Sunday, 29 June 2014

Niggles and Motivation...

I have a niggle, shouldn't be a surprise, and its a return of an old friend - the puffy foot. 

In the words of my GP, "you've got chronic soft tissue damage - what do you expect, how many times have you twisted it?"

So when I've hammered it, it puffs up... Not a lot I can do about it, if it gets too bad then I'll pop to the doctors and get tablets that are banned in horse racing and normally induce a whole cascade of rumours - water tablets are well known to my dicky ticker community, and normally for heart failure.  So the rumours do circulate.  Trust me, everything is working as it should...

So, a week of recovery (that was in the plan from the start), just walking and pottering about to keep things active. 

I don't often blog about work, because quite frankly one bloke sitting at a desk drafting stuff isn't that exciting.  However, this week Civil Service Live came to town and I ended speaking at it twice.  It is very easy to be very cynical about events like Civil Service Live and most of that cynicism is true, they do feel like "bread and circuses", but they do give us mere underlings a chance to mix, chat and share.  And yes, I do have to write, as the Vice Chair of the Civil Service Disability Network, to raise some significant issues about disabled access, and yes I have another issue to raise behind closed doors, but the positives still hopefully outweigh the negatives.  One of those is just reminding yourself of how many ways the civil service helps people, genuinely gets out there and does its best.  We're not all Sir Humphreys and we're sure as hell not all jobsworths - we do all want better IT though;-)

"My" sessions where taking part on a panel discussion on what makes a great team and to provide an inspirational 10 minutes on development, my development journey and how to look at things a little differently.

Neither were, or should've been, easy.  It is so easy to talk about the negatives of team working, everyone can define what a great team isn't... So having the chance to give a diversity laden view of the world, getting across those simple things that often get forgotten - management is about teaching people what to do, and how to do it properly, leadership is that bit extra - the bit that gets teams not just meeting but exceeding their targets.  My real world examples seemed to welcomed - at least my the little queue of people who wanted to thank me for being honest, or for saying something that touched on an issue in the office. 

The inspirational 10 minutes is always going to be a potential nightmare for a disabled leader... Am I considered inspirational just because I've done what I've done because of the dicky ticker, if so then I object.  Is it because I can put something into context against a backdrop of a running schedule that some much faster runners find impressive - then I can live with that. 

Being motivational isn't easy when your motivation is low isn't good, and doing it two weeks after another knock back on a promotion opportunity (with the attendant system issues and "interesting" approach to feedback) makes for a reflective look at things,  Which was good in some ways, it forced me to remember I'm a most unusual scientific civil servant - I've proven myself in front of Advisory Committees, learned and delivered a role in HR, battered a research budget into shape, and now get to try and make Knowledge Management and Futures thinking stick.  Not a bad mix, and yes the lack of promotion when I've got the ticks in the boxes of management, project delivery, finance, combined with a splash of comms and a bedrock of science in a number of discrete discipline hurts, and will always hurts.  There's no dodging that, and all I can do is review my skills and working out what's missing or not as fresh as should be and try and plug that gap... Not much of a salve, but I know my moods and I know I will come out of this dip sooner rather later and if in this black dog of a mood I can give someone pause for thought about what their next career move should be (sideways rather than straight up) and apparently gave someone their mojo back then I'm not bad at being inspirational...   
In running terms I've done what I set out to do in my head back on New Years Eve - run London, and run London well.  A PB is always welcome, a 12 min PB is extraordinary on a hot day.  Liverpool was always going to be the follow up, the return to running in my home city - and my second fastest marathon, despite the heat, despite the injuries, in spite of the course.  And then the Intro to Ultra - 30 miles of hills in the Peak District - I'd hoped for an hour faster than last year, smashing over 2 off was utterly stunning.

So, a treat as well as a rest.  My poor Garmin 310XT is battered, chipped and not always the correct tool for the job - its just not rufty tufty enough for some of situations I take it into - so a Garmin Fenix has come home from the sales, more than I'd normally spend on a treat, but combines most of the features I could ever want (and effectively means I have a smartwatch with a 6 week battery that I can take and use as a GPS for c50 hours... beat that!).

