I’m self employed. Saying that, I’ve mostly worked for the same small firm for the last two years. I did go out on loan for a while (see THIS BLOG), but even that was for a friend of my current boss. Though I’m self employed, said boss still texted me to check I was OK with travelling to and from the customers’ house on both SNOWMAGGEDON days this week.
“It’s OK,” I cheerfully responded, “I’ll run home”. Secretly hoping for a white deluge, I stuffed a load of running gear in a rucksack and drove the 6 miles to work. Rather disappointingly, on Wednesday, the threatened snow barely materialised and the trusty Micra scuttled me safely home.
And then scuttled me back to work Thursday morning. The difference being, the snow actually came on Thursday. And didn’t it.
Another text from my boss, basically saying have a half day, “It’s OK, I’ll run home.” I reassured. Then the call from Nicky came. She was more insistent now that the weather had deteriorated sufficiently for her office to close early. For those who are new to the blog… WELCOME!!…. Nicky is my wife, my inspiration, my heartthrob, my passion, my reason, my life. Feel free to read back through the blog for more, suitably gushy, posts about how I treasure every moment of our lives together and the incredible adventures she dreams up for us.
I am learning to understand when “I think you should leave now” means “You ARE leaving now.” Not to worry about the chances of the Micra getting home in one piece, I reported…. “I’ll run home!”.
So, as Nicky left her office a couple of miles from home, I washed up my decorating gear (by the way, once this project is finished I’ll be striking out on my own, so if you’re local and have property repairs or renovations needed…. get in touch) and donned several layers of running attire.
“When you said ‘it’s ok, I’ll run home’, we thought you were joking!” exclaimed the customer as a thick veil of snow started to hide the rather tatty Micra from the beaky eyes of their neighbours.
An hour and a half later, I met Nicky sat in stranded traffic at the bottom of our road! Torbay ground to a halt as the heaviest snow I can remember combined with a ferocious easterly storm to close roads and challenge the authorities and emergency services.
For me, though, what a treat, running 6 miles on crisp fresh snow on the country lanes. T’was quite beautiful.
I’m always jealous of those people with their ideal jobs, showers at work, gym on site. So many magazine articles suggest ‘squeezing a run in at lunch time’ for those of us with time-poor lives. Not much use for us hairy-arsed builders. Unless we want to stink all afternoon. The same goes for running to work – I’d have to carry so much (I have an ENORMOUS lunch box – come on now, no sniggering at the back!) and would be rather sweaty and smelly.
That leaves running home as the only possibility. The challenge here being, again, carrying my work clothes and paraphernalia and, of course, then not having my car to get to work in the morning. For a long time I cycled to work trying desperately not to be a sweaty mess on arrival and weighed down by so much STUFF.
So, with work related runs not really an option for me, yesterday was a real treat. Emerging from the silent, bright white lanes into the ring road on the outskirts of Paignton, I saw the full extent of the travel chaos. I helped a couple of motorists battling the challenging conditions up the first hill before zigzagging my way home via more unused tracks and lanes.
Since the advent of cameras on mobile phones and the instant world of information we now live in, we are all ‘on the spot’ journalists to our little world.
Nicky, Charlie (the intrepid Border Terrier) and I ventured out into the snow last night for a great fun walk, and to record Paignton in the snow – not something we see very often. We avoided the beach area, Storm Emma was throwing crazy waves up and over the prom.
We should all consider those less able to cope than us, the frail, the elderly and keep an eye out for our neighbours. I have to say, it’s been heart warming to see the army of 4X4 vehicle owners and those with spare rooms near hospitals, some pubs, shops and cafes, all start to offer their generous and selfless support once the extent of the extreme weather became apparent. Getting people safe and warm and where they need to be was the mission and so many joined the cause.
In a world where nobody has any time for anyone, there has been a real sense of community around here, and I for one think that is a fine thing.
Saying that, Nicky and I are grandparents ourselves, but nobody had traipsed across the snow currently covering our garden to ask us if we need any bread or milk….
So, this morning a lovely run of nearly 7 miles with Nicky and Charlie (see HERE) was slightly hampered by a lot of the snow being too deep for Charlie’s little pins! He’s collapsed on the sofa now and avoiding eye contact! But how beautifully the forces of nature had prepared the countryside for us today us today.
So another week of limited running has bizarrely been rescued by the very weather which has hindered people getting out at all.
