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!

 

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…….