Thursday, August 26, 2010

what happens?

It's been a while since I posted here. That is down to the fact that my foot is still unusable. I have a date with a foot and ankle consulting surgeon in September and hope that that will provide a way of moving forward again.

I'm starting to suspect Hallux Rigidus as the main culprit.

So there has been no running, more is the pity. On the other hand (or foot) there has been a lot of biking - usually over the glorious Malvern Hills and usually on some pretty devestating terrain. My vocabulary is now spiced with such descriptive name-checks as Hitchcock, Chossy Gullet, Narnia, Yew Tree, Dambusters and others.

It's a bit difficult to document with photographs, and more so as my regular biking pal has just had his bike pinched from his yard. This means fewer trips currently but once he gets on top of that I think we are going to photograph some of the action.

Stay tuned (fettled?)...

Monday, June 21, 2010

[i desperately need a] short break!

I have the chance to take a short break this coming weekend but I'm short of ideas. I want to go somewhere to ride my bike - off road, trails, single track, &c - but it has to be somewhere that I can get to by train with the bike.

Needs a camp-site. Needs to be off the beaten track. Needs to be massive in terms of funn.

So far I have come up with Afan, down in South Wales, as it is relatively close and probably ticks all the boxes, although I don't know if it's that accessible by train. Still I can cycle a certain distance in a day. Mid Wales would be better I think but that's a tad more difficult to reach.

Any and all suggestions are welcome.



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

[not] training

Hello folks!

It's time for that old refrain "I've not written here in a long while so it's about time I made something up."

It's getting on for two months since I was able to run. I finally made it to a Physio who confirmed my investigations into the possible causes of the pain I have - the dreaded Sesamoid bone - and surprised me with some off-the-cuff acupuncture and a bit of ultra sound. She then requested that I continue to not run and come back and see her in a weeks time (now the 26th of May), so I oblige and have upped my cycling / weight lifting quota.

Biking is becoming fun after a wee while of re-adjustment, and the lifting is paying dividends. I'm managing to control my bodyweight with an admixture of Matt Fitzgerald, Cutters Choice and some obsessive calorie counting, but this Lithuanian beer is quite compelling. 5.2% at two in the afternoon, with a roll up in me pocket and We Jam Econo on the TV.


I got bit by a dog this morning. That was fun. I'd just begun an hours speed play on the bike when I felt teeth on my shin. A quick unclip and, for once, my angry boot caught the mutts head. I confronted the owner about it who cowered almost as much as the dog. I wondered aloud and at volume whether the parent of a bike riding child would be so forgiving in my place and told her to consider some training. For the dog you understand.

Friars Balsam. Stings like a bee...

Gruel are playing the 1in12 next weekend, with Bong, Drunk In Hell and an Irish band called Drainland so if you find yourself in Bradford with an urge to rock out with yr pecker firmly in yr trousers then get along, lil doggy. They don't bite. I'm gonna try to go but it's a long way from here to there and I am brassic as per usual.

Ok, i'm off. TTFN!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

[not] training

I finally got to see a locum about my foot, and as it happens she is also a runner. Cue sympathy for the, ahem, habit based nature of my affliction. I'm off for an Xray (what ever became of  The X-rays? Great gnarly garage punk band from the North) today and I have a phone number for a physiotherapist to call later this morning.

The Doc and I talked about all sorts of things, which was refreshing. I think she probably had few appointments booked for her evening surgeries. So not only did I walk away with my foot felt and some referral papers but careers advice, benefits opportunities, a potted history of a med students time in A+E and the practise of  'thinking outside the box' with regard to employment.

 Plenty of people my age (on the doorstep of the big four-oh) retrain and change their lives. Helene Diamantides springs to mind. If memory serves me right, didn't she re-train later in life and become a succesful physiotherapist? It's all stacked against me but that is nothing new...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Fun'ing [it's a bit like training but not quite]

So I  managed to get the big tires onto the bike for a ride over at Malvern last night. A couple of  nights before me and The KG had fixed up his front derailler, and got a little drunk on Aussie beer in the process, and he was keen to get out to see what would occur. It seems the benefits of shifting improves his riding experience no end. Who'd have thought it?

We parked below British Camp and set off in search of a mysterious gatehouse and a path that leads downhill to Gullet quarry. This becomes a bridleway and does in fact go downhill. After a few experimental leaps of navigation we found our selves riding through the woods on the west side of the hills above the deer park. We were probably riding where we shouldn't have. Nonetheless it was a decent run out with a few thrills and few spills.

At the top of Midsummer Hill we took a small  path down a pretty steep descent that was blocked halfway with a fallen tree. The KG had a moment where it looked as if his mid-nineties V brakes would kill him, on terrain that was nigh beyond dabbing, but he came out on the Castlemorton to Hereford road cut through like a young Steve Peat.

Well, nearly.

We stopped off at the quarry lake-side and cleaned the steeds, as they were gonna be squeezed back into the boot of his Ford, much to the amusement of some bar-b-cue-ing casuals. It was refreshing to wade into the man-made lake and clean off the clay. When my man used a clump of grass as an impromptu Squee-gee I knew we were on form and in Gear.

The ride back up to Clutters Cave and over the reservoir was punctuated with half a bar of work, rest and play for morale and a fast ride in the gathering dusk - beautiful scenery as the light tinged the vague haze with pink over the valley of the River Severn..

 "I love being on high ground in the evening, there is always such an air of peace about. The mornings can be special too, but then there is a more expectant air, a fragile stillness that is soon to dissolve into the bustle of a full day. The evening hills have the promise of a yet deeper peace."
Mike Cudahy - 'Wild Trails to Far Horizons', pg. 17. Italics mine.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

it comes as no surprise to be taken by surprise!

flipside magazine Vol 1 Spring 2010

Who'd a thunk it? flipside returns from oblivion for another stab at oblivion. I was a bit too young to ride the boat that was but I remember getting the odd copy here and there - I especially remember the OPIV cover and interview. I don't have it to hand, having 'recycled' all my old MRRs and large mags (all sorts got the heave ho when I finally discovered that most newsagent magazines are a rip-off - climbing mags, High Mountain Trail, copies of the awful Trail magazine  - highly liberating!) but i'm sure it was a tour account. Also lots of chaotic gig photos which were always really inspiring to us trying to work out what hardcore punk had become by 1990.

