Saturday, December 06, 2008

Winter's song

"She says "it's cold where you brought me..."
He says "Darlin', don't you worry
You can stay in my arms until the springtime comes" "
- Cowboy Junkies, Winter's Song

So, winter has hit the north of England with a dull and slightly soggy thud. The entire populace of The North appears to have forgotten that this happens every year and is either grumbling and crashing their cars because in the intervening 10 months of sogginess they've forgotten how to drive in icy conditions, or they're wrapping up warm, driving carefully, and just generally getting on with it.

NB: I'm currently stood in the kitchen in a fleece, sipping an industrial strength coffee. You can see which of these options I went for.

Last weekend I was shooting down at the Land Rover G4 Challenge UK Selections, which I have to say was fantastic fun. Big thanks to Land Rover and Trimedia for getting me involved, to Jo and Vix in particular, and to the competitors for being so relentlessly cheerful. And a HUGE HUGE congratulations to Bruce, Mia, Sarah and Andy for getting through to the internationals. Bruce I have known for a few years now, so it was very emotional when he got picked. Well done mate, seriously proud of you.
Oh yeah, and I saw in my 28th birthday standing round a campfire with a cup of mulled wine. Not a bad way to do it, to be honest.

Aside from that I've been taking snowy photographs (check Facebook or the Photoblog), having meetings, organising events and generally working my behind off. Need to do more exercise, still, but winter is not the best time - although I have deceloped a nice little Sunday afternoon 2hr ride. Don't get me wrong, night riding is damn good fun, but I do like being able to see where I'm going. And on these cold-but-sunny days, riding is a joy. Thank you Icebreaker, W.L. Gore and Buff...

Anyway, cheers for popping by

Pyro

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"The show is all over, houselights are down..."

"...I got paid, and I feel alright.
So let's go downtown, and I'll buy you a drink:
I'll be broke by tomorrow but I'm flush for tonight"
(Jeffrey Foucault - Drunk Lullaby)

The times they've been a changing. I've started my new job, am loving it quite a lot. It's completely the opposite of what I've been doing for the past 3 years, and is good. I've got a new(ish) car - well, new to me anyway - thanks to PC. Mate, not sure if you've ever read this, but you're a wonderful person. And... well...

That's about it really. I've been a few places, caught up with a few people, seen a few things. I'm not massively happy or insanely sad, just caught up in the humdrum head-down of winter, and in need of a swift kick in the jacksy to free things up.

That is all

Pyro

Monday, October 13, 2008

Word gets around

"Neither success or failure is ever final"

However mysterious and cryptic I try to be, word gets around. Recently there's been a few posts on stalkbook and here about things changing, and they genuinely are now.

Most of the posts have been purely in the 'optimist' range - I've been hoping that writing things down will make me more likely to actually DO something to influence the way my life's been going: I know I have a tendency to rest on my laurels and try and let change come to me, but a fire under my a*se is something that's been a long time coming.

The story so far goes a bit like this:
I've been applying for new jobs, both inside and outside of my current company, due to the increasing frustrations I have with the office. I won't go into detail, but I came to a realisation a while back that all the snide, snipey little cracks I made about people, management, location etc were borne out of a real frustration and loss of patience with the place. I made a vow to myself, and voiced it to friends, that I would have made a change by November - my birthday as a specific date. And, like buses, you wait ages for one then a bunch come along at once...

I'd been applying for a number of things, but 3 had become an almost-reality: the first, a Business Expert role within the company, I'd been trying to get for a year, having failed at interview 3 times all ready; the second, an Assistant Project Officer job working in Biomass energy projects - something that combines the things I studied at Uni with the project management I've been learning in my job; the third a Resruitment Consultant position, not something I'm trained at or qualified for, but I'd got to interview anyway.

Time came around and it turned out that I'd been successful for the Business Expert, which was great. I'd been trying for so long that it was a relief to finally make it, but all the same, it wasn't a change so much as a different view of the same thing. So I kept my applications in for the other jobs and waited to see what happened there.

