I have been back in India for a few days now and I have got to say it’s nice to be back here and escape the cold wet weather of the UK, although it wasn’t a straight forward process of getting here, the visa process proved more difficult and it took 2 attempts before it was successful.
It felt a little different this time though as previously I headed straight to the beach and spent the first month there doing very little apart from wandering around exploring the local area and beaches then travelling South to Kerala which made for quite a relaxed introduction to India. This time the first 4 days were spent in the capital of Goa ( Panaji) which although a small city by Indian standards can still feel like an assault on the senses when arriving from a northern hemisphere winter.
Arriving at Dabolim airport at 3 in the morning and at the hotel at 4 all seemed fairly quiet but I was soon reminded of where I was a few hours later when the blinds were opened and blinding sunlight streamed in along with constant sounding of car, truck and scooter horns.
Watching the road below from the balcony I don’t think I will ever cease to be amazed by the Indian traffic, at times it can be difficult to work out which side of the road that they should be driving on and to see whole families of 5 on a scooter with 3 of them on their phones including the driver is incredible. I consider myself a reasonably good driver but don’t think I would risk it here, it’s enough just learning how to cross the road here again ( no traffic lights, stop signs of give ways here.)
Panaji is an amazing city that I missed the last time I was here and it was nice to spend a few days exploring it and learning a little of its history on a walking tour of the Portuguese section and a tour of Old Goa which was the capital before being moved to Panaji in 1843.
My plan at the moment is to spend a month or so in Goa before making my way North possibly to Dharamsala ( currently home to the Dali Lama ), looking at transport options to get there I’m not sure if I what to spend 36 hours on a train, which previously I would of been ok with for the experience but thinking now that that sort of distance is easier done by plane in India but will decide a bit closer to the time. After that the plan is to go into Nepal which is somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit to trek the Annapunna circuit of all goes to plan.
Well that’s the story so far, now hoping to relax a bit down here and spend a but if time on the beach but will update as I go.
It’s been a little over a week since I returned to the UK from Chicago and I’ve got to say it was an amazing place and well worth a visit if you ever get the opportunity.
Chicago had been planned in order to compete in the marathon taking place there on the 9th of October and had been a planned for quite a while. This was going to be the third of my major marathons of the six that I am hoping to complete having already done London numerous times and Boston in April this year. It hasn’t been the best year as far as training has been concerned with injuries preventing me being where I would like to of been but I was happy with my result in Chicago. Going into it I felt I would of been happy with anything under 4 hours and ended up running 3.51 without feeling that I was struggling at any point so feel I can build on that, in the end I was only a minute off another Boston qualifying time so I know that is within reach.
I had arrived in Chicago 4 days before the marathon to try to nullify any effects of jet lag before running, saying that I also wanted to make the most of my time there so had no intention of sitting around resting up. It was great to meet up with groups of friends from Toronto that were down either running or had come down to cheer on friends, I met some for a meal on the Thursday evening then took in a Diana Krall concert afterwards which great. I can highly recommend the boat tours in Chicago as a must, I did two whilst there, one on the Thursday morning and one organised by Nuun hydration for whom I am ambassador for this year, also meeting some friends from Toronto there. Lots of information about Chicago gained from these tours.
Another great experience form Chicago would be the food, although there are some great food tours available I knew pretty much what I wanted to try and having a marathon coming up wasn’t too bothered about calorie intake which was just as well as I think my marathon was fuelled by pizza and hotdogs! . I managed to try the deep pan pizza that Chicago is famous for an well as Chicago style hotdogs and Italian beef sandwich so I probably actually managed to put on a little weight whilst I was there.
I must say thank you to the people of Chicago for their hospitality and organization of the whole marathon weekend. The supporters and volunteers were incredible, up to now London had always been my favourite marathon experience but I think Chicago even tops that.
There is so much to see in Chicago and I did see a lot, walking, many more miles than would be recommended before a marathon but it was well worth it and Chicago is definitely a place I’d like to return to in future if at all possible.
I’m hoping to get to India and Nepal early next year to do some trekking if all goes well then possibly add to my marathon majors list later in the year.
The World Police Fire games took place in Rotterdam just over a week ago now and I still feel like I’m recovering from them. I competed in 5 events over the 10 days and was happy with my results after never making it to the top of the podium in my 2 previous games. On arrival I managed to pick up some sort of bug that was going around before my events even started so was not looking forward to trying to complete but thought I’d just try to manage my body and see how far I could get not really expecting to complete them all.
My first events were all on the track with the 10.000 meters first followed by the 5.000 meters 2 days later ( a parkrun was squeezed in between) I was happy to get a gold in the 10.000 in my age group without having to run too hard and got a silver in the 5000 so that was a good start to the games.
Next up was the Steeplechase which I hadn’t run since I was in my 20s and was unable to train for so was dreading it. I had no real plan of how I was going to tackle the barriers and water jump until I got to the first barrier ( I knew I couldn’t hurdle them like I did in my 20s ) . I was trying to hang back as we got to the first barrier to see what others were going to do but I think everyone had the same idea so just put both hands on the barrier and vaulted over which seemed to work so used that method the rest of the way round including the water jump ( I had no idea the water was so deep near the barrier as previously I would nearly clear the water ), as it happened I ran away from a field of 5 and finished in under 10 minutes so was very pleased with that and will have to enter this in future games. I wish I could of watched us going around though it must of been hilarious.
The 10k cross country followed and did not go so well, on arrival our numbers had been mixed up and I was competing as a 40 year old instead of a 60 year old. On top of that many of us ended up going the wrong way because the tape had broken and no marshals had made it out to the course before we arrived at a major turn ( I had followed a Dutch girl that had over took me coming down a hill thinking that she probably knew where she was going ) in the end many of us added over 1k to the course and I placed 4th but we managed to win the team event gold so that was good.
