One of the many witty, observational points made was how, in their case, athletes might be defeated by the glossy exterior image portrayed by peers and competitors.
I guess we can all relate to that, that certain someone that gets under your skin, with their perfect life, perfect job, perfect tan and natural athleticism.
Well, Marshall & Patterson suggest that maybe when you delve a little deeper, that person probably also has fears, and money stresses and screaming kids and niggly injuries and is suffering event nerves or, just like us, feeling in some way inadequate.
The suggestion is that in the modern world particularly, a persons internet presence could well portray an idyllic world which is, in fact, hiding a ‘real’ life just like ours.
As a child, particularly as a teenager, I was desperate to ‘belong’, to feel part of something. I went to a grammar school and felt inadequate in nearly every aspect of my adolescent world.
Academically, I was below average at best, in the competitive, striving environment that grammar school nurtured and I always felt I was bring looked down upon.
I had relatively recently moved from a big city to a small sea side town so I had no network of friends which was compounded by the fact that I went to the grammar school where most children came from another town anyway. The few primary school friends I had made all went to the Comprehensive school not a mile from where we lived. I suppose my parents wanted ‘better’ for me.
The school may have been ‘better’ but I certainly wasn’t.
In those teenage years I looked at my siblings, my sister so cool, hanging around with older lads with their cars and motorbikes, what I would have given to get part of that world. My younger brother too, seemingly focussed and sure, intelligent and popular.
I once crawled under the piano, in the hall at school, and pierced my ear with a safety pin, I just wanted to be somebody people noticed.
Anyway, enough rambling and wallowing. Suffice to say, as we got older, we siblings became aware of each others’ failings and anxieties and gradually started to understand each other.
This stumble through bits of my past was prompted by the need for some fully waterproof running trousers.
Mandatory kit you see, for the Snowdonia Trail Marathon, and for future events I have planned.
Ahhhh, the world of trouser buying when you’re gangly and scrawny. They either fall down, or look like I’m flying them at half mast as a mark of respect….
Nicky could hardly hide her mirth as I fumbled between ‘medium’ and ‘large’….. my mother used to insist on ‘taking them up a bit’ whenever I had new school trousers. This was a gift to the mocking cool kids!!
She still does it to my dad!
So, battling the little voice in my head telling me that people like me simply DON’T do the cool stuff, I trawl the internet…..
All those big name brands all the cool kids are wearing. Yup, they DON’T FIT ME!
Last weekend? You want to know about last weekend??
I’ll tell you about last weekend.
Up at the crack of dawn on Saturday. Trying to quietly put the kayak on the car at 4.30am, every movement echoing down the street in the still air, I headed off to Stoke Gabriel for the 4 plus mile trip up the river.
Logistics working well, the silhouette of a beautiful, wetsuit clad woman enticing me through the, now turning tide, for our rendezvous in Totnes.
She had travelled by taxi, dressed as Jacque Custeau, the driver unfazed, presumably thinking she’d been at a fancy dress party.
So in she plopped and set off for Stoke Gabriel. Quickly popping up again to proclaim “I’M HAVING A WEE! OOOO THAT’S BETTER” before heading off again.
You don’t meet many people at 6.30am on the Dart but we did share the lovely atmosphere with a guy gently strumming an acoustic guitar sat on the bank.
He looked calm. And what a calming sound he made as it drifted across the water. His mellow vibes, the gently ripples of Nicky’s hands breaking the surface and the almost inaudible bubble of the kayak drifting on the calm waters.
I’m rather proud of my beautiful amazing inspirational (and quite frankly HOT) lady wife. She really ate the miles up in this 4.25 mile swim, belying the fact that 18 months ago she couldn’t swim 33 meters of front crawl!
Arriving in Stoke Gabriel we had a debrief, a brief snack, and I packed up the kayak and readied myself for the next installment of adventure.
Cue Jamie (you remember, trail running guru and all round top bloke), fresh (!) From his 48 mile Snowdonia ultra marathon the previous week, trotting down the lane to meet me. We then set off on a course recce for the upcoming Stoke Gabriel Carnival 10k .
A stunning, challenging and invigorating course, best told in pictures…..
Really looking forward to helping out at this lovely event again this year.