No idea about the rest of the mag - all that tiny type face has blurred into one. Anyway I have yet to read the pdf above and have to what the heck is going on.

Still off running. Race is definately not a go for me at the weekend. Bummer but plans are afoot.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

[not] training

Sheesh, life throws a curve ball, whatever a curve ball is, and what you consider to be normality is turned on its head.

Race plans might be disrupted - due to many different reasons, not least this right foot issue which is taking forever to right itself - but it might be right to do the sensible thing. The Magnificent Eastnor 7 is this coming Sunday - seven miles, undulating woodland course, hill at the end. I'm sure it'll be great but....

Still have a few days to think about it

curveball - it's a baseball term. What 's baseball then?

Monday, April 05, 2010

whiz - bang - whimper

Ok, finally managed to sort out a regular connection (no, not that kind of connection) and bring the old man's laptop into the 21st century, so I can get back to the same old same old.

Only three weeks to the Magnificent Eastnor 7 race and my sesamoid bones are gyppy. Today i'm going out for my first run for a week or so. Apparently the only real issue with sesamoid bone gyp is the chronic pain. For that the devil gave us anti inflammatory drugs, and I think I'm gonna pop and see the doc this week, see what he says. Other temporary solutions include sillicone pads, cutting up your footbed, alternative lacing techniques and strapping your toes together, RICE-ing, splicing and dicing, and hot and cold therapy.

I shall try all of that then.

Today - five miles of fartlek in a wood near Pershore. No heart rate monitor, no structure, just running around in the woods.Gotta ditch this chocolate waistband that an enforced lay off has sponsored.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


Computer meltdown in the Irregulamania global domination warehouse - normal service will hopefully be resumed (or i'll be posting from the library!)

Thanks for checking this out, folks and keep up the hard training!

S - irregulamania

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


It seems there is a fair bit of injury doing the rounds, at least on the blogs I follow, and I am no exception. I currently have some bizarre and painful swelling on my right foot, just at the ball behind the big toe, which goes with rest but comes back with prodding and flexing of the toe. I have a feeling that it's a consequence of my attempts to increase my stride rate over the past couple of weeks and a subsequent hike in weekly mileage.

I would get it looked at but I can't afford a physio so that's out of the question. Should I go to the Doctor? Should I just rest? I really want to get out on the bike but it's blowing a gale and I'm reluctant - which is never a good sign.

So I think I'm gonna eat something and watch Mark Beaumont cycle through central America.

Thinking Posi!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Finally got back out to Malvern after what seems an age and ran the usual 90 on / 90 off hill session on the 10k route. Felt largely rad, apart from the initial anaerobic strides out of the Rose garden. Today for the first time I managed to run the entire route, with only a little lagging - no hands-on-thighs walking action!
I took my usual photo stop at the trig point and noticed a spindly looking chap running up the footpath and down the other side so I bolted after him and had a moment of mad dashing down the north flank of the Beacon before peeling off 'round Sugarloaf Hill.

Silly boy - don't race while training!

Back at the Rose Garden about an hour later, it began to rain so I scoffed my Milky Ways and ducked into Waitrose for a bun. Met my old mate Charlotte on the road down to the station. Nice to catch up and make a plan for some drinks in a few weeks. She's off climbing at Font in a few weeks. Moi? Jealous? Non...

I called into the AA bookshop before heading home and picked out a couple of books - Honore de Balzac's 'Eugenie Grandet, which was apparently a huge influence on Karl Marx's writings.

The other is a pocket sized book printed in Peking in1967, bound inside a red plastic cover and embossed on the front with a red star - 'Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung'. A bargain at £1.50. The Chairman grins from behind the tissue paper. A free rendering of that eternal plea of Marx and Engels occupies a page of it's own -

Five to six billion (!!) copies were printed between 1964 and 1976 and it was a requirement to own, read and carry the book at all times. The back cover has a little slip pocket.

What went in there?

It's the Little Red Book. I quote, from the foreword, "We have compiled Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung in order to help the broad masses learn Mao Tse-Tung's thought more effectively." 

Maybe I 'll start carrying it around at all times myself, just to see what effect any one particular quote has in, say, the context of sitting down waiting to sign at the job centre. It's not mining to quote at random, and its not very scientific, but, for fun: "Ask your subordinates about matters you don't understand or don't know, and do not express your approval or disapproval...We should never pretend to know what we don't know, we should "not feel ashamed to ask and learn from people below" and we should listen carefully to the views of the cadres at the lower levels. Be a pupil before you become a teacher; learn from the cadres at the lower levels before you issue orders...What the cadres at the lower levels say may or may not be correct; after hearing it, we must analyse it. We must heed the correct views and act upon them...Listen also to the mistaken views from below; it is wrong not to listen to them at all. Such views, however, are not to be acted upon but to be criticized." from Methods of Work of Party Committees (March 13, 1949) pp.378-79.

I don't know anything about Mao's China, and I don't expect to garner much about it from the Little Red Book but I am stoked to have come across such an iconic and genuinely historical document. Not to mention a little surprised to have never seen a copy in twenty years + of stalking the shelves of bargain book stores. It was enough to form a certain kind of tolerance from lyric sheets, and the likes of Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys), Dave Diktor (MDC) and Rob Wright (nomeansno) replaced any meaningful education I could have been engaged in, when it came to South Asia.

