It’s Not All About Me

Those that know me well, or have read this blog over the years, will be aware that I do enjoy a spot of running. Oh yes, such a simple sport, just pop on your kicks and out the door you go. That’s how it normally is anyway…….

Right now I’m injured. It’s a foot thing. Luckily it only seems to really hurt when I, er, run. Hmmm. It hurts a bit when I walk, not at all when I’m doing nothing. I still haven’t really got any further with it being diagnosed, despite it originally happening on March 15th.

This is who we’re talking about – my amazing wife, Nicky

Enough.

It’s not all about me.

While I’ve been keeping fit on the turbo trainer, swimming lots and doing my circuit training, Nicky is hard in training for some rather epic events over the summer. I (alongside our faithful Border Terrier Charlie) have been offering enthusiastic support over the last few weeks as Nicky has been out doing events.

Charlie watching Nicky charge to the finish at Parke

We went to Parke Parkrun in Bovey Tracey last weekend and Nicky had a great run. It really is a stunning location to visit and the run route explores the beautiful woodlands, including a couple of naughty hills. It can be a mud fest in winter, but after a dry spell it was more dusty than anything.

Nicky skipped around with her usual determination, hidden by her ever present, gorgeous smile. Me and Charlie stumbled around to offer support. Excellent coffee and vegan cake in the grounds of the house rounded off a marvellous morning.

Just two days later and we find ourselves in Yeovil, 5 years since we’d gone there and both ran close to our fastest 10k’s (which I wrote about here). A very different preparation this year – me hobbling with a support under my foot (so obviously not running!) and Nicky in the middle of heavy training for her epic upcoming events.

Having hinted that she’d be happy with 1h10m, she proceeded to skip over the line alongside the 1 hour pacer! Bloody ace my wife is!

Me & Charlie had a very stressful morning in Yeovil!

She’s following, as best she can with the time available, a plan to get her to her much postponed Ironman in August. On the way though, she’s also got some pretty epic swims planned. If I thought I was heroic knocking out 100 lengths in the pool, she has done as many as 200……… and then gone back in the evening for another 80.

It was pretty chilly on Sidmouth sea front for the race briefing

Not forgetting her casually knocking out long rides of 50 – 80 miles every week on the bike. She’s also done unmpteen half marathons this year! Absolutely inspirational.

The latest of these was The Sid Valley Ring, hosted by Climb Southwest. And there was plenty of climbing on the route I’m reliably informed. It is this type of event where I get jealous of those running. Lots of trails, gorgeous scenery, a bit of coastline, yeah, as an old friend who we bumped into on the day said, “You’d have hated it Kevin!”

But it was great for me and Charlie to have a morning out exploring East Devon trying to catch Nicky at a couple of places. We succeeded and Nicky, and all the other runners too, seemed to be having a ball. Finishing on the sea front in Sidmouth made for a spectacular backdrop to end a fabulous event.

So I’m, as ever, in awe of Nicky, and will be using the example of her determination to keep as fit as I can while I’m injured and to come back stronger and build my running back up to where it was waaaaay back in January when Covid struck.

Onwards…..

The Tavy 13

Fuelled By Banana Cake

It’s been a while since the old trio of Nicky, Martin and myself entered a running event and had a gigglesome road trip.

For new boys and girls to the blog, Nicky is my awesome, inspirational, beautiful, relentless, stunning and quite frankly, hot, lady wife.

Martin? Or, as he’s better known, The Silver Fox. Well he’s as good a mate as you could possibly wish for. He’s also Nicky’s training partner as they limber up for one of those MASSIVE triathlons later in the year.

One of us was camera shy.

So, if you look back over the last few years of the blog you’ll find plenty of tales of our little gang’s running adventures.

Kiss your WHAT? (One of us wasn’t camera shy!)

The Tavy 13 half marathon is a community event hosted by Tavistock Athletic Club and this was our third time here. Regular blog readers may remember me taking a tumble here two years ago. (Read about that HERE)

Nervous smiles as we approached the start.

