The Marathon I Haven’t Run

I don’t just throw this blog together you know….

One idea I’ve been mulling over is to have an occasional series of interviews, with ordinary people. People who are into running would be good. Whatever form that takes and whatever running might mean for people.

Microphone
Fancy being interviewed for the blog?

Only, I don’t want to be too obvious, I’d like to find out more, delve deeper into the inner workings of the minds of those out on the paths, roads and trails.

Without asking the obvious………

Or taking it too seriously……..

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Nicky censoring her replies….. interview coming soon….

Nicky says “you can interview ME if you like!”

Stay tuned for that one……

So, I thought I’d kick off with a quick interview with……

……. Myself

Asking the questions I definitely won’t be asking anyone else……

Q: I hear you’re a runner, have you done the marathon?london marathon logo

Me: The marathon?

Q: You know, London

Me: No I haven’t

Q: (disappointed look) Oh dear

Me: I have run 30 marathons though, some of them ultra marathons

Q: But not in London?

Me: No, sorry.

Q: What’s an ultra marathon?

Me: I believe it’s any running race that’s further than 26.2 miles.

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Nicky & I in our first Ultra – The Imber on Salisbury Plain in 2015

Q: Are they in London?

Me: No, sorry.

Q: Oh, never mind. Anyway, isn’t running bad for your knees?

Me: Not so far, I’ve found kneeling down on cold wet concrete at work is worse.

Q: Are you going to run the London Marathon?

Me: I don’t think so, there’s so many other places I’d like to run.

Q: But not London?

Me: No, sorry.

Q: Great North Run?

Me: Nope, again, the crowd thing.

Q: So where have you run a marathon?

Me: Most recently an off-road marathon in Dorset.

Q: Was that as far the London Marathon?

Me: It was, it’s actually a bit further, Dorset miles are longer.

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Another flat, fast Dorset mile ahead!

Q: What music do you listen to when you’re running

Me: I don’t

Q: You don’t?

Me: No, I prefer an empty head, the sound of the sea, birds, my foot strike, breathing, the sound of my beautiful wife talking, that sort of thing.

Q: Do you do the MoBot?

mo and usian
Wonder if either of these two are free for an interview?

Me: Nope

Q: The Lightning Bolt?

Me: No.

Q: You are a runner, mate?

Me: I like to think so.

Q: So who’s your favourite runner? Mo Farah or Usain Bolt?

Me: if you mean ELITE runner I’d have to say Callum Hawkins or Laura Muir.

Callum Hawkins
Callum Hawkins

Q: Who?

Me: Never mind. But actually, my favourite runner is my beautiful, amazing wife Nicky, she truly is my inspiration. She believes in me, I believe in her.

Q: Was she in the London Marathon?

Me: No.

Q: The Olympics?

Me: No.

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All the inspiration I ever need (this was Windemere Marathon the day after our wedding)

Q: Right? Have you got many cups?

Me: Two, but I don’t run for cups.

Q: So why do you run?

ME: I enjoy running.

Head Over Heels (or ar$£ over t!t)

Last time I fell during a run was in the Haytor Heller 2015. Oooo I did graze my knees. I’ve been surprisingly sure footed since then. Until today………..

It sure has been a challenging week chez nous. So we were ready for a lovely adventure today, tired for sure, but looking forward to the Tavy 13. It is a fabulous half marathon, hilly and challenging but with a “ahhhh-weeeeeeeee” 3 mile downhill and flat finish.

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Other people might want some of that Martin

The same gang of three (the wonderful Mrs Bonfield, the silver fox & yours truly) set off for Tavistock, arriving in good time and ready for our standard pre-match coffee (or multi-sugared tea). We had all, of course, completed the Larmer Tree Marathon 7 days earlier (see last weeks review) and were prepared to be carrying that fatigue in our legs.