'Mao tse Tung Egg fu yung Brown fried rice sure tastes nice
Peace through food Change folks mood One billion fed Alive not dead
What's food for? No more war Love thy earth And all it's worth
All give thanks Bread not tanks
Don't forget Ho And Timmy Yo Mao tse Tung'


Sunday, March 21, 2010


What is it with these early morning Sunday runs? They are the best. I got out this morning by 0645 and started off along the River bank. The sun was coming up red above the houses and by the time I got to the river side it had begun to stream through the thick mist, casting long beams into the meadow behind the church at Kempsey. I ain't religious, and I don't do deism either, but that was a moment in which to pause.

Couldn't pause though, cuz the metronome was going tick tick tick and I had 10 miles to run. Running to a click track is nice - it puts you right on the savannah with the tribe - and you can hear the birds and the sheep. Unlike running with music, which of course has it's place.

Talking of metronome I woke up to find that Nomeansno have shared, on-line, the demo versions of some of the songs that never made it onto the '0+2=1' album, way back at the dawn of time. Such a lovely bunch of OAPs. I suggest that you do your best to get a hold of that record, and everything they did prior to that and then up to and including 'Why Do They Call Me Mr Happy?'

Thursday, March 18, 2010


14 miles over the Malvern Hills, from the North Hill car park to Gullet Quarry and back again. I thought I'd get my Long run in before the weekend, as we do the family Roast thing on a Sunday and I don't like to miss it.

The weather behaved itself, though I could have done without the southerly cross wind at the top of the Herefordshire Beacon.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

View from Outside

On Friday, March 13th, the one year anniversary of the critical injury of international activist Tristan Anderson, approximately 100 Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals gathered for the weekly demonstration in Ni’lin to claim justice for Tristan. Anderson, a 38 year old U.S. citizen who was volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement, was hit in the forehead by a high-flying tear gas projectile during a demonstration in Ni’lin last year. The projectile was fired against IOF regulations, as soldiers shot the canisters directly at demonstrators rather than in an arcing fashion. According to the manufacturer of the tear gas canisters, the projectile was designed to penetrate walls and to be used in confined spaces; neither was necessary at the open-air demonstration demonstration in 2009. Tristan sustained serious brain damage, and remains hospitalized in Tel Aviv, his condition too serious for him to be moved home to the US.

In Ni’lin, midday prayers took place in the shade of olive trees, creating a picturesque setting. Afterwards, demonstrators marched firmly through the fields towards the metal gate in the concrete Apartheid Wall, while chanting and holding banners supporting Tristan. Three farmers brought their donkeys along in hopes of reach their farming land beyond the Apartheid Wall.

Ni’lin has lost about a third of its land to illegal Israeli settlements and the Wall. Only a limited amount of villagers have permission to access their lands behind the Wall, most of them elderly persons who do not have the physical capacity to farm. On Friday, all farmers were denied access to their land. While the crowd was overtaken by a viciously strong tear gas attack, soldiers passed through the gate. One of the farmers was brutally separated from his young son and arrested. Simultaneously, an Israeli activist was arrested while taking pictures.

After approximately 15 minutes the army invaded the village to surround the demonstrating crowd, plaguing the crowd with tear gas and sound grenades. The demonstrators approached the Wall again, holding up banners and chanting, which was answered by the army with more ammunition aimed directly at them. Clashes between the IOF and demonstrators continued for two hours until the army withdrew from the village.

further information here

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

All I know is that I don't know...

If you can spare a moment please cast your eye over this report about my friend Tristan who was critically wounded by Israeli soldiers while he observed a demonstration on the West Bank. Thanks.

Justice for Tristan Anderson


Great to get back out on to the hills, considering the sunshine we are getting at the moment. When the breeze dies down it's positively clickme!!.

So, Beacon 10km route, intervals, 55:51, a possible 1,369 feet of up and away - bally good show.

Roll on Saturday!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


A short LSD this morning - 7 miles in the sunshine along the banks of the river Severn. Nice views over the river to Malvern, the water still and glassy, furry white buds on the trees, birds scattering before me, a few dog walkers and sheep on the opposite bank.

Sometimes it's as if all is well in the world.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

History Lesson, pt. II

I rejoined the Fell Runners Association at the end of 2009. I became a member in 2005 but My Hectic Past meant that a lapse was only a matter of time. Last years resurgence of the running spirit, combined with my newly found competitive urge, made the FRA Race Calender a must have tome.

Membership entitles you to three issues of The Fellrunner - the association magazine compiled by 'active fell runners for active fell runners'. The Spring 2010 edition (surely a sign that good weather is imminent?) crashed through my letterbox yesterday, and with it came a grand supplement to celebrate 40 years of the FRA. 40 pages of great mountain photography, an article by Bill Smith which is a potted history of those 40 years, and a reproduction of the very first issue of the same magazine.

It's this I wanted to mention. I was pleasantly surprised to see, in the Other Results section, two entries that are local to me. It seems that somebody, back in the day, considered a race at Malvern to be suitable for recording in The Fellrunner.

Firstly, for 1970:

"WORCESTER BEACON 1. P.Wood 33.39, 2. R.Cooper 33.44 3. A.Jenkins 35.18"

and for 1971:

"WORCESTER BEACON 1. R.Cooper 33.41 2. E.Hansen 34.14 3. A.Rowlng 34.18 Team: Worcester Y.M.C.A."

Then, further on, at the top of the Provisional Calendar of Events for 1970, the first entry reads:

"Sat. Mar.14 WORCESTERSHIRE BEACON RACE- 6 and 3/4m / 1,369' - from Malvern, Worcs. -Rec 33.24s. - Obvious course - Entries 2/6d ind. 7/6 team - by Mar. 7 to R.Hinds, Y.M.C.A. Henwick Rd. Worcester. Some road."

I would love to know what course this ran over, as the current winners time for the Beacon race 10k is 43.48 (Bill Nock, M40 of Halesowen).

Maybe the 10km course of today is not the same as that run 40+ years ago? What could account for the 10 minutes added to the course record pre-1970? And if so, why has it been changed?

'Some road' may provide a clue.

I feel an investigation coming on. The YMCA (who still have a homeless shelter on Henwick Rd, I believe) organised a hill race? When did that start? Why did it stop?

