Thursday, 8 October 2009

Goodbye


Hello! Unfortunately this is not my last meal before I leave. It's my brother's 6 ouncer. I'm leaving after dinner for the south and flying out tomorrow afternoon. I wonder what British Airways will chunder up conjure up. This will probably be the last post in quite a while - in fact I don't even know If there'll be any more posts. I've got a feeling there will be though, so stay sweaty.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Loony


Getting close now. I thought I'd make a trip to the shops for old time's sake. And boy am I glad I did. I wouldn't have seen this guy's bomber of a jacket otherwise. This was after I'd been jabbed with Hepatitis B. I almost let it go thinking it must have been an hallucination but a second glance said otherwise. I needed photographic evidence or you wouldn't have believed me nor would it have sounded as good as it looks. I finished the trip by purchasing a small bottle of iodine, some zinc oxide tape and some blackcurrant de-diarrhoea sachets. Also, yesterday I impregnated a mosquito net with stuff that could kill a cat. (Thanks to Jo for the net)

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Number one

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1 hour 43 minutes and 43 seconds I'd held onto a no.1. I had decided there wasn't time for trivialities in the schedule - I'd just release it slowly as I ran. I crossed the line and hit the mens like a whippet. Luckily it wasn't a no.2 - the toilets were busy and couldn't flush. There was quite a pile up in there.

It was perfect weather for it - overcast with no wind. Up and down all the way but I actually enjoyed it. Mostly through the countryside, I passed farms and fields and trees, a dead pheasant and lots of cows. I felt really good - relaxed - definitely the best I've run. The last two miles were the toughest, naturally. My left calf was ready to burst. The climbing in Scotland had equipped me well for the hills though - I'd been mentally battered by the snooker cue but physically endowed by nature. I whittled down many a herd on the verticals to soar into 251st position. I won an orange t-shirt and a tiny bar of muesli.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Luxury

I managed to fit a two mile burst run into my heavy schedule. Then some sprint strides to loosen down - a little exercise learnt from Mike.

The dentist today as well. I’d never used the toilet in there before but a heavy fluid intake meant that today was the day. As I washed my hands I read this sign. Gosh, how kind. They have even thanked me at the end. Surely I am the one needing to send out the gratitude. The hand dryer is superb - too good to miss.

15kg of berghaus

I tried my rucksack on yesterday with some make-shift weights I found around the house. A couple of water bottles, some baked beans, a Delia Smith book, a sack of spuds and The Good Pub Guide 2008, rated ‘easily the best’ by Time Out. I walked two miles with it and could certainly feel it. Delia was in there with a few Dundee cakes. It reminded me of the gym I've been thinking about joining. So this morning I went and did some weights – focusing on the legs. After the weights I swam until my face reached boiling point. There was already a guy in there and he was setting a good pace. I got some lengths under my belt and then noticed that we were crossing at the middle, hitting the edge and then turning to face each other at the same time. I'm pretty sure we were both thinking the same thing. We were now in a duel. One length I had the edge on him, springing off the wall a little before he did. Then he was ahead for a couple. I was determined to see him off before I got out. But a few minutes in, I was beginning to waver and feel a little dizzy. He just seemed to plough on at a consistent pace and he didn't even have goggles on. He looked a little possessed to be honest. Perhaps he had a hidden agenda, or maybe I’d beaten him to the buttock-clenching machine earlier, or maybe it was the chlorine. Soon enough I'd burnt up. I made sure that I'd left the changing room before he swaggered in. Next time my red-eyed torpedo.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Ooh, my lucky number

I've been shopping. No not slacking. In Crystal Maze terms, it would have been a tough mental game in the Industrial zone. 4 days in a row of slow walking that makes your knees want to buckle. Hours spent on crucial decisions - this green rucksack liner over here or that tangerine one over there. I got most of the kit but I was eventually locked out, probably for my own good as I stumbled to the bus stop void of emotion. 245 silvers. Damn.

Spoke to Morrisons, all booked up until December. My race number came through the post though and with it a description: ‘The course is challenging with three hills, but you will be rewarded with some lovely views over the Cheshire countryside.’

