The truth is we did it all for the biscuits

7.52AM on a dim sunday morning in October it was complete. 2000 miles in a calender year for the Murph and I. The murphometer is full.

292 days. 2000 miles. 1 packet of cheese biscuits to celebrate. And then we ran on. What else was there to do?

Coming and Going

Again it’s been a long time since i last posted, been busy busy busy, Well when I say more too lazy to post to the blog. If it’s a choice between writing about doing things or actually doing things its no choice at all. So we spent the summer running at dawn before the sun kicked in and then strolling through the fields once it did. It works well for us, neither of us particulary likes running in heat and I always feel its my choice if I do so but Murph would just follow me until he collapsed and thats not fair.

Between all that running and walking we’ve seen a bit of an increase on the old Murphometer.

Thats right we are around 1800 miles – which means I think we’re going to be done with 2000 miles this year a few months in advance – I’m sure we’ll keep it ticking over though. I’ve been pondering it and I think next year I’ll forget about logging mileage – it’s an interesting thing to do but I want to also just wander without having the numbers clicking through my brain. After all that the reason I don’t train with a watch anymore.

We also started exploring the Brecon beacons again now we can go back out there in preperation for some plans I have a long way down the line and of course it’s always great to get out there with murph for a day.

And some sad news is that we lost little Trouble the cat after 21 years. The little dude just got too old in the end. Weird to spend almost half your life with an animal and then he’s gone. I still look for him waddling about in his old routine and find myself still saying morning to him first thing as he headed for his food bowl.

However onwards and upwards. The sadness fades and there are always happy memories and many more memories to make with Murph. It just brings it more into focus.

And so on with the photos!

What is failure?

I had a plan. It was a good plan. I tried to execute the plan. I failed. Maybe.

The plan was to run overnight on the solstice weekend between dusk and dawn, so from 9.34 PM to 4.57AM. I would do it mainly on the beach as the tides were right for most of it.

So I packed a drop bag and set off with Murph last night at 9.34 on the dot. We left the bag hidden on the beach as dusk set in and off we went. It was fun, it was different but something was off. I didn’t feel like the running was right, once it was totally dark it was harder than I thought to keep going over the rocks with a headtorch only – and to do it safely I was slow – which was fine by me. but something was off. Just a feeling. We covered 14 miles or so with a few rest breaks at the bag. but something was off. The ankle played up worse than normal and I think the battering it took on the rocks, the stumbles and incorrent foot placements had blown it. It was no excuse I’ve run through much worse pain than that.

After I while I realised that I wasn’t going to do the full seven and a half hours and once I came to terms with that then the pressure – albeit pressure only I had placed on myself – lifted and for the last few miles and the trip home through the fields and woods I was refreshed. I took the time to think about the whole experience and realised that in failure I had learned a lot more. Once we were off the beach I could turn my headlamp off and just move without having to cooncentrate fully on every step. I no longer had to worry about Murph (in his led collar) as the fields hold comparitively few dangers compared to the beach. I realised that much of my stress on the beach was worrying about him in the dark, I couldnt see what he was doing or exactly where he was. It struck me that in the total darkness I couldnt see him enjoying himself – Thats why i love to walk and run him – And in the dark I couldnt.

It was a good plan and it failed not because I failed but because it was a plan I came to realise didn’t matter. The failure would have been to not try in the first place. We got home around half two, I could I suppose have stuck it out for two and a half more hours in the fields but I would have done that just to make up numbers. It didn’t matter anymore. We woke at 7 and walked to the beach – and I could see him loving it, having fun and because I could see that it made all the difference.

I may have failed at one thing but I suceeded at a lot more last night.

Dusk at the path to the beach
Its the sandy bit … before the rocks
The lighthouse at Nash hoves into view – Look up – fall over
Worlds worst photo of a lighthouse
Met this little dude when i nearly put my hand on im climbing a rock
The best bit of the whole night – sharing a huge packet of cheese biscuits with Murph
What the hell are we doing said the green eyed goblin
No excuses but hours of running over these with just a headlamp drains your mind (and rolls the ankles)
No stopping – heading home on the last leg – when i say it was dark — its dark out there

All roads lead home

And so the clock ticks and the seasons turn, in this case thankfully from spring to winter and so we all adjust to a new way of living, for a while at least. But some things never change and that no matter where you’ve been, no matter how far or near the roads always lead home.  It doesn’t matter if you can’t do the distance you did, or be outside as long as you were you can always return home … and then do it over again … and again.

