Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Good Thing

On the way back to the show, I drop in on the Thunder Run. Plenty of people are not thundering around the course this morning, in fact quite a lot are walking.

Back at the show, Doggo has some nice runs and a few clear rounds today but still no rosettes. MD does ok too, runs well but frustratingly he always seem to get a pole or miss a weave of something. Also he seems to be getting more confident and getting faster which is creating more problems for me but in the long run, this is fundamentally a good thing. L says that if I have to work on my speed, she has just the training plan, that’ll be mine then!

Daughter has departed for a five day stint in a camping barn somewhere up in the Peak District. The Rave Shack she calls it. Problem is, knowing her friends, being in each other’s pockets for almost a week, they could be at each other throats... there could be murder but hopefully not.

(Sunday 1st August)

Friday, July 30, 2010

For The Seriously Mad

Show report - day two. Doggo is not hitting the contacts at the moment, probably due to lack of training. So that cost us two runs today. He's booked in for a refresher course from September. He was clear in his jumping though. It was a good run but again no rosette.

I missed one of MD’s runs completely as I was too busy working. The two runs he got included a truly awful one and a good one, where he was clear up to obstacle 12 but then didn't even see the weaves and went for a hurdle instead. So we picked up faults for that. I’ve not had much time to concentrate on running them this weekend due to ring managing both days. I’m hoping for better tomorrow when I don't have to work on the rings.

At lunch time I nip over to Burton, a few miles away, and collect L, who has managed to use public transport to get that far. Then when the agility has finish we move to a different part of Catton Park where the Thunder Run is taking place. It’s a 24 hour running race where the aim is to do as many laps of the 10k cross country course in the time allowed. It starts a 2pm today and finishes at the same time tomorrow. There is an individual competition for the seriously mad but also a team event for five or more people. L is secretly hoping someone will be injured and that someone will beg her to run.

I need to start persuading a few people, we must do this next year.

(Saturday 31st July)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Eternally Grateful

L gets up early and heads off for the gym with my personal training plan. She doesn’t take the dogs out. Oh yes, I nearly forgot. The yappy one (and Doggo) are coming with me aren’t they. Three day dog show, run by my own club.

The show starts at 1pm but I’ve been told to get there for 8.30am because there is so much to do but I know from past experience that this isn't usually the case. So I don't rush. I get there at just gone 9.00 to find that not much is happening, as ever. I should have stayed in bed, although L had bolted early, so not that much fun on my own. At least the dogs get plenty of walks, making sure that they’re nice and relaxed, as well as knackered for their first run at 1pm.

I’m assigned to ring manage for two days and then I get Sunday off, apart from helping clear up afterwards. Working on a ring doesn’t make for very good performances in the ring, because you’re just too busy to concentrate when it gets to your turn.

There are just two runs each for the boys today. Doggo misses a contact, tut tut, but then goes clear in jumping. MD messes up the weaves in jumping but then goes clear in the agility. Yayyyy. 18th place, outside the rosettes but that’ll do for starters.

L says she’ll be ecstatic with 18th tonight in her race. I’d be ecstatic for her. In fact that’s better than I usually do.

I leave the show and head straight to Shipley Park to meet her there for the Heanor 5 mile race. It’s a 7.30 start and I’m on Shipley Park for 7.10, only... no one else is. I feel I’m in the wrong place. The start is at Shipley Park Cricket Club. Hmmm. No cricket club here. I think that should be Shipley Cricket Club. I jump back in the car and eventually find the right place, five minutes after the race start. It’s a good job I wasn’t intending to run in it.

Also after being fine all day, it’s now tipping it down. The boys and I gallantly stand in the rain and support L. For once even Doggo looks happy that he’s not running. Once L finishes, we leg it to the car and then home to dry off.

She tells me that the wait is over... Panda Bear's new single is out. I hide my excitement well. L asks me if I’ll download it for her tonight, she’s not good at doing these things. If I do, she says, she’ll be eternally grateful... and seduce me with candles, wine with Panda Bear playing in the background... I’m not sure that quite does it for me. We get the bus to the Crown instead.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Taking Precautions

After the run last night and cycling to and from work today, I’m probably not in the best shape for squash. Not that I’m sure what the best shape would be. My opponent's stated aim is to win 100 games in a calendar year, my aim is to stop him. He also has the added dilemma that he fancies a game or two of tennis whilst the weather is good; although this will slow his inexorable drive for 100 blood stained notches on his squash racquet.

After another defeat tonight, even I’m beginning to agree that it may be beginning to look like tennis weather... So we agree a game for our next match up, in two weeks time. Stay indoors that night, it’s going to rain.

The wasps' home now appears to be vacant and derelict. So I get chance to inspect it from up close. It is quite a work of perfection. L says she is full of admiration for the horrible little cretins.

She’s been taking precautions in case they come back and overdosing on toast and Marmite. Apparently you don't get bitten or stung by insects if you eat the stuff. Not that she needs an excuse to hit the Marmite.

Somebody seems to have ‘borrowed’ a tub of Chamois Cream, as I found it open in the bathroom. Must have been Daughter. I hope she hasn’t mistaken something that is meant for your crotch for face cream.

(Thursday 29th July)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Natural Order Of Things

So much for the new enhanced Red Arrow service, that promises a bus every ten minutes. I get to the bus stop for 8.30, the first bus comes at 8.55 and of course it’s packed. Then when we arrived in Derby, the driver drops us off at the old place in Market Square, as he claimed he was 25 minutes early. Work that one out.

The evil enemy are probably no more by now because the wasp man has been. We’ve just got to keep Doggo away from his favourite leg lifting spot for a few days in case there’s some stray napalm around.

It must be a bad bus day because after work I try and get the Indigo to Breaston, from where we have a race tonight. The board at the bus stop says they’ll be a bus in two minutes. Excellent. I wait... and wait. The board changes to six minutes and sticks like that for half an hour before finally counting down to zero, at which point a bus appears and it is of course packed. This service is supposed to be every 20 minutes.

I seem to do better than L, who can’t get an Indigo at all and in the end gets the R4 to Risley and ends up walking the mile down Risley Lane to get to Breaston.

