I thought I’d travelled a long way back in May when I attempted the Dragon 100 ultra marathon. (I didn’t quite finish…..but did write about it…here)
Those that used to read the blog regularly will need no introduction to my amazing wife Nicky.
For those that are new here, let’s just say Nicky is my inspiration, my motivation, my rock, my world, my soul mate, my best friend and I am blessed that she is also my beautiful wife.
She is also an endurance athlete extraordinaire.
Back in September she cycled the length of Britain from Lands End to John O’Groats. A journey of 1000 miles with 50,000ft of hills averaging 75 miles per day.
Now THAT’s going long.
It went someway to battling the disappointment of her attempt to complete the Outlaw triathlon back in July. The Outlaw is an Ironman distance triathlon in Nottingham. Nicky had planned her training from December 2018 until the Outlaw, ticking off every session as she did it. She really is relentless once she sets her mind to it.
Unfortunately, the weather was to intervene. Rain and wind of biblical proportions arrived the night before the race and destroyed the bike course. I found out that the organisers had cancelled the bike leg whilst Nicky was halfway through the 2.4 mile swim. She found out as she exited the water. A massive blow and anti climax, but definitely the right decision.
So, Nicky turned down the invitation to wait a few hours in the foul weather to run a marathon which still wouldn’t give her that iron distance triathlon finish.
We headed home with a massive sense of anti-climax, and of unfinished business.
So we both enter 2020 with fitness goals, challenges and adventures firmly in our sights.
There will be running, there will be cycling, there most certainly will be swimming. Watch this space.
So how did our first week of 2020 go? All fired up an raring to go?
‘yes’ and ‘no’
Both full of chesty colds, we abandoned our traditional trip to the Chard Flyer 10k on 1st January. It is normally how we find out how much older, heavier and slower we have become! Instead we went for a splendid 6 mile walk around Occombe and Cockington.
For me, I’ve managed to cycle to and from work once (about 4.5 miles each way), but now have a mechanical issue with my ~*:^ing bike! I’ve also been out for a snotty 6 mile run, which was hard work, but I think I felt better for doing it.
And then today: I went on the trails. Yup, I’d written myself a sort of training program. What did it say I needed to run? Some tarmac bashing with some miles at a particular pace. Instead I donned the head torch and headed for the coast….. (more about this ‘training plan’ in a future post.
Nicky has fared better:
She has ran twice (6 & 8 miles)
Rode the indoor trainer (on Zwift, more on this in a future post).
Ridden 44 very hilly miles on the road
Swam twice – 1km & 1mile.
So, the first week of the new year draws to a close.
The best development domestically has been Charlie starting to pull his weight with the house work. Washing up is hard with his little paws, but he’s giving it his best shot.
“I knew you’d be hating this bit, I just had to come and find you.”
The words of my beautiful wife.
She was right. I was about 92 miles in to my attempt at the inaugural Dragon 100 Ultra Marathon and my soul was being broken by the roads and pavements leading me out of Barry, the famous South Wales coastal resort.
I’d made a small navigation error.
I was now beyond exhausted.
I’d been heckled by some young hipsters heading out for the night.
I was crying.
I was moving very, very slowly.
As Nicky got out of the car, we were both emotional wrecks.
For the previous 24 hours, I’d had a great big smile every single time she appeared on the route. Something which she’d managed so many times I simply couldn’t count any more.
It had all started the previous evening at the glorious setting of Rhossili Bay on the Gower Peninsular.
About 70 hopefuls lined up on the chilly windswept headland to set off east towards Cardiff. Alongside me was Lewis, running buddy and founder of Keywood Preston Runners, the running group where we both coach.
Nicky, Lewis’ girlfriend Gemma, and a few other hearty souls braving the icy wind, waved us off before returning to the warmth of their cars.
Following the Wales Coast Path, with its challenging ups and downs and beautiful scenery, we soon warmed up. Those of us who had put on our extra layers started to pause for wardrobe adjustments.
As we enjoyed the stunning scenery with the bright spring sun lowering behind us, we felt good.
Until Lewis caught a foot in a divot and rolled his ankle over. We’d probably only covered 3 miles and he was clearly in pain. We joked about having 97 miles to run it off, but we both knew it was potentially not good news.
The first checkpoint, at Port Eynon, was soon upon us and Nicky was there, battling the cold wind for some lovely words and encouragement. Bottles filled and snacks scoffed we headed into the evening.
