DNA Test Results

Hi All,

I am posting here on this blog as this is the optimal place to share the info with Forkgens worldwide and I think this is interesting and perhaps important to inform you all of as it probably affects many of you in one way or the other, even if we are on different branches of the family tree.

I had a DNA test via Ancestry DNA a  short while back – not as part of a paternity suit (they haven’t found me yet!)  but because I was keen to know a bit about our background.  Based on family history, I knew for sure that we had the following heritage somewhere along the line:

  • Maternal Grandmother: English (surname Pace)
  • Maternal Grandfather: Irish (surname Lohan)
  • Paternal Grandmother: Burmese and Irish (surname Kavanagh)

However the slightly grey area was on my Paternal Grandfather’s side. My Grandfather was born and brought up in Burma, part of a long line of pioneering Forkgens who had lived and worked under British rule and British passports in India and Burma.  They were part of the British community and considered themselves to be British and in the 1950s came “home” to England after things went south in Burma post WWII.

However, this level of Britishness on the Forkgen side has always been in slight question. The Forkgens are not pure aryan, we all have some swarthiness about us and on the whole we tan well! My kids have inherited this and I don’t believe its wholly based on the Burmese genes – I don’t think I look too Burmese to be fair.  So it was really this bit that I was interested in hence the DNA test.

Around four weeks ago, I spat into a test tube, mixed my saliva with the stabilising agent and popped the tube in the prepaid box then sent it off to the lab. Around two weeks ago I received the results back via the online portal of Ancestry DNA. I had fairly low expectations as to what this test would reveal:

  • My friend and business partner had done this already and had found that the “narrowing” of country origins is not too accurate. Sometimes, only the continent can be determined.
  • I have an acquaintance who is a geneticist and she gave me the whole historical and sociological spiel about how no DNA test can ever be 100% accurate when it comes to location origins due to the large scale migration of peoples in recent times (i.e. 1700s-today) which has led to extreme dilution of gene pools in many cases. Furthermore she said that DNA marker identification is only as good as the database that one’s DNA is being compared against. I was hopeful as I knew that Ancestry DNA have over 6 million records but she said that even then, if there aren’t many records in an area such as India then matching would be vague.

Nevertheless, once the results came in I was both surprised and confused – the test raised more questions than it answered frankly and here I will explain why.

The Results

So, first things first, here is the general summary (click to enlarge).  It shows a large slant towards Great Britain and Ireland which I knew was strong due to genes on both sides but 47% British (specifically S.England) and 21% Irish was a bit of a surprise as I don’t look too British and definitely not Irish 🙂

Then we have the Asia Central part of me – 14%; this was the biggest new mystery and I will come back to that in a second.

Unsurprising was the South Asia (India etc) and East Asia ( Burma etc) at a cumulative  7% – although I would have thought it would be more than that.

And finally 8% Western Europe (on the AncestryDNA map this specifies the continental area of Europe e.g. Germany, France, Belguim etc), probably some of my British ancestors with some European dabblings, no surprises there but we didn’t have any evidence of this up to now and my Mum knows of no blood relations in Europe in living memory.

Finally, the trace elements: African, Polynesian, Iberian, Caucus etc.  Apparently many Europeans have these traces in them due to migration / invasion over the centuries – even the most right-wing Brit will have some African in them apparently 🙂

So back to the Asia Central part of me – all 14% of it. Looking at this, it’s a bit weird as observing a partially zoomed view of AncestryDNA’s map (see left and click to enlarge), this looks to be areas such as Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and lots of other “stans”.  So do we have roots in these areas? I am not sure as it’s not what we were led to think and doesn’t correlate with the looks I feel.

But zooming in a bit (click left), this region according to AncestryDNA also reveals areas of North India and Pakistan (which was of course once India and only became Pakistan in the late 40s).  My Dad and family actually lived in Lahore for some years prior to partition, irrelevant to this gene search but in those days Lahore was part of India so Brits could move freely.  I am wondering if we have some North Indian in us – areas like Kashmir, Himchal Pradesh and the Punjab overlap into this “Central Asia” area so I wonder if this is it?

As I said, more questions that answers in some ways – and now 14% of me is very vague in origin where it was not before!

