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,

2016-06-26 11.27.20
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………)

2017-06-18 07.36.24
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

 

 

 

 

For The Many

2017-05-29 13.19.32
I hope we’re creating a wonderful future for these monkeys

Some of us grew up in households more politically active than others. Some of us were born in areas of the country known to be traditional ‘hotbeds’ of one political leaning or another. Some of us accepted the tone of our ‘political’ upbringing, some of us rejected and rebelled. Some of us campaign. Some of us keep quiet but still believe in our values. Some of us see the fall out of political choices ‘on the ground’ and form our opinions accordingly.

 

Having become a proud Grandad and Step-Dad and an even more proud husband to a social worker, having become part of the support network for someone struggling with dementia, I, of course, have my own feelings and opinions. I’ve chosen not to share them on this blog, or on social media as I enjoy my writings being about ADVENTURE and the positive, fun challenges of our lives.

That said, I hope we wake up tomorrow in a country where it’s ok to hope, to share, to love. In a country where a random act of unpublicised kindness to a stranger is a treasured thing. As opposed to a country where we all trample each other in pursuit of personal fame and fortune. I

2017-06-08 12.36.29
An inspirational landscape

would love us to wake up in a country where my beautiful Grandchildren are both encouraged to, and are free to, explore the opportunities of education, health and enrichment regardless of birth right, social status or geography. A country where these children see that we care for our elderly, our young, our deprived, our disadvantaged, our disabled and our victims. A country where we welcome all, where we reject hatred and believe in each other.

 

Ahhhh, the Lake District, I hope our wonderful Grandchildren get to see this wonderful area in which Nicky and I are enjoying during this amazing week. Despite the relentless rain it is breath taking here, the walking and running is wild and free and truly refreshes the soul.

We ran together today, following the Esk Trail towards

2017-06-08-11-34-47.jpg
In the words of trail running legend, Jamie Bullock “It’s only weather!”

Ravenglass before turning up to Muncaster Fell and taking the wild route back towards Eskdale Green. We saw a cluster of walkers at the very start of our day, not seeing another soul until we crossed the road to rejoin the trail for the final couple of miles. It has truly heaved down today, but we absolutely loved it.

 

Nicky’s calf pain, almost certainly due to an ill advised shoe decision on Sunday, was all but absent, and Charlie was kept motivated to keep running by the constant presence of sheep up on the fells. Yup, he spends plenty of time on his lead around here, gradually losing his tiny terrier mind to the sensory overload of scents wafting over

2017-06-08 17.12.22
“I CAN SMELL SHEEP!!!”(said Charlie) “It’s FECKIN’ windy up on this toadstool” (said Nicky) 

the peaks and tarns. 

As promised, a week of the previous mentioned R’s & W’s (reading, running, writing, walking) has been enjoyed, along with the glorious absence of an alarm clock, and it is, all too soon, heading to its conclusion.

We’re both inspired, both determined to get home and train hard towards our goals, particularly getting to the 20 mile point within the time limit next month at The Snowdonia Trail Marathon

2017-06-08 12.43.04We’re both then keen to push on to our collective goals as well as our individual endurance ambitions. Nicky is, again doing the River Dart 10k Swim later in the year and has challenged herself to go quicker, and I’m hoping to continue to build my running towards my 12 hour challenge in August.

Nicky has been taken by Adam Walker’s book whilst we have been away, a real ‘can do’ attitude, a determination to only focus on HOW he will achieve rather than WHY he won’t. I dread to think what she’s planning next, after reading that!

quill in handAnd I’ve been inspired to write. I mean REALLY write. I mean to write something every day, be it this blog, be it short stories, or be it actually starting the NOVEL….

2017-06-08-19-41-58.jpg
Ahhh, so THAT’S where we went

But actually, I’ve said it aloud since we’ve been here, there is poetry in me. There, I’ve said it again. Poetry. I’ve got a lifetime of thoughts which I’ve never quite put to paper. I’ve also started, in my scribbles, and in my head, started to create a ‘collection’. A collection of poems based around those affected in the world of a dementia sufferer.

