5h12m47s

So two years ago we completed the Reggae Marathon in 5h12m47s…. Competition time…… How long will we take on Saturday when hopefully it’s not quite as warm as today!!! A lovely 5k beach run this morning whilst Nicky swam. Were an active bunch here in the Athletes’ Village! So post in the comments a guess at how quickly we’ll go on Saturday – first (and only) prize us, er, er….. A MENTION IN THE BLOG!!! Guesses on here on on my Facebook page. Three Little Birds courtesy of these cool guys Jogging in the early morning sun Art? “Ya Mon…. Boat trip today??” Nicky will be looking to gate crash international group photos this year too!

a VERY good place to start

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!

 

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Water station on training runs!

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…

 

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Even in the rain, Bantham was magical at first light

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.

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He’s still a child though

 

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.

 

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And they’re off…..

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……

 

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And they’re back!

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.

 

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There wasn’t a queue of people to get in and swim!

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.

 

 

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Elite afferlete ready for the off…..

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.

 

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The Milton Sands masses wave their goodbyes

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.

 

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Don’t try this at home kids!

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,

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Harriers in their natural habitat

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.

2017-06-30 16.45.47So here we are, the weekend.

Bring on some adventure I say…….

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3am Eternal

Ahhh, the longest days of the year. Heatwaves. Festivals. It’s summer now alright.

HOTA 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

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Now THAT is a giant, er, medal!

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,

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Faith leading Nicky in the sprint for the line!

doesn’t feature high in my list of experiences to repeat. Too old for camping, noise, crowds, late nights, debauchery…..

 

Old Hippy
I wasn’t quite so healthy back then!

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………)

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I get to run here with my beautiful soul mate…. AIN’T LIFE GRAND

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.

 

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Nicky, taking to the sea with Martin whilst I run the coast path (apparently she can’t him him whilst they’re swimming!)

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.

 

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The South West Coast Path near Kingswear

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.

And feel free to join me on Facebook (which I use) or Twitter or Instagram (both of which I use sporadically)

Keep on keeping on……

 

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

 

 

 

 

And then there were TWO…..

….. days to North Dorset Village Marathon….

sleepy runnerAND it starts at 8.30AM, I’ve just read, so it actually starts in 36 hours time. It’s a two hour drive and we like to be there with an hour or so to caffeine up, so that’ll mean leaving home at er, hang on, I can do the maths, er……. surely that can’t be right!!

 

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Nicky ran her 2nd fastest ever marathon last year at NDVM

Nicky and I have both trained really well for this, plenty of quality runs, long runs, time on our feet, quick half marathons and 10k’s BUT we’ve both got maranoia – ache all over, tired, tight muscles, confidence dissipating, blah blah blah…… I’m sure it’s partly in our heads, we don’t normally suffer nerves as we do tend to aim to beat the cut off rather than aim for a time in most of our marathons.

 

 

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Going to be quite a view through this window when I finish knocking it out! (Yes I do have a real job!)

 

Anyway, I think we should be heading bedwards in light of this revelation about the start time…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Charlie whispering some last minute advice – “run, run, as fast as you can”

 

Check Ignition…

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?

Some sunrise pictures to take my mind off it….

Never do plumbing on a Friday

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. plumber

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….linford

 

 

 

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.

 

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My gorgeous wife and fantastic step daughter finishing at Parke (photobombed by Grandaughter Faith!)

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.

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Mother and Daughter at the finish

 

 

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Parkrun support crew

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.

 

 

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Howard and Hilda!

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……..

 

2017-04-23 12.53.31So, 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)……… 2017-04-23 13.59.42

 

 

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…….

Sign Of The Times (Indeed It Is)

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.

Harry StylesThat’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……

 

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Torquay in the early morning sunshine

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.

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Even the gulls were in a good mood!

 

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.

running couple cartoon
We’re 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….2017-04-12 06.31.13

London marathin massesSo, 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.

london marathon logo

running medalsSo 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!