Mind over matter.

When I was a little boy I used to imitate the sporting heroes from the telly. Whether it was football, tennis, running, whatever. I was easily steered by things I witnessed. Easily led, my mother used to say. Although I was just as easily led in the unhealthy direction also.

I’ll bet all over England today there are both kids and adults with a new sense of hope in their personal running and jogging ambitions.

I am not making this statement lightly; Yesterday evening I witnessed one of the greatest feats of mental strength that I have seen.

The reason I have waited 24 hours to post my excitement is that I was hoping for some video evidence to emerge on youtube, to back these words up.

I am talking about a 5000 metre race in Glasgow, as part of the Commonwealth games. What occurred during those fifteen minutes will go down, in my opinion, as a perfect example of what happens when a little belief and a lot of encouragement, come together to turn a crazy, crazy dream into reality.

Picture yourself as a forty year old, mother of two, in a race against girls half your age. Some of whom hail from Kenya, the greatest distance running nation on earth.

I greatly admire the Kenyan athletes. They have to work extra hard to make their country’s team. The standard is so high that picking any name from a hat of hundreds could prove to be a possible gold medal Olympian. That is no exaggeration. They are that good.

I can feel my heart rate rise even as I think about it now.

The 5000m race is twelve-n-a-half laps of the track. The seventeen females ran as a group until lap number six when the three Kenyan ladies made their move. It was like they said “Okay, that was a warm up. Let’s show them who’s boss.” Except they spoke with their legs.

Only two non-Kenyans were brave enough to chase them; Jo Pavey of England and an athlete from Australia.

With four laps to go Jo Pavey moved to the front and pushed the pace even faster. Her years of experience told her that her only chance, as a woman old enough to be their mother, was to burn the young Kenyans out before the final sprint. I am not even English but I was starting to sit up straight in my seat and will her on. I admire those who strive against the odds. The Kenyan girls glanced at her as she overtook them as if to say “Is this auld one mad?”

With 600 metres to go the three Kenyans and the Australian steamed past Pavey. I thought, even the commentators thought, that was the end of Jo Pavey’s gutsy run. But to everybody’s amazement, especially the crowded stadium, the English woman overtook them all again as the bell rang for the final lap.

The pace was mental fast now. The three Kenyans collectively decided to put an end to her ambition. They kicked into sprint mode down the back straight with 200 metres to go. Pavey was gasping for air by now. The African train steamed past. It would have destroyed any other runner.

But something happened, just when all hope was lost the crowd cheered even louder, the forty year old clenched her teeth to fight the exhaustion. Her face grimaced in pain, she was gasping for air, but she pumped her elbows with all her might and made one of the greatest comebacks I have ever witnessed.

By now I was out of my seat shouting, like an eejit, at the telly “Go on, go on…”

Go Jo!

Go Jo!

In a sprint finish she managed a bronze medal. In fact she almost took silver. It was quite possibly one of the greatest races, start to finish, there has ever been.

She has given hope to all athletes with her mind over matter attitude. She proved that the Kenyans, greatest running nation ever, are only flesh and blood like the rest of us.

It’s a pity there isn’t yet a video on youtube. I suppose these things take time. But I will bet, when it appears, there will be coaches all over England, perhaps all over the globe, using it to show what “giving your best” actually looks like.

Well done Jo, credit where it’s due.

Poetry for runners :)

Poetry for runners ūüôā

I’m off to break the world record, just like that impressionable little Irish boy back in the day.

 

Thank you for reading

Frankie….phew!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My grail.

My grail.

06

Did I say Tsegaye ¬†Mekonnen? I meant Wilson Kipsang…ahem.

Still 5th place wasn’t bad in a tiny¬†event like the London marathon. Unlike the glory which is attached to crossing the line in 50th position at the Inishowen half marathon! Yeah baby! How d’ya like those apples, Mekonnen!

I enjoyed my own race on Sunday. That’s a bad sign. Races aren’t there to be enjoyed, soldier!

It’s a couple of years since my last half marathon. I ran 86 mins back then. On Sunday I ran 95 mins. That may not seem like a big drop to a non-runner, but believe me it is. It’s a¬†lot¬†slower.

But…at least I am running daily again so things can only improve.

There was a WordPress prompt a couple of days ago asking about obsessions. I had something of an obsession for a while. It was to run a marathon in less than three hours.

The idea that I would be capable of running a sub three (that’s runner speak) had never entered my head until our local club coach suggested that I had the potential if I “played my cards right.” ¬†I had just finished a 3hrs 15mins marathon when he made the suggestion.