In conclusion though, this does echo the warnings I received before the test: that these tests are only as good as the database that they are matched against and that in some areas, it’s impossible to match to country level due to the sheer lack of data.  Perhaps this will improve in coming years and / or perhaps if I try another DB company I will get a more clear result. But for now, we are where we are.

One other thing that’s interesting about the results: one can then drill down and find “cousin matches”.  I clicked on this and without any other information at all, AncestryDNA matched me against several Lohans and one Logan.  If you were paying attention earlier, you may remember that my Mother’s maiden name is Lohan so these people are definitely cousins of some sort – interesting. Now all I need to do is pay the £58 yearly fee to become a member of AncestryDNA and I can contact them.  Maybe another day… 🙂

I hope that this has been interesting for you – I will leave comments open on this post so if you want to comment / discuss, you should see a comment box somewhere on this page.

Peace and love!



One Month On – £5,168.90 raised :)

Hi All,

You thought you’d seen the last of this blog, but I thought it worth providing a quick few bullet points to update on how things have gone in the one month and one week since the Marathon.

Firstly another MASSIVE THANK YOU to everyone for your kind kind kind sponsorship. Things have definitely tailed off now so the grand total, including gift aid, was (drumroll):


Which is really amazing – and to know that out of every £10 raised, £9.65  goes directly to Ambitious About Autism is absolutely lovely (Virgin Money Giving fees breakdown here). And I believe that I am the biggest fundraiser from my team of 25 where together we raised £45,500 so well done all of you!

A few notes about the month since the Marathon.

  • I’ve run 23 miles since the Marathon. Not bad but considering that in the month of March I ran 70 miles, that’s a bit paltry.
  • However the runs I am doing are more local and interesting – no longer do I need to drive to find “long and flat” runs to mimic London conditions. I get my trainers on, run out of the door and do some loops around my locality. Lots of hills, lots of woods but some interesting scenery. Nice.
  • The world has closed in on me a little bit. Where during training I would have at least 4-6 hours per week just to run, this month business got crazy again and I also need to devote time to family and friends which is great. I’m sort of catching up with life a bit, having a few beers, eating food etc 🙂 But I do need to find the balance as I am slipping back into old ways again… Even if I aim for 40 miles a month and 60 hours work a week, that would be a good balance right now…
  • Will definitely enter for a 1/2 Marathon for September or thereabouts. Need a goal…
  • And cycling – I am now looking at road bikes so biking to work will be an option soon.
  • Lastly, I’m looking into becoming a qualified running coach by doing the Leadership In Running Fitness course and going the same way as I went with footy by starting a small inclusive running group locally for kids with special needs and their siblings, parents etc. Watch this space.

So basically all good and the sponsorship total is excellent – thanks again.

I’ll update again in about six months, or sooner if I have anything vaguely interesting to say 🙂

Peace and love, Andy xx


It’s all over…

So that’s it.

The culmination of nearly 8 months of training, all over in the space of a day. And what a day it was. But more about that later. This is my last training blog as the training is, indeed, over – the London Marathon has been conquered; 26.2 miles in 5 hours 43 mins (or 6 hours 12 mins if you look at it another way – see below).

I’ll attempt to summarise everything that happened over the past week or so and will try to milk the glory just one last time – as this is sure as hell going to be the last time I do this for a while 🙂

This week has been a roller-coaster ride of a week though – it’s Thursday evening now and the legs, shoulders, arms have only really gotten back to normal today. But the physical stuff pales into insignificance against the emotional side – whew. Who would have thought a jog around London could unravel so many emotions – this week has been a combination of massive pride, acute achievement, woe, sobbing in the shower and back to elation again.  I had a chat with a psychotherapist that I know (I didn’t need therapy or anything, he works in my building) and he reckons I am in mourning: I’ve been in very tempestuous relationship with The London Marathon for 9 months, it has been there all the time in the back of my mind, has given me extreme pain and joy, has haunted my waking and sleeping hours. And now it’s gone.  All that training – up at 6am some  mornings (not many but some), all those endorphins, all those miles, all that scenery, all that achievement, and finally that one massive massive day – now all gone.

About that massive day. Sunday started at 5.30 am for me. I’d done all the right things the night before – lots of protein, relaxed, a nice movie with the family, an early night. I felt good when I woke up, not too many nerves, not too tired.  Shower, change, eat the breakfast of a condemned man, 2 toast and jam. The toast felt dry, the jam was tasteless, it rolled in my mouth but I forced it down, knowing that I needed to fuel.

