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

Sunday 30 September 2012

All Or Nothing

So we’re in Malvern at the Malvern Autumn show of which the dog agility is but a small part, amongst the other showy things - local food and drink, cattle and sheep, goats, overpriced burgers and men selling fat free frying pans. You get the gist.

The dog agility is positioned between the rabbits and the chickens, which isn’t ideal but is probably better than being next to the sheep. They don’t seem to have been able to source the usual agility jumps and we are asked to jump what looks like equestrian hurdles but a jump is a jump I guess. MD certainly doesn’t seem to care and does two clear but slightly slow rounds before messing up his third run. Unfortunately there’s nothing for Doggo to compete in here and he has to make do with a supporting/coaching role.

Lunchtime is spent walking around the rest of the show and taking a liking to the insanity that is Horse Boarding.

Strangely all the teams consist of mixed sex pairs, with the women always astride the horse and the man usually on his backside being dragged behind it with the board still attached to his feet. L agrees it looks fun (that may not have been the exact word she used) and says she’ll look at horse riding lessons... why not boarding lessons?

In the afternoon they move the dogs to another more prominent ring where there's more of a crowd. This is the reason we’re here, the Alpha Agility final which MD qualified for way back in April. There are 49 dogs in the final and we are drawn 45th to run, so quite a wait.

We arrive to check in at the ring just as the duck display is finishing and the Racing Llamas are taking their place. 49 pairs of canine eyes watch their every move.

Our performance in the final isn’t bad but we bombed out when MD came out of his weaves as I changed sides behind him as he went in. I knew it was a risk to attempt this move but it was a final, so it was worth a go. All or nothing.

Still we got a rosette, two bags of dog food and a new bowl for reaching the final. So it was worth the trip.

It was also pleasantly surprisingly to get in the car and find that Derby had beaten Forest again. This time they had a man sent off, which I suppose makes up for the same thing happening to us last year. The difference is we won with ten men and they didn’t. Ha ha.

(Sunday 30th September)

Saturday 29 September 2012

It Would Be Rude Not To

We get up around lunch time, how studently, and then I go down the park with the dogs, after which it’s almost time to meet L from the gym, where we’ve agreed to rendezvous at 5pm. The missing hour or so in there is taken up sorting out Daughter’s latest financial disaster, which was not of her making. Are there any banks that aren’t useless?

I end up hobbling as quickly as I can on my dodgy knee as I know L will have been evicted from the leisure centre dead on the official closing time, probably even if she was in the shower at the time.

I’m only a couple of minutes late and pleased to see they let her get dressed before eviction. A 5pm start is early even for us but we have a 5.30am start to Malvern tomorrow, so an early night is preferable.

It’s early days for the Ropewalk beer festival, yet they only have 2 beers on. A delay in restocking they say. It’s a good job one of them is a decent stout. Midway through the second one, or it may have even been the first one, L suggests going for a curry tonight. I feel this may only be because to get there we have to pass the Peacock and the Old Peculiar. It would be rude not to drop in and have one, or two.

The curry house is busy. It’s never busy, although we’re never this early. So our planned early evening gets derailed by the resultant wait. Good to see it busy though.

(Saturday 29th September)

Friday 28 September 2012

Today The Distance Counts, The Performance Is Less Important

I manage to drag my weary bones into work. Where they sit slumped in a chair, head on the desk, one weary finger typing an email to L to inform her I’m fine and have never been better. Actually, I’m sure I’ll be ok in a bit, in time for my run.

I run, stagger and walk a bit, to Long Eaton, which is 15km. Today the distance counts, the performance e.g. the speed or lack of it, is less important. The legs are tired but that’s not so much the problem as the bad knee I’ve developed. Which is not at all welcome, just as things were progressing nicely on the half marathon front.

L walks the dogs up to meet me from the bus stop, to stretch their paws and jaws. Once there, she hands them over, gladly, and goes off to run her own 5k.

She’s just got back from the hairdressers, where she’s gone red again, which is great but unfortunately someone’s trimmed a bit off the length at the same time. Tut tut. Black armbands tonight.

We stay in. L has already pre-cooked lasagne and has fetched some bottles of Old Peculiar from the shop for me to soak my feet in or I might even drink them.

(Friday 28th September)

Thursday 27 September 2012

A Timesaving Short Cut

Another busy and tiring bike and squash combo today. At reviving lunch time pub trip is therefore very welcome.

The new hole in our car park fence, kindly created by yesterday’s burglars, is proving popular and getting plenty of use as it now provides a handy timesaving cut through to the centre of Pride Park. One thing the industrial park has never had is footpaths. You always have to follow the meandering roads meaning something that is actually in spitting distance (sorry) from your office window can take fifteen minutes to actually walk to.

A decent game of squash. Four very close games. As I lie on the court floor gasping for air I turn down the offer of a fifth and we adjourn to the pub instead. I really must give up cycling and playing squash on the same evening.

At least it’s Friday. What you mean it isn’t? I won’t tell L.

(Thursday 27th September)

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Rest And Refuelling

A rest and refuelling day today. Otherwise known as a night out down the pub.

I arrive at work to find that the office next to ours was broken into last night and they pinched a load of their computers. Well actually, a load of other peoples computers because they are a repair shop for Apple equipment. Obviously our kit wasn’t good enough for them, unless they’re planning on coming back.