Sometimes I wish he had never hinted at it at all. Because in my head it had become a prophecy rather than encouragement. I trained like a Kenyan all through 2011 for the Dublin marathon. On race day I pulled a small calf muscle at mile 6 and only bothered to finish the thing because I had been doing it for a neighbour’s charity. I hobbled around in 5hrs, I think.

The next attempt at a sub three came last October. It was an incredibly windy day and by mile 13 my goose was cooked. I knew that I was going to miss my target by about 3 mins. Three measly minutes. I didn’t have a plan B. I wanted a sub three. I had trained for sub three. But like an idiot, instead of setting a new goal mid-race, I just jogged around to finish in 3hrs 27mins. I threw away my chance to finish it in maybe 3hrs 3 mins. That was probably the silliest thing I have ever done. Months and months of training thrown away over three measly minutes.

Chasing my grail and failing didn’t destroy my love of running. Even those races which didn’t go to plan didn’t stop me from smiling as I crossed the finish line.

Have I given up on a sub three? No way. Having a goal keeps it interesting.

I feel I am so lucky being able to run at all. I do appreciate this gift.

A tough little ten miler over hills on Saturday, I might enter that and try for 70 mins.

I will let you know how it goes.

Thank you for reading

Frankie. (1533 in the pic, the good looking one)

 

In response to http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/cant-get-it-out-of-my-head/

Airhead.

Airhead.

Phew! Let’s just say the world record is safe enough, for now.

It is hard to get back into a routine. Running is like any hobby. Like blogging, even. Once the routine is broken it can be quite hard, for me at least, to get back into it.

I am pretty sure being friendly would seem like a chore if I didn’t practice it on a regular basis. I don’t think there is any real knack to making friends or being friendly. It’s just one of those things, use it or lose it.

Another thing we will lose if we don’t use is the right to say “No”. As some of you will know I had my own experience of standing up to the man.¬†

The lack of foresight in most people today is scary. They don’t seem to understand that saying nothing registers in the mind of a government as saying “Yes”. That is the reality of politics today. And very very soon the “system” will be running the show, not the politicians, not the lawmakers, not the people. We will be all so brainwashed into a certain way of living that changing the system won’t even enter our heads. Having a choice won’t enter our heads.

I used to get so wound up trying to waken the world. Nowadays I just take it in my stride. I can’t compete with the might of the mainstream media and the 3D goggles. Perhaps if I didn’t have children I wouldn’t care so much. Being a parent I will always worry about my children and their children and the system we sign them up for.

All my worries and stress seem to vanish when I am running. Perhaps it’s the heavy breathing.

There’s nothing like gasping for air to focus the mind!

Air is the fuel I need to live. And yet I didn’t appreciate it, most of the time. It was only since I started running a few years ago that I started to see air in a different light. Now I marvel at the stuff, especially running uphill, I can’t get enough of it.

images

The London marathon is on telly tomorrow morning. It should be a good one. A star studded line up in both the male and female categories.  My money is on the new kid. The eighteen year old Ethiopian, Tsegaye Mekonnen, ran his first marathon in Dubai back in January in a time of 2hrs 4mins 32secs. He won that race. Crazy speed for a first timer! Even crazier, he says he could have ran faster.

Luckily for Tsegaye I have signed up for a local half-marathon race tomorrow afternoon. I could have put the cocky little youth back in his place.

Dream on. But I will take comfort from knowing that we both use the same fuel.

Hey…just realised, we are all connected after all. All together, breathe in…hold…and breathe out.

Thank you for reading

Frankie.

In response to a few daily prompts (sorry) http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/why-cant-we-be-friends/ http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/fight-the-power/ http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/have-you-never-been-mellow/ http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/when-will-i-be-loved/

 

 

3 in 1. I hope.

3 in 1. I hope.

I hope you are sitting down.  The shock may be too much.

I am a mere mortal. Yes, you read that right, just flesh and bone like you.

I have signed up for another Marathon on June 1st in Derry. That’s about six weeks away but my training has gone to the dogs since I took up blogging. I have a lot of catching up to do.

I have to get the finger out. I need to get back to running twice a day. That means bed by ten and up at six.

I just realised tonight that I follow 120 blogs! I enjoy the reading but everything else is suffering. Running, writing a bestseller, DIY, gardening, etc and all that with an 8 to 4 job in the middle. I have been burning the candle at both ends.

I overheard two of my neighbours speaking about me, the other day.

“Frankie’s house is practically falling down around him, it needs painted, the lawn is knee high, he has bags under his eyes and he’s getting the beer belly back again.” Said one.

“Yeah, but he is a well read man.”

In truth, I didn’t overhear that but I’ll bet that’s what they think.

I am sure all you bloggers have had to make significant changes also.

My plan is this.

I hope to continue to read as many blogs as I can each evening. But I will only post maybe every second or third day. I hope to incorporate the two or three daily prompts into the single post.

