Revolutionary Spirit or Fumbling in The Mumbles

All is quiet where the angels fear
Oh my blood relations the revolutionary spirit is here

The Wild Swans Revolutionary Spirit, 1982. Great single. I love this song.

Swans… Swansea, simple. Any excuse to quote a great record.

Revolutionary spirit, something I believe I am. I like change. Push boundaries. Try something for a boost or change of scene or style. The week building up to the Swansea Half Marathon have been a change for me. Work has made me very tired and disillusioned. It has become so hard to work a 10 shift and then run. At my place of work, we’re desperately understaffed and with an aging workforce it has become very difficult to keep on keeping on. Running is my freedom. My ‘get out of jail’. It eases my body and, more importantly, my mind. Running is my salvation, it is my North, my South, my East and West, My working week and my Sunday long run best, My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song; I thought that love of running would last forever: am I wrong. Sorry W.H. Auden.

This last week before Swansea Half I did something I have never done before a race before: I have taken it easy! I resisted my usual temptation to run every day with hard workouts and tapered. I ran Tuesday at about 10 seconds per mile faster than, hopefully, race pace. I then rested 2 days and then ran an easy 4.5 miles but with a couple of Chariots of Fire miles on the beach. The rest days I worked on strength and conditioning. Not so much resting but I get bored easily.

Swansea Bay

Saturday was a travel day. A lovely three hour train journey stopping at nearly every Bristol station and a joyful stop seeing the steel works of Port Talbot. We rocked up in Swansea around 1.30pm but couldn’t get into our room until 4 o’clock. Using my trusty Google Maps™ app we set off in search of our overnight lodgings. We meandered around the streets desperately trying to follow the map and eventually found our destination. The exterior looked less than inviting and the huge sign promoting student accommodation did set alarm bells ringing. So Sue and I did what all other weary travellers do, we popped into Wetherspoons for a pint and cheap and cheerless food.

At the appointed time we wandered to Neon 160 (!). I tapped in our PIN and we entered. Jeez, this place was unreal. We went to our room. A bare mattress with no bedding, a table covered in rubbish. A completely unprepared apartment. This was completely unexpectable, so we left to find a better hotel. This, of course, was a busy weekend in June with all the usual shenanigans of a city at this time of year and the added bonus of thousands of runners.

We decided to seek out where the race started as there were two hotels on the the route. The first was the Dolphin Hotel. This looked nice. Asked at reception if they had any rooms for the night. No the receptionist answered. Sold the last one 10 minutes ago but he did check on Booking.com™ if any rooms were available elsewhere. Possibly Morgan’s or The Dragon. The Dragon was nearer so we dragged ourselves there. Please, please, pretty please, do you have a room for the night? No, sorry. We were now in Joseph, Mary and the wee bloody donkey territory. Phone battery was now on 4% and a rapid return home looked our best bet. I sat on the floor and started charging my phone and with one last throw of the dice I tried Expedia.com™. The Village Hotel had a room £145 but they had a room. I gulped and booked it. A 30 minute walk, we were knackered and a half marathon the next day. I tried phoning local taxi firms but nothing so we slowly trudged forward with my phone still at 4%. We asked a couple security guards at a pub if we were on the right track and they suggested going to a taxi rank nearby. The journey was short but the relief when we arrived at our hotel was beyond compare.

A couple of pints and a few more with a group of golfers aided the sleep I already was desperate for and when the alarm went off at 7.30 I felt I needed at least 4 more hours and no running! Bleary eyed I walked the 10 minutes to the start. I’m always nervous before a race and don’t really like conversation and this was easy because I was the only runner I knew. I never used to use energy gels during a half marathon but now I need them. Now I need an energy gel to get out of bed. The start was delayed by 15 minutes, which didn’t help, but once running I eased myself into the job in hand. The race starts with a 3 mile loop within the city where the crowds and cheering was plentiful. I then ran out to St. Helens and past Swansea Cricket Club where Glamorgan CCC used to occasionally play before the upgrade at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff. The route was now looking familiar as it was along the Swansea Bay 10k course that I had ran in 2000. Familiar but different with wonderful guard of trees. I reached The Mumbles voted the best place to live in Wales. After recent visits to Newport and, now, Swansea this didn’t surprise me. The village is very pretty and the houses look very expensive. Even the chippy looks like it’s a listed building. Here I looped back to the city along a lovely cycle path following the coastline and that salty smell of sea air. I gazed across the bay seeking out Burnham-on-Sea. The miles ticked along quickly and soon were heading back to the marina where the start and finish would be. With 100 metres to go Sue saw me and shouted out in her usual manner but with fewer profanities. I collected a handful of protein bars, a bottle of water, my medal and tee shirt. Sue greeted me and then off to pay £6 for a beer.

