On Writing (Running Onwards)

So, some of you will know that I signed up for a ‘Creative Writing’ course recently. Well, I took a let less than the 15 days available in the ‘trial period’ to return it. I felt with the limited time I could commit to my writing I would be breaking my soul following their guidance. I don’t want to construct false ‘real life’ letters for trash magazines in the hope of getting paid sixty quid!

When I explained why the course wasn’t for me, the company told me that ALL writing courses are about trying to get paid. I knew then that I’d made the right decision.

For me, writing is like running, it’s something I just love doing. So they’ve done me a massive favour. I feel free to write what I love. I’ve 100% realised that, whilst I’d be thrilled to be paid for writing, it would need to be because people are thrilled with what I write.

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Nicky has become such a natural open water swimmer

So, highly motivated, I dived head first into a weekend of lovely running, patrolling the beach whilst Nicky swam in the sea and having a jog with my beautiful step daughter Alisa as she starts back on her road to fitness. Not to mention a glorious walk with my amazing wife, Nicky and a good friend. Oh and taking ourselves off for a few hours r & (w)r tucked away with our faithful Border Terrier, Charlie, a picnic and our books.

 

dsc_05314957483125483445153.jpgThe aspects of life which are harder to deal with are, well, easier to deal with my soul mate soothing my soul. To be able to just enjoy some peaceful outdoor time together this weekend was perfect. One of the BILLION reasons I am so madly in love with my incredible wife is that we don’t place demands on each other. We have long since dispensed with television and we are so, so comfortable sat reading, soft tunes in the background. Or Nicky practicing the piano whilst I scribble away or clatter the keyboard. And don’t we just love the trails and being outdoors.

dsc_05374370339847667600919.jpgSaturday’s run was all trails and photography followed by an hour on the beach with my notebook whilst Nicky swam. Check the run out HERE.

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Charlie, captivated by the view

Sunday’s started with a crack at a 7 mile time trial using an old route from when I used to really chase times and ended up with another mooch on the coast path. Check that run out HERE

 

 

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Family P.E. on Sunday morning

Then, my step daughter, Alisa joined me for her first run for a while. A very proud step dad, having run 27 miles in 2 days, certainly didn’t mind another 2. All the while we were keeping our eyes on Nicky in the sea.

 

With our home town being absolutely rammed with people thoroughly enjoying the Torbay Air Show in the glorious sunshine, Sunday afternoon was all about hiding away for us. Being less than gregarious, we squirreled  ourselves away in a far corner of the Coleton Fishacre grounds and enjoyed a lovely picnic and a few hours reading (Nicky) & writing (me).

Progress with my novel has been positively bursting since realising that it’s ok to love what I write and just see where it goes. There are courses and mentoring and support groups a plenty out there and when one is right for me then maybe I’ll sign up. In the mean time the main characters in my book, **** ****** and *** ********* have actually encountered each other in chapter three as the views and sea air have fed my muse.

#dogsthatdontlookliketheirowners is still the working title of the book and when our eldest grandson, 9 year old Callum, came to stay last week he was fascinated to learn that I am writing a book and has already started work on the cover artwork for it. I have, of course promised him a heathy commission in return!

 

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Copyright Callum 2018

 

A massive compliment came my way from our good friend (and Saturday’s walking partner) Gloria. She declined hearing any specific news on how the book is going as she is going to wait until she can pick it off the shelf and read it!

Better get writing……..

 

Parkrun: What does it mean to you?

Nicky and I volunteered at Torbay Velopark Parkrun last week. We’ve participated in a couple lately and we found we were able to help this week.

We have an occasionally challenging, always active, FULL life and quite often we need to be exercising earlier than Parkrun’s 9am start in order to shoe horn our plans into a weekend.

2018-04-28 09.27.18Some tweeks to our life combined with a planned evening run meant we could help out for a change.

Anyway, there’s been some debate lately about where Parkrun sits in society, its role in the running community, in the community in general.

