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Member of the Month - Sharkie

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SarahWoo asks: Which would you choose - choc or cake and why? :)

Sharkie says: All chocolate plain or milk, cheap or expensive single estate 215% blah de blah is good (as long as it doesn't come with 'a hint of gin/banana/herbal infusion/etc etc'. I will not tolerate 'a hint of') All cake is not good and is even more likely to be messed about with. Or to contain banana or raisins. But a plainish, richish, darkish, moistish chocolate fudge cake is a thing of beauty. With Smarties on the top.
katypie asks: Bravo, much deserved. Not only do you look like a gazelle of speediness in your running pics (the closest I'll ever get to seeing you sadly) but your humour, wit and generosity oozes from (most of ;-)) your blogs. What advice would you give a track-o-phobe? What's been your proudest moment (running wise). Mwah! x

Sharkie says: Thank you my favourite lovely Scottish Fetchie. (So many lovely Scottish Fetchies though. Perhaps an 'oos best is inappropriate?). You mustn't be scared of track. I remember you taking Boypie to Meadowbank - he loved it, even given a little wobble mid session - and so would you. You have the right sort of mentality to benefit from track - you are serious but don't take yourself too seriously. It's just confidence isn't it? We need more women at track! We need you!

Proudest moment...um probably at the end of 2011 when I realised I'd finished top ten for my age group for five different events - all three sprints (even the 400m GET ME) plus the high jump and long jump. Astonished doesn't come close. NB it's a v.small pond!
Autumnleaves asks: Great choice as MOTM - I would like to know who you'd invite to your dream dinner party & why (though you might have blogged about it...)

Sharkie says: Thanks AL. Mmm good blog subject for anyone struggling with that last dozen or so. But... live or dead, famous or friends, would the final six get on - and does one include oneself? What about one's significant other - would he or she be a hindrance to any post party shenanigans one might have in mind? So much to think about....

The following aren't my favourite people of all time - most of whom would be TERRIBLE at a dinner party - but this little gang might work. Off the top of my head: David Beckham, Tamara Rojo, Clare Balding, Matthew Bourne and Johnny Marr.

And finally Zoe Ball because she is knowledgeable about music and dancing, she's a good listener and doesn't go on about herself, seems like a laugh, and she lives in Brighton so it's not too far for her to get home. She doesn't need to bring that Fat Boy though.

I'll have to blog the other reasons later!
RichHL asks: I really thought you'd been MotM aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaages ago. It's very well deserved.

How would a middle-aged man with a beard go from breaking himself training for marathons to not breaking himself training for 400s on the track?


Sharkie says: Martyn Rooney has a beard and he's a bit quick at the 400. He's a 'bit' younger than you admittedly. 400 is the most difficult distance to race and it's very hard to train for too, as the training has to be so specific and is guaranteed to make you feel that death would be a merciful release. However you will get KUDOS and be NAILS so go for it.
minardi asks: Many congratulations :-) What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Sharkie says: Think tall and keep your shoulders down. Works in any given situation.
Helegant asks: Congratulations (no smiley!) Who is fastest over 400m, you, Raffo or Jess?

Sharkie says: Jess, Raffo, me, in that order. Mind you I could probably distract Jess by throwing a ball and get a DNS from Raffo by reminding him how much it will hurt.
The Mighty Fleecy asks: ooh, congrats Sharks! *racks brains* How many blogs are you planning to write next year? And have you considered jumping on the vlog bandwagon?

Sharkie says: Oh let's take a wild stab at this. Fewer.

As for the vlog bandwagon probably not as I would have to spend so long in hair and make-up.
Night-owl asks: Congrats Sharkie well deserved. Could ask you so many questions, but ... What is the best book you've ever read, and why?

Sharkie says: Are 'favourite' and 'best' book different? I have a few favourites - one of which I believe you are just about to read yourself - The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. But this is a running site and I will nominate a strange little book one of my Pilates teachers loaned me because she felt it would really help a few issues I had. It did, it does. 'Taking Root to Fly' by Irene Dowd. Strap line: 'articles on functional anatomy.'
Curly45 asks: Woot. So pleased to see you win (finally). What is your one running regret and do you ever think about going out to fix it?

Sharkie says: Thanks Curly. I sort of regret not going under 80 seconds for the 400m, while I was still in my fifties. My PB at 57 was 81. I've never trained for a 400 but if I had done so I would have got a lot closer to 75. HOWEVER it is too much like hard work so I don't regret it that much.
HappyG(rrr) asks: Congratulations. Track question pls - if one wanted to get into track (5000m, 1500m, 800m but maybe even down to 400, 200, 100m) from a background of longer races (ultras, marathons, halves etc.) what would you advise? What are the benefits and risks? Is there a reasonably vibrant UK vets (or is it called Masters?) track scene? Thanks, and congrats again. :-) G

Sharkie says: Thanks Mr Grrrrrr. Because Fetch is nudging me to get these answers finished, and because you asked me someting similar earlier in the year I'm gong to cheat and