The internet eh? Full of people. People you might like. People you might not. People you agree with. People you don’t.
Somehow, by applauding the decision to bring a great sporting event to Torbay, where I live, I was accused of being a Torbay Council stooge and anti free speech. That’s the price of engaging I guess.
The event? It’s the opening round of the 2018 season of The British Cycling Youth Circuit Series. Where young people come together to show their athletic prowess and bike handling skills. Read more HERE. I foolishly responded to the “but the bus route will be diverted” type whining on Facebook!!
Still reeling from Nicky’s injury and its unfortunate timing. I’ll be flying solo in the 2 Oceans and am determined to get that medal for both us.
It’s been a tiring week (I know, change the record!) what with Nicky taken down by the lurgy, my job being rather physical at the end of the week and poor Frank having a bit of trouble understanding day and night, or his television, or the mail…….. There’s no dressing it up, living with dementia is bloody exhausting for EVERYBODY.
So with Nicky battling injury and illness, Frank, poor Frank, and strangers accusing ME of being anti free speech, I thought I’d share my top 10 good things of the week….
Nicky, ever determined, inhibited by her cold, unable to run, the weather stopping cycling, popped into the pool and smashed out the required distance for a half ironman. Twice. Bosh!
My brother, Simon, travelling down from North Wales and taking me down in the Parkrun.
My Saturday long run – a total of 18 miles finishing with the said Parkrun – the 15 mile warm up might have finished off any chance I had of keeping up with him. Check it out HERE.
An old training partner, also Simon, the only person who was too hot on a Baltic day, who pitched up in a onesie.
Another Simon – Simon Ridley from Brixham Harriers, our good mate Jan, and all the amazing volunteers helping us around on such a cold day – what a great thing Parkrun is.
Nicky’s physio, Sam, getting to work in Paignton this morning, despite the very real risk that the snow will inhibit him getting home! He’s worked his hot-cross magic again, complimenting Nicky on her high pain threshold as he physically assaults her!
Snow – well it just looks so lovely (even if it’s quite possibly costing me a day’s money tomorrow!)
Charlie – for wearing a bowler hat, naturally.
Oh yes, today’s long run – 20 miles of biting Easterly gales, snow, ice, mud, mud, mud, hills, mud, steps – Check it out HERE
And writing, and reading, and jigsaws and the piano, our down time, our precious recuperation from the barrage of life…
All too often Nicky brings work home, either physically or psychologically. It goes with the territory unfortunately.
I occasionally bring work home too. We tend to burn mine though. Free heat. Nice. I think Nicky would be happy if we burned hers too!
My trainers have spent a bit of time in front of the burner lately as they’ve been sucking up the melting snow.
Double daying. Thats what I’m attempting in preparation for the T60. ‘T60?’ I hear you chime in unison. It’s a 60 mile, overnight run along the River Thames, finishing at the stone marking its source. There’s still places and you can read alllllll about it HERE.
So I did a lovely long challenging 25 miles on the compacted snow on Saturday (on STRAVA) and then a nervous 22 with Nicky (also on STRAVA) as she attempts to nurse her troublesome calf to the 2 Oceans Marathon……
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……
Sometimes this blog writes itself. Not literally, of course, but you get my drift. Yup, the words are out of my brain, through my clacking fingers and on to some enormous data storage facility in the South Pacific before I can say ‘blimey’! And then, hopefully, they are recalled and perused by you people kind enough to share this bizarre, electronic story with me……
Other times, I sit.
And nothing happens.
But, mostly, I have vague idea of where I’m going with a blog post and it sort of evolves around my mind as I type. I know, with my writing ambitions, more proof reading and re-writing is required, but the flavour of the blog is to just….. well, get it out there…..
I’ve had this idea of writing about anniversaries slopping around my head for a few days, but didn’t really know how to attach blogworthy significance.
I know Facebook prompts me to remember the birth of my virtual friendships, reminds me of previous years frolics with pictures and posts and invites celebrations of fellow users’ birthdays, but some anniversaries need a more delicate touch….
Sometimes, there are dates which just fill the heart and soul with joy… for me, the best day ever was our wedding day and I get all goose-bumpy just thinking about it now. Our first date, and, of course our birthdays are truly special to remember. Our birthdays’ are on the same date….. aaaaahhhhh
For those new to the blog (and Nicky chastises me regularly for going on and on and on….) I am quite prone to publicly declaring how wonderful my incredible, beautiful and utterly inspiring my gorgeous lady wife, Nicky, is. I am so grateful and blessed to share this fabulous life with her…
Other anniversaries, like the day we lost loved ones, are less celebrated, but still marked, if only in our hearts. I like to remind myself of the good times shared, particularly with my dear departed sister, who I know would have loved to see me, finally, having the happiness which makes me treasure every moment.
Enough of this, lets talk about running. I’m quite partial to donning the plimsolls and trotting along, as has been mentioned on this blog occasionally, and luckily for me, so is Nicky….
What a weekend of running we treated ourselves to.
With Nicky fancying a change, we headed over to Parke (a national trust property in Bovey Tracey) for the fabulously named Parke Parkrun. Nicky drove the 16 miles, with Charlie and let him loose amongst the squirrels (he’s keen but far, far from being a hunter!). Me? I decided to run over…….