It shows up how bad the security is here. The windows have a couple of simple catches on them and do not lock all the way around like most modern residential windows now do. We thought this wouldn’t matter because all the windows have protective cages on them but they just bent these aside. So those were a complete waste of time. Leaves us feeling a bit defenceless ourselves. I assume we can’t improve things ourselves because we don’t own the building.

After work I meet my friend in the Brunswick for a few beers before we head across to the local Italian, which informs us that they can’t do us any pizzas, garlic breads, focaccia etc etc because their oven is broken. So it’s pasta all round then. Rather good pasta as it happens and it might actually become my default choice.

My friend disappears early, so with 50 minutes to wait for the bus I take Stephen and Isabelle (my Birdsong audiobook) for a swift one, no point waiting outside in the cold.

(Wednesday 26th September)

Tuesday 25 September 2012

A Moment To Savour

L’s been for a sports massage, which was a present from some friends for her birthday. Odd choice of gift I know. It was also an hour long and I bet every minute hurt. The ten minute post-race ones I usually have are painful enough. Somebody digging their thumbs into a lump that wasn’t there 13.1 miles ago is always a moment to savour.

L’s confirms it was horrible but it's sorted out the bad back she didn't know she had before she walked in. It was so horrible, she’s booked another. When you consider that the masseur, or should we call them a sports therapist, was a twenty-something 6ft Italian girl with boots and a ponytail, I can see why I’d rebook.

Well, I thought I was having quite a good morning until heard about L’s.

After work I run to my parents’ house to spend the evening installing my Dad’s new PC and wireless router. L drops off the dogs to keep my Dad occupied and distracted, while I work. Then she picks us up again on the way home from her own parents. I achieved most of what I set out to do although I don’t manage to extract his files off his old machine and will have to do that at home.

(Tuesday 25th September)

Monday 24 September 2012

Still Going Strong

It started raining yesterday lunchtime and it’s still going strong. Which means my newly arranged dog training night is rained off and will now, hopefully, commence next week.

L has to defer her daily 5k run as well, probably until tomorrow and is apocalyptic about her failure to go out in the deluge. She suggests that Mo and Usain wouldn’t skipped their 5k because of the rain. Actually, I bet they would. They’ve had gone and done it at some indoor facility with a 400m track. The council haven’t built ours yet.

Meet Clyde, a ‘sport-loving thistle full of cheeky Glaswegian charm’, apparently. The official mascot of Glasgow 2014.

The rain actually stops around 4pm. So when I get home, the ‘boys’ get to go on the park instead. Although it has to be quick one, as the council are locking the gate earlier and earlier due to the darker evenings. Doggo overdoes it and returns with a limp again.

Then we collect L from Derby, where’s she’s been to see some strip show, ‘Calendar Girls’ stage version.

(Monday 24th September)

Sunday 23 September 2012

Something In Reserve

We slip away early from the dog show and head to the Race HQ only to find that the signs to the car parks, that I’m sure were there last night, seem to have disappeared. Eventually we are directed to where to park and we walk across to the start at Northgate Sports Centre.

The race is catchingly known as the Larking Gowen Ipswich Half Marathon. Larking Gowen I assumed were a firm of solicitors but it turns out they are actually chartered accountants. Whether this is an improvement or not I’m not sure.

Also involved in the 4th running of the event are the delightfully named Ipswich Jaffa Running Club. Who, yes, run in a delightful orange strip.

As part of the Olympic Legacy idea, the organisers have made today’s fun run free to enter. Quite why everybody doesn’t already do this, I’m not sure. I imagine that 95% of event income must come from the main race anyway.

It all starts a little early, at 9am, but this is perhaps no bad thing today with rain forecast for 1pm. We head out though a guard of honour of sorts formed by three Olympic Torchbearers.

The race itself is a little drab at first, through the local housing estates, but then heads into the rather nice and downhill Christchurch Park before taking a brief excursion along Ipswich’s High Street. After which it’s out into the countryside, which I enjoy, but you could really have been anywhere and it doesn’t showcase Ipswich. That said, there was encouraging support from spectators and marshals everywhere we went. The water stations were good too, plenty of them and all with bottles rather than cups.

Tumbling downhill through Christchurch Park was obviously a bad sign because the course had to climb back up and the route in fact proved quite undulating, as well as twisty, throughout. It was not as hilly as Ashbourne obviously but it was certainly not flat either.

As we run back into the grounds of the Sports Centre, a big crowd cheers up in through the gates, yet worryingly we still have three quarters of a mile to go. Which means they divert us for a loop around the pathways of the adjacent school, pathways that are devoid of spectators and therefore atmosphere. Which is quite a soul destroying way to end a decent event. Then finally it’s on to the squishy surface of the running track for the final 400m.

By now it’s already dawned on me that I’m well up on schedule. I had hoped to break 1:40 today but now a very smug 1:38 was looking likely. In fact, even 1:37 looked possible but I shied away from that thought and anyway it’s best to leave something in reserve (a good excuse, to ease up) to be chipped off in the coming weeks. At last, I feel like I’m getting back to where I want to be.

At the end, having bagged 1:38:32, I am handed a better than average medal and a t-shirt. Although I got the size of t-shirt I wanted, this wasn’t the case for many. The later finishers, many being women who wanted Small or Medium, were faced with a choice of Large or Extra Large.

The goody bag was good. A drink, a cereal bar, chocolate and not too much in the way of pointless leaflets.

