Thursday, 15 November 2012

This year, I have mostly been...

How running has changed for me this last summer... This post has been boiling away within and I'm still not sure this is the right time to write it, but here we are anyway.

So what changed?

Well, that course I did with UK Athletics in the spring was the foundation. I started a running group, and that's where it all changed. I thought a few people might come along, maybe people I knew - this is a small town after all. But quite a few people came, and I knew only one or two of them; the rest were strangers who had heard about this by word of mouth. The idea was to train a few people to run the race we were organising for late September, and that's pretty much what happened. But along the way, I think I changed a bit.

From that first group, I had maybe eight runners, two of which I knew. One group dropped out, which was a huge shame because the lady who had collared her family in to coming could have benefited hugely from running - she suffered with asthma. Two of her family had injuries (not running related) and one was advised not to carry on; her sister-in-law was just, I suspect, a bit lazy.

But some of the others persisted. One lady, who I'll call Gaynor, became something of a poster girl. From bitching and moaning for the first week or month, she now really has the bug in a big way. She now takes her husband out running on a Thursday; from not being able to run for 30 seconds, she now does 4-5 miles comfortably. When she's got a few more miles in her legs, I'm going to throw some speed work in there. She's so pig-headed, so stubborn that you can throw anything at her. She's learned that with hard work and persistence, she can conquer anything, and I think a lot of that has come from seeing how to overcome small obstacles in running. If she's tired and complains, we do a hill session. She used to worry about hills, now she eats them. She's so strong it's unreal, and she encourages the new runners that come out on a Wednesday; she supports, cajoles, and threatens them and she's a great advert too - she can say "three months ago I was where you are".

Who else? Well, the youngest in the group is Amy. If I thought Gaynor could moan, Amy took the crown from her (though Amy has never emailed to tell me I am a fucking twat, which Gaynor has). Amy wouldn't even do 30 seconds at first. I couldn't believe it when she turned up for the second week; not only that, but she had bought running shoes. Her recent birthday, her 21st, she got her mum to take her shopping for a new pair of running shoes. Again, she's got the bug. She had absolutely zero muscle in her legs, no tone whatsoever; ok, at 20, you can just about get away with that. She's about 5' 8", very girly, very pretty, slim build and a bit of a head-turner. But in five or ten years, she'd have got fat I suspect. Most of us do.

So now, she's at the front of almost every run. She loves it; she's recruiting her friends to come out and get started, she's got all the gear and has a love/hate relationship with her legs. She loves that she now has muscles and tone, and is getting a nice arse; she hates that she can't fit in her skinny jeans because her calves are too muscly! Another runner - and close friend of Amy's - is Donna. She can't get her wellies on because of her calves…!

There was a core group of perhaps eight, training toward running the race we organised locally in September. We wanted to do something to support our local hospice and also to get people off their arses and doing something positive. 227 runners turned out on the day, the race went pretty much without a hitch, and all of my runners finished.

The key moment for me was when Naomi finished. She's the same age as me, 38, married with two young children (who sometimes come running with us too), and remembers me from college when I was a hound dog at best. Drinking, smoking, womanising wherever possible.

Nice lady, farts a lot.

Anyway, Naomi woke up the day before the race with a temperature; she'd gotten a lot of sponsorship for the race and would have been gutted if she hadn't been able to run. She got a bit upset - then woke up on race day feeling absolutely fine. She came, she saw, she conquered a pretty tough, hilly course. When she crossed the line, she came over to me; I was snipping off chip timing tags. She collapsed, gave me a huge cuddle, burst into tears and said 'thank you'.

Seriously, I thought I would burst with pride and love right there and then. Moments like that make life absolutely worthwhile.

So, that's where I've been. You?

Monday, 18 June 2012

A month off

Well, I promised myself in a kind of half-arsed way that I would take some time off running after Edinburgh, and I have.

As I type this, I have done NO exercise of any kind in three weeks and two days. I'm climbing the fucking walls in one way, and enjoying it in another.

I dream about press ups, about one-armed press-up technique (which is really weird, as I have no intention of ever doing one), about the feeling when the high comes, when the legs fill with a rush of blood and all you can feel is love for the universe.

I also dreamed I had a big puffy nipple erection (only one of them, mind, which somehow made it worse) and was wearing a very tight, thin jumper, so didn't want to leave the house. So you can't read too much into what I'm dreaming.

I still feel good, and I'm still getting out for miles each day - I still walk the dogs up to three hours a day, my legs feel great, but I am looking forward to next week and what will effectively be starting from scratch. I haven't taken time off from running since this injury-free period started nearly two years ago.

I'm glad I've done it, I have energy to burn at the moment. I woke up at 6 this morning naturally, just done an interview at 7am, the day stretches long ahead of me and it's full of promise. Our race event web site will be up later today, finished and ready for submissions; I'm thinking about renewing my gym membership and trying that thing I always talked about - run in the morning, walk the dogs, work the day, then go to the gym and finish with a swim. I think I can handle that three times a week if not four, then one long run on a day by itself and two full rest days. Sounds fucking great to me, to be honest.

I'm burbling. Some of the energy must be coming out through my fingers.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

It's dawning.

I've been thinking this a bit the last week or so. I've done 3 marathons and 3 half marathons in 13 months. It's dawning on me more each day that this is pretty fucking good. It's one thing to say it, another to believe. I'm pretty much there though, I think.

That's more races than I've ever done before. Certainly in that space of time. I like the t-shirts, I'm wearing one right now, from Edinburgh.

I did okay.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Edinburgh Marathon 2012 - race report

Well, I went up north full of hope for a sub-5hr marathon, and predictably, it didn't happen. The UK is in the middle of something of a heatwave, and we all know how me and heat mix; we don't.

So, we – myself and John, a friend with personal reasons for wanting to do a marathon – travelled up to Glasgow on Friday evening. We got to the flat we were staying in late-ish and went to find food after 10pm. We had some tasty tasty pizza, then as we were wandering back to the flat, I found a Scrabble tile. Just sitting there, on the pavement. I picked it up - I'm odd like that. It was an 'N'.

Only worth 1 point.

John joked, we should keep looking because if we found enough tiles, we could have a game.

