29 11 2008

This must have been the coldest run I have done this year. The temperature was just above freezing and it was foggy. Don’t know if that is “freezing fog” but it felt pretty close to it.

I treated myself today to a pair of gloves for my run. The treats keep coming don’t they ! I have quite a bit of kit to pull together in the morning:

stop watch
hydration system
mobile phone
mp3 player

My cargo gets greater and greater.

Well off I went jingling and jangling into the cold white/grey air. A “seaside” run to Thurstaston. I am really going against my genetic make-up here. My Spanish mother barely leaves the house in Winter. I don’t blame her. If she is reading this she will be shocked that I ran today. I’m ok mum I have a chicken suit for when it gets really cold.


Well it was the coldest and it was to be my longest run. When I set off for these long runs I am never 100% sure I will be able to get back. I suppose that is part of the process – learning to build up my strength physically and mentally.

So today’s run was an 11 miler. The route was pretty similar to “The Raid into Gayton ” run but just went that little bit further.

The main highlights of the run were noticing tiny almost frozen droplets of water in my hair when I got home, the heaviness in my legs for the last two or so miles but most of all some kind words spoken by my next door neighbour as I set off. It all helps.

I am quite pleased with my progress… I can now run 11 miles. It is not pretty or fast but I can do it. A half marathon should now be within my ability and that will be my target before the Spring.


Running with a young family

26 11 2008

Why am I doing this thing ?  Sometimes I question this myself. Is it for my ego or do I have something to prove or am I perhaps having a mid-life crisis ?  I don’t think so. I am doing this because I believe I am so lucky and I am in a position that I can do something.

It all started in June when on holiday I joined my wife for a run. Helen had started running earlier in the year to help to slim down. I had not run seriously since my late teens when I successfully completed two half marathons. The run with my wife shook me up a little. It was “now or never” in terms of trying to regain my fitness and stamina. I have always wanted to do a marathon but have no connection with London.  When I discovered there was a Madrid marathon and it was more difficult I was very excited as that would be some target ! My mother is from Madrid so it does feel like I will be running on home territory.  I then thought of  running the distance from home to Madrid as well for Claire House and it became one of those “eureka” moments you have very few times in your life. The idea came to me when I was walking on a cool down after a short run and I have to admit when I had the idea I was overcome with emotion and it has been a passion ever since…. Why ?

Well, I feel I am the luckiest man in the world. I have a happy and stable marriage (I hope), both my parents are alive and “Oma” of course and my life has been enriched since becoming a father. I am the proud father of two wonderful boys. Both our boys are healthy and happy and are able to enjoy life to the full. Four years ago, at the end of probably the longest week in my life, Helen gave birth to our eldest son Dominic. Two years later Eddie arrived early. I have been living my life in colour ever since.

At the moment Eddie has a nasty chest infection and Dominic seems to be coming down with something too. We have had a number of disturbed nights over the last week or so and probably more to come. I feel anxious and worried about them. Whilst this is difficult it is insignificant compared to what some parents must go through when their little ones suffer more serious illnesses. Their world must just be turned upside down and inside out. It is obscene to think of what some children and of course their parents have to go through.

Every morning I look at Dominic and Eddie and I say a silent “Thank you”. I would be devastated if either of them became seriously ill.  Claire House is there to support parents and children that are seriously ill. These places should really not have to rely on charitable donations – but unfortunately they do.

My mileage this week so far has been a bit pathetic due to the disturbed nights in the main … but it does remind me how much our life is dependent upon the health of our two little lads. Some people haven’t been so lucky and so I will keep running.


The hill – part 2

22 11 2008

I was ready to take on the Burton hill again today. A hearty breakfast of potato waffles and two fried eggs set me up.

As well as my hydration kit I was “wired for sound” for the first time in a long while.