 

This event, fantastically organised by Tavistock Athletic ClubTavistock Athletic Club, also played host to the Primary Schools Challenge, where nearly 500 primary school children would complete a mile after the grown-ups had set off on their 13.1 mile adventure. This was the culmination of 13 weeks of the youngsters running a mile a week.

What with there being nearly 500 in the half marathon, all the supporters, children’s’ parents and supporters it made for a cracking atmosphere at the track and a strain on the toilet facilities!

We were all running our own races, so we wished each other luck and lined up on the lush spongy running track with the buzzing throng of runners.

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Toileted and Coffeed ready for the off

 

 

The hooter sounded and off we went, starting with half a lap of the track through the wonderful tunnel of noise created by all those children cheering us along.

I seemed to settle into what felt like my pace quickly as we went towards Tavistock itself and then straight into a climb out of the town. I don’t climb particularly quickly but I feel I have become quite efficient and so I focus on the rhythm of my foot-strike and try to ignore those that appear to be sprinting past me! They are either faster runners than me, in which case they’ll be gone or maybe they’re pushing too hard and I might catch them later.

Despite this climb, I went through mile 1 in 6m50s, bang on pace for a 1h30m finish, I didn’t really have a target for today, and I knew there was plenty of hilly stuff to come so I stuck with running on feel. We went along a fairly flat tarmac path through some woodland which ended in a sharp little decent followed by a hairpin turn to join a road and head back uphill.

I noticed the 2 mile marker on a post as I started to thank the marshal, there were so many wonderful marshals, skilfully guiding us through any junctions or tricky sections.

“Thank you marsh………..” SLIP, SMASH, SLIDE. Man down! My gangly 6 foot frame spread-eagled on the junction, “you alright mate?” the concerned calls of many of the runners as they hopped over me and headed up the hill. The very concerned marshal encouraged me to take a bit of time to recover, unsightly blood dribbling down my leg.

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Luckily my fall wasn’t bad enough to require these guys

 

 

My watch had actually vibrated to tell me I had completed mile 2 in 6m23s as I fell!

I picked myself up and set off again, sore and with dented pride, wryly chuckling to myself. I seem to remember the next couple of miles being undulating (6.46 & 6.31) before a challenging climb in mile 5 taking us up on to the moors (8.07) before settling in to a couple more undulating miles enjoying the glorious vistas (6.50 & 6.39).2017-03-19 11.38.31

2017-03-19 11.38.39There is a big old hill in mile 8 and I started to trudge a bit. I spurred myself on with a little look at the ribbon I often wear on race day. My sister lost her battle with cancer 8 years ago, and today would have been her 52nd birthday. I try to only use Karen’s memory as a positive thing and I know she was so happy that’d I’d taken up running and started taking better care of myself, so she would have surely have told me to dig in and get to the top.

Through mile 8 in 8m30s, I knew the run in was down to the town and then flat so I started to let my limbs spiral as quickly as I dared, not wishing to repeat my tumbling antics of earlier!

Miles 9 and 10 (6.26 & 6.39) were a battle into the wind and mile 11 had a little climb (6.59) before whizzing back through 12 & 13 (6.18 & 6.47) towards town and the 600 meter finish on the track. My tired bleeding bloody was pleased to see the finish line and there was a brief emotional moment with me and the ribbon.

1 hour 31 minutes 22 seconds. Unofficial.

My rushing about didn’t stop then, though. Knowing Martin and Nicky were also soon to be on their way, I hobbled back to the car to collect jumpers (it certainly was chilly once I’d stopped) and coffee and cake money.

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Some of the wonderful Tavy Athletics Club Catering Team

The fantastic Tavistock Athletics Club Catering Team were handily trackside with drinks, cakes, hot dogs, bacon sarnies.. The Works. What an enthusiastic, helpful, smiling, congratulating and efficient team they were. The younger staff members falling over themselves to make sure I was laden with recovery refreshments for when my fellow intrepid runners arrived. Which was quite soon as it turned out, Martin blitzing up the home straight in 1h53m and Nicky following soon after also with a sprint to finish in 2h08m.