As I lie on the floor trying to collect my wits, I hear the announcer telling everyone that free massages are available. So I scrape myself off the floor and go in search. When I got there, there was no queue. The reason for which was apparent later when I saw a child wearing the sign which said 'massage this way'. It was a decent long painful massage, just what the doctor ordered before a three hour drive home, for which I now feel fine.

I head back to collect the boys and to meet L, who is running this one as well. She does good, very good, particularly considering she hasn’t really being training for this distance.

In all there were just over a 1000 runners. The race would need alterations if they wished to grow it as an event but perhaps they have no wish to.

The forecasted rain arrives bang on time as we head back to Trinity Park and get the tent down in time, just. Then it rains all the way home. We stop off to pick up lunch, a coffee and Old Peculiar (as you do) for later from a petrol station. Then it’s home to the indulgence of among other things the OP and a Takeaway curry.

(Sunday 23rd September)

Saturday 22 September 2012

A ‘To Be Or Not To Be’ Moment

With us being in Ipswich, this enables us to receive a visit from Doggo’s twin brother’s owner, who visits the dog show to see us.

MD promptly fluffs the one run he gets to do in front of her. Although it actually wasn’t that bad. It started really well and it was actually me that fluffed it. Sorry.

He did get a rosette for 12th for an earlier run. As he was only 1.8 seconds off the winner, it was a surprising 12th. Last week we were 1.5 seconds off the winner and came 2nd.

Doggo is clear in his Vets but outside the rosettes.

Later we head off to pick up our race numbers from Half Marathon HQ and then search out even bigger desserts and pasta for tea. We head down to the harbour front and find a pleasant traditional pub, the Lord Nelson. Stumbling upon Adnams’ Ghost Ship is an unexpected distraction and produces a ‘to be or not to be’ AF moment.

'Not to be' is the answer. Hopefully everything will be counteracted by the Lemon Sponge dessert.

(Saturday 22nd September)

Friday 21 September 2012

Under The Weight Of Eton Mess

Today is a day off work so that we can head down to Ipswich for the weekend. Then I discover that we can’t get on the campsite until 4pm. So there’s no point leaving before lunch and it’s nice to get a lie in.

As we reached the outskirts of Ipswich it’s relatively easy to find the Half Marathon HQ, which is well signed. Not so the dog show that makes up the other half of the weekend but eventually we find Trinity Park where it is being held.

Agility competitors always complain when they end up being camped too far from the competition area. I don’t understand this, as I prefer the peace and quiet of being as far away as possible.

Today we find ourselves a nice secluded spot on the edge of the show, then once settled we seek out the local pub, the Dog and Shepherd. Which is about 200 yards as the crow flies but by foot requires a perilous half mile or so trek down a dual carriageway with no pavement with two dogs. Nice.

The pub is ok, serves a decent meal and has Camra discount. Not that any of the staff know this, despite there being a foot high sign on the bar. It’s only Greene King IPA anyway, so we soon end up on the wine.

It’s a shame the race isn’t tomorrow because the carbo-loading potential of the desserts is huge. Once I’ve dispatched my Apple Pie, I have to rescue L from under the weight of her huge Eton Mess.

(Friday 21st September)

Thursday 20 September 2012

Halcyon Days

I cycle into work and then sign up for Ride London, which is a 100 Sportive mostly on the Olympic bike course and starting from the Olympic Park. This is only for a place in the ballot though. They are accepting 75,000 people into the ballot for 20,000 places, so I probably won’t get in.

I offer to enter L as well, although there are only two distances :- the Full Monty 100 miles or the family ride of 8 miles.

Surprisingly she says yes and to the 100. Probably assuming we won’t get places and if she got a place and I didn’t, she’d sacrifice it for me. Of course, if we both get in, someone’s going to have to do some training.

There’s a 9 hour time limit as well, so leisurely cake stops are out. There’s no time to dally because the professionals will be unleashed a few hours after us plebs. So you could get overtaken by Wiggo. All the more reason to dally I suppose.

Squash returns tonight. Which is much more my boat that tennis, it’s just a shame I have less than half an hour recovery time from getting off the bike to walking out on court. It’s not pretty, trying to remember how to play squash again, but I’m still won't be longing for a return of those halcyon days of tennis.

I feel I’ve earned my pint in the Navigation afterwards.

(Thursday 20th September)

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Body Clocks

L has an early train down to London for work. So the dogs and I drop her off, upsetting everyone’s body clocks... breakfasts, morning walks etc. Then they get me on their morning walk. During which MD has so much ‘breakfast’ off the streets that I’m loath to feed him when we get back but he insists.

By which time it’s getting a bit too late for my planned cycle to work, so that’ll have to be rescheduled for tomorrow, along with squash, which will make for an exhausting evening.

L who is now impressively attempting to run 5k a day every day, arrives back in Nottingham and runs home. Wow. But not before she’s texted me to request that we pretend its Friday. I like Fridays.

(Wednesday 19th September)

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Trench Warfare, Dismembered Limbs And Extramarital Sex

There’s a football match tonight, so instead of my usual long training run I park at my parents house and run the 8.5k to work from there. Then after work I run the same distance back in the opposite direction and then go to the match with my parents.

I think the run(s) was worthwhile. My thighs were still very stiff and sore from Sunday, so it was certainly painful enough, particularly the return run against the wind, to make me think it was worthwhile.

After a period of running to music, I’m now back to running to an audiobook. Currently this is Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, the story of which is set around the time of World War One and is, so far, a mix of trench warfare, dismembered limbs and extramarital sex. Ideal running material.