Back to the gym tomorrow - my next race is the Great North Run - so my hope is to shed some of the bulk from carboloading 3 times in 10 weeks and to try and convert some of my undoubted endurance into something resembling speed...

Nine weeks to Newcastle. Let the fun begin:-)

TTFN

Paul 

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Friendliest Runner, Kestrals, Frilly Knickers and Mitch Benn

I tried a new memory technique for recalling my runs for this my one and only Ultra I've gone back and done more than once...

The list in my head trots out as:

Friendliest Runner
Kestrel
Frilly Knickers
They're Lost - I'm not last
Mitch Benn
Wrong way up Win Hill
Jane's Mate
Magnum
Cement
Cup of Tea
Success I - not lost
Wedding - man in chef's hat
Stepping Stones party
Success II - not jumping a wall
Friendly faces
Success III - The right path
Success IV - The right bridge
Frilly Knickers
Cows - potentially viscous
Success V - not lost II
Victory - 2h faster than last year...

Well, that's exhausted me and I've not added the detail...

I was determined to go out slow and stay steady, the weather was a lot gentler than last year (16C instead of nudging 30) and I've done a hell of a lot of running between then and now (by the Garmin 1400km / 870 miles) so all was looking good.  Mentally I was in the right place for a PB, and physically I was ready...

 Slow up the first hill, walking up with one of 100 mile veterans, jog down and around... Cut through a woodland and step to the side to allow a horse rider emblazoned with learner signs, she thanked me and called me the Friendliest Runner of the bunch  - I don't know what I'd done to warrant such an accolade but it made me smile...

Moving up the hill to the ridge a Kestrel hovered overhead, another smile...

The hard paths over to Burbage are marked, mainly for the 12.12 race on the Sunday, the usual arrows and tape augmented by a pair of red, frilly knickers - I could conjure a back story... but again I smiled.

Checkpoint One, Jane's other half and mate cheering me on. Top up the water have a natter - I assume I'm last, as does the checkpoint...

Stanage Edge is busy, climbers are lizard like in their love of the sun, so I trundle along, high speed hopstoch...

Checkpoint Three is where the 60 mile people come back on our course, and watching some of them glide over ankle breaking terrain is a joy to behold...

And then I'm overtaken by a pair on the 30 miler... They'd followed the wrong arrow and for a couple of miles its just nice not to be last...

Then Win Hill... Last year it hurt, this year it still hurt... However, it had an unexpected bonus - a comedian who I like a lot - Mitch Benn walking down, as I struggled up - an exchange of pleasantries, confirm the date of the next book launch - and smiling at the vagaries of life I continued up to the checkpoint in the top - where the marshal informed me it was a "cheeky little hill"...

Pootling down Win Hill there was a chap I recognised from the start line going up the way I'd come down - he'd managed to miss the checkpoint... So I was back to not being last - more of a confusion than a smile...

 Jane's Iain was in Hope, with some friends, including one who offered me beer - tempting, but the lure of an magnum ice-cream and chocolate was far stronger.

Trot through Hope, up and around the cement works, and drop in Bradwell for the checkpoint and a cup of tea :-) This is the bit I'd recced as its where the ignominy of getting lost in the estate had happened.., The Recce worked - no problems - straight to the path and up to the edge...

It was a bit humid, and part of me was hoping for a thunder clap and a short sharp downpour as I trotted, held gates for the 60 miles, and dropped down, and then started back up.  A mild disbelief that I was on the right path took me a few minutes of confirmation - yes I confirmed that I knew I was right...

Through the top of Shatton there was a wedding in the barn, and through the slats, I saw a man in a chef's hat at one of the tables - again a back story could be constructed, but I just smiled, and unlike last year didn't need to stand in the ford to cool my feet down.

Speed walking along the Derwent, a path I know and love, you pass the stepping stones, where there was a party, swimming costumes and drinks in an attendance.

Through Hathersage, and up the hill - more 60 milers go past, all smiling and being friendly - there is something about ultras that brings out the sheer happiness of running...

