, particularly getting to the 20 mile point within the time limit next month at The Snowdonia Trail Marathon
We’re both then keen to push on to our collective goals as well as our individual endurance ambitions. Nicky is, again doing the River Dart 10k Swim later in the year and has challenged herself to go quicker, and I’m hoping to continue to build my running towards my 12 hour challenge in August.
Nicky has been taken by Adam Walker’s book whilst we have been away, a real ‘can do’ attitude, a determination to only focus on HOW he will achieve rather than WHY he won’t. I dread to think what she’s planning next, after reading that!
And I’ve been inspired to write. I mean REALLY write. I mean to write something every day, be it this blog, be it short stories, or be it actually starting the NOVEL….
But actually, I’ve said it aloud since we’ve been here, there is poetry in me. There, I’ve said it again. Poetry. I’ve got a lifetime of thoughts which I’ve never quite put to paper. I’ve also started, in my scribbles, and in my head, started to create a ‘collection’. A collection of poems based around those affected in the world of a dementia sufferer.
Yes, this place is special. This place, as I’ve said in my previous blog, has beauty which you can feel, it gets inside you and it is relentless in its ability to take your breath with every turn.
Being here, with my perfect soul mate, my incredible lady wife, has been glorious beyond any words I may find to scribble…….
AND……. there might just be a surprise, a little sting in the tail of the week…….. Nicky, ever the impromptu queen of adventure that she is….
We were sat on the beach in Negril, Jamaica in December 2015, having completed the Reggae Marathon, when a couple of unlikely looking buskers sauntered along the beach looking for somebody to entertain. “I’m going to get them to play my favourite Marley tune…” I announced. “Baby don’t worry, ’bout a thing…”. A dollar well spent me thinks. Well, it’s been mine and Nicky’s song ever since, the beautiful innocent optimism of the lyrics a refreshing contrast to the tensions that life can create.
After completing the awesome Coniston Trail Marathon on Sunday, the lakeside venue was richly entertained by an engaging chap with an acoustic guitar and an ear for a tune. Whilst we were guzzling our post race Ribena and 7UP, chomping on venison burgers, the guy played “Don’t look back in anger”, an unannounced yet beautifully poignant tribute. He then donned a harmonica and rolled into, you guessed it….”Three Little Birds”. I was in the immediate post race glow of pride, of loving the atmosphere as runners and walkers from the 5 events across the day soaked up the rays and the views in the late afternoon sun. We were chuffed with our achievements. I don’t mind admitting to feeling a little emotional and falling a little bit deeper in love with the astonishing lady in my arms!
We’d arrived (as those prone to regular perusal of this ramshackle chronical will know) in the lakes pretty exhausted. We thought we could add to this less-than-perfect preparation by getting up at 5 in this utopia of quiet to prepare our marathon weaponry and drive the hour to Windermere to drop Charlie off at the dog sitter. We found Lakes Pet Services via the internet, and what a great service Petra provides. Charlie will be back, he was pooped by the time we picked him up!
Back to Coniston, and the special atmosphere at Old Coniston Hall was apparent from the moment we parked up by the lake, a buzz of excitement, so many cheery ‘hello’s, and some rather splendid coffee.
We somehow ended up talking to the lovely people at the Inov8 stand. Now, it’s easy to be cynical about corporate sponsorship (and I am!) but these guys were on hand in force to offer guidance and, something I’ve never seen before, a chance to try out some part-worn shoes.
To cut a long story short, we both ended up running the marathon in borrowed shoes. A resounding success for me and Nicky’s were incredibly comfortable, if a little less cushioned than she’s used to.
As we lined up for the start, some of the talk inevitably turned to the dreaded cut offs and time limit. As we can now confirm, this
is a genuinely tough trail race, with some proper climbs and sections of really rugged terrain and technical sections. Therefore, just like last week’s Pure Trail event, it is made plain that participants need to be fit and strong enough for several hours of tough running. BUT, you’re not expected to be Joss Naylor.
Talking of which, the spirit of such running greats is almost tangible on this route, especially in the second half as the route climbs a couple of fells
and circumnavigates some gorgeous tarns. What a privilege it was to be running here.
The first half of the race is a series of ups and downs, but on the whole climbing. Overall pace is reduced by the need to stop every 5 minutes to say ‘WOW’ at the views, but kept brisk by the runability of the terrain. Short road sections are all accompanied by more stunning views and so barely noticed. The route is one great big loop, a wide rounding of
the whole of the lake. Nicky was braving some quite considerable calf pain, her powerful calves are prone to tightness and we suspect wearing some more ‘racey’ profiled shoes may have contributed to this, combined with a less than ideal preparation, but we still made great progress and the cut offs soon became far from our minds. A long, and rocky, decent in miles 17, 18 and 19 had her exclaiming “I am running like a wooden top!” (younger readers may need to click the link!).
