Saturday, 31 December 2011
So, the resolutions:
1: Get CRB checked. This is so I an do...
2: a Leadership in Running Fitness course. There's one in February, I'll book it on pay-day in January. Just emailed someone to find out the CRB check process, so fingers crossed it can be done in time so I can do the course I want in Feb.
3: Get my running magazine launched. 50,000 copies first issue, goes out worldwide, and it's very exciting indeed. Launch date - on sale - is late March. Looking at the calendar, I think sleep may have to go on hold until June, as I also have...
4: Two marathons to run. London isn't nailed in yet, but Edinburgh is. Hopefully I'll have one in April and one in May, and I suspect that if they go well they may be my last road races. Last on-road marathons, certainly.
5: Lose two more stones in weight. This year I have lost over 28lbs with very little effort, and I have enjoyed it. I like how I look now, I have better musculature, I feel stronger, I move differently; the weight loss was a lovely by-product on the whole, but one I aim to encourage in the new year.
6: Hopefully start a Coach in Running Fitness course. If we're still living in this town, I may even speak to my local school to see if there's any way I can be of use to them.
7: Put on a completely kick-ass event in September which raises a ton of cash for our local hospice, and reinvents running events. This has such huge potential, there is nothing else out there like it...
I'm excited. But all of the above plus my regular work? Well, we'll have to see. I'll give it a go though.
I can't think of any others, but seven is a lot. Seven more than usual.
Everyone, have a lovely new year's eve - and let's all kick arse next year. Big love to everyone out there, and to use a cliché, keep on runnin'.
Monday, 26 December 2011
...came back really rather badly. Not Man-Flu, a step on from that which I like to call ManMonia.
Seriously though, I feel fucked. Climbing two flights of stairs leaves me out of breath, I'm practically reduced to a shuffle walking the dogs. Running is genuinely out of the question.
Fucking FUCK IT.
In other news, Christmas was pretty damn good. I got a Faith No More t-shirt, a yoga mat, and some other groovy stuff.
Thursday, 22 December 2011
Been a slightly rubbish week for running, mainly because of the weather. It killed what should have been a great weekend of runnery with its frozenness, and robbed e of momentum.
Now, momentum. I'm only just appreciating how important this is; last week, ran six days in a row for the first time and felt stronger and stronger. Two days out then became three because of deadlines, then I only did a quickish 3-miler. Since then I've done two more of the same course. So it's Friday and I've done 9 miles this week? Fucking shocking.
On the other hand, I have finished my deadline so I can take two weeks off, and I have the beginnings of a cold. Swings, roundabouts.
Tomorrow I will do 5.5 and vow here, in writing, to do AT LEAST THAT on Christmas morning. For a 20 mile week - job done. The base is there for two spectacular (for me) spring marathons.
In other news, I have a few new year resolutions which is unusual in itself. Wanna hear (read) them? Sure you do...
1 do a race directors course
2 qualify as an endurance running coach
3 hopefully move, so my wife and stepdaughter can follow their dreams
4 get a book published
Not much to ask, is it? Oh, and I'll maintain the hardly drinking any beer thing. I have lost two stone in 12 months (28lbs, US Fat Fans), 7 of which has come in the last month. Not bad.
Enough of my burble. Honey and lemon awaits.
Friday, 16 December 2011
I won't be running this morning. However, so I don't break my streak, I will go down the gym this afternoon, and do my miles there, but make them even harder. Here's my fiendish plan...
This morning, I would have done five hilly miles minimum. So on a treadmill, I will do 10x1k, and hammer those fuckers as fast as I can, with core work and press ups inbetween sets. That'll learn me! AND YOU, WEATHER GODS!! MWAHAAHAHAhhaaahahaaaaa....
Not really. I have been experimenting with running, as it happens. This week, I have run every day since Sunday, so including today, that's six days. I have to say, I feel pretty fucking good considering. I haven't done a lot of miles by any stretch - 17 so far, with a six-or-seven-miler planned for tomorrow, for a total of 22 or 23 for the week - but it's a solid building block and the very beginning of Spring marathon training.
Sunday I did five miles (but that counts in last week's mileage), Monday I did some speed bits and bobs while away with sensible warming up and cooling down as well (all guesswork, I estimated 2.5 miles for this), Tuesday a loosener of 3 miles, Wednesday an easy 3, Thursday a hilly 5.5, and today a fast 3, for 17 so far. It's been good, but looking back I would change Tuesday's 3 for a hilly five or six. Maybe next week.
My legs feel great, my calves are actually changing into two very distinct muscles, it's all good. I even look pretty good. Kind of. It's all relative though!
Oh, and my resting heart rate is an outrageous 42bpm. I think this just means I am excellent at lying down, though.
Tuesday, 13 December 2011
Monday morning, I get out there and have a look at the park. I walk one end to the other to gauge its size… And I'm thinking, I might as well run around a fucking postage stamp. So I got creative, see. I ran around the outside of the park five times to warm up (each time around was about 1/3 of a mile - I know this because I sweat like a crazy almost exactly on a mile every time I run, regardless of the weather, and I started sweating right before I finished the third lap. Science.) then found the path least used, right in the middle of the park, which ended on an incline, and I sprinted it. Walked back, did it again. By the tenth sprint, I thought my legs might give out, so I cut it short, and ran a couple more times around to cool down.
It was actually a lovely workout; I'm not sure I would call it a speed session, as I will never be quick; maybe a not-slow session.
I started to feel a bit of grief in my knee toward the end of it but forgot all about it. Then on today's run, the same grief, and I think it's the New Balance shoes. I think they're about to be retired.
Right, enough burble. Work!
Friday, 9 December 2011
1: I just bought some running-related stuff on Amazon. Pam Reed's autobiography, which had mixed reviews, but she's a Badwater winner, so I'm figuring she'll have something to say. Once A Runner, which I'm told is fabulous. And Relentless Forward Progress, which is a guide to ultra-running. Oh, and another book for my wife for Christmas, and a DVD of a documentary called 'Running the Sahara'. In the absence of Running on the Sun, which I can't find for less than £40 it seems, this £3 bargain from the web will have to do.
2: I bought lots of batteries yesterday, with winter running in mind - they're for my headtorch, the brilliant Silva Trailrunner. Oh, except the AAAs, they're for my dictaphone.
3: I have a new wallet. I bought it for my dad four years ago, and he told me he doesn't use them and gave it back to me. I like it, but I haven't killed my old one yet. Not quite.
4: Whenever I read Matt Damon's name, the voice in my head does it Team America style. I love that film.
5: The family - ie Wifelet, me and Stepdaughter - had a conversation about a movie we saw weeks ago at the dinner table last night. How odd that it came up, had us all laughing again, and deciding we must buy it. The film? The brilliant Four Lions, a controversial black comedy about suicide bombers. It really is excellent. Tough subject to make a film about, never mind a comedy, but it works on every level. Basically it is a comment on the nature of fundamentalism and fanaticism, and it makes every point really beautifully.
6: I broke the shower, for the second time. First time, I fell over and mangled the shower rail. That's fixed now. This time, I broke the ball joint in the bracket holding the shower head up. For fuck's sake.
7: The shower-company-selling-stuff-to-me people made me take a photograph of the shower unit in as they didn't stock it any more. It was odd. Everything seemed far harder than it needed to be.
8: The dog we have been dog-sitting is with his owner this week; she's back for five days. It was pretty cool going for a walk with them, as she's very impressed with all the weight he's lost. He's got more energy, he's faster, and he looks amazing. And all because he walks the same amount as Millie now - between two and three hours a day, occasionally a bit more.
9: I need a shower. I know, I have written that one before. But it's true again, today.
10: I just finished reading Justin Cronin's The Passage. Top fun, really enjoyed it.
11: I have to do a small amount of work today. Not a lot, just a few phone calls really, but important ones.
12: Why didn't they, when the calendar changed to Gregorian, change the month names so they made sense too? October should be the 8th month, December the 10th et cetera. More to the point, why the hell does this bother me?
13: Vin Diesel is seriously, major league not photogenic.
14: I'm going to Devon on Sunday. I should have gone yesterday, but had to reschedule as WonderWife was ill.
15: I love running.
16: And cake.
17: I ran a fraction over five miles this morning. It was lovely - dark when I left, with a low, buttery moon hanging over the dark countryside. I could almost have run without the headtorch, it was so full. And on the other side of me, dawn was coming. Slowly, but it was coming. Great run.
That is all for this week.
Saturday, 3 December 2011
You might be wondering why I'm writing to you instead of calling, or even drinking you. This seemed the nicest way to do this, I suppose.
There's no easy way to say this… I know I've been distant lately, and we've only seen each other once a week for the last month. It's not been easy for me either, but I needed some space to think about things. Basically, I don't think we should see each other any more.
I thought about trying an open relationship, where I get to see other drinks, but my birthday - where I tried a threesome with you and tequila - left me feeling empty. And gave me the farts really bad. I don't think that kind of relationship would work for either of us, because when I try and replace you with other alcoholic liquids, I end up drinking them in huge quantities too.
