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…
There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my beautiful lady…..
I would definitely take Nicky’s injury off her, if I magically could, and stop running myself if it meant she could toe the start line in South Africa in 2 weeks’ time.
Regular readers may well remember my first 50 ultra back in October. They should do, I banged on about it enough! (my Gower 50 blog HERE)
Well I turned my ankle quite dramatically in that race and had a little bit of time off running.
Whilst it was massively frustrating, and it did seem the world and his wife were suddenly out pounding the pavements whilst I was unable, it was so much easier than how frustrated I am now Nicky is out of action.
I have solemnly promised that I will be on that 2 Oceans start line and be giving it my all.
On behalf of both of us.
Despite Sam the physio’s finest efforts Nicky’s troublesome calf just won’t let her play. So (probably wisely) she has turned her attention to being super fit for her half ironman debut in June.
Beware the Ides of March. Well for many years I haven’t been a March fan. 9 years ago my sister, Karen, got to her 44th birthday but 7 days later finally succcombed to the myriad of cancers that her final years were dominated by.
So yeah, odd one is March.
It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess.
I ended up running alongside a chap last week, whilst on my own long run, who was training for a spring marathon. Initially he was going to be attempting his debut 26.2 effort alongside his wife but circumstances have taken over somewhat. His wife is extremely poorly and does not have a great prognosis. He is determined to complete the run for both of them…
He implored my to do the same with 2 Oceans. Whilst we are fortunate to be currently blessed with good health, it is true that none of us know when these opportunities might come our way again.
There is, I have to admit, a bit of a guilt thing banging around inside my head. About 9 months ago, Nicky put me on the spot and asked, out of all the trips we’ve looked at (and we do spend a LOT of time saying “ooo look, an endurance challenge, in an unusual location…”) which would be your ‘dream’ trip. Such a difficult question, but the imagery I’ve seen from the 2 Oceans Marathon has always been a temptress for me and that we could throw our resources at it makes me feel a very lucky boy.
And, I am.
But it’s going to be a tough morning when I walk into that starting pen without Nicky………. For both of us.
I’m not really one for “I’m running for Aubrey”, or “running for Martians” but in this instance, I’m happy to be on duty for those who aren’t able to be.
On a more positive and typically determined note, Nicky’s decision has meant more accelerated and intense treatment on her calf has been possible and she is busy planning her post holiday training, along with a full A4 page of possible future adventures……..
There’s a trip of a lifetime to look forward to and some big decisions about our life too, so onwards and upwards……
Me? Well, I went for a tired but consistent 10 miles this morning and have my head well and truly focussed on building up my preparation for the T60. There’s still places, check it out HERE.
Whilst our Sunday run was curtailed rather upsettingly, I managed 24 miles on Saturday. It was hard work, but I’m hoping that, come race day(s), not having spent 8 hours on a concrete breaker the previous day will help me feel fresher!
For a nose at what passes as training, my Strava training is HERE
So, I’m just a bloke in fifties, having bumbled and bodged my way through life, until, in 2014 I went on a date with Nicky. Nicky, my beautiful wife, my life, my world, my everything. There had been adventure and people on the edges of my rather aimless existence up until then. BUT – nothing had prepared me for the whirlwind of life about to envelop me when I went on that nervous first date.
The cliché is ‘a whirlwind romance’ and WOW – for the first time in my life I understood what people had meant when they’d used phrases like that, and ‘soul mate’ and ‘forever’. I truly have been blessed. We try and cram as much into our lives as possible and Nicky has taught me that, despite the nagging defeatist crammed in a dark corner of my brain saying otherwise, people like us CAN……….
That’s not to say I haven’t met good people before in my life, people I’ve admired, people who’ve impressed, people who appeared genuine, and through all of the **** there have been characters who have stuck.
This is a long winded way of saying I’m writing, not an obituary as such, but a quick tribute, to one of the good guys from the past who tragically lost his life last week.
I was landlord of The Bay Horse Inn (Totnes) in an earlier incarnation. Whilst I was guardian of that 16th century coaching inn, a group of cracking youngsters, most of whom were at 6th form college, started using the pub. A quick can of coke and a game of pool, some welcome banter on those desolate winter mid week lunchtimes.
Anyway (cut to the chase Kevin!), they became firm friends, party people for sure, but with a quick wit and sharp intelligence to them. Amongst this number, for example, was a guy I went on to play in a band with, another chap who went on to be an employee, a colleague, a true friend and even a housemate.