After leaving Jamie I set off for a few more miles in the hot lunchtime sun, bringing this run to 18 miles in total. Sweaty and tired but DEFINITELY being a cool kid today.
Another early start on Sunday, getting to be the coolest boy with the HOTTEST girl – off to Slapton for an another 18 miler. Hot and tough again but what fantastic fun running with Nicky. Our last long run together before, gulp, Snowdonia…..
We ran from Slapton to Beesands then followed the CTS South Devon Half Marathon route before returning to Slapton. Fabulous coast and country running with plenty of lumpy bits to get the legs burning…
Bring on Snowdonia……..
Ending at the ice cream van was very welcome indeed on a hot hot day.
I know I’m overly gushy about just how happy I am and how in love I am with my truly astonishing wife, but we SHARE so much. Until we met, I thought all those love stories, romantic films, the things people said, terms like soul mate and forever, I thought those things were either fiction, or simply didn’t apply to people like me!
As we gazed out to sea, guzzling our frozen treats, reflecting on another weekend of fun and adventure, of love and of sharing our world, of being just the most amazing TEAM, it seemed to me that maybe, after all, I AM one of the cool kids, and I get to be with coolest kid of all…….
So another week is flying by, it’s now only 10 days to the Snowdonia Trail Marathon and we’re as ready as we’re going to be. In the meantime another weekend is coming our way.
Looks like there may be swimming, there may be running, and maybe, just maybe, these cool kids WILL get to do the cool stuff, whether their trousers fit properly or not!
I smoked my very last cigarette on January 13th 2007. I went for my first run on January 14th 2007. I think the cigarette lasted longer than the run……….
I recorded that run on Fetch as one mile. Clearly it wasn’t that far.
We’re all different. We all run at different paces. We, even those who have ran since childhood, all started our running journey somewhere. Somebody quipped recently that “you don’t need to train it all comes naturally to you” or words to that effect. HHHmmm, I reject that.
I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed every single run in the 10 and a half years since that last fag. BUT, don’t be fooled, it was a loooong time before anybody would look at me and say “it comes naturally to him“!
In fact, when I first tried out a club, I was described as “running like a drunk man herding cats“, which I’m guessing wasn’t a compliment!
So, if any of you lovely blog readers are at the start of your running journey, be assured that I’ve been ticking of milestones too. I clearly remember running non-stop (for the first time) for 15 minutes, 3 miles, an hour… etc etc and being utterly delighted each time and having many a gasping on my knees moment…….
ANYWAY…. what a weekend just gone. I know, I know we’re rapidly approaching the next one, and the blog has only just wormed its way into the web…
Saturday. The Swoosh. Nicky and (chatty) Martin and I headed off at 4am. FOUR. A. M. to arrive in Bantham for the sunrise. Unfortunately the heavy cloud and rain meant this was particularly anti-climatic. Day didn’t so much ‘break’, more reluctantly snuck in.
Since rejecting debauchery as a life style, friendships have become considerably less numerous and incredibly more treasured. You will not meet a more genuine, caring, supportive, hilarious and loyal chap than Martin, and both Nicky and I are honoured to be able to share these adventures with him.
Enough man love…… Having waved them onto the bus for their journey to the start, I donned my running attire and set off running the 4.5 mile trail along the Avon Estuary to watch the 350 or so dawn swimmers submerge themselves in the murky river.
I obviously didn’t quite understand the map as my Garmin showed 6.5 miles by the time I arrived at the start. “I don’t think I read the email properly” I told the marshal manning the gate as hundreds of black rubber and orange cap clad swimmers filtered passed him. He did a double take at my attire……
The Swoosh is yet another great event in our glorious countryside, impeccable organisation, iconic location, wonderful atmosphere, belting sausage and egg sandwiches.
I ended up doing 12.5 glorious miles and got to support my beautiful, amazing wife and our great friend at a truly lovely event. Ain’t life grand? (As I may have mentioned?)
I don’t consider myself a Step-Dad or Step-Grandad, I just consider myself lucky to have become part of such a wonderful family. With the early morning nature of The Swoosh, we had plenty of time to get home for an afternoon of mirth, merriment and mocking with the hugely energetic grandchildren. Alisa is still smashing her health and fitness drive and has combined a fantastic drop in dress size with a real drive for fitness and a more healthy lifestyle.
