"for the happy, the sad, I don't want to be, another page in your diary"

Saturday 30 April 2011

Pandemonium On The Podium

Today’s the day, MD’s running début. The Wiggle 10k at Catton Park. There are just over fifty proper runners, that is ones that aren’t attached to pooches.

They start off at 10am and L is among them. The crazy ones set off at 10.30am, there are only eleven of them but MD and I are among them.

Predictably there’s chaos at the start, eleven runners with dogs, many of them with more than one four legged companion. There’s an awful lot of barking, as they try to get everyone together and to pose for a photograph in front of a 4x4 with ‘running with dogs’ on the side. It’s not going to happen. Eventually they accept this fact and that each ‘team’ is going to want its own space, which one of the team will ‘protect’ as if its life depended on it.

I find a nice spot that is so far removed from my usual start position that I might as well be in the next field, on second thoughts it might be quieter there. This is MD’s first race and caution is the watchword here. Then suddenly, and thankfully, we’re off.

Note to the organisers - a 90 degree left off the start line followed quickly by a 90 degree right is not the best for a group of out of control runners being propelled along by hyped up canines to negotiate. Amazingly I don’t think there are any collisions but I’m not sure what was happening behind us. I had tried to start at the back but MD had other ideas and was soon pulling me up through the field. Despite me trying to take it easy with him, we record a sub four minute first kilometre. You could say, he’s a chip off the old block.

The 10k course is basically cross country and it’s partly on the equestrian cross country course, thankfully the weather’s been dry, so the ground is firm. I would have hated to have done this in the mud. Although I do have my new off road shoes on, I have no desire to test them in proper conditions.

My partner is amazingly focussed. Of course I never doubted him, although some did. He does not bark, snarl or lurch at anyone, neither dog or human. He just elegantly glides me up through the field, passing each partnership that we come to. We even pass a nice young lass running with two dogs. Had this been a normal human 10k I may have dawdled behind her a little while, making use of vital recovery time in her slipstream or something like that but today we go hurtling past. Today, we take no prisoners.

We do meet our match with a second lass who seems to be going at exactly the same pace as us. Except that when she’s in front her dog looks over its shoulder at us and slows down, where as MD is itching to get in front. Only once he’s in front he looks over his shoulder at them and slows down, where as her dog is now itching to get back in front. We trade places for a while, neither able to pull away.

MD stops to shed some weight but we soon catch the pair of them up again and resume our badly choreographed formation. At around 4.5k we come to a water station, well it’s a horse trough but all the dogs seem to be using it as a water station. We arrive there just as two others depart. Personally I would have skipped the drink and used the chance to catch up those ahead but MD dives in, front paws first and pretty much dumps his head in. Hot work this.

Less than half a kilometre down the track is the actual water station, with drinks in cups for the humans and in bowls for the dogs. Badly placed me thinks. Also as it’s hot we could have done with more than just this one or at least with it being a bigger distance from the trough.

On to the next section and we pause briefly when we get tangled around a tree. MD chooses one way; I choose the other with inevitable results. Perhaps something else the organisers could note, there are a lot of trees on route to get a lead tangled around.

We catch up a chap with a husky who’s answering a call of nature. Well the husky is. We overtake but chivalrously let them back past us later. This is such a friendly race.

As we come into the final section I hear the tannoy say here comes 2nd, 3rd and 4th. We are 4th but just behind the other two, including the husky I was so nice to. Bugger. I had no idea we were that high up. Had I known... we’d have put the hammer down, wouldn’t we MD?

We cross the line to be greeted by L, who has finished her race and by Doggo, who doesn’t appear too distressed at not having been selected to run.

So we come in 4th but here’s another story... two of them were women, which would normally be cause for major distress but today it means I am second male. We are on the podium. Annoyingly, I feel we could have done better.

We hang on for the presentation and to savour our few moments of glory. We accept our prize and take our place on the podium only for MD to be determined that no one else is going to step foot or paw on the podium whilst he is there. Not even the winning husky. Oh dear, how embarrassing, he is such a bad loser.

Later, the football and Derby’s final home match. It ends like most of their home matches this season, in defeat. No one seems too bothered, especially not the players. Then there is the traditional pitch invasion afterwards but anything that stops the players doing an undeserved lap of honour is fine really. The players appear in the director’s box instead.

It’s been an interesting season, not. We sold our best two players early on and once they’d gone we nosedived from a play off position to flirt with the bottom three instead. Somehow we didn’t get relegated but we did manage that memorable FA Cup defeat to non-league Crawley. Despite that and losing twice to Forest we did at least beat Leeds home and away. So it’s not all been bad. Next season will be interesting. Patience has run out. Both the America owners and the manager will be run out of town if things don’t improve drastically.

Things improve tonight though, when I meet up with L for a night out in Derby. Snecklifter again. This time in the Flowerpot and we also try the revamped Five Lamps. Not bad. We were even impressed with the food menu, well we were until they told us that was the old food menu, the new menu one had all the decent stuff taken off. Austerity I guess.

(Saturday 30th April)

Friday 29 April 2011

Champagne Breakfast

Now there’s some sort of wedding thing going on today, which I didn’t intend to get involved in at all. It’s nothing personal, I don’t really like weddings full stop, which is probably one of the reasons why I’ve yet to have one of my own.

I think it was the incessant media coverage that swayed me in the end, maybe the incessant ‘how to avoid the wedding' coverage. So I thought I’d rebel against the rebellion and watch it. Those folk complaining about having to miss their usual Jeremy Kyle fix should be at work anyway, as given their opinions, taking the bank holiday off would have made them a bit of a hypocrite.

Or perhaps it was L’s champagne breakfast that swung it. Which sadly wasn’t served in bed, so I had to get up for it and once up, watch the wedding perhaps. Eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes and croissants, all with champagne. Which sounds a bit like breakfast, dinner and tea all rolled into one. It should probably have been something posher but he is marrying a commoner.

The service was dull of course but apparently the dress was alright, so I’m told and the brides sister's rear end was better than alright, so I’m told. I just enjoyed the people watching, which was fascinating.

So Will mate, you've survived the university partying, the drink, the women, the see-through dresses, eight years of ‘living in sin’ and now you're married, so they'll be expecting you to knock out a few kids but no, you'll be getting a collie next. Right?

(Friday 29th April)

Thursday 28 April 2011

We Are Ready

I embark on a final training run with MD. It goes well. We are ready. L then takes out Doggo which makes MD distraught. He doesn’t seem to realise that he now needs to taper before Saturday. Oh by the way, happy birthday MD, three years old today. We’re off out tonight to celebrate without you.

I sit at my desk feeling knackered and a bit nauseous. The nausea is due to starting my latest Stuart McBride this morning. Book 4 - Blind Eye. Someone is gouging out the eyes of Polish immigrants. Nice. McBride is reading this one himself. Which is a bit weird, having got used to John Sessions. It is probably more appropriate having a Scotsman read a book about people from Aberdeen. McBride though, appears to be reading this one in a hurry but I’m sure I’ll get used to him.

