hi there bigmoose blog stalwarts, how goes this fine day?

good hopefully, and fingers crossed you've had a great week?

there are a lot of new blog subscribers who have joined our throng this week, so welcome along.

this is due partly no doubt to our facebook post that kinda went a bit viral last week, ending up with 7793 shares, 16599 likes on the post and shares, and a reach of 564,850, now i'm not one for numbers ;) but a reach of over half a million, what the heck is that all about???

however, the great thing about this is that we have had an additional 1200 people like the bigmoose page, and a load of new, very attractive, highly intelligent people subscribe to this blog which is only for very attractive, highly intelligent people as i'm sure you would agree?

along with the exposure also came a lot of time needed to reply to everybody that had questions about what we're up to, and predominantly how they can help. so, hopefully, we managed to reply to everybody, and there will be a lot of people getting involved in their own ways, which all adds up to a huge amount of positivity and good stuff happening, so nice work everybody for sharing that post, which then in turn got shared even more, so your single click to share played it's part in something very big, so a huge massive thank you :)

so, on a personal note, this week i have mainly been running.

yep, that's pretty much it, running.

my next big challenge, to run the marathon des sables, the marathon of the sands in the sahara desert next year looms closer by the second, and my training schedule this week ramped up like nothing i've ever done.

my running coach rory sent me my pretty excel spreadsheet showing my daily mileage some weeks ago, and it was with excitement that i noticed the colourful purple days, 1st november through to the 5th, all with 'mini mds' on them.

this 'mini mds' has been designed to test me, and see if i am on track for the big race next april, and was always going to be super tough.

i pulled into merthyr mawr car park sunday morning, and for those of you not familiar with this sandy jewel in the crown in south wales, it is a beach area with the highest sand dunes in the country, and i am familiar with the place from training for some of my mountains in the past, and it boasts one of the toughest hills i've ever run, the 'big dipper'.

now there is nothing clever about the big dipper, it it just a very steep very long hill, which i can tell you is extremely energy sapping.

this picture is very deceptive, and could really do with people in it to show perspective, but lets just say that if there was a person at the top you probably wouldn't be able to see them very well, this puppy is vast!

as i got out of my car rory greeted me and introduced me to paul, another mds runner, who was here to test his mettle.

the theory was that we run laps of approximately 4.37 miles six times, giving us a combined distance of a full marathon 26.2, daunting enough on the road, but on hilly sand a whole new ball game.

the 4.37 mile loop was absolutely stunning, and we happened across the hottest day in november ever, rory had obviously arranged this for us to make conditions in south wales as close to the desert as possible, it's all about the planning!

roughly two miles into the loop we emerged from the sandy trail onto the beach, and proceeded to run along with the early morning horse riders on a stretch of beach that was really beautiful.

along with the beauty came damp sand.

ever run on damp sand?

oh my, my calves burned!

we stopped at the car park every lap to take on fluids and nourishment, and at the end of lap four paul announced he might just do one more, as he had to take his wife out, to which rory enquired how many 'f's' there were in the word 'failure', harsh, but at the end of the next lap paul decided to push on for the planned sixth lap, and complete this sandy marathon, rory doesn't need to say much, just enough to press the button, i smiled as i dug deep and sprinted the last 100 metres up the sandy incline to the car park at the end of lap six, and nearly broke mine and pauls hands as i high fived him and screamed 'yeahhhhh'.

day one of the mini mds complete.

the next four days should have gone well, and i planned to have a week off, to allow myself to run in daylight, and have time to recover after the daily 20 miles rory had set me up to do daily.

unfortunately numbnuts arranged two pre 10am meetings, which meant running in the dark, and no recovery time, grrrrr, i really am an idiot sometimes, but the best one of all was wednesday!

in my day job, i work one day a week as a consultant for an amazing estate agency business here in south wales, pa black, and i am working on a project to hold a charity cycling sportive next year, which pa black will host, raise a bundle of cash for our chosen charity, and also lift awareness of our brand, and as such have been talking to luke rowe the welsh pro cyclist who rides for team sky and recently took part in the teams win at the tour de france, to get him to join us on this project.

luke is a lovely guy, and a big ice hockey fan so we get on swimmingly, and after chatting to him, and him agreeing to take part, it was agreed that i would have a chat with his agent.

i received a call from steve, luke's agent, and proceeded to talk him into submission telling him all about bigmoose, and all the stuff we are up to.

