BULLSEYE

BULLSEYE

So. This is my 50th, yup, FIFTIETH post on this blog.

Back in February, I celebrated my 50th birthday (I know, I don’t look a day over 49!), and in the same week, I started this blog.

Inspired.

Inspired by having the belief to be a ‘writer’. That belief coming from the ‘me’ that is the ‘me’ that I never knew I could be. As regular readers will know, I attribute this ‘me’ to the wonderful world I am humbled and so fortunate to share with my incredible wife, Nicky.

The first blog post was inspired by, what I believed to be, a bit of elitism, a bit of snobbery, as we struggled to our epic DNF at Portland way back then. Check out that post here.

I went straight in to writing another post inspired by our fantastic holiday in Cornwall, and witnessing the incredible boys and girls taking on the Arc Of Attrition. Maybe have a read of that too, here, if you fancy.

The Arc Of Attrition. I don’t think it’s any longer a secret……. 2019…….

Having been told to ‘Man The **** UP!” by the afore mentioned Nicky, she gave the me gift of a journal to record my journey to attempting a 12 hour race, The East Farm Frolic.

Every day is like Christmas, the gifts of love, laughter, of adventure and of sharing life…. I truly feel like my heart has won the lottery. Every single day.

2017-03-16 19.52.09The gift of this journal is so symbolic, I’ve been to some dark places, literally and metaphorically, in the past. And here I am in the light. In the quiet. Inspired.

People from 61 different countries have read this blog (over 8000 times!). Hello South Korea, thank you for tuning in. It’s rather humbling to think of somebody in Brazil, Bulgaria or Bahrain taking the time to read my words.

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16th May 2015 the best day EVER

So, as I suspected, I really, REALLY enjoy writing. I really, REALLY enjoy running and the running community. That’d be a marriage made in heaven then. What a coincidence…..

So, here we are, 6 months later, after plenty of adventures and events. One of us has smashed their marathon PB and achieved even more open water swimming goals (neither of them were me!).

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One of us smashed their marathon PB in May!

We’ve done marathons, 10ks, ran in heat, in mud, in Cumbria and Snowdonia.

There’s been incredible tales of achievement in our family, young and old. There’s been chips, and pasties and cakes and ice creams (apart from when we’ve been ON IT!).

There’s been mild controversy, particularly after THIS POST. And I still stand by the ‘not good enough’ statement. We’ve been good enough for marathons over Mount Snowdon, the fells of Coniston and the 50km of brutal Cornish Coastline (to name but 3), but not good enough for……… (the race which isn’t mentioned!)

There’s been an almost political post, and I’ve touched on the pressures domestic life can stretch us, and how we support Nicky’s Dad.

But mostly, it’s been about running.

Oh, and me gushing about Nicky, much to her embarrassment.

She’s been at it again this week, inspiring and relentless. Last weeks RAT (see blog here) came in the middle of her preparing for a job interview and presentation….. Which were both successful. I don’t mind embarrassing her, I think we’re a great team and my pride in everything we achieve in life, and in being half of that team, swells by the day.

Anyway…

I have ideas for the blog and, as and when time allows, hopefully some of these will appear on this hallowed page. Maybe some interviews, maybe some more feature type posts. Any suggestions welcome….

In the meantime, I’ll keep plugging away sharing thoughts and ramblings on this amazing journey that is life. The blog isn’t thrown together but there is improvisation. Last weeks post was pretty much composed whilst sat on a bag of cement during my breaks at work.

I’ll leave you with a montage of images from the last 50 posts and a massive THANKYOU for reading and engaging with these humble tales…

Keep on keeping on….

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 Show, don’t tell 

Featured Show, don’t tell 

Tell you what, those mandatory kit lists for trail and ultra events….. have a listen to the interview with Adam Campbell on Talk Ultra….. I’ll be carrying the essential items EVERY time I go off the beaten track.

Both interviews with Adam are on the podcast including the latest, after completing the Hardrock 100 .

Anyway.