I went for a run. It was quite a good’un. I wore my new t-shirt as well. ‘…fast wicking, quick drying and has permanent odour protection meaning you can wear it more and wash it less.’ And it was and I will. I might buy another one and form it into a pair of pants.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Back to business


My neighbour recommended a good way of getting some money fast before I left for Scotland. A bag-packing/bucket collection at a supermarket. This sounded a good idea but I had to act quickly as they normally have extensive waiting lists. This turned out to be the case at Sainsbury's and Tesco but the woman on the phone at Morrisons didn't know. She told me to write a letter and hand it in to customer services under the code name, D. Bowen. So I put the phone down and that's what I did. I Slid the letter down the back of my shorts and blitzed it out of the garage on my dad's old racer. I'd reached around halfway there and had nailed the hill leading to the roundabout. I was feeling good, really good. I arrived at my destination in no time and was in and out and back on the road in two shakes of a dog's undercarriage. Having said that, it was quite an eventful ride. I'd passed a dead rabbit on the way, seen Frodo in the supermarket (well a guy that had 'Frodo' written on his back) and eaten a fly. He'd flown straight into my throat causing me to gag and weave down the road. I thought I'd swallowed him down, but a moment later I knew I hadn't. I ground to a halt and almost chundered on someone's front lawn. I held it in though and took a big gulp. Scotland had made me a brave man.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Glen Finglas, a Ceilidh & the Trossachs Cup, dear

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We went for our last walk to Glen Finglas where we met this chap. In the evening there was a traditional Scottish Ceilidh dance. I half completed a multitude of dances including part of the legendary Highland Fling. The main man also got me up to blow some air into his bag and pipes. I wasn’t sure how much it needed so spent most of the time blowing as hard as I could until my face cudnae take it no more. Then I had to squeeze the bag under my armpit and twiddle my fingers to make the beautiful noise. I’d actually taken some video but somehow when I’d put it back into the computer, it had been wiped. So you have to make do with Ray, a worthy substitute I’m sure you’ll agree. ‘How convenient’, my mum said. I was being accused of erasing my own photos. Mind you, there was some pretty incriminating evidence of me waltzing with a Mrs. Doubtfire look-a-like on that memory card. Damn.

I had declared that if we were to finish this snooker championship, it had to end today. A bold statement to mark I was serious for action, and probably a wise one since we'll be leaving tomorrow. It would be best of seven frames. The current score was 3-1 to my brother. If I won, it would be game on, but if I lost, it would be game over. It was another tight affair and once again it would be decided on the black. I had a huge chance. It could be potted into the middle pocket, but it was quite a toughie as the angle was acute. It needed to be precise. My hand was sweaty and the cue was stuttering as it slid against my thumb. But I hit it true. We both watched in agony as it rolled towards the pocket. It kissed the far corner of the jaw and coiled along the curve of the pocket, seemingly defying the laws of gravity, and out. I thought it was going in, there must have been a force field, or my brother had passed wind, something! But no, I had to admit defeat. My brother put it to bed and the Trossachs Cup was his. Ahk trossocks! Shiweebollocpoo!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Boggy, dear

Ben Venue, derived from the gaelic meaning 'the mountain of the cave'. It was a fair climb up with some scrambling involved. All in all it took six hours to tame. Half way, there was an eroded peat bog. It was reminiscent of The Dead Marshes in The Lord of the Rings. Yeah, with the floating corpses. My dad was following close behind me with my brother, Gollum, leading the way. I was stepping tentatively, one might say pussyfooting, but I knew what this bog was capable of if it was anything like the one Frodo navigated. I paused in front of what looked to be a particularly stodgy bit – I glanced around for alternative options. ‘Move aside son’, my dad said confidently, blowing away any cautiousness. He took a large step and was sucked-in up to his titties. Well, not quite. It wasn’t that deep, otherwise I’m pretty sure he’d still be in there, floating amongst the ‘undead’. It had come up just below the knee. The next step was an important one though - if you can get a firm footing you can set yourself free with relative ease. But it wasn’t firm, and the other leg disappeared as well. This all happened in a couple of seconds of intense excitement. I thought he was a goner, but in one swift move and a flailing step he’d managed to keep his balance and slip out of the vortex. Feet aching and mud splattered we arrived back at the hotel and necked an Irn Bru.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