Luckily I enjoy a bit of road running, not as much as the trails perhaps, but, sometimes, I like to run with a steady repetitive stride and zone out. Apart from the first 5 or so miles, this is a traffic free route, much of it on the Templer Way.
So those lovely slick bottomed road running shoes were brilliant alllllll the way to Parke…….
Parke Parkrun (love that!) was an absolute mudfest. I basically slipped and slid my way along behind Nicky as she did her usual…….. Start at the back and just get stronger….. slicing through the field from start to finish….. (see the whole run HERE)
Bacon bap and a coffee to follow, what’s not to like…….
“I thought you said it was FLAT!?”
Nicky said this a few times on Sunday’s run. Our next marathon is coming, we’ll be running together, it’ll be on the road, and, it’ll be lovely and hot (so hot in fact, the start time is 5.30am to get some of it done before the sun comes up), we’re fortunate to be heading off for some winter sun and squeezing a marathon in whilst we’re there.
So we, as I had the previous day, headed for hard trails and quiet roads, doing an ‘out-and-back’ from Totnes following National Cycle Route 2. Heading out early meant we encountered pretty much nobody for the bulk of the run. Hillier, for sure, than it appeared on the map……. (see the route HERE)
Hence Nicky’s oft-repeated refrain during the lovely run.
Nicky is getting really fit and strong, swimming, spinning and running in equal measures as she gears up for the challenges of 2018…… Me? well, I seem to be getting back to fitness (if not pace) after ‘the injury’ (did I mention I’d done a 50 mile ultra……. read alllll about it HERE)
As ever, time is our enemy…….. please check out the other posts on this blog (there’s about 70 now!) and some of my other scribblings OVER HERE and keep in touch via FACEBOOK etc and look out for RUNDEEP MAGAZINE which features a column by yours truly.
Quite often our mantra whilst we’re casually googling potential new challenges.
Swim 10km? How hard can it be? 50km over Dartmoor? How hard can it be?
You get the picture.
Also my work chum and myself……. plumbing? roofing, underfloor heating etc? Just how hard can they be?
So, a couple of days with the eldest grandson, Callum, taking him away for his birthday treat. Not a problem?
I’m often found to be idly flicking through the well-thumbed pages of Ultra Marathon websites, ooohhh, ahhhh, mmmmm, ha ha ha, how hard can they be?
But multi-day events. Ow! Not sure that’d be up my street, not my bag, unlike my cup of tea (which is actually coffee, anyway). Nope, as regular readers will know, I DO have ambitions for long single stage events, but multi stage events, nahh.
Legoland. Two days. Two CONSECUTIVE days! I know!! Is there a test of endurance to match it?
I’ve been blessed. I know I’ve mentioned this before, and my rather wonderful, beautiful and, quite frankly, HOT, lady wife, Nicky keeps telling me to stop being so soppy. I’ll be making the avid readership feel nauseaous, she reckons. BUT, I truly am blessed.
From the moment Nicky bundled her way into my soulless life and filled it with all this phenomenal love, adventure and laughter, I have felt, well, blessed!! AND I became Grandad to her two bundles of fun filled granchildren, which has now become three. And I absolutely love it.
Late on day 2 in this world of a billion coloured bricks, we found a perch and had a selfie with a lego batman soft toy. We looked drained!! In the most wonderful way. Callum has been full to the brim with excitement, with wonder, with awe and has, for two whole days been nothing but a joy to share the time with.
A 6am start (sounds like an identikit race report coming up….) followed by 4 hours in the car and we arrived at the park. It’s big! Luckily, we had booked, as the place was sold out, mostly because it was open late for fireworks.
Yes, we’ve had our moneys worth, getting to the Holiday Inn Express in Slough about 8.30pm that night (we know how to live!!) where we promptly ordered a Dominoes gorge fest. The three of us propped ourselves up on the (less than) double bed and feasted our tired, hungry faces. Bliss.
Callum slept well on his put-me-up, whilst we enjoyed the aural delights of Heathrow, and before we knew it, day two was upon us.
By the time we climbed into the car at tea time, we were all suitably sated of our lego desires and the trusty Mini devoured the miles home.
An extra hours sleep?
Nah, an extra hours RUNNING!!!
(Did I mention I’d completed a 50 mile Ultra? – read alllll about it HERE) I reckon the three weeks since my Gower exploits haven’t yet flushed the fatigue from my legs. Combined with the previous two days adventures, I was never going to break any records on THIS run.
BUT, I loved the three hours around the bay, much of it by headtorch, and, after the ‘injury’ at Gower, I seem to have also been blessed with amazing powers of recovery too.
I know, we will, and I’m sure Callum will too, treasure these moments forever!
Keep on keeping on people, don’t let the b******s grind us down….
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
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
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.
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.
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.
The idea being, for those that are interested, the ‘journey’ of this mammoth training run can be charted by way of photograph.
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!
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!
I think I shall (*stolen from Steve Skedgell) be the tortoise not the hare!
I even practised eating!
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, email@example.com
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.
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.
Voices 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.
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.
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…