Unbelievably sadly, last week, another of this crowd, Trev, suddenly and unexpectedly died.
Trev (short for Trevelyan) was a lively burst of energy. He was everything from the weekend fun leader to am accomplished amateur boxer, extremely flighty runner (a 1.20 half marathon!), keen fisherman and loyal friend to this great group of chaps and chappesses.
I always said that (if and) when the pub failed, most customers who claimed to be a friend when they wanted a lock-in, would soon forget my name. Trev was one of those who didn’t. For a long time we stayed regularly in touch and when I gave up the fags and took up running he was incredibly supportive and encouraging. Despite a 15 year or so difference in age, we found some great common ground and he was willing to reign in his inner gazelle and plod alongside me.
Before that, he was quite a cheerleader for the band I played in – happily throwing his wild shapes on a lonely dance floor as we churned our way through some of our self-penned tunes in some damn and empty ex-servicemen’s club
Yeah, a good guy.
I haven’t seen him for years. He too had met his forever lady and became a father, before getting engaged rather romantically on Valentines Day this year. He leaves behind a baby daughter, adoring finacee and his lovely, now elderly, parents.
I had a quiet moment for Trev, and for those who’s lives will be savaged by his tragic loss, this week. It truly is a further reminder that life is for squeezing every precious moment out of RIGHT NOW!
I watched Trev box twice. A student of the sport, he saw his ring-craft as his signature.
The first time, despite his fast movement, artful jabbing and focus, he was floored by a strong opponent, bouncing off the canvas at the very start of the final round. He took his fall like the man he was – back on his feet quickly, determined to show the referee he could complete the bout. Hugging his opponent and enthusiastically congratulating him before taking the applause of the ringside table occupied by us, his rowdy cheerleaders.
The second time I had the pleasure of watching him in action, he was even fitter, even leaner and with even more hours of sparring in the locker. A fairly even contest, but Trev continually edged away from his opponent on the judges score cards as he danced and teased and prodded his opponent. A clear victor, I felt Trev was never looking to flatten his opposite number, but to share the full ring time with him. Showing his opponent and the sport the greatest respect, it was lovely to watch. Classy.
Yeah, one of the good guys.
Forgive me the indulgence of publically sharing my memories of Trev, but, quite selfishly, the process of writing this has eased the shock.
I’ve always thought of Trev whenever I listen to The Gaslight Anthem.
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……
It’s been too long. (“NOT LONG ENOUGH!” some might yell)
Anyway, I’m back. Assuming I get to the end of this post…… AND POST IT!
We all have challenging weeks. Sometimes they are challenging in, you know, FUN and challenging way. Sometimes they are seemingly never ending and challenging. Sometimes they are AARRRGGGHHH!!! challenging.
Well, last weekend I had the pleasure of dot watching. Tracking the competitors in The Arc Of Attrition. They were having a FUN challenging weekend. I’m sure on the North Cornwall Atlantic coast, in a barrage of the South West’s finest weather, after 24+ hours of perpetual motion, the word ‘fun’ wasn’t on many of their lips!
Well, this blog first started around the time of The Arc Of Attrition a year ago. I wrote THIS PIECE musing on the possibilities of the apparently impossible.
A couple of challenging weeks for us. Aside from the usual challenges of exhausting days at work, caring for Nicky’s dad and trying to squeeze the quart that is our life into the pint pot that is our leisure time, we have had some ‘issues’ around our trip to South Africa.
We both had a day off work last week for our (shared – ahhhh) birthdays and decided to set out for our planned long training run. To cut a long story (and a long run) short….. 12.5 miles in and PING, ouch, ooo…. a hopping, cursing Nicky. One of her infamously tight and quite frankly STRONG calf muscles decided to stop play…….
A taxi home (oo, taxi driving? A career change may be looming, might this be for me?) and a solemn reflection of where this leaves our 2 Oceans ambitions.
And there in lies a story……
Tuesday before last we finally got our vouchers to enter the 2 Oceans Marathon. Tum te tum. Quick log in and enter all the usual personal information, email addresses, and, er, hang on, details of the QUALIFYING RACE!!!
To cut (another) long story short, the company through which we booked the trip clearly pointed out that we needed to have completed a qualifying race between September 2016 and February 2018. Lovely – although we have been off doing trails and ultras and triathlons and swims, we both met the qualifying criteria at North Dorset Villages Marathon last May (Nicky smashed her PB – read about that HERE). Tick.
