Still Growing A Beard

 

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Charlie, not a natural hunter…..

Sometimes this blog writes itself. Not literally, of course, but you get my drift. Yup, the words are out of my brain, through my clacking fingers and on to some enormous data storage facility in the South Pacific before I can say ‘blimey’! And then, hopefully, they are recalled and perused by you people kind enough to share this bizarre, electronic story with me……

 

writers blockOther times, I sit.

And nothing happens.

But, mostly, I have  vague idea of where I’m going with a blog post and it sort of evolves around my mind as I type. I know, with my writing ambitions, more proof reading and re-writing is required, but the flavour of the blog is to just….. well, get it out there…..

I’ve had this idea of writing about anniversaries slopping around my head for a few days, but didn’t really know how to attach blogworthy significance.

 

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The best day EVER!

I know Facebook prompts me to remember the birth of my virtual friendships, reminds me of previous years frolics with pictures and posts and invites celebrations of fellow users’ birthdays, but some anniversaries need a more delicate touch….

 

Sometimes, there are dates which just fill the heart and soul with joy… for me, the best day ever was our wedding day and I get all goose-bumpy just thinking about it now. Our first date, and, of course our birthdays are truly special to remember. Our birthdays’ are on the same date….. aaaaahhhhh

For those new to the blog (and Nicky chastises me regularly for going on and on and on….) I am quite prone to publicly declaring how wonderful my incredible, beautiful and utterly inspiring my gorgeous lady wife, Nicky, is. I am so grateful and blessed to share this fabulous life with her…

Anyway.

 

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The masses preparing for a few muddy hills at Parke Parkrun

Other anniversaries, like the day we lost loved ones, are less celebrated, but still marked, if only in our hearts. I like to remind myself of the good times shared, particularly with my dear departed sister, who I know would have loved to see me, finally, having the happiness which makes me treasure every moment.

 

Enough of this, lets talk about running. I’m quite partial to donning the plimsolls and trotting along, as has been mentioned on this blog occasionally, and luckily for me, so is Nicky….

 

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Saturday’s flyover….

What a weekend of running we treated ourselves to.

 

With Nicky fancying a change, we headed over to Parke (a national trust property in Bovey Tracey) for the fabulously named Parke Parkrun. Nicky drove the 16 miles, with Charlie and let him loose amongst the squirrels (he’s keen but far, far from being a hunter!). Me? I decided to run over…….

 

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Sunday’s flyover…..

Luckily I enjoy a bit of road running, not as much as the trails perhaps, but, sometimes, I like to run with a steady repetitive stride and zone out. Apart from the first 5 or so miles, this is a traffic free route, much of it on the Templer Way.

 

So those lovely slick bottomed road running shoes were brilliant alllllll the way to Parke…….

Parke Parkrun (love that!) was an absolute mudfest. I basically slipped and slid my way along behind Nicky as she did her usual…….. Start at the back and just get stronger….. slicing through the field from start to finish….. (see the whole run HERE)

Bacon bap and a coffee to follow, what’s not to like…….

“I thought you said it was FLAT!?”

Nicky said this a few times on Sunday’s run. Our next marathon is coming, we’ll be running together, it’ll be on the road, and, it’ll be lovely and hot (so hot in fact, the start time is 5.30am to get some of it done before the sun comes up), we’re fortunate to be heading off for some winter sun and squeezing a marathon in whilst we’re there.

So we, as I had the previous day, headed for hard trails and quiet roads, doing an ‘out-and-back’ from Totnes following National Cycle Route 2. Heading out early meant we encountered pretty much nobody for the bulk of the run. Hillier, for sure, than it appeared on the map……. (see the route HERE)

Hence Nicky’s oft-repeated refrain during the lovely run.

Nicky is getting really fit and strong, swimming, spinning and running in equal measures as she gears up for the challenges of 2018…… Me? well, I seem to be getting back to fitness (if not pace) after ‘the injury’ (did I mention I’d done a 50 mile ultra……. read alllll about it HERE)

As ever, time is our enemy…….. please check out the other posts on this blog (there’s about 70 now!) and some of my other scribblings OVER HERE and keep in touch via FACEBOOK etc and look out for RUNDEEP MAGAZINE which features a column by yours truly.

Until next time……….

 

 

 

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.