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

Wednesday 31 August 2011

Stolen Legs

I was supposed to follow last night’s long run with a short one this morning but didn’t. I just hadn’t got the legs, someone must have stolen then overnight.

L too is lamenting the few days off that we had in glitzy Morecambe. Problem is we’ve got a whole week off coming up, a whole week of tampering and feeling our fitness slipping through our fingers. After which we’ll both be crawling round Nottingham on our hands and knees. We’ll just have to run on holiday. The dogs need it too. They’ve got a race to train for as well. I’ve just entered them both in 'Tails n Trials' on 17th September.

The gasman decides he’s wheedled enough money out of British Gas and isn’t coming back again tomorrow. Good because I was going to start charging him rent if he was.

I’m out in Derby tonight. A few drinks and then Steak and Ale pie in the pub. It’s almost like a lunch time session. Later L and the boys meet me off the bus and escort me home where I help Daughter with her online enrolment. It’s so painstakingly slow on the University’s server than Daughter abandons ship and leaves me to it. Who's enrolment is this? In the end I leave it to it as well. I’ll finish it off in my lunch hour tomorrow, when all the students will be in bed.

Meanwhile in Spain, Bradley Wiggins moves into the lead in La Vuelta amid a British media blackout on the subject. They obviously don’t want to go overboard on the coverage and put too much pressure on him.

(Wednesday 31st August)

Tuesday 30 August 2011

On The Cusp

We leave the kids to deal with the gasman. Well they are ‘adults’ now and as everything to do with the boiler is on a service contract what can go wrong?

Things may not go wrong but they don't seem to go right either. Apparently the guy is coming back again tomorrow. No idea why but we still have no hot water. I would think he’s taking us for a ride but as it’s not actually costing us anything, I assume he's taking British Gas, for who he’s contracting, for a ride instead and charging them as many hours as he can.

Another run tonight, my final long one prior to Nottingham, which is now less than two weeks ago. As the latest smug email from the organisers joyfully informs me. ‘we hope all of your training has gone to plan, you're enjoying being on the cusp of tapering and are looking forward to race day as much as we are.

Throughout tonight’s 17km, I feel permanently ‘on the cusp’ of something but whatever it was, it wasn’t something pleasant. The 17km felt like 117km. e.g. it was bloody hard work. You take a few days off and it all falls apart.

L’s training aims are a little less ambitious. She’s off for a ‘trot around the embankment’, her words. I like the sound of that.

As Daughter is out I cook up a steaming hot curry. Life’s little pleasures. When she’s up in Sheffield we’ll be able to do steaming hot every day.

(Tuesday 30th August)

Monday 29 August 2011

A Bit Of Variation

More rain over night. Apparently they considered cancelling Sunday’s events at the dog show and again consider cancelling today’s programme. Which would have made the weekend quite literally a total washout for us.

Quite a few people have quit of their own accord and gone home, their caravans towed off site by the local farmer’s tractor. Most of the stalls seem to have gone too. Lightweights. Yes it’s wet but this is Lancashire, it’s almost Cumbria and they’re well used to rain up there.

The decreasing number of competitors means an increasing opportunity to win something with MD. If only he can keep the poles up. If only. Five runs; one pole down in four of them. In the fifth, for a bit of variation, we come out the weaves instead. Although that may well have been my fault but he’s taking the blame for everything else. It’s a shame because, mostly, we’re blindingly quick as is shown by the fact MD still gets rosettes for 13th and 14th despite having faults.

It’s left to Doggo to save the day. Two runs, two 8th places. One was so good I was tempted to retire him at the end of it. It would have been such a good run to go out on. I was surprised it only got us 8th but sadly we’re not as quick as we once were. In fact we were 0.427 of a second outside the course time of 34 seconds. But I ask you, who sets a course time of 34 seconds! 35 yes, 30 maybe but 34! I think they saw us coming.

After which we head home, via Stoke to collect Son, to a home with no gas boiler. So no hot bath on our return. Instead I catch up with La Vuelta a España, the cycling Tour Of Spain, that a terrestrial TV station has decided to cover for the first time.

Well done ITV4. The coverage is a bit cobbled together and not as slick as their Tour De France coverage but they seem to be learning on their feet and it improves every day. Today was the time trial, where after riding consistently for the first nine days Bradley Wiggins was lurking in 13th with a real chance of taking the race lead today.

He rides well and sets the third fastest time, which isn’t quite enough to take the race lead but places him handily in third. The new race leader is, amazingly, Wiggins’ Sky teammate, fellow Brit, Chris Froome. Who has a superb ride. So Brits in first and third. It’s going to be cracking last ten days or so.

(Monday 29th August)

Sunday 28 August 2011

A Good Buffeting

We are camping at a dog show, as you do. We arrived last night and squelched our way across the field to our designated camping spot right at the back... They obviously have us down as trouble makers or maybe they’ve been pre-warned about MD’s vocal chords. They seem to have had rather a lot of rain here.

Then this morning we squelched our way back across the field and out on to the road, temporarily waving goodbye to the dog show. We are just using their camping facilities, or to give it its proper name, field, for the moment. I’ll be competing tomorrow.

We’re at Garstang at the moment but now we’re heading for Morecambe, where the weather is incredibly bleak and terrifically windy. So nice weather for the Morecambe Mile. I’m so glad I’m not involved. It’s just L, a couple of hundred others and some rather fearsome looking waves. Lovely weather for swimming...

On the plus side, the Morecambe and Heysham Yacht Club who are hosting the event are churning out the bacon rolls, flapjacks and hot drinks at a rate of knots. They’ve even got a table full of cakes for later. So the organisation is top notch.

As everyone else gets wetsuited up and heads out onto the front, the dogs and I try to get a good viewing position, somewhere where we won't get blown over the sea wall. Then we are told of the delayed start, which is greeted by mostly relieved looks all round. Then we’re told that they’ve moved the start. Preferably to warmer climes but no just a hundred yards or so down to a 'calmer' bay. The waves are oooh 5% smaller here. We watch a couple of boats struggle out into the sea with the buoys which will mark out the course, the boats bobbing up and down on the ever increasing tide.

Then a chap who looks kind of official jumps up on a wall, calls everyone round and tells us it’s all off. Cancelled. They’ll be no Morecambe Mile. A few cries of ‘Oh no, I was looking forward to a good buffeting against the rocks’, or something like that, go out but are quickly drowned out (if you excuse the pun) by a relieved round of applause from everyone else. It’s disappointing but there’s always the cakes.

Then we partake in a bracing walk along the sea front, to walk off the cakes and to try and find Doggo a bit of beach. Of which there is none, the tide is still stubbornly in and still looking fearsomely unswimmable.