The race is Erewash Valley Running club’s 'The Run', now rebranded as ‘The Run 4.2’. They got into trouble describing this race as a 4 miler and have now decided it’s 4.2 miles, hence the rebrand. It’s also becoming a bit of an annual thing for me. This is the third running of it, I’ve done all three and I’ve got the mugs to prove it. A white one for 2008 and a black one for 2009, this year my money’s on it being red.

I’ve also gone slightly quicker each year but this year I can’t really see me lowering my time. Last year I had protégée to race against and I was 2-0 down in our mini race series, so I had to beat him and did. This year without that sort of motivation and without much training either, I just can’t see it being a good race for me but...

You just never know. I start quicker than I wanted to and then forget to slow down, as I start a tussle of sorts with a chap who is considerably older than me and being behind him just doesn’t seem right somehow. We tussle for the first two miles but then I have to accept my place in the natural pecking order of things, behind him. It’s all a bit too fast for me, I’m doing six minute miles and I ought to be half marathon training, what with Nottingham coming up, and doing seven and a halfs!

The older gentleman forges on ahead and catches two other runners. With a mile to go, I realise that I could catch them too, if I really wanted to. I want to. So I dig deep and do indeed catch them. It also brings me right up to him and with just a quarter of a mile to go, he’s in striking distance. I don’t however like overtaking people in sight of the finish line, not when they’ve done all the work pacing me around... but he’s slowed so dramatically... I desert my principals and nip past him.

My time... well... last year I did 25.40, this year I’m just over 25.00 on my watch. Wow. Though I didn’t see the finish line so I stopped my watch late. The provisional results seem to have me down as 24.57. Double wow.

And the mug colour is... white. White? How does that work then, did they have a load left from 2008? Hmmm. Disappointed with that.

The general consensus is that although it’s probably not 4 miles it certainly isn’t 4.2. A couple of GPS watches put it much closer to 4 than 4.2 but I’m still pleased with my time. I’m also well impressed with L’s time which, even taking the distance as 4 not 4.2, puts her inside her 10k target, that we’re working towards. That is if she can keep the pace the same for another two miles. Surely my training plan isn’t paying off already. I’ll make myself redundant.

The race starts and finishes at the Navigation pub, so guess where we go afterwards....

(Wednesday 28th July)

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Onrushing Express Train

I’m still alive. The blotches seem to have gone down now and no one at work notices my reddish glow.

L’s booked a chap to kill the blighters. He’s coming tomorrow. Everyone at work advises I do it myself with a £10 can of wasp killer from the garden centre, a veil for my face and a cricket bat, just in case. I’m not so keen to go back into the war zone and I’m not sure L will let me anyway.

The chap says it may also destroy the bush. What’s he going to use a flame thrower? Well suppose it’s one less thing for me to have to trim. He’s coming first thing tomorrow. Daughter intends to get up early to make sure she’s there to spectate and take photos.

I change my car insurance online to a different company. Yet a week later my old insurance has expired and I’ve had notification of that, but all is quiet on the new insurance front. No confirmation email and nothing through the post...

I ring them. It takes 22 minutes to get through to their call centre... what have I done? I’ve signed up to a company who doesn’t do email, or snail mail and doesn’t answer their phones until they’ve pushed your stamina for their awful hold music to extremes. Not a good start.

Turns out, I am insured but for some reason no email address was stored with my application, despite the fact apparently it won’t let you submit it online without one. The chap at the call centre explains this in a fake surprised voice that more than indicates that this happens all the time.

The new football season is fast approaching, just like an onrushing express train and I’m tied to the tracks. I feel that if I close my eyes and pretend the train isn’t coming I might avoid it but realistically I know this won’t be the case. As you can probably tell, I’m not filled with that much optimism.

Derby have changed their system.... again. It’s now going to be 4-2-3-1 for the new season. Last season we conceded a lot of goals down the wings which is why we reverted to a standard 4-4-2 after a failed attempt at something similar.

Our two friendlies this last week: Bournemouth 3-3 and Chesterfield 5-4.

Conclusion. We will score goals against lower league sides but concede just as many. When we play better opposition... I hate to think. We play Stoke City tonight, which could be enlightening.

I suppose with all these goals flying in... our first game up at Leeds is bound to be a 0-0 bore draw.

I get home from dog training to find that Derby have defeated Stoke 1-0. Oh. A win and a clean sheet. Blimey.

(Tuesday 27th July)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Feeling Lucky

The weather is miserable but dry, so far. I’m feeling lucky, so I decide to dodge the inevitable rain on the bike. It doesn’t rain.

L does the bike too, indoor. She executes my training plan on the bike with the broken seat. My training plan obviously isn’t tough enough if she has to spice it up like that. I must review it. She says she’s feeling quite pleased with herself. I’ll have to put a stop to that as well.

My luck is holding and it’s still not raining as I cycle home. Though I forget that they have the road up in Stapleford. They have scraped the surface off, ready for resurfacing. It’s not before time; this has been easily the worst section of road on my journey since I started cycling to work four years ago. It’s even worse now of course with the road up, a real puncture trap, so I should have taken a different route but I forgot. Still my luck holds. At least today they have started to lay tarmac on a stretch of it and it’s lovely. It will be great when it’s all done.

I get home and take the opportunity of a night free of training, neither dog nor running, and the lack of rain, to cut the front hedge. There I am whizzing along with the cutters when I inadvertently chainsaw through a wasps nest. Not so lucky now. Ouch. Well that doesn’t really describe it. I leg it round to the back garden pronto but not before I’ve taken at least half a dozen hits on the arm, neck and head.

Nursing my wounds, I watch from a safe distance as a reinforced wasp army of hundreds circle the front garden ready to launch a fresh attack should I dare to pick up the hedge cutters again. Later, as things calm down, I inch back into range and notice the nest... it’s the size of a football. How did I not see that!

It is around this point that I realise that the damage to myself is more severe that I first thought. I am now coming out in some all over allergic rash of hives, in a nice range of colours ranging from yellow to red. Within the hour my body was looking impressively like a relief map of the Lake District. L calls NHS Direct who recommend immediate admittance to A&E. I settle for some anti-histamine pills instead. Then after another hour or so the worst of the mountain range are starting to subside. So it seems I might live after all. Still, I suggest to L that she best get romantic with me tonight just in case it’s her last chance... she doesn’t actually say no but I can tell that being seduced by Mr Spotty isn’t top of her ‘to do’ list this evening.

