Three of a kind

Three images on The Tyne – Baltic Contemporary Arts Centre, The Sage Music Centre and The Blinking Eye. An unlikely combination on the banks of The Tyne.

Another unlikely combination is The National Cross Country Championships and me. I decided to add these champs to my list of events completed. Having completed the Northern Cross Country Champs at Knowsley Safari Park four weeks earlier I was feeling confident of a good run.

Hopefully the course would be less muddy, less hilly and I would be fitter. Unfortunately the first two were to come true but the latter not so. I acquired a heavy cold, missed two weeks training and considered not even running. My chest was not fully clear, so the object of the day was to take it steady and finish. If I beat my time at the Northern XC that would be a bonus, although it was an easier course.

So the race began on a sunny, yet windy day. The mass start out of the pens, like a horse race only I was feeling like a Shire horse. Up the hill, round the bend for the first of four times and down the hill towards the finish. I had done a course recce as a warm up. Next a short stretch through the crowds before a left turn and dog leg to a steady incline with a steep pinnacle before turn two. The downhill taking in the log jump, this is The Grand National, which I hurdled like a steeplechaser.

On towards the lake via another turn and a ditch and a little step up in ground level. Then the more level ground presents the first of three mud baths on the fourth turn. This is when I remember it’s not long before that hill again. But the mud saps the energy of every runner. Knee deep water unless you find an ankle-deep mud only path. The result heavy feet with the sticky stuff. The hill is in full view awaiting your heavy feet. A long steady climb and the right hand turn and lap two begins.

I glance at my watch around 24 minutes for lap one but loosing ground to my club mates. I plod round lap two, still hurdled and as I approached the lake side the leaders sprinted past me making their way to the finish. Yes I was about half way when they passed me. My mental attitude unaffected by this usually demoralising sight. I had a lap and a half to complete my goal and with a consistent, steady effort a good time was possible. I cheered Johnny Brownlee as he passed.


Another club mate caught and passed me but my resolve was to finish. Others passed but my mantra was to make an effort in the final lap if I had anything left. The spectators and stewards responded to my name on vest ploy – Come On Steve ! This really gives you a mental lift, well worth the price of a printing fee.

The mud slowed me a bit, as did the hill but I was still running, well jogging, no walking yet? Down to the finish area to start the final lap and it would all be over. I have adopted a mental approach that half way or the final lap is when I start to race to the finish. Today I would be making an effort but not of race proportions. Still they passed me but I knew their would be other days when my body will respond.

Again I hurdled the log, the lakeside ditch was jumped in one go again, the mud and water fest was to be a walk but I started running immediately out of that mud towards the final hill. I pushed up the hill and felt my quads had the strength to run the whole hill. The turn presented the opportunity to race to the finish but I decided to maintain my pace and finish breathing controlled rather than bursting my lungs. A few more places lost but I have different goals to come.


Facebook – more conformity not subversion ?


Recently I was prompted to put a painting by an artist, chosen for me, on Facebook to break the sequence of words, and insert art, on Facebook. This is the painting.

The lack of diversity on Facebook, its popularity, its surveillance, its selling techniques all annoy me. My contributions seek to `subvert` the general short comment on an aspect of my life, usually very now. This living in the moment description lacks thought, depth and mirrors the popularity of so-called reality tv. However, reality tv is not reality it is a concocted space that displays social relations in that context. It may be entertaining, it may provoke conversation, debate, disagreement but it is not reality. Reality is the dark side (ascribed negative side) of life.

Death, mortality, murder, brutality, violence, hatred, ignorance, greed, identity, competition, etc.

Whereas the positive side of life – love, peace, harmony, making money, exploiting people, etc.

These human traits, difference, emotions, behaviour, thoughts, is the stuff of real life. However, the consequence of these is not going to go away because we keep positive thoughts unless every individual human has positive thoughts. This almost impossible thought will not become a reality. Therefore we are left with humans doing negative things. It’s about time we got over ourselves.

Are these negative actions always preceded by negative thoughts ? What is the difference between murder and manslaughter in a British court. In simple terms it is that murder is pre-meditated (planned and thought). Therefore there can be a killing that was not thought about beforehand. A negative action without a negative thought – spur of the moment.


Art can provoke reaction. Art can be controversial. Art can be political.

current training

I have used 1,2 & 3 as the basis of my current weekly training programme.

Plus 2 bike sessions and 1 strength-based workout.

then add 1 swim, another strength work out and possibly longer bike session.