I know what im trying to say but am struggling to put the feeling into words. This photo though unspectacular struck a chord with me, it’s one of the many I take then forget about but this one stuck with me.

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This is the road home for us after we’ve been out training in the fields instead of the beach. It’s also the end of our route home after we’ve been up to see my parents in the next village. For me this is a journey from one home to another. I’ve never lived more than a mile from my parents (barring university) and where I was born and grew up, be it where I am now or when I ran the pub.  Some people find it strange that I’ve never lived anywhere else, I think some see it as almost sad. I find great comfort in it and the realisation for me is that simply I’ve never needed to be anywhere else. I love where I live, I’m exceedingly grateful to live here and the current climate is truly making me appreciate how lucky I am. I’m lucky that I have roads that lead to two homes.

I’m lucky that I consider the whole area my home, be it the fields, beach or woods. I know every inch locally like the back of my hand, I explored everywhere as a kid and I still can now through running and walking with a dog. Blessed is truly the word.

In these difficult times when people are told to stay home I have come to realise that for me that means everywhere. All these photos are taken within a mile and a quarter of home. Truly lucky and grateful.

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The crops are growing. Soon they’ll be above his head – enjoy the view while you can dude

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Met these guys on the way back from the beach – they came to say hi

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This is the face of a dog thinking – why are you playing with the horses not me

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The primroses are in full bloom

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Dawn and high tide

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Goes to show with enough love and patience you can do anything – no lead required anymore

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Sun sets – sun rises and so we go

 

Perspective

I was out on the beach last week. It was cold, windy and raining. I had taken a fall and banged up my knee and elbow.  The way back was into the headwind and I was feeling like I hadn’t had enough calories for the run (which i admittedly hadn’t).  I was feeling kinda miserable and had the internal monologue of self pity going on at my suffering.

Then I thought this isntsuffering at all. What people are going through all over the world is suffering, losing, lives, loved ones, jobs, freedom. Thats suffering. My choice to run along a fucking beach in shit weather is hardly suffering on any scale and the only one who makes me do it anyway is me. And in that moment I realised I was being a complete self absorbed dickhead. I had the beauty of the beach, I had the company of my dog, I had health enough to run this and the freedom to do so. I am truly blessed and fortunate and its something I need to remember.

It’s made me realign a few things, go out and help people during this crisis, do what I can even in small ways, look after my parents, neighbours and community as much as I possibly can. Give something back for once, I can take what I need from nature on the run.

Time to step up and help others suffering because I’m fortunate enough to not be.  Take care out there people and if you can do something good then do it. Little things, little gestures might just go further than you think.

And now the photos!

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Blessed just to be here

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Poser posing posingly

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Sunsets

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Shiny days

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Jesus Christ its a hailstorm! Why are we out in a hailstorm you idiot/ (said the dog)

A little bit of this …

A little bit of that.  Where does the time go? I swear it was only a week since I last posted and its more like 2 or 3.  In between we’ve been covering some miles – walking and running. I was being so careful this time to not rush back and just continue the injury cycle – and then i go and roll my ankle in a field anyway.  But one of the joys of owning a dog is that you don’t get to really rest up – you always get to do active recovery. So whatever the weather or how the body feels I make sure Murph gets his exercise. Injuries are frustrating but I’ve learned a lot about coping with them. Mainly by signing up for more races.  Well i couldn’t not sign up ofr the Preseli Ultrabeast – I had to reluctantly pass on it last year as I was just a little too injured with the 50 miler I had planned but this year I’m aiming to start a race uninjured (some hope)

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Morning struts and a camouflaged dog

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Like two ships passing in the … err afternoon

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Just glad to be out – When i look back at the photos I cant even remember the day or whether we were running or walking.

