There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my beautiful lady…..
I would definitely take Nicky’s injury off her, if I magically could, and stop running myself if it meant she could toe the start line in South Africa in 2 weeks’ time.
Regular readers may well remember my first 50 ultra back in October. They should do, I banged on about it enough! (my Gower 50 blog HERE)
Well I turned my ankle quite dramatically in that race and had a little bit of time off running.
Whilst it was massively frustrating, and it did seem the world and his wife were suddenly out pounding the pavements whilst I was unable, it was so much easier than how frustrated I am now Nicky is out of action.
I have solemnly promised that I will be on that 2 Oceans start line and be giving it my all.
On behalf of both of us.
Despite Sam the physio’s finest efforts Nicky’s troublesome calf just won’t let her play. So (probably wisely) she has turned her attention to being super fit for her half ironman debut in June.
Beware the Ides of March. Well for many years I haven’t been a March fan. 9 years ago my sister, Karen, got to her 44th birthday but 7 days later finally succcombed to the myriad of cancers that her final years were dominated by.
So yeah, odd one is March.
It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess.
I ended up running alongside a chap last week, whilst on my own long run, who was training for a spring marathon. Initially he was going to be attempting his debut 26.2 effort alongside his wife but circumstances have taken over somewhat. His wife is extremely poorly and does not have a great prognosis. He is determined to complete the run for both of them…
He implored my to do the same with 2 Oceans. Whilst we are fortunate to be currently blessed with good health, it is true that none of us know when these opportunities might come our way again.
There is, I have to admit, a bit of a guilt thing banging around inside my head. About 9 months ago, Nicky put me on the spot and asked, out of all the trips we’ve looked at (and we do spend a LOT of time saying “ooo look, an endurance challenge, in an unusual location…”) which would be your ‘dream’ trip. Such a difficult question, but the imagery I’ve seen from the 2 Oceans Marathon has always been a temptress for me and that we could throw our resources at it makes me feel a very lucky boy.
And, I am.
But it’s going to be a tough morning when I walk into that starting pen without Nicky………. For both of us.
I’m not really one for “I’m running for Aubrey”, or “running for Martians” but in this instance, I’m happy to be on duty for those who aren’t able to be.
On a more positive and typically determined note, Nicky’s decision has meant more accelerated and intense treatment on her calf has been possible and she is busy planning her post holiday training, along with a full A4 page of possible future adventures……..
There’s a trip of a lifetime to look forward to and some big decisions about our life too, so onwards and upwards……
Me? Well, I went for a tired but consistent 10 miles this morning and have my head well and truly focussed on building up my preparation for the T60. There’s still places, check it out HERE.
Whilst our Sunday run was curtailed rather upsettingly, I managed 24 miles on Saturday. It was hard work, but I’m hoping that, come race day(s), not having spent 8 hours on a concrete breaker the previous day will help me feel fresher!
For a nose at what passes as training, my Strava training is HERE
Whatever you views. About anything. You’ve got to enjoy a bit of Jonathon Pie.
But this will never be a political platform.
First post of the year……. TA DAAAAAAAAAA.
And whatever your views, these ones from last weekend’s running are pretty good.
Actually, it’s taken me so long to write this post, those images are from the PREVIOUS weekend’s running!
Regular readers may well remember me writing about how challenging living with and supporting someone suffering with a progressive dementia can be. It impacts upon everything and, quite frankly, breaks your heart. I wrote THIS BLOG POST where I referred to the challenges of modern life for those suffering with this cruel and debilitating condition.
Well, the remote control headf*** was back this week. After an evening of head scratching and head banging, I came up with the prototype for my dementia friendly remote control.
For a man who spent part of his career repairing aircraft in the Fleet Air Arm, the frustration of knowing that he is struggling to resolve even the simplest of challenges, is horrendous to watch.
He keeps (amazingly) a sharp gallows humour and was absolutely delighted when our new toy was wheeled in and the nice man delivering it gave a quick rendition of “We’re forever blowing bubbles”.
Yes, not content with having conquered marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons, and surviving her crazy job whilst training for MORE ultra marathons and a half iron distance triathlon, Nicky is having a go at learning the piano.