This is how windy it was.

Then we head back to the dog show and squelch our way across the field to our camping spot. Later we head down into the village of Scorton and sit romantically under a canopy, because we’re not welcome inside the pub with the dogs. We watch the on-off rain while sipping beer and eating our way through an undeserved three course meal including a not too bad cheeseboard.

(Sunday 28th August)

Saturday 27 August 2011

An Historic Moment

An historic moment today, after four years Daughter is finally retiring from the newspaper industry and hanging up her delivery bag. L will so miss dragging her out of bed every morning.

She heads out on her last paper round pushing a wheelbarrow to collect all the tips and leaving gifts. Not really, I made that bit up but there’s certainly quite a lot of both coming her way.

She’s been quite astute and put notes through doors telling them of her retirement and impending departure to Uni. She doesn’t add ‘Oi I need some money for Greece’, which was probably wise. The strategy pays dividends, literally. There’s a shrewd business woman buried deep in there somewhere but then I suppose she’s been milking us for every penny for years.

Derby’s run of victories comes to an end, losing at home to Burnley. It was good while it lasted but now we can revert to being totally average again, just as we were today.

L collects me from the match in the car, with the dogs and Son. We’re off to glitzy Morecambe for the weekend. Well Son isn’t we’re lobbing him out in Stoke so that he can fraternise for the weekend.

(Saturday 27th August)

Friday 26 August 2011

Timed To Perfection

It’s a bit wet out there. Real Reading/Leeds Festival weather and I’m planning a run home.

L though, off work again, does her run in the morning, in the worst of it and recovers in a hot bath. Which she times to perfection because an hour later the gasman arrives round, gives our nearly new boiler its annual service and condemns it.

Apparently there’s a crack in it and he makes L sign a waiver in case any of us are gassed over the weekend... then he vows to be back as soon as feasibly possible to fix it, which will be Tuesday of course because of the bank holiday. Thankfully we’re all away this weekend, L and I up in Morecambe, Son is up to something in Stoke (again) and Daughter... ah, she’ll be in. Just no hot baths for her and she won’t be able to wash any pots. Not that I can see that being much of a issue. She also won’t be able to dry her clothes over the radiators... Now I can see some benefits.

The plan tonight was for me to run all the way to Beeston, which is full half marathon distance and for L to walk up from the other direction with the dogs, so we can then crash in the Victoria.

At lunchtime it’s not looking good weather wise. I’ve not even managed to get out for a sandwich, such is the deluge. Eventually it fines up, I get lunch, do my run and the Victoria even lays on a 5%er.

(Friday 26th August)

Thursday 25 August 2011

Barometer Dog

I wanted to do a short run this morning. Well I didn't want to but I felt the need to keep the mileage up. Problem is I needed to get up at 6am to do this and at 6am the rain was pounding against the window. Well perhaps not exactly pounding but not pleasant. You know it's not the weather to put the dog out when the dog doesn't move from his position on your feet on the bed even when your feet go to the back door to open it. Unless you're an all weathers version like MD, who will go out for a bark at the fairies at the bottom of the garden whatever the weather. Meanwhile our barometer dog, Doggo, stays put in the warm. I skip the run and instead join him and L back to bed for half an hour.

L claims to ‘crawl’ in to work from the gym. At least she did some physical activity, I crawled in from the bus stop. Of course it has now stopped raining and blue skies are abound, just in time for tennis. Damn. Hopefully it’ll rain and then I can a run later instead.

It doesn’t but it's a decent game and a much closer one. Particularly the second set which we have to move to another court to finish because we overrun. This court though doesn’t have floodlights and I try to strive for an honourable 5-5 draw at which point bad light would have surely stopped play but sadly fail, and go down 6-4.

L meets us in the pub where, in an about turn from last week, there’s nothing under 5% and the Abbot is back. There we are sipping our drinks just after 9pm, gearing ourselves up for one of their £5 curries when they start taking all the menus away. Hang on a sec, it says served until 10pm. They can’t go changing the rules just like that. A mad panic ensues and under pressure they rustle us up a couple of leftover Bhunas.

(Thursday 25th August)

Wednesday 24 August 2011

A Not-so-slow Puncture

I’m on the bike in pleasant, near perfect cycling weather, although with slightly in-compliant legs after last night’s run.

Another first for Daughter today, as she breaks her internet ordering virginity using her visa debit card online for the first time. A slippery slope I believe. She seems thrilled when they arrive. I suppose with our post I'm always thrilled when something arrives, surprised too.

I cycle home and consider a post-work swim, although I haven’t checked in advance to see if the pool is open. It wasn’t last time and it would be just my luck if it wasn’t again. Suppose it will be a nice surprise if it is.

I put my rear tyre down yet another pot hole, which isn’t difficult considering the vast number of them around. The tyre doesn’t go down immediately and I think I’ve got away with it but then I realise I’ve developed a slow puncture. Well actually a not-so-slow puncture. I stop to blow it up but a couple of miles later it’s gone down again. It takes me three sessions with the pump to get me the rest of the way to the pool and then the mile home from there.

The swim went well, although I got reprimanded for not waving back at L who was in the gym. Oops. Unfortunately I had a bit of battle on with the guy in my lane, he was a bit quick. I was so preoccupied that I didn't even get chance to ogle the girls in the next lane, let alone check out the talent waving at me. Makes you wonder why I went really.

Despite the not-so-slow puncture I'm home in time for my appointment. I have an 8pm slot booked in my diary for with a client requiring a ‘tempo’ session. She’s my only client actually and she’s a bit bolshy tonight, shouting at me for urging her to go quicker on our first fast km. You don’t need it from your customers do you? She’s better after that though and does what she’s told. L seemed happy with the session.

(Wednesday 24th August)

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Just What Is The Point Of This Walk?

I’ve mentioned that I’ve been trying to compile the ‘gigography of my life’, even to the extent of digging through my t-shirt drawer looking for concert dates to add to the list. Now L’s doing the same with her race t-shirts, as she compiles the ‘raceography’ of her life.

This is an interesting project too and as with gigs the internet has its uses. Partly. You’d have thought finding out your previous times for a race as big as the Nottingham Half Marathon would be doddle. Nope. There are no previous results on their website at all. Naturally I immediately email the organisers to find out why not.

Meanwhile I manage to piece together a race history from 2003 onwards using results that have been taken off the Nottingham Half website and reposted elsewhere. I even find an archived version of the 2006 website on some obscure server that contains a full set of results for 2004 and 2005. Unfortunately we need to go back further than that.