I get the path right, and unlike last year there was no need to jump over the wall... More friendly faces as Iain and pals were at a pub on the way up to Carl Wark...

More friendly faces pass on the path around to Carl Wark, people I'd met last year who remembered me... the real joy of having found the right path to what some people think is an Iron Age fort...

Dib in to the checkpoint and work my way down to the bridge - no diversions, straight down...

Work my way up the broken path almost to Burbage again, cut back to the woods and follow the path down... The knickers are still there... the back story goes unformed.

Down to the Limb Valley, past cows (we'd been warned that they'd been a trampling recently), me going the muddy way and two of the 60 milers jumping the barbed wire fence.

The last couple of KM, don't blow it now... keep left, don't take the nice proper looking path with a bridge, head up the grotty path...

And then not lost, no nav problems worthy of the name, achy but not in pieces I finish.  10:58:29 is good, I'm happy, I'm smiling...

I only cramped once in the night, and the dreaded DOMS from sitting at my desk tomorrow are yet to come... The main things that hurt at the moment are the insect bites...

So, 31 miles, 5250ft of ascent, over two hours faster than last year... this smile may take a while to go....

TTFN

Paul

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Six month report... Not doing too bad...

The marathon part of my year is almost up, my two fastest marathons in the bag, a second fastest half marathon, some sexy running bling and the usual collections of aches and pains.

I know myself moderately well, which means I know my tolerance of "doing the same thing threshold" is beginning to reach its limits with running.  I know, shocking, I can get bored of running. It's also been a long slog, from the 31st December I've pushed myself fairly hard - my Garmin (which only gets worn when I'm doing something "proper") reports over 700 km since then - not bad for someone whose first "challenge year" was to do 1000km...

My Fitbit, picking up the days I go off stomping along the canal to get to town as well as the running is floating at over 2500km.

This time last year I was facing an Ultra marathon injured and with a lousy training record, this year I'm facing the same Ultra with a shedload more training, and a specific recce day and some terrain training under my belt - do I want a PB - yes I do.  It's slightly off putting to know that if I don't navigate incorrectly I'll probably take an hour off without trying, but as ever for next week I have my three targets  1) Enjoy the journey 2) don't go off course and get the PB and 3) if its as hot as last year - survive!

I also had a multi-day ultra to look forward to, this year I don't - I'm off to the Swiss Tough Hearts conference, http://toughhearts.ch/

Which will be as tough as a multi-day ultra for a couple of reasons, seeing my international GUCH friends is fantastic, I spend so much of my time doing stuff in the UK (the day job - I do have one, I volunteer for charities, my charity stuff and the runs all eat into my time), that I'm bloody useless at going to see my friends.  And yet they're still my friends.

However, we're a group with an unusually high mortality rate (good god I can be a cold heart scientific bastard) - my friends die, all too often and all too young.  I mourn in my way, and these conferences are a chance for us to celebrate their lives in so many ways.

Which brings me back to running, I've raised over a grand this year through my various runs - which goes to help make the world a better place for the youngsters born today with a dicky-ticker.  If only one kid has half the hassle I've had growing up then its all been worth it.

So what's next; intro to ultra next weekend, then a summer of walking - using the base of fitness I've got to go out and enjoy some serious walking.  My new tarp & bivvy set, as well as the tent, will be put to good use.   I've week off after the GNR and the plan is either something long Scotland or Hadrian's Wall (well it's close!).  I've some hills I want to bag and some fun I want to have.  I also have a long standing itch I need to scratch at the climbing wall...  

Does that mean I'm hanging up my running shoes?  No, but the intensity has gone from my training - I pushed myself to a target I've had for six years, and I got it.  The London Marathon is done, and was worth the wait.  My job now is to find the next thing that grabs my attention in the same way...

TTFN

Paul

Monday, 26 May 2014

And the band(s) played on...

It was a bad start... My Garmin was still in walk mode, rather than run mode...