In the meantime, check out D., Mike and George. I'd like to dedicate this song to the memory of the fallen and to those who are currently falling:

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Alas, I still have an unhealed blister on my left foot - it's been 9 days since I got it and I have to let it heal, at least a little, before I resume training. Hopefully it won't eat into my mileage (or into my foot!) too much this week.

A little trip to a running store in Cheltenham yesterday saw the purchase of a couple of new pairs of training shoes - for the hill, a pair of iInov8 Terroc 330's and for off-hill a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspire's.

Saw Cleeve Hill for the first time as well, which looks like a great place to go for a plod, though I think the Cleeve Wold 14 is out of the question.

Monday, March 08, 2010

some more from Chile

Translation of a comunicado found at wrote:

Urgent situation in Concepción

Companeros, we're writing to all of you in order to communicate the delicate situation which the people of Concepción are currently find themselves in. It has been covered in detail by the media in a morbid and disgusting fashion, backing the excessive militarisation and security plans that are so ridiculous that they only allow for six hours of "free movement" a day. We also want to denounce the shortages which affect the great majority of the city's population, who have heard many promises but few solutions.

1. Up to this point, not one [representative of the] authorities - apart from soldiers - has appeared on our streets, not even to survey the damage that their own people might have received in the earthquake or, ultimately, to find out whether we're alive or dead.

2. In the Aguita de la Perdiz area, for example, residents became desperate (remember that it was the end of the month and noone had a peso, let alone food stored in the house [payday tends to be on the 15th or 30th of the month - CDB]), so they went en masse to expropriate the stock of the Santa Isabel supermarket - which doesn't sell either electronic household goods nor luxury items - so the residents only took what was necessary, ie food and water. We can clarify that similar happened in various parts of the city, and that the over-repeated image of the guy taking away a plasma TV has not generally been the case (neither do we condemn the looting of electronic household items; we're just confirming that this happened on a small scale in comparison with the expropriation of indispensible products such as food, water, milk).

3. Because of this, the authorities have "punished" various sectors, leaving them without aid or access to basic services. This has been publically admitted to the press by the Mayor (and soon to be regional governor).

4. PDI [investigative police - CBD] functionaries have spread utterly absurd rumours, such as that "hoards" of criminals are going to come from the outermost reaches of the city ([even though] there's no petrol and there's military everywhere, so we're wondering if the hoards have helicopters). This has created an atmosphere of great paranoia and insecurity and has led to residents forming themselves into groups which patrol their respective sector all night with sticks and firearms, a really dangerous development considering how tiredness, tension and hunger could ignite violence between neighbours.

5. Right now, food is starting to become scarce in marginalised areas and there is no money to go and buy more, since wage packets were supposed to be received next week.

6. The sanitary conditions are shocking, and children and the eldery are starting to fall ill. The surgery and hospital [buildings] both collapsed and it is only a matter of time before people start to die of preventable illnesses.

7. Aid HAS STILL NOT ARRIVED [caps theirs - CDB], and organisation has been late, to say the least. We recall the image of neighbours on the barricades, looking out for their houses while laughing to themselves over the contrived news story of "Chile helping Chile". We all know how quickly the rich acted to protect their order, their nation and their assets. We don't buy the campaigns they've started seven days after the earthquake, when in those seven days, if people hadn't have looted, they would have starved to death.

We understand that what happened was a natural disaster - and that the situation is much more critical in areas such as Talcahunao, Penco, Coronel and the villages in the interior of the Maule region - but to "punish" an entire sector for not respecting the established order, an act which says to us "let the rich buy all their stuff in the supermarket and you can figure out how to sort yourselves out, you'll always be the last and you should understand that", seems - to us - be a criminal act, at least.

Finally, the rumours propagated by the PDI can - and MUST [caps theirs] - be considered to be terrorist acts, since they look to (and suceed in) terrifying the populace.

Thanks to Caiman Del Barrio in Venezuela for the translation

Saturday, March 06, 2010

It's catching up!

I took a lay off after May Hill. The Diary says I did 6 miles.


Where would I be without Mega bus? I took the train up to Birmingham with the G, which is always a pleasure, and a half full coach up to Leeds.

I was hoping to buy a new pair of fell trainers during my trip to Bradford and the gig at the 1in12 was just an excuse to visit the shoe shop. Unfortunately by the time the trip came around I didn’t have the spare cash, and I had to content myself with a pair of gloves. These are as good under MTB gloves as they are for running and I can heartily recommend 1000 Mile wind locker gloves.

I'd planned get the train to Hebden Bridge and go for a run up to Stoodley Pike the next day. That couldn't happen without running shoes. I'd also planned to take a look at the Calder Valley Challenge route which looks like a cracking run.

I met my friend Jayne in the shoe shop and browsed the large selection of fell and trail shoes. I tried a couple of brands that I thought I wanted at the time - Wave Harrier, Roclite - to get a fix on the sizing and we left. We went back to her icy Co-op to drop my bag and catch up. She wasn’t going to be around for the weekend - business to attend to in Nottingham - but we'd arranged to go for beer and curry that night. A couple of friends joined us and off we went to

“The Sweet Centre at Lumb Lane in Bradford [which] acted both as a café and a social centre for the men working the night shift in textile mills in the city. It is an example of a business starting in the early days of an evolving community which has continued to be successful.”

Just down the lane, a quiet pub called Haighy's does a pint of mild for £1.50. It's barely drinkable but I did my best. Tonight the pool table was pushed to the wall and half of Bradford was in to watch the rugby on the big screen.


Jayne was up early to catch her train. I read for a while before getting out of my pit to go back down town. They have a bargain rail at Sports shoes Unlimited and I felt sure I’d find something. And I did – a Puma Wind Stopper half zip jacket. £15 reduced from somewhere near £80 – ah, the added benefits of a small frame and a low BMI. Never mind freezing in 5deg weather, or a painful death in the desert. They had two of these jackets. I should have snapped them both up.