Anyway, 50 yards or so further down the road, we found another tile. An 'R'.

Cool, game on, thinks us. Sure enough, not 15 feet away, another tile, face down. It's a 'U'. Now, bear in mind a couple of things here that you did not already know: John was in two minds about doing the race. He was not fit, though something of a natural athlete; he missed London because of injury, and was pretty sure, though not certain, he was going to run/walk the marathon in Edinburgh. He was determined to do something, in memory of his son Joel who died a couple of years ago aged just 19.

It may have been a message. You decide. But wait until the end before you decide, ok?

Next day, Saturday, we did very little. Went and bought a hat to run in (turned out to be a lifesaver), watched a lot of TV, ate a lot of food.

Sunday arrives and I'm up around 4am, eating breakfast. All part of the experiment; IBS med before brekkie, then do umpteen shits, them Imodium, then IBS meds just before the race and another Imodium if I have shat again. Well, that planned pattern was what happened.

When we're at the train station in Glasgow, at 7am, we both went to the loo; I was going to walk into a cubicle and John said, oddly, "Are you going in there, are you?"

"Erm... Yes. Why?"

"Because 5 is my lucky number!"

The cubicle was no.5, so I found another, and John had his lucky shit.

So, train to Edinburgh, find the start line, worry because it's already fucking baking hot, and decide well, I can only do what's in front of me.

We find our pens to begin - I'm right at the back (probably based on two disastrous London Marathons), John a pen ahead of me despite this being his first marathon. The race begins.

Beautiful course, out of Edinburgh and following a path along the estuary. Pretty, quiet, a light breeze; could have done with it being about 15 degrees cooler, but apart from that… The course eventually doubles back on itself, after a detour through a beautiful stately home and garden, and finished in Musselburgh.

I was fine, taking it gently, doing just shy of 11 minute miles, but honestly, not giving too much of a fuck. The heat was killing me, but I didn't even think about pausing to stop until about 17 miles. I hydrated well, I even ate - and no stomach problems. Not one. The only obstacle honestly was the heat. Great course, great race, shitty day to do it. Ok, it was only about 23 degrees, but still. Too hot for me, and plenty of people with more experience out there were struggling. I spoke to one couple afterward who were aiming for 4:30 and finished in 5:15; London last year, the heat added an hour to everyone's estimated/trained for times. Edinburgh seemed to be 45 minutes.

I enjoyed the race a lot, even the bits where I had to walk. I probably walked around four miles in total, maybe a bit more; hard to tell, those later miles seem awfully long.

Didn't see John though.

Anyway, finally, got to the finish line, massive sprint finish, legs nearly gave out at the end (hamstrings just disappeared!), but fucking well did it in what, for me, were very very tough conditions.

Afterward, I got my text message from the organisers with my time on - 5:27.23. A shit PB for sure, but still a PB. And maybe I'm just going to have to realise, I just ain't quick at all. Even if I train at 10 minute miles or less, I'm not racing at that. Though on the way around, I was thinking of doing only shorter races for the next year or so, and focussing on more speed, doing some track stuff, doing things I never ever do. And seeing where that takes me. In the last 13 months I have done three half marathons and three full marathons, and I'm really pleased with that. The times weren't great, I struggled a lot, but I finished everything and I realise now, there is pride to be found in that. Lots of it.

John got his text message too. And at this point, I think we realised there was something more going on here; more than a father broken up by the loss of his son and wanting to heal a little bit of that wound with a cathartic, emotional run; there was someone else there, and he wanted us to know.

John's time?

05:05.05.

Perfect.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Another try.

We just keep coming back, don't we?

This weekend I try yet again for a sub-5hr marathon. Bearing in mind I can comfortably do a 2:08 half without pushing myself at all, sub 5 should be the very least I can do, yet the spectre of shitting my pants comes every times I run a marathon.

So this time, I am taking IBS meds and Imodium, and am going to stick a cork up my arse in order to run a race without needing a shit.

Fingers crossed. Sunday morning into early afternoon, I'm aiming for a 4:40-ish marathon. And I'm wearing my iPod the whole way round, I don't give a fuck who's there cheering.

Here's to sub-5, and no shitting.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

It's been a while

But sadly, absence has not left me with a raft of anecdotes to lift the heart or even raise a smile.

Training goes on, the second spring marathon is this Sunday in Edinburgh. I feel good, my legs are amazing, stronger than ever. I suspect I'm developing tendinitis in the big toe of my right foot, but rest post-race for a couple of weeks should see that off, with some icing and anti-inflammatories too.

What else is there... Not much going on other than working, training, sleeping, that kind of thing. Not that I have been doing loads of training - since London, I don't think I've done a run longer than 12 miles. In fact, I did a lovely 12 miles yesterday morning. I hope it's enough to get me home in about 4:40 on the day. The difference this time - I don't know if I have said this already, but here goes - is that I am wearing my iPod. All the way round, all by myself, great music, no cheering, screaming, nothing but me and music, and putting one foot in front of the other for a really long time. Just like in training. I can't deal with all the noise of people, it drives me insane. I'm always reminded in big races that actually, I hate being in large groups of people. So hopefully I'll hit my marks in this race, and finish like I know I can. I'm trying over-the-counter IBS medication, which I may combine with Imodium on the day (two toilet stops in London, not good) just to get to the end. Also my fuelling will be different - now I can eat chocolate again, I will be using Mars bars to get me round. A big kick of glucose, fairly easy to digest, job done.

 Only thing is, the weather is hot all this week. I wonder what the weekend will bring? Overcast and showery, please!