To finally reach

Monday am strength workout (home-based/body weight based)  eve swim (technique minimum 1000m)

Tuesday am 10 x 1 min reps 1 min rest

Wednesday  am 20 min run 30 min bike 10 min run (increasing at least one by 5 mins each week)

Thursday  am 3 min at 4`30 pace 1 min at 4`10 pace x 2  6 mins rest repeat (increase to 5 min + 3 min gradually)

Friday am strength workout  REST DAY

Saturday am 3 x 1k at 4`15 pace 3-5 mins rest between   or   race (parkrun/xc)

Sunday am 1 hour bike 15 min run (increase if ok)  or  longer ride

This will be my specific training for A race – 8th March Dambuster Duathlon 10k run/40k bike/5k run in addition

2 x parkrun

2 x local xc races (Sunday 12th Jan 10k 53`33 Allestree Park)

northern xc champs (Saturday 25th Jan 12k 67`32 Knowsley Safari Park)

national xc champs (Saturday 22nd Feb 12k Wollaton Park)

personal development


Blowing the cobwebs away after the annual festivities of Christmas pre-new year warm up. Whatever this pained look on my face represented on Sunday 29th December it was not personal development. I could bore you with the gory details of my enforced pre-Christmas no exercise policy due to illness but instead let me present to you personal development mode.

Looking forward is a much emphasised activity at this time of year, new year resolutions and all. Well I have not pronounced any great intentions I have quietly put a plan in place for my personal development. In fleeting moments of clarity I recognise I have regularly had a plan for my personal development during my life. This motivation for improvement is a very individual thing?

As a Youth Worker I have been encouraging young people to plan ahead, set goals, keep motivated but on many occasions to no avail. There are many barriers, stumbling blocks and the like to overcome in order to improve and personally develop. The  being positive movement have been a source of irritation to me for many years as I view them as lacking a dose of reality and balance and maybe a lack of thought for others less fortunate?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing or should that be experience/age. I can see now that the adults around me when I was young were trying to help me learn from, or not make, the mistakes I made and avoid the pitfalls of life.


Personal development is like Marmite you love it or hate it – I love Marmite ! This is from a plan I set in  motion when I was about 23 year olds and decided to become a vegetarian. As I have explained many times this was not in response to disgust at animal cruelty but because I read an article which claimed a healthier diet would improve my running.  Personal development is about what clicks for you at any given moment. Unfortunately personal development does not have to be positive.

So I have entered Dambuster Duathlon, a qualifier event for European Champs and World Champs Standard Duathlon, there I go again trying to personally develop beyond my capabilities. Even in the 50-54 age category I will be nowhere near the top 4 places/times to gain an automatic place. However, the sport of triathlon has a unique? system whereby you may qualify, if you register (costs £10 per event) and finish within 120% of winning time in your age group and other higher placed finishers decline their option of a place. Ultimately you could represent GB at an event in Europe/World. Downside you pay all your expenses to attend. There I go again being negative and giving balance to the information.


Yes I have entered The Nottingham Triathlon – a qualifier for Europeans/Worlds. You can say I have more money than sense or I deserve a chance at glory at my age. My personal development plan says complete this event as fast as I can – it is a Sprint Triathlon. My fastest will not be breaking records, qualifying as of right – see reference above, it will hurt, it will require lots of detailed training and a desire to do my best regardless of what others do. Personal developers talk about `living in the moment`. The Triathlon community seems to be full of these types of people. Triathlon – a new religion?


Not another event in your personal development plan – I hear you say – yes ! Having completed The Vitruvian last year I know this course and I hope this helps to alleviate `the fear` of something new. Yes its a qualifier – can you see a pattern in my personal development plan – all so predictable and boring ! However some structure and predictability is necessary to achieve ? The lure of an unfettered, all singing, all dancing, new-fangled, never seen before and certainly not the same as any other example is motivation enough for some but …….


This Bill Hicks. No relevance to Triathlon. Certainly not an advocate of exercise, healthy lifestyle and the like. And as he would ironically say I`m dead (ha ha). Take a look


Not sure if this logo has worked. But this is the first Newcastle Triathlon Saturday 19th July 2014. Had to be done as Home Townish – Gateshead actually. Home of

ImageAngel of the North

ImageGateshead International Stadium

ImageThe Sage Music Centre

ImageThe Baltic Contemporary Arts Centre

ImageThe Tyne Bridge(yes the one they copied to put in Sydney, Australia) and the Blinking Eye bridge

The North – a bleak, blunt, wasteland

(Live in the old Tyne Tees studio on the Quayside, Newcastle)

but a friendly bunch!