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City Ground (Nottingham Forest)

23/05/2014

When I’m doing interviews with internationals media they always ask what the best thing about this blog is, what makes a great ground. It’s always the same: “Hey Andy, so can you tell the people of Oklahoma what’s so great about the Turnbull Ground?”

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It’s amazing and of course the answer differs from place to place. The sheer size of Old Trafford is overwhelming, the state of Tinto Park is almost surreal but for those stadiums that are just that, there’s one thing that will always win over: the chance to sneak in.

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And so the City Ground, home of former European Cup winners Nottingham Forest, will always be remembered fondly by me. It’s not really one for daytime tourists to wander inside, but on a Saturday evening shortly after a home game, the doors were still open.

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That meant yours truly having a mope about and there’s no denying the City Ground is an impressive venue. It’s a big stadium anyway and pretty immaculate, in fact there’s a lot of grounds such as Oxford’s Kassam Stadium that are much newer, not a lot smaller but definitely looking worse for wear.

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Wonderful old school floodlights perched high above and old-school turnstiles give this a warm feeling and regardless of its flashy interior, will win even the coldest heart over. Inside there’s bright red seats that are visually striking but also stanchions interrupting the view from one stand. It’s a cracking mix of schools both old and new.

18 - It's Not Right, But It's Okay

10/02/2013

 

Usually I aim for ten minute miles. By no means quick, but fairly decent for a fat bloke still getting into the swing of things.
 
...

 

Usually I aim for ten minute miles. By no means quick, but fairly decent for a fat bloke still getting into the swing of things.
 
Today I put my run off for about two hours. A journalist was supposed to call me for an interview, but even when I gave up on that I just stared out the window at the dark, cold, wet, windy scene outside and kept thinking “surely there must be other stuff I could be getting on with?”
 
There absolutely is, but I got up off my arse, changed my running route and managed 5 miles. It may have taken 50mins 56secs, but that's close enough to my target pace to be happy, especially considering the wind. I slacked off slightly and listened to a podcast rather than myself this time. I'm feeling fairly happy with my show so I thought I'd give myself a treat, and besides, I don't think I could have tolerated listening to me for nearly an hour! *
 
Back home into the warm bosom of a glass of wine and a hot bath, sometimes just getting out there is the achievement rather than any nonsense. I feel great. I might not have won the war just yet, but I smashed the tits off the battle. And that's all that counts right now.
 
* If you can tolerate the idea of listening to me for an hour, please come to my FREE stand up comedy show at Leicester Comedy Festival this Wednesday, 13th March 2013. You can reserve spaces here.

17 - Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

07/02/2013

It's rare to start anything with an apology, but it's been way, way too long since my last blog so for that: sorry. I know, it's not often lazy creatives actually acknowledge ...

It's rare to start anything with an apology, but it's been way, way too long since my last blog so for that: sorry. I know, it's not often lazy creatives actually acknowledge how lazy they are. I'll wager the beginning of U2's next album won't feature The Edge saying “sheesh sorry it's been so long since the last one, but the money doesn't spend itself y'know.” Second apology – I've just realised I described myself as a creative there. What a wanker.

The running has been going nicely in the years since my last blog. I completed the Great North Run in 2hrs 37mins, which would have been quicker if I didn't have to stop at a first aid station for some repairs on some blisters then walk the last two miles. To make myself feel better, a couple of months later I ran 13.1 miles in 2hrs 30mins which was my original target. Mission accomplished.

Since then I've been running intermittently – build up to running 10 miles, pick up an inury, stop running for months, build up to running 8-10 mile runs then getting a stupid run of gigs that mean I can't get out for a week then stopping, or catching colds or just life getting in the way. Thankfully having packed in full time work, time is one excuse I can rarely use.

In fact, running is a great part of my writing process, something quite vital when you make all of your money from writing and performing. Away from the distractions of my house and the internet, just having you and the road means you can get some work done, as long as you're not too knackered to remember it.

This morning, for example, I went out and did a three mile run in 30mins 19secs. I spent that half an hour listening to the first half of a preview I did of my solo show. Whilst it was definitely one of the weirder runs I've had (and coldest, I could hardly breathe after a couple of miles), my full focus was on the show; which gags didn't work, how much I was waffling, entire bits that need removed or put in another order. 

To see the results (of the show), you should definitely come along and see me do it – I'm in Leicester on February 13th for FREE (tickets here) and Glasgow on March 22nd (tickets here) for a fiver. 

For now though, I can only promise to blog after every run I do. That won't be every day, but it will be a lot more regular than once every three years. You can bet your bottom Bono on that.*

* I don't need to read this blog when out running. I'm well aware that didn't really work.