Where’s the pub?

Purple Reign

I only want to see you laughing
In the purple rain

Prince Rogers Nelson

Prince can’t hear you

Saturday 14th May would see me return to Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire for the first time in three years. I was born at Cheltenham Maternity Hospital and lived in Tewkesbury for my first 51 years but, with no family there, I rarely feel the urge to return. I have returned though for a funeral, a couple of President’s Day cricket matches at Tewkesbury CC and the half marathon. I have entered the race as an unattached, a Tewkesbury AC, a Burnham-on-Sea Harrier and, now, as an Almost Athlete (well, I’ve always been almost an athlete 🤣).

The Tewkesbury Half Marathon is the race that I have ran the most. My first running was in 1984 when the event was held in September. I ran a fairly creditable 1 hour 42 minutes and felt very proud of my effort and thought that would be it as most casual runners do. My next running of it wasn’t until 1997. I had started jogging to get fit and lose some weight for the cricket season but enjoyed running so much that I stopped playing cricket and to focus on my running. After that I joined Tewkesbury AC, now Tewkesbury Running Club, and concentrated on running more seriously. I competed every year afterwards until I stopped running in 2008. In 2007 the first 5 runners followed the leading car and missed the Mitton section leaving me as 6th to be technically the first runner home following the correct course. The following year I finished officially and technically 3rd. It was very hot that day and the organisers had under estimated the need for water. Fortunately gardeners in Bredon used their hosepipes to fill cups to help provide a positive experience for the runners. Sue, my wife, stood in the road at Morrisons to stop cars crossing and avoiding a potential accident at personal risk to herself of being arrested by a jobsworth ‘Bobby’.

Patriotic shoes and flying feet. My running male crop top never took off and neither did my Roy Orbison sunnies.

Now to the 2022 version. The event had been held back by three years because of the pandemic and I was looking forward to returning to my home town. All those Tewkesbury AC years I had been a top 10 finisher but now I was glad to be a finisher and happy to enjoy the ride. Those sub 80 minute halfs have been replaced by barely sub 2 hours. I only want to collect that medal and tee shirt and celebrate with friends.

The start was at the Gupshill Manor. This was my local when I was younger as used I live nearby at Gloucester Road and Beaufort Place. The landlords back in the day were two old blokes with long ZZ Top beards, an amazing selection of malt whiskies and a wonderful open fire. A proper old pub. Later in the 80s it was the Mecca for the Sunday morning football team I played for. They provided a great spread for us after training nights and matches but now changed beyond my recognition. The Gupshill Manor was where Queen Margaret stayed before the 1471 Battle of Tewkesbury. A battle of huge importance in the Wars of the Roses.

Sue and myself travelled down by train on the Saturday and while Sue spent time with her parents I stole the opportunity to visit my parents grave and trot along my favourite running route. I’ve ran this way many times over the years but I felt the urge to return. To the ones who know the area, I run down Lower Lode Lane to the college boat house and follow the River Severn across the fields to Deerhurst church, across more fields, up Heartbreak Hill to the golf course and back onto Lower Lode Lane. I can’t tell you how many times this run has eased my mind. This was followed by the FA Cup final, Eurovision, too many drinks and a late night

Tewkesbury Abbey, the finest example of Norman architecture in England

Sunday and race day. We stayed at the Bell Hotel, opposite the Abbey, and under a mile from the start Having already collected my number, I wandered up to the start while watching in amusement others jogging there as a warm up. Jeez, I had 10 miles to warm up 😂. There was the usual milling around of athletes, nervously wondering if the training they had done was enough and jogging up and down. Thirteen miles is still a bloody long way.

At 10am we were sent on our way down towards the town centre where the course levels and off to Northway and the adventure. Running past my alma mater, Tewkesbury School, I heard the clump clump clump of clogs and a shortish lady passing me. No, it wasn’t Topo Gigio but somebody wearing those chunky, noisy Nike carbon running shoes. Gawd, they sound awful but apparently very effective.

