Wednesday, 26 April 2017
Wednesday, 19 April 2017
|This is not what it looks like.|
|Super excited to get going.|
|There i am "whizzing" by.|
|Collecting my bread with no filling.|
|A beautifully scenic route|
|Hot and feeling like utter trash.|
|My crew worked tirelessly from start to finish.|
|"Could murder a cuppa."|
|Feeling like trash, but a cracking cup of coffee worked wonders.|
|The inspiring Tom Garrod in top form.|
|Finding some rhythm in the heat.|
|Yep looking brilliant.|
|Beware of the killer Psycho Swan.|
|Yes a poo can be this rewarding.|
|Beginning to feel better and get back in the game.|
|My crew working super hard!|
|Only a marathon to go. NB: I am not sponsored by Mountain Dew.|
|The relief at the sight of the left hand turn. I promise i am not sponsored by Mountain Dew.|
|A well earned rest break. Can you spot a theme in what kept me going.|
|A moment with my wife that i will treasure forever.|
|GUCR is beautiful.|
|Very tired crew member.|
|A medal worthy of the experience.|
Saturday, 18 March 2017
All my blogs are generally written retrospectively. Today I thought I would put my thoughts down as I go. Having flogged my legs at the gym on Thursday I was concerned today they would be dead; I would get 1/2mile into my run and drop to the floor crying like a child who has been told they can't have any sweets.
My plan was to head out of Housedean and run the SDW into Eastbourne. Once there I will run to the Marina where my wife's parents live. Setting out on the run things felt great. I am wearing a weighted pack. Probably 2kg heavier than it needs to be. I am trying to follow an even effort level and not concern myself with pace. This definitely keeps the ego in check, but I'm finding the run that much more enjoyable. So as I tackled the climbs from housedean and on to the yellow brick road, I found myself in an uplifted mood. For the first time in forever it isn't mattering what my watch is saying. 10mm/11mm/14mm I do not care one ounce.
My normal preoccupation when running is time. How quick can it be done, can i press the pace a but more. Today is simply not about that. So as I ambled into southease I am now sat typing from the cafe. I'm am going to sip my coffee and enjoy the moment. Then I shall March up the "dreaded" climb and enjoy a run through into Alfriston. I may even stop there for cake. What ever I decide it's going to be fun.
My recent post is my lesson point. If we rush through everything we see nothing and in that absence I find there is a void that takes the enjoyment with it. So I'm going to enjoy the moment and I will get to Eastbourne in a good mood and probably ready for dinner :)
Friday, 17 March 2017
So with only about 6 weeks until the start of the grandslam I became very aware that's it's been a while since I have done any meaningful or consistent blogging. Why? The short answer is I have been bloody busy. The more complicated answer is that for a period I have lost focus. Not focus on running. This isn't another blog about mojo.
My focus just generally went. I became so busy that my mind was either overwhelmed by what I hadn't done or what I had yet to do. This was at work, at home and everything else in between. It started to feel a bit like I wasn't living, but with the horrible consequence that I still had lots to do. This in turn meant lots of projects being put on the backburner. Blogging being one of them.
I have 7 blogs half finished. This includes gucr from nearly a year ago. I will get that finished next. I have numerous private contracts on the go and a regular contract that takes up time. Two gorgeous children and a wife who also need quality time. The fact was things were piling up and paralysis setting in. Something had to change.
For me blogging has been a way to not only be accountable, but to stay connected and hopeful post things from time to time that others can relate to. In taking back control everything needed to become purposeful. If that was watching a tv show then that is what would be done. If it's writing a report then that is what would be done. Distraction needed to be parked and I need to act with more purpose. I have left several Facebook groups. Simply I realised I was putting more into them than I was getting out. The negative energy was without a doubt affecting my mental health and yet every time I turned to my mobile device I was looking at the notifications button. That dreaded button became some kind of indicator to my value for the day. What a shit thing to do. I am not and will not be defined by a Facebook thumb, a star? A heart or any other emoji that so global business deem appropriate to associate with popularity.
The only way I could turn things around was to be in control. Changes to tax law and other matters meant a review of finances and how to proceed moving forward, but it was also a time to review actions for the future. I have ended the use of a running coach. Eddie is great and I have learnt so much from her about running and what it means to me. I have learnt what works and what will achieve success. It's now time for me to plan and take ownership of my training in a more exclusive way. I can do this and I will do this. I have rejoiced the gym and been using this to mix my training up. It's a challenge to put my own plan together and stick to it, but the need for focus has been very needed.