It was a bad (for me) weather day... The scheduled rain didn't turn up until after I'd finished, and it was warm and sunny... Though unlike London there was a breeze, a nice gentle one blowing us along the promenade...

I had no expectations of a time, I had no desire to break myself and in many ways had put this is in the "long training run" box for the Ultra next month.  I'd said to a mate that given the hills I'd treat it like a fell run on tarmac and that approach worked.  If it was hill and I was going slowly I walked up it.  Around that I tried to keep my 900m run / 100m walk approach going.

The course... ahh the course...

Through a World Heritage site, around the Cavern Quarter, past the cultural quarter as we worked our way up towards the Football Stadiums, around Goodison through the park and then up to Anfield - the locals were out in force, I was offered a smoke at one corner and an orange segment at the other - one I accepted and one I declined.

Across the park again, down and then the Powerbar hill with a steel drum band - the bloke in the Powerbar top kindly offered to run with me, I politely declined, I walked hands pushing thighs as if I was going up Mam Tor on a good day.  Then there was the view back across the Liver Building, the city centre and on to the North Wales hills.  The long run down hill came next, I pegged my fastest KM as the walk breaks disappeared in a smiling couple of miles of fun.

Through the city centre, and the slightly unnerving bit of running with cars on either side, and then up through China town, then along towards the hill of hell - Parliament Street is a sod.  So hands on thighs I worked my way up, remembering all the times I've tried to run up it and burned myself up.  Princes Road, Princes Park, the loops of Sefton Park, with its tree lined high humidity were my lowest hour. I walked more than I ran, and it helped... A final hill, I have no idea where that one came from, all I know it was somewhere around IM Marsh & Sudley house, before dropping down to Otterspool park.  The band there had an amp stack that looked like something from Spinal Tap and belted out the numbers.

The Prom is just under 5 miles from the finish and is flat and monotonous.  The views of the Mersey are ones I know a bit too well for that motivation,  however the need to avoid the cyclists who decided that bells were not required and weaving between runners was a source of adrenaline. 

At 26 miles almost exactly a few drops of rain hit my head.

So, 26.2 - the bands were playing (or had tracks playing through their systems) as I went through, all the water stations had water, the gels were vile (honestly they were rank, I'm so glad I took my own) but were available.

A couple of friends were on the course, Manuela around the parks and I'm not sure how Christine got from one bit to another but she did, and her help with my "sprint" finish was great. The post-crossing line organisation was brilliant; medal, snacks, technical t-shirts, beer token... and then out to the concert.


Serious Bling:-)

The results were up on my facebook page before I had time to text them to the gang, and most of the photos up today.  5:44:13 - 10 min outside my PB but my second fastest marathon:-)

I'm impressed.  And as ever need to thank the marshals and volunteers - you were unfailingly nice, patient with me not being able to explain why I wanted water rather than go-go juice, and the ST John's for the supply of Vaseline when one of my nip guards came off.

The Rock and Roll team have worked hard to make the run up the Marathon as much fun as possible (their runs with burgers have been great).  The best indicator of that, my only decision about which run to do next year? The full or the half....

TTFN

Paul

Monday, 19 May 2014

The determination returns...

I've said before that I'm crap at being ill...

But I'm recovering...

And that solid core of who and what I am is still there.  Reinforced by what I helped happen at the weekend.  The CHF team worked hard over the last 8 months to get the programme set up and ready to roll, sweet talking & strong arming companies to get the maximum bang for every penny that is raised for us.  The volunteers, that small army of people who cheerfully and freely give their time, are heroes one and all - the nurses who were there all weekend, both in case of problems (they've never been needed for anything cardiac) and also just to chat to parents & kids, the people who manned the stands, the bouncy castle and face painted for hours on the Quayside. 

The parents and kids were there to enjoy themselves, and from what I saw and heard they did - these weekends are about creating a bit of space so families can be families, and chat to families who get the issues they all face.

Me? I go and be me... That included getting the trainers on and going for jog.  The first in 10 days.  And it was, as it should've been... Fine. Not fast, I went out at marathon pace.  Nothing twinged too much, it was warm (it was London, even running early meant it was warm) and it felt good to get back out there.