Nicky’s troublesome calf seems to be giving cause for very tentative optimism and our entries into the 2 Oceans Marathon have finally been confirmed. Little by little……..
Hoping for two long outings over the weekend, watch this space……
This is my 77th blog post…… Collectively they have been read over 11,000 times and I’m really quite humbled by that fact.
I imagine all of us bloggers are doing our ‘…of the year’ thingy right now, but I’m not going to let that stop me. So if you’re rather full of these lists then maybe you should look away now……….
MOST POPULAR BLOG POST OF THE YEAR
Inspired by some of the naïve errors I made back in my first ever marathon, I wrote this tongue in cheek BLOG POST about ten rookie errors guaranteed to make your marathon experience miserable.
TOP TEN BLOG-VISITING COUNTRIES OF THE YEAR
Aside from the UK, my rather humble wittering has been perused in 70 different countries – most prolifically in The United States, Canada, Ireland, Jamaica, Germany, Finland, Australia, France, The Netherlands, Switzerland & India. There’s even been a visit from somebody in Cambodia.
My book reviews are the least ‘viewed’ posts, but as I’ve always maintained, I absolutely love writing them, therefore every single person that might get a moment’s pleasure from reading is an honour and a bonus.
On this note (and I know they’ll be reading), a big “Hi” to Pieter & Samira from The Hague. They made a point of finding us at the Reggae Marathon to let us know they loved the blog – Happy New Year to all in The Netherlands x
PROUDEST MOMENT OF THE YEAR
A close run thing here – finishing the (32 mile – black) R.A.T. in a fantastic time (blogged about HERE) was a truly magical ‘Team Bonfield’ moment. Successfully completing The Gower 50 Mile Ultra in a time I was chuffed with, despite the rabbit hole incident! Yes, I was so, SO proud to have completed my first ‘solo’ ultra and first 50 miler – read all about it HERE.
BUT – I reckon there hasn’t been a better moment than when Nicky and I pitched up in Snowdonia for the absolutely FABULOUS trail marathon nervous about the 19 mile cut -off. Well, we arrived at that check point, the gateway to the main climb of the day with about 3/4 hour to spare. I waxed lyrical about that fabulous day HERE.
PROUDEST HUSBAND MOMENT OF THE YEAR
The transition master
As ever, the year was jam packed with moments of inspiration, adventure and achievement, as my beautiful, amazing, truly inspirational lady wife, yet again amazed me over and over again. Every single day I feel more and more blessed to have this incredible lady in my life.
So, she smashed her marathon PB at the North Dorset Villages Marathon (read all about it HERE), came so, so close to breaking 2 hours at the Bideford Half Marathon (chatted about HERE), yes it’s been a year of fizzing along. As I’ve said above, she achieved some amazing results in some epic trail events and combined an increasingly absorbing work life and a challenging, at times, domestic life with training for multiple endurance disciplines.
Yes, Nicky also completed her first triathlon and you can read all about that fabulous day HERE.
Also, there were some amazing proud moments as Alisa, Nicky’s eldest daughter completed her first events, alongside her Mum, as she continued her journey to fitness and on her health drive.
BUT, amongst this year of hectic, wonderful, adventurous and fun weekend challenges, my proudest coat-holding moment was the River Dart 10k swim. WOW – having completed this event last year, she set about attempting to break 3 hours this time. You’ll have guessed by now that yes, indeed, she did!
So amongst a forest of proud moments – read about my most bursting day – HERE.
MY FAVOURITE TEN EVENTS OF THE YEAR
Well, apologies to all the other event organisers but, for the best that trail running gives to me, it has to be the Roseland August Trail (R.A.T.) from Mudcrew. There are point to point 11 mile, 20 mile and 32 mile options. We have completed the 32 miles in each of the last three years. But – I can’t resist it any longer and the ‘out and back’ 64 miler is on my calendar for 2018! Check out the blog from this year’s event HERE.
For quirkiness, brilliant concept, route design, friendliness (I could go on), the Race The Tide from Pure Trail was also a fabulous trail event. (blog, naturally, HERE). As was the already discussed Snowdonia Trail Marathon.
We did some cracking half marathons (including a couple that were supposed to be marathons!), particularly enjoying the great atmosphere at The Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service Half down in Bodmin. My first race as a Vet 50 – scribblings HERE.
