We are still fighting the Death star in our hearts with bloodied hands and wild eyes.

  • Sunday, February 15, 2015
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"No reason to get excited," the thief, he kindly spoke,
"There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."

                             An archive photo, one of my favourites.

Tonight I read two things on two of my favourite blogs that I think fitted with todays run.

The first was on Catra Corbetts blog, Dirt Diva and she said, 
"By the time we hit 50, we have learned our hardest lessons. We have found out that only a few things are really important. We have learned to take life seriously, but never ourselves." 
The second was Billy Barnetts blog, where he talked about..."The past several months have been filled with highs and lows all pulling toward the greater good of balance." 
(my underlining) 
Both these runners appeal to me because they are both mavericks and they both like to think deeply about life. They've both learnt a lot about themselves and neither fit the mould. 
This morning I was sliding around in the murk and the mud with Jerry and Liz. It was the first time we had run with Liz for over a year as she has been recovering from a car accident that left her whip lashed and with a bad back. And while she is many years younger than Jerry and I she is old enough to have experienced life in all it's colour and all it's grunge. As we ran, talked and reflected I realised that the three of us have all had our shit to deal with recently. It's been hard and we have had the edges knocked off us. We are not out of the woods yet either. Wolves, zombies and madmen abound. Despite this we are somehow still standing, still running, still mad and still smiling. We are still fighting the Death star in our hearts with bloodied hands and wild eyes. Part of this fight comes from maturity, part from bloody mindedness, part from laughing in the face of adversity and part from carrying each other across the divide. 
I've been listening to Bob Dylan's dark and hopeful masterpiece All Along the Watchtower over and over again recently. I'm struck by the friendship between the joker and the thief and their conversation. The Joker is looking for a way out, confused by what's going on in his life. The cogent part for me is their friendship, keep cool says the thief, don't panic. There are many idiots around but we are not amongst them. We've been there, done that, made mistakes and survived. We can and must speak honestly to each other because of the brevity of life. There is a sense of threat and doom in the song, the wildcat growling in the distance and the howling wind but my feeling is that while the emotional and physical storms are raging within and around the two friends will somehow, because of experience be ok. 
I think Jerry struck a chord with me a few weeks back. Waving his finger in enigmatic and typical Jerry style he said that it was time to stop looking back, leave the past behind and look ahead. I think it is important to acknowledge the hardship and the pain and it is vital to recognise that we will pass through the shadow of the valley of death and that by doing so we will be stronger, wiser and able to help those coming behind us. 
Does this make sense? 

Dave Matthews Band
All Along the Watchtower.

Finally, a warning and a commentary on stupidity

  • Wednesday, February 11, 2015
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 I'm not a huge fan of writing about kit...but sometimes it has to be done. For years I've run with a simple grey backpack which I paid just £5.00 for. It is nothing to write home about, just two internal compartments and about 4litre capacity. I've loved it because it has punched way above it's weight performance wise compared to more pricey models and it's comfortable enough that you forget it's there. I green commute a fair amount, running home from work and that's where the size of  the £5 grey has counted against it, there is limited space for clothes. I just turned 50 and my fantastic colleagues clubbed together to give me a generous lump sum and so I spent some time researching new bags before settling on the red Inov8 race pac pictured. It's roughly a third bigger than my old one and so I can fit in a little bit extra on my way home. It came with a 2litre water bladder but I've removed it preferring to drink from a bottle. I like Inov8, a solid British company with an ethical mindset and good quality equipment who put a lot of thought and care into the development of their products.

Also for my 50th, my wife got me this Sony SWR50 smart watch running Android Wear. I won't talk about the Android features as the big attraction for me is the fact that this model is the first smart watch to feature inbuilt GPS and I've coupled this functionality with an app called Ghostracer to track and log my runs. The app is still in beta but seems promising and the developer is enthusiastic, proactive and willing to quickly implement suggestions and add functionality. I've never run with a GPS watch and so I'm enjoying the novelty of looking down at my wrist and seeing my run stats in real time.Once the watch is within range of my phone the data uploads automatically to the web. The other draw for me is the fact that the watch is waterproof and I don't have to worry about it getting rained on!

Finally, a warning and a commentary on stupidity. I love my Inov8 Mudroc trail shoes and for really deep mud they can't be beaten. Mine take a battering especially in the muddy British winter and often need cleaning. Mostly I take them into the shower with me but occasionally I'll throw them into the washing machine for a deep clean. Sadly the last time I did this I used a high heat and then put them on top of a radiator to dry quickly. You can see the result on the right, the adhesive binding the sole to the upper has melted and the shoes are now only good for the bin. I hate making schoolboy errors when experience should make me better and I'm really kicking myself. The irony is that I was saying to my wife a few days before that the uppers were showing their age but the soles were still good for a long time. Every run from now on will be a Vibram Five Fingers run I guess!

I turned 50 in January

Life begins as a quest of the child for the man and ends as a journey by the man to rediscover the child
(Laurens Van der Post)
I don't know what to write, I have writers block. I've lost count of how many times I've opened the editor over the last few weeks, stared at the blinking cursor and then closed the window again. Fortunately I'm not suffering from runners block. I took December off completely, I had my parents over from Australia and decided to give running a break - a decision which made me curiously uneasy for a few days as it was a different form of moving out of the comfort zone. Apart from injury this is the first time in six or seven years that I had made the choice to give it a complete rest. It turned out to be a great move though, I rolled out for a woody five miles on 2 January of this year and since then I've been as regular as a Swiss clock. I'm refreshed too, my running was in a coma in 2014 but now the spring is back in my step and motivation levels are high. My mind and body even seem to be behaving. These things are good.  If I have one negative it's winter, I hate the cold and really struggle against it, I am eyeing spring and counting the days until the temperatures start to ease up again.
I turned 50 in January and decided that I want to mark my 50th year with some great running. Watch this space. 
I ran on my birthday, I felt I had to. I was determined to hit my fifties flying and with a smile on my face, embracing the moment. I've decided that I will  not allow the mundane to shackle me. Central to this will be my running, so often a vehicle for my passion and adventure that I have become blasé about. I have to cease struggling against myself.
So this will be a year of being in the moment, running epically and creating memories. It will be a year of memorial running, celebrating people I've lost or left behind and a year of hopefully being a better friend. I'm lousy with people. It will be a year of facing forward and being expectant.