Well, how about that for a game of hide and seek???
Not one of you found me - but I got hungry so I came out.
Its been too long being an elite athlete hiding my light under a bucket so I'm back and I'll bring you up to speed with where I am and what I've been doing.
Olympics very much on the agenda after a couple of stunning sub 30 minute 5K's - but I'll tell you all about them just as soon as I've been for a wee.
Keep on tapering
Saturday, July 02, 2011
Well, how about that for a game of hide and seek???
Posted by Ron Hill's Alter Ego at 7:12 pm
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Well what a Bank Holiday extravaganza that was! I enjoyed my Easter days and my Royal Wedding days (always been a fan of Kate Bush and great to see that she's now officially a Royal). Watching the wedding I was struck by the futility of wealth, pageantry and aristocracy. There he is, the young man has all the money and opportunity he could ever want. He has castles and servants and enjoys five star treatment wherever he goes. But when that young man wakes up each morning and looks into the mirror, what does he see?
Yup. He's still a ginger.
Anyway I used the time away from the coalmine to do some serious running stuff. I didn't actually do a lot of running but I did other running stuff instead.
I did pop over to Folkestone for the Good Friday Folkestone 10 - always a pleasure to venture into Caravan County on a sunny day I was aiming to get round the bally thing in anything less than 1 hour 47 minutes - my time when I did the race last year; so I was chuffed to zip round in an hour 44 - not only quicker than last year but by my calculations quicker than all but one or two other people. Think I came about 6th.
Since then though I haven't raced. Not because I didn't want to but more because the opportunity didn't present itself. I was due to be a celebrity at the Royal Wedding 5K in Bexhill but didn't get there in time and this Monday just gone was going to be another 10 miler but again the opportunity passed me by. I did manage a 12 mile training run along the coast from Kingsdown to Sandwich last week but apart from that I've been focusing on planning my big event for 2012.
I've decided to apply for this change of nationality lark and have been looking at what countries I might select. I'm still keen on Burkina Faso but I'm also looking at one or two of the fringe countries that have no decent athletes, so I've narrowed my short list to:
Canada I've always held the horse chestnut leaf close to my heart and I fancy visiting Auckland for a holiday - so Canada has to be on the list.
France France you say! And so you might. I wouldn't lower myself to wear the French trickler but I quite fancy asking them because they're useless at sport; then accepting me; then I'll tell them to take a run. Is it juvenile? yes. Is it pathetic? yes. Do I give a monkeys? No. Its France. Get over it.
Australia Another outsider I guess, but their desperation for a decent athlete might give me a real chance here. Loved Skippy.
South Africa Always had a soft spot for them down under and really respect that Manuel bloke who was their King or something. The one who escaped from Alcatraz.
Cornwall I'll be honest and say that I'm not sure if Cornwall has any kind of team in the Olympics - but seeing as its quite close I thought I'd have a bash. I'll write to Simon Cowell because I think he runs the Olympics and see if he can twist a few hands.
So, its very much make-your-mind-up time for these countries. And as Huw Edwards would say "I wonder which one will choose Ron?".
Whilst all this is going in the back door I'm looking to my next race which, ironically enough it's the Ramparts 10K in Northern France which I confidently expect to win with ease and make those Frenchies eat my dust.
Hold on to your hats Ronnettes - it could be a bumby ride.
Keep on tapering.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
I suppose I might as well give you a quick run down of what I've been doing. Not, of course, that it appears to have been worth all the effort, but hey ho.
I've managed a few decent lumps of training in the weeks leading up to Easter. But, as with most elite athletes I have had my share of disappointments too.
March was looking very good. I popped over to Belgiumland to take part in the Ostend to Bruges 10 Mile Race and I had a remarkable race finishing in 1.41.38 which was my fastest 10 mile time in over three years, so happy, happy days indeed. We also had a great time in one my spiritual heartlands and I certainly gave my sponsors at Leffe a great boost to their profile.
Its a funny little country but I do enjoy going there. They're nice people (although I did notice that all the children have square mouths - apparently its to make it easier for them to eat chips) and they are always very hospitable. And, of course, they certainly know how to make a beer. Its also great for running because its mainly flat too! I'll be back Belgiumites!
But what happened after Belgium? Hmm a familiar story Ronnettes. I have to work now for a living thanks to this new Government and so because none of my running exploits are sponsored I found the rest of the month very difficult to find training time. I did a fair amount of PR work though - I was the official starter for the Lydd Half Marathon (gimme six all you Lydd people!!) and undertook a similar job for a race organised by students at Reading University. A strange experience for most of the students because the race started really early in the morning and I'm sure many of them had to go through a real personal journey to get up for 11 o'clock - so well done you chaps. I'll try to remember to bring some soap next year!
I haven't done any more races since Belgium although I did travel with the Nice Work laggards to Paris for the Paris Marathon a couple of weeks ago. I didn't want to run the thing and so I was there as a kind of ambassador for this great country of ours - though if I'd know then what I know now I wouldn't have bothered (yes I am bitter, Coe).
But as we were standing beneath their fake Blackpool Tower the realisation hit me that I wouldn't be able to make one of my biggest appearances of the year - and so I made the decision to withdraw from this year's London Marathon. I am aware, of course, that my decision not to run was greeted with dismay by most (the Kenyans, of course, were delighted) and I just hope that the event was able to recover at least financially. I did offer to lend my mankini to Gordon Ramsay but he was already running in a plastic bum costume so I'll hopefully be able to use it again next year. And you can rest assured that there will be a next year - because take it from me, this kiddie will be running at least one great Marathon on the streets of London in 2012. And my entry has already been confirmed - so stick that in your fridge and smoke it Coe-ey. Take note too Lord Coe - the London mMrathon will always be better than your little one off event. And we'll have better costumes.
But life is for living and as Moira Stewart says 'Let's not get too bitter Henry'. So, I have picked up my running boots and carried on with my training.
My goal for the year now is to train up for an August Marathon and I have decided to take part in the Reykjavik Marathon in Iceland - how cool is that? Iceland is a bleak, desolate landscape with featureless communities full of people who never see daylight from one month to the next. So, to acclimatise I went to the Isle of Wight last weekend and did an 8 mile training run - my longest run since Bruges. On Tuesday evening I also went out with the Old People of Hastings for a tough 6 mile hilly run. Both should hold me in good stead for my next race - which is on Good Friday. The Folkestone 10 is a decent race and I'll be looking to post my fastest Folkestone time since 2007 - and I will if I can dip below 1 hr 47 minutes.
Next Friday I'll be popping over to Bexhill to take part in a little 5K race to celebrate the Royal Wedding (I know, another invite I got. Not.).
So, I'll be back soon to see if we have sorted out this little Olympic entry business thing.
In the meantime - have a good Easter, Ronnetes and may all your eggs be unfertilised.
Keep on tapering.
Sometimes its very, very difficult being an elite athlete.
You see, because I am one of the leading lights in the sport, I have to ration my time very precisely so that all my sporting priorities are placed very firmly where they should be - and this sometimes causes me some difficulties when people say to me 'Hey Ron, why the big silence?'.
And without being patronising, the fact of the matter is that if I spent all day writing replies to fan letters, jotting down my thoughts on this, that and the bally other, sorting out begging letters (though I don't send many these days) then I'd have very little time left for the proper things in life. I mean sometimes its a heck of a job for Ernie and I to try and slip away for a hard earned tube - sometimes we can only get a couple of hours a day.
So the next time you start whingeing and having a go at me for not doing my Internet thing - just remember that, OK? And if that appears heartless and cruel well then you'll just have to deal with it won't you?
You may by now sense that your man here isn't in the best frames of mind - and you know what? You're dead right. Why? I'll flippin' tell you why.
I have given my all for this great country of ours. I've made sacrifices - some of them have cost me money too, I can tell you; I've shed blood, sweat and other body fluids for Queen, Country and Cameron; I've worn my vest and underpants with pride; and you know what? In most cases I've done it without demanding anything back in return (apart from a few exes for me and Ernie and the van).
I've travelled the globe competing on behalf of this great country of ours - sometimes I've even embraced the Welsh in my quest to see Great Britain reach the peak of sporting number one-ness. And if I'd have known now what I knew then, you know what? I might not have bothered. Remember - when I first started running it was just so I could hear that heavy breathing stuff again. I had no great ambitions for myself in this sport other than maybe to appear at an Olympic Games. My mind often drifts. And sometimes it drifts back to those days all those years ago when I first started puinding the pavements. There was nothing like getting up at 5 in the morning, doing a quick six miler and then jumping into an ice bath. Indeed, there is still nothing like it. That's why I've never done it.