Session Eight - The Prince And The Frog(s)

20/07/2010

First things first, I didn’t hit the two mile mark tonight. I wasn’t too annoyed at myself in terms of fitness, just preparation and circumstance. 1.18 miles in 13mins 17 seconds is ...

First things first, I didn’t hit the two mile mark tonight. I wasn’t too annoyed at myself in terms of fitness, just preparation and circumstance. 1.18 miles in 13mins 17 seconds is upsetting but I’m not too down about it.

A delightful gig in beautiful Middlesbrough meant I’d not bothered eating for most of the day, coupled with getting home for 11.40pm. So, with midnight sneaking up on me and no energy left in my body, I tried to propel myself through the Northumbrian countryside.

Things hit a sticky patch within the first five minutes as I nearly stood on a frog. I just about recovered from the fright and within 20 seconds another one hopped past me. At this point I almost shat myself but tried to grin and bear it. Until another of the weird little bastards got in my way.

By this point I was hopping round trying to avoid them, in the process looking like a big fat sweaty frog myself. Within a minute I’d easily passed a dozen and was shitting myself. I’ve no idea why – in a fight between me and a frog, I’d fancy my chances. They’d struggle to land many punches and would die if I stood on them. Even they must have been pretty freaked out by my girly yelps every time one of them flew across me.

There was nothing else to do but ditch my usual route and go for “round the block”. Another dozen frogs on my way back, I wasn’t sure what I was more angry at – them being there or why they were there. I’ve ran that route for over a week now and seen the occasional frog, probably two at a push. But tonight, why did they all come out? Was it some sort of frog rave? Were they there on holiday? Or had one frog grassed that a fatty was on his territory and got his frog mates to defend his patch? Fucking cowardly frog – be a man about it and sort it one on one rather than getting your homies involved. The tabloids are right – Britain’s gang culture is beyond a joke.

I headed back towards home with the aim of completing two miles but the frog excitement coupled with a lack of food had me crippled. I kept going but eventually the pain around my ribs was a bit too much and I was struggling to breath. I spotted I’d done little over a mile and was disappointed but not too disheartened. I had no food in me, nothing for my body to run on, and that’s why I was struggling. That’s a lot easier to take than not being fit enough.

Unfortunately I’ll have to make the mileage up – I’ll try for 2.5 miles tonight and the same tomorrow. As long as there’s no frogs I’m sure I’ll be fine.

Session Seven - King of the Skinnies

18/07/2010

This goes out to the ice cream scum – you know who you are. The chocolate brigade, pasty police and pizza mafia. You are all scum. I rule. I rule the land of skinny, for I am definitely in ...

This goes out to the ice cream scum – you know who you are. The chocolate brigade, pasty police and pizza mafia. You are all scum. I rule. I rule the land of skinny, for I am definitely in their gang now. Goodbye 40 inch waist and XXL t-shirts!

Yes, after Friday’s two mile success I thought I’d try and have a chilled out Sunday where I took it easy but lasted longer and set off dead on midday. Things got off to a slow start with my banging new running playlist accidentally playing a slower Hanson number. Still, I soon flicked through and was away and running with some more, er, Hanson. Shut your mouth and stop laughing at me.

Proper music soon followed and the run was seemingly fairly straight forward. I hit the mile mark and decided I’d do another half mile before turning back on myself, taking me up to three miles and King of the Skinnies. Bad move.

I hit a mile and a half and could feel me starting to struggle and turned for home, knowing three miles was too much. I just about managed the two miles and realised I’d have to stop. I briefly felt rejuvenated by the rest and tried to resume, but failed. I checked my funky phone application that tracks me and I’d done 2.01 miles in 22 mins 28 seconds. That’s just shy of 11 minute miles – not bad going for a leisurely run and had I aimed at 2 miles I’d have hit it comfortably so I’m not down about it.

That’s further than I was at this time last week. I’m sure another week of two mile runs won’t be quite as much fun, but I’m not dreading them as much as I was last week. I’ll keep hold of all my jeans and t shirts for another week, though.

www.justgiving.com/andyfury

Session Six - Love Won't Tear Us Apart, Blisters Will

16/07/2010

I’ve got a new pet hate. It’s not Kerry Katona, it’s not poor quality cutlery, or even cutlery where the handles aren’t long enough. Sure, I hate all of them, but not as ...

I’ve got a new pet hate. It’s not Kerry Katona, it’s not poor quality cutlery, or even cutlery where the handles aren’t long enough. Sure, I hate all of them, but not as much as I hate my new little friend, Mister Blister.

