Monthly Archives: March 2010

Do not talk about running

Yesterday, I found out about a regular running event which takes place across the country every Saturday morning – The Park Run. They are free, timed 5k runs over the UK (and one in Denmark, randomly). It’s not for charity, just for people to run regularly and have the feel of a ‘race’ without the pressure, I guess. It was a strange feeling driving there. I wasn’t sure what to expect. But as I pulled into the Tesco car park (the run starts on the Taff Trail just next to it) I spotted others in running gear doing the same. If you’re ever in Tesco on Western Avenue between 8.30 and 9am on a Saturday keep an eye out for a steady stream of people in running gear wandering in to use the toilets! As I came out of Tesco I passed a couple on their way in. We nodded, exchanged a quiet ‘Alright’. It was almost like a running equivalent of Fight Club (that’s what I’m saying and I’m sticking to it, hence the title). The run itself was fairly uneventful. There were runners of all shapes & sizes taking part and I chided myself for underestimating some and overestimating others. You really can’t judge a book by its cover. There was a good atmosphere and some very good runners too who hung about by the finish line to cheer on those further back, which was lovely. There wasn’t much organisation needed, a couple of ‘marshals’ at certain points on the course; some tiny cones to show us where to turn around; and a handy ‘200m to go’ sign (at which point I started my T1000-esque sprint towards the line). But it didn’t need anything else. Its simplicity was wonderful. You do have to register online beforehand (which takes seconds) and then bring your barcode along for them to match your time up with you, which saves time on them trawling through paper for your name. Other than that, it’s just ‘turn up and run’.

For those interested in stats, here are mine:

Time taken: 27m 59s

114th out of 157 overall

88th out of 96 men

Last in my age range (25 – 29 males)

It doesn’t look great when you write it down like that, does it? But maybe I’ll try again next week and see if I can do a little better.

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‘Why can’t I be somebody else?
Somebody who isn’t too cool to believe it’s okay to be just me’

Bleu – Somebody else.

Does anyone else feel that they try too hard every now and again? Sometimes I try to better myself, to become a ‘better person’. But, inevitably, these things don’t make me any happier. If I try to have a more ‘Zen’ attitude to things; or try to be happier for longer; or try to please myself more and others less; I end up almost feeling the opposite. Maybe the secret is not to try. Maybe just being me is ok.

‘Do or do not…there is no try’ – Yoda

And now for a couple of quotes from The Matrix which I like regarding this:

Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.

Neo: What truth?

Spoon boy: There is no spoon.

Morpheus:  Stop trying to hit me and hit me.

The Final Showdown!

France are going for the Grand Slam; Ireland, the Triple Crown; and Wales, Scotland & Italy desperately trying to avoid the wooden spoon.

Wales v Italy

Head and heart agree on this, this week! Wales to win. I’m hoping that Gatland has thrashed enough sense into the team this week to enable us to go out and batter the Italians. The reappearance of Gethin Jenkins, Mike Phillips & Ryan Jones is a massive boost and they’ll all be keen to make a huge impression in their final Six Nations game of the season. Italy will be hurting after last week’s defeat to the French, despite scoring a couple of good individual tries. But I can’t see them winning this. Last game, the stars back, 72,500 people cheering? Wales by 20.

Ireland v Scotland

I think Croke Park will have a massive effect on this one. Had it been at Murrayfield, I would have tentatively suggested a Scottish win, but not here. If England had the backs that Ireland do, they would have gone on to win last week, and Ireland’s forwards are probably the best (as a unit) in the championship this year. If Jonny Sexton can land his penalties, I see this as an easy victory for Ireland, by 12 points.

France v England

Visiting the Stade de France, with the French chasing a Grand Slam, while you are struggling for form. Not the best of situations for England to be in! France should, technically, walk it. But England always put up a great fight against the French. I think it’ll be fairly tight early on, with Flutey & Tindall having to marshall the rampaging runs of Bastareaud (something they should be able to manage, I reckon). England’s back row are going to have to be on top form to compete with France’s scurries from the base of the breakdowns, but the forwards should be fairly well matched elsewhere. England will, however, have to cope with the late loss of their captain, Borthwick, who has been replaced by Lewis Moody as leader for the day. France showed their professionalism last week by going for easy three points where available, even when they were 25 points ahead, a lesson they appear to have learnt from the success of the Southern Hemisphere teams. I’m going for France to wear down England and win by 10 points.