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Nicky flying to the finish

Their smiles matched mine as we compared notes and munched and drank through our post race goodies.

£9 this race. With road closures and the facilities and a lovely little medal. Bargain.

Hats off to the Tavy club for another resounding success, wonderful atmosphere and some great memories on a day on memories.

Check out the Tavy 7 too, another lovely race.

Please check out my other blog posts….

Larmer Tree Marathon, Bideford Half, my writing journey, elitism, tired Mo, working & running and have a rummage through my marathons to date.

 

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Scrummy post race refreshment

 

 

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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)

 

 

Hear Them Banjos Yet?

2017-03-12 13.41.03Ahhhh, Dorset. This time for the Larmer Tree Marathon, part of the weekend of races (a 10 miler, half marathon, 20 miler & marathon) based at Larmer Tree Gardens in Dorset. This being another White Star Running event we were eagerly anticipating mud, hills, gorgeous scenery, sweepers on brooms, badgers (I really must get around to feeling the badger), slippery car parks, people dressed as peacocks and great big burrrrling. Oh, of course an incredibly friendly and enthusiastic, encouraging bunch of runners, marshals and race crew as well as a veritable feast on the aid stations.

4.30 AM. That’s 4.30 AM. Half past four. In. The. Morning. That’s when the alarm went off. Luckily we’d elected to forgo our normal Saturday night down the discotheque, Nicky in her stilettos and me in my white suit, and were tucked up good and early with our Horlicks.

Porridge and pre-race emptying performed, we boarded the mini with our good friend Martin in the back. Were you at the Larmer races on Sunday? Yes? Then you’ll know Martin, because he will have spoken to you. He does like a chat does our Martin….

On arrival at the race, cars were being parked where they stopped slip-sliding across the field, ably directed by race director, Andy Palmer and his merry band. It didn’t half rain early on Sunday.

 

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Andy from Storm with Nicky

We bumped into Andy from Storm in Plymouth which was lovely, they’re always such good company at events, and later Caroline and some more of their friends and family. We also met Julia, their daughter, who by coincidence is putting together the WSR digital magazine and I had been conversing with her about possibly contributing, so it was lovely to meet he too.

 

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Never mind feeling the badger, Nicky gets Martin out of his tangle

Martin was having a bit of a wardrobe crisis, deciding in the end (wisely as it turned out) to remove his long leggings and don his trusty shorts. Unfortunately his draw string was a bit tangled and Nicky had to delve in to get him all straightened up.

Obviously this wasn’t the time to start taking piccies…..

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Martin’s personal sugar supply

In to the house itself for a coffee (tea for Martin, umpteen sugars) and a visit to the arc of portaloos and before long it was race time….. Despite the early start to the day it was actually lovely to be off at 8.30 amid the hubbub of excited runners ready to explore another part of Dorset.

We started, as is our wont, pretty much at the back (yes Martin “right at the back”!), lovely to be around all the guys and girls running with dogs, most of whom soon passed us!

Our tactic was to run steady and walk the steep bits and really muddy bits, with no time target in mind as we had a hard half the previous week and all our Sunday long runs are building towards us both having a crack at a time in the North Dorset Villages Marathon (although we’re not telling anyone that). I’d had a good old go at the Torbay Velopark Parkrun on Saturday, running a pb, yippeeeee, and was hoping my tired little legs would get into their stride early on.

As I’ve said in previous blogs, I’m afraid I don’t have the detailed photographic memory of some of the tremendous marathon bloggers out there but I remember the race a bit like this……..

Trails, mud, country lanes, pretty villages, friendly aid station, woodland, feckin’ great hill, urgent need for the toilet, sprint into the woods…… sprint back out again, more mud, some more woodland, lovely trails, friendly runners overtaking us, friendly runners being overtaken by us, friendly aid station, fields, mud, hills, not falling over (just).

