3am Eternal

Ahhh, the longest days of the year. Heatwaves. Festivals. It’s summer now alright.

HOTA few tetchy people around, obviously not including yours truly, as most of us are struggling to acclimatise to sleeping in the warm nights ……. Me? I lurrve the heat…

Obviously I’d choose a chilled afternoon at Seacombe Sands with my beautiful wife over screeding floors in a sweatbox with my workmate Jamie. Nothing against Jamie of course!

It’s Giant’s Head Marathon this coming weekend, a fabulous, award

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Now THAT is a giant, er, medal!

winning, brutally hilly, trail marathon in Dorset. Upon completion participants are rewarded with monstrous ice creams and a monstrous medal featuring the Giant’s, er, spinning willy…

Nicky and I have done the Giant’s Head Marathon two years running so we’ve opted for a change of scenery (more of which later) this year as we build up to the Snowdonia Trail Marathon in July. It was warm last year, but in 2015 it was HOT! Fabulous event though, I mean FABULOUS. So good luck to everyone in Dorset this weekend, hope it cools off a tad.

It’s also the Glastonbury Festival this weekend. Back in the day I did a few of these too, struggling to sleep then too….. I wasn’t quite as fit back then…. Another fabulous event which, unlike the Giant’s Head Marathon,

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Faith leading Nicky in the sprint for the line!

doesn’t feature high in my list of experiences to repeat. Too old for camping, noise, crowds, late nights, debauchery…..

 

Old Hippy
I wasn’t quite so healthy back then!

So, a relay this weekend. But before that, we are off to Bantham on Saturday as Nicky is participating in The Swoosh, a 6km swim from Aveton Gifford to Bantham. It’s a dawn start and we’re aiming to arrive for sunrise before Nicky is bussed to the start. Our regular accomplice at events, Martin, is also involved. Obviously it hasn’t been suggested that his breathing whilst swimming is hindered by incessant chatting….

I’m chief supporter and intend running the trails to watch the start before returning to see the finish. More and more and more, events are just that, EVENTS. The whole experience, the adventure of getting up at silly o’clock, meeting Martin, the drive on empty roads, the sunrise, the bubbling nervous excitement and sharing all of this with the most amazing person I’ve ever known. (That’s Nicky, not Martin, although, in that wetsuit mate………)

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I get to run here with my beautiful soul mate…. AIN’T LIFE GRAND

Soul mates? The two words never went together in my life, until I met Nicky and we set out on this life of outdoor pursuit and sharing everything. Everything? Well, apart from the time Nicky ran over to another path whilst we were walking one day, to ensure she didn’t have to reciprocate and give me a bite of HER crème egg!

 

There have been scuffles on the sofa over the last liquorice allsort on occasions….

So, to recover from Saturdays exploits, on Sunday, we’re doing a relay. A relay, I kid you not. Nicky is going to bravely swim a  kilometre off South Milton Sands before handing over the, er, dibber to me as I head off for a 15km coastal and trail run. It sounds fantastic and the weather is looking good but not crazily hot luckily.

 

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Nicky, taking to the sea with Martin whilst I run the coast path (apparently she can’t him him whilst they’re swimming!)

We were just chatting about how it really is the event we’re looking forward too, it takes as long as it takes. The process, the journey, the moments and memories rather than any measured ‘outcome’. Saying that, I wonder if there’s a Vet 50 Married Couple trophy!!

 

Nicky is having a great year of open water swimming, getting in the sea wherever possible and feeling stronger and invigorated for the experience. We are shoe horning our Snowdonia training into the available time and had a VERY hot 14 mile trail run on Tuesday evening, straight from work,  which was hard but a beautiful route.

 

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The South West Coast Path near Kingswear

We also ran a very challenging few hours out of Kingswear together on Sunday. This too, was a stunning route.

It’s about the journey, and WOW what a journey it is.