(Monday 26th July)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

If It’s Not One Thing It’s The Other

With his weaves refreshed, MD has no problem with those today but gets a least one pole on every course. If it’s not one thing it’s the other.

Doggo also catches the weave bug. Bug as in the negative sense and refuses to do any more than 10 of the 12 on his first course. Exasperating. We do better on his only other run of the day and go clear but disappointing come nowhere.

L does her timed run, as specified on her training plan, but seems disappointed to be around 15 seconds outside her target time. I don’t think that’s bad, it’s early days. Good that she's disappointed though... and I'll expect an improvement next week...

As expected Alberto Contador seals his third Tour de France title in four years and it’s great to see a reinvigorated Mark Cavendish win the final stage on the Champs Elysees for the second successive year, the first man ever to do this back-to-back. It’s his fifth win of the race, which after a bad start didn’t look likely. Now if only he hadn’t thrown his toys out the pram when things weren’t going so well he would have amassed enough good placings to win the Points Competition.

(Sunday 25th July)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Empty Handed

At today’s dog show MD again impresses me with his enthusiasm and running. He has a pole down in his first course and then struggles with the weaves in his next two. Mainly my fault for being a bit too ambitious with his weaving when I could have encouraged him to go slower and given him a straighter angle. We retire to the practice ring for a refresher on those weaves. Just one pole all day though is cause for optimism.

Before Doggo’s first run of the day, I sit scoring on the course he is going to be running. This is a good chance to see how everybody else is tackling it. Badly as it happens. I sit watching everyone get eliminated. It’s a tricky course but there’s a real chance we can get something here, though the course time limit is very tight and we may get time faults if he doesn’t get a shift on.

When we run, it’s clear but very scrappy. We could have been a second or two quicker I reckon. It’s particularly annoying as we are a mere tenth of a second outside the course time. Even so it’s good enough for sixth. Problem is the rosettes stopped at fifth.

In fact the old man gets three clears out of three today. Though again on another course, with the same judge, we are again just outside the course time, this time by seven tenths.

We could home empty handed but in positive mood for tomorrow.

The Tour de France is winding up for its finale and today it’s the penultimate stage, the individual time trial. Andy Schleck, unfancied in the time trial, does a decent ride but still goes down by 31 seconds to Alberto Contador. Who is now set to win his third Tour by a total margin of 39 seconds... which by some amazing coincidence is exactly the same time he gained on Schleck, when Schleck’s chain came off on the mountain stage last week.

Later, we head over to Derby to check out the Greyhound on Friar Gate. The Greyhound has been shut for four years but reopened in May after being refurbished by father and son team Trevor and Paul Harris of the Derby Brewing Company.

The pub dates back to 1734 and was part of the notorious ‘Derby Mile’ pub crawl, if you’re into that sort of thing. The mile was once quite an undertaking but several pubs have closed along it in the last few years, so it’s not the challenge it once was.

Unfortunately my first impressions are disappointing and that the place is not a patch on the Brewery Tap, The Royal Standard on Derwent Street. It seems much more modern and trendy. It doesn’t have the back to basics approach of the Royal Standard. Perhaps it’s just because it’s too busy tonight, which I guess is good news for them. Even the beer garden and roof terrace are full, there’s just nowhere to get comfy. We will try and revisit on a quieter night.

It’s odd how pubs like the Greyhound have shut through lack of trade but then once someone who knows what they're doing opens them again, they thrive. Before we got to the Greyhound, we passed bar after bar, practically all of which we were sparsely populated. In fact all of Derby looked pretty quiet tonight, apart from the Greyhound.

We move on to the Silk Mill via the Flowerpot but it’s not a good ale night anywhere tonight.

(Saturday 24th July)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Team Building

I read somewhere that Derby’s pre-season training has involved having the players jumping off forty foot high cliffs in Dorset, all in the name of team building. Hmmm... and we wonder why we get so many injuries. Unless they’re trying to get rid of a few players, then you could sort of understand.

MD’s at the vets tonight for his annual service and MOT. L joins us to offer moral support. We figured MD wouldn’t be happy about it. He’s seriously worried in fact. I think in case the vet tries to hack any more parts off his anatomy. Understandable really, after what happened last time. The vet tries to win him round with some fish treats which MD elegantly spits back at him. His assistant, a young female student vet, has a go too. She gets down on her knees, pets his ears and offers him the treats... Nope. Spit. She can’t win his affections either. It would have worked for Doggo. Might even have worked on me. Doggo’s always liked his female vets, even the one who got to squeeze his glands... come to think of it, particularly the one who squeezed his glands.

L’s personal training plan, devised by me, says she needs to do a timed kilometre at the weekend. However I haven’t measured it yet. So as we walk to the pub later I map it out using the GPS on my phone. Much better to do this on the way to the pub, rather than on the way home I reckon. Although having a dog with me probably still caused me to zigzag a bit.

Tragic news at the pub. Another customer who’s always there with his Alsatian is on his own tonight, looking distraught and carrying a photo... of the dog. L ventures in where I fear to tread, finding out that the dog died suddenly last weekend, aged only nine. Which somewhat takes the gloss off a night’s drinking.

(Friday 23rd July)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mad With Anticipation

I’ve been trying to get a bit of weight off both the dogs, so have taken over all their feeding. L is a bit too generous with them but you know how women and food are. I’ve cut them down and it’s been phenomenally successful with Doggo but not so much so with MD.

Problem is I often have to measure their food out before L’s taken them for their morning walk, which drives MD mad with anticipation. Then when he goes out on his walk he powers round to get back for his breakie.

For once I have amazing luck with the weather. I cycle to work, in the dry. Then we manage to walk to the pub for lunch, in the dry. Then as soon as I sit back down at my desk, the heavens open and it chucks it down. However by the time I come to cycle home, its glorious sunshine again.

My squash opponent says he feels like cr*p. This sounds promising. I think he’s hinting we should cancel but I think we should play. He stresses he’s in grave danger of falling asleep in the middle of a rally. This, really, is fine. I can wake him up every few points... but he wasn’t having it. So squash is off. It looks like I’m doing the gym instead.