Oh yes, we also bumped into a regular at these events, Malcom, from the 100 Marathon Club who we chatted to and asked advice about where to keep all these lovely medals we are acquiring, although his 200+ marathons makes this more of an issue for him than us. We probably won’t go for Malcom’s pile-them-on-the-sofa technique though, he says the job has become too big to know where to start!!

This was followed by, if I remember rightly, mud, great views, another feckin’ great hill, loads of incredibly helpful and friendly marshals, lovely aid stations, the Lovestation (WSR’s trademark 20 mile aid station laden with feasts and tipples) where we took the feast but declined the tipple and headed off for the last 6 or so miles.

Our tactics paid dividends as we kept the running going, still walking the challenging bits and before long we were at the infamous 400m to go sign, fully anticipating this would actually mean a further mile or so! But no, we could see the finish and we galloped (ish) across the field towards it, holding hands to cross the line for our first marathon finish of the year. That’s 30 for me and 28 for Nicky and the lovely bling was well earned and, as ever, quite beautiful.

I absolutely love running with Nicky and these uber-friendly off road  events are just what we need on a Sunday morning. We ran 5 hours 51 minutes, marginally slower than last year when it was certainly a lot drier.

So another one ticked off on our quest to reach 100 before Nicky’s, er, next ‘landmark’ birthday. Next up for us is another half, the Tavy 13 on Sunday, which is a beautiful course. Next marathon for us is the Devonshire Dumpling which sounds like a gorgeous route and a quirky event.

If you’d like to read about marathons we haven’t completed this yea because they were cancelled (Dover), or we only got half way (Portland), or about occasional snobbery in running, or the Arc of Attrition or my run streak, then click away……

Also posts of half marathons in Bodmin & Bideford and being tired whilst training, a look at my running log on Fetch.

My run streak ended with the marathon on Sunday (36 days) and started again today with a lovely early morning 7 miler.

On This Day In (Fetch) History

March 10th 2017 (and the previous 9 years)….

Ahh, the wonders of the internet. No, really.

When I started running in January 2007, I really didn’t know anyone who ran and, how shall we put it, wasn’t in the joyous, beautiful, amazing, dreamy, loving domestic environment I am now blessed to be in, to put it mildly!

So I just started sort of running. It was hard, as I imagine most of you who are doing me the flattering honour of reading this will know. The first mile was ridiculous, I actually thought I was going to die and building from there was painful. I remember searching the internet and finding generic training programs and wondering what on earth a ‘recovery run’ could be!

I found comfort, solace, comradeship and incredible encouraging support on the internet. Specifically a Runners World forum labelled ‘Inspire’ and the lovely people on there put me on to Fetch.

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My original fetch vest, just about hanging on!

 

Fetch, I here you ask. Well, Fetcheveryone is a wonderful website, community, online training log, forum, support network and generally awesome running thing. Started by the enigmatic Ian Williams, it celebrated it’s 10th anniversary last year and I joined the 10-years-a-member-club just recently.

It appealed to me for it’s homely, yet remarkably technologically advanced and informed content. It seems to attract a certain breed. Runners, naturally, but something more than that. Something to really belong to without needing to ‘go’ to.

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My Fetch vest worn with pride everywhere – Totnes 10k where Callum did the fun run

 

Strava may be the training site, app and world community of the masses, a slick machine, the mass production to Fetch’s home baked joys. I’m a member of both and have no truck with Strava, it’s an awesome thing. BUT, I could happily live without it, whereas Fetch has been a part of the runner that I have become.

I have religiously kept all my training on my Fetch log, including a diary of the way my life has unfolded in the 10 years (that’s 20% of my life!) I have been a member. It can be a dark read, in equal measures to it being an absolute joy. All of (my running) life is in there.

In 2007, I didn’t run on 10th March, on the 15th I ran 5 miles in 50 minutes and had very little to say.

Unlike in 2008 when I ran 20 miles and wrote “absolutely pissing down and blowing a gale, both calves completely cramped up in mile 20”! I was deep in training for the Paris Marathon.

