January February Don’t You Come Around

I know this title is an artless steal of an old song lyric but it kind of fits ish.1

I’m not sure why, but I can’t quite seem to get the words to come out for this last blog of the month. My aim was to, perhaps, write one blog each week or two but January has generated a flurry of thoughts that have come pretty easily to the page. Except now, to close the month, I’ve been gnawing painfully away at the end of my virtual pencil and can’t think of what to say.

Okay, that’s not quite correct. I can’t find all the right words. And I’m not sure what I mean by that because surely if you have something to say you just say it, assuming your command of language is adequate. I’m not trying to expound some complex, mind-altering thought. Alls I’m wanting to note is that I ran those 100 miles with two days to spare.

So that nugget of info definitely isn’t a revelation. But yes. That last 28 miles was done in 5 days and I’m massively chuffed and seriously grateful to Bev who did most of them with me. And on Friday, when we hit that 100 I felt so happy I almost skipped back to my house.

I don’t get stressed very often but when that snow was falling last weekend, all half an inch of it, I did start chewing my lip a bit about the likelihood of completing my aim. By Monday night when we’d handed back little Alf to his mum after his day with his nannies, I found my old head torch and called for Bev for a night run as the snow and most of the ice had disappeared. I hate running in the dark but needs must and I’d had decided, in order to take the heat off, I’d run twice the next day. That broke the proverbial camel’s back and I knew we’d make it. Our final trip, a canter around Port Sunlight village, was on a dowdy but dry afternoon and we wished we could have cracked open some beers together to celebrate but we made do with a selfie.

Quick aside to briefly comment on the rest of my list:

  • Today I have one more Yoga sesh to do for the full complement and I want to talk about it more in another blog because this has been a bit of a revelation.
  • I’m progressing with the WordPress course and hoping, bit by bit to make my pages a bit more whizzy woo, or at least better organised.
  • Stories have been ditched for the moment but I’m not saying it’s forever.
  • Vegetables: Annie has started planting. Exciting times.
  • I only seem to do my Italian app if I do it first thing and I’m forgetting nearly as much as I’m learning but maybe by the time we can go back to Venice I may be able to order more than un tramezzino and un grande bicchiere di vino bianco.

So back to my big 100. It only started as a thing because Michael (Alfie’s pa) said on Facebook after a few bottles of Christmas fizz, that he was doing the challenge to raise money for Liverpool Sunflowers, a local charity that does a huge amount to support people with Cancer. This is his link below and btw the big guy on there is NOT Michael.

As of this morning he only had three miles to go which is way more amazing than my achievement as he’s a dad with a more than full time job so molto credito to him.

I, having also partook of many beverages, commented that I would see his 100, and luckily neither of us upped the ante and we’ve both got to this end point successfully. So not a very salutary lesson on the dangers of excessive imbibing then.

But now what?

February is only a few measly hours away and I need a new thing. Because, well, I need something to write about and sitting on my tush, whilst appealing, does not make for an entertaining read. I don’t want to lose my running legs but I also want to start getting on the bike to begin my training for the ride that we’ll be doing in memory of Mark this summer. So I think, to pluck a random figure out of the sky, I’ll aim for 70 miles running and then 3 times a week on the turbo trainer for 15/20 mins at a time: Aldi’s finest (especially as I got it for free!) piece of equipment that lets me cycle on my bike without needing to suffer the crap weather or crazy drivers just yet.

One of the feet was missing from it so they sent me my money back and let me keep the contraption. Result!

It is the shortest month so that’ll do.

I think I have written my way into finding my voice this time around. Definitely a good reminder that just because it’s not always easy, doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.

An addendum: If you’re want to run for weight loss it doesn’t always work. I didn’t lose any this month but my body shape did change a little bit, and I definitely feel stronger. So that will also do.

1 - Barbara Dickson – January February (1980)

How’s that New Year Resolutions thing going?

My previous blog was a little side track into the real world out there where the crazy nonsense is going on. That may happen from time to time when I crane my neck from beneath my shell, peer around, and then shudder back into my cave of safety.

This time I’m concentrating on the non-dramatic mundanities of my personal life which I prefer.

We are now on January 17th and over the halfway mark of the month and I’ve completed 57 miles of my hoped for 100, so I’m still on track to put a fat tick against this one.

Mornings like this reminds me why I love to run!

Have you ever run to the top of a hill and then felt like barfing? No? Me neither. I ask the question because it happened to my frequent running buddy neighbour, Bev. One of the times we went out and slogged our way up Rest Hill Road (nothing restful about this road – unless you’re going the other way perhaps), she got to the top so much quicker than me. Then, when I eventually crawled up those last few steps, I found her leaning against a wall and colour slowly coming back into her cheeks.

Rest Hill Road … from somewhere near the top

‘I nearly threw up then’, she said cheerfully, as we carried on along a nice flat bit. And she was completely fine after. She just had pushed herself on that hill to a serious level.

This got me thinking, as being a bit of a nerd I like to read articles about running a lot, and that feeling isn’t uncommon. Pushing your body so hard that you nearly spew or you go past the nearly and actually do. I am not sure if it is a good thing or not, but I’ve never felt that because I would have given up and walked well before I got to that stage. Despite the icky, I am a little in awe of people who have the drive and will to keep going, right into the nausea and get to the top of the hill, or the end of the race. I wish I had a small amount of that.

It is an enormous benefit to me to be able to run sometimes with another person. Ideally someone, who is faster than me but thoughtful enough to accompany me at my pace. It makes me up my game just a little bit. Bev is someone who kindly kicks me up the proverbial when I’m feeling lazy and comes out with me a lot, which is phenomenal considering she’s got four kids, a job and in the middle of a degree course! She’s bloody amazing.

On our little three miler today I was discussing my progress. I have noticed that my calves aren’t anywhere near as tight with the amount I’m running and that must be because I’m still on top of my yoga. It’s only about half an hour a day but it is definitely doing something to me as I’m nearly able to touch my toes whereas before I couldn’t get past my knees!

In fact the only big resolution that looks like being broken any time soon is the story writing one. Which is ironic as the reason I started this blog lark was to get me practising putting pen to paper in order to write my magnum opus. I have sat several times, and stared at the empty page. I’ve started several somethings and then tossed them aside. I can’t seem to get my imagination fired up so far. Is it because I don’t have one or because the real world is just too crazy to make stuff up? I don’t know.  I’m not calling it as a fail yet as we’re only just over two weeks into the year. But we shall see.

Even when we are in a safe space, sometimes sad things happen. My wife Anne lost her brother last weekend very suddenly. Mark had, in his last few years, suffered from Motor Neurone’s Disease and perhaps his passing has prevented more indignities and physical debilities than he was able to suffer. Yet to lose a brother, a son, a friend so quickly like that is difficult to come to terms with. Especially now when we can’t even get together. Anne is one of six and has been Zooming with the rest of her siblings and mum a lot this week. They’ve shared memories and photos and thoughts but they won’t be able to see each other for real until the funeral. We can’t even give his wife a hug. That crazy world out there has ways of permeating ours, however much we try and hide in shells.