Me running through Northway. Picture courtesy of Mark ‘Spyder’ Ryder

The wow factor of the run is the chocolate box villages of Kinsham and Kemerton. Beautiful villages and showing fabulous support for the runners. The trouble is the the long straight run towards Kinsham. I always struggle on this section. I feel as though I’m running in treacle. Okay, it’s about halfway and maybe I should feel weary but I train well and every time I’ve worn a different make of shoe so I’ve decided it’s the tarmac on the road, it’s just not responsive to me.

Three quarters done and just the run from Bredon down back to Tewkesbury, the Victory Leg. This can be a little scary as there is little pathway and the traffic can pass perilously close. That hideous quote comes to mind ‘just a Parkrun to go’. Just ahead of the last drinks station I witnessed a man receiving medical attention. This only goes to emphasis what a fickle mistress running can be. On to Mitton and plenty of support as usual and entering the Tewkesbury town centre is full of folks cheering so loudly it’s deafening. Medal, goody bag and tee shirt and then off to the Anchor for a well deserved Thatcher’s Gold with a couple of buddies. Very satisfied with my finishing time of 1 hour 54 minutes. Oh have times have changed but I now love for the love of it, the enjoyment and the calmness that brings to mind.

Start Wearing Purple For Me Now

Start wearing purple, wearing purple
Start wearing purple for me now
All your sanity and wits, they will all vanish
I promise, it’s just a matter of time

Gogol Bordello

My aim this year is to run a race a month which will hopefully mean something to me. January was a head torch race over Brean Down and Longleat 10km. February yielded the fabulous few days in Torremolinos and that half marathon. March a great weekend with my son Elliot and the Newport half. Easter Monday was April’s race and the Shapwick Bunny Hop a 7.5 mile multi terrain near Bridgwater.

I had recently changed my allegiance vis a vis club from Burnham on Sea Harriers to Almost Athletes, Cheltenham. I felt at home and relaxed with the Almosts in Torremolinos. The guys I met there were terrific fun. This was my first race as an official first claim Almost and third in purple.

Races in Somerset usually start relatively late at 11.00 am. Fine if you need an extra hour or so in bed but it means not getting home until after lunch and when the afternoon is in full flow. The race starts with a good half mile walk to the start. 100 metres and a small gate so if you’re not in the first few there’s a wait which dramatically reduced by chance of winning 😂. This is off run running and a huge thanks to the farmers and landowners for allowing races on their property. Few are there running for prizes but many for the experience. Then followed a little road and then into the nature reserve. This was about 2 miles of boring, flat, boring running. Unlike most sections like this there were sights to see left and right. I remember running Stratford marathon and a long 5km section of old railway line that was so boring it cost me a personal best. Next followed a little road and a short, steepish climb and some more road and homeward bound for a bottle of the local brew, cider.

The event was well organised and marshalled and the money going to a good cause. Would I run it again? Probably not. No real wow factor and for a runner not really technical or has the wow factor. Looking at the route on Strava afterwards there were a lot of straight sections and right angles and not the twists, turns and gradients. Some great views of Glastonbury Tor along the way but lacking that umph that a multi terrain runner looks for.

Dragging my good mate Lisa ‘Whippet’ Bowen-Howe along. I’m the one wearing the colourful shorts. Black is soooo boring.

Next month is May and Tewkesbury Half Marathon and a cheeky weekend away and meet up with fellow Almost Athletes.

Stand in the place where you live Now face north Think about direction Wonder why you haven’t before

Stand by REM from the LP Green

Am I seeing things clearly now or obscured by clouds?

City of Newport Half Marathon gave me the opportunity to visit my son, Elliot, and have a race. Of course, the primary reason was to see Elliot and have a good time and treat him as best parents can. Our weekend visit coincided with Bristol Rovers visit to Newport County a top of the table clash and local rivalry. Police were everywhere and even Wetherspoons asked for proof that you were a Newport resident or no entry. The same Wetherspoons that would serve Jager bombs at 10.00am if required!

My wife, Sue, and myself arrived by train at Newport at around lunchtime and we were met by Elliott at the station. We went to a franchised eatery that is relieved when it’s nearly the weekend, TGIF. Eating lunch whilst being entertained by the Police escorting football fans over the foot bridge to Rodney Parade to watch the game. We obtained a Guinness rugby shirt in Torremolinos which Sue gave to Elliot but she lost a thong in the process. Later we spent some time evaluating the 2022 version of the mating game in a local hostelry. Four guys, three girls. Lots of playmaking. Two girls go to the toilet and Elliot and me tell Sue to follow. One of the girls is puking her shots up. Is this a modern age version of the Roman orgies? I’m glad I’m not in the game anymore.