But what have all these achievements and sacrifices got me? Nowt is the short answer. Well nowt but a kick in the teeth with a size 10 Timpson.
Because today I have just received my Olympic notifications. Not,as you would expect, my number, safety pins, baggage label, van parking instructions etc Nope - I've received ... an invitation to apply for tickets!!
Let me just run that by you again so that it sinks in.
After all these years of toil and sweat ... they have sent me an invitation to apply for tickets. That is tickets - to buy. Tickets ... to watch. I am shattered, I don't mind confiding in you. And do you know what? I don't even know if I have the mental thingy to go on.
To add insult to perjury, they're not even VIP tickets. Plus - and here's the rub. They are expecting me to pay!! What planet do these people live on?? Do they send a letter to Ces Fibreglass asking him if he wants to buy a ticket to watch Manchester United win the Premiership? Do they send a letter to Bobby Davro asking him if he wants to buy a ticket to watch Britain's Got Talent? I don't think so, do you? So, what's going on your Lord Coeship?
(Just an observation by the way, I don't understand why they're selling Olympic tickets anyway - they might as well just give them to blokes from Liverpool and save a lot of messing about - they always end up with them anyway).
Well you're hearing this here now first - and this includes you Lord Coe. If you think that this kiddie here is going to buy tickets to watch a bunch of second rate athletes, who can't hold a candle to me, puff and pant their way round and round a running track - then think again. And another thing Coe-ey - you have exactly one week (well, OK a week and a bit because its a bank holiday) to get my number and pins in an envelope and round here to Ron Towers. Pronto you understand?
And you know what happens if I don't get them?
You can stick your Olympics up your Oxo Tower mate - and I'll go to a country that does want me. Yes, I mean exactly that. If Jack Charlton can pretend to be another country person - like an Irish man then so can I. So, from May 1st - I will become a proud member of Burkino Faso's Olympic Marathon Squad.
Ernie - get the paint ready. the van might need a makeover.
Keep on tapering
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Well you know what they say ... absence makes the world go round in a bush.
I know that I've been quiet for a little while but that doesn't mean to say I haven't been busy. It doesn't mean to say I have been busy either but lets not squash hairs eh?
If the truth be known I have been working hard at my technique to make sure that I'm fit and ready for the coming season. The New Year came with a bit of a whimper to be honest - which is a bit disappointing considering I'd finished 2011 with some stirring performances. The old Christmas pud has taken a bit of shifting and I'm back to carrying a bit of ballast. A two week bout of the lurgy which stopped me from even signing on for two weeks didn't help - but I have tried to keep up some kind of training - and as we enter March I do so with renewed optimism.
I know that you'll have missed me though but, as that woman out of the Krankies would say "Tough". Silence is silver and all that.
But what have I been up to? Well, in January I was determined not to undo all my good work in the latter half of last year and one way I can demonstrate that is with my race times. I vowed never again to top the hour mark in 10Ks - certainly I need to be just under the hour if I'm to stand any chance of an Olympic podium place next year. Well my first test was the Bromley 10K - and I rattled through that little bingo in a time of 59.06 which, OK, it met my target and will show forever on the results - but I know that the race was slightly under distance - so I have a dodgy Race Director to thank for maintaining my record! A week later I had an 8 miler to do - the Lakeside Frimley Green Canal Run or something - and set myself a modest target of 1 hour 24 minutes - and I nudged in at 1.23.24, so job done again. It was also a BP for me over the distance - but whilst I have to be satisfied with my performance, it was still chugging around in 10.5 minute miles - not good enough.
But February I went downhill. I got hit with some flu/lurgy thing. It was dumped on me by a couple of the Cash Drainers who after an orgy of tequila and Junior Aspirins at University then start kissing each other and mutating what was once a very nice, harmless cold into a raging bacteria-fuelled flu virus. Thanks kids. It put me on my back for two weeks. But this kiddie has inner strength you know. Because whilst I may well have been fit for nowt I still raised myself off my sick bed to take part in a couple of 5K runs. I did a Run for Heroes event in Swindon which I managed in 30.03 - my quickest 5K in some time but, again, I fear, slightly under distance. Then, just as I was recovering from the lurgy I ventured out to do a ParkRun.
Now these ParkRuns are becoming increasingly popular so I thought I'd chance my arm. I popped over to Reading where the eldest Cash Drainer Haille Minogue is currently squandering what few ackers I have left. ParkRun? This was no ParkRun! For a start there was no Parkie to act as a pace setter; no dog poo to skip round; no ducks, no swings, no ice cream hut. It was just a lump of grass beside the River. And my wasnt that grass heavy on my legs! It took me 32 minutes and 24 seconds to lug myself around that course - probably my slowest ever 5K!!
Since then I have got a few training runs in - I am a guest elite athlete for a small running group in Rye. A kind of local celebrity if you like - I know they appreciate me popping along and sharing some of my techniques with them. They do some strange warm-ups though - not an anal crunch or pelvic squirt in sight. I've also tried to get out and do a few miles during the week. So, at the moment I'm reasonably fit for short distances but definitely slow.
So, what do you do in those circumastances? Yep, you enter a half marathon!!
I'm off to that London place tomorrow to do the Roding Valley Half Marathon. I havent done the distance for three months, I'm over ballasted and I'm knackered.
Next week I'm off on my first European jaunt of the year where I'll be leading the British team once again in the Ostend to Bruges 10 Mile Race. Later in the month I will have two half marathons in Hastings and Paddock Wood and then, depending on how I feel, I'll attempt to win the London Marathon again in April.
Who'd be an Olympian eh?
Keep on tapering
Friday, December 31, 2010
Well, well what a time of year it is.
The Half Share said that today should be a day of reflection so I stood in front of the mirror for ten minutes this afternoon - God knows what she was on about. Christmas in the Ron household was what you would expect from an elite athletes training camp - plenty of tubes, a Fray Bentos pie-fest on Boxing Day and two tins of Newberry Jelly Fruits.
I managed to get out for a little run on Boxing Day when I went out with the Old People of Hastings for a 4 or 5 mile cross country jaunt. Very pleasant and, without sounding patronising, it's always good to see old people and poor people enjoying themsleves - and if my presence improved their lot for just one hour over what must have been a hard Christmas for them then I feel satisfied. I've done my bit, if you like.
I start my elite athlete training for the London Marathon this weekend and it will need to be head down and focus for the first three months of the new year. And talking of New Year I know what a lot of you are thinking ... you're wondering what my New Year Revolutions are going to be aren't you? Well, Ronettes, here they are - my New Year Revolutions for 2011:
1. Ditch steak and kidney pies in 2011. They are no good for me, they make me pile on the pounds and they are very unhealthy. From now on its meat and potato.
2. Try to be a bit more patient with my fans - so long as they dont take up any more of my time.
3. I thought I might do a bit of charitable work or perhaps spend time with neglected and under-priveleged kids. That sounds like my kids - so I'll go and see them one day.
4. Start drinking Bacardi - it will provide work for poor people in Bacardi land.
5. Stop eating cheese - its cruel and the hens dont like it.
6. Try to hone my three pack body
7. To be more sensitive about the Half Share's feelings - particularly when she tries to cook.
See - I told you I still had the common touch!
Anyway, I must sort out my New Year programme now. I'll be the official celebrity starter at the Kent Christmas Cracker on Sunday and then I have my first competitive outing on the 16th with the Plumpton Classic.
So, to parrot phrase Val Doonican "Happy New Year".
Keep on tapering
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I was due to make a well-overdue personal appearance in Swanley on Sunday. The 4.2 mile Swanley Christmas Caper is one of my many annual trips to Caravan County and my Ronettes certainly look forward to my visit.
Unfortunately they are not made of stern stuff in Swanley and they only went and cancelled the bally thing - they reckon it was cold! Harumph I thought I've not kept my Saturday night tube consumption down to a reasonable level to then not go and run. So, we packed our pumps and hi vis balaclavas, climbed aboard Ernie's Transit, chucked the Half Share in the back with a card table and a deck chair so that she could rustle up some sarnies and set off for Peacehaven. The locals were due to hold their annual Mint Spy 10 Mile Race and I thought it would be a useful run out for me.
