Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Silence Is Golden)

FeaturedExtremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Silence Is Golden)

I was a publican back in the day.

 

off to bed
Off to bed!

I couldn’t do that now. I’m tucked up in bed hours before pubs close!

 

Anyway, a member of staff systematically stole off me for a while back then. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was quite clever what he did and it took me a while and a couple of observant and loyal customers to catch him.

Obviously, his welcome in the pub ended at that moment.

It was quite a surprise when, a few months later, I had a telephone call from a pub chain in London asking me to provide a reference for this chap. Apparently it was for a key holder position.

After holding back a whole Ramsey of expletives, I apologised and said that I was unable to provide a reference. Rather than wade into the reasons why, I decided to simply confirm his employment dates and then say nothing more.

I try to focus on the positives in this blog, it is only my thoughts and my opinions, yet I tend to avoid long descriptions of things which I don’t particularly recommend.

 

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She’s in there somewhere

My wonderful and relentlessly inspiring (and HOT) wife, Nicky completed another swim today, a 5km river swim. It’s an out and back course with the ‘out’ being against the incoming tide. She truly is amazing……

 

So, a review you say?? Of this event you say??

I’d rather tell you about the latest book I’ve read………….

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathon Safran Foer, a quite sparkling read.

Tackling one of modern history’s most tragic and startling episodes, the story is told to the backdrop of the terrorists attacks on The World Trade Centre’s twin towers, 9/11.

Whilst a work of fiction, amongst the, quite literally, thousands of tragic tales resulting from the attacks. It is a tale of loss, of identity and of searching told through the eyes and mind of a 9 year old boy. Oskar, the 9 year old, lost his father to the attacks.

In searching for reasons and understanding, Oskar comes across a key. He believes this key will open something, a door, a box, a security lock and the story is his trail through New York attempting to piece together a mystery, to find a connection to his father again.

2017-07-06 07.34.45Voices from family members past are used to link the characters and bonds of love, friendship and kinship are quite beautifully knitted together. The fact that this process is narrated by a (admittedly unique and advanced) 9 year old, makes the story even more beautiful.

If you don’t shed tears, chuckle, and need a hug or two from reading this book I’d be most surprised. It takes some ‘reading into’ to get the feel of the prose and time structure, but once you’re in it, you’re staying!

I won’t give too much away, as the journey with the key, the history as told by his grandmother and the snippets of clues as to what ACTUALLY happened to his father are mesmerising.

Certainly one of my favourite reads of the year so far.

 

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Great Grandad’s prompt and efficient taxi service

Nicky and are both avid readers and, whilst we have our favourite styles and authors, nothing is off limits for having a read. We’ve agreed, too, that it’s ok to give in and put a book down half read if we’re really not engrossed by it.

 

Nicky is certainly more prolific than I, perhaps because she doesn’t rattle away on the keyboard like this, instead happily snuggled up with Charlie and I on the little sofa, ploughing through the chapters whilst I click-clack away.

 

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You just wait until I can reach the handle

In fact, only this evening, she proclaimed “I still haven’t found her head!” whilst buzzing with the intrigue and page turning suspense of another Peter James novel….

 

Anyway, I had a lovely trail run whilst Nicky was swimming today, followed by a well earned sausage sarnie. Our Saturday date with the family is becoming more regular, and the grandchildren didn’t disappoint with their comedy gold moments…

VERY peaceful after they’d left!

Just thought I’d check in…

Keep on keeping on people….

 

 

 

 

Middle Child Syndrome

FeaturedMiddle Child Syndrome

I heard a cracking interview with Simon Marshall and Lesley Patterson on Marathon Talk, they have published a book called The Brave Athlete: Calm The F**k Down And Rise To The Occasion which I’ve added to my letter to Santa (23 weeks to wait according to my esteemed work colleague).

One of the many witty, observational points made was how, in their case, athletes might be defeated by the glossy exterior image portrayed by peers and competitors.

