The luckiest man in the world

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Stop the clock.  2003km.

Full Circle.  365 days ago I wrote the first entry in this blog; “The Night Before”.  I’m not sure if I really thought that I would make it to today without missing a day’s running, but I have done.

I feel lucky for lots of reasons.

That I’ve stayed injury-free for a whole year (apart from a few days where I had to hobble round due to a dodgy knee).  That I haven’t been ill all year (though I have a cold now, and even that is abating).  That the weather has been with me – no snow, no ice, no hurricanes (though yesterday I caught the first ‘wisps’ of Storm Frank as it descended on northern England).  That I’ve been able to get fitter than ever and even lose some weight that I didn’t even know I had to lose.

That I’ve achieved the running goals that I had – to do the Great North Run (and the day after!), to run a 5k in under 20 minutes (thanks Chris for that little bonus challenge), and that I made it to 2000km in the year.  Two million metres.

That I’ve been supported by some incredibly generous people and raised a load of cash for Alzheimer’s Research UK.  That I’ve been able to at least be in the position to try to raise awareness of the hell that is Alzheimer’s Disease.

That I knew Les Hurst (RIP) as the funny, vivacious, generous and wise man that he was before he was ill, and so can bear witness to the complete destruction of a person that this completely cruel affliction brings.

Mostly, that I have the love and support of my wife Sarah and our mad little bunnies Alexander and Rebecca, all of whom have at some point joined me on this marathon of marathons!  I couldn’t have done this without you.  Not even close.

So to today’s run on a bright and chilly Amsterdam morning.  With a certain symmetry and closure in mind I decided to do the same run as I did on January 1st, which was right along the Prinsengracht to the Amstel and back.  I did a final vlog when I got to the Amstel and when I got home I was greeted by the family who had made a “365 CONGRATULATIONS” banner!

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Final scores on the doors, then.

2003.3km – 10370 minutes – 7.2 days

(of which, today: 6.15km, 33:41.)

The end.

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Crumbling in the wind

The penultimate run of the year.

A runny-nosed night and the prospect of either an early run or having to wait until we got back to Amsterdam.  Not the happiest bunny dragging himself downstairs with the wind tearing at the house.

Not remotely cold (12 degrees), but the aforementioned gale made the run anything but pleasant.  Out about 0830 with the southerly wind behind me.  Toyed with the idea of just running 2.5k into Birtley and back, but realised that I’d have the wind blasting into my face all the way back, and I didn’t fancy that too much.  So I took the right at the Barley Mow and went round the familiar route – this meant that at least I was running downhill through Picktree while I had the brunt of the headwind against me.

Also meant that I had a friendly hand in my back most of the way back up Blind Lane.  Utterly spent by the time I’d fought against the wind back to the house but pleased to see Sarah waving me in from the living-room window.

My right knee is pretty well back to normal now – just a little stiff – but I’m feeling very groggy from the cold and hoping that the fitness level that I was talking about yesterday on the radio can pull me through quickly so that I don’t spend the rest of the holiday in bed!

One day to go.

6km, 32:33.

Man in tights speaks out

I had a radio interview this morning with Howie on Radio Sheffield – a follow-up on the other interviews from this year.  As it was scheduled for ten past nine there was no lie-in to be had and I was awake for an hour beforehand just to try to get my brain ready for the sort of questions that would inevitably come up.  I even had time to make a few notes before the phone rang and the interview went fine. I was generously assigned about six or seven minutes of airtime chat and it felt quite relaxed and detailed.

Sarah is back in the saddle today and we went out for the run into a cloudless late morning, chillier than I had expected and I’d foolishly gone for tights under shorts rather than full-on trews.  All a bit Robin Hood and quite a brisk wind to add some more chill, but it wasn’t too bad.  Our trainers could probably do the Barley Mow – Squelchy roundabout – Rickleton – Picktree – Blind Lane route without us being there to steer them by now, but of course that wouldn’t count.

I forgot to mention yesterday that I had a bit of a worrying twinge down the outside of my right knee and I put ice on it this morning.  I can still feel it but it doesn’t seem to be any worse; maybe even a little better.  Hopefully it’s not my old iliotibial band injury flaring up, and yes I just slapped the wooden table after typing that.

2 (two) days to go.

6km, 35:20.

Lonely this Twixtmas

Everyone had a very long lie in this morning after a great party with friends last night.  Once I felt the cava levels drop below 50% of my bodily fluids I surfaced and fed the equally tardy children.

Sarah is suffering with a yukky cold and decided to give it a miss today; she’s done brilliantly the last few days with five or six consecutive days’ running.

So I took our route and gave it some serious welly.  Not particularly cold today and with trousers on I was a bit overdressed and sweaty as I was pushing it quite hard.  I gave my new bluetooth headphones a trial and listened to my Disco Island Desserts Spotify playlist.

Tonned it up Blind Lane, sprinted the last 250m and got a good time for my efforts while blowing away the rest of the cava cobwebs.

3 to go.

6km, 28:37.

Puzzled

A very slow start in the house today.  I had time to nearly complete the border of the Christmas jigsaw puzzle before Sarah got up.  No rain today though the ground is sodden from yesterday’s marathon downpour.  We eventually went out into a chilly cloudless midday sun.

The usual route after a short bout of indecision.  No other runners today.

4 runs to go.

6km, 36:05.

Boxing weather

A bit warmer on this Boxing Day, but we paid for the extra few degrees with persistently pizzling precipitation.  Vile weather, but at least no wind.

Yesterday we saw quite a few runners out, uncharitably joking that they’ll have got a pair of trainers from Santa.  This morning we saw one shorts-wearing bloke steaming out of Rickleton village, and apart from him, all new Nikes were being kept dry.

Talking of steaming I am gently doing so stood in the kitchen taking up room while the ladies pick the best off the turkey.  Sarah’s mum thinks she’s having broth from it, but you and I know it’ll be a turkey madras before you can say Hairy Bikers.

6km, 36:41.

I wish it could be 5k every day

Merry Christmas to everyone who’s followed the blog, donated to the justgiving site, given me a wave or a like through the year, and everyone at ARUK.  Also of course to Sarah, Alexander and Rebecca.  Couldn’t have done it without you.

An almost freezing morning in the North East.  No snow but lots of Christmas cheer.

6km, 36:30.