Well apart from the fact it was very hilly, very cold and very, well, Peacehaven-ish, I did OK. A time of 1.50.28 put me just in the top 300 - and there wasn't a Kenyan in site.
It was a useful run though just to see if the old pins were still up for a stiff one - that's what the Half Share kept muttering anyway. And it was a useful sign of for me as a competitor before Christmas is upon us. I am the guest celebrity starter at two Christmas events this weekend - in Battle for the Christmas Pudding Dash on Saturday and then in Deal for the Kent Christmas Cracker on Sunday.
If you're around for either of them, feel free to throw a tube at the old man eh?
But its a busy old time for an Olympian at this time of year with sponsors engagements and my commitments to various Ronettes - well I'm on the lash with Ernie next Tuesday. Then it will be Christmas - a time of good cheer and presents for me.
I will try and get more Indialand adventures on here before Christmas - but if you don't hear from me its not because I don't care about you or, indeed, have great man-like affection for you. Its because I'll be in the pub.
As Nicholas Wychell would say - "Have a good un me old Chinese"
Keep on tapering
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Today was going to be a big day. Not only was it my third day of the Himalaya 100 Mile Race; not only was it the eighth marathon of my glorious career; not only would we, at last, be going down to below the 'altitude' level of 6,000 ft - today was the day I'd be able to have a poo.
Now I'm sorry if that offends or lowers the tone of your morning, but, although it is a tattoo subject, it is a subject that occupied my thoughts for quite a bit of my time spent at the top of the mountain. I've already mentioned that the facilities were quite basic, well they were even more basicer when it came to the toilet department. Now, OK, they had a loo. And it was fine if you wanted a number 1 ... but this kiddy has standards when it comes to the old number twos - and I stand for nobody. A hole in the ground with footprints to stand in is something that I will simply not engage with. I leave that kind of primitive behaviour and third world toilet standards to the one country that steadfastly refuses to come out of the dark ages - France. So, I was a little surprised that Indialand still had these kind of facilities - there are thousands of them in Paris and other small places in France - but lets just leave them there eh?
Anyway, that was my motivation for getting down the mountain today - I would at last be able to sit down and mind my own business. The other thing I was dreaming of was a drink - not a tube of Carling or anything like that - but just a cold drink that was anything but water. For three days now all I had drunk was water and to be honest I was beginning to get sick of the taste of the stuff - and I craved a coke or an orange juice.
You see what altitude does to us elite athletes?
So it was up again at 4.30 for the big day. The Everprest Challenge Marathon. Now most of you will know that a standard marathon distance is 26.2 miles. Well not in this part of the world it ain't!! Nobody really knows the true distance of this race but it is believed to be between 28 and 33 miles!
The route takes in 10 of the first 20 miles of yesterday's Stage 2 before returning for six miles and then beginning a descent from 12,000 ft to around 6,000 ft. A four or five mile stretch along the river to Rimbik takes us to the Lodge which would be our base for the next two nights.
There were quite a few nervous people lining up at the tape today. An old man called Albert kept forgetting where he was; my friend from Bracknell just kept looking at his friend Georgio with that strange way he had of moving his eyebrows; the Argentinians were still insufferable; and a nice lady called Jo gave me a sweetie and a 'good luck' flick of the ear - which I could have done without to be honest.
As we started the day's Stage at 7 am, this kiddie wasn't feeling too bright and I found it difficult to run any of the straight or downhill bits at the beginning of the race. So, at about five past seven I realised that today was going to be a long and difficult day for me. I was certainly going to be walking a great deal, if not all, of the course.
I struggled over the first ten miles - the last mile up to the summit at Mohle, in particular, was another punishing incline that reduced me to 20 or 30 steps at a time before stopping for breath. Once I reached the turnaround and the start of the reverse journey I was feeling wrecked.
One or two of you may know that I overcome great adversity to become an Olympic elite athlete and the Good Lord chucks a number of spanners in my saddlebag to try and make things just a tad more difficult. One of these is my health. I am a diuretic which means I have to watch my blood sugar levels - particularly when I'm winning races. I tend to control the bulk of my conditions by diet - and, depending on how my sugar levels are, will regulate my pies, kebabs and tubes accordingly. In addition to a cocktail of drugs (not one of them performance enhancing I should add) I also carry glucose with me - so if I do feel a bit Gordon Brown I can give myself a quick fix.
Well half way back along the ridge to the 16 mile point I suddenly realised that despite putting one foot in front of the other I was actually moving sideways and not forwards. Being quick thinking I soon realised that this would not help my progress towards the finish line. I then began to feel very, very dizzy. What was happening? What was happening? I'll tell you what was happening, I was only having a diuretic emo that's all! My body was crying out for sugar - well, actually it was crying out to sit down in an easy chair with a pie and a beer, but you get my draft. What was I to do?
Well, its at times like this that the true athlete emerges. I thought to myself "Now, what would Nicholas Wychell do?" So,I stopped and I stuffed a couple of glucose tablets down my neck.
The mountain started to sway on front of me and I started to illuminate. I thought I saw Fabio Capello in front of me but it was just a tree with a funny shape. I then thought I saw Dawn French staring at me - but it was just a passing pair of Yaks.
As I continued to feel the south side of peculiar, a knight in shining armbands came to my rescue ... only an upstanding member of the Indian Army that's all! The young chap had seen me obviously in some distress and approached me and said "Sir, you are staggering". "Well, I said, you're a bit of a looker yourself sunshine but now's not the time or the place". Anyway, to cut a long story in the bush he grabbed hold of my arm and escorted me to the side of the track and told me to sit down. Which I promptly did. On his bloody gun!!! How embarrassing. So, there was a bit of nervous pulling and tugging until he'd retrieved his rifle. And, dear Ronette, that is how my Everprest Marathon came to be saved by the military! After a few minutes rest, the old glucose kicked in and I was able to shake him by the hand, he took my photograph and off I popped back on the way to a famous marathon finish.
I had a bit of a strop and a barny when I reached the aid point where the route then turned to the steep descent. The chap there asked me if I wanted a torch. I was half an inch away from decking him - but I let diplomacy get the better of me and restricted myself to a playful kick on his shin - but I grabbed the torch anyway. And my was I glad I did!!
The descent was only supposed to be about 5 miles - well I don't know how far it really was but it took me nigh on four hours to do it!
On the way down I'd met up with a couple of local scallies who offered to accompany me. I lost them after about an hour when - wait for this - they started following a trail of pea pods. I kid you not - apparently peas are the most expensive vegetable in these parts so they cleared off and ended up with a rucksack full of the things. In the meantime a couple of marshals clapped on to me and said they'd walk with me to the finish - and to be honest Ronnettes, I needed them. By 4 o'clock I was still only half way down the mountain and it was starting to get dark. By 5 o'clock I was trying to scramble down the Himalayas in the pitch black dark with nothing but a handy little torch I got free with 4 gallons of four star!
The descent became quite scary with creatures dropping from the jungle vegetation, strange animal noises and that whistling noise you hear on Daktari. And, of course, whilst all this commotion was going on I was supposed to be in the middle of a chuffing marathon-ish! In the end there was nothing to do but to get my head down and grit my teeth and, in the words of Moira Stewart "Carry on".
Once we reached the end of the descent we came alongside the river and followed it by the glow of our torches, eventually reaching the village of Srikola. I then did something I have never done in a race before - I stopped in a cafe for a cup of tea!! I mean it wasn't an ordinary cafe - it was a Sherpa cafe run by a nice Nippall-ese family; and it was no ordinary cup of tea - it was special tea! Well, at least it tasted special to me and I walloped a potful of the stuff down, together with a packet of biscuits. After half an hour I felt good enough not just to carry on - but strangely enough I felt good enough to run! So, we began the last four or five miles to the finish line - again, in complete darkness. I eventually ran across the finish line to be greeted by the Half Share and a couple of other competitors. I'd done it. I'd finished. And I did it in 13 hours 31 minutes.
Now put that in your bucket and smoke it Haille!!
The Half Share had had problems of her own on the descent. Her and her friend Jo had come across an even older man than Albert called Peter who was in obvious distress and the two women people managed to help the old man down - now how's that for being a Good Salamander?
But she'd done something even better than that for me - she had waiting for me, at the finish line, a bottle of coca cola and I have to say drinking that was one of the satisfying moments of my time in Indialand. An hour later, with a couple of tubes and a curry down my neck I was ready once more to face the challenge of this magnificent race.