Later on I caught up with my friends and we took a trip out to Sowerby Bridge.

I had been saving my booze credits since the May Hill Massacre for a binge at the 1 in 12 Club. I discovered the Timothy Taylor lager and my wish was fulfilled.

Four bands played– Ergot, from Leeds, Tree of Sores, also from Leeds, old men of Kent called Left for Dead and the incomparable La Fraction, from France.

I have fallen into the habit of taking in a few songs by support bands and then hitting the bar or hanging out in the street socialising. I must be a little cynical these days.

The two Leeds bands left me cold and I’ve seen Left For Dead several times. There isn’t a lot to be said about the style of music they play that hasn’t been said better elsewhere. La Fraction, conversely, tore the roof off off the building and rearranged the seating. They don’t play highly original music either, though the vocals are unique, but it is 110% authentic and that is certainly the difference between them and the support bands (L F D not withstanding). Proving once again that passion and integrity trump musicality and pretence. It was nice to be up front, taking pictures and dancing with old friends and young punks alike.

A friend went to see La Fraction a few weeks later at the Kopi in Berlin and he told me that the place was on fire. I can only imagine that life for the members and crew of La Fraction is full of fine revelry.

(how 'bout a) Sundae

My friends vanished at the end of the gig so I made my way back to The Hive alone, to freeze on Jayne's sofa. I slept until 11am, which I find really odd, as I'm an early riser, and I woke up shivering. I'd only brought a fleecy sleeping bag liner as I wanted to travel light but I feel the cold so much these days. I need to remember that. I woke up reasonably hangover free though.

Once again I met my friends over the breakfast table and after packing up got a free trip over to Leeds on a disabled access +1 card, which I spent talking about travelling, climbing and the 3 Peaks Yacht Race with Titch. And admiring his large face Watch for the visually impaired!

Mega bus, Karl Marx, a little snooze. Birmingham 'hove' into view. Train to F. Street and home in time to develop a fully fledged cold, which put the kibosh on that weeks training.


Thursday, March 04, 2010


1,200 metre intervals, this time on the road. An improvement over last time - 07:35 per mile.

I'm unsure if I am working these figures out correctly but the run itself feels like a hard workout, so I'll have to pay the figures some attention and see if I can feel more confident. I suppose that the figure above is averaged over the entire run, taking the 100% recovery time into consideration in the final calculation.

Is there another way?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

On a serious note

Having been to Chile, and treated with the utmost sincerity and immediate friendship by punk rockers in many cities in South America, I wanted to take a break from the training diary and post this.

On the situation in southern Chile: self-organisation of proletarians in the face of catastrophe, lumpen capitalists and state incompetence

"A translation of an eye-opening - if unverified - and anonymous account of neighbour solidarity and self-defence squads against armed gangs in Concepción, Chile immediately following the 8.8 Richter scale earthquake on Saturday morning. (By an anonymous comrade)

It would be very good if – since you have the means with which to spread information - you could publicise what’s going on in Concepción and the surrounding area, as well as many other areas that are affected by the earthquake:

By now, it is well known that many people did the common sense thing and entered the centres in which provisions were being stored, taking no more than what they needed. Such an act is logical, rational, necessary and inevitable - so much so that it appears absurd even to debate it. People organised themselves spontaneously – giving out milk, nappies and water according to each individual’s need, with attention paid in particular to the number of children within each family. The need to take available products was so evident – and the determination of the people to exercise their right to survive was so powerful – that even the police ended up helping (extracting commodities from the Lider supermarket in Concepción, for example). And when attempts were made to impede the populace in doing the only thing that it could possibly do, the buildings in question were set alight – it’s equally logical, after all, that if tonnes of foodstuffs have to rot instead of being consumed, that they are burnt, thus avoiding infection. These incidences of ‘looting’ have allowed thousands of people to subsist for hours in darkness, without drinking water or even the remotest hope that someone might come to their aid.

Now, however, in the space of just a few hours, the situation has changed drastically. Throughout the penquista (Concepción) metropolis, well-armed, mobile gangs have started to operate in expensive vehicles, concerning themselves with looting not just small businesses, but also residential buildings and houses. Their objective is to hoard the scarce few goods that people have been able to retrieve from the supermarkets, as well as their domestic appliances, money and whatever else they may find. In some parts of Concepción, these gangs have looted houses before setting them alight and then fleeing. Residents, who at first found themselves rendered completely defenceless, have started to organise their own defences, taking it in turns to do security patrols, erecting barricades to protect their roads, and, in some barrios, collectivising their commodities in order to ensure that everyone gets fed.

I don’t intend to “complete” the square of information gleaned from other sources with this brief account of events in the last few hours, more I want to bring everyone’s attention to the nature of this critical situation, and its relevance from an anti-capitalist viewpoint. The spontaneous impulse of the people to appropriate what they need to subsist, and their tendency towards dialogue, sharing, agreement and collective action, have been present since the first moment of this catastrophe. We have all seen this natural, communitarian tendency in one form or another in our lives. In the midst of the horror experienced by thousands of workers and their families, this impulse to living as a community has emerged as a light in the dark, reminding us that it is never late to start again, to return to our [natural?] selves.

Faced with this organic, natural, communistic tendency, which has given life to the people in this time of shock, the state has paled, revealing its true self: a cold, impotent monster. Moreover, the sudden interruption of the demented production and consumption cycle left industry owners at the mercy of events, forced to wait, begging for the return of order. In short, a genuine breach opened in society, in which sparks of the new world which inhabits the hearts of common people. It was necessary, therefore, urgent in fact, to restore the old order of monopoly, abuses and the prey. But it didn’t come from the highest spheres, but from the very bottom of class society. Those in charge of putting everything back in its right place - that is to say, imposing by force the relations of terror which permit private, capitalist appropriation - have been the drug-trafficking mafiosi, embedded within the population at large; the upstarts within the upstarts, children of the working class, allied with bourgeois elements in order to ascend at the cost of the poisoning of their brothers, the trade of their sisters’ sex and the avid consumerism of their own children. Mafiosi - that is to say, capitalists in the purest form: predators of their class, lounging in 4x4s, armed with automatic pistols, prepared to intimidate and even displace their own neighbours or residents of other barrios, with the aim of monopolising the black market and making easy money i.e. power.