The gloom started to become dark and I paused to reapply some layers and fire up the head torch. The extensive compulsory kit list may seem long, but as the night and following day wore on, I was to make use of much of it.
Lewis was keen to push on, trying to divert his focus from the worsening discomfort in his foot. As the sun set behind us and darkness fell, we made good progress towards the second check point at Southgate.
In the darkness all spectators see is your head torch approaching. We had to shout out to Nicky before she realised it was us. Again we had snacks and new drinks but best of all was the can of Coke Nicky gave us to share.
Nicky retired for the night to head off to her cold and noisy accommodation. Apparently, her upstairs neighbours sounded like they were alternating between games of skittles and tap dancing. A hair brush hurled at ceiling seemed to calm them down!
With the lights of Swansea in the distance, we turned into the Mumbles. A long, straight, flat section on hard surfaces here. I find this hard and I don’t think Lewis was enjoying it either.
We got in to stride with a number of other runners here and ticked of the miles to checkpoint 3.
Soup! A quarter of the way into the race, and way passed my usual bedtime, I found my spirits lifted by the hot food and soft bread roll. Lewis changed his socks and freshened up but he was clearly in pain. We didn’t say much, but I think we both feared for his race.
Out of the checkpoint and back to the long promenade of Swansea Bay. A beautiful location which started to lose its novelty value as the relentless hard paths started to get inside my head. We zig zagged, using the grass verges where possible to give our joints a break.
The port of Swansea was a change of focus. The route weaved around the various docks and we focused our attention on not losing the route. We ran alongside a canal for quite a while, the quiet and dark lending an eerie feel to the night.
Another road section and Lewis was really struggling now. This is a man who has covered 100 miles before, I knew it was serious. We made it to the next checkpoint and we both knew the game was up for Lewis.
I won’t dwell on this point, that painful decision was hurting him badly.
With Lewis urging me to carry on, I headed out into the night. From here the route went inland to the long dark forest trails which meant we avoided Port Talbot.
I loved the night. Through miles and miles of forest trails. I had the great company of other runners for some of it. At other times I was in solitude.
Dawn in a silent forest. The haze of day break in the distance. Birdsong, wow, the birdsong.
Only a very brief ‘dark’ 5 minutes broke the spell and I was caught by Boris and Christian, two guys I’d ran with earlier. We shared some fabulous miles as the forest came alive with light.
Something I had worried about was how I’d fare with my stomach. It was about 5 am when I asked the other two to push ahead in order to have some private time to, well, you know……
50 miles came up on the watch and I did a mental check over of how I was faring:
I’d kept my promise to myself to slow down, slow down, then slow down some more. TICK
I’d been extremely careful with my kit and hadn’t found myself hot, nor indeed cold, even though there was frost on the ground. TICK
I’d eaten and drank consistently well throughout and was feeling better after my little disappearing act behind the trees. TICK
I’d kept myself lubed in areas which would thank me for it later. TICK
I felt good. Tired, naturally, a bit sore, naturally. But good.
The seaside beckoned as I headed through Margham. A wonderful early morning telephone conversation with Nicky as she headed towards me really boosted my spirits. I joined up with another runner, Stacey, who was also on the ‘phone to his loved ones.
The dunes down to the sea were tough on the legs but we’d formed a gang of 4, with Boris & Christian catching us up again.
I wouldn’t say I was bouncing, but I had now gone further than ever before and no matter what the next 50 miles had in store, nobody could ever take that away from me.
Went through 60 miles along a great boardwalk approaching Porthcawl and there was Nicky. We were both tearful and so, so pleased to see each other. I will never stop saying it, without Nicky I would achieve nothing. We are a team.
Nicky’s role in the team was to keep supplying me with smiles, oh and welcome slurps of fizzy drinks.
As I headed to Porthcawl Rugby Club for more soup and coffee I ticked off another small victory: 100km. Blimey it felt good. I couldn’t help but start thinking about how much further there was to go. This didn’t help me much but the next section certainly did.
My Uncle Mike moved to Bridgend to work and then retire back when I was a young man. This next section of coast was his stomping ground. I have many happy memories of times around Ogmore and Southerndown. I knew I was going to run past the spot where we’d scattered his ashes and couldn’t help but be spurred on by this.
