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About a decade ago I fell in love with a chap, he was a bit of wimp, cuddly, cute, always ready for adventure and loved having his tummy tickled. His four big fat paws, oversized tongue, bandy legs and big unruly top knot made him something of a character to look at but to me he was the most beautiful, most amazing boy I’d ever met.

His name is Thai – you might have seen him mentioned in my previous posts as ThunderPad or Mr Awesome or Naughty Thai – and now, much, much too soon he has died.

I remember the first time I met Thai in person, it was when I visited the GingaNinja in Cornwall where he lived – he was all puppy like – because he was a puppy, he was naughty but only in the way that youthful exuberance makes you naughty and he had personality – the kind that reminded you of the best in people. I’d never been a dad to anyone but I soon became his daddy and we ran endlessly around the Cornish town of Bude in long beachy strolls and jumping in the sea together. It was a heavenly beginning and it never stopped being that way.

Our decade together seems too short, he epitomised my belief that life was there for living and Thai lived it with all four of his oversized paws on the pedal!

His adventures and his misadventures were many and varied and there are too many to write about here but he travelled with us to Cambodia, landing in Thailand during the middle of a civil war gun battle at Bangkok Airport – but he took this in his stride, doing nothing more than having a giant poo in the car park before we high tailed it out of there. He survived the cruddy six months in quarantine (coming out looking like a fat tub of lard). He was a mini wizard at agility and completed half marathons with me as his slo-mo companion (and of course there were numerous muddy training miles). Perhaps his greatest achievement in life though was giving heart back to this grumpy middle aged man because in Thai there was no malice, no anger and his love and compassion for the humans he cared for was immense.

My home feels very empty this morning, it misses his wandering about, his giant head, his thundering pads and oversized tongue bobbling about the house announcing his arrival long before you’ve seen him. It’s not just the house that feels empty though – I do too. He was the biggest and the best friend I’ll ever have and the little sod has had me crying near non-stop for the last week.

As he died I held him around his middle, feeling the final beats of his heart and the final breathes of his lungs, it was the most peaceful of endings for a hound of such energy and when he passed away at 8.06pm, 5th February 2018 I said good journey to the best of all puppies.

Thai you will never, ever be forgotten. See you around, my best Spuddy.

It’s been a great couple of years with Virtual Runner UK. I (the GingaNinja, UltraBaby, ThunderPad and even Pops accompanied by Jimmy) have done quite a few events with them with the highlight definitely being the Poppy Challenge – a little over 300km in 24 running days. It’s actually going to be a little bit sad for me not to be doing them for a while but I try not to repeat myself too much in my running and so I’m off to concentrate on the build up to my 2016 ultra events – BUT I WILL BE BACK

I’d like to say a gigantic thank you to the lovely and dedicated Susan who has provided some excellent events since she set up VRUK and I’ve been incredibly grateful that they’ve kept me going during injury rehabilitation, the GingaNinjas pregnancy, tough working situations and a whole load of other things that, had it not been VRUK, might have stopped me running. So thank you.

And now to the the Poppy Challenge which has given me the opportunity to go on a creative tour of London as I have racked up the miles. Below are a selection of the images taken during the month as I sought to find both culture and fitness in the name of rememberance.

 



But what of the final full week of the Poppy Challenge. I was left with just 37km to go. By Monday I had dropped this to just 25km and by the time I was drifting to sleep on Tuesday I had less than 15km to go. But what to do? I wanted to finish at exactly 300km, this meant reaching 290km by Friday and doing my Movember Greenwich 10km on Saturday and concluding the event. I decided bugger it, I’d just have to pass through the 300km mark and forget about the numbers.

The good news was that I reached and passed the 290km on Wednesday and relaxed a bit with some gentle and short jogs too and from my office. And so I strode up to the start line on Saturday – moustache and other facial hair adorning my chiseled good looks and set off around the hilly Greenwich Park pushing UltraBaby in the UltraMobile.

As I crossed the line, 55 minutes later, I was elated but not as much as my legs were ‘Time for a rest UltraBoy’ they chimed in unison. 315km done, my Poppy Challenge complete. A great event and I feel properly ready for Saintelyon and I have few days rest ahead of me before the final and main event of 2016 kicks off – so thank you Susan, it’s been a blast.


 
Week 3 of the Poppy Challenge saw the start of a bit of tapering for Saintelyon. Week one was over 110km, week two was just over 80km and week three saw me bring this down to 73km. However, the 73km were high quality kilometres – hills, resistance and speed work all part of the plan. I added in a huge amount of ‘sculpture finding’ too and came across a number of hidden London gems including the Green Man up at Woburn Square (more of a rectangle to be honest). I even managed to get the dog out again to increase his mileage to the 20km mark! And this was all done with everyone at my house being ill again for the second time in a month! Still best to get it out the way now.

This therefore means I’ve only got 37km to go, 8 days to do it and I’ll have reached my 300km target and then I will stop despite thinking if I pushed myself just a little bit I’d make 400km no problem as for the first time in ages I feel fit.

As a final note I’ll say it’s been a mighty privilege so far to take part in this challenge. I’ve been incredibly inspired by the outstanding efforts of my fellow participants and if you happen to be running in Central London this week and see a neon clad, Hoka wearing runner stopping outside of a London sculpture, statue or monument be sure to say hello – it’s bound to be me.

Good luck for the final push guys.

  
‘You little fucker’ is what I said to him and then smothered him with all the love I have in my body. I thought the big monster in my life was on his way out and all I knew was that it wasn’t his time. 

When I went home last night (Tuesday) the GingaNinja and I looked at each other and simply burst into tears, our much maligned but always loved spaniel wasn’t there – he was in hospital, awaiting his MRI, this was scarier than the time he put the shits up us by pretending he had cancer. But this time he’s been a bit of a pale imitation of himself for a while, however, we put it down to the arrival of UltraBaby, the attempt to integrate another dog into the house and all the general changes our lifestyle has gone through.

  
  But more recently he’s taken himself off to his bed, avoiding playtime, avoiding company and that’s not our ThunderPad. More worryingly was his inability to leap into the boot of the car and a lethargy that meant that just an hour or two of walking was more than he could handle and that’s not our ThunderPad.

When he arrived back from his latest little holiday to Wiltshire I was asked to carry him out of the car and into the house. What then happened was a level of whimpering and whining that I’d never known him to commit to – my heart absolutely sank. 

 The GingaNinja being a vet knew that something was wrong but being sensible and too emotionally attached called in one of her colleagues and then another to make sure she was making the right choice – referral and an MRI. 

The fears that she had were numerous, from slipped disc in his back to a tumour pressing down on his spine. It turns out that (unsurprisingly) he’s not built very well and has some back leg issues and a lack of strength in that region which is causing nerve problems, which in turn have been causing him significant distress.

The doctor told us that it could hopefully be managed with pain relief and a cocktail of drugs and that if we were lucky we could avoid surgery for the time being.

However, my over active Spaniel, now powered by Tramadol amongst other things, is keen not to spend the next six weeks in bed. ThunderPad is keen to be out and about chasing foxes, birds, flies, air … The list goes on but he’s restricted to his bed (or supervised in one room at a time). This is not going to suit him – but he’s alive and he’s okay.

The sad news for me is that he will probably not run long distance with me anymore. Even if his recovery was 100% I’m not sure I’d ever want to risk him over a 20 mile hilly trail run. I suspect he’s going to become a 5km plodder and maybe in the future a ParkRunner and I’ll be happy enough with that. 

 

        

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