Thursday, 31 December 2009

looking back going forwards

not exactly a wise move when youre out running, what with all the trees, boulders and big drops around, but just a few minutes now at my computer to take stock before we all leap into another year, another decade in fact.

i started this blog after runners world had done a feature on charlie last january. it kind of seemed to be a good idea as there appeared to be some apetite out there for people to read about other peoples adventures. in some ways i find blogging a little put stuff out that people will read or may want to this case about running. but life is a lot more than running and sometimes my blog has strayed into these areas..but always with a kind of restrained emotion.

all that said, im pleased i started as ive subsequently met (virtually in some cases) some really great people that write interesting and inspiring stuff.

looking back to 2009....a learning year. 2008 was such a good running year i automatically assumed 2009 would simply follow suit but it didn't. im able however to learn from the numerous mistakes i made and kept making. the book of 2009 is coming to its end with a new one about to begin.

as we go into 2010 im loving my running once again, i think largely having stripped out the unwanted and unecessary pressures of running for times..i now run as i feel, and if that means i come last then so be it. the main thing is that i run with joy and my trusty sidekick does the same. a watch cant make me a better fitter runner but a good diet, enough rest and some excellent training can.

in june we set off on the coast to coast which will be an epic adventure. im so excited. but theres lots of miles to cover to take us to the start so i'd better end here and get out there and bag some miles, but before i do id just like to say 'happy new year, i hope you achieve your goals in 2010 but more importantly that you have lots of fun along the way'

Saturday, 26 December 2009

always take the positives

its been two weeks since i last ran and really i'm still not 100% but im not going to dwell on that.
as every long distance runner will appreciate, we always look to take something positive out of times of adversity. and this is one of those times because this lay off has enabled me to start sleeping properly. yes! i'm getting around 9 hrs of solid sleep without my usual break in the middle of the night and ending up with at best 6 maybe at a push 7hrs of interupted sleep.
all through 2008 ive not slept well which im sure has resulted in me being tired and eating more (the crap stuff) which will have had a knock on effect to my training and performance.
whatsmore, i've hardly touched a drop of alcohol or my usual mountain of salty snacks.
so folks, the morale of the story is this. if you want to get the balance right for great running you can do a lot worse than a good old dose of swine flu and all its glorious after effects!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

temporary derailment

we are sorry to announce that UC's C2C training has been temporarily derailed due to man flu on the line. we are hoping to have his training back up and running as soon as possible and are sorry for any inconvenience caused to his sidekick (who remains unaffected).

Sunday, 6 December 2009

the sunday times (winter edition)

a funny thing slipped into my head this morning whilst out running, namely the seasonality of my propensity to buy the sunday times and just what a great and indispensible 'piece of kit' it is, serving namely three key roles

1. footy reports
2. light the fire
3. dry my shoes out

now it wont take a genius to work out that as we have a fire most nights it wont last long. added to which i have two pairs of running shoes stuffed with paper after two great, albeit muddy, trips out this weekend. but i'll pass on the footy reports..i was at the match to experience the pain first hand so dont need any more reminding about that thank you.

anybody else find the paper useful beyond its intended purpose?

Monday, 30 November 2009

it's a sign!

in fact, where i live, a whole load of these helpful little blighters have just popped up out of nowhere.

word must be out about how navigationally challenged i was this year.
the name 'wetwood' perfectly illustrating the conditions we ran in yesterday

Friday, 20 November 2009

cracking plan lad

one big goal. one big adventure. inspired by nothing more than sheer lunacy, eternal optimism and an undying love of the north of england, we're heading off in 2010 to run wainwrights coast to coast route.

191+ miles with a few ups and a few downs (at least 24000ft i believe), to be completed hopefully in 7 days from 12-18th June.

Charlie is charged with leading the way and we'll be accompanied by two workmates, Richard and Guy.

A challenge it will no doubt be, seeing us stopping off in the following places and staying in some fine hand picked hostelries to refuel and rehydrate

day 1 rosthwaite 28m
day 2 bampton 59m
day 3 kirby stephen 83m
day 4 reeth 106m
day 5 osmotherley 141m
day 6 glaisdale 170m
day 7 robin hoods bay 191m

so whilst this is our big fun event, myself and the pooch have a few training event outings planned too..all for the fun of it not the time

jan that's lyth cumbria 24m
feb c2c day 2 recce
mar howarth hobble yorkshire 32m
apr highland fling scotland 53m
may cateran trail scotland 55m
june the 'big push' 191+m

i genuinely feel excited once again about everything and its translating through into a new found enthusiasm to run and train.

already im at the end of week two and on track in the training plan, and although there's a long way to go and a few hellishly high mileage weeks next year to get through, i really believe its totally doable

only 29 weeks to go guys! when you put it down on paper it's not that long! (yikes :-0 )

Monday, 16 November 2009

hardly a cloud in sight...

