Monday, 22 September 2014

Crazy? You ain't sen nothing yet...


BOLTON HILL MARATHON 2015


I’m in! Who’s with me? Or should I say, who’s bringing up the rear with me and making the marshals curse about how late it’s getting “and there’s still a few out there”?

There are some things in life you just have to face up to and bite the bullet – and the famous hill marathon in my own back yard is one of them. Inspired by watching my fellow Burndeners tackle the gruelling event last year, I pledged to have a crack at it myself. Now I can’t wait.

If Diane thought that after 40 years as an avid couch potato I was mad to take up running at the age of 58, after ditching nine stones in a year, then she ain’t seen nothing yet.

It will certainly be the toughest thing I will have attempted in my brief life as a distance runner – but I’ve news for you, Diane – it’s not the craziest thing I have planned… Watch this space!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Why today was a special day

EVERY now and then, people come into your life that make you wonder how you ever managed without them.
There haven’t been that many in my 58 years but that just emphasises how special they are when they do appear.
When they come along, they change your life. They add to it, their friendship enriches it and their guidance helps you make more right decisions than you would otherwise have done. They make you a better person, because you learn from them how to be towards others.
Diane was one. Everyone who knew Diane was the better for it. She had that effect on people. When I lost her, I thought my world had ended. But she soon put me right on that score. She made me turn my life around and in so doing she made me meet some wonderful, new friends.
She’s the driving force behind the posts on this blog. Every now and then I’ll think of her and I’ll find myself suddenly thinking of something I need to put down in writing. It’s happened again tonight.
This post was originally going to be selfishly all about me and what I did today – my first major bike ride in quite a fair bit of traffic plus more lengths of Horwich pool ahead of this impending "fun" triathlon next month.
But that’s not the most important thing that happened to me today. 
The best part of today was to spend time with two of these very special people I’m talking about, to realise just how much they mean to me and how much they have quickly become such a big part of my new life now.
I can do so much more physically now in terms of running, swimming and cycling than I could before and it’s an amazing feeling – but it’s nothing compared to what it means to have discovered friends like these. Like I say, this isn’t the post they were expecting to read after our exploits today. 
But their kindness has made me realise that even if I could bike a thousand miles, swim an ocean and then run across a desert it wouldn’t mean half as much to me as those few (shaky) miles I did today and the joy of just being in their company.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

To the many who are doing it Steve's Way




COMMONWEALTH Games marathon man Steve Way's incredible journey from poor health and bad diet to last Sunday's epic performance around the streets of Glasgow proves just what can be achieved if you are determined to turn your life around.
I know how he must feel even though I know I'll never match his level of performance (after all, I'm old enough to be his dad!) But I know the sense of pride he feels this week will be the same sense of pride that all runners feel when they achieve something which would have been impossible a few years ago.
It's the same feeling you get when you do two minutes on a treadmill after only being able to do one minute the week before. The distance and the scale of the achievement is not what makes us burst with pride - it's the fact that we made a decision to reach for seemingly impossible goals - whether it's over 5K, a marathon or an ultra event.
Steve has inspired me to try harder, aim higher and reach further. But then so have a load of people who do their running well down the pack towards the back of the field, but who are still achieving more than they could ever have dreamt possible.
Inspiration comes from everywhere in a race, often the back of the pack. It's a great feeling to be part of the whole running community which includes Steve and the hundreds of thousands of other inspirational people who strive to improve their lives beyond measure every week and every time they run.


Bolton News, Saturday July 26


Saturday, 26 July 2014

Word gets around!


Coventry Telegraph, Monday July 21



Worcester News website, Sunday July 13

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The awesome Ironmen

It's Ironman weekend in Bolton, when men become supermen. It's a weekend they will never forget, when they rise to be, quite simply, legends. They are doing something beyond the capability of billions of people. They define the word elite and they deserve every accolade they receive. They are simply awesome.
It is their spirit and drive which has inspired me to want to learn to swim and ride a bike so I can compete in a junior triathlon. After that, who knows? One thing I've learnt over the past 18 months is that you should never say never. Never say enough is enough because whatever you have achieved, there's always more.
No-one can ever stop and say they've done it all. No human in the history of mankind has ever been able to. No matter how much they achieved, there was still more to strive for. That's what should drive us on every day. We should always aim high, and then higher and never stop testing ourselves. 
There is no such thing as failure if you try to achieve something. 
The only failure is if you don't try. If you limit yourself to what you think you can do, instead of saying to yourself: 'I wonder how much I can do', then you have let yourself down. 
Realise your full potential.
Don't tell yourself you can't run lose weight and get fit, ask yourself: 'I wonder if I can lose weight and get fit'. Don't shrug your shoulders and say you'll never be able to run a 5K, ask yourself: 'I wonder if I can run a 5K'. Then when you achieve what you didn't think you could, you suddenly wonder just how far you can take all this.
A 10K, a 10-miler, a half, a full marathon... and then, maybe, just maybe, have a crack at even more.
Diane's courage in her six and a half year battle against breast cancer has inspired me to reach for stuff I never dreamed possible. With her to guide me, I went from someone who said ‘I could never do that’ to someone who wondered if he could.
If you’d told me at the start of 2013 when I weighed 24 stone and struggled up a flight of stairs that I could run 50 yards if I put my mind to it, I'd have laughed at you. If I'd had the breath to.
But losing Diane changed everything. I realised how precious every second of life is, how it’s so foolish to waste a single moment wondering.
Better to fill that moment trying.
So my dream to lose weight became my dream to run a 5K and then a 10K. And that became a dream to run a half marathon and then a full one. Now that has become a dream to learn to swim and cycle to have a go at a triathlon. And if that works out, who knows?
Nobody knows. That’s the answer. Nobody knows. Least of all you until you have a go and see for yourself.
Never say never. Always reach for what you think is impossible and even if you come up short you’ll be amazed how far you travelled just attempting it.
That’s what I learned in Rotterdam. I was devastated. I thought I’d failed. Then I realised how far I’d come and that this was just another lesson along the way.
I might never get to a sufficiently high standard to do an Ironman. I still swim like I'm in an invisible diving suit and have yet to summon up the courage to ride a bike in traffic, but I swim better than I did three weeks ago and today I rode a bike for the first time with something bordering on confidence. It’s coming.
So as Ironmen test themselves to their own limit, this weekend has seen me take a giant leap forward too.
I might never be able to attempt an Ironman but don't tell me I can't.
If I am not able to, it will because I tried and didn't make it. That's something entirely different.
The amazing athletes competing in the gruelling event this weekend didn’t get to the start line because they knew they could. They got there because they wouldn’t let anyone tell them they couldn’t. 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

