Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Oh, and...

...a sprained ankle put paid to training for that ridiculous marathon which would have happened a month or so ago, which was a relief, really. It was Lily's ankle that got sprained, not mine, but it put her out for weeks. She's just coming back to running with the group now.

However, as we are not renowned for our common sense, we have signed up for a different Stupid Fucking Race instead. Three of the ladies in my group have signed up for the Tough Guy Half Marathon at the end of March 2014. Over 200 obstacles, including fire, water and electrocution. In a fit of absolute madness, I signed up for the full marathon, which is over 400 obstacles and 26.2 miles.

The full is actually two laps of the course, so I guess you finish the half and think "Yay! Let's go again!" or "Fuck this for a game of soldiers". I wonder how tough that will be psychologically on the day.

Of course, if something is bust in my foot I won't be doing any more than cheering on the day anyway. So let's wait and see. We're doing a hilly trail run in the woods tonight, in the dark, with headtorches. My favourite.

Monday, 9 December 2013

I've been around

Well, a bit. Not been blogging though.

I've been rather down, and I've been quite drunk again. I had a whole month booze-free and I had a whale of a time - really! - but the downs came back and it all seems so very self-perpetuating and whinge moan whinge.

I'll be back with more. Just not today. Waiting for an x-ray on my foot which will hopefully show something really minor that does not require surgery... If it's anything that needs surgery, that's the March marathon out of the window and any kind of mileage between now and then. Which will depress me, because the route out of the doldrums is one that needs to be run.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Another stupid fucking idea

Well, one of my running group got a bee in her bonnet a week or so ago on Facebook while chatting with me. She wanted a new goal having done her first half marathon this year; she wanted to do a marathon. She's got all this confidence now, you see.

And that's great. But a marathon is not double a half marathon. It's so much further. Mainly thanks to where your brain goes during the race, I think it's fair to say. How do you prepare someone for that? You can't. You can tell them all you want, but on the day, even if you're running next to them, they will be fighting by themselves; you could run a race with your entire family and every friend you have ever had and never be more alone.

Anyway, she wanted to do Chester, which is supposed to be a fabulous race - well organised, pretty town, etc. Too soon, I said. How about Manchester? That's about right (it's not - really it's still a couple of weeks too soon, but it's do-able); maybe, she said. Hang on, what's this? Gower? Sounds nice.

So I look it up. I see a Garmin profile from someone that did last year's race. At one point - coinciding with a very, very large hill on the course profile I also saw - they were doing 38-minute miles. Of course, that could have a toilet stop, hell, they could have had lunch - it could be anything.

I read race reports. They all say, fuck me, this is tough. It's not 26.2. It's 28-and-something miles. It's almost all off-road. The hills are massive. It's beautiful. It's hard. Bog, beach, single track.

I phone the organisers and ask what the average finishing time is. The very nice chap says, I don't know, really; but take your marathon time and add 50%.

By now, I'm scared. Honestly, this race is intimidating. But a big part of me says, big hills are not scary. We run them every week, huge great hills and beaten-up trails. What do they have that will be different? Nothing, really. Ok, we can't train for the beach sections. But hills and trails? We have miles and miles of them. We can train for that. We can prepare for the rest. Spare socks, bladder pack, microfibre towel, electrolyte tabs, food, headtorch. We can weigh up the risks, blow them a raspberry and say 'fuck it'.

So, looks like we're doing it. Training started last Monday and Lily's response has been excellent so far. We did about 80 minutes in the woods on Saturday and she was consistent, paced well; I'm working on teaching her to pick her fights. If you see a huge hill on mile four, don't thrash it, just get to the top - there's 24 more miles after that. Pick your fights. And when you get to the top, batter the downhill, get the technique right, let go and use it for recovery. She's a quick learner, and she's up for it. So fingers crossed, no colds, illnesses, or injuries. This has been my highest mileage for a couple of months (it's been crazy hot) and it was only about 17 miles for the WEEK!! But whenever I up the mileage, I feel better, I eat better and I make better lifestyle choices.

So, here's to another stupid fucking idea. Huzzah!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Where have I been?

Nowhere good.