To the soundtrack of my own paddles breaking the smooth surface of the dark, becalmed water, I, almost blindly, forged into the darkness.

That sensation when you’ve set a ridiculously early alarm. Suddenly sitting bolt upright “I’VE OVERSLEPT!!!! Oh no, it’s only 11.30…” Repeated at regular intervals until the alarm actually chimes at….. THREE THIRTY A.M.!!! Yup 3.30A.M.

Hence the dark on the river. I know the river fairly well and the banks and massed trees loomed with sinister shadows to either side, even in the almost complete darkness. I stuck to the very middle and daylight gradually improved my navigation as I approached our rendezvous.

 

Chilly? Looks it from the warmth of the kayak!

 

Another weekend of adventure was well and truly under way….

I humbled am blessed to be sharing these precious weekends with my incredible, inspiring and, I don’t mind saying, HOT lady wife.

 

And they’re off

 

Our friend in adventure, Martin, was driving himself and Nicky to Totnes. From there they would swim back to Stoke Gabriel from where I had just paddled (having left the car there).

I love it when a plan comes together!

“I say old chap, the water really is rather nippy” (or words to that effect) Nicky exclaimed as they entered the river at 5.45AM. Martin concurred.

Just a couple of false starts as they acclimatised then off. Approaching the first set of bends, the sun introduced itself through the trees. To describe the scene as idyllic would be under selling it rather.

Over the next 2 hours we all agreed we had shared a magical and quite priveledged experience.

 

Martin & Nicky, as majestic as the river itself

 

Being Martin’s first river swim this year, he wasn’t quite as confident as Nicky who was really powering on. At one point I had to signal her to slow down as I was uncomfortable with the gap between them.

It might seem overly risk averse but, perhaps especially because of the early hour, any other river traffic we might be unlucky enough to encounter would be unlikely to be expecting to see two swimmers. Keeping both of them close to the kayak gives others more chance to spot us.

As they climbed from the water, with most of the world yet to start their weekend, we were all smiles and back slaps.

Leaving them to retrieve vehicles, I set out on the next instalment of the weekend. With The East Farm Frolic looming, I felt my fatigue from the weeks work and a rather short sleep, plus this morning’s hard kayak to Totnes would help me replicate running tired in the later stages of the 12 hour event.

I was right. I felt very tired. Having waxed lyrical about last week’s long run, I won’t dribble on…..

Suffice to say I stuck mainly to trails, some of them completely new to me and managed a satisfactory 30 miles. Loads of great routes to check out here.

I arrived back home, into the garden, to the wonderfully chaotic scene of grandchildren, step daughter, father-in-law and a refreshed and beautiful Nicky. All seem pleased to see me and enjoyed a “MAN DOWN!” moment as I slumped onto the garden bench!

My recovery was accelerated by the invitation to join the imminent mob march to the beach for ice cream.

ice creamRaberry pavlova. Mmm mmmmm.

Too tired to join our neighbours barbeque gathering, an early night beckoned. They are a musical crowd and it was quite mellow drifting off to the distant strum of a ukulele…….. I’m sure I dreamed of cleaning windows……..

Phew! So rest day Sunday…… naahhh…..

It’s a family affair….

Totnes 10k.

Love this race.

The year Nicky and I got together, we were both at this event. We didn’t spot each other but less than a month later we were embarking in this incredible adventure that is our life together.

So it’s always a special day. But this year topped them all. After 30 miles the previous day I was fairly confident I wouldn’t be troubling my PB list!!

 

Nicky and her beautiful girls

 

So, with my parents supporting, step daughter, Lou supporting too, it was a true family affair.

 

Sprint finish!

 

“Go get ’em Mum” yelled my other step daughter, Alisa as the two of them tore across the field towards the finish line. Three ladies from the incredible Plymouth based club, Storm, vied with them to cross the line first.

This was Alisa’s first ever race as she continues smashing down the barriers on her incredible journey of weight loss, healthy living and fitness drive.

Proud.