It’s fair to say that he’s not good company. He’s like having a child on a long car journey; constantly nagging you, wanting to go home, reminding you they’re here as well and generally making your life agony. In fact he’s worse – at least you can put kids up for adoption. You can’t really send a blister to an orphanage.

Tonight’s run was short but sweet. I feel like I could’ve happily done a couple of miles had I been sans-blister, but his presence on the bottom of my foot made it really difficult going. The first half a mile saw me gingerly trying to get into a rhythm, the rest felt fine and fast, if a little measured. It was tricky making sure my foot landed comfortably, and I suspect I’ll pay for that tomorrow, but it was nowhere near as bad as I’d feared. As I got home I was surprised to see it’d taken me as long as it had, 11mins 50secs to do 1.06 miles.

I reckon if I’d not brought my mate along it’d have been under 11 minutes, so not bad going at all. I can already see some progress on the fitness front, and if the foot clears up (I’m already sick of the ‘b’ word) I might try a longer distance on Sunday. My main hope is that it’s ready for a week full of two mile runs that I face from Monday.

Enjoy the weekend.

www.justgiving.com/andyfury

Session Five - Love Racism, Hate Running (not me, you understand)

15/07/2010

Last night was all a bit whiny really wasn’t it? "Boo hoo, woe is me, bit of rain, all tired out, I’ve got such a crap taste in music it’s made me obese." Is that wha ...

Last night was all a bit whiny really wasn’t it? "Boo hoo, woe is me, bit of rain, all tired out, I’ve got such a crap taste in music it’s made me obese." Is that what all the fat people use as their excuses?

"Aye mate, I used to be fit as a fiddle then I bought a Steps album at a car boot and I've never stopped eating pizza since."

or

"Yeah, if the weather was drier where I live I’d be able to sit on toilets made from porcelain as well as just reinforced steel ones."

Maybe that’s the way of the podge – always someone else’s fault. Blame the Tories. The rich get richer and the fatties get fatter. I’m no fan of right wing politics, so I might not have quite got the hang of things, but that can’t be far off, can it? WeightWatchers have very few links to any socialist/communist revolutions, so it must be. Another reason to hate the fatties – they’re right wing. So the odds are that if you wobble when you jump, you’re a racist.

I’m not though. I guess there’s only one way to prove it and that’s to shift some pounds. I’ll weigh in on Sunday and see if I’ve made any progress on that score, but in terms of distance, tonight I was aiming for the big one. Well, the big two. Two miles that is. And how did I get on?

Smashed it. Could have went another mile, easy. Well maybe not quite. The hill that beat me last night nearly got me again tonight, but I just about struggled up it and onto a slow and difficult last half a mile home. It felt like a struggle and that I paced myself a little bit more slowly tonight, but I hit 2.11 miles in 23 minutes 39 seconds. That’s not far off the sort of pace I’ve been doing my one miles in, so certainly promising.

I also picked up a blister on the way round, so tomorrow could be interesting. I’ll try and hit two miles, but I only need the one which I’m confident will now be a doddle. But the blister? Seriously? I run in my battered old trainers and George at Asda socks all week and my feet are fine, I put a newer, better pair of running trainers on and proper socks and my feet have said no! Is there any part of me that isn’t common as muck? Even my feet are showing resistance to any posh shenanigans. The poncy, self-righteous dicks.

Anyway, I’m delighted. After the disappointment of last night I’ve set out what I wanted to achieve tonight. I know I can run two miles now without stopping, so hopefully next week won’t be as difficult to adjust to. Let’s just hope my feet hold out tomorrow night.

www.justgiving.com/andyfury

Session Four - Is this it?

14/07/2010

Today saw me achieve the most I’ve done so far, yet return home the most disappointed. I covered 1.43 miles in 15:49 minutes, absolutely no great shakes in comparison to what I have to hit ...

Today saw me achieve the most I’ve done so far, yet return home the most disappointed. I covered 1.43 miles in 15:49 minutes, absolutely no great shakes in comparison to what I have to hit in September, but the furthest I’ve done to date. Yet still I came home devastated.

Things were looking up when I eventually got my arse outside. I sat indoors for an hour or two waiting for the weather to chill out and let me run. It was chucking it down with rain when the thunder came. Call me a pussy, but my route takes me along a path covered either side in trees. Big trees. Like “yeah lightening! Hello! Fancy having a go if you think you’re hard enough?” kinda trees. So I wimped out and waited for the storm to pass. Only it didn’t.