I've realised when things are frantic sometimes a run has to take a back seat and at other times it is the essential thing to fix or put my day into perspective.
Generally the Twitter community are a great source of support, jokes etc, but largely because the group I communicate with all have similar interests. It does not have the same negative effect as Facebook where groups have a subject repeatedly bumped to the top by yet another comment. Topics in Facebook stagnate and drive me mad. Similarly the time wasted on mindless tapping of games has probably added up to more than I care to admit.
I'm determined to press on with my running and to limit time I give to stress and worry. I hope that by giving work a limited space I will also free up space for family time and more focus on them.
So from here I am going to press on with things that are helpful to me and enjoyable. This should result in more blogging and more efficient training, but generally a fitter and happier me. Hopefully that will also result in those around me feeling happier.
For all your runners doing a centurion 100 this year do come and say hello; even if we have never met before. Social media should be a conduit for human interaction and not a substitute. I love the ultra running community and catching up with people at races is half the fun. Hopefully you will be saying hello to a fitter, slimmer and happier me. All being well in October you will see me sporting a massive buckle to accompany a suitably sized grin.
More blogs to follow!
Monday, 9 January 2017
So with the first weeks training done, there is a long road to TP100. 110 days (at time of writing) until TP100. The biggest task being the need to be grandslam ready. There is no real room for progressive training beyond TP100. With recovery and taper there is perhaps a 2 to 3 week window for purposeful running. These periods are going to need to be about fine tuning. My view is that if you are chasing grandslam fitness beyond TP100 then you won't be finding it.
This first week has been great and with the second week just beginning, there is a long way to go. Strength work today and I think that is going to be key to success. The stronger I am then the better I will cope and the quicker I should recover. Beyond that a healthy diet (bye bye fast food and haribo) and plenty of rest. I currently get no where near enough sleep... must try harder.
So as week 2 begins the motivations high. Now to resist the office Christmas Junk food clear out.... salted caramel mince pie anyone?... seriously!
Sunday, 8 January 2017
So after the first week of 2017 is done I am minded to what the next few months will offer up. In reality it will be a lot of hard work and probably repeated tests of will power. I'm ready for that, but with every year there comes the unexpected. It will be those moments that need to be pushed through.
2016 feels like it was a bit of a rubbish year. Truth is that on reflection the first half was pretty epic. I used SDW50 as a training run and gained a 50mile PB. I went on to complete the GUCR in hot conditions and then from there training really slipped. I took a rest and lifted my foot of the gas. But certain behaviours that I told myself were because I was "recovering" fell in to being bad habits. I was eating rubbish food and flippantly consuming whatever sweet substances were available at work. My training became a case of incredibly hit and miss. I knew that whilst I was ticking of mileage, I was missing sessions and not giving strength work the full attention it needed. I began to drift back and settle my weight at the top of end of my too high average. I had not kicked in from GUCR. Training for and completing Grand Union Canal Race had shown me what a runner I had the potential to be. The reality of course being that to achieve those level you have to commit to training, to diet and transform your way of life in to a much healthier one. Where the Grand Union Canal was concerned I had certainly transformed my training, but even then my diet was poor. I had not started that race at a weight that would allow me to achieve a speedy time.
At the end of 2016 I came to realise that work was overtaking life. I was leaving for work at 7am and not returning until 7pm. I was sometimes not seeing my children at all during the day. Politics at work was taking over many of my thoughts and my team were becoming busier and busier, but with no personal benefit to them or my emotional and physical well being. I came to accept that this could not continue. It was time to make some changes. What came next I could not have hoped for much better. I got a possible contract in Huntingdon (15min from home.) This would cut my daily commute down by 2.5hours. It involved a pay cut, but as a family the improvement in quality of life was too good to resist. So I handed my notice in to my current contractor and have been mentally preparing for my new job. I shall be returning to an element of my job that I love and only 0.5mile from my gym; I will be able to resume a purposeful lunch time routine. Since starting this preparation I have been reflecting and realising the impact of long and hefty commutes. This year I had crashed my car due to fatigue and that was the start of me reviewing my position. I always thought the commute was a good way to wind down, the truth being it was winding me up and exhausting me. So as of 16th January I shall be undertaking a new contract and pushing my business forwards. Life is too short to unnecessarily lower ones quality of life. My whole family are excited for the new contract and my children are delighted that I won't be working "where all the traffic is." No more calls to family to say I'm stuck in traffic and will miss bedtime. No more work issues overtaking my time to train. Onwards and Upwards.