...apart from the one we're standing on

looking back towards home and rudyard lake..

and over to the peaks and shutlingsloe

a lovely sunny muddy run

the 2010 plan is almost complete and week 1 of training for it is.

Monday, 9 November 2009

racing freddie

we're getting closer to finalising our plans for 2010
our lay off from events has allowed me to get back to enjoying my runs, when i want to do them and where i feel like going...and with whom
my lunchtime runs are coming back in more and im enjoying my harder sessions of track, tempo and kenyan hills
but going with the wind has been me recently
take this weekend..what to do? langley 7? the roaches race? no to both..a good threshold session saturday then a lovely muddy 4m xc on sunday
but wait, there was more..why not go out for seconds and accompany mrs uc on her hack out on 'the fredster'..a lovely way to spend another hour and race him up the ascents!

well, as well i knew, i was no match as he trotted with ease up said hills. i did my best. hitting somewhere between full out and kenyan hill efforts. a great hill interval workout. on the cuff and a smile on all our faces.
we're coming back. you'd better believe it.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

a cunning plan (or was it)

prior to heading off to the lakes for mrs uc's birthday celebration this weekend i thought i had my 2010 plan signed , sealed and waiting delivery. having been to, and come back from , the lakes i'm not so sure about that plan.

the original draft 2010 plan was to consist of periodisation, as mentioned in a previous post, taking me back on the road for a while to get my speed up.

so whats happened?

up in langdale i was faced with a simple option. run the langdale half road route or potter off across the trails and fells on a route unknown to me.

it was a no brainer.

there was no debate. no interrogation. no tossing of coins.

and once i'd finished my run, my feelings totally vindicated my decision.

by now i'm sure you'll know my choice was the latter. favouring my joy of off road running for the 13 miles of tarmac slapping.

and what a lovely run it was. armed with just a route outline (no map) and a bottle of water i headed off on this 9.5m/1500ft route with gay abandon (at 3 something pm , not realising how quickly the light can dissapear these days!)

anyway, this simple trail / low level fell route took me from chapel stile to elterwater to little langdale, over to castle howe, across the bog to blea tarn, down to old dungeon ghyll and back to chapel stile.

even without a map it was relatively straightforward to follow in my head ie keep going clockiwise and you cant go wrong. only once did i stop to ask for reassurance that an out of sight tarn was where i thought it should be.

it was one of those great moody lake district days with dark clouds hovering around the tops, patches of drizzle, and ok visibility on the lower fells. some people might describe that as miserable, to me it something altogether different and inviting.

by 1630 the light was fading quickly and although i only had two miles to go, the route wanted to take me higher up the fell. with no fact with no anything i thought the better of this and decided to drop down to the valley track then the road back into chapel stile.

so ok this was a tiddly 9.5m trail/ lower fell route but...
a. it went a little way to restoring my navigational capbilities, but moreso my confidence
b. i really really enjoyed, in fact i loved it!
c. i like making spur of the moment decisions judging by how i feel
d. i also like a lack of pressure in my running
e. bugger! its made me reasses my 2010 fact my whole plan from here on in..

do i mainly stick to off road? do i mix it up? short, medium or long? race or dont race? any number of combinations here which i'll try and decide on during the coming days and weeks

so much for my cunning plan eh

lets call it 'decisive indecision' for now

Thursday, 22 October 2009

ultra surfing pooch

just read in the paper about this dog. he surfs with a young paraplegic boy in the states to help stabilise the board. amazing beings dogs aren't they.

testing testing

Monday, 19 October 2009

rediscovering the joy

i am now starting to feel a new sense of freedom and rejuvenation in my running. simply by mixing it all up and doing what i feel when i feel, i'm beginning to enjoy it once more. out have gone slavish training schedules (for now) and lots and lots of pre planned races (for now also). the distances have come down but the quality is getting better. there's no shirking..last week included track, hills, and a tempo...but i'm just doing what feels right on any given day. take saturday, in the morning i headed out and 10 minutes later i was back, totally lacking inspiration to run. but fast forward 5 hours and i was loving a simple 8 mile hilly x-c under a sunny autumnal sky. add in to the mix a bit of biking, swimming and gym and its a varied cocktail to keep it all fresh, interesting and fun. and thats what it should be yes?
again some variety on sunday..a tempo run here..

followed by some x-c chasing karen riding fred here...