So, the weekend rolled back down to the South Hams on Sunday. We were entered as a relay team, with Nicky doing a 1km sea swim followed by me tackling a rugged 10 mile trail run. The forecast brisk south westerlies were that, and more. Nicky was quite nervous of wading into the lively seas, but she needed have worried. The conditions had snookered the organisers, The Trail Events Company and they were unable to get a safety boat near the beach to put safety and medical personnel onboard, so the swim was, unfortunately, cancelled. A very fair policy was hastily communicated, whereby a deferment to any of their future events, for one or both of us, was offered. Alternatively, one or both of us could do the run as a stand alone event. I felt for the organisers and thought they dealt with a difficult situation very well.
Nicky opted for reading her book in the car (and may have had a snooze) whilst I lined up with the small field of runners to tackle the coast and country 10 mile route.
I set off amongst the rather athletic looking guys and girls in their tri-suits from around the country, holding back a little to start with as I knew there the terrain to come and wanted to hold my effort levels for the tough sections.
After passing through the gorgeous Hope Cove, the coast path is particularly testing, right up to the scramble in land at Bolberry and I gradually started overtaking a few people and was feeling strong and alive in the fabulous terrain.
Stopping briefly for an orange squash and to dip my timing chip at the check point, I pushed on. I could see the leaders in the distance for a while and wondered just how far up the field I was.
With about 2 miles to go, I caught a friendly chap who informed me that I had demoted him to 5th.
I was in 4th place! In a running race! Blimey.
I didn’t see the podium owning guys until the finish, but even my rather embarrassing failed attempt at a heel click as I approached the line couldn’t take the grin off my face.
So, our much anticipated husband and wife relay team’s debut is on hold, we’ll find another event, or maybe be back for a crack at this again, it is a stunning location and the run route is tremendous.
So, as the blog is VERY late this week, there’s been nearly a full week of working, running, swimming and domesticity since then. A family run in the woods on Monday morning was a peaceful way to prepare ourselves for the week.
I did some actual training on Tuesday morning, doing 3 x 2km at eye balls out pace, definitely still feeling the race on Sunday. Then in the evening we went over to Brixham for an extremely chatty bimble with the Harriers. The jury is still out on whether we a: can,
or b: want to, commit to this being a regular fixture. We shall see.
I ran with Charlie on the coast path on Wednesday morning and through Cockington on Thursday morning. In a departure from the norm, Nicky and I met after work tonight and did the 3 x 2km session, this being Nicky’s pace work for the week. For the last rep, we handicapped it and I attempted (for once successfully) to chase her down, both of us threatening to relive our lunch! All of the runs can be seen on Strava if you’d like to see how a heel-clicking, cat herding middle aged man skips around.
Ahhh, the longest days of the year. Heatwaves. Festivals. It’s summer now alright.
A few tetchy people around, obviously not including yours truly, as most of us are struggling to acclimatise to sleeping in the warm nights ……. Me? I lurrve the heat…
Obviously I’d choose a chilled afternoon at Seacombe Sands with my beautiful wife over screeding floors in a sweatbox with my workmate Jamie. Nothing against Jamie of course!
It’s Giant’s Head Marathon this coming weekend, a fabulous, award
winning, brutally hilly, trail marathon in Dorset. Upon completion participants are rewarded with monstrous ice creams and a monstrous medal featuring the Giant’s, er, spinning willy…
Nicky and I have done the Giant’s Head Marathon two years running so we’ve opted for a change of scenery (more of which later) this year as we build up to the Snowdonia Trail Marathon in July. It was warm last year, but in 2015 it was HOT! Fabulous event though, I mean FABULOUS. So good luck to everyone in Dorset this weekend, hope it cools off a tad.
It’s also the Glastonbury Festival this weekend. Back in the day I did a few of these too, struggling to sleep then too….. I wasn’t quite as fit back then…. Another fabulous event which, unlike the Giant’s Head Marathon,
doesn’t feature high in my list of experiences to repeat. Too old for camping, noise, crowds, late nights, debauchery…..
So, a relay this weekend. But before that, we are off to Bantham on Saturday as Nicky is participating in The Swoosh, a 6km swim from Aveton Gifford to Bantham. It’s a dawn start and we’re aiming to arrive for sunrise before Nicky is bussed to the start. Our regular accomplice at events, Martin, is also involved. Obviously it hasn’t been suggested that his breathing whilst swimming is hindered by incessant chatting….