The news on Friday was that I wasn't going to be part of the Trail Team 2014 - Six out of 100 are odds that even I can't beat on this occasion;-) The six chosen are some of the luckiest people I know, based on the training day I went to in London they are going to be inspired beyond all reckoning and also have the opportunity to inspire us, and anyone else thinking of going out and having fun as only as trail runners can.

So, I'm back... And I'm beginning to feel like doing mad things.  This weekend is the Liverpool Rock and Roll Marathon, my hopes of building on London were just hopes.  I'm now going out to enjoy it, plod my way around and hope that some of the parents and kids are watching on social media and realise that when I've a stupid grin on my face at 20 miles when almost all around me are in bits it is in large part due to them.

After that, I've three days in the Peak - a couple of recces for the Peak Ultra in June and something fun for me... A jog around Kinder (as in the plateau) sounds about right at the moment. I just need to work on something for the second half of the year... time to get the books out...

So thanks to all at the weekend... the CHF top is being worn, the grin and determination is there, and I will finish (not least because there's beer at the end!).

Guess its time to start carboloading :-)

TTFN

Paul   

Sunday, 11 May 2014

This is not a missed run, this is a prolonged rest period...

I'm not good when I'm ill... I hate having a cold, I detest taking more lotions and potions than I have to do to keep the systems working.

However, the cold I predicted before the run in to London has finally landed with avengeance, at the same time as I've been dealing with hayfever.  One masked the other and the 10k on Thursday was probably more of a warning sign than I picked up on.

So, sudefed & lemsip capsules and more calories than you can imagine have been thrown down my neck - yesterday was awful, today just bad.  Tomorrow is back to work, so of course I'll be better by 10am...

It was meant to be a 13 miler this weekend, so I'm switching to positive mental imaging... and hoping that'll get me around Liverpool.

I did a 26.2 mile training run with a few (36,000) of my friends and took a stunning 12 min off my PB in London.  Since then I've run well within myself, walked a few miles with a few thousand feet of ascent, been injured, recovered got a cold.... Compared with many of my friends I should just shut the feck up and get on with it. Which is sort of where I'm going with this.  

I'm not as race sharp as I was going into London, but my legs also aren't as tired.  Liverpool was always my bonus marathon, and the one I was planning to enjoy.  Which sounds odd, but I know I can beat the sweeper van walking (PB walked marathon 7:05 - yes the 5 is annoying), and will just take it easy.  There's a bottle of cobra beer at the end of the Rock & Roll, so the effort will be rewarded.

So, time to wipe my nose (again), and start planning for next week - Children's Heart Week... My teddy (Perkins the Penguin) will be joining me at work, I'll be joining in some of the cyber insanity and then at the end of the week I'll be back on water, charging around a dock on a dragon boat... See I may be miserable when I'm ill, but I'm still looking forward to stuff...

TTFN

Paul


Sunday, 4 May 2014

Inspiration AKA I'm a lucky sod :-)

I'm a lucky sod...

In the space of four days I've been with some of the most inspirational people I know from the two parts of my life that people have the most problem reconciling...

Starting up the BT Tower, I was part of a stunningly brilliant group of people.  A select group of disabled network leaders and organisations that get disability in the work place were at the launch of a very important book - for the first time someone has done some research into why people do, or more likely don't, tell their employer they have a long-term health condition or disability.

That someone is Kate Nash, one of the few delightfully mad people I would cheerfully walk on fire for, she has a quiet determination born of fighting the good fight and knowing that sometimes that annoying as it is the quiet, long game wins... Leadership comes in many forms, hers is one I wish I could emulate more as I charge at the next windmill...

So, if you have a minute have a look - this is important stuff for all people who interact with other humans.  http://katenashassociates.com/disabled-employee-networks/news/blog/celebrating-launch-secrets-and-big-news-enabling-people-be-them




 
 
And the BT Tower gave us a cracking view over London for the launch... Including a view over to Parliament Hill where the second session of inspiration...