Lou and myself both seemed to have something in our eyes as Nicky and Alisa crosses the line.

 

The boy is a STAR!

 

Proud too as I lined up with grandson, Callum for the fun run prior to the main race. He blitzed around his mile in under 9 minutes and it definitely loosened my creaking legs!

 

The scene at the front prior to the race, old training partners Rob & Jerry raring to go

 

One of the best family says on the local race calender, the 10k itself winds it’s way to Dartington via the trails alongside the river. There’s a lumpy section with one proper climb about 2/3 of the way and the going is sapping, but after the Snowdonia Trail Marathon the other week, it’s pretty much flat!

 

Martin finishing strong

 

Setting off with the afore mentioned Martin, we ran toe to toe for about 4 miles until he goaded me in to running harder. I was really pleased to clock a couple of swift miles towards the end and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.

A fabulous event, thoroughly recommended, great to meet up with so many familiar faces from the running community.

 

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STORM – setting up camp at a race near you!

Two clubs in attendance on mass were Teignbridge Trotters and the afore mentioned Storm. Storm are quite a success story, in only their second year and have well over 1000 members. Over 100 of them toed the line in Totnes today, a fine blaze of purple.

 

The Teignbridge Trotters, meanwhile, our hosts for the day, provide (as with all of their events) a fabulous atmosphere, family friendly environment and set up barbeques, hot drinks, a bar, a constant running commentary which is quite legendary, photographers (piccies are free!) and a fantastic, well marked, brilliantly marshalled course.

Sign up early next year, it was massively over subscribed this year.

Next up for us….. the RAT 32, miles on  the Cornish coast…….

Meanwhile some more piccies from the weekend….

 

Sprint finish from friend Jan too

 

 

Event photgraphers giving their time (and their photos)

 

 

Another sprint finish – Callum smiling as he hurtles in

 

 

Nicky & Alisa and some of the many Storm runners

 

 

All smiles on the start line

 

 

Something resembling a sprint from this lanky fella too

 

 

And all called home and congratulated by this relentless chap

 

It’s not the same without you….

FeaturedIt’s not the same without you….

 

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And off I go….

I’ve never ran this far before on my own.

 

Nicky and I have completed four 50km events whilst running together, and she has, of course, topped all of that with her South Downs Way 50 miles.

So, with the East Farm Frolic looming and the small matter of Snowdonia Trail Marathon still heavy in my legs, I set off at the crack of dawn….

Knowing I intended to run on some very challenging terrain, and that I hoped to be out for 6 hours, I set out tentatively.

I always feel so lucky that Paignton faces East. These early morning runs are so often blessed with such dramatic lighting and colours, today was no exception.

It’s also great when the tide is out. Running along the

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Mile 1 – a deserted Paignton beach

beach, reigning myself in, drinking in the fabulous, flickering, coloured reflections of the

 

sun and clouds on the wet sand.

Determined to keep to as many trails as possible, I ran the grass next to hard footpaths wherever possible

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Mile 2, the tide has left plenty of seaweed on Goodrington sands

to protect my aging bones!

 

Again, I also feel lucky that I simply enjoy the very basic pleasure of running….

I’m not really a ‘group’ runner, but love running with Nicky & Charlie (the border terrier). I’m also quite happy, and motivated to run and train alone.

I was expecting this epic to test the meditative state running can give me to it’s limits.

 

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Mile 3 – not the most inspiring section!

Before Nicky and I were together I was less adventurous with my running, mainly sticking to roads, and entering events with ‘PB potential’.

 

But, I was always motivated to train hard and rack up the miles on my own. I did speed train in a group from time to time. It was focussed,  eye balls out, intervals and time trials and I could always dig deep for them.

 

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Mile 4, the sun appearing over the fields above Clennon Valley
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Mile, er, 5

Now, I feel I have taken that rather single minded focus and have added a layer of adventure, a layer of exploration and of finding new challenges in endurance and terrain.

 

I’ve found, since writing this blog, that I read more and more excellent blogs from other runners. It always astonishes me how much detail people remember.