Out in the car into the cold morning air with my kit bag filled with protein bars, bananas and lucozade, to Park Lane Q-Park where we would later meet and Angela would drive me home. On the tube to Cannon Street to get the train to Greenwich – the tube was buzzing with lots of fellow participants with their kit bags and dark expressions of fear and anticipation on their faces.  At Cannon Street the overground which was a much merrier place – the passengers had filtered out to mostly Marathon participants by now and the vibe was good, infectious. No-one was paying for their ticket to Greenwich today, Network Rail had covered the fare for all Marathon runners.

Eventually to Greenwich Park and now in a steady stream of participants, past the cafes with people spilling out, ducking into the loos and drinking coffee and juice. We were then filtered out into runners and non-runners with runners herded into a staging area before heading to our start zones. And all of this before 0900. Meeting fellow runners and team mates, watching Gaby Logan interview newlyweds who had apparently got married that morning before running the race.

By 0930 we had all deposited our kitbags into lorries (filtered by runner number) which would then be transported to The Mall. We then headed to our start areas.  Great banter and chats in the start area; smells of deep heat, warm bodies, fear.

Given my self-predicted time of 6 h 30 mins I was in one of the last zones, zone 9 and the atmosphere was excellent.  Commentators keeping us cheering, helicopters, some real characters.  And then at 1000 we were off – reaching the actual start line at 1030.

I won’t go into massive detail about the run itself but here are a few highlights, things that I want to write down before they fade from memory.

  • The slight feeling of insecurity after leaving the start zone where we were quite tightly packed, warm and comfortable then having to run (run you say? the cheek of it!).  That was a shock after ages of standing and walking.
  • Heading down through Greenwich then down to Charlton, Woolwich, along the river (nice breeze) and then back up to Greenwich and the Cutty Sark. Realising that this was a MASSIVE deal – that there were thousands of people outside pubs, lining the roads. Beer, BBQs, charcoal smoke, the smell of burgers cooking, sunshine, bands.
  • A massive mix of areas and people, modern areas, run down areas, young people, old people, kids high-fiving, people in their Sunday best as if they were dressed for a big day out, more deprived individuals, all colours, all sizes, London together. I was proud to be a Londoner that day.
  • The real realisation (people had told me) that having my name on my charity shirt meant that people would cheer me on all along the way – amazingly boosting to hear one’s name shouted out.  After the first one, I made a point of smiling and acknowledging the wishes, which got bigger cheers and smiles. After that I was smiling all the way around.
  • The music: from brass bands to DJs outside pubs to absolute crazies running sound systems and MC’ing off of their balconies to steel bands to full-on dance setups running off of lorries.  I’m normally plugged into my iPod when running – not on Sunday.
  • Getting a text from my Mum that I had received a mention on BBC  – thanks to Greg Symondson for that 🙂
  • Buxton Water – wow, so many water stations and although mindful of not over-hydrating, I did drink enough and was also stunned at the seas of discarded bottles after the water stations – litter laws to not apply on Marathon day.
  • Jelly babies and lucozade – I had been warned off the jelly babies but after about 20 miles, man they taste good. Free Jelly babies and Haribos, brought along by well wishing members of the public for no other reason than them wanting to be involved. So kind. The cocktail of sweets and lucozade carrying me along nicely.
  • Then the guy with a tray of Jaffa cakes at Lower Thames Street – rich, chocolatey, fruity Jaffa cakes. I told him what a dude he was and gave him a friendly squeeze of the arm.
  • After all those strangers calling my name, actually seeing the lovely faces of people that I knew in the crowd and the emotion that brings. Ulrike Klinger, Ben Shires, the Ambitious About Autism team, Tracey from my building (we ran 5 miles together!) and finally in the last mile, Rich (he had just completed in just over 3 hours – legend), Lucy, Holly, Megan and friends.
  • And then finally, the most welcome sight of all, Angela, Charlie, Max, Holly and Paul all going crazy just before Westminster Bridge – that was the best bit. Their gorgeous, happy, excited, sunburnt faces pushed me through that through last mile.
  • And then the end, the last few hundred metres, after some walking we all break into a run at the end. Past the majestic edifices of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, along to the Mall. Medals, goody bags, free t-shirts, photos and more drinks.