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

not a lot of people know this

Shutlingsloe, pictured by me this fine morning from my garden, is known as the Cheshire Matterhorn. Well I certainly didn't know that until today.

Funny that. Because, from the track at lunchtime, where I was banging out 8 x 200's x 2 with my mate Steve 'Speedy' Daniels, guess what you can see..Shutlingsloe. And what can you see from Hollie's school in Macclesfield..and the school Will is going to in Leek next year..and as mentioned from our house..yep, you guessed it.

A nickname well earned..though not a lot of people know it.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Mad Cows

our early morning run at 0545 saw the first outing this autumn of my hat and gloves. it wasnt freezing but cold enough for a ground frost veneer to brighten the ground under the stars and moon above.

feeling rather chipper today i decided to pack some gear for a lunchtime kenyan hill session in the 'cornerfield' in bollington (hayfella knows the one). my choice of gear was somewhat guided by my first outing, so i took a berghaus base layer and shorts.

arriving in 'cornerfield' after just 10mins of running and i was sweating was roasting for the time of year. so, with only cows and horses in sight there was only one thing to do, so off came the shirt. ahhh..liberated running once again though i'm not that sure the onwatching cows would have necessarily agreed.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

what's this!

this 'thing' was delivered by the postman today. anyone got a clue what i should be doing with it?

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

new england

we're loving the great weather and the dark mornings. i've always imagined new england to be like this. cool, still mornings, the gentle fall of autumnal leaves and the eventual but slow rise of the morning sun.

early doors we did our regular 5 mile hilly road loop, equipped with headtorch and charlies disco lights. what a lovely run it was. and back as daylight was starting to break. today i pushed on a little and picked up the pace from my norm. usually this is a 'stocking filler' route to supplement the rest of my training. but things have changed.

i have a new plan and i'm excited.

i've decided to grasp the idea of periodisation' and have drawn up a way that will hopefully see me return to both enjoying running again and performing better.
for now, out go the long runs (proper long runs) and in comes a focus on speed, tempo, quality hill sessions and a longest outing of up to two hours max.all this with an aim of hitting some hm's or similar early in 2010 before perhaps cranking up the distance again.

but whatever will be, right now i'm really happy to have a clear focus on something that doesn't have the time commitments of longer stuff or the self-imposed pressure i've felt recently (on top of some of the crap you have to deal with in life, notably work related)

who knows a kick in my step just might return.and with it, a new me to go with new england

Friday, 18 September 2009

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

up and down (round and round)

i think i may have been a little too optimistic to think that with two weekends of longer running i could be ok for the HP40. a bout of something yesterday and the need for night nurse sealed that decision.

following the hills n dales run out, we set about another longish outing from macc forest over to shutts then cumberland to 3 shires head then over to the goyt valley and back. it was a lovely day and relaxing. charlie loved it particularly given my chilled state perhaps.

but to be honest, given the terrain, the climbs etc i felt like i walked loads of it. and had a comedy 'falling over in slow motion' on the pathless moorland when both feet went into a hole and down i went like a sack of spuds. only the remoteness was able to save any embarrasment.
i think i overplay in my overactive mind
..i want to just enjoy it
..but then i still obsess that i'm just slowing down maybe i should go shorter and put the speed in?
..but i love these ambling hours
..but where am i heading?
its a riddle that i feel no closer to solving this year. whilst i like the laid back approach i am also a mix of internal competitiveness..neither of which sits neatly on their own within my being.
the high peak 40 will have to wait now until next year. so maybe windgather is the next one for me. i'll be at the back though and thats unwanted pressure in itself.
i think that for 2010 i will plan the year into distinct chunks of different running phases rather than it seeming like one long single-speed outing.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

2009 hills and dales (bogs and stiles)

the comeback kids are alive and well. yesterday we took the tentative step of our longest outing for quite some time..since my 'mental running meltdown' redoing the peakers stroll route on our own in fact.

i was apprehensive though. although the route is only some 10 miles from my house its an area bizarrely that i'm quite unfamiliar with so my navigation skills would be under the spotlight and to be quite honest i haven't felt this has been a strong point for me in 2009!

