Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Simple


On a beautiful night,like tonight,all is well with the world.It holds promise,adventure,opportunities,happiness.I'm sat outside the carabanger-the lightness is slowly starting to fade-but the temperature is mild-and I'm surrounded by a feeling of positivity and calmness.Its quiet here-made more so by my recent decision to turn off the tv.I've not watched anything for a couple of weeks now-and don't miss anything.Most of the time its just background noise.If its noise I'm after,I'll put the radio on-but I,ve recently been revelling in the joy of silence.Its the things that are always there which are always most pure,and the absence of noise is one pleasure people are gradually destroying.

I feel ,in some ways, vindicated that the course I have chosen is right.I have little stress,am more relaxed and can now see a life plan that is clearer-but involves doing things my way.I do not miss the extra money I was earning through more work.Indeed I enjoy trying to survive on less.Previously my ego was consumed with success-and that included work.I would have been embarrassed to admit to having a low end job,with low end money.Now I,m not bothered.I've got greater things I want to achieve than work.I still crave a certain amount of success--for example,I have got goals I want to achieve with running--but this may also be a weakness--another attempt by the ego to gain a modicum of control--but this is one I have not yet conquered.Maybe in the future.

I feel now I need little materially.I could quite happily get by with only few possessions.The propect of a real minimalist running adventure really appeals to me.To arrive in some far off place with just a pair of shorts,sandals,a couple of shirts and basic essentials would be good.I would have to find somewear to sleep-not too much of a problem ,if it was hot--and would have to get a daily food source sorted out,but this should not be too much of a problem.Just running from town to town/village to village/settlement to settlement would be a most excellent adventure.

Today is the second day I have not run.My legs have been so stiff after the marathon.It must be the faster pace,as after Mexico,with its 50 odd miles and 9000ft of ascent/descent,my legs feel fine.Not to worry--will see how they are tomorrow.

Monday, 26 April 2010

London Marathon 2010


London was to be my first proper marathon.I had done a couple of trail type affairs over the last couple of years-but ,with those,accuracy is always questionable.We set off on the Saturday morning-Me,Jose,Geoff K,and Tony-all running-and David and Geoff J spectating.The weekend is always good-even if you are not running.A visit to the Excel to register,dinner on the grass at the side of the London airport,to the hotel -and the traditional fish and chips on Saturday night.

Saturday in the city was hot!The forecast for Sunday was better-cloudy,with a chance of showers,and getting warm later.Sunday morning-and the forecast was right!I wanted to run as close to 3 hours as possible.I knew the distance was not a problem-but maintaining sub 7 pace in the second half of the race was abit of a voyage into the unknown for me.The first few miles passed quickly and were slightly faster than predicted pace.At around 9 miles,the enormity of the task entered my head-could I keep this pace until the end?Me and Jose passed 10k in just on 41 mins-this time last year I was running 42+ for 10k races on their own-so must be getting fitter.Over Tower Bridge,I was still running with Jose-but half a mile down the road,we had split.I was entering the second half of the race and felt good.I passed half way in 1hr 27--1.5mins faster than my time in last years Friskney Half.

All was going well.At 20ish miles the tiredness hit me-but I knew that if I could maintain pace,I would be under 3hrs.My final time was 2hrs 56 mins--very happy with that.My legs today are aching!So day off today-then getting straight into training for the 12hr race-including my first 8hr day on Friday.I am energized after the performance-and ready to roll!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Peace,Love and Understanding.(The banyan tree revisited)