 Oh, finally, September's event is coming on in leaps and bounds. Should have the web sites up and running this weekend, finally, so we can actually sell some places for the race and tickets for the evening. Yay!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Virgin London Marathon 2012 Race Report

Just so's you know, I had another shocker. Another shit marathon. But I spent the time working out why, and I think I learned some valuable lessons. I don't think it's possible to love running alone as much as I do in the countryside, and then go to a ridiculously busy racer full of noise, and enjoy it. I know this sounds bah-humbug, but it just drives me fucking insane. I'm not a noisy person. It does my melon in. And fuck me, London is noisy. The other thing is, I have to sort out my IBS/racing problem. I can cruise through 17-20 miles with no food at all, but then the wheels really fall off. Not in any dramatic way, it's more psychological - and there's another weakness, I suspect. Maybe, just maybe, there's an element of self-defeat in there too. And that's not an easy sentence to type. So I have some work to do. And the Edinburgh marathon is just five weeks away. I started London slow, pacing at 11-minute miles, being super, super careful. I nailed my pace pretty well I think, given that I had no watch or nuffink. I was really cruising, even allowing for fuckwits who do not know to simply check over their shoulder before moving laterally, or those absolute wanktards who just stop completely in the middle of the course. It's taxing. I always, always check because I know if I collide with someone, they're hitting the deck, not me. Part of being short and heavy. Mwahahahahaaa. I had to stop for a shite at 10 miles, and again at 20 miles, which wasn't ideal but, well, it happened. And after 20 miles, something really peculiar happened. Last week I had a cold, right? With a cough and everything. Well, on mile 20, the cough came back with a vengeance, from out of fucking nowhere. I couldn't take a deep breath without coughing my ring up; it was odd, unsettling, and downright shit. I was reduced to a shuffle and shallow breathing, until I realised I could walk faster than I was currently moving. So, the last six miles were basically at a walk with bouts of shuffling. I was on for finishing just under 5 hours which would have been a lovely result given the build-up, but that last six miles... The cough, from down in my shoes, gah. Fucking marathons. On the plus side, we raised (between three of us, though it was honestly mostly the other two) over £7k for our hospice and it's still coming in, which is wonderful. And I made it to the end, though most of the race images of me will feature a scowl at best. So yeah. Fucking marathons.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Life changes

Well, it's time to think about some, right after I apologise to Katie for giving her my cold. Ahem.

Katie, sorry for giving you my cold, dude.

I'm glad we got that out of the way.

A job has come up in my home town, and I'm interested in it. I was interested in it last time it came up, but too late to do anything about it; so I'm going to apply for it this time and see what happens.

I know the last person in the posy would probably recommend me for it; I'm reliably told she has a lot of time for me. Her opinion would carry a lot of weight with the position as well, I suspect. So that helps.

But it would be a hell of a diversion from publishing, which I have been doing for the last 20 years. A big, big change, to something that is not quite completely unique but not far from it. But it would be fun, a constant challenge, and would see me dealing with people out and about a lot more, rather than sitting home alone most of the time. And I wouldn't have to deal with any publishing kind of people, who largely do my fucking head in. And I wouldn't have to travel abroad much either. Yes, that always sounds glam and great, but it really is not. I once caught a cold on the way to Sofia via Stockholm. By the time I landed in Sofia, the cold was in full flow, and I was completely deaf in one ear. I was there for 16 hours before my flight back, again via Stockholm, then I had to go to Coventry (a true shithole) for more work before getting home three days later. There is nothing glamorous in that trip, nothing at all. Hotels are the same everywhere; they're mostly shite. Except the Mandarin Oriental in Macau. Wow.

I wonder how much the other job pays?

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

And to think I was pissed off before...

That's nothing to how I am now!

So, we've been bumbling along with our lives in our little sett, until my lovely wife's mum became very ill indeed. It was not a surprise, and is largely a consequence of another, longer-term illness, but it creates a lot of stress and worry, and of course expense. Tough times.

Also, Stepdaughter and Lovely Wife went shopping - as in window shopping - for a 'prom' dress, so she could get some ideas with a friend and her mum, and they ended up buying one. Which we completely can't afford. The idea was, Lovely Wife uses her mad sewing skillz to make one, as she is a genuine genius at such things. Designing and making wedding dresses is a big part of what she does, hence we thought we had that one covered - but one question in an unguarded moment, she felt put on the spot and we have a new dress in the house. Wifey feels terrible about it, Child is delighted and has no idea of the shit we're in which just got that much deeper. It happens, we'll cope with it and move on. I am disappointed with Stepdaughter though, as we'd talked about how it was window shopping the day before, and the extra expense of travelling 30+miles to the hopsital to see her Nan, which meant we were broker than before.

But, it happens. And she's only 16 once. Thank goodness.

And finally - ish - I have a cold. It came on fully, just eight days before I am due to run London. The same London I fucked up royally while recovering from a chest infection last year, remember? Yeah, that one. There's no infection this time, which is a plus. But I feel shitty, am shuffling up hills I sprinted up just last Friday, and I know - KNOW - that my marathon experience in London is going to suck ass again. If I feel well enough to go - my head feels okay today, but a cough is really lingering and that's not really something I want to mess with. But I suspect I will be going, and it will not be enjoyable, but I will push through it and still get a better time than last year. Maybe I can just use this as a training experience for Edinburgh - use London to get a 5:xx marathon (like 5:15 maybe), and aim for what I can really do, what I know is within because frankly it's not that fucking difficult, which is a 4:20 to 4:40 marathon.

And I'm fed up of people telling me how skinny I look. It's all relative, people. And if one more person says "Well, you'll get round [the marathon], and that's what it's all about" I won't make the race because I'll be in gaol for stabbing offences.

PS: Mother-in-law has picked up quite a bit. LovelyWife is there now visiting, so fingers crossed.

Monday, 2 April 2012

There's pissed off, then there's me.

Hello!

It feels like it's been a while. It has, I guess. Things have been going on, and it's taken me a while to process, which is ongoing.

It all really stems from the frustration of having all the hard work of photographers, writers, friends, industry bods getting pissed up the wall when the publication was cancelled. I'm so cross and so, so disappointed. I'm only now starting to tell my models about it; I've literally just sent what I hope came across as a good-natured email to the publishers to say "Seriously, pay my fucking contributors".

I haven't asked to be paid myself, I thought I'd wait a few hours for that one. And see how they respond to this one, first, of course.

So, apart from that, I also managed to scald myself by tipping a cup of freshly-made coffee down my front; no running for me right now. One big burn, right on my stomach, and it hurts like a bastard. Much better than it was, but it's going to have to wait a few days before I go out again.

