Thursday, 8 December 2011

And it's booked.

08/12/11 - Well I've managed to get going running regularly after my operation and have been doing five mile runs without any issues so I'm happy. I now need to start addressing the training I'll need to do for the Milton Keynes Marathon next year. Speaking of marathons I've entered a team into the Adidas Thunder Run 2012.  This time our team, The Thunder ReRunners, will be a 5-man team and will feature the five men from the 2011 race.  Two reasons for this. One, everyone seemed to want to do a bit more next year. Two, the amazing Linda pulled out as she's organised her own team of ladies for the race. So we're all already excited as the 2011 race was without a shadow of a doubt the best I've ever competed in.

I've been given the all clear at the hospital so there's now nothing stopping me from getting back into full training. This is good news as, without the running and martial arts, I've been piling on the pounds. Even though I've been feeling a bit of a MR Blobby I did the 2011 Santa Dash at Hemel Hempstead. It's a 5k race for the Hospice of St Francis and just a fun event to take part in. I think I finished OK for a first race back finishing in about 25 minutes. Not great but as good as I could have expected. There was no one there to take my picture so below I've included a photo of me assaulting a rather large man for you amusement.

Perfect for a caption competition

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Rome and Running

01/11/2011 - Finally after 8 weeks of zero exercise I did my first run Saturday 22nd October - a massive 1.89 miles. Rubbish. The hardest, slowest, shortest run I've completed in about two years. Oh well at least I'm back running and hopefully now I can start to drop the additional weight I've gained in the last two months.

Anyway before I can do another run I'm off to Rome for a week with my loving family - so at least I could expect plenty of walking. We flew out on the Sunday, nice smooth flight, and a couple of hours after take off we're landing in Rome. A short taxi ride later and we're settled into our, small, but perfectly formed hotel bedroom.

Small but nice.
Next morning and and after a lovely breakfast we're off for a day trotting around central Rome. We headed towards the Colosseum, admiring the various Roman ruins and the quite scrummy Italian ice creams. We go to the beautiful Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II and pay the 7 euro's each to take the glass lift to the roof. A silly price really but still stunning views across Rome and the Colosseum after which we took a slow stroll back to the hotel and a beer in the bar. 

View from the top.
Evening was spent in a smashing little restaurant full of eclectic charm. 

Waiting for wine

Tuesday was the day we'd booked a guided tour of the Colosseum but a quick look at the ticket and a scratch of the head I ask my wife why we'd booked the Spanish speaking tour. Arse. So it's another 10 euros each to transfer to the English speaking tour guide - yet more money. You do get a little fed-up paying to get into almost everything when the museums etc are all free at home. Anyway the tour was good and the Colosseum quite stunning and well worth the visit. The trip back to the hotel surprisingly, by surprisingly I mean we went there deliberately, took us past the place with the amazing ice creams so we could not walk on by without loading up a three scoop cone.

The evening was spent in a very popular little restaurant which was recommended in our guide book - it was pretty shit - it was busy, distinctly average food and forgetful service. Here's the thing, the general standard of food in Rome was distinctly average.  You'd be forgiven for expecting the pasta and pizza's to be top notch but it's just not. The overriding word that springs to mind is "bland". I love Italian food, I've had some lovely pasta in some of the Italian restaurants in Bedford etc but not a single one in the week I was in Rome. 

Looking for food.

Wednesday was a day of bus hopping around Rome and visiting the sites.  First on the list was the Vatican. We'd bought a days ticket to ride the open top buses and with this you get a set of headphones that you can plug into sockets next to your seat and listen to a narration of the sites you're driving past. So we traveled and listened until we reached the Vatican. As expected it was very busy and full of nuns and priests and rather impressive.  We purchased a sandwich a drink, in my case a beer - something that surprised my wife, from a mobile food place and settled down for brunch.

Busy, busy, busy
Food and drink consumed we continued on our we doing a bit of tourist shopping on the way. I really wanted a bobble head pope but the prices were a bit too high so I had to consul myself with a nice ring instead.  It's silver with the cross and the Lords prayer engraved round it. My wife felt it was an odd choice for an atheist to chose but I liked it for it's own sake bit like religious art you don't have to be religious to appreciate it. Not that this ring was fine art, at ten euros my wife expects it to turn my finger green. 

Stopping at a cafe.
We then visited a castle and generally bummed around Rome for the day, visiting the Trevi Fountain, museums etc on our quests to see as much of Rome as we could.
Some statues in some museum
Interestingly the Trevi Fountain is stunning but if you're expecting it to be sitting in an impression plaza you're in for a disappointment. It's hidden away down some small alleyways in a small and crowded little square.

Trevi Fountain - watch your bags !!
Thursday it was a very early start as we had book to travel to Pompeii; a three hour journey by coach. The journey was broken up by a stop for a coffee, the standard visit to a craft producer and a quick stop in Naples.