That these mafia elements are natural allies of the state and the boss class is manifested in the use of their undignified misdeeds in the mass media in order to make the already demoralised population enter into a panic, therefore justifying the country’s militarisation. What scene could be more prosperous for our bosses and politicians – walking hand in hand – who see this catastrophic crisis as nothing more than a good opportunity for good business, squeezing double profits out of a work force that is bent double by fear and desperation?

On the part of the enemies of this social order, it is meaningless to sing odes to looting without defining the social content of such actions. A group of people – partially organised, or united by a common goal, at least – taking and distributing the products that they need to survive is not the same as armed gangs looting the population with the intention of making their own profits. What remains clear is that the earthquake of Saturday 27th didn’t just hit the working class terribly and destroy existent infrastructures. It has also overturned social relations in this country. In a matter of hours, the class struggle has emerged – warts and all – before our eyes, which are perhaps too used to television images to be able to capture the essence of the course of events. The class struggle is here, in the barrios reduced to rubble and gloom, fizzling and crackling at the bottom of society, forcing the fatal crash between two classes of human beings who in the end find themselves face to face; on one side, the social men and women who search among themselves in order to help each other and to share, and on the other, the antisocials who pillage them and shoot at them in order to begin their own primitive accumulation of capital.

We are here, the opaque, anonymous beings, constantly trapped in our grey lives - the exploited, the neighbour, the parent, but ready to build links with those who share the same depression. On one side, the proletariat; on the other, capital. It’s that simple. In many neighbourhoods of this devastated land, in these early morning moments, people are starting to organise their own defence against the armed gangs. At this moment, class consciousness is starting to be enacted materially by those who have been forced – in the blink
of an eye – to understand that their lives belong to themselves alone, and that no one will come to their aid."

Thanks to the author and to the translator.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


There is light at the end of the tunnel, but don't get carried away because this sunshine is only temporary! I am gagging for the summer to begin - so much to do.

I went up the hills for this mornings 10k interval session (strict 'hill sprints' are too demanding at the moment) in brilliant sunshine that even my weeping heel blisters couldn't diminish. It was a bit chilly in the shadow of buildings on the walk to the train station but the sun was soon high enough.

Today I had the route sorted and my times were more than reasonable for a training session - 1 hour and 1 minute for a 10k route, with over a thousand feet of ascent. The damage from Sundays long run was taped up so there was no pain but the dressings were bloody by the time I finally got home.

I walked fewer sections than last Thursdays first attempt and feel that there is room for quite a lot of improvement.

I went scouring the charity book shops of Malvern afterwards, but came away with nowt - the Amnesty Intl. shop has some Solzhenitsyn and Maxim Gorky biographies, but I was hoping for a little Marx or Adam Smith. Last time I was in there I picked up a great 3 volume work by the Polish writer Leszek Kolakowski and a couple of tracts by VI Lenin, printed in the USSR in the 30's and 40's.

My home town used to have at least a dozen decent second hand book stores. Admittedly that was fifteen or twenty years ago. Now it hasn't even one. Not one with a collection that you could spend time on. There is a second hand stall in the old market, and I've found a couple of books there, but they have very little in real terms. There are two charity shops that specialize in books and they occasionally get something worthy but it is so hit and miss.

Why is this the case? Where did all the book shops of my youth go? Can I blame the inter-web?

Monday, March 01, 2010


I really need to work on my hill legs. I live in a suburban nightmare and there is greenbelt all around but it has to be said that the state of the countryside footpaths and bridleways leaves a lot to be desired, either being unkempt and overgrown or heavily churned by horse and rider. Consequently, a lot of running has been done on roads in the last six months.

This sucks. Road work leaves you open to all sorts of injury problems - from shin splints to full on road traffic collisions.

So I made my way over to Malvern for a 12 mile long slow distance run. A storm was forecast but never materialized. The wind was blowing into my face for the second half and it was a cold one. My route would take me across the tops from North Quarry car park, over the Worcestershire Beacon (425m) and down to The Cut. From there it was back up to Perseverance Hill (325m), across Third's Land (327m), Pinnacle Hill ((357m). Over the two Black Hills (308m & 270m) and down to Wynds point (236m). Back up to the Herefordshire Beacon (338m), to the turning point at Clutter's Cave. I returned along the same route, throwing Millennium Hill (292m) into the mix.

If I can be bothered I'll work out the total ascent but, in case you don't know, the Malvern range is a wide, rolling ridge-line. The main ascents are really at both ends, in North Malvern at End Hill and at the Hereford road in the south at Midsummer's Hill. Along the range it is a case of dropping down to high saddles between prominent tops. Some of the uphills are steep, such as the climb up Pinnacle Hill, and long - the pull up to the Worcestershire Beacon from Upper Wyche Cutting.

Regular use of the hills reduces the challenge significantly

Time spent OTH was 2 hours and 23 minutes, and incurred a pain penalty of 5 ragged blisters.

Must remember to wear socks next time. Doh...

Friday, February 26, 2010


Yesterday's supposed hill sprints session at Malvern turned into something resembling a farce. It hadn't occurred to me that, however well I think I know those hills, I've never actually run the Beacon 10k route. So a lot of time was wasted trying to figure out which paths were the right ones, and of course taking the wrong path several times.

Not to mention that my 'hill fitness' is absent. I did a fair bit of fell-walking and not a lot of sprinting. In the end I reckon I covered more than seven miles and my time on the hill was an hour and twenty nine minutes. Bah...

My road shoes are finally beginning to cause me problems too, as I burst an air insert about 60 miles ago. I should know better but, being skint, I carried on regardless. Dumb ass...