It's just been exhausting lately. I finished one deadline late Thursday night then spent Friday all day collecting for charity (for the London Marathon) in my local supermarket from 11am to 6:30pm. Saturday, I went with my wife to a wedding fayre in a near-ish city, and that was a long day too. I was exhausted, so wrote Sunday off as a rest day thinking I'd catch up this week on running, then tipped a cup of coffee on my gut.

Fucking fucking fuck.

Still, on the plus side, how much worse can it get? Oh yeah, I forgot - it can get much worse.

Oh, and Micah True turned up dead. Absolutely gutted about that. Didn't know the guy, but he was quite a character if Born To Run is anything to go by. I suspect the world is a poorer place without him.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Warning - TMI follows.

Well, I did warn you.

This week I should have hit 15.5 miles on my long run but it was a plan knackered by life. Friday I had a meeting with the company we hope to be our water suppliers for our September race event, and it was a 9am start. The rest of the morning was spent with my co-organiser, so even Millie the Dog didn't get a great walk. She did go and spend the day with my folks though, which she likes, not least because they have a garden and we don't.

Anyway, no run Friday except for a little two-miler in the morning. Saturday, me and Lovely Wife were on a training course for a Leadership in Running Fitness award. It was okay, but all day and another early start, so no long run as we'd be looking at a steady 2.5-2.75 hours or running. Not pretty, not quick, but effective.

After the course, we were due to go out to a fundraising evening, a gig held at a local brewery with three bands playing. Lovely Wife wasn't feeling up to it, so she stayed home and I took Stepdaughter and two of her friends. Great night, three excellent bands, and some lovely beer.

But that's where the problems began. I'd written off Sunday as a day to recover from everything and after a shitty week. Turned out I had to write off Sunday and today, because the beer I has Saturday night gave me absolutely chronic diarrhea through Saturday night and Sunday. It was fucking awful. Apparently it's something to do with a live ingredient in the beer; the lager is absolutely lovely, but it's not really working for me when I have to sacrifice an essential long run on not one day, but two. I had to err on the side of caution because with beer consumption, I would have been dehydrated; with beer and then shitting my bodyweight in brown fizzy gravy, I suspect my dehydration may have been much more severe. So that run is gone, I am not going to try to make it up as I'll end up with an overuse injury and scupper the marathon.

Bugger, shit and bollocks. I'm really struggling to think of anything positive that comes from beer right now.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

A race report, and a fucking rant.

Well, I did a half marathon on Sunday, and it was really great. Not my part in it, I was shite, but it was a well organised and lovely event.

The Bath Half is one of Britain's biggest half marathons, and I can see why. Big time PB potential, pretty city, fairly flat course. S'nice. Oh, and plenty of toilets, all of which seemed to have toilet paper in. London, take note.

We got there, three of us, in cold and fog. When we got to the start line, clear blue skies and blazing fucking sun. Why oh why, Baby Jesus? Why do you hate me so??? Just give me one race in shitty weather and I'll PB, I know it...

Anyway, I struggled, until about 10 miles in, when I loosened up and started to enjoy myself. Those last three miles were lovely. The rest, not so much. Had to stop for a big wee (despite telling my bladder to re-absorb the fluid and use it, in the style of a boxer), then a big poo, which didn't do much for my own PB potential. But ulimately, despite the weather, the struggling, the anus, I didn't stop, not for a second. This is good. Not that I'm a stopper, but the temptation when struggling can often be there.

My companions did well too. Fred, 46, first race ever - an amazing 1:40. His secret? His knees and hips hurt if he goes slow, so he has only one speed - flat out. Marc did great too, finishing in 2:09:59. Me? 2:14, but I'm knocking seven minutes off that for the loo...

Annoying things - the corraling didn't really work. Too many fast people at the back of the green start elbowing and dodging their way through the crowds. Seriously, get there earlier and walk to the fucking front, ringpiece. And don't you let me see you collapsed by the side of the road later on because you don't have the intelligence to pace yourself.

Apart from that, an excellent experience.

In other news, the planned bookazine launch I have been working on for a fucking age has been cancelled. Less than what, six weeks before publication? Never heard of that happening before, and I am told it's because of advice from distributors because Men's Health etc have been block-booking shelf space in newsagent/bookstores in the US to fill with their regurgitated shite. I fucking hate that magazine even more now. I used to think it was just shit and is made to appeal to people who don't want to work hard, now I still believe that, but I think its publishers are also big bastards.

I know money talks. Always. But in my heart I still believe that something original, different, good will find its place in the world and if it is all of those things, grow and become something more. If it's not, it can wither and die and rightly so. But no, it's just fucking money these days.

Fucking fuck it. Seriously pissed off about that. Sorry, contributors, interviewees, photographers.

Even worse, Men's Health style covers are polluting the rest of the publishing world. The latest Runner's World in the UK has several bold lies on the cover in the exact same style:

"Lean & Fit Now" Now? Really? Erm... No. In six months, maybe.

"Beginners: ACE YOUR FIRST RACE" Wow, this one's for the morons out there. It's your first race, it's a guaranteed PB. Thanks, Runner's World!

"The Body You Want, Today!" NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. This goes against what running means to me - it means progress, evolution, moving forward physically and spiritually; it is the antithesis of the instant gratification brigade and what is Runner's World doing? Pandering to that very brigade. Fucking fuckers can fuck right off.

It's all numbers and the unquantifiable quantified - "Get 11% fitter in 15 minutes", "The five-minute injury fix". It drives me insane. It's for people with no attention span, who can't watch a show from beginning to end, or read an actual book.

I'm a little cross today. Does it show?

Friday, 2 March 2012

Random Friday Facts

Fuck me, Friday again? Did I blog anything since last Friday? Bugger shit and arse biscuits.

1: Designers occasionally piss me right off. Yes, we all have hard jobs. But yours? Not so much. So kindly shut your fucking moaning, and get on with the job. That way, it gets done much quicker, and you remain un-stabbed. Win-win.

2: I have officially worked 19 days without a break. Tonight I intend to get fucked-up drunk, and tomorrow, rehydrate ready for a 14-miler on Sunday.

3: All that work also means I have not been able to run much this week. Today, Friday, was my first since last Sunday's rather successful 11.5 or so miler.

4: Last night, I watched a physio put one of my models through hell, all for the sake of art. Kind of.

