Blaydon Race!

Posted: 06/02/2016 in Event, Running, Uncategorized

I got in!

I might have mentioned that I really like the Blaydon Race; it’s the only road race I really look forward to. It’s got its own song and everything, which is pretty cool in my book.

So, 9 June that’s where I’ll be, toeing the line with everyone else once again.

Get in! Better get out for a bit of a run…

I entered a WHAT!?!

Posted: 20/01/2016 in Uncategorized

I know, who’d have thought? You wouldn’t credit it, would you. What was I thinking? What am I like?

A triathlon!

OK, calm down, it’s the smallest triathlon imaginable – a GO Tri event, and it’s 200m swim, 9km cycle, and a 2.4km run. It’ll (hopefully) take me longer to transition between the sections than complete them, but then I’ve never done this before, who knows?

I think I need special pants for this…

Where indeed?

I run in the woods a lot. You might have noticed.

I run similar routes a fair bit, there are only so many tracks, and only so many combinations that don’t involve you running in circles for twenty minutes until a log flows past in the river, allowing you to jump on and ride it to the next level. 

That last bit might have been a computer game I played, but it was dark, who knows?

Like something out of Mythago Wood, the trees and places in the wood take on their own life and personality. There’s the Secret Village, the Deers’ Penthouse, The Giant Leaf and the corner where the Unspeakable Flappers hang out.

That last one is a bit on the edge of the wood, and when you run through, in the dark, with a head-torch on, you often hear a terrible rustling and jostling of wing-ed things high up in the trees. As though you’re disturbing an eldrich horror out of time and it’s getting ready to plop awkwardly to earth and eat you up, starting from your middle and working out.

The first few times I heard it, I got a bit of a shock, second only in scariness to the time I convinced myself there was a ghost following me (cheers for a new personal best time), but over time they’ve failed to eat me all up and have become a reassuring navigation point on a run. Flapping-flap-flap (and noise of iron claws on bark) – that’ll mean I’m almost at the Duck Pond.

But last night, it turned out someone’s logged a load of the trees at the corner of the Unspeakable Flappers, and there was no flapping. There was no running either, as I had to pick my way around the felled trees and 6″ deep mud where the tractors had been through. I should have paid more attention a couple of weeks ago when the signs went up saying the path was closed, but as it was clearly still open then, I assumed it was nothing to worry about.

Don’t get me wrong – the trees may well have needed to be thinned out – I presume there’s some good tree-management going on there, but it’s a bit sad to see a route I’ve run for nearly three years disappear in one fell (no joke intended) swoop.

The deer seemed pretty spooked too – I only saw a couple, and they were out of any of the places I’d normally see them. I guess the Flappers will have relocated to another part of the woods too, which’ll be interesting when I re-discover them and get a bit of a shock.

In the mean time, never, ever mention the Unspeakable Flappers in the wood at night – they’ll hear, you know, and they can see perfectly well in the dark to find you, you lovely morsel…

Sleep well!

That’s what five deer in the woods look like when you point your head torch at them. 


I’ve seen three, I’ve always seen three. There have always been three deer in the woods. 

Now there are five. Five!

Have they had some baby deer? Have they got friends over? 

The deer add the magic to the woods, and more deer means more magic. I get a bit nervous if I haven’t seen them for a while, but then they show up (like magic, see?) and everything is right.

The sky was clear, the stars were out, it was a bit giddy.

Love those deer.

…and over it, and past it, and occasionally all around it.

So I’m trying to do some kind of exercise every day in January. If it had a swanky name, I guess it would be Activanuary. Don’t think anyone else has taken that one yet. 

The options are to run a bit, to cycle a bit, to swim a bit, or if all else fails to hop on the ‘ol exercise bike in the dining room. So far (at the end of day five), I’ve not cycled (too rainy), I’ve not swam (need a haircut or a swimming hat) but I have cycled the length of the dining room (which turns out to be around 22km, so that’s a canny size table) and I’ve run three times.

It’s been a challenging January to run – wet doesn’t even cover it. The woods tonight were particularly good – rivers had popped up all over, over the road, by the road, some of the paths had turned into streams themselves, and I got to have a turn at small-time river running. I clocked up an amazingly slow time as I kept stopping to watch the water burbling around the place in the torchlight.

If the rain doesn’t stop soon it may all go a bit mangrove.

2015 in review

Posted: 30/12/2015 in Uncategorized

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

I passed another milestone at the start of November. Four bloomin’ years of running. Whoever would have thought?

It’s been a funny time since July, when I had a spot of digestive bother that left me feeling constantly tired, lethargic and a bit trippy (I felt like I was going to trip over a lot, not like I was on drugs, though that’s not a bad metaphor either). Cut through a few months of trips to the doctor, enough blood tests to make Hancock complain, a consultation with a gut-doctor and then finally it brought me to the men’s changing room of the Endoscopy Unit in a hospital gown, waiting to get the bottom-paparazzi in.

I had a notebook and a pen, and despite shaky hands (this was pre-investigation, so I was a bit nervous about what it would the like), I thought I’d capture the memory…


Looks spiffy, eh?

Some interesting chats with the other chaps in hospital gowns, most of which focussed on food as we’d all been fasting and cleaning our pipework ready for today. It didn’t help that flipping Jamie Oliver was on the telly in the room cooking all manner of Christmas food.

Anyone who knows me will not be surprised to learn that to all my other unique qualities you can add ‘difficult bowel’. That’s proper medical terminology – it says so on my notes.

In effect what it means is that they got 2/3 or the way around, but got stuck in a corner. Another exciting note for the CV is an ‘overactive vagus nerve’, which seems to mean that in circumstances of stress and discomfort*, I have a tendency to try to faint. Or, as I now know it is called, ‘pre-syncope’. I know, I’m a medical marvel. It just means that I almost fainted, and before you get judge-y about that, you’d have to give it a go**.

Anyway, today’s bit of fun marks, for me, the end of the poorly-journey. I’ve barely run (OK, so I did a bit of running – including the Jedburgh Ultra, which was it’s usual marvellous self) and part of that has been the feeling that there’s something to finish up in terms of sorting my health. Now that I’ve got the ‘looks clear’ report I reckon there’s no reason why I’m not back on with a spot of running.

Next year I’ve got a couple of things lined up – the Dark Skies Marathon around Kielder with the fab Trail Outlaws, and my third-time-lucky attempt at the Kintyre Way Ultra. I’ve been entered the last couple of years and never quite made it to the start line. The organiser has very kindly allowed me to carry it over both times, and I reckon this is the year.

Other than that, I’m aiming for the Blaydon Race (obviously, it’s the only road race you have to come home for***) and probably the North Tyneside 10k (who doesn’t love a finish at a lighthouse) and I dare say I’ll pick up the odd other event on the way through the months, but I think what I really want to do is to get in more quality running around and about, up and down the hills round here.

Right, here we go into year 5, let’s hope it’s a jolly one!

Also, a huge, and I mean HUGE thank you to the NHS folk who looked after me today. From start to end they couldn’t have been nicer, better or more caring or kept me better informed. In fact, my GP and the consultant and the people who’ve tested one thing and another have all grand.

*Like someone trying to push a camera around a corner in your gut, that’ll be ‘stress and discomfort’.

**Seriously though, if you’re told you should have one of these, you really should do it – it’s not half as traumatic as I imagined, and while it wasn’t exactly fun, you should get checked. If you’re of a mind for such things, you can even watch it on the telly.

***Y’know, it’s like the old McEwan’s Export advert…