Sweatshop, the current organisers, quickly get back to me and promise to email the race director to see if he can help. I’m kind of impressed, even though they haven’t unearthed anything yet. I might even buy some shoes from them.

Time for this week’s long training run. 17km tonight, only a little longer than last week but it takes me to a convenient stopping point with a shop and a bus stop. It goes oddly well.

Then I walk the boys up to the tennis centre to meet L from the gym. Doggo is a pain. He simply doesn’t see the point of this walk at all. We don’t go down the footpath that leads to our usual entrance point onto the park, and then we then walk straight past the park’s side entrance. Although, as I do point out to him, it’s locked anyway, as the people trying to get out will testify to. They do lock it far too early in summer.

Then to compound his misery, we walk straight past the main entrance. This final snub is too much for him and he has a brief sit down protest. He glares at me as if to reiterate ‘just what is the point of this walk?’ Eventually we carry on, Doggo sulking and stopping to sniff at everything in an act of dissent. MD meanwhile is oblivious to it all, ploughing on regardless, a walks a walk.

Then Doggo sees his Mum. See there is a point to it after all.

(Tuesday 23rd August)

Monday 22 August 2011

Not Too Bad Considering

I've done the stairs this morning, twice actually. That's not too bad considering.

I take a day off half marathon training today and I’m even in the car. L goes even further and has the whole day off work. The dogs go further still and after their walk and breakfast, crash back in bed, pretending they’ve walked miles.

Time to reflect... yesterday L was talking to a chap who’d done 300 half marathons, so we still have a way to go and he didn’t even do his first one until he was 58. He did his PB aged 63 and his time - 1:36, demands respect.

1:36 is, as it happens, the sort of numbers I'm looking for at Nottingham in, erm, 13 days time.

(Monday 22nd August)

Sunday 21 August 2011

The Clock Must have Stopped

We could have been at Welbourn today, which although the course didn’t suit me, being off-road, they had a free pint for all finishers last year, which did suit. Tempting... but seemingly not as tempting as the very unflat (370m of climbing) Leek Half Marathon.

The start at Brough Park Leisure Centre is worryingly downhill, very downhill, and what goes down must come back up.

The route undulating route takes us through Meerbrook and past Tittesworth Reservoir. At which point I realise that I’ve done a cycle event along these roads, which wasn't easy either.

Then there's a short section along a main road where we are coned to one side. This slows the pace and gives you time to contemplate what is ahead. What's ahead is a steady climb through Upper Hulme and then up to The Roaches. Challenging is one word to describe it. No pain, no gain, someone once said.

The six mile point, and the drinks station there, more or less marks the top, which reveals some outstanding views. Now the promise is of three miles of descent back to Meerbrook. Hmmm. As I run along some nice quiet country lanes (quiet that is apart from a few impatient 4x4 drivers) admiring the view we descend a bit, but then go up a bit, then down a bit, then up a bit more... this isn’t my idea of downhill. Then a sharp left and woah... it’s like plunging off the top of a rollercoaster. This is down, brutally down. Though I’d still dispute the three mile theory.

The drinks stations even offer sponges, which I approve of. Not enough races make use of the humble sponge as a cooling aid.

Then it's a simple matter of retracing the first few miles back to Leek, which from experience (an hour ago) we know the profile of. This includes the last half mile up Park Road, which is an uphill drag that reduces quite a few to walking and possibly tears. Wimps.

They say expect to be 5 or 6 minutes slower than in a normal flat half marathon. So I’m kind of stunned to see the race clock still with 1:42 on it. Must have stopped. That's only a minute or slower than ‘flat’ Newark last week. I actually ran the second half of the race over two minutes quicker than last week. It had a bit of a downhill slant to it but there was still plenty of up about it, whereas last week was supposedly flat. A promising stat I feel. Something must be paying off.

L doesn't share my enthusiasm for the event and doesn’t have the best of days but we can't all be brilliant every week.

Now for the hardest task of the day, Uni paperwork.

Then it’s time to hit the Sunday Lunch and the Abbot.

(Sunday 21st August)

Saturday 20 August 2011

Four In A Row

After an overnighter (not an all-nighter) in salubrious Bingham I arrive home to be greeted by an overjoyed reception party, the two dogs. It’s a sham really, they probably didn’t know I was missing until I inadvertently awoke them coming in the front door. Hopefully L missed me as well, if only I can fight pass the overjoyed furballs to find out.

Derby make it four in a row for the first time since 1905. The statue of Steve Bloomer that looks out across the pitch probably approves.

The last time this happened, the man himself was playing when the team won five successive matches at the start of season 1905/6.

It's all the more amazing because we are having to play two local lads out of the youth team at the moment, who have been two of our best players. Hopefully they'll get to stay in the team.

The evening is spent gradually chipping away at the mound of university forms and mentally preparing for Leek tomorrow.

(Saturday 20th August)

Friday 19 August 2011

A Girl With A Nice Font

I round off a busy fitness week on the bike. In total, I’ve ran 31 miles this week and cycled 60. I delight in regaling this information to protégé. His jaw dropped briefly when I told him but he soon recovered his composure. I think he was impressed.

Hopefully now the schedule allows for a quite weekend and a lie in. Well apart from the Leek Half Marathon on Sunday but that should be a breeze, we’ve only got The Roaches to climb.

L’s works email is finally working again and it’s had a bit of a makeover. Among other changes she’s now talking to me in Tahoma rather than boring old Arial. You can’t beat a girl with a nice font. Though she still says she prefers Calibri... just like the Calibri I use. Bless. Matching fonts.

At home Daughter is apparently disappearing under a pile of university related post. I’m sure she’s exaggerating but it sounds promising. The wagons are starting to roll. Accommodation stuff, loan stuff, enrolment stuff... She really was the last to know her results.

I'm over in Bingham tonight, for our six monthly mini uni reunion and such an appropriate time to have it.

(Friday 19th August)

Thursday 18 August 2011

Utmost Confidence

Its ‘A Level’ results day and hopefully our most uneventful exam results day ever because I have utmost confidence in Daughter getting the grades she needs. In fact before I’m even on the 7:10 bus she’s rang me to tell me she’s checked UCAS and she’s definitely got her place at Sheffield Hallam. Although I think I heard the screams of delight from the bus stop. Seems she was one of the few who got on the UCAS site before it went down and the actual results will be a bit of an anticlimax now that we know she’s in.

I run the last four miles into work which is hard work at first, after that speed session with L last night, but I got into it and ran every step.

Daughter’s acceptance letter arrives in the post. So they obviously knew a day or two ago, seems the student is the last to know. Meanwhile the media are spreading the usual scare stories about thousands not being able to secure a place at University. Utter garbage. The university places were effectively doled out months ago when people got their offers.