I get the bus straight into Nottingham from work. Tonight is a delayed birthday celebration for me. I meet up with L for an aperitif or two before we go for a meal. She says she's always wanted to do drinks from work... and she’s waited 15 years to tell me this... I’m sure we’ve done drinks from work on more than one occasion. We end up in Langtry's where they have kindly laid on Snecklifter as a birthday treat. I’m touched.

After which we head off to the restaurant for a romantic meal for three, Daughter is meeting us there. The restaurant is called Kayal and describes itself as South Indian. Kayal means backwaters in Kerala, I’m not sure if that’s promising or not. It’s a chain of course, aren’t they all these days, but it only has three branches - Leicester, Leamington Spa and Nottingham. Well so far.

They claim that Kerala has a distinctive cuisine, very unusual and different from the rest of India but a lot of Asian restaurants say that and they still have Chicken Tikka Masala on the menu for the masses. Not here. In fact no Madras, Bhuna, Jalfrazi etc either. There was not one recognisable dish on the menu. They didn’t even do naan bread, although there was some well weird rice bread, very strange but oddly nice. It was all very refreshingly different, very tasty and not badly priced either. Recommended.

(Thursday 28th April)

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Another Year Closer To The Bus Pass

It’s my birthday today. So another year older and another year closer to the bus pass. As Daughter points on her birthday card, which is addressed to the ‘old git (and not the furry one)’. She also emails me birthday greetings but attaches a picture of a bottle of raspberry vodka which is a unsubtle reminder of what I forgot to get her yesterday. A reward (of sorts) for finally getting her university choice decided.

I cycle in to work today. It’s a pleasant morning, if a little chilly and there's not much traffic trying to kill me or perhaps they were just being kind on my birthday.

Applications for Olympic Tickets have closed. The organisers reckon they’ve received requests for more than 20 million tickets from 1.8 million people. That’s three times as many tickets as they have but was pretty much expected. Despite organisers ‘quietly’ urging people to only bid for what they could afford, they must be ‘quietly’ thrilled. The whole system had been developed to encourage people to opt for as many tickets as possible. Although it’s not the first time tickets have been sold for an Olympics via a lottery system, this is the first time buyers haven’t been told which events they've been allocated before having to pay for the tickets. This means people can’t back out and will therefore have to either attend or sell the tickets on. So no empty seats, in theory.

So everybody, me included, has gone for multiple events to avoid getting nothing. Although with my luck in lotteries and raffles, I’ll probably win nothing.

L takes the afternoon off and takes Son and all his stuff back to university. She not only survives the drive to Warwick but when I get home and she offers me a drink, it’s of coffee rather than wine. So it must have gone well.

I guess I really should have gone to the pool after work, I had the time but it is my birthday so I didn’t want to spoil it by swimming. You don’t want to drown on your birthday do you?

It's off to the park instead then, where two cats strolled nonchalantly across our path arm in arm or whatever the feline equivalent is. Bold as brass they were. Well until MD saw them that is, at which point they turned into Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay respectively. One flew over a garden fence but the other bizarrely decided against that escape route. Instead it doubled back, which when he saw the cat heading back towards him totally freaked MD out. Then before he could recover from the shock, it sold him a dummy and then with a quick shimmy disappeared through a gap in the hedge.

Inexplicably for a birthday, not a single drop of alcohol passes my lips. I’m saving myself for the weekend, which starts on a Thursday for the second week running.

(Wednesday 27th April)

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Just A Mile

MD and I embark (and his case actually bark) on another morning training run. It goes well. The lead biting is now zero, although we do still seem to have a few ‘other dog’ problems when we meet one.

Then I drive into work and collapse at my desk. I hope he isn’t feeling as knackered as me but then, if he is, he can stay in bed all day. He's not the fittest of border collies. L reckons he’ll need to be stretchered from the finish line on Saturday. He may not be the only one.

He is up for a park session when I get home though. Then I cook whilst L sets about embarrassing my piddling swimming efforts at the pool. Dare I ask how many lengths? Just a mile she says. 64 lengths. Ouch.

(Tuesday 26th April)

Monday 25 April 2011

You Can Never Have Too Many Mugs

It's the ‘kind of’ traditional Easter 10K on Wollaton Park today. Well I’ve done it twice before and couldn’t really think of a reason not to this year. Any kids who do the fun run get an Easter egg, sadly the 10k-ers don’t. Just the usual mug... for the mugs. Well, I need a new mug... you can never have too many mugs. Maybe.

L decides we’ll supply our own Easter eggs this year and gets two Cadbury's crème eggs (but not massive ones - see yesterday) to award ourselves afterwards.

It’s a bit on the warm side and there’s no water stop, which I think is a bit mean. So I’m blaming the heat for again being around twenty seconds slower than the previous year.

I walk back up the course to support L. Well I walk to the top of the biggest hill, always a good vantage point to see everyone suffer. The council clearly share my delight in revelling in the runners difficulties because, rather than wait, oooh another ten minutes or so, they decide to drive one of their lorries up the hardest part of the course and just as the main body of runners are coming in. Then just for good measure they stop at their destination before trying to reverse over a few of them. Nice one. Idiots.

Unlike I, who runs his slowest Easter 10k, L runs her quickest.

As it’s a nice day and it’s nearly my birthday, my parents have turned up to support and afterwards we adjourn to the Willoughby/Wollaton pub. Where it’s nice enough to sit outside, sip Hobgoblin and have an early birthday lunch. I fetch the dogs to join us and even Son and Daughter indulge us with their presence. The lure of roast lamb with all the trimmings can have this effect.

After not having had an Easter egg for years, I now have two. My folks get me one for my birthday. All that whinging has finally paid off.

I get back home to catch most of a very good game as Derby play at Norwich. 2-2 seems a fair result until they grab the winner in the 6th minute of second half injury time. Grrrr.

(Monday 25th April)

Sunday 24 April 2011

Things Aren’t What They Used To Be

Easter Sunday and not much on today to be honest, apart from the usual park session with the boys. As its Easter I give them a dunk in the lake as well.

I’ve been whinging to anyone who’ll listen that nobody buys me an Easter egg any more, so L gets me one to shut me up. Bless her. Though it was three for a tenner and she had one left over...

Of course, things aren’t what they used to be ‘when I was a lad’ etc etc. They just can’t be ****d to put the fillings in the middle any more can they? L got me this wispa bar one and you get three wispa bars with it but it’s not the same because they’re not in the middle and you don’t have to crack it open to find out what’s in there. Childhood or for that matter adulthood isn’t what it used to be.

What I’ve always wanted for Easter is a Cadbury’s crème egg Easter egg. Yes I know they do one but that just has crème eggs with it which obviously aren’t in the middle (see above) and that’s not what I meant anyway. What I’ve always wanted to see is a massive version of the crème egg which is all fondant in the centre and with a spoon to eat it. I’m obviously not the only one, there is a Facebook group petitioning for the same thing. Marketing folk, they have no idea.

(Sunday 24th April)

Saturday 23 April 2011

The Jury Returns

I’m momentarily delayed getting the bus over to Derby for the match today when the jury finally returns, after the longest period of deliberation in history, and Daughter picks her university. Yay. Good luck to the city of Sheffield, they’re gonna need it. I jest of course...

