Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Out of Time - Above and Beyond

Photo - Ian Corless

I hope you play ‘Out of Time’ as you read today’s blog, and then again in the future if it grabs you, it will give you a sense of how I feel right now with just 10 days to go until my 15th Marathon des Sables (aka The World’s Toughest Footrace’).

You see I’m not worried, frightened or scared - I'm excited and I’m just feeling privileged to be able once again to go and be part of the annual self-sufficiency phenomenon in the Western Sahara that lures folk from all over the world. Will it be tough? Well of course it will be - that’s the attraction isn’t it? 

One big thing for me is the amount of Sunlight. April in Cardiff and April in Ouarzazate are simply poles apart aren't they - the sheer bloody heat will be a most welcome relief. Once again I'll be enjoying the pure camaraderie amongst the 1000 or so competitors and the seven special people whom I will share the experience with, some for the second and third times (what fools and what endurance) - unless you’ve been there and had the ‘Out of Lifetime’ experience I’m describing you won't understand - maybe you should go next year and find out for yourself. Don’t get me wrong, it sure ain’t easy and it’s not everyone’s cup of 'Sultan Tea' but the itch and lure of the desert has again been far too much for me to miss out on this year.

Who wins and where you finish doesn’t matter, as long as you do - Living the dream in the isolation you’ve spent part of your children’s inheritance on is the name of the game. It's simply life changing, well it has been for me. The positivity it delivers is the value for money your better half will no doubt have questioned about, telling her only half the cost still didn't work did it?

Then again the isolation is worth every penny...

I mean, where in this modern day world of ours do you go to escape. Escape the daily demands that we have all laid upon ourselves. A world without Google - going cold turkey from the internet is a proper killer.

Anyway, each year folk make life-changing decisions in the sand and for a few weeks live life with a fresher, less complicated view. And if I’m being honest it’s probably the part of the MdS that draws me back each year. I love to drink from the races ‘Cup of Simplicity’. It lasts me exactly a year before another pilgrimage to Ouarzazate puts me back on the right path again I've found.

At this stage we are all ‘Out of Time’ when it comes to training and preparation but ‘In Time’ for one of the most ‘Life-Defining’ weeks of our lives, where you will find out where your limit of human endurance really is and how much you value those you love around you.

Make sure you enjoy the whole ‘MdS Experience’ - enjoy it too much and in a few months time you'll be saying 'Again, again, again'.

See you at Gatwick folks :-)

1,014 Marathons - 245 Ultras - 14 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records

Friday, 23 March 2018

The Body Electric - Rush

One humanoid escapee, One android on the run, Seeking freedom beneath a lonely desert sun - Lee, Lifeson & Peart
Pre-Marathon des Sables, I'm sure that lots of people are feeling this way with just a couple of weeks to go now until the 33rd edition of 'The World's Toughest Footrace'. However, before then there's a much greater challenge ahead of me and that's to condense my 'Life-Story' and 'Global Message' in just Five minutes to an audience at an 'Ignite Cardiff' evening at The City's Glee Club, next Wednesday evening. No pressure there then in getting 56 years condensed into a 'Five-minute time-frame aimed to cut out waffling' - normally it takes me an hour to get going! 

Anyway it got me into thinking about the 'Five minutes' - hence I picked 'The Body Electric' by Rush as it's exactly Five minutes long. I could have chosen 'Five minutes' by The Stranglers or Synchronicity II by the Police but the Stranglers subject matter was far too dark and I've blogged previously about Synchronicity, so let's hope the Rush track gives you the inspiration I'd like to convey.
On the subject of 'Synchronicity', the desert reference being in a track of exactly Five minutes does seem like a massive coincidence and let's hope it bodes well for a much condensed 'Coleman Performance'. Five minutes as you know, really isn't a very long time to grab an audience and convey 'The Process of Change' in a bullet-pointed kinda way - it's going to be one heck of an 'Elevator-Pitch'.
Then again it'll be good for me as I'm getting very used to delivering my 'Director's Cut' Inspirational Talk and keeping to the time it takes me to run a 1km now-a-days will certainly keep me on track. Thinking about it, it's going to more like a Five-minute obituary!
I mean, given a Five-minute epitaph, what would you say about yourself? What would other people say about you? Could you edit yours down to Five minutes? Would other people have to 'Pad' yours out if they wrote it? Would theirs all be positives or a mixture of positives and negatives perhaps? You see, in our caustic modern-day celebrity world, folk are remembered more for their one moment of madness rather than a career of well-doing and entertainment. I'm sure Ant McPartlin, Jamie Carragher and even JK Rowling would agree this week.
Luckily for me, I don’t have that kinda profile pressure to worry about - however I do feel some trepidation ahead of just Five minutes in the spotlight.