The day before I officially started the BE job, I went over to York for an interview for the APO job. Coming out of it, I thought I'd either done very well or very badly - nothing in the middle. I'd booked the day off and so I mooched around and contemplated what my next moves could be in case of either success or failure. I settled into my new role and wondered what would come up next.

Last tuesday, I got a call. The Assistant Project Officer job - "You're overqualified". Oh smeg... I'd really pinned a lot of hope on this, and it seemed to be going south at a rate of knots. "However, we think you'd be good for the [higher graded] Project Officer role, if you'd like it". Oh wow. Ooh. It took me all of about 30 seconds to say yes.

So, on to pastures new. As someone who likes to look at the good and bad in everything, it's a shame to leave 3 years f hard work and development behind, and a strange jump to move from the familiar to the unknown, however much the familiar irritates me. But after nearly 6 years, I'm going to be putting my degree to some use, earning a little more money, and transplanting myself onto a brand new path which, as always, could lead me just about anywhere. It'll be fun to find out where this one goes, eh?

Monday, September 22, 2008

On the up and up

"Seasons change, mad thngs re-arrange, but it all stays the same like the Love Doctor Strange"

Summer to Autumn to Summer again, this season's been a wierd one. But, out of the strangeness comes a wee touch of joy, and the start of my favourite part of the year - Yes, Summer is good, but I'm an Autumn/Winter person. Crisp cold mornings, thanking Merino sheep, Thermoroubaix lycra and W.L Gore and co as I fire into work, trying not to slide on the rare icy patches along the way.

Work's the first joy, bizarrely. Things are working out. I finally got the Business Expert job I've been chasing for the best part of a year. I've got other interviews coming up which I'm still going for, but at least the base situation (in terms of both money and circumstances) has improved.

Other work is the second joy: I'm booked up pretty much solidly from now til mid-November. Now, maybe working 7 days a week isn't the best of things but the weekends are going to be the work that I wish were my day job, but will do as a weekender. River Safety and First Aid for Extreme Care, Marshalling and Safety for Rat Races/Detail Events and this last weekend, Photography assignments for Stuart Johnston Mountaineering, which I'm editing the photos for (or at least am supposed to be!) while I'm typing this. Pyro's Yard Productions (as seen over on the photoblog) is starting to come to fruition.

The third joy is friends. Seeing ones I haven't seen for a good while and finding out how things are in their worlds. Graham's running all over the shop, and doing great. Rob's soon to become a daddy, Chez is racing really well, and Bina's working hard and planning her future. And that's just the guys I've seen this last weekend.

All in all, I'm tired but happy. Hopefully it'll stay that way.

Take care all, have a good 'un

Pyro

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Man? Or Porage? (Man of Porage 2008)

Hmmm.

I've actually struggled to write this blog entry, maybe because I'm pretty much still wrestling with what went on in my own mind and body during the race. But hey, here we go...

A good friend's had a few episodes recently where he's been questioning why we do what we do, and a lot of the stuff I've written in previous entries has been focussed around that: WHY I adventure race, WHY I hurt myself and WHY it makes me what I am. Still, even after the boost to my confidence in surviving Sleepless in the Saddle, I was very very apprehensive coming into Man of Porage last weekend. For those who don't know what Man of Porage is, it's a bit of a cult event in UK AR circles. It's a long bike/run event, ostensibly just for fun, and one for which you cannot buy an entry, you have to be invited. The tales around it's origin are vague and sometimes contradictory but essentially it is this: A bunch of people go for a long ride/run event, from somewhere to somewhere else. There may be some silly activities along the way, usually a little alcohol somewhere, and you end up staying somewhere overnight for food and some more alcohol. There may be some arbitrary prizes, and somewhere there are some trophies, but it's the riding and the laughs that are the important part. This is my third invite and the second time I've taken up the challenge. 2 years ago in Dundee I rode with Lesley, El Sutton and Andrea Nightingale for the majority of the day. I crashed hard, and we got taken off the course before the finish, but I had a fantastic time and vowed I'd go back. Last year I missed out due to a broken bike and a lack of money/fitness/motivation. This year, well...

