Nicky and I volunteered at Torbay Velopark Parkrun last week. We’ve participated in a couple lately and we found we were able to help this week.
We have an occasionally challenging, always active, FULL life and quite often we need to be exercising earlier than Parkrun’s 9am start in order to shoe horn our plans into a weekend.
Some tweeks to our life combined with a planned evening run meant we could help out for a change.
Anyway, there’s been some debate lately about where Parkrun sits in society, its role in the running community, in the community in general.
Parkrun issued its annual report recently and there has been many opinions shared online. Some issues which people have aired are with Parkrun management and its stated aims and others with individual events and maybe even individual personnel. Some people seem to have issues with the focus on participation rather than performance.
I recommend reading the report and attending a few Parkruns before forming your own opinions, but, despite a few negative vibes, the vast majority of people, in my experience, find Parkrun to be a positive in their lives. Like I say, it is certainly a passionate subject for all who treasure it for whatever reason.
Well I don’t think my role as a blogger is to be deciding who’s right or wrong. We all develop our opinions from somewhere and if someone feels passionately enough about Parkrun to have a strong opinion which they want to share, then surely that shows what a success Parkrun is.
I can only report what I find.
I have seen comments suggesting Parkrun should be all about effort levels and improving. For many people I’ve no doubt that the weekly timed events are purely about emptying the tank and trying to better their times. But for others, it might be simply a reason to get out of the door and be active. Maybe even, a focus to get out and socialise.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy running as fast as I can and comparing my times to previous efforts or to others in my age group.
But not always.
I’ve recently enjoyed more ‘chatty’ efforts and had just as much (if not more) fun in the process. I’ve also had the pleasure of running with my Step-Daughter and Grandson when they made their Parkrun debuts last year. My own Parkrun times range from 19 minutes to 50 minutes and I’ve enjoyed every single one of those minutes.
Personally I feel critics of the ‘easy’ efforts of others are in danger of quantifying their judgements in terms of finishing time rather than the effort levels they talk about.
Again, please don’t think I’m criticising Parkrun participants or volunteers for the way they choose to consume the weekly timed event.
Last week, I witnessed a very good friend, in her, shall we say ‘late middle age’, absolutely rinsing herself, squeezing every lost drop of effort out of her protesting limbs, as she passed my marshaling point, immediately after about 100m of deep squelchy mud.
She was trying so hard she could barely acknowledge me as she entered the last kilometre or so. I saw her after she finished and she was so spent and so emotional that she just burst into tears. “I’m trying so hard,” she sobbed, “I’m not getting any faster!”
She’s been running for about a year, hoping to compete in triathlons having developed a passion for open water swimming.
I also saw two younger chaps amongst the wonderful mass cross section of the community participating in the early morning sunshine. They were laughing and joking as they negotiated the terrain with ease and skipped passed me.
My thoughts turned to comments made about how, in some people’s opinions, Parkrun should be about trying as hard as possible and measuring improvement. If that truly were the case then these two chaps wouldn’t be classed as trying hard enough!
These speedy boys were first and second across the line on the day, both credited with a time of 18 minutes exactly. They had thoroughly enjoyed their runs and were possibly holding back a little despite their incredible speed.
Our friend finished about 30 minutes later. Spent.
A glance at the results from a purist might lead to the wrong conclusion about who was trying hardest to improve on the day.
As I say, I can only report what I see.
Marathon Talk, the podcast, is co- hosted by Tom Williams, the CEO of Parkrun and his enthusiasm for the rapidly expanding phenomenon is utterly infectious.
Parkrun is now in 17 countries and has started in prisons, South African townships, refugee communities and its self declared quest to be part of a healthier happier world is, to me, great to observe.
But, and here’s my “opinion”, YOUR Parkrun is whatever YOU get out of it. Whether you are tail walker, running 16 minutes, volunteering, writing up event reports, pushing a toddler in a buggy, it’s YOURS!
And who am I to tell you what experience you should get from Parkrun.
A new podcast, Free Weekly Timed, is asking each of its guests to describe what Parkrun means to them, in just three words.
The all time fastest ever Parkrunner and thoroughly lovely bloke, Andy Baddely, answered with “BLOODY GOOD FUN”!
Which is surely just perfect for something we do in our precious leisure time.
This is my 77th blog post…… Collectively they have been read over 11,000 times and I’m really quite humbled by that fact.
I imagine all of us bloggers are doing our ‘…of the year’ thingy right now, but I’m not going to let that stop me. So if you’re rather full of these lists then maybe you should look away now……….