 

I’m trying to mix my runs up a bit but keep mileage high, it’s ten weeks until the East Farm Frolic, where I shall endeavour to keep moving for the full 12 hours, so I need to know I’ve built an endurance base to support this. I do think that my work helps with this, some days it can be relentless. Up and down ladders or like this week mixing and carrying, it’s great work but can be very tiring, sometimes after a 10 mile run in the morning.

I firmly believe that ‘keeping going’ will be the key to ultra running and so I’m just going to keep on running. Wherever, whenever, for however long or however far, and enjoy every single step……..

The world feels like it’s under siege at the moment and so many are suffering unimaginable and unbearable sorrow and grief. We are so fortunate that we can’t even begin to imagine how life must be right now for those suffering and those who have lost. I truly hope the apparent groundswell of love, rather than hate, as a reaction to appalling events of late is the way forward for us all as a community, as a nation, as the human race and EVERYONE echoes the mantra “I refuse to neglect you”

Check out my latest running efforts on Strava if you fancy a nose.

And feel free to join me on Facebook (which I use) or Twitter or Instagram (both of which I use sporadically)

Keep on keeping on……

 

Yeah, I don’t know where to begin so I’ll start by saying I refuse to forget you
I refuse to be silenced
I refuse to neglect you
That’s for every last soul up in Grenfell even though I’ve never even met you
That could have been my mum’s house, or that could have been my nephew
Now that could have been me up there
Waving my white plain T up there
All my friends on the ground trying a see up there
I just hope that you rest and you’re free up there
I can’t feel your pain but it’s still what it is
Went to the block just to chill with the kids
Troubled waters come running past
I’mma be right there just to build you a bridge yo

 

 

 

 

Cumbria Tans, Black Cats, Green Scalps

Some people have REALLY black cats. It wouldn’t matter how black yours is, there’s WILL be blacker……….

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Charlie, looking beige on the beach in the early morning sun.

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

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Nicky and Charlie catching some Cumbria rays up in the fells

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

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Nicky, not unhappy to be out of Lake Windemere!

suspect!

 

 

 

 

 

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see – green

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.

 

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Happy with their medals, and to find the children still intact under Granddad’s supervision!

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.

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Brixham Harriers patrolling the ‘hood

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…

 

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.

 

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Crack of dawn. Coastpath. Beautiful wife. Bliss.

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…

Onwards………

Weekender…..

Bladder failure.

You can only control the controllable.

 

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I may well laugh, I was in need of a shower…

Having ran a total of 24+ miles on Saturday, totalling 5300ft of climbing, mostly on coast path steps, I was tired on Sunday morning.

 

Yup. Two runs on the coast path on Saturday. Home to Teignmouth (17.5miles) to meet up with Nicky after her swimming group’s session, then another 7 on the relentless up and down steps of the coast path with Nicky. I’d been sweating nicely in my running kit for about 5 and a half hours by then. I didn’t realise quite how badly until we stepped into the little shop at Ness to buy a drink after our run and the two young ladies both took a step back and I’m pretty sure were holding their breath!

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The South West Coast Path, brutal and beautiful in equal measures
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Playing to our strengths – one of us went over the fallen tree, the other nipped under!

Despite being tired, I know that I need to be able to run tired and keep momentum if I’m to realise my ambitions in August. I have bigger, longer term ambitions for distance too, so I need to become the person who keeps moving forward regardless.

 

So, Sunday morning, with Nicky’s second sea swimming lesson of the weekend some 3 hours off, I set off again….

 

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Still smiling!

She really is an inspiration. 18 months ago she couldn’t swim 33 meters of front crawl, now she’s a veteran of a 10k river swim (and several open water achievements) and is determined to crack the sea swimming this year.

 

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Steps. Hundreds of them.

We’re doing a relay soon, with Nicky doing a 1km sea swim, followed by me tackling a 10 mile off road run. I wonder how many husband and wife teams there are?

My mother said that it would be hard for Nicky swimming with that baton in her hand….