Naples, it was alright I guess.
It's quite impressive standing in Naples and seeing Mount Vesuvius in the background and knowing that we were heading to Pompeii; a town destroyed by the volcano in 79AD. Anyway off to Pompeii and our first task once we arrived was to grab some lunch.  Pompeii is still lived in today and due to tourist is quite busy.

In newer Pompeii
After lunch we set off into the old city of Pompeii, home to around 25,000 people at the time of the eruption that buried it for many centuries.  First thing that shocked me was how large it was. I had this idea in my head that it was a small village but in fact it was a large Roman town - thriving and quite beautiful.

Amphitheatre Pompeii
We spent two hours on a guided tour around Pompeii and only saw a fraction of it. It really is an amazing place; from the grand buildings and marble pillars to the small domestic dwellings and the city's brothel - still adorned with rather naughty pictures on the walls. While walking around Pompeii you are taken in by both it's beauty and it's familiarity, so much of it you can relate to and recognise as not being out of place in ones own towns and citys. Welcome signs at the front doors, the shops, the public swimming baths, lead piping etc. Then you remember what befell the residence and this is brought into stark focus when you see the plaster cast of the people who perished. Inside each of these is the remains of a Pompeii resident cast forever in their dying pose. Quite moving even in the hubbub of the milling tourists. One can't help but wish that they were put somewhere better that the shelves of the storage areas or in the glass cabinets in dark corners.

Then the long couch trip back to Rome arriving back at 9pm very tired and hungry. So we hit the local Mc Donalds and ordered for England. Excellent day. Friday we spent the day prior to flying home chilling around Rome and enjoying a HUGE beer at one of Rome's many bar/cafe's. Then the flight home which was delayed because one of the planes tyres went flat just as we were about to take off which meant sitting on the plane for a couple of hours while the tyre was replaced. Still all in all an excellent trip away.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

It's been a little while.

13/10/2011 - Well I know it's been a while since I last posted but I've been recuperating and not doing much else.  Good news is that the surgery to the ear seems to have worked OK and I'll be back running this coming Saturday.  Still not able to partake of the old Martial Arts for a while yet but still.  It's probably going to be tough running again after a six week lay off but I'll try for a five mile jaunt to warm me up.  Then I need to seriously start planning for next years Milton Keynes Marathon.

So what's been happening since my last post then?  Well for me not a lot other than being busy back at work which is why I've been rather neglectful of this blog.  The last few weeks have finally seen the end of an era for me though as I have sold my motorbike.  I've been a bit down about that ever since but it had to go.  Chap who bought it said it was "a beaut, and looked and sounded great". So here's hoping someone nice gets it and looks after the old girl.

My lovely ZXR - now no longer mine :-(
Oh, it was my daughter's 16th birthday and what a lovely birthday it was.  We took her and some of her friends ten pin bowling after which a limo took them all in style to a restaurant where they had a lovely meal. From there it was back home where we'd set-up a marque in the rear garden which tents inside for sleeping, food and drink if wanted, and a cinema area for them to relax and watch films until they had had enough.

Sweet sixteen
The cake my wife made was a big success with the girls and the waitress at the restaurant.

Though I personally I feel it was my addition of a icing sugar zombie, created by my own hands I might add, breaking out from the side of the cake that finished it off nicely.

I call him Benedict.
So that's it; I promise to be a little more active in keeping this up to date from now on now that I'm starting my training again.  Oh and I'm off to Rome soon so that'll hopefully give me something to blog about :-).


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The Six Million Dollar Man

14/09/2011 - Well as I mentioned in my previous post I underwent surgery to try and restore hearing to my left ear.  As the surgeon had no idea what he'd find when he took a look there was no guarantees that he'd be able to do anything.  At the very least though he'd patch up the perforation in the ear drum.   So off to the Pinehill Hospital I went and got booked into my nice room with LCD TV, my own bathroom with shower and comfy bed.  I must say it was nice going private.  Any way the operation was uneventful in that I came too, head heavily bandaged and taken back to my room to wake fully.  Later that evening after the evening meal (one nice thing is you get a very nice pot of filter coffee and biscuits whenever you want them) the consultant came round and said that he'd repaired the ear replacing one of the bones with a tiny "piston".  Only time would show if and by how much my hearing had been improved.

After op, trying to eat a meal, wife's there with camera.
So a week and a half later and I'm back in the hospital having the packing removed from the ear and for the first time in 14 years I can hear in stereo again.  It's amazing.  The hearing is slightly less than the right but it's only marginal and the difference to my overall hearing is stunning.  I am over the moon and I'll be treating myslef to a couple of music CD's as I all but stopped buying music because of the hearing loss.

It's also nice not to be wearing the dressing anymore.  Though the bandage came off the day after the operation the ear had dressing on which my wife would replace when required. Unfortunately she would get a little carried away with the adhesive tape.  Just a good job the duct tape was hidden away.

