I’m getting in my excuses early for the terrible state of my running over the next 10 days … but I’m still going to be running.
- I’m an old fart
- I’m a grumpy old fart
- I’m a grumpy anti-social old fart
- I’ve currently got a chest infection and can hardly breathe
- I haven’t been able to train very much for the last four weeks because of illness and injury from my last race
- I’ve got a hamstring that burns every time I run
- I’ve got glutes that cause shooting pains right up my back whenever I run
- I’m racing in the 74 mile, Skye Trail Ultra – across big hills – in time 10 days time
- I’m running in the 78 mile Hillsborough to Anfield Run in 4 days time
- I’ll be taking part in the 5km ‘Run for the 96’ in 5 days time on Sunday 22nd May at Stanley Park between Goodison Park and Anfield – the homes of football in Liverpool.
What’s my point I hear you cry? Well I was getting to that, if I can do this then surely you can come help me do the 5km.
Go on you know you want to!
See you on Sunday, you bring the crutches I’ll bring the tears, blisters and manky feet.
One of the guiltiest pleasures of my life is my love of the classic 1980 masterpiece ‘Flash Gordon’ starring the outrageously blonde Sam Jones, the tempting Melody Anderson, the debonair Timothy Dalton and of course Brian Blessed stealing the screen with his huge presence.
For God’s sake! Strap yourselves down! Quick!
One of the things I have recently discovered is that the film was part shot on location in the Isle of Skye – yes that’s right the runway scene at the beginning just before we discover that Flash hasn’t learnt to land a plane.
The good news is that the runway is still there and although I understand its fallen into disuse you can still get on there and grab a photo while wearing your ‘fan favourite’ Flash Gordon’ T-shirt. Trust me – I’m filled with a deep sense of glee knowing that in just a couple of weeks I’ll be grabbing that photograph.
Flying blind on a hawkman rocketcycle! Over to homing beam!
Now why is my running blog going on about my favourite movie? Ah well that’s pretty simple, as some of you know I’ll be running the 74 miles from the top of Skye to the bottom during the Skye Ultra Trail running event at the end of May and I had this amazing dream last night where Sam Jones, Brian Blessed and other cast members presented the runners with their medals for running from one end of the island to the other. I think it also had Brian May giving it riz on guitar in the background as I crossed the line – what a dream.
Forget it Ming, Dale’s with me
So here’s the thing, just if any of the cast/crew read this, if you happen to be passing Skye on May 28th/29th and wanted to eat some cake and say hi, if you happened to want to leave a message of good luck for the runners then that would be an awesome lift to those who will be battling (not Ming) the challenges of the Skye Trail and I imagine we would all jump up and down in joy.
Vultan: That must be one hell of a planet you men come from. Flash: Not half bad
I realise I’m probably abusing my own blog but putting this out there but if you don’t ask you don’t get. The Skye Trail Ultra will be one of the hardest races I have ever committed to and especially as it takes place just five days after I will have completed the incredibly tough 80 mile Hillsborough to Anfield Run in memory of the 96 people who died at the Hillsborough Tragedy.
I suppose Ming put it best when he said;
Pathetic Earthlings! Hurling your bodies out into the void without the slighest inkling of who or what is out here. If you knew anything about the true nature of the universe, anything at all, you would have hidden from it in terror.
Well I’ll be hurling my body into the void and while I might not know what I’ll be facing I’ll be hoping to invoke the spirit of Flash Gordon and make sure I save the day.
It’s been a couple of weeks since the verdict at the Hillsborough inquest was announced and it was a momentous moment for the families. Certainly it is a moment worth celebrating as we hope they are entering the final stages of achieving recognition for the innocent and accountability for the guilty.
It seems fitting that Liverpool has been gathering in various guises since to celebrate the verdict and the running community will be paying its tribute too when it gets together next week for the ‘Run for the 96’. It’s a wonderful 5km route through Stanley Park and its surrounds and it’d be awesome to see you there.