Tomorrow would be a relatively easy day - the half marathon - and a golden opportunity for me to win my first stage.
Can you wait?
Keep on tapering.
Monday, December 06, 2010
Just shows to go you see.
I kinow plenty of ordinary people tried to enter the London Marathon but - without trying to sound Pompey - these lemming-like rushes into mass particiaption events are not for this kiddie.
Either the event wants me or it doesnt.
Thankfully the bloke who organises the London Marathon has seen sense and I got my formal VIP invite through on Friday evening.
Its not just the taking part that makes sense though. It offers the opportunity for countless thousands of people to have a quick peep at their favourite Olympian in the flesh.
Now, how mouthwatering a prospect is that?
Now then, Haille. What costume will you be wearing?
Keep on tapering.
Friday, December 03, 2010
I have had some bad night's kips I can tell you - but none of them come close to spending a night on top of a big hill in Indialand.
Sandakphu is just the top of a mountain. That's all. There's a collection of Sherpa huts - though how they get a white van up there heaven only knows - and that's about it. I mean, OK, so you can see four of the five highest peaks in the world, including Mount Everprest. But what use is that when there's no gift shop or cafe eh? Not even one of those telescopes that you can stand on and see the sea with.
These Sherpa huts and I had made our acquaintance the last time I visited and so, in a way, I was prepared for the next couple of days and two nights that we would spend there. But nothing can prepare you for the bally cold in the place! My God did the old aluminium plummet in the thermometer. After the journey up the hill in hot weather the cold forces a real sharp intake of breath. After climbing into my sleeping bag I really struggled to get any heat into my body. Of course, bang on cue, the Half Share chose this particular time to start being awkward and refused to let me borrow her sleeping bag to get me warm - and I thought girls were supposed to be warm blooded!
As the temperature slid below zero I tried to ignore my burning legs and my too-active brain and get some kind of rest. I always feel that way after a race - and usually struggle to sleep on Sunday nights for that reason. But add to it my altitude problems and it proved nigh on impossible to sleep, though I suppose I must have had a couple of hours here and there. It made it worse because we were sent to bed at about 7 o'clock - partly because they switch off the generator that works the lights, partly because its too cold to do anything else and partly, frankly, because there's beggar all to do anyway when it goes dark. Once my friend from Bracknell had sloped off early with Georgio - apparently Georgio's zip had stuck in his sleeping bag and he couldn't get his inner blanket out and my friend from Bracknell said he would pull Georgio's zip down and whip it out for him. So that left us with nobody to talk to. The Half Share had got friendly with another old woman but she went off to bed too.
However, we were woken at just gone midnight with a heck of a racket going on outside the hut door - but that was just the Irish girls running up and down the corridor sliding on their knees.
Then the Sherpa men came to wake us up at 4.30 - yes, 4.30!!. Apparently it was to see if we wanted to watch the sun rise. I gave the smallest Sherpa man a clip round the earhole and told him in no uncertain terms that he wouldn't see anything else rise, ever, if he tried that little trick on me again. But he said we were woken up because, apparently, there was going to be a spectacular view of Mount Everprest. Well, big deal! Number one, Sunshine, I said to him, I've seen it before. Number 2, pal, I said to him, I also saw it once in a film with Alec Guinness. And number 3 - just what is the big deal anyway - I've seen Ditchling Beacon?
So, I have to say, my superstar's Olympic halo was slipping somewhat when I gathered with the rest of the rather sorry, bedraggled looking group that gathered outside the huts. Did they look 'up' for today's' out and back 20 miler? Well most of them were just wandering round, kicking rocks and smoking their first fag of the day. One of the Nice Work group called John from Essex had won yesterday's first stage. Actually, when I say 'won' he obviously knew that I was pacing myself and I did remind him that that fact alone would probably take some of the emulsion off his so called 'victory'. But I dont bear grudges and I decided to pass on a few tips on technique and running style to him - which I think he appreciated.
One problem I was having was the altitude. Although I was taking medication I was really struggling with my breathing and it was also affecting my chest, I felt sick and I had a pounding headache. Indeed, between you, me and the wheelbarrow I really didn't feel well at all. A number of others in the group were also suffering with a couple of the girls having to be placed on drips by the race doctor. One poor young Irish girl really should have stayed in bed and not attempted the stage today - but she showed grit and determination - plus being a woman ignored any advice anyway. The Half Share said she felt OK - but she's always showing off like that.
The Argentinians meanwhile were still suffering from attitude sickness.
Anyway off we set off on the second stage. The course today saw us gradually descend from 12,000 ft to about 8,000 ft - then back up - then down, then up to 10,000 ft. And that was just the outward 10 Miles! I then had to come back and do it in reverse but I was really pleased with my time of 7 hours and 1 minute. The strange was that 7 hours felt OK for me - whereas if I'd taken that time for a race back home I'd have been disappointed as well as dead on my feet. This stage racing was getting to be a specialism of mine already!!
Along the way today we had been treated to more views of this flippin' Everprest mountain - and I'll be honest, it's not like its anything special is it? The foreign people seemed to think it was though and there were stacks of photos being taken. I much prefer West Hill in Hastings, to be honest, so I did what all seasoned athletes do - I focused on my race and making sure I finished in front of a woman I'd taken a dislike to.
The surface today was a little better than Day 1, though there were still plenty of cobbled stretches to contend with. Quiet a bit of the course though was on trails and tracks - many of which, though, were rutted deeply. Some of the descents were very painful - one in particular was so steep that I spent the rest of the way out worrying about having to climb the thing on the way home. Any stretch of flat or gentle downhill though was a blessed relief for my poor legs.
Quite a bit of today's route would have been runable if it wasn't for the fact that my legs were still shot to bits from day 1 - but the killer part of the course was the last three or four miles back to Sandakphu which just seemed to be one uphill stretch after another - so it was, with some relief, that I ran across the tape to tumultuous applause from the odd runner or fifty who had finished ahead of me. I then waited for an hour so for an old man called Albert to catch me up.
I was still in 'save my legs' mode so was quite content to be eight or nine hours behind the leaders. The winner of today's stage was a Spanish man - well he thinks he's good, but I'd take him on in the Lewes 10 any day!.
After a bit of tea I went back to my hut to try and prepare for tomorrow's big test - the Everpest Challenge Marathon.
My Friend from Bracknell was also on his way back to his hut with his friend Georgio. I think they both have caught some altitude-related illness because they kept looking at each other and doing things with their eyebrows.
Very off putting if you ask me.
The big question was - would I get more than a couple of hours kip tonight? Would I be able to sleep with my legs burning? I dunno - but I was in bed by 6 o'clock to find out!
Tomorrow was going to be a momentous day - and it was important I was prepared for it.
Keep on tapering.
Friday, November 26, 2010
This was it - the start of my second great adventure in Indialand. I was woken up at 4 by the Half Share who, I have to say, looked a bit worse for wear. Apparently it had taken her until gone midnight to pack my bags for the week's trip - but as I politely pointed out, if she managed her time a bit better she could have had both our bags packed in good time and still managed to grab more than a couple of hours kip. I mean it wasn't as though she had much ironing to do is it?
Anyway we made our way gingerly to the bus - though, it has to be said, not quite as gingerly as my friend from Bracknell who was walking very gingerly indeed. In fact he seemed to be walking the same way and wearing the same pained expression as his new friend Georgio. As we stood there with no sign of dawn breaking, the cool, peaceful mountain air was shattered with the morning greetings from the man from Austria - what a racket. He whispered louder than we all shouted!
After a breakfast in a cardboard box we boarded our buses to take us to the village of Manybejang - and the start of the Himalaya 100 Mile Stage Race. When we arrived the local wigbigs had turned out to greet me and they'd very kindly laid on some musical entertainment which, although I was trying not to be a pre-maradonna, I had to ask them to can it. Frankly it wasn't so much a band as a bunch of locals banging tin cans and I can well understand how the Queen must feel when she visits those backward countries like France and Australia and Canada and has to watch blokes with paint on their faces and spears doing some ancient war dance. To be honest there's no place for it in the modern world - France, I mean.
Anyway, I'm drafting.