The only downside is that I can't do any running for a while.  I need to ensure that not only does the ear dqrum properly heal but that the piston does not slip until it's fully integrated.  So I'm going to be off running for about six weeks and no martial arts for a few months (the consultant was keen for me to avoid being punched in the head for a while).  So I'm hoping to be running again by December and probably have to leave my martial arts till next year.  It'll be tough as I'm already itching to do something - oh well perhaps an enforced lay off is a good thing for the body.  Especially as I'll be training for the Milton Keynes marathon in May next year.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Running up to my operation

24/08/2011 - First I'd like to congratulate one of the TR24 team, Stephen Wright, who at the weekend completed his challenge of "Running the Tube Lines" - something in the region of 400 miles.  His blog is well worth a read.  Here's the video of him completing the final leg:

This was an amazing achievement and the charity he did the running for was also the one we ran for at the TR24 so please if you've not already sponsor him for this (and us/me the TR24 team for our much smaller efforts) via Stephens page:

So how's the running going I hear you mumble out of politeness.  Well pretty well as it goes.  I've been upping the mileage each week and in contrast in my normal way of training actually been adding a bit more speed to the odd run.  It's going to be hard when I have to stop for a couple of weeks after I have the ear operation but that's life.  Probably the bigger issue is the martial arts as I've yet to ask how long I need to stop training for.  Running's one thing, being hit in the heads another :-).  Mind you a break from all forms of physical exertion for a few weeks may be just what my body needs.  Got a fair few hurty bits though the worst is the left shoulder/collarbone area which has been bugging me for months. In truth I may need to see an osteopath but well see how it is after a rest.  Worst thing is I've lost a lot of strength from the left arm as a consequence so punches off the left arm are not so good.  This sort of thing does not help lol (I'm the pad holder):

Sadly for me canceling my participation in the Swinesheads 10 miler was a bit of a downer.  I really enjoyed that race and was hoping to really make a big inroad into my personal best.  Bit embarrassing as well since I talked a number of guys I work with to do it with me but I may be able to wave from the side of the road.

Once the operations done and I'm recovered I'll need to dig out a training plan for the marathon next year.  Not that I'll follow it but still best to have one all the same. Lots of winter running to be done and no other races planned this year so motivation is going to be key.  I may see if there's something local I can run in November/December - thinking about it there is the Santa Run in December which is always fun.  Also I will lose some weight - a stone will be about right.  The thought of running a 26 miles seem a lot more achievable a stone lighter.

p.s. Running last week I managed to kick a dog into a hedge.  I was running along when a chap with two little snappy dog things off the lead came into view walking down the side of the field to my left.  As I passed one the the dog shot across at me straight at my legs. Before I could react, I was going downhill so at a reasonable pace, my right leg connected and off the little blighter went sailing into the hedge at my right side.  Decided not to break stride as the little and rather dejected doggy exited the hedge to have it's morning ruined even more by a telling off from it's owner.

Don't forget please sponsor Stephen if you can it's for a very good cause. Thanks :-)

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Post TR24 - the Aftermath

14/08/2011 - OK, so it's been two weeks since the TR24 Thunder Run and I can now safely say that it was by far the best running experience I've had.  Deffinitely going to be doing it again next year.  Though next year the stakes are raised as everyone I've spoken to from the team want to push harder.  People who did 3 laps want to do four, those that did four want to do five, those that did five are talking about six and everyones talking about improving lap times.  Brilliant.

So I guess the first question would be how did I feel immediately after the Tr24 weekend; well tired. Legs were OK, the knee was fine but having no sleep for 36 hours it took a while to catch up with my sleep.  What I also felt was elated.  I'd had a great time with a good bunch of people, ran more miles in a day than I'd ever done before and felt I could have done more.  Lastly having five other people share the experience with meant I could discuss the race, share the old war stories and generally pat each other on the back in a way you never can when you do a solo race.  Oh an one more thing; it gave me confidence.  So much so that a few days ago I entered the Milton Keynes marathon 2012 - my first (and possibly last).  So I'm upp'ing my mileage, working on my speed and thinking about how I should be training for this marathon. :-)  Oh and I need to lose some weight.

Unfortuantely I'll will have to take a small break from running in September as I'm going to have an operation to try and restore the hearing to my left ear.  Unfortunate that I won't be able to run for a while but if it works it'll be fantastic to hear in stereo again.  So it's all good, especially as I'm going to have it done at a lovely private hospital though still under the NHS.  The NHS just wanted to patch the ear drum but as soon as I spoke to the private chap it was "why haven't they spoken to you about restoring your hearing as well?".  So I'm a happy chap.

Lastly, remember the "Billgoda" (the pagoda built by Bill) well I've finished laying the paving slabs and apart from a few little bits and pieces it's finished :-).

We spend so much time now sitting under it looking out into the garden.  I did wonder if it would get used but I'm there after work, weekends as is the rest of the family.  Bill's taking orders for 2012 ;-).

Monday, 1 August 2011

The TR24 - Adidas Thunder Run - PART 1

31/07/2011 - Ok I've been a bit lack at updating the blog in the last few weeks but in my defense I've been very busy both at home and work.  As I mentioned previously I spent a lovely weekend in Brighton and had I not been so busy I'd have regaled you with tales of running the Brighton sea front, lovely meals out and just the best day with good friends at their seaside hut.  It was great but sadly I missed the chance to blog it and now I have a race report to produce.  The Adidas TR24 Thunder Run 2011. Now forgive me but this will be a long post - it was after all a 24 hour race.

