End of the World and Keep Going

That is a good answer, another good reply could be ‘Head for the Cul-De-Sac and you have arrived’ or any reference to going back in time could also be adequate replies to the question ‘How do you get to Barrow’ For those who do not know about Barrow-In-Furness then I have highlighted some nice links for you to expand your knowledge on the subject and what is a very underrated town.

I have now been to Barrow a number of times with work and each time the place is growing on me, it has so much history and a real sense of community. It is wonderful to run around and has a really nice Abbey. The jokes about it being a ‘One horse town and that horse is dead’ can be true but are often recited by those who have not ventured along the A590 to this  peninsula. However those who live there are in love with the place, and like other towns some of the younger people wish to get out but if you have not been then you shouldn’t comment as Barrow has hidden treasures and unlike Slough or Oldham, Barrow could be a very wealthy tourist trap.

So there we go, Barrow I love you.

 

Barrow-in-Furness

Barrow

Barrow Tourism 

Said it all before

I’ve said it all before, but I really do wish people know how to drive on British roads, and in particular our motorways.

I was reminded of this fact as I drove along one my all time roads the A590 and suddenly realised that people didn’t know that the speed limit was 70 mph. They saw the National Speed limit sign and thought it must be 60, but forget the simple rule in the highway code that says when there is a centre reservation barrier on a duel carriage way the speed limit is 70.

This little drop in speed did not bother me, as I was saving fuel and was quite happy travelling along at 60, even on the motorway, and this is where the real issue comes. I know how to use the motorway and for those who don’t or do not live within the UK, then basically we have three lanes. Ideally everyone should use the inside lane, and only use the other two when they need to overtake. What happens is people think the first lane is slow, middle is for people doing 70, and the outside lane being the fast lane. This is not the case. I was travelling along at 62 mph as that is the best speed for my fuel economy. But yet in the inside lane, I was undertaking those in the other two lanes. What this also means is that when I want to over take the HGV in front which is limited at 60, I can’t, as there are drivers who are running along at 60, or 65 in the middle lane.

That’s is it, not much of a rant. But it is very annoying.

Here’s the other time I spoke about Motorways 

Better Off

For the first time in years I am better off. I often wait for the BBC to produce their budget calculator to see if you would be better or worse off with the budget. 

Now for those who do not follow British politics, then yesterday we had our budget and while the sticking point will be the so called tax increase for pensioners which is actually a tax freeze, meaning their allowance will no longer grow year on year then for the first time I am better off. Even under labour I was never better off come the budget. While I am not a Tory boy I am one of the few people who don’t care that the Lib Dems got into bed with the Conservative party and lets face it looking at ‘History’ the Tories have always pulled the UK out of recession and helped the country grow after Labour have trod it into the ground. The Lib Dems found a deal with the Tories who seemed willing to compromise unlike the Labour party that walked away from negotiating table to form a government when the results of the election showed a hung parliament. 

Now to say I agree with all polices would not be true, but I feel they are doing the best job with the budget as to me at the moment seems fair and the best option. I feel that some people need to read beyond the headlines and topic headlines before they start to have a go. If anyone had bothered to read the Lib Dems manifesto then maybe they would be completely surprised at some of the actions the government have taken. As a lot of people see Lib Dem as too mean “Socialist” but thats Labour. The Liberal Democrat party has grown from a very conservative background over the last hundred years and while it gave us the state pension it has voted against several other social reform bills.

Oh well now that I have made myself seem like a tory boy I suppose I better go and hang my head in shame. But the overall point is that for the first time in ten years I am actually better off, and not just by £4.80 , no I’m talking about over £400.00 a year. Now I very much doubt labour would have done that for me.

Addicted

It would be a fair comment to say I am addicted to running. But is it an accurate description of the portrayal. Yes I run, and sometime I run a lot, other times I like to stay in bed. This does not seem like an addiction to me, more a social pass time, a hobby that requires a little more attention and care than lets say ‘Stamp Collecting’ or ‘reading’.

My blog started life as a way to moan and let off steam about the world and the way it angers my very being but soon grew into a training diary of some one becoming a runner with that person being me. Me  who had never really ran more than the distance to catch the number 42 to the city centre before it pulled away from the bus stop. I wanted to blog to show people that a non runner could in fact learn how to run and the following blog is testament to that.