I think the phrase is ‘technical terrain’, this decent and, in fact, the climb up into the fells that followed and the fall back towards the lake AND most of the flat section along the shore edge towards the finish could all be classed as ‘technical’. What a fabulous course, what a treat the whole event is. Visually jaw dropping and it gets right inside you, you can FEEL the beauty here. There is no better way than to spend Sunday than running in such humbling
surroundings in the company of my perfect soul mate.
“Don’t you ever get bored running with me?” Nicky asked as we both tried and failed, despite our finest efforts, to fall flat on our faces as we tripped over the massed network of roots along the lake side. Bored!!?? This really is EVERYTHING I could ever want.
So, we reached the finish, both now 30something in terms of marathons completed and both struggling to imagine any we’ve done which top this one. I truly feel blessed.
We’re lucky enough to have another 5 days here in this beautiful place, and whatever the weather (it’s not looking good!) we’re going to indulge in not setting the alarm and plenty of the 2 ‘R’s and 2 ‘W’s (reading, running, writing, walking), oh and watch out, Nicky might just have a surprise lined up for later in the week…….
Anyway, briefly as I’ve taken enough of your time, having been relieved of several £10 notes yesterday, I thought I’d better take the new trail shoes out in the P!55ing rain today. Nicky, wisely, is resting her rather tight calves.
So I went out and did 7 or so miles, finishing going up to the tarn on the fell opposite where we’re staying and enjoying the grip these new shoes offer on the wet, rocky decent. You can check out this run here, and yesterdays marathon here.
I write this blog because I truly enjoy writing, it is relaxing, I enjoy sharing how running is so much part of mine and Nicky’s lives and how I am never quite able to fully believe that I get to live this life with Nicky. Our day to day world is great, with a particular set of challenges which is the same for everybody and I’m sure our adventures (and my writing about them) is very much part of how we contrast that whirly-gig of life with our down time.
I love the sunshine, the warmth, ahhh yes, lazy days when we’re not at work. Yup, on those balmy, sultry breaks, we sure do like it hot…
After 7 hours and 40 minutes of our journey from Paignton to the Travelodge at Middlewich, eye-wateringly tired from driving and the relentless heavy traffic, a little bit indigestioned (not an ACTUAL word, I appreciate, but it summed up our bloated bodies perfectly!) by something called ‘fast food’, we could really have done with NOT being hot.
An absolute bargain, the Travelodge room, and there was nothing actually wrong with it, and the staff were more than willing and helpful, magically producing a fan from somewhere. We requested this, after establishing that sleeping with the windows open basically created the effect of sucking in the sound of articulated lorries braking for the roundabout outside. And it was SO EFFIN’ HOT.
Despite this, we, bleary eyed and bleary bodied, couldn’t help but take an Elbow approach this morning, throwing the curtains wide, glad we only had a couple of hours driving left (even allowing for a tiny navigation error….) and 7 days of lakes beauty ahead.
First stop today, Coniston, scene of the start and finish of tomorrow’s marathon. In case you’re interested, cut-offs look evenly spaced and inclusive. Just saying.
As we sat stuffing our grinning faces with pie and chips outside a lovely café in the bustling town of Coniston, we noticed several other obvious runners about the town, and a few sat near us. We enjoyed some self depreciating giggles as we noticed the salads, wraps, soups and other healthy looking light bites being consumed by waif like ‘proper’ athletes, like us, sporting tee shirts from previous epic marathon battles. It’s all good though, we are ON IT (starting next week), oh yes we are!!
We enjoyed a picturesque stroll to the race registration (we might have topped the pie up with an ice cream along the way) and collected our numbers and jumbo ankle timing chips ready for tomorrow’s jaunt.
If any of you have ever driven Wrynose Pass, or Hardknott Pass in the lakes, you’ll know what a breathtaking ride the drive from there to our fabulous chalet in Boot is, both for the incredible views and the rollercoaster ride a heavy lunch sitting on your stomach gets!
We stayed here last year, when we did the Brathay Windemere Marathon, and would unreservedly recommend it. In the middle of outrageously gorgeous scenery and dog friendly too.
So, as the sun disappears behind the fells, in the silence of the valley here, we look forward to a cooler, quieter, darker night’s sleep, with a 5am alarm set ready for some more lovely adventure……..