We bid our good nights to Elliot and returned to our hotel for an early night to prepare for the race. Unbeknown to us the hotel is also a nightclub and has a house band that plays until 2 o’clock in the morning. Fat chance of a good night’s sleep.

Alarm goes off at 7.00am and the anxiety that’s been biting hard is really hitting. I ask myself why do I put myself through something that discomforts me so? I put on my racing kit, Elliot arrives and we head to the start line.

It was cold, grey and dreary at the start line and I questioned, again, my reasoning for running. I had feeling a lot of anxiety over the weekend and was doubting myself to even start. My last race had been in Spain and warm but this was Wales in March and definitely cooler. In my previous life I would wear a vest but now I needed a Helly Hansen under shirt and gloves and a blanket.

I took my place in the 2 hour finish bay as this was what I was expecting after my most recent halfs in Weston-Super-Mare and Torremolinos. Sue and Elliott were watching and I didn’t want to let them down but frankly not to run, a fry up and a mug of coffee seemed a better option.

An efficient orderly start meant I only had about 30 seconds until I crossed the starting line. It was cold but moving soon warmed me up. I was aware from my brother-in-law, who comes from South Wales, that Spring was always a couple of weeks later in the principality so I should have known better. I quickly realised that many runners were following the 2 hour mark and it was difficult to get a reasonable running stride without clipping heels and hard to get pass and in front of the crowd. I burst through and intended to run my own race whatever and fail or succeed by my own efforts.

I pushed on through the city and northerly to Caerleon where the race took a turn. Surprisingly for a city half marathon, the race followed some interesting narrow trails and a huge pig was watching us runners probably wondering what the flippin’ heck was going on. We swept down back into Newport, past where my son lives, over the river Usk and to the finish at the university buildings to receive our medal and finishers tee shirt. My watch time was 1 hour 50 minutes so quite a success and a real fun weekend. Great event which I would do again.

We all had a celebratory meal at Wagamamas. I was pleased with my finishing time but really it was all about spending some time with my son. He later told me that he was proud of my running and I cried. It’s not always about personal bests and negative splits. Sometimes it’s that personal touch, the feeling to feel proud and have others feel proud for you.

Home Thoughts From Abroad or Torre, Torre, Torre

Off for some R n R in the sun. The last 3, 6, 9, 12 months for me have been horrific. Okay, last February the Tampa Bay Bucs won the Superbowl. Charlton are still plucky losers and as for English cricket, blah. Sport is my passion but at my time of life nobody wants an old git who farts every time he bends over and can’t pick up anything without getting on all fours. It’s a struggle to put on socks every day. I don’t put this down to my age but a lifetime of devotion to playing sport. Not going to the bookies, or rocking up at stadium to watch, or channel hopping on the T.V but actually going out to participate and getting muddy, sweaty, bloody, hurt and heartbroken, when after all that, we/I have still lost. Personally for me it’s been crap but that’s not for this blog. What I needed was a chance to get away, recharge the batteries of my soul and re-evaluate my thinking going forward.

My opportunity to drink Pina Coladas and escape came last November 2021 when Rachael Nolan, from Almost Athletes in Cheltenham, posted on Facebook group I follow that Torremolinos Half Marathon places were up for grabs. Wow, I couldn’t believe it. A warm run in the sun in February. I’ve known Rachael through Sue who used to work with her and always get to see her at races in Gloucestershire. With Covid-19 ruining peoples lives for so long, this was too good an opportunity to miss and I wasn’t going to. Just a couple of days after I entered, booked a hotel and flights, Omicron burst into action and threatened to burst my happy balloon. Although clearly a bad variant it wasn’t as bad as the previous variants and mostly affected those who hadn’t been vaccinated. Fingers crossed it was still game on.

I had just over 2 months of training to get into race shape with the Christmas/New Year break included. Unfortunately this didn’t work as I had hoped. A reluctance to go out for long runs without a run buddy and a nasty cold over New Year messed with my projection and, to be honest, the cold weather wasn’t good for my lungs. I settled for a steadily increasing block of mileage and a couple of 11 plus runs to give me the confidence of getting round. Using my experience, I knew this wasn’t ideal but would be enough. I would use this as the break I desperately needed and a springboard to a later May half where hopefully I will be in better condition.