Half way into Little Neston my pack became very bouncy. It just wouldn’t stop. I had to stop several times and fiddle around with the straps. Finally I went for the tightness approach. It was how I imagined a woman to feel in a tight girdle. God knows what it was doing to my internal organs but at least I could breath and the shaking stopped. I wonder if I was just carrying too much water and cargo.

Once the bouncing stopped I could concentrate on the running. I plodded up the big hill and then stormed down it (well I exaggerate ). I was a lot faster than last week and felt much stronger.

On my mp3 player thingy I was treated to the World football phone in which experts talk about South American and European football. I was then treated to my wife’s playlist. Azucar Moreno, a Spanish duo who once appeared in the Eurovision song contest. After they had sung their entry Terry Wogan commented “Let’s hope it doesn’t go on like this or we’re in for a very long night, ladies and gentlemen”.


I changed playlist and what did I get – two more tracks of Azucar Moreno. God as though I wasn’t suffering enough already ! I tore out the ear pieces when I got to Hadlow Road station and ate my customary banana and then powered home finally listening to my own music. Never let your wife borrow your mp3 player !

What a difference a week makes. A whole six minutes faster and I felt relatively strong.

Bring on Madrid and Azucar Moreno !

Running with a dodgy bladder

19 11 2008

A nice early morning start today. I recommend it to anyone – it was great to have  my nose poked, prodded and rubbed with a cloth toy at 6:30 in the morning. What parents have to put up with. And so I decided a longer run was a possibility.

I thought I would take out my hydration system for a run out as I only really get to use it on a Saturday and I need more practice.

I did a short run on Monday of 3.5 miles or so and wanted to do in the region of 5.25 miles today. Now this is the weird run. I have run this circuit twice and to my shock/ horror and then pride at my pacemaking I found I ran it both times in exactly 47:11…very weird. I have been a bit wary of running it since in case I got the same time again.

Out came the camelbak flashflo.


This beauty holds a hydration cargo of 1.4 litres. That is a lot of water and you can also carry energy snacks (bananas), mobile phone (in case I get lost), and keys etc. I filled the beauty up – well only half full and strapped myself in. You do feel the extra weight and this should help me “muscle up”.

When I got to the most exposed part of my run I found I was up against a headwind but not to worry I had my camelbak system on tow. I thought I would treat myself at the bottom of Cottage Lane – a fairly long hill (for me).

I arrived well in time to beat my 47:11 and stopped to take a slurp. I slurped and slurped and sucked and slurped. Nothing. I had lost what little breath I had by now. Gasping I tried to recover from my slurping as I saw stars in front of my eyes. What they don’t tell you and I always forget is to get some water through the system first. The tube is so long it takes some effort to get the first drink. I just couldn’t manage it. My knees crumbled as I tried one last time. What a whimp I thought. On reflection I think the tube must have had a kink in it but when your brain is starved of oxygen you don’t think of these things ! I’m not very technical – just ask my good wife.

Before I use this thing again (it is brilliant usually) someone just remind me to run through some “pre flight” checks.

Trainers on correct feet – check

Wearing trousers – check

Stopwatch on – check

Fastflo working – slurp check

Standing outside – check

Despite my dodgy hydration system (bladder) I came in just before my 47:11 at 46:50.

I am about to step on the M42 next run. Hurrah !

The hill

15 11 2008

I thought that the terrain on the Wirral would be as flat as Chester where I used to live. How wrong can you be ? Today I met my match. “The hill”.

I have been stockpiling bananas since my last run.


I never do anything by halves ! I thought after reading my blog there might be a rush on the things. I may have overdone it on this occasion. Given the weak state of the pound I am going to suggest to my staff that I pay them in bananas this month. Problem solved !

Back to the run. After my breakfast of egg and banana I set off for a 9.5 mile epic.

Most of my runs involve going up to about 100-150 feet immediately away from the front followed by a flat bit followed by a nice descent back to where I came. I plan and log all my runs using an internet site called “running ahead”. The site lets you map the distances of your run and also can provide a profile of the climbs including an elevation map. My route was to take me down to the marsh path in Little Neston, along for a mile or so then up to Willaston via Burton and back home along the Wirral Way.  I didn’t bother checking the elevation map . Silly me.  Not known to me was a slow two mile relentless climb of 250 feet from the marsh path up to Burton.  One of the few times I have felt almost totally exhausted.