I'd been debating whether to go for a few weeks. Questioning my own fitness, motivation and skills, I'd tried to come up with some excuses not to go: A training weekend with Nina and Steve would have been a good alternative, lack of money for train fares a possibility also. Basically, I was scared - my last Porage was made great by the company. This year, I feared, I would be on my own for the day, and those are the times when the worst of the gremlins come a-callin'. So, anyway, after seeing Chez and Nic and having a pretty decent ride (albeit with glitches) at Sleepless, I decided it was time to listen to my own advice and cut the bull. I needed to go and do Porage, because I'd be kicking myself if I didn't. I could trudge at my own pace and who cares if I'm last? It wouldn't be the first time and it sure as hell won't be the last!

Come the day, the nerves hadn't gone. Dad drove me over to Nateby and I tried to shut out all the extraneous noise (him included) and focus on the job at hand. After a bit of faff and a brief Porage Prayer (and blessing of the bikes with porage oats) we were off. And up. And up. And up. And I was off the back…

My legs felt rotten, like I was trying this the morning after Sleepless, like there was a dead dog attached to the back of my bike, like someone was sticking hot skewers through into my calves and thighs. And we were still on tarmac! Endless pushing, stopping to check saddle height, drink etc. After what seemed like an hour I reached the map giveout. "If this is to be the theme of the day then I may as well just give up" crossed my mind more than once, but as I made the slow painful ascent to Nine Standards Rigg I knew that I needed to keep pushing myself - every race is about pain, suffering and getting through it on some kind of level, and if I wanted to learn anything then this was something I just had to go through. At the top Nic greeted me, I took a brief photo of the view and the cairns (the Nine Standards) and then slithered off down the descent. It was fun for once, fast in places and soft and boggy in places. The experience of my 2006 crash and breaking my mech at Sleepless meant I had decided on a 'no heroics' tactic: If it looks too steep/boggy/sketchy to ride, it's probably worth pushing, to conserve energy and avoid personal or mechanical failure. Still, it was nice to let rip after such a horrible climb. Saw Jon at the next checkpoint (the bottom of the hill) and then began the agonizing crawl to Tan Hill, the highest pub in Britain. After a stop at the 'rare Cumbrian banana pine' I decided it was time to stop swearing at myself and put on the mp3 player. Honestly, I'm not sure I could have felt any worse at this point - a hell of a long way left to go, and the knowledge that not one step of it would come easily were severely messing with my head, so my usual mix of country, blues and metal were the only way to shut out the little voices saying "You can't do this. Give up; it'd be easy to do. Go on, quit".

Tan Hill was reached, and a 'taste of the area' in the bag - Wensleydale and Gingerbread - and off down the road and onto the gravel to Sleightholme farm - things were looking up as the surface improved, but from the farm over to God's Bridge I was back to the bog. Endless pushing as I struggled to find any kind of rhythm, hopping off for muddy patches and climbs, ankle deep peat washouts and steep only half-existent trail pieces. Dropping to God's Bridge Martin and my Dad were waiting for me, and I waded under the bridge to sign the Porage visitor's book - "Looks like I'm the last then. SO F*CK?! I'm enjoying it. Pyro" - and the truth was, I WAS enjoying it, in a really masochistic way. It was painful, and hard, but I wasn't beaten yet.

The next few hours went the same way. Intermittent pushing, riding, swearing, cranking up the stereo, eating, swearing some more. I got to the first food stop at Gold’s Carr and got shipped a short way by van to the next food stop - I was half an hour behind anyone else (admittedly, closer than I had thought) and wasn't exactly going to make up ground. They ferried me on to get me back into the pack and give me a chance to finish the event at least. Looking at the maps, I was happy of it but hacked off at the same time. Hacked off with myself mainly - how was I so slow?! Why the hell was this ride killing me. I know that Sleepless the week before will have played its part, but was I really just that unfit? Questions and comments that are still bugging me now, nearly a month later.