As elite athletes in our prime, all the talk in the car was of fine tuning our nutrition, getting more scientific about running and which particular dynamic stretching routine we should be using as a warm up for a hilly half marathon. Something like that anyway.

The Silver Fox fancies himself a sports commentator!

Just before the scheduled kick off, we discovered that the race needed to be held back for an hour whilst the roads were cleared of an earlier accident.

Having suffered a little for the lack of toilets, we’d had to rush straight to the start line before discovering the delay. We took full advantage of this extra hour to carry out a thorough warm up and dynamic stretching routine….. Oh hang on, no, what we actually did was have a lovely cup of coffee and a great big slab of banana cake.

Front, middle or back?

The cake sat a tad heavy in the first few miles!

We had our usual debate about where to start (my days of elbowing my way to near the front are long gone). Martin opted for the middle somewhere, whilst Nicky stuck to her preferred tactic of starting right at the back.

Starting and finishing on Tavistock’s running track, we felt like proper affereletes.
Live action from one the many welcome water stations on a beautiful day fro running.

This half marathon has 8 solid miles of climbing and descending and climbing again before the flat and downhill charge back to Tavistock.

The crowds lining the route made it feel quite claustrophobic at times.

It is a road event but captures the magic of open moorland and on some of the steep ascents, reminds us ex-smokers what our lungs are for!

With my eyes firmly on future ultra marathons, and Nicky and Martin both in heavy training towards their iron distance triathlons, none of us was predicting we would go as quickly as two years ago.

We were right.

I was more right than them though, adding a full quarter of an hour to my time.

Me and this chap from Launceston blitzing past a guy on his Sunday stroll.

I took my new toy, an action camera, with me and had some fun with (or got on the nerves of) some of the runners around me. I also tried to film the spectacular scenery and some of the dozens of fabulous marshals and volunteers out on the course.

“HI, I’m Kevin from Sky Sports.”

I introduced myself as I filmed runners trotting along with me.

I received, laughter and plenty of self depreciating humour, along with occasional bemusement and grunts. Check out the little video HERE.

A ran my race comfortably hard for those first 8 miles and then upped the effort on the 5 mile flat and downhill run for home. Whilst I may be slower these days, I felt really good throughout the run and am quietly chuffed with how it went.

And I enjoyed every step.

Martin was secretly hoping to run under 2 hours.

Couldn’t have timed it better.

Nicky, as she entered the arena to run her final 400 meters shouted something like “Stop feckin’ filming me” as I chased her round the bend. I still managed to capture her sprint finish.

Nicky outsprinted this chap before giving him a playful slap on the back as he caught his breath!

The Tavy 13 is quite a big event with nearly 500 finishers this year, yet once out in the countryside, it never feels busy or crowded. There’s a cross section of the running community here, whatever pace you run at there are always a few people around you.

With marshals at every single junction, crossing, and water stations a-plenty, not to mention rescue and medical teams, the runners are so well cared for. Great signage and a fabulous route, we’d all heartily recommend The Tavy 13.

Oh, and it was £11 to enter.

Pennies In The Ratty Bank

Confidence.

I guess life can sometimes be defined by confidence.

Well after absolutely loving the AONB North Devon Half Marathon both Nicky and Myself are a little bit happier with our fitness and prospects at the RAT trail running festival where Nicky is running the Black Rat (32 miles) for the 4th year running. She’s a veteran of the event having completed the Red Rat (20 miles) the year before that. Me? I’ve gone for THE PLAGUE, a 64 mile night epic challenge.

dsc_09134202971750847217995.jpgAnyway, back to North Devon where several hundred intrepid trail runners assembled in the gathering heat and set out for either the 13.1 miles that we did or, leaving 15 minutes before us, the full 26.2.

dsc_09328762370834466892919.jpgNeither of us had ever been to Woolacombe. In the glorious sunshine, this town was radiant, the colours of 800 or so runners adding to the kaleidoscope.

dsc_09342105820533465591792.jpgAs we made our way along the spectacular coastline, both of us lapping up the scenery, it felt like running through an oil painting.

dsc_09296308211169071334704.jpgThe event is the showpiece of North Devon Hospice and truly is up there with some of the best trail races we’ve done.

dsc_09161116425482685296660.jpgWe saw dozens of marshals and water station volunteers, every single one friendly and bright as they directed us on our way.