I’m chief supporter and intend running the trails to watch the start before returning to see the finish. More and more and more, events are just that, EVENTS. The whole experience, the adventure of getting up at silly o’clock, meeting Martin, the drive on empty roads, the sunrise, the bubbling nervous excitement and sharing all of this with the most amazing person I’ve ever known. (That’s Nicky, not Martin, although, in that wetsuit mate………)
Soul mates? The two words never went together in my life, until I met Nicky and we set out on this life of outdoor pursuit and sharing everything. Everything? Well, apart from the time Nicky ran over to another path whilst we were walking one day, to ensure she didn’t have to reciprocate and give me a bite of HER crème egg!
There have been scuffles on the sofa over the last liquorice allsort on occasions….
So, to recover from Saturdays exploits, on Sunday, we’re doing a relay. A relay, I kid you not. Nicky is going to bravely swim a kilometre off South Milton Sands before handing over the, er, dibber to me as I head off for a 15km coastal and trail run. It sounds fantastic and the weather is looking good but not crazily hot luckily.
We were just chatting about how it really is the event we’re looking forward too, it takes as long as it takes. The process, the journey, the moments and memories rather than any measured ‘outcome’. Saying that, I wonder if there’s a Vet 50 Married Couple trophy!!
Nicky is having a great year of open water swimming, getting in the sea wherever possible and feeling stronger and invigorated for the experience. We are shoe horning our Snowdonia training into the available time and had a VERY hot 14 mile trail run on Tuesday evening, straight from work, which was hard but a beautiful route.
We also ran a very challenging few hours out of Kingswear together on Sunday. This too, was a stunning route.
It’s about the journey, and WOW what a journey it is.
I’m trying to mix my runs up a bit but keep mileage high, it’s ten weeks until the East Farm Frolic, where I shall endeavour to keep moving for the full 12 hours, so I need to know I’ve built an endurance base to support this. I do think that my work helps with this, some days it can be relentless. Up and down ladders or like this week mixing and carrying, it’s great work but can be very tiring, sometimes after a 10 mile run in the morning.
I firmly believe that ‘keeping going’ will be the key to ultra running and so I’m just going to keep on running. Wherever, whenever, for however long or however far, and enjoy every single step……..
The world feels like it’s under siege at the moment and so many are suffering unimaginable and unbearable sorrow and grief. We are so fortunate that we can’t even begin to imagine how life must be right now for those suffering and those who have lost. I truly hope the apparent groundswell of love, rather than hate, as a reaction to appalling events of late is the way forward for us all as a community, as a nation, as the human race and EVERYONE echoes the mantra “I refuse to neglect you”
Check out my latest running efforts on Strava if you fancy a nose.
Yeah, I don’t know where to begin so I’ll start by saying I refuse to forget you I refuse to be silenced I refuse to neglect you That’s for every last soul up in Grenfell even though I’ve never even met you That could have been my mum’s house, or that could have been my nephew Now that could have been me up there Waving my white plain T up there All my friends on the ground trying a see up there I just hope that you rest and you’re free up there I can’t feel your pain but it’s still what it is Went to the block just to chill with the kids Troubled waters come running past I’mma be right there just to build you a bridge yo
Well, today we celebrate 2 years of marriage. I am a lucky, lucky, LUCKY man. I get discouraged from gushing about how in love I am…… but Nicky truly is my miniature hero!! (and, yes, she does approve of the pet name!)
A silly pet name, really, what with, you know, us being ON IT and everything…….
SO, I shan’t go on and on and on about just how wonderful my life is with Nicky…. well, only a bit…….
Anyway, we did the Imerys Trail (half) Marathon on Sunday. Unfortunately we didn’t quite make the cut-off at 8.2 miles and were diverted on to half course. Clearly we aren’t fast enough runners for this event:-
The apparent race time limit of 5h30m (this would be 12m36s per mile) wouldn’t have been a problem, Nicky has recently ran a 4h24m marathon and whilst this is definitely a more challenging route, with her relentless and consistent pacing we would always get there. Lovely, settle in and enjoy the run……
Hang on, the cut off at 20 miles is 4 hours (12 mm). Oh, really, well, we’ll get to that relatively safely and even if we are tiring, that would mean we had 1.5 hours to do the last 10k (and as we now know, the last 3 miles are pretty quick). Smashing, we could average high 11’s and see how we felt at 20…..