I love this woman and her utterly inspiring determination…….
Actually, if you can find the means to have a few lessons and have a wall to wheel it against, pianos are pretty much being given away. This one came tuned, serviced and delivered for less than the price of a tyre for a Range Rover Sport.
To be fair, so did my ‘beep beep’ Nissan Micra.
A stuttering start for the running year for me. I can’t lie, work has felt physically hard, sleep has felt insufficient, time has felt like as soon as it’s in our hands it’s sliding away again. And my MOJO, slice me in two and call be Bernard, it was last seen shuffling along a remote South Devon beach…..
Actually, I’ve still been out on a couple of fantastic long runs with Nicky and done a speed session or two, so I’m still getting out there.
Just not very often.
It’s creeping back though, the BUG, last week I planned 6 runs and managed 3. Nicky planned 9 sessions (running, swimming, spinning, cycling) and did…. ALL NINE.
Come on Kevin, pull up your mojo pants, big boys socks and zip that man suit right to the top. Time to get back to the thing I love doing…..
Whilst I’m enjoying watching the ‘dots’ battling through the night in the Spine Race, I am humbled and mildly embarrassed by my paltry efforts so far this year…..
I informed Nicky (for new readers, Nicky is my extraordinary, beautiful, inspirational and flippin’ HOT lady wife!), on the morning of the GOWER 50 ULTRA, I had three goals for the event……
One of which I accomplished……
The important one, I guess.
I wouldn’t say that Nicky and I are traditionally ‘male’ and ‘female’ but I do tend to be the driver on these adventures. But, on this occasion, Nicky was determined to protect my aging legs as much as possible. Including travelling to and from Gower and all the incredibly intrepid driving around to meet me at so many points during the run, she amassed over 400 miles during the weekend.
I didn’t work Friday and we headed off to Wales mid afternoon. I don’t think I’ve been this nervous since the day of our first date. I wish I’d thought of that comparison on Friday,….. because that didn’t turn out so badly……
Charlie (for new readers, Charlie is the highly strung Border Terrier) came along for the weekend too. Our bargain Travelodge in Llanelli only charged a mere £20 extra to house the hound (although we had to take his own bed).
We made good time on the journey and arrived for our meal, near the M4 with great reviews and a cracking website, I was confident we’d chosen well……
I’m sure I was imagining it, but the pub went VERY quiet as we took our reserved seats underneath the enormous television showing Wales’ latest football glory. We ate our rather disappointing fare and scarpered, convinced one of the well oiled, rather vocal Friday tea-timers was building up to a ‘what’s your problem?’ moment.
I’ve always been a runner, not a fighter……. Even Charlie never came out from underneath the chair.
The hotel was standard fare, toasty warm. Gasping for air warm. Charlie waking up every 30 minutes to rattle his collar against his bowl while he drank yet more water, warm.
Before we knew it, the 5am alarm was going off…….
Proper nerves were setting in now. And bizarrely emotional.
We’d been to the event HQ on Friday to register, so it was just a case of donning most of the essential kit (the weather was appalling), enjoying a pre-match coffee and lining up with the rest of the 200 or so participants and awaiting the 7.30am kick off.
Based in the St Madoc Centre the facilities were being used as a bunk house and the kitchen facilities providing hearty fare and welcome hot drinks. Charlie fluttered his doe-eyes at one competitor, busy preparing her sandwiches, and was rewarded with a tasty lump of cheese. He’s such a tart…
Nicky made her way into the starting area for a very welcome bonus kiss and to wish me good luck and with little ceremony we were off. I’ve learned such a valuable skill from my wonderful wife, for these endurance tests, start well back in the field thus avoiding getting involved with the pace of those at the front. If people are going that quick because they are THAT QUICK, then trying to run with them will only eat into my energy stores for later. If they themselves are going too fast at the start, I’ll probably be seeing them later anyway.
So, the race. Regular readers will know, this is often where my rambling race write ups become confused. I never seem to have a chronological, nor accurate, memory of a race.