I've been very blue, very down, a little defeated - and then I got injured, so I couldn't even work my anger and disappointment out on a run.

I'm not an angry person, pretty much ever. It's funny though, it was levelled at me several months ago that I am angry all the time. Looking back, I can see that the person that said that to me, is actually angry all the time. It wasn't me, it's not me.

I'm doing the blogging equivalent of drooling here, I think. What's happened is, I have started to come out of the other side. Only started; there are still plenty (oh, plenty) of nights in, drunk, with my dog. But I'm being more sociable. I have physio exercises to do to sort out my weak right hamstring (how can it be weak? That muscle* is fuckin' HUGE). I'm allowed to run but have to go easy on hills. Life is sorting itself out, a bit at a time. I don't wake up feeling lousy now. I'm putting more into my work. Cooking more often, seeing friends. I've even spoken to a few women. Nothing more than that, but that's a big step for me. I came out of that relationship with zero confidence, absolutely nothing. It's a long road back but I'm wiser, I have more scars, and at least now I know what I DON'T want for my life.

So what do I want? Well, a bit more sleep would be nice - I am still struggling to sleep without the healing power of massive amounts of alcohol. A bit more money would be useful, but that should sort itself out in the not-too-distant. Hopefully when my hamstring is happier, running will be better**. But it is all a process.

Still... What do I want? I keep coming back to the same thing. I want to be an Ironman. Crazy maybe, but there are some fine examples out there of people who have gone from nothing to, well, being an Ironperson. Is that the right term? It is now.

I don't want to race it, I just want to do it. Race myself. Push myself. See who I am, what I am made of. I want to enjoy the training, the journey itself, and see who I become. My job is perfect for training hard, yet I've never exploited that really. Maybe it's time?

*I know. Them muscles, obv.

**Just adding some stamina to the muscle group now, and teaching it to work in concert with the rest of the body; went for a run the other night, and it was - for me - fast! But after three miles, the muscle got tired and I was carrying a passenger again, so had to walk the last mile home. But now I can spot these things, it feels like progress.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The peaks are higher but the troughs are deeper

Sorry, it's been a while I know.

What have I been up to... Not a lot, really. Drinking quite heavily (but with breaks, not every day by any stretch of the imagination), trying to sleep, running... Working occasionally, walking the dog a lot.

A couple of weeks ago I hit some kind of running nirvana, hitting well over 20 miles in one week, 25 the next - and then nothing. I lost my mojo.

I can already tell this post will ramble. Bear with me.

I realised today that I am feeling very, very low, and that this feeling is relative to the high that came before it. This happened a month or so ago as well, I had a fantastic day out with my group (the steam train adventure) then hit a real low afterward.

Well, this Sunday four members of my running group completed their first-ever half marathon. It was quite an emotional day to say the least, what with fairly poor training (thanks to the weather, personal issues, illness) and big life changes for two of my ladies. Myself and one of their mums waited by the finish line, screaming ourselves hoarse as we cheered every runner home. My throat hurt - 6,500 runners is a lot of shouting encouragement.

Anyway, they all made it, and to be honest, they all made it look easy. And they're all already wanting to do another, possibly followed by a marathon in Autumn.

So we had this lovely day, a weekend of adventure, then came home. And I got low the next day - and I think the trough is relative to both the peak before it, and my start point, which was below par in the first instance. So from being really quite low, I got super-high and all proud of my ladies, to dropping way back below where I started.

It's not helped by the death of another schoolfriend (three in 12 months, over 30 in 22 years) who was buried today; and by a disastrous 'date' that I went on, on Friday. Should never have thought I was ready to do that, and should never have done it with someone I hardly know. Still, lesson learned, but the snooty text I got Monday was a kick in the nuts I could have done without.

What else is there? I haven't run since Friday, and while alcohol is calling me tonight, I will get out and run tomorrow for sure. I hope it will drag me out of this funk. Those two much-higher-mileage weeks were fantastic. I need to get that feeling back - and to sleep because I have worked hard and am tired, rather than because I am drunk.

I'll probably blog more too.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Helping creatively, from afar.

So a colleague - a friend by now, I suspect - from the industry I do most of my work in is a fellow runner. We talk running by email, she is far more experienced than I but we have a similar attitude toward running far. Far is good. She's a former Boston Marathoner, too, so she must have taken it pretty seriously at some point.