I get home and upset the dogs by going straight back out to the gym, where I do a swift 5k on the bike, trying out the training plan I gave L and keeping the power rating at what I asked her to do, which is over 140 watts. Level 9 at about 70rpm seems to work best. I even listen to some of my new book.

My gym trip was just to get my monthly visit logged, so I don't loiter long before heading back home. Then finally the dogs are relieved to get a park session, in the dry.

L says I'll need a nice glass of wine after all that. Yep. Or two. Or three.

(Thursday 22nd July)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Starting On The Sky

Took the plunge this morning and started The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Book Two 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' this morning. All 23 hours of it. L says the first 16 hours are a bit slow but the rest is fab. This didn’t really encourage me to start it. She described it as a bloody infuriating jigsaw. You spend hours doing the sky, but the rest is quite good. So I've started on the sky, though actually I don’t find the first few chapters too bad at all.

Apparently have launched an online grocery store. Whatever next. Amazon hate me though, whatever I order is always out of stock. I can just see it. Tomatoes? Sorry, out of stock. Bananas? Sorry, out of stock. It would be a nightmare.

Training is good for both the boys tonight. So it’s looking good for the weekend. Famous last words...

(Wednesday 21st July)

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Unthinkable

I had intended to reinstate the early morning run, once a week. However after a manic park session last night MD looks so creased that I daren’t run him and going without him is almost unthinkable. Oh the tears. L, who is on a day off, persuades me to abandon my running plans and snuggle up with her instead. Resistance, I hope, is futile.

It appears that most of the football clubs in the land are falling over themselves to ban vuvuzelas from their grounds ahead of the coming season. Don’t know what Derby’s plans are? I don’t want anything disturbing my nap when I go there.

I think our neighbours may come round and throttle the dogs because of the new toy L bought MD at the weekend, MD loves it, although Doggo obviously thinks it’s his. It’s a squeaky space hopper, although I've yet to see either of them pogoing around the garden on it.

Training happens tonight and goes well, then it’s back home for the cycling... to see if Contador gives back the time he stole... he doesn’t. So not that sorry then.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Saying Sorry

I do an extra five miles cycling this morning. Is this part of some grand training plan you ask. No. I forgot my phone. Not that this, in itself, was problem but I was not sure where I’d left it. Knowing me, probably in the front garden and I can't ring L to ask her to check... So when I realised, I turned round and went back for it. I found it on the stairs, where it could have been crushed under a teenage foot or chewed by a dog. So perhaps a good call to go back for it. Then I have to go into race mode to make up lost time.

Waiting for me at work is a 'Darling...' email from L. Seems her running partner for the dreaded water fest that is Survival Of The Fittest, her sister, has backed out. So she needs a substitute team mate. Hmmm. I have no problem with the running bit, it's the enforced drowning in the River Trent bit that I wasn't keen on last year. Oh well. Duty calls I guess. It better be one hell of a curry afterwards.

Shame she can’t ask her latest fella. She can’t because it’s another fictional character. Edmund Dante, the Count of Monte Cristo. Apparently such is the crush; our next pup could be called Dante. I suppose Dante is a step up, of sorts, because up until last week it was going to be called Mika. By the way, I see Liverpool have drawn an Albanian team called Mika in the UEFA cup. It’s such a common name.

Apparently as I cycle home I miss L, who is walking through Borrowash, where she’s off to meet some friends for a run. Not my fault. I was momentarily distracted by something pink with a ponytail pedalling rather sexily in the other direction. It was not my usual blonde and of course I needed to check out her bike. I’ll make it up to L later.

No training tonight, gardening instead! Then footballs on park before settling down to watch the controversy in the Tour de France.

Andy Schleck’s chain comes off, close to the summit of the Pyrenean climb of the Port de Balès, and jams in his rear wheel. Happens to us all. Alberto Contador took full advantage, powered past him, shot down the descent on the other side and consequently turned the 31 second deficit he had to Schleck into an 8 second lead. Contador was then roundly booed by the crowd as he received the yellow jersey on the podium. Why? Because profiting from another’s misfortune like that goes against race etiquette. Well... sometimes, it depends who the bad guy is.

Contador kind of apologised later saying "maybe I made a mistake". Is he really sorry? Will he give Schleck the seconds back tomorrow, we will see, but somehow I doubt it.

Talking of saying sorry, just when we're thinking someone must have strung up the race director of the Crich 10k, the results and an apology arrive by email.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

There For The Taking

We’re in Rugby for a dog show, even L comes to support. I look enviously at the Crufts team event. We couldn’t raise a team. Well we could but the infighting and lack of the availability of good dogs meant we decided not to bother in the end. Thing is some of the dogs we thought couldn’t do the job have since gone on to have storming results.

The winners of the team event do so with only three out of four dogs going clear. So it was there for the taking really.

We start out individual runs and Doggo promptly gets eliminated. MD starts well but has a pole down and demolishes the long jump. Things get better, as Doggo does well on the jumping course but on the Olympia qualifier... well, let’s just say we won’t be going.

MD though is having a good day. Although we get nothing on a jumping course that I thought would suit him, he then turns in a surprise clear on the agility course and gets 15th. This is in a class where he was competing against 175 other dogs including dogs up to grade 4, which is a level higher than where he is, and it was agility, which meant he had to hit all his contacts. Well pleased.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Taking The Commemorative Biscuit

It’s a nice leisurely 1pm start up at Crich for their first ever 10k. This enables L to use Pilates as a warm up and for me to wear the dogs out on the park, so that we can dump them at home.

The start is on the recreation ground, as part of the village fete, but the first problem is the car park is half a mile away. Not very convenient but in the end I think it’s closer than they said, so not much of a problem. Though it perhaps highlights they have a problem assessing distances...

There’s an uphill start to the top of the recreation ground but then it’s generally downhill for the first few miles. We go through the centre of Crich village, negotiate a few stiles and jog across some pleasant countryside. So far it’s all very picturesque... then we go into the woods.

Suddenly things become a touch more challenging. Well actually a lot more challenging as we plummet downhill on very slippery paths, sometimes muddy, sometimes rocky, but never with much grip. Well at least I think it may have been a path. I couldn’t say for sure.