The previously discussed North Dorset Villages Marathon is probably my favourite road marathon and this was our second year there. Back on the trails, we also returned to The Larmer Tree from White Star Running for a second year. Yet another race with a superb atmosphere – varied and challenging off road route through the Dorset countryside. White Star offer something a little different to the trail running scene, and provide a lovely balance of true endurance challenges and hearty laughter. Guess what – there were words…. HERE.
Also from White Star, was the East Farm Frolic, it barely got a mention in the Blog as we were having a particularly ‘time poor’ period at home around that time. Basically, do as many laps (about 4.5 miles) of an undulating, rural, trail route, on a farm in Dorset, as you either can or want to, for 12 hours. A great, inclusive, fun event with a family atmosphere and camping
After managing to navigate my limping body around the 50 miles of The Gower Ultra – and what a gorgeous place it is – this was always going to feature in this list. With around 200 competitors and seemingly double that working on the fabulous checkpoints, it truly was a breakthrough for me, in so many ways.
So that’s 9 of my favourite events. We’ve done about 30 this year, so picking 10 (in no particular order) was hard. No ‘of the year’ list, though could possibly be complete without Mudcrew’s The Scrooge the ever popular trail running fancy dress romp through the Lost Gardens Of Heligan. See the blog HERE, Yet again, we took it VERY seriously…….
MY FAVOURITE RUNNING ‘THINGS’
My Karen ribbon. My sister was taken from us aged a mere 44 years and a week (9 years ago). On her last night, I ended up with an item of her clothing, which I cut into ribbons. My brother and I both tie them to our wrists for races and she’ll forever be at the side of the road yelling “arms, Kevin, ARMS!” as she expertly analysed my terrifying running style. Will be missed forever.
Fetcheveryone.comstill my favourite website. Brilliantly evolved under the loving gaze of founder and bloke-in-chief, Ian Williams, there still isn’t an online running community to match it. I would never have got anywhere near where I have with my own running without it.
To hear the man himself talk us through his world, check out his fabulous interview on another of my favourite running things Marathon Talk. This is a weekly podcast presented by Martin Yelling and Tom Williams, I’ve listened to every single one of the 400+ episodes and, as with Fetch, it very much has been part of my journey.
Other podcasts I heartily recommend….. Talk Ultra normally fortnightly, presented by the thoroughly engaging Ian Corless who really humanises the sport of Ultra running and manages to gather interviewees from every country, every distance and every ability.
Another podcast I’ve not missed an episode of is Running Commentary. On a weekly basis the two comedians and avid runners, Rob Deering and Paul Tonkinson don head-sets and record their quirky, irreverent, poignant, witty and downright entertaining banter as they run along. These three podcasts make my working week feel just that little bit shorter.
Another interviewee on Marathon Talk (he’s appeared on three separate occasions) is the infectious Colin McCourt. From an elite international 1500m runner to a rather portly, sedentary chap, he started this year with a challenge to return to his former speedy self. He charted this progress on his Instagram account and has become one of the best running stories of the year. He set out to lose a shed load of weight and attempt to break 16 minutes for 5km. Check out his Instagram and relive his incredible 2017. I won’t give any spoilers……
Oh, and although I’m not into plugging brands (check out my lack of sponsorship HERE) I can’t sum the year up without mentioning my Inov8 trail shoes – I bought them at the Coniston Marathon (BLOG HERE) after the shoe company lent us shoes to run the marathon in! They are, genuinely, gert lush (translation: very good indeed).
Obviously Faith’s (my energetic and LOUD grandaughter) Silver Wellies have stolen the show in any running shoe debate – she smashed her mile fun run at the Templar Ten in them – blogged about (naturally) HERE.
RUNNING BUDDY OF THE YEAR
Probably no surprises here……..
The most beautiful, amazing, inspirational, funny, charming, adventurous and DAMNED HOT person I’ve ever met – she truly is my world and as long as we’re together then “don’t worry, ’bout a thing, ’cause every little thing, gonna be alright”
Obviously, Charlie, the intrepid Border Terrier, is a close second!
Now, this being a happy place, there’s no room for negativity, bitterness, moaning, backstabbing or bitching. 2017 has been a challenging year, in many ways, for Nicky and myself, we’ve had to adapt and survive changes and developments in our world and work around the challenges. We’ve been (without bigging us up!) strong and determined, and ‘made it happen’ when ‘it’ didn’t look very likely on many occasions and we have those closest to us to thank for helping us absorb the impact of life.
Riddles, I know, but it’s hard to flamboyantly describe the slow down in the world of someone we love.
