In Memory of Roy

Roy, at last Spring’s fundraiser Challenge.

Last night we ran the first Chairman’s Challenge of the year. It has now been renamed the Roy Fisher Challenge in honour of our long-serving previous Chairman who sadly died last week.

It seemed ironic, that our first club meet, after he passed way, should be this race. Roy devised it over a decade ago and it has been held quarterly ever since. Nigel, the new Chair, made a small but poignant speech as he had known him over forty years. He ended by encouraging members to think of Roy as they were navigating the harder parts of the up-hills, and if any expletives came to mind, then his work was done!

The evening was also the inauguration of the Fisher-Lite Challenge, which asked only that we do the first two hills as opposed to all three. I chose to do this one, as I really didn’t want people to be waiting ages for me to finish the big one as I’m even slower in the dark. I have done the big one once, last year, when Roy was still with us and able to get out and about. And I will have another go when it gets lighter. But this slightly shorter version was a good way of keeping my hand (or feet) in. With me were 21 other people, many of whom were still running novices and building up their stamina towards the club’s Couch 2 10K programme. Novices they may have been, but apart from one DNF (Did Not Finish) due to injury, they all completed this tough course brilliantly. 

I ran alongside, and often behind, two of the newbies, Rachel and Stef. They had hardly run any hills at all before this, so it was a trial by fire and they stormed it. It just goes to show, that with a little consistency and determination, amazing things can be achieved. It also goes to show how much of a natural born runner I am not!

The full challenge had 25 participants and all of them got to the end. It was lovely to see so many people out on a cold, dark night to salute or to swear at the old chairman.


A Room of One’s Own

I have always had a strange fantasy of being holed up in a nondescript motel room, with only basic amenities. And this was well before Schitt’s Creek made motel living chic. And it has finally came true.

Westbound M4 Heston Service Station – Our home from home

I know, as fantasies go, it is a bit of a weird one. It ties in with another idea of living in a nun-like cell with just a bed, and few possessions. 

What does that say about me?

I have a happy, unhurried life, and to be fair these dream scenarios haven’t been longed for in a few years. But I think it stems from the many, and mostly wonderful, but sometimes overwhelming, diversions and distractions we have around us.

I know I’m exceedingly lucky to have so much on offer in front of me (or should I say, had so much, now that I’ve seen the new energy bills!). I also know that I have the propensity to fritter away time and be distracted by nonsense that is forgotten moments after it has been consumed.

Virginia Woolf writes, ‘a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction’. I think of that and feel guilty about having such freedoms and not making good use of them.

This afternoon, thanks to Storm Eunice, we have just come back from spending a full day and an extra night at a Travelodge on the M4 by London, and it was wonderful. There was zilch in the way of anything to do, other than read and write. Luckily Anne is also very self-contained if she has a good book on the go and I was able to spend the day cracking on with course work.

As I’ve said in a previous blog, I’ve embarked on a post-graduate certificate with the Open University, doing Creative Writing, and the past few months have been a revelation.

When I did my first degree, all those years ago, I was rubbish at doing the work required, and I scraped a 2:2 for my non-efforts. Since October this time, I’ve been determined to create a different narrative for myself. I have always used the line ‘I don’t have the self-discipline’ whenever I’ve come across things that need a bit of hard work and effort.

I’ve picked up writing in the past, and put it down again because to sustain it and develop my skills needed practice and perseverance. I have tried fitness regimes, joined gyms, and wasted good money on not keeping it up.

So why is this course different?

I have learnt, at a fundamental level, that writing requires a huge amount of practice and perseverance. There is a modicum of aptitude to begin with, but not many people would have chosen this course if they didn’t have a toe in the water. It makes sense. You can’t be a painter, without learning all the techniques that have come on before.

So this is the thing. Why haven’t I given up yet? I think, partly because I’ve handed in two pieces of work and got good marks. A pat on the back when you’re working on something always helps, even when you’re an adult. I’ve also got into the habit of writing a blog every few days for a year, so that has helped my flit-about mind settle sometimes. And thirdly, the biggest revelation, is that I’m enjoying it. Now that is the most shocking thing!

Because I find (and this lesson has been learnt very late by me) that the more I do, the more I do! There are still plenty of times when I’m chewing the proverbial pen tip ( as  mostly I type). But it quickly passes as I just change how I think about it, if I don’t know how the beginning will be, I’ll write a paragraph on a bit that will be in the middle. Of course I’ll still make another cup of tea, do round of sudoku or three every now and then, but less so.

When Storm Eunice reached her full strength, our brief overnighter in the service station Travelodge turned into that slightly longer stint. And it may have appalled most people to find themselves stranded with just a few food shops, but our room had unlimited teas and coffee sachets, and a bath. I had my notebook and Anne had her kindle. Bliss.


Aintree 10K

I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks as the charger of my laptop gave up the ghost. I had to go into the Apple shop in Liverpool to choose between buying one off-the-shelf for a lot of money, or getting talked at by an engineer who checked and verified that my charger was indeed broke before giving me one for slightly less money. I don’t get it either.

So, today, instead of being all luvvy-dovey and romantic for only day in the entire calendar, I’m writing a blog about my race yesterday. But don’t worry, there’s a nice pot of tea brewing and Anne’s picking up the Fish ‘n’ Chips soon.

A very un-centred picture of the eventual race medal

Because the cost of entering official races are often so extortionate these days I only justify it if I’m working towards a Half Marathon. Yesterday’s Aintree 10K was a freebie, courtesy of a win in the lucky dip at the Pensby Runners Christmas party – I also probably won a dose of Covid at that do, but that’s another story!

 I haven’t done a 10K race in a long while and I wasn’t sure how I’d do. When I do 6 miles in training it can take 1 hour 10, sometimes 1 hour 15. So between 11 and 12 minute miles. There never seems much more in the tank when I’m done so I didn’t expect to go much faster in the race, but a teeny bit of me hoped to get close to 1 hour 5.

I’ve never actually been to the race course here, and it wasn’t exactly a day that showed it off to its finest. A dreary, damp and windy Sunday morning, and I could think of better ways I could be spending my time than going there. But I put my big girl’s pants on and didn’t wimp out, and got to the place just after the Half Marathon people had set off.

I’m very glad I didn’t opt for the Half Marathon place. Partly because I’ve not been further than 7 miles for ages, and partly because the course was 5K loops around the race course. For the Half you needed to go round at least 4 times which looked a bit soul-destroying and the scenery ain’t all that. I caught up with Mike later, a fellow Pensby runner who had done it. But he was a pro, and said he just got his head down and got it done. I could do with a bit of that mentality sometimes!

Mine was 2 laps, and the saving grace was that the course was fairly flat. Because I had got there early enough, I decided to do something that I almost never do before, in a race. I warmed up properly. I started jogging around. A little bit self-consciously at first ( only other people doing that were way more athletically built) then with a little more oomph. After ten minutes I stopped and was about to have a rest when the organisers gathered everyone round to do a few minutes of on-the-spot drills. Star jumps, fast feet etc.

Well that wore me right out, but perhaps it didn’t, because my final time was 1 hour 3 minutes which was more than I hoped. And to be honest, if it wasn’t so windy I might have even gone faster, so I was very pleased.

I have some friends doing another 10K at the beginning of May, and I’m tempted to join them. This run was definitely a nice confidence boost, and has shown me that all those slow runs are adding up to the occasional speedy one, and it pays to warm up.