MOST POPULAR BLOG POST OF THE YEAR
Inspired by some of the naïve errors I made back in my first ever marathon, I wrote this tongue in cheek BLOG POST about ten rookie errors guaranteed to make your marathon experience miserable.
TOP TEN BLOG-VISITING COUNTRIES OF THE YEAR
Aside from the UK, my rather humble wittering has been perused in 70 different countries – most prolifically in The United States, Canada, Ireland, Jamaica, Germany, Finland, Australia, France, The Netherlands, Switzerland & India. There’s even been a visit from somebody in Cambodia.
My book reviews are the least ‘viewed’ posts, but as I’ve always maintained, I absolutely love writing them, therefore every single person that might get a moment’s pleasure from reading is an honour and a bonus.
On this note (and I know they’ll be reading), a big “Hi” to Pieter & Samira from The Hague. They made a point of finding us at the Reggae Marathon to let us know they loved the blog – Happy New Year to all in The Netherlands x
PROUDEST MOMENT OF THE YEAR
A close run thing here – finishing the (32 mile – black) R.A.T. in a fantastic time (blogged about HERE) was a truly magical ‘Team Bonfield’ moment. Successfully completing The Gower 50 Mile Ultra in a time I was chuffed with, despite the rabbit hole incident! Yes, I was so, SO proud to have completed my first ‘solo’ ultra and first 50 miler – read all about it HERE.
BUT – I reckon there hasn’t been a better moment than when Nicky and I pitched up in Snowdonia for the absolutely FABULOUS trail marathon nervous about the 19 mile cut -off. Well, we arrived at that check point, the gateway to the main climb of the day with about 3/4 hour to spare. I waxed lyrical about that fabulous day HERE.
PROUDEST HUSBAND MOMENT OF THE YEAR
The transition master
As ever, the year was jam packed with moments of inspiration, adventure and achievement, as my beautiful, amazing, truly inspirational lady wife, yet again amazed me over and over again. Every single day I feel more and more blessed to have this incredible lady in my life.
So, she smashed her marathon PB at the North Dorset Villages Marathon (read all about it HERE), came so, so close to breaking 2 hours at the Bideford Half Marathon (chatted about HERE), yes it’s been a year of fizzing along. As I’ve said above, she achieved some amazing results in some epic trail events and combined an increasingly absorbing work life and a challenging, at times, domestic life with training for multiple endurance disciplines.
Yes, Nicky also completed her first triathlon and you can read all about that fabulous day HERE.
Also, there were some amazing proud moments as Alisa, Nicky’s eldest daughter completed her first events, alongside her Mum, as she continued her journey to fitness and on her health drive.
BUT, amongst this year of hectic, wonderful, adventurous and fun weekend challenges, my proudest coat-holding moment was the River Dart 10k swim. WOW – having completed this event last year, she set about attempting to break 3 hours this time. You’ll have guessed by now that yes, indeed, she did!
So amongst a forest of proud moments – read about my most bursting day – HERE.
MY FAVOURITE TEN EVENTS OF THE YEAR
Well, apologies to all the other event organisers but, for the best that trail running gives to me, it has to be the Roseland August Trail (R.A.T.) from Mudcrew. There are point to point 11 mile, 20 mile and 32 mile options. We have completed the 32 miles in each of the last three years. But – I can’t resist it any longer and the ‘out and back’ 64 miler is on my calendar for 2018! Check out the blog from this year’s event HERE.
For quirkiness, brilliant concept, route design, friendliness (I could go on), the Race The Tide from Pure Trail was also a fabulous trail event. (blog, naturally, HERE). As was the already discussed Snowdonia Trail Marathon.
We did some cracking half marathons (including a couple that were supposed to be marathons!), particularly enjoying the great atmosphere at The Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service Half down in Bodmin. My first race as a Vet 50 – scribblings HERE.
The previously discussed North Dorset Villages Marathon is probably my favourite road marathon and this was our second year there. Back on the trails, we also returned to The Larmer Tree from White Star Running for a second year. Yet another race with a superb atmosphere – varied and challenging off road route through the Dorset countryside. White Star offer something a little different to the trail running scene, and provide a lovely balance of true endurance challenges and hearty laughter. Guess what – there were words…. HERE.