So am I addicted to the running, did I at some point while training for my first 10K race catch the so called ‘Running Bug’ it appears so as even when I was injured all I wanted to do was run and no sooner had I kissed my medal and sat back in relief that I had achieved an activity that for many is out of their reach and comfort zone had found myself entering ‘The Great North’ and then ‘Conwy’ followed by another 10K that was soon to be followed by yet another run.

It is only now that mystery seems to be unravelled. I am not so much addicted to the joy running, although science has shown that running can become addictive with the chemicals that your brain produces during exercise and I can hold my hand up and clearly say after a run I feel happy, delighted I may even go as far to say I feel ecstatic and for those who know me seeing me wear a smile is an odd occasion and I can even back the science up as when I am unable to run like the time I was injured I become miserable. Running makes you feel good. So am I addicted? I think the answer is a no, what I have now found or believed I have found is that while addicted to the benefits of running I am more addicted to the races.

As I write this entry I have just had to turned down a chance to race in the ‘Two Castles Race’ in Warwickshire an event that would be right up my street, running from a castle to another castle with the bonus of staying with friends who live down that way. The reason for this upsetting decision is because when I first tried to enter the organisers said it was full and placed me on a stand by list, wanting to race in June I quickly hunted for another race and found the ‘Mersey 10K Tunnel’ in Liverpool that falls on the same date only to get an email a couple of days later informing me that a place had come available.

In fact while I continue to write I have just entered yet another 10K race, which makes it my third race I’d be participating in during May, and only a couple of weeks after my Marathon (So much for resting). So while catching the ‘Running Bug’ may be a hazard to many who suddenly find themselves waking at 6am and knocking off work early to get home just to enable them to squeeze a quick 5K jaunt around the park I feel that I have gone beyond that and have now moved into the rather dangerous and costly addiction of race entries chasing the next medal, PB or distance. My diary is slowly booking up more with race dates than work ones, and being that I am freelance, that should be a worrying statistic but I am finding I am organising work to fit around races, not races to fit round work a couple of months ago I turned down a job as it meant I would miss an opportunity to run.

What is the reason for this addiction? I’m not too sure! is it the medal or T-shirt, the joy to run with others and run next to people who share the same passion and enjoyment. Is it just down to wanting to bag as many races like walkers wanting to bag monroes. Maybe its a consistent battle whereby you’re running after PB’s as all my races to date have seen me record a new PB and while I’m new to running the room for improvement will I’m sure die away and the PB’s will become harder to achieve so maybe the addiction will also fade or maybe I will just find something new to run after. Maybe it will to get ‘The best in age’ category or addiction to for the goody bags.

What ever happens, I know one thing for sure my love of running and the passion that burns inside for this simple past time will always stay lit and be it that the addiction is too competing, medal hoarding or just placing your trainers on at 6am and running on the desolate streets watching the world slowly wake and the sun rising as the human rat race begins another day the addiction will always be there in one form or another.

Know Your Pace

Now this is a rant, but it’s also a rave. The title is also a terrible pun that I hope will come clear later in the blog.

On Sunday I was one of 8,000 runners who lined the start line at the docks in Liverpool ready to snake through the streets and parks of the city and oh boy was it a good race. I think this has to be one of the best Half Marathons I’ve run yet, and maybe one of the best races. The streets and parks were lined with supporters more so than the Great North, or any of the 10K’s I have done, and while the atmosphere may have just been background noise to my music I could sense a real thrill and buzz coming from the crowd, proud to support their friends, family and the overall occasion.

Now I should be happy with my result. Just over a year after starting running with my third half and 6th race I go and get another PB. In fact taking 14 minutes of my first half marathon time that was over six months ago. I look back on the Great North and remember how scared I was, will I ever complete it, will I get under two hours and then I look to the night of the Liverpool Half where there were no such thoughts or feelings, the half marathon distance was just another run, those 13.1 miles were now something I could throw out on a Sunday morning as part of my long jog. I noticed this with the 10K, that when I started training for the Great North, suddenly the distance and thought of running 10K turned from fear and thought of a long distance to that of a short run that I’d bang out before work as quickie.