But why should you think about getting involved? Well I have a few good reasons;
- The verdict from the inquests deserves to be celebrated
- This event is part of the positive lasting legacy of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough tragedy
- It’s an opportunity for the community to come together not just in memory of the 96 but for those who have campaigned to say thank you
- Getting a bit of exercise on a Sunday morning never did anyone any harm
- Liverpool fans might be celebrating the winning of their first European title in a decade and want to share the love
- Liverpool fans might be commiserating the loss of their first European title in a decade and want to share their pain
- I’m going to need a great big crowd to help cheer me home after completing 80 miles in hours before the ‘Run for the 96’
- The medal is awesome
- The T-Shirt is awesome
- You get to witness UltraBoy beat his own father across the line Dick Dastardly style
So join in on Sunday 22nd May 2016 for a 5km that promises to have laughter and tears aplenty in the heart of Stanley Park, Liverpool. You don’t need to be a football fan, an elite athlete or even wear a shell suit – this is one event that really is all inclusive.
Photograph copyright: Liverpool Echo
It’s hard to believe that it’s now more than 2 years since I last ran pain free and let me assure you it’s not an anniversary I want to celebrate.
I remember it all started in March 2014, I had some nasty glute pain at the St Peters Way Ultra – one of my absolute favourite races – but it had taken second place that day to the chest infection I had. I could feel my glutes tightening as I ran and I remember saying to Mike Sokolow and Ian Shelley ‘you guys go on ahead, I’ll see you at the end’. I figured it was a something and nothing and after a few days it would calm down and never worry me again. Sadly it would worry me again and give me many sleepless nights.
I’d sadly not taken much rest post St Peters Way and had kicked on to complete four ultra distances inside 40 days (a 30, 45, 50 and 100 mile events). I was in a bit of a mess after this and missed both the Race to the Stones and the NDW100 – I found myself at the lowest ebb.
Changing my physiotherapist helped and despite her repeated warnings, she enabled me to get roadworthy to face my final challenges of 2014 – Fowlmead and the Winter 100 – which I spectacularly DNF’d just a few weeks after the birth of UltraBaby. A disaster all of my own making.
Under pretty strict advice from my physio I finally stopped running, I deferred my Country to Capital place and I sat about doing not much for four months other than a bit of cycle commuting, eating cake and being miserable.
With a lot of hard work though I managed to return to running but it’s never been right and all the confidence I used to have as I approached races has now gone – I never know if I’ll get out of the blocks never mind get to the finish or I sit on start lines wondering whether I’ll blow up in spectacular fashion usually at the farthest, most inaccessible point from home.
I now start at the back of races, whereas before I used to start nearer the front and push forward – I used to run good times, in a reverse of the Tobias Mews phrase I’ve gone from ‘competer to completer’. I can’t express in words how shitty a feeling that is.
Despite the (sometimes excruciating) pain I run with I’ve managed a few decent efforts including the Green Man, the Saintelyon and the Thames Path 100 – nothing very quick because prolonged speedier racing narrows my window of running time available – but respectable enough – I just want more.
What I do know is it’s coming to a head and I’m going to need to get seen to, regardless of the implications. The pain I’ve been suffering with has increased in recent months and is putting me increasingly off training and ultimately racing (though I will be entering the Haria Extreme 100km later today).
Last night, is the perfect example, as I was running a moderately quick 5km all I could feel was the pain of my glutes and the hamstring burning – it was a depressingly familiar feeling. It was especially galling as I should have been enjoying my first proper shakedown of the Altra Instinct – a fine shoe by the way if initial running is anything to go by.
I look at runners in London, enviously imagining that they don’t get injured and that the pain they feel is simply from the burn of effort rather than the burn of injury. I don’t want to come across as self pitying as I realise it’s all my own fault and remains so as I’m lethargic and worried about seeing the doctor.
I just wish I could have my time over and not push so hard during those early months of ultra running or have stopped when I knew something wasn’t right. Perhaps this is the reason I continue to push myself now because I’m concerned I won’t be able/allowed to ultra run any more and so I’m fitting in races now so when the time comes I just accept my fate.
If you take anything from this then please try and remember to curb your enthusiasm – just a touch – for the sake of a long, successful and colourful running career. It remains my biggest running regret and I would hate for you to share it with me.