The thing is, Beer, I'm really good at exercising. And I'm really good at drinking. But I don't think I can do both any more. I could have been slimmer at any time in my life; I mean, do you remember when I was cycling just shy of 10 very, very hilly miles to work every day? Then the same 10 back, for just under 100 miles a week? Did I lose any weight? Did I fuck. I drank three bottles of wine a night instead.
Remember when I tried working just a couple of hours a day? Work quality improved immensely, but so did my alcohol consumption. I would wake up early, go for a run (or a long walk, but usually a run), have breakfast, cycle up to the gym, do a yoga class for 90 minutes, have lunch, work, then back to the gym for an early evening workout. Then home for dinner - usually fish, leaves and rice - then off out to the pub. Where I would drink up to 10 pints most nights - and yet I didn't put on a single pound. But I didn't lose any weight, either.
It's all so counter-productive. I'm not giving you my best, and I'm not giving me my best either. Sometimes, Beer, love just isn't enough. And when you realise that, you have to do what is best for you, the individual. If I don't do this, I'll drag us both down and for what?
Look at last night. We had a great, great time. Dinner with friends, celebrating our wedding anniversary, we had a superb curry and lots of you, too. But look at the calories - 200 calories a pint in you, plus anything around 1,000 for the curry… That's a week's running right there. So all the 5am wake-ups this past week were to justify drinking like a fucking loon last night, it seems. And writing off today, when I feel like dog shit that's been eaten by a zombie and come back as zombie dog shit.
I'm sorry, Beer. It's over. I choose 5am wake-ups, early morning winter runs, great sleep, early nights. I choose doing a course to become an endurance running coach, I choose helping people to change their lives if I can. I choose putting on a kick-arse event next year with a race at its heart, starting something really special in my home town.
Like I said, sometimes love just isn't enough. Goodbye, Beer. It's been a fucking blast, but it's over.
Friday, 2 December 2011
1: Today is my four-year wedding anniversary.
2: I was 15 when we first met, my wife and I. She was 22. She was hot, I was not, but I still asked her for a snog. However, I was 32 when we got together, and she was 39.
3: For her 40th birthday, we picked up her wedding ring.
4: But she couldn't tell anyone, because we were getting married in secret. So I got her an iPod to run with as well, so she could at least tell anyone that asked that I got her something...
5: It's been a tough four years, but she's still great. She makes me laugh every day.
6: We're off out tonight with a bunch of friends for curry and lager. Mmmmmm, curry and lager.
7: My new non-drinking regime is going great. Tonight is a night off though. It's not so much not drinking, as just doing it now and again. The result? I'm in bed just after 9 most nights and up just after 5 most mornings!
8: Killer whales work in groups to unsettle their prey. It's most impressive.
9: Nein is the German word for 'No'.
10: In some countries, shaking your head means 'yes'.
11: I am the tallest member of my family. But not my married kinda family. My stepdaughter is four inches taller than me, my wife two.
12: My feet are cold.
13: And I need a shower.
14: But instead, I'm off to the pet shop to buy treats for the dogs, and to pick up my stepdaughter's boots.
15: Joel Coen was the Assistant Film Editor on Sam Raimi's feature-length debut, The Evil Dead.
16: Luis Bunuel, Salvador Dali and Gabriel Garcia Lorca used to share a flat. That must have been one fucked-up place to live.
17: I've pretty much lived in my London Marathon fleece since it arrived. Weird, as it came because I didn't get a place. Oh well.
18: I can't quite get my head around my improved speed. Me? Relatively quick? Surely not!
19: In this year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards shortlist, there is not one single female nominee. Not even Chrissie Wellington. This makes me very, very cross. Normally, this is a highlight of the year for me, but this year it's shown that the voting system does not work. It's been reported that one Manchester paper's votes actually went to YaYa fucking Toure. You fucking what? Over Wellington? Adlington? Ennis? You TWATS.
20: That is all.
Thursday, 1 December 2011
Problem was, fuckwit here didn't have a watch to take this morning. And it's probably just as well, as the course I planned to run I had mentally mapped at around 4.5 miles. Now bear in mind, since the Lake Vyrnwy half a couple of months ago, I have completely dropped my mileage through the floor, and 4.5 would be the furthest I have gone in a while.
Of course, I was wrong about the distance. Only by two miles. Which, okay, a 6.5 mile run isn't huge - but it's hard enough when you haven't run more than four on the road for two months. I'm not including Best. Run. Ever in this, because I don't know how far that was, and it wasn't on the road. My instinct says BRE was about five miles, but today proved to me it could have been more like seven, or even three... I know nothing.
So, a tough start to the day, and a four-miler on the cards for the morning, to take me to around 12 miles for the week so far - bear in mind that last week I ran around 17 miles and this week I only aimed to match that, I'm a little ahead of myself. Four tomorrow makes 16, and I still have a Sunday run to add to it. Fingers crossed I don't overdo it and hurt myself again. Nah, never happen.
Friday, 25 November 2011
1: My legs are the same length. Short.
2: I first met my wife when I was 15, and she was 22. I tell friends she was grooming me, the pervert.
3: I just had my hair cut. Grade 2 all over. Classy.
4: 1 inch = 2.54 cm.
5: There are plants which have no chorophyll in them. Amazing. Some of them still have leaves, which is just showing off.
6: I'm still abuzz from Wednesday's run.
7: I feel great. This no drinking thing is actually working for me. Who knew??
8: I have to leave shortly. There's a Mediveal Fayre held in the castle here every year, and we're selling my wife's gorgeous handbags and shoulder bags there. We're setting up today.
9: Tomorrow, at said Fayre, I will be wearing the knight-like outfit my lovely wife made for me. It's the kind of thing they'd wear under their armour. It has a cool fabric picture of our dog Millie on the back instead of a coat of arms.
10: I use Wikipedia a lot. More than a journalist should.
11: I'm delighted David Beckham and LA Galaxy won their Big Cup Final the other night. There is not a more honest, hard-working athlete out there.
12: He's still a knob for getting sent off in the 98 World Cup though.
13: We're planning meals for the weekend. Sunday night: takeaway. Saturday night: possibly also takeaway. This thing is exhausting, and energy will be hard to come by.
14: There is a very, very good chance I will be running two marathons in five weeks next spring. Bring it on.
I'd better go. Tons to do. More Fun Facts next week, and I promise I will make some of them interesting next time.
Wednesday, 23 November 2011
But Neighbour turned up, we put the dogs in his car and hit the road. We parked at High Vinnals car park, let the dogs do their doggy things (in order: pooing, weeing, sniffing), then walked up to the fire road aka the forest road. From there, we did most of the course I enjoyed so much last week, but with only two stops on it, and those were very, very brief. We did what we know as the 'up downs', the main fire road that rings the hill, and is most undulant. There's one rise which is really disheartening, as you're nearing the top and it actually gets significantly steeper in the last hundred metres; at the top, I asked Neighbour to stop; turn around; and I said simply, "We just ran up that!". From there, we took a right up the hill, not the steepest path but not far off. It just goes on and on... I started to struggle toward the top of this, but didn't quit - mainly because Neighbour was in front of me, not in a competitive way, but it helped drive me on.
We made it. We kept going. We went past where we stopped last time, followed the trail (it is just possible for vehicles to access this, but they have to be fairly hardy 4x4s at this point, I would think), it undulated some more, and then curved up to the left. I knew this was coming, and we could have taken an earlier left which would have taken out the top of the hill, but hell, if you're going to do it, do it.
Neighbour made me laugh on this hill. It got steep, quickly, and he gasped "This is a hill too far!" Well, it seemed funny at the time.
It was fucking hard though. I changed my gait, using my Achilles tendon to bounce-and-return, saving some muscular effort. This works for me, but on a hill this hard, after what we had already climbed, it meant my steps were very short. But they did not stop, and that is key.
At the top of this, the track improves and becomes a more standard forest road, with an observation point at the top. From here, you can see most of the county. That's how it feels. There's not much anywhere near as high for miles around, the views are beautiful. And the feeling that we had just run up there? Unreal. It was another pause moment. I said to Neighbour, "Enjoy the view. We just ran up here." I then took a second to explain downhill technique, letting the quads absorb the impact, landing with the leg bent so the knee is not a shock absorber, and how his quads were going to be crying shortly, as we had a couple of downhill milles to cover in switchbacks.
And cover them we did. It was pure heaven for the first mile, as blood poured back into my hamstrings. Then it ached a bit in my quads and I wondered, if mine are aching now, how are Neighbour's? Mine are huge - he has very slim legs, not much quadricep. But he coped fine, and then the hard bit came and sorted us both out.
At the end of the switchbacks is a bit of a hill; Wife of Loveliness explained it was like a hill in town, "but stretched out - not so steep but longer". Well, it felt much, much harder, though again at first it was a relief as the opposing muscles took the lead. these hills just seemed to go on and on and on. In fact, they did - it wasn't that they seemed to at all. The hill would curve away around a bend, you'd make it to the bend and discover no respite, just more hill. Or five seconds of flat-ish, and then more hill.
And then, we were there. Back where we started. Exhilarated, hurting a little bit, but there and both completely over the moon.