I got through to the selection day for the Berghaus / LED Lenser / Torq Trail Team - with the dream of heading off to Chamonix to run on the trails there... There's not a trail runner on the planet who hasn't dreamed of the UTMB.  And this would be as close I would get. 


The environmental centre was resplendent in sponsors colours, and soon resplendent with a collection of runners that anyone would be pleased to be in.  I know due to the dickey ticker I'm never going to be a front of the pack, good for age, runner.  One of the reasons I love fell running is that it doesn't matter, every trail running loon I've ever met just loves that someone else gets it.  Now imagine a room of 30 of us who just get it... People I've run with in Rivington, people who I queued with at the Fellsman kit check, people I've read about with awe...



Non-pushy talks from the sponsors - I use a fair amount of Berghaus gear (it works, it fits and its not bonkers prices), I've LED Lenser torch that is often my back-up but Torq were new to me and may be found - Apple Crumble flavoured gels were excellent... but the Rhubarb & Custard were magnificent.  I confess to stuffing a pocket with freebies... not as many as some, but enough to get me through a couple of runs:-)  I also liked the approach, the science made sense biologically (a diabetic with a biology degree and a couple of friends with biochemistry PhDs has a good idea of these things)...
The three other speakers were inspirational in different ways - like most fell runners I love the wild places, the sense of wonder when you jog around a corner and see a deer, a mountain hare or a large bird of prey.  So when two of the speakers have that love, combined with a love of running and take it the entirely logical conclusion of running the length of South America I'm in heaven...

http://www.5000mileproject.org/

Ultra Stu is someone who I've read about - he's won the Lakeland 100 and he's a thinking persons runner... He draws on some of the best running writers out there, and uses them by adding his own impressive pedigree and common sense approach... He may be an elite, but he writes and talks for and to all runners souls...

http://ultrastu.blogspot.co.uk/




I skipped the run, I wasn't sure of my thigh and I wasn't going to keep up with the "conversational" pace that was being set... So I strolled up to the top of Parliament hill and in one of those "circle of life" things looked back at the BT Tower and reflected on just what a lucky sod I am...



Do I want to get chosen - yes.  But I also want all of us to get chosen... I spoke to as many as I could, and we are all as mad, loony, wild eyes lovers of the hills and running in them - and to a person we're nice people.

A long, long, coach trip back (National Express has improved greatly, but its still 5h... then again the trains were utterly screwed!) and a gentle day buying new road shoes (ouch!) a rucksack (no I don't need it... but it's preeeeety) and a trip to the gym to test the shoes over a longer distance, and to test the thigh out - couple of km at varying intensity and gradients, a hard & fast 5 min on the cross trainer and a couple of hundred feet on the evil stepper and all seems good.  So five miles tomorrow... for the Rock and Roll Marathon isn't far away.

So as I reflect on being a lucky sod, thank you all for making it possible.

TTFN

Paul

Monday, 28 April 2014

The Start of an Obsession...

We've learnt from last year, hell we even did a simulated kit check before we set off to Threshfield... Yes, we counted each others safety pins and plasters... We looked at last years marzipan with some sceptism, but its over the 300g and comes in a bag that moulds to the bottom of your rucksack.

We started off in the rain, and headed quickly into the cloud... and more cloud, and horizontal rain.  My top gear, as it sometimes does, didn't want to play - but we were still at the top in good time for us - 1h 45 min.

From the Trig we couldn't see the shelter, so we paused, caught a break in a swirl... Spotting a red blinker we moved to the checkpoint and got our tallies stamped.

Last year, in similar visibility, we screwed up big time... and this time we checked the bearing from the shelter to the edge, got the GPS out at the top of the path, checked the bearing, kept going, checked the GPS and then... we saw the flags skirting out towards Hill Inn...

So, dropping down that hideous staircase we hit the flags with a spring in our steps and picked up the pace across the flags, over the duck boards and then to the Checkpoint at Hill In - a quick biccy and juice and start the haul up to Whernside.  Top gear was still elusive but we were still moving well, wending our way up, trying to get as much height in before the Three Peaks Marathoners came down at full throttle... Those can run, and whereas we had reasonable rucksacks on, they seems to be flying in small bumbags, vests and minimal shorts...