 

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An aid station amongst the cattle!

dsc_09365624669583089454317.jpgThey must have been wilting in the heat but this didn’t curb their enthusiasm. They had some belting views to enjoy and at least 2 of the numerous water stops were in quite incredible locations. One on the beach at Croyde and one quite literally in the middle of a herd of cows.

 

dsc_09214938208922235024602.jpgThe finish area is fabulous too, so many marshals and volunteers, a PA system calling every single name as they cross the line and a cream tea for every single runner in both distances.

 

Anyway, I was thinking about the concept of banking training miles, trying to deposit enough in the bank so that when you ask your body to write a cheque on race day, it doesn’t bounce!

Well, with the Roseland August Trail fast approaching, this great day out on the North Devon Coast has definitely put some pennies in the ratty bank!

Over before it began

WHAT A WEEKEND!

Regular consumers of this occasionally literal (occasionally literary) ramble through our lives will have noticed I started a “Creative Writing” course….

Well, the course has gone back…… Whilst I’m sure it’s fabulous, it most certainly isn’t for me. Writing lies as fact on topics I don’t enjoy to get ‘paid’ by publications I would rather not support isn’t really where I want to pitch myself…..

And who was I kidding anyway!

Hey ho.

Anyway……

 

The Bank Holiday weekend…..

Lots of time with my beautiful step daughters, their betrothed, our wonderfully energy giving grandchildren and, of course, my breathtakingly beautiful wife. She really is the spark that lights everything that’s fabulous in my life. Even my father-in-law, Frank was up for it – “sod dementia, let’s play swing ball”!

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Pre-race coffees

AND…. On Sunday our old gang went on a road trip to Casterbridge Half Marathon. So that’s yours truly and Nicky (the afore mentioned HOT wife) along with blog veteran, Martin in full silver fox / cheeky monkey mode, Jan too, fresh from the Manchester Half Marathon the previous Sunday. Our support crew were Gloria, another blog regular, and Jan’s lovely Mum, Linda.

 

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Jan managed to find the silver fox loitering in a layby

We met at a fairly civilised hour and convoyed our way to Dorchester.

 

Considering we are such social wallflowers, it’s amazing how many old friends we bumped into¬† – like Kiernan, an old mate from Portsmouth, dropping in to do a half marathon on his way to his family holiday in Cornwall.

The Dorchester Marathon and Casterbridge Half are road events (and those roads are mostly closed) organised by those masters of the Dorset trails, White Star Running.

 

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Martin, Jan & Nicky demonstrating their thorough warm up routine

If you fancy a road marathon or half, but with the feel of a trail event, beautiful scenery, a festival like atmosphere and a few cheeky hills, then this is for you.

 

With 1600 runners across the two distances, the campsite was buzzing and the car park field was being marshalled like clockwork.

 

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No, Martin, keep your shorts up until you’re out of sight!

Plenty of portaloos, food and drink stalls and a massive marquee promising fun and frolics later in the evening for the runners and campers.

 

The marathon was sent on its way as we made our first trip to the plastic tardis shaped relief cubicles and followed that up with a traditional pre race coffee.

It was good to be back in banter mode with the gang and before we knew it the rain from earlier had given way to glorious sunshine and we were heading for the start line of our race.

 

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Lovely to bump into Kiernan

I had a race plan – run as fast as I thought I could until I couldn’t and then run slower, or if I thought I could run a bit faster then I’d run faster, or slower, depending on what I felt like doing. So, just run basically.

 

Regular readers will know I have trouble remembering details of my runs. I remember lots of bits but not necessarily in the right order.