Anyway, the game plan was to go slow, it was to try my marathon pace out and see how I felt. I thought it was going to be tough as the day before I decided to do a 11 mile hike up Kinder Low in the Peak District and my legs felt a little heavy on Saturday night. So on went the compression tights and plenty of carbs to re-stock the old legs. The thought of marathon pace, made me hopeful that the hike hadn’t ruined my chance of finishing. However what happened on Sunday is I went off fast, and I mean fast. Were talking 10K pace, and what followed for the next 7 miles was my legs working like a horse in a race, the sheer buzz and enjoyment of the day supporting the music pumping in my ears carried on the rhythm, I was speeding through this. The hike must have helped, it must have acted as a recovery run, pumping fuel into my tired running muscles ready for the race.

It’s true I did set of too fast and this was maybe a result of the pack, but also the course. The course is a fast one. It is mainly flat and in many places you are running on very wide road leaving plenty of running for the pack to spread out and over take. By Mile 8, my legs were starting to feel it and slowed down, by mile 9 I took on a gel and in doing so, sped up. As I came in onto the water front at mile 10 the captain must have given the command for “Full Steam Ahead” as I started running at 5K pace. I’m going to fast I thought, I can’t keep this up for 3 miles, not after running at 10K pace for 10 miles, but some how I did, and with the feeling of walking on air I ploughed on and clocked watched every couple of seconds. 1 hour 30, and I’ve done 11.5 miles, Jesus I’m going to get a new PB and with the thought came more speed, by mile 12 I was flying passing everyone and then into the home straight with .70 miles to go I got a stitch and slowed right down.

Looking back If I kept it up, I could have broken the 1:40 barrier. To say I’m happy about my new PB is not really the truth, I went off the game plan and if I’m honest I’ve chucked the race out of the window. The race was a training session to make sure my pace for the marathon was a good one. The worrying thought now is what if I go off at 8 minute miling on April 29th, as opposed to 9 minute miles. I suppose, you could argue, that 6 months ago the pace I ran on Sunday would have been too quick and I’d have burnt out within miles, so maybe with the right gels, and getting some more speed and hill works in 8 minutes a mile could be achievable, after all I was running at an average 7.45 a mile, running 15 seconds slower.

Now, back to the point with the pun. The ‘Know your Pace’ is not about me, but in fact about other runners knowing their place. I’m not for one minute slating the fun runners, or those who wanted to get fit after christmas, or lose some weight, run one race a year or had a bet in the pub or in deed those people who like me run to raise funds for charities that are close to our hearts. I think everyone should run, I try to get all my mates to run, I enjoy seeing people smile as they run and this race was no exception. People who were in pain by mile one were still smiling and being boosted by the crowd and as you ran you could see the colourful body of the snake as it weaved in and out of the streets. Everyone had different reasons to run but everyone was enjoying it. Running with people makes running enjoyable and maybe is one of the reasons I shot off to quickly, trying to keep up with the crowd. But here lies a problem. Some big events will place you in waves judging on your finish time. Admittedly some people do not know their finish time, when I ran the Manchester 10K I estimated it to be an hour, half way through my training I was on to break 55 minutes. However a lot of races just have you all start together and see you all pushing for the front. This is where the pun comes in.

Be realistic people, Don’t go to the front of the crowd if you are a 2 hour finisher, If your pace is 10 minutes a mile, go to the back. It’s not just runners who run slow, it’s ones who run slow as a pack in the centre. Keep to the left, or pavement side, don’t run in the middle in a group, or those who start to walk after a mile, those people should get to the back, as there is nothing worse than settling into a rhythm and then have Brenda suddenly stop in front of you.

There are secret rules in running like keeping to the left and over taking on the right, if you need to pull out or stop running for what ever reason be it a shoe lace needs tightening then moving over to the side of the road by the pavement is the rule, not stopping in the centre. Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should run, and for some this may be their first and last adventure into running but for many of them who are the fun, or part time runners know your place. If you don’t have a game plan, or are going to burn too quickly don’t huddle at the front and ruin other people’s chances of PB’s or a good race. I suppose my argument is, if you don’t know your finish time or not use to running then get to the back, or stay in the middle. The first two miles saw me pass so many runners all of whom I thought were on to cross the line after 2 hours, so why were they at the front, it just makes my life harder to weave in and out to get in front.