The final event was going to be the Half marathon on the final Sunday during the Rotterdam half marathon, before that a few of us decided to do one of the very few Parkruns that starts with a Z in The Hague so if I ever try to do the parkrun alphabet I’ve got that one. On the Sunday I wasn’t really looking forward to the half marathon as the week had now caught up with me but once I had started running I didn’t feel to bad and was planning on just taking it steady, I did spot a couple of runners in my age group as I passed them during the first 5 k then seemed to be running with younger age groups from then on, I was pleased to finish in 1.48 on the day and was surprised to be collected at the end and told I was first in my age group in the WFPGs competition and escorted to the podium and given the gold medal. I found out later that one of the competitors that I overtook earlier ( I remember him because the number on his back was 60013 and was upside down ) had run 2 mins faster than me so he must of overtaken me as I slowed but still I never expected to be fast enough to get silver on the day so was pleased with the result.
In the end it was a good week despite not feeling great and considering that they had Covid to deal with the previous 2 years the Dutch put on an amazing games and wore great hosts.
It’s now on to the Chicago marathon in October so will need to start building my mileage once I finally get rid of this bug.
It’s been over a year since I arrived back in Toronto and although the winter seemed to drag on at times it has gone quite quickly especially the last couple of months.
My reason for spending the year here was so that could spend more time with my Mom who had spent a significant amount of time in hospital after a fall and had deteriorated and lost a lot of mobility whilst there. It was difficult to see her pretty much confined to bed when she had always been a fairly active person even in her 90s. Eventually she was able to be discharged but because of the extra care she needed and being confined to a wheelchair it was no longer possible for her to be looked after at home which my sister had been doing for a number of years. Luckily the long term care home that she went into was very good with caring staff and after a period of adjustment she seems happy and well cared for there and although Covid still has its affect visits are easy to arrange.
I’m grateful to be able to spend this time with her and will miss her when I head back to the UK but a least I know the she is in a better place now than when i arrived here.
Since arriving back in Toronto I’ve been lucky enough to live back on the waterfront which is always a nice place to return to and my preferred place when back here. Although Covid restrictions has made things more difficult this time with many facilities and businesses being closed for a lot of my time here I have still been able to connect with some friends and running communities here which has kept me going though the winter here.
I’m grateful to friends at Kardia down here who have keep me going though a tough winter of marathon training on my way to my first Boston marathon and other races along the way as things have gradually got back to some sort of normality. It now feels like Toronto is moving forward again with summer finally arriving and people enjoying being outside with patio season in full swing.
In just over a week I will be heading back to the UK and will miss the best parts of the Canadian summer but will be able to meet up with some friends from here in October at the Chicago marathon so it’s not good bye as i will always return here. Saying that I do look forward to my return to the UK as I have my children living there and very good friends that I have obviously missed while i’ve been out here.
Looking forward I am looking to get back to traveling again in the not too distant future with thoughts of spending some time in Nepal after Christmas and still needing to complete the Pacific Crest Trail that was started in 2018. I do have a permit for the trail this year but it coincides with the World Police Fire Games which starts in Rotterdam next month which was cancelled due to Covid so I’m looking forward to that, perhaps I can get back on the trail next year.
Well that is all for now. I just wanted to put in a little update and thank everyone here in Toronto for the last year
As Christmas 2021 approaches, I just wanted to update my travel blog with what the past year has bought. Although not what I had envisioned I’m sure many of us can say the same about 2021. I guess like many I had made tentative plans to travel again if Covid restrictions had eased enough like many of had expected but an unpredictable year required us to make changes to any plans.
Looking back and reflecting on the last year, it has had its positives and unexpected moments. I’ve been back living in Toronto since the end of June as I felt I needed to return to spend some time with my Mom who has been in hospital for most of the past year (not related to Covid), It has been great to be able to see her although not in an ideal situation but at least she is now out of hospital and currently in a long term care home where she seems much happier and settled than she was in the hospital.
It has been good to see family and friends back here in Canada although there are many I’ve not been able to visit yet, I have had the added bonus of meeting my 2 year old great nephew Samuel for the 1st time and look forward to seeing him at Christmas.
I’ve been fortunate enough to get a place downtown and reconnect with some friends in the running community in Toronto, it’s one thing that has helped me during the lock downs and lack of travel.
With Christmas coming up soon I will miss family and friends in the UK, especially good friends that I spent nearly 18 months and the first lock down with (Thank You) and my kids who are both busy working back in the UK (Love you Hope to see you in the New Year).
As for any plans for the New Year (As this was always intended to be a travel blog) although people are travelling again things are still very uncertain so any plans may need to change with these new variants of Covid and some countries starting to lock down again even before Christmas, saying that I have booked to go to Boston in April to do the marathon having fortunately run a qualifying time before I left the UK but I’m not really looking forward to training for it though a Canadian winter ( when I was here in 2018/19 winter I vowed that I wouldn’t spend another winter in Canada, but here I am again). It would be nice to be in Rotterdam in July for the World Police Fire Games this year but I’m not going to get my hopes up, further ahead in the autumn I have an place in the Chicago marathon hopefully with some friends from the running community here in Toronto, and I should hear soon weather I have a place in the Berlin marathon which is 2 weeks before Chicago. It would be nice to get back to some real travel later in the year and I would love to be able to spend 5 to 6 months in Nepal, Obviously this is all depending on what Covid throws at us so I expect my year could look very different to how it is envisioned at the moment.
Well I think I’m going to leave it there for now but want to wish anyone reading a great holiday and a Happy New Year. Lets hope for a good one.