Friday, 24 February 2017

Fred V & Grafix - Just A Thought (Ft. Reija Lee)

1999 MdS #1 - A lifetime ago
Lyrics:- 'Lost what I already had' - Fred V & Grafix - Take a listen for yourself here.

Song Choice:- Well I've been experiencing a lot of 'thought' as I try to return to somewhere near my previous level of running fitness and this track cropped up on Friday, twenty miles into a Merthyr Mawr 26.2 mile 'MdS Running Fitness Test'. It was a bit of a deal or no deal if I'm being honest as only 300 days ago, I thought I'd never walk again, let alone RUN following my brush with Guillain-Barré Syndrome and a possible disabled life existence or even death.

I didn't realise I was quite this ill...
You see it's a really serious illness and the level of pain associated with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) is unlike any other I've ever experienced and for the first seven days last May, I didn't really have a clue where or who I was. After having a course of Immunoglobulins I started my rehabilitation and  the long process of learning to stand and walk and be a human being again. It's a complete nightmare and being wheelchair bound brings it home about how fortunate we are to be able to run free and experience true adventure.
Already talking MdS on a Zimmer-Frame?
It's not as easy as it looks...
This is three months later...
Apart from dumbing down my body, the GBS also dumbed down my mind and there are gaps in 2016 where I just can't remember much at all and even though I frightened everyone around me completely, I just went with the flow after fighting EVERYTHING and EVERYONE around me for a month I decided that I'd just better go with the flow and make the most of what I'd got, not what I'd lost.

A couple more months in hospital and wheelchair confinement soon got me thinking that it was a pretty shitty outlook and not much use if you want to run the 2017 Marathon des Sables as I'd got a firm picture in my mind of me crossing the magical finish line for that magical 14th time. Being stuck on 976 lifetime marathons was also starting to piss me off as by September 2016 I would have reached the 1000 life-time marathon mile mark but the 24 I had left seemed now more like an impossible mountain to climb rather than jogging out 628.8 miles.

My good friend Chris Patterson had been in my MdS Tent in 2016 and he came to visit me and broke me out of my rehab hospital on the August Bank Holiday weekend to go to the local park where I managed to walk 100 steps, holding walking poles mid-air just incase I tripped over my own feet and broke a bone or even worse snapped a ligament. After a month of learning to stand, walk and endless hours of physio - it felt like I'd turned a corner.

Remembering how you walk and run, when your legs just won't move or go where you want them to go is a right bugger and really frustrating I can tell you.

And since then, it's been a bit of a 'Roller-Coaster' if I'm being honest and one where I've had to use all of my year's of strength, running expertise and intuition to get me out of hospital, off all the high dosage medication and through what training I could do without wiping myself out for days or even weeks after..

You see, it's not easy as the GBS and the fatigue that accompanies it means that for some time after a marathon distance I'm physically and mentally pretty much destroyed. At first for about a month and more lately about a week - and that's for a flat road-marathon without a pack.

So after my latest couple of road outings with a post GBS Marathon PB of 5:43, I decided that running the 4:37 mile circuit around the Candleston Estate at Merthyr Mawr, which is leg sapping on a good day six times would be an excellent test. You see, the stats are interesting as last year I ran a 5:36 prior to MdS 16 quite easily but my 8:14 I clocked for the same distance shows just how I'm away from being SAFE from the cut offs in the race. For the record, I did RUN for all the 26.2 miles, every single step, in a whopping 19.01 minute mile pace, which I believe I can walk quicker than and could be my next test.

A real moment of realisation...
For those not aware of the dunes at Merthyr Mawr, they provide the closest running conditions (apart from the heat of course) to the Sahara Sand that 1200 or so runners (including me) will be taking on in just six weeks time at the 32nd Marathon des Sables. For those that have yet to run in sand, well they're bonkers IMO as it's the place where you'll find your self-sufficiency pace which I believe is the key to MdS Success or Failure. I liken it to attempting to swim the channel following a few training sessions in your local pool.

Having previously run the race finishing 143rd in '09 with a 5:11 marathon as an MdS PB, I noticed that I I took 8:14 to cover the marathon walking with Sir Ranulph in '15 which was  heartening until I saw was half an hour slower than that in '16 but suffering with the onset of the GBS I believe. 

My previous thoughts on the difference of running in the UK v Desert is that what you run in MPH here is KPH there and the ratio is approximately between 1.4x and 1.5x of ones road marathon time to estimate an MdS Day 6 time. It's a rough guide and it's not far out but please do't hold me to it.