Derby throw a 2-1 lead away against Burnley, thanks to conceding a penalty when leading, a penalty that came parcelled up nicely with a free sending off. We go on to lose in style, 4-2.

Afterwards I meet L in Derby and we get the bus over to Burton so that she can recce the start line for the Burton 10 miler. She wants to work out whether getting to the start is achievable on a Sunday without the car, which will be with me in Newark as I attempt to get a team to Crufts. The late starting of bus services on a Sunday doesn't help but it is achievable, just. We hope.

The Burton 10 is one of the races on the L's spreadsheet for her 500 mile challenge. That’s 500 miles in her 50th year. That’s 41 miles per month. It's going to be interesting. She resists the urge to name the spreadsheet ‘going to be last.xls’ and names it ‘Fab me.xls’ instead. Love the title. This is a not very well disguised dig at Daughter’s going to University project, in which everything has been entitled ‘going to fail’. Hmmm.

As we’re now in Burton it would be rude not to drop into the Burton Bridge Inn and the Coopers Tavern.

(Saturday 23rd April)

Friday 22 April 2011

Glutton For Punishment

Probably not the best way to kick off a bank holiday, by getting up early and driving to Shrewsbury. Yep, dog show. L even comes with me and hits the sights of Shrewsbury, which were apparently pretty sightly.

Despite not liking the film, L is reading ‘Beastly’ the book. Glutton for punishment. I’ve said this before, but she has a serious reading problem. Reading a book to see if it’s as bad or better than the film is a bit obsessive. No?

Well, I thought I got all the preparation right for Doggo’s first course. I even got an Alsatian to run in front of us, which winds the old boy up a treat. Somehow we missed the weaves (my fault) and had a pole (his fault). Then on his second and only other run, he had the long jump down. So nothing for him today.

MD has a cracking first run, that is until we come to the last section where I can either hang back and push him from behind (verbally not actually push him) on to the final straight and risk him veering off right or get ahead, make sure he doesn’t veer right but risk him taking a short cut to me and missing out a jump. I do the former. He does the former and veers to the right. The judge does that throat slitting movement with one hand across his neck. Elimination.

His second course is a toughie. We do ok but not clear. His third is easy, we nail it. Clear. Disappointing only 10th but a rosette is a rosette. We go straight on to his fourth and last run. It’s hot and he looks tired. He demolishes the courses. Never mind, we have our clear and we have our rosette.

We get home, dump the boys and slip out for a few Abbots.

(Friday 22nd April)

Thursday 21 April 2011

Red Rags And Bulls

I again take my running partner out this morning. That’s MD by the way. L accuses me of favouring her over MD this morning. As if. She takes the old man for an amble that probably won't make it onto her training log. She says it was just like the old days. Slow and steady with the odd drag off to the side for a rather excellent sniff, plus a roll in the daffodils. I hope she means Doggo.

Then I cycle to work. It was quite funny the other day to see the CTC, the national cyclists' organisation, responding to the AA giving out bike helmets and high visibility vests to cyclists in London by giving out copies of the Highway Code to car drivers. The AA were attempting to highlight the vulnerability of cyclists on the road. The CTC were highlighting the reason. Although granted some cyclists bring it on themselves.

51:02 is very good for the bike to work. Being chased by that guy in the Beeston Cycling Club top certainly helped. Red rags and bulls spring to mind.

Knackered now though. I crawl up the stairs at work, then realise I’ve forgotten my cereal and have to crawl up them a second time. It’s a long time since I did three cycles to work in a row and a couple of morning runs.

L swims. 50 lengths. She always has to go one better, or in this case 10 better, than I managed the other night. So she’s feeling smug and even smugger because everyone at work likes her new frock. They get all her best outfits at work.

Squash is off. My opponent has added a new injury to his repertoire, a bad toe. That’s so nineties and so Gary Lineker. As I'm now at a loose end, L invites me to come and see Beastly with her and Daughter...

It's not really my scene but all the same I have a look at some of the photos of the film. The lead guy seems to have had some sort of trendy tattoo job done to his head.

Is that supposed to make him unattractive? Cause people pay a lot of money for such a makeover in the belief that it will enable them to actually pull the girls. I suppose the film wouldn’t attract its target audience – teenage girls, if they did actually make him ugly. It looks like a good one for me to skip me thinks.

So instead I take the boys on the park but MD is hopeless, apparently he’s already had a two hour walk with Daughter. Doggo hasn’t but then he’s always hopeless.

L has left some chicken cooking in the oven for Son but as I get home from the park with the intention of doing him vegetables and potatoes to go with it, he’s already about to scoff it on its own. I still offer 'the works' but he says he's ‘good’. You try and do your bit to make students healthier but they’re just not interested.

I cook paneer curry for us and L ‘pretty pleases’ a mushroom side dish. If she comes home in that new frock, she can have anything she likes on the side.

(Thursday 21st April)

Wednesday 20 April 2011

We Go To A Secret Gig...

Even the University Of Hull decides to charge students the maximum tuition fees of £9,000 a year. Now no offence to Hull but it’s hardly a hot bed of academic achievement. Madness. Surely this is going to backfire on them. I’m tempted to setup my own Uni and undercut them. I’m not sure what courses I would offer but I don’t think it matters does it? As long as it’s cheap and there’s alcohol.

After work I pick L up from the gym and we head into town. We’re back at one of my favourite venues tonight, The Bodega Social Club. Built in 1901 by The Bodega Wine Company and now the self styled ‘coolest bar in Nottingham’, famed for catching successful bands on the cusp of super-stardom or in tonight’s case... giving a low-key airing to new material from the band Hard-Fi or perhaps they’re returning to something approaching their true level... time will tell.

The last time Hard-Fi were in Nottingham was December 2007 and it was to play the Arena, which surprised me. I didn’t know they were that popular. Ok it was only half full but that's still 4000 people, tonight they play to less than 300. Not that I'm complaining, as I've said the Bodega is one of my favourite venues.

To be fair to them, their fan base probably hasn’t collapsed; this is a 'secret show' which wasn’t even mentioned on the Bodega's website until yesterday. I got to know about it because they are one of a multitude of bands I get email from.

There’s no support and the band emerge at around 8.30 to the strains of Ennio Morricone to tell us what they’ve been up to for the last three years. Which is... ‘nothing really’ as lead singer Richard Archer admits. So Rich, just what did happen to that album you promised us for 2009?

‘Tied Up Too Tight’ from their debut album ‘Stars Of CCTV’ kicks off the night as the boys attempt to ‘sharpen ourselves up and get match fit’, presumably for a more substantial tour later in the year.

‘Nothing’ isn’t what the entire band have been up because Ross the guitarist has been training to be a hairdresser... Ah, so the money from 'Once Upon a Time in the West' has run out then. Welcome back. Looks like Ross has a ring on a significant finger as well. If he’s got a wife burning the cheque book at both ends then there’s no wonder they’re back to ‘working for the cash machine’.

Archer tells us that ‘we're gonna play some new songs, so you’re gonna have to roll with us’ before playing a couple for us. With no big Arena style screen to distract the punters, the focus really is on the band tonight to show us what they’ve come up with.