Recruiting the services of Pete Wilby who is knowledgeable, humble yet motivational and an all round top bloke, she really is mastering it. Mastering it to the point where a complete stranger approached me on the prom in Teignmouth to compliment her on her strong swim.

 

Anyway, I’d taken just over 3 hours the previous day but intended to take a slightly shorter route by not taking a couple of digressions and using a more direct approach to Torquay.

Once I’d hit the trails proper, I went for a slug on my drinking tube but despite sucking hard, like I was back on the Marlboro I was getting a mere dribble mixed with air.

Having scoffed at others with their trendy Salamon waist coat style rucksacks, I’m proudly sporting my Decathlon special……

So on the first big climb I removed my trusty bargain, thinking the tube must be kinked, thus restricting the flow. It was only on the third time of doing this that I realised that my increasingly soggy bottom was not down to the amount of sweat my herculean efforts were producing……..

There was split is in the bag where the tube attaches and so every movement squeezed another shot of blackcurrant flavored water down the, er, (for want of a better word) crack.

Nice.

This presents two challenges – chaffing  (oooo) and thirst (gasp).

Sweaty runnerMy options? The one I was already achieving was to be chaffed and thirsty and hope I made it to Teignmouth despite it getting pretty warm and I was heading to the most remote parts of the route. Hhhmmmm, not ideal.

The most appealing, just sitting down and weeping at how the world obviously hates me and it’s everybody else’s fault. No, Nicky’s voice in my head (“oh man the **** up”)…… Can’t entertain this one.

Turning back? Nope, I really didn’t want to miss Nicky’s swimming (she was driving to Teignmouth).

So what did I do, I hear you chorus? Well, I sussed that if I removed the bag, held it at an angle, I could get a good gulp out. Also my new compression shorts (I know, I’m well professional!) were doing the job despite the blackcurrant soaking and appeared to be holding those vulnerable parts together pretty well.

So I knocked the effort level right off, stopped every mile or so for a drink, which just about lasted and text Nicky.

 

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Landed right in front of me!

I’m please with the choices I made. Nicky and I arranged to meet at the golf course at Shaldon meaning I’d still covered the best part of 13 miles and still got to enjoy walking the dog in the sunshine whilst Nicky entertained the crowds as she ploughed through the waves.

 

 

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Nicky managed to get Pete safely back onto dry land!

Unfortunately, I missed the highlight of Nicky’s lesson as Pete apparently fell straight off his board whilst explaining the finer points of balance and poise in the water.

 

Talking of lessons……

I should always carry money on these runs, then I could have diverted to buy a drink somewhere. Actually, even if I replace the bladder and continue to use the bag, there’s nothing stopping me carrying a bottle of water in with my jelly babies and mini cheddars!

A weekend full of love, life and laughter with a healthy dose of adventure, we enjoyed it so much we started the working week with an early morning 5k in the woods,2017-05-22 06.10.02 already plotting next weekend, and the weekend after that, and the one after that…….

Next target? BEAT THE TIDE!

 

The Clock Moved Sideways

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

Anyway, time. clock

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

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

 

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It’s ok, Charlie, I promise not to use it on the blog……

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Brixham Harriers

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

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

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

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

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No, honestly Martin, I won’t use it on the blog

 

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

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

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

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

Anyway some piccies from this week’s runs:

felini days

Tuesday Legs (& Wednesday, Thursday etc….)

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

There the similarity ends.

So what is winning?

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

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

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

2017-05-06 11.36.15Eliod Kipchoge

 

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

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

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Nicky attacking a fellow swimmer!!

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

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

It was still winning on many levels, you see:

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

Completing that marathon = WIN

Having completed 32 marathons = WIN

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

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

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

Seeing my good friend Martin complete another fantastic marathon = WIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Psst, Grandad, you’re a winner to me, even if you DO detonate in marathons!”

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

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

A few more piccies from the week…….