Mike was taken too soon in the same year that I also lost my sister. I ran this ultra marathon with a piece of my ‘Karen ribbon’ tied to my rucksack and with Mike and Karen very much in my heart and thoughts.
Another little navigation error as Ogmore came into view brought the focus back to the job in hand. I was back in the gang of 4 again and we found our way back onto the route before, guess what?? Nicky appeared in a little car park in the middle of nowhere!
A cuddle, a slurp of cold drink and I skipped away again, across the second set of stepping stones the route had treated us to, and along the path to Ogmore.
Here, Nicky was joined by Lewis and Gemma. Lewis very generously lending me strong support despite his massive disappointment of having withdrawn in the night.
Nicky again appeared on the next headland. I’m getting emotional just writing this. I was about 75 miles done by this point and still moving ok, but the lift I got from seeing Nicky here was just wondeful.
On to Southerndown, I ushered the other 3 on and used the beach facilities to get myself empty and fresh again before having a moment on the beach to think of Mike.
I then made another navigation error. You wouldn’t think it possible, on a coast path, but I ended up circling a headland before heading east again. Emotion was starting to get the better of me, so I walked quite slowly for a while and had a stern word with myself.
“I’m at a lighthouse, are you on a big hill?” Nicky was at Nash Point and as I crested that big hill, there she was in the distance. Another spring in my step.
I was chatting away to myself as I descended the headland towards the lighthouse and my incredible lady.
Hurting now, and so tired, but still moving, I even ran a little up the slope to where Nicky was waiting.
No matter what the moment; good, bad, wonderful, tragic, immense, beautiful, inspiring……. any moment we share is just so precious.
Back onto the coast path again, the next section to the check point at Llantwit Major went really well. Nicky was there, what an incredibly lucky man I am. This is how we work, Nicky and I, and here we shared another emotional moment.
Christian and Boris were here and Stacey was heading out. I set off replenished with fluid, calories and emotion.
I started to struggle on the next section of coast path. The industrial skyline coming into view in the distance, the tightening muscles and fatigue were getting inside my head.
My struggle became more acute when I had a sudden and blindingly painful sensation in my big toe. I’d been feeling quite squishy in my trainer for a while. I sank to the floor and braced myself for what I was going to find inside my sock.
Sparing the gruesome details, 15 minutes later, after some self surgery, used my extensive first aid kit and half a tub of Vaseline, I was up and away.
Then came my biggest route error. The coast path (I now realise) goes up on the sea wall around Abethaw power station. Me? I headed across the ‘beach’ made entirely of boulders!
Ow! Ow! Ow!
My ‘phone rang. Nicky. What a woman. After she negotiated her way through a caravan park, and I across the beach, with Nicky’s relentless encouragement I made it back up onto the cliff path.
Fanta and a Mars Bar. How did she know?
With the love of the most incredible person I’ve ever known, I pushed on again. Try as I might, I think the previous few miles had already started to break me.
I arrived at the penultimate check point, at Porthkerry, quite distressed. The welcome sight of Nicky, Lewis and Gemma and their incredible support gave me just enough lift to crack on.
From here the route quickly became road, and I knew that was it for the trails now. Moving very slowly, I plotted my way through the streets of Barry.
“I knew you’d be hating this bit, I just had to come and find you.” Nicky had started to drive towards the last checkpoint but had turned around when she realised I’d be on main roads in built up areas.
Another couple of miles (with Nicky driving to every quarter of a mile or so) my body decided enough was enough.
Without going into too much detail, I seemed to go into shock. My dry feeling got worse the more I drank. I was dizzy, disorientated and broken.
I was violently sick, shivering quite dramatically and seeing double. The game was up.
A call to my incredible friend, Martin (regular blog readers will know Martin well), confirmed I was making the right decision.
Nicky wrapped me up and got me as comfortable as possible. We let the organisers know I had stopped and headed for the Travelodge.
Once I was showered and laid down, I started to feel a bit brighter and we had a late night pizza feast lying on a Travelodge bed, trying not to look at my toes!
Am I disappointed?
Not in the slightest. I’m more gutted for Lewis.
Nicky and I, as regular readers will know, are THE team. Yet again we were invincible. I covered nearly 95 miles in about 25 hours and without Nicky, I would never have been on the start line, never mind cover that sort of distance.
I’m proud. really proud.