In 2009 I was starting to do training sessions with others and on 10th March I did 4 x 1km with the training group, the fastest being 3m40s!!

In 2010, I was training on my own again and did 4 x (4x400m, 100m jog) in Youngs Park, quite a session!

March 10th 2011, I was training for Taunton Marathon and suffering man flu as I did a 7 mile ‘snotty’ run.

The following year, 2012, I was again training for a marathon attempt and on the Sunday of that week ran 22 miles at 8m20s pace around Torbay. Running away from the darkness by all accounts.

I raced on Sunday 10th March 2013. My Dad had recently had his hip replacement and was grateful for the ride out to Siblyback Lake in Cornwall where I ran 42m50s for a freezing, wild and windy 10k. I also plodded a 2.5 mile ‘recovery’ run in the evening. I know…..

On March 9th 2014 I did a monster 24 mile marathon training session, following it on 10th with a 3.5 mile ‘recovery’ jog! “On battered legs” apparently. No shit!?

 

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A lovely Fetch kiss – Oh My Obelisk 2016

AHHH, we enter the happy years! No running on the 10th in 2015. Nicky and I had ran the Imber Ultra on the previous Sunday. Running 50km together over Salisbury Plain as Nicky was preparing for her South Downs Way 50 mile the following month. One of the proudest days

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Fetch Anniversary Vest at Grizzly 2015

ever.

 

No running on the 10th last year either, but 2 days later we did the ‘beautiful and brutal Larmer Tree Marathon’ which, as it happens, we are doing again on Sunday. It was just so wonderful we couldn’t resist going back.

All of this and every single other run I’ve every done is on my Fetch training log.

Another of my favourite running accessories is the quite wonderful Marathon Talk Podcast (to be blogged about another time). The aforementioned Ian Williams was interviewed on Marathon Talk in November 2014, and it’s well worth a listen.

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Fetch ‘Proud Supporter’ Shirt On Brixham Breakwater, Nicky in her South Downs Way 50 shirt

 

 

Fetch has also had a nice piece written in the Guardian. But most of all, I recommend you go to the website itself for wonderful blogs, article, forums, training tools, online logs, a great race calendar, race reviews and previews, discounts on shopping and  bespoke Fetch goodies to buy. I did 10 years ago and it gave me the lift I needed to keep on keeping on.

As I said, we’ve got the Larmer Tree Marathon (another disappointed face today when I told someone (the building inspector) that, no, I’m afraid none of my 29 marathons so far have been in London!), expect words. About mud. And hills.

Previously….. Elite (attitudes), Elite (Mo), Elite (Ultra heroes), My running streak (now 33 days), Elite (Step-Daughter & Grandson) and remotely interesting stuff….

 

 

The Loan Shark

SharkI’m out on loan. I often wondered how those footballers, who ‘belong’ to one club but end up playing for another for a while, feel about their loyalty. I don’t technically work for one person as I’m self employed, but very nearly constantly, I have been working for the same builder for a year.cartoon builder And, I’ll be going back to him in a few weeks. Today was my first day for a rival builder. Actually, not a rival, a very good friend of my boss, who needs a second pair of hands for a while. It doesn’t feel dirty at all……..

Despite feeling like I’d ran good and hard at the Bideford Half last Sunday, I’ve managed to keep my running streak going. Up to 31 days, including a double day today.

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He loves running in the rain!

It does help having the dog, he needs exercising regardless of fatigue levels amongst his keepers. Jogged about 4.5 muddy miles with him yesterday and about 2.5 watching a glorious sunrise this morning.

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Charlie in the purple sunrise

 

To help keep my motivation levels up, I put my running kit in the car and stopped on the sea front before going home after work. I know full well that once I’m in from work the mojo to change and get back out of the door will quickly evaporate with the steam from the kettle.

So I did a session of 6 x 3 minutes hard running with about 90 seconds jogging recovery. My legs felt tired but I pushed through it at a slightly reduced pace and thoroughly enjoyed it, clocking up another 6+ miles.