Off the first headland we landed onto the sinking sand and uneven rocks and pebbles of Rhossili Bay. With the rain lashing down and the howling wind, the line of multi coloured waterproofed troopers trudged in silence as the end of the beach seemed to get no nearer.
I was determined to keep telling myself to not let my heart rate rise, but to run whenever I could, and accept walking on the ups. Walking the up from this stretch to the first checkpoint I felt strong and easy, I’ve done a lot of coastal miles this year and really felt that this was my terrain.
Another boost here, Nicky and Charlie were waiting just beyond the checkpoint, loyal supporters in the utterly foul weather. I skipped from there onto the stunning coast path. I managed to collect my first ever orienteering clip (being used to ensure we all took the same route) and felt like I was cruising…….
My foot went down a rabbit hole and my ankle bent right over. SHUT THE BACK DOOR!!! Blimey that hurt. I mean really hurt. I mean REALLY hurt. I took a moment on a rock to decide whether I was actually capable of carrying on. Another runner, who later in the day became one of the three amigos (read on….), Rebecca, stopped and very kindly handed me some painkillers.
A healthy golf ball sized lump had appeared on my ankle and I still had 42 miles to go! Onwards…….
I battled on for the next 4 or 5 miles, trying to focus on the fact that this was my favourite terrain. Some of it very much like the Roseland Peninsula (see my blog from The Rat), other sections reminded me of The Grizzly, even the final few miles of Conisiton Trail Marathon (blogged about here) through the woods. During this section I again ran with Rebecca and the other Amigo, Callum. The three of us were like magnets, as the day unfolded, we were separated but always seemed to end up running together.
During the day I ran with, and briefly chatted to several people, some of whom saw me at rather low points, I’m rubbish at remembering names but it was a pleasure to share the experience with so many wonderful chaps and chappesses.
A very, very old friend, Jo, had been in touch having seen that we were coming to the Gower. She lives almost on the route and had running club mates also competing. As I came out of the woods at Port Eynon, there she was! It was lovely to catch up with someone who I hadn’t had the pleasure of seeing in 14 years! We had known each other in rather darker times in both of our lives, so it was wonderful to meet in these great circumstances.
It was also wonderful, as Nicky and Charlie were also on the beach, to be able to show off my beautiful wife as the 4 of us shared a stroll along the sand and ummed and ahhhed about my ankle.
So three goals for the day….
Firstly, using my mantra which I’ve developed as I’ve really got into my trail running this year….. NO LAZY STEPS…. yes, goal 1 was to not fall over or get injured……
Don’t get lost……….
So as check point 2 took our numbers, the other 2 amigos and a couple of others whom I had been running close to all dived for the toilets, whilst I trudged on ahead. The coast path here briefly goes inland…….
Not so briefly in my case, after about 30 minutes I came up behind the same people whom I had left behind at the checkpoint. So that was goals 1 & 2 out the window……
Just the main goal left…. TO FINISH
Poor Nicky got stuck behind the triathlon which was taking place and didn’t make the next point where we had hoped to meet. After a brief phone call, I reassured her I would stop if I truly felt my ankle was too bad. Whilst I was moving and topping up the painkillers it seemed manageable, so I battled on through the sand dunes and mud reaching checkpoint, where I saw Jo again as she was supporting other runners she knew.
All of the checkpoints were fabulous, so, so encouraging, supportive, helpful and a welcome lift. I was gulping down the Happy Shopper Coke – pure nectar! The event is officially self navigating, and , as I proved, you need to have your wits about you, but it is so well planned and organised, the maps and route book are spot on.
The next section was right up my street, out and out coast path, mud, rocks, steps, beautiful views opening up around every corner. Good progress here.
Now, Charlie, the Border Terrier. When he gets it in his head to play with other dogs, particularly on beaches, he charges around in circles with a rather high pitched yap…… it can be quite embarrassing, although he’s having so much fun.
As I was running through the woods approaching Caswell Bay, I couldn’t see the beach, but I could HEAR Charlie, which meant Nicky was waiting for me there. What a wonderful boost half way through the race, such an amazing lift. And she had coffee!!!
We shared a beautiful moment there and I headed off with a real boost to my energy.