I'm still on cloud nine, having run up and past clouds one to eight. Might aim for cloud ten next week, it's just up the next hill, after all.
Best. Run. Ever.
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Fuck, I'm starting to sound like a hippie. I just read a superb post about running a marathon, and in it was this line:
"Lesson #4: This is something you do by yourself, but you are not doing it alone."
That is the marathon experience in a sentence. Tomorrow is no marathon, but even if I were out there by myself, I would not be running it alone.
Wednesday, 16 November 2011
So what are the latest revelations? Simple things, as ever. Last week, for example, I spent the entire week without beer, right up to Sunday night. I felt great every day; the latest I went to bed was 9:45. I woke up feeling good, my running was pretty easy. Everything worked. My days were productive, my evenings full, my sleep superb. Sunday night, got pissed-up drunk and woke up Monday feeling like Satan had shat me out of his very own arse.
Coincidence? You decide.
This week, I have yet to have a beer also. I feel good...
Something that came to me on a run last week was a piece of visualisation. I wasn't having the greatest run, struggling a little bit but feeling mostly okay. I was running quicker than I used to, as is now the norm (I now train mostly at what I used to think of as 'race pace' or thereabouts, hence the lower mileage), and it doesn't always come easy.
So I started thinking about where I want to be. Running an ultra, coming to the top of a great big fuck-off hill, my lovely wife at the top looking shocked to see me but delighted too… And my focus was right there, like a laser sight. That's never happened before, I've always kind of... zoned out in running, but this was the opposite. It was fucking awesome. I felt strong, aware, alive. Good times. Probably never happen again, but then...
Yesterday, I had a completely wonderful run. I went with my neighbour and he drove us out to the woods - Forestry Commission land just outside town. We took Millie, aka SuperDog, and went on a fire roads run. I knew where we were going; we followed a fire road until we hit a crossroads, and from there I was going to give Neighbour a choice about direction. Anyway, before that we're chuntering along, and I'm thinking "I'm sure this is hillier than we're currently experiencing". As I thought that, my neighbour said "Oh fuck" as he'd seen around the corner what we were about to hit - and that wasn't even the hill I was thinking of… So we got up it easy enough, though I was being cautious with him as he's had a couple of hamstring issues. He was fine though, looked strong and loose.
Aaaaanyway, to cut a long story medium, we got to the crossroads, and I explained: "Straight on, and it's a long way round this hill to our right. Left takes us to Richard's Castle car park, we could go back the way we've come, or we can go up." Up is the way to Climbing Jack Common, the top of High Vinnals, and it's pretty fucking steep. And long. And high.
So we did. All the way to the top, both of us. And at the top, Neighbour said brilliantly, "Holy fuck! I know where we are! We're at the top!"
Brilliant moment. Okay, so we walked the next third of a mile, but I'm not fussed about that. We climbed, at a run, the highest hill in the area and we did it fairly easily. All that dreaming of ultras crystallised in that one moment, into a "I can do this" moment.
I can do this.
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
So the next day, I did three miles faster than usual. I'm not sure of times, as my neighbour has my stopwatch, so I'm going purely on effort. It was easier, because after Monday my glutes and hamstrings were firing perfectly and I felt stronger. Today, I still feel good, but was amazed that while walking the dogs last night my legs felt really, really tired!
So tomorrow, I'm aiming to do four miles easy. I'm still keeping the mileage down, I might do 15-18 miles this week total. But it's different, it's good quality, and I feel really rather good about the change! I'll be keeping a couple of shorter, faster runs in my routing going forward because the immediate change I feel in my muscles is most excellent. Bear in mind my legs are pretty huge, very muscular and built for endurance, the idea that I might get speed in them is an intriguing one.
Sunday, 30 October 2011
Anyway, I guess what I wanted to say is, drinking is, for me, a work in progress. I doubt I'll quit, I think I just need to change how, and when, I do it. Make it a social thing again. Take my gorgeous wife out for a cheeky now and again. That kind of thing. Not something I do alone while watching trashy TV (Biggest Loser and Walking Dead, both recorded, and as no-one else in the house watches them, I watched them late last night avec beer. Gah).
I really wanted to run two consecutive days this weekend, as the clock changed and it's actually a real pleasure to see that immediate shift, first thing in the morning. A run that would have been in the dark is now during sunrise, for example. I guess that will have to wait until tomorrow, now. Another day, wasted. Oh, and I'm working all weekend. Double - nay, triple - gah.
Friday, 21 October 2011
1: Apparently, the name Wendy was not invented for the book Peter Pan. Who knew?
2: You know the woman holding the thingy up in the Columbia Pictures ident thing? She was the voice of Tinkerbell in Peter Pan. True story.
3: As a journalist, you tend to find out lots of things you can never, ever print. I wish I could - only for the simple reason that there is no justification for a studio hiding an actor's sexuality in the 21st century. We go and see films because they are good or bad, not because the actor is straight or gay.
4: Troll Hunter comes out on DVD in the UK in January. Seriously excited about seeing that. Have you seen the trailer? Be sure to watch it to the end. Spectacular.
5: I've only run twice this week. Two four-milers. I don't know what's wrong with me. Lacking energy, motivation, and I feel very blue. But when I'm out and running... Well, the first run was sublime, the second awful.
6: I need a shave. Badly.
7: This week I read Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys. I'm pretty damn impressed, he's an excellent writer.
8: When I've written this, I'm going to go and give my dog lots of fuss. This is my dog, Millie. She's seven, a rescue dog, and completely awesome. The only really naughty thing she does - that she's done more than once, I mean - is that she can't help herself if there is liquorice out. She demolishes it.
9: I absolutely, completely adore my dog. She is wonderful. Not just me, either. Everyone that meets her, pretty much.
10: I want to be an ultramarathon runner. That's the plan. I don't care for speedwork - though I am going to do some this marathon training cycle - and I love hills. I can go for hours at a 10-minute-mile pace. Sounds like an ultra runner to me. Your thoughts?
11: I get lots of emails. When I go away and come back, it takes a good week to get through them all. That's what I have been doing this week. I should have done it last week...
12: My birthday is the 12th.
13: Harrison Ford's is the 13th.
14: And my brother's? The 14th.
15: I got a guided tour of my brother's house this week, via his iPad. he lives in a really lovely house in North Carolina. If we get some cash together in the next 12 months, we might get to go and visit next year.
16: I have really awful wind today. Ha!
17: I had no beer yesterday, and ran this morning. Coincidence? I think not!
18: My life used to be quite rock and roll, but not so much these days. I'm not sure which I prefer, but I accept that it's an evolution, an ongoing process. Or do I? Maybe that's why I struggle with not drinking - that would be a real refutation of the past, and a step into the unknown. Maybe I'm just afraid of being really dull (not that non-drinkers are really dull, but I suspect I would be).
19: I got my inbox down to zero this afternoon. Happy days.
20: I am now going for a shower. I am looking forward to this very, very much.
Tuesday, 18 October 2011
It sounds like kind of a small thing, but this morning for the first time in four years at home, I went for a run before sunrise, returned before sunrise, and had a fantastic hot shower. I was clean and dressed in time to wake everyone up, sort out breakfast and was clean and well when I walked the dog afterward too. Win win win win win!
The other news is I've been asked to put something together that is running related for next year, and I'm really rather excited about it. I've been contributing interviews and features to a consumer title in the UK, but this is for the US, UK, Australia, NZ and probably Germany. It's huge, and it's all me me me. Well, me and whatever contributors I get together for it. Exciting times!
Predictably, my running has gone all to shit in the time this has all happened. But Sunday, I signed up for the Edinburgh Marathon next May. It comes five weeks after London, which we didn't get in to, but we are on a standby list for. So it might come to it that I get to do both, which would be pretty awesome. I'm sure seasoned (read: fast) runners read a sentence like that and think I might be a mental, but I just plod along, and with that kind of pace - like, 10 minute miles on a good day - I think two marathons in five weeks is not just do-able, I think it's begging to be done!
Anyway, I got out this morning for a really lovely run. Nice to be back in the saddle, so to speak. And living relatively cleanly.
Monday, 3 October 2011
The food here is so bad it's indescribable, on the whole. Massive portions, to absolute excess, eaten by people who need to buy wider mirrors. Yes, I know, I'm not slim, but we're talking about people who are quite literally killing themselves.
Anyway, work begins in earnest tomorrow. I fully intend to have a run before it all kicks off, too. Quiet night in tonight though, will probably watch a movie in my room and get an early night. After all, I have the pleasure of waking up around 3:30am to come - again!
Ho Hum. I'll adjust to the time difference just in time to fly home. Oh well. Could be worse - I could have to work for a living.
Friday, 30 September 2011
1: Today, I leave for Gatwick airport, and tomorrow, I fly to Vegas. Actually, if you read the post I just made, you'd know this. Sorry about that.
2: The day I got married, nearly four years ago, me and my wife-to-be did the Vegas half marathon. It was pretty bad; I had huge blisters on my insteps by eight miles, I still have no idea why. I ended up hurting my knee because the blisters made me run funny.
