Saturday, March 31, 2012

Three years and counting...

This is the anniversary of my retirement from gainful employment and into the ranks of the idle layabout. "Do you miss work?", people ask. No, never...but sometimes I do miss the intelligent people I was fortunate enough to work with. I don't ever miss the corporate nonsense that seems to have replaced common sense and hard work. "Don't you get bored?" Never...I'm rushed off my feet, between training, running, travelling, writing, caring for my parents (and children!), and the million things you deal with in life. I'm never wondering what to do today. I never have to sit in traffic while commuting. I don't have to pretend that I care about things that are ridiculous, unimportant and demeaning. My life is full and as happy as the human condition allows, and I'm very lucky and grateful for that.

Monday, March 26, 2012

One brilliant Saturday

EnduranceLife has put together a great set of races called the Coastal Trail Series. This Saturday the Sussex edition of the series was held on and around the chalky white cliffs around Beachy Head and the hilly downs of the Sussex countryside. We had fantastic weather for the event which seemed to put everyone in a wonderfully festive mood. Claire and I ran the marathon along with old friend James Adams and new friends Toby Melville and Kelly Lucas. Gemma Greenwood ran the half and Kris Duffy the ultra, and we felt very welcomed.

The races were not mass starts; instead each runner "dibbed" a transponder into a magic box, and then started off. This made for a great, relaxed start. A couple more dibbings were required at checkpoints and the finish line, and that got all the timing information sorted out very efficiently. Miraculously, Kelly and I managed exactly the same time - dead heats are very rare marathon happenings. The scenery was sublime and the course excellently marked. Some serious hills were found at 10 miles, and along the cliffs. I found the downhills quite tough on my quads, but this was all good conditioning for my upcoming French stage race which starts on April 14, featuring twelve days of similar terrain.

I felt a little queasy immediately after the race, but managed to recover in time to speak at the evening's Live More Lecture, wonderfully organized and hosted by Kate Treleaven. I did my bit, and was followed at the podium by great talks by Mimi Anderson and Danny Bent. It was a wonderful audience of energetic, engaged runners and their families. Truly a memorable evening - I'm not sure if I actually managed to inspire anyone, but I was certainly inspired to pursue new adventures and challenges.

Friday, March 23, 2012

England at its finest!

Today was probably the finest March day ever on the south coast of England. Clear blue skies, no wind, the Channel impersonating a millpond, and balmy temps in the sixties. We walked along the safety rail-free cliffs, inhaled sarnies and scoffed copious cups of tea and scones with clotted cream and jam (I love you, fat and sugar!)

Tonight we're staying in a shabby hotel by the semi-derelict pier in seedy Eastbourne. Pigeons are trying to force their way into our room, through the window I've propped open with a coat hanger. We will run a hilly trail marathon starting at 9 a.m. tomorrow through some beautiful landscapes, and again fair weather is predicted.

I've been to Eastbourne twice before - once after running for 19 hours along the South Downs Way, the other time to see Elvis Costello playing at the Pier. (I've mentioned this fact a couple of times but I seem to be the only one excited about this. C'mon - it was a classic gig in his heyday - he even had to walk off distraught halfway through "Allison". I mean.)

Tomorrow night, I'm speaking at an EnduranceLife Lecture in Eastbourne. My only nervousness is due to the nature of the audience - they've paid hard-earned money to hear what I have to say, and I'd hate to disappoint.