5: Too busy right now to do much other than work. That all changes in about five minutes when we take the dogs out, and my weekend of doing next to nothing begins.

6: I am currently reading 'The Art of Fielding'. Enjoying it a lot, though it is excessively reminiscent of John Irving. And when I say of him rather than of one of his books, it's because it reminds me of everything he's written.

7: This week, I read the new Max Brooks paperback, Closure Limited. I love World War Z, it's a beautifully put-together book and works on many levels. It's fun, it does zombies brilliantly. This turd, however, is fucking dreadful. 124 pages of wide-set type with filler images, this could easily have been less than 100 pages. It's like the album someone makes to get out of their record deal. And the writing... It's just no good. Even worse, despite this 124-page dog egg being an incredible £5.99 to buy full price, it has at no time been seen by a copy editor. Using 'sight' where 'site' should be used is such a basic error, it makes me want to hurt people.

8: But I didn't hurt anyone. I did, however, email the publisher to tell them I felt ripped off and that it was shite.

9: It's not the worst book ever though. That accolade goes to Harlan Coben. I can't even remember what the book is called. Fucking awful. First book he ever wrote, so when he got famous he got it published. With no word of warning on the back cover; that was saved for inside. And it is the biggest piece of dreck I can think of. I have not read any of his books since, because he fucking ripped me off with that one. As my first-ever editor told me, "You don't lie to the kids; if you do, they'll know, and they'll never come back". Harlan, you lied to the kids. Yeah, you admitted it inside, but I HAD ALREADY BOUGHT THE BASTARD BOOK AND TRAVELLED 30 MILES HOME BY THE TIME I DISCOVERD THIS.

10: I still adore Guns N Roses' Appetite For Destruction. Not keen on any of the other albums, but that one is pure class, start to finish.

11: I might watch a movie tonight. Maybe 22 Bullets, maybe Tucker and Dale Vs Evil, maybe just two episodes of Walking Dead.

12: This weekend, on my long run, I will try something very, very different - I am going to try and run while listening to podcasts. My lovely friend Toby, a comedian, has done one, and there's an ultrarunning one I fancy giving a go to as well.

13: Did I mention I'm tired? I am. *cue violins*

14: Bugger, I don't think we have anything for dinner. Best sort that out, too.

15: My lovely wife has cooked every night this week except last night, when my stepdaughter did the bulk of it. This is most unusual, I generally do most of the cooking, but it has been a most welcome change.

16: I'm booked to do a Leadership In Running Fitness course, thanks to my local council. Running club here we come!

17: I'm outta here. Normal blog service will resume next week.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Random Friday Facts

This is the My God I Am So So Tired Edition.

1: According to something I just read on Twitter, apparently if you slowly raise your legs and lie on your back, you can't sink in quicksand.

2: I am so tired.

3: All I want is a cold beer and some unhealthy food. But tomorrow will be just as demanding as today (but without the 5.5 mile run to start the day), so I need to keep my shit together.

4: Sunday will see me hit double figures for the first time in ages. 10-11 miles planned (with a very early start), then another photoshoot, then an afternoon at my desk. Who said journalism wasn't glamorous?

5: Did I mention I am tired? I burned myself out twice in the past, and it was no fun at all. No plans to do it again, but the next three weeks will be incredibly hard.

6: We may watch either 22 Bullets or Limitless tonight. Who knows?

7: My facts never feel really random.

8: Everyone coos over Darcy the Dog when we're out, and not Millie. But those in the know, know that she is, in fact, SuperDog aka Best. Dog. Ever.

9: Nine is the phonetic pronounciation of the German word for 'no'. True story.

10: I have to take the dogs out in a minute. I don't think they've had enough walks the last few days. My bad. Fucking work, you big bastard.

11: No, I got nothing. Did I mention I'm... Oh yeah, I did. Well, I am. I'm going to go and relax. After doing all that stuff I have to do!

12: Which includes fact number 12: many famous actors got their first significant roles in horror movies. Kevin Bacon in Friday 13th, Holly Hunter and that fat bloke off Seinfeld in The Burning, Johnny Depp in Nightmare on Elm Street are probably the most famous. Joel Coen's first film job was on Evil Dead, too. I mean as well, not Evil Dead II.

13: I finished reading Chrissie Wellington's autobiography yesterday, and it's great. Read it.

14: Where did all this energy come from? Is that a second wind I smell?

15: False alarm. 'Night!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Since when is seven miles hard?

Since yesterday, it seems.

I wasn't going to run yesterday, despite making a half-arsed promise to myself never to take more than a day off running at a time. I ran Friday, took Saturday off because I had a photoshoot to sort in the morning, which took the rest of the day out too. Sunday, photoshoot in the morning, then a monster roast dinner*, then much sitting on my arse.

However, I just couldn't ignore the urge to run. I ate my monster roast*, then came home, drank tea, got changed and went out. Now, running with IBS has many drawbacks, not least the general need to run on an empty stomach for fear upsetting the Shit Your Pants Gods. But this day, they must have been having a lie-in. No problems at all, of any kind - well, except that I found a 7.5 mile run kind of hard. It illustrated to me how far away I am from where I really ought to be in training.

Next week's long run will see me try to hit double figures. Could be fun.

I also did this one with a new bit of kit on my arm - a Timex GPS unit, which was kind of fun. Had to not look at my mile paces, as I find it depressing to have been doing this so long and still being so slow. But considering I had a full roast dinner in my belly and next to no energy anyway, I was happy to have done the run in under 10-minute mile pace. Not sure what it actually was, something like 9:45s I think.

Anyway, then I sorted out dinner, got drunk and fell asleep on the sofa. Job done, though perhaps not the most positive finish to the day!






* By this, I mean a large roast dinner. Not actually roast monster.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Random Friday Facts

1: I am currently re-reading Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes. Hopefully it will help me rediscover my mojo even more.

2: This weekend, we are doing a photoshoot for my new mag. 'citin.

3: Except we're short 3 sports bras. But the apparel, shoes, watches, Buff, food all turned up. Which is good. And two bras came; the other three will hopefully be here in the morning.