Tonights run was great.From work back to the carabanger,nice and slow,due to the race on Sunday.The weather was beautiful-nice and bright-hot,but not too hot.It was one of those runs which just feel so easy,that you feel you could carry on all day.It made me question the training post London,for the 12hr race.I've decided I'm going to do 3 hours a day,home from work-Monday to Thursday.Friday will be the big day of the week-and a good day to devote to running ,with people at work and Reice at school.This will be an 8hr day,consisting of 4 loops to chapel point and back.The benefits of this is that all the toilets are open on the seafront,so I have to carry no drinks,and I'II pass by the banger every couple of hours to get food.Running a 12 takes no speed at all-the only difficulty being to actually keep your legs moving.If I can get 14 8 hr runs in before the race it should hold me in good stead.Saturday and Sunday will be very easy runs of about 2 hrs.Overall that should give me 24 hrs for the week.
Came across an intersting conversation on facebook tonight,where two people,who know me well were discussing me.(nice to be the centre of attention!).One was commenting on my profile picture,days before the CCUM,and said on it I looked like I had AIDS.I guess that means I'm looking pretty skinny,so I'II take it as a compliment.Over the last 3 years I've gone from 14.5 st to just over 11st.With all the miles over the next I reckon that I should be able to drop to 10.5 st,which will be my lightest since being a teenager.

Monday, 19 April 2010

The Greatest Living Painter


Tonight was a good run home.It was a proper run-a run of neccessity ,rather than pure enjoyment.I had to collect something from my mums house,so it made sense to devise a route home from work which involved passing hers.Altogether it took about 3hrs-just over-and I felt ok.The last few days I've had a slight calf strain,so have not been doing anything too intensive(do I ever!).Sunday is London Marathon day,It will be great to run it ,finally,and I would love to go under 3hrs.However this race is not the focus for the year-so if I do ,I do-if I don't,I don't.

The race thats the biggy is the Boston 12hr race in August.I am aiming to run long-hoping to run a distance that will place me at the top of the uk ranking for the distance this year.After London I should have about 14 weeks,before a 2 week easing off period before the race.Consistancy is the key and I am hoping to run a steady 20/25 hrs a week in all those 14 weeks.That should give me a fighting chance.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Honest

The basic chain of thought for this post started with the sun shinning through the window of the carabanger,waking me up at about 8 a.m.It's so nice when you wake up and think about what you've got to do that day and the answers-nothing really.It afforded me with the pleasure of drifting off to sleep til about midday,drifting in and out of sleep ,sampling snippets of a parrot incessantly whistling in a van on one side,and the world according to Sheffield(bloke who gets in this car to drive 100 yards to the shower block-but makes for entertaining eaves dropping)on the other.When I eventually got up,I decided to check out some stuff I had briefly read before about 'The Slow Movement'.This all links up with my quest for simplicity and basically advocates that people are too obssessed with getting things done fast and having busy lifes.To be busy is looked upon as admirable,while having nothing to do is viewed as not.The benefits of having nothing to do are numerous,but,one great one ,is that then you can do choose to do something,but there are no constraints on time.It seems that peoples obssession with speed is similar to most peoples attitude to work.Why is doing something fast so important?Why is being viewed as a'good worker'looked upon as a positive personality trait?Don't ask me.

Basically I knew today would be a 'slow'day-take my time,enjoy the sun,have a mid afternoon kip if desired,and enjoy the day without any prearranged plans and no constraints on time.And so far its been nice.

I eventually got ready to run about 3ish.The past two days I had planned for 2 x 2 x 2,but due to my right calf playing up(had major problems last year) I decided to revise it to 1 x 2 x 2.On the 2 hour jaunt today(actually 1 hr 45-just felt like I wanted to go hard after 10 mins or so)I started thinking about honesty.Strange thing to think about for most folks,but not me.I had recently read interviews with John Grant,who used to front The Czars,and was impressed by his honesty-then listened to a song by The Beautiful South,where someone had commemted that on the particular album that this song was on ,Paul Heaton was too honest for his own good.It set me thinking'Can someone be too honest?'I like to believe that I'm pretty honest,but sometimes,for example,when people say'Why do I live in a caravan?',I'll explain its temporary,I've just split up from my wife'etc,etc,etc.I do that because I'm scared in a way of peoples reactions,like'Oh hes a failure' etc.But then I question why I,ve done that.I chose to live here and I chose it because I thought I would be happy here-and I am-its just somewhat out of kilter with what'normal' people aspire to.Anyway that got me thinking to other areas of my life where I had not been completely honest.