As I leaned against the wall in the Travelodge reception, dizzy, nauseous and in a ridiculous amount of pain, I knew I never wanted running to make me feel like this again.
I absolutely love running, love challenging myself. BUT, I only ever want to run with a smile on my face.
For that reason, this has been my last 100 miles race, my last run with sleep deprivation, the last time I’ll put myself, ourselves, through that!
So, what have I learned?
I’m as tough as I hoped I would be. The mind is a wonderful thing. I have nothing to prove to anybody. I am the luckiest man alive to be half of the most incredible team, thank you Nicky x
And thank you Lewis and Gemma.
Thank you Run Walk Crawl for another epic event in South Wales. And thank you for the incredible support from the teams at all of the checkpoints.
Thank you to all of the amazing friends and family for their support for both Nicky and myself and all the wonderful messages we received before, during and after the event.
Thank you to all of the runners who shared the course, particularly those I spent time with. Special thanks the guy who offered to crawl the rest of the way with me as I was slumped on the boot of the car where I stopped.
You’re new to running races. You’re stood on the start line at your debut event. You nervously look around at the whipper snappers in their team vests and sparkly running shoes and start to question why you’re there.
You have what we writers call ‘imposter syndrome’
If you run, you ARE A RUNNER
(I know the CAPITALS are shouty, but I wanted to SHOUT IT)
The second in my “Yup, that happened to me too” series of running blogs, here’s a summary of MY first race.
After battling through being a newcomer to running (see last week’s blog), I took the plunge and entered my first 10k race.
I chose a low key village race, in another county, hoping that I’d be completely anonymous.
That part of my day was a success. Nobody knew me there.
Actually my goal for the day was to finish all 10 kilometres. Also a success.
And I learned so, so much from the mistakes I made on that first race and I hope I’ve never stopped learning since.
It poured down during that March morning. I wore baggy cotton jogging bottoms, I must have doubled in weight as the race went on.
AND finished holding my trousers up.
So, looking back, did I belong? Hell Yeah!
Sporting chaffing which brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it now, bleeding nipples, blisters and black toe nails, I was utterly spent as I crawled across the finish line.
The event was a fund raiser for the primary school where the race was based.
In lashing rain, a child shouted “You did it!” and waited for me to bow my head before hanging a medal around my neck.
In our seaside town, sometimes with a reputation for not keeping up with the times, one of them there new fangled 24 hour gyms (Anytime Fitness) appeared. Well, it didn’t suddenly land in a haze of shimmering light like a tardis, it more steadily evolved from a bit of an historic public house over quite a few months.
And long before the doors opened to Anytime Fitness, one of the personal trainers, Lewis Keywood, whilst awaiting the facilities to be ready, decided to start a running group. Initially organised under the umbrella of the gym, but establishing itself quite quickly to be a stand alone group.
Advertising came via word of mouth and social media, the numbers swelled quickly with an unlikely alliance of souls from all walks of life rapidly became a close knit unit. Our ages ranging from early twenties to those, like my wonderful lady wife, Nicky, and myself in our, ahem, fifties – there’s always plenty of witty but respectful banter.
Lewis’ strength and conditioning experience is combined with his passion for running to give every session a feeling of being worked, and worked hard, but with a nod to keeping fit and strong too.
So what is it that attracts this bunch, most of whom were strangers to each other before the group started back in April, to pitching up on a cold wet Monday evening? I went nosing into other peoples’ lives to find out.
For me personally, I’ve become so used to training on my own or with Nicky that I think I speak for us both in that we’d become ‘outsiders‘, doing all our training early mornings as it fitted better with our lifestyles. But when we heard about the group we decided to pitch up and give it a whirl.
Lewis made a quiet introduction and we lined up alongside the youngsters, feeling awkward (pretty standard for us) and heading off for some running and drills in the evening sun. One new recruit admitted that she’d done a few drive by’s before having a word with herself and taking the plunge.
To cut a long story short (and to focus on the matter in hand), as a pretty torrid summer for Nicky and I became Autumn, we were able to start joining the group more regularly for their Monday night work out.
So who are these Keywood Runners?
There’s Vicky who believes she has ‘gone beyond what I thought was possible‘ as she continues to improve her fitness and distance, casually wiping 30 minutes off her half marathon time.