Well, there’s clearly not going to be any great change of musical direction because neither ‘Bring It On’ nor ‘Lovesong’ are big departures from what they’ve done before but both seem acceptable indie rock, although obviously it’s hard to judge on one listen.

Tonight is one of just three dates they announced last month, Bristol and Brighton being the others, with tickets only a tenner. They have since added a London date next month. So why Nottingham and why the Bodega? Archer explains they played perhaps their second or third ever gig here. That’s cool, I like that. A band revisiting an early venue of theirs.

They are chatty throughout, particularly Archer, but it’s mostly of the ‘are you alright Nottingham’ variety. ‘We need the practice’, he concedes, perhaps he means with the banter as well.

Oldies ‘Can't Get Along (Without You)’ and ‘We Need Love’ lead us into the new ‘Stay Alive’. Which starts off a bit more dance orientated and passes me by a bit until the guitars come in but it never reaches any great heights.

The band remain heavily reliant on backing tracks and all the keyboards come pre-recorded on tape, unless one of those equipment boxes is housing a secret fifth member. In fact all the old tracks are so perfectly reproduced I begin to wonder what else is on tape but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and just say they were very proficient. Even if I wasn’t sure Archer was playing that blow keyboard thing for the intro to the breadline anthem ‘Cash Machine’.

‘Good For Nothing’ is to be their comeback single. It’s not the most instant of their new stuff but still has some promise. Their biggest hit ‘Suburban Knights’ follows and gets the Bodega jumping. Not that I’ve every really understood the popularity of what I think is one of their weakest singles.

So far they’ve not played anything, old or new, with the Clash-like reggae-ishness that they used to dabble in, that is until we get to ‘Sweat’ which is quite funky, for want of a better word.

By aiming this gig at their mailing list they know they’ve not got to win anyone over tonight but still yet another new track perhaps stretches things a little bit. That’s eleven tracks so far and six of them new ones. Someone calls out for the title track of ‘Stars Of CCTV’ without success and we get ‘Fire in the House’ instead. Which turns out to be my favourite newbie of the night. Darkly mysterious and brooding.

‘Hard To Beat’, which closes the set, remains, well ‘hard to beat’ and is a storming way to finish, with the now lively Bodega lapping it up.

Bands either come back very quickly for an encore at the Bodega or take ages. This, I imagine, depends on whether they decide to return to the dressing room, which is on the floor below or just loiter at the top of what are a fairly fearsome set of stairs. Hard-Fi take their time but when they do emerge it is with an interesting choice for the start of the encore.

‘Television’ enables Archer to demonstrate his guitar prowess for the first time tonight as he does the intro solo and it probably provides the best moment of the night. Then to close, we get a frenzied ‘Living For The Weekend’, which sounds reassuringly messy tonight, proving that they’re not as polished or as taped as they look at times. It’s a song about dead end jobs, which begs the question, what’s it to be Ross? Hairdresser or rock star?

An entertaining evening but I’m not sure I’ve heard anything here that’s going to propel them back to Arena-dom. Still, they’ll be hoping that despite their affection for the Bodega that this won’t be their destination the next time they drop into Nottingham.

(Wednesday 20th April)

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Ears Still Attached

Somehow I get up early and take MD out for a training run. Doggo is not happy at being excluded from this venture and has to go back to bed to recover from it.

The park is closed, which MD doesn’t seem happy about and leaves them a little protest message by the gates. A message I have forgotten to bring a bag for, so I’ll have to return later.

We stick to the pavements and it goes well, apart from when MD tries to drag me under a parked car (after a cat) and later up a tree (after a squirrel) but it’s generally good. I think he’s getting the hang of it.

He then has to go out again on his morning walk with L. He didn’t expect two lots of exercise this morning. I suppose she could have just taken Doggo but then it would have been MD's turn to be unhappy. He can do unhappy far better and far noisier than Doggo. I think he would have preferred his breakfast before he left the house a second time and then probably again afterwards.

Then I cycle to work. Later I detour back via the pool for a swim. I get a bit carried away and do forty lengths. Then its home to trim MD’s ears with lawn mower and perhaps cut the lawn at the same time. This isn’t actually much of an undertaking since MD removed most of the grass from it. Cycle-Swim-Mow. I think I've done this Triathlon before.

I say trim his ears because he usually assaults the wheels of the lawn mower with his teeth. Not the safest of things to do. Tonight, he starts off a bit suspicious of the mowers' first appearance of the year and stays inside. Then he appears and stalks it from a distance for a while before finally plucking up the courage to attack it. Ears still attached though.

(Tuesday 19th April)

Monday 18 April 2011


Enthused by my 4k with MD yesterday, I resolve that our training continues this morning. Well that was the intention but the poor mite still looked knackered from yesterday, I hadn't the heart to disturb him. I also couldn't get out of bed myself and anyway it was much more enjoyable staying there.

So MD doesn’t get a run nor does he and Doggo get a walk either, both L and I decide to kick the balls for them in the garden instead. Both kids are at home this week, so if the dogs get bored, they have someone at home to pick on.

Dog training tonight, so I miss most of tonight’s live TV game which is QPR v Derby. It's another good performance from Derby, it’s just a shame they couldn’t have played like this all season. Although the 0-0 result probably suited both sides just fine, as QPR edge towards the Premier League and Derby edge towards staying where they are.

All credit to Robbie Savage who for the fourth game in a row against QPR had their Moroccan talisman Adel Taarabt in his pocket. He even posted the proof online.

I’ve never been a Savage fan but he’s done ok at Derby and he will retire at the end of the season with the best wishes of most Derby fans, me included.

I detour on the way home from training to collect L who’s been running with friends in Ockbrook but is now sat all alone in the Royal Oak. I resist the temptation of a quick pint, best to rest the liver after the weekend I think.

(Monday 18th April)

Sunday 17 April 2011

Old Peculiar vs Snecklifter Challenge - Results

Day two and the conclusion of the Snecklifter versus Old Peculiar challenge. There’s a smaller crowd in today’s race, about half actually - 122 to 205 yesterday. Does this mean that everyone prefers Saturday races, like us, even though almost everybody arranges them for a Sunday? Or was their just better sport to be had elsewhere. Today even the organiser dons a number, runs it then awards himself the over 70s age category prize. He was the only over 70 there, but fair play to him.

L, who has a proper breakfast today and not just Pringles, runs in the race whilst I strap myself to MD and run up to the 2k marker. From where we watch/bark at the runners before running back to the finish where a disgruntled and abandoned Doggo is waiting in the car for us.

L is twelve seconds slower today. So does that mean Old Peculiar makes a better sports drink than Snecklifter? However, considering her race preparation strategy for the entire weekend... both her times this year were quicker than the three runs she's done here before. QED.

We stay for a leisurely late lunch before breaking camp and heading home.

The weather has been fantastic all weekend. Great fell walking weather, as it always is when we don't walk. Had that been our intention, conditions would obviously have been very different.