The scenery would have been lovely if it were not for the drizzle today but at least it kept me cool and fresh.

Burton is quite stunning with the village having been founded in the sandstone rock.  Some of the cottage doors are approached by steps cut into the sandstone presenting a peculiarly antiquated appearance. I couldn’t choose between Lower Heswall and Burton on the tweeness scale. They are both lovely villages.

For the first time on approaching Willaston I noticed I have actually been incorrect in calling it Willaston. The road sign says “Willaston Village” just in case you were in any doubt.

The run was exhausting and I think probably the toughest one I have done due to “the hill”. The good thing though is that I took a banana with me in my hydration pack. I came back from the brink thanks to banana power ! I have now decided to join the cult of the twelve bananas.
The Twelve Bananas.
This group began in the early 1970s with  Chiquitta. They claim that salvation can only be found by giving all possessions to them and living in their community. All personal decision-making power is given over to the top banana.


Ok I promise I won’t mention bananas again (much).

Another 9.5 miles or 15 kms under my belt and I am now near Sutton Coldfield.

Looking forward to a good sleep tonight.

Going bananas

13 11 2008

Tra la la, la la la la.
Tra la la, la la la la.
Tra la la, la la la la.
Tra la la, la la la la.

A quick entry to record I have done two more runs since my last post.
Both 3.5 milers along the front at Parkgate and back.

One banana, two banana, three banana, four.
Four bananas make a bunch and so do many more.
Over hill and highway the banana buggies go
Comin’ on to bring you The Banana Splits Show.

I am now on the M6 Toll heading East and have discovered bananas.

Makin up a mess of fun
Makin up a mess of fun
Lot’s of fun for everyone.

No wonder athletes eat these.

Tra la la, la la la la.
Tra la la, la la la la.
Tra la la, la la la la.
Tra la la, la la la la.

I ate one before my run today and it felt like I had taken Mr. Muscle super body building powders.

Four banana, three banana, two banana, one.
All bananas playing in the bright warm sun.
Flippin like a pancake, poppin like a cork
Fleagle, Bingo, Drooper and Snork.

Now I know what the Banana Splits were on.


I don’t like Mondays

10 11 2008

Yet another disturbed night and once again I enter my familiar confused world as the alarm rings. This is my second week of morning runs.

There is still a little stiffness remaining after the weekend run but hardly noticeable.

I have decided to run to Little Neston today for the first time. What appears initially to be a busy “suburb” of Neston has quite an interesting history. It is the site of a disused colliery and the village is mentioned in the Domesday book. More recently housing estates have been built but the area still retains some charm overall. Unfortunately I didn’t pick the most picturesque route today. I had hoped to reach the waste tips at the bottom of Marshlands road but alas I didn’t have enough time. That pearl awaits.

The streets were much busier than sleepy Parkgate with many children “rushing” off to school. I hope my children show a little bit more urgency when they are of that age.

Thirty minutes later I was back home after a comfortable and steady run.

The highlight of my day though has to be the loss of my blood blister. It first appeared after my 10k run in Hoylake on 25th September. I was delighted that it has finally done what it needs to do and could be harvested. I will treasure it for a few days before I throw it out and it is now sat in pride of place on my bedside table (don’t tell the Mrs). My eldest seems quite keen on having it for a day or so and so I have promised (out of earshot of Helen) to pop it in his pocket later in the week. He is absolutely delighted (as I would be). Who knows it might even feature in the school nativity play this year perhaps as an injury to Joseph in his long trek to Bethlehem.

I'm lost for words

I'm lost for words (A less traditional nativity set)

Joking apart another 5 kms or so under my belt and I am nearly at Cannock. Rest day tomorrow.