And then it was all over. I had arranged to meet Angela and the kids at a reception in Rathbone Street to be held by the charity but not many of us made it in the end as time was limited – so instead I got a cab to meet them outside the Dorchester which I thought was a good landmark to meet at plus Max would love the epic cars parked outside. After a buzzing chat with the cab driver, he let me off at the hotel to be met by the Doorman. “I’m sorry, I am only being dropped off here, I’m not staying here” I explained.  “That’s okay Sir, with that medal you get special privileges” he said, making my head swell nicely.

Then it all went a bit wrong.  I sat down on a wall outside The Dorchester waiting for Angela and the kids  and suddenly a wave of nausea, tingling arms and dizziness came over me like a tsunami. Had I not been sitting down, I would have collapsed there and then. The hypochondriac in me knew my number was up – I had hyponatremia for sure and was about to kick the bucket.  I sat with my head in my hands for a while drifting in and out – a kind Spanish man asked me if I was okay. I could not respond too well. But really all I needed was some proper food – as Angela arrived, she force fed me an apple then I was okay. The lack of food, and fuel of Lucozade, jelly babies and adrenaline had taken its toll.

Then despite predictions of beers and curry, all I really wanted was the most basic McChicken Sandwich with a chocolate shake – McDonalds on  the A40 in Hayes was my saviour there.  Magic. After that, onto home, a long hot bath, phone calls, coffee and a super deep, satisfied sleep.

Would I do it again? You bet I would. Will I do it again? Yes I think so, but I’ll concentrate now on getting my shorter-distance times down, losing some more weight and spending time with the family – no more whole Sundays lost to training. And I think Angela is itching for a marathon now… let’s see.

Talking of times: for the record my Strava moving time was 5h 43 mins so I’m recorded on Strava as having done the Marathon in this time. However if one looks at the London Marathon site as I did on Monday, my recorded chip time is 6 h 12 mins – this is the elapsed time from when I crossed the start line to when I crossed the finish line. The discrepancy: Strava puts little pauses in; a loo break and a stop to administer a plaster to my foot ate up that 29 mins. I suppose elapsed time is the correct time as an olympic athlete can’t break a world record with a loo break in the middle. However I’m not an athlete and I have lived and died on Strava for the past 8 months so I am inclined to take its time in this instance.  It’s important to mention this – but you, dear reader, can make of it what you will…

Lastly: a MASSIVE thanks to all of you who sponsored me all through this time. The sponsorship went mad in the week leading up to the Marathon with the money really just rolling in. From September when I started this journey to now, with Gift Aid, my excellent charity Ambitious About Autism will benefit from nearly £5,000 in donations from me alone (I wonder if some of you can push it to just over the £5000 mark by doing one last little sponsor – click here if you dare 🙂 ….).

Again THANK YOU all for your great sponsorship support. And THANK YOU to everyone who inspired me, believed in me, spurred me on, who let me go off on this wild journey and kept things afloat whilst I was neglecting the home and family (that’s basically Angela – love you) and THANK YOU for all the wonderful words of congratulations on facebook, strava, in the street and by other means – you all know who you are.

Until next time, peace and love – keep running!

Andy xx

Taper Tantrums?

Hello all,

A quick update on how it’s all going with the taper at t-minus 9 days. Somewhat surreal is the answer!

Last week was a weird one as we were skiing so I was totally detached from the whole thing –  we were doing some moderately physical activity every day although nothing like the 13/15/17/20 mile runs I’d been doing in previous weeks; however the fact that we were busy and active every day kept the “maranoia” at bay.

Back into it this week with a fast 3 mile earlier in the week and today a 7 mile run / 3 mile walk-run combo (link here – note Garmin battery fail at the 7 mile mark so the finish line is at an odd place!) and feeling great right now.

So I’m very much ready for next week – not really nervous and definitely not apprehensive, just can’t wait to be there! The training really has paid off and 0-20 miles over a period of 7-8 months has been the way to do this.

Sponsorship wise, we are SO close to target now – over £2.5K with gift aid for this unique and dedicated Autism charity is not to be sneezed at but I KNOW we can smash this target and beyond.  Thank you so much to all the sponsors so far – and if you haven’t sponsored me, please do, it would really mean a lot for this amazing amazing charity and it would be fantastic to go into the Marathon knowing I’ve hit the target. Link here: SPONSOR ME!!