I can analyse the race and get the sunniest forecast possible to make me feel better about my chances of finishing this year. I've got the experience and unsurpassed support from my family (whom I know are really frightened) as well as friends and clients that will help me though the tough times ahead.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't sympathy blog or an excuse, it's one saying that I know that I'm on a 'knife-edge' with the MdS this year. As yet it's still hard to put two double figure mileage days together although I did do a 5 mile recovery run today and felt ok. You see the distance, heat and hardship of the MdS doesn't frighten me as to be honest it never has as it's been my choice to go and be part of such an amazing 'life-experience' and it's always lived up to it's reputation of the 'World's Toughest Footrace' quite nicely.

As a distraction, things are hotting up for those going there for the first time and I do try and guide them to a more pleasant 'Running Holiday Experience' and my advice has always been 'carry nothing', 'weigh as little as you can' and 'do some training!' and if you suffering with an injury or just plain tired like me - TAKE A DAY OR EVEN A WEEK OFF as it won't kill you or your chances of finishing the race.

So it's going to be a strange last few weeks as where most will be tapering down slowly to April 9th, I'll be tapering up. You see the more I work these old legs of mine, the better they get. When I start any run, it feel like I've already covered a 100 mile race and my legs are dead for sometime before they walk up and get going. I've managed a 28 minute Park Run 5km which ain't so bad but I think the MdS will put a proud smile on my face this year, just as I hope it will on yours as it's simply a privilege to be a part of this unique occasion that every April sends people to their limit and beyond in some cases of human endurance.

I'll see you at the start line and take a listen to 'Just a Thought' as a bit of Drum and Bass will hope you out no-end when your shit hits the fan out in the sand.

Just a few thoughts...

Rory Coleman - 983 Marathons - 241 Ultras - 13 Marathon des Sables
9 Guinness World Records - 8,452 Days' Alcohol Free
1 Inspirational Running Memoir - Get your copy here.
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Draw of the Cards - Kim Carnes

The 7 of Daffodils
Lyrics:- 'Sleight of hand, hands of fate, chance you take, life's a snake - Carnes

Song Choice:- Kim Carnes (now 71) was sadly just a two-hit wonder and was probably better known for her 'Bette Davies Eyes', but I prefer 'Draw of the Cards' off the same 'Mistaken Identity' album which sadly faired less well in the charts way back in '81.

It faired well with me anyway, and the video is well worth a look as it appears to have been made with outtakes from Bowie's 'Ashes to Ashes' and Adam Ant's 'Prince Charming' videos. Poor old Kim looked dated even then aged just 35 - which is a shame as it's a great track that's been sadly ruined by poor imagery and dressing her like Bonnie Tyler.

ANYWAY, after three days of wrist slashing bonkers blogs from yours truly, I thought I'd go through some lesser know songs of delight from '1981-2011' that can help illustrate my new daily upbeat mood.

And why not as it's my blog... and by chance I heard this on my car radio this morning which prompted me thinking about 'The Draw of my Cards' and the 'Draw of Other Folks'. 

You see it's difficult to work out sometimes what to change in the hand you've been dealt and even harder to guess what other cards everyone else are already holding in theirs ready to trump you, especially if they have one of those poker-faced personalities that's impossible to read. You know the sort - you might even live with someone that gives nothing away.

Being dealt the perfect hand, twisting the pack once too often and being part of some kind of deception will happen to us all at least once in the first case and far too many times in the last. Let's face it the deck we are playing with isn't loaded in our favour.

Or is it? As you are the dealer and you can mark your own cards...

They all have powers - Aces, Kings, Queens, suits and even in low denominations that have power in quantity. It's a lifelike reflection isn't it? We can't all be Lemmy's 'Ace of Spades' - (look where that got him) play perpetual 'Snap' hoping to find a match or play 'Fish' as that's just pure luck and I never win anything that as there's no skill. I prefer a bit of gamesmanship and you can even play on your own (oh er Missus) if you're not a team player.

My advice is to know the rules of the game you are playing, count the deck (like my old Granddad could) and go with your intuition as 9/10 you'll always be right first time and always wear your best suit with your heart of your sleeve.

It's a great trick! And one well worth playing.