I spotted an opportunity when the rain calmed down and bolted. In went the headphones, on went shuffle and straight away I felt good. The rain continued to beat down but I was feeling good,, nicely refreshed and the music was loud and pumping. A bit of The Strokes, a bit of Kasabian and I should have been headed for home. Instead I thought I’d keep running for one more song before heading back, meaning I should hit the two mile mark that I’ll be doing next week. So I continued running and guess who should pop up as the rain lashed in my face? Natalie fucking Imbruglia.

Don’t get me wrong, she’s alright, but it’s hardly the sort of stuff to get your blood pumping as your body says no. Love songs don’t help you run up hills. Just as I was panicking, a bit of The Enemy came on and normal service was resumed, although I tired towards the end and was looking for something fresh to push me on towards home. So just as I was waiting for that moment of inspiration… on came Buena Vista Social Club.  Now I love them, and their chilled out, relaxing, summery music. It’s delightful. But it’s not what you want to hear to keep your legs pumping and your body going in the pouring rain.

I ran up one last hill and gave in, around half a mile from home. Soaked through and depressed that for the first time since starting this training, I’d started walking. Sure, I had a look at my distance and felt a tinge of pride that I’d hit a milestone I’d not hit, but it was mostly disappointment that I couldn’t find that last few percent to push me on towards home. What’s worse was the feeling of failure on the long trudge home, with a t-shirt almost as heavy as me, it’d absorbed so much water. Yeah, I’d still hit my goal for the day, but I wanted more. It’s a bitter taste in my mouth right now. Fuck the three jokes I promised last night.

I’ve tried telling myself it’s a good measure of how far I’ve come, but I’m not having it. Tomorrow I run two miles, like it or lump it. And I’m deleting all the fucking slow songs from my phone!

www.justgiving.com/andyfury

Session Three - Under Pressure

13/07/2010

So then, confession time and today was the day I had to hold my hands up and say I didn’t have enough time for running let alone enough energy. It’s a one off and hopefully won&rsquo ...

So then, confession time and today was the day I had to hold my hands up and say I didn’t have enough time for running let alone enough energy. It’s a one off and hopefully won’t become the start of a slippery slope. Hopefully. To be fair I was justified in being stuck for time to hit the road.

Some proper work during the day followed by a few radio interviews and then straight onto a gig at the Sunderland Empire meant I didn’t get home until nearly 11.30pm, which is far too late to go running around rural Northumberland in the pissing rain, isn’t it?

OF COURSE IT FUCKING ISN’T! I was out alright – what a hero; tired, hungry, soaked through, aching, but did you hear me complaining about it? Did you balls. You read it on the blog instead, didn’t you! Eh, that’s a cracking joke, that one. One about the difference between listening to someone and reading. Very clever.

But yeah, tonight was hard work. No headphones, I’d accidentally drank a beer during the gig (honest, I’d forgot I’m no longer fat and was offered free booze, there’s not much you can do in that situation other than drink), the whole rain thing, plus it was late. I didn’t hit the road till 11.45pm. Everything was going against me. Annoyingly, if it’d been earlier at night, some refreshing rain and quiet time would have been ace, but when you just want a sandwich then bed it’s hell.

The biggest plus point tonight though, was this: no interruptions. No frogs, no fatties. It seems the only people that roam the Northumberland streets at night are me and Raoul Moat. Boom! Joke two. You weren’t expecting that, were you? Not this close to the end. Tune in tomorrow where we might aim for three gags in one blog! And less moaning. But the same amount of running. That’s the dream and we’re chasing it. Albeit at a slightly slower pace and only up to a mile (speaking of which I completed 1.13 miles in dead on 12 minutes tonight, maths fans).

If you like jokes subtly blended into banal tales of woe from a fatty, please give money to Kidney Research at www.justgiving.com/andyfury

Session Two - Attack of the Killer Fatties

12/07/2010

Good lord – I encountered another member of Northumberland’s wildlife tonight. This time it wasn’t a frog, not even a fox. Wait for it… it was a fatty!

Not&nb ...

Good lord – I encountered another member of Northumberland’s wildlife tonight. This time it wasn’t a frog, not even a fox. Wait for it… it was a fatty!

Not  a normal fatty like me. I mean a proper one. Like, a full-on fatty fatty wobble wobble specially made doors to walk through and specially ordered clothes off the internet sort of fatty. And the worst thing? I knew I was fast approaching the half mile mark as I ran towards him, the point where I’d have to turn 180 degrees and head for home.

Sure enough, as I got to within five yards of him, I heard the monotone lady tell me that I’d ran half a mile, causing quite the dilemma – do I turn around right away and head back home, or carry on past him? Going past him would mean I’d have to do more than a mile. Turning round in front of him seemed like it’d be mildly offensive, like I was showing off. “If you had the will-power to stay off the pasties mate, you could be doing this!” That’s what it’d seem like I was shouting in his face, really loudly. Whilst throwing ice pops in his face. No doubt he wouldn’t have been bothered – he’ll have only been thinking about food anyway. Scum.