I think the prompts are great practice. Just like running, the more one does  it, the easier it gets.

I value any followers or likers or commenters and I will endeavour to hold your attention with my posts. This change of my routine may perhaps go unnoticed to most but I am bringing you up to speed (pun intended) just incase.

One more thing. Windows xp has become obsolete today. My trusty Laptop runs on it. This gave me the excuse to splash out on a new one today. I went for one of those mini laptop/chromebook numbers. Cheap yes, but very versatile, very liebster, and very beautiful, like a certain trucker. It will suit me fine.

PICT0039

It also has a long battery life so I can take it with me to make magic on my lunch break and on long straight stretches of road…ahem.

Thank you for reading,

Frankie.

In response to http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/prompt-wasted-days/

Candle pic from etoro.com

The Emperor’s new clothes.

The Emperor’s new clothes.

Jealously is a female trait.

I can state this with confidence because I am married to one. Some of the things that go on inside the female mind, you would not believe.

Jealousy isn’t an emotion. It’s a disease!

For instance, let’s take a typical car journey. To anywhere. Into town, even.

We are passing some females, jogging, in their lycra shorts.

I spot them before she does. WRONG! She has spotted them long before me.

As we pass them she goes “The one on the inside…is my bum bigger than hers, or would you say the same size?”

Listen up guys, she left out the third option. It’s a trap. Always answer with the third option.

“Hers isn’t big. But yours is smaller.” And I say it with a straight face! I will burn in hell yet.

Leaving my good wife and her tiny bum out of it for a while, let me tell you about some of the females from my job.

I could be delivering to one of my usual grocery stores and happen to strike up a conversation with a girl from the shop next door, while she is out having a cigarette break or whatever. If she happens to make me laugh, God have mercy on her.

“I see you were chatting to that one next door.”

“Yeah, she is funny.” I would answer.

“Don’t be fooled by her. Sometimes she comes in here, to our shop, and she has no manners whatsoever! So cheeky!”

The thing is, I would already have copped on that she was cheeky. Ladies…guys notice things too. We can sort the nice from the nasty.

I have asked my wife just now if she thinks I am a jealous person. She answered “No, definitely not.”

I can’t speak for anybody but myself. I don’t think I suffer from jealousy. I believe that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I would like to be somewhere else, like a full time writer, but I have a feeling I am right where I am meant to be.

I admire people who succeed in attaining their dream lifestyle. But sometimes I think there is something they are sacrificing. Perhaps even sacrificing normality.

Normality is good, most of the time.

There is a first time for everything. I notice other bloggers ask questions, from time to time. This is my first question. You can lable it jealousy, or stupidity or whichever.

I am only here six weeks and I have missed a lot. Why do some posts which only contain perhaps three sentences get hundreds of Likes?

I am guessing those bloggers have proven their worth umpteen times in the past. But would I be crucified in asking Where are the emperor’s clothes?

I mean I have seen posts which go “Got up this morning. I feel great.” or something like that which have over one hundred Likes in the space of a few hours. Are these homeless people who deserve credit for making a remark like that?

I am not trying to rock the boat. Just interested, jealously, I mean genuinely.

Thank you for reading,

Frankie.

In response to http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/daily-prompt-green-eyed-lady/

 

 

Fancies not Fancys

Fancies not Fancys

Isn’t the human mind an amazing thing? I think so anyway.

First thing this morning before I got out of bed I had a flashback of a spelling mistake on last night’s post. I could see it plain as day. As if my mind had recorded the mistake like the Engine management system in a car. The little orange light then pops up the next time you start the engine. Not as serious as the red Oil light but there to bring your attention to a little misfire which left unchecked could be the start of a bigger problem.

I am sure you have the same experience from time to time. I remembered typing the word fancys and saying, subconsiously, ‘That doesn’t look right.’ But I was in the groove and typing like Dan Brown (sort of). You all know the feeling, getting the sentences down quickly before they evaporate into the eternal abyss.

It reminds me of running. Sometimes if I stop to chat to somebody or just to get a stone out of my shoe, it feels so hard to regain my tempo. In fact sometimes it can be impossible to find the rhythm for the remainder of my run.

I missed the mistake, even on the read through before I clicked the Publish button. It’s hard to explain but when I read through my own writing straight after writing it, some mistakes are invisible. The solution would be to save it to Draft and read it the following day. But the thing about me is, if I save it to Draft I will come back and hack the thing to death, changing this and that until it has lost its flow.

For me, personally, I feel the answer is to practice. Practice learning to rewire my mind on each read through. To look at the screen like somebody who has just learned to read English. How would each word affect how they recieved the message?

It’s Saturday morning and I have chores to do. I better be getting along.