It’s exceedingly tricky underfoot and also at head height as I dodge overhanging branches whilst simultaneously hurdling part-hidden tree roots. Death defying doesn’t really do it justice. I see quite a few people fall but somehow I manage to stay on my feet. When I do stumble and grab a tree for support about ten people tumble past me as they have no chance of stopping on such a steep incline.

This was followed by a battle through some seriously deep undergrowth, overrun with bracken and nettles, nice. Many people who were clearly expecting a fairly bog standard 10k were not happy. I was expecting a hilly off road one but wasn’t quite prepared for an SAS assault course like this. Perhaps I was being too picky last night; perhaps that nice Tara Kinder 10k would have been more me after all. Three and a half laps of a grit track around Elvaston Castle suddenly has its attractions.

Eventually we emerge on to the banks of Cromford Canal and a long stretch of flat and boring, as we follow the canal for two miles through to Whatstandwell. It's so glorious I want to kiss the towpath. Personally I love a bit of a grind and I regain all the places I lost on the descent.

I’m at the drinks station at ‘around’ half way on 38 minutes. Either this ain’t half way or this ain’t 10k. Perhaps like with the car park, they’re not good on distances. The race info did say 'approximately' 10k I suppose.

Then we start to climb. This is ‘the’ climb, all the way up to Crich Stand and it gradually gets more serious and relentless as we continue to gain height. It’s not all runnable. Well it is but when it becomes quicker to pace it out, rather than to run it, then that’s the time to walk. I cope with this better than most and continue to gain places all the way up to the Stand.

Then it’s downhill all the way to the finish, via the local graveyard, with a chap in hot pursuit of me. There’s no way he’s coming past me... I’ll impede him if need be and eventually he seems to give up.

I cross the line in around 54 minutes, which from whatever angle you look at it, is my slowest 10k ever by a huge margin. 14th overall though, which is impressive. I am handed my commemorative biscuit, I kid you not. Perhaps it's a pun. The race did take the commemorative biscuit somewhat. Tastes good though.

(and yes I know it looks pornographic)

Later many of the runners, including L who is sporting some nice lacerations on her legs and who comes in amongst a self-help group of girls at the back, complain about going wrong and getting lost in the woods. It turns out probably everybody went the wrong way and we all ran 7.1 miles and not the 6.2 it should have been. Apparently there was a sign in the woods pointing the wrong way and a lack of marshals there e.g. there were none.

Somehow we recover without the use of alcohol and instead retire to a local cafe for coffee and cake. L seems less spooked by the whole experience than I do.

Later we head out, L has promised me a curry but unfortunately they have the rather wonderful Gales HSB in the Poacher and that kind of takes over the evening. The curry though is still very nice, though I’m well knackered by the time we get there and perhaps a touch drunk as well. Son comes down to join us. The lure of a free curry too good to resist.

(Saturday 17th July)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Supporting Is So Much More Fun

I run into work, taking it nice and gentle. This is just a loosener for the Crich race tomorrow. L though is running tonight, as well as tomorrow. Two races in two days holds no fear for her.

Her preparation doesn’t start well when she finds the leisure centre shut so that she can’t do her morning gym session. She arrived to find all the staff sat on the wall outside while two workmen were frantically trying to unjam the shutters. Perhaps somebody had heard that we might not be getting out £50 ‘Change For Life’ bribe now that the government have axed the scheme and decided to get their retaliation in first.

Tonight’s race, the Tara Kinder 10k, just isn’t really me. L says it’s rather nice, it has a t-shirt and a cake stall, ‘what more could a boy want?’ Answer - excitement, danger and something that isn’t three and a half laps of a grit track around the outskirts of Elvaston Castle or perhaps I’m just being picky.

She’s mainly here for the fitness or it could be the t-shirt. Seems my girl will do almost anything for a t-shirt... and I thought it was chocolate that girls were supposed to do anything for? Well there’s always the cake stall.

After work I walk/jog the three or so miles to Elvaston Castle, sheltering in the trees every time a rain shower comes. My decision not to run starting to look more and more sensible.

L texts to say she’s enjoying the bus ride over, which means she enjoying reading her new book ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’, and is looking forward to copious amounts of alcohol. I think she’s forgetting about the bit in the middle. I mean, isn’t there a run in there somewhere?

As I tuck into the cake stall and grab a coffee from a van, I wonder why I bother competing in any of these events at all when supporting is so much more fun.

After the race we walk back to Borrowash and then catch the bus over to Beeston. Our aim is to check out the Crown, which is now under new ownership, having been sold to Everards by Greene King. It’s been open for a while now but we’ve not had chance to visit. It is now billed as a Beer Emporium with 14 real ales and was recently ‘crowned’ (if you excuse the pun) Nottingham’s pub of the year, beating local rival and many times winner The Victoria into third place. Another of our haunts, the Hand and Heart, came second.

It’s quite impressive and very very busy. This is certainly a business model that works. They are also happy to have dogs in the pub, so it could be a regular of ours if only we could find room somewhere in the pub to sit with them.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Am I That Predictable?

I have an 11.30 meeting this morning which annoyingly straddles lunch. L forgets all about it and when I don’t respond to her emails, she naturally assumes I’m in the pub. Typical. Am I that predictable? The meeting finishes at 2.30. Now I need the pub.

L tries out the personal training plan I’ve given her. Though she's confused about the bit I've called 'warm up'. I know she is from the way she queries ‘Warm up? What's that?’. I tell her not to worry about it, just to do her own thing for the period I have specified. We can get more technical later.

Despite following my PTT she also insists that she MUST run outdoors tonight. So I suggest that my client joins myself and my two four-legged helpers on a run together tonight... and why not, they say that running on a regular basis can slow the effects of ageing. We all need a bit of that. Wonder if this still applies if you run with two collies.

The curse of St Swithin's Day continues to strike. It's foul again, thundering as well but then later, oddly its fine enough to train the boys in garden.

Then we do the promised run, with me attached to the two wayward collies. Although after a good training session they both look too tired to be too wayward. MD even runs at my side most of the way. Well actually just in front, so that I almost fall over him. I think it’s his way of trying to get me to stop.

It’s a pleasant run, made even more pleasant by stopping off on the way back to share a bag of Quavers with dogs, oh and a swift one to wash them down.