So with distractions being removed I have a number of blogs half finished that I shall crack on with. This includes GUCR and Beachy Head Marathon. I will finish them for personal posterity and they will I hope still be of interest to some.
Pressing on this year I have started the year weighing 14st13.1 and my target, through healthy eating and regular training, is 12st. I want to do everything I can to improve my health, well-being and my running in turn. This last week has been one of the most consistent training weeks I have had in months and probably best week since GUCR. I shall blog about more frequently about interesting moments in my training and progress. I am revisiting the Centurion Grandslam this year. After a narrow miss in 2015 (DNF at NDW100 at 75miles) I have had pleasure this year of sweeping final leg of TP100 and A100. Seeing other runners complete their lifetime goals was a huge privilege. I am glad I didn't finish Grandslam in 2015. I was scraping through races and I don't believe would have deserved a giant buckle. This year will be different. I will work my arse off and every finish will be deserved. So focus now turns to TP100 and a sub 24 attempt.... it's going to be a fun ride.
Happy New Year Everyone.
Saturday, 21 May 2016
Many people have questioned whether perhaps there are mental health issues contributing to this bizarre tale, whether it is a man who just got carried away or in some quarters whether he is just a bit of an arse. I don’t propose to offer a comment on that, but what i do find sad is that the charity suffers. They don’t suffer in status, after all anyone can set up a charity page and its not for the charity to check the legitimacy of the challenges the creator is proposing. Where they suffer in this case is that had Mark come forward with the evidence of his run then surely media coverage would be through the roof and no doubt in turn the charitable donations. I think had he come forward and apologised, but explained his reasoning then his donations may still have gone up. Despite some of the audacious counter claims of trolling and abuse, i believe that people are inherently good and would have paid credit to Mark's belated honesty. I also believe even if it impacted on donations, exposing his lies was the appropriate action to take.
This story has been “newsworthy” amongst the running community and by virtue of the definition of “newsworthy” it must be of sufficient interest to the public. Several years ago i completed a dissertation on the media and this very term. The research showed that generally “newsworthy” is also things that are out of the norm. Sadly in most cases this means the newspapers covering vast arrays of negative and often catastrophic incidents. The shock factor of such incidents generating a high profile response. The presentation of them in the press then only serves to perpetuate the fear or moral panic that such issues are on the rise and we should all fear for our lives. Often the reverse is actually true. I am not suggesting that we should all fear for our lives because of Mark Vaz, but we should not perceive his behaviour as common place. The day we as a society accepts actions like that of Mark Vaz as the norm would be the end of a society i would want any part of. As i have previously commented though when people inspire through lies and shortcuts the negative impact on those inspired can be great. This is why such behaviours should be discouraged. Knowing that Mark had the audacity, just prior to his 'run', to see a child and family involved with Make-A-Wish makes my blood boil. Invariably the parents will likely have followed his adventure and have been hoping to tell their son all about how he finished. I hope she didn’t have to explain to her son the reality. When we invest in people and their challenges and allow ourselves to be inspired then we also run the risk of being let down and disappointed. For people in vulnerable positions this disappointment can have massive ramifications. What stands true is that we all need to be aware of the greater sense of responsibility we have for the words that leave our lips or via our fingers on a keyboard.
There are so many astonishing and awe inspiring achievements going on in the world that we should be giving greater focus to. It is the courage of the human spirit and people investing time to achieve things others see as impossible that is of greater interest to me. For this reason i would have been much happier to see Mark’s story to have been true, or see him really try and fail, or just have finished in a much longer time. That indomitable spirit would promote far greater inspiration and a much better story to be told. It is a sorry story of the often insecure that they believe world records, course records and fastest known times are the only way to grab attention or inspire people.
I believe that the vast majority of the running community would want Mark to have genuinely smashed the record and be able to produce the evidence. Look at the positive response to Nicky Spinks and her double Bob Graham Round or the ongoing inspiration of the likes of Mimi Anderson. Ordinary people achieving extraordinary things. I am inspired by these people to continue to make my own positive influence on the world and to better myself and my capabilities. I am inspired by the likes of my wife who looks after my children full time and having suffered with SPD during pregnancy has embraced the challenge of running and is stretching her ability every day. She is inspiring our child and in turn inspiring me. That's the kind of real world inspiration that we should hold on to an seek to replicate. There will always be charlatans, but if we can all focus on inspiring others through positive actions then the charlatans will be seen for what they really are... a sorry minority.