At the match, Derby’s speciality this season is throwing away a commanding lead. Which they do again, almost. A 3-0 lead is reduced to 3-2 but then two goal line clearances see them through, just.

(Tuesday 18th September)

Monday 17 September 2012

The Pickle Incident

Somebody has sabotaged my coffee this morning, swapping it for decaff. That’s nasty work and not what you want when you’re suffering from a case of over enthusiasm on a hilly half marathon. At least I made it up the stairs at work unaided. Which is always a good start. Apparently we're out of the hard stuff, which isn't good news.

L gets out her bike, describes it as fraught and then complains of indigestion brought on by the stress of it all or I could have been last night’s Nasi Goreng. On top of that she’s planning on running with MD tonight. I’ll get the wine ready.

I’m clearly having a bad day. First the decaff, then when I get home and unpack the shopping, I drop a jar of pickle on the kitchen floor which explodes in impressive style. Then as soon as I’ve cleaned that up Doggo goes into the bedroom and vomits. He always has to go into the bedroom to do this and stupidly I’d left the bedroom door open so that he could. In fact he’s probably been waiting all day for someone to come home and open that door, just so that he can do this.

The pickle incident was completely the fault of the teenager on the checkout at Sainsbury’s. He insisted on scanning everything through as soon as I put it on the belt. So by the time I’d unloaded everything, he already had most of it piled up chaotically waiting for me at the other end. I couldn’t decide whether to ask if he was new or just stupid, so did neither.

I briefly considered paying him, as he sat there tapping his fingers repeating the total of my bill, just to see whether he would then pile the next customers shopping on top of mine but in the end just decided to ignore him totally and to pack things away as slowly as possible.

This was how my normal careful system of packing went awry, which was how the heavy jar of pickle came to be at the top of the bag, from where it could leap to freedom, rather than where it should have been at the bottom.

Having mopped everything up, I then train MD in the garden, taking the edges off him before his run with L. Which I’m sure he’s looking forward to, if only to see what discarded chips, kebabs, burgers etc he can find en route.

(Monday 19th September)

Sunday 16 September 2012

Only A Girl

I missed the deadline for advance entries for the Ashbourne Half Marathon, so we turn up nice and early to enter on the day. Which was a good thing really, as it seems they will reach the 300 race limit. L isn’t running the half but is instead meeting up with a friend who’s local to Ashbourne to do her daily 5k. Did I mention that her latest ‘challenge’ is 5k a day?

Meanwhile my latest challenge is upon me and starts with a one mile hill climb. This isn’t as bad as it sounds as at least we're all nice and fresh for this first test of the day. Then there’s a long downhill followed by a similar climb at around three miles as we go out to Thorpe village and past Thorpe Cloud before a descent to Ilam village.

The real test comes at about six and a half miles which involves a steep half mile climb up to Blore. Then after that, Wa-hey, it’s pretty much flat and downhill to the finish, with just the one minor uphill blemish on the landscape.

In fact, OMG, these last five or so miles are well fast. At least the group of seven I’m in are. A group I stay with until the last mile when the elastic keeping me with them snaps spectacularly.

In this group was a young lady with unfeasibly tight shorts who chats to everybody, tells them how hard it is and then drops them. She does this to me as well. Don’t you just hate people like that.

Perhaps she read my blog from the other day, which L said was rather sexist because I referred to the runner I met on the street as ‘only’ a girl. Well I’m sure this one thought ‘only a man, and an old one at that’ as she whizzed past us all. What goes around comes around.

My club shirt gets some comments, so much so that I may not wear it again. Not that is gets out much anyway, this is only its second outing ever and the other one was on the Hebrides. I’m only wearing it today because the club I’m in (and I use the phrase loosely) has this race as part of its club championship. People in similar vests keep welcoming me to the club because they haven’t seen me before. I feel like the new boy and I think I’d like to go back to being anonymous.

It’s all very well marshalled and there are plenty of drink stations, although the water is in cups, which probably costs me a minute overall, as I stop five times for a drink. I simply cannot drink from cups on the move. They also have sponges and I love a good sponge, I take three. Not at the same time though.

There were a lot of spectators, although the majority of these were tourists, who were more bemused rather than supportive. My time 1:41:20 is twenty seconds quicker than Wolverhampton the other week, so I must be doing something right.

We stop for a beer on the way back, at a pub in Brailsford, along with my father who has turned up to support.

In the evening we go to the, sort of local but not quite, Hemlock Stone and Dragon for a Thai meal, beer and red wine combo. Very nice.

(Sunday 16th September)

Saturday 15 September 2012

Out Of The Medals

Another dog show today that I drag myself out of bed for. I leave L with a hangover. I did warn her. Five halves of Festival is enough for anybody.

I arrive a bit late. It said Rugby on the info but I ended up driving through Rugby and out the other side. Next stop Leamington, so not far from Son. I’m late so I don’t get chance to walk our first course. Yet, typically MD nails it. Another clear. We are second for ages but eventually finish fourth. Just out of the medals. No bad considering this is for all grades up to Grade 5.

That was MD’s third jumping clear in a row. Won’t last. Didn’t last. It’s soon back to being rubbish, after that brief high. Quite why MD decides to randomly stop in front of one jump and bark at me, only he knows.