Oh, HANG ON, the cut off at 8 miles is 1.5 hours, that’s 11m15s per mile!!! Er, why?? Anyway, I tried not to let this concern me as I set about pacing Nicky as best I could to this first cut off point. I can’t tell you too much about the course, as I was trying to get the right effort out of Nicky without burning up valuable energy for later in the race.
We ALWAYS start at the back. This serves two purposes – firstly, it avoids being dragged along by runners going faster than we should be and secondly it stops the demoralising process of quicker runners coming by as they find their place in the field. This was a mistake today!
It took us exactly a minute to cross the start line.
After a lap of the Cornwall College site we hit a rather bad bottle neck. Stationary. 90 seconds.
Then, an uphill very narrow grass path, at a gentle walk as there were plenty of half marathon runners enjoying the greenery as they were, of course, under no time pressure. How much quicker might we have done this section, maybe 30 seconds, maybe a minute?
The final nail in the coffin of our marathon was when we passed the 8 mile marker with 1h29m50s showing on my watch but with no sign of the split.
A few hundred yards later we were 2 minutes too late for the poor chap charged with the task of informing us! You were bravely firm and apologetic sir and I hope we weren’t rude!
We completed the ‘half’ in 2h28m feeling bright and fresh, a bit cross(!) but could merrily have gone around again.
Such a shame that my beautiful wife, a seasoned veteran of 30 marathons, including a 50 miler, 4 50ks and numerous tough off road events is now saying that she feels that she simply isn’t good, or indeed, fast enough.
I guess we’ll just have to be more careful to ensure races we enter are aimed at runners like us.
A cracking venue and course, numerous and enthusiastic marshals and volunteers and an inclusive half marathon with no time pressure.
Not all doom and gloom though, a pasty and an ice cream as we chilled on the beach at Charlestown was just splendid, followed by a lovely evening and night in our favourite bolt hole in Mevagissey.
And now we look forward to some lovely weekends of running and Nicky is getting right back into her open water swimming again.
Hopefully I haven’t come across as bitter and twisted. As I said to a nice chap in a Mudcrew vest as we stomped our way through the last few miles, I need to shut the wotsit up and stop moaning. “Oh no, he said, if you’ve developed a life skill you should definitely use it!”!!
I may not covet my neighbours, or anybody else’s, OX but am in awe at the level of OXing occurring on the Rushmoor Estate this weeknd. White Star Running’s extravaganza of trail races involved a 50 miler, a 12 hour race, a night 10k, an early morning 10k and the race of our choice, a half marathon. Some have done 4 races this weekend. WOW!
We chose the half, knowing we would be carrying our hard efforts from last weekend in our legs. At the top of the first hill we knew we had made a wise choice.
It’s over a 2 hour drive each way but the wonderful atmosphere was infectious from the moment we arrived. We squeezed the Mini into the car park and for a moment we did covet some our neighbours’ VW vans, even more so as we contorted ourselves in the mini to change afterwards!
We have completed the 32 mile R.A.T. the last two years but Nicky was a bit disappointed with our time in last year’s event, so we are, you’ll be surprised to hear, ‘ON IT’! and intend to be Mr and Mrs Trail Running Experts by then (if Snowdon hasn’t killed us!)
Anyway, suffice to say we went round todays beautiful course at a fair old lick and are ready for the fun and challenges ahead, I think I’ll let our pictures tell the story of our day………
So, today was the day. We’d trained and trained for this target race. Maybe both secretly hiding nerves caused by the pressure we had rather publically placed upon ourselves……
Could we deliver…
WELL, one big bold shiny Personal Best, with bells and whistles and tassels goes to my rather incredible lady, Nicky…….
She believed in herself, reigned herself back from running TOO much faster than target pace, took a couple of slightly less rapid miles on the chin, refocused, took a gel and dug deep to get back on pace for the run in.
As she belted up the finishing straight, I was just bursting with pride and emotion, She had worked so hard to be capable of such a performance. Marathon #30 nailed!