 

Yes, this place is special. This place, as I’ve said in my previous blog, has beauty which you can feel, it gets inside 20170608_200015.jpgyou and it is relentless in its ability to take your breath with every turn.

2017-06-08 11.50.03
Rumour has it the rain is going to stop tomorrow!

Being here, with my perfect soul mate, my incredible lady wife, has been glorious beyond any words I may find to scribble…….

 

AND……. there might just be a surprise, a little sting in the tail of the week…….. Nicky, ever the impromptu queen of adventure that she is….

Watch this space…

 

 

From Marlboro Country……….

There’s been a bit of banter since the last blog! Which I guess means it has provoked thought. It all got me thinking about how I started running in the first place…

I suppose we all started running for a reason. (I promise the BIG Nicky interview is coming soon)

Marlboro CountryI smoked my last cigarette on 13th January 2007, ten years and counting, I’m very proud of that. I was a champion smoker, a real Marlboro king. Bear in mind I didn’t have the happiness of my wonderful life now, so a sneaky drag in the night, first thing in the morning, on the toilet, in fact ANYWHERE, ANYTIME, gave me a bizarre pleasure.

Anyway, I knew I had to stop. My life was not great. As has been well documented, my Sister was very, very ill and I was feeling increasingly guilty about the healthy body I seemed to have despite my appalling lifestyle.

So the fags had to go.

 

tony-blair
This man played no part in my salvation

And I didn’t want Tony Bleedin’ Blair getting the credit for it when his ban came into force. I also didn’t want it to be attached to my 40th birthday which was rapidly approaching. I felt that would have been too much of a cliché.

 

I’d tried everything, patches, gum etc, but ultimately I knew I needed to WANT to stop.

And suddenly I did just that.

running-cigarette.jpgThen what to do with all the time that used to be occupied with the fags?

Go for a run.

Dear, oh dear, oh dear……. how had I become SO unfit. I’m not joking, I thought I was going to die.

I’ve recorded every single step of this running adventure on Fetch and simply wrote next to this first attempt “Nearly F****ng Died!”

And so the battle commenced. I think my weakness was my strength – once I start doing something I won’t leave it alone (stop giggling at the back). It became personal. Running vs Kevin.

It was tough to start with, I used to go out after dark to make sure nobody saw me. Yet after a while I suddenly noticed I could keep going for 3 miles. Then it became an hour. then I did a 10k.

My first 10k. Absolutely heaving down, I’d travelled to Combe St Nicholas where I thought nobody would know me. Because it was cold and wet I wore a heavy cotton sweatshirt and jogging bottoms. I was overweight then anyway, I must have doubled my weight with the amount of water these garments carried. But, oh my, what joy at having that medal put around my neck.

And so it spiralled.

I absolutely love running and the journey it has taken me on.

My trusty Fetch log informs me that I’m up to 15843 miles (including that first one, which may not have been a complete mile but felt like 10!) and I can honestly say I cant think of any I regret.

Some have been painful – the last 10 in my first marathon were appalling. Some have been bleak – Milton Keynes Marathon 2012 (shudders and shivers at the memory). Some have been less than picturesque – Reading Half, why? But so so so many have just been pure bliss.

 

2017-01-14 11.16.28
We’ve had some hair-raising runs…

The best miles though, are ALWAYS the ones ran wife my beautiful, inspirational wife. Just magical.

 

Anyway, keep on keeping on people……..

 

 

 

 

2017-03-12 13.17.13
Ocassionally we interupt our eating with a bit of running…..

 

Miniature 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:-

 

2017-05-14 09.53.00
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.

2017-05-14 12.26.31
Mile 26, er……..

 

 

2017-05-14 09.58.52
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?

2017-05-14 10.43.39
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.

 

2017-05-14 12.29.47
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.

 

2017-05-14 12.51.41
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.

2017-05-14 14.13.34
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!”!!

 

2017-05-14 14.55.46
This is what we did instead of the ‘other’ 13.1 miles

 

 

 

 

 

The Clock Moved Sideways

5 points for the first to name the artist who sang The Clock Moved Sideways.