We have one really scrappy run and fell a pole but they still give us a rosette for 13th, out of sympathy I think. It was a tough course but we should have done better. Its courses like that that we should be able to win on.

Then we wait for Doggo’s late shift. I always hate the fact that the Veterans' courses are usually so simple. They figure old dogs need it easy because they’re a bit older. They may be older but they’re not stupid. Doggo can still do a full course, he just can't jump as high.

Today the judge sets a more complex course, it's much better and I get lost. Eliminated. Sorry mate. I'll keep my mouth shut in future.

For tea L bakes Apple Crumble made with our own apples, I do pasta and with an early bedtime, before tea, I’m all ready for tomorrow’s half marathon now.

(Saturday 15th September)

Friday 14 September 2012

Taste Of Grass

I had already taken a load of extra clothes into work to run this morning but in end CBA. My right ankle aches, my left knee aches and both thighs are sore. My head says skip it, snuggle up to L and see if anything develops.

I was glad I didn't run in the end, as I got a bit wet walking for the bus. L ran though, or plodded as she calls it. Still, it was more than I did, run wise.

Daughter’s working all the hours. She says has an evening shift tonight and then a 6.30am shift tomorrow. It’s a good job she’s been doing all that fitness work in the gym!

L spends the afternoon working from home, with the boys, who are sat by their respective footballs with longing looks on their faces. Then we meet up later at the Erewash Beer Festival in Long Eaton. It’s again at the Westgate Suite but this year they’ve moved the entrance but it doesn’t confuse us for long.

There are free pork scratchings (which last about half an hour), a beer called Oakham Carioca that claims to taste of grass (it doesn’t thankfully) and a David Bowie tribute band called ‘Rebel Rebel’ (the less said the better).

Beer wise, I put myself about a bit as usual, whereas L settles in for the night cuddled up to a glass(es) of Burton Bridge Festival. She’ll regret that tomorrow.

BLACK COUNTRY – PIG ON THE WALL 4.3% Dudley, West Mids.
RAW – NEW DAWN AMBER 4.9% Staveley, Derbys.
BLACK IRIS – IRON GATE STOUT 5.5% Derby, Derbys.
NORTH STAR – ASTRONOMER 4.8% Ilkeston, Derbys.
BURTON BRIDGE – FESTIVAL 5.5% Burton on Trent, Staffs.

JULIAN CHURCH – PARSON’S NOSE 3.9% Kettering, Northants.
OAKHAM – CARIOCA 5.2% Peterborough, Cambs.
BURTON BRIDGE – FESTIVAL 5.5% Burton on Trent, Staffs.
BURTON BRIDGE – FESTIVAL 5.5% Burton on Trent, Staffs.
BURTON BRIDGE – FESTIVAL 5.5% Burton on Trent, Staffs.
BURTON BRIDGE – FESTIVAL 5.5% Burton on Trent, Staffs.
BURTON BRIDGE – FESTIVAL 5.5% Burton on Trent, Staffs.

(Friday 14th September)

Thursday 13 September 2012

Four Days Out Of Seven

We need to get back to being AF on four days out of seven. Drinking on just Thursday, Friday and then Saturday or Sunday depending on the race schedule.

Although tonight can be a bonus AF Thursday as I have no squash/tennis this week. Then again being AF after a dog club committee meeting is a big ask... and anyway, it all went to pot when I got invited to the pub at lunchtime. It wasn’t my fault Gov, it just happened. I will still stick to those three nights though. Thursday, Friday and Sunday this week.

We had a letter through our door from some debt collectors asking about our neighbours. Now I’m not saying our neighbours aren’t a bit dodgy themselves but having read up about the debt collecting company on the internet, they looked like they redefined dodgy. So binned it. I'm having no part of that.

Daughter joined the gym at the start of this week, which was a bit of a life changing moment in itself, and she’s still there. By that I mean, I think she’s moved in, it’s well weird. She must be stalking somebody.

(Thursday 13th September)

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Squirrels, Cats, Dogs

I get up early this morning to walk the dogs as L heads off to get the train down to London where she’s working today.

It’s a very ‘busy’ walk. There were the usual distractions but they all seemed to be out in great numbers than usual today. Squirrels, cats, dogs, women in figure hugging Lycra, they all interrupted our progress.

Then I cycled to work and it was once again a bit chilly on the bike. I might have to accept the fact that it may not be shorts weather for much longer. Unless you’re the guy who lives at the far end of Wollaton, he cycles in shorts and a sleeveless top even when there’s ice on the ground. Although, he has told me that he does put a pair of gloves on when it gets really cold.

On the way home, I opt to head to the pool for my monthly splash around. Which wasn’t bad, once the slow person got out.

Then home, to take MD to dog class but just before we leave, I get a text telling me the trainer hasn’t turned up. So not much point going then, so I don’t. I go collect L, who’s now back in Nottingham, instead.

L then, rather bizarrely, in that she’s not done this for ages, with either dog and I’m not sure she ever has with MD, goes for a run with him. Well, at least, despite no dog class he gets his exercise.

(Wednesday 12th September)

Tuesday 11 September 2012

All In A Good Cause

The park is locked several mornings this week. MD won’t be happy about that. He won’t want to share the same pavement as all the other dogs, who are also all being forced to pound the streets instead of romping across parkland. We try to tell MD that it’s all in a good cause, that they’re probably slaughtering the deer, which is what they usually do around this time of year. He doesn’t much like the deer; well none of us do actually.