(Thursday 15th July)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Here's a thing. Just to prove that my young dog is now growing up and getting more mature, I can report that MD passed three dogs on his walk this morning and didn't bark at any of them. L thinks he has laryngitis.

Here's another thing. When L got home and unlocked the back door to let the dogs out, she found a teenager stood the other side of it carrying a bag of sausages and bacon. It's actually not as strange as it sounds. We're used to such occurrences. Son had a bit of a mini 'bash', confined to his room, last night but it appears one of his guests had headed out early to find breakfast and we had inadvertently locked him out. Needless to say, all this helped MD made an immediate recovery from his laryngitis.

I ride in to work, dodging the downpours. I even enjoyed being on my old faithful. The weather was far too unpredictable to get my posh bike out. It's still licking it's wounds after getting very damp up in Windermere. It might not be getting another trip out to work any time soon as according to tradition, if it rains on St Swithin's Day (that’s today) then it will rain for forty days, which is basically until the end of August. Isn’t that the period that we call summer.

That said, I reckon it’s gone quite warm again, not that L would agree with me. It even looks like it might stay dry for my ride home.... Ah. 4pm and it’s torrential. Good old St Swithin's Day.. but then it stops and I actually get home in the dry.

And so to squash. I win a game and then celebrate in the pub. Then it rains AGAIN before I can do any training with MD in the garden.

(Wednesday 14th July)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Boredom Threshold

My first customer as a personal trainer is getting impatient. Well, my only customer, L. I’ve not got her PTP (Personal Training Plan) ready yet. I will finish it today and bring it home for her tonight. The question is... just how hard do you flog your nearest and dearest...

My brief is to help her take around 4-5 minutes off her 10k time. This means getting her to run at the required pace. So I’m starting her off running a km on the treadmill at this speed, then gradually getting her to increase the distance. Not that running too many km’s on a treadmill is desirable or even possible. The boredom threshold for treadmill running is very low.

In addition I’m trying to get her to do 5k bike sessions at a higher power level (getting technical now) than she’s used to, to strength her legs. Each week I hope to check progress with a timed km stretch on the road, to see how close we are. When I’ve got around to measuring such a stretch.

I’m reckoning that she already has the stamina to do 10k at the required pace, she just needs to acquire that pace... I reckon I can do it... and hopefully not fall out with my client. Particularly as she’s paying in kind.

Training is cancelled again. Yet I still go round to my father’s as pre-arranged, though was supposed to be after training. Its a sneaky way of letting someone else stand out in the rain and exercise the dogs.

(Tuesday 13th July)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Whatever Happened To Summer?

Whatever happened to summer? Suppose the same as what usually happens to it.

It’s turned foul, almost Windermere Triathlon sort of weather. It puts paid to tonight’s dog training which is an outdoor session. Cancelled. The wimps. I might as well have trained as the boys need taking out anyway. In fact MD goes straight out in the garden and starts chewing on of the hurdles, in the rain, so he’s keen to get started. I think. Doggo watches from the open doorway, staying undercover. He’s not quite so keen.

It would be too dangerous to train in the garden, not for the dogs, for me, I’d slip and put my foot down one of the many holes MD has dug. So I take them on the park instead. Doggo grudgingly joins us, walking along the side of the house, sheltering from the rain for as long as possible before we start the walk to the park.

Later, L and I check out the new pool at Djanogly. I ought to be in the gym really, doing my July session to earn by £50 council bribe for going once a month. L is worried we won’t get it because the new government has announced that funds are to be withdrawn from the anti-obesity campaign that this was part of. The council received the money up front, so we should get it...

The laned swim at Djanogly is weird. The lanes are double width which means it's less a case of swimming up and down, more a case of swimming round and round. Very disorientating. A bit like swimming in Windermere I guess but without the current, the rain and the steamboats trying to run you over.

(Monday 12th July)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bragging Rights

The dog show kicks off with the team event, four dogs over the same jumping course, two doing it clockwise, two anticlockwise. Mayhem. A truce is called by my team and we run in the prearranged order, the illogical one. Which is inexperienced dogs first through to the most experience dog last. I was thinking roughly the opposite because it could all be over on the first run.

Only afterwards, when we’re out and our best, most experienced dog is faced with a course where around half the jumps are on the floor and subsequently goes wrong, betraying its status as best dog, do the others say that perhaps we should have ran in the order I suggested. Which was most experience dogs first, so that the jumps stay up longer and therefore everybody actually gets a course to jump. Hmmm I have done these things before you know.

As it happens, the most inexperienced dog on the team, MD, ran first and put in a better showing than any of his team mates. He only has one pole down before dog two demolishes most of the course.

MD was running in a team that we put together ‘just for fun’, a strange concept that I had to get someone to explain to me before I grudgingly decided to hide it from my competitive nature, well, on this occasion. Doggo also runs in a team and his team are doing it slightly more seriously, I hope. He puts in a faultless round, unfortunately the rest of his team do not. I rush off to run his first individual course, a real toughie, perfect for us. I get him round the hardest bits then for some reason he misses a relatively easy tunnel. So that’s us out of that as well. The course is so hard there are only two clear rounds. It should have been three and at least a third place trophy for us. Opportunity missed.

I have no time to dwell on this failure as we are called back to the team ring, to rerun. A timing failure means that our first attempt didn’t count. Lucky escape really, it wasn’t pretty, Doggo apart. In the rerun, Doggo again goes clear and the rest of the team are much better this time but still we don’t get among the places.

Then it’s back to MD and some good runs from him cumulating in a simply brilliant clear round on the jumping course. It was nervy stuff though as I got half way round the course with no poles down and then started praying he’d do the rest ok. Then we had to negotiate the weaves three from home but he did the lot perfectly, bless him. Clear. That’s only his second clear round at a full Kennel Club show and unlike his first one this one was quick. In fact we go into 4th, only .6 off the lead. Wow. The effect is slightly spoilt when one more dog beats him and takes the lead by three full seconds but we hang on to 5th. I’m so proud of him.

Meanwhile Doggo’s having a bad day, I suppose he didn’t get his Chinese last night. We bag another elimination and then he has the first jump down on his final course, the rest of it isn’t bad though. Not bad at all as it happens, again very few clears and we come 8th even with 5 faults. So a rosette for each dog today. Though MD has first bragging rights tonight.