rather than hanging up on me, steve seemed to like what we're doing, and suggested we meet up to discuss bigger plans, so with a childlike excitement, which probably stemmed from me actually finding somebody that would listen to me, and upon discovering that steve also loved mountains, i blurted out 'let's have a business meeting climbing pen y fan!'

steve agreed.

brilliant, well done smith, you've never met the geezer, and now you're going to meet up to climb pen y fan slap bang in the middle of your mini mds.


shall i call to rearrange, explaining that in my haste i had forgotten that i was having a week off, that would probably be the sensible thing i thought.

now you're running ahead of me here aren't you?

the alarm went off at 4.30 and as i left the warm coziness of my bed i questioned my sanity.

i loaded my kit into my car, and headed for brecon.

as i drove the dark roads to merthyr i thought about whether what i was doing was very clever, and concluded that it wasn't, but that what it actually was, was attrition training, pushing myself extremely hard in order to be ready for the marathon des sables, which as the toughest footrace on earth is going to be so so tough, and i need to be ready i agreed with myself as i trotted off around the roads of brecon, with juggernauts occasionally spraying me as they sped past.

concentrate on staying on the white line smith, do not lose concentration at any point.

i remembered what coach rory had said on lap five of our sandy marathon, that as you get tired, your core becomes weaker, and so your foot placement becomes less precise, and trips and falls easier to happen.

i turned around at my halfway point, and the rain started to cover me as i visualised the finish line in morocco, i can do this.

the morning fog that had hidden all the beautiful vistas that i knew were there, surrendered to reveal my car in the car park, and i arrived with just enough time before steve drove in for our meeting.

we set off up the hill in a slightly surreal way, but the fact that steve was there told me that we shared slightly similar dna.

we discussed the athletes that his company m2 sports management represented, and how the biggest common denominator they all shared, was their ability to work through the pain barrier, and for the mind to tell the body not to give up, hmmmmm, i smiled inwardly.

the two hours climb up and down flew by, and as i sighted the car park on the way down i thought about having not talked about loads of stuff we needed to, which i guess was a good thing, and the involvement of luke with our brand hopefully is going ahead, and we have a lot more plans which could be very exciting, so the most bizarre business meeting i have probably ever had seemed to work, and as we parted, we agreed that when the winter sets in we would come back and do some ice climbing together, which i am very excited about.

so that was weird wednesday, and as i proceeded to head out the door thursday i knew this was my last mini mds day, and my oh my the conditions were awful, rain, howling winds, and i knew i had four hours of running ahead, up and down caerphilly mountain twice, and as my feet got soaked from puddles that covered the road and meant i had to run through them, i squished my way over my last twenty miles of the week.

as i stepped into the hot shower i was proud of myself, and the fact that my body had held out, i am the first to recognise that aged 52 things are starting to slow down, but the fact that i ground out 106 miles in five days with no major problems, really made me happy, so don't ever say you can't, until you try, as you really don't know, and you may surprise yourself if you push a little harder, the human body apparently is pretty amazing.

well that was a long ramble about running, sorry about that, but it doesn't seem like i've done much else this week, although if you like cycling keep your eyes open for our announcement of our cycling sportive next year, which from initial conversations with luke and steve is going to be a top notch event :)

so, mini mds done, my focus is firmly on our supertri for super kids, and chloe and i are working on getting 100 children to take part, so if you know anybody that you think might want to attend please ask them to get in touch, here is a flyer with details, oh and there is no charge to take part :)

also, i have been asked a lot about whether we are doing anything at bigmoose for homeless people this christmas, so as well as providing food for cardiff based homeless folk, we are also encouraging anybody we come into contact with wherever you are in the world, to look at an idea that we did last year very successfully.

we asked people to put together shoe boxes of gifts for homeless people, this could range from toiletries and health care products, to sweets and chocolate, and also practical things like socks and pants, scarves, gloves etc.

last year we had a couple of childrens football teams take part in doing this, and i think it has a far reaching appeal, and can teach our youngsters the true meaning of giving and helping others.

so if you fancy getting involved please get in touch, the more the merrier i think, and as i mentioned i know we have readers all over the world, so anybody can do this, and share it with your friends, neighbours, family, etc, maybe this year you will do that good thing you've been looking to do, i guarantee if you do you will get an amazingly warm feeling inside, helping others, whilst sounding corny is actually so rewarding, try it :)

so that wraps up this weeks blog, and i'm really sorry if you don't like running, but hopefully the symbolism of pushing hard, working towards an end goal, and never giving up resonates, and possibly might just encourage one person to keep going, and if it does, that's good i hope.

so until next week, have a great one, and make sure you squeeze all the goodness out of it you can.

blue skies,