We got to Cow Green reservoir and I sat at the food stop, eating and trying to get my head together again. Some people arrived and left, headed out on the long loop over Cross Fell. I looked at the short loop map, over High Cup Nick and down to Dufton and questioned whether I could even be bothered with that. Did a quick brake-fettling job for PC while he stuffed his face. Had a few swigs of Newcie Brown and some local fudge. Bruce came in and pulled out, ITB problems ending his race; I gave him an extra jacket and some of my excess food. Scotty John and Andy Simpson came in, and Andy announced he was taking the short; the ride so far had killed him off. Slowly, without even noticing, I'd pulled myself together...

I set off, eventually, back towards Cow Green Dam and onto the trail to High Cup Nick, a fantastic climb up wet grass and rock-slabbed sections. Back into my normal plodding pace, and feeling better that I'd at least decided to keep moving. Along the side of the river I wandered, pushing in places, riding in others. Descending briefly to the Nick itself, I was gobsmacked. I'd seen pictures of this monstrous cleft in the hillside, but to sit at the top of it and stare down the sheer sides was phenomenal. Pausing to munch on a few bits of dried mango and jelly babies I glanced behind me, sure that either Andy or Paul would catch me soon (the first time in the day anyone would have been able to without lapping me!), but no-one appeared. Traversing the edge of the Nick on rocky singletrack was an exercise in caution and balance, carrying away from the edge at times, careening towards it others. And the descent out to Dufton? Just awesome. Top Fuels aren't really designed for seat down, eyeballs out, popping every drop -type descents. Mine coped though (though I have checked the frame over carefully just in case I managed to crack a weld...)

Rolling in to Dufton to absolutely no fanfare at all, I found the YHA and managed to locate Andy and Bruce. The rest of the evening is a bit of a blur - booze, curry, banter, trophies and good fun. A good natter with Chez before she headed off to the Alps for a couple of weeks. Losing my shiny new Nokia phone (which has since been found at Morgan’s house. Yey!). Sleeping like a dead man, then heading back home, first to my folks place then back to Leeds, mind and body utterly numb. Getting in to Leeds I was so sore I couldn't even ride my bike back from the station home - I hopped a train to Headingley station and walked.

As I say, since then I've been wrestling with it, but maybe writing this down will help, it sometimes does. As El said "after that, nothing is ever going to feel that hard again" and maybe she's right. In one way, I've questioned myself a lot. In another, I've got a new found confidence. We'll see which of these takes the upper hand in the not-so-distant future.

Anyway, if you've made it this far, thanks for reading. See you out there sometime.

Pyro

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hey up!

Sorry, been a while since I last posted anything coherent (although it's debatable whether ANYTHING I post is totally coherent...) so here's a little excuse post.

Been a bit busy recently, working for myself, Npower, Detail Events, Extreme Care and even getting some races in. Sleepless in the Saddle was a long time ago, and the weekend after that I did the Man of Porage. A lot of strange things (mentally) happened during Porage and I'm still wrestling with what exactly went on, but there'll be a more comprehensive post when I work it all out. Since then there's been safety and rescue work, watching my Dad abseil off the Tyne Bridge, having some good natters (and some good Cajun food) with some really good friends, and a lot of general fun and games shenanigans.

On the employment front, things may be looking up, but I won't say much because nothing's confirmed yet, and I'm DEFINITELY keeping myself busy at the weekends - I'm working for SOMEONE 15 out of 16 weekends at the mo, some paying, some voluntary, but all good fun.

Anyway, see you anon - have a look at the Photoblog for a few new pics.

Pyro

Monday, August 11, 2008

"I am an Adventure Racer"

Just read the quote below, in a book about Adventure Racing. It's by a guy called Nathan Lake, from Team PureFit/Orca. It's another thing that sums up racing, attitude, life, and makes me happy.

"I am an Adventure Racer. My skills are many, my needs are few: a long trail to run, a high cliff to climb, a fast river to ride, a good bike, and trusted teammates.

My sport is inherently risky, but risk taking is part of who I am. I consistently strive to know, understand, and prepare for those risks so that my team will arrive safely at the finish line.

I respect all athletes for their acheivements, and the work and dedication they have for their sport. Having the ability to win is satisfying. Having the opportunity to participate is life.

Sometimes Adventure Racing is my life and somtimes it is just a hobby, but at my core I am, and will always be, an Adventure Racer"

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sleepless...

