Some Stuff About Me ......

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I live in Harrogate, North Yorkshire with my wonderful wife and soul-mate Helen. I have two incredible sons - Evan and Matthew - who are occasionally show up at home, usually when they're hungry or need money. The three of them are the best thing that ever happened to me and I love them all. I spent over 24 years in the Royal Navy, but since I packed it all in and got a proper job my life has gone from strength to strength and I've never looked back. I am a die-hard soul music fan and this remains a serious passion, but in recent years my life has been dedicated to running on the fells and trails of Northern England, it's what I was made for. Please read about my adventures and experiences ...

Monday, 31 August 2015

Right Back Down to Earth

It's all a bit hectic and knackered here at Chez Exile, we got back from Geneva at about 0300 this morning, having spent all last week at the UTMB (Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc) in Chamonix. It was a terrific week, Helen and myself along with our friend Carol did the CCC race (Courmayeur - Champex - Chamonix) while our other mate Emma did the TDS (it translates to something like "In the Footsteps of The Dukes of Savoie"). I may blog about it all later, it's a story worth telling.

Anyhow, we're all a bit tired and fractious. Can I just say, for the record, that Geneva airport is indescribably crap? I find it hugely ironic that it's possible to buy a Rolex or Omega watch in Duty Free but you can't get a bottle of water or bag of sweets to save your life. You wouldn't think the mega-efficient Swiss would have such a poor setup, but that's how it is. Probably one of the worst airports I've known and that includes some proper sh*tholes. More work required, Mr Johnny Swiss-Bloke.

Anyhow, the thrust of this little story is that I was forcibly brought back to down to earth this morning: We were starving and so I was despatched to our local Co-Op to get the makings for bacon butties. Now, I don't often visit this establishment, but needs must and it's the closest shop to our house. I grabbed the stuff and in front of me in the queue to pay was a very large and indescribably ugly woman (sorry, it's how it was) buying cheap booze (vodka), fags and National Lottery scratchcards and this was just at 11.30. She looked like she had never smiled in her life, most probably she hadn't. I saw her in the car park afterwards, she was rubbing away at the scratchards with an eagerness that belied her previous demeanour and for a second, just a second, I could see that New Horizons beckoned .... but no, Dame Fortune hadn't smiled and her features sagged along with her shoulders, I guess everyone tries to change their stars one way or another.

She shuffled off, doubtless to start work on her other shopping items. I felt as guilty as hell, my life is so different than hers that it's faintly unbelievable. I'd just returned from one of the most beautiful places on Earth, having spend the week in a luxury apartment with my friends, all of whom are mega-fit and dripping with the latest exotic sports gear. I'd seen and done things that this poor woman could never in her wildest dreams imagine and I feel terrible about it and very humbled.

Sometimes we don't realise how lucky we are.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Grinding It Out

Right, I resolve to kick this blog into action - enough of this procrastination:

Things have been a bit busy of late. It was the Lakeland 50/100 the weekend before last and we stood on the 50 startline for what was our third (and probably final) outing. It went OK, slightly cooler than last year so I was able to keep (de)hydration at sensible levels and the cramp that has plagued me on this event was mostly kept at bay. All in all, it was a successful outing and I trimmed over 30 mins off last year's time to finish in 11:27:06, but the real stars of the show were Helen and our friend Carol.  Helen had a terrific outing last year, finishing in 10:45 and 8th lady, but this year she just surpassed herself to do it in 10:00:47 and 5th lady overall. Of course, she's moaning a bucketload about those 47 seconds, but I am ignoring her. A fine run. Carol just outdid herself to finish the 100 in an astounding 25:47 and 1st lady by some margin, a fantastic result and one that's richly deserved. Slightly amazing that both these (daft) gals went out this weekend and did a trail marathon, finishing 2nd and 4th. Personally, I could barely walk just a week after my one and only 100-mile outing, never mind run!!

This weekend I have been mostly drinking and eating.  Helen was away with Carol at a girls' weekend (which took in the race above), so I faffed around and fixed things on Friday night/Sat morning, then on Saturday afternoon went out with some mates on a circular off-road route around Otley and the outskirts of Harrogate. 20 miles later we came back very wet, covered in mud and having met some considerable nettle patches en-route.  Oh yes, I also head-butted a tree in the process (the tree won). We then drank a load of beer, then went out in the evening to a terrific Indian restaurant where we drank more beer. I retired home, hurt.

Sunday I returned to the scene of the crime for a mutual hangover-bonding session and bacon butties up the Ying Yang (ie. lots of). Feeling shite, I got Sophia out and donned lycra for a hilly ride out in the hills with a pal, the aim being to shake off the hangover. Colossal fail.

Woke up this morning still feeling rough, but I'd promised Em that I would go swimming with her .... thus it was I was shivering in an under-heated pool at 6.30a.m. and wishing I was still firmly held in a wrestling grip by my duvet. 60 brisk(ish) lengths later, I was beginning to perk up a bit. Am knackered now though. Need food.