The day started in the usual way, the sun came up I assume hauled across the sky by some sort of giant turtle thing and I hopped out of bed ready for an early start. I use the term "hopped" in it's inaccurate form as I in fact rolled out of bed and staggered zombie like to the loo. It was Saturday the 31st and in a little more than 3 hours I'd be at Catton Park for the 2011 Adidas TR24 with a team of people who'd to a large extent were unknown to each other. First thought of the day "I hope we've not got a prat in the team" as 24 hours of tiredness can cause ructions if there's a personality clash in the team. Second thought was "what if I'm the prat in the team?" Anyway as far as the race goes I'll quote Adidas themselves as an explanation of the event.

"a 24 hour off-road relay race against the clock. Whether you run solo or in a team of 2-8 it'll test your tactics, endurance, speed and team work. It's an exhilarating, rewarding and tiring race with a great atmosphere. You'll find TR24 physically challenging and mentally tough but an experience not to be missed."

I had pre-packed the car the night before so it was just a case of washing and I was ready to go.  I was taking two of my team, the Stotfold Runners, in my car; the other three members traveling in a second car. At 08:50 Rackesh arrived; 5 minutes late but that was good as I'd forgotten to get the address of where we were going so that 5 minutes gave me time to print off the directions without looking stupid. And so we set off for Derbyshire, picking up Chris on the way, in the most glorious weather.

We arrived around 10 am to find that the other three members of the team, Pete, Steve and Linda already there and settled in having reserved us a spot for our tent.  Just time to set everything up, get our tags, t-shirts and goodie bag etc before the race start of 12 o'clock mid-day. BTW the goodie bad was very good.  A really good quality running t-shirt to commemorate the race, four re-hydrating powder sachets of different flavours to make drinks with, energy gell and some deodorant (so no excused there then), oh and a drinks bottle.

Ok let me set the scene; so we're all there waiting for the race to begin and there's one thing I need you to keep in mind; the heat.  It was a bakingly hot day without even the hint of a breeze.  Now camping with weather like this is a dream but we all knew running in it was going to be hard.  The site has a carnival like atmosphere.  Everyones happy and there for the same thing, there's shops and food places and stands and even a place to go get a massage. Oh yes and it quite beautiful there.  So it's understandable why the place is full of family there supporting their loved ones; or simply ignoring their love ones and settling into a nice cold glass of wine in the beautiful surroundings. Add to that lots of pretty ladies in tight lycra to chase round the course and I'm in heaven.

Well it's time and the first team member running is Pete - lucky chap.  Now Pete is a personal trainer and a top chap to boot ( but he'd injured his ankle just over a week before the race so was not in his best shape.  Numerous visits to the physio, strapping and a fair haul of Nurofen would hopefully see him through.  Pete had asked specifically to go first as he wanted to test his ankle; a decision that would come back to haunt him as his first two runs would be in the baking heat. I should have felt sorry for him but it was his choice so as the realisation of two runs in the blistering heat dawned on him I laughed instead. We wished him all the best and reminded him of the plan for us all to take the first lap gently as it's an endurance race not a sprint.

The camp site is set-up so you're never far from a place where the runners come past so from where we were camped we were soon able to calculate roughly when we might expect one of us to pass by. So we ambled over to await Pete's arrival. We were getting a little nervous as runner after runner came past declaring to their mates standing at the sides "It's far far worse than you realise, it's hell" or similar. Just as we were getting worried about Pete and whether his ankle was holding up there he was. He was running reasonably smoothly so the ankle must be holding up and he even managed a smile as he passed all the while mumbling something about how he hated me and why did he agree to do this (a theme he'd run with throughout the 24 hours).
Linda was up next and was already at the holding pen waiting for Pete's arrival. Linda's what I'd call a proper runner and I having shared the experience of the TR24 with her she's someone I'd put in my team at the drop of a hat. Apart from her laugh and the nice cup of tea she made me her experience having done this event the previous year was invaluable to the team. Pete flew in in around 55 minutes (forgive the timings here as I forgot the sheet we jotted to times down on so I'm going from memory) which considering his ankle and the heat seemed pretty reasonable. When we understood the course better "pretty reasonable" was upgraded to "bloody good". We did our calculations and worked out when we need to be looking out for Linda coming past. At the appointed time we wandered over just as she screamed past; oh damn too fast to get a picture. I had to run to another point of the course to get a picture of her running by. Then we all realised that Chris was not going to be expecting her to be arriving so quickly and we hoped he'd by there waiting for the baton hand over. Unfortunately he wasn't so Linda had a frustrating minute or so waiting for someone to hand the baton to. But eventually a slightly embarrassed Chris arrived, apologised and took off for his and our third lap. Linda had run a 53 minute lap!!!. Linda backed up Pete's assertion that it was a tough course and soooo very hot. Keeping hydrated was going to be an issue and me without beer.. 