Oh well, all in all a jolly good fun day and truly a race I would do a again. Also for a first half, it is worth doing, a very flat, fast course. But if it is your first and you’re  unsure of your finish time then don’t queue up at the start with me.

 

 

Who Am I

Now I’m not the first and certainly will not be the last to make this observation unless the world is too suddenly terminate the second I have published this post.

While the title suggests a deep meaningful insight to who I think I am or what I am, then I’m sorry but it couldn’t be further from the truth. No it’s all about call centres and having to check who you are. I have always found this strange and they say it’s all to protect your identity and to prevent fraud. In theory I understand and what a great idea but in practice it’s bloody stupid. Here are three examples where I feel it has proven to be comical.

Blood Donation

Yeap the old blood bank asks you. The other day I went in to have my pint of blood drained from my arm to be asked my name, date of birth and address. This was all done after I had just filled in the health questionnaire which has these details printed on it. Also this form was now positioned on the table in front of the nurse and myself. So lets say that some one was stupid enough that they wanted to steal my identity to give blood they could either remember the information on the form or do what I did yesterday and read the information. I can understand why they need to do it, but why not ask for photo I.D the system of asking you address, and Date of birth seem silly. Also my best mate could go along as all the information they ask is common knowledge amongst my friends. The real laughable event is after the health screen, I then go over to the bed to donate. After the needle is inserted and the blood is flowing the same nurse asks the same questions. As if I would have changed person within those ten minutes and if I turned out to be an impostor what would they do, stop the donation? or carry on draining all the blood out as punishment?

Tax Office

This one is short, why would someone steal someones identity and then phone the tax office to talk about their tax needs and pay their tax bill. The real annoying thing is when you get passed from department to department and each new operative asks you the security details again. Why? My phone company does it, can I ask them questions to make sure I’m talking to the right company?

Banks/Phone/Tax/Insurance

It’s not a summary of what I’ve just said, it’s a biggest pain out of all of them. There is a little bit of me that understands the security check when I phone. After all I want my money to be safe, the issue is when they phone you. I feel like saying, ‘It’s me! you phoned me? Surly me answering and confirming it was me should be enough that I am the person you wanted to speak too?’

So there we have it, todays life complaint.

Your Passion

Off the usual road that this blog normally follows it has been inspired by a friend who asked on that topical highly viewed and respected for its truth and honesty, well read and admired for its educational and informative angles webpage that is Facebook. Yes as part of her status she asked if people if they had a passion and if so what it was. The reason for asking such a question was not just a mere interest into the psyche of her friends but because she had just watched a film where a passion was involved and was so inspired it made her want to find one.

Now all regular readers could shout out what I would list as passions. Running, Bridges, History, Steam Trains, Heritage, Canals, Castles, Wales. And you’d be right. I quickly added a comment containing ‘Running, Castles, Heritage’

So far this seems like a pointless blog entry, but hey why change tradition. But seriously what is a passion, could any of those listed above really be a passion. I love to run and get very kiddy when I see a castle, I can make my voice go as high as Aled Jones singing ‘The Snowman’ when ever I see a nice bridge or a good mill. But are these passions? I decided to consult the good old English Dictionary.

The meaning (s) are described as thus

noun

  • 1 [mass noun] strong and barely controllable emotion:a man of impetuous passion
  • [in singular] a state or outburst of strong emotion:oratory in which he gradually works himself up into a passion
  • intense sexual love:their all-consuming passion for each other[in singular]:she nurses a passion for Thomas
  • [in singular] an intense desire or enthusiasm for something:the English have a passion for gardens
  • [count noun] a thing arousing great enthusiasm:modern furniture is a particular passion of Bill

So maybe the ones I listed are passions. I do get very excited, and love my running and history. This blog is evidence of that. I’m very enthusiastic on all the subjects I speak about and maybe friends would say I’m passionate about them. However at the end of the day this status made me think. I was all to quick to list the subjects and hobbies that I love or interest me but it was only after when I thought about the true way in which they make me feel. Do I feel passionate about them. Yes I love running and if I can’t run I’m miserable, I love a good castle and would like to be transported back in time to see them in their full glory but does this count as a passion or just admiration and love of a subject. I’m sure they are passions but find my self still questioning myself.

Do any of you lovely people have a passion and if so what is it? Is it important to have a passion?