once again a low key start, from high ash field study centre, at 9am by around 25 or so runners. within minutes we were above ankle deep in mud, wading across bogs, the mud wrestling to avail us of our footwear with every step. in places, mud would give way to ankle deep cowsh**. what a delight!

soon we were to reach the first of many many stiles, making the whole event a bit more of an obstacle course in mud than anything else. i had to carry charlie over a few of the said obstacles so by the end of the run i looked like a swamp creature and smelt shall we say a little 'ripe'.

still you had to smile and we met with one or two great people along the way. drunken euphoria looked on fire with his current solid block of running and races. we were running and catching up when charlie had an altercation with another dog by a five bar gate. i could see it was going to 'one of those days' and said farewell to d-e as he headed of into the distance.

it was the kind of outing where, due to the bogs, stiles, and general slip slidey underfoot conditions it was hard to get any momentum for any sustained period...well that's my excuse anyway.

on the navigation front, i went 'wrong' once and only i was chuffed with that.

the 5 checkpoints provided great nourishment along the way and the meal at the finish was delightful. thank you to everyone. the organisers and the checkpoint staff were just so lovely, smiley and helpful :)

events like these are wonderful. challenging courses. great people. laid back atmosphere. and enough tucker along the way to feed a small army.

it was only 22.5 miles but the hills and dales, bogs and stiles may, just may, be the start of our return to the 'longer stuff'. and maybe, just maybe, we'll be seen for the start of the High Peak 40 in two weeks time after all ;)

watch this space.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

it's spitting!

actually it's humping it down and me, mrs uc and our four-legged sidekick have just come in from a x-c trot (followed by a good dose of kenyan hills for me and charlie)

this is a first! our first ever run together since we moved here 14 years ago when i was on twenty marlborough (red ones not the girlie lights) a day and wheezed my way through a solitary mile then nearly collapsed with exhaustion! anyway, whether mrs uc will entertain me making the route up again remains to be seen with all the mud, fences, nettles and slippery stiles we had to negociate. but it was refreshing and exhilorating and we all had a grand splash and splosh.

other blogger mates (you know who you are) have been espousing the merits of autumn running and after todays outing i'm up for it! you cant change the weather so why moan about it..but we do get more than our fair share of rain over much so they even wrote a song about it!

'From Northenden to Partington it’s rain
From Altrincham to Chadderton it’s rain
From Moss Side to Swinton hardly Spain
It’s a picture postcard of “wish they never came”

And whilst that deckchair in the garden it makes no sense
It doesn’t spoil the view or cause offence
Those Floridas, Bavarias and Kents
Make gentlemen wear shorts but don’t make gents

So convertible stay garage-bound
Save after-sun for later
If rain makes Britain great
Then Manchester is greater
As you dry your clothes once again
Upon the radiator
What makes Britain great
Makes Manchester yet greater

From Cheetham Hill to Wythenshawe it’s rain
Gorton, Salford, Sale pretty much the same
As I’m caught up without my jacket once again
The raindrops on my face play a sweet refrain

And as winter turns reluctantly to spring
For the clouds above the city there’s one last fling
Swallows build their nests, chaffinch sing
And the sun strolls into town like long lost king

And the mood of this whole sodden place is melancholy
Like the sun came out to play, shone through the clouds
But dropped its lolly
And everyone looks so disappointed, so, so sorry
Like the rain blew into town, kidnapped the sun
And stole its brolly'

Saturday, 29 August 2009

my great north run

some things in life can unexpectedly surprise you. i had one of those experiences today with my trip that would reacquaint me with part of my past.

after an early morning cuppa and toast i did the short drive to the start of my little memory lane adventure.

the sun shone. the sea glistened. the beaches were golden. could this be the same english northern coast that i frequented in my youth ? yes it was. and i was so happy to be part of it once more.

what was so inspiring was that the whole coastline had taken on a totally new being. gone were the hostile dark and murky waters and the coal emblazened dirty 'beaches', replaced over time through obvious hard conservation efforts and a vision to nurture a better place for all. and you know what? it's worked! you could have been forgiven for thinking you were elsewhere.

my route, covering in total four lighthouses (roker, one in seaburn whose name i dont know, souter and south shields), started from roker pier
, making its way along the promenade through to seaburn, then whitburn and souter lighthouse

from there it was on to marsden grotto

and down to south shields , then back again.