Chris is an Army guy, immensely likable and as chilled as anyone you'll ever meet. We knew he'd be a strong team member but we'd learn just how important he'd be to the team as the race wore on. You sort of suspected that if you said "Chris mate, we cant be arsed. You mind doing the rest yourself?" he'd have gone "I'll give it a go - any chance of a brew though?" Again we were waiting for him to run by us at his appointed time, we'd got the timings sorted by then, and he came past with a smile and a wave. He did not look fast and I knowledgeably predicted a 60 minute lap. Rakesh had gone over to the start/finish line for his lap and to take the baton off Chris and I think must have been a little shocked when Chris came flying in having just completed a 50 minute lap. Wow!!

Rakesh is a damn good martial artist ( a 5th dan in Shotokan Karate and holds a 5th dan and an instructor qualification with the The British Combat Association. He's also another top bloke and I'm please to call him a mate. Like everyone else he was given strict instructions to take it easy and not to knacker himself in the first lap.  Of he set, after a while came past with a wave and sprinted to the finish line in 54 minutes. So much for everyone taking it easy lol. He passed the baton over to Steve.

Stephen is a quiet unassuming guy with an easy relaxed way about him.  You can't help but like him immediately and he was the perfect fit into the team that by pure luck gelled perfectly. He's also the celebrity in the team and featured in an article in the Mirror news paper on Friday ( and you can follow his progress at  We chose his charity as our team charity and if you can please sponsor us via his charity page at

We knew that Steve would be quick as he was the one out of all of us that was doing somewhere near the sort of mileage in training that you need to to do this sort of race and we were not let down.  He came in at something like 52 minutes looking like he'd just been out for a light jog through the park.  I was next out and was glad to take over ownership of the baton and get going.

First lap and within half a kilometer you hit a sharp right up a steep narrow track through the woods. With very little room for overtaking and a rather uneven, root and stone straddled path the climb up was harsh. It's a course of ups and downs with seemingly few completely flat bits. In fact as harsh as some of the "ups" are it's the "downs" that were the more worrying. As each lap drained the energy from the legs trying to control ones pace and stability while running down a steep decline proved very difficult. I push myself up every hill, ran every bit as best I could. I loved it, it was just the sort of terrain I love to run in and though I'm definitely the weakest member of the team I still managed to complete it in 56 minutes. Considering the heat and the harsh (that word again) nature of the course I reckon I'd have got a personal best on a flat course. I may have been the slowest so far but I felt I'd kept myself in spitting distance of the others. Speaking of which some chap came passed us, while we were waiting for I think Chris, with his face covered in spit. Now I looked and since he did not appear to be running for a pedophile charity he either had a lot of enemies out there running or he was spitting on himself. Either way not a good look..

Anyway first laps done, Pete out on his second and there was much patting on the backs over a great start. We'd set ourselves a pretty ambitious 24 laps for our first crack at this race and we'd given ourselves a much better start than we'd hoped. Nearly everyone's second lap was incredibly as good as their first with Chris actually doing a 49 minute lap - which was to prove to be to team record for the day.

My second lap was in the dark and I was really enjoying it until around the 7th kilometer through a wooded section I stumbled on a steep down hill bit and "shocked" my right knee. While it was not the crippling pain of a sprain etc it was painful enough to slow me down to a limping jog and though I tried to finish with a sprint I came in with a 60 minute lap. Still not bad but I wanted another sub-60 minute one. More worrying was whether the knee would hold out.

So the night runs had started and we were all on our third laps. Pete was starting to struggle with his ankle and his third lap was quite a bit down on his other two. No problem though as we were well ahead of schedule and we were doing amazingly well considering. Then I heard news of our first casualty. Linda had taken a stumble in the last wooded section and badly sprained her ankle. Even so she'd still managed to get in at around 64 minutes, very credible considering the pain she must have been in. I had anticipated that we'd probably lose someone during the race and linda's ankle injury meant sadly she could not continue. It was a real shame as she had looked good for at least four laps. Thankfully she'd already put three excellent laps in the bank so she had every right to feel proud of herself and to relax and enjoy the rest of the time there.

Out after Linda was Rakesh and his previous laps had be well under the hour so we were a little concerned when well after an hour he'd still not finished. Eventually he appeared looking in a lot of pain with a 78 minute lap. He'd taken a fall in the wooded section within the first 1k and had stumbled round the other 9k in agony. He said it was the most painful thing he'd ever done in his life which I think puts this lap as one of the most remarkable of the the teams race. His race was over. So we're two down so there's no time for sleep as me and the other team members need to fill in the gaps.

Steve stressed out
Chris and Steve had once again again banged in times in the low 50's laps for their third laps and were showing no signs of slowing up. I set off and found instantly that my knee was a problem. Any downhill bit where normally I'd be making up time was was reduced to a painful stagger. I was getting frustrated as I just could not get any pace into my run. This lap was about survival and finishing. I limped across the finish in a disappointing 80 minutes and passed the baton to Pete for his fourth lap.