Also from White Star, was the East Farm Frolic, it barely got a mention in the Blog as we were having a particularly ‘time poor’ period at home around that time. Basically, do as many laps (about 4.5 miles) of an undulating, rural, trail route, on a farm in Dorset, as you either can or want to, for 12 hours. A great, inclusive, fun event with a family atmosphere and camping
After managing to navigate my limping body around the 50 miles of The Gower Ultra – and what a gorgeous place it is – this was always going to feature in this list. With around 200 competitors and seemingly double that working on the fabulous checkpoints, it truly was a breakthrough for me, in so many ways.
So that’s 9 of my favourite events. We’ve done about 30 this year, so picking 10 (in no particular order) was hard. No ‘of the year’ list, though could possibly be complete without Mudcrew’s The Scrooge the ever popular trail running fancy dress romp through the Lost Gardens Of Heligan. See the blog HERE, Yet again, we took it VERY seriously…….
MY FAVOURITE RUNNING ‘THINGS’
My Karen ribbon. My sister was taken from us aged a mere 44 years and a week (9 years ago). On her last night, I ended up with an item of her clothing, which I cut into ribbons. My brother and I both tie them to our wrists for races and she’ll forever be at the side of the road yelling “arms, Kevin, ARMS!” as she expertly analysed my terrifying running style. Will be missed forever.
Fetcheveryone.comstill my favourite website. Brilliantly evolved under the loving gaze of founder and bloke-in-chief, Ian Williams, there still isn’t an online running community to match it. I would never have got anywhere near where I have with my own running without it.
To hear the man himself talk us through his world, check out his fabulous interview on another of my favourite running things Marathon Talk. This is a weekly podcast presented by Martin Yelling and Tom Williams, I’ve listened to every single one of the 400+ episodes and, as with Fetch, it very much has been part of my journey.
Other podcasts I heartily recommend….. Talk Ultra normally fortnightly, presented by the thoroughly engaging Ian Corless who really humanises the sport of Ultra running and manages to gather interviewees from every country, every distance and every ability.
Another podcast I’ve not missed an episode of is Running Commentary. On a weekly basis the two comedians and avid runners, Rob Deering and Paul Tonkinson don head-sets and record their quirky, irreverent, poignant, witty and downright entertaining banter as they run along. These three podcasts make my working week feel just that little bit shorter.
Another interviewee on Marathon Talk (he’s appeared on three separate occasions) is the infectious Colin McCourt. From an elite international 1500m runner to a rather portly, sedentary chap, he started this year with a challenge to return to his former speedy self. He charted this progress on his Instagram account and has become one of the best running stories of the year. He set out to lose a shed load of weight and attempt to break 16 minutes for 5km. Check out his Instagram and relive his incredible 2017. I won’t give any spoilers……
Oh, and although I’m not into plugging brands (check out my lack of sponsorship HERE) I can’t sum the year up without mentioning my Inov8 trail shoes – I bought them at the Coniston Marathon (BLOG HERE) after the shoe company lent us shoes to run the marathon in! They are, genuinely, gert lush (translation: very good indeed).
Obviously Faith’s (my energetic and LOUD grandaughter) Silver Wellies have stolen the show in any running shoe debate – she smashed her mile fun run at the Templar Ten in them – blogged about (naturally) HERE.
RUNNING BUDDY OF THE YEAR
Probably no surprises here……..
The most beautiful, amazing, inspirational, funny, charming, adventurous and DAMNED HOT person I’ve ever met – she truly is my world and as long as we’re together then “don’t worry, ’bout a thing, ’cause every little thing, gonna be alright”
Obviously, Charlie, the intrepid Border Terrier, is a close second!
Now, this being a happy place, there’s no room for negativity, bitterness, moaning, backstabbing or bitching. 2017 has been a challenging year, in many ways, for Nicky and myself, we’ve had to adapt and survive changes and developments in our world and work around the challenges. We’ve been (without bigging us up!) strong and determined, and ‘made it happen’ when ‘it’ didn’t look very likely on many occasions and we have those closest to us to thank for helping us absorb the impact of life.
Riddles, I know, but it’s hard to flamboyantly describe the slow down in the world of someone we love.
So, I’m proud of, and have loved, every minute of our journey together. Yet another year becomes ‘the best yet’ in this world I’ve been blessed to live in. And, yes, I’m proud of my achievements both in running and in life.
BUT, it’s Nicky that fills my heart and soul to bursting point with pride and more love than I could ever have imagined existed in the world……..
Yes, this lady has, in 2017, defied her crazy and demanding job, her crazy and demanding domestic life and her crazy and demanding, er, husband, and constantly, over and over again, pushed her boundaries, gone (literally) higher and faster, conquered new skills and generally been awesome in all of her fabulous endurance challenges…..