After work I do my, sometimes regular but more often occasional, 18km run from Pride Park to Chilwell Retail Park. Scenic location to scenic location. Only today, for some reason, it only totals 17.5km on my GPS. All I did was run down the opposite side of the road for about half a mile. Technology!

It was also far quicker than I intended. Coming through Borrowash my scenic route down the footpath merged with the route taken by another runner coming along the main road. What I should have done is let them go ahead, slot in behind them and then overtake if necessary but I thought it’s only a girl... and thought she’d hold me up...

So, with the quick nod of mutual appreciation and recognition of a fellow runner, I went on ahead. Big mistake. The quick nod/glance gave me just enough time to ascertain that she looked in pretty good shape, had much much longer legs than me and was wearing some pretty serious kit. A crop top for starters, no one trains in a crop top...

So basically I now had Jess Ennis’s bigger and fitter sister behind me. OMG those next few miles were quick. I thought she was going to pursue me all the way to Long Eaton but thankfully at some point she pulled off and then when I eventually noticed she’d gone, I could have a bit of a breather.

It was a good speed training session though. I should have stopped and asked for her number, I could do with her behind me in a race. It would do wonders for my half marathon time.

(Tuesday 11th September)

Monday 10 September 2012

Tour Of Britain

It really has been a great summer of cycling. The Tour de France followed by the Olympics and then as well as the Paracycling there was la Vuelta A España which was also covered by ITV4. This seamlessly links into their coverage of the Tour Of Britain which started yesterday in Ipswich.

Today stage 2 starts outside Nottingham Castle. I haven’t kept enough holiday back to attend but L is there at the start, as it's not far from where she works.

Instead I follow it on Radio Nottingham, where it sounds well lively. I sort of wish I’d gone down.

The start is just a ceremonial roll out, which then takes them on a pleasant amble through Wollaton Park before the real, rolling start takes place on the road to Trowell.

Tonight I take the boys on the park for a ball session and to top up Doggo’s limp. Sadly Monday’s dog training is now no more. Although we are trying to setup a replacement at a different venue.

(Monday 10th September)

Sunday 9 September 2012

Silver, Awesome... Not Convinced

Today, one of the most local dog show I’ve ever been to. It’s at Shelford Manor in Nottinghamshire. Although I had no idea where that was. Turns out its near Gunthorpe.

Formerly a priory in around 1160, it became a manor in 1536 but in 1645 during the English Civil War the house was stormed, plundered for valuables and burnt to the ground. It was rebuilt after the civil war although the site is now used as a farm. Today it’s gone to the dogs.

Perhaps I’ve found the problem with MD, he doesn’t travel well. Either today’s shorter travelling distance suits him or somebody has swapped my dog for a different one because I quite simply do not recognise the one I’m competing with today as the same one I had last weekend. This one is listening to me.

Our first run, on a jumping course, is a clear round and OMG, we’re leading. Although it is early days. I go back later as they call up the last of the 150 dogs in the class to find out that we’re still leading. Then, as they are just about the close the class, somebody sees one last competitor weaving his way across the field towards us. Oh, we’ll just let him run, they say. They do and that is how the very last dog to run pushed us down to second. Gutted.

I break the news to MD and he’s gutted too, inconsolable, sobbing on my shoulder. L tries to lift our spirits with a text proclaiming ’silver, awesome’. We’re not convinced.

My new, listening dog isn’t done though and puts in another clear on the next jumping course and comes 4th this time. Missing the medals was my fault really. I let him do too wide a turn at one point on the course.

We’re still rubbish in the agility events though, due to our summer break ruining his contacts but we can work on that.

Doggo is clear in his first Vets run, there’s no rosette but thankfully no sign of his limp either. In his second run though, he gets eliminated by going back over the start jump, a basic error, which is a bit embarrassing really.

Well I never... I was a little surprised to hear of the launch of the Agility Girls Calendar. You know, scantily clad babes posing in front of agility equipment for charity. I run the risk of offending many when I say it's not a sport that attracts many that you would describe as babe-like. Then I was gutted to find out that a 2014 men’s one has already been scheduled and they haven’t asked me. Something to do with not fitting the correct demographic myself I suppose.

Back home L’s painting in an old shirt and not much else, again, which she delights in telling me knowing she’s at a safe distance. For now.

After a meal out last night, a take away in tonight. Life without kids.

Saturday 8 September 2012

Leaving It All Out On The Road

I’d looked at the Le Petit Grand Prix bike sportive in Lincoln today. Until I noticed it looked lacking in feed stations, entries and the general razzmatazz I like in these events. So we stayed home.

I’m sure L was gutted, as she was going to join me. Although she hides her disappointment well.

So gardening instead, lovely. Well, with Doggo banned from ball games due to his limp and a dog show tomorrow, the park wouldn’t have been much fun. MD's time is probably better spent anyway with me trying to remind his what agility equipment looks like before we go off to cock up a few courses tomorrow.

L runs to the gym and then complains of feeling faint when she gets there. I’m so proud of her, for clearly ‘leaving it all out on the road’, as they say. Even if, in her words, it was only 6 bloody k. Just like when I could have done with her assistance yesterday after my run, she could so with me there now, slapping her around the face.

A even better cure is a good night out. So to the H&H for two pints, then Brewdog for two strong halves and an even stronger shared third. Then to the Malaysian restaurant below Brewdog for a very decent meal. So the good night out is achieved and we even resisted the call of the Old Peculiar. Now there’s a first.