Thanks everyone for reading and for all your support – it really means a lot on this journey. Peace, love and happy Easter.


Let Taper Commence!

Firstly, thanks to all of you who have sponsored me in the past couple of weeks – your kind generousity has taken me 3/4 of the way to my target and I’m extremely grateful. You’ve seen in previous posts what an amazing charity we are all working for here and I’m happy and confident that every pound earned is going to a good cause.  If you haven’t sponsored me yet, please do so here – it would really spur me on during the marathon knowing that I’ve hit my target!

Talking of the Marathon… I’ve now hit the taper! For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t until I started this crazy scheme) the taper is a wonderful invention that comes at the end of a very cold, dark period of training and allows the trainee to recuperate, rest a little, allowing the muscles and the mind to heal and get strong again.

And man, do I need to heal. Sunday was the biggest run that I’ll do for this marathon: 19.5 recorded miles, but with warm up and warm down I hit the 20 miles required for training peak.

This was a very lovely 20 miles, I have to say. I had dropped Max off at Legoland where he was having fun with a friend then I parked in the centre of Windsor and embarked upon my big journey.

So long the river I plodded from Windsor up to Taplow past Bray and up to Maidenhead. All lovely areas with multi-million pound houses nestling smugly alongside the riverbank – many nice sights and lots of nature to behold. The sun was shining, the river was glistening and after 13 miles, my left knee was screaming. Note to self: get this checked out PDQ.

On the way back a brief stop at a petrol station in Maidenhead for lucozade and chocolate then off I staggered for the journey back. All in all a super slow time – I’m probably looking at a 6 hour marathon – but 20 miles is 20 miles (and nearly 45,000 steps according to my Garmin). And that makes 82.3 miles run in the past 4 weeks – plus over 13,000 calories burned (why have I not evaporated yet?).

So back to this tapering malarkey – yes, oh yes,  a great invention indeed! I now get to reduce my miles significantly – tapering from 20 miles downwards  over the next few weeks where I’ll be doing some short 4/5/10 mile runs in the weeks running up to the event. Deep joy.

And that event is a mere 25-ish days away. Am I looking forward to it? Yes I really am! The darkest days are over now – Sundays have been a total write-off for the 4-6 weeks for example, consisting of a run of up to 4 hours, a journey home, a little basking in the endorphin rush that running brings, a hot shower, some moping around in pain, some snoozing, some staggering around trying to achieve some sort of normality while one’s body just wants to shut down then, finally, collapsing into bed early. A couple of days of recovery (at work) the I’m off again for a couple of weekday morning runs before Sunday comes around again.

So the fact that I’m at the top of the mountain looking down is a good feeling – and as daunting as the 26 miles is, I’ve trained for it, I know it won’t be pretty but I know I’ll get through it…somehow.

The other thing: ironically, I feel the marathon training is actually now getting in the way of me getting healthy. Sounds weird but this journey has sort of taught me where I have been going wrong for 43 years in terms of health and exercise. But being knackered all the time due to marathon training now prevents me from doing decent moderate runs and eating healthily – I look forward to getting things back to a sensible level; everything in moderation as they say.

Onwards and upwards – and looking forward to getting my summmer bikini body on track…

Peace and love all!

Ambitious About Autism & Training Update

Hi All,

A quick update from the training and fundraising camp on this rainy Sunday.

Marathon Team Ambitious Meeting

Last Sunday was our big team meeting at the HQ of Ambitious About Autism, the Treehouse School in Muswell Hill; a really uplifting and interesting event.  Some of our co-members of the Team Ambitious marathon team were there and we got to share our stories – what a very inspiring and friendly bunch. From the guy (like me) who has a Son with Autism to the guy who works at the Treehouse college to a Special Needs teacher who is a multi-marathon runner to the very polite and friendly young man who has Autism himself and, like the rest of us, wants to give something back. Everyone had a story, everyone had some sort of connection with Autism and I commend the Ambitious team in choosing a really great bunch of people all of whom are extremely committed to the cause- we are all in touch on Facebook now which means another support group which helps. 