For example, she was (wo)man enough to admit that a half was enough at the Portland Coastal Marathon back in February, came back strong to complete cracking half marathons in Bodmin and Bideford, then matched our previous years time at The Larmer Tree Marathon. Another brilliant half at the Tavy 13 (blog HERE – I fell over!), the quirky and hilly Devonshire Dumpling Marathon (blog HERE)and then a blistering time at The Yeovil Easter Bunny 10k (HERE) before absolutely smashing her marathon PB at The North Dorset Villages Marathon (already talked about up there^^).
Then she beat challenging time limitations with (relative) ease at Race The Tide, Coniston Trail Marathon, Snowdonia Trail Marathon, The RAT etc etc……
Nicky blitzed her first ever triathlon, swam four tough open water events, The Swoosh, The Dart 5k, The Great North Swim and The River Dart 10k (breaking the 3 hour barrier).
This is a far from conclusive list, but I think I’ve explained just WHY, I think this lady is extraordinary in every way.
Apologies for this, but feel I need to include the one event that DOESN’T think Nicky is good enough. Think 5h30m time limit for a hilly trail marathon (12m35s per mile) yet has a cut off of 1h30m at 8 miles (11m15s per mile). Only it’s not ACTUALLY at 8 miles… etc etc. Yup THIS BLOG POST curled a few toes!
We had a lot of shouts from spectators and fellow runners. Wearing Union Flag vests, it seems, attracts a lot of cheers and banter….
“God bless the Queen” “Ingerland” “Go Great Britain” “Do you guys speak English?” even “Go Canada”!
But “Brexit”!!! It appears our country’s decisions are the subject of much mirth even this far from home.
Here I am feeling like my heart has won the lottery, lying on the beach in paradise with the most beautiful astonishing lady in the whole wide world.
I’ve said it before, but every single day I feel truly blessed.
The Reggae Marathon. The pressure of representing Team GB lessened as we realised the number of British competitors milling around at the start was swelling.
Team GB discuss tactics
Gravitating towards each other, we exchanged greetings and soaked up the bubbling atmosphere. The sweet smell of weed drifting across the runners with the deep reggae bass.
With the 10k, Half Marathon & Marathon there were 2000 runners ready at 5am for the best running party.
All three races go off at 5.15, the torch lit road guiding the runners into Negril town where the bemused but encouraging locals lined the streets despite the early hour.
Apologies here….. We bumped into so many lovely people and even had shout outs for the blog at the pasta party. This was not just the UK runners either. The Dutch and French contingent it turned out are blog readers!
Some of Team GB
We cheered and high fived runners from Poland, Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain, Holland, The USA, Canada and, of course, the beautiful island of Jamaica.
So, “hi” to (and this is a far from exhaustive list) Darragh, Rachel, Sue, Gary, Elise, Cédric, Adele, Samira, Pieter, Don, Tracey and the boys from the resort shouting “GO BOSS” from the window of their bus to work.
Grandson Ollie could have commentated here – one of his first words was “HOT” as he was warned clear of mugs of tea etc.
After turning in Negril and heading back past the start & finish area, the route headed out past our hotel. Which we did four times!
Our goals were simple: have fun and try to finish. The build up to this holiday has been rather demanding and family illnesses and caring issues, for a while, looked like jeopardising the trip.
So lining up at the start line felt like an achievement and a massive relief. Not as much of a relief as the timely positioning of a (already well used!) portaloo at about 5 miles…….
After the 1300 or so 10k runners had peeled off to turn for home, that left us running with the Half Marathoners heading back towards home.
You don’t like reggae?? Probably not the marathon for you, these guys were everywhere
The Half was won in 1h15 and a lovely chap staying at our hotel, Steve, came 5th in 1h25. Of course they were too quick to enjoy what we were going to be treated to……….. It was going to get really HOT!!!
We got to the half way point, where the field was packed with partying finishers from the shorter races, in just under 2h 30m. With the temperature rapidly rising and the sun getting higher in the sky……..
As the 2nd half started the frequency of seeing other runners diminished but that only made those of us still out there even more determined to high five and cajole each other, shouting determinedly our encouragement.
HOT!! the roads were lonely and exposed making the last hour quite brutal. Nicky was starting to wilt as I tried to help by running with my shadow cast over her.
We repeatedly crossed the road in search of shade and were more than ‘quite’ relieved to see the mile 26 sign and run in our traditional hand holding style!
I truly AM blessed.