Rory Coleman - 982 Marathons - 241 Ultras
13 Marathon des Sables - 9 Guinness World Records - 8,450 Days' Alcohol Free
1 Inspirational Running Memoir - Get your copy here.
Location:Cardiff, Wales

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Anyway - Genesis

Lyrics:- 'Feel cold and old, it's getting hard to catch my breath' - Banks, Collins, Gabriel, Hackett & Rutherford

Song Choice:- Wow, it's already time for the last part of my 'Confused GBS-SIDP Trilogy' as it's now become known to me; and the 'Anyway' track contains one of my favourite Steve Hackett guitar solos which is sadly always over before it's begun in my opinion and far too short. It's a real highlight on the 'Lamb' double album for in the future. Take a listen yourself and see if you rate it too...everything is just perfect. What a recipe, Bank Piano - Collins, Drums - Rutherford's, Bass served up with lashings of Sir Peter of Gabriel Vocal Custard.

Anyway, (a word I write in every blog, if you've ever noticed) there are some bleak lyrics in this dark and rather macabre brush with death that our hero 'Real' experiences during the concept albums story. The 'Feel cold and old, it's getting hard to catch my breath' line is something I can obviously connect with, the track itself has even darker images to deliver.

It relates the meeting of 'Real' with Death at the Pearly Gates, with his heart out of pumping energy as a 'Running Man' facing death. See I told you it was dark and personal... and just before Real gets reduced to ashes to start the whole lifestyle process once again, he narrowly escapes and is led away onto further adventures by the 'Supernatural Anaesthetist'. 

Boy LSD certainly helped create this one...yet it feels so real.

Anyway, 3-2-1 and back in the room, I'm being led in an anaesthetised state away from a near death experience is the best way I can possibly describe the 'Grogginess' that's accompanied the whole 'Confused GBS-SIDP' experience this past six months.

What or whom is going to lead me away from being the person I didn't want to become - to the one I still don't want to be, is still in the discovery stage perhaps and possibly the whole 'Lamb' experience was Genesis experiencing a similar state too and they turned out ok didn't they?

'Anyway' - the 'Confusion Trilogy' only matters to me in the 'Grand Parade of Life' and 'I guess I'll only drive myself insane' or possibly those around me with my observations and realisations that in fact being open to new horizons and chasing fresh dreams and goals with my new persona isn't going too much of a mountain to climb, if I can ever accept it.

Regaining some of the old fire that burns deep down in my heart of creativity is what I'm desiring right now. The sense of loss is one that only time can heal and that success can help to disguise. Maybe you get where I'm coming from and if you are recovering or rebuilding your life, I hope your sense of clarity returns.

You never know because like mine, it could be there right in front of our eyes.

Rory Coleman - 982 Marathons - 241 Ultras - 13 Marathon des Sables
9 Guinness World Records - 8,449 Days' Alcohol Free.
1 Inspirational Running Memoir - Get your copy here.
Location: Caerdydd, Cymru

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Chamber of 32 Doors - Genesis

Lyrics:- 'But the Juggler holds another pack' - Banks, Collins, Gabriel, Hackett & Rutherford

Song Choice:- I've jumped back a track on 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway', the 1974 concept album from prog rockers Genesis. Recorded at their peak IMO, this track provides a fantastic visual picture and mental conundrum that signs off side two of the album with a musical note of perfect pathos, that actually leads into yesterday's track Lilywhite Lilith. Back in the day, you would have had to have jumped up and quickly placed the second LP on your turntable to maintain the mood - luckily for us it follows on nicely on the remastered digital age in a seamless segway of super studio quality sound which I'd only have dreamed of listening to my old 70's HiFi as a wide eyed teenager.

Anyway, it's the 32 doors notion that I'm interested in for today's blog and I imagine them to be set out like a larger version of Noel's dreadful 'Deal No Deal' game show. (Did you know btw it ran for 3,001 episodes and I see it luckily fell off the C4 schedule in October 2016 - How any TV show based on pure greed and luck lasted for so long I'll never know and hopefully it's now disappeared for good)...

I digress and back on Planet Coleman, I'm visualising those 32 doors. I see two versions - One is where you can see all 32 at once and the call to action is to blindly open them in a crazed advent calendar type way - hoping to find the utopia you are seeking. The other is what you might find on a ship or submarine or in the film 'Alien' where one door, leads to another, leaving an air tight non returnable seal behind you and hopefully the nightmare monsters.