3: Elvis is in nearly all of our wedding photos.
4: In one, I'm looking down at my 10-year-old stepdaughter; now the roles are reversed, as she's 15 and 5' 10".
5: I always take my own toilet paper when travelling. You just never know. I learned this after several trips to eastern Europe.
6: I love Kiev. One of my favourite cities in Europe. If only it were not full of sex tourists, it would be even better.
7: Kiev has my favourite statue, excepting the war memorial we have here in Ludlow, which is a stunner. Kiev's is a bit bigger though - check it out here. It's worth a look, I promise!
8: It's really sunny outside. We're having a bit of a heatwave - temperatures of 24 C in late September is unheard of in the UK.
9: My dog is completely lovely, and I miss walking her terribly when I'm away.
10: I don;t yet have any US currency to take with me. Must sort that out.
11: Bugger, I still have shopping to do, too.
12: And work to finish. And yet here I am.
13: My favourite blonde joke: Blonde lady walks into a library, and says: "Excuse me, do you sell shoes?" Librarian replies: "This is a library..." Blonde whispers: "Sorry. Do you sell shoes?"
14: I have six books to take with me for the trip to Vegas, plus the latest Runner's World. And one more book to buy while in transit, the new Lee Child book which came out yesterday. I don;t even like those books, but they are perfect for reading while away.
15: One of the books is The Secret History, which I have been meaning to read for years, and has so far been to four countries with me, while still not being read.
16: Last night's dinner was pasta with a sauce made from tomatoes from mum's garden, bacone and onions.It was utterly fucking delicious.
17: I'm aiming to add at least 7,000 words to my novel while away. Discipline, dammit!
18: Every time I am in Vegas, I wish I could drive for a couple of hours to the mountains and go running there, instead. Maybe next year I'll have my licence and it will be possible.
19: I'm pretty sure I am not interesting enough to maintain RFFs. Still, it keeps me off the streets.
20: I didn't own a bicycle until I was 20.
Done two runs this week, only short ones, but I'm in absolutely no pain. Looks like that rest thing worked. Woo hoo!
Off to Vegas today, my least favourite place in the world to run. But luckily I'll still have the enthusiasm from not being injured to carry me through it. Yay! Mind you, I think it's something mental like 36 degrees Celsius. So I'll be out running early, with factor 50 on my thinning hair...
Friday, 23 September 2011
1: I just - really, just - finished all my work for the day. I have three pages outstanding, but the content won't be with me until Sunday, so fuck that.
2: I'm off to Vegas for six days from a week tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it, but I do not know why.
3: I recently started taking Glucosamine, alongside the other crap I take. Multivitamin, iron + vit C, Zinc and peppermint oil.
4: My wife has cured herself! That woman is an absolute fucking LEGEND. SHE IS NO LONGER ILL. Wow. Life just changed hugely for us, in 24 hours, and all thanks to a self-diagnosis and a purchase of sea kelp and selenium.
5: I think I'm going to have a beer or two tonight. But not enough to stop number 6.
6: I'm going running in the morning, first for a week. But my ankle feels good, so I'm absolutely burning to get out there.
7: All the guys I am coaching to the London Marathon next year are faster than me. Older, smoked for longer, and every one is much quicker! For now, I shall cling on to the fact I can go a lot further than them. That won't last long though.
8: My facts never feel very random.
9: One of the things I miss about living in East Anglia is that I could always fins cheese Snaps there. You only get spicy tomato flavour this side of the country.
10: This morning, I met a couple from Lowestoft, in East Anglia. They were very nice and amazed that I knew their area; I've lived near-ish to there three times.
11: I used to move house on average once a year. It never stressed me out, though apparently it's a stressfult hing to do. But then, until I got married, I lived very light.
12: I didn't own a major appliance until I got together with my lovely wife. We went halves on a washing machine.
13: There is a bowl on my desk with yoghurt caked around it. I had Greek yoghurt with peach slices in for dessert today, after lunch, which was tomato soup.
14: My stepdaughter has tonsilitis. Today's the first day she's had any energy this week, and you know what that means… Housework! Just kidding.
15: When I'm working, I most like to listen to Flesh For Lulu, or Bach's cello concertos. Weird, but there you go. It works for me.
16: I don't know anyone else that likes Flesh For Lulu, but I think it's just because they haven't heard them.
17: Except Beccy, my bezzie mate from school. She loves a couple of their songs, but I think it's because they remind her of me.
18: I had a baby-filled day yesterday, all the more remarkable because I find them as interesting as cucumbers. I met my great niece, and my friend Jules also came round with her offspring.
19: I'm going downstairs any minute. Then I might go and buy beer; Aldi has a really good deal on Estrella.
20: I love Mexican and Spanish beers. They do it for me.
Sunday, 18 September 2011
Friday, 16 September 2011
1: I love broad beans. I can eat some green things with no problems, just not leaves.
2: Last night I made my first-ever lasagne, including a bechamel sauce from scratch made with rice milk. The pasta sheets included spinach pasta, which appears to be fine for me to consume.
3: I don't have much hair. I discovered this thanks to a photo taken after last week's half marathon. I was wearing a stupid expression, but I'm not sure that really comes across. I'd post the picture, but then I'd have to
4: I have greying hair, getting greyer by the day. This is the coolest thing that has happened to my hair for a long time, and I'm loving it!
5: I'm off to Vegas in a couple of weeks for work. Gah and double gah. Possibly my least favourite place to run in the world; I'm looking forward to learning to drive so I can hire a car while I'm there next, and drive to the mountains to run there instead.
6: I accidentally caused a woman to fall right over yesterday. I threw a stick for SuperDog and her dog, on the lead after a long injury layoff, went for the stick too. She went down like a sack of spuds and ribbed me about it this morning, saying she could hardly move.
7: My lovely, talented wife has a job. I'll show you a picture of her, because she is simply gorgeous. She's here:
8: She also designs and makes one-off handbags and shoulder bags, as well as desiging and making wedding dresses and outfits. She's right clever, she is.
9: She also does all the DIY in the house. I am a DIY-retard.
10: At my heaviest, I weighed over 240lbs. It's probably the only time I have looked my weight.
11: Oh, go on then.
I'm currently around 210lbs.
12: I had terrible wind this morning.
13: I like Marmite on toast, but for some reason always like it more when someone else makes it.
14: My favourite superhero is Batman. That dude rocks.
15: I thought Frasier was going to be dreadful. How wrong was I?
16: I occasionally drop 'fisting' into polite conversation simply because it makes me laugh.
17: Not a fan of war.
18: Though I do like Bruce Springsteen.
19: I'm not very good at RFFs. But I will persist.
20: Before I got married, I had never lived with a girlfriend/wife. I'd never been with anyone I got on well enough with to want to spend that kind of time and space with them.
21: I really really like being married. Never thought I would write that sentence, though of course marriage is tough and has its ups and downs.
22: That bleedin' agent still hasn't read my book. Financial independence (after selling the movie rights) must wait.
23: I amazed my event co-organiser yesterday with the story about going to a tiny party in Detroit and seeing Eminem perform, and meeting Proof and Mekhi Phifer. I used it as an example of the kind of ridiculously cool things journalists get to do instead of having a real life. Now that I have experienced both sides of the coin, real life wins every time.
Enough of my burble. I think I'm supposed to be on deadline.
My left foot has been aching too, in the big toe. Too much mileage (did 30 miles last week for the first time in six months) too quickly.
So, no running for me this week. Though I must say, if it improves again tomorrow, I shall test it out in the morning with a fruity little run, maybe a 5.5-miler. I've missed it. I've been pissed-up-drunk and had loads of late nights this week, which is bad bad bad. And actually, it's not that enjoyable. I've missed running, and it's missed me. So fingers crossed for tomorrow.
Monday, 12 September 2011
Anyway, we arrived - Lovely Wife, two friends who kindly drove - just 30 minutes before the start of the race, which was a bit of a worry. It all turned out okay though, and I made my way to the back of the pack just in time for the buzzer to start the race. It was a surprisingly deep field, and the race attracts a real variety of runners because it's kind of fast and flat. Well, flat-ish.
It took a few minutes to cross the start line, then we were off, moving up a hill. Which went on for a full mile. Then we crossed the lake (which is actually a reservoir, as the bit we crossed was a dam). From the start line, I overtook people and did not stop until the finish line. There were a lot of slower runners out, perhaps attracted by the easy and exceptionally picturesque course. It really is gorgeous - the road is lined with huge, old trees, the lake to your right, woods to the left… for 13 miles or so. I love that kind of path, but I must admit to struggling in the first few miles. My dead leg felt fine and was not yet dead at all, but I was heating up and as we all learned in London this year, hotness is the enemy. So at the second drinks station on six miles, I dumped a load of cold water over my head and suddenly, miraculously, I was feeling fine.
I cruised through the next miles, the road gently undulant and the course really rather lovely, with my brain firmly in the 'off' position. It's a no-iPods race, which is pretty unusual, though plenty of people had them on anyway. Gobshites.
At the next drinks station, 10 miles, I doused my head again and was feeling pretty good. Doesn't double figures always feel that way? Righteous, dawg!