The wind on Whernside was lifting us as we went along the ridge line, and neither of us are lightweights.  Dodging incoming fell runners we battered our way up, the wind chaffing and the views opening up over the Ribblehead Viaduct.

And then... a twinge... a contraction along the inside of the thigh, first the left and then more intensely the right.  It's a bug bear I've had a couple of times, its not hydration related, its not salt related, its just idiosyncratic and a pain in the fecking thigh... It's like someone ratcheting the inner thigh muscles to half their normal length. 

Sometimes it wears off as quickly as it comes, and other times like Saturday it doesn't.  Looking like I'd just done a couple of hours on a bucking bronco we went back down the ridge, looking for the famous Whernside stile - a Fellsman own development taking us over and the long drop down to the barbed wire gap in the fence...

The thighs were alternating contracting and feeling like they were good... I was edging towards feeling good, when both contracted as I stepped down a mud step and I ended up kneeling in the mud...

Working down to the checkpoint, I knew I was done - if there weren't checkpoints on the hills with people there in the weather I might of carried on.  My safety is important, but I'll take more risks with it than with that of others.  I had ordered Chris to cut the rope and head off on his own, but he declined...

And so at Kingsdale we handed in our tallies, grabbed a mug of tea and chatted to the sweep team - one of who said that we were being watched as we came down off Whernside, and that my fall was no Torville and Dean moment...

A long mini-bus ride back, passing plenty of the runners towards the front of the pack and to Threshfield - check-in and back to the lodge for tea and biofreeze. 

Twelve miles walked, 3700ft ascended, in nine minutes longer than Naismith would predict - for us good. 

My thigh only really hurts if I lift my foot up, so bizarrely I could jog on parts of the walk we did around Bolton Abbey on Sunday.  I've a little under a week of rest and recuperation for my leg to start working for the Berghaus Trail Running Team even on Saturday, so buy shares in BioFreeze and compression leggings... I should be fine, and by Saturday a gentle jog will be in order.  The Liverpool Rock and Roll Marathon may be more of a speed walk than a run... But as one of the sweep team said - even in the rain and wind of Ingleborough I was smiling, and that's my aim to enjoy the hills and events I can.  I've had too many people tell me that I can't do things that every time I get out there I smile. 

The obsession? Before we were through Kit Check we were already planning 2015... Coming down Ingleborough we were discussing kit selection and whether I can speed up the descent by treating it more as a fell run... As soon as the date is announced the accommodation will be booked... and as soon as the thigh is recovered the training plan will start.

Obsession? Nah - just an event that is fantastically well organised, by a bunch of great people who volunteer and let people like me smile on the hills.

So thank you to the Fellsman, for getting under my skin... I've some training to plan.

TTFN

Paul



Monday, 21 April 2014

The Break Fortnight...

Diary congestion is a pig...

London; done, dusted, photos bought...

Gentle recovery done during the week - keep moving Mon & Tuesday; Wednesday use a work trip to Buxton to take a stroll over a hill...


Only 5km stroll, but it felt good for three days after a marathon, Thursday and Friday more of the same, keep moving and keep loosening off the tight bits and testing for damage...

No damage.  All good then, Saturday was a stroll with friends in the Clywdians, 8 miles, one short sharp nasty climb - this time fully loaded for next weeks challenge.  The Fellsman has a strict equipment list; five top layers, two bottom, first aid kit, emergency food, woolly hat etc... All sensible stuff, but even with my predilection for gear it all adds up. 

Another cracking day on the hills -




The legs worked again - I'm not sure why I'm so surprised, but I am...

Sunday was a route recce for the Liverpool Rock n Roll Marathon - why?  Because it went places I don't tend to go in Liverpool and there's something odd about not knowing where your home marathon is going.  And I'm glad I did.  Liverpool isn't flat... But even I was surprised by the sheer number of hills they've managed to find...