A wee walk and a big wee, dear


Buttocks nae sore surprisingly. Went for a walk and played some tennis. Managed to go over on my ankle though stretching for what I'm sure would have been a magnificent passing shot. This is what this bath was for. Looks a bit like I was busting for a wee and cudnae quite make it so did it in the bath instead. I sort of wish It were true, because that would have been a mighty fine release. Probably 50 times the volume my bladder could hold. It's yellow because it's pumped from the Loch. They treat it but it still carries some colour. I didn't really fancy a full immersion so I just dipped my foot in.

An update on the billiards today. Made up for the lack of action in the last two days with two games - both very one-sided affairs. I got tonked in the first frame, embarrassing. I just wasn't feeling it. I just cudnae see the angles. If indeed 'The Zone' is real, I certainly wasn't in it. It had firmly placed itself over my brother. 3 ruddy 0. I needed the next one. I started well making some steady banks. Then I was snookered. I had to come off a cushion. But wait there was a red hanging over the pocket, this was pot-able, it just needed a fine touch. I came off the side and clipped it in. A real confidence booster and I carried the frame through. 3-1 on the ratio. Adrrrriaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan

Saturday, 12 September 2009

A real beastie, dear


30 miles of perineum (search it) pounding. Around a Loch, past Callander through to the village of Strathyre and back. Deep thigh burn. On return, a couple of sausage sandwiches on a disposable barbecue over looking the Loch. The one with leek in was a sure-fire mistake. Every now and then a wee gurgle brings the unmistakable taste to the buds. Ah well, 'beggars cannae be choosers', 'better a small fish than an empty dish'.

Friday, 11 September 2009

The Lady of the Loch, dear


A wee run, a trip to Callander town and two lengths of the Loch. Well, by boat. We rowed out onto Loch Achray and noshed down some turkey sandwiches. Returning to dry land, I kicked off my boots and my Air Perseus's flew on. It was a wee squelchy down near the loch so I had to make-do with the unforgiving tarmac. I cooled down in the pool and then reheated like a ready meal in the blistering steam room. I was glowing for about an hour afterwards. No billiards this evening - four dry-eyes.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Air gets no fresher than this, dear


A good workout today. I walked up Ben A'an, played tennis and had a swim. The summit of Ben A'an was a beauty. Panoramic views out over Loch Katrine and Loch Achray. The sun was out and took the chill off the fresh Scottish air. The only thing you could hear was the faint whistle of the wind against rock.

The second frame of snooker started with a bang. I was beaming with confidence and I was ahead by 8 points with only the pink and black to go. It was my turn and the pink was on. 'Sink the pink and I've won' pecked away at the back of my mind. It needed a fine cut into the middle pocket. I hit as fine as I could but it rattled the jaw and my brother was in. He snuck it home. There were two points in it - the black decided it bar any silly mistakes. It was to-and-fro with each near miss cranking the level of excitement up another notch. A cut into the far pocket was on but it needed to go in otherwise it would leave an easy bank. A musk filled the air, the tension was rife. Shit. No, it wasn't that tense, I'd missed - and my brother prodded it home with the massive cue. He exited quickly and I was left rueing my missed chances in a smelly snooker room. This needs a Rocky ending.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The Trossachs, dear


In Scotland for a week. I'll be putting myself through a fitness regime similar to the one Rocky did in number IV. Yeah the one against that monstrous Russian bloke. This is the snooker room where the training began. I challenged my monstrous brother to a game. A game so low in score that with only four colours remaining we were both on 6. Some sharp shooting and meticulous safety's were needed in order to clinch this tense end to the first frame. But tiredness had crept into my game and I had declared my dry-eye as he slotted home the blue and pink with some gusto. There was no coming back. I'd lost the first round. Cut to the montage.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Got the T-shirt