Secondly – we got to meet some of the amazing and massively dedicated staff members who not only have a huge pride in their organisation but were giving up their Sunday to corral us bunch around the school on their day off.  We thank them for a lovely tour and for being so engaging and enthusiastic with us.

Onto the tour – Treehouse School is a purpose-built school for kids with ASD; indeed the school has been designed with input from the children and experts alike and it shows. The school is light and airy with high ceilings and well laid-out rooms and corridors and despite being a Sunday one could feel a real energy in the place.  There is obvious input from the business and local community – Arsenal FC have some real presence in the place as do Capital Radio to name a couple of supporting organisations, both of them contributing to special therapeutic and business tuition areas. The school also has a strong patronage with prominent figures such as Nick Hornby and John Bercow being involved as parents and supporters.

The interesting thing is that as well as supporting mainstream academic subjects, there is a strong emphasis on giving the children life skills with facilities dedicated to cookery, business, art and science – students have shops, business enterprises and cafes that they run on and off-site.

Above all, a very very strong endorsement that I chose the right charity to run the 26 miles for – and now I am even more grateful that they chose me.

Learn more about Ambitious About Autism here and don’t forget to sponsor me here – with 7 weeks to go I am only 36% towards my target so need all the help I can get…..PLEASE! (but a big THANKS to all my sponsors so far!).

Training Update

What to say…. well it’s definitely getting tougher 🙂  Following the Hampton Court Half Marathon on the 22nd Feb I did the right thing and did a few easy runs this past week (well, a couple of easy runs and a very rain-sodden, muddy, dung-ridden cross-country 5 miles).

However back into the long runs with a bang today with a long, slow 15 mile run from Risborough to Thame and back. Managed to dodge the rain but I know I’m gonna ache in the morning. Going well but I need to up the pace as right now I’m looking at a 6 hour marathon;  although I said I wasn’t going for time, I’d like to do sub-5.5 hours if I can.

Again, 7 weeks to go and the pressure is on:

On the one hand, only 5 more miles to graduate up to in the ‘long’ training runs:

  • 16 miles this Sunday
  • 18 miles the following Sunday
  • 20 miles the Sunday after that
  • Then comes the taper…

On the other hand, with midweek runs that’s about 85 miles in the next few weeks… Easy eh… Hmm.

Peace and love – until next time.


Hampton Court Half Marathon

Hi Everyone,

Just under 8 weeks to go and things are well on track – however I’m about to enter the most intense part of training before taking a bit of a rest just before the marathon.

Forkgen half marathon After having done a couple of 10-milers in recent weeks, this Sunday I completed the Hampton Court Half Marathon, an important milestone in the training programme. Considering I hadn’t run more than a few miles before last August, 13 miles was quite a feat and an important psychological hurdle – I’m basically half way to the marathon now and that’s not a bad thing.

That said…

  • I was pretty slow; in the last 25% of runners without doubt.
  • Running over 10 miles in a competitive environment is very different from lone running on a known route. That meditative state, the saviour of many a long distant runner, doesn’t happen in a race like this, at least not for me. And despite telling myself I didn’t care about anyone else, I was still running mini races and making sure I looked good-ish on the course, in other words not much walking and certainly no stopping for a breather. This meant a lot of tension on the body and I’ve only just de-tensed today to be fair.
  • I’ve been running a lot of tracks and trails up to now; the streets of suburban SW London are very different and harder on the feet. I need to get on some streets, and perhaps time for some new trainers too.

But it was all good and the euphoria at finishing such a scenic, friendly and well organised race was amazing. Plus there was the added bonus of a nice chunky medal,  finisher’s t-shirt and a pretty respectable goodie bag abundant with protein based munchies and other freebies – always nice.

Now, onwards, increasing my long runs 10% each week until I hit 22.5 miles a few weeks before the marathon then I hit the taper – right in time for a week of skiing.

The next few weeks will be interesting.

Peace and love everyone – thanks for all the support, thanks to everyone who has so generously sponsored me so far and if you haven’t managed to sponsor me yet, the link is here. I’m off to a team day at Ambitious About Autism on Sunday and will report back here – but I just know they’re all so grateful for every penny, thank you!

Marathon Training Update

A very quick training update as things have moved on a bit in the couple of weeks since my last entry.