However, if the runners look right when we go over Everton Brow they will get a treat to make a lot of it worthwhile..



A full world heritage site laid out - the panorama doesn't quite do it justice, but we could a have a view to the hill I was on the day before. I hope not, as that probably means it'd be another hot day...

And today was the fateful day where I pulled the trainers on and ran for the first time since London.  A new route, taking in Goodison & Anfield to take me up that hill, and build a little more strength in my legs.  It's more psychological that physical, but a gentle 5 miles, and yes my legs were heavy but I kept running, no walk breaks, and enjoyed it...


So, the plan - join the Rock n Roll people for another one of their fun 5km's on Wednesday night - more luminous body paint I'm afraid.  The Fellsman, it's got to be better than last year - Fellsman Muck Up - gentle recovery after that - however far we get and then on to what I'm sure will be a fun week - up the BT Tower for work, and the publication of something I'm insanely proud of being involved in, the to the Berghaus day in London - hearing from people who've run the length of South America... Now that's good going, and whether I get chosen for Chamonix or not meeting others with similar loves and madness's as mine will always be a good day...

Now where is my emergency marzipan?

TTFN

Paul

Friday, 18 April 2014

A blog without the R word...

A challenge, and a small donation, has been set...

A blog without the R word, nothing that involves harnesses, specialised shoes or body lube...

So welcome to my reflections on almost three years of being an Open University Student.

I'm a neophile, and specifically I like new stuff in new areas.  So its a good job I have the job I do, plenty of new things land on my desk at an alarmingly regular rate.  However, my desire for newness isn't totally satisfied by a random collection of requests from various parts of the Civil Service.

So, where do I go, and what do I do... I've got the BSc, and the Post Grad in Occupational Health... I've gone back and done GCSE French.  A couple of friends was saying how good their OU course was so I had a look...

I've always enjoyed arty farty stuff (despite being advised I wasn't good enough for GCSE Art), and often mooch around art galleries and museums. Combine that with the analytical part of my brain, and I quite often was asking questions like "and?" "Why?" and quite often either "Why all the saints?" or "WTF?".

So an arts based degree with the OU... Starting with the introductory course, just to check my brain wasn't going to melt and I could fit it in with the rest of my life.  That was what feels like a long time ago - three years and four courses.

Throw in a summer course on Material Culture, then a second year course on the History of Art - that was fun, it was the first time the OU had put that course on, and at times it showed.  It was also the course of the three tutors - not ideal.

However, I learnt new things, new theories, new ways of looking at things.  As well as paintings and sculpture I learned about buildings and garden designs, I'm not an expert in the detail but I can ask the questions of the experts without going "WTF?" a lot...

The current module is on heritage - and the feedback from other years is divided - some love the take the course has given us - who decides what is heritage, what mental processes go on consciously and unconsciously.  Its not an easy course conceptually, but its full of new stuff, so I'm a happy bunny!

So other than the specific of the History of Art and the Authorised Heritage Discourse, with odd bits of the psychological impact of monuments what I have learned?

1) I still love learning...

2) I'm still crap with languages, even English trying to pick out the rhymes in the very first course was painful. So, I'm not playing that game, good job there's plenty more.
3) I can switch between the science world and the arts world surprisingly easily - but have problems when the too butt up - the arguments on Faraday's religion will live on in infamy

4) The OU is a good place to learn, the material is well put together by people who know their stuff. I've not yet had a tutor that I didn't have time for (yes that sounds arrogant, but the four of us who have lunch regularly have nine degrees between us, and my bullshit meter is trained by 20+ years in the CS).

5) I can fit it in and I'm four years into the six years it should take me.  The OU says it can take up to 12 hours a week to do all of the stuff you need to do.  I reckon its about eight, but more when an essay is due (called a TMA in OU jargon).

6) Enjoy it - the tutorials are fun, the online forums are interesting and occasionally heated. 

7) It's not for everyone - I've put some structure in to make sure I read the chapters and the online guides I need to... If you don't do self-control then it may not be for you...

See, I can write a whole blog without mentioning the R word... Just...

TTFN

Paul