Our early night in preparation for the early start was fairly pointless as we were treated to the sounds of the BMAD festival down on the seafront until (what for most people is a perfectly acceptable) 11pm.
Now, ordinarily, I love a bit of All Along The Watchtower……
So, after about 5 hours sleep, we dragged ourselves out of bed and porridged ourselves up and got plenty of caffeine down us. Martin, running too, was collected from the bus stop (where some say he sleeps) at crazy o’clock by our devoted and ever-present supporter, Gloria.
I even remembered the way to Sturminster Newton (although I think the journey home involved a little detour…)!
The NDVM bases itself in Sturminster Newton High School, where a small army of volunteers were providing drinks and cakes as well as bacon sarnies. As regular readers will know…. TICK.
The start is on the road outside the school and car parking is plentiful, ably directed by another small army, this time of boy scouts.
It truly is a lovely event.
Martin, as usual, had a few short issues, but was threatening to have a smash at a time today too. He’s come very close to 4 hours a few times, and despite his proclamation that he hasn’t really done high miles, we suspected he’d go close.
He was also offering a curly-wurly to anyone who deserved it by the end of the day. This is a bit of a tradition brought to our group via some good running friends of old.
We were right about Martin’s running. On a blustery day, he ran hard and strong to come tearing towards the finish line for a time of 4.04.
Great running again Martin.
“What about your race, Kevin?” I hear you all cry in unison…
Cards on the table, I genuinely thought I was in shape to run close to my personal best. Sure, I knew I was over tired, but I always train tired and believe myself to be strong mentally to tough it out, so I lined up fairly near the front of the field and set off with purpose.
The course is relentlessly undulating, but barely contains anything we would describe as a hill, so I aimed to keep just inside my target pace for each and every mile.
I soon got in to a little group ticking off the miles at about 7.15 pace, and, whilst I knew I was working for it, I didn’t feel massively uncomfortable, so pushed on. The breeze was brisk in places but we seemed to all be willing to take our turns in front.
I know the course winds through some lovely countryside and picture postcard thatched villages, but I was only half aware of it as I tried to keep my pace focussed. There’s a line across the road at halfway and I clocked that in 1h36m, so inside my 3h14m target pace. I knew from last year that the worst of the undulations were around the 20 miles mark so I felt I’d banked a bit of time.
Miles in 7.09 7.02 7.15 7.23 & 7.25 preceded……
THE WHEELS COMING OFF!!
Oh and how!
By then I was in a group of three, “Oh they’ve sped up” I thought, glancing at my watch. WRONG! I had slowed down. Quite Dramatically.
This hadn’t happened quite so eye-wateringly since my very first marathon, in Paris. I took a gel from my pocket before putting it back, I was starting to struggle to lift my feet and quite frankly, I was exhausted. Nothing a gel could do for that.
I took my demise in good heart and let myself naturally get slower and slower and slower as runners started to pass me by. I took a minute at an aid station to enjoy some melon, coke and Jaffa cakes before setting about my last few miles.
My salvation came in the form of Luke. Luke was stopped at a marshalling point looking in a world of pain. Which, it turned out he was, with his back in spasm around a herniated disc injury. Ouch.
Come on mate, lets shuffle in together. Which we did. Great to meet you Luke.
The biggest dilemma I have with my ‘disappointment’ is that I genuinely believe that, ultimately, it doesn’t matter, and I know that there are many for whom a sub 3.30 marathon would be a dream.
I guess I’m asking for permission to be a little disappointed, whilst still chuffed to have clocked up marathon number 32, ran another quick time and had a wonderful day out.
I did train very, very hard for this and believed I had it in me. Hey ho.
My 1st half 1.36, my 2nd half 1.52. Detonated!
They may be many reasons for this:
Maybe spending a full day up and down a ladder carrying bags of rubble on Friday didn’t help. Maybe those troublesome sinuses and snottyness were drawing on my reserves. Maybe lack of sleep. Maybe being so much heavier than I intended to be for this day. Maybe eating too much simple sugars rather than good fats and protein. Maybe not having the strong core needed to maintain running form when tired.
Maybe, today, that was how it was meant to be.
I was smiling at the end, because I bloomin’ love running and I feel blessed to be able to do this wonderful sport at all.