Just got back from Sleepless in the Saddle, a 24hr MTB race.

It was good, bad and ugly:
Good; Team 'Cake or Death' - Suzie, Jimbo, Jon, Stu and myself, the craic, the huge tent (thanks Steve), the laughs, and the awesome singlespeed last lap/finish
Bad; Breaking the rear mech of my bike halfway round my second lap and having to run the remaining 4 miles of the course
Ugly: The mud!! Jeezus, clay a go-go.

A few of the jazzy arty/cool pics I managed to get (when I wasn't riding/pushing/breaking my bike) will be up on the new Pyro's Yard Productions photoblog

Cheers all

Pyro

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Eyes open

Hmmm.

I've just spent a week at the Saab Salomon Mountain X Race in the Alps, working with a bunch of other photgraphers/writers, and had an absolute blast. It's been an eye opener, shall we say. I've realised that all the half-humorous, snide, cynical comments I make about my job back in the UK are borne out of an increasing frustration that my career seems to be going nowhere. Advancement in my 'normal life' is non-existent, and I've had no motivation to do anything about it. What I've been badly in need of is an aspiration, a desire, and a good hard kick in le derriere, all things that in the 'status quo ante' I was sadly lacking.

Well, that's going to change. Watch this space.

Pyro, feeling pheonix-like, Geneva Airport.

Monday, July 21, 2008

"Where you've been is good and gone...

...all you keep's the getting there"

I really can't figure why some people hate travelling, and why they'd do anything possible to get every journey over and done with in a heartbeat. I love travelling, have infinite patience when it comes to sitting on coaches, ferries, trains, buses etc. It's not an adrenaline-fuelled thrill ride I know, but there's just something about being on the move that makes me feel contented. Maybe I was born to be nomadic.

All of this links nicely into Adventure Racing, I think - it's all about the journey, not just the destination. I've just come back from the Hebridean Challenge, pottering around as a marshal-cum-journalist, and I have to say it's one of the most amazing races in the British Isles. The atmosphere, the people and the terrain are just amazing, and the whole race reminds me how beautifully barren and wild some areas of the UK still are. You get to some checkpoints which are way, way off anything people in the mainland are ever going to experience. I first visited the Hebs ten years ago, just out of 6th form, 4 stone lighter than today, with bright purple hair and a fantastic range of Hawaiian shirts. A decade on, with almost annual visits since, and I'm still seeing places and things I've never seen before. And while most of those visits have been spent concentrating on a big Adventure Race one way or another, you can still always find time to look around and see what's out there beyond your own personal sphere. If you choose to do so, it's amazing. Past "oh wow" moments have included seeing dolphins leaping clear of the water at the Butt of Lewis, waking up on Eriskay beach to see seals playing in the water, paddling alongside basking sharks off Benbecula, eagles on South Uist, sea otters, sunrises and sunsets over the Atlantic and the Minch. Just beautiful...

And I'm going to potter off again with another lyric:

"When first I came unto this land,
And the roads lay bare before me
And the miles and miles of eagle-feather wind
Blew through the singing valley

If I'd seen then where we are now,
would my path have been a straight one?
Into the heart of the nameless wild
To live and sleep, not lonely, but alone."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Vital Signs

This is a modified/extended version of an email I sent to Graham "German" Kelly.

I frequently question whether what I do, in terms of Adventure Racing, is worth it.

I'm of average fitness, probably never ever going to make a podium place, the news, an international team, or any money out of it. I pay substantial quantities of money to put my body and mind through a hundred variations on the theme 'hell'. I neglect my girlfriend, I put my career in potential jeopardy, and I hurt myself. I torture my legs and lungs, question my own sanity, mistake my intentions for my abilities, curse any and every deity that might possibly exist, and then arrive - wheezing - at the end, to all-too-readily forget my pain, once I have spent the next week recovering from, and paying for, my physical excesses.

Would I change any of the above for a nice, comfortable life of couch-based ignominy? Hell no.