In Gabriel's Lamb, the doors always lead his hero Rael back into the Chamber he's been endeavouring to escape, however in my version they lead to people, places and opportunities with experiences and passages of life that have hopefully been fulfilling, pleasurable and memorable as well as been tough life experiences to endure and overcome.

It sounds simple it would be if there were just 32 doors...

You see, the umpteen thousands that we open during our lifetime (and sometimes stupidly immediately close) lead to a complete spectrum of personal happiness, fulfilment and missed opportunities. Other's are closed on our behalf, through love or doubt, which is a shame.

Sadly some are never opened in case of failiure. Fear has a lot to answer for and playing it  safe only leads to regret and it's rare that the Juggler ever holds another pack - also there's nothing worse that being set on the right track and then losing the way through poor vision. Hindsight is one door that everyone would desire in their own 'Chamber' for sure.

It reminiscent of one artist M.C. Escher's of perpetual staircases illustrated...which only adds to my confusion and 'Chamber of So Many Doors' with nowhere to hide but a lot of dreams still to live out.

I wonder where and when yours would lead you back to? I can think of many I'd love to step through... it's a fascinating thought and on my second blog on confusion it makes me wonder which doors I'm going to open next - or will be opened for me.

Thing is, 'I've got to find my own way' and so have you... just enjoy your day watching the hundreds of people running around to all the doors...

Rory Coleman - 982 Marathons - 241 Ultras - 13 Marathon des Sables 
9 Guinness World Records - 8,448 Days' Alcohol Free.
1 Inspirational Running Memoir - Get your copy here.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Lilywhite Lilith - Genesis

'The Real Rael'
Lyrics:- 'The chamber was in confusion - all the voices shouting loud' - Banks, Collins, Gabriel, Hackett & Rutherford.

Song Choice:- If you are ever confused, my advice is to listen to some Genesis from their 1974 concept album 'The Lamb lies down on Broadway'. Watch out though, as it won't make things any clearer but hopefully it will relax your mind into accepting what you are experiencing and where you might be travelling in your life next. Don’t ask me where I'm going or where they were going back then, as I don’t know and I don't think that the band knew either. By that stage they had become a very disparate collective and although it’s probably their finest work, the Album and its creation went on to implode their very existence, sadly right at their peak. You’ll have to listen yourself to see where I’m coming from and just how great and alive the tracks are.

Now, I’m going to write a trilogy of blogs to try and exorcise my current thoughts. Don't ask me where this blog is going to go over the next three days, because I haven’t got a bleedin’ clue but the of 'Chamber of 32 Doors, Lilywhite Lilith and Anyway' are tracks that I've always enjoyed as they seem to offer a higher mental plane of thought and absentiesm  Sometimes the music helps me explore the depths of my grey matter and I thought I’d try and use these tracks to unscramble some of my current scramble…

Well it’s a worth a go as I'm confused. Or maybe just ‘Brain Fogged’ is a better analogy.

Well it’s the best I can come up with right now as it’s hard to put a phrase on it and even harder to explain. I could attribute it to being my ‘Big elephant in my head-space’ as a sort of bi-product of last year’s,‘Guillian-Barre Syndrome’? But that sounds like a bit of a cop-out to me. Or is it just my ‘Non-cop-out’ stiff upper-lip denial that’s causing my confused state. Whatever that confused state is, or even if there is one to be confused about, can you appreciate why I feel ‘Brain-Fogged’.

When ‘Googling’ about it I read, ‘Many people who suffer GBS, whether they make a full physical recovery or not, will also make a good psychological recovery. They will find ways of coping with any ongoing problems and will put behind them the fears and stress associated with the acute illness. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that in GBS, as in better-researched illnesses such as heart attack or stroke, a significant proportion of sufferers do continue to experience severe emotional disturbances.’ 'Fuck me! That didn't help much...

So feeling only more confused, I returned to the lyrics.`You see, I get the ‘All the voices shouting loud' reference as that’s a definite contributor to my ‘Mental Tinnitus’. It’s still there ringing away more as a dull white noise all the time if I’m being honest and perhaps my own brain is my ‘Lilywhite Lilith’ helping me through the crowd. It’s more like the blind leading the blind though and even though I feel that I’m in a ‘Tunnel of Night’ I am hoping that one day or some-day soon I’ll see the corner of the tunnel lit up by whatever’s coming my way… Well that's what happen's to Rael on the album...