Go to Part 2

The TR24 - Adidas Thunder Run - PART 2

The fourth laps came round quickly with both Linda and Rakesh out of the race. Pete finishes his with a knackered ankle and somehow had pulled I think a 64 minute lap out of the bag which after his third lap and personal prediction of a 90 minute one was a real boost for the team. Again Chris and Steve banged in their usual low 50's lap (those two are machines) and I set off for my forth lap advising that it would be very slow and to expect a 90 minute one or me on a stretcher.

Once I got going though I found that if I ran while sort of rolling my shoulders transferring the weight from one leg to another I could jog without too much pain. The best way I can describe it is to imagine a stereotypical scouser chappy walking ala Harry Enfield and you've just pictured my new running style ( if you're still unsure look here ( - Note these is some bad language). I'm calling it Scouse Running - the book will be available on Kindle for Christmas. Ok I could not run fast, looked rather silly and the down hill stretches were still bloody painful but I was coping. I made it round in about 73 minutes which I had to be happy with considering. That was 22 laps in the bag and both Steve and Chris wanted to go for the 5th lap and the kudos of having run 50 kilometers on some pretty tough terrain in 24 hours.

Chris does his fifth lap in I think 58-59 minutes and finishes with a "Oh I think that'll do, I felt that one". Steve finishes in I think a similar time and looks to me like he could have done another. He's looking for me in the holding area to do my fifth waving the baton about. What he does not know is that I've been talked out of it by Pete who sensibly reminds me I'm driving home after the race and a two hour drive might be pushing it after another lap while injured and that we'd reached our goal. Though today as I write this I do sort of wish I'd done that last 10k and got myself into the 50k club. Oh well next year.

So we call it a day, we'd reach our goal of 24 laps, pushed ourselves as hard as we could and had the best race we could considering everything and that this was our first go at it. We collected our HUGE and quite frankly gorgeous medals, cracked a bottle of champagne and celebrated in style - or at least a reasonable impression of it.

Would I do it again? Like a shot. Not only was this by far the best race event I've ever attended but I've got that 50k goal set in my mind. Hats off to the organisers for putting this on, perfect, the toilets were kept constantly clean and the showers always had hot water. This is one of those endurance races that's as hard as you want to make it which means you have a massive range of abilities all of which adds to the carnival atmosphere. Boy am I going to have to up my training for next year :-). The results are out and we finished 94th out of 147 teams in the 6-8 mixed. Not at all bad.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Another week down, another week closer

05/07/2011 - Well not a bad week all in all.  Managed to do all my runs but still way back on where I was hoping to be by now and with just over 3 weeks till the TR24 I'm getting a bit worried. Still weathers been nice and it been a joy running my new countryside routes.  Which will be a stark contrast to the screaming hell that'll be the Thunder Run.

Where I just came from (up a steep hill)
On Sunday I decided to take my Android phone to take a few pics of the route; something I've not done for a while.  It was a lovely day and I was quiet happy to jog along stopping occasionally to snap a picture or two. I was supposed to be running with a mate but forgetfulness on my part meant he did not turn up (I was supposed to text him).

The woods are on the left.  Great to run through but a little overgrown atm.
I'd wondered if I should make this run a nice long one but it occurred to me that I'd be laying more paving slabs when I got back followed by two hours of Karate in the evening.  Hmmm maybe keep this run to six miles.  Good decision as by the end of the day I felt like I'd spent the evening trapped in a room with Mike Tyson after accidentally treading on and killing one of his pigeons.

Half way point!
Days like this I wish I'd left a little later and factored in a stop at a lovely country pub.  Definitely something to think about.  Run five miles, chill with a beer in a pub garden, run five miles back.  Lovely.  Maybe even a running based pub crawl; now that's something I should organise or at least try out on my own.

Back through the woods.
Anyway I'm making a pledge now that this coming week will see me putting in the highest mileage yet for a week.  I'm at Brighton this weekend so should get some running in there and have something interesting to blog about for once.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

It's been a good week

29/06/2011 - Oh what a week last week was.  Monday was a little less energetic than I'd planned as the run I was to go on deteriorated into a glass of Champagne.  Well it was rather warm out, the garden looked lovely and I had a bottle of Champagne chilling in the fridge.  I looked to my wife for support but in a pathetic lack of good decision making she got the glasses, the wine cooler and so I popped the cork.  One empty bottle later and we're left wondering if this is any way to go through life?  I retrospect I'm going to say ..... yes.

Running's going really well and I'm doing a comfortable 24 miles a week though my task this week is to get that number up.  Had some really nice runs through the countryside, finding some great new routes and I now have a running partner for Sunday mornings which is nice. Biggest problem at the moment is not my fitness but finding the time to fit the runs in.  As is normally the way at the time I need to be increasing my runs the "other" things get in the way.  None more so than work.