the run to south shields was a mix of coastal path and road, into a fresh headwind to add a little bit of resistence training into the mix. after marsden grotto i purposely picked up the road to run the last two miles of the GNR..a nice gently descending finish it is as well. i've never run that race and never plan to, but i imagined the euphoria people year in year out would be feeling as then descended down to the carnival like atmosphere at the finish.

for the return leg i stuck solidly to the coastal path, now with a tailwind, and came across little pockets of beaches and coves that i never knew existed. its amazing what discoveries running can afford you. by the time i arrived back to my starting point the lifeguards were getting ready to keep their watchful eyes on the activities that were to unfurl that day in the great north sea. that in itself was a real symbol that things had changed drastically for the better.

back in the car, roof down, i explored a few old haunts before going back to my sisters for a great breakfast feast and finally heading back home with Hollie.

today i felt the north east allow one of its now dissident sons to run in all the glory it could ever offer. and the distance? it could only have been 13.1miles.

Friday, 28 August 2009

taking the positives (however small)

the key run in my marathon training programme that i'm using to map my progress is the 9m race pace run. i run it over a route that gives a very similar profile and ascent proportional to snowdon.

currently i'm running it at race pace effort as i'm hoping my actual race pace will improve over the coming weeks.

anyway, today for the same perceived effort i was 2 mins quicker than a week ago. not earth shattering but progress all the same.

later today im off to the north east to take the kids cousins back who've been staying with us. the trip takes me back to some of my old stomping ground as a teenager and so i thought it'd be nice to do my long run from sunderland along the coastline to south shields and back. some great views along the way and the north east coast's salty air.

Monday, 24 August 2009

work in progress

the end of week one (of ten).

here's what i did
w/c 17aug
m - 4.5m
t - 4 m incl 26mins kh's
w - rest
t- 4 x 800's (3)
f - 4m am, 4m pm
s - 9 m pace
s - 12m

here's how it felt
- great but tough going. having done mainly ultras now the last two years or so, my running economy is great but a lack of any real consistent speed training has a penalty to pay when it comes to trying to run more quickly.
due to various things i ended up bunching together 4 toughish days with no rest. the 9m race pace session felt easier the longer it went on. i seemed to be getting into a good rhythm. the route, straight out of my door over to swythamley is all road ( :o ) and mimicks snowdon perfectly re ups and downs. but thats the longest i've consistently run (without any walking) since snowdon last year.

next day, the following 12m road/trail hilly session went fairly well too, though i struggled a while through mile ten but then got going for the last two.

here's what i've been reminded of
- marathon training is tough but rewarding
- in fact, i find it a lot harder and more demanding than my ultra bimbling
- i have to concentrate on maintaining pace rather than on where i'm going

and here's where improvements can be made
- my weight (work in progress)
- better nutrition and hydration (linked to weight)
- giving the beer/wine and salty snacks a wide berth for a while
- missing out the daily bacon bagel that kick starts many days (the sacrifices we make!)

so, that's it. a good start with hopefully lots of improvements to come.

in the meantime, back to dreaming of ultra running :)

Saturday, 22 August 2009

breaking habits

my current plan is taking me back a couple of years to a time when i ran every step of every run. yes, that's right! i actually ran the whole damn lot. there was none of this 'ah, that's a biggish hill so i'm good to walk'. oh no. and that's a challenge right now. particularly as round every corner here you accidentally bump into a hill!

but its more of a mental challenge than physical i think.

running and training for ultras in 08/09 has 'trained' me to run the flat and the downs but walk the ups. nice work if you can get it. now try breaking that habit!
as every time i come to a significant hill my automatic reaction is to stop and walk. it's a habit i must break!

and another thing. 'pushing it'. whats that all about! i've been used to leisurely paced runs based on the premis of energy conservation and enjoying the scenery. that too is taking some re-engineering.

but it's all work in progress and i'm kinda liking it all right now. i can envisage myself as being a 'runner' again at the end of it all. just so long as i break these habits.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

making amends (vedere la luce)

most of us at some point in time have needed to right a wrong. you can get to a tipping point where either something major happens or you simply get that 'enough is enough' feeling.

right now im at the start of my journey to make amends with my physical self.
but im not doing all the catholic guilt and 40 lashes stuff, instead i'm totally focussed on where i want to be.

i love running but i guess i love as much, if not more, the feeling of brimming with vitality it affords you. its amazing just how much of a knock on effect that has to your whole self esteem and the rest of your life. without any of that, what would life be like?

as part of the rebuilding process, i have my marathon plan and today was a trot round the track doing 800's. it felt good as i flooded my mind with positive thoughts of where this chapter in my journey can end up.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

bless me father....

after all my big and mighty ideas in my last post i've had a change of mind.

i have to confess that 09 will not go down as one of my better running years (which only started a wee while ago). i've gone wrong with navigation several times, i've felt like a bag of sick, and to be bruttaly honest i'm struggling to find any real highlights!