As it happens, I ran another fifty yards further, before looping back and overtaking him, which seemed much less weird in my head. The journey back seemed even tougher today. Maybe it was because I knew I had to put on a bit of a show for fatty, maybe it’s because I’m only a few stone better than him, maybe it’s just running two days on the bounce had me beat. I’m not sure. There’s loads of excuses – I had a podcast in – surely listening to people talking isn’t great for building up a rhythm?  I might experiment with music tomorrow. Besides, it seems to be taking the piss a bit, doing a ten minute run with a podcast in. How many podcasts do you know that only last ten minutes? I might save those for the longer runs. Yeah, that’ll be my treat. Listening to men talk.

Maybe I’m doing an injustice to myself though; I ran for 12 minutes 34 seconds today, covering 1.15 miles. Admittedly a minute of that and .15 miles was down to my social ineptness and a fatty.

www.justgiving.com/andyfury

Session One

11/07/2010

I’d love to begin this with some sort of motivational quip, some inspiration that will hit people square in the face, that will leave some sort of legacy on the world. Instead, I’m a ...

I’d love to begin this with some sort of motivational quip, some inspiration that will hit people square in the face, that will leave some sort of legacy on the world. Instead, I’m absolutely f*cked and in need of a lie down.

It started well. Admittedly in the cover of darkness – the best place to run when you’re this size – I headed out for my first run in preparation for this year's Great North Run. My plan is to run a mile a day all week, then add a mile the following week, and so on until I’m running around 10 miles by the week of the run. So tonight, the plan was simple – one mile. An app on my phone would tell me when I’d run half a mile, at which point I could turn around and head back towards home.

And it worked a treat. Five minutes in, I heard a lifeless, disinterested lady shout that I’d ran half a mile. It seemed easy at this point, so easy that I even toyed with sticking a finger up at The Man and going further. Then I remembered – the outbound part of my journey is downhill. Good god, running uphill is difficult. The second half of the run is a constant but ever so slight incline, but essentially uphill for most of the way. With nothing but the sound of my heavy wheezing, it felt like a constant struggle.

Halfway home I nearly stepped on a frog, as it hopped merrily across the path. I nearly shat my pants and if my pulse could have increased any more, it would have done. God bless the Northumbrian wildlife. Despite the uphill section seeming slightly hellish, once I was into the rhythm,  things got a bit easier and I completed a mile in 10mins 50 seconds. I don’t think the elite athletes competing in September have much to worry about, but the fatties planning on walking it had better watch out – I’ll be running at least one of the thirteen miles, suckers!

www.justgiving.com/andyfury

And so it begins...

11/07/2010

With ten weeks until this year’s Great North Run I decided to do something stupid. At 21 stone and 4 lbs, I decided I’d sign up to do it.

Since leaving school ten years ag ...

With ten weeks until this year’s Great North Run I decided to do something stupid. At 21 stone and 4 lbs, I decided I’d sign up to do it.

Since leaving school ten years ago I’ve gradually piled the pounds on and despite managing to shed several stone a couple of years ago, beginning a career in stand up comedy back in late 2008 saw me fill out most of my shirts quite rapidly. It’s amazing how few stores they are that sell healthy foods late at night when you’re driving home from gigs.

I’ve gradually increased my wardrobe with some dashing outfits courtesy of Oxfam, but having expanded my waistline up from an XL to a XXL, the amount of stupidly obese people donating their clothes to charity seems sparse, so I had a difficult choice to make: buy new clothes in an XXXL, or shed some weight to fit into ‘normal’ clothes again.

The chance to raise some money for Kidney Research seemed too good to turn down, and so with a (literally) heavy heart I agreed to run this year’s Great North Run, with just ten weeks of training to get from zero miles to 13 miles.

The next couple of months will see me keep a training diary – I hope this serves several purposes. Mainly, that it’ll entertain people enough to want to donate to a very worthy cause at www.justgiving.com/andyfury and secondly, hopefully, serve as some sort of inspiration to those wanting to shift some pounds. It’s all well and good seeing some celebrity with a personal trainer and time on their hands managing to shift a few stone, but I’m here to represent those who’ve got nothing but a tiny bit of willpower and some trainers. That makes me sound like a dick – sorry. It’ll get more fun as the weeks go by.

Stay tuned – hopefully you’ll pick up some tips/inspiration/get a good laugh at a fat bloke putting himself through hell.

www.justgiving.com/andyfury

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