Having done the whole university application thing twice now in two years I speak from experience when I say that there’s one simple rule to ensure a place at University and that is make sure your child applies for places on University courses that they are capable of getting the grades for. If you don’t, you either won’t get any offers or you won’t get the grades for the offers you get. The system even allows you to hold an 'insurance offer' at lower grades in case you don’t get your first choice. So there really is no excuse. Follow that simple rule and then there’s no panic, no tears and most importantly no clearing.

After a bit of carbo loading and replacement of lost fluids over lunch, in the pub, I’m all set to go for bloody tennis. For which, my opponent seems to have seriously upped his game. He must have been practising, which he denies. I reckon he’s borrowed a wii or something. His improved game actually makes me play better and it’s definitely my best match of the year. I even enjoy it. The result is still the same though.

No, I didn’t manage to wangle a free game out of the nice young lady that L gave me the phone number of. Actually there was nothing nice about her at all, she’d got an inner Rottweiler, and wouldn’t let me use my free pass for the tennis centre on a tennis court.

Later we’re in the White Hart, the former home of the best pint of the much missed Kimberley Classic and now possibly the former home of a decent pint of Abbot too. This week we again have the two beers from Full Mash and no Abbot, which is good in a way because they’re local but unfortunately the bar staff let them down.

It seems to be the very same two barrels and one of the beers is clearly off but remains on sale. Whilst the other is dragging its heels along the bottom of the barrel because the barmaid can’t get a full pint into the glass because the line is full of air. She shrugs as if serving the pint an inch from the top of the glass isn’t a problem. It’s not even froth, it’s just empty. I point out to her that the barrel must be empty but that part of staff training clearly hasn’t been done yet.

On the plus side they do curries for a fiver here with rice and naan included. We try one, in fact we try two, one each, and both are excellent. So we’ll be back for the food if not for the beer.

When we get home about 10:15, the A-Level passees are still pre-drinking in Daughter’s bedroom. They’ll never get cheap curries that way.

(Thursday 18th August)

Wednesday 17 August 2011

I Never Win Anything

I manage to get the old legs, still tried after 10 miles last night, to turn the pedals on my bike today. It’s not too painful once you get going.

L has won the runner ups prize in the competition we entered at Splendour. She’s won a free day pass for the Tennis Centre. Which can be used on any activity at the Tennis Centre except the tennis. Err. Work that one out. So you get a day’s free use of the gym, the sauna and any exercise class you want. Which are all the things we already get for free with our leisure centre ‘Flexible Fitness’ pass. So dead useful to us then. She declines the prize.

Oh well. Well done anyway Dear. I never win anything.

I bike home, take the boys on the park and then get ready to take my pupil out on another ‘tempo’ training run. Tonight we again run sub 5:30 kms in fact sub 5:20 ones. Looking good. After messing around with the GPS on my phone to measure our pace last time, this time L hands me her Garmin watch. Which is much better. Might have to get my own or nick this one when she isn't looking.

Derby win their opening three fixtures of the season for the first time since 1948. Blimey. Even I don't remember that. Tonight they win 1-0 at Blackpool. Can we keep it going? Probably not. Half of our first choice starting eleven are currently injured, so rest assured, once they come back we'll start losing. The main thing is, 41 more points and we're staying up.

Then L tells me I missed a phone call whilst I was on the park with the dogs. She hands me a piece of paper with a girl’s name on it and a phone number. Odd. She tells me that apparently I've won a prize...

(Wednesday 17th August)

Tuesday 16 August 2011

How To Stop Myself Fainting

I sit at work waiting for the rain to start, so that I can go for my run. I reckon those black clouds are going to be overhead at precisely 5pm. They are but it’s still not raining as I head out on my run. Then in fact, it brightens up and I run 16km, without stopping or walking, in the sun. Much better than last week. That’s 10 miles by the way, in 83 minutes. Which isn’t great but ok for a training run. I pop into my usual shop for a nice bottle of ‘For Goodness Shakes’ only to be told they no longer do it. Damn. My ‘how to stop myself fainting’ drink of choice. I have a Kazoo? Yazoo? Whatever, instead. Probably just as good.

L runs too but only 10k. Ha. Though we have different goals at the moment.

A session of dog training in the garden is spoilt by Doggo heading another ball over into next door’s jungle, probably never to be seen again and then wandering around looking lost without it and getting in the way of MD’s training.


Hmmm. Now I’m sure there used to a similar word around when I was a teenager to describe something you didn’t much like but these days it means the opposite. Apparently. I was told its slang to indicate a good looking guy or girl... so it’s a bit odd to hear Daughter using it almost exclusively to describe food. Consulting the internet, this outbreak of ‘peng’ to describe anything good, was allegedly conceived in Nottingham. So we’re famous for something.

As I say she only really uses it to describe food and food that I would usually avoid because of the sheer unhealthiness of it, so perhaps it's old meaning does still hold true... Tonight though, she uses it to describe my curried lamb meatballs, which were cooked very healthily, so I guess I should take that as a compliment.

(Tuesday 16th August)

Monday 15 August 2011

Hot Spots

I managed the stairs at work this morning, which is always a good start the day after a half marathon. I even managed to get back down them to make a coffee later on in the morning.

Son continues his tour of the hot spots of England, following on from a week in Stoke on Trent he’s down in Maidstone this week. It’ll be interesting to hear his take on the area, if we can prise it out of him.

I decide to do something that I haven’t done for a while this evening. Swim. If I can remember how. I head for John Carroll Leisure Centre with the aim of popping into the gym and checking out the talent at the same. Just to see if L’s in there, obviously.

Unfortunately John Carroll turns me away. Another swimming pool in Nottingham is shut and they have had to take on the swimming classes from there, so no public swimming. There always seems to be something when I try and swim. I divert to Portland, which is still a great place to swim but now looks rather tatty alongside the new pools. They ought to spruce it up. All it needs is a damn good clean and a bit of a paint job. I like the fact it’s got a longer 30m pool, changing cubicles down the side and a big shower area you don’t have to queue for. Unfortunately the trend is to knock down and rebuild in the same style as everywhere else. Hopefully that won’t happen.

After all that, I’m running an hour later than I'd planned. So although the dogs get on the park, I have to ditch MD’s training session. I suppose he deserves another day off after Saturday’s successes but I don’t want him to get complacent, so I must train him tomorrow.

(Monday 15th August)

Sunday 14 August 2011

A Race Of Two Halves

A half marathon today in Newark, which I’m regarding as a training run. As I will next week’s in Leek. I’ve been injured you know. The overriding aim is to get up to something approaching a PB by Nottingham on 11th September. Then go quicker at Birmingham and Cardiff in October.