 

perfect athletes
Ahhhh the perfect athletic couple with their perfect lives and perfect jobs………

I guess we can all relate to that, that certain someone that gets under your skin, with their perfect life, perfect job, perfect tan and natural athleticism.

 

Well, Marshall & Patterson suggest that maybe when you delve a little deeper, that person probably also has fears, and money stresses and screaming kids and niggly injuries and is suffering event nerves or, just like us, feeling in some way inadequate.

The suggestion is that in the modern world particularly, a persons internet presence could well portray an idyllic world which is, in fact, hiding a ‘real’ life just like ours.

 

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I always felt in everybody’s shadow as a teenager

As a child, particularly as a teenager, I was desperate to ‘belong’, to feel part of something. I went to a grammar school and felt inadequate in nearly every aspect of my adolescent world.

 

Academically, I was below average at best, in the competitive, striving environment that grammar school nurtured and I always felt I was bring looked down upon.

I had relatively recently moved from a big city to a small sea side town so I had no network of friends which was compounded by the fact that I went to the grammar school where most children came from another town anyway. The few primary school friends I had made all went to the Comprehensive school not a mile from where we lived. I suppose my parents wanted ‘better’ for me.

The school may have been ‘better’ but I certainly wasn’t.

In those teenage years I looked at my siblings, my sister so cool, hanging around with older lads with their cars and motorbikes, what I would have given to get part of that world. My younger brother too, seemingly focussed and sure, intelligent and popular.

 

safety pins
Safety pins play a very different role in my life now!

I once crawled under the piano, in the hall at school, and pierced my ear with a safety pin, I just wanted to be somebody people noticed.

 

Anyway, enough rambling and wallowing. Suffice to say, as we got older, we siblings became aware of each others’ failings and anxieties and gradually started to understand each other.

This stumble through bits of my past was prompted by the need for some fully waterproof running trousers.

Mandatory kit you see, for the Snowdonia Trail Marathon, and for future events I have planned.

mr tallAhhhh, the world of trouser buying when you’re gangly and scrawny. They either fall down, or look like I’m flying them at half mast as a mark of respect….

running in the rainNicky could hardly hide her mirth as I fumbled between ‘medium’ and ‘large’….. my mother used to insist on ‘taking them up a bit’ whenever I had new school trousers. This was a gift to the mocking cool kids!!

She still does it to my dad!

So, battling the little voice in my head telling me that people like me simply DON’T do the cool stuff, I trawl the internet…..

All those big name brands all the cool kids are wearing. Yup, they DON’T FIT ME!

Decathlon it is then.

Anyway, Don’t Look Back In Anger, the voices soon disappear. Because I DO get to do the cool stuff….

 

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Getting to BE the cool kid!

Last weekend? You want to know about last weekend??

 

I’ll tell you about last weekend.

Up at the crack of dawn on Saturday. Trying to quietly put the kayak on the car at 4.30am, every movement echoing down the street in the still air, I headed off to Stoke Gabriel for the 4 plus mile trip up the river.

 

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Wee time!!

Logistics working well, the silhouette of a beautiful, wetsuit clad woman enticing me through the, now turning tide, for our rendezvous in Totnes.

 

She had travelled by taxi, dressed as Jacque Custeau, the driver unfazed, presumably thinking she’d been at a fancy dress party.

 

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This incredible woman never ceases to astonish me

So in she plopped and set off for Stoke Gabriel. Quickly popping up again to proclaim “I’M HAVING A WEE! OOOO THAT’S BETTER” before heading off again.

 

You don’t meet many people at 6.30am on the Dart but we did share the lovely atmosphere with a guy gently strumming an acoustic guitar sat on the bank.

He looked calm. And what a calming sound he made as it drifted across the water. His mellow vibes, the gently ripples of Nicky’s hands breaking the surface and the almost inaudible bubble of the kayak drifting on the calm waters.

2017-07-08 07.20.14Bliss.