I lined up at the start and at 7 am the race got underway to a huge cheer and another bottom noise from my friend from Bracknell and we began the first day's stage. Today was going to be a little difficult. Not only did we have to climb from 6,000 ft to the summit at Sandahkphu - an increase in altitude from 6,000 to 12,000 ft; the distance we'd have to travel was a tad in the region of 24 miles - uphill. Now we're not just talking of any old hill here - it's steeper than Ludley Hill out there.
Within minutes of starting the race and with me comfortably placed to wup the backsides of the field, it was down to a walk. Not quite a stroll but a walk nevertheless. The thin air even at 6,000 ft didn't bode well for the rest of the day but we set about attacking the course with some gusto.
Progress was quite slow as the switchback road varied between steep and bally steep but it wasn't long before we'd made half decent progress and the field became well spread out. I could hear the strained breathing of the Austrian man because he was only 2 miles in front of me and it quickly dawned on me that what was going to win me this race was not a nippy day 1 - but a consistent pace over five days.
That's why I let everybody else stay in front of me.
We passed by lots of nice places on our way up the mountain. The route we were following is the border road between Indialand and Nipall and is guarded by lots of soldier men with guns. I found their presence to be reassuring - especially as there were snakes in the area. The road itself was one built by somebody called the Aga Khan - well he didn't actually build it but his loyal subjects built it for him. He wanted a road built so he could reach the summit at Sandakphu and see four of the five highest mountains in the world. And apparently it took them 16 years to build the road - upon which the bloke said he didn't want to go any more! So he never went up the thing - and some people reckon I'm awkward.
The views as we made our way were quite spectacular with tea plantations, small, humble little mountain settlements and lots of kids who had obviously heard of me. It was such a joy to see them rush to the side of the road and shout my name "Ron" they shouted. "Ron, Ron, faster. Ron". Little cuties, I thought.
As the day progressed the temperatures remained quite warm but as we made our way up towards the summit and as darkness began to set in (yes, I know I set off at 7 o'clock - so what exactly is your point??) it started to get very chilly. More to the point our progress slowed quite considerably as the effort of climbing over such a long distance began to take its toll. It wasn't long before we were in pitch darkness and we were having to make our way up the remaining few hundred yards in pitch black. The muscles in my legs were burning, my lungs were struggling to get enough air and the sheer effort needed to take just a few steps was overwhelming.
Indeed, at around the 18 mile mark I decided to try and set myself distance goals before stopping for a rest. Initially I would try to walk 100 yards or so before stopping for breath but as we climbed ever higher it became impossible to maintain even this slow progress. My target distance dropped down to target numbers of steps - which also decreased considerably until, within just a couple of hundred yards from the finish I was reduced to walking just 10 steps before having to stop. As a result the last kilogram took me well over an hour to complete.
Another hindrance was the road surface which had deteriorated from tarmac through to hard track and then just gave up any attempt at pretending to be a road and merely consisted of loads of rocks laid in a straight line. The locals reckon it was cobbled - but let me tell you this. If the bloke who cobbled this road tried to ply his wares in Accrington he'd have been lynched.
Eventually though I heard the welcome murmur of friendly voices. They sounded excited as they waited in anticipation for the arrival of their hero. And as I turned the last corner there, in my torch light, I picked out their happy cheering faces - all pleased to greet me like the long lost Olympian I nearly was. I threw myself over the line and raised my hand in ... well, whatever the opposite to victory is .. and asked the Half Share to go and put the kettle on.
I'd finished Day 1 of the race in 10 hours 45 minutes - only six or seven hours behind the leaders. But I'd soon make that up through the week! There was time for a quick bit of supper before slumping, exhausted into my little wooden hut. It was so cold and I was so tired - but, hey, I'm an Olympian and it was time to step up to the plate.
Tomorrow would be a stroll in the park compared to today but I could smell victory and I vowed to look for the plate in my rucksack.
Keep on tapering.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I'm quite a perceptive superstar sometimes. And I was percepting quite a few things whilst enjoying my great sub continental adventure. What intrigued me whilst studying the people who made up this merry band of international athletes was how their relationship with each other developed as the days progressed.
There was obviously a bit of awe in the air when I walked in the room - indeed I heard lots of people saying 'awe' when I walked past them. But I was intrigued to see how the different groups of people started to jelly together. They would be looking to each other for lots of help and support over the coming few days and it was important that the whole group of 60-odd athletes got on well right away - which is one of the reasons I declined a VIP room. Running 100 miles is no walk in the park and it needs talent, mental strength, endurance, a decent pair of pumps - and teamwork. So, as the hours progressed towards the start of the race many of my fellow athletes began developing pretty close relationships with potential running partners.
One of our group was a man who I felt a bit sorry for because he lived near Bracknell. Other than that he was nice. He was obviously a little nervous about the race because he kept making small bottom noises every time we mentioned the task ahead. I was beginning to feel a little concerned about him so I was delighted for him when he found himself a little soul mate. He had teamed up with Georgio more or less as soon as we'd landed in Bagdogra in one of those 'eyes meeting across a crowded room' type scenarios. Within a few hours this nice Englishman and the little Italian man with a funny walk appeared inseparable.
They were told off on the first night for running up and down the corridors but once it was lights out, they ambled off in the gloom and I overheard Georgio invite him to his room. I think Georgio was an author or something because I heard him ask my friend if he wanted to go to his room to look at his back catalogue.
In any event it was good to see my friend looking after his new Italian buddy in such a touching way.
Keep on tapering
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
We were up at 5 this morning for a day that Ernie had marked as important in my diary. Unofficially it was to be a 'meet and greet' day for me to be introduced to some of the foreign people in this part of the world. As well as eyeballing my opponents in the race I also had to set aside a bit of time in my busy diary to pump the knuckles a bit and say 'Bonsoir' to some of the nice locals who had bowled up to see me. And whilst all this PR stuff is a bit of a bind at times you have to remember that its not every day of the week that the people in this farest flungest part of the world get to see me. Besides I think it adds to my global appeal to be seen in the company of ordinary people.
And, lets not forget that the rest of the people who would be following in my wake this week were also pretty ordinary as well. So were the people on my bus. Don't get me wrong I'm not a snob - hey, I was once so poor I had to knock back the Sky subscription, so don't talk to me about being humble.
But I digrate. I admit to being a touch hacked off about a lack of VIP transport - again - but I resolved to grin and wear it. That said if they were going to make me travel on a bus they could have at least sat me in Business Class.
We went to a place called Darjeeling which I'd been to before. It used to be owned by the British and you can still see evidence of British ownership - workmen standing leaning on shovels, men in uniform being awkward etc etc. In a moment of deep thought I wonder what it must have been like in the days when the sun never shone on the pink bits of the map. I pictured myself in a pith helmet riding an elephant through the streets of this fine city and thought how cool would it be to be Tarzan? Then I realised I was hallucinating on Diamox altitude tablets and so I went for a tube and a curry.
We then had a little wander around the town, visiting the Himalaya Mountaineering Museum and it still had some of that stuff belonging to that bloke who climbed Everest. From there we went to the Himalaya Zoo and we saw tigers and other fierce looking animals. There was this huge bear-like creature with a hideous face and piercing cry - but on looking closer I saw that it was the Austrian bloke again.
Now I'm a seasoned traveller as you know - I've been to Indialand and to Africa and to Bracknell - so I've had to put up with a fair bit in my life as a globetrotting Olympian. But around mid-afternoon I started to feel a little peculiar - a condition that steadily worsened as we made the long, slow journey back to Lake Mirik. I've already mentioned that I was on medication to combat altitude sickness - these were forced upon me by Dr Moustache and were taken on top of my existing medication. So, God knows what this lot were doing to my body. I had explained to the good Doctor that I was well prepared for altitude having had three months sleeping upstairs at home. But anyway, these flippin' tablets would appear to have given me .... yep, you guessed it. Altitude sickness!! So, I was put to my bed having not so much a dose of Delhi Belly, more a case of Darjeeling Feeling.
I thought a bit of rest would do me the world of good. But I'd reckoned without the physical intervention of Moustache. What did he do? Well, quite frankly, he just pummeled me and hurt me. First of all he squoze my fingers in that gap between my thumb and my nose picking finger - and he squoze til I had to scream. Then he lay me on my stomach and ... wait for it ... stood on my ankles!! Then he pushed his hands into my stomach until I cried out again. Finally he sat there for five minutes stroking my ear lobe. Now that's where I got a little bit shirty with Dr M and I told him in no uncertain terms to jack it in. He insisted he knew what was best for me - and he also told me that I was poorly cos I was sterssed. Well who the pug wouldn't be stressed when you had some Indianese man stroking your ear and standing on your ankles??