So, I’m proud of, and have loved, every minute of our journey together. Yet another year becomes ‘the best yet’ in this world I’ve been blessed to live in. And, yes, I’m proud of my achievements both in running and in life.
BUT, it’s Nicky that fills my heart and soul to bursting point with pride and more love than I could ever have imagined existed in the world……..
Yes, this lady has, in 2017, defied her crazy and demanding job, her crazy and demanding domestic life and her crazy and demanding, er, husband, and constantly, over and over again, pushed her boundaries, gone (literally) higher and faster, conquered new skills and generally been awesome in all of her fabulous endurance challenges…..
For example, she was (wo)man enough to admit that a half was enough at the Portland Coastal Marathon back in February, came back strong to complete cracking half marathons in Bodmin and Bideford, then matched our previous years time at The Larmer Tree Marathon. Another brilliant half at the Tavy 13 (blog HERE – I fell over!), the quirky and hilly Devonshire Dumpling Marathon (blog HERE)and then a blistering time at The Yeovil Easter Bunny 10k (HERE) before absolutely smashing her marathon PB at The North Dorset Villages Marathon (already talked about up there^^).
Then she beat challenging time limitations with (relative) ease at Race The Tide, Coniston Trail Marathon, Snowdonia Trail Marathon, The RAT etc etc……
Nicky blitzed her first ever triathlon, swam four tough open water events, The Swoosh, The Dart 5k, The Great North Swim and The River Dart 10k (breaking the 3 hour barrier).
This is a far from conclusive list, but I think I’ve explained just WHY, I think this lady is extraordinary in every way.
Apologies for this, but feel I need to include the one event that DOESN’T think Nicky is good enough. Think 5h30m time limit for a hilly trail marathon (12m35s per mile) yet has a cut off of 1h30m at 8 miles (11m15s per mile). Only it’s not ACTUALLY at 8 miles… etc etc. Yup THIS BLOG POST curled a few toes!
Some people have REALLY black cats. It wouldn’t matter how black yours is, there’s WILL be blacker……….
Anyway, we haven’t got a cat. We’ve got a Border Terrier. Charlie. And he’s, well, beige to be honest. Not especially beige. Just your average, run of the mill sort of beige. I don’t doubt there are people out there with beiger Charlies. But, he’s quite beige enough for us.
He looks darker when he’s wet. Which he was quite often on our jolly sunny holidays in the glorious lake district last week. We didn’t let the
weather hold us back, with a marathon, lots of other runs and walks and Nicky swimming a mile in the Great North Swim.
Talking of which, despite some serious open water swimming already this year, Nicky was a little bit, er, green after this, having not quite had the lake experience she was hoping for. She still banged out a mile in Lake Windemere. And not for the last time, I
Not as green as she looked on Sunday though. Well, green, pink, blue…
Her wonderful daughter, my step daughter, Alisa (regular readers will know how proud we are of her achievements this year) and Nicky did the Colour Rush 5k in Teignmouth. Basically three laps of the prom and beach whilst periodically having coloured powder paint thrown at them.
Alisa’s first medal. And I managed to have a full compliment of grandchildren still under my control by the time they finished. All over this grand parenting malarkey, I am…..
So, and please no giggling at the back….. We. Are. On. It.
I know, you’ve heard it before, but THIS TIME……
There’s a cut off at 20 miles in the Snowdonia Trail Marathon which is our next target. It’s probably not a shock to discover that it’s a little bit hilly, but we could probably do with sharpening our mountain goat physiques to help with that…..
Project Mountain Goat is go!
So, since we got back from our holiday Nicky has been back in the sea (twice) and quickly regained her confidence and we’ve both been enjoying the trails on our early morning jaunts.
We also went back to Brixham Harriers last night and enjoyed a loop including a beautiful section of the coast path before our (now traditional) Tuesday evening chips. A glorious summer’s evening in lovely company.
We’re still struggling with the running in the evening, mostly because of how, simply, our days are arranged, it leaves a sort of blank hour before we set off for the club. This sounds like a ‘first world problem’ I realise, but we, as I’ve alluded to in previous posts, seem to be constantly battling time…… That said, it’s great to run in a friendly and welcoming group and , well, we do enjoy the chips…
We shared a portion…
My big, BIG target for the year (*I reserve the right to change this, having not quite made my last BIG target!) is the East Farm Frolic. With that in mind, I am trying to add a few miles here and there and get more endurance fit than ever before. I’m really not sure how I’m going to respond to such a long time on my feet, but I have even BIGGER ambitions for the following two years so I really need to find out how my body (and mind) respond to a heavier training load.