I’m rather proud of my beautiful amazing inspirational  (and quite frankly HOT) lady wife. She really ate the miles up in this 4.25 mile swim, belying the fact that 18 months ago she couldn’t swim 33 meters of front crawl!

Arriving in Stoke Gabriel we had a debrief, a brief snack, and I packed up the kayak and readied myself for the next installment of adventure.

Cue Jamie (you remember, trail running guru and all round top bloke), fresh (!) From his 48 mile Snowdonia ultra marathon the previous week, trotting down the lane to meet me. We then set off on a course recce for the upcoming Stoke Gabriel Carnival 10k .

A stunning, challenging and invigorating course, best told in pictures…..

Really looking forward to helping out at this lovely event again this year.

After leaving Jamie I set off for a few more miles in the hot lunchtime sun, bringing this run to 18 miles in total. Sweaty and tired but DEFINITELY being a cool kid today.

2017-07-09 07.14.01Another early start on Sunday, getting to be the coolest boy with the HOTTEST girl – off to Slapton for an another 18 miler. Hot and tough again but what fantastic fun running with Nicky. Our last long run together before, gulp, Snowdonia…..

We ran from Slapton to Beesands then followed the CTS South Devon Half Marathon route before returning to Slapton. 2017-07-09 07.35.33Fabulous coast and country running with plenty of lumpy bits to get the legs burning…

Bring on Snowdonia……..

Ending at the ice cream van was very welcome indeed on a hot hot day.

I know I’m overly gushy about just how happy I am and how in love I am 2017-07-09 08.34.54with my truly astonishing wife, but we SHARE so much. Until we met, I thought all those love stories, romantic films, the things people said, terms like soul mate and forever, I thought those things were either fiction, or simply didn’t apply to people like me!

As we gazed out to sea, guzzling our frozen treats, reflecting on another weekend of fun and adventure, of love and of sharing our 2017-07-09 10.43.37world, of being just the most amazing TEAM, it seemed to me that maybe, after all, I AM one of the cool kids, and I get to be with coolest kid of all…….

So another week is flying by, it’s now only 10 days to the Snowdonia Trail Marathon and we’re as ready as we’re going to be. In the meantime another weekend is coming our way.

Looks like there may be swimming, there may be running, and maybe, just maybe, these cool kids WILL get to do the cool stuff, whether their trousers fit properly or not!

 

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Ain’t. Life. Grand.

 

 

 

 

Going long (er)

FeaturedGoing long (er)

talk ultraI’ve started listening to Talk Ultra. So now, that’s 3 podcasts I heartily recommend. The other two being Running Commentary and Marathon Talk.

I feel like a bit if a fraud. It certainly is a reality check listening to all those interviews with participants, including both elite athletes and mere mortals like us, about mammoth endurance events such as the Dragons Back and The Sky Running events.

running couple cartoonBUT, Nicky and I are veterans (in both age and events) of 10 years of running events. Both of us having completed 30something marathons, including a few 50km races and, in Nicky’s case, a 50 miler.

AND, I’m having my post prolific year yet of mileage, averaging over 200 miles a month.

 

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Does this man look like he could ‘go long’?

SO, maybe I am ready to step up to call myself an ‘ultra’ runner….  I mean, I’ve got some Inov8 shoes and a rucksack and everything!

 

As regular readers will know, I’m leading up to The East Farm Frolic  (EFF) in August where I’m looking to keep going for all 12 hours and hopefully take myself into the 50 mile club, if not further.

AND, listening to this new (to me) podcast is only fuelling my desire to ‘go long’. Specifically to ‘go long in Cornwall’…….

Which got me to thinking….. my beautiful lady wife, chatty Martin and good friends Jan &  Gloria had formed a relay team to compete for the 12 hours at The EFF. All change now as they have moved to being solo entrants, like yours truly.

five go madWith 5 of us now entered….. surely 5 go long in Dorset…..

 

Anyway, by going long in Cornwall, I mean specifically go long from Coverack to Porthtowan, by way of 100 miles of the coast path, in February 2019.

 

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WANT ONE!!