Six Nations

We have reached the penultimate weekend of the Six Nations. So far it’s been the usual cauldron of highs & lows, unexpected comebacks, disappointing displays, and some electrifying rugby. Here’s my take on this week’s fixtures:

Ireland v Wales

Ireland bounced back from their unconvincing display against France to beat England a fortnight ago. This will definitely have given them confidence to be able to come out and dig out a victory against Wales. Wales on the other hand showed, yet again, their inability to play rugby for the whole 80 minutes, despite a brilliant 2nd half performance. If Wales can keep the tempo up for an entire match, they will be a force to be reckoned with. Having said that, I don’t believe the current squad is settled enough to deliver this yet. With their third change in the back row in as many matches it’s going to be difficult to get any cohesion, and the loss of Ryan Jones as captain is significant. If it opens up, Wales are in with a shout, however, Ireland are savvy nowadays and can turn this into a ‘Munsterfest’, and not give up possession. I also imagine that Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy will be keeping an eye out for loose loop passes for them to nab a couple of interceptions, which cost Wales dearly against France. Based on this, I’m going with an Ireland victory by 5 points. See I can go with my head instead of my heart sometimes!

Scotland v England

This could be a tough match for both sides. I can’t imagine it being pretty. Martin Johnson has made a couple of interesting calls, one to retain Delon Armitage at full back. He hasn’t really shown much so far and many have called for Ben Foden to be called into the starting XV (although he is on the bench covering numerous positions). Johnson has also dropped Moody and replaced him with his World Cup winning chum Joe Worsley. Now, I like Worsley and think that he’s a very good flanker, but Lewis Moody hasn’t done much wrong as far as I can tell. In a war of attrition, Worsley’s presence might offer more stability up front and Johnson is obviously expecting a massive physical encounter. I’m going to say that England are probably going to win this, with Wilkinson kicking them to victory (again). England by 6.

France v Italy

I fully expect France to take another step towards achieving the Grand Slam on Sunday. Italy did well and were, rightly, very pleased to beat Scotland. However, this weekend they are playing France. In France. I can’t see this going any other way other than a comprehensive French victory. So i’ll go for France by 15.

If these results go the other way, however, it will make next weekend very interesting!

Post-Holiday Blues

Like the Sunday Blues, where you lament the loss of another weekend gone by, dreading the imminent arrival of yet another Monday morning. I used to get that a lot as a child, still do. I would feel inexplicably sad as the BBC’s The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe came on the tv on a Sunday evening. As much as I enjoyed it, it signalled the end of the weekend. I don’t like goodbyes.  So it gets worse when you’ve come back from holiday. The realisation of that ‘back to work’ feeling in the pit of your stomach, the hum drum of ‘Normal life’, and the guilt for eating/drinking/spending too much all flood in.

I wish I could practice mindfulness more. To be in the present, not thinking about the past, or fearful of the future. As Oogway says in Kung Fu Panda, ‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow a Mystery, today is a gift. That is why it is called The Present’.

Birthday weekend

Well, what a lovely birthday weekend! Actually it got stretched from Wednesday night through to Sunday, so slightly longer than a weekend! 

Wednesday night was spent at my parents’ house where my mother made not one, but two different lasagnes! One to accommodate the vegetarians among us and one for the carnivores, although without cheese as my Dad can’t stand the stuff when melted (the cheese not my Dad, I’ve never seen him melt).

I went shopping for new running shoes with my wife on Thursday (my actual birthday) where I was made to run up and down the street by the very friendly shop assistant (at Run & Become), dodging pedestrians as I went, in various shoes to see how I ran. I plumped for the Nike Zoom Structure Triax 13, although I didn’t find out the name until I read the box when I got home, I just picked the ones that were comfiest (along with helpful advice from the lady in the shop on overpronation, dropped arches and the like). We then went out for a lovely meal which involved scallops and black pudding. Together.

On Friday I set out on a walk in the Brecon Beacons, with lovely sunshine on my back. This quickly turned to gale force winds, hail, snow, and fog by the time I’d got to the top of Corn Du! I had to slide down on my behind for the first 20 yards or so on the way down as we couldn’t stand up due to the ice & wind! Wonderfully exhilarating!

Then in the evening we watched Wales lose to France in the Six Nations. Oh well, you can’t have everything!

Saturday was spent mainly in the pub. Nice.

On Sunday, some friends came round for breakfast and an afternoon of board games. Very chilled and just what we needed.

I hope your weekends were as good as mine!