  • I’m now on my second 10 mile run; this evening I feel the warm ache of the legs after a plod up and down the Phoenix trail earlier today. Confession time: today should have been an 11 mile effort but a late night (early morning) at a friend’s birthday party (only one beer but it got refilled a few times) put me out of synch. We reap what we sow – and I can’t do that any more in the coming weeks; regardless I still improved on last week’s 10 mile run so not too bad.
  • Despite a dodgy start to the year (see previous blog) I’ve run 51.6 miles (83.04 KM) in the past 4 weeks so that’s quite nice.
  • I’m now ramping up 10% (ish) a week on the long runs and so next week 11.5 miles, the following week will be the Hampton Court Half Marathon which I’m very much ready for and looking forward to. This ramp up continues until tapering in April (thankfully when we will be away skiing).
  • I’m doing some smaller filler runs in week – and getting some reasonable increasing PBs on 5K runs now, although I probably should be running a bit longer in the week but time is a constant enemy!
  • Race number and chip etc through for Hampton court – so it’s really happening!

  • On the downside, I have a niggling ache in one of my toes which could be a metatarsal stress fracture (common running thing due to bad gait). I hope hope hope it’s just a bruise and will be watching it closely.

So mostly all good. A few of you have been asking where to sponsor me – here is the sponsor link. Many many thanks to those of you who have sponsored me (including a couple of random anonymous people – amazing!). Learn more about the very excellent charity Ambitious About Autism who I’m running for here.

I said it was a quick update – you dodged a bullet there…

Until next time, peace and love.

The highs and lows of winter training.

Hi All,

So I’m back in the saddle after an enforced 12 day training break. Holiday? I hear you ask. I wished…

Firstly, following a pretty good training effort over New Year, our youngest son Max came down with something called Stevens Johnson Syndrome on or around the 2nd Jan (have you Googled it yet? – yeah it really is that bad). 5 days / 4 nights in Stoke Mandeville Hospital, 2 nights each for myself and Mrs F, watching Max pumped full of antibiotics and fluids (1 IV in each arm), given oral antibiotics, painkillers, mouth washes and gels, various eye drops and topical skin treatments. He bounced back pretty quickly (amazing little dude that he is) but the road to full recovery is still being travelled and it has been a traumatic road.

Quick aside here: “NHS at breaking point”?

“Humanitarian Crisis in the NHS”?


We’ve now had a couple of brushes with Stoke Mandeville over the past year or so and I can’t speak highly enough of the service they offer. Top top doctors, consultants and – the lifeblood – Nurses, all with seemingly good morale and fantastic attitudes. Plentiful pharmaceuticals. Excellent in and out patient care with some really professional and well run clinics and clinicians. Clean wards. Good food. Even reasonable wifi. I cannot, repeat cannot, see where the problem is.

Okay so my kids are kids and were maybe prioritised due to age / type of illness. Maybe the paediatric provision at Stoke is different from the rest of the country. But, as with most things, I wouldn’t quite trust statistics.

Austerity measures have of course put more strain on the NHS, I get that (the best is yet to come people, remember we’re heading back to the 1970s again…). And I’m sure if you’re elderly and have had a fall or if you’re drunk and waiting a long time for a nasty wound to be stitched or if you’re obese and waiting for a nasty swelling to be looked at you’re going to a) be deemed low priority but b) significantly affect waiting time stats and c) you’ll make for some great stories in the press.

But it’s all these people who are helping to create the perfect storm here – an ageing, more obese, more reckless society coupled with massive budget cuts is going to skew figures. I’m not saying it’s right and I’m not saying I don’t sympathise with these groups – but needs must and when the good stuff is on ration then the most deserving will get to the front of the queue.

But, speaking personally, when we’ve found ourselves in massive need, when our hearts have been in our mouths with fear at our kids being sick, when these kids have needed urgent diagnosis and treatment – we’ve not been found wanting. And for those reasons I’m going to keep praising the NHS and I’m going to do my best to stay fit and healthy so that I give myself a better chance of not getting into any of those risk groups…

Anyway, sermon over, back to the story. So once Max got released it was time for me to get sick. As often happens, the adrenaline from the crisis wore off and so I then caught a cold. No training there either for a good few days.