Parking is great, we were warned about parking charges applying on a Sunday but in the end we parked in the street, just behind the start, for free. Can’t get better than that.

It’s the 30th anniversary of this race which is another reason to do it. L likes being inaugural, I like being celebratory. The race started out as a humble six-miler, which due to the explosion in the popularity of running in the early 1980’s could no longer cope with the amount of people wanting to run it and so the half marathon was born.

They’re also saying it could be the last due to the increasing costs associated with road closures along with the introduction of chip timing and technical t-shirts for this year. True, the start on Appletongate is very narrow and congested, so probably warrants chip timing because some of the 1,000 runners will take a while to cross the start line. They could of course always look to move the start, it was very chaotic getting everybody into position in the reduced space they have at the current location but that is probably easier said than done.

The t-shirt argument is less clear cut. Probably only two years ago getting a technical t-shirt from a race was a rarity, now they’re all doing it. So that I don’t have to do any clothes shopping, my wardrobe requires a mix of normal t-shirts as well as technical ones. So personally I think that’s an unnecessary change. Hopefully the race will go on next year because generally it’s a very well organised and popular race.

We start and I try to get myself into a steady pace, around 7:30 per mile but my overriding aim is to not do any miles in over 8:00, which I almost but don’t quite achieve. My pace is too steady at first but it reaps benefits. In the crowded start I end up running behind a young girl whose running kit, or lack of it, renders her practically naked. Imagine skimpy running top matched with skimpy running shorts. She also has a belt around her waist on which she is carrying a drinks bottle and, I think, a GPS. The weight of which, as she runs along, gradually tugs her already low slung shorts lower and lower. By now it’s getting quite crowded behind her as runners gather, ok male runners gather, to see how far she’ll let them go before she rescues the situation.

Sadly for me, the pace is just too slow and I give up my front row position, overtake her and push on. I wasn’t interested anyway but if anyone knows what happened next please feel free to let me know.

About three miles in I get myself into a little group, a sensibly clothed group, all running at about my pace. I like little groups; it makes me feel like I’m in a real race.

The race itself is a race of two halves. The first half was through a few housing estates and was a bit boring, well apart from the girl losing her shorts, whereas the second half took us out in to some pleasant countryside and through Balderton and Coddington.

There are six drinks stations which, as it’s a fairly warm day, is a good thing but as they only have plastic cups and I can’t drink out of plastics cups, it affects my rhythm a touch. Each time I grab a drink, and I do at five of the stops, I have to walk a bit in order not to tip it all down my front.

It also means that each time I lose touch with my group and have to work my way back up to them. I do this three times but after the third time a few in the group decide to push on just as I get back to them. I see this as a rather cruel trick that is usually employed by racing cyclists. In reality, they were just doing their own thing I’m sure. Either way I hadn’t got the legs to go with them.

In fact I die at bit at that point, at around nine miles, but on only two weeks training, with a longest distance of nine miles, it wasn't exactly surprising. A gel boost at 10.5 miles manages to get me through the rest of the race.

Still, the last thing I needed was a crazy woman with a hose pipe at one of the later water stations. I manage to dodge her and only get one leg wet. Admittedly some people like to run through water but where she was standing she was practically unavoidable.

Someone told me this is race is flat, it isn't. It isn’t particularly hilly either but I wouldn’t call it flat. Between mile 11 and 12 we seemed to be gradually climbing uphill all the time. Someone also said it was downhill from the 12 mile point, it isn't. Well it is, until the final kick uphill to the line in the Market Place.

I cross the line in 1:41. Happy but not ecstatic with that. A minute less would have been perfect. I’m knackered but not as bad as the chap who finished after me whom after lifting his foot to an attendant to have his timing chip removed, seized up and had to be fireman lifted away by the St Johns' Ambulance people. Oh dear.

The technical t-shirts are only being issued in large for men and medium for women. So they tended to look big on almost everyone. Another reason to go back to normal t-shirts.

The queue for the massages is too long, so I head back to the car, change my shirt and head off up the course to meet L. I miss her again, as I did the other week. If she’s going to bomb round in 2:12 every week I’m going to have to get my act together. I return to the finish area to find her checking in all the ambulances for me. Bless.

L says it’s the perfect day. We head home, chill in the bath, chill in the bedroom, then chill in the pub with Sunday lunch and cheeseboard. Almost worth running for.

(Sunday 14th August)

Saturday 13 August 2011

Live And Learn

It’s another good day at the office for the ever improving MD. Two fourth places at a show in Newport, Shropshire. One is at his level and one is at ‘open’ level where he’s beaten by three dogs that are all at least three grades above him.

We would also have won another jumping course had I not made an ambitious decision to turn left off jump number 15 rather than right, like everyone else was doing. An ambitious but wrong decision as it turned out. I my defence, I maintain that turning left was the much shorter and therefore quicker route, had MD not felled the pole and then missed the entrance to the following tunnel of course. We live and learn. Well, I live and learn. Today he has every right to be mad at me.

As does Doggo, I stuff both of his courses up. Here’s me considering retiring him, when perhaps he should be retiring me.

Football wise, Derby win again, despite again being rather poor but a win is a win as they say. That's two out of two in the league, although I've still not go over the League Cup debacle. As for the league though, just another 44 points and we're staying up.

A night in on the pasta tonight. Newark Half Marathon tomorrow.

(Saturday 13th August)

Friday 12 August 2011


First excursion of the week on the bike, damn all this running, but it's a good one. Particularly on the way home, 26kph average is above average for a ride home but then it was a Friday and Friday's always do seem to motivate that bit more.

I get stopped and surveyed when I go for a sandwich at lunch. They want to know if I’d use a Tesco Express if they built one on Pride Park? No! Of course not. Absolutely not. Never. I would consider moving jobs! We’ve got a Sainsbury’s already, why would we want a Tesco as well? They simply will not stop until they’ve achieved world domination will they.

Check out Tescopoly.

L requests that I talk her out of the Portsmouth Marathon tonight by whatever means is necessary. Which sounds like a pleasant evening’s entertainment is in store but how to approach this? Not sure if this is a case of L having to convince me to talk her out of it? Or having to convince me to let her do it? Anyhow, it’s simply not do-able. I don’t have the holiday left for a trip down there and I can’t see L going on her own, but perhaps I’ll keep that fact to myself for a bit. See what develops.

