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:-

 

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

The apparent race time limit of 5h30m (this would be 12m36s per mile) wouldn’t have been a problem, Nicky has recently ran a 4h24m marathon and whilst this is definitely a more challenging route, with her relentless and consistent pacing we would always get there. Lovely, settle in and enjoy the run……

 

Hang on, the cut off at 20 miles is 4 hours (12 mm). Oh, really, well, we’ll get to that relatively safely and even if we are tiring, that would mean we had 1.5 hours to do the last 10k (and as we now know, the last 3 miles are pretty quick). Smashing, we could average high 11’s and see how we felt at 20…..

Oh, HANG ON, the cut off at 8 miles is 1.5 hours, that’s 11m15s per mile!!! Er, why?? Anyway, I tried not to let this concern me as I set about pacing Nicky as best I could to this first cut off point. I can’t tell you too much about the course, as I was trying to get the right effort out of Nicky without burning up valuable energy for later in the race.

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Mile 26, er……..

 

 

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Started at the back. Whoops!

We ALWAYS start at the back. This serves two purposes – firstly, it avoids being dragged along by runners going faster than we should be and secondly it stops the demoralising process of quicker runners coming by as they find their place in the field. This was a mistake today!

 

It took us exactly a minute to cross the start line.

After a lap of the Cornwall College site we hit a rather bad bottle neck. Stationary. 90 seconds.

Then, an uphill very narrow grass path, at a gentle walk as there were plenty of half marathon runners enjoying the greenery as they were, of course, under no time pressure. How much quicker might we have done this section, maybe 30 seconds, maybe a minute?

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One of us struggled under the tunnel….

 

The final nail in the coffin of our marathon was when we passed the 8 mile marker with 1h29m50s showing on my watch but with no sign of the split.

A few hundred yards later we were 2 minutes too late for the poor chap charged with the task of informing us! You were bravely firm and apologetic sir and I hope we weren’t rude!

We completed the ‘half’ in 2h28m feeling bright and fresh, a bit cross(!) but could merrily have gone around again.

 

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

 

Such a shame that my beautiful wife, a seasoned veteran of 30 marathons, including a 50 miler, 4 50ks and numerous tough off road events is now saying that she feels that she simply isn’t good, or indeed, fast enough.

I guess we’ll just have to be more careful to ensure races we enter are aimed at runners like us.

A cracking venue and course, numerous and enthusiastic marshals and volunteers and an inclusive half marathon with no time pressure.

 

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Not quite the ‘full’ monty

Not all doom and gloom though, a pasty and an ice cream as we chilled on the beach at Charlestown was just splendid, followed by a lovely evening and night in our favourite bolt hole in Mevagissey.

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Definitely a 2 ice cream day.

 

And now we look forward to some lovely weekends of running and Nicky is getting right back into her open water swimming again.

Hopefully I haven’t come across as bitter and twisted. As I said to a nice chap in a Mudcrew vest as we stomped our way through the last few miles, I need to shut the wotsit up and stop moaning. “Oh no, he said, if you’ve developed a life skill you should definitely use it!”!!

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

A banquet fit for a (king or) queen

2017-03-25 06.19.23What a beautiful sunrise this morning, the sun rising through the haze of sea spray as an north-easterly whipped the tops off the waves. Like running through a watercolour.

Chilly for sure, but good to have some bright weather to run in. We’re not Saturday long run people normally, preferring the traditional Sunday long one. I set off first, aiming to do about 11 miles at marathon pace before joining Nicky after she’d done 3 or 4 for another 16 or 17. Simples.

Marathon pace was barely happening today so I’d actually done 10 by the time we met up. Reassuringly, Nicky was also ‘not feeling it’.

Saturday, you see. Our highly and finely tuned elite athlete bodies are programmed to run 3 mile time trials on Saturdays, this was never going to be a successful experiment. That, combined with the sore knee Nicky is nursing meant she wisely finished at 10 miles, before the knee starting affecting her running too much. She’ll do a smaller run tomorrow instead.

Whilst I was feeling sluggish (half a packet of dark chocolate digestives last night can’t have helped!), I wasn’t in pain luckily so I carried on and did an easy paced hilly loop. This brought my run in at 26.2 mile! Well, if I’m going to do well in these ultras later in the year, I’ve got to be capable of this sort of mileage. Click HERE if you like run stats.

ANYWAY…….

Pretty hungry after all this, which got us to thinking about post race/run noshing. Nicky and I, er, like our food (not something you can regularly get away with saying to a lady!) so we’re always keen to get our nashers chomping after a run.

 

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Larmer Tree Chef, well good grub

The last marathon we did, the wonderful Larmer Tree (see previous blog), not only had a quite beautiful, peacock medal but also some lovely hot food for the runners included in the entrance fee. There was a choice of burgers, pizza, salads, vegetarian and vegan options, plus a bar and coffees a plenty.