Craig from Fast & Light has as his email signature the quote "mediocrity is not an option", and it's true. I may not be a world champion, but what I do sets me apart from the maddening crowds, and lets me escape from the head-down mindless boogie of my day-to-day existence: From 9am 'til 5pm, I'm a mild mannered computer geek striving reasonably to make a decent wage to support my dirty habits. Come the evenings and weekends, I'm free to be, in my mind if nowhere else, a lycra-clad not-quite-super-hero, battering my way through a torture chamber of someone else's devising, trying to just stay upright and survive with my body and brain intact. And above all, I've a good bunch of friends who understand all of this, or at least smile, nod and go "awesome!" in the right conversational locations.

I'm lucky to have friends who, when they hear that I'm lining up for a 1-day, 100 mile Bike and Run event, say "cool!" not "you're insane". If they do question my sanity, it's couched in a manner that says "okay, that's a big challenge, but you'll be fine" It will most probably sound soft, but these are people who have enough of a connection - physical, mental, spiritual or whatever - to actually CARE that what I do, though it hurts like hell, makes me happy. And a lot of them know this first-hand, for they too are everyday endorphin junkies, also getting their lycra-clad kicks on the most natural of chemicals. And I know that one of these people, just one person who actually 'gets' it, is worth a thousand passing acquaintances or inverted-comma friends.

So, I'll toddle off with a song lyric. This ably sums up what a good half of my existence, and that of many other likeminded mini-legends out there, is about:

"This country is my canvas, I leave paint trails as I go.
I’m painting a picture that you can only see from outer space.
My bedroom is your sofa, I take my breakfast on the train.
I’m tired and I’m dirty, but not a second goes to waste.

I’ll be dead but never dying, and I say that with a smile
It’s just my way of trying to be alive.
And Heaven’s in the half-light, and that’s where I reside,
A whiskey and a wry smile - I check my vital signs."

Frank Turner - Vital Signs

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

"This is Radio Nowhere..."

"...Is there anybody alive out there?"

Okay, I shouldn't start posts with Springsteen lyrics too often, but tonight I feel like making an exception.

Life has it's ups and downs. Some days have more of each than others. Today I signed for a new house. An 'up' because it's exciting and new. A 'down' because it means I'm leaving the place I've lived for the past 18 months, and this is an awesome house too.

Opportunity whispered again, and I'm deliberating the relative merits of her offer. It will be an amazing shot in the dark, but it could have an effect on my social life later in the year. But grabbing the bull by the horns is always fun...

Pyro

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Same as it ever was...

Some things never change. History repeats itself. New becomes old becomes new becomes old again.

I'm never sure whether any of the above is a good thing or a bad thing. People change, little by little, but some factors will always stay the same. It's a great little faculty of life, and it means that if there was something you liked about someone when you first met them, it will probably always be there, ready to make you smile at a moments notice. Unfortunately, the same goes for the things you don't like about someone. It's a bit like Feng Shui, only with people instead of furniture. Get it right, and a jolly time can be had by all. Get it wrong, and the Dragon of Unhappiness might well bite you in the proverbials.

That said, when you've spent the time running up to an event worrying about who will be there, and what they'll do that will make you want to cheerfully slap them, it takes the wind out of your sails (in a thoroughly pleasant, positive manner) when everything is great, the atmosphere's utterly positive and it genuinely is good to see people again.

Sometimes it's nice to be wrong about people.

Pyro

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Rain in Spain...

...has been falling mainly on the Raid Bimbache Extrem 2008.

For those missing the point of this comment, one of Opportunity's little sojourns into my life has been the chance to come over to Segovia to report for Sleepmonsters on the Raid Bimbache. She was definitely smiling at me this time - a huge, wide beautiful ear-to-ear grin, much like I've had for a lot of the week.

I've had a blast this week, taking pics, writing until the early hours of the morning and just enjoying the feeling or being a racer at a race, but not racing. And I've met some more great people: The Spanish press guys; the marshals; Fred from XPD Portugal; Anne-Marie, Angela and the Raid Nature 46 team; Sukhana (I think that's how you spell it) and the Wilsa Helly Hansen team. Just a great bunch of friendly, enthusiastic people. Emotionally it's been fairly intense - at various intervals I've wished I was racing, been glad I wasn't, been happy, sad, confused, elated, frustrated. The typical Englishman abroad, I speak no Spanish whatsoever, so it's all been a great learning experience and often an exercise in polite silence.