Daughter is out tonight but not until 9:00. Oh hang on, I’ve got that wrong. They’re meeting up to pre-drink at 9:00, so won’t be going out until much later. Is it just me or have teenagers totally lost the plot? Son does this as well. They certainly know how to waste the best part of an evening. With all the pre-drinking and then post-drinking that goes on I'm not sure they ever actually get to the bars. The same bars that a few months ago they were all desperate to be 18 to get in to.

L and I head out early; we intend to do our pre-drinking in the pub.

(Friday 12th August)

Thursday 11 August 2011

An Insane Idea

A fourth five mile run in three days this morning, Well 4.5 miles anyway. It’s bloody hard work but useful, I hope. I’m really trying to pack them in this week.

L says she’s up, has walked the boys and is at her desk for 9:30. She's working from home again. Oh how the other half live. Well, not working exactly, she confesses to ‘twiddling around’ on the internet, same as she would be doing at work, until 10:00. Only until 10:00? She puts the rest of us to shame.

My squash/tennis opponent is slowly building up to the giddy heights of running 5k, in .1k stages, on his treadmill. If he can overcome the boredom of it all. He’s doing better than me, I wouldn’t dream of doing 5k on a treadmill. It would drive me insane. I’ve no idea why he won’t run on the road. My four and a half miles this morning was a breeze. If I’d done that on a treadmill I’d have probably slit my wrists half way through.

So to tennis, which I cannot get motivated for but I quite enjoy game six, which goes on for about half an hour and involves twenty odd deuces, all on his serve. Enjoyed that. Lost it in the end, which was a shame as that would have made it 3-3 in the first set. I lose that first set 6-3 and it’s difficult concentrating on the second when you’re counting the games down to when it’s pub time. So 6-3 6-1. Soon be back to squash, hopefully.

(Thursday 11th August)

Wednesday 10 August 2011

An Important Birthday

The firebombing of Canning Circus police station turns out to be a bit of an exaggeration. It’s a bit singed is all you can say. The intent was there though, it was just lucky it was a bunch of kids attempting it and not someone who knew what they were doing. Still there’s a nice video of it on the net.

As for the city centre, if you’re shopping for trackie bottoms, or those trainers that don’t lace up, you’ll be out of luck. Everyone else will be fine.

At least the England game is off, which will please almost everybody except the FA who seemed to arrange it against everyone else’s wishes.

We have an important birthday in the house today. Doggo is ten, the old git. So I go out to get him a cake, which isn’t easy. All the birthday cakes are smothered in chocolate or icing, which is clearly no good for a dog. What were Sainsbury’s thinking? In the end I manage to find a small fruit cake which we decorate with ten candles, which once lit scares the life out of him and we have to hold onto him so that he doesn’t hide from his own birthday cake.

Then L asks a favour. Will I run with her... at race pace... as a personal trainer would do. Blimey, she never asks me to run with her, and that’s at her race pace not mine, by the way. I tell her it’s a date. Yay, I have a client.

Of course you’re not going to regret it Dear.

We go out and jog for a km and then run the next km at sub 5:30 min/km pace. Then we repeat this three times. It seems to go well. We hit the pace the first couple of times, the third is a little slower due to the third section ending uphill. A good workout though. I await to be summoned again. Question is, is will she be as grateful as she was for the Will Young download?

(Wednesday 10th August)

Tuesday 9 August 2011

As Is Tradition

I drive to my parent’s place and run the 5.2 miles into work and then the same
5.2 miles back again after work. It’s not quite the long run I wanted but it gets the distance in, albeit with an eight hour break in the middle.

L still has no email at work so she's taken things into her own hands and gone onto hotmail, proving she’s clearly more technologically savvy than the company who manages her works' email. It’s good to have her back.

As is tradition, Derby exit the league cup at the first round stage to a lower league team, again. Apparently this is something like seven times out of the last ten seasons. This year it’s to Shrewsbury who storm in to a 3-0 half time lead whilst Derby are playing tappy tappy keep ball on their own half way line. It's all very pretty but totally ineffective, particularly once the opposition get bored watching it, take the ball off you and tuck in it into your own net. Three times.

Our great leader seems to give up at this point and disappears. Rumours that he’s gone home are apparently unfounded and he’s simply sulking in the dugout. I don’t know if it’s related or not but once he stopped barking instructions from the touchline, the team suddenly perked up, abandoned the ineffective passing game and started hoofing it forward instead. This yields two goals which means we still lose but by the much more respectable score line of 3-2.

After a brief drink with my folks, I hot foot it home to see if L needs any more Will Young downloads or any artiste downloads for that matter. Well any that might amass favours in kind. Things get a bit distracted though when I arrive in Nottingham to find that there are a groups of eleven-year-olds trying to riot just down the road. The fire bomb attack on Canning Circus police station even makes national news.

Of course tonight is the night Son chooses to head into town for a night out, only to find it closed and heads east of the city instead to a friend’s home neatly nestled between the riot hotspots of St Anns and Sneinton. Can we pick him up at midnight he asks? No.

(Tuesday 9th August)

Monday 8 August 2011

Looking For A Postbox

L has no email at work today, so it’s a quiet day and I have to do some work to pass the time.

I’m on the bus, resting my legs after yesterday but they’re not bad actually. The OAPs' massage clearly worked wonders. I regret not taking my running stuff and doing a run home.

Instead I’m in Derby looking for a postbox. You know, one of these.

If you see one, let me know.

What is it with the Royal Mail these days? First they make it clear they would rather not deliver any mail to you but if you absolutely insist they do, then they’d like to do it not very often and at their convenience, not yours. Now they seem to be removing all the postboxes.

My company is on a new business park and there are no postboxes. If you're cynical you could say this is to persuade businesses to pay for collection but they seem to have a policy of never adding new ones anywhere, not even on new housing estates.

So I walk into Derby to use my usual one on the Morledge, only to get there and find it is now just a stump in the ground. Is this vandalism or has it been removed? I walk a bit further to find the one on Albert Street sealed up. So I end up walking all the way to Derby’s main post office where there is one, at the moment.

Tonight L runs over in rural Derbyshire, whilst I, in the absence of a structured dog training class, have a DIY session with MD in the garden. First though I take both dogs on the park. I find that if I do the training first, then Doggo is too knackered to go on the park even though he isn’t the one being trained. Odd that. Whereas an hour on the park doesn’t seem to blunt MD’s eagerness to train at all. I wish could say the same of my own training schedule.

(Monday 8th August)

Sunday 7 August 2011

Misfiring On All Cylinders

I have a bit of a restless night but as I wake up each hour, more or less on the hour, I feel a little better each time. So if the bike ride had started at midday I’d probably be firing on all cylinders by then. Unfortunately it doesn’t, so a slight misfire is predicted.