(Sunday 17th April)

Saturday 16 April 2011

Should Be Quicker Tomorrow

The race is a 12 noon start. So plenty of time to work off last night’s overindulgence or alternatively to shred the pre-race manual some more. There was no pre-race pasta last night, only ham and cheese rolls. Then on top of last night’s alcohol, I’m even drinking coffee this morning which is usually a no no. Breakfast kind of goes out the window as well. Instead L’s munching on Pringles which I don’t think features on the must do list. At least I’ve brought an energy bar to go with one of the bananas.

The Great Langdale road races started in 1988 with the Christmas Pudding Run. There is now also a Marathon and a Half Marathon as well as these races in April, the Saint Georges Day 10k's, now in their 12th year. One race on Saturday and another on Sunday. It's a week early for Saint Georges Day but we'll let that pass.

The course is an out and back, slightly undulating route, along the Great Langdale Road. Starting at the Stickle Barn pub, running through The Langdale Estate before emerging in Elterwater and returning to the finish at the pub.

Conditions are almost ideal and it's not a bad run, considering my preparation, which couldn’t really have been any better. It just wasn't honed for running. At around 42:20, I’m 90 seconds or so slower than my best time here two years ago. Oh well. They do say 'the older you get, the better you used to be'. Perhaps if I’d been on OJ and water all night things would have been different but never mind.

L is running again tomorrow, whereas I prefer just to concentrate on one race per weekend. It will be interesting to see what her pre-race approach is tonight compared with last night. I think it’s going to be the Stickle Barn this evening, which have possibly the best line up on the bar I’ve ever seen in 15 odd years of coming here. Hobgoblin (although not very Cumbrian), Cumberland, Coniston Stout but I think the winner is the old fave Jennings' Snecklifter. Only 5.1% to OP's 5.6%, so L should be quicker tomorrow. In theory.

(Saturday 16th April)

Friday 15 April 2011

Rewriting The Pre-Race Manual

I finish work at lunchtime so that we can get an early start to get up to the Lakes. We wouldn’t normally bother leaving before 6pm but they’ve installed barriers at the camp site to keep the late arriving riff raff out. So I thought we best get there before 9pm. Which is the time when the razor wire is rolled out and the watch towers become manned.

I head home via Sainsburys for some pre-race bananas. Then I pack. As I check my emails at the same time one pops into my inbox from L asking whether I’ve been out training for the April Madness 10k with Motor Mouth yet, it was formerly the Wiggle 10k but we’ve renamed it. Erm, not yet. I had mentioned I might start training with him today. I can see that L doesn’t think I’ll do it, does she?

I have the usual problems getting him started. E.g. a lot of lead biting but then we’re off. His nose in the air looking for trouble as we head onto the park. I choose to go on the park, purely to maximise distractions. Which was ok, until we met a distraction. He had a quick lurch at the first dog we met but that was all. The second one warranted a bark and a lurch, at which point we momentarily lost focus and went back to the lead biting. We stopped, had a team meeting, discussed strategy, decided who was boss (I think) and then carried on with focus returned. So it went well. We only ran about 2k but it’s a start.

Then I load all the gear (and the dogs) in the car and head off to collect L. We arrive at Great Langdale to discover the barriers are still not in operation, so we needn’t have rushed. This also, unfortunately, gives us extra time in the Hikers Bar of The Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. Where L insists on following her usual three halves of beer pre-race strategy. Unfortunately they appear to be serving the beer in out-sized half pint glasses tonight, which to the untrained eye might look like pints and it's doubly unfortunate that the beer is 5.6% Old Peculiar.

After the three, there’s the one for the road, which is the narrow lane we have to walk down to the camp site, it’s a long way, 200 yards perhaps. So three and a half out-sized halves of Old Peculiar then. L's rewriting the pre-race manual here.

I like her style but I’m far more sensible and water down my Old Peculiar down with a Cumberland Ale. Which is cunning of the highest order I believe but we’ll see who has had the best strategy tomorrow.

(Friday 15th April)

Thursday 14 April 2011

We Have Faith

There was an amusing article on the radio this morning about youth unemployment and the radio station had booked a couple of unemployed lads to come on the radio to talk about their experiences. However... neither turned up and without a word as to why. This prompted a flood of emails, texts and phone calls to the radio show, pointing out exactly why these lads were unemployed...

Pub lunch today. Chicken, Ham and Mushroom pie and a pint, to fortify myself for squash of course but also, perhaps more importantly, for parents evening. Which is our last one at the college, unless of course Daughter loves it so much that she goes back to re-sit the year... but she won’t. We have faith, and we'd kill her.

We attempt to bring some of the appointments forward, so that I can make it back in plenty of time for squash but perhaps also in an attempt to outmanoeuvre Daughter and talk to a few of the teachers 'off the record'. It doesn’t work. As we go into the first appointment I’m sure I can hear her sprinting up the stairs. Yep. Here she is.

It all goes pretty much as expected, which is very well. Although still nobody can extract a university decision out of her. She says buy her a bottle of vodka and she’ll push a few buttons when she’s drunk. Hmmm, if I thought this wasn’t just a ruse to get free vodka I’d have gone for that.

It wasn’t worth rushing back for squash. I get slaughtered and I'm not referring to the pub afterwards.

(Thursday 14th April)

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Rash Decision

It’s a bit chillier than I thought this morning. So cycling in shorts perhaps wasn’t the best idea. Although I get to work quicker than usual, so perhaps the cold made me pedal faster. Every grey cloud has a silver lining.

I make a rash decision and enter myself (and MD) into a dog friendly 10k, which is at Catton Park in two weeks time. I’m sure I’ll regret it but hey ho. L isn’t terribly supportive but reckons we’ll be fine as long as we don’t run past any deer, rabbits, squirrels, sheep or people (especially if they clap, are on a bike, are eating or are carrying a carrier bag...) or for that matter, dogs. Especially ones that bark or just simply look at him. Hmmm, as it’s a dog specific event, I’m assuming they’ll be other dogs in it... but I’m sure she has him wrong. He’s a very focussed little boy, when he puts his mind to it.

We have two weeks to train or we could just turn up on the day and hope for the best. Which, on the evidence I’ve seen, is how a lot of people seem to approach their races.

Dog training. MD shows how focused he is and how noisy. There’s even training for Doggo tonight and he’s even noisier.

(Wednesday 13th April)

Tuesday 12 April 2011

I’m Getting My Own Drinks

I drop the car off at my parents’ place and run in to work. 5.2 miles. It was good. I’ve no idea why. I even felt quite fit. Again, I’ve no idea why. Seeing as I couldn’t break 43 minutes on Saturday.

Oh great. I’ve just heard that the Wollaton Park leg of the Nottingham Grand Prix, which is four races in nine days, has had to be moved because Wollaton Park is unavailable due to some filming taking place. Intriguing, I wonder what they’re filming. Instead they’re the run to Rushcliffe Country Park, which the organisers claim ‘is always a popular venue’. Not with me! It’s so dull. We now have races two and three both at Rushcliffe Country Park. Purgatory.

L’s self inflicted challenge for the day is to try to get Son to put dinner on by nipping to the shop, buying a whole chicken and popping it in the oven. Doesn’t happen. So, toast all round at home tonight then. Thankfully I’m dining out at my mothers'. I run back there after work, another 5.2 miles.