I remember (just), bad old days when a good weekend meant going to bed at 5am. These days that’s when the alarm goes off signalling the start of another day of adventure for me and the beautiful one.
Although, yesterday we did the Race The Tide long half marathon (16.5 ish miles), the first time we’ve attempted a Pure Trail event. In order for the race’s appropriate cut-off at the river crossing coincide with the incoming tide, the start time was 1.24pm precisely.
So, no 5am alarm, how very civilised for us to have a lie-in, although, being creatures of habit, we were naturally dithering about what and when to eat to prepare for a lunchtime start.
Friend, and all round good guy, Jamie was directing us into the field being used as a car park. He’s a stalwart of the running community, aside from his own achievements in trainers, he’s regularly to be found in a hi-viz shepherding runners or their vehicles and generally contributing to making trail races the great events they are.
Anyway, we arrived in the picture postcard village of Holbeton in plenty of time to collect our numbers and enjoy watching some of the mud splattered 10k runners career across the line. Everybody looked so happy. We had a good feeling about today. And how right we were……
Aside from our 16+ mile half marathon and the 10k, there was a 30 odd mile marathon and those runners
were already out there, attempting to best their various tide cut-offs.
After the race which shall not be mentioned recently, Nicky’s knocked confidence was in need of a boost and we were both determined to put that to rest. (I have now, honestly….)!
This race, in my opinion, has it spot on – the cut offs are they for all the right reasons. The first is primarily because the tide would have prevented anybody not making the time getting across the estuary.
Just one of the many well thought out details of this race was that, even in the event of missing the crossing at 6.5 miles, you could simply retrace your route and still cross the line having completed the best part of a half marathon. The marathon had similar contingencies in place.
Anyway, within the first uphill mile, we soon learned why those earlier runners were caked in mud as we waded through knee (or higher) deep mud as the route became, in the name of the organisers, pure trail.
The route was certainly undulating in those first 6.5 miles, but not brutal and Nicky had her race face on as we reached the estuary crossing with about 17 minutes to spare. We dibbed in (the timing system involves wearing a ‘dibber’ which you connect with a receiver at each of the check points and the finish), I do enjoy races with dibbers, something of the child in me I think! and then started across the estuary. Such a beautiful spot, great fun splashing through the water and welcomed on the other side by, amongst others, the omnipresent Jamie, having been relieved of his car park duties. “Cuts offs?! PAH! cut offs, schmutt offs” he called out, being aware of our recent experience at the race we shall not mention (I promise!).
This race made it quite plain that you need to be fit, strong and used to difficult, challenging, hilly and rough terrain to be able to make the cut offs, but it does not expect you to be challenging fro a spot on Nike’s next Breaking2 project! All the wonderful, friendly, encouraging, knowledgeable marshals and crew at Pure Trail appear to UNDERSTAND trail runners, they can look at an athlete and instinctively know whether they are physically or mentally struggling to meet the times needed to get around.
Consequently, us runners are free to enjoy the stunning, varied and fantastically thought out course, using the pacing strategy which works for us.
After those 6 or so miles on woodland trails and riverside paths, the scenery change as we headed off for 3 or 4 miles on the coast path. It doesn’t matter where you land along it, the South West Coast Path is something else. Plenty of steep ups, steps, downs, gates, stiles and wildlife. And endless stunning
viewpoints. Despite these, naturally, being the slowest miles of our run, they are SO gorgeous, time becomes irrelevant. Before we knew it, the route was taking us back in land. Nicky ran so strongly in this race, pushing on in the woods, taking her occasional walk breaks to pause, take a drink, check we’re both going well and then pushing on. I’m always bleating on about just how PROUD I am to be Nicky’s husband, but she never ever does anything but make me proud.
This tough 16 mile run was no exception. When I write this blog, I just let my feelings about this wonderful running life we share leak onto the page. I’m not a particular ‘type’ of runner, I enjoy pounding the pavements, doing laps of Paignton Green, intervals and pushing myself hard.
But I am NEVER happier in my running shoes than when I’m enjoying the most beautiful of views in the most beautiful of company. Pure Trail gave us the first of those in spades on Saturday, and Nicky, naturally fills the second and I truly feel blessed.
We gave our best team effort here, and absolutely loved every second of the day. We encountered nothing but fun, smiles and laughter amongst the other competitors and magical scenery from the route. Looking forward to seeing the outcome of the footage being shot by the three ladies (from Ireland I believe) with whom we shared much of the course, to be found on youtube within the week we are informed.