The Great Shakespeare Ride, in aid of the Shakespeare Hospice, starts at 9am and I’m up at 6am. L joins me and we drive over to Stratford upon Avon. The dogs are left at home and look incredibly disgruntled about it.

We get the last spot in the car park, while everyone after us is sent a mile down the road and asked to ride into the start. Well, allegedly, we got the last spot in the car park but we can’t find it and have to abandon the car as elegantly as we can.

The start venue, the Stratford Manor Hotel, is very posh or at least it was until 850 cyclists wrecked all the guests' Sunday morning. The poor guy who had planned a quiet morning in the gym and the pool had his tranquillity spoilt by a peloton's worth of cyclists crowding out the changing rooms as we queue for the toilet facilities.

It's a mass start at 9am and a police escort leads us for the first two miles. The idea being to replicate the neutral start employed by most large stage races. A nice idea, that did attract me to this event, but I’m that far back at the start due to the congestion caused by 850+ entrants that I never see it. I had envisaged us all strung across a dual carriageway for the start but instead they took us down a narrow country lane where’s there’s not a hope of even seeing the lead vehicle, let alone riding behind it, with so many bends in the road.

The ride has three distance options of 100 miles, 100 km or 20 miles. I do the 100 km which contains three climbs. The first of which the, nicely signposted, Col de Fiz comes early but it’s a mere undulation on what proves to be a generally flat course.

That is until we get to the Col de Tysoe at 27 km, which they warn us will hurt and does but not significantly. If this is as hard as it gets then it’s going to be a fairly easy ride compared with say the Richmond Sportive that I did earlier this year.

After 41 km the first stop in Hook Norton arrives, at the Primary School. No sign of the brewery or any Old Hooky for your drinks bottle. Only water, orange or hot drinks. A cup of tea goes down well with a sandwich, a sausage roll and a slice of carrot cake. Who says cycling is hard work?

I'm not sure how I missed the brewery. Their website says ‘approach the village of Hook Norton from any direction and the first thing you see is the church tower. The second is the flag waving proudly over the brewery.’ Didn’t spot either, obviously too focussed on my pedalling.

L’s on the tea as well at the tackily named ‘Taming Of The Brew’ tea shop in Stratford. She’s also browsing in the bookshops which is dangerous, she has more self control with chocolate than she does books and if she adds any more to the pile at the side of our bed it could topple over and kill us both.

I pass a tandem (looks like fun) and numerous mountain bikes (doesn't look like fun) on the way to the second stop at 67 km in Ebrington at the Village Hall. More tea and a spot of fruit cake me thinks.

Then suddenly there’s some marshals stood in the road about 20 km from the finish offering a choice of routes. Straight on and flat or turn right and up the Col de Larkstoke. I go right, on the evidence so far, how hard can it be? Quite hard as it happens. Not helped by the fact it was up a single track road which often had grass growing down the centre of it which effectively reduced the width to a third of a single track and it went on and on.

I survive it and then pedal straight into a heavy rainstorm. Survive that too and pull over to text L because now there’s only 10 km to go. A 10 km that takes an age because it’s actually 15 km, the course ending up measuring a total of 105 km.

I cross the line and collect a rather small medal for my endeavours. Actually, I’d rather have had a t-shirt but never mind. It’s the personal challenge that counts. My official time is 4:49 that includes stops. My bike computer says 4:12 moving time. Not impressive but not bad.

Organisation wise it’s been very good and the feed stations were excellent but the barbecue back at Stratford Manor isn’t that memorable. I’m not a huge fan of beef burgers anyway but their offering wasn’t a particularly appetising one. I think they could have come up with something better.

I take advantage of the massage available and a couple of ladies of advanced years tend to me, one on each leg. This is not quite what I'm used to, e.g. younger and more buxom, but they do a sound job. They chunter away about getting their hands on yet another man’s legs but they are genuinely chatty and interested in the ride. Every massage I’ve had has been different, as it this one, but still very welcome. I could have driven home after that but I let do the honours anyway.

At home ‘long lost’ Son reappears from Stoke and from the clutches of mystery girl, when her parents return from holiday. Now we understand, with the house to themselves, no wonder he stayed the week.

(Sunday 7th August)

Saturday 6 August 2011

The Baggy Jumper Approach

I head into town this morning with Daughter, to sort out a student account. Only to be told the student team don’t work Saturdays. How very studently. Still a useful trip though, as we have now been told exactly which hoops to jump through and in which order, thereby hopefully avoiding the NatWest/ Railcard fiasco we had with Son last year.

It also means I get to see the Nottingham Riviera for the first time this year...

and hopefully the last.

The new football season is upon us, about a month too soon as usual. I had hoped the Derby team news might ignite some enthusiasm in me but it hasn’t. As I’ve already said, I’ve not been terribly impressed with Derby’s signings but at least we’ve made some. Last year’s small close knit squad approach clearly didn't get us anywhere, whether this year’s big baggy jumper approach will work any better, who knows.

Against Birmingham today, the side put in plenty of effort and endeavour, which goes some way in making up for our lack of talent. Until we let in a trademark soft goal and go behind.

Apparently Sky Sports are doing that live league table thing already. This of course is only really of any use in the final game of the season when promotion and relegation is at stake and is massively pointless the rest of the time, let alone in game one. I'm told Derby slip to third bottom as they concede that goal but then climb valiantly into the top six as they equalise and then as we take the lead go briefly top of the league. Perhaps it does have some point after all.

So we win the opening game for the third year in a row. Not that that’s got us anywhere in the last two years either but we're third at the moment...

Back home I take the boys for a late park session and then meet L down the local for a quick one or two. I have a 100k bike ride tomorrow so won’t be having much. Unfortunately I also seem to have picked up a bit of a stomach bug and skip food, which doesn’t bode well for cycling 100k.

(Saturday 6th August)

Friday 5 August 2011

Bit Of A Blip

L is off work again today. Genuinely off this time, as in not working from home.

She prepares for tonight’s Jägermeister 10k with a weights session in the gym and a swim. I prepare by sitting at my desk.

The Jägermeister is a tough hilly race around Nottingham University but it is usually oddly enjoyable with a nice post-race function afterwards.

I’ve done some good times here despite the hilly course. 2007 - 41:23, 2008 - 40:42, 2009 - 42:09. We didn’t do it last year.

2009 was a bit of a blip obviously. Not as big a blip as this year though. 44:07. Oh dear. Just shows what an injury break, insufficient training and two more years on the clock does for you. L’s consistent though, again well under the hour and 30 seconds quicker than in midweek.