(Sunday 11th July)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Where We Went Wrong

At a bit of a loose end today and I’m not into loose ends. L’s got Pilates and all manner of gym sessions planned, whereas I could perhaps stay home and cut the hedge. Alternatively they are sort of entries up at Bakewell at the dog show I’ve booked for tomorrow and they’re offering some pay on the day classes, so I decide to go for today as well. I take my bike with me, just in case there’s not enough dog stuff to keen me occupied.

Turns out that there are just two classes that I can pay for on the day, one for each dog. I ask the organisers if they would let me run MD ‘not for competition’ in some of the others. They are a bit awkward and say no. Some shows will, some shows won’t.

MD runs his one class very well, very smooth, quite fast, but has a couple of poles down. So just the one with Doggo to do then, then I can perhaps get my bike out. I expect the two classes to run one after the other so I should be finished by lunch and then I can go for a spin around the Peak District. Nope. Doesn’t work out that way. They make me wait until the afternoon, not even using the now vacant ring as a practice ring, which would have been useful.

Finally when Doggo gets to run, it’s a great round and amazingly we go into the lead, though we are eventually displaced down to second. That’s still not bad, in fact it’s very good. That’s out of all the large dogs. Unfortunately they intend to run the two smaller size categories over the same course and combine the results. Yep, we get beaten my couple of mini pooches and end up 4th. Still... better than me last night. L reckons it was probably the Chinese Doggo had last night, perhaps that’s where we went wrong. Chinese for us next weekend then.

Once Doggo has run it’s too late to get a meaningful bike ride in, so I head home to L, where both Son and Daughter are both out. Oooh the decadence of having the place to ourselves. Later we head out as well, leaving the dogs to rest up for tomorrow but not before I get a phone call haggling about the running sequence for tomorrow’s team event. My own fault really, I suggested a logical change of order. This was a bit illogical of me.

(Saturday 10th July)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Saving Nothing For Later

I take the bus this morning with the aim of going straight to tonight’s race on Darley Park. It’s the Colin Potter Memorial 10k this evening which I ran last year. This year though there’s a nice week long gap between the Nottingham Grand Prix series and this race, which means I can take it more seriously. Last year it was the day after the Colwick Park 5 miler.

Problem is, due to being away on holiday, I haven't actually trained for it and haven't even run since the Colwick Park race last Thursday. Well there was that morning with the dogs I suppose... if you can count that as a run.

In the afternoon, L supervises the annual boiler service. I hope the engineer doesn’t feel the need to tinker with it; it has been working fine recently, which is unusual. He compliments us on having a very efficient system, which he comments will be even more efficient once our teenagers leave home. As will a lot of things, such as finding towels in the bathroom and cutlery in the cutlery drawer rather than having to venture into the alternative universe upstairs to hunt down such items.

I meet L off the bus, although she is later than I expect but my iphone won't let me contact her to check which bus she is on. I noticed the other day that oddly since I upgraded to iOS4.0 I can no longer receive or make calls in the bus station despite having full reception. It’s the same today. Odd. I sense some kind of plot.

L could be lying in the street again, felled by another bout of ‘iPod oblivion’. You know, that near trance like state people enter whilst using mobile phones and MP3 players. She had an attack of that just before we went to Windermere and got felled by a paving slab.

So I’ve told her to take extra care reading her audio book, we don’t want any more pre-race cuts and bruises but I’m worried. She’d already announced that she was leaving work early to spend extra time with Mikhail. Someone has apparently tried to shoot her hero. Hopefully she’s on the bus with him now, on the edge of her seat or if she’s not on the bus yet, wrapped around a lamppost. Thankfully she arrives unscathed and we head to Haslams, Derby Rugby club for the 7.15pm start.

The race starts and I sprint away from the start line, determined to get a good start as last year I was caught out by the bottle neck caused by the ‘bike gates’ that come just after the 1k mark. I nearly got decapitated on one of them because I didn’t see it coming. I pass the Abbey pub in about 12th place, scary. I’m going far too fast as I proceed to sprint up the hill. Others are perhaps taking this section more wisely, slowly, saving something for later.

Then we’re on to Darley Park, where thankfully this year the weather is fine, so the footpaths aren’t treacherous. Then we’re past the 1k mark. 4.03. How come. That’s slow. I know it’s uphill but even so, I thought I was tanking it.

Then we’re heading downhill, quite quickly, dodging some evil looking pot holes and heading towards those infamous bike gates. This time I get a clear sight of them but they’re still not easy to negotiate when you’re plummeting downhill. Surely there must be a better route for the race than this.

The rest of the first lap is quite flat, which is a good job as I’m more or less spent already. The drinks station comes just before 4k and the cup of water goes straight over my head; it’s quite hot tonight. Then we’re completing the first lap, with just the simple task of doing it all over again. The first lap is impressively under 20 minutes but I’m fading fast. I promise myself that I’ll do the big hill and then jog around the rest. I forget though that the big hill is in fact in three chunks and very hard work second time around.

Despite taking the last four km very steady my time is still a minute up on last year and I’m 27th. So I have to be pleased, even though I'm in not fit state to feel pleased. Despite the good placing, I'm not sure it’s my sort of course. I’ve done it twice now and maybe that’s enough.

Then we take my Dad, who came to watch us, to the Silk Mill, where he hasn’t been for years. He’s impressed. L spots the Jaipur. Which is dangerous stuff to replace lost fluid with.

We move on to the beer festival to have a few there. My Dad doesn’t join us; he’s already been this year. His first trip ever. Wow. I was stunned. That’s radical for him. Apparently there was a band he wanted to see! A brass band. He’s already making plans to go again next year.

After sampling two 8.5% ales from Fullers, called Gold Pride and Vintage, you know nice gentle ones to start with, L spots the Jaipur again and is quickly reunited with it. Nothing else is quite as good. In fact it’s a bit of a poor selection really, again. There's not enough known breweries and you can’t take risks all night long.

We eat there too. Though not the frankfurter and mustard that L was craving for, I think she’s overdosed on watching Germany in the football. Instead we end up with rather stodgy but nice, cottage pie.