From as long as I can remember I've wanted to be the best at things.At primary school I wanted to get the best marks in class(nearly-always beaten by my twin brother) and the fastest(I was).That passed on to secondary school,where again I excelled at sports and ,through sheer hard work,was good on the academic side of things.I eventually went to university to study Sports Science,with the long term aim of becoming a PE teacher.However university changed my mind.I got to a place where I was distinctly average,mostly in terms of athletic ability(Birmingham University is one of the premier sporting universities in the uk)and that got me questioning myself.I had sacrificed so much,in terms of socialising etc,and for what?I was still no good.The seed was planted and the partying began.I found if I couldn,t be the best runner,I could become the best drunk-it was easy!Dead easy!At all the athletic club does I would put on my customary performance and people would love it.Life and soul of the party!I left university with zero plans to get a career(in hindsight,perhaps, an inspired move).The last year of university involves what is (or was!)known as 'The Milk Round'-where companies come round trying to attract graduates.I attended none.I was fed up with sport,running,everything to do with commitment-all I wanted to do was Mcjobs-earn abit of cash and travel.

I did travel-Indonesia,Thailand,Austrailia,America,Canada and enjoyed it-but still wanted more.When I returned to England in 1989 the rave scene waas just kicking off.It was exciting-a chance for me to fit in-and again this was done by excess.I floated around for a few years-still doing jobs with little responsibility and then ended up in Nottingham.I knew no-one in Nottingham,but through my sisters husband at the time,became friends with some of his friends who were at Trent University(still good friends to this day).This was great-late 20s,knocking about with students-cheap drinks,fun and laughter!By this time I had started working the markets,but could easily handle 3/4 nights a week-get in at 3 blasted-then work at 5.

Things changed forever(!) one night in Loughborough in 1996.I had burnt the candle at both ends for too long-I was living with my ex brother in law,having moved from notts,due to having my van broke into numerous times.This night we overdid it,and I went to bed feeling wierd.Not a new experience.The next day I woke up feeling wierd.This was a feeling that would stay with me for over two years.When it happened,I turned back to running.I remember running round a park in Loughborough and I couldn't think-there was too much going through my mind-as if every fact was competing for space.I moved back to Skegness.I needed some familiararity.Those things were scary.I,d try and tell close family and friends how I felt,but as I was telling them I'd think'You sound mad!'.Then I'd tell them and by the look in their eyes I knew they were freaked out.I wanted someone to say that they knew how I felt-but no-one did.

Things started to get better gradually.The day I was on eastgate and I looked at the volcanic eruption and actually thought it was real ,not an illusion,was a turning point-but I had been on the market 6 months before that point.Rather than slow-I needed things fast.I hated winters when I didn,t have to work-but loved summers-I was so busy-and felt great.Gradually,through abstinence,normality returned-running returned-life returned.Now I,ve felt great for about 6 years-its nice to run-nice to be able to relax-and nice to actually think that was a lesson learned.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

(out and back x2) x2

Had a relatively easy week this week,due to picking up a slight calf strain after the half on Sunday and also with lack of time to do too much running.Its been one of those weeks,where everything happens at once-club committee meetings etc,etc.So had a day off Monday,club session on tuesday-about 1hr,1hr 30 mins on Wednesday,1hr 15mins on Thursday and 2 hrs on friday.Due to the easy week I have decided to do a couple of 4hr days over the weekend-but split into 2 sessions,to safeguard the calf before next weeks London Marathon.I have just finished the first 2 hrs-Chapel and back and am having a couple of hours rest and then doing it again.Same for tommorrow.The weather is beautiful-hot with a slight cooling breeze.Happy Days.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Search for Soul


Running for me has to be soulful.I like to refer back to the soul surfers,where the key is the attitude,not the performance.The sheer act of running is essentially soulful-simple and spiritual.Keep it to the basics-don't overshadow the beauty with technology-just run-steady and long.

