Monthly Archives: March 2015

Nike and The News

If you read this blog at all you will know that I am a massive athletics fan. For me it is the purest of sports. The events in athletics are the fundamentals required in many other sports; running, jumping and throwing. I was involved from the sport from the age of eleven and even though I no longer compete I get excited at the prospect of sitting and watching a meeting on the TV. As a youngster I had my own athletics heroes and I revered them and looked up to them. For my they were the epitome of hard work, dedication and commitment. Apart from dopers. Nobody respected dopers.

Whenever I hear that an athlete has been found guilty of a doping offence I get a knot in the pit of my stomach and my heart sinks. ‘Not again’, I will think to myself. If it’s an athlete I like it will be a mixture of disappointment, frustration and sadness. And then when I start to go back over their career or results I start to feel like the signs were there all along, a bit like a scorned woman who has just discovered her lover has been cheating on her. They were doing it right in front of you all along. In the case of dopers in front of millions of people.

Athletics has been tarnished so much lately with the doping scandal in Russia and reports of other high profile athletes testing positive for banned substances. It becomes hard to take the sport seriously. And with the news that they’re planning to re-test results from Beijing how can anyone take the results sheet of a major championships seriously? It’s embarrassing and makes it increasingly hard to defend the sport to people who don’t rate athletics at all.

So when I heard the news that recurrent doper Gatlin had been signed by Nike I felt that familiar knot in my stomach again. He has been caught twice, been banned twice and like a bad penny has now turned up again to compete, as is his right according to the rules. But I can’t honestly stomach it. He’s like the cheating lover again. The one who got caught out and forgiven but continues to cheat because he knows he will continue to be forgiven by a partner.

When I think of Gatlin I don’t really think of him directly. I think of the competitors who have lost out to him while he was doping. I think of kids like mine who may now be inspired by him because he is sponsored by a high profile company such as Nike. I think of the arrogance and the unrepentance of many dopers because of the inconsistent rulings of the IAAF and other bodies that are meant to discourage doping. I think of the young sports people tied in to Nike for kit and funding now knowing that they are tied to the same company that endorses a doper. You’ve got to feel for them because it’s not like they have a huge choice in funding and they obviously won’t want to jeopardise their income. I also think of hard working athletes who are a credit to the sport being dropped. It is a crying, crying shame.

I know that Justin Gatlin isn’t the whole of sport at but apparently Nike have a history of endorsing doping athletes. I also know that Nike is an American organisation and in the States he is apparently thought of highly. Which is weird because athletics isn’t even up there in the most popular of sports in the US. I just find the decision incredibly cynical and for no good reason other than to generate money and some headlines for Nike.

But what I also know is that athletics fans will hate this and as we tend to be the punters who buy the merchandise a lot of fans will vote with their feet. I also have faith in the huge number of hard working CLEAN athletes who continue to make athletics the great sport that it is. I am under no illusion that it will make a dent in the armour of the power house that is Nike but it will make us feel a whole lot better in the knowledge that we refuse to tacitly support a man who has cheated on the sport and on his fellow clean athletes, not once, but twice.

Along Came P Dawg

I don’t know where the name Polly came from. In the car on the way to have a look at the puppy we had been told about (‘we’re only looking today, only looking’) we all merrily discussed names for a dog that we may or may not be taking home.

Scout  – literary reference.

Skye – with our surname it could be a cheeky Star Wars reference.

Molly -vetoed because my cat who died was called Molly.

Cleo – too cat like.

Cassie – vetoed by husband who also vetoed anything too ‘girly’.

Elsa – 5 year old’s contribution because he secretly loves Frozen.

Darcy, Rosie, Poppy, Mia, Daisy – all vetoed because we know little girls with these names and I didn’t really want to face parents and tell them that our dog has the same name as their kid.

And yet right up to the drive way of the small holding we were still telling the boys that we weren’t taking the puppy today. We were still just looking. She might not be right for us. She might not even take to our family.

We were lead to the barn door where her mum, a working Welsh collie, was kept alongside her two pups. The owner lifted a big ball of black hair out of a crate. She was docile, placid looking and snuggling into whoever was holding her, until her paws hit the ground and she was off like a rocket, sprinting around the small holding, back and forth to us showing off.

I have no idea what clicked. I didn’t expect to take a 13 week old pup home on Saturday. I expected to say thank you for letting us have a look, we’ll let you know what we decide. I thought we would go away and think long and hard as you are supposed to about these things. But in reality having a dog is something that we have thought long and hard about. It’s been a topic of conversation for months. I was the one who took the most convincing and I have been mentally preparing myself for the moment that we did decide to get one and for everything that goes with it. I had prepared myself for all worse case scenarios and for how tiring and hard it was going to be, a bit like I did when I was pregnant for the first time!

As this black and white whirlwind spun round the place I crouched down and immediately she changed direction and ran into my arms. I think I was sold right there and then. I knew she was mine. She was ours. We took her home with us that same day.

Because she has been living outdoors with her mother and brother for 13 weeks, surrounded by livestock and all sorts of farm smells, I really thought she would struggle to adjust to living indoors. In truth it hasn’t been too bad, unless she’s lulling us into a false sense of security. She enjoys the fuss, she snuggles up to whoever is closest and the whining when we go to bed has been fairly minimal.

I never thought of myself as a dog person or even a cat person. I thought that we were quite content just the four of us. But now she’s here and I look into those puppy eyes I can’t believe how smitten I am. I think she’ll be good for me. I would guess a half collie half deer hound would possibly like a wee jog now and then. I think she’ll be good for the boys. They will have to learn what it’s like to care for and look after something that is not themselves. And I think she’ll be good for my husband who will now literally be walking a black dog (sorry, bad joke).

I’m glad she’s come along. I’m glad it’s happened this way instead of waiting for a breeder. I know she’s come from good people and a good home. I’m glad she’s a little bit quirky and a little bit different being the wee mongrel that she is. I’m thrilled that the boys have taken to her and that she has seemingly taken to our family. She is our very own P Dawg. Let the fun and games begin!


Slow Down

I have completely lost the ability to pace myself. A couple of years of injury has totally wiped my inner speedometer. Maybe I hadn’t realised that one of the benefits of a GPS watch is that your body can start to naturally assume a certain pace. This was something that definitely happened during my first marathon in Edinburgh. And definitely did NOT happen during last year’s London Marathon. I stopped using my GPS when I was injured because it seemed a bit pointless. However I am wondering if I played down the benefits of using it.

My problem is that I just want to run too fast. I think it’s my many years as a middle distance track runner where a great deal of my training involved fast reps and intervals. Even racing meant a sprint from the gun before settling into the pack. Long distance running was a massive learning curve for me when I first started because I wanted to do everything too quickly and too soon.

As I continue to get back to running after being injured for so long, I feel that I am back to square one where my pace is concerned. I am in such a rush to get back to where I was that I think I’m in danger of injuring myself again. I need to get over the frustrations I have with my running ability and suck it up. I am rebuilding virtually from scratch. So I might have to dig out the GPS watch and make a conscious effort to slow down, re-wire my inner speedo and build my baseline again.