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.