I wonder how you'd feel if you were speaking about your Life/Passion/Beliefs? I'd love to know and I'll let you know next week...

1,014 Marathons - 245 Ultras - 14 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records

Friday, 9 March 2018

Fading Lights - Genesis

As a life-long Genesis fan I’ll freely admit I wasn’t too endeared with some of their later material and I only bought their 2007 album ‘We Can’t Dance’ earlier this week. On closer listening however, I think I’ve been missing out. Maybe I was thrown by the bands ‘Spitting Image’ portrayal and by their more romantic pop offerings and heavily led keyboard songs but ‘Fading Lights’ is actually a stand out classic. It’s a track I’ve had in my library on their live album ‘The Way We Walk Vol 2 - The Longs’ for a long time but sadly overlooked. It’s well worth a look or a listen I believe and if you do you’ll see perhaps what I’m getting at.

Anyway, it’s perfect accompaniment for today’s blog. A blog where I want to come across sounding upbeat rather than a sapping ‘Energy Vampire’. You see, the aforementioned album really got me thinking about ‘Life’s Progression’ and how Chapters open and close, years go by and people sadly come and go.

Another time it might have been so different
If only we could do it all again…

Right now, death seems to surround me - see I told you it was dark - but it does. I shouldn’t really be surprised though now I’m getting on a bit at 56. Apparently, it’s a time when you start going to more funerals than weddings. That’s true enough as only recently, one of my close friends collapsed and died, right out of the blue - which I will admit really shook me. Another of my friends is ‘living’ with terminal prostate cancer and another is fighting a stage 3 breast cancer nightmare. It’s all a bit much, especially after being so ill myself a couple of years’ back. In fact it’s worse than that, it’s frightening.

Maybe I’m just coming to terms with how close to the edge I really was with GBS in a PTSD kinda way. I know it made me consider that in another time, whether I do it all again.

But now it's just another fading memory
Out of focus, though the outline still remains…

Thinking about it, most of us would, as we wouldn’t have found love, had children, accomplished feats and created life-long memories. Maybe that’s what the very old ‘Genesis’ songs and albums represent. Memories - and that’s why I overlooked the later lighter songs, so in a way I wouldn’t blemish the adolescent landmarks of my youth. Hmm, that sounds a bit slushy and sentimental for me but I do cherish those years in a spotty faced pre-digital ‘World of Change’.

Far away, away, fading distant lights
Leaving us all behind, lost in a changing world…

Ah, the ‘Changing World’. Well, I’m as aware as the next man that our modern world is changing at an alarming rate and I’m doing everything I can to keep up with it. The 4K Ultra-High-Definition, digital world offers an amazing visual notebook of the world around us. The distant lights of myself in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s are literally just that - limited to a few snapshots and school photographs that document thirty years of life’s progression. Not that it matters that much I suppose as I can remember the highlights package and have edited out the bits I care to forget. Luckily for the current generation, Facebook will deliver the instant image capture of everyday life and will catalogue our children’s lives and adventures. It will also provide a legacy for those whom are currently living all their future years on a much shorter time scale.

And you know that these are the days of our lives so remember
Like the story that we wish was never ending…

Gosh, this is sounding really dark now, but I’m just wanted to highlight that ‘these are the days of our lives’ – the BEST ones actually. It’s something I was reminded of during the ‘Flora 1000-Mile Challenge’ in 2003 by London Marathon Race-Director, David Bedford. I didn’t know what he meant at the time but get it now. I remember that I wasn’t too happy about one thing or another and he told me in a very direct ‘David Bedford Way’ to ‘consider the bigger picture and enjoy one of the best days of my life’. He was SO right and I’ve quoted the story many times over.

We know some time we must reach the final page
Still we carry on just pretending…

Do we pretend it’s never going to end for us or just ignore it? Is the last page something you consider? I’m not sure if I do or I don’t. Maybe I’d consider it more if I knew my days were numbered like my friends. The thing is most of us don’t know just how many ‘pages’ we’re going to make and for most they don’t want to either. In writing my own book I managed to cram 53 years into a mere 164pp and 16 pictures. There were some passages of time, some of them of many years long that didn’t feature. In an ever-changing world, living through some of the most formative years of the developing human race, I had nothing to say – What a waste.

That there'll always be another day to go
Far away, away, fading distant lights…

Making the days count, that’s what really matters. As another of my ‘Life-Chapters’ is coming to a close, I feel it’s time to take in a few last breaths before moving into new territory, start breaking ground and making fresh footprints. Like most people of my age I’m now realising that nothing lasts forever. I’m sure that the Genesis band members would agree with me on that one. To me it’s a shame that they’ll probably never play together again and that their early back-catalogue and video footage isn’t of the quality it so deserves.