During the pandemic every country had their own different way of allowing travellers to gain entry. With Spain, I needed to fill out a Health Control Form. After all the name, address, email, flight number and seat number, and multiple of other questions I had to offer proof of vaccinations. This would put me in a place Novak Djokovic wouldn’t be, a foreign country.

We flew out early Friday morning so we stayed at a B and B near the airport. Near the airport……It was a 1.5 mile trek in the dark along a busy, unlit road. I honestly thought my time was up but managed to make it to our lodgings. The proprietor said that there was an emergency road which we could access which would have avoided the busy, dark road and was only half a mile. Cheers.

We took off and left cold and wintery England at 6.20am and touchdown in Malaga two and a half hours later. A quick taxi ride and I could finally start to unwind. The stress pains in my neck, shoulders  and the back of my head began to unknot. As I was checking in several Almost Athletes, the club I would be running with as my second claim club, came up to introduce themselves. They were off for a jolly in Malaga. Sue and myself dropped off our gear, changed and went out to explore and have some lunch. We later met up with the Almosts at an Italian restaurant and were immediately made to feel welcome. Afterwards a visit to an Irish bar to drink Guinness to the demise of any realistic trophy expectations of Manchester United, who were beaten by Middlesbrough in the Cup . It was nearly 2.00am when we arrived back at the hotel. A long day.

Next day, Saturday, some Almosts were having their own parkrun  but today was registration day. This was held at a shopping mall about 3 miles away. We took the train. I presented proof of entry and my passport and they gave me my number and a gym bag with my tee shirt and a lightweight fleece and for 15 Euros. We walked back and a quieter remainder of the day in preparation for the race.

Sunday and race day. I’m always nervous when racing and especially abroad. Uncertain of the food and not drinking enough water but this was my first race post cancer on foreign soil and that had more issues. Previously mentioned, my training had been poor. I was hoping for sub 1.50 but sub 2.00 was more realistic. This was to be an ass kick to train for a later half like Tewkesbury in May. I never eat breakfast before a morning race/run but this morning I ate a croissant just to steady my nerves. The start was at the Municipal Stadium, the old Bull Ring, about 1.5 miles away and we walked.

First beer after the race

At the start, runners were milling about like they always do everywhere. Nervously chatting away, some stretching and warming  up on the track. I said my goodbyes and good lucks and joined the runners to get away. I spoke with a guy from Worcester who insisted on telling me all about his foreign races. It was his way of settling down, I just wanted to be quiet. I thought it strange that he wore a Christmas technical tee shirt with a Robin pictured on his chest. I had read the evening before that 20% of the athletes are foreigners and there were plenty of British for sure.

The first 4 miles or so were downhill and towards the esplanade. These miles felt good. Trying to hold back a little as it was early into the race and there was a climb back up to the finish. At 9.30am local time, it was busy. Shops were open and locals were out buying groceries but still cruising well. We then hit the esplanade and then 5 miles of flat. I passed my hotel and heard the screams of support from the Almost Athletes supporters. Sue even joined me for a few metres but this was 9km not even halfway and I didn’t want to get carried away. I stuck to my boring game plan, Steady as She Goes. Now for the last 4+miles. Easy, parkrun and a bit. By now the lack of training was beginning to show and this added to the February Mediterranean heat, not the same as English (sic), and the section of climbing to the Bull Ring was starting to become prominent. The last meandering miles were tough as I’d done no hill training for months. I noticed before I re entered the stadium that I had already covered the 13.1 miles necessary for a half marathon but the run to the finish was spectacular as the non running Almost Athletes were there to cheer home their own. It was wonderful to see them and finish. I picked up my medal and goody bag, which consisted of vegetable soup, after a half marathon 🤢, and made my way back to support other runners finishing.

The vibes there were terrific as we applauded every finisher and when Ollie Nolan, the last AA, finished any roof would have been lifted by the cheers. A brisk walk back to the centre for drinks at Casa de Sherlock Holmes. That first beer could have come from Bacchus himself, in all his forms, as it tasted liked nectar from the Gods.