It’s Derby v Leeds tonight. My squash opponent is a Leeds fan and is predicting a Derby win. I can’t see it myself. He’s so confident that Leeds will lose he’s declined to attend the game, although the £33 ticket price may well have been a factor, and he’s offered to buy multiple rounds if Leeds win. In that case, I may well be supporting Leeds, as its doubtful Derby need the points anyway.

It’s not a bad game and a good performance from Derby, although it’s still 0-0 at half time. During the break ex-Derby favourite Seth Johnson is introduced to the crowd, which went down well in the away end. Not. Super Seth was sold to Leeds during their mad phase when they spent money like water, quickly went bankrupt and got relegated. They paid us a very generous £7M for Seth and he spent most of his time there injured. Then he returned to Derby for nothing, played for practically beer money for a year and got us promoted. Well the getting promoted was a bad idea but he’s still a cult hero around these parts.

Second half, and here we go again, as Leeds score against the run of play. The expected collapse doesn’t happen though and Derby hit back almost immediately with two goals in quick succession. 2-1 and that’s how it finishes. Apparently I’m getting my own drinks.

(Tuesday 12th April)

Monday 11 April 2011

No Rest For The Wicked

In the car today and I follow a chap onto Pride Park who has what I think is a personalised plate on his Audi. If so, his name is Sieve, which sounds Scandinavian or perhaps he’s a chef, or perhaps he's just not very good at spelling.

It’s dustbin day today, so I hurriedly email L to check on MD’s welfare. He was a tired little poppet this morning after his show yesterday and may not have had much patience with the dustbin men. I would hate for someone to have dumped him in their wheelie bin.

He seems to have recovered by the time it comes to his evening training session, there’s no rest for the wicked. It goes well and I even manage not to shut my finger in the storeroom door this week.

(Monday 11th April)

Sunday 10 April 2011

Cricket Score

A drive down to Biggleswade this morning for a dog show, which is a fair old trip. Having looked at our schedule for the day I leave late. MD has no courses until mid morning at the earliest. Doggo has one, but I can wing and a prayer it with him without having to get there at 8.30 to walk around it before the class starts.

It is, as predicted, an uneventful morning. Doggo and I do our winging and a praying on his first course. We go clear and in a reasonable time but not quite fast enough to get a placing. Whereas despite the fact I get to walk three courses for MD, he doesn’t gets to run anything before lunch.

Back home though, L has. She’s been in motion. Finishing her Ian McEwan book and then going out for a run. You’d have thought somebody had disturbed her at some ridiculous hour this morning.

It’s hot down here. I’m getting a tan, well sunburn. I should have brought my shorts with me. MD does all four of his runs in the afternoon and makes one mistake in each of the first three. For some reason the weaves cause us a problem today but on the positive side, his tunnels fine. He doesn’t feel the need to bark at any of them today. He also only has one pole down.

His fourth course is a bit of a cricket score, faults wise, but it was hot and he was tired. Overall I’m very pleased with him. So no clears for the young pretender but the old maestro goes clear again in the second of his two runs, although again he’s outside the placings.

(Sunday 10th April)

Saturday 9 April 2011

That Hill

So, Cotgrave Country Park and the Paws 10k.

So called as it’s in aid of the local RSPCA animal shelter at Radcliffe and Nottingham based Positive Futures.

There’s no sign of Harry the Hare, the star of the 2k Fun Run, but there is someone dressed up as a dog. They’ll be hot if they run in that, although they don’t appear to be planning to do more than a ‘little bit’. There are plenty of dogs around in fact and of course the people from the Animal Shelter. We don't ask if they'd take MD.

Up until 2009, when the Paws 10k started, Cotgrave Country Park was the only park in Nottingham not to have a running event. Perhaps there was a reason for this. Before we start plenty of people are discussing ‘the hill’.... I'm sure L hasn't mentioned this... Hmmm. When I walked round most of it last year, it looked pretty flat to me. Obviously well hidden.

We start, in glorious sunshine, and I perhaps get a tad carried away and go under four minutes for the first km. It’s all downhill from there, metaphorically speaking, well until we get to the hill of course. In reality the terrain is largely flat, as predicted, all on well compacted grit paths. You could even say it was a scenic route, if you’re into that sort of thing.

I end up running just behind an old adversary of mine, the girl with the impossible ponytail. Not that she was ever much of an adversary, as I’ve never beaten her. Unfortunately her running partner and herself are appalled by their 7:20 second km and up their pace. Meaning they go sailing off into the distance.

My legs tell me this isn’t going to be quick one, so I settle in for a bit of a jog and to wait for that hill, which duly arrives at about 5.5km. It was, to be honest, a bit of a killer but very short. It was enough to enable me to finally get shut of an 'older' gentleman who I’d been swapping places with for the first half of the race. After the hill, I look over my shoulder and he’s miles back. Ha. Sorted. Then suddenly at 7k, he comes back past me, towing a female runner along with him. I’m not having that. I wait until around 8.5k, then I put a spurt on that seems to distance them both for good this time.

Over 43 minutes for the run. Not great but not bad. Acceptable for a park run. I pick up a t-shirt and ppppp-pick up a penguin biscuit, which they are giving out at the finish. Not many though, can’t see them lasting until the later runners come in.

It doesn’t stop there with the freebies, there’s a choice of free home baked cakes as well.

After which I rest my legs and perhaps catch a few Z’s as Derby play Coventry. It does not start promisingly. The Sky Blues dominate the first half and lead 2-0 as half-time approaches. Then suddenly, out of nothing, Derby get a goal back. Then with 45 minutes on the clock Mr Popular, Marlon King, gifts us a penalty. 2-2 and that’s how is stays until the end.

With not much action in the second half, the crowd amuses itself by baiting Mr King. With fourteen criminal convictions to his name and two jail terms he’s an easy target. The most recent stint inside was for groping a girl’s bottom and when that didn’t pull her, punching her in the face. Nice. Still, the crowd calling him a rapist is a little wide of the mark.

After the match I meet L for what is an excellent night out in Derby. We had planned to meet in the Brunswick but it’s so packed with the post-match crowd that we slip into the Alexandra instead. Good call. Castle Rock Merlin and Fullers ESB. Tasty. Until the ESB runs out by which time the Brunswick has emptied a bit. Everards Old Original continues a pleasant evening.

We end up in the Shalimar for a curry, which is excellent. A superb Jalfrezi and the Shalimar do the best cheese naans anywhere.

(Saturday 9th April)

Friday 8 April 2011

Team Manager’s Prerogative

I abandon plans for a run today because I need to take the car in to the garage for new boots. One tyre is almost bald and I have another long drive on Sunday. I replace the runs by entering the Paws 10k, which is tomorrow and so joining L for a few laps of Cotgrave Country Park.

Naturally you ask a garage to check your tyres and they come back with a list of things you haven’t asked them to look at it. I have a broken suspension spring. Pot holes you know... speed bumps you know... blah blah. I did actually suspect this might be the case. Plus three new tyres = not cheap.

They can do things like suspension. It’s just unfasten a few nuts and bolt a new one on. They all look at their hands when I ask them about why my key fob no longer works or why my interior light keeps blowing its fuse. Yes, I’ve changed the battery on the fob and the bulb for the light. They suggest I take it to Vauxhall for such technical jobs. I almost add that I could of course ask Vauxhall to do my tyres and suspension as well but I don't.