Another chance hello, another goodbye
And so many things we'll never see again…

I feel like that about my early years of running marathons. Then again, on seeing a photo of me in my running gear back 1995, the high-waister shorts with my vest tucked in wasn’t a good look. I did have a good head of hair though. Anyway, it’s the marathon dates and times matter the most. Things would have been different too as if I were running from London2Lisbon now instead of 2004, I’d be broadcasting from the run live, sharing the experience. Even since 2013 things have really progressed in terms of accessibility and social media since my ‘Stoptober’.

Days of life that seemed so unimportant
Seem to matter and to count much later on…

And there’s the rub. You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. It’s the same old song, playing that same old tune - but how true it is. I wonder what value you’d put on life itself. Ask the people facing death in the face and they’ll probably have a much higher asking price than yours. They’re making sure that every day from now on counts, double, without regrets and without missed opportunities.

I’m writing this on the 0515hrs Cardiff to London Express wondering what the 1,000 or so other people crammed on here wondering what they will achieve today. I wouldn’t imagine that there will be too many ‘World Records’ set but no doubt there will be a vast amount of energy expended writing emails, pacifying clients, fighting colleagues and worrying about things that simply don’t matter.

Unlike them, I’m running 10 miles around the City’s Landmarks to test out a route for our Average2Awesome Challenge on a day that I’m sure I’ll never forget. Luckily for me with my iPhone I’m able to document it in in Hi-Res and enjoy it again whenever I want to in the future as it’s bound to be one of the most enjoyable days of 2018.

Will 9th March 2018 be a day to remember for you or will it soon be a ‘Fading Light’?

Rory Coleman - rory@colemancoaching.co.uk
1,013 Marathons - 245 Ultras - 14 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Land of Confusion - Genesis

Now did you read the news today,
They say the danger's gone away…

Yikes, have you had much snow where you live? If you escaped the deluge, don’t worry as we’ve had your share down here in South Wales and mainly in Cardiff it would appear. To say it ‘Closed the City Down’ would be an understatement and in Canton where we live, we had some most amazing snowdrifts I’ve ever seen - some well over a metre high.

There's too many men, too many people
Making too many problems

And that’s what it’s caused- ‘Problems’. A plethora of problems, most of which could well have been avoided with better knowledge, equipment and planning. I mean, the snow didn’t just appear without prior warning. I knew from Monday that it was heading our way. I ran a couple of 42.2kms earlier on in the week and it was positively ‘Baltic’. The severity of the weather, well that was no surprise either - that’s the beauty of modern day weather forecasting and media output. So why did it cause so many problems?

Can't you see, this is a land of confusion.
This is the world we live in…

Well because, there’s no time for bad weather or communication systems failure in our modern-day world. I saw a few cars and 4x4’s driving around Cardiff yesterday and wondered just how many of those journeys were Essential’. I did see a couple of snowploughs, one clearing snow directly in front of an ambulance and the other trying to clear one of the major city exit-routes - neither to much effect if I’m being honest.

When everything's gone wrong somehow, the men of steel, the men of power.
Are losing control by the hour…

But then where I live, there was a calm. People literally took to the streets, Smiled, said ‘Hello’ or ‘Bore Da’ to each other and headed for a Friday afternoon of fun sledging and walking in Thompson’s Park which is normally our local ‘Green Space’. In the six years I’ve lived here, I’ve never seen so many people in it and for the rest of the day our street had a steady stream of folk heading forwards and backwards to experience the ‘Community Fun’.

This is the time, this is the place
So we look for the future…

The World kinda stood still. Well ours did. For a few hours anyway and nothing else mattered apart from getting out into a fresh white environment and wonder at the natural beauty that snow adds to our familiar surroundings.

Stand up and let's start showing,
Just where our lives are going to…

All-in-all it’s been an enlightening experience. Listening to the news and plentiful weather warnings will mean that ‘Mother Nature’ and a few of feet of Snow won’t bring simple living to a complete halt. For those that didn’t listen, they took crazy risks in making unnecessary journeys and grown men fought in supermarkets over the last of the supplies, all because they didn’t have a plan or think that what was forecast, would actually happen. But then is there time in our busy lives to listen or take time out for an afternoon sledging in the park

Keep warm my friends and enjoy whatever the Snow brought your way…

Rory Coleman - rory@colemancoaching.co.uk
1,013 Marathons - 245 Ultras - 14 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records