Anyway, to do her bit for Boston, and for the victims of one of the most cynical bombings I can remember (only Warrington tops Boston for sheer cynicism for me), she has written a short story and is selling it digitally via Amazon. It's good, too, though it did make me cry.

Everything that comes in from sales is being donated to the Boston Red Cross. If you run, or read, or hopefully both, check this out; it's a wonderful way to help from afar.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Cursed. Fucking well cursed*.

So, life's been pretty poor quality lately to say the least. Lots of reasons why but the main one if the breakdown of my marriage and a parting that I thought was agreed on and amicable, turns out not to be at all.

I digress. This isn't a marriage counselling blog after all - though I did turn down the offer to go to counselling and often wonder if I gave up too easily. But that's for another blog and another time.

So, four of my runners are working toward their first half marathon in just four weeks. One is having terrible personal issues, which are affecting her sleep, diet, everything; another just had a stress-induced asthma attack and has been out of action for over a week; another may have glandular fever, we should find out tomorrow; the fourth seems to be getting on fine, and she's the one that hardly runs with us!

Oh, and as for me, I sprained my ankle perhaps 10 days ago and it's almost sorted now, so this morning in a ha-ha-fuck-you kinda way, it seems I may have gout as well. Pure pain, in the joint of the big toe on my right foot. And yes, I have been drinking an awful lot of wine lately... And it came on overnight. So it sounds pretty gouty to me, though I have a telephone consultation with a doctor tomorrow, so I'll check.

It used to be that when all else in life is shitty - and it really, really has been - I could grab my iPod, put my running shoes on and disappear for a while. Nothing seemed quite so bad after that. But I haven't been able to do that for what seems like an age, and when I do I doubt I could run for more than 40 or 50 minutes.

I guess things are going to have to change around here. Something nice has to happen at some point, even if just statistically speaking it has to. Something good is just around the corner.

*I know, life could always be worse. But it's all relative, right?

Monday, 18 March 2013

Hmmmm. Injured, maybe.

For the first time in an age I appear to have an injury issue. Which is ok. It's my right knee, it just feels... kind of dead, actually. Some runs it happens early on, some it's only if I go over five miles, but it usually ends up feeling like dead weight. It's not painful as such, but it's uncomfortable and it's weird.

And my right foot... Well, I fell on the stairs a few months ago while playing with the cat, landed awkwardly bruising a toe (nail is still black) and doing something peculiar inside... And now, it seems if I run over about five miles, that flares up again. That is quite unpleasant too; wondering if I may have broken a metatarsal, there are so many tiny bones in the feet that can break and we can function fine, except for doing sill shit like running on roads.

And tonight, my half marathoners want to do seven or eight miles. I might have to sit it out and let them do it without me, which will be upsetting. I want to hold their hands as they hit these little landmarks! This is the build-up to the race which is in just under eight weeks. They can already do an hour comfortably, so I'm just building the time now, with an extra 10 minutes a week on their long runs. They'll be more than ready but they are nervous. Nerves are good. Fear, not so much. They'll get there though, and they will be more confident as we get closer.

In other news, we are setting up a charity the focus of which will be getting people up off their arses and becoming more active. Not just running but walking, boxing, biking, zumba, yoga, pilates, you name it. To involve local businesses, international brands, organise race events and change the world a small step at a time.

More on that soon. For now, I have to go and do the shopping, and some work. I could really do with a substantial lottery win, that would be a big help...

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Life has changed a lot.

And when I say a lot, I mean immeasurably.

I now live alone - well, with two dogs, one full time, one part time. My lovely wife and I have separated, which I really do believe is for the best. I just could not contemplate going on the way we were and ending up hating each other. I want us to love each other as friends again some time in the future, when we're both more healed.

Still, it fucking sucks ass.

Still running, still getting people started running, still organising our race, still doing all kinds of stuff. Including a marathon three-week drunk, actually, which was trying, to say the least. But I made it, I'm here, and we move forward, albeit very very slowly.

Just wanted to say, you know. I'm still here. Or to quote Albert Camus,

"In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."