The truthful answer is that I wasn’t at all thinking about home whilst abroad. In fact it was the complete opposite. I wanted to stay where it was warmer. The race organisation was perfect and the Spanish have covid-19 licked by insisting on mask wearing and proof of vaccinations. Back in England Johnson wanders from scandal to scandal without anything sticking and people are leaving where I work without being replaced. I can’t control these things so I won’t. I’ll just sit in the corner, sipping on my Pina Colada 🍹

Last drinks with The Almost Athletes
Catalonia Dreaming

 

If I Leave Here Tomorrow

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on now
‘Cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see

Six years ago I was lying in a bed in Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton wondering what my future was. I had had a cancerous tumour removed from me, along with a section of bowel and part of my rectum. I had tubes coming into and out of everywhere, and I mean everywhere. The canulla in the back of hand was the very worst. Every movement pulled and irritated. My hand was sore, bruised and swollen. Over the four weeks I was in hospital, the nurses tried both hands and were considering where else to put them.

One of the Sisters was a keen runner and I would ask her daily about her runs. The nurses all worked so hard I found it impossible that they could find time for a hobby. Running is more than a hobby though. It’s me time. Time for quiet contemplation. Time for me to with likewise people and chat your woes away. Oh, and it’s also exercise!

This Sister was just what I needed, a Godsend. Her stories of her runs were an insight into the world I wanted to return to and I looked forward to her rounds to hear of her runs but I felt my future running was well away especially as any future for me was far away.

Forward six years to the present. I’m running. It’s a fabulous experience. All those wonderful feelings are coming back. The anxieties of running with other runners, of racing and feelings of being in such company. But most of all, how would my fellow club runners receive me on my return? Sadly, the NHS don’t provide guidance after care. You just seem to be thrown out and without actually saying it ‘get over it’. I was lost to the system for a year and then they asked me why? I don’t blame the nurses but the administration who have to ask questions about themselves and sadly I’m not the the exception.

Running this week was a prime example to my particular problems of running after bowel cancer. To dash into the sand dunes and bushes to defaecate 4 times during a 5 mile run is not normal. It’s embarrassing, depressing and soul destroying. After 6 years it feels there is no possible improvement. I’ve got by in half marathons but can I really run a marathon again? Sometimes I wish my previous pre cancer life was my legacy but it seems I must carry on.

Running another marathon is on my wish list. Christ, I know I will not be as fast as I was but I need to prove to myself and other cancer survivors that there is a life afterwards. It represents one last great effort if only to myself. So I registered my interest in the Brighton Marathon. I’ve ran London plenty of times so I figured let others run that. After all I’m looking for a difference, a fresh marathon to start my holistic rehabilation into distant running although a trail marathon would have been ideal and could still be an option.

The London Marathon was a vision of Chris Brasher, a pacemaker for Roger Bannister’s historic first 4 minute mile, to equal the New York Marathon and improve the standard of marathon and long distance running in the UK. Sorry to say this but now it’s become a freak show for charity runners and it’s charity sponsorship over quality.

I’ve booked myself onto an England Athletics coaches course. Normally the adage is never change unless something is broken but sometimes things need bringing a fresh outlook, a different voice or face or point of view. Tracey Thomas will join me and she has so much enthusiasm for her potential role as a coach. I hope we can provide what our runners need. I’m also working on a Couch to 5k programme to commence in the New Year.

I realise I’m now very cynical probably an age thing maybe but running has to to be open to all and not just for the elite or the park runners. Many good quality club runners have no chance in running the London Marathon for instance and that race is considered the Golden Egg of races.

Park run performs a great purpose in introducing runners and walkers into regular exercise but what about the next step, that’s not really thought about and running clubs have the duty to provide the link. As club captain, I’ve looked into this and no advice is given from England Athletics. It is two seperate enerties it seems.

The onus is forced back onto the club and their coaches and run leaders to try and bridge any gap. This causes a great problem to provide the right progress route for all. Okay there’s no park runs at the moment but our club has been flooded with people wanting to step up this last 12 months and adequate help hasn’t been available.

And So This Is Christmas And What Have You Done?

Who remembers those selection packs that an auntie or some distant relative would give you for Christmas as a cop out pressie? In my my day it would consist of Spangles a fruit boiled sweet, Marathon a runner’s based chocolate bar and would soon be Snickers, Mars an intergalactic confectionery, and a finger of Fudge. The packaging might include a dice based game that was never played.

