That’ll be me then, part way around the Jedburgh Three Peaks Ultra Marathon at the end of October. It was ace, it was immense, but that’s not what this is about (I will eventually finish the race write-up and post it, I promise). What this is about is to point out what a beardy vegan sight I am, verging on the crusty, but not quite in running gear, obviously. I’ll go for being a running hippie and be glad to get away with that.
More importantly, what it’s about is that it’s me still running, after three years of first lacing up a pair of trainers and taking my 17 stone portly smoking self off up the road for a 30 second run / 4.5 minute walk, eight repetition set. Reading back to my write-up from that first time I discover that I rather enjoyed it, I wasn’t fast but I figured I’d like to do it again. So maybe nothing has changed?
Or maybe everything has – there’s the obvious drop of 3-4 stone (depending on cake intake on any given day), the less obvious fact that I feel much healthier about things or the fact that in the last three years I’ve done two things that I’d said for the previous 39 years I would never, ever be able to do. One is the running, as you’d expect, the other is swimming – I’ve never been any use at swimming, my high point to date was my 5m badge in Primary School, after that it was all downhill. Back in June I took the decision there was no reason why I couldn’t swim – I only needed a bit of a hand, so I booked a few lessons and now I can swim like a normal person, admittedly one without much upper body strength who can’t manage much front crawl without gasping.
I think I usually do a run down of what things I’ve been up to over the year – but I haven’t done anything especially new – I ran a couple of ultra marathons, including the Glasgow to Edinburgh Ultra, I ran a calf-squandering trail half marathon with the Trail Outlaws at Penshaw Monument – their inaugural race, I ran the Blaydon Race for the third time – I love the Blaydon Race. I didn’t run the Kintyre Way Ultra, and I didn’t make it to the Berghaus Trail Team day at the lakes, both because family comes first. I ran the Simonside Fell Race for the second time, and fell racing still remains the maddest thing I’ve ever done. Seriously, if you’re tired of life, go and try fell running, you’ll be glad you escaped alive.
But what’s next? Well, another Blaydon Race I think, I’ve got the Kintyre Way place transferred from last year. I’m entered in the Trail Outlaws first ultra, the St Cuthberts Way Ultra, from Lindisfarne to Kelso. I reckon I just might run Jedburgh again – I finished last this year, so I’m not sure I can do anything to improve on that.
Aspirationally I’d like to get better at training. It’s fair to say my approach to training is ‘accidental’ – I run a bit, if I have the time in the run up to a race then I probably run a bit more. That’s about as good as it gets. I once had a training plan, but I lost it and never bothered to replace it. I’m fitting in a bit of cross training (that’s posh for stuff that’s not running), doing a bit of cycling with the aim of commuting sometimes to save the planet and trying to fit in a trip to the pool every week to keep going with the swimming.
When I first started running, people thought I was quite possibly mad, and probably stupid. The I entered an ultra and they were sure I was mad, but tinged with a slight hint of approval. Now people assume I’m probably off doing something truly stupid most weekends, wrestling bears and running to Bulgaria and back (now there’a thought – what about a Wombles Ultra? Wimbledon Common to each of the characters names…). I love the fact that every now and then someone tells me that my madness has inspired them to do a bit of running.
More woods, more trails, more hills, goodness knows I need to run more hills. More weather, more mud, more tired legs, more rumbling tum, more random runs, more exploring paths, more moonlight, more thunder, more madness, more oneness.
Year three was the Year of Consolidation (I think) – this is going to be the Year of Striving.
Rock on folks, it’s going to be a good one…