So moving forward lets ensure we draw out the positives from those who achieve and dare to place themselves outside of their comfort zones. In my blog TP100 - A volunteers perspective i comment on the trials and tribulations of the back of the pack runners. Simply put you do not have to be winning or particularly fast to show the determination and indomitable spirit that inspires people. Had Mark remembered this then he could have reached and inspired so many more people. For the rest of us though it shows how the masses can have a far greater impact. In the facebook Ultra Running Community alone there are more than 10,000 members. I am sure a vast majority of them have an inspiring story to tell and one that is far more noteworthy than a man who foolishly thought he could drive a van from Lands End to John O’Groats and portray he ran it. Lets not let one man and his delusions detract from the credibility of people stretching their personal boundaries and raising money and awareness of good causes.
I often myself question when running long events whether to raise money for charity and in the beginning i would, but then started thinking every time i ran a race people might get a little bored about me asking for money. Mark’s story caused me to revisit these thoughts and to try and draw some good from an otherwise rubbish situation. I had been thinking about raising money for Make-A-Wish for some time. Having two young children of my own the concept of them being poorly or worse terminally ill makes me sick to my stomach. The courage such children show in the darkest of days absolutely deserves for their dreams to be rewarded. Such human courage inspires me and i figure if i, or someone else in the world, can then absorb this inspiration and go on to inspire others we can create a perpetual cycle of inspiration; each and every one of us using the inspiration of those around us to go on and do things that inspire and so on and so on. This will promote a positive attitude that has the potential to consume all media platforms in a far more positive way than the actions of Mark Vaz. Perhaps if the likes of Mark Vaz then see the positive reaction the “ordinary” person receives they will not feel the need to find a way to elevate themselves to a position of false superiority.
Lets promote a mantra of “ordinary people achieving extraordinary things.” Lets focus on those stories. Where issues of lies and deceipt appear then they should be exposed, but lets give them only the time and coverage necessary to do that. This will deter others from taking shortcuts to “fame.” It will also ensure they do not overshadow the positive actions of the majority.
In my bid to promote the positive i have decided that for my next race i will be raising money for Make-A-Wish. I will not raise money every time i run, but this race has been significant in my life and i think is significant enough for me to seek to raise money for a charity. I am running Grand Union Canal Race on the 28th May. For those that don’t know, this is a 145 mile foot race from Birmingham Gas Street all the way to Little Venice in London. I have been training for this race for the last 10 months. I have invested hours in my training and averaged about 50 miles per week or a total of around 2000 miles of running. I have loved the training, but it has been a challenge at times balancing this with family life (the way many, many others also do.) There will be highs and lows in this race and inevitably a great deal of suffering. No doubt there will be plenty of pictures to demonstrate my suffering. A few people have said to me that running 145 miles is impossible. The truth of course is that running 145 miles is not impossible and many people have run further and faster than i have. Many people will have completed the Grand Union Canal Race far faster than i will. For me though this is a mute point. The fact i can inspire those around me to improve their own lives and stretch their perceptions of what is possible i hope builds in to creating the perpetual cycle of inspiration i referred to earlier. If any children or parents involved with Make-A-Wish see my story and it inspires a child or family to stay strong and fight a little harder then my suffering will be a drop in the ocean.
If i can raise a small amount of money in addition to promoting the ethos of validating the good and dispensing with the negative then so much the better... “ordinary people achieving extraordinary things.”
If you would like to sponsor me, or more specifically donate to Make-A-Wish then you can do so by clicking here.
Perhaps we can raise some money for a good cause. If this comes out of doing something i love then great. The over riding message really from me is for us all to hold on to remembering that just because one person can so dramatically and publically lie and cheat doesn’t mean the majority of us do. We can all be part of a much bigger and positive picture and inspire each other along the way. Sponsorship for me would be a bonus, but promoting this ideal is the real message from this blog... ASPIRE TO INSPIRE!
I would love to see more blogs of people doing amazing things and stretching themselves. Reading these things will be a far more enjoyable use of my time than the ongoing saga’s of the likes of Mark Vaz and a far greater facilitator of change. Maybe you have your own story to tell that can inspire and maybe you have your own cause to raise money for and promote the awareness of. That is a far more enjoyable community to be part and a far greater message and example to set our children and others around us. At the time of hitting publish on this blog my little boy has just said "i want to be just like you daddy." When i asked why he said "you are big and strong and make us all happy." That is worth more to me than any course record (obtained honestly or otherwise) and the kind of inspiration we can all provide on a daily basis. If we remember this then the next time a Mark Vaz appears we can be sure to treat them for what they are... a single, sorry individual from within a vast community of genuinely good people.
Lets keep false idols and lies easily uncovered to a minimum; we will all be happier for it.