 

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Ready for the off

So here’s how my race went: 10, 9, 8…….GO! The mayor sent us on our way. For once I ran about as hard as I intended and quickly found my stride amongst others running my pace. We spread out across the closed roads (closed roads!), soaked up the sunshine, enjoyed the wonderful Dorset countryside and ran up. And down. And up. There is barely a flat section. No monster hills particularly, one very long one and a naughty steeper one near the end, but lots of them.

 

There were marshals at every junction, fabulous aid stations and the infamous White Star Love Station. The marathon joined the half marathon route with about 6 miles to go (I think!) and I was quite pleased that only one marathoner steamed past me before the end.

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Marathon winner Steve Way was already comfortable in the winner’s deck chair by the time I crossed the line!

That was the legend that is Steve Way, always supporting road races in the South West, he skipped past us on his way to 2h28m in his last big mileage effort before having a crack at getting gold in Comrades in two weeks time. The runner next to me was moved to exclaim “that’s beautiful to watch!” as Steve sped away.

 

 

 

 

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This young man showed me a clean pair of heels in the home straight!

Apart from getting drawn into an unsuccessful attempt to outsprint someone many (10s of) years my junior, my own race was uneventful. This ultra training has really taught me to chill out, as has running with Nicky, who never, ever starts too quickly. So, whilst I felt like I’d ran it hard, I was always in control. Lovely.

 

There was a fabulous atmosphere at the finish which was helped by the races starting an hour apart, so there was a constant stream of runners getting royally cheered home. I saw Martin come steaming home, then Nicky and then Jan.

The weather was so glorious, we set up on the grass and enjoyed the atmosphere for an hour or so, Martin unable to resist unleashing his well thought out ‘balls’ jokes as he parted with some hard earned dosh for some of the cake stall’s protein balls.

The blog has fallen behind this week, so I’ll leave you with some lovely images from this great race, and some more from our fantastic family Bank Holiday Monday

 

 

I WILL write a book…

Sounds more authoritative than ‘I would like to…’ or ‘I want to…’

Ok, so it’s taken me a few weeks to get around to writing a new blog post. Citing work commitments, fatigue, time, time, time and all that STUFF that fills our lives. But, if something is truly a goal, then just make it happen.

Actually, since the last blog there’s been a few events…..

THE EAST FARM FROLIC I know, I know, this was going to be my ‘target’ event for the year…… in the end a fabulous day out at a wonderful event. Fine fun in fine company….

The next day we went and did the LUSTLEIGH SHOW 10k another lovely day. Both of Nicky’s lovely girls came along, Alisa running her second 10k and Lou looking after the youngest two grandchildren whilst Nanny and Grandad ran too……

Oh, and I marshalled at City To Sea, a marathon and ultra marathon, in appalling conditions.

Then came the weekend just gone. Nicky, once again moving the bar, taking 20 minutes off her time for the River Dart 10k Swim. She finished alongside our great mate, Martin. Whilst they would earn a gold hat if they were to come back for a third year, it looks like chief goader (Nicky) has (once again) hooked chief goadee (Martin) and next years goals look slightly different……. But first, some pictures from the swim……

Soooo, whilst I’m threatening to go long (er) next year (and write a book of course), Nicky and Martin have quite publically announced their intentions to ………… drum roll……. do a Half Iron Man!!! There, it’s out there………

Martin has been walking like John Wayne this week, and he’s only sat on the bikes in Halfords so far…..

Then, on Sunday just gone, I ran the inaugural Torbay Tornado Half Marathon, Alisa running her first ever ‘solo’ race, did the 5k. A quirky series of races organised by relative newcomers, Riviera Racers. We both had great fun battling the tough point to point routes and more than earned our medals…

 

 

Torbay Tornado
Proud Step Dad alert….

 

 

So, as for my targets…. well I (under the prompting of my wonder woman!) have entered the Gower 50 which is only 3 weeks away!

With this in mind, I ran to the start of the half marathon and then ran home afterwards (making 27 miles in total).

I’m planning a big run on Saturday to confirm to me that I’m fit enough for the challenge, then my wonderful lady wife and I are off for a weeks r’n’r in the sunshine….

Where……

I shall be writing for my book….