Thank you for turning a blind eye, now and then, to the spelling. But do not let me off with it too often, because that’s when I get lazy.

Thank you for reading

Frankie.

Puffing and Panting.

Puffing and Panting.

When I was only a young boy I made a promise. I promised myself that when I became an old man I would take up Pipe smoking.

I grew up in the days when everybody smoked cigarettes. Even the non-smokers had the occasional puff when in the company of a pro. You could always spot the amateur. They held the thing differently. They blew the smoke out with less class than the pro. They stood out like a sore lung.

I had smoked a whole lot of cigarettes since boyhood until Pancake Tuesday 2009. Something happened that day. Yet another part of me woke up.

I was driving along, radio on, sun shining, smoking a cigarette. As I reached over to stub it out a piece of ash fell onto my beer belly. That was the first moment I noticed my belly. In the seated position it was covering my belt buckle, you know. “Frankie,” I said to myself. “You Sir, are a slob.”

I brushed the ash away. My mind meandered as it often does when I’m driving. I eventually arrived to a comment a close friend had made at a Christmas reunion party. “I ran a marathon.”

Up until that point I thought Marathons (26.2 miles) were reserved for chaps who had been running since their first teeth. My friend was similar to me in that he had also smoked his best years away. I was gobsmacked when he told me but it wasn’t until that moment with the ash on the belly that the penny dropped.

The decision was instant. I had smoked my last cigarette, at the age of 38. I wanted to be like my friend. Next Christmas I wanted to be able to casually drop it in there, mid conversation with somebody, like it was Oh not such a big deal.

That’s the truth right there. I wanted people to be in awe of my athletic ability. “Gosh he must be so fit, not just a handsome face. I want him.”¬† Of course they couldn’t have me, could they Darling?

So later that evening, when I got home, I pulled a pair of sneakers on and crossed the road to the beach, all business. I think I made about 200 metres (meters in USA) before I collapsed. Some parts of my life flashed in front of me. I gasped for air. Eventually I caught my breath. This wasn’t going to be easy.

Over the following weeks and months I kept at it. I reached one mile. Then two miles. My first three mile run was one I’ll always remember. I tried to show off, passing two female runners. Look at me, I’m so fast. Bloody eejit! I nearly took a heart attack.

The lads at my work placed bets on whether I would see it through or not. They would donate the proceeds¬† to charity, which was extra pressure. But I didn’t mind the pressure. Something happened to my mindset from the time I was able to go three miles non-stop. Running after that became, addictive, enjoyable, almost easy…in a painful sort of way.

What I had called ‘pain’ before was now a mere side effect. The sense of happiness that washed over me after each run, was worth every step. I was no longer doing this for praise or awe. I was now doing this for the way it made me feel apr√©s run. Little worries which would give me sleepless nights now didn’t cost me a second thought. It was a grade A drug and it was free!

To cut a long story short. I did it. I ran my first Marathon in Dublin just eight months after the ash on the belly incident. If you haven’t done so, I suggest you give it a go. No matter what age you are, no matter whether you run it, walk it, wheel it, or be wheeled by another, it is one of those things everybody should and could experience. Only then will you understand the sheer joy of crossing that line.

There I go again, away off in a different direction than the one intended. My intention was to remind myself of the importance of close friends as I grow older. The thing about keeping in touch with friends, even if it is only once in a blue moon, is that they make me feel younger than I am.

Take for instance a recent wedding I atteneded. One of my best friends was tying the auld knot. After the ceremony, back at the reception, my friends and I were able to laugh and joke like we did at school. Even dancing, we owned the floor. We were all finally at an age were we realised the important things in life aren’t things. We had learned to savour moments together like this.

When I am with a lifelong friend or group of friends age doesn’t scare us. We don’t even notice it. It could be outside the Pub door banging to get in and we won’t hear it. We will be far away in T√≠r na n√ďg,¬†the land where nobody grows old.

Pipe smoking is an Art. The ritual of scraping out the old ash, banging it on the table, filling it with new tobacco, then striking a match, watching the flame being sucked downward. And then comes the smell. It has to be one of the nicest smells ever. Pure nose candy!

I can see myself sitting back in a lazy chair, pipe between my teeth (false or not), letting out little tiny puffs from the far corner of my mouth.

I haven’t yet reached pension age, but I will! By hook or by crook I will smoke that pipe whilst listening to my friends tell tales from¬†back in the day.

And the young ones will be looking at me saying “Isn’t yer man fit looking, for an old timer? How many Marathons did you say he ran?”

 

Thank you for reading

Frankie.

In response to the Daily Prompt plus the Weekly writing challenge.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/weekly-writing-challenge-golden-years/#more-70347

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/prompt-something-so-strong/