Tuesday, 17 December 2013

All change.........

..............it's true to say, as I'd so often been told before Charlie was born, that "having a baby would change your life", to be fair you've got to be a simpleton to think otherwise, but it is true. What I never understood, and I can only assume this be the case for all new parents that are desperate to begin their own family, was how much more incredible it makes life.
Precious little man.....
Sleep deprivation, scalding your mouth constantly whilst trying to hoof a meal down, forgetting just about everything, not knowing if you're awake, asleep or floating, not doing anything other than, feed, change, coo and gaze at your baby, drinking copious amounts of cold coffee, becomes your way of life, your incredible life. You know what? The moment I stared at my little boy for the first time, I knew that would be the case. What I wasn't ready for however, was the complete and utter adoration, that just continues to grow day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. It's all consuming, I hate to leave him in the morning and can't wait to get back to him and Caz in the evening. My days have all of a sudden become oh so very long..............



My beautiful family...........
Juggling a family, work and training is nigh on impossible and I applaud those that some how manage to find the hours to do all those things, let alone do them well. For me, the most important thing is my little boy, we've waited so long for him and being around him brings me so much joy, it's hard to remember how difficult life has been in the past. He's become even more precious in these short twelve weeks that he's been here, than I ever imagined possible. A man who I respect greatly recently wrote to me and alluded to the same thing:

.........fatherhood. As you now know, there is no more challenging and demanding course than the one we are currently being beasted on. Of course, anyone can get on the course but doing it well and being a good dad is what cuts the mustard..........


That statement really hits the nail on the head, you know you are going to be deprived sleep, not have too much time for anything other than baby, and you're certainly not going to get any quality time with your better half at the expense of even less sleep, and you're definitely not gonna get time to train! However, as stated, being a good dad is what cuts the mustard, and for me being a good dad is all I've ever wanted to be, and although ultimately I've had to let training take a back seat, I wouldn't want it any other way. The early days are so, no, too important to not make the most of them, in a blink of an eye they're gone, and you can't get them back (not without impregnating the wife again anyway, which right now I have more chance of knocking out a Sub-4hr Fan Dance)! 







The Little Boss................
That said though, Caz and I have seemed to have fallen in to a routine, which now allows me to get some training in, and for the last few weeks I've managed to break myself  back in gently, well until Saturday 9th November that was! But we'll come back to that.........at the beginning of October, I like so many thousands of others, hazarding a guess, got home to find the 'Sorry' pack from the Virgin Money London Marathon, that's the second year running, which admittedly left me somewhat deflated. 
Out...........
I'd resigned myself to not doing it, despite that smurf on the front of the 'Sorry' mag teasing, taunting and haunting my dreams, when two weeks later I received a call from 'The ABF The Soldiers Charity' to offer me a Charity place. I couldn't have been more shocked or surprised to receive the call, don't get me wrong, I must have put a compelling argument together as to why they should have selected me, but I just expected more bad news, mainly because of how sought after those charity places are. Once I recovered from the shock I know I was beaming and couldn't wait to tell Caz, although concious once again I'm throwing another challenge into the mix, but as she has always done, she supports me unequivocally. Personally now I've had time to reflect, it feels like a huge honour to be offered a place, and although I know I've got a few hard months ahead of me and a lot of very lonely miles to cover, I will attack the challenge as I have every other I've faced so far, head on and with all the heart and soul I can muster! The link to my Charity page is now set up and can be accessed on the right hand side of my page or the link here:

......In........Playing the Marathon Hokey Cokey.........Oh sh*t........
Since I last wrote Sean Linehan (Mr L) has done an incredible job of organising hugely successful Winter Fan Dance Recces (4 in total), the second one happened to coincide with Remembrance Weekend. 
We are the Pilgrims, master; we shall go, always a little further........
For me it was the perfect chance to spend some time in the hills with great friends at a difficult time to pay tribute to Lloydy and as daft as it sounds, being on the Fan helps me feel like I'm keeping him close. Lloydy obviously spent a lot of time on those mountains and retracing his footsteps a little, albeit, considerably slower, allows me to spend time with my thoughts and have some proper time to reflect. In the last couple of years, by doing the events, and I know I've said this before, I have been very fortunate to make some truly incredible friends, and on that day, I got to share that time with Sean and Kramar, well when they waited for me to catch them up! It was a real slog for me that day, as I've alluded to earlier, opportunities to train were few and far between prior to that day, and we all know that first climb from the Red Phone Box hits you hard. You also quickly forget (probably as a defence mechanism) how brutal that ascent up to Corn Du can be, especially when you've had about two runs in the build up to throwing on the bergen and giving it a smash! However, get it done we did, I got to lay my tribute at the summit and we managed to encounter all four seasons in one day, including a white out from about 600m. To be fair, personally I made the half way in decent time considering, but the return journey was just about getting it done and getting in the car back to Mrs R and Charlie. I got back to the phone box with a big smile on my face, warmly greeted with banter and smiles from my muckers, they'd been there a while, but they knew I'd got there as quickly as I could!! 
Another one in the bag........
So with a recce behind me and a marathon place in the bag, the focus has well and truly been swtiched back on, and as I said earlier, the little man is starting to settle in to a routine and therefore allowing me to get some miles back in the bank. The dates for the Paras'10 events have also been released now, so the events diary is beginning to look very full and challenging for 2014!

The Winter Fan Dance - 18th January
The Virgin Money London Marathon - 13th April
Paras'10 Colchester - 18th May
The Summer Fan Dance - Date TBC
Paras'10 Catterick - 31st August


Looks like we're gonna be busy.............(again! Says Mrs R)!





The success of Mr L's Fan Dance recces took on a whole new perspective and was notched up a level by the successful negotiation of a motley crew of 12 taking on a night tab over the Fan Dance route. This was the fourth and the last of the tabs he'd organised and I'm glad I was part of what was a truly special and incredible evening. Don't get me wrong the thought of descending Jacobs in the dark admittedly filled with me a more than a little dread, even with the aid of head torch, it can be a tricky descent at the best of times, let alone under the darkest of skies, but from the moment we all descended on Nant Ddu Lodge for a hearty tea, you could sense we were going to have a fantastic evening, spirits were high, and the banter flowed like fine wine, or even shit wine for the matter. When Limby and I arrived, Kramar, Darren 'Sporting the new beard' Hutchings, Tony 'Bear' Day and Jim 'The Newbey' Davenport were already sat filling their faces, dropping into the old routine took but moments and the jokes were instant. Not long after, we were joined by Gerald 'Mad Nick' McCarthy and the Brothers 'L', the Skipper himself and his brother Adam. We settled in for a couple of hours, got the scoff inside us and generally just laughed at each others expense, before the call came to get oursleves up to the Storey Arms for prep and briefing before the off.

In the Car Park we met up with the Brothers Massey, Statler and Waldorf......or Stuart and Mark as they were christened, and Essex Boy Olly! Prep was just just a bob of head torches, little beams of light dancing around in the darkness, and more than a sense of nervous excitement in the cool night air.

The Brothers Massey.......

The Motley Crew.........
At a quarter to 11, we assembled for the cover shot and a briefing from the skipper, before setting off through the gate saying goodbye to the phone box for a few hours. This was my first ever night time tab, as it was for a few of us, and for me it was also the first time using the head torch. Believe me when I say, the relief that washed over me when we started moving up from A470, with the path ahead well lit, was palpable! The climb was steady and in reality a lot easier than the last effort on Remembrance weekend. At the first kissing gate we assembled without kisses to regroup before moving forward, the nervous relative quiet of the car park had been replaced with the banter so prevalent back at Nant Ddu.. The first tricky steps of crossing the stream before the ascent up to Corn Du, without any booties or any of the crew getting their arses wet, was safely negotiated, The decision was taken earlier in the evening to skirt under Corn Du and around before the final ascent to Pen Y Fan, so as the path split once more, the mass of light sticks and head torch beams assembled like moths round a candle, before moving off once more as a collective. The group were moving at pace, albeit a varying one......but as we all gathered around the summit marker of the fan, everyone was in good shape, voice and heart.