Another of our little gang, Jan, fresh from smashing her own Parkrun yesterday, turned up at the finish to cheer us all in, along with Gloria, and quite frankly, it really was a lovely, lovely day and I also feel blessed to have such great friends.
As for Nicky?? Sometimes words just simply don’t do justice to how she makes me feel!
Ahhh the countdown to the North Dorset Village Marathon, 4 days to go. FOUR DAYS!!!
I haven’t done enough training, I haven’t eaten the right food, I haven’t done enough core strength work, I haven’t slept enough, my foot, ankle, shin, knee, hip, back, hair hurts. I’ve got too much heavy duty work to do, I haven’t planned my nutrition, my kit, my trainers are too old, too new, too big, too small, it’s going to be too hot, too windy, too flat, too hilly. It’s too early, too far to travel, have I definitely entered?!?!
Yup it’s marathon week. What can possibly go wrong?
Actually, it was on Saturday and remarkably not a drop (touch wood) of water. We had rattling pipe syndrome, a particularly bad case too. All fixed. Bosh.
It was an old builder friend who introduced me to the Friday saying as he drilled through a water main…… on a Friday. Nice bloke, proper cockney, used the f & c words like we use punctuation, moved to France in the end.
Mind your French, as they say.
Another phrase I never thought I’d never hear, “Your lunch box is too big!” my amazing wife Nicky blurted out on our beautiful 10 mile walk this afternoon. Ok, they weren’t her exact words, and she was merely referring to the lack of space in the rucksack after I’d been left in charge of packing food, but I’ll take it. If there wasn’t so much suspicion, speculation about the legitimacy, or otherwise, of his remarkable (some say ‘unbelievable’) athletic performance, I’d compare myself to Linford Christie….
I hadn’t taken my note book with me today you see, an essential piece of equipment to carry at all times if I want to be a ‘writer’! But, with all that lunch, there wouldn’t have been room in the rucksack anyway!
No long run on a Sunday? Asked no one, other than in my head. Well, I’ll tell you. We’ve got our target marathon next week, the North Dorset Villages Marathon, and we are ‘tapering’, as in we’re not doing long runs this weekend. So we did a few miles together this morning then I did another half an hour on my own before heading home to porridge ourselves up. Check out the run.
On Saturday we went to Parke Parkrun where the aforementioned, beautiful Nicky, ran around with my incredibly motivated Step Daughter for her second ever Parkrun.
She’s on such a mission this year, we are so, so proud, and she’s looking amazing, healthy, happy and has an infectious spark about her.
Grandad here, who was flying solo with the Grandchildren, might have had something in his eye as they came along the finishing straight, so much quicker than last time, despite this being on a much more challenging course.
We both did 5k time trials before work on Friday, my run totalling over 8 miles and very happy to run 19m00s in my last hard effort before NDVM.
Had some beautiful early morning runs last week with the dog, we’ve been treated to some gorgeous sunrises this week……..
So, today, with more time than we’ve had on Sunday for a while we decided to go and do one of our favourite 10 mile walks, including getting out the bulging lunch box for a lovely riverside picnic (but not my note book to write about it)………
With 7 days to go until our ‘big’ race I’m feeling pretty good about it. Ultimately it’s a run over an arbitrary distance, aiming for an arbitrary time and has no bearing on whether or not I am the sort of human being I dearly hope I am. If I am remembered as someone who is caring and considerate and loving and gentle and worthy and humble then that would be enough for me. sure, it would be a bonus if I ran 3h14m around Dorset next Sunday but, actually, I think my commitment to TRYING to be the best I can be is far more important.
That said, I will be running as hard as my little legs will carry me…….
I was wrong (I know!), shopping trolleys are EVERYWHERE…..
So, a 4 day weekend, what bliss, it seems to have passed by all too rapidly but there’s been plenty of fun and frolics, some lovely time with the Grandchildren and a ride out with Nicky’s Dad. Then today, another little road trip.
Yeovil this time, as an ultra trail running friend quipped, “all the way to Yeovil for a 10k?!” I know, and a road 10k as well.
Nicky and I do like a road race, especially as we’re targeting a road marathon in a couple of weeks. We also like a road trip, so this ticked a few boxes.