But, now we can log on to the 2 Oceans website, they want a qualifying time achieved between July last year and February this. OH!!
After numerous panicked phone calls and emails – we STILL aren’t confirmed as entrants. It really is panic time. The UK based company has admitted its error, but that doesn’t really help right now…… hhhhmmmm
Back to Nicky’s calf trouble – well the nice man at the sports injury place hasn’t written off her chances just yet…….hhhhhhmmmmmm
Me? What about me, you say? I’ve got this horrible nagging niggly cough and a horrible nagging niggly doubt in my head that we’ll be seeing the 2 oceans from the top of Table Mountain rather than the road!!! I’ve managed just the one tiny run in the last 7 days……
In the big scheme of things….. A big, horrible health scare in our family this week shadowed any of the other problems and reinforced just how fragile our precious lives are anyway…. fortunately, whilst the person is still poorly, nothing sinister or long term has been found. Just makes you think though…..
We were still having ‘perspective’ when the car repair came in at £665 pounds. GULP!!
BUT at least I managed an ickle tromp through the mud with Charlie today – not sure how 4.5 miles in a week will pass as preparation for my supposed ambitions, but onwards……….
When somebody says “I used to play a bit.”, when asked about, say, the guitar, or table tennis, it normally leads to a thrashing with the little white ball followed by a Hendrix-esque whirlwind solo…. A bit like when our friend, Martin (regular blog visitors will know all about Martin and his sugar fetish – see various posts from the past, including THIS ONE), pitches up and cheerfully announces, in his cute Brummie twang, “I haven’t done any training”, before promptly skipping around a marathon in 4 hours!
By the way, my Dad played a high standard of table tennis and was still comfortably kicking my sweaty arse right up until he was stopped by my Mother…. what with his hip replacement and everything.
Sandbagging, I believe it’s known as.
Well, believe me, I DEFINITELY play “a bit” of guitar.
We had the grandson, Callum, to stay Friday, which is a rare treat, so we forfeited a run this weekend and headed off to Exeter for some lovely book buying, including visiting the lovely people at The Piano Room and The Music Room upstairs. Returning with bellies full of pasties and cake and coffee and coke and with bags full of novels and biographies and music books and guitar tabs and plectrums, we start trying to squeeze our passions into our spare time.
Actually, I managed ALL of my planned runs for over a week right up until I happily substituted Saturday’s charge up The Templer Way for some colouring and teaching Callum the wonders of Lord Robert of The Dylan, before mounting our chariot for the trek up to the big smoke.
“What do we want?” “Details of Kevin’s training!” “When do we want it?” “NOW!” I hear the crowds chant in unison……
So, the last 7 days…..
Monday, I managed a muddy head torch run with Charlie, on the coast path, I’m not sure who’s more lardy! Check it out HERE
Then Tuesday was a double day, some hill sprints with Nicky in the morning followed by 3 x 1 mile after work. Always a struggle to get motivated after work – the driving wind and rain wasn’t particularly inviting, so although my times weren’t comparable to those of nippier times, and it felt like trawling through thigh high treacle, I DID IT!!
More dog jogging, by head torch, around the woods and trails of Occombe and Cockington on Wednesday. I had a spooky moment when my head torch picked out a figure just standing amongst the trees, in complete darkness (about 5.45am!) – check out the run HERE, I reckon the fastest mile was that one!!
When I used to train in a group a few years ago, we had several measured routes which we used as time trials. I did one of these on Thursday’s run (HERE), running the 1.8 briskly, taking a jog recovery then running it briskly back, just about keeping the pace under 7min/mile so happy with that on tired legs.
As mentioned, yesterday’s runs were sacrificed, so Charlie and I joined Nicky for a super speedy blitzed up the Templar Way this morning instead. Nicky demonstrating pacing perfection as every mile got gradually quicker. A week of digging, carrying and shimmying up and down a scaffold had taken its toll on my aging limbs so I quickly, and politely, dismissed the suggestion to continue after these lovely 10 miles – I’ll call this a ‘back off’ mileage week!!
So, I did indeed use to (in fact still do) play a ‘bit of guitar’, but inspired by Nicky’s enthusiasm, drive and determination for, well, everything, I have picked it up again this week, hoping to be more than an average rhythm guitarist……..
Don’t forget, for those of you interested in my other writings, check out my latest post about trying to become a novelist (!) HERE.
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