Got my welcome package today from Raleigh. It came through the door looking like a wreck. It was as if someone had used it as a pillow, in a pillow fight. There was a postal strike apparently.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Sweaty Coma


Had a real training session today. Came back at 9pm having left the house at 5.30pm. I'd been to Warrington. My neighbour runs a lot, really keen. She goes to a coach who often takes her and others to destinations all around so that it doesn't get boring. He doesn't even charge for it. Or if he does it's 50p. I'd say he was around 60 and could talk about running all day. He lives and breathes it. And loves it.
He gave me a few tips for my run in 20 days time. A very knowledgeable and kind man I thought as we pulled up at our destination. This was until we were out the car and he had his whistle to his mouth. We did 4 bursts of 3 minutes running, then 4 bursts of 2 minutes running, then some sprints to loosen down. Then another run. I had to run through a couple of stitches but felt pretty good after it. He's from the West Country and all I could think of was Justin Lee Collins and his tv shows where he tries to master something, such as high diving or wrestling. This one of course would be 'Justin Lee Collins: Half-Marathon Runner'. All except of course that I was doing the running.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

'Before it faces mother nature, it has to face mother Boyle.'

'Gert Boyle oversees everything', the man in the Columbia shop told me today. Certainly does. This is Gert in the changing room overseeing me try a pair of shorts on. I had to research this woman. She took over the business when her husband died suddenly in 1970. She was thrown into the deep end and it went terribly at first. The business was verging on bankruptcy but she stayed strong and turned it into what it is today. Well, Gert, I bought the shorts. Actually she probably knows.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Humbled

This is what people gave me tonight at my village hall's drop-Inn. I spoke to people who I'd never spoken to before and I left with a note. That sounds a bit like I burgled them, but I didn't. Seriously though, just unbelievably generous. I really meant each of the 163 thank you's. I think I need to invent a more thanking word than thank you, thank you just doesn't cut it. Truly, well and truly thank you. Thank. You.
I genuinely mean this - stern eye contact with a soft bobbing of the head. Almost enough for Barbados now thank you.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Gluteus Maximus


The third run was a moonlit one. Definitely a little easier - the chicken legs are strengthening and the glutes engaged. Full moon tomorrow.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Yourine

I've had to re-register with the doctors since coming home from University so I can get my vaccinations. You probably don't want or need to know this. In fact nobody probably reads this blog, so as I'm writing this I'm actually talking to myself. I suppose I'm kind of doing it for me anyway so that I can keep a record. It could be good for you though as well as it shows that I am actually preparing for this trip to 'India' rather than using your money to go to Barbados as Dad reckons. Anyway, the urine sample. What are you meant to give them? A nice rich golden one so they'll have plenty to look at? It's very tempting to add something to it as well, I'm sure somebody must have done that - probably backfired. Right to the brim do you think? I'll answer that. Yes.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

First run for the Half Marathon


With the Macclesfield Half Marathon looming on the 27th September, I thought it best to find out what kind of state I was in. So, slipping on my Air Perseus's Mark-III (trainers I'd purchased a year ago for Sport Relief and not used since) I ran the 2-miler around my village. Perseus! Perse-my-ass. I had lead on my feet and my body was moving in slow motion. I thought I was in pretty good shape - I'd had an image of myself bounding through the village like a gazelle. I cycled everywhere at University. I scaled mountains on my hardy Dutch racer every day. Then I remembered. Apparently, cycling and running work similar muscle groups differently. I looked this theory up for confirmation, confirmed it and then read the following on a cyclist blog: 
'The first two runs (4k run/walk) crippled me to the point of having to walk down stairs backwards.' Hah, easy does it. 

Monday, 31 August 2009

First training session: Moel Famau, Wales


It rained all the way up until we reached the summit where it poured. At the top of the Jubilee Tower, which is now much smaller than it used to be (seen here behind my brother) the wind was so strong it almost took you off like a kite. My pants were stodgy but at least my boots got a clean.