(Saturday 8th September)

Friday 7 September 2012

Anti-Fainting Drink

With no race this weekend I timetable my second long run of the week or my third in six days, if you include last Sunday’s half marathon. It certainly wasn’t pretty and my legs gave out before I’d done what I’d planned but I’m still sort of pleased, as that’s just over 50km for the week or just over 30 miles, which is the first time I’ve hit my unofficial target.

L goes out for a run as well, although a shorter one. She could have planned it better and we could have done one together. Then she could have propped me up on the bus, as I’m feeling a bit faint afterwards. I didn’t quite run as far as my usual finishing point by a shop, where I usually purchase an anti-fainting milk shake drink.

In the evening, it’s the post-University summer holiday resurrected Friday night in. Yay. Time for ‘Top Of The Pops’.

(Friday 7th September)

Thursday 6 September 2012

A Delicate Balancing Act

It was bit chilly on the bike this morning. I wish I hadn’t toughed it out and had put proper gloves on rather than my fingerless ones.

A wounded L battles her way around the morning assault course of dog walking. It’s a delicate balancing act I believe. MD on the bad knee side, Doggo on the bad arm side. Then again she has so many injuries to brag about, I’m almost jealous.

For an encore she has to get Daughter up and despatched on the train back to Sheffield, along with a suitcase and a bin liner of bedding. Neither very therapeutic for a bad arm. All achieved though and Daughter texts from the bike storage area on the train, where she rather proudly seems to have set up home.

Well, we’re still waiting for Nottingham’s first gold postbox and second Paralympic winner, Oliver Hynd, is from Kirkby in Ashfield, which we can’t really count.

Our other, for Richard Whitehead, is in Lowdham.

L admits defeat on the bad arm front and cancels her pump class, oddly deciding to walk the dogs again instead. Hope that doesn't cause a relapse.

I’m playing tennis, which is the last game of the season... but he also said that last week. At least I get some dark ale in the Johnson’s afterwards.

Then home to an oddly empty house. With Son and now Daughter both back at Uni, we console ourselves with red wine in bed and toasted spam sandwiches at midnight.

(Thursday 6th September)

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Stumbling Block

L talks to somebody at the pool who’s managed to find enough pool time to train for a 10k swim. I think she’s sort of jealous and perhaps inspired... We’ll see. The woman’s next event, near Dartmouth, is apparently 'with' the tide, so it only feels like 6K. If you can believe that. The pictures look nice, as nice as the fear of drowning can look.

L says it’s a goer when we get a pool in the garden. Which could be stumbling block. Next door used to have a really huge pond, perhaps we could knock through. I think it’s still there, somewhere, under the weeds.

L does need a new target. Even more so now that Waterstones have turned her job application down. I’d boycott them I was her, the b*****ds, but I don’t suppose she will. She says she’ll keep trying, she’s targeted them and she says she always reach her targets. Hmmm, usually because I keep her to them. Although perhaps this is one that I won’t need to use the thumbscrews on.

L goes out on a threesome with Daughter and Ben Stiller. I think I’m well out of that one. Anyhow I have a new Beginners dog course to sort out. I spend the evening walking round with £300 in my pocket. So I’m well worth mugging or, in L's case, worth taking to Waterstones.

As regards my own dog training, MD is crap after his summer lay off but not as crap as I expected. So I guess that's good news.

Ok scrub what I said on Monday, as Contador cracks Rodriguez in a terrific 17th stage of the Vuelta. Can there possibly be any more twists in this race? Preferably not involving Spanish Beef.

(Wednesday 5th September)

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Back To The Plan

It’s back to the training plan today. Not that I have one. It’s more of a random assortment of ideas.

I keep this evening's run a bit shorter. 14km. It goes ok, despite it being a bit warm out there.

L is out at her Mum’s. Somehow I manage to stand up long enough on throbbing legs to cook something for us.

(Tuesday 4th September)

Monday 3 September 2012

Personal Bests

Is this year’s Vuelta one of the best cycle race ever? On the best designed course ever? Quite possibly. It’s proved far more exciting than any Tour de France that I can recall. Even Bradley’s win this year, thrilling though it was for the achievement, he did start as favourite and his win was executed with absolute precision by him and his team.

This Vuelta though, who is going to win it? For the best part of two weeks it’s been anyone from the four of Contador, Rodriguez, Froome or Valverde. Then there were three as Valverde slipped away, now there’s two as Froome falters, probably knackered after his year... leaving Rodriguez who has just been awesome with Contador so far unable to break him.

The BBC proposes the question, would you fib about your marathon PB? As US vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan ‘forgets’ his.

Hmmm. Well I’ve never ran a marathon and I can't actually recall my exact half marathon best but I know roughly where it’s at. I can vividly recall my 10k best but mainly because I have doubts about the validity of the course measurement! In my favour that is.

For the record, having looked it up, my HM best is 01:36:22 at Nottingham 2010. I have some work to do to get back to that.

A trip to Leamington tonight, to despatch Son to his new abode. Daughter leaves this week too, so then it’s just L, me and the boys again.

(Monday 3rd September)

Sunday 2 September 2012

No Mobots Here

Today is the 15th running of the Wolverhampton Half and Full Marathon, which was a bit of a strange one. Parking is handy at Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Molineux ground for £2, in fact it's so close to the start in West Park you would have thought the club would have offered them a stadium finish.