Then there’s Corinna, also in her late 30s, she hadn’t run for over 6 years, she’d always felt a traditional running club would feel intimidating. Corinna works around a medical condition and feels this group is the incentive she needs to keep on winning that battle. Squeezing 2 runs and a pilates class into a hectic family life she says ‘I always feel great when I’ve completed a run….. And sometimes we get treats!‘
Amy, who gets a bus to training and Parkrun
We all love a Parkrun
Freddy – our permanent smile!
I think the picture of our permanently smiling Freddie at her last 10k – from having been a complete beginner – sums us up perfectly.
It is true about the treats, the afore mentioned Vicky often appears with home made cake and brownies after training. She has also been appointed ‘HR’ by the group as she relentlessly organises the group’s kit, social media, race entries, Parkrun volunteering duties, breakfast….etc…..etc. Oh, and she is a busy wife and Mum too.
For some this is the only chance they get to exercise each week, for others it has sparked a love of running and the group can now be found in healthy numbers at local events.
There’s a bond among the group. Jill, like us in her 50s, came along not knowing anyone ‘The group spurs me on, I’ve made so many good friends, EVERYONE supports everyone.’
And they do – The group start together and finish together, Lewis ensuring each runner is supported. there are ultra marathon runners and complete beginners, but there is never a sense of anyone being ‘better’ than anybody else.
Sonia, 42, hadn’t run before joining the group and didn’t think she’d be good enough, she saw the group advertised and went along, like most of the others, not knowing anyone. She’s since ran many events and completed an impromptu marathon, supporting a charity run. ‘We have a laugh and support each other. We’re achieving so much and Monday evening has become the highlight of my week.‘
Sonia isn’t the only one to use the word ‘misfits‘, or to suggest that without the group, our paths simply wouldn’t have crossed.
It really feels like a group of people who didn’t belong, but now do. Aside from Nicky and myself there are 3 other couples, one of which came about as a result of Zak and Becky meeting at the group.
Tracey, in her 40’s, finds the group shares a passion, shares banter, shares laughs and finds it refreshing that there isn’t room for bitchiness or back stabbing. She is on an incredible journey, accelerated by the group. Running is for her, and for so many of us, a therapy, it’s our time. She’s glad she didn’t keep on driving by that first night!
We are all grateful to Lewis for starting the group. He’s a quiet, shy soul and has a heartbreaking tale. His own running challenges are in aid of the incredible charity, Tommy’s and he is not the only member of the group to have suffered this way. Read all about his journey HERE.
Zak, at 25 one of the younger members of the group, has found love, found motivation and friendships and, like everybody I’ve spoken to is particularly taken by the lack of judgement among the group.
Like many of us, Zak has found ‘himself’ as much as finding each other.
People have shared some extremely personal information with me in order to write this blog post and I was going to flood it with gushing words and revealing quotes.
BUT, actually, I feel the whole group will forgive me for speaking on their behalf and not share such intimate details but I think it is a measure of the group’s trust as a unit that we all feel we can be honest and revealing with each other.
I am privileged to call Lewis a friend and honoured that he’s invited me to help him with the training.
I invited comments about Lewis himself and he’d be mightily embarrassed if he ever read them. Everybody agrees that he knows when to push and when to back off, he revels in everybody and every achievement, he has a way of making the sessions about us all.
‘He’s a legend’, ‘Always willing to help’, ‘The most genuine chap’, ‘He wants everybody to believe in themselves’, ‘An inspiring role model’.
Lewis is attempting to run 2000 miles this year as part of his Tommy’s challenge and I’ve had the pleasure of doing quite a bit of running with him. I’ve been able to show off the wonderful run routes we’re blessed with around here.
He also tackled a 24 hour non-stop challenge which he finished by completing our local Parkrun. The members of our running gang rallied round and he didn’t go without company for the whole 24 hours (and 101 miles!).
Those that know me are aware that I normally run in a group of either ONE or TWO with my only running partners being my wonderful lady wife Nicky, or our intrepid Border Terrier, Charlie, so it has been a leap of faith for me too, but one I’m so happy I took.
I think we’re suited to each other as Lewis is the first person I’ve met who looks just as awkward as me in a running piccie!
This incredible book has been devoured. You know a book has you when you are drying yourself after a shower one handed in order to grab a quick page. At emotionally vulnerable times it could easily have felt corny to seize on a book with a torrid, heart breaking tale, put your favourite sad songs on repeat simply weep.