Yawning and delaying getting up, our mojos weren’t bouncing this morning and I think if either of us had pulled the plug we’d both have gone down the hole.
We managed to get in the car though and had an easy, uneventful drive to get parked good and early for Yeovil Town Road Running Club‘s flagship fast and flat 10k.
Has anybody heard the expression ‘a visit from the gingerbread man’ in relation to running? Well, it refers to a sudden need to, well you can guess the rest. The gingerbread man was well and truly knocking on my door this morning. You could actually hear my stomach grizzling over the road noise driving up. We got ourselves a coffee (“just make a donation”), eyed up the cakes, had a cheeky custard cream, then headed back to the car, both yawning and stretching and mumbling. We reluctantly stripped to our running kit and donned our numbers. I went for a warm up (there’s a running track on hand) and, after a visit to the portaloos, so did Nicky.
Regular readers might know that Nicky isn’t renowned for her warm ups, they normally involve keeping her hoody on until the last minute. BUT we have been doing proper warm ups in training, so she did some laps and stretches too.
In a previous post on this blog I received some online, er, banter, for suggesting that they may be a bit of elitism in running. Either about speed, kit, age or ability, any thoughtless quips, mockery or dismissive looks can have a truly demoralising effect on a runner perhaps lacking in confidence or maybe new to the sport, or who is trying to lose weight, or, indeed, for any other reason. Anyway, and I won’t labour this point, as the 400 or so runners were heading over to the start I over heard one lady say to her friend that she was very nervous. Maybe it was her first ever event, maybe she’s been injured, maybe she’s never run that far, maybe, just maybe there are reasons that are none of our business. Well, watching her head drop as a gentleman marching past in his high-viz vest retorted “Who on earth gets nervous for a 10k!?” I guess it was rhetorical, as he didn’t wait for an answer as the lady in question looked at the floor. Come on guys….
Just my opinion.
So, the race…….
My stomach seemed to have appreciated the warm up and I settled in to the pack as the low key countdown set us on our way. Anyone reading this blog hoping for a blow by blow chronical of every footstep is going to be disappointed. I’m really not very good at remembering these things in order….. or at all sometimes. I remember getting my DVD in the post after the Paris Marathon and being surprised to learn that I’d run (I say ‘run’…) past the Eiffel Tower!
When I’d been training well in the past, I’d managed to get under 40 minutes for 10k, so I was secretly hoping to be in that sort of territory again. The group I was running with seemed to be in the same level of discomfort as me, so I guessed we were pacing it right, the first mile in 6m12s seemed to feel right and somebody in the group had the breath to comically ask if any of us were pacemakers, “Is this the 40 minute bus then?” I semi seriously replied. Another member of the group chipped in “FORTY MINUTES, I CAN’T RUN FORTY MINUTES!” and promptly slowed down and disappeared behind us. Sorry mate!!
Mile 2 in 6.23 as the countryside rattled past. I’m so used to running for longer than this that, as mile three beeped on all the watches around me, I smiled to myself that we were halfway already and it felt like we had just started.
After 6.17 for mile 3 I sort of teamed up with a Yeovil runner (Darrell, I think, thank you mate for the rhythmic pacing) and we pushed through 4 in 6.13 and 5 in 6.14. We were both pushing hard now, and as I slightly slipped back he glanced over and gave me fantastic encouragement to keep up with him. 6.18 for mile 6 and he pushed on for a sprint finish as my legs turned to jelly and I wombled up the finishing straight to finish in (chip time) 39m26s. Chuffed as a chuffed thing.
Just as there had been around the whole course, there were so many welcoming marshals and volunteers at the finish, with much welcomed fluid and a fabulous quirky medal.
I know you readers are all thinking “what about NICKY?!”…..
Well I rushed back to the car, still sweating, pretty much stripped off (apologies to the people I hadn’t noticed cooling down in the field behind me) towelled off some sweat (only for it to be immediately replaced) had a quick spray and rushed back to the finish line.
I was right to rush back, Nicky came storming around the corner in little over 55 minutes looking really, really strong. As ever, she had paced it brilliantly and her fastest miles were at the end of the race. Proud husband alert…..
A cracking event, I guess by its nature aimed at the speedsters, but lots of great encouragement for everyone throughout the field and definitely recommended, particularly if you are chasing a time.