We adjourn to the Sports And Social club for the post-race where most of the men, and some of the women, are queuing up to request ‘the blonde’ over the bar. That’ll be Ossett’s Yorkshire Blonde. I don’t usually go for Blondes but this one’s alright.

We stick with it rather than go elsewhere and therefore gain entry into the ‘race number’ raffle. One year I won a towel, this year predictably nothing. We head off early for nourishment at the Savera Tandoori.

(Friday 5th August)

Thursday 4 August 2011

Good Deed For The Day

L’s got the day off today. Sorry, I mean she’s working from home. As I leave for work there doesn’t appear there’s much chance of her or the dogs getting up any time soon. Once up of course, it’ll be the park followed by breakfast for them and then with those two important tasks out of the way, they can go back to bed for the rest of the day.

I do my good deed for the day in Greggs, where I buy a sandwich. I pay with a tenner and the lad serving me gives me a tenner back in the change. Now that’s what you call value. I didn’t realise until I got outside the shop but then being me, I went back in and got him to exchange it for a fiver instead. He looked very relieved. I know they would most probably have taken it out of his wages. This all makes me feel very smug, gives me a bit of a warm glow inside and of course makes me five pounds poorer.

Warm glows are needed on such a grotty, miserable, rainy day like today. This is all because I have tickets for a cricket match tonight. A day-night match between Derbyshire and Worcestershire that work managed to acquire four free tickets for at our Christmas bash last year. ‘Premier seating’ no less. Not that this is all it’s cracked up to be. Yes it’s a good view and we get a table to eat our food at, which isn’t included by the way, but I can’t help thinking £27.50 is a tad expensive when you consider standard seats were available for a mere £6. Good job we didn’t pay then!

The game starts at 4.40om, which is bad timing as this is approximately when Daughter will be doing her paper round and it nearly always chucks it down with rain then. I resist the temptation to text her to tell her to hurry up because it will surely stop again once she’s finished.

Amidst a break in the rain we leave work and head for the cricket ground. We arrive a little late and miss the first two overs but see the next three before they go off for a rain break. Reduced to 36 overs a side we do at least see the rest of the game without any more interruptions.

Worcestershire rack up 197, which isn’t bad but eminently gettable unless you’re Derbyshire, who aren’t a great side. They start well enough, fade then collapse. The messages I’m getting from L by text rapidly get more interesting than the cricket. She makes me an interesting offer in exchange for a Will Young download. What's the world coming to? Then again, given the choice of battling with Amazon’s downloader, itunes or getting someone else to do it - what would you choose?

Derbyshire lose well inside their allotted 36 overs and this leaves me a bit of a wait for the bus. Time for a quick half I think but unfortunately one pub has Karaoke blasting out, the only other one within reach has ran out of beer. Even the late opening Spa shop is closed, so I can't grab a coffee either. At least the bus is on time and I head home to continue negotiations for Will Young.

(Thursday 4th August)

Wednesday 3 August 2011


Something jumps into my eye in the shower this morning. No idea what but I’m blinded for the first part of the day. Surprisingly the solution to the problem was to put my contact lens in and let that drive the intruder out.

Somebody offers the advice that the best way to clear debris from your eye is to blow your nose. Oddly enough, I didn’t think to try that.

L’s doing a race tonight, I’m not, I’m saving myself for Friday’s Jägermeister 10k. Well, she was supposed to be doing a race tonight but now she asks if she can 'do a Paula’, as in Radcliffe.

I’m not sure what she means... Win? Drop out half-way through? Hopefully she’s not planning to relive herself in the gutter?

L reckons she won't do as well as last year, so says she might as well drop out now and tell everyone that she’s pulled a muscle or something. That’s quite bitchy actually. I tell her that only applies to those that won it last year and to get on with it. Hard but fair.

The race is called the 'Mickleover 10k' by some or the 'Jack Piggs 10k' by others or just 'plain and rather dull with the last 5k down a totally straight stretch of old railway with no distinguishing features' by me. It starts at the Mickleover Sports Club and, at least with me not running, I can take the boys.

We have a stick session while the race is on. Well we try to have a stick session, I throw each of them a stick and they both lie down and start to eat their sticks. Well, I guess it was hot.

L’s not happy with her run. Her time’s not bad but not as good as last year's. Two years ago she’d have been thrilled with that. We stop off at L’s folks for a cuppa on the way home, which saves us some units, which might be needed later in the week. What with the Jägermeister coming up.

(Wednesday 3rd August)

Tuesday 2 August 2011

No Escape

Despite last night’s long run/walk, I still manage to bike into work and then crawl up the stairs to my office.

The ride home culminates with a wheel in a rather large jagged pothole and the resultant puncture means a half mile or so walk home from there. I could have fixed it but it’s easier to do at home as I’m so close.

Tennis again tonight. For the second time in five days, due to me being busy on Thursday. I escape with a 2-6 2-6 defeat, which means we play four games less than last week, but then my opponent makes me play the missing games anyway, just for fun. I thought I'd escaped lightly. I’m not a great fan of playing tennis and I’m itching to get back to squash.

(Tuesday 2nd August)

Monday 1 August 2011

It's Never Too Late

1st August today. Blimey. Soon be Christmas.

I get the bus in to work as I intend to start my half marathon training later. It's less than two weeks to the Newark Half Marathon but as they say, it's never too late and I have been injured.

As I walk down the street towards the bus stop, listening to my audiobook, tut tutting at all the rubbish on the floor and occasionally putting bits into people’s bins (it’s bin day), as you do, well as I do, I don’t even notice the burnt out car or the melted wheelie bins it has taken out with it. This is our leafy suburb after all.

With six days to go to the new football season is now the time to fill in the refund application? Derby County have promised to refund anybody who isn’t happy with the new signings they’re made. The real question is probably, is anybody happy?

They told us they wanted to bring in six experienced Championship players and they’ve only brought in two so far plus one on loan. He’s 34, so fits the ‘experienced’ pledge if nothing else. We’ve also brought two in from Scotland, plus a reserve keeper and three players who we had on loan last year have signed permanently.

So far there’s little to suggest we’ll do any better than last year. Pre-season results have been dreadful. Of course clubs always say that pre-season is a ‘means to an end’, results don’t matter at this stage and it’s all about getting players fit. Unfortunately in the last 30 seasons I reckon pretty much 25 times out of 30 the early season results have mirrored the pre-season results but what do I know.

After work I run the nine miles to Long Eaton. Blimey it’s hard and hot, but I have no rib trouble. I had to stop and walk a bit though, mainly so that I could concentrate on my audiobook, which is well complicated. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. It has nothing to do with my lack of fitness. I manage the nine miles and probably run seven of them, walking the other two. I'm happy with that.

(Monday 1st August)