This book, though, about a journey on our very own South West Coast Path, told by Raynor Winn, but also about the incredible journey of a time in life with her beloved husband Moth, hits that sweet spot emotionally. Stomach twistingly heart breaking, yet so beautiful it paints rainbows across your tears. Winn crafts this deeply personal, brutally honest wander through the roughest tracks of life with such poise, it seems outrageous to think she hasn’t been previously published.
Thrown into the void of life after being evicted from their home, their life’s work gone, the follow up punch comes instantly when Moth is given a terminal diagnosis. What to do? They head for Minehead.
And from there, learning the errors of their preparation, or lack of it, as they go, they set off for Lands End (and beyond?) on foot. Camping wild and surviving on £40 a week, their wits, their humour and the spark they’ve carried together through their entire adult lives, they battle on.
Progress can be slow, painful or simply non-existent and Winn describes, sometimes agonisingly, often hilariously, the people they meet, the towns and villages they pass through, or linger in, and their encounters with the elements.
So life size is the narration, I found myself smelling their clothes, feeling the drying of their skin, hearing the sounds of the Atlantic, the call of the sea birds and shifting uncomfortably with the book as she describes some of the ground they slept on.
I can’t pretend that the books proximity to home (both in geography, emotion and ambition) doesn’t add an extra personality to its appeal to me personally, but please, please believe me, it is a wonderful thing.
Winn echos the message so delicately reinforced by my very own wondrous adventurer, soul mate and partner for life in reassuring me that hope is actually a GOOD thing. Why not hope, dream, dare or just ****ing DO IT!
If you want your spirits lifted, your emotions exposed, your adventurous bones ignited then this is surely the book for you. It has already become one of our most treasured possessions.
Check out what else I’ve read so far this year HERE.
Regular readers (should there still be any!?), will know that Alison Kennedy is one of my favourite ever authors. I was sure to delve into this rather hefty novel on the front foot, although rest assured if I hadn’t loved it, I wouldn’t be writing about it now.
Nicky (my rather splendid, completely beautiful and awe inspiring lady wife) always claims I have a leaning towards, as she says, ‘high brow’ books. I think the industry calls it ‘literary fiction’, although I couldn’t give a shit what it’s called, I either enjoy a book or I don’t. And, Nicky, i do believe you’re currently reading the vintage autobiographical novel, Heartburn, by Nora Ephron. High brow indeed!
This heartbreaking, yet heart warming, tale is told without any suggestion of formula. The prose combines a personal third person narration with soul searching internal dialogue. And the same method is applied to both the main characters.
Powerful it is. Floyd’s ‘Two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl’ lyric would surely be on the soundtrack to the movie this book DEMANDS to be made into.
A flawed love story of flawed love as our two main characters battle their way through 24 London hours. There’s a darkness to Jon and Meg, our hopes for them never soar too ambitiously as we fear for their fate. Jon, in late middle age, working within the inner reaches of the civil service and privy to the hideous secrets that come with that, finds a unusual outlet for his feelings and emotions. Meg, a recovering alcoholic and bankrupt accountant, lost and alone in a crowded city, takes the bait and seeks refuge in Jon’s words.
Will destiny allow this unlikely pair to find romance? Told by the two protagonists in short bursts, the day starts and finishes in darkness, but will there be light?
The attention to detail, the imagery, the complex plot and history, together with the deeply personal voices make this a compelling read. It has to be read, there’s no room for skimming or presumption. Falling asleep with this book in my hands was always a frustration, I would grab it on awaking and even read a page whilst the kettle boiled for morning coffee.
Not a small book and it demands the readers’ involvement, but boy it’s good.
You’ll wear flowers in your hair, not subtly either. You’ll look like a vigorous florist display. The previous day, you will have worn a bikini, the weather in Norfolk demanding it. You’ll keep yourself hidden after that. Maybe a year later, your dress will be so bereft of material that your lack of underwear will attract admiring glances. Another subdued week, maybe a walk wearing his heavy great coat, will signal something closing. Hopefully something opening. You’ll regret nothing. Not the kisses. Not the body crashes. Having lain in the ground for over two years, finally you’ll let him rest.
All You Have To Do Is Dream sang Bob Dylan. Well, who’s to say he’s wrong. He sang quite a lot of words, and still does. Were you to compile every single lyric, poem or prose by the great folk poet, you’d have quite a tome.