4: It's going to be a long weekend. Tomorrow I will be up stupid early to do my long run (only 7-8 miles, but still) then walk the dogs, then get everything ready for people arriving at 11:30. Photographer at 12, up the woods by 12:30. Hopefully we'll be finished by 5.

5: Sunday is more of the same, but with an earlier start: 10am.

6: When I conceived this project, I thought I was creating my dream job; I may well be, but I wish it were all I was doing right now.

7: The event in September is looking completely fucking awesome. Really, really special. Still a ton to do though.

8: For the first time I can remember, I would really like a holiday somewhere hot, doing absolutely nothing.

9: On the plus side though, I got some lovely new headphones. They changed the design on my much-loved ones, so now they bash against my headtorch on early-morning runs, which is seriously annoying - luckily they sent a second pair which are ear buds. Less safe, but less headtorch bashing too.

10: Way, way behind in marathon training. Way behind. Will still get there though., After last year's chest infection, how can I possibly turn up less ready??

11: Rupert Murdoch is apparently launching The Sun on Sunday. Like that wasn't what the News of the World was. Why don't you do us all a favour, Rupert, and book a holiday with that nice travel agent that sorted Robert Maxwell's vacation? That or just fuck right off. Either way, we win.

12: After all that's happened, if it turns out I know anyone that buys the new paper, I will disown them.

13: I just read The Dark Volume by G W Dahlquist. It's the sequel to The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters. I have no idea why I read it, because both books were actually shite.

14: My office is filled with boxes. Tomorrow, they will be gone!

15: My favourite TV shows are, in no particular order: Friday Night Lights, The Rockford Files, Cheers, Frasier, Biggest Loser USA, Eerie Indiana (but not the last series), The Office (US and UK both), The Walking Dead, Dawson's Creek. That's about it, I can't think of anything else I watch or have watched in the last 20 years. Except Battlestar Galactica.

16: For some reason, when I use a public internet terminal and I think someone is watching, I type something in about fisting. I don't know why, other than it just amuses me. Try it.

17: The Sylvester Stallone movie FIST also amuses me. And not because it's a good movie.

18: No more avoiding work for me. I'm going to go and do some. Honest guv.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Short and stiff

Yep, that's me. Well, that was this morning's run. I woke up having had a truly lovely sleep, 8 solid hours of it, to my alarm clock singing 'Jonty go run, Jonty go run, the weather is bad but you'll have fun, Jonty, o Jonty, go run... Run!' My wife recorded that for me last winter, and it's set very low so only I can hear it. Great way to wake up!

Anyway, I lay there for a few minutes (35) thinking about the run, planning where I'd go and what I would do. This helps me when I lack motivation, and means I get more out of the run - especially shorter runs. I decided to do two miles quick, then some hill sprints and finish. Bear in mind recent running has been neither satisfying nor structured, I thought I would ease back into what is still, for me, a hard workout.

The two miles went fine. I think I maintained around a 9-minute mile, which is still quick for me. I even enjoyed some of it, and the tunes on my delicious new iPod Shuffle have been a pleasant surprise. I filled 1.2gig with my old running faithfuls - Pearl Jam, Faith No More, and a motley collection that I have built up over the last seven or eight years that just work for me. I then 'autofilled' the remaining space, and it's resulted in some really odd stuff, most of which I am not really familiar with. Who knew Arcade Fire would be so bloody good to run to? Not me, guv. Who knew I would skip EVERY Beach Boys track? In my defence, it's all from Pet Sounds and it's just not very... Runny.

Anyway, then it was time for the hill sprints, which came on the last hill before the short walk home. I only did five, I think if I had aimed for seven or eight it would have resulted in vomiting! This length of hill took me perhaps 20 seconds to run up. That's all. But it's plenty steep, well, enough for me. I haven't done this kind of session in ages, and I can feel it in my legs right now.

Tomorrow I am supposed to do a longer run, maybe a five-miler if I wake up feeling excellent. But takeaway Thai food and champagne beckon, it's Valentine's Day I'm told.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Random Friday Facts

Here we are again... Kind of. Well, I'm here. Are you?

1: I've been a bad blogger. Not done nearly enough. But I've misplaced my running mojo, which is a pain in the arse.

2: I only drink beer, water or redbush. On rare occasions, fruit juice. But that's basically it.

3: I just had a pee in the staff toilets of my old school. I felt very naughty indeed.

4: While doing said pee, there was a comparison chart about the urinal, so I could check and see if I was hydrated. I am extremely well hydrated, it turns out. I was a '1'. The light was bad in there, but I still say I'm a '1'.

5: I am, of course, doing this instead of working.

6: Tonight, I believe we are eating hot dogs. With locally-made sausages, which are incredible. In fact, we have three butchers here that all make their own sausages. Tonight I will hopefully get some venison. Mmmmmm, deer.

7: I have way too much to do these days. But it beats being out of work.

8: Last night, I went to a parents' evening with my stepdaughter's dad. Stepdaughter was concerned people might think we were a gay couple.

9: The England manager resigned a couple of days ago. I just don't care any more.

10: I think I need a new dictaphone.

11: My weekly mileage - which is rarely high, but I had been hoping to buld reasonably, sensibly, quickly - has been hampered by shitty weather. Icy pavements, that kind of crap. Gah.

12: When I came in the house a short while ago, the dogs stayed still and quiet on the settee. Didn't even get up to greet me! It made me very suspicious.

13: I watched Green Lantern for the second time recently. It's a great guilty pleasure, and around 200,000 times better than Captain America, which was truly fucking awful.

14: Can't wait for the next Batman movie. Have you seen the trailer?? Wow. Just... Wow.

15: I just pre-ordered Chrissie Wellington's autobiography online. She absolutely rocks, I'm sure it will be a great read.

16: God, this is all about me. Where's the random facts, Fat Boy? Huh? Huh?

17: Stan Laurel married several times, including two marriages to one woman. Crazy guy.

18: I think my misplaced mojo might be down to the two colds since Christmas. Trying to train, launch new mag, keep old mag going, organise event... It's no wonder I'm tired. Maybe I should just accept it and shut my moaning face.

19: N-n-n-n-n-nineteen.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Running can be a right pain in the arse.