Anyway his ear stroking came to a sudden halt when I playfully kicked him repeatedly on the ankles - despite me telling him it would help him to relax.
But you'll never guess what. Within an hour I felt as right as snow and so, feeling a little better about tomorrow's race I decided to take an early beer-less night and hit the sack.
I bumped into the sodding Argentines on the way to my room and they were still shouting some kind of political slogans and generally making a bally nuisance of themselves - so I suggested they go and see Dr Moustache for some attitude pills. They didn't seem to see the funny side of this and I have to admit trhere was a bit of a skirmish in which an Argentinian flag was slightly soiled but after a bit of hair and shirt straightening and a few deep breaths we all agreed it was probably about time we all fought on the same side.
And screwed the French.
As I turned in, the Austrian guy shouted goodnight - he was still in Darjeeling mind you, but I could still hear him. Then I drifted off to sleep dreaming about tomorrow's victory and that 24 mile uphill stage to Sandakphu.
Or so I thought.
At midnight there was a hammering on the door of our room. There, in the moonlight, I made out the shapes of a number of military types, complete with guns - and they were shouting all kinds of stuff at me. I thought to myself "Now what would Kate Adie do?" and then proceeded to adopt the British attitude and slammed the door in their faces. Turns out that the old man called Albert had only gone and broken into the room of the local head of military security! And he'd got into their room by using his own key in their lock and pushing the door open. Now that tells you more about the state of their security rather than Albert's nous let me tell you.
See you tomorrow.
Keep on tapering.
Finding the time to tell you all about my fantastic achievements in Indialand is proving a little difficult at the mo - but fear not Ronnettes I have not forgotten. I hope to have the next thrilling instalment here within the next 24 hours.
A few thousand of you have been worried in case something had happened to me - but as Ken Dodd would say "No - I'm fine".
My time in Indialand has been time well spent though - just wait whilst you hear how I've been doing on my own doorstop. Last week I was the Chief Celebrity Elite Athlete at the Poppy Half Marathon in Bexhill. This race is staged in Bexhill to give the people there something to look at in the winter. This year though - my did it rain. It wasn't just raining Cats and Horses, it was freezing cold as well. But I don't let a bit of weather come between me and a BP - I stormed round the course in 2 hours 8 minutes and a few seconds to record my fastest half marathon time since March 2007. Impressive Mange Tout?
I am also keeping up my gruelling training regime and last week maintained my focus on building up my strength, concentrating on speed work, warming up properly, cooling down, stretching and eating less kebabs. Well on Sunday it was quite a big day for me as I popped down to the City of Filth and Needles for the Brighton 10K. Organised by people who are obviously still learning how to organise booze-ups in breweries the race was a bit of a shambles with no water and a few other basics missing. However ... my time was a stunning 56.06 and I haven't run that quick since February 2007. So, at the moment I'm running like the ... like ... well like a man who runs. I'm coming into form at just the right time too.
In fact I don't mind admitting that as I crossed the line to huge applause from the strange people of Brighton, I couldn't help breaking into a bit of a smile. Then a little bit of wee came out so I had to dash away quickly. But the large crowd acknowledged what was a fabulous run for me.
Coming up soon I'm at the Crowborough 10K next week and then popping up to Caravan County to be the elite athlete at the Swanley Christmas Caper. I'll also be the guest celebrity starter at a couple of Christmas events.
Life is good when you're a top athlete eh?
Keep on tapering.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Another day dawning in Indialand and another day of adulation ahead of me.
It was another crazy journey back to the airport where we were due to set off for our flight to Bagdogra and where I would meet up once again with my friends in the Himalayas.
Well Ronettes I have to admit that I nearly let my guard slip at the airport. I was just a few kilograms away from throwing what would have been my first superstar’s fit of the trip. The old soaks who run Nice Work has tried their best to look after me but, to be frank, they’re OK at looking after ordinary people and women but when it comes to Olympic elite athletes they are somewhat lacking.
So when we arrived at the airport yet again I was forced to queue up with normal people – no VIP lounge or entrance. Then the queues just went on for ages and I’m afraid I got so frustrated I announced that I was about to throw a paddy. At which one of my new Irish friends Mary insisted that if I was throwing a paddy it wasn’t going to be her – I didn’t understand what she meant. But I quickly pulled myself together by reminding myself “Now what would Barry Manilow do in this situation?’
To be honest the Irish girls were set to become a problem for yours truly. I could tell they all had their cute little green Irish eyes on me – but I was determined to hold my dignity. I’d made my mind up that I was going to mentor them – and be their father figure. And that was that. Mind you if I’d been their father I’d have still been bathing one or two of them – but that’s another story!
As we stood in one of the many endless queues I could sense that one or two of my opponents were exuding what can only be described as jealousy, Not just the fact that I was going to win the race – but that I was getting so much attention from the girl people in our group. But, hey, that’s just what comes with the territory when you are an elite athlete.
Three of the blokes in particular were obviously a little twitchy. There was a chap from Essex – but apart from that he was OK. And then there was a bloke from Reading – a place very close to my wallet. And then another chap from Ashford who kept trying to outstare me – I could tell he was using psychological techniques to try and unsettle me. So I decided to fight fire with stones and stared at him back. Then very slowly I raised my right hand and pointed at him with my big finger – and then I hiccuped and kind of ruined the moment. But he certainly got the message – you don’t mess with this kiddie.
Of course, the Half Share was with me on this trip and I also had to have a little word with her about moaning just because she has to carry my bags. I also took the opportunity to give her a little pep talk and reminded her that I had no intention of hanging around at the top/bottom of mountains waiting for her. The last time I starred in the Himalayas I spent just a little bit too much time waiting for her to finish and I was in no mood for that this year.
We landed at Bagdogra and bumped into a few old mates from last time and we boarded the bone shaker to our base hotel in Lake Mirik - about 6,000 ft in the mountains. Upon arrival I met up with Himalya Charlie again and he gave me one of those embarrassing man hug things which I'm not that comfortable with actually. He didnt seem as happy as I thought he would to see me but that old cheeky grin came back as I gently teased him about the old Empire days and told him to fetch me a tube. He jokingly tapped my arm a bit and then I nudged him playfully in the chest as he tapped my ankles with his stick - and it was all getting a bit tetchy as I playfully flicked his ear and he knocked my cap off and one or two observers thought it was getting a bit serious. But we both put our arms around each other and I thought he was enjoying our little tussle until he kneed me in the balls.
There was only time for a couple of tubes of Gherkin beer before lights out ... and my, oh my, what a night. The night didnt auger well when I heard this German bloke whispering something - and he was in another room at the time! This chap muttered louder than normal people bellow - so we had to put up with his garrumping voice and singing until he'd finally worn himself out and fallen asleep. I think he was some kind of shouting champion so I made a mental note to deck him in the morning. In the meantime the only thing I could do was to turn up the volume on my Imac player and let him have double bubble of Vera Lynn doing proper war songs. The problem was that the war songs woke up the three Argentinians who were just way too nationalistic for my liking. They eventually quietened down when I powdered them with two barrels - Number 1, the Falklands and Number 2 a little ditty I'd learned about that Madonna football man.
I dont know why the Germans and Argies just dont show a bit more tolerance towards foreign people. If there's one thing I can't stand its flippin' foreigners being xenophobic - well that's why they're foreign and I'm not I suppose.
Anyway all in all I think I made a half decent impression on most of the foreign people. I settled down for my first night in the mountains and began to dream once again of victory.
You could smell it in the air, you know. Well, that and curry.
Tomorrow I was off to Darjeeling for a cup of tea. Will tell you all about it.
Keep on tapering.
Our first full day back in Indialand and I was beginning to feel at home amongst my furthest flungest fans. And what a start to the day it was - curry and chips for breakfast!! I had a couple of portions and then snaffled some toast and honey to make it look healthier and then got myself ready for a day saying Buenos Aires to my new and old friends in Asia.
Of course when I'm travelling abroad I take my responsibilities seriously. Its important that we don't make foreign people think they are more inferior than they already are so I always try to assume a kind of diplomatic stance. I always offer to sign autographs before I'm asked and I'll usually throw out some chocolates or crisps to the locals - as a kind of bridge building gift. It usually works well for me anyway.