So, to Opportunity, I offer my greatest thanks. To the organisation of Bimbache, to Sleepmonsters, and to the kindred spirits I've met, my thanks and respect. And to the whole world at large, a wry smile and a tipped glass.

Adios, amigos.

Pyro, and all the available connotations and mispronunciations thereof.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Opportunity

They say 'Opportunity knocks'. I agree, kind of.
Opportunity can be a good and a bad thing. Sometimes, Opportunity comes screaming down the garden path in a blazing '69 Chevy, hammers through the door and drags you away kicking and screaming to a semi-inevitable conclusion. More often than not, Opportunity pauses at the threshold, taps timidly on the frame, and carries on peacefully by if you don't see her immediately. Such is the way of the girl.

I've been lucky with a number of Opportunity's short sojourns into my life recently, and I've been unlucky with others. Recently, I've been able to catch Opportunity as she stood on my porch, and she's smiled at me and some things have been very good as a consequence. The key, I think, is to look and listen for her footfalls, to pay attention when she whispers to you, and to speak with people who she holds as friends. They're the ones through whom Opportunity makes herself known, and if you're to have any flirtation with her of your own, you have to know, like, and be, the kind of person she knows will take up her half-formed dreams and ideas, and carry them to their destination.

People have said I'm "jammy", that I'm "flukey", that I've had "all the breaks". No. Wrong. But unlike many, when Opportunity whispered her sweet almost-nothings in my ear, I was listening.

A happy, philosophical Pyro.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Mighty Deerstalker

Okay, first blog on this whole new 'training diary' thing.

Myself and Elise ran the Mighty Deerstalker (10km supposedly, my measurements show closer to 14km) at the weekend. I won't go into a massive amounto of detail because I've already done a write-up for Sleepmonsters (which should appear HERE.

This is just a quick post to say "been there, don it, got the Buff", and to note a kind of big thank you to my sis. Last year, I got dropped by Jon very early on, and I think it made it much harder for me to run solo. This year, E and I ran every step as a pair, something I wouldn't have banked on EVER happening 2 years ago. Hell, as we ran down the finish funnel, we were hand-in-hand! Wierd s**t happens, eh?

Next up, Student Rodeo next weekend, then Brum for the Rat Race after that.

'til then

Pyro

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Masterplan (v2.008)

Plans for the summer then:
1) use this blog more as a training diary - see 'Glasgow tae the Sahara (http://gckelly.blogspot.com) for more details
2) Run more, bike more, boat more.
3) By using the principals of 2), lose some weight.

Things aren't too bad. Myself, Kiwi Steve, Steve Hutton and a couple of others do a regular run on a monday. I bike to work some days (although I most definitely could do more!). I boat every week, both general river stuff and polo. But I KNOW that what hurts me most is running, hence why I'm working on it now. Today's plan involved a ratch through the Runner's World events calendar to find local races to me that I can a) get to and b) complete!

I know my biggest problems is big, unrealistic aims, so the work-in-progress idea is to temper these and and be less optimistic about my abilities. That and a well-plotted race calendar should help.

At the moment, the calendar loooks like this:
March - Deerstalker, NSR, work at Birmingham Rat Race, and a 5 mile road race in Leeds (will be my first ever competitive road event!)
April - A road 10K and lots of training.
May - Meanwood 7.5 mile trail race, and an Open 5 event.
June - Harewood Chase trail 10K and possibly the Heb Challenge.
July - Possibly a Solo at the Traquair Ace Race, Edinburgh Rat Race and maybe Tough Guy.
August - London Triathlon or Sleepless in the Saddle, Newcastle Rat Race.
September - Either the Manx End-to-End or the Penrith Merida MTB Marathon, and working at London Rat Race.
October - Polaris with my Dad and maybe Tough Guy (again)
November - Abbey Dash 10K and whatever else happens.

I'm also hoping for another Man of Porage invite, but we'll see.

TTFN