I don’t really embrace Christmas. It’s a time for families to get together and celebrate but not for me as my family, what’s left, is spread far and wide. Don’t feel sorry for me as I’m used to spending Christmas that way. I would love to spend Christmas with my family but that’s the way the dice always rolls. Boris always move the goalposts but why should we take heed of him and his ship of fools.

I always thought my family was here with the Harriers but it’s clearly not the case as I’m not sure where I am and who I can trust. There have been some improvements. Matt and Alex have made great improvements with the speed sessions and the the regular runs are extending to 5 miles but not nearly enough as I believe 10k to be the minimum. Back at Tewkesbury, 8 miles was minimum for a club run. I am a second claim member at a club in Cheltenham and they have differing sessions every night. Ok, they are a bigger club but Burnham don’t really offer enough to new runners and I’m sure more can be done to attract new runners from other clubs and park run.

But I’m not captain anymore. I don’t need to think about club runs unless run leaders can’t be bothered and something must be set up and I must be a good club member. Why I should care is beyond me as some of the run leaders can’t be asked. I think I worked hard as club captain without any support from the committee who requested me to resign over a lack of confidence. Fancy asking someone to resign about lack of confidence with someone with no self confidence.

So in short, shit year…again and please embrace me into the club again. I’m not entirely sure how I was left out.

A most satisfying 5km. Joe’s Santa Run and it gave me immense satisfaction to run a fun run and raise money for charity.

Look out for the New Year blog.

F.E.A.R

For each a road
For everyman a religion
Find everybody and rule
For everything and rumble
Forget everything and remember
For everything a reason
Forgive everybody and remember

Today was the Weston Super Half Marathon and my longest run since suffering from Covid-19. My breathing has been wheezy but I’ve been improving week on week. I’ve settled into a specific training regime of frequent runs with a chest strap transmitter and keeping the majority of my runs at a heart rate of between 120-130 with the occasional faster effort. I have been using my old Polar chest strap heart rate monitor as my Garmin Forerunner 235 uses the pulse, which is inaccurate. Today, I figured it was the right time to test my method after having missed a couple of races recently and these days racing isn’t cheap.

I was confident of my approach as my training had been a solid block with improvement on breathing and heart rate. I had ran twice over 10 miles and many times over 10 kilometers. My main disappointment was there had not been any racing opportunities since my last way back in May and August and had been running very well, I think. I admit I was jealous of others who had been racing in recent weeks and I was positive that I was running a long test run but needed that ‘buzz’. I needed to keep this a secret to my closest friends as I was sure they would not approve and talk me out of running although I knew this was an important run for me. This was literally make or break as I could feel I was running into retirement.

I was grateful for Tracey Thomas for giving myself and Sue, Madame Pompomadour, a lift to the race. Tracey had been running well recently completing Mendip Muddle the previous week and a successful Mixed Relay win a couple of weeks before. Many Harriers had rocked up for the race including Jonathan Williams on his birthday. If ever he deserved breakfast in bed it was today.

That’s the prologue done and dusted, now for the run. I was a liitle uncertain where to line up so I chose a few yards/metres behind 2.00 hour finsh pace maker. The race started at 10.15, a strange time, and we did a 2 mile loop before heading across the beach and towards Uphill and Bleadon. My heart rate spiked a little running across the sand but I was soon able to control this. I was unpertubed by the runners overtaking me as I was determined to stick to my race plan. We meanered out onto the main road and back along the Uphill cycle route back onto the beach where Alex Hamilton caught up with me. He was running cautiously as he had turned his ankle playing football. A quick chat and snap and he was gone.

8 miles and still smiling unlike Eminem

After running across the sand a second time I couldn’t get my heart rate back between my parameters so I gave it a go.I was feeling great. Breathing was good and no sign of fatigue. The race now passes the pier and out onto the Kewstoke Road to a point where you turn and come back into Weston. Here you can see faster runner on the left and where I could offer encouragement to other Harriers. Going out is up hill so coming back is downhill. My 13th mile was at 8.01 was my fastest so my tactics were good. We finished on the pier. I, maybe, could have gone faster but I ticked the boxes I wanted and was pleased with my run.

Madame Pompomadour managed to pick a fight with some anti vaccination protesters. She was called a Nazi but she asked if any of them had received a flu jab and the binary answer was reluctant. Hypocrites.