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The path back from the beach at dusk

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These are our favourite fields – In winter they are muddy and kinda meh but we’ve made our own path around teh edges so we can keep going – In spring and summer they are the best place ever for zoomies

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We headed off into the wilds – well it was a few miles from home but we know places where no-one else goes and we can get some hill training done without interruptions

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Plus our secret riverbank is somewhere to get some play done

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X marks the dog – I aint moving my butt until you promise to take me with you – wherever it is

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Sunsets at the beach

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Sunset sans dog

Happy Mothers Day!

I shall wantonly use my blog to say a big happy mothers day to my mum (of course) cos she’s the best!  I wouldnt be where I am and who I am if it wasn’t for her.  She is also one of teh few people Murph actually likes and is honoured to be able to get him to sit (even if it does a require a treat)

Speaking of Murph I of course couldnt not post some photos. Things have been fairly quiet on the running front, just taking it easy and praying everything fixes up in time for Preseli … My usual theory prevails. Im either in the process of getting injured, recovering from injury or wondering if ive recovred from injury yet. Goes with the territory I guess. We have been however doing 3 or 4 miles of walking before work and the same after each day so thats time on feet and so im not that worried about any race specific training ..yet

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Some new friends

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It all got mysterious and misty the other night – However my usual photography skills totally failed to capture it

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Murph being pursued by Tilly

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A better one of the little buddies

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Look what I brought you ….

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Dawn has been cool this week

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Love this one. I shall call it dog at dawn

 

Taking it easy

Half term came and went and finished with a 13 mile training run as I knew the tides were gonna be suck this week back in work and had already decided to take a rest week – no running at all!  Walking Murph a lot of course rain or shine so its never total rest and the aches and pains dont seem to change whether I run or not. In fact I probably feel better when I do run.  Theres so much information about training plans out there, do this many miles, do x amount of speedwork, do this do that but I really am feeling the “fuck it do what you love and it’ll come together” works better for me and to be honest that usually translates into 50 mile weeks anyway which is plenty.

I stumbled across a poem this week also – I dont usually do poetry but this one spoke to me especially the second half.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

That last line …. think about it

And of course we saw some stuff

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Incoming!

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Day of the driftwood

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I call this one “Dog looking into mist”

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This day was nuts there was so much huge drift coming in. Murph was instucted to fetch this one but failed

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All the way along, miles of it

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Sunsets in forests

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And greeeeeen

 

Bah Flu Wah

Every time I feel like im getting into a groove something like flu kicks in. This week has been mainly a writeoff, to be fair the flu didnt properly kick in until later in the week but last weekend saturdays run was around 10 miles and I felt amazing. Then on sunday everything was broke. Just felt bleuuurgh from the off. So you know what, I walked a lot of it, we did 6 miles or so but half run half walk and normally I cant get away from that “cheating” feeling when I walk but I figure its better to be out there doing something than nothing at all. I know Murph would prefer it!

So with 3 months to the first ultra and with a few fell races in between I feel like I cant get a solid training block started … and then i realise I havent really stopped and the fitness is there anyway so whats the worry.

Technically I shouldnt go out and run today but y’know…. techincally we’re all dead one day so im gonna seize this one

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Great subject – terrible photography skills

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Nights are drawing out

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We had a bit of snow – Murph loves it!

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Frosty morning at Nash Point

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Waterfalls of course

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Our forest in between the showers

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Sepia tinged doggo

Just find the joy

We’re still out there. And we’re just enjoying being out and training. By training I just mean running when we feel like it – which for Murph would be every day if he could but for his old man it means when I know the body can take it. No matter because we can always walk anyway!

It really is such a joy to be out with a dog again, I think I’d forgotten how much pleasure you can get just by making an animal so happy. Gotta admit Soaks is probably up there watching and thinking Thank God he never made me run like that, she was definitely a walking dog. But Murphy was born to run (to be fair its his genetics) and watching him bounce around and be a general lunatic with a huge grin on his face is a simple way of making any hurt I’m feeling disappear.  It’s so easy to melt a mile away in his company.

We’ve seen some pretty cool sunsets recently too

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Giant dog!

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This is actually early morning not dusk

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First snowdrops!

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Looking handsome

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Last nights clouds – Looking a bit ominous with snow forecast

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Training partners