Parkrun issued its annual report recently and there has been many opinions shared online. Some issues which  people have aired are with Parkrun management and its stated aims and others with individual events and maybe even individual personnel. Some people seem to have issues with the focus on participation rather than performance.

I recommend reading the report and attending a few Parkruns before forming your own opinions, but, despite a few negative vibes, the vast majority of people, in my experience, find Parkrun to be a positive in their lives. Like I say, it is certainly a passionate subject for all who treasure it for whatever reason.

Well I don’t think my role as a blogger is to be deciding who’s right or wrong. We all develop our opinions from somewhere and if someone feels passionately enough about Parkrun to have a strong opinion which they want to share, then surely that shows what a success Parkrun is.

 

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The local clubs are always well represented at our local Parkrun

I can only report what I find.

I have seen comments suggesting Parkrun should be all about effort levels and improving. For many people I’ve no doubt that the weekly timed events are purely about emptying the tank and trying to better their times. But for others, it might be simply a reason to get out of the door and be active. Maybe even, a focus to get out and socialise.

 

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“Nothing but smiles” could be these guy’s three words

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy running as fast as I can and comparing my times to previous efforts or to others in my age group.

But not always.

I’ve recently enjoyed more ‘chatty’ efforts and had just as much (if not more) fun in the process. I’ve also had the pleasure of running with my Step-Daughter and Grandson when they made their Parkrun debuts last year. My own Parkrun times range from 19 minutes to 50 minutes and I’ve enjoyed every single one of those minutes.

Personally I feel critics of the ‘easy’ efforts of others are in danger of quantifying their judgements in terms of finishing time rather than the effort levels they talk about.

Again, please don’t think I’m criticising Parkrun participants or volunteers for the way they choose to consume the weekly timed event.

Last week, I witnessed a very good friend, in her, shall we say ‘late middle age’, absolutely rinsing herself, squeezing every lost drop of effort out of her protesting limbs, as she passed my marshaling point, immediately after about 100m of deep squelchy mud.

She was trying so hard she could barely acknowledge me as she entered the last kilometre or so. I saw her after she finished and she was so spent and so emotional that she just burst into tears. “I’m trying so hard,” she sobbed, “I’m not getting any faster!”

She’s been running for about a year, hoping to compete in triathlons having developed a passion for open water swimming.

I also saw two younger chaps amongst the wonderful mass cross section of the community participating in the early morning sunshine. They were laughing and joking as they negotiated the terrain with ease and skipped passed me.

My thoughts turned to comments made about how, in some people’s opinions, Parkrun should be about trying as hard as possible and measuring improvement. If that truly were the case then these two chaps wouldn’t be classed as trying hard enough!

These speedy boys were first and second across the line on the day, both credited with a time of 18 minutes exactly. They had thoroughly enjoyed their runs and were possibly holding back a little despite their incredible speed.

Our friend finished about 30 minutes later. Spent.

A glance at the results from a purist might lead to the wrong conclusion about who was trying hardest to improve on the day.

As I say, I can only report what I see.

Marathon Talk, the podcast, is co- hosted by Tom Williams, the CEO of Parkrun and his enthusiasm for the rapidly expanding phenomenon is utterly infectious.

Parkrun is now in 17 countries and has started in prisons, South African townships, refugee communities and its self declared quest to be part of a healthier happier world is, to me, great to observe.

But, and here’s my “opinion”, YOUR Parkrun is whatever YOU get out of it. Whether you are tail walker, running 16 minutes, volunteering, writing up event reports, pushing a toddler in a buggy, it’s YOURS!

And who am I to tell you what experience you should get from Parkrun.

A new podcast, Free Weekly Timed, is asking each of its guests to describe what Parkrun means to them, in just three words.

The all time fastest ever Parkrunner and thoroughly lovely bloke, Andy Baddely, answered with “BLOODY GOOD FUN”!

Which is surely just perfect for something we do in our precious leisure time.

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