Anyway, time. clock

Yes, time. I always say that a sudden lottery win could buy many material items, but the one true treasure it would release…. time.

I’ve also always been a believer in the mantra that we make choices with our time, meaning it’s never quite true that we ‘haven’t got time for that’. It is a truth that sometime feels rather stretched though……

 

2017-05-11 06.43.20
It’s ok, Charlie, I promise not to use it on the blog……

Today for, for example, I chose to run with Charlie. It is swimming lesson day for Nicky so I am on the rota for Charlie duty – so I would have spent the time walking him if I hadn’t ran with him.

 

Me and the four pawed one did about 3.5 miles, which would have only have been about 1.5 if we’d walked. Oh, and I love running, so a good choice I reckon.

Then I breakfasted, showered and went to work. I choose to go to work. It fills (including travelling) 10 hours of every week day. I choose to do this because I like having the bills paid, eating and our adventures and weekends.runner looking at watch

I get home, I choose to prepare and cook dinner, have a shower and between us, carry out any other domestic duties which we choose to complete.

So yes, we do ‘choose’ all of this use of our time because we have ‘chosen’ to live the life we live.

So, yes again, technically, we could choose avoid some of the above, but life would be very different.

Brixham Harriers

2017-05-09 19.44.18So, as I shouldn’t be saying, I simply haven’t had time to blog this week…………. one of the reasons would be that Nicky and I decided to go running with Brixham Harriers on Tuesday evening. What a great choice that turned out to be, a friendly bunch, a couple of whom we already know (regular blog readers will already be familiar with the Sugar King, Martin).

The evening run took us on trails and paths to join the coast path at Mansands, heading back enjoying the stunning views and a couple of brutal climbs with the sea on our right.

The group is encouraged to run as one but with runners going ahead and doubling back or taking pauses to regroup and drink in the stunning vistas.

Whether we end up making this a regular fixture will come down to…….. time.

2017-05-09 19.33.15
No, honestly Martin, I won’t use it on the blog

 

With one eye on my target event of the summer, The East farm Frolic, I am looking to enjoy a bit more trail running and the Harriers’ session certainly delivered that. Feel free to check out any of my runs on Strava.

So, another weekend beckons, with adventure on Sunday coming via The Imreys Trail Marathon, a sneaky night away bolted on to the back of it, so we won’t be chasing good old time on Monday… ahhh…. lovely

Before that though, Nicky will be at her open water swimming session on Saturday and I plan to get dropped off on the way home and enjoy some of the coast path to the east of here.

Keep on keeping on people, next weeks race report & blog will be late because Nicky and I have other plans for our time whilst we’re squirreled away in Cornwall…..

Anyway some piccies from this week’s runs:

felini days

Green And Pleasant Land

I may not covet my neighbours, or anybody else’s, OX but am in awe at the level of OXing occurring on the Rushmoor Estate this weeknd. White Star Running’s extravaganza of trail races involved a 50 miler, a 12 hour race, a night 10k, an early morning 10k and the race of our choice, a half marathon. Some have done 4 races this weekend. WOW!

We chose the half, knowing we would be carrying our hard efforts from last weekend in our legs. At the top of the first hill we knew we had made a wise choice.

It’s over a 2 hour drive each way but the wonderful atmosphere was infectious from the moment we arrived. We squeezed the Mini into the car park and for a moment we did covet some our neighbours’ VW vans, even more so as we contorted ourselves in the mini to change afterwards!

We’ve got a summer of trail events lined up, Imreys Trail Marathon  next week, Race The Tide (16 miles) a couple of weeks after that, Coniston Marathon in June, Snowdonia in July and back to Cornwall for the R.A.T. in August. Not forgetting, of course my next ‘target’ race, the East Farm Frolic.

We have completed the 32 mile R.A.T. the last two years but Nicky was a bit disappointed with our time in last year’s event, so we are, you’ll be surprised to hear, ‘ON IT’! and intend to be Mr and Mrs Trail Running Experts by then (if Snowdon hasn’t killed us!)