THE ACCIDENTAL TRIATHLETE

Can't swim or ride a bike? I know what I'll do...


A FEW weeks ago, I had another of those moments. One very similar to the one that last September after completing (eventually) my first 5K run EVER around Salford’s shiny new Quays. I loved it, and that was when I decided I wanted to go for a marathon.
At the time, as I plodded up the slight rise to the finish line outside the Lowry Theatre, it seemed outrageous to even contemplate the idea of doing 26.2 miles.
Trouble is, I couldn’t see why not. I knew it would be the biggest challenge of my life but I saw no reason why not. If I could do 5K I could do 10, surely. And when I’d done 10, wouldn’t I be able to try that seven-miler at Longridge where you get a Christmas pudding? Why not? Then, after that, why not a half? And so on, and so on, until in April in Rotterdam I found myself lining up for my first marathon attempt.
That day, it wasn’t to be (see earlier posts for the unfortunate reasons) but my weekend’s experience in the city where Diane spent her childhood taught me a valuable lesson – you just don’t turn up and run a marathon. You have to earn every step.
And so at Liverpool six weeks later, after I had knuckled down and put more minutes on my legs, I managed it. So I proved that with the inspiration of someone special, someone who was my whole life for more than 20 years, I wasn’t mad when I dared to dream.
And I’m not mad today when I come out of the triathlon closet and reveal that I am now in training to complete my first three-discipline event as the latest chapter in the Running With Diane story in aid of the support charity Breast Cancer Care.
When I say “in training”, what I really mean is “in learning”. 
Two weeks ago I had never sat on a bike in my life, even as a child. Just never had one. Don’t know why but it never happened – never entered my head to ask for one and never crossed my mum and dad’s minds to get me one. Also, two weeks ago, I swam like a ship’s anchor.
I don’t quite know why I’m doing this, but I am. It’s kind of happened by accident. 
After the marathon, I had to come up with something even more crazy to do for the charity. Then someone happened to say triathlon and I was hooked on the idea.

This was Lesson 1. Lesson 2 seemed a long way off...

Now, after taking my first tentative steps at both swimming and riding a bike, I can report that I can swim half a length of the local pool breaststroke. Well, it’s a start. If this amazing transformation in me has taught me one thing it’s that small steps bring big changes.
For example, I can pedal a bike now. I still look like I’m cycling through an earthquake, but I’m definitely pedalling and definitely improving. Once I feel in control of the damned thing, I’m sure I’ll feel a lot better. So will the bike.
I like to go for things people think I’ve no chance of achieving. Every day, I want to prove someone wrong about me. I want to surprise somebody all the time. Diane is still my driving force and I know she’ll be with me every moment – just like she has been so far. This is for her again, because I know if I promise to do it for her, I won’t allow myself to waver in my efforts.
The target is a “fun” triathlon at Nantwich in September, then a sprint version before the end of the year and a full Olympic one in the new year.
Yes, September. Yes, this year. Now you think I really have lost the plot, I suppose. You could be right. We’ll see.
If I manage to hit that target, it will be just 15 months since I joined the gym at Smithills, 13 months since running for the first time on a road and 10 months since joining the Burnden Road Runners club.
If I complete my first full triathlon early in 2015, it will be less than two years since, with my weight at 24 stones and suffering from diabetes, I struggled to even get up a flight of stairs.
It will also be just under two years since the death of Diane, whose courage and bravery during her battle against breast cancer has been my inspiration for turning my life around.
Breast Cancer Care does incredible work to help families across the UK living every day under the cloud of cancer, just as we did. There are more than 500,000 such families, and more than 50,000 women and men will discover in the next 12 months that they have the disease.
Nothing prepares you for that day when the bombshell diagnosis is given. The fall-out is terrible and your world becomes dark and desolate. But Breast Cancer Care is there to pick you up and help you through. Miracles do happen. For some, the clouds do disappear.
Sadly, too often – as in Diane’s case – they don’t. But the fight goes on and we won’t stop until we beat this terrible disease.
So what’s a bit of swimming, cycling and running – with Diane helping me every inch of the way – compared to what these families are going through every moment of their lives and compared to what Diane had to suffer.
Can’t swim, can’t ride a bike, can’t run too well? Sounds like the perfect challenge for the two of us... How about it, Di?