Television receiver remote controls are something else aren’t they? Nicky and I haven’t turned the television on since the final of Strictly but we know full well it is the entertainment medium of choice for most and, for some, it is both company and a life line.

As the population ages, we find more and more medical advancements to treat more and more ailments and as a consequence we are, on the whole, living longer. Now, I’m sure we all have someone in our lives who gets a bit more easily confused as they age. Perhaps find it increasingly difficult to understand the intricacies and complexities of modern life. And us ‘youngsters’ need to be aware of this and make sure we give people the time they need to try and understand information presented to them.

Nicky and I support someone who is struggling with a dementia and witness this first hand. Most recently, the failure of a Freesat receiver. The person concerned was quite happy and capable of operating the basic, but adequate remote control for this box. Once, I’d established that it was the receiver that had failed I searched in vain to attempt to find a like-for-like replacement. This was utterly frustrating and ended with the purchase of the simplest unit I could find on the market.

Inevitably, the remote controller was a mass of buttons for functions which weren’t requested nor required and, to the user, just looked like a panic inducing blur of new technology. Despite our, and his, greatest efforts, it simply wasn’t going to be mastered.

Modern life can quite often be truly rubbish for some.

Just thought I’d mention it.

 

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Ducking essential at last year’s Larmer Tree Marathon

Anyway, we’ve got The Larmer Tree Marathon on Sunday. This will hopefully be our first completed marathon of the year. Our first attempt to run one was cancelled (Dover CTS), and we only got to the halfway point of the second attempt (Portland Coastal Marathon), so we’re hoping to get all the way around this glorious festival of mud and hills in a beautiful location.

 

Keep on keeping on.

Previous blogs covering such gripping subjects as bankrupt pubs, birthday treats, convenience stores, bare arms, being fully dressed and 5.20am alarms.

 

 

Pride (in the name of love)

Nicky (my wife, have I mentioned how wonderfully amazing, inspiring and quite beautiful she is?) and I ran the Bideford Half Marathon today. We are both rather proud of how we performed, more of which later……

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Alisa and Callum finishing their first Parkrun

Talking of pride, I seem to be absolutely bursting with it today. My lovely step daughter, Alisa, and grandson, Callum, did their debut Torbay Parkrun yesterday. I had the absolute privilege to go around with them. It truly was a pleasure and an honour to be there. Alisa is working so hard at getting herself fit, into shape, and healthier whilst juggling her full and hectic family life. Hopefully her knee pain will be nothing sinister and this will be the first of many family Parkrun outings.

So, as you can imagine, we were already full of pride and family love before today’s adventure. We collected our friend, Naomi at 7.30am after our pre match porridge and headed north in the wild wind and rain. Arriving nice and early meant we had prime parking position right near the start.

And with a top view of the queue for the toilets! 2017-03-05 09.59.53.jpg

It really was very windy (and not just in the portaloos), but the rain had thankfully blown away and we were lucky enough to dodge the heavy showers throughout the run too.

As we ambled to the race HQ for our normal warm up routine (coffee), 2017-03-05 09.11.39.jpg Naomi informed us that she had brought a flask of tea. A flask of tea I tell you. Outrageous and quite frankly mind bogglingly organised. Nicky and I are terrible with this – we even took a flask to one race, and bagels and other picnic style items. Yet we still ended up purchasing from the race catering facilities before and after the event. So, unsurprisingly we, unlike Naomi, DIDN’T have a flask. We have accepted our failings in this area and quite deliberately set off for races without sustenance.

Saying that, since we’ve been ‘training’ (no, really) we were equipped with a post race protein shake, just like them there proper runners. AND, and, and a banana.

So, in the HQ (having tried the roomy portaloos) we treated ourselves to a lovely hot and cheap (50p, again, I kid you not) coffee and eyed up goodies for later. Pasties only a quid. Cakes to die, well run at least, for and a friendly smile with the service.