 

What to eat after a marathon? We’ve tried everything. There’s a cracking pasty shop in St Austell, open well into the afternoon on Sundays, so they’ve had plenty of our hard earned shillings after some cracking events down that way.

I will, actually, eat anything after a run, that’s a danger time for me. Chips, chocolate, crisps, pork pies, bacon, cake, cake, cake, crumbs found in the well of the boot of the car, half eaten hot dogs found  on the floor, you name it, I’ll eat it!

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Post run essentials

 

We tried taking our food with us, lovingly preparing bagels, fruit, small snack bars (who wants a SMALL snack bar??) you name it, we’ve tried it but somehow those, cling film wrapped warm bagels, sweating in the boot of the car just don’t cut it.

 

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After conquering the South Downs Way 50 Nicky was presented with 50 cream eggs! Now THAT’S a post race nosh up!

 

Nope, it’s got to be pasty, coffee and cake for us and when we get home on race days it’s takeaway night. House special chow mein with fine noodles mmm mmmm.

After todays efforts it was belated porridge and a walk down to the sea for coffee and cake.

Looking forward to next Sunday’s Devonshire Dumpling where we have had to pre-order our pasty (meat please), included in the £8 entry fee!!

Keep on keeping on people….

Don’t Stop Believing

2017-03-16 19.52.09I’ve entered a competition. It isn’t a running competition. It’s a writing competition. No, really.

ronnie corbettTo cut a Ronnie Corbett sized story down to Ronnie Corbett’s size, this is how it came about…..

Nicky bought me a gorgeous journal after encouraging me to enter the East Farm Frolic. Knowing how I’d always fancied myself as a bit of an amateur scribe, she thought I could keep a record of my training journey building up to the 12 hour event in August.

After, what seemed like a lifetime or three of living in darkness, my life has simply exploded with light, and life, and colour and adventure in the time we have been together. Not only do we share our quest to make as much of our non-work time an adventure as we possibly can, but we also BELIEVE in each other. Something I’ve never known and my, oh my, how utterly wonderful it is.

Anyway, without going off on a tangent too much, the journal has been, and is, a truly wonderful thing. I am recording my feelings and levels of confidence and general assessments of training and how the rest of my life impacts upon it, and I have found that I really am enjoying the writing as a complement to my running.

Hence the blog.

Hence the writing competition.

 

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Did I mention our trip to Cornwall???

When we were in Cornwall (as many of these blog posts allude to) great things happened. This included us deciding to grab a magazine or two for our toasty evenings in front of the log fire. Up until that moment I hadn’t even know that such a magazine as Writing existed. Exist it does. And what a lovely read it is.

 

Well, they have regular competitions, the one in question is for a short story. There isn’t a theme but they give you the first sentence, you must create the story with a further 1500 or so words. So I did. And I have submitted it.

Blimey.

I may have stopped believing for a while, but it is SO easy to believe when the most wonderful, incredible lady walks into your life and gives it a good old shake up.

Aint. Life. Grand.

(Oh, and I’ve been running)

 

 

Streaking 

streakerI appear to be streaking. Not the type where I disrobe then charge across a cricket pitch, leap frogging the stumps at great risk to me dingly danglies, no not that at all, oooo no no no. No, I mean streaking, like a football club being on a winning streak. You know, like, say, Leicester City last season, not this season, last season. Amazing how my Facebook feed isn’t so full of people who were born and bred in Leicester lately! Streaking. In this case I could be described as on a run streak. Streaking.

It appears, as I write, that I am up to 25 consecutive days of running. It happened accidently really and I didn’t really notice until day 11 or 12. Problem now is……. how long will it keep it going?

I’m lucky, I know, that my running is so varied in pace, mileage, terrain, company that every run is feeling lovely and fresh, tired, naturally, but fresh.

 

My training log on www.fetcheveryone.com

 

The longest run in this streak was on Sunday just gone when I managed a whopping 27.6 miles! I did 10 at my target marathon pace and then caught up with Nicky to do 17 of her 20 with her.

 

 

The shortest run, just clicking in at 3 miles was a 1.5 mile out/back on the beautiful Cornish coast path on the morning we drive home from our amazing week in Cadgwith

 

 

 

 

We just love Cornwall

 

 

The nippiest  (should such a word exist) was on Saturday 11th February when I did a road out and back 10km run from our lovely holiday cottage. Clocking 41m33s. Pleased with that pace straight out of the box as it were.

 

 

 

And so does Charlie

The gentlest run was the beautiful 9 miles we did together with Charlie, again whilst on our beautiful holiday in Cornwall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in Cadgwith after another gorgeous run.