Anyway, then we're on the way back, almost home, and I know Lovely Wife is there somewhere. She was waiting on the turn by the dam, with a big smile for me. The next stretch was all downhill, and I was halfway down when I realised this was the uphill we'd started on - and fuck me, it was incredibly steep. It hadn't seemed particularly so on the way up, but on the way down for a mile my quads were screaming. Even so, I let the brakes off and went for it, because I have absolutely massive quads and they're built for downhill. Ouch. Especially at the bottom, when I saw a small hill ahead which I really didn't remember, and I almost crawled up it.
Then I finished. The end.
Oh, the time was 2:12 on the clock, but it felt a lot faster; plus, I'm taking three minutes off that for the delay getting to the start!*
Things I noticed during the race:
• Nobody had a nice bum. Except me. Weird!
• I saw people running perhaps 11:30 minute miles who had bags on with multiple gels, and sports drinks. Seriously. I think these people would have put weight on during a half marathon. Incredible.
• You really couldn't see the lake. Trees in full, erm, leaf= no lake. My sister ran the course in April, and she said it's gorgeous when the leaves are down or just on their way back. In fact, hold the race a month later and you'd have the most gorgeous road race ever.
• I was disappointed with my time, but on the other hand, I was kinda injured. So really, not so much.
• My Lovely Wife noticed a change in my running style - she said: "You were leaning forward, I've never seen you do that before". A conscious effort to land mid- or fore-foot, and it worked. Rockin'
• I forgot to do a Random Friday Facts. Curse you, brain!
*My friend Angie started in the middle of the pack and her watch showed a two-minute difference to the race clock when she crossed the line, and I was waaaaaay behind her. But I'd feel bad if I claimed more than three minutes, as I can't do it with any accuracy. Three's fine, for a 2:09. Thirty seconds slower than my PB, which was pretty slow in the first place.
Wednesday, 7 September 2011
So, I went to the doctor this morning. About the dead leg thing. I explained what I thought caused it to the student doctor, he felt up my gorgeous legs for a while, then we went in to see the Real Doctor.
It's basically what I thought - ramped up the mileage too fast to do this half marathon (which I had no intention of doing, until the hospice rang and asked if I could fill a spot, and find two other
Monday, 5 September 2011
However, my right knee once again had a nagging pain across the front. That one does worry me a fair bit, not least because there's a half-marathon looming on Sunday; today's run came after three days of rest, so it's particularly annoying. Serves me right though, after I texted a friend and said 'My legs feel great, like they could do anything!'
Karma, thou art a great big bastardface.
In other news, myself and Mark the Neighbour went out and did three training runs last week, with three more planned for this week. Four-mile run/walks, gradually upping the time running and decreasing the rest periods. He's handling it fine, annoyingly well; Friday night I chatted to Jon and Fred, the other punk runners, and they were full of jokes and high jinks. Fred asked Mark how far the marathon was exactly, Mark told him 26.2 miles; "Fuck! I've been training for 26.4!"
Jon just says he's going there to win it.
Friday, 2 September 2011
1: I just saw a lovely old lady in the supermarket that I have known for years. She never recognises me - she's 95 now, after all - until I smile, then she says my name with a gasp. It's hilarious.
2: Today she asked me how come I haven't aged! She's known me since I was 16 and I'm 37 now, so I suspect I have aged a bit... Or I looked like shit as a teenager.
3: I smoked from the age of 17 to 30.
4: I was very, very good at smoking.
5: I have burned out through work twice. It sucks, but that is partly the nature of the job. Which I why I'm not that interested in it any more.
6: I have a lovely pair of Under Armour running gloves, with snot wipes on the thumb and pointy finger.
7: Oooooh, and the bestest running jacket EVER. Gore running jacket, and it's INFLATABLE. It's fucking excellent, fo shiz.
8: I have a plant called Terry.
9: I no longer watch football. I used to support Chelsea, until the last World Cup, when England were utterly appalling. As soon as the tournament ended, I took all my football shirts to the charity shop. Fuck them, they're all wankers, frankly.
10: If it ever turns out Usain Bolt is doping, I will be heartbroken.
11: I have the personal email addresses of several of my heroes. I have to be careful sometimes not to drunkmail them.
12: Best interview I ever did was Jerry Weintraub. That dude is a legend.
13: I like cake. Not all cake, but it's close.
14: I wear a Canadian dollar around my neck - it's the Terry Fox coin, and the gentleman on our market who cuts out coins and stuff cut around Terry and the trees on it for me. It's wicked.
15: I wear it every time I run - hell, I wear it almost every day. It's filthy. When I took it into a jeweller's to see if they could get it clean, the lady picked up the chain and said "Is this stainless steel?" "No, it's sterling silver." She was a little surprised.
16: I love people, right up until they start talking.
17: I need a new CD marker. Not for marking CDs though. I use one to cross out finished pages on my flatplan for work.
18: I have a DVD remote control on my desk. I'm not sure why.
19: Two of my favourite web sites are www.abadcaseofthedates.com and www.notalwaysright.com
20: I just bought two Kings of Leon songs on iTunes; I'd not really heard them before. I love the song Fans.
21: A friend of mine is the Single of the Week on iTunes next week (might just be on the UK version). Her second album's about to come out and the reviews are basically saying it's a masterpiece, or fucking close to one. That's pretty cool. We have drifted apart a bit though in recent years. Still, I wish her all the luck in the world.
22: I can't sing for shit. I used to be in a band though, and I was the person at the microphone. Go figure.
Aaaaaaaaand that's a wrap. Have a great weekend!
Monday, 29 August 2011
I thought we'd see where he was at this morning, fitness-wise, and he doesn't seem to have lost anything. We actually upped it to run one minute, walk 30 seconds and he was completely fine with that. We'll start stitching it together more by the end of the week now, I think.
He also told me that Jon, another DNR band member doing the marathon, has quit smoking and started running already. I thought Jon might be one of the hardest to get out there, but he's already running too. I want to see him and Fred, just to tell them not to go out too much, or go too far, early doors. I suspect Jon knows this already, as he has said to Mark, "It's all about listening to your body". He's absolutely right, of course.
So, this morning, our four mile course was nice. Dark, but nice. 5:15 is a stupid time to run, though.
Friday, 26 August 2011
1: I just ate a whole tube of Stackers, a no-budget supermarket own-brand version of Pringles.
2: I feel no guilt. Not about the stackers, but also about anything generally. We make our decisions based on the information we have at the time; I try to consider, and make the best decision I can. No point feeling guilt about that.
3: Right now, my favourite hotel in the whole wide world is the Mandarin Oriental, Macau. The perfect hotel.
4: I'm quite a slow runner.
5: Most of my underwear is grey. I don't know why, it's not a conscious thing. I usually buy it on my annual trip to Vegas. Perhaps it's a Fruit of the Loom thing.
6: I absolutely adore the TV show Friday Night Lights. I bought seasons 2, 3 and 4 while in Vegas last year. Somehow, we have only watched series 2 out of that; WonderWife says it's Winter viewing. And what she says goes.
7: My wife just spent the morning cleaning her daughter's bedroom. With my stepdaughter in another county. This may not go down brilliantly on stepdaughter's return, but it was a good thing to do overall.
8: Both my parents have circulation problems. I doubt I'll have any though. But who knows?
9: My resting heart rate - like, when I wake up - is about 42bpm.
10: Even when I was a heavy smoker, it was only about 50bpm. Maybe my heart's just lazy.
11: My waist is 38". It used to be 40". I'll get it down to 34" yet. Well, 36" maybe.
12: I can play the theme tune of top British TV soap Coronation Street with my nose.
13: I haven't put the Garmin on eBay yet.
14: We've been waiting three years to find out if we can rent the house over the road from our landlord. Much bigger house, massive garden, beautiful place. Now he's close to a decision, we can't afford it any more. Grrrr.
15: I have a bad feeling that one day I'll want to attempt Badwater.
16: I have no interest in ever visiting Australia. I don't know why though. There's just... ambivalence.
17: I once bumped into a friend on the London Underground. It's particularly strange because we had both taken diversions from our usual routes to work, and yet my train carriage pulled up right at the end of his nose.
18: I also once phoned a wrong number, which was answered by someone I know, who happened to be house-sitting for someone I didn't know. Weird.
19: I haven't had a beer since Sunday. That may change tonight.
Thursday, 25 August 2011
But that's not what this post is about. Oh Lordy no. It's not even about TRIPLING the number of followers on this blog(still getting a kick out of that). It's about.. This morning's run.
I woke up at 5:45, perfectly naturally, and felt pretty good. So I did the usual. Stayed in bed, visualising where I was going to run that morning. And I couldn't do it. I knew I wanted to do my lovely 6.5-mile loop, but was thinking about adding a couple of miles on the back of it as I don't think I will be able to get a long run in this weekend as we're away.
So, I didn't visualise it. I went to the bathroom, flossed, brushed, shat, shat some more, then laced up, did some press-ups, went outside, did some lunges (16 on each leg - 8 full and 8 like they do them on Biggest Loser...) and rolled out.
