Life, Running, Walking

Marathons – never say never again…

During the walk on Sunday, I managed to first convince myself to run another marathon, and then convince myself not to.

The walk took just over 3 hours and gave me ample time for vacillating. Just over 7.5 miles (12.25 km), so it was leisurely, with a couple of stops for using the facilities, or opening a coffee flask. Our group gets together periodically, and there is often a little venture out sometime around the New Year.

I actually got into this walking for pleasure lark with these very people, or some of them, when they decided to embark upon the challenge of doing the Coast to Coast walk in 2015. We did about 200 miles (as we got lost a couple of times) over two weeks, from St Bees in the North West to Robin Hood’s Bay in the North East. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, when I wasn’t knackered, but it’s still something that I don’t do much of, except when someone asks ‘shall we do a walk?’. More often than not, it’s these guys.

This Sunday, we took in a chunk of West Wirral, starting at Thurstaston, along the beach towards West Kirby, and then back along the Wirral Way taking in the Dungeon (not actually a prison cell). The weather was cool but brilliantly sunny and dry; a perfect walking day.

Some of the group are runners, so I wasn’t fully boring them with my contemplations. I think Brian was the main recipient. He has done a number of marathons in the past, and, having required the assistance of a medical tent at the end of his last two, he has knocked it on the head, at least for a while. I have no idea why I suddenly felt like I wanted to try one again, given that my only previous two attempts were back in 2015 (they sandwiched the walk – it was a busy year).

Reflecting on the good second experience in Athens (November), as opposed to the bad first one in London (April), I know that I enjoyed it because I was, for me, extremely fit. I had bagged a Half Marathon that September in just under 2 hours. So with all my London training, and with all that walking under my belt, Athens felt like fun. I ended up doing them both in about five and a half hours, but I was running with a friend for the second one, and we ran at her pace.

Perhaps there is a part of me that wants to get under five hours, because I know I could have done in Athens. Perhaps the pain of training is so far away that I’ve forgotten that I hated it (not at all like childbirth – but you get my drift). At a couple points, during our perambulations, I was seriously close to going home and signing up for something this September.

But, as the walk progressed, and we climbed up a hill, and my right hip started to twinge a bit, I realised that, before I even start contemplating crazy things like that, I need to get myself to a level of fitness that hasn’t been in my body in over six years. It’s not unachievable, but I’m going to give it more than a few months.

Still, September 2023 in Berlin, around my 50th birthday, may be calling to me?


A Curve Ball in the Shape of a Cold


I was going to do a little technical post about ‘Base Training’ because I’d had several weeks of good mileage and was feeling quite strong. However, that will have to wait for another time as I’ve been feeling very sorry for myself of late.

Not only had we lost the dog last week but I’d caught a cold the week before at some point, and the back end of it has lingered a bit. Yesterday I attempted 8 miles and managed 5 and a bit as my breathing still felt laboured, with very little effort. Although at the time I felt a bit dispirited, it just showed me how much my body usually works on a run, even though I’m a slowcoach!

Getting the cold in the first place got me a bit worried because, in our mask-wearing world, it should now be a lot harder and if that lurgy had sneaked up on me, I’d obviously let my defences down long enough for the Big Bad to potentially catch me too.

I wondered, initially, if I had got it when I was travelling to my dad’s on the ‘train’! It was the first time I’d used public transport in over a year and I was rather nervous about it. I had trains in fact, as Wirral to Leicester is not the most straightforward of routes. But, although tedious, it actually felt pretty safe as the vast majority of other travellers were also masked up and there weren’t that many of them.

So I was pleased, therefore, to learn that little Alf, who we mind on Mondays was also full of the sniffles so it was most likely that he’d passed it on to me. Plus, now with the home kits that they’re dishing out in the UK, I could double-check that it wasn’t the version of the coronavirus that had thrown the world into mayhem but the old-fashioned tried and tested one.


I have resigned myself to the fact that I’ll have a few weeks of low mileage, especially as I’ll be back in Leicester for my dad next week. However I did get out for an excellent bike ride with Gary today which was the first in about three weeks.

Just under 25 miles in glorious sunshine (most of the time). And we had our coffee break at Nets Café in Burton, which had loads of outdoor sitting areas and an army of sparrows to clean up any lingering cake crumbs. I left them barely a morsel of my lovely slice of banana and walnut that Gary’s wife Wendy had baked.

I will get back on track with my running. I know I’ve had these little dips before which have sometimes turned into big sloughs of despond, but I’m determined to keep the short runs up as and when I can, while upping my yoga and working out more strength training exercises to keep me getting stronger. That’s the plan anyway!


Volunteering at the River Park

It was, by mid-morning anyway, a rather warm hazy day. The water on the river barely rippled and we could see clearly over to Liverpool with the huge Anglican Cathedral taking centre stage.

A view of the Liverpool skyline from the Riverpark
A view of the big city from tranquility.

There were surprisingly few people about on such a clement morning and I asked Andy the ranger, how it had been going. I remembered many more visitors when I’d come running here. He said that today had been the quietest in a long time. Maybe, he added, it was because all the shops had opened up.

Never mind being a nation of shop keepers, we seem to be a nation of consumers. You’d think the country had been living in an abject state of near-naked deprivation given the queues outside Primark (other non-essential retailers are available) on Monday.

But I like this place when it’s quiet. It’s more peaceful, and you can hear the twittering of the birds and the occasional buzzing of bees. And it was so nice to see again, some of my volunteering buddies. Not as many as normal, as we were limited to six in a group, but I hadn’t seen most of them in over a year.

Today, I did a bit of drainpipe clearing. These were semi-circular pipes, dug into the steeply sloping paths, with grids on them to catch some of the water that rolled down on very rainy days. They were full of soil and small stones, and the odd worm or spider. Surprisingly satisfying work trowelling it all out. And it was good fun to catch up with Linda, one of the other volunteers.

Granted the catch up didn’t take long considering neither of us had done a huge amount in the last year. Her: Zumba in the kitchen and going on local walks. Me: running. But, we were able to commiserate with each other about how badly her beloved Wycombe Wanderers and my hometown team Coventry City were both doing in the Championship.

It was a really enjoyable morning and although I had planned on getting my mileage in by running there, and then coming back by a circuitous route. I didn’t factor in how tired I’d be from all that digging, even though it didn’t feel hard at the time. So there were no diversions, but it was all very much worth it.


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)