Apparently back home, Doggo has been dining in style too, he helped himself to Daughter’s Chinese. Which doesn’t really sound like him, it would probably have been sweet and sour and that’s not really to his palate. Hope it fuels him up for his show tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bewildered, Confused and Shattered

I should have mentioned yesterday that I was party to an interesting discussion last night on the way home from dog training, having picked L and Daughter up on the way. They were discussing surviving the Leeds Festival, with particular regard to the toilet facilities. There followed a debate on weeing into a tomato ketchup bottle. L claims it's not possible, Daughter claims it is. Daughter seemed all up for a head to head challenge. In the garden I tell her, this could get messy.

Thankfully I don't think it happened. Unless they staged it under cover of night. If any results come to light I'll let you know.

L’s been trying to persuade one of us, Daughter or I to go see ‘Elliott’ with her. That’s Mr Example to you or I. Neither of us are, shall we say, over enthusiastic. I suggest we flip a coin to decide it. Well anything method really that doesn’t involve a sauce bottle.

Though I’m happy to do the honourable thing here, and I have got form in this department. I’ve done Mika and lived to tell the tale.

L’s not had the best of days all round actually. She reported a minor cat problem this morning, which is probably underplaying it by a very wide margin. Nothing is ever minor with MD. I’m sure she meant a major cat problem. Yep. She says she’s beginning to hate all cats. She’s beginning to sound like MD.

Then later she reports feeling totally bewildered, confused and shattered at work, brought on by boss fatigue. Had to include that, just for the great title.

Her email though spooked me out a bit, as it illuminated my computer screen just as I was breaking the seal on the box of biscuits that she asked me to take into custody. Oops caught! It was if she was watching me...

Her solution for bewildered, confused and shattered is of course a glass of wine or two. It’s a good job I have the biscuits.

The wine is unnecessary in the end as there's Salem Porter on in the Globe, where she joins me after squash. Ah yes squash, it’s good to be back playing after a few weeks off. I even booked the hot weather especially to try and make it more challenging for my opponent. How did it go? Well, lets just say... I’m bewildered, confused and shattered.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Just Like A Bath, Apparently

I’ve spent the last four days camping on the edge of the Bowland Forest, just outside Lancaster. We even nipped in to Morecambe to see Eric.

We spent the days chilling out, trying to find a decent beach for the dogs, and eating full English Breakfasts. Well apart from one thing...

The Bowland Forest is conveniently situated a mere two junctions down the M6 from the Lake District so it proved a good base for us to participate in the inaugural Windermere Triathlon. I would have done the whole thing naturally but they’d thrown a certain four letter word beginning with ‘s’ and ending with ‘m’ in there that put me off. L would have done the whole thing too but for a certain four letter word beginning with ‘b’ and ending with ‘e’. So welcome to Team Fit For Nothing + 1. We are a relay team. Lawyers on standby to deal with the disagreements.

We manage to pop up on Saturday night to register but any hope of a quick reconnaissance mission is dashed because there are no signs yet that an event is due to take place at all. We have to double check it’s still on.

The next morning though, transition springs up out of nowhere on Cockshott Point near Bowness on Windermere. Then before we know it, a very nervous looking L, clad in wetsuit, is wading out with the other mad folk into Lake Windermere.

The 1,500m swim takes them out around somewhere called Crow Holme Island and back. The water looks very choppy... glad I’m on dry land. The water though was virtually tropical, apparently, ‘just like a bath’. I’ll take their word for it.

L looks stressed but I’m very laid back about the whole thing, just looking forward to a nice blast around the Lake District on my bike. My only requirement really is that L doesn’t take her time too much and dump me in last place. Other than that I’m looking forward to chasing a few people down. As it turns out there are 94 starters and amongst some seriously good company she comes in around seven from the back. I’ll take that.

All the time we were up in the area the weather was glorious, shorts weather and I have the sunburn to prove it. The exception was on race day and more specifically when I started the bike leg. Suddenly it turned into your typical wet and windy Cumbrian fare. It also meant I got my posh bike wet. Grrrr.

I know most of the roads that the 43km ride is on and knew I’d enjoy it before I even started, despite the on-off rain. I wasn’t expecting too many hills, it is the Lake District but the course was on some of the flattest roads you’ll find around these parts. So a bit of a drag up a hill out of Bowness was a bit of a surprise but it soon settled down to just undulating.

I was hoping to average 29kpm, so the ride would take me just under an hour and a half. I also had the aim in my head of overtaking around twelve other competitors and I get the first one on the way out of transition, I overtake him running with my bike out to the mount point.

I pass my next victim in the centre of Bowness, less than a km in. Easy this. Ten to go.

The route basically follows the outline of the lake, through Ambleside, then Hawkshead, where the only really big hill on the course is. Then it’s down to Newby Bridge before turning back up for home.

I don’t pass many for quite a few miles but then I come across a glut of cyclists and gradually tick them off my list. Twelve victims are soon counted out and in the end I reckon the body count comes in at 19, that’s discounting several others who I think were maybe just out for a pleasant morning cycle and weren’t in the race. Sometimes it was hard to tell. The presence of a race number wasn’t always obvious, as many had put on jackets to keep out the rain.

I find out later that I did the 23rd best ride of the day. So thrilled with that. Though a lot of the folk I beat obviously were a bit tired from their swim... but so what.

The weather saved its worst for the 10km run, which was L’s job. I could have done this of course but was glad I didn’t. A four lap course in the pouring rain. Yuk. It was bad enough sheltering under the trees with the fan club (the dogs).

In the end we finished 63rd overall. Which that ain’t bad. So that’s my first Olympic distance triathlon done, well a third of it. I wonder if my team mate will fancy doing any more.

Back to today and back to reality, work etc. Though I liven things up by taking the dogs for an early morning run. Something I’ve not done for a while. It was an experience, a bit fraught but we got through it. Loose cannon at the front, shooting (his mouth off) on sight. Whilst Doggo was stationed as rear gunner, methodically taking care of things at the back, all the bushes that needed watering etc etc. Sometimes he was lagging so far behind I’d forgot he was with us. Then there’s me, trying to keep order in the middle.

Then dog training later which causes me to miss Germany’s exit from the World Cup. So a Holland v Spain final, a new name on the trophy.