I fell for the charms, the challenges, the tales of successful and unsuccessful attempts, the beauty, the uniqueness of The Arc Of Attrition (AOA) as we spectated back in February, see my blog post from back then.

 

In fact one of the reasons I was so inspired to start blogging get so enthusiastically was the wonderful experience of following this year’s edition.

 

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Quite a mandatory kit list for The Scrooge!

The AOA is organised by Mudcrew, responsible for my absolute favourite event, the (black) RAT and many otherwise including the festive hilarity of The Scrooge.

 

Mudcrew’s head honcho, Andrew Ferguson, is a pretty serious ultra runner himself, recently competing in the fabulous looking Laverado Ultra in Italy , and his name pops up all over the trail running scene.

All who crew at these Mudcrew events are runners and understand the needs of those on the trails. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I think about the AOA, and how I will prepare, on most of my runs.

 

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Ultra ready? Ahh, no beard!

By that I mean I try relate the run I’m on to how I would be feeling after 24 hours of coast path. I think about eating proper food whilst running, about kit, navigation, isolation, weather, etc etc.

 

I’ve also developed a new mantra, “NO LAZY STEPS’ meaning  I should never assume the next foot plant is flat and predictable. Small protruding roots under dark tree canopies could end the race. I need to make sure to learn to remaim alert under extreme fatigue.

The enormity of the AOA’s challenge has dictated the time scale. I need to qualify, I’m hoping to have a few events which serve as qualifiers, maybe doing something like Hope 24 amongst them.

 

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The R.A.T. route is truly spectacular

The traditional Mudcrew stepping stone is to do the 100k version of the RAT (Nicky and I are doing the 50k for the 3rd time this year) in 2018.

 

The Plague, as this 100k is known, serves as a qualifying event and also comes with an AOA invite to accompany it’s finisher’s medal.

The best part of all of this process is spending time outdoors, with my wonderful amazing beautiful lady wife, Nicky. After the great adventures of last Saturday (see last post) we took to the coast path for 3 gloriously hot and sweaty hours.

 

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A tad wiffy, but bring on Snowdon!

These joint jaunts are serving as training towards Snowdonia for the two of us (which is rapidly approaching!), as well as building my mileage towards The EFF. They are also wonderful shared adventures, precious and treasured times.

 

Oh the witty banter on these sweaty long runs, “blimey you stink” “not as much as YOU stink”…..

The Talk Ultra podcast is presented by Ian Corless, a fine ultra and trail runners in his own right and now an event photographer too. The show is mainly made up of interviews with big names from the world of ultra-distance running, as well as those from further down the field.

It’s all an education to me, probably only being aware of the headline events and maybe our local long distance challenges. I’m learning the names of the stars of this mystical world and getting to grips with the lingo. Don’t expect me to be attempting a FKT on a course with loads of VERT anytime soon…..

Oh it turns out my 20 miles running, to Teignmouth, on the coast path, isn’t even a warm up to most of these boys and girls.

‘Blowing out of my arse!’ I’ve no idea where that expression came from but it seemed to blowing hardfit my rather cumbersome effort as I did a time trial after work last night. Blowing out of my ears and nose too. Open mouthed and squinting from the sweat stinking my eyes, I gasped for every breath. Desperately weaving through the many dawdling pedestrians, enjoying their evening stroll in the sunshine, I just about managed to maintain 30 seconds per mile slower than I’d hoped for the 1.8 miles

We’d elected for this instead of waiting another hour and going to the club night. Whilst I was cracking paving slabs either my clomping strides, Nicky and Charlie joined the rest of Paignton, walking along the sea front.

chipsIt was with some relief that I finished my effort near a toilet. Then, whilst not getting any cooler during my cool down, I bumped into my beautiful wife and raggerty hound and needed no further prompting to end my rather unfortunate effort RIGHT THERE. A stroll back along the beach followed by eating chips on the sea wall and all was well again.

