"It's all about the run stupid!" No serious inspirational stuff from me. If you want serious motivational stuff click here or here. These are the ones that I really did cut out and keep and take up to London with me last year. But this is my run, and these are 26 (and a bit) little things and little bits of me and of you that I might just be taking around this Sunday
1. Christmas Day Parkrun. I guess it all started when I headed out from the Marriot Meon Valley Hotel on Christmas morning and headed off to Southampton Common. Thanks so much for the 27 volunteers who freely gave of their time on this cold, crisp and sunny morning so that 342 of us could complete a Christmas Day parkrun.
2. Bucketeering For CLIC Sargent At Morrisons. And my other two bucketeers, my glamorous assistants, Donna and Kim. Priceless moment number one when Kim deposited the (not insignificant) contents of her bucket all over the floor. It was not easy to pick up. Reckon we were crawling around for about a quarter of an hour. I'm starting to chuckle just thinking about it now :-)
3. My Home Town. You can take the boy out of London ... As much as I love the city where I grow up, Weymouth has been home for over 30 years now. Running around Weymouth quay I'm reminded what a wonderful place this is to run around.
4. My Training Partners. Last year I was a lone ranger. This year a pleasure to run with some other people on a Sunday. My thanks to Hayley, who started it all, and to Weymouth parkrun director Mike. And good luck to both of you for London. I'll give you a hugh cheer when you pass me on the 26th April. And whilst we're talking about April, also to 2014 New York finisher April.
5. The Morning I Decided To Run Around The Rock (AKA Portland) and the wonderful view out to sea on another cold and sunny morning.
6. Egdon Heath Harriers, my running family. Last year I felt strangely overwhelmed by the running club, with the hubbub and those local running icons whose achievements were so daunting. But now I seem to have found my place, with people I cut my running teeth with (as it were) but also the growing realisation that those other people are there for me too with the capability and desire to help and to inspire. Thank you.
7. And My Other Running Family. My life has been enriched by becoming a part of the Saturday morning parkrun community. But really, you HAVE to be a regular volunteer to get the most out of this. People far more knowledgeable than I extol its benefits in bringing people together. I firmly realise that it is not necessary to be a member of EHH in order to be any of the following: a) Fast : b) Not fast: c) A thoroughly decent person: d) Inspirational. Thank you.
8. And My Other Other Running Family. Last year the realbuzz bloggers did it for me. And this year they're still there. And then to get a personal message out of the blue with a whole series of invaluable tips on surviving Paris. Thank you.
9. My Daughters – and Les Miserables. IMHO the greatest musical. I'm listening to that in the shadow of the Nothe Fort, where WoW Youth Musical Theatre performed it so magnificently, and suddenly I'm tearful thinking of my two daughters. As someone once said to me, forget all the other stuff – raising your children – the most important job that any of us ever get to do. I'm so proud of you.
10. That Tempo Run Very Early On In The Plan. I knew it was windy but I still headed over to Portland. That evening I had to stop running for danger of getting blown over. Coming back over Ferrybridge alongside a cyclist, on foot. I really felt we should have been roped together.
11. That First 20 Miler In The Wind And Rain. And how I conked out on the final ascent of Boot Hill. Boy was I glad to get in from that one. That was a low point. But not a very low point. I knew I'd bounce back :-)
12. Strangely How Fondly I Felt About Those Early Hill Runs. Culminating in the following: (3 * Belfield) + (2 * Lanehouse) + (1 * Army Camp) + (1 * Everest) = 8 miles. Totally mad! Did I really do that?
13. The (Strangely Named) Nonsuch parkrun. I had to drive up to London in the guise of "Dad's Removal Service". Two years back I would never have dreamed of getting up at 5 AM in order to take in a parkrun! We all know it never snows in Weymouth. But it does snow in Nonsuch Park (Cheam). Parkrun in the snow! Another unique experience.
14. Running on the Friday before the Grizzly. Out came the shorts for the first time this year on a glorious afternoon. Another run when you think that running is not such a bad choice of pastime. I used to play golf. Now all I want to do is to run over golf courses.
15. The Grizzly Bog. The Grizzly. the "Dash to Delirium". "Twenty Miles Of Grime and Punishment". An awesome day out, with thanks to Rachael, my running partner for the day. And nothing could be more memorable that the infamous "Grizzly bog".
16. The Grizzly Stairway To Heaven. It may be corny, but as we ascended to the top of the cliff, on that part of the course identified as the "Stairway to Heaven", I really did start singing "There's a lady who's sure, all that glitters is gold ...".
17. The Grizzly Bedford Caveman. Couldn't believe that there were a couple having a bit of a domestic towards the end and all because he was worried that she would prevent them from getting round inside four and a half hours. C'mon – DOES IT REALLY MATTER. We had visions of him clubbing her over the head and dragging her around by her hair. I dubbed him "the Bedford Caveman" (FWIW they did get round comfortably under 4hrs 30).
18. Altitude Training. Took time out for a week's skiing. Not sure if skiing helps the running, but sure as hell running helps the skiing. And our impromtu (alcohol fuelled) game of charades on Wednesday, and one, normally respectable gentleman crawling around on the floor whilst gurning. Don't think his team ever did come up with "Ugly Coyote".
19. Altitude Training. John, 62, had skied with us all week, but deserted us on the last day as he had decided to go snowboarding! Next time we saw him he was sporting a very large ice-pack, and was subsequently signed off work for six weeks. Further evidence that snowboarding is indeed the devil's invention!
20. And Then Just The Feeling Of Running Again. After a week 's altitude training I got out on that Saturday evening. I felt like a caged lion released into the great outdoors! If I can get that feeling in Paris I won't be too unhappy.
21. The Weymouth Half. Some great support mad such a difference – thanks.
22. Just Bumping Into So Many People On The Long Runs.
23. Mel and Myrtle. And following on from that, the evening that Mel (the Bell) and Myrtle (the VW Beetle) spotted me on the causeway home from Portland. "Beep beep'm beep beep yeah". Priceless moment number two :-)
24. Pace Setting At Parkrun - A special run as daughter Madeleine, training for the Hackney Half Marathon, followed me around for her first ever parkrun and went three minutes faster than expected. And a slightly more experience parkrunner, Marjory Bluer, followed me round for her 269th and achieved her best ever parkrun time.
25. Weymouth's Magical Lightshow. Not everyone is enamoured with our new laser lights. But one evening, as the night came down, and as the cool rain started to fall, I experienced a marvellous lightshow, the raindrops twinkling magically in the beams of light.
26. Quadrophenia. IMHO the greatest album ever made, and that same evening accompanied by Pete and Roger and Keith and John, I reached that almost hypnotic state when you're running and you don't know you're running and the time and the miles just fly by :-)
And A Bit. And, inspired by this blog post, my latest earworm. As sung by Mr Smooth himself, "These Foolish Things".
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