It was late on Saturday afternoon at CarFest South, we’d had a long but happy day wandering around the festival and were ready for dinner. We sat and ate pizza fresh from a wood fired oven while Henry and Matilda laughed and sang along with a kids theatre group doing a country and western play. It was one of those rare moments where everything is right in the world, the sun was just starting to fall towards the horizon, the children were all happy or in Rupert’s case asleep and we had that contented tired feeling you get from a day spent outdoors. It was also the moment I realised that buying CarFest South tickets was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Now if that’s not enough to convince you that CarFest is the perfect family festival then read on!
The lady of the manor and I had talked a few times about going to a festival but had never been brave enough to take the plunge. I liked the idea of it but wasn’t sure if the reality would be the same or actually a smelly, tiring, stressful experience. But listening to Chris Evans one morning as he announced tickets were being released I grabbed my credit card and took the plunge, after all how bad could it be going to a festival with a 4 year old, a 3 year old and a 10 month old? Maybe I wasn’t thinking straight due a lack of sleep or maybe the first cup of tea hadn’t quite kicked in but either way I’m so glad I did and here’s why we’ll be back again this year:
Picture the scene; we’re driving back from a busy day out at the Lost gardens of Heligan (great family day out BTW), the boys are asleep in the back and Matilda is chatting away to herself. The lady of the manor and I are discussing dinner plans for the evening, we’ve had a good day but any day out with 3 children under 5 cannot be described as relaxing. Unless of course relaxing means feeling like you’ve run a marathon while shouting 10 times every mile “don’t touch that” “stay away from the edge” “that’s not for climbing on” “what do you mean you’re hungry again” “you’ll just have to wee in a bush”.
The thought of dinner out sounds very attractive, we talk ourselves into it; the boys have napped so will be in a good mood, the pub is on the way home anyway and it means no washing up (as the lady of the manor keeps telling me, it’s not a holiday if there’s washing up). Maybe it was the day in the sun, maybe we just had low sugar levels, whatever the reason we take the plunge and pull into the car park. Miraculously they are serving food all day (anyone else find it a nightmare with small children finding somewhere to eat before 5pm?) and we find a corner in a large and quite empty restaurant.
I beat the Quadzilla, of course by beat I mean limped over the finish line battered and bruised, but victorious nonetheless. I even finished the final of the 4 marathons with my fastest 2km of the 4 days, amazing how you can find that extra burst when you know the end is in sight. Sitting here just over 2 weeks since finishing it all feels a little surreal really, the 4 medals sat next to me the only real evidence of what I did. My legs are pretty much back to normal now after feeling like blocks of lead for at least 10 days but I do still feel a bit achy when I get back from my morning runs.
It won’t surprise you that finishing the quadzilla was tough, getting up for 4 days straight to run another 7 laps of a lake in Milton Keynes hurts both mentally and physically. It was also almost as tiring making sure I managed my recovery well with nutrition, stretching and rest. Surprising how hard it is to force down carbs and protein straight after a marathon, but knowing if you don’t it’ll make a big difference to how you recover. The race route isn’t going to win any prizes for it’s scenery with the A5 whizzing past one end but it was actually ok and finding someone each day running at the roughly the same pace to chat to for a few laps certainly helped. Incidentally you make think I’m crazy but one guy I chatted to had run 58 marathons LAST YEAR. That’s a whole other level of crazy.
What do Tigger’s like to do the most? Bouncing! What do kids like to do the most? Bouncing! What do big kids like to do the most? Bouncing! And that’s exactly what we did 2 weeks ago at a special pre launch event at the Better Extreme trampoline park Swindon. I’ve been watching them build the trampoline park over the last couple of months when I go swimming next door so when the invite appeared in my inbox to test it out I leapt at the chance (excuse the pun). I was also pretty sure my crazy little monsters would thoroughly enjoy bouncing around given how much time they spend jumping on and off beds at home.
If you’ve never come across the concept of a trampoline park before let me give you a quick overview. A trampoline park is essentially a large room where most of the floor (and some of the walls) is covered with trampolines of various sizes and shapes with thin sections of mats between them. The park in Swindon has a few different zones to it; there is a large area of smallish trampolines which are great for bouncing between, it then has 2 baskeball ‘courts’ where you can practise your slam dunks using trampolines to help you, there is a dodgeball area surrounded by nets, a raised section with a couple of trampolines that bouncy really high and finally a balance beam and slack line above a foam pit to practise your balancing.
My mother in law passed away almost a year ago having fought ovarian cancer for 4 years and this challenge is for her. By coincidence I started running regularly just under 4 years ago in an effort to lose some weight and get fit after having serious back problems from sitting in an office all day. I can remember her concern every time she came to visit me that ‘I was getting too thin’ and that I needed to be careful, she never did quite understand why I ran but that didn’t stop her coming along to races and cheering me on. It is for her that I’m taking on this challenge, the Quadzilla, 4 marathons on 4 consecutive days. In the space of 4 days I’m going to double the amount of marathons I’ve done and find out what it’s like to run a marathon with the DOMS from 3 marathons. I’m also hoping to try and raise some money for 2 great causes.
Maureen was an amazing woman, mother, daughter, wife and nanna whose passing has left a very big hole in the lives of her family and friends. In the last few weeks and months when things got tough the support her and Nick received from her Macmillan nurse made such a difference. Care that the NHS simply can’t provide but that helps people in the darkest times navigate their way through and help them make decisions. That’s why I’ve chosen to support Macmillan with this challenge and hopefully raise some money in Maureen’s memory to help other people in the same situation.
This is the first time I’ve logged into my blog in almost 2 months let alone written anything, the first time I’ve had both the time and the head space to be able to get some thoughts down in a remotely articulate way. It’s been a busy time; work has been tough, a busy time of the year and I’ve been trying to secure a job change that I’ve been working towards for a while, family life with 3 children and the daily school run routine is always hectic and I’ve been trying to build up my running before my first race of 2016. Combine all that with the festive season and everything that it entails it’s probably no surprise blogging hasn’t been on my radar.
But I do want to take a moment to mark the passing from one year into the next, New Years day is such an arbitrary moment in time, not really different to any other day yet still feeling like a great big reinforced oak door has shut on the prior year consigning to history everything that happened. I don’t do resolutions but I do like to take the time to reflect and remember rather than just hurry into the next year on the conveyor belt of life.
As both a man and a dad to sons I feel I am extremely qualified to say this; boys are disgusting. Disgusting and willy obsessed. I feel like I should know this already given that I was a boy myself at some point in the distant past but it still comes as a surprise seeing your 1 year old laughing as he plays with his willy.
I seem to remember Henry being a similar age when he realised that he could grab his willy whenever his nappy was off and it felt quite nice/funny to play with. Now we’re regularly find Rupert sat in the bath taking a break from attempting to cover the whole floor with water and instead having a little play. Clearly there is some basic male human instinct that tells us playing with our willies is a good thing, I’d love to know if boys 100 or 200 years ago were the same, or were they too busy working in factories or helping fight wars?
I had assumed boys and their willies would be an issue in the teenage years but it seems not. Last week I found Henry stood in the kitchen with his hands down his trousers. I told him to stop playing with his willy and his response was ‘I’m not playing with my willy I’m playing with my testes’, not really much you can say to that is there? (we’ve gone with a formal term because quite honestly ‘balls’ just sounds a bit disgusting).