Can't say too much about it other than I've been asked to do some consultancy work in the Big Smoke that is London.  So it's on the train to Canary Wharf; which for a while also includes some weekend days. Been a while since I had to commute to London and about 5 years since I worked at Canary Wharf so it'll be interesting. 

The paving slab laying's nearing an end thank God.  I no longer have any finger prints and my back's foobarred.  Mind you it's coming together nicely and another weekend and a lick of paint and it'll look splendid.  Once finished I'll take a nice picture from the end of the garden so you get the full effect :-)

Getting there
Oh, as an aside my daughter brought home her school report detailing what she's expected to get for her GCSE's.  All of them A or A* except one B.  Like the fantastic parents we praised her unreservedly.  No not really we asked what's with the B lol.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Running again

20/06/2011 - It's  been a good week for running and I'm beginning to feel I might actually be able to do the Adidas Thunder Run in July (deluded fool).  Still need to lose a bit, well a stone, of weight but at least the trainings going OK. Hopefully I'll be able to report in my next blog that I'm increasing the mileage.  Had a nice run with a friend on Sunday morning whose recently moved into the area.  He wanted to know where he could run so I took him out and showed him the running route near where he lived.  I may have made a small mistake taking through the woods.  It was a lot more overgrown than last time I'd run through it and a hell of a lot more "stingy" than I remember.  The way was overgrown with stinging nettles and our legs were a little worse for wear by the time we exited.  Still, good run and he's asked if we can make it a regular thing (but not the wood portion).

I purchased some new running shoes recently, some lovely Nike Lunarglides +2, and I will having used them for a few runs say they are fantastic. It's like running in your best pair of slippers; wonderfully comfortable. I decided to buy the grey and purple ones.  They are also clean.

Biggest problem I have at the moment is that I'm only half way through the laying of the patio area in the rear garden.  Things are progressing well ..... the screaming back pain, the destroyed hands, the agony in the hands, wrists and forearms and lets not forget the stiff neck; all of which are progressing well.  It's hard to go for a run when your bodies in agony.  How do people do this for a living??  I know that 20 years in the IT industry has left me with the hands of a young child, or perhaps those best attached to a Geisha trained in the art of tea making and dealing pleasure,  but I thought the body was reasonably tough.  Years of Martial arts and exercise??  I should be immune to these aches and pains.  Anyway I got on a fair lick and I'm probably 70% of the way through.  I even got the drain cover replaced with a nice new one.

Getting there

So hopefully I'll have the paving completed by the end of this weekend and can start to fit the heaters, water feature etc to make the area a really nice place to sit in the garden ..... for my wife as I'll be indoors painting.

Monday, 13 June 2011

No running at the weekend

13/06/2011 - I sort of knew I was not going to get much in the way of runs in on the weekend just gone.  Still I had hoped to get a quick run in on Saturday Morning but no such luck. The reason for this pessimism was the delivery on Friday of 80 paving slabs and a pallet of cement.  I had a job to do.

Well initially I got someone in to quote for the work and my wife for her part told me that I was doing it so that was that.  Measured up, did my calculations and ordered the paving slabs and cement (not enough cement as it goes).  Anyway the lot arrives on Friday and first job is lugging the lot round to the rear garden.  After moving the bags of cement and 20 of the slabs I decided the other 60 could just stay where they were until needed.

Saturday morning, work clothes on and I get stuck in.  30 minutes later I'm having a coffee and letting the fact sink in that this was going to be a rather painful day.  This is pretty much how the day goes, 30 minutes of work, coffee, small cry, 30 minutes of work.  By around 6:30 pm I'm knackered and stop for the evening meal.  I wash and collapse in front of the telly.  Then my lovely wife in a show of contrition cracks open a lovely bottle of vintage Cava and it's off to the cinema room to watch Taken (damn good film too).  Next day, Sunday, it's much the same.  If there is a difference it's perhaps that the work rate has dropped and I'm sobbing more frequently.  By 3pm my wife says to pack in for the day.  I think she's grown weary of hearing a groan man cry.  So I tidy and clean up both the garden and myself.  So after two days of solid work I've managed to lay 30 slabs (see below).

30 slabs laid (you can't see the ones going back to the door)
Now it's Monday and I have to ask myself what are these sore infected lumps of flesh I see before me? Oh yes they're my fingers. Mind you they are not painful; well not when compared to the agony that is my back and neck. Both of which pale into insignificance when compared to the searing visceral compilation of pain that is my wrists and forearms. On the upside I saved the £20 it would have cost me to exploit a young eastern european chap to do it for me.

One small consolation is that the woman that made me do it now has to hear me moaning & groaning constantly until I've finished then I expect she'll get driven mad by the "tales" of my endeavors for years to come (remember the fence sweetie?). 

Also I've decided to get my own back on my lovely wife by posting the trials and tribulations of the patio laying over the next few weeks on my blog (starting tonight). If ever the social services decide to include the protection of husbands in their remit I'll have all they need for them to remove me to a safe location and care of a foster wife.