I know I enjoy waxing lyrical about this life of adventure and running with my wonderful wife, soul mate and fellow adventurer, Nicky, but I can never remember the points of a run in any sort of chronological order.

Hence this blog. I set out to take a photograph at every mile or so, then upload them in order.

 

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Mile 6, Stoke Gabriel, I wasn’t going that badly….yet!

The idea being, for those that are interested, the ‘journey’ of this mammoth training run can be charted by way of photograph.

 

 

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Mile 7, the dramatic skies above Galmpton
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Mile 8, The last time I climbed this stile, a herd of frisky bullocks increased my pace and heart rate rather!

By my Garmin watch I covered 50 kilometres , but the Strava app on my phone gave me 32.5 miles or so. Check out the route here.

 

There was definitely a ‘Snowdon Shuffle’ feel to this run, particularly in the latter stages, after that brutal coast path from Kingswear to Brixham.

On a couple of the tougher stairs sections, I actually had a word with myself to ‘Man the F*** up’! as my good lady wife would say.

‘Tis tough though, as anyone who has run or walked it will know.

I wonder how many people actually talk out loud to themselves whilst running in deserted, wind and rain swept. It feels bloody lovely.

Until you round the next corner and bump into an intrepid family hiking in the rain! I’m sure they were smiles of pity as they quickly scurried past me!

 

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mile 9, Galmpton creek (and a sweaty thumb)
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Mile 10, the fabulous view towards Dartmouth from above Greenway
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Mile 11, still smiling was trying to digest a Mars Bar

Well, this year I’ve run (at the time of writing) 1,450 miles, climbing 125,000 ft of elevation at an average of 45 miles a week. I run about 8 hours a week on average.

 

The event is 12 hours on a loop of about 4 or 5 miles, off road and hilly.

Not as hilly as this though!

Whilst I was battered after 6 hours and 31 miles, I did do 5900ft of climbing, only 6 days after doing 5800ft of climbing in The Snowdonia Trail Marathon, so I am pretty pleased.

Another 6 hours is a bloody long time though!

 

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Mile 12

I think I shall (*stolen from Steve Skedgell) be the tortoise not the hare!

 

I even practised eating!

Actual food.

I had a mars bar, two packets of honey and oat bars and a bag of mini cheddars.

I also drank my full bladder, 2 litres of zero sports drink.

I’m ignoring the question….

12 hours running round and round a farm in Dorset. How hard can it be.

I’m off again Saturday, maybe a slightly less brutal route and maybe slightly further than last week. hopefully a bit quicker. Although it’s the time on my feet I need, rather than any particular pace.

Anyway, enough of this rambling, time has beaten me this week, so hopefully you’ll enjoy the rest of the pictures from this run.

Please keep in touch via Facebook, Twitter, Strava, by commenting on here, or by email, kbonfield@live.com

Keep on keeping on……

 

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Mile 13, as you do….

 

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Mile 14, down to Kingswear

 

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Mile 15, if you go down to the wood today….

 

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Mile 16, I chose the longer option….

 

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Mile 17, even in the lashing rain the coast path is stunning

 

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Mile 18, I don’t remember…..

 

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Mile 19, LOOK! eating AND running….

 

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Mile 20, I do believe that’s Mansands ahead

 

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Mile 21, does this look like a man who shouts at himself?!

 

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Mile 22, Berry Head appears in the gloom

 

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Mile 23, amazing how challenging these start to look!

 

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Mile 24, leaving the solitude of the coast path for the bustle of Brixham

 

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Mile 25, Shoalstone Pool, tempting…

 

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Mile 26, Battery Gardens

 

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Mile 26.2, pretty pleased with that!

 

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Mile 28, Kayakers enjoying the empty seas in the foul weather

 

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Mile 29, surely the last set of these!

 

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I’d hoped to do 30 miles in 6 hours, so extremely happy with this

 

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Mile 31, this man needs an ice cold coke (and a shower!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

bullied kid
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……..

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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,

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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…….

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