I kind of struggled early on. My legs felt a little bit heavy, and I didn't exactly fly up the first hill as I did earlier in the week. But I kept at it, plodding away, occasionally flying but not very often. Then I took a left, over the roundabout on the bypass and up the hill, up the hill, and up the hill. Then a nice long downhill, a few more uphills, and a hard right on to Squirrel Lane. I'd been warned about a wasp's nest there, on one corner, apparently it had been opened up by a badger (quite how anyone knows this is beyond me) and the wasps were a bit cross. I couldn't hear them though, so they may have still been asleep - I set out at 6:45, so it was probably only 7:15 or so.
So anyway, I got off Squirrel Lane and headed down the Sheet - or up the Sheet. I'm not sure which. But back toward town. Off to the left then, down Foldgate Lane, out the other end, across Temeside, and up Weeping Cross Lane. Normally, finishing there would be 6.5 miles with some nice challenging hills. Well, challenging for me. But today, I thought 'Fuck it' and turned right, going up one of Ludlow's least pleasant hills, Sheet Road. At the top, I turned left and followed a route I often do in reverse. I mean, I followed it in reverse, not that I often do it in reverse. Not backwards though.
This was fascinating, seeing the profile backwards, it was a completely different run. And I really enjoyed it! Oh, anyway, from there I went right through town, light as a feather, down the side of the castle, across Linney, round the back of Corve Street, up Corve Street, down Old Street, Temeside and finished at the top of Weeping Cross Lane again.
All for a grand total of two hours, and 11 hilly miles. For a long run two weeks before a half marathon, I'm really, really fucking pleased with that.
I think it was in Marshall Ulrich's book, he mentions that he doesn't like to taper, and I have to say, I agree with him. I run better if I've been pushing myself a little bit, I get shite - then shite-er - if I have time off. So this half will be an experiment - I'm going to run as normal right up to the race and see how we go.
After the run I was completely blissed out, but running late, so ate a leftover baked potato from last night, filled a water bottle and took the dog for a two-hour walk. How rock and roll am I?
Then I got home and I have been eating ever since.
Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Doubles, because today I am thinking of doubling up. I ran this morning, when I really didn't feel like it, did a lovely 3.5 miles (as it turned out). I have lots of energy left, so I might go out for another run later. Never, ever doubled up before. Will be intriguing how my body reacts to it! If I do it, that is...
And singles, because it just made sense for the blog post title. I have nothing else.
Ooooh, except an old, old joke: My wife thinks she's a hen. I'd take her to the doctor's, but we need the eggs.
What other news is there? Despite being the ripe old age of 37, I just had my first-ever driving lesson. It was great, learned a lot, got the hang of clutch control pretty quickly (only stalled once in a 2-hour lesson, and that was right at the end!), did some three-point turns, all good. Then the day after, awful groin pain - because I was hovering my left foot over the clutch pedal like a moron, and it pulled on the opposite side. Go figure. Better today, and it didn't interrupt running really. So it's win-win. Except I fucking hate cars.
In other news, I wore my new pair of UK Gear PT1000's today. When you first wear them, they feel a little unresponsive (though I didn't notice it in the last pair), but they soon bed in. Great, great shoes. I'd like them to be a bit sexier, but what the hell. They work, I have not been injured while wearing a pair, so as far as I am concerned, they absolutely fucking rock.
Our even for next year is gathering pace, but I have slightly stalled because I can't get hold of the marketing manager for a key company. Ho hum.
Got to go shopping now, for elements of wife's dinner. She's having salmon on a bed of spinach, with some delicious salad leaves and possibly some couscous. For stepdaughter, I am making pizza (I froze a couple of bases last time we had it). For myself, I have no idea at all. Hmmmm.
Saturday, 20 August 2011
1: I saw my 'first love' a couple of years ago in the street in this here town. I can't believe I didn't see it before, but her head is enormous.
2: People generally do not pay me compliments. My theory is that this is because I am confident and happy in myself. Even so people, an occasional compliment goes a long way. Come judgement day…
3: I am reading - and will finish - a book called Outpost. It is very silly and a lot of fun. I'm enjoying it.
4: I'd like to be an author.
5: I'm planning a race in town for next year - but in the back of my mind, a year or two after that, we're going to add an ultramarathon to the event schedule too.
6: I absolutely love badgers.
7: My favourite food is sushi.
8: My favourite writer is Kurt Vonnegut. He's the only one I've read where I've thought, "My God, I can't do this!"
9: I despise selfishness.
10: And lying. Fo' shizzle.
11: Number 9 is probably the reason I mostly do not like children.
12: We have a unique category of film in our house: a 3-S. Shootin', Shoutin', 'Splodin.
13: My wife and I both loved the last Rambo film.
14: This feels like a confessional. I imagine.
15: My wife is hot.
16: Next year, I will do the course to become a running coach.
17: I will use my powers from 16 only for good.
18: I'm about to take Millie for a long walk.
19: My favourite hotels in the UK - apart from the really posh ones - are Premier Travel Inns. They have the best beds.
20: My mobile phone is a HTC Desire HD. I don't know if I like it, but I certainly use it a lot.
21: I hate mobile phones.
22: And cars. I'd love it if we went back to horse and cart. Imagine how different the world would be if we all had to keep an animal alive to help us live. I can't help but think it would be a much better place.
23: I'm an idealist, an optimist, and some other ists too.
24: I have a Garmin Discoverer that I haven't ever taken out of the box. I think it will be on eBay this weekend. I will spend the proceeds on chips and beer.
25: I get sad when authors I admire die. I was gutted when Vonnegut died, and when Robert Parker died. But the one that got me the most, and still does - though he was not an author, but a comedian - was when Bill Hicks died. He changed the world in his short life, and could have done a lot more with a bit more time.
That is all. Go and spread the love, people.
Thursday, 18 August 2011
I started writing Punks on the Run recently, I started with a prologue and a sample chapter, which I sent to a book publishy bloke I'd been exchanging emails with. He said he thinks it's an excellent idea, but not enough guts to make a book out of; I disagreed, and asked him to read a sample chapter to change his mind. He agreed to do it. Not heard back from him yet, but he's a busy chap, just changing jobs, recently moved house, all sorts. I can be patient.
Would you like to read the prologue? Here you go.
I’m lying on my back in Green Park, London, on an achingly sunny April 17th, 2011, thinking about how much of my body hurts. All of it, it seems, except my ankles. The ice cream I am eating is delicious, but I’m not at all sure I have earned it. And my wife Zöe, a recently-qualified Level One Reiki Ninja, insists that all the energy I am absorbing as she moves her healing hands over my body, is going straight to my ankles.
“But that’s the only part of me that doesn’t hurt!”
“That’s where it’s going. I’m just reporting back, I don’t control it.”
Fair enough, I think. Back to my delicious, probably-not-earned ice cream, and thinking back to the marathon I have just finished. London, the big kahuna, one of the world’s most famous races, and I’ve just done it. In a shockingly poor time, admittedly, but I have finished at least. So why aren’t I happy about it?
I try to explain to my stepdaughter Lorna why I’m not pleased with myself after the race. “I am pleased in a way – we just raised over £2500 for the hospice, after all. But I’m not pleased with how the race itself went. There are so many things that need to go right for months in order to do a marathon – and I mean months. You need six months without any real illness or injury, and how often does that happen?”
She gives me a classic 15-year-old’s how-the-hell-would-I-know look. “Not very often, that’s how often. Just look at what happened two weeks ago, when I got a chest infection – a week earlier and I would probably have been fine, a week later I would not have been able to do the race at all… A lot of things need to come together for this one day to be everything you hope it will be.”
I decide I need to feel better about what I’ve just done, so I phone my nextdoor neighbour, Mark. I know he’d been watching the race with some friends, and he’d been incredibly supportive during the fundraising along with his fellow band members; Do Not Resuscitate, Ludlow’s own punk superstars, held a benefit gig to help me raise money for the charity I was ‘doing’ London for – Severn Hospice, our local hospice.
Mark answers pretty promptly and gives me a “Wahaaaaaaaaay!” I’m confident he’s pissed and it sounds like they’re having a party in the background. “Did you finish?”
“Wahaaaaaaaay! He finished!” Cheers from the background. “How was it?”
“Well, at least you finished, that’s the main thing.”
No, it’s not. It’s part of it, sure. But it’s not the main thing. What is?
“Me, Jon and Fred are going to do it next year, can you help us prepare for it?”
“Are you sure about that? It’s really quite difficult.”
“Yeah, we’ll be fine. Can you help?”
Help three 40-something punk rocker smokers train to complete 26.2 miles that I could barely manage myself? Of course, why the hell not.
“Count me in.”
Based on that, would you read on?
Sunday, 14 August 2011
1: When I'm watching Biggest Loser USA, I usually eat a lot. And drink beer. I watched the season 8 finale last night and ate a huge packet of crisps, and a packet of poppadums. And lager. Lots of lager. Oh, the irony.