 

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We didn’t see any horses at 5.30am

A few years ago I’d have been disappointed with that run but these days I enjoy laughing at myself and moving on. 3.75 of jogging with Charlie in the woods at 5.30am this morning soon put that right too.

 

Something similar tomorrow then a weekend of long endurance adventure beckons, including some kayaking to accompany the intrepid Mrs Bonfield on an early morning river dip.

Enough of this rambling, keep on keeping people……..

2017-07-05 06.13.25

Miniature Hero

FeaturedMiniature Hero

2015-05-17-10-05-05.jpgWell, 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!)

Miniature heroesA 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:-

 

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Met a blog reader(!) and fellow Marathon Talk listener Millsy at the start – he came 10TH – good running!

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.

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Mile 26, er……..

 

 

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Started at the back. Whoops!

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?

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One of us struggled under the tunnel….

 

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.

 

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These lovely (ultra veterans) were also not up to standard today!!

 

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.

 

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Not quite the ‘full’ monty

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.

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Definitely a 2 ice cream day.

 

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!”!!

 

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This is what we did instead of the ‘other’ 13.1 miles

 

 

 

 

 

The customer in front of you….

The customer in front of you….

……. could be you, could be one of your loved ones, could be struggling…

……could have dementia

help the agedWhat right have any of us that are fortunate to have our fully functioning faculties still intact, to huff and puff and give ‘hurry up’ signals to those who might need a little bit more time to digest information given to them.

I witnessed this at a cashpoint today. We’re all in a hurry. Never enough time. BUT, we can all stop, take a step back, stop staring, give others the space they need, the time they need.

An elderly lady, trying to get her money and card back into her purse, still stood in front of the machine kept glancing behind her nervously as the next customer, and his friend, were stood extremely close to her, and were edging in between her and the machine.

As regular readers will know, Nicky and I support Nicky’s dad, Frank, with some of the finer details of life. That said, given the time and space to ensure he has followed his own process and his methodical routines, he remains very independent.

Elderly man at a check-outThis would include using a cashpoint machine. Wisely, he has taken to using the cashpoint machine within the bank, a far more comfortable and safe environment where he is less likely to be given the unspoken hurry up.

Here’s a thought, and I include myself in this, let’s all assume the customer in front of us needs more time, in the bank, at the checkout, in the café, and take a deep breath and enjoy removing the rush from our lives for a few moments.

Saturday Quickie….

Saturday Quickie….

 

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Trainers on early for me!

My father-in-law, Frank, informed us over dinner tonight what a fabulous day today had been. Nicky and I support Frank with some of the detail of life and we all live together. With us both working full time, as well as cramming in our adventures and all the training we enjoy. Timetabling everything for everyone can be a juggling act, but today we think we got everything just right. For all of us.

 

I woke in the early hours from a very real dream where I was running along the coast path carrying grandson, Ollie, under one arm. He’s a big unit, our Ollie, and I was struggling! I got back to sleep but was soon responding to the 5am alarm and crawling, bleary eyed, to the kettle.

 

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I don’t know WHY we run here

Whilst I was enjoying the lush run from home to Teignmouth, Nicky was organising Frank and Charlie (the Border Terrier), collecting grandson Callum, and taking the rather less taxing transport method to Teignmouth, the mini…..

 

The coast path from Torquay to Shaldon is BRUTAL. And STUNNING. I set off determined to ‘run’ it all. There are so many steps on this section I soon abandoned this plan and 20 miles and 3 and a half hours later, I was rather glad I had.

 

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Martin. Chatting.

Arriving in Teignmouth, I encountered Pete Wilby and his troupe of ‘advanced’ sea swimmers, including the previously, frequently, mention (chatty) Martin readying themselves for their dip.

 

With Nicky partaking in the ‘merely accomplished but not quite ready to be called advanced’ group afterwards, this meant I had about 20 minutes before our rendezvous. A lovely, FLAT, out and back along the sea wall brought my mileage to 20. Perfect.