Oh yes and despite the pain I'm going to go for a run on the morning.  Sometimes hero is too small a word.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The New Forest, a 10k and new shoes

08/06/11 - Well sine coming back from Cuba I've started training in earnest for the Adidas Thunder run in July.  I'm currently running 20 miles a week and the intention is to increase that week on week until I'm hitting around 40 a week prior to the race.

Training took a bit of a hit due to a lovely long weekend in the New Forest. I'd completed 3 10K (total 18 mile) runs that week before we left for the New Forest.  The plan was to do another while I was there.  Oh well; best laid plans and all that.  First morning it was out the door of the New Forest Inn and off into the wilderness.

 Well to be honest first it was off into the shops of Lyndhurst for the morning.  Then it was back to the Inn to dropped off the purchases and then finally off into the wilderness.  We must have walked about ten miles through the forest meeting wild horses and cows along the way.

Well we got back I popped my running kit on a went for a run (idiot).  Next day we visited the New Forest visitor centre then once again set off into the great unknown.  We managed about another 10 miles but thankfully managed to fit in a pub on the walk.  Loads more wild horses; they even came over while we were at the pub.

Back to the Inn and a stunning lovely Sunday roast dinner.  A pretty prefect weekend topped off on the Monday for our daughter as she got to go riding for two hours prior to our journey home. I can't recommend the New Forest Inn enough; or in fact the New Forest itself.

Now I had a 10k race coming up at the Whipsnade Zoo so the day after we get back from the New Forest I'm out for a run.  Ouch!!!  I had to turn back after a mile due to very painful shin pain - blasted walking.  I'm not built for walking.  So I did no more running that week.  Sunday comes and it's off for the race.  I'm worried I'll not make it round because of my legs but I've paid so I'm going.  As it goes I need not have worried.  Got round OK and the legs were fine (race report will be in the completed race section shortly).

Finally this week I took delivery of a new pair of Lunarglide +2.  Wow!  Amazing how comfy they are.  I Thought the original Lunarglides they replace were good but these are lovely.  First run in them tonight and they were first rate.  Very happy :-)

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Back from Holiday and needing to train harder.

19/05/2011 - Well Cuba was great.  Been back a couple for weeks but I've been too busy to post anything - sorry.  SO how was Cuba? Well......

Holiday started with a coffee and a breakfast followed by champagne in Virgins lovely first class lounge.  Then continued, once boarded, on the 9 hour flight to Havanna (a bottle of Moet helped get us through it).  We landed in Havannah in the early evening but were all too tired to really enjoy the city so we had an hours walk around the main central square, an evening meal and then off to bed.  Next day it was up early and off to a small local airport for the one hour flight over to Cayo Coco.  This was not too bad but finding that our hotel room was not ready when we got there was.  Anyway by late afternoon we're finally settled in the hotel with a pleasent view of the sea.

Finally in the room

So now the holiday begins.  I'd planned to be very active during this holiday; pleanty of runs and making use of the hotel gym.  What I'd not planned for was just how hot it was.  The last two years I'd been too Mauritius in April so while it was in the hight 70's early 80's Cuba was in the high 80's and early 90's.  I managed in total 4 runs during the two weeks there and they were very slow and completed in the morning before it got stupidly hot.  Even then I'd return drenched in sweat.  Still the routes outside the hotel were nice enough.

Plenty of places to run

I tried the gym once and it was a bit of a hole so I returned only once more before giving it up as a bad job.  So improving my fitness was not going to be the "theme" of this holiday so instead I got stuck into the all inclusive food and alcohol.  Easy to do when it's sooo hot and this is the view from the bar:

View from the bar

As you can guess my plan to come back fitter than I went was in tatters.  My wife took a picture of me and looking at it I've decided that the camera's added oooo two stone :-(.  I decided that as soon as I get home it's back to the training otherwise I'll never make it round the TR24 in July.  For anyone with the stomach for it here's a picture of me on the beach:

Is black and white slimming?

Now I'll not bore you with the detail of my weeks on the beach other than to say it was very nice.  Eventually all good things must end so it was back to the airport and for a flight back to Havannah and the lovely hotel we'd stayed in on our first night in Cuba.  This time we'd get a day and a half to spend in Havannah and we were as fresh as daisies so we made sure we hired a driver and his coach and horse for the day and off we went.  What a day that was, wow.  I love Havannah.  Got a little drunk in a very nice cocktail bar, saw the sights, had a lovely meal in a hidden restaurant and got my hands on some lovely cigars for a mate.

What's going on?
Right enough of that.  The holidays now over and it's back to planet Earth and my normal life.  Getting back to work was tough and I fully expected getting back to running to be the same.  Fortunately and happily I was wrong.  First run out, a short five miler, proved to be an absolute pleasure.  A rest seemed to have done me the world of good and everything had got a lot greener since I'd been away.  I enjoyed Cuba but I think I still prefer running at home, well except for the bloody bugs; where did they come from?  Still here's a pic from one of my current runs:

Love it!
Off to the New Forest in a week so really looking forward to running through the woods :-).