The descent of Jacobs is always the portion of the route I dread the most, and as I'd alluded to earlier, it filled me with dread, you never know how slippery that bstd is going to be and in the black of night, foot placement takes even greater care than normal, for me it's always the slowest part of the route, because I know I think about it too much, it also doesn't help when after an hour you're half way down Jacobs and already needing to replace bloody batteries. I quickly learnt that night that a set of batteries lasts no more than an hour......but again as we got to the bottom of Jacobs, there we were all again, assembled until all were present and correct. Shouting after Limby to stop him climbing Cribyn on his own with his poor collies was a highlight of an evening of many, way to go Airborne (or not as the case may be)!

Once again we set off as a collective before the light sticks began to spread out around the base of Cribyn before coming together again at Windy Gap, for the slog to half way. At half way we took on a little food, carried out the necessary relief and leg pulling and without too much hanging around set off again. The slog back up the Roman Road is just that, anyone who's trodden that route knows exactly what that portion of the route is like, it's sapping, however unlike daytime, you don't have the view of Jacobs stalking your progress back, during the day it looms large, under the cover of darkness it's absence from view almost gives the spirits a lift. Once more we all assembled at Windy Gap and at the base of Jacobs before tackling the ascent. Personally for me the climb up was the easiest it's felt for me despite the chilly strong head wind, there were a few stops required to recover, but definitely far less than the previous occasions. The hardest bit of the climb, was at the hindrance of my muckers who kept shining their bloody torches down at those of us who were climbing up behind them. Safely up we huddled down for shelter out of the wind that had got up, waiting once again until we were all safely at the top of Jacobs. Once again we scrambled atop the summit marker before trudging off the the path around Corn Du and the home straight.

That final stretch, there was almost as much sadness crept in as there was relief that we were almost done. I think we'd all learnt a lot more about ourselves that night, and the bond of the group became even stronger still. The whole ethos of the event and the recces has always been founded on 'looking after your mates' and that night, because of the nature of the decision to do it during the witching hours,we didn't just look out for one another as friends do, it went deeper than that, possibly far deeper than I can eloquently explain or do justice too.

At the top of the final descent down to the A470 I put the iPod on, stuck it on shuffle and the first song that blurts out is 'Eye of the Tiger'. Well, if that's not gonna get you home, bounding with a smile on your face nothing will, and as I approached the gate, my muckers once again kindly blinded me with their bloody torches and their smiles! Handshakes, man hugs and a general affirmation of a job well done met with a buzz that at 0415 in the morning after 5hrs or so on the mountain, under load is hard to comprehend. However, I'm pretty sure if one idiot among us had suggested we do it again, there and then, we would have followed said idiot back up whence we came, such was the camaraderie.

The Fan Dance is no longer just about earning your patch, which undoubtedly you do, it's about mates, and that is what that patch signifies for me, as much as it does enduring those arduous 15 miles or so. Those mates are the ones that will get you through the tougher moments, those moments when you're having a little chat with yourself, when you're reaching for the 'Man Up' pills. They will reach into your soul and push you forward, they will walk by your side and keep those feet treading the path back to a glory that you can only feel after the bergen is laying on the ground and you're revelling in an achievement few will understand, civi or mil it doesn't matter, there are no distinctions in a group like that, only 'brothers'. Here's to you Mr L! And to all of you, my friends, never has a Friday night been so readily enjoyed by so many men without the aid of beer or jager!! 


  
More than just a patch, a symbol of friendship.........

At a little after 0930 I pulled up at home (after an eventful drive back with Limby, which needed a 10 minute power nap in the services), to a relieved and happy wife, shattered but elated and enthused with tales of a motley crew doing a crazy deed.

For me, conquering the Fan at night went a long way to conquering any lingering fears about the perils it can pose, don't get me wrong I'm not being flippant, nor am I ever going to get complacent, because we all know, that conditions can become far worse than we've experienced in the tabs since the Summer event. What that tab gave me though, was the confidence to know that know matter what it throws at me, as long as common sense prevails I'm gonna be ok. Firstly because my personal skills are in check and those of my friends are too, and collectively, we've got each others backs. 

A well earnt snooze with the little man, a prize like no other.........

Cutting the mustard? Only time will tell, but if I can give my little man a father to be proud of, as well as a role model to follow, maybe then I can rest easy.........until then, see you January boys!

Train hard, fight easy and go always a little further! http://www.justgiving.com/ABFVMLM14KarlRushen