BUT...i'm not down. NO! i'm even more determined to put in something memorable (just like jessica ennis is doing right now but perhaps not so grand or newsworthy).

SO...there's no point in diluting everything, whats needed is a single goal and a single focus. and i've chosen snowdon marathon to be just that. i'll be sticking even more closely to hal's schedule (adding in more hill sessions though and some cross training) and aiming to shed some pounds along the way.

i started with my renewed focus today. me and charlie out for a 'steady into tempo' paced run with a good hill finish. perfect.

i feel back in control and hopefully abolished of all my lack of focus.

two managers and a lion called stamford

this weekend took me and will to see chelsea for the start of the season

being early birds into the ground does have its rewards

can you name the culprits desperate to have their photos taken with will ;) ?

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

from lesley crowther to hal higdon

sunday saw us trotting round the lesley crowther trail. it was great to catch up with hayfella before we set off over what was largely an interesting multi-terrain route with some great views and a fab river crossing. all that said, i had my moments of throwing the towel in forever with thoughts of 'why the **** am i doing this!'. it wasn't helped by having to have 'his nibs' constantly attached to me, which made getting into a good rhythm a tad problematic at times. but moreso, was the water point chaos that ensued when we, an autistic lady petrified of dogs, another dog, and a huge tractor and trailer all converged together. we did the gentlemanly thing and stepped aside to everyone's happiness.
all in all i guess a nice run out, with a rare appearance from mrs urc cheering us in, but way too short for my current slower pacing for longer distances.

so to what's next. i have a number of events but two key ones..the high peak 40 and snowdon marathon. now if i was advising anyone else i'd be saying you cant do both well. you just cant. you cant stick in a 40 miler in the middle of marathon training and then hope to run your best at a marathon a few weeks later (well most of us cant, there are though many super fit runners who can..but i'm not in that league).

to help my chances of doing both as well as i can i have resorted to a trusty programme from the legendary hal higdon himself. i have taken the final 11 weeks of one of his advanced marathon programmes, adapted it slightly to add in a few more longer runs (including the 40) and more hills. and bobs your uncle..

it'll be tough..combining high mileage with quality tempo/hill sessions for the next 6 weeks, ruuning the 40, then recovering quickly enough to put in some quality shorter and quicker sessions ahead of snowdon.

mind you, it'll be easier than last year when we did the 56mile bullock smithy
two weeks before the hp40 then went on to knock 15minutes off my previous time at snowdon a few weeks later.

with a wing and a prayer and hals programme by my side who knows what might happen!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

sunny side up

what a great holiday! probably best summed up by this picture..

it had everything..sun, relaxation, great food, fantastic villa, a spot or two of daily running but most importantly..time spent together without the usual distractions. bliss.
and a special bonus for will to meet FC Porto players in the airport on our way back.

running in the heat was lets say 'interesting'. mostly, i ran early on around 8am when the heat was just right but then i often subjected myself to another at 4pm when it was just something else altogether..but a good experience all the same.

aside from the break, upon reflection this has been a difficult year running-wise so far. i feel i've gradually let both my fitness and shape slip a little.
usually my first half is great then the second i let slip a little. so now's the chance to put this in reverse order and have a cracking 2nd half to the year.
i've already started the reconstruction and know i can come out a fitter, faster, leaner runner than ever before. my sidekick knows this too.
our adventures are starting again. first up the lowther trail run this sunday. instead of racing it i'm just going to enjoy the experience of simply running it with charlie.with a little refreshment, refuelling, and rest to be had here afterwards...well everybody needs a carrot yes?

Thursday, 23 July 2009

sardines and port

right then guys. edinburgh was great as you can probably gauge by my recent posts. now its time to take in a different experience with our family trip to portugal. we fly out there saturday and there's a real buzz around the house about our adventure.
the picture above is where we're staying..the kids are so excited by it all.
hopefully i'll carry out my idea of two daily runs - one early , one later, one hard, one easy. i may even come back fitter. who knows.
so til next time..enjoy yourselves and your running :)

Let me see your hands

The thoughts of the man himself about the great night in Edinburgh....