Seeing as I never intended to start streaking, who knows how long I will streak for? Ron Hill recently ended his after a mere 52 years!

 

Having set myself, after a talking to from my incredible, inspiring and quite beautiful wife, some short and long term targets, then a run streak is definitely another way of staying motivated.

 

 

Next up for us is the Bideford Half Marathon on Sunday, followed by the absolutely stunning Larmar Tree Marathon the following week.

All my running from the last 10 years has been logged on Fetch and lately on Strava too.

THE ARC OF ATTRITION               Things I’m glad I’ve never learned to do. (yet!)

Towing a caravan. That looks terrifically complicated. Particularly when going backwards. And there’s no log burner.

See – VERY complicated!

Being a day fisherman, making a living putting to sea in a small day boat out of some beautiful yet rugged and exposed Cornish Village. I’ve never harboured ambitions to join them. Yet, having had a delightful medley of locally caught mackerel, bass, cod and lemon sole as my delightful 50th birthday lunch, I am deeply grateful that there are plenty of braver souls than I who HAVE made that career choice. We had this lunch in the most southerly cafe in mainland Britain, on The Lizard, Polpeor Cafe.

I don’t know WHY we come here….

Nicky and I were both born on February 10th (ahhhh ❤) and we had stayed in the same cottage as we did two years ago, on the coast path just outside Cadgwith, when we celebrated her 50th.
We felt honoured and blessed that this was also the (first) day of The Arc Of Attrition. The 100 mile ultra marathon started at midday in Coverack and finished for those that made the whole distance in Porthtowan before the midnight cut off the following day. The route follows the stunning yet torturous South West Coast Path along the south, through Lands End and up the North coast. 

We timed our birthday lunch so that our walk back to the cottage gave us the chance to cheer each and every one of the runners as they were approaching about 8 miles into their epic journey. 

It was humbling to see.

Arc of Attrition approaching The Lizard

Other things I’m glad to say I’ve never been tempted by? Parachuting, trapeze  (or any other circus related skill), far too much bravery and natural balance required, for I am a clumsy soul. I may or may not have had a muddy tumble or two on the trails last week!

Skiing, too, aside from a (very) brief dalliance in the early 90’s on a dry ski slope (a hazy period to be honest), is to be left alone by the gangly one.

Not me!

The AoA runners need to be well equipped for all of these skills, needing bravery, balance, commitment, determination and grit. They have to roll with the bumps and bruises and expect them I imagine. The wind was pretty wild on the exposed sections, challenging even in the relatively short distances we covered. 

On Saturday, we drove to the north coast and parked at Carbis Bay and walked to, and through, St Ives where the (I believe) 75 or so mile checkpoint was situated. The runners were well spread out, in fact the winners were already having a warming cup of tea or better along the coast at Porthtowan. We gave as much encouragement as we could as the runners came through all the Saturday pedestrians, there were some thousand yard stares going on but, such courage. I think I’m right in saying that all but one of the runners who made the cut off in St Ives, also made the finish.

I am humbled by anybody making the start line, never mind the finish line and I have to say Nicky and I had a quiet moment or two contemplating the tracker; there were competitors out there on the extremely remote and exposed 13 mile section approaching St Ives who will have known that once they arrived there, their battle was over, no finishers buckle for them, but hopefully a heart full of pride for their monumental effort.

The Mud Crew Arc Of Attrition tracking site

Each competitor carries a tracking device, primarily a safety device which has a SOS function should the runner become isolated and stranded. This linked to a tracking website which means the organisers and crew, friends and family, and us nosey parkers, could see the position of every competitor throughout the race. Addictive stuff I can tell you.

It was approaching 2pm in St Ives, the cut off time as the weather started to become wetter and windier and colder. Those that had made it that far had another 10 hours to make the finish, heading straight into these conditions. Their exhausted, battered bodies and weathered and stretched spirits must have been begging them to stop. 

A gentle walk in bleak conditions near St Ives

We chatted to one the many incredible Mudcrew marshalls, a veteran of the event who provided us with even more insight into the event and the fabulously devoted people associated with it.
Just for giving us the absolute pleasure of the feeling of having been so close to something epic, I nod my head wildly to all the runners, crew and support teams.

A mention for Paul Maskell and Steve Wyatt who finished together in a course record of 21 hours 26 minutes. Blimey!

Paul Maskell and Steve Wyatt

I’m pretty confident I will NEVER learn the didgeridoo  (doesn’t that echo in the underpass in Truro), nor for that matter the bagpipes…..

As for the Arc Of Attrition, I mean who would want to travel 10o miles, on foot, on the Cornish Atlantic coast, in February, with maybe 20 hours of darkness in the 36 hours allowed……….

I mean, who would want one of these…….