Checkpoint 4 then. More amazing people, warning us of the next stretch… the dreaded roads! Here the route was signed as we cut off the corner of the peninsular and headed north.
This section felt hard work but, I’ve definitely discovered something about myself in this event – I CAN!
Through a very muddy marshy section, which was hard but I really enjoyed it, then joining the actual cycle route all the way to mile 35 at the checkpoint at Dunvant where Nicky and Charlie appeared yet again. With Maltesers. And pain killers. I was tired, naturally,, but felt strong. My ankle felt less tight and I pushed on again. Swapping places with the other 2 amigos several times and running together for much of this long tarmac section.
It’s amazing how, prior to discovering love, my wonderful love, I never ‘loved’ running. I enjoyed it, I enjoyed challenging myself and pushing hard and was forever in search of flat, road events to try and push my pace and beat my times.
The road section between about 37 and 45 miles was just that. Flat, fast tarmac. It wasn’t horrible, as I was just loving the adventure, but after an hour or so, the monotony of it seemed to be darkening my mood and I started to focus on the pain rather than the pleasure…..
Incredibly, Nicky caught up with me another 4 times during this section, and again as we emerged from a rocky road section alongside the marshes of the estuary, informing me that dinner was at 6 so I had better get a move on!
I ran for a while with Mr Motivator, a guy called Sam who was great company. The other 2 amigos had got away by this point but over those muddy fields, marshy paths, rutted woodlands and, finally, sand dunes, we ended up all back together for the run in to the finish.
As we came out of the trails and looked up that final cliff, there was Nicky, silhouetted up on the gloomy horizon, and my heart was just fluttering, I could feel the tears welling up and the three of us hauled our tired bodies up that climb.
Suddenly we were through the gate and heading for the line…..
I’m not normally a ‘sickly’ person, but the ankle has enforced my to have a couple of days off, so I’m sat on the couch, feet up, writing this blog, which I’m acutely aware is faaaaaar too long, grinning like an idiot because I’m just so, so, pleased to have achieved my first 50 miler…………….
Watch this space for what’s next…..
For those who like a stat or too, check out the run HERE
I managed to finish 30th out of 147 in 11h06m (another 62 didn’t make it, I’m gutted for them and so grateful I managed to get to the end).
I can’t thank enough people nearly enough for their part in this journey, the organisers RUN WALK CRAWL, they just GET IT! ALL the other participants, what a great supportive atmosphere. Special mentions for the other 2 amigos, Rebecca and Callum for being alongside in the dark and light moments. Sam, who’s vibrancy towards the end was such good fun. And Jo, such a lovely friend of old, now a lovely friend of new, for being there, not only for me, but for Nicky too.
And, of course, Nicky…… I’m welling up just wondering how I’m going to word this…….. You drive me, Nicky… and this weekend, you literally drove me, and fed me, and cheered me, and willed me, and inspired me (like you always do). You trusted me to make good decisions, you cajoled me, encouraged me, hugged me, kissed me, let Charlie charge across the beaches to greet me. You navigated yourself to every nook and cranny of the Gower Peninsular, you kept my parents informed, which can be a challenge in itself!
You were, Nicky, AWESOME….. My world……
So maybe, just maybe, I DO really believe that ‘people like me’ CAN…..
Oh, and I seem to have written a poem about the run HERE
My father-in-law, Frank, informed us over dinner tonight what a fabulous day today had been. Nicky and I support Frank with some of the detail of life and we all live together. With us both working full time, as well as cramming in our adventures and all the training we enjoy. Timetabling everything for everyone can be a juggling act, but today we think we got everything just right. For all of us.
I woke in the early hours from a very real dream where I was running along the coast path carrying grandson, Ollie, under one arm. He’s a big unit, our Ollie, and I was struggling! I got back to sleep but was soon responding to the 5am alarm and crawling, bleary eyed, to the kettle.
Whilst I was enjoying the lush run from home to Teignmouth, Nicky was organising Frank and Charlie (the Border Terrier), collecting grandson Callum, and taking the rather less taxing transport method to Teignmouth, the mini…..