The Crufts Team seems to have been resolved. One stray team member is in, one is out. So I promote myself with MD from reserve into the team. This upsets the other reserve. Tough. Team manager’s prerogative. Anyway, how many clear rounds did her dog get last weekend – Zero, how many for 'Ratbag' - Two. I rest my case.

We stay in and prepare for ‘Paws’ tomorrow, although we’re not entirely AF. I cook but get carried away and heavily spice the Mexican Chicken. I might regret that tomorrow.

(Friday 8th April)

Thursday 7 April 2011

They’re Out

They’re out. Although some cyclists have had them out for weeks, months in some cases, in fact some of them have never put them away at all. The students haven’t obviously and even had them out with flip-flops in the snow. The lads that is, well mostly the lads, but a lot of the girls have them out now as well. Which means the black tights have sadly gone away for a bit but that’s ok, the bare legs are ample compensation. Sorry, getting sidetracked, back to cycling. Yep the legs are out. I’m in my cycling shorts today for the first time this year.

Consequently the weather is not as nice as it was yesterday. Clearly I’ve driven the sun back behind the clouds. Sorry. It’ll probably rain later.

I ponder taking my swimming stuff with me, for after work, but now the nights are lighter I could get the dogs on the park for an hour instead. I’ll do that. I just hope they appreciate it.

Talking of the boys, someone asked L this morning ‘how Ratbag was?’ I thought they meant me but no, they meant MD. He has so many friends.

I’m still having problems in my capacity as team manager for our Crufts qualifiers. The organiser of the Nottingham round has been in touch to tell me that two of my team haven’t bothered entering. I text them. ‘Oh bugger forgot to post it’ one of them says. FFS as Daughter would say. The girl's now put it in the post this morning. The closing date was the 2nd... I hope the organiser is understanding. L keeps telling me ‘girls don't do teams’, I’m starting to believe her.

On the plus side, if either of them don’t get in, MD is first reserve. Yay. L fails to see why this is a plus.

As planned I take the boys on the park where L texts me ‘OMG I need chocolate and fast. Although alcohol would be a good substitute.’ Hard day at work Dear?

She meets me off the park and we have a couple of glasses of substitute. During her second one she asks if she can discuss half marathon training with her personal trainer... Oh, I forget, that's me isn't it. I give her some free advice. She can thank me later.

(Thursday 7th April)

Wednesday 6 April 2011

The Long Way Round

I cycle in this morning and tail a chap for four or five miles until he disappears onto the A52, the main dual carriageway between Nottingham and Derby. He’s probably heading to Pride Park that way. I’ve often been tempted to dice with the (mostly static) traffic that way but never have. Hmmm. I ponder, then go the long way round instead.

If that cyclist’s behaviour seemed daring, the one who passed me on the way home was positively crazy. When I say he passed me, he cheated obviously. I had just passed him in fact and I was sat waiting at the lights, as you do when they’re on red. Particularly when traffic is passing non-stop in both directions in front of you. Not him though, he pedals out into it, causing it to stop to let him through! No wonder cyclists have a bad name. Several car drivers swear at him, one blows his horn but he can’t hear them because he’s got his headphones on. Luckily, for him, no one tried to turn right because if they had I’m sure they wouldn’t have seen him until they hit him.

I get home, hot and sweaty, because it’s turned quite warm today. 20 degrees or so. About ten minutes later L pants in through the front door, also hot and sweaty, having been out for a run. Mmmm. Very endearing. Unfortunately I’m on my way out, MD is booked in for more tunnel aversion therapy tonight. Although I do get to take the sweaty one with me and drop her at her parents for the evening.

(Wednesday 6th April)

Tuesday 5 April 2011

A Sport In Decline?

We wake up to the sounds of what could be someone trying to hammer a very large nail straight through our roof. Well, L and I wake up. The dogs don’t and nor do Son or Daughter. On closer inspection our water pipes seem to be doing a dance all on their own. The boiler pressure is sky high or when I turn it down, none existence. It’s worked for two years or so, this isn’t a new problem. At least it's picked now to pack up, at least the weather is warmer and I have, thankfully, got the boiler on contract.

It’s possibly too windy to cycle. So I opt out of what might have been a bit of a lively ride unintentionally down the centre of the road to get the bus.

The council keeps telling us that squash is a sport in decline so they won’t invest any money in their squash courts and instead go around closing them whenever the chance arises. Well, this Thursday we can’t get a court anyway. Decline my a***. So we play tonight instead and get the last court available. Opponent has a stinking cold (so he claims), so I adjust my tactics accordingly... lots of running is good for a cold, is it not? It doesn’t work. I don’t think Tuesday’s suit me as regards squash.

(Tuesday 5th April)

Monday 4 April 2011

Tunnel Aversion Therapy

The legs are ok this morning. In fact too ok because I manage the stairs at work with no problems at all. So obviously I could have been quicker yesterday. L says wait until I've done the wonderfully named 'Potters Arf', which she tells me she’s just posted my entry for. Wonderful...

I offer to return the ‘favour’ for a race of her choosing. As she replies ‘surprise me’, I start googling for the next year’s Sleaford Half Marathon, her favourite race, not. Until ‘on second thoughts ... I'll think about it’ arrives. Damn. I had the perfect birthday present lined up there.

According to the 10k results in the Derby Evening Telegraph I’ve gone back two places in 24 hours. Hmmm, I bet someone followed by idea and wore two chips. On closer inspection it seems the DET did them in chip time order, where’s the official results are in finish order. Panic over.

In Japan they have rescued a dog who was found floating on the roof of a house that was washed out to sea by the tsunami three weeks ago. Great to see it looking so well after three weeks on the roof. Wonder what it ate to stay alive? Unless... I’m waiting for someone to confess that he hasn’t been missing for three weeks and someone put him on the roof only the other day because he wouldn’t stop barking... We'll find MD floating in the middle of Wollaton Park Lake one of these days.

Talking of the vocal one, he’s booked in for tunnel aversion therapy tonight, after his disinclination to go through the damn things on Saturday. Aka extra training. He takes it all in his noisy stride and I think we made progress.

(Monday 4th April)

Sunday 3 April 2011

The Long Chalk

So today, the new improved speedier Derby 10k, allegedly. The organisers have changed the course for this year ‘eliminating some twists and turns’, they reckon it should be faster... All I need is new improved speedier legs.

The course has been tweaked several times in the past and looking back through the old course maps this variant seems to be quite like the 2006 version, which was the last time they took it around the Bass Recreation Ground rather than straight up the dual carriageway. I’m not sure why they changed it, probably just because I started entering.

Personally I’d like them to get even more retro and go back to 2004. In those days the course was just one loop rather than the two loops it is now. Nowadays after returning to the start after 7k they send you out for a smaller second loop around Pride Park, which is a real mental tease.