Many thanks to Hannah Tucker and Madame Pompomadour for your cheering and support. It really means so much.

Thanks, Ian Brown. For Everythig A Reason.

True Faith

Songwriters: Hook Peter, Morris Stephen Paul David, Sumner Bernard, Hague Stephen Eric, Gilbert Gillian Lesley

I feel so extraordinary
Something’s got a hold on me
I get this feeling I’m in motion
A sudden sense of liberty
I don’t care ’cause I’m not there
And I don’t care if I’m here tomorrow
Again and again I’ve taken too much
Of the things that cost you too much

I used to think that the day would never come
I’d see delight in the shade of the morning sun
My morning sun is the drug that brings me near
To the childhood I lost, replaced by fear
I used to think that the day would never come
That my life would depend on the morning sun

When I was a very small boy
Very small boys talked to me
Now that we’ve grown up together
They’re afraid of what they see
That’s the price that we all pay
Our valued destiny comes to nothing
I can’t tell you where we’re going
I guess there was just no way of knowing

I used to think that the day would never come
I’d see delight in the shade of the morning sun
My morning sun is the drug that brings me near
To the childhood I lost, replaced by fear
I used to think that the day would never come
That my life would depend on the morning sun

I feel so extraordinary
Something’s got a hold on me
I get this feeling I’m in motion
A sudden sense of liberty
The chances are we’ve gone too far
You took my time and you took my money
Now I fear you’ve left me standing
In a world that’s so demanding

I used to think that the day would never come
I’d see delight in the shade of the morning sun
My morning sun is the drug that brings me near
To the childhood I lost, replaced by fear
I used to think that the day would never come
That my life would depend on the morning sun

I used to think that the day would never come
I’d see delight in the shade of the morning sun
My morning sun is the drug that brings me near
To the childhood I lost, replaced by fear
I used to think that the day would never come
That my life would depend on the morning sun

Stronger

Work it, make it, do it, makes us

How can you run faster? By running faster? It’s not necessarily so.

I was started running by jogging and walking and was soon up to an hour of constant jogging. I played cricket so I wasn’t completely unfit. I entered the local half and finished just outside 92 minutes. My wife, Sue, worked with a more serious runner and she invited me to join her and her husband on their regular Sunday long run. It was 12 miles long and I loved it and quickly realised that this particular run should be the basis of my weekly training routine.

This didn’t seem enough for me so I dipped my blistered feet into running club life. I’d finished with cricket, for the first time! I loved running and this was more than filling any void. My, now, running was all at a similar pace. Pleased with my improvement, every run was at the same pace. Not necessarily fast but the same. Almost race pace every time and thinking that was the way to improve.Then one February evening my running changed forever. I felt like I had suddenly been shot in the outside of my knee. From flying I was spiralling down to Earth in flames. Ilio Tibial Band Syndrome. I had a good running posture but I was running too much and at the same pace.

I was out of action for many months but this gave me time to think logically about my running. I needed a plan and it worked with some brilliance.

The Sunday long run had to stay. It’s the cornerstone of running. A regular long run of 10 miles or so gives the stamina to complete any distance up to the half marathon and is fantastic aerobic exerise. This type of physical activity increases the heartrate and promotes increased use of oxygen in order to improve the body condition.

Introduce some speedwork or hill training for anaerobic training, or short bursts of engery. Speedwork would be very basic. Modest fartlek, Swedish for speed play. I would run street lamp posts alternating sprint with jog recovery. Near where I lived there is a road of about 300-350 metres length of steepish climb. 5 or 6 reps of that at a hard pace was enough. I would run one of those sessions once a week. It doesn’t need to be a long session. Just enough to wake up those fast twitcher muscles and get you breathing heavy.

Second to the long run was the recovery run. Around 3-4 miles of slow jogging at at least 2 minutes a mile slower than race pace. This was the run to think of posture, form, relaxation, stride length and to flush any lactic acid build up away. This is when energy levels are high and glucose is broken down and converted to concentrations of lactic acid which the body can’t process quickly enough. This is the heavy leg feeling we get after a race or intense session.

Simply put. Mix it up. Try different sessions each week until you find what works. Don’t run the same all the time. I’m no expert but I learnt quickly. I’ve not been injured since and my race times were okay. Embrace a slow recovery run.

Half marathon is wrong. Should 75.52 at Bath 2000. I was never any good at 10kms.