Nicky quite insisted that if I finished in a good time I should head straight here and bag us some of this top nosh as she, quite ridiculously, believed there may be supply issues due to the number of participants. There weren’t as it turned out, but I did end up with TWO scrummy pasties for myself, so it all worked in my favour…

Naomi went off for her warm up whilst Nicky and I had a jog around the riverside in Bideford and made our way to the start line.

2017-03-05 09.56.09.jpgThere’s normally a footwear debate at the events we do, but this being all roads and footpaths, the choice was simple. We decided to wear some.

Previous episodes of this blog have pointed out that Nicky is not a fan of starting near the front of races, preferring to start at the back of the field and have the confidence boosting sensation of moving through the field rather than the demoralising feeling that people streaming past you. And today, this again was a very effective strategy for Nicky, as she overtook 350 of the 1100 runners and her final 3 miles faster than any of the previous 10. She looked so strong and powerful as she surged to the line to finish well inside her pre race target in the fantastic time of 2h03m55s.

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Proud husband alert!

I took the more potentially catastrophic approach of getting fairly near the front of the field near the start to see whether I could mix it with the young (and not so young) speedy boys and girls.

On discovering I had forgotten my running watch I was initially horrified. How can I POSSIBLY pace my run without a device on my wrist, receiving signals from a ball of metal far, far out of sight up there in the sky, making thousands of calculations in real time to produce essential and urgent information, without which I simply couldn’t put one foot in front of the other.

Hang on though, I KNOW I will go off too fast, I KNOW the distance to go will seem impossible if I carry on at whatever pace, I KNOW I will slow down as this prophecy plays out for real. And, Kevin, just bloody run, see what happens.

And we were off. The first mile is a loop around the football club and back past the rowing club to take us to the road heading out of Bideford. Felt good at whatever pace it was so why worry. Lovely. “What time did we do that mile in, mate?” I couldn’t help but question. “6.22”!

As predicted.

The out section is on a (closed) road and mildly undulating and I stuck with the group of runners containing the time keeper (although I didn’t trouble him for further updates) and felt I was running hard but not pushing my heartbeats into a debt that I couldn’t repay later in the race. We did reel a few runners in during the first few miles and, very gradually, I could see I was catching Naomi.

Before the course turned off for the gloriously flat, or even gently downhill Tarka Trail, Naomi became part of the group we were running in. I was absolutely loving this great course, pockets of enthusiastic support and numerous friendly and encouraging marshals, combined with enjoying the rhythm of my own running meant the miles seemed to be flying by.

As the miles approached double figures I passed Naomi again who told me she was experiencing a bit of stitch and I offered sympathy (with the small amount of available breath at this effort level) and pushed on. The group had splintered by this point and I knew I hadn’t held on to the early pace. Miles 11 and 12 came quickly though and soon I was turning to head back over the bridge towards the finish on the riverside. At this turn I saw Naomi was still close behind.

Now, I’m not competitive…….

So, I emptied the tank as we passed the markers telling us there were 800m, 700m, 600m etc to go and summoned what passes for a sprint finish from my 50 year old pins.

1 hour, 27 minutes, 30 seconds the great big digital clock on the finish line showed.

I really am rather proud of that and chuffed to have ran so freely without the watch. I’m also pleased with that as progress towards my target of running a ‘good for age’ time at the North Dorset Village Marathon at the end of April.

2017-03-05-15-51-56.jpgWe had our medals and tee shirts (although we nearly forgot to collect Nicky’s) and we availed ourselves of some ‘recovery’ food and coffee before heading to the car for a chatty and tired drive home.

The heavens opened driving home and we all agreed we had been blessed by the weather gods for the race.

A weekend to be self-indulgently proud of.

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The recovery fuel of champions

See my running on Fetch Strava

Previous blog posts include such topics as The Arc Of Attrition, Streaking, How tired Mo is, The Bodmin Half Marathon and a conversation starter about whether there is elitism in running at our level.