Both L and I were talked into this year’s race by various friends, colleagues and relatives who wanted to enter, and needed their hands holding. Almost all of whom have since fallen by the wayside, before even reaching the start line. So L wears two numbers today, one underneath the other, the second one belonging to her absent sister to get her a t-shirt whilst I contemplate strapping my chip to one foot and L’s sisters to the other. She’d get an excellent time for her first 10k then but I decide against it.

Protégé is here though. Damn, the race is on. Although he’s trying to avoid me on the start line. So I sidle up to him for a chat.

Then we’re off.

I endeavour not to do anything stupid in the first km as we partake in the long drag out of Pride Park, where the crowds are large and supportive, which helps. 4:01 is quicker than I wanted but acceptable. Km 2 is exactly the same, as we do the Hokey Cokey around the pedestrian areas of Derby’s shopping area. It’s still a bit twisty; they haven’t eliminated all the twists and turns. The centre of town is not very busy, so not much support there. There’s a trio of girls on East Street with a CD player, who appear to have a bit of a mime thing going on. It kind of sums the quietness up. It’s a consequence of starting the race before the shops open. It would be nice if they could start later and run it when it’s busy, although they wouldn’t be able to use these pedestrian areas then but I think the support would be good even on the main roads. Plus they’d get some of those wonderfully critical comments in the newspaper from people who’s Sunday had been totally destroyed because the road had been closed and they’d been half an hour late getting to Wilco to buy some nails. That always makes it all worthwhile.

Things are more raucous on the Wardwick though, where there’s cracking band playing. We need more of that sort of stuff.

Km 3 is slightly quicker but then my times start to drift a little but never beyond 4:18. If Protégé is going to beat me he’s going to have to run sub 41:00 to do it.

They take us on to the new/reintroduced bit, as we head between Stalag Arriva Trent Barton (the new bus station) and the court building, before heading onto the Bass Recreation Ground. Then it’s back on to Pride Park, over the flyover (the only real hill) and now the stadium is in sight and getting ever closer. Once it’s in touching distance... it’s time for that loop around Pride Park, up past David Lloyd’s and then the 2.5km haul along the footpath to the finish.

We finish in the stadium, which is nice but not as well arranged as at Reading where it felt like you were running out on to a packed Wembley Stadium. A three quarter lap of the pitch and then we’re finished. 41:18. Not a PB by a long chalk but not bad and ahead of Protégé which is the main thing.

Enthused. I buy some new running shoes.

Then as its Mothers' Day, we take my folks, who’ve been supporting us, for a meal and a beer at the Royal Standard. Then despite the urge to paint the town red, mainly at not having to drown my sorrows, we stay in and open some red instead.

(Sunday 3rd April)

Saturday 2 April 2011

Not The Best Of Planning

I wake up at 5am without a hangover. Phew. This isn’t the best of planning but we have the North West Interclub Agility Championships today, in Preston. A mere two and a bit hour drive. I feel a bit queasy on the way up but that’s not last night, it’s this audiobook of mine. ‘Flesh House’ is the most gruesome one yet.

I arrive just after 8am and pull into a near empty car park... oh dear. Wrong day? I check my info. Yep, correct day. Show opens 9am, competition starts 9.30... Bugger. Not the usual 8.30 start then. I could have had another hour in bed. That’ll teach me to read the info. Oh well, time for a walk then boys. I attempt to nudge the dogs awake.

Eventually everyone else turns up and the competition starts. Well not everyone shows up. Four of our ten person team fail to show, cutting the number of dogs in our team from 16 to 8 with the best 4 to score and with one of them being MD, the odds are not good.

Today, the two boys are going head to head in all four classes. Which should be interesting...

Round 1. Helter Skelter. Both dogs go clear. Which is celebration time for MD, no poles down, although he does waste time by barking at the tunnel before eventually deciding to go through it. Doggo 24.495 seconds, MD 24.621. Round 1 to Doggo, just.

Round 2. Jumping Course. Doggo has a pole down, practically unheard of. MD, despite another bark at the tunnel, clear for the second course in a row, totally unheard of. 1-1.

Round 3. First Agility Course. Doggo clear. MD... ah, had to happen, not just tunnel trouble but a fair few other troubles too. 2-1 to the old man.

Round 4. Second Agility Course. Doggo clear. MD 5 faults. So 3-1 to Doggo but MD has the last laugh and picks up two rosettes for his clear rounds. 6th and 10th. Although they competed on the same courses their results were split by their grades and MD is a much lower grade than Doggo, where rosettes are much easier to come by.

They've both done well, I expect it from Doggo but MD has jumped brilliantly, not a single pole down all day. However he's in for extra tunnel training next week.

Team wise, we are 9th out off 11. We're usually top three and have had three wins in the last four years. So, not good but we were dumped on by those who stayed away.

We head home where we will almost have the house to ourselves because Daughter is at a party, so we should be good for a nice relaxing pre-race night in. If only the pre-party wasn’t at our house... hmmm. Eventually by 10pm they’re gone.

(Saturday 2nd April)

Friday 1 April 2011

Good For Athletic Performance

This morning somebody does a pre-dawn raid on our milk delivery. Two bottles of milk and two lots of juice are gone from outside our front door. We’ve had the odd bottle of juice pinched before but never the whole caboodle and all before 7am. Daughter will lynch whoever it was. She's been waiting for that orange juice all week. There’s been a chronic shortage of the stuff since her brother returned home from university the other week.

It's not often you see a man in a kilt at the bus stop. Perhaps someone told him it was Scottish kilt day and he didn’t realise it was April 1st.

No breakfast wars today. Protégé is in Norfolk at a customer of ours, so I hope he’s on the full English at his hotel. He’s also not expected to get back for our works’ meal out tonight. Of course he may just be craftily eschewing alcohol tonight, although if I’d spent two days at our Norfolk customer I’d be on the neat whiskies.

I ring Dairy Crest, who ask me to report our milk stealer to the police and get a crime number. I think the chap was upset when I laughed but I’m not going to bother going through all that rigmarole for the sake of a few quid. ‘Oh’ he said and then offered to send us out a replacement delivery this afternoon free of charge. Which is pretty good service actually.

Home seems to be the jumping place to be tonight. Daughter is cooking lasagne for a friend of hers and will be throwing L some scraps. She's also done Caesar salad and chocolate muffins. Hmmm. It all sounds a bit of a calorie nightmare to me, particularly with Daughter in control of the cheese. Makes me feel less guilty for being in the pub, where the Espresso Stout is going down really well. Caffeine is good for athletic performance you know.

We move on to the restaurant, La Dolce Vita, which is owned by Anoki, the Indian chain next door. It is however an Italian restaurant, so conveniently I can carbo load with lots of pasta, counting the 10k potential of every mouthful. Although actually there isn’t much pasta on the menu and not a pizza in sight. Which is kind of refreshing.

I choose what I think is the ideal race preparation. Tortellini for starter, which is pasta obviously and also good for athletic performance. Then raw meat for main, T bone steak. Which I ask for as rare as possible to keep me mean for my race on Sunday. Then tiramisu washed down with a Derby Brewery carbohydrate drink, which they have in bottles. Oh and a spot of wine, just to appear sociable as I try to get my managing director to drunkenly agree to taking on the race number vacated by L’s sister. Without success.

(Friday 1st April)