The start area in the park was nice and the organisation fine but the course itself was a bit dismal. Almost scenery free, a bit of parkland but little of Wolverhampton and it was remarkably twisty, mainly through housing estates where most of the ‘support’ came from slightly bemused residents peering out from behind their curtains.

Ii is true that I often like a bit of dismal but preferably straight and dismal, twists and turns just interrupt your stride and tire you out. The worst of which was a short out and back around some parked cars in a cul-de-sac, that appears to have been intended for the marathon runners only, on their second lap, lucky them, but it seems we all ended up doing it, lucky us.

It was quite a small event. 255 in the marathon, 796 in the half marathon, 530 cyclists doing 19.4km and one wheelchair. Apparently Hugh Porter was there, I assume he was cycling and not running. There were also 23 relay teams which they set off first, which gave us something to chase and pass. Finally there was a group of lads dressed up as the Jamaica Bobsled Team complete with bobsled; they were in for a long hard morning.

Drinks stations were bountiful and they had bottles but they’ll get crucified for leaving the tops on, which will have left a course resembling a bed of nails for the later runners.

At half way the housing estates disappeared and instead we went uphill. Long dragging uphills that just kept coming and coming with very little down, which made me think the flat first half of the race must actually have been downhill.

I recall going through a place called Billbrook but other than that I had no idea where we were most of the time. We certainly didn’t really get to see such of Wolverhampton which I think contributed to the lack of supporters along the route. At least I haven’t got to go around twice like the marathoners. The last mile or so was better, apart from its uphill nature and the finish in West Park was pretty good.

The hills and the turns meant that this wasn't going for be the sort of course on which I’d improve on last week’s time at total flat Fleetwood. So to be only 40 seconds down is a result of sorts but I resist doing the ‘Mobot’ like almost everybody else is. I’m not sure if the Jamaica Bobsled Team had the energy to do that when they came in four and a half hours after they started. Ouch.

I was handed my Greggs goodie bag. Sponsored by Greggs, I ask you. I was expecting a sausage roll but thankfully didn't get one. Instead, just a drink, some chocolate shortbread and a bag of crisps. Crisps that MD helped himself too, dragging them out of my goodie bag with his teeth. He and Doggo got to eat them eventually, Ready Salted are not really my flavour.

The T-shirt was fine but the medal was a bit naff, very cheap looking. All in all though, a well organised if uninspiring event.

We eat out, post race, local to home at the Admiral Rodney. Surprisingly both Son and Daughter find the energy to make the short walk to join us. This is actually rather nice, a family meal. Particularly as Son is off back to Leamington tomorrow. It’s a shame the Rodney lets us down with slow service and several serving disasters. First they slop my pint everywhere and then for an encore do the same with my soup, which they replace free of charge but slowly. So slowly that Daughter is ready to eat the table and put a knife to the staff by the time the main courses finally arrive.

(Sunday 2nd September)

Saturday 1 September 2012

Overdoing It With The Old Man

This morning on the park, Doggo pulls up short as he chases his ball and then just lies down, as if he’s ‘chilling’. Both MD and I know he’s hiding a limp. The fact it takes us an age to persuade him to get moving again proves it. Not sure how he’s going to hide that from L. She’ll accuse me of overdoing it with the old man again.

Derby win, which was a surprise enough. To win 5-1 is something else entirely. Perhaps this season won’t be quite so bad after all.

Tonight a film and an alcohol free one at that, as I have semi-serious run tomorrow.

We haven't seen an IRA thriller in a while, at one point you couldn't move for them. ‘Shadow Dancer’ is set in Belfast in 1993, to the backdrop of the ongoing peace process which resulted in the IRA ceasefire the following year. First though, we rewind to 1973, when Collette McVey was but a little girl. When she offloads an errand to the shops on her little brother, he comes back dead, hit by a stray bullet in the street.

Fast forward twenty years and Collette (Andrea Riseborough) is in London about to plant a bomb on the underground. Only, the authorities are on to her and she gets captured. They have enough information to put her away, where she will lose her son or, they tell her, she could become an informant and work for MI5.

She agrees, way too easily, which is one of a few things that are wrong with an otherwise impressive film. A lot of things seem a little too easy, not only is Colette easily turned into an informant but back in Belfast, although they are instantly suspicious of her return, particularly as CCTV coverage of her had featured on the TV News but nobody makes too much of it. They certainly don’t think to follow her to her regular meetings with Mac (Clive Owen) her MI5 handler. Perhaps because most of these meetings seem to happen in the pouring rain.

There is good tension in the film though. Gerry, the local IRA commander, is the one man who is suspicious. He knows there’s an informant in their midst and will happily use a little water torture on Colette’s brother to find out if it’s her. Possibly Gerry’s character and his role could have been developed further but the film doesn’t really dip into the politics of the situation and the full horrors of terrorism are largely absent from the screen.

The film prefers instead to pinpoint the distrust and paranoia on both sides. Whereas Colette has to betray her own side and family, Mac has his own problems, Gillian Anderson. Anderson appears briefly as a senior MI5 Officer putting obstacles in Mac’s path as she keeps him in the dark as regards the bigger picture in infiltrating this particular IRA cell. He starts to feel responsible for Colette when it becomes apparent she is just a decoy to take the heat off their main informant.

It's a good film, intelligent, suspenseful and well-acted. Riseborough is excellent and even Owen is sort of ok. It's just lacking in a bit of extra oomph.

(Saturday 1st September)