2 years ago when we were here the finish area was pretty much packed up by the time we arrived. It was no different this year, the stage and p.a. had already been dismantled as had the bar etc. Luckily we had preempted this and frozen a couple of bottles of coke and put them in our drop bag.
This event gets listed by many in those ‘must do’ lists. It’s easy to see why….
Like Seaton on Grizzly day, the whole town chips in. The main road is closed all morning (apart from a free shuttle bus service which crawls up and down all day). The early morning, torch lit start is quite magical. The sounds, sights and colours (especially in the first half) are quite magnificent and the atmosphere amongst the runners is special and really heart warming.
The route is repetitive and tedious, especially noticeable as it gets hotter. BUT we just focussed on the amazing place we’re in and had (and are having) an absolute BALL!
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….
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.
There’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.
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!!
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!
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.
He 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.
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!!
You know how I said I don’t just throw this blog together…..
So, that’s March pretty much done……
My favourite running community, Fetcheveryone, the subject of a previous blog, has only been in that there Guardian! It got me to thinking, I get a certain pride to be part of something independent, quirky and quite deservedly successful.
My wandering mind then started thinking that what else, apart from Fetch, would feature in running awards if I were the sole judge.
So, my favourite website AND community would have to be Fetch. I urge anyone with an interest in running to check it out. Take a bow Fetchies, top step of the podium.
Talking of my favourite things, my amazing lady wife, Nicky, and I ran together on Tuesday, me taking the role of ‘coach’. I can’t tell Nicky what the planned session will be as she loses sleep fretting about it. Apparently she slept fitfully anyway, curiously nervous about how fast her legs would need to go.
The session was a good warm up with some mobility stretching then we did 1 x 1 mile hard, about 2 minutes recovery followed by 1 x 1 km hard again with a couple of minutes recovery then 1 x 600m (ish) which is a lap of the north green on Paignton sea front. Nicky’s legs were indeed a blur, particularly on the last one. We then jogged home and Nicky went off for a swim! After work we met up and did some rather public core-based circuit training. Phew!! A triple p.e. day for Nicky!
My blog is coming up to celebrating its 2000th visitor! I hope that it in some way is contributing to the wonderful running community and maybe engaging a few non runners with a little window into the strange world of us 50somethings with a running addiction!
Another great running community is that one that has arisen out of the listenership of the wonderful podcast, Marathon Talk. Don’t be fooled, this isn’t a deadly serious talk show based solely around the big city majors, it is a weekly 90 minutes or so of banter, training advice, interviews, features. a hilarious regular comedy piece from Tony Audenshaw (Bob from Emerdale) and so much more. They have a shiny new website where you can interact with the show, rating runs and entering your marathon performances in the hope of getting on the weekly podium.
They’ve interviewed the great and good and inspiring and quirky over the 377 episodes to date.
One of my favourite features is the interviewees magic mile where each week’s guest is asked the following hypothetical question:
“Given 6 months of perfect training, where you didn’t have to work, carry out domestic duties, you’re guaranteed no injuries or illness, what time could you manage for 1 mile on the track?”
Andy Baddely and Mo Farrah are top of the list on 3m48s, Ronnie O’Sullivan said 5m00s and marathon running legend, Steve Edwards said 5m29s.
Anyway, again I urge you to check it out. Presenters Tom Williams and Martin Yelling, please step forward to receive your award.
Running them close, despite being relative newcomers are the witty, engaging and comedians Paul Tonkinson and Rob Deering. Their podcast, Running Commentary is recorded whilst the guys are running and is full of observations, descriptions of the routes, lots of running chat, stories from their lives and is a welcome treat on my drive to and from work.
They occasionally have interviewees too and this can make for some truly hilarious moments. they are currently training for the London Marathon (yes, I believe there is one in London) and so plenty of runners will relate to where they are at in their training.
I’ve managed really good long training runs in the last week or so, a 26.2 and a 20 and we treated ourselves to a sports massage too so feeling like the training for North Dorset Villages Marathon is coming together. We ran the race together last year and Nicky did her 2nd best ever marathon time. We’re both quietly targeting going well this year.
Before that we’ve got the Devonshire Dumpling marathon on Sunday, looking to run the flatter parts at a good pace and enjoy the hilly trails and coast path for the rest of it.
I listened to my body this morning and took Charlie for some ball chasing instead of running and was treated to a beautiful sunrise through the trees.
Anyway, expect a report on Sunday’s pasty (and run), hopefully in a more structured blog……
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.
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.
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!?
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
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.
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.