Smashed by my Old Man

So on Saturday, as part of the weekend excursion back home to Sheffield, I tackled the Graves Parkrun 5km.  I had warned my dad that I wasn’t particularly fit but I was disappointed to see him disappear into the distance as we ran down the first hill towards the ponds.  He got about 20 seconds ahead and I never got close.

It doesn’t say much about my physical condition that I was easily beaten by a 64 year old*.   However, I think it says a lot more about my dad’s supreme fitness and dedication.  To continue to be able to run 5km in 24 minutes is no mean feat once the years start ticking by.  Dad trains several times a week and is an example to all of us.

To say I’m proud of him is a bit of an understatement.  Not many people can say their dad is an Olympian, but he is so much more than that.  He has dedicated his life to helping children and young people achieve their potential – whether it is coaching athletics, teaching or putting on kids clubs for children or for young people, often from disadvantaged backgrounds – he is even more committed to serving the community than he is to his own fitness.


Not sure where this picture is from but this is dad back in the day.


* I was also soundly beaten by the latest superstar from my dad’s coaching squad – 12 year old Ana Garcia who ran the tough 5km course in just 20 minutes!  She was 6th in the whole field and first female finisher!


Survival of the Fittest

Nearly a year ago my little brother asked me if I wanted to do some 10km race with extra obstacles.  It sounded fun and would be good motivation to get fit so I said yes.  That’s what led to me reluctantly joining in the mass warm-up with an over enthusiastic fitness trainer on the start line of the Survival of the Fittest race in Nottingham on Saturday.

Me and Sim over the haybales

It was tough and although I wasn’t terribly unfit I was more sluggish than I wanted to be and my little brother beat me….gutted.  The whole family came out to support us which was simply splendid.  The highlight for me was near the end as I negotiated the final obstacles and there at my side was my dad running alongside me cheering me on giving me a big hug at the end.  It was a real flashback to the old race walking and cross country days and his enthusiasm and affection were really meaningful.  Thanks dad, and the rest of the family for a great day out.  I’ll get you next year Sim!

London Marathon

I often find sport inspiring – human beings pushing themselves to the limits physically and mentally.  Awe-inspiring stuff.  Usually it’s the elite super stars but there are occasions when it’s the everyday man and woman who blow me away.  The London Marathon is one such occasion. 37,000 people pushing their bodies to the edge for that sense of self achievement.  They have overcome, they have done it!  Congratulations!

But what is even more inspiring than the achievement is the money raised for great causes and the stories that lie behind all of the competitors.  The grassroots truly outshine the elite on London Marathon day.  What makes it so inspiring is that if these men and women can achieve this amazing feat then any of us can set our sights on a goal….put in the work and achieve it….and do it for noble motives too.  Sometimes it gets cheesy but these runners make me feel good about mankind.

Shouts out to finishers Jonathan Lawrie and Blind Dave and to the West Brom Ten Sing group singing the masses on!

A Self-Help Post

So we arrived fine enough on Monday lunchtime.  Our timing was perfect in one respect as the brand new road from the coast to Rada’s hometown was completed only the day before which took almost an hour off the last part of our journey.  Since then we’ve been in Rada’s parent’s home and will move into Pastor Stan’s house probably on Monday when he leaves for the States.

I’ve still not got myself in the frame of mind to be taking on the responsibilities that are about to be entrusted to me.  But I know that when the time comes to it I’ll be ready for the challenge.  In the meantime we are able to settle and sort out a few practical things.  I really should get down to some language study as that is gonna be one of the biggest hurdles and frustrations but I’m feeling really lethargic.  It’d also be good to crack on with sermon prep and getting out running but I keep finding excuses not to do much.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing but I will now set some small goals otherwise I’ll not achieve much at all this week:

  • Do a run (no matter how short) each morning
  • Spend half an hour each day studying Montenegrin
  • Spend one hour each of the next 4 days studying the passages I’ll be preaching from

“On your marks!”

I no longer race.  This is usually fine but in this moment I miss it so much the muscles in my legs are getting restless, my heart quickened and my breathing shortened.  I just had a flashback.

There was something about the few seconds before a race started that terrified me.  I would have this pre-race routine I wanted to go through in order to prepare myself mentally and physically.  Then, before my routine was complete, there would be this whistle and the competitors must approach the line.  The whistle brought fear and doubt.  Had I trained enough?  Had I rested enough?  Had I drunk enough?  Had I drunk too much?  Were my laces tight enough?  Were they too tight?  Had I…

“On your marks!” interrupted the Starter.

“Aaaagh!”  I thought.  It’s too late.  I can’t do anything about it…the training, the drinking, my laces.  I step up confidently, on the outside, and surgically place my toes behind the curved white line.  My innards have evaporated.  My quads are like wartery party jelly.  I can’t breathe.  My colon ready to give up the ghost.  “Ground…swallow me up…please!”


The shot instantly brings me to my senses and I break away from the startline.  I am in heaven.  With the release comes the ultimate relaxation.  I comfortably make it to the inside of the track first and I’m cruising.  Cruising.  My mind is detached yet clarity reigns.

Fitness freak

I have lost 2kg!  Not a big deal I am sure you are thinking but I have recently had a health scare so I am pleased my weight is going in the right direction.

What was this scare?  The results of some health screening at work showed that I am officially ‘overweight’ and have a 0.9% chance of having a heart attack in the next 10 years – both of which shocked and terrified me.  This news coupled with a fundraising event I need to train for have galvanised me into action.  As a result of about a month’s intensive training I have lost a whopping 2kg…not a huge amount but I am happy and feel fitter.

Me thundering to second place in Dorridge! (June 2008)

Me thundering to second place in Dorridge! (June 2008)

I don’t expect to get as fit as I was 5 years ago (when I was nearly 20kg lighter!) but I don’t want to be overweight.  That would be sad.

A dream come true

Do you ever have those moments in life when something incredible actually happens to you and you are so happy.  That happened to me.  I won the Great North Run* despite going the wrong way at the finish, was given a prize of £10,000 and beat Steve Ovett, Seb Coe, Liz McColgan and Yvonne Murray in the process.  My Grandad was there and said, “this makes all the years I spent in athletics worthwhile.”

Then I woke up.  I was devastated!

*Not that I ever had any aspirations to win the Great North Run I would much rather have won the Olympics for no prize money – but it didn’t half feel good!