Sometimes, you just don't feel like it. It's sub-zero outside, it's still dark. You're absolutely knackered from the night before. The week before. The year. You have the shits. A hangover. Both. You just don't want to go.

But you do anyway.

I haven't been enjoying my running so much recently, partly because I've been so fucking tired. Oh, and I got another cold last week, which really didn't help. I was working in London, and when you combine that unique 'I'm at an exhibition' tiredness with not sleeping well because my fluffy bunnikins* was tucked up in bed back in sunny Ludlow. it was a fucking tiring week. Add to that a few beers on a couple of nights, then waking up with a shitty cold first day of the exhibition, and you're really fucked.

Still recovering, but I've been for three runs in three days this week. I feel okay. Not great, but okay. Not been going far, just been trying to regain momentum, which seems more and more important to me.

Running is different for all of us. We all take something unique to us out of it, and because we are not stationary as people, because our Self is in a constant (hopefully) evolution, what it is to us changes too. So when it's bad, the bad is unique to us in how it affects us, though the basics are much the same ("I really do not want to get out of bed. It's 5:20am and it's -3** out there. Fuck it. I'll walk the bastard marathon. That'll learn you, Winter!").

The momentum issue - of getting out as frequently as I can - seems to be vital to me, and how my brain works. It needs to be a habit, something I do almost every morning. In December, I could not sleep past 6am because I was used to being out; January saw me struggle to get up by 7am. What changed? Two colds!

Dagnabbit.

This isn't leading up to some spanky conclusion, I'm just rambling. I may ramble about something else soon.

RKS Plumbing in Ludlow? Bunch of fucking robdogs.

See?

There's a part of Born To Run - two parts, actually - that bother me in a big way. The first is ragging on Dean Karnazes because he is the 'populist' figure in ultrarunning. A self-promoter, I think he is described as. Well, if he gets one of those hilariously obese Americans I see every year in Vegas off their fat arses, then I say more power to him. If he gets a hundred people up and active, even better. But I suspect he does more than that, much more. And, speaking with cynical journalist hat on, when I met him he came across as grounded, humble, and a very, very nice man. I met him expecting him to be a cock, expecting to be disappointed and I came away admiring him hugely. This does not happen often, believe me. Before you dismiss him, let's not forget the dude has won Badwater, something the same writer bigs-up the book's kind-of hero Scott Jurek for. Maybe he is a self-publicist - he's trying to make a living from running, so if he isn't working to promote himself he ain't going to be paying his mortgage next month, is he? Nobody is going to earn a living for him.

The other thing is where the writer dismisses yoga in a single sentence. One mention of yoga in the book, and that's it. Despite yoga providing the basis for every single stretch we do to stay supple and healthy and avoid those nasty muscle injuries... Apparently, all the runners the author knows that do yoga are always injured. So it's dismissed. That is just fucking strange, not to mention shortsighted to the point of near-stupidity. Yep, it may be true that all the runners he knows that do yoga are injured frequently, but is yoga the cause? Are they doing the right type of yoga for what they need? Yoga has been around for a very, very long time, and for good reason. I simply cannot believe that yoga is the cause of injury for those runners. Mind you, they might be pig-shit thick, so who the hell knows?

Don't get me wrong, I adore the book. Those things just annoy me, and for the same reason - two facile comments with very little to back them up. I've never, ever done anything like that, ever. Not me.



*FYI, that's the wife, not the dog.

** US Fact Fans, that's 26.6 F in fake degrees

Friday, 27 January 2012

All figured out.

Okay, so life is crazy right now. Mostly in a good way. Lots of work stuff happening, some fun stuff, and some that's just, well, stuff.
I was away in London this week and didn't get a single run in. Why? Because I ended up with a fucking cold, that's why. Flash back three years and I had a cold every month right after deadline. I think I might know why, or at least part of it, now though. I think the key, or the foundation if you like, to good health is sleep. Plenty of it. That's what I lacked this week (i don't sleep well when away from WonderWife) and I ended up feeling dreadful.
Not a single run. Marathon is just three months away. Fuck.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Work and running

Combining the two is a pain in the arse.

And then you add life into the mix, and it gets even harder.

The weekend worked well. Long run Saturday (only 8.25 miles, but I'm happy with that), took the dogs for a long walk (can I add this to my mileage? It would skyrocket•), then worked all afternoon and got tons done. Sunday, with a mild, mild hangover, I walked the hounds then worked. Got everything done, pretty much. I also had a couple of shandies Sunday night, out of pure laziness. I knew, you see, that Monday would see no running, because I still had some pages to sort out and send off for print, so had to make sure they got done asap. That meant getting the dogs out bright and early, and back home at my desk for about 9:30.

I always try and walk them for about 2 hours in the morning, I think it sets the dogs up nicely for the day. Of course, after a six-mile run, that means I spend the rst of the day either eating or thinking about food.

Aaaaanyway, Monday I did all that, got the work done etc, then found out an old schoolfriend had died at the ever-so-young age of 38. She was a real sweetheart, someone I really liked and have done since we used to walk home from school together (well, she was walking to the bus stop) 25 years ago. I used to see her in the street in town and next thing you know, 20 minutes have passed and you're still gassing. She was great, and I will miss her.

Anyway, that fucked Tuesday's running because I got shitfaced on Monday night. Wednesday, I had to go to London to see Brooks' new lines of apparel and tweaks etc to shoes, which was interesting. A couple of things I really loved, too. But I didn't love getting the 7:46 train, then the 2:45 train home for a combined total of seven hours on trains not including the London Underground, which would make it a total of about 7:50.

No running that day either. I tried so hard to get up at 5 but after three nights of beer, my body told me to go and fuck myself.

Today, though, I started the day with a nice 4.5-mile jaunt. And now I'm at my desk, not working, with a phone interview about I know not what to do later, and a ton of stuff to do before it.

I don't know where I am going with this... The other thing I've been doing is sorting out models for our magazine shoots for the new running title. I'm determined to use real runners, not models because using models is absolutely infuriating to me. I want to see muscles in their legs, I want to see muddy running shoes and sweat. The last two covers of Runner's World UK have been fucking dreadful in that respect, and I do not want to go down that route; this means we have to be incredibly careful in how we coach them at the shoot, not to mention lighting and possibly a tiny amount of make-up. Models, after all, know how to model. Runners know how to run. I have to find the balance between the two.