From that to the May Hill massacre

The weeks following my return from Dorset saw a little more hill work, and then a switch to speed sessions. It was four weeks until my next race – the 4th May Hill Massacre near Gloucester.

November had seen a weeks hill walking in the Lake District cancelled by heavy flooding in Cumbria before the Beastly Feast and, strangely, another lay-off occurred in the build up to this race. A week of tempo work and a 13 miler in heavy snow, from North Hill to Gullet quarry, gave my body the excuse it needed to call a halt to such excess. I was struck down with a mystery stomach bug and prescribed medication for the duration.

I was soon on my feet again. I even managed to get out onto a great local MTB route for half a day. The route has fun technical descents and lung shredding hill climbs. It’s pretty mucky and makes for an enjoyable couple of hours riding / 25 miles.

The 7th of February rolled around eventually. I’d borrowed my sisters’ car to get to Huntley and parked up an hour and a half before the start. The weather looked good – cool and overcast, unthreatening. A marshal explained that race HQ was a fifteen minute walk across fields, so I figured I go and scout it out.

In a sense this seemed like my first ‘real’ race, as the Runaround event featured man made obstacles and features that I felt hindered running progress. It had a novelty value because of that. This was a more straightforward race, with a greater number of participants. I got a feeling that, even though it was a race to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis, the competitors would be more…competitive. In the end this presupposition turned out to be partially correct; it seems that running races attract all sorts of loonies that defy my naïve attempts at classification, but the overwhelming presence of vast numbers of fit and prepared looking runners was totally refreshing and exciting. I collected my timing chip and turned the volume up – Black Flag in the toilet queue!

435 people took part, across 8.75 miles, with 1,000 feet of ascent, over all sorts of terrain from muddy clag to the smooth grassy top of May Hill. The few road sections were brief and tolerable and the downhills were fast and consequently exhilarating. The mud wasn’t too bad although I remember someone swearing loudly as I passed them at one point. I think they must’ve lost a shoe!

I was having a cracking race. My pacing was good. I wasn’t going too fast to be unable to pay my debt, and I’d stuck fast to the shoulder of a bloke that I thought was running at a level slightly above the race that I was running. I figured that would give me the encouragement I needed to push myself a little bit. It worked well.

Quite a lot of people were gathered at significant points along the course to give support. The crowd on top of May Hill, the great bunch at the top of the second hill spring to mind.

I had an unexpected splash-about in a deep rut that I failed to avoid but that was the only set back in the first half of the race. The second hill caught me out completely and my hands stuck fast to my thighs as I switched to fast walking.

This was the start of my ‘troubles’.

Me and a mate went down the canal once, down near Perdiswell, with fishing line and some bread, and made a half arsed effort to ‘fish.’ That’s the extent of my fishing experience. I’ve seen A River Runs Through It though. Brad Pitt makes it look easy whenever he lands a big ole’ fish on the riverbank - the fish flops about, trying to touch its head to its tail, its fishy mouth opening and closing. Then he puts it in the wicker basket on his hip with the others. Nothing to it – a cinch.

Both my calf muscles went into spasm at the top of the second hill. The worst cramping I’ve had in ten years of running. They were flopping around on the riverbank, trying to touch their tails with their heads, and my my fishy mouth was opening and closing. From then ‘til the finish line my stride was reduced to a hotchpotch of comedy running styles, walking and stopping to stretch. I tried downhill hopping at one point.

It was infuriating to watch all the people I’d worked hard to keep up with or pass as they stormed past me. A few runners asked if I was ok and offered words of encouragement but I was face to face with my latent competitive streak and not a happy bunny.

What do you do about cramp? Bananas? Oats? Nuuns? Elete? Do more training? Run more hills? People that I spoke to after the race were saying that even if you take all the precautions known to mankind you still can’t predict for cramp. It’s just a matter of bad luck. I don’t know about that.

The supporters around the last mile or two were great. It’s a pity I felt so ragged. The road section back was torment and I was passed by a Gloucester runner about two hundred metres from the finish.

I joined the queue for my souvenir T-shirt. Someone had to cut the time chip off my ankle. I stuck around afterwards, talking to MattR until the prize giving ceremony.

I’d like to say a big thank you to the marshals and the organizers, the people that staffed the water stations and every one who played a part behind the scenes.
It took a day or so for the results to be posted on the webpage and I was pleased with my placing – 96th with a time of 1 hour 13 minutes.

“Gimme gimme gimme
I need some more
Gimme gimme gimme
Don't ask what for

Sitting here I'm a loaded gun
Waiting to go off
I've got nothing to do
But shoot my mouth off”

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Training - 1,200 metre intervals at 08:21 per mile. This was a hard workout, going south along the west bank of the river. Pretty much max'd out so I might have done these a little too fast. It's good to be adding a little speed work to the schedule. We'll have to see how hill sprints feel on Thursday at Malvern. They  still have plenty of snow on the tops so that'll be interesting. I'll be using the Beacon 10km race route for training, from now until the Brecon Fans race weekend in July.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Late November to early January, 2010

I had a pain in my leg. I was running in Inov8 280s which, though perfect for the muddy sections and the steep up and down of the wooded hillside, offered little forgiveness on the Tarmac road at the end of the middle third of the race. I put it down to bone strain – the result of a too much, too soon, oops, too late training schedule – and the best thing to do was to ignore it. Only at that moment did I have any trace of doubt during that first racing experience.

Nonetheless, I love those 280s. I’ve had them for years and I’ve still not managed to put more than forty miles on them. They used to rub the back of my heel so I always passed them over in favour of my Walshies*. These days I use them without the foot-bed. They have been promoted - for Summer use only.

I’ve only a vague memory of the pain after the Beastly Feast. Once the euphoria had receded and I’d got over the contents of the finishers goodie bag, and I’d stuffed my face with junk and had a bath, I recall the exhaustion as substantial. But I can’t gauge it at all now. If I had to place it on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being ‘no bother’ and 10 being ‘oh heck’, I wouldn’t be able to. Nature has its way of obscuring the recollection of past distress and discomfort that works independently of you and me.