The thing is it’s more like a ‘Land of Confusion’ and it’s one that I’m trying to escape from but right now I can’t literally run fast enough from or even at all some days. The feeling or being lost or loss in fact is the one that is clouding my thoughts.

It’s easy to say look where you’ve been and look how far you’ve come but it’s doesn’t make things any better. 

Nothing will until a blaze of white light fills the air - Let's see if the Chamber of 32 Doors will shed any light tomorrow.

Rory Coleman - 982 Marathons - 241 Ultras - 13 Marathon des Sables 
9 Guinness World Records - 8,447 Days' Alcohol Free.
1 Inspirational Running Memoir - Get your copy here.
Location: Caerdydd, Cymru

Friday, 17 February 2017

Silver and Gold - U2

Lyrics:- 'If you want a way out Silver and Gold' - Hewson

Song Choice:- Ok I'll admit I've cheated on choosing 'Silver and Gold' as the last of my 'Joshua Tree' blog tracks. The 'Mothers of the Disappeared' is too much of a dirge for me, like the later and much loved (by everyone except me it seems) 'One' - and 'Silver and Gold' is on my remastered 'Joshua Tree' album so thankfully it saves the day and gives the album the write-off it deserves.

Anyway, forgetting it's anti-apartheid protesting connotation, I've always loved the above lyric from the 'Silver and Gold'. The concept here is that money can provide the way out of any situation you might find yourself in - and it really makes me chuckle. It feels very two dimensional to me and of course having money makes life more comfortable but it doesn't make you happy.

I mean, if you have money, lots of money, it's amazing what you can buy for a good chunk of 'Silver and Gold' if you have some to spare. Say if you have the odd £30 million down the side of your settee, you could have blown it on Rio Ferdinand for instance - according to his 2002 transfer fee from Leeds to Man Utd, or a 1962 Ferrari GTO 250 if cars are your thing or a Tornado GR4 if you have your own runway - or even second-hand Space Shuttle with a few million miles on it...

The thing is, would it provide you with a 'way out' or substitute your current problems with a fresh set to conquer. I wonder what a 'Drunk Phil Collins' would say could afford all of the above with cash to spare.

You see 'if you want a way out' Silver and Gold can't buy doesn't buy you determination as that's 'Priceless' - I know. It certainly can't buy you happiness - I know that too... so think on if 'Silver and Goal' is your goal.

If you think about the 30 years since the 'Joshua Tree' was released in 1987 do you think about the 'Silver and Gold' you've had slip through your fingers or what you've accomplished...

Do stuff, amazing stuff, live life as that's the 'Way Out'...

Rory Coleman - 982 Marathons - 241 Ultras - 13 Marathon des Sables 
9 Guinness World Records - 8,444 Days' Alcohol Free.
1 Inspirational Running Memoir - Get your copy here.
Location: Caerdydd, Cymru

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Exit - U2

Lyric:- 'He went deeper into black, deeper into white' - Hewson

Song Choice:- Yikes, I had messages of sympathy following yesterday's blog and I didn't set out to write a tale of woe or sound like I'm teetering on 'The Edge' if you forgive the pun, it was just about me saying that I now have a clear vision of exactly where I am and about exactly where I'm going with the body and mind I now have.

It all sounds and sounded a bit grim, and it gets a bit grimmer if you look into Bono's raison d'être for writing the song in the first place. Apparently it's about being inside the mind of a serial killer! Something I certainly can't connect with but in the murder trial of Rebecca Schaeffer, Robert John Bardo used 'Exit' as part of his defence, claiming the song had influenced his actions. Nice...

See, I told you it was grim!

Anyway, I'm going to take this song onto a personal level that I can resonate with and the notion to me about the track is about a guy who gets an idea stuck in his head - and in this sense that's me to a tee. I totally get it, and I love the 'He went deeper into black, deeper into white' line... as my world has been SO 100% Jet Black and 100% Snow White for 23 years. In fact, the ends of my Spectrum were and have been so far apart - there was literally no colour shape or form in between. 

Discovering how far I could make these poles apart, only made the whole process more rewarding.

The challenge now comes with how much colour I'm going to let back into my post GBS world... and that's the big hurdle I now have to face - no sympathy required.

And I'll of course keep you posted...

Rory Coleman - 982 Marathons - 241 Ultras - 13 Marathon des Sables 
9 Guinness World Records - 8,443 Days' Alcohol Free.
Inspirational Running Memoir - Get your copy here.
Location: Caerdydd, Cymru - God's Country