Enough of my burble. Time to phone Nike.







• Are there other kinds??

Friday, 13 January 2012

Random Friday Facts

Here we are again. Though I'm not exactly regular with this, am I?

1: Vanity really bothers me. People who can't stop looking at themselves in mirrors drive me fucking insane. Which is bad, because I have a 15-y-o stepdaughter. And she's at the age where she can't leave the house without make-up, despite having wonderful skin and looking fantastic without any at all. Kids, eh? T'choh.

2: Little known fact, but true story: men do prefer women without make-up on. I don't like kissing a woman and coming away with enough powder, foundation and lipstick on my face to double as Coco the Clown. I want to know what you look like; back when I used to be in the market, I thought there were few things more annoying than going to bed with someone who looks one way and wakes up looking really quite different. It's up there with the Wonderbra in terms of woman-to-man fraud. Chicks, eh? T'choh.

3: I am doing this instead of working. Tee hee!

4: My running bookazine launches end of March and will be available in 34 countries, I'm told. It's called Just Run. Exciting!

5: We saw my dog's nemesis this morning; an evil tyrant dog called Kiwi. Kiwi has gone for Millie three times, drawing blood once. Millie is terrified of Kiwi. I suggested strongly that third time (THREE FUCKING TIMES - WHY IS THE FUCKING THING NOT ON A FUCKING LEAD???) that they might consider putting the fuckshit on a lead in future. As a result of Kiwi's actions, I now have a zero tolerance policy on any dog seriously attacking Millie.

6: I'm cold. My feet are fucking freezing.

7: I signed up to Twitter recently. Far more fun that Fartbook.

8: To my eternal shame, I am following at least three former Biggest Loser USA contestants.

9: I'm not sure my sense of humour will carry well on Twitter, so I aim to refrain from posting anything about the Baby Jesus and how he's in my top-five babies of all time, or anything even vaguely controversial. Just in case. I'll wait a couple of weeks.

10: Apparently, there is a fish which mimics the mimic octopus. How cool is that?? I can't find the link to the newer story, so you'll have to make do with looking in wonderment at the MO. It ROCKS.

11: Too busy. Just too fucking damn bastarding busy.

12: Eye test today. Will also look at some new glasses.

13: My wife had her hair cut yesterday, and it is based a little on the leading lady in the movie Monsters. The haircut on my lovely wife looks absolutely bloody gorgeous. Monsters is a fab film, btw.

14: With a good haircut in it. I think she may have copied that off my wife...

15: I thought I might have beer tonight, but I am holding off until tomorrow night to have a shandy with my wife. That means long run tomorrow instead of Sunday, but it also means lie-in on Sunday! I may stay in bed until 8am!!

16: I also have to work all weekend. This is not ideal, but deadlines insist.

17: I have to spend the bext part of a week in London in 9 days. I am not a fan of London.

18: I don't think it likes me much, either.

19: Fondest London memory: a friend spending a happy 20 minutes underneath Big Ben asking people if they had the time.

Monday, 9 January 2012

A tiring weekend.

It was. I never lie, me.

Saturday I walked the hounds, (actually, hound because Darcy was enjoying a sleepover weekend with a friend of his owner's) then, y'know, did lots of other stuff. I ended up in the gym for 90 minutes or so (for an extortionate - in my eyes - cost of £5.40 or similar); in there I did a few 1km 'sprints' on the treadmill (my grand idea of seeing how fast I can do a 10k in 1km chunks did not account for the sheer boredom of treadmill running), some core work (lots of press ups, plank, etc) and a few upper body weights (well, I did a few curls and that was it, and not even with anything heavy - one set with 12kg, one with 10kg).

Sunday, I got up as early as I could manage and went for a seven-mile run. Well, I thought it would be 5.5, but me and Neighbour felt okay, so we added a bit on the end. Turned out we did a fraction less than 7, but it was hard work and it felt like we're back on track. he had a hurty back for the last couple of weeks, and I lost momentum thanks to that fucking cold I had between Christmas and New Year.

Last night I got rather drunk, knowing I would not be doing it again until these marathons are over. Too much to do, not enough hours in the day; a magazine to launch, the magazine I currently edit to maintain, two marathons to train for - not to mention relationships to nourish and a life to live! I'm also learning to drive. It's a lot to do.

With that in mind, the first step to becoming an endurance running coach is being put on hold, because my life is just too fucking full. Too busy right now, it's going to have to hang on until the summer when I can give it the attention it deserves. I'm not doing it half-arsed, dagnabbit.

Enough of my rambling. How are you?

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Well, I didn't plan any of that very well...

So, events have conspired to get me a place in the 2012 London Marathon. I'm very happy about this, not least because last year's event was so completely and utterly shit for me. Unfinished business and all that.

Sadly, the place has come because John, one of our Punks on the Run, has had to pull out after snapping a tendon in his foot. And then there were three. And of course, I was supposed to be doing Edinburgh with John too, so that's just me now.

Oh well.

The shit planning part of it is that Edinburgh is just a few days after I get back from Macau, which is quite a gruelling journey for me usually. It's a 12-hour flight from Hong Kong to Heathrow, then a long journey home from there. But this might even work better for me than usual, because I'll get in to London from Heathrow - to Paddington, to be precise - then get across on the Hammersmith and City Line to Euston, walk to Euston Square, then get a direct InterCity train to Edinburgh - which will, bizarrely, be faster than getting from London to Ludlow. Then I spend Friday and Saturday in Edinburgh doing absolutely fuck-all other than putting my feet up, watching my swollen ankles go down, then running a marathon.

As my stepdaughter neatly summarised: I'll just go for a good time in London, and just get round Edinburgh. Job done. Then no more races in 2012, apart from the one I am organising.

Speaking of which, I walked the course yesterday, and I have to say, I'm bloody glad I'm not running it. It's fantastic, beautiful, different surfaces, absolutely amazing views, but it's also got at least three men-from-the-boys hills in it. At least three.

Still, nothing worth having comes without some pain. Except, in most cases, orgasms.