2: My favourite contestants to date have been Daris, from Biggest Loser Couples, and Abby, the inspiration from season 8. Shay was cool too, and Danny, the eventual winner. Some contestants need a great big fucking slap from someone with the words "STOP EATING CAKES" written on their hand.
3: I love being a dad to my stepdaughter, but have absolutely no interest in having a child of my own.
4: I grew up in this town, and I love it, but I'm very much looking forward to leaving it.
5: This year will be, fingers crossed, the first time I've ever done more than one race in a year. I've done one marathon and one half, with another half on next month.
6: It's also the longest injury-free period I have ever had. Coincidence?
7: I used to be in a band. I 'sang'. We were funny.
8: I'm co-organising a race, a post-race event, and a comedy event, all on the same day, for next year. It's shaping up to be huge, and it's really exciting.
9: I'm short-sighted, and wear contact lenses to run.
10: I rarely wash my hair. It's usually short enough to get away with this. I did actually not wash it for almost eight years, once. And no, I did not smell like a sheep. Or goat.
11: I have been to many places around the world thanks to work. Most of Europe, including most of Eastern Europe; Russia five times in about 2.5 years. I go to Vegas every year for work, and Macau. I used to travel a lot, but now I'm away for a total of about one month every year. Before I got married, I was away at least once a month.
12: I'm not actually a huge fan of travel for travel's sake, though I do love running in strange places.
13: I think the strangest place I have been was Detroit. It was also my first visit to the US.
14: My brother lives in America. He seems to like it; he's in a nice place, in Charlotte, NC. Or is it Raleigh? One or the other.
15: I have no idea what my brother does for a living. I think it's something to do with packaging.
16: I hate celery. So much.
17: I have five nephews and a niece. The oldest is 24, I think, and the youngest is about 7. Ish.
18: I have stumpy legs, which actually makes a deep hamstring stretch really quite easy.
We had a great time though, I must say. Mostly very relaxing, in a caravan in a tiny orchard, off on our own. Never been in a caravan where I felt we had so much privacy, it was lovely - but maybe a bit dull for the two teenagers we had with us, as we weren't even anywhere near a shop, never mind a town.
Anyway, I managed to get several runs in while away. And I did it in a really dull, un-adventurous way, and I'm not sure how I feel about that... We got there last Saturday, and on Sunday morning I set out with the dog to find a course to run. Easy enough. I found a route where it covered three types of terrain: Road, beach and single track.
I just tried to map this on mapmyrun.com and it's kind of difficult, as only the road is on there. It's not a long route, maybe just 2.5 miles, but it's hard. It starts with a long, long downhill on road, evens out for maybe 1/8 of a mile, then it twists uphill, before a more gradual downhill, then a turning, leading to the beach. Then it's through dunes for perhaps 1/4 of a mile, then a left and on to single track and a couple of fields. As a walk, this last part takes maybe 15 minutes to come down, longer to go up but not a huge amount. So it's not long - but in this we recover all the elevation we previously shed, albeit in a gradual slope overall. I found this really hard; I ran it Monday and Tuesday, then rested Wednesday, and Thursday I damn near sprinted it. Well, it felt like it. It was a lot faster. Then Friday, I did three loops of it, as a confidence booster, as I just entered another race.
Oh, did I mention that? Another half marathon, for my local hospice, on September 11th. They had some people drop out so they called and asked if I fancied it, and could I rope in another couple of people. Job done.
So I've done six very hilly miles, maybe up to 7.5 very hilly, and I have a few weeks to race day. I should be absolutely fine for the day, especially as it's a completely flat course around a lake.
In other news, I have two speakers up for attending our race event next year, both accomplished runners, one an outstanding, Michelin-starred chef, too. Very exciting indeed, it's coming together nicely.
Oh, and while I was away, I wrote the prologue and opening chapter to send to the publisher blokey. Fingers crossed for that one. I sat down one morning and next thing you know, a couple of hours later, I had 4,000 words, and they're pretty good, I think.
Enough of my burble. More tomorrow.
Saturday, 13 August 2011
Friday, 5 August 2011
1: I doubled the number of followers on this blog last week. Thanks to you both. That made me laugh my arse off.
2: I have three 'Best Friend Mugs'. These are the only mugs I drink tea from. They're special. Hence the stupid name.
3: I've been hit by cars twice, and was unhurt both times. Lucky me.
4: The same week I was hit by the first car, I was also in a building that was the subject of an arson attack. And my favourite dog at the time was put to sleep. Shitty week, that was.
5: The day our cat Buffy died, she visited me in a dream, and she was with Shamrock, the Great Dane from 4. Shamrock sees me frequently in my dreams, and always enters them the same way. But Buffy visited with her before we had any idea Buffy had been killed. Spooky. We all still really, really miss her. She was one hell of an animal.
6: Buffy used to wake me up at 3am every morning by headbutting me in the face, then sitting next to my head while I stroked her. It made me feel very special indeed.
7: I was with Shamrock the first time I saw Requiem For A Dream. When I was bawling like a baby afterward, she walked over to me and licked from my chin to my forehead. Unfortunately, my mouth was open.
8: My wife is ridiculously gorgeous. I suspect that when people see us together, they think I am either rich or well hung. Truth is, I am neither.
9: I am told I can be a bit too honest when blogging. Certainly on my first ever blog. I tried holding stuff back but... It's just not me.
10: My favourite bands are Pearl Jam, Faith No More, Pixies.
11: My wife's 40th birthday gift was collecting her wedding ring. That was a pretty cool day.
12: The day we got married, we did a half marathon in the morning. It was fun, but I was mega slow because of injury. A big fat fucker - actually the size of an exceptionally large fridge - passed me towards the end.
13: I am completely addicted to Biggest Loser, but bizarrely, only to the US version of the show. I don't know what season they are on now, but we're on Season 8 in the UK. I want to cancel Sky (because I don't want to give money to that fuckbat Rupert Murdoch) but am torn simply because of that show.
14: And I don't even fucking like television.
15: I weigh about 98 kilos, around 200lbs, or 15 stone 2lbs. Depending on which country you're in.
16: I am an incurable optimist, but because I rarely smile, people assume otherwise. Numpties.
Enough of this now! I leave for a holiday tomorrow and I have not packed a thing! Therefore I must go and buy beer.
Fuck, I thought. We were due to go out at 6:30am as it was. How early, I asked? Five, came the reply.
Sure, why not. See you outside.
So my alarm went off at 4:45, and at 5am I was outside doing dynamic stretches with Mark. 5:05, we were off. But as I'd forgotten my stopwatch, I made it all up. And to his credit, even though we were clearly going longer than 30 seconds each time, he didn't complain, didn't let up, just chatted and enjoyed a really lovely run.
"I might actually get a bit anal about all this, you know. I felt so good all day yesterday, if I get into it I'll probably become a real bore." I think he's already close to converted, but it's hard to picture this 40-something punk band singer being dull about anything.
"I even started in on Jon last night." Jon is one of the band's guitarists, and he's the main reason they're training for London - to raise funds for the hospice that made it possible for Jon's teenage son to die at home. "I told him, 'you've got to get started some time Jon, might as well be tomorrow!'" Like I said, I think Mark's a convert now.
Tomorrow we go out again, but we get a lie in and hit the road at 6:30 instead. This is fun, I love coaching people – hopefully next year I'll be able to afford to do a coaching course so I can do it properly! I'm not actually 'coaching' him - just making sure he doesn't do anything silly, like do too much in a week, avoids overuse injuries, stretches properly, cools down, that kind of thing.
Enough of my burble, more... Tomorrow, perhaps. I'm on holiday next week, but there's every chance I will be blogging from Anglesey.
Thursday, 4 August 2011
But could I get him out for a run? Could I fuck. He's a busy chap. He has three kids, his wife works, and even though he's got the summer off from his university course, he's still got stacks to do.
I just needed him to make a start. What he needs to understand is that it takes time to get the body used to the punishment of running. The joints, ligaments, tendons all need time and patience - and while he's not out running, we're losing time and London Marathon 2012 gets closer and closer. I want him running three miles comfortably before we even look at a training plan.
So after much nagging ("It's like having two fucking wives!"), I pinned him down to this morning. 6:27, I was about to put my running shoes on to meet him outside. He was early. It's a miracle I was up as I had accidentally got drunk and stayed up late (first time this week, I'm getting better!). I was a bit wobbly when I woke up at 6, that's for sure.
Anyway, I explained a couple of dynamic stretches to him and why they would benefit him, then we started walking up the hill a bit. Then we ran.
It was only intended to be a walk 30 seconds, run 30 seconds so I could see how fit he is (or not) and figure out what we'd do from there. He took to it easily, nice and upright, not a lot of foot lift, his foot rolling off the ground. Good form, I thought. We'll see how he is on the hills though.
The route we took goes down one of Ludlow's steeper hills (truly a bastard to run up), takes a right, dips down quite a bit - then you come back up the same height, gradually, over about 1/3 of a mile. Well, the same height plus a bit more. It's quite tough, and I put it at the start of most of my runs as it's a cracking warm-up.
He was fine. Took it in his stride.
