Wednesday 29 March 2017

Why do I run?

Why I run?

A question often asked, but for someone like me the answer isn't always as simple as "'cos I can". Originally I started running because I was looking at an early deaths door. I stopped all forms of exercise, I was drinking lots of alcohol and eating way too much. For example, I'd have a cooked tea at home and then I'd be out having a couple McDonald's burgers on top. It was no surprise when I hit close to 20 stone in weight really.

My two brothers asked me if I wanted to run an obstacle course for charity with them. Being in denial of my own health I thought "yeah it will be a laugh, I could do that". Initially they said we were entering the 3 mile version only to find out actually we were entering the 7 mile version of the Commando Challenge.

20 stone road to an early grave
I did very little training and after the first mile it showed. To cut a long story short I finished it but I was close to having to organise my own funeral. It was then I vowed to run it again and with a bit of training, lose a little weight, and run pretty much all of it (apart when having to queue for obstacles). I did just that! I had lost a little bit of weight and smashed it out of the park, and this time it wasn't me who struggled. It was then I also got a place in the London Marathon and my life changed for the good. I trained properly by following a programme, lost a lot of weight and smashed the London Marathon.
London 2010
So originally it was for weight loss, but then I found how much it was doing for my mental health. I've used my running to raise a lot of money and awareness of various causes so it gives me that warm fussy feeling that I'm helping people by doing something I can actually do. It also keeps my head fresh, when I've had bad days at work or home it allows me to clear my head, get things back in order and cope with the stresses of life.

Which brings me on to why I run nowadays? The last couple of years I've come to realise how precious life is with losing a few friends early in their lives. One being one of my best mates. 1 died in Afghanistan during the conflict, 1 died at work suddenly due to an unknown time bomb in her brain, and my best friend through cancer. All had very young families and taken too soon. However I need to thank them, because they taught me some valuable life lessons. I don't stress or worry about smaller things if I can help it. Putting that into my running, I don't care about PB's anymore - if they happen they happen. I am not worried about missing a run, or having to rest. I make sure I work my running around my family and not the other way round. They support my running so much it's only fair I give back as much if not more to them.

Helping others through running
I see so many people stressing about this and that when it comes to running. It's hard not just to tell them "Be thankful for what you have" because to some even the little issues appear massive to them and you don't know the full story behind them. I hope though by doing this blog they may also think about what really is important to them.

It's always the way with the written word on the internet that somethings don't come across how you want them to sound, I hope this doesn't either. Running is therapy to me, I use the trails to help me deal with life. Getting outside in the fresh air surrounded by beautiful scenery helps me and I know it does for many others, be it coping with just general life or mental health like PTSD.

Top family
I guess now is a good time as any other to thank my wife and my son for all their support with my running. I know without it, I'd either not be running or I wouldn't be running in the same way I am today.

Thanks for reading.

Monday 6 March 2017

Cousin Jack Classic II 2017 - Some Bleddy Run

Twas a blowy morning the sun barely up as I woke early in the morning of the Cousin Jack Classic, not a Cornish Maid could be heard.

I returned to my childhood home in 'Druth, so I ready to take on this 17.5 mile Cornish Coastal section of the South West Coastal Path (SWCP).

It was my first and probably only invitational entry to an event I've had in my relatively short running career. Boy I was going to make the most of it.

This section of the path is deemed the toughest section of the Cornish Coastal path and they weren't pulling my todger about it neither.

Cape Cornwall (The Start)
Knowing the area reasonably well I know they weren't joking and the fact it's part of the Arc of Attrition route I know it doesn't take prisoners.

The wife kindly offered to help out so using our van she became known as the "bag lady" as she was doing the baggage drop from the start to the finish. David the RD is a great supporter of what I do and has even run the whole of the last day of my last big adventure. So it was the least we can do by supporting him and his events.

Some of my friends running it as well as David the RD
Since we were helping with the bags it meant we had to be at the start early so picking up a friend via St Ives along the way we got to the start at 7.15am. The wind was strong down on the Cape, as we assisted Dave and his wife set up the start.

Soon runners were arriving and kit check/registration opened and people were processed. The weather was horrid, with heavy rain and gusty winds battering the Cape.

After a safety brief by David we were set off at 10am. It's nice to have a slightly later start to most events. It was a busy start on the coastal path for the first mile but after that we all soon to start spread our legs.

The start line
The course was split into two parts the first 11 miles with a cut off of 4 hours was a lot of up and downs and the second of just over 10K with a 3 hour cut off was full of oh my f@@king god!

Some of the stunning coastline you run
Ample cut offs you are probably thinking and yes they're not stupidly nails to make but they still enough for runners to not make if they have a bad day especially in the first section.

The second part I lost a lot of time in, with more climbs, bouldering, knee deep bog made up of mud and animal shit. I really struggled with the boulders. I ain't going to lie, I found the last 10K part very tough and in most for me almost un runable. I learnt a lot from it to take forward but overall I was pleased. I went out to enjoy the course, and I bloody well did. I took in the scenery, took photo's, ran most of the way with two friends. I think one of the great things about this event is so many people I knew either were running it or were helping out!
Action shot early into the race as I've got my jacket on pic by Sarah Tregear Photography
After I crossed the beach and the final climb up the island to the finish, I was very proud of David and what he has achieved with this event. I was glad I ran it and even more honoured he gave me an invitational entry. Even so for the little price it was, 17.5 hard miles 3,927ft of climb was worth the medal, pint of cider, pasty, and good bag (some even had spot prizes in). When I look at some races and recently seeing a 10K costing £50 to enter, I glad I run these events and get more for the money!

The beach crossing before the finish line pic taken by Jane Allison
Now for the kit I used, well I started with the waterproof coat I had (it was also mandatory) as it was cold, windy and pissing down, however eventually I stowed it and just ran in my X-Bionic kit, because the rain kept coming and going and when it wasn't raining despite the wind I was like a boil in a bag in the jacket. So I ran the majority in my "Trick" top, "Trick" Shorts and arm warmers from X-Bionic. They really did the job well. As I was carrying own nutrition was part of the mandatory kit, I used 600ml bottles x 2 filled with Berry Tailwind Nutrition to cover me for the duration. I didn't really need anything else and even though there were marshals out about every 3 or 4 miles with some water and some sweets etc I didn't need anything else.

Somewhere along the in the race sun came out but the wind was strong
Those marshals were brill though. Out there for a long time getting batter by the wind and every other weather, some in places you wouldn't expect them to be, showed how much people respected David and his event.

3,927ft of climb over 17.5 miles. A little lumpy
Really big thanks to them and also a really big thanks to my sponsors X-Bionic UK and Tailwind Nutrition UK for their continuing support.

Overall it was bleedy brill! Thank you all for reading.

X-Bionic UK & Tailwind Nutrition UK
"We'll never truly find our limits until we try something we can't do"

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