 

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Trainspotting with (great) Grandad

Callum is 8. He loves trains. Whilst Nicky was being chaperoned around some big green buoys, the boys took a walk along the sea wall next to tracks. Several trains, with enthusiastic waves from drivers and passengers and plenty of trains’ horns later, we returned to the beach to witness the end of Nicky’s lesson.

 

With the Teignmouth rowing gig regatta playing out in front of us, we enjoyed coffee and chat in the sunshine before heading back home for the arrival of Callum’s siblings and mother for a belting afternoon in the sun.

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Calllum, quite literally, in Teignmouth.

 

We even snuck off for a cheeky ice cream and to collect Nicky’s bike from the rather lovely man at Dialled-In-Bikes (a think there may be multi-sport training coming…..) whilst Alisa disappeared to top her tan up 😉

There you go…. a Saturday Quickie……

a VERY good place to start

a VERY good place to start

I smoked my very last cigarette on January 13th 2007. I went for my first run on January 14th 2007. I think the cigarette lasted longer than the run……….

I recorded that run on Fetch as one mile. Clearly it wasn’t that far.

We’re all different. We all run at different paces. We, even those who have ran since childhood, all started our running journey somewhere. Somebody quipped recently that “you don’t need to train it all comes naturally to you” or words to that effect. HHHmmm, I reject that.

I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed every single run in the 10 and a half years since that last fag. BUT, don’t be fooled, it was a loooong time before anybody would look at me and say “it comes naturally to him“!

In fact, when I first tried out a club, I was described as “running like a drunk man herding cats“, which I’m guessing wasn’t a compliment!

 

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Water station on training runs!

So, if any of you lovely blog readers are at the start of your running journey, be assured that I’ve been ticking of milestones too. I clearly remember running non-stop (for the first time) for 15 minutes, 3 miles, an hour… etc etc and being utterly delighted each time and having many a gasping on my knees moment…….

 

ANYWAY…. what a weekend just gone. I know, I know we’re rapidly approaching the next one, and the blog has only just wormed its way into the web…

 

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Even in the rain, Bantham was magical at first light

Saturday. The Swoosh. Nicky and (chatty) Martin and I headed off at 4am. FOUR. A. M. to arrive in Bantham for the sunrise. Unfortunately the heavy cloud and rain meant this was particularly anti-climatic. Day didn’t so much ‘break’, more reluctantly snuck in.

 

Since rejecting debauchery as a life style, friendships have become considerably less numerous and incredibly more treasured. You will not meet a more genuine, caring, supportive, hilarious and loyal chap than Martin, and both Nicky and I are honoured to be able to share these adventures with him.

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He’s still a child though

 

Enough man love…… Having waved them onto the bus for their journey to the start, I donned my running attire and set off running the 4.5 mile trail along the Avon Estuary to watch the 350 or so dawn swimmers submerge themselves in the murky river.

 

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And they’re off…..

I obviously didn’t quite understand the map as my Garmin showed 6.5 miles by the time I arrived at the start. “I don’t think I read the email properly” I told the marshal manning the gate as hundreds of black rubber and orange cap clad swimmers filtered passed him. He did a double take at my attire……

 

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And they’re back!

The Swoosh is yet another great event in our glorious countryside, impeccable organisation, iconic location, wonderful atmosphere, belting sausage and egg sandwiches.

 

I ended up doing 12.5 glorious miles and got to support my beautiful, amazing wife and our great friend at a truly lovely event. Ain’t life grand? (As I may have mentioned?)

I don’t consider myself a Step-Dad or Step-Grandad, I just consider myself lucky to have become part of such a wonderful family. With the early morning nature of The Swoosh, we had plenty of time to get home for an afternoon of mirth, merriment and mocking with the hugely energetic grandchildren. Alisa is still smashing her health and fitness drive and has combined a fantastic drop in dress size with a real drive for fitness and a more healthy lifestyle.

 

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There wasn’t a queue of people to get in and swim!