Luckily, I absolutely love running, and, wherever I can, I’ll try and do my runs AND Nicky’s runs with her over a weekend and really start getting the miles in.
On that note, I read, in a running social media group, of somebody bemoaning not being allowed to wear headphones during a 10k race because “running is boring enough…”
I feel blessed that I get nothing but joy from every single run…
Some of us grew up in households more politically active than others. Some of us were born in areas of the country known to be traditional ‘hotbeds’ of one political leaning or another. Some of us accepted the tone of our ‘political’ upbringing, some of us rejected and rebelled. Some of us campaign. Some of us keep quiet but still believe in our values. Some of us see the fall out of political choices ‘on the ground’ and form our opinions accordingly.
Having become a proud Grandad and Step-Dad and an even more proud husband to a social worker, having become part of the support network for someone struggling with dementia, I, of course, have my own feelings and opinions. I’ve chosen not to share them on this blog, or on social media as I enjoy my writings being about ADVENTURE and the positive, fun challenges of our lives.
That said, I hope we wake up tomorrow in a country where it’s ok to hope, to share, to love. In a country where a random act of unpublicised kindness to a stranger is a treasured thing. As opposed to a country where we all trample each other in pursuit of personal fame and fortune. I
would love us to wake up in a country where my beautiful Grandchildren are both encouraged to, and are free to, explore the opportunities of education, health and enrichment regardless of birth right, social status or geography. A country where these children see that we care for our elderly, our young, our deprived, our disadvantaged, our disabled and our victims. A country where we welcome all, where we reject hatred and believe in each other.
Ahhhh, the Lake District, I hope our wonderful Grandchildren get to see this wonderful area in which Nicky and I are enjoying during this amazing week. Despite the relentless rain it is breath taking here, the walking and running is wild and free and truly refreshes the soul.
Ravenglass before turning up to Muncaster Fell and taking the wild route back towards Eskdale Green. We saw a cluster of walkers at the very start of our day, not seeing another soul until we crossed the road to rejoin the trail for the final couple of miles. It has truly heaved down today, but we absolutely loved it.
Nicky’s calf pain, almost certainly due to an ill advised shoe decision on Sunday, was all but absent, and Charlie was kept motivated to keep running by the constant presence of sheep up on the fells. Yup, he spends plenty of time on his lead around here, gradually losing his tiny terrier mind to the sensory overload of scents wafting over
the peaks and tarns.
As promised, a week of the previous mentioned R’s & W’s (reading, running, writing, walking) has been enjoyed, along with the glorious absence of an alarm clock, and it is, all too soon, heading to its conclusion.
We’re both inspired, both determined to get home and train hard towards our goals, particularly getting to the 20 mile point within the time limit next month at The Snowdonia Trail Marathon
We’re both then keen to push on to our collective goals as well as our individual endurance ambitions. Nicky is, again doing the River Dart 10k Swim later in the year and has challenged herself to go quicker, and I’m hoping to continue to build my running towards my 12 hour challenge in August.
Nicky has been taken by Adam Walker’s book whilst we have been away, a real ‘can do’ attitude, a determination to only focus on HOW he will achieve rather than WHY he won’t. I dread to think what she’s planning next, after reading that!
And I’ve been inspired to write. I mean REALLY write. I mean to write something every day, be it this blog, be it short stories, or be it actually starting the NOVEL….
But actually, I’ve said it aloud since we’ve been here, there is poetry in me. There, I’ve said it again. Poetry. I’ve got a lifetime of thoughts which I’ve never quite put to paper. I’ve also started, in my scribbles, and in my head, started to create a ‘collection’. A collection of poems based around those affected in the world of a dementia sufferer.
Yes, this place is special. This place, as I’ve said in my previous blog, has beauty which you can feel, it gets inside you and it is relentless in its ability to take your breath with every turn.
Being here, with my perfect soul mate, my incredible lady wife, has been glorious beyond any words I may find to scribble…….
AND……. there might just be a surprise, a little sting in the tail of the week…….. Nicky, ever the impromptu queen of adventure that she is….
5 points for the first to name the artist who sang The Clock Moved Sideways.
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……
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.
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.
So, 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.
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…..