On the plus side, once I did get back into things from the 17th onwards, I’ve made up for lost time. Although easing back into it, I’ve managed:

  • A 3mile / 5K comeback run on the 17th which despite being my first run in 12 days brought me an all time PB on the 5K. I must have been pleased to back! Just over 34 mins which is not fast, especially as I know people who are doing the same distance now in 19 mins (you know who you are!), but I’m happy.
  • Two 3mile city runs in Roermond (Netherlands, where our group head office is based and practically my second home).
  • A 7mile hill training run around Speen and environs; not fun or relaxing but necessary.
  • A 3.5 mile time bound run today (time bound as I couldn’t shift my carcass out of bed early enough.

Yes there have been some god-awful cold mornings but the cold brings great sunrises and some lovely crystalline vegetation. And that makes it all the more worth it.

Running into the sun

Ramping up now to the half marathon at the end of Feb via some long weekend runs – I’m nearly on 10 mile constant long runs now and ramping up so I’m well on target, and 13 miles is where I need to be for the end of Feb for the marathon training.

Onwards and upwards!

Peace and love,


Happy New Year / Post Christmas Training Update

Firstly wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2017 – and I really hope you all had a good Christmas!

Against all the odds, it has been a pretty good Christmas and New Year holiday period running-wise!  20 miles in the 7 final days of 2016 which included:

  • A nice 5 miler with Mrs F on boxing day.
  • A couple of smaller 3Mi filler runs.
  • A 9 miler yesterday.

I’m fully on track with both the half-marathon training plan and, importantly, the full marathon plan which is good. N.B. you’ll notice that I have moved into thinking in miles – an important change in thinking / estimating / planning when training for the 26.2 mile race.  It’s still taking a while to get over the fact that I am not running 5K runs or indeed 14K runs any more – but it’s important in terms of the ultimate goal and helps to keep things in perspective.

So, plans for January:

  • Get the holistic balance spot-on: food, carb levels, protein intake, fluids, sleep etc all contribute hugely to the balance. Basically a bit less alcohol and dead animals accompanied by cheese and carbs won’t go amiss.
  • This will lead to ongoing weight loss and an easier run (one hopes…).
  • More of the same in terms of running, keeping the plan going, upping the distances over the coming weeks – if you’re interested, you can monitor my progress on Strava here: https://www.strava.com/athletes/17886589.
  • Oh and of course the usual family and business madness,  plans and goals – we’ll fit those in somewhere during what will prove to be a super busy year methinks 🙂

Final thought:  I get asked a lot if I’m enjoying this journey and the answer is, largely, a big yes.  We’ve all been to Disneyland or Legoland or Thorpe Park; I don’t recall seeing people at those places with smiles of perpetual ecstasy on their faces despite having spent potentially thousands of pounds and having travelled hundreds or even thousands of miles to get there. Indeed, I recall at one point thinking, whilst walking around Disneyworld in Florida, how hot, miserable, flustered and generally downhearted people looked as they queued hours for a ride that would last minutes. However as humans we filter this all out and we remember the golden moments – and now I remember that trip as nothing but joyous.

Running is a bit like this. I drag my carcass out of bed when it’s -3 degrees, dark and frosty. I pull on my running clothes, have a protein shake and get in my car to drive somewhere that actually allows me to run more than a mile without having to climb stupid gradients. I get my iPhone cranked up, wait for the GPS to kick in on my Garmin watch, start plodding along the footpath – and it’s normally at this point I think “this is pretty much the armpit of life…”.

However, within 20 minutes, I am warmed up, I have found my pace, it’s getting light, the music (carefully selected) is flowing nicely. I’m drifting in and out of deep thought,  planning the day, enjoying the music, enjoying the cold air on my face as the dawn starts to creep over the horizon, I’m smelling the fields and the air, I’m almost at one with nature.  It’s at these times I have had moments of epiphany – where the road almost floats beneath my feet and I can forget where I am, where the miles just melt away. Within another 20 minutes, I may have finished and I’m basking in the warmth of the endorphins and the feeling of accomplishment at another few miles under my feet towards the ultimate goal; and at this point I’m happy that my watch is synching and my run is being shared on Strava for all to see.

This is why I can safely say, yes, I am enjoying the journey and can’t see a time when I won’t be doing this.

Again, peace and love to all, wishing you a great 2017, thanks for following me and don’t forget to sponsor me at some point in the next few months – this is what it’s all about of course 🙂