So, the weekend rolled back down to the South Hams on Sunday. We were entered as a relay team, with Nicky doing a 1km sea swim followed by me tackling a rugged 10 mile trail run. The forecast brisk south westerlies were that, and more. Nicky was quite nervous of wading into the lively seas, but she needed have worried. The conditions had snookered the organisers, The Trail Events Company and they were unable to get a safety boat near the beach to put safety and medical personnel onboard, so the swim was, unfortunately, cancelled. A very fair policy was hastily communicated, whereby a deferment to any of their future events, for one or both of us, was offered. Alternatively, one or both of us could do the run as a stand alone event. I felt for the organisers and thought they dealt with a difficult situation very well.

 

 

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Elite afferlete ready for the off…..

Nicky opted for reading her book in the car (and may have had a snooze) whilst I lined up with the small field of runners to tackle the coast and country 10 mile route.

 

I set off amongst the rather athletic looking guys and girls in their tri-suits from around the country, holding back a little to start with as I knew there the terrain to come and wanted to hold my effort levels for the tough sections.

After passing through the gorgeous Hope Cove, the coast path is particularly testing, right up to the scramble in land at Bolberry and I gradually started overtaking a few people and was feeling strong and alive in the fabulous terrain.

Stopping briefly for an orange squash and to dip my timing chip at the check point, I pushed on. I could see the leaders in the distance for a while and wondered just how far up the field I was.

 

2017-06-25 09.59.55
The Milton Sands masses wave their goodbyes

With about 2 miles to go, I caught a friendly chap who informed me that I had demoted him to 5th.

 

I was in 4th place! In a running race! Blimey.

I didn’t see the podium owning guys until the finish, but even my rather embarrassing failed attempt at a heel click as I approached the line couldn’t take the grin off my face.

 

2017-06-25 11.22.30
Don’t try this at home kids!

So, our much anticipated husband and wife relay team’s debut is on hold, we’ll find another event, or maybe be back for a crack at this again, it is a stunning location and the run route is tremendous.

 

So, as the blog is VERY late this week, there’s been nearly a full week of working, running, swimming and domesticity since then. A family run in the woods on Monday morning was a peaceful way to prepare ourselves for the week.

I did some actual training on Tuesday morning, doing 3 x 2km at eye balls out pace, definitely still feeling the race on Sunday.  Then in the evening we went over to Brixham for an extremely chatty bimble with the Harriers. The jury is still out on whether we a: can,

2017-06-27 19.20.00
Harriers in their natural habitat

or b: want to, commit to this being a regular fixture. We shall see.

 

I ran with Charlie on the coast path on Wednesday morning and through Cockington on Thursday morning. In a departure from the norm, Nicky and I met after work tonight and did the 3 x 2km session, this being Nicky’s pace work for the week. For the last rep, we handicapped it and I attempted (for once successfully) to chase her down, both of us threatening to relive our lunch! All of the runs can be seen on Strava if you’d like to see how a heel-clicking, cat herding middle aged man skips around.

2017-06-30 16.45.47So here we are, the weekend.

Bring on some adventure I say…….

2017-06-29 06.51.37

 

 

3am Eternal

3am Eternal

Ahhh, the longest days of the year. Heatwaves. Festivals. It’s summer now alright.

HOTA 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

2016-06-25 15.22.00
Now THAT is a giant, er, medal!

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,

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Faith leading Nicky in the sprint for the line!

doesn’t feature high in my list of experiences to repeat. Too old for camping, noise, crowds, late nights, debauchery…..

 

Old Hippy
I wasn’t quite so healthy back then!

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………)

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I get to run here with my beautiful soul mate…. AIN’T LIFE GRAND

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.

 

2017-06-17 07.39.19
Nicky, taking to the sea with Martin whilst I run the coast path (apparently she can’t him him whilst they’re swimming!)

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.

 

2017-06-18 07.37.09
The South West Coast Path near Kingswear

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.

And feel free to join me on Facebook (which I use) or Twitter or Instagram (both of which I use sporadically)

Keep on keeping on……

 

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