Throughout our story we have had so many shows that have been genuinely great. We have even had some that I would call magical. That said, for whatever reason and it is probably down to a combination of things, it had been a long time since one of our magical shows had happened in the place that arguably matters most to us - our homeland!

With that being the case then naturally I had increasingly high hopes that the recent Edinburgh Castle show would therefore manifest into one of those occasions that somehow stand out from the rest.

Two days after the event I can tell you that it certainly did. Or at least for me it did! But I am also sure that those who were there on the esplanade that night will back me up on it!

It was a helluva night for Simple Minds and fans of Simple Minds! A night in fact where the inexplicable takes over and a set emerges within an ambience so strong and rare that the proceedings seemingly becomes detached from whatever else is going on in the world.

It was also a night where even the natural elements did their best to attempt messing things up, before retreat. No amount of water was going to rain on our parade after all. And nothing but nothing was going to stop the music and the force that lies behind it.

The scenes and sensations that took place at Edinburgh Castle on Saturday night will burn into our memories forever!
Thanks to everyone who came and played a part! You were the best audience ever!

Jim Kerr

Sunday, 19 July 2009

come in, come out of the rain

twenty years ago i went to my first ever simple minds gig with some mates, including now long time friend jonny macc, at roundhay park. for the 55000 fans there, jim kerr and the guys 'gave it laldee' and belted out an unforgettable show. since that day they have become my favourite band whom i've seen live many many times.
twenty years on, the prospect of seeing them at the truly monumental edinburgh castle was something i just couldn't pass by. and so it was, this saturday myself and jonny stole ourselves north of the border, on richard branson'e 21st century equivalent of the flying scotsman, for what was to be an awesome and electrifying, if not also a tad wet, night to the anthemic tunes of the minds.

but before all that malarkey was to take place, a little run was in order...well, you shouldn't visit places without your running shoes should you! and you get to see the sights quicker than riding an open top bus too!

so, as soon as we arrived in the beautiful city we were off out for a trot. expecting a city run i had come armed only with my road shoes. but a mention of a place called arthur's seat soon changed what lay ahead. i didn't really know what to expect but i certainly wasn't expecting such a huge hill so early into the run and so close to the city centre. the off road climb was without doubt lung busting but the views over the city and out to the firth of firth were breathtaking and made the ascent more than worth it.

we even ended up doing a little scrambling and some off piste due to my poor pathfinding. only once did a come a cropper with the poor grip of my road shoes, but fortunately was able to steady myself before i went totally head over heels. it was a great way to start our brief stay and needless to say it set us up nicely for some late afternoon visits to a number of really cool bars to quench our resultant thirsts.

at the last of these bars, orloroso, we were sat taking in the panoramic views on the roof terrace with jonny pointing out the huge blanket of black clouds rolling menacingly over the firth of forth towards the city.

with total conviction i said it was brightening up and in fact the clouds were heading away from the city. i was soon to eat my words.

a little later we arrived at the castle in good time before the minds were due on and it was at that point with the aforementioned black clouds now firmly over us that the heavens opened. the torrential downpour was relentless with every drop landing and bouncing back up with such force. some people elected to take what cover they could but for the rest of us a soaking, of a magnitude fitting only of such a grand occasion, was the order of the evening. it was brilliant and just like being a kid all over again.

8.45pm arrived and on came the guys we'd all travelled from far and wide to see. the wait was worth it. the soaking was worth it. and with complete irony, 'waterfront' was the first number they belted out. it was a gig to behold, where spirits rose with each and every tune, especially two all time favourites of mine..'big sleep' and 'someone somewhere in summertime' moving and evocative.

for two hours i didn't stop clapping, jumping, dancing or singing along.

this was a gig that for me was up there with the best i've ever had the fortune to be part of. an honour to be so close to the talent of jim and the band. and yes jim we were doing ok!

next morning we had an hour or two to take in the sights. one sight i wasnt expecting was that of hundreds of people on mountain bikes taking part in the edinburgh rat race. i'm not sure what any of the japanese tourists made of such british, or should i say, scottish eccentricity. but for me it was a fitting sight with which to leave such a great city.

inspired by the melodies of the minds and the rat race we got talking about future running challenges.

it had all been great food for the soul.