I've noticed when taking beginners out that they often need the full 30 seconds to recover. That's how I basically gauge their level of fitness - how fast do they recover from exertion. He didn't take more than 20 seconds on any part of the run, despite being a smoker in his 40s. I think he's in pretty decent shape, and he's carrying very little body fat.
So I kept the pace quite quick, and took him further than I had intended initially. We did my lovely four-mile route, which front-loads the hills until one particular long slow one right at the end, which we picked up the pace on until we finished at a near-sprint. Well, it was for me.
In short… He's not going to have any problems with the marathon. He'll probably finish it quicker than me.
We came home then (he lives a couple of doors down from me), and I went through basic stretches, including a very effective glute stretch I have adapted from a hard yoga stretch. Then we went our separate ways…
Job done. We're doing it all again tomorrow, 6:30am.
Tuesday, 2 August 2011
I'm currently punting out book ideas to agents and publishers, and the feedback is good but none has yet thrown cash in my mouth and told me to chew. I put out another idea recently to a publisher I had met, as I was interviewing one of her clients, and she suggested - for good reasons - trying the idea on a couple of other people. I knew one of them (kind of) and sent an email to him, he said the idea was excellent but that it would make a better feature than a book, and to pitch it at the Mail. I disagreed, and now have to come up with an opening sample chapter for him to read to persuade him otherwise, which he has agreed to.
So, this report on gaming that's proving to be such a fucking nightmare, that I haven't and can't seem to begin never mind finish… It's hard to motivate myself for it at the best of times, but even worse when I could be writing about running.
Also got another book's opening chapters with a fiction agent right now, so cross your fingers that at least one of them gets somewhere.
Friday, 29 July 2011
1: I don't consume any caffeine, not even in chocolate. It seems if I consume too much of anything, my body starts to reject it, which is kind of annoying.
2: I can't eat green leaves. At all. See above. It can actually make me shit my pants*
3: My wife can yawn and burp simultaneously. We now call this a byawn.
4: I may just quit drinking on Monday. Nice to do these things on a date you can remember, isn't it?
5: I got married in Vegas. Elvis attended.
6: I have been pitching book ideas left and right, and the one that's had interest is the one I haven't started yet. Next week...
7: I am supposed to be writing a report on Eastern European amusements and coin-op gaming right now. I am clearly not doing this.
8: I do not enjoy running in summer at all. Struggle, fail, struggle.
9: I am short, and I do not have a problem with this. Strange how other people think you have, though - like if you get angry, it's Napoleon Syndrome. No, it's not, I just think you're a cunt and want to stab you in the eye. The eye part is, of course, coincidence.
10: I swear. A lot.
11: My favourite movie is probably Amadeus, with honourable mentions to Starship Troopers, Heathers, Requiem For A Dream, The Man From Earth.
12: My favourite book is Born To Run. There are quite a few others though. But in the last few years, this is the only one I have read more than twice.
13: I read a lot.
14: I'm not a great swimmer, and tend to sink, but my credo helps me through: "when in doubt, apply brute force".
That'll do you, for now.
*If combined with a surprise sneeze
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
I'm struggling to find time to run at the moment. For example, last night I took the dog with me to combine her walk with my run, which didn't really work. I mean, it was fun, but it's too hot for her, as it's over 20 degrees and she won't take that fucking fur coat off, so what's a boy to do? Shave her?
A big thing for us at the moment is my Lovely Wife's diagnosis by exclusion. The doctor is working out what isn't wrong with her, and whatever's left is what she's got. Looking at the symptoms and reading the literature, we're in agreement that it's what used to be known as ME, now more commonly called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Why are these things always syndromes??
Aaaanyway, the thing is, it leaves my lovely, active, fit and healthy wife with absolutely zero energy. Nada, zip, Jack Shit, fuck-all. I'm typing this at 5:30pm and she's in bed, hopefully getting an hour's sleep. She was so active, and so fit, that to see her like this is almost as suck-assy for me as it is for her. Well, maybe not. But it's bad. She's frustrated because she can't get out on her mountain bike any more. She can't run, in fact there's very little she can do, so we have to plan days around her, pacing her energy. Like now - hopefully she'll wake up refreshed and be able to spend the evening with her daughter at the cinema tonight. We shall see.
However, it does mean more work for myself, which isn't a problem. I'm just struggling to fit running in around it. I'm having to actually use my brain to fit it in. For example, right now I'm going to prepare a salad, then get dressed for a run. Go out, do a few miles, then when I come back all I have to do is warm some garlic bread and make couscous, and her dinner's pretty much done. Planning ahead…
There just aren't enough hours in the day right now.
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Saturday was a hard day. I got up early, went for a run, then walked the dog; then back home sans dog, as she was down at my parents' house for the day. Then we loaded the car, and went to a festival to try and sell handbags and shoulder bags to hippies.
Well, it was a long, long day. We sold a couple of bags, but not a lot. We had some great food and chatted with some lovely people. Got home around 6:30pm-ish, absolutely knackered out.
So, I went to the supermarket for some nibbles and bits, fully intending to buy beer as well, and yet I walked out without it. It was for some reason a revelation. After a day like that, a beer is usually most welcome, but I just… didn't want it. I went home and had hot tea with my lovely wife instead. Woke up the next day with a clear head, well rested, and though I didn't run that day, I could have!
It would seem the war is not unwinnable. What a wonderful thing to learn.
Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Because I had to get back to walk the hound this morning and I hadn't gotten up particularly early, I took the short-but-incorporating-a-horrible-slow-hill route, which was nice and I actually finished quite fast.
I'm feeling strong, though disappointingly my PT1000s have finally bitten the dust, I think. Still, I have done a marathon and a half marathon in them and pretty much all my running since September, so I can't really complain. They have served me beautifully. Running in New Balance right now and enjoying them more each time, but I cannot wait to get another pair of PT1000s.
Which reminds me, the tone of this blog might change a little as I have a couple of running-related projects on the go... One is training three members of a local punk band for next year's London Marathon, which should be great fun. The other is organising a race to be held in the town here next summer, which is going to be a hell of a challenge. So expect to hear lots of gripes about those two things...
Enough of my burble. I had a lovely run today which was great because I've been struggling in the heat recently. It was nice to have a run which just felt… easy.
Friday, 8 July 2011
But athletes? A different entity entirely. They generally fit into two camps, for my money. There's the athlete that has always been an athlete and knows nothing else, and so is desperately boring – Michael Phelps is a brilliant example of this. Great athlete, boring as all fuck. Want to talk training, eating and sleeping? He's your man. Anything else, you might as well talk to a crab. Chrissie Wellington is the opposite - she had a life and a job before becoming a full time triathlete, and it really shows. It was one of my favourite interviews ever because of her holistic approach to the whole of life, and that she's very articulate which doesn't hurt when you're interviewing. And what an athlete; how is this woman not a household name in England? I have no idea. The media hides from endurance athletes, and I don't know why. This woman could be the greatest role model (along with Dame Kelly Holmes) for young women today in the UK, and yet I didn't see her Iron Man world-record-breaking event in any news here. Get this: third coming out of the water, took the lead on the bike, then BEAT EVERYBODY INCLUDING ALL THE MEN in the marathon to post a 2:52*. She's never lost a full Iron Man. All this, and international development is her great passion. Wow.
Dean Karnazes, who I interviewed yesterday, is similar in that he has had a life before becoming an athlete. It really shows. He understand how to engage people (and may be the most gifted person I have encountered at that very thing) and to speak to folks from every walk - and run - of life. I made a very conscious effort to come up with a wide range of questions that I didn't think he had been asked before, and the end result was a great interview with a really great guy. He's just… A really good person. It radiates from him, and not in an annoying way at all.
I first looked him up after reading Born To Run, in which the author basically disses Karnazes as a publicity hound. I bought Ultramarathon Man, and enjoyed it a lot. Then I bought 50/50 and it was very good. His new one, 26.2 is even better because he goes into lots of detail about his cock-ups, races that went really really badly – and as I said to him yesterday, that's more interesting for runners because we understand that you don't learn anything by getting it right.
I think the dissing of Dean in Born To Run (still my favourite running book) is fairly out of order - he's doing something very different to most ultra runners out there. He's getting people up, getting them active, and it's working. He's getting off his arse and engaging the world, and saying "Come with me, it's fun, really!" I think that's a great thing to do, and something I try to do myself on a (much) smaller level. He's raised his profile, and is now using it to do good things for a lot of people. I think dissing someone that does that is… Well, I don't agree with it. Doesn't mean I love Born To Run any less - I don't run barefoot either, still love the book.
I'm rambling. The interview went really well, it was a pleasure to do, and I might post some excerpts from it on here depending on what happens with it. One magazine wants a thousand words of it, but there's a lot more than that so I've asked another magazine if they want a Q&A. Fingers crossed.
*Sorry if I go on about this. She rocks.
**My favourite interviews ever are however with film people. Best one ever, Jerry Weintraub, no question. Second favourite, the wonderful Bruce Campbell. Third, Meir Zarchi - as far as I know, I'm still the only person that's ever interviewed him. Overall, though, I think the interview with Dean might top them all. Mind you, the Weintraub one was excellent...