I returned to the carabanger pretty late tonight and fixed up a quick dinner-polenta and vegetable balti.I enjoyed the silence.The last few weeks,instead of turning the tv or radio on ,mainly cause of habit-I haven't bothered.The silence is sort of pure.With just a low light on,curtains closed,wind whistling outside,but inside warm-the banger felt so inviting and cozy-like a long term friend you know would never let me down.Its times like this I love the simplicity life has to offer.I feel like Dean Potter in his cabin in Yosemite or somewhere equally remote and its at times like this that I dream of drifting to the edges of society-a place where wealth and possessions have no meaning-a place where people are only judged by the colours of their heart, and running long,slow miles through beautiful countryside.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Friskney Half Marathon


Today was our clubs own Half Marathon ,held at Friskney.That race holds good memories,as running the event years ago,actually lead to us joining a running club for the first time.When me and my brother,Chris were in our early teens,the runners we followed and wanted to emulate were not so much the track stars of the day,but the road stars.The US edition of Runners World,complete with those classic Nike ads ,that adorned our bedroom walls,was our bible-where we would get inspiration by the leading US runners of the day-Alberto Salazar,Jon Sinclair,Bill Rodgers,Craig Virgin et al.We wanted to run marathons,but we were too young to do those,so decided on Half Marathons-which we were still too young to do!However,despite being 15 at the time,we just lied and said we were 17.Friskney was our 2nd or 3rd Half Marathon and again were just lied.With hindsight that was a stupid thing to do-the RD's daughter went to our school-knew how old we were-and eventually the RD would find out.A few weeks after the race we recieved a knock on the door.It was the RD.OH no-we've dropped our selves in it now.However he explained that he had found out our age after the race,noticed we ran as unattached,and asked if we would be interested in joining the club.That lead to a long association with Friskney Harriers,which then combined with Holbeach A.C,to become our present club-Boston and District A.C.


The weather yesterday was great-hot and still.With the London coming up in a couple of weeks,and wanting to keep up my mileage,I debated whether to run or rest for Friskney.In the end,after realising that my best performances never involved any sort of taper,I decided on a steady 2 hours,on top of a hard and fast 2 hours on the friday.The weather today was ok-not as hot as yesterday,and with a tricky wind,that would play its part on the flat and exposed countryside of the area.I was aiming for something around 1hr 25mins and so was very pleased with my final time of 1 hr 23 mins 20 secs.That was good enough for 12th place and also resulted in my being 3rd counter in the Boston winning team.Not a bad day overall!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Banyan Trees and the single track out of the canyons




Yesterday I recieved a friend request on facebook from Robin Harford.I recognised the name-he ran a website called EatWeeds.co.uk,and also organised foraging courses near his home base in Devon.The ability to live off the land,and the sheer multitude of free food which is available and growing wild is vast.Living where I do the scope for foraging is doubled-woods etc and also the sea and beach.I must have left my name on one of Robins sites.While scanning through the information on Robin's profile ,I came across a character who has ,today,captivated me-a tall,striking man with wild locks by the name of Frank Cook.Unfortunately the information was a report of Franks death in August of last year from a tropical,parasitic infection.

Frank graduated university in 1985 ,with a degree in computing,but his primary passion was plantlife.Over the years he became of of the worlds leading authorities on wild plants,both for nutritional and medicinal purposes.He travelled the world,leading a simple life,seeking out plants he had not yet seen,in basic clothes and sandals,more than often walking everywhere-his few possessions in a rucksack.To fund his travels,he often taught on his field of expertise-plants-but ,rather than charging a fixed fee for this service,relied on donations-allowing people to pay whatever they could afford.He was a passionate advocate of a reconnection with nature-a path I am seeking to explore.Several people have questioned my acts over the past few years-a bemusement at wanting to escape the excess materialism and consumption of the traditional western world.They view my journey as a backward step.On the contrary,I view things in totally the opposite way.People like to believe that they are moving into the future with faster cars,more advanced televisions etc,etc.They seem to want to cocoon themselves from nature.However there is nothing more technologically advanced than nature-millions of years in the developement and every plant,organism and animal serving a self supporting purpose.If we want to move to the future-the move towards reconnection with nature is the way we should be heading.