The coast path from Torquay to Shaldon is BRUTAL. And STUNNING. I set off determined to ‘run’ it all. There are so many steps on this section I soon abandoned this plan and 20 miles and 3 and a half hours later, I was rather glad I had.
Arriving in Teignmouth, I encountered Pete Wilby and his troupe of ‘advanced’ sea swimmers, including the previously, frequently, mention (chatty) Martin readying themselves for their dip.
With Nicky partaking in the ‘merely accomplished but not quite ready to be called advanced’ group afterwards, this meant I had about 20 minutes before our rendezvous. A lovely, FLAT, out and back along the sea wall brought my mileage to 20. Perfect.
Callum is 8. He loves trains. Whilst Nicky was being chaperoned around some big green buoys, the boys took a walk along the sea wall next to tracks. Several trains, with enthusiastic waves from drivers and passengers and plenty of trains’ horns later, we returned to the beach to witness the end of Nicky’s lesson.
With the Teignmouth rowing gig regatta playing out in front of us, we enjoyed coffee and chat in the sunshine before heading back home for the arrival of Callum’s siblings and mother for a belting afternoon in the sun.
We even snuck off for a cheeky ice cream and to collect Nicky’s bike from the rather lovely man at Dialled-In-Bikes (a think there may be multi-sport training coming…..) whilst Alisa disappeared to top her tan up 😉
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’m not naïve, I know that I’ve fallen for it. Oh yes, I’ve been caught staring into the piercing eyes of the great consumption beast, tethered by the leash of the corporate machine. The witch doctor has cast its spell and I was unable to resist. I’m going to have to come right out and say it……. I really, really like the Harry Styles single.
That’s, better, I feel cleansed to have got it out there.
It is a little known fact that I used to do a bit of writing for a music magazine back in the nineties, and readers of that rag would DEFINITELY be surprised to hear that. Although, I have to say it does have an anthemic, pomp-rock, grandiose to it which wouldn’t have been misplaced on a 70’s glam-rock anthology.
A bit side tracked there, must get back to whinging about how nobody says hello when we’re out running together….. oh hang on…… can’t even do that……
Last weekend, the streets were paved with happiness. I ran 22 miles on my own on Saturday, bright and early, and on Sunday Nicky and I did 20 miles together. “Morning!”, “Hi there” “How you doing?” “Good running” “Hellooooo” and so it went on, runners of all speeds, genders and ages, cyclists, dog walkers, pedestrians, oh yes the luuurrrve was being shared, people were hanging out of windows yelling encouragement (I may have made the last one up!) and everybody seemed genuinely pleased to see everybody else. Bloomin’ lovely it was too.
So, it’s coming up, only 2 and a bit weeks to the North Dorset Villages Marathon. Are we ready? Er, I hope so. COME ON, Are we ready? Yes, I think so. MORE POSITIVITY, ARE WE READY? Yes, YES, we are ready.
Nicky & I had a really good run on Sunday, clocking 15 of the 20 miles at faster than her target pace and an average pace faster than her fastest marathon. And on Saturday I did too, plenty of marathon pace in my long run. Very pleased with ourselves, and try as we might, little to moan about!
Running has been a bit thin on the ground this week, a few jogs with the dog, but, with work being so physical and off the back of last weekend’s running, my body will be appreciating the drop in mileage.
It’s been school holidays, of course, so some of the promenade boasted the previous day’s chalk drawings, I was taken by this ELO fan’s effort….
So, it’s just over a week to the London Marathon the streets of the capital will buzz with thousands and thousands of runners and massive crowds lining the streets cheering them on. Whilst it doesn’t particularly appeal, that enormous mass of people, I need to remember that it was such mass participation events and their media coverage which got me into this wonderful sport to start with, and it was only a quirk of timing that I went to Paris for my first one (which I believe has even MORE participants).
The London Marathon shows the world that… YES YOU CAN and for tens of thousands every year it means… YES YOU DID.
An upcoming blog post will feature an interview with the quite wonderful and beautiful Mrs Bonfield and we explore this very theme, how the media coverage of such events talks to those of us looking to do, or be, something different.
So to all of you doing London a week on Sunday, good on you, have a fantastic day, soak it up and enjoy every step and wear that medal all week afterwards!