I'd had a word with my friends - they don't like being called agents - in Indialand and they had arranged for me to do a tour of the city. I kind of viewed it as a pre-race victory parade and as I am a champion I decided that it would be appropriate to dress as a champion. It had to be the lime green Lycra!
Well there was obviously some kind of mix-up with the transport arrangements. You see I thought I was being paraded through the streets on an open top bus but when the thing arrived it had a bally roof on - so how were the ordinary people in the streets going to see me? Its just not the same waving through a window whilst sat with a load of other people. So I don't mind saying I was feeling a bit rankled before the day even got going. Things took a turn for the worse when the bus parade turned into what I can only describe as a sightseeing tour - I mean what on earth was happening? The bus tour was not for me to see Indialand - it was for Indialand to see me!
We visited a place called a mosk - which I wasn't too sure about. My feeling of slight unease took a turn south when the bloke at the gate asked me to wear a dress. I agreed to do so to ensure there wasn't a diplomatic incident but I confess Ronettes - it didn't feel right. One or two of the girls with us complained that they couldn't get into their dresses but the Very Old Man with us was kind enough to offer to get into their dresses for them if they were struggling.
We then went to a place called the Red Fort which I'd seen before. Its a fort that is red.
Word of my arrival soon spread round the city though and it wasn't long before I had a kind of mini retinue of locals following me round asking me to sign their postcards, sign their camera batteries and sign their trinkets.
And so the day progressed - we saw a few more sights, had a curry and then went out in the evening for a few tubes at a place called Pebbledash Street - don't even go there Ronnettes.
Evening was quite relaxed and I spent the time weighing up once again some of my opponents. What was I to make of them? Whilst I've mentioned that one or two of them looked a bit past it, a couple of them did look handy and if you ignored their hang dog looks you'd think I was in the company of other athletes. There were even some women with us which I thought would come in handy if my Green Flashes needed a whitening. Some of them were from a town called Ireland which is near Liverpool and I have to say I had some trouble understanding them - they had funny accents. It was quite humbling to see them in awe of me. I explained to them that the race we were about to do wasn't like their little runs they do with their jackets tied round their waists - they wouldn't be able to do that girly thingy running action - in short, I emphasised that they would be racing against real runners. But, you know, I am an old softy at heart and I could tell by the looks in their eyes that deep down they were just little girls a long, long way from their ironing boards and hoovers. I resolved there and then that I would help them. And that's how it was that I became the mentor to seven young Irish gals (well, they weren't all young actually, but lets not split ends).
Another lady there was called Joe and she was a good bloke and never failed to join me in a beer or two when the occasion demanded.
And then, of course, I had the Half Share there - so at the very least I'd have no problems getting my Lycra ironed.
Our day ended as it began then with a decent curry - and I went to bed eager with anticipation about the following day's flight to the north of the country - and back to those mountains that I was going to conquer once again.
Keep on tapering
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Well the good staff on board the Gulf Air flight to Bar Mein looked after yours truly fairly adequately and a few tubes, a curry and a decent kip later we landed in this strange place. Now I have never been to this place before and, to be honest, from the aeroplane it didn't look promising. It looked like a slightly larger version of Morecambe Sands but with no sign of the tide. Arriving in the early hours of the morning we made for a sorry looking group. The dried spittle and curry stains were bad enough but the whiff of stale drink made sure that nobody was under misapprehension - we were there as proud ambassadors of our country!
Because I was on my holidays I set off to check out the bar ... well that was fruitless. Not a tube to be seen anywhere. But I spotted a MacDonald's so resigned myself to a Chicken sausage butty. After a sniff around the place I did a bit of shopping using some kind of money called a dinner - how bizarre was that? My MacDonald's cost me half a dinner - which I thought was apt.
A few hours later we were up in the air again and after another curry and a tube or two we were approaching Delhi. Some of our group got a bit over excited and got told off by the air hostesses for running up and down the aisle sliding on their knees - especially a Very Old Man called Albert who really should have known better at his age.
Anyway before you could say Tickly Masala we were landing in New Delhi and I had arrived - my long awaited return to Indialand was under way! After a brief three hour wait at Passport Control I began to rue my decision to travel as part of a group like an ordinary person. You see there are times when we Olympians just need a bit of space - like on buses and planes. Anyhow after a while we were through the formalities and onto the streets of New Delhi. I've said before that if this is New Delhi I'd hate to see Old Delhi - and once again the place didnt disappoint.
Driving is a real experience. You don't see many modern cars in the city - you certainly don't see any BMWs because most people in this country don't have small willies. But my oh my the driving. We all know that in some countries you drive on the left - and in others you drive on the right. Well in Indialand they drive on both - at the same time!!
An hour later we checked into our hotel and seeing as somebody had pinched some of my day - I could have sworn it was still morning but it seemed to be night time - we headed off into town for a bit of a bun fight.
Unfortunately, once again, I had to travel with the rest of the Nice Work group - I politely declined the offer of a VIP stretch rickshaw by playfully decking the hotel manager.
The journey over to Indialand had given me an opportunity to size up some of my opponents in this International Race of Elite Athletes. Most of them seemed quite old and, to be honest, I discounted them as bonio fido opponents. Some of them might have been able to keep up with me in parts of the race so I practised going up to them and then turning my backs on them - just so they could get used to the sight of my back.
But I knew it wasn't only going to be about competing with these people as athletes - some of them were women - so I decided to welcome them into my Inner Sanctum and try to treat them as normally as I could. In fact, between you and I Ronnettes, I began to feel quite humble about the whole thing. Here were these people - some of them obviously hadn't had a decent meal in months - but they had scrimped and saved to be with me on this important part of my Olympic journey.
But it kind of worked me pretending to be approachable because by the end of this first night I felt almost the same as them - ordinary. That said I knew I would have to retain a certain aloofness - after all one doesn't rise to Olympic Super Stardom by mixing with riff raff. But I decided to treat them all as equals - so long as they only spoke to me one at a time.
A very pleasant evening though and we ended up me inviting them to my VIP area in the hotel where we shared a beer and I told them all about my rise to fame and current race strategy.
Tomorrow I would be going on a city tour to say 'Hi' to all my Indialand supporters - a kind of pre-victory parade if you like.
I bet Indialand, its people and my new running friends couldn't wait!
Keep on tapering.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Well, the life of an international, Olympic gold medalist is no walk in the garden I can tell you!
No sooner had I arrived back from a magnificent Amsterdam Marathon than it was time to dust down the duffle bag, apply whitener to my green flash pumps, find my shell suit - and away we go again! I had had quite a good time in Amsterdam but there are times when the smell of victory, the medals, the adulation and the fan-dom all pale into insignificance and irrelevance. And its occasions like this when I thank the Great God above (or Seb as I like to call him) for my family. Not so much the Cash Drainers because they always seem to be hanging around when there's prize money to be divvied up. But her. The Half Share. Its not often that she gets the thanks she deserves and, I suppose, if I'm honest, there are times when I know I just couldn't manage without her.
So was I glad that she was around when I got back from Amsterdam. Otherwise I would never have had clean clothes for my trip to Indialand - and Ernie and I would not have had any packed lunch for the journey. So, I'd like to publicly thank her here and now for most of the things she does for me (by the way dear - not too struck on Marmite and Spring Onion filling so perhaps a little bit more thought next time eh?)
Anyway, from somewhere my kitbag appeared and I was ready to board the Transit and the first leg of my journey to London Airport to meet up with the people who were about to become not just fellow athletes but almost family for the next two weeks or so. Ernie had buffed up his Transit for the journey and kindly brought along a few tubes and a couple of Ginsters for the journey and after packing the Half Share and the luggage in the back we set off.
We were travelling to Indialand with Nice Work so we knew there would be a pervading whiff of kebab and stale Carlsberg for the next 12 or 13 days. But when we met up with our fellow athletes I have to admit to a little surprise. With one or two notable exceptions most of them were unlikely to see 50 again and I mused to myself that if it wasn't for me what a dearth of young British athletic talent there was.
I decided that the occasion needed an ice breaker so I immediately decided to launch into my famous Ron Warm-Up routine and as I performed my anal crunches and pelvic squirts I could tell by their little faces that they were impressed. Actually, that's probably not quite true - more like scared. Because I think it was only then that it hit them - they were in the company of a true athlete.