The footage of Franks funeral is very moving-hundreds of poeple surrounding a large lake and all holding hands.According to people who meet Frank,he was a gentle,kind man,with a obvious passion for passing on knowledge and a good soul.Sounds like a good bloke.


Life seems to be going great at the minute.When Scott Jurek split from his wife a while back ,he compared life to running the trails.There were always beautiful mountain summits to make you feel great and deep canyons to have to run out off.Sometimes ,through the general twists of life,you may find yourself at the bottom of the canyons,trying desperately to find the single track ,which will give you the means to make an escape.The single track is always there,but sometimes may be obscured by trees or rocks-but if you keep looking you will find it.I'm just starting the long ascent-my legs feel great at the moment-and I'm enjoying it.


Running is going ok.Sometimes it seems that running is an afterthought to this blog.However thats how I wanted it.Although I love running,90% of running blogs out there are plain boring.I like to read facts on mileages etc,but love to get a glimspe into the mind of the runner-to see their fragilities ,as well as read off their triumphs.Its nice to get something personal from these runners-thats why I like to go on abit!The last couple of days I,ve been really tired-a combination of pretty big hours for the last two weeks and a few pretty late nights.I'II probably do the normal 2/3 hours tomorrow,and probably the 4/5 hours on Friday-but only slow!This Sunday is our half marathon at Friskney-a freshener for the London Marathon,2 weeks later.Will see how it goes!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Return to Nature



One thing I love about running is the sheer rawness of the experience-to be out among whatever nature has to offer.I love the days in mid summer-hitting the beach at the top of the North Shore Golfcourse and just getting taken back by the views afforded.Those days when its hot,the sky is blue,the crowds are out by the pier,but the beach infront of you is deserted and the tide is in-the water still and so inviting.These things are free and the ability to absorb and truely appreciate these things give you a step up from normal people,obsessed with the latest four wheel drive or outfit for the night.But this step up is not limited to anyone-but is available to everyone.
It's like running.Essentially its an act of freedom.You only have to watch kids or dogs when they first hit the beach-the first thing they do is run-an uninhibited run and an expression of joy.It truely is a return to nature,yet so often people and runners try to place artificial barriers in the way.Yesterday ,in town,I was passed by some guy running.It wasn,t hot,but he carried 2 water bottles-I don't know how far he was going-but the previous day I ran 4 hours with no bottles-he had a gps watch on-no doubt logging the exact distance to be ran at a preset pace-shorts and knee lenght compression socks,and an ipod strapped to his arm.I thought to myself that it was all a barrier to the essential freedom of running-to run at a pace that may be too hard or too easy on the day(who knows how you feel day to day!)and place himself in an artificial world of music.I have never ran listening to anything.I love music,but for me,running and music don't mix.It is a beautiful experience to get out and actually hear nature and just everyday things-snippets of peoples conversations when you run pass them etc.It also allows for some valuable head time- chance to think and rationalise things,in a near meditative way.Many of my running inspirations behave the same way-Anton Krupicka sites his minimalist approach to running ,and indeed life ,to allowing a reconnection with nature and the similarly minimalistic approach of Caballo Blanco allows for the whole running experience to become a source of joy ,not pain.Anyway-each to their own,I suppose!

Running since my return from Mexico has been good.Sometimes when you focus on one thing for a while, you can get swept up in a wave of ,not exactly demotivation,but certainly not motivation.Running for the first week of return left me very tired,but a sense of hunger was still there.The London Marathon(3 weeks to go)was on the horizon-and although I have never placed the race as a priority-that goes to the longer races later in the year-it still gives you something to look forward to.The Sunday after returning,I competed in the Lincoln 10k and was pleased with my time of 38mins31 secs-must be a pb, I don't do many.It was certainly not fast,in traditional standards-but I was satisfied.After that training has been similar to pre mexico-one run a day,Monday to Thursday-normally between 2hrs 15 mins and 3hrs and then one or two runs a day ,on my three days off, of any thing between 2hrs and 5hrs-all run relatively easy-with no GPS or ipod!