I’ve been busy making some decisions to help me focus on those dreams which, ultimately, are the dreams which matter. Trying to avoid completely ‘outcome focussed’ goals.
I guess we all crave more leisure time, and maybe we can all be guilty of measuring the success of how we spend our time by the ‘outcomes’.
A bit of self-critical analysis has me thinking I’ve been a bit guilty of this in my writing. I mean, it’s absolutely lovely when readers engage with my wittering, and I really enjoy the process of creating content which might just give someone else pleasure.
BUT, I’ve found I’ve been putting myself under pressure to write a couple of regular articles for online publications, to deadlines. I fully appreciate that all budding writers start out as ‘amateurs’ and have to find the time to write around the real world of their ccommitments. BUT (again, starting a sentence with ‘BUT’! Lazy writing…) when we’re all so time poor, let’s focus on the things which give us most pleasure.
As regular blog readers will know I’m in the embryonic stages of writing a book (working title Dogs That Don’t Look Like Their Owners) and I’m thoroughly enjoying the process of researching my characters’ backgrounds and letting them reveal themselves to me. The plot thickness each day, I let the story meander around my head when I’m digging a hole at work, or plodding along the coast path.
The beauty of the book writing is that I am under no pressure to produce an ‘outcome’ in a specific time frame and so if I can write a bit, I will, if not then I won’t. And nobody will be any the wiser. Except a couple of people have said ‘So when are we going to see this book?’!
By coincidence, Nicky and I both came to similar conclusions about our training on Sunday morning. I set off for a long run as Nicky set off for her bike ride and we arrived home within a few minutes of each other three and a half hours later. We’d both made our routes up as we went along, concluding that, despite us both having ‘goal’ events we should definitely be making sure we enjoy every minute of our exercising. Check out my run HERE and Nicky’s ride HERE
Some views from my run…
The previous day, after a sleep deprived and extremely tiring and challenging week, we forfeited our endurance plans in exchange for coffee and a lie-in and jogged to our local Parkrun at the Torbay Velopark. It turns out, with a bit of rest and recovery, we’re both fitter and faster than we give ourselves credit for.
Nicky ran a Parkrun PB whilst I set off in pursuit of some fellow 50something chaps who are always around to share a run and a joke (and they normally whop me!). I astounded myself by running faster than for a year or more and snuck in front of all of them for a 1st Vet 50 finish. Rather chuffed I don’t mind admitting. Neil, (a very old friend) in particular, and I have shared plenty of bragging rights over the years and I have no doubt he’ll be claiming them back at the first opportunity!
So, like my running, my writing will be more about enjoying what I can do, when I can do it. Maybe, just maybe, like with my running, there’ll be the occasional ‘success’ in writing too. Whatever that looks like. But the true measure of success will be….. well, like this blog post, something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed doing.
Bob Dylan loves his writing, amongst a thousand prophetic and poetic quotes he says….
“Take care of all of your memories, you can’t relive them”
At every junction I selected a direction on Sunday’s run and hummed “Don’t think twice, it’s alright”.
…….. So the burning question is…. Just how will we celebrate getting to 100?
By giving away a place in a 100 mile ultra marathon, that’s how.
Oh yes, we’re going BIG TIME here in Blog Towers.
Anyway, after the excitement and amazingness of our Cape Town trip and the Two Oceans Marathon, we’re back to earth with a few bumps but raring to go onto the next round of challenges.
Unfortunately my next personal challenge, the T60, has, for reasons outside of anyone’s control, had to be cancelled. I was starting to believe I was going to be good and ready for this and was gearing up to give it a real good go.
C’est la vie, as they say.
T-Series racing, the hosts of the afore mentioned T60, also stage 100 and 185 mile Thames races in August. The lovely people of T-Series Racing have very kindly donated a place in the T-100 for us to give away through the blog.
This coincides rather neatly with the next blog post being the 100th. I know. slick eh?
So, the blog started all those months ago with a bit of an observational rant (HERE) about perceived elitism and has been through the highs and lows and hills and mud of mine and Nicky’s journey through life over the last 15 or so months.
I find it wonderful to be able to express, through these pages, how blessed I feel to share this wonderful life with my beautiful and inspirational lady wife.
Anyway, if anyone seriously fancies a crack at the T-100 then I’d recommend checking for the 100th episode of this here blog on Saturday…….