I left them to mull upon what I'd shown them and retired to the bar to stock up on a couple of Guinnesses and after a little argy bargy with the airline security - when are they going to sort out my VIP pass eh? - I settled into my seat aboard a Gulf Air flight on its way to Bar Mein and waited for my first curry.
It was going to be a long two weeks and there were going to be an awful lot of curries between now and the end of the trip.
Best if I start to acclimatise right away I thought. A chicken tikka and four or five beers later and I was in the Land of Nid. A restful night ahead of me.
I'll bring news of the rest of my journey tomorrow,
Keep on tapering.
Monday, November 08, 2010
Well, Ronettes, I'm back safe and sound from the farest, flungest point of the Empire after a victorious return to Indialand for the Himalaya 100 Mile Stage Race.
Did I win it? Did I create any new world records? Did I cement international relations between our country and our friends in India?
Well, to quote Dame Judy Trench - 'you'll have to hang on a mo'.
One thing at a time - and first, unpack and wash out the bally smell of masala!!
Be in touch very shortly with news of my intrepid epic-ing.
Keep on tapering
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Running like the wind at the moment.
Great race in Amsterdam at the weekend when I did the half in 2.09 - my best for almost four years. More importantly it was just two minutes behind the Kenyan who won the marathon. And yes, we've had the argument before - I know he ran the marathon and I only did the half ... but whose fault is that eh? Nobody forced him.
But I will report back in due course but not for a couple of weeks because today I fly back to Indialand to see my good friends n the Empire. My Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race is bound to be an epic and you can be sure I'll be telling you all about it when I'm back.
Keep on tapering.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Well, well it's been almost like a return to old times. And, as Bobby Davro would say, "What a week and a bit I've had"!
I have kept up my new Olympic Gold Medal Winning regime which I've found OK, though Ernie has been a bit lonely. I've not even been out in the Transit for a couple of tubes, choosing instead to stay at home and focus on winning races. No pies, no kebabs, no tubes. God isn't life chuffing boring??
But I suppose you get out of life what you put in and so it was with a keen interest that I dragged myself off to Caravan County last week to feature as an elite runner in the Faversham 10K. Well, Ronettes, all I can say is ... what a revelation I was.
I only went and pasted the rest of the high class field by recording my fastest 10K time since 2007. An hour and a minute precisely was my time and it brought back such happy memories seeing people coughing and spluttering in my wake and to hear and feel too the warmth of the crowd as they collectively gasped in amazement and wonder.
A truly marvellous athletic spectacle it must have been.
But there was more to come. After another week of living like a sodding monk - I hope I don't sound too resentful about my current enforced living regime? - it was another bash at the half marathon yesterday. We popped back to Caravan County for the Folkestone Half Marathon and my objective was to dip below 2 hours 20 minutes. Well the day dawned and we were subjected to some fierce winds and a biting cold morning. To be honest I didn't really fancy it but I couldn't let down the hundreds of people who had turned out to watch me so as I lined up with a load of ordinary people I decided to give it a bash. My strategy was to try and maintain 10 minute mile pace for as long as possible and then coast home - hopefully below that 2 hours 20 mark.
Well something must have clicked in this Olympic body of mine because after 6 miles my watch showed 59 minutes. After 8 miles, it showed 79 minutes; after 9 mile 99 minutes - you getting the picture Ronettes? Indeed after 12 miles, I was on 1 hour 59 minutes. There was a slight glitch at 12.5 miles when I came up against a ruddy big hill and I decided to have a little stroll, but I then sprunt for the line to finish in 2 hours 12 minutes 39 seconds. That was 7 minutes (or half a minute per mile) faster than my target; 15 minutes quicker than my last half two weeks ago and my fastest half marathon since February 2008.
Now if that doesn't seal my place in the Olympic squad God knows what will.
Mind you the effort involved was a tad too much for this finely toned body of mine and some three or four hours later I had something of a funny turn - the Half Share had to pour sugar in my mouth to stop me from slipping into some form of coma thing - but let me tell you the effort was worth it.
That leaves me with just a couple of targets left before leaving for Indialand next month.
This Sunday we're going to practice running up the Himalayas by doing the Lewes Downland 10 Mile race and then we're up in the midlands for missionary work and I'll be starring in the Mansfield 10K, where my target is to complete my first sub 1 hour 10K in yonks. The week afterwards we're in Amsterdam where I'll be gunning for a sub 2.10 Half Marathon and then two days later we fly off to Delhi.
So all in all I seem to be peaking at just the right time. Mentally I am focused as well and I've not even sent in a letter of complaint about being passed over for the England team at the Empire Games next week. Mind you, as soon as the selectors see the results from Folkestone yesterday there will be the smell of blood in the air in Delhi amongst the blazers.
Keep on tapering.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
The training has been going very well if I may say so myself. I've upped my mileage, increased my work rate and started going down to Stallones for something other than an ogle at the ladies in Lycra (there's no hiding place wearing that stuff, you know).
I've also cut out the legendary Ron refuelling sessions and taking to eating this unusual foreign stuff for my lunch - I think they call it salad or something. Anyway the upshot is that I'm not carrying the kind of baggage I was the other week and as a consequence my running performances have improved dramatically. So much so that I'm bound to be a shoe in for the Empire Games.
My first challenge was to up my racing distance and the half marathon was next on the Ron list. Last Sunday I starred in the Kent Half Marathon held up in Caravan County in Margate. Now if you want to see at first hand the effects of a nuclear holocaust then Margate's the place for you. It makes Toxteth look like Mayfair. However, this kiddie wasn’t there for sightseeing - I was there to win.
My underlying objective was to get round the course with as little walking as possible and, Ronnettes, I managed just that. I had the occasional, teensy weensy walk but nothing too much and I reckon I ran well over 12 miles of the course. I finished in just over 2 hours 31 minutes - so I guess that put me in the top ten, so I can't grumble.
Next up this weekend just passed was a trip with the old soaks from Nice Work. I haven’t been away with them for a few months so it was good to catch up with some old friends. And my how old they were too!! But our destination for the weekend was a place called France. We set off on Saturday morning and ended up around lunchtime in a place called The Somme where there was a fight with the Germans once.
We had a very agreeable day on Saturday doing the old touristy bit. Of course it made a real change for me. France is a place I can go without being bothered and I'm virtually unrecognised by the majority of the Frogs. Well, so I thought, but I snuck off to a little bar for a tube or three and happened to pick one I'd been in last year and ... ahem .. well I kind of left without paying the bill. Anyway, that little domestic incident out of the way and I planned an early-ish no-kebab night.
Then I was dragged out for a nightcap.
Well I ask you. I spend all week living like a nunk, starving myself and refusing all tubes and bevs only to let it all go the night before a race. The upshot of it was that I lined up at the start of the Somme Half Marathon with the old nut bouncing like a steam hammer and a mouth as dry as a budgie's cage.
Away from the start - and what do I find? Yup. A Hill. Not just any old hill but a hill that went on for over a kilogram. Well I made it to the top of the hill without stopping ... and promptly brought up my breakfast. Ronnettes, when I tell you that things did not bode well for the next 12 and three quarter miles I am not exaggerating.
But then something happened. I set off on my way and a gentle downhill slope soon had me picking off the backmarkers and after about 3 kilograms I came across a very agreeable young gal who was pottering around and who seemed to want me to latch on to her.
So latch on I did.
In fact we stuck to each other like glue for the rest of the race. The course was hilly and needed some effort but do you know something Ronnettes? Through mutual respect for each other and because we both helped each other in our time of need we not only completed the race without stopping - a major, major achievement for yours truly - but I did it in 2.27.16. Now I know that sounds fast - I came about 7th I think - but it was five minutes quicker than Kent and, indeed, my quickest half for two years.
Impress mange tout?
So I came back from France full of confidence and full of beans - and not a little pride in my achievements.
Well I went to Stallones on Monday for a loosener, got in the wrong queue and ended up in the swimming pool. Doesn’t wool get heavy when it’s wet? Last night I went out for a run with The Old People of Hastings and did an hour or so. This weekend we get shut of the Droog as she goes off to spend her inheritance on drugs and LPs at university. That leaves Sunday free so we're off to Caravan County again for a 10K in Faversham. Next up will be two further half marathons in Folkestone and Amsterdam before we make that rather special return journey to Indialand for the Himalaya 100 Mile race.
But more on that later.
Keep on tapering.