I was still getting the same pain a week later, so I tried some different strategies in training and switched to doing hill runs on the bike.

I figured that the impetus behind running up hills at that time was to strengthen my leg muscles and improve my form, not simply to become better at running up hills. That requires a session of its own, as Kevin Shevels seems to suggest in ‘UPHILL TECHNIQUES FOR OFF-ROAD RUNNERS’.

The bike sessions meant that I could keep my heart-rate at the correct level for the entirety of the exercise. This had a great effect, both in terms of giving my legs a break and leaving me with enough energy to perform a couple of quality runs later on that week. There is no mention of pain at all in the Diary over the following few days, and so began the inexorable climb up Mount Increased Mileage.

I tried a Plyometric session. Something called P90X. An hour of leg lifting over imaginary tires, and make-believe baseball whanging, and other ridiculously exhausting stuff. I’m sure we had to play rounders at middle school but baseball simply does not compute. I might return to P90X in the Spring, if I can, but hopping across a football pitch on alternate legs and running backwards to the beginning is more my style.

The G and I did a few less weights sessions at that time, no doubt due to the Xmas build up. Eventually the festivities came and went. With a whimper, rather than a bang.

I spent a week down on the south coast at New Year, with some good friends and, as expected, the old demon was unleashed and allowed to ravish the local population; scrawled across four days of the Diary are the words “right off” and “got fucked up on booze and ‘ting’”. Sometimes the endorphins addiction looses out to less demanding options. I still managed to do 23 miles during a week of revelation, wonder and lung abuse. Running along that beautiful coast line, now in needle sharp rain and now in bright sunshine, got me thinking about a holiday.

Considering the weather that broke in the first weeks of 2010, eventually to cover the length and breadth of the British Isles with a fall of snow that, once more, saw local government and public transport providers accused of near incompetence, the thought of a weeks training somewhere hot and bright was, and still is, uppermost in my mind.

It isn’t going to happen.

*I regret leaving my Walsh PBs in a Hebridean rubbish bin. They had plenty of miles of running still in them but circumstances conspired against me and left they were, along with a stack of good books and surplus clothing.*

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Don't hang about...

So I got into this running thing quite late, though from what I've heard I had the same experience as a lot of people - a misspent Youth, laden with the assorted physical baggage of mischief and the good type of bad fun, gets to 30 years of age and all of a sudden feels the unseen hand of years of abuse smack him upside his Punk-ass head. Maybe that was it. Or maybe it was Millenarian paranoia and the after glow of the New Years shenanigans - "I don't Believe It!"

What ever it was I was prompted to buy some trail running shoes, and engage in other, less life altering behavioural alterations - like saying 'I'm not smoking any more' and switching to a lighter brand. I began to explore the local countryside.

Wild Park, Moulscombe, Brighton. East Sussex.

The woods down there are great, as far as I recall. They were perfect for the sort of introduction that really benefits a new runner, who knows instinctively that running on the roads is a bad idea - varied, hilly but flat if you want, soft under foot and full of wildlife, colour and sound. I'm sure it's also full of much less salutary content too (like a weapons factory actually) but I don't recall ever having any bother in the couple of years that saw me regularly biking up there for an early AM or late evening run. The parkland is also a gateway to the broader South Downs and, once I'd built up my mileage and injury resistance, I'd regularly set out from there to the Downs for the day. And, as inclement weather only strikes East Sussex once every five or ten years, the days were long and filled with charm and fine views out over the English Channel - 'dyllic. An antidote to living on Western Road if ever one was needed.

And it certainly was

Where am I headed with this rambling? No need to list every run since the year 2000, so we'll fast forward, quickly past 9/11, past a long trip around South America, past the Cowley Club. Past Leeds and Bradford (though I am sure to return to those fine cities), past the suffering and the misery to one day last November. Sunday, 29th 11am - 163 mad people stand in front of the start line, on a cold and overcast morning, for the inaugural Beastly Feast; an off-road 10km 'adventure' type race on the other side of the river near the Wu. It's my first and I have no idea what to expect. 52 minutes (and 47 seconds) later I cross the finish line, after another ground level scramble net and a nipple high stream crossing, coming in 21st.

Hooked. Should have tried it years ago. Shouldn't have left the North. Have to rejoin the FRA. Have to move back to Leeds. *Where are the hills around here?* Why don't I have a job? Why is my car off the road? Train? Train! More training! And so on...

Until the next time.

*Thankfully we have a wonderful chain of hills, not 11 miles away by bicycle. One of the finest North to South ridges in the country, and for all it lacks in height it makes up for in most total excellence.*

A quick hello and a whatever you say!

I've been thinking about doing a fanzine for a while now, having done a few in the past, but to be frank I really don't have the inclination to do it justice. Which is a shame but such is life. So I guess a blog might satisfy my need to spiel and make sitting in front of this screen a little more...productive.


The general idea is to incorporate a fair few different things. I'll learn as I go along (if I go along!) and it will either develop or crash. 2010 is the year of the race for me. I'm a runner who has always had aspirations towards running on the fells. I never managed to do any races when I lived in West Yorkshire and the last few months has seen this ambition rear its head, and open its all consuming maw, once again, now that I live in the West Midlands. 2010 will see me running a few races, none of which are over 10 miles in length but all contain a great deal of elevation, certainly for a novice such as myself. High point for this year will be at the Brecon Fans Race weekend in July, with 2200' feet of 'up'. You gotta love it.

I'll probably keep a journal of training here too, although I'll try to keep the trivia out and the quality training to the fore, assuming I don't get injured, or have a horrendous change of mind and take up my subscription to the dark side again. That'll be the fags. And the booze. And the rest.

So running and mountain biking takes up most of my training time, along with free weights and hill walking.

I might put up some book reviews here, as that's definitely something that I enjoy doing. Maybe some music, some chit chat ladida, etc. etc., and general blogage. Interviews maybe...

There you have it - the why and the wherefore and the what ever you say!

Until next time