Anyway, suffice to say we went round todays beautiful course at a fair old lick and are ready for the fun and challenges ahead, I think I’ll let our pictures tell the story of our day………

 

Tuesday Legs (& Wednesday, Thursday etc….)

So, today, Eliod Kipchoge and I both ran for 2h00m25s.

There the similarity ends.

So what is winning?

Kipchoge, as the world now knows, narrowly missed getting under 2 hours (for the marathon distance) in Nike’s Breaking2 effort. A string of pacemakers dropping in and out, in supposedly revolutionary kit and running shoes. Personally, I think that with athletics credibility suffering at the top end, it was a welcome and quirky distraction. They have never suggested that they would be claiming it as a world record. However you view it, hats off to Eliod for an incredible run.

I ran 14.6 less miles than Kipchoge, but I think we’re both winners today. We both smiled, doing something we love. I am proud that I spend every day being the best human being I’d ever hope to be and running is a massive part of that. I may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but I’m ME.

Me and Kipchoge, never been seen in the same room….

2017-05-06 11.36.15Eliod Kipchoge

 

Have I previously mentioned my wonderful wife (I’m DEFINITELY winning!!), well she was in Teignmouth for her first venture into the sea this year, with Pete Wilby Triathlon, and we had a family drive there and watched, in total admiration, as the group acclimatised in the crashing surf.

pete wilby logoThere’s so much more to Nicky’s journey than this brief mention, but I’m lining her up for a BIG BLOG interview soon, so you’ll have to wait.

2017-05-06 10.08.22
Nicky attacking a fellow swimmer!!

So, another win, I reckon, for Nicky and her fellow intrepid swimmers and for Coach Pete for making the session fun, relevant and safe in the wild conditions.

I’ve been reflecting all week about ‘winning’. I allowed myself some disappointment at not hitting my target in last week’s marathon, but will not let myself dwell on it.

It was still winning on many levels, you see:

Firstly, being fit and healthy enough to attempt to run a marathon = WIN

Completing that marathon = WIN

Having completed 32 marathons = WIN

Running a marathon in under 3 and a half hours = WIN

Helping, being helped by, a fellow struggler over the last couple of miles = WIN

Seeing my beautiful, amazing wife complete her 30th marathon in a Personal Best time = WIN

Seeing my good friend Martin complete another fantastic marathon = WIN

Sharing the day with our wonderful friends, Gloria and Jan = WIN

Yes, on reflection, it was definitely a day of WINNING!!runner winning

Back in work this week, my quads particularly enjoyed going up and down the ladder to the roof then dragging up dozens of lengths of timber…….

Anyway, I managed a few little runs this week and still loved every minute, despite the rather shuffling nature of some of the miles.

I felt I was ready to tackle some miles today, so I got Nicky to drop me off at Labrador Bay on the way back from Teignmouth and I ran the coast path to Torquay before following the normal route home – you can check out the run here. A very challenging, hilly route with plenty of steps for my quads to enjoy!2017-05-06 11.59.40

I’ve just finished reading Redemption, the John Mcavoy  book. My interested in John began after his extraordinary interview on Marathon Talk and the book really has been every bit as gripping and inspiring as I’d hoped.

20170506_201427He speaks about enjoying the mental challenges as much as the physical preparation for endurance challenges. His motivational words and the inspiration of watching Nicky, yet again, pushing her boundaries, never accepting where her limits might be, really got my blood pumping for this run. So this morning was just WIN WIN WIN….

Getting to spend the afternoon with Nicky, Frank (Father In Law) and  fantastic Step Daughter, who is still ‘ON IT’ as we say to motivate each other on that there social media, and the bubbly bouncy Grandchildren – more winning.

2017-05-06 15.11.50
“Psst, Grandad, you’re a winner to me, even if you DO detonate in marathons!”

Anyway, we’re off east again tomorrow for the Ox Half (with no ‘targets’ you’ll be pleased to hear) where we’re hoping to spend the whole day WINING!!

Follow me on Strava if you wish, on Fetch, Instagram (not really got the hang of this yet!), Twitter (infrequent but enthusiastic!) and good old Facebook

A few more piccies from the week…….