Anyway, almost too soon, the sign pointing us towards the finish appeared and we found ourselves giggling back through the mud (it’s good for the complexion you know) and charging for the line. We do enjoy finishing holding hands (“oh get a room you two” as one social media wag quipped), even better today was that we managed to be dibbed at EXACTLY the same time and were officially in a dead heat for 86th place, ahhhhh!
So, having crossed the line, there was, amongst the throng of happy faces, good old Jamie, still encouraging, congratulating and still grinning from ear to ear.
I certainly don’t write the blog for plaudits, but it was lovely when Brian and Tracey, who had finished a short while before us came over and said “you’re the guy who writes the blog”!
It turns out Brian is race director for the City To Sea and he did a
pretty good job of convincing us that we might fancy a marathon (or even ultra) from Exeter to Torquay in early September. Lovely people and it looks like a cracking event.
Just like this was.
We were pretty tired by the time we’d got home and washed the mud down the shower, but so glad to be glowing from a wonderful day.
As ever, time is our enemy, and this coming week is going to disappear before we start heading up north on Friday with what promises to be another picturesque event at the Coniston Marathon next Sunday.
So, ever so briefly….
I kayaked up the Dart from Stoke Gabriel to Totnes and then accompanied Nicky as she swam the 4.5 miles back. I won’t go on……….
Then, after helping her out of her wetsuit and feeding her, I set off for a 13 mile run around the lovely area we are fortunate enough to inhabit……
And so, Bank Holiday Monday……….. proud husband, step-dad and granddad…..
Inspired by those funny chaps on the Running Commentary podcast, Paul Tonkinson and Rob Deering, I went on a ‘dog run’ last night. Now, regular stalkers sorry, readers will know I am regularly to be seen on a ‘jog the dog’. We musn’t, no we REALLY musn’t, confuse a ‘jog the dog’ with a ‘dog run’. A dog run, you see, is carried out without the help of a dog. See, very different beasts.
By the way, aside from the podcast, Paul & Rob are proper hardworking comedians and I was rather chuffed to discover that Rob is coming to Dartmouth in August. Nicky was keen to pick seats in where her chances of being singled out were slim….. I should think sitting next to me should be sufficient, I do, er, stand out when we’re in close proximity!!
Anyway, the ‘dog run’. Simple, really, the route, pace and distance are only determined in the moment…. “er, I’ll go left here, hang on, no right”, “up the hill, ah no, back down it, oh go on then, up I go”, “oooo, what’s that smell…. hang on SQUIRREL OVER THERE” etc etc. So this dog run was 11 or so miles and started out heading for Torquay before diverting to the coast path, over some beaches, a golf course, some hilly bits, some flat bits and a bit of a blast in the last few miles on the roads again. Lovely. Hot, sure, sweaty, hell yeah, but lovely!
Running on a Thursday evening? I hear nobody say! Well, you see, my amazing and, quite frankly awesome (not to mention sexy, inspiring, funny, clever and beautiful) wife, Nicky went out. OUT I tell you. I know, on a school night. In fact, on ANY day…. we don’t do ‘out’ much. To be fair, she was back by 8.30pm so we were still snuggled up reading well before it got dark!
So that’s twice this week I’ve laced up in the evening. Nicky and I went to the Brixham Harriers again on Tuesday and had a lovely sunny evening run up and around Berry Head. Check it out on Strava if you’re interested in such things.
I’m really quite enjoying the club nights, it’s challenging to fit it into our chosen lifestyle, as the hour after we get in from work, before we set off for the cub is sort of ‘dead’ time, but we’re determined to make this work. They’re a cracking, friendly, welcoming bunch and we enjoy having a bit of a night ‘out’. Sort of! We did sit by the harbour and shared (SHARED!) fish’n’chips in the gorgeous twilight, which was lovely.
Lots of events this weekend, we’re not there, but White Star Running are making a foray into the road running scene with the Dorchester Marathon and we wish them, and all the runners, well with that. Maybe next year for us.
Meanwhile, it’ll be an emotional run for our good friend (and Brixham Harrier) Jan at the half marathon in Manchester this weekend. Again, we wish her and all the runners and spectators and safe, sunny, enjoyable and peaceful weekend there.
We’re off to the South Hams to RACE THE TIDE (the 16 mile version) and are really looking forward to some beautiful trails and the stunning coast path.
After our recent experience of running under pressure, it’ll be lovely to know that, in the words of the organisers, Pure Trail, “It is not an elitist race and we hope to cater for all speeds of runner, however, if you do miss the cutoff you can turn around and run the same route back to start but you will still have run 12.8 miles. Aid stations stocked with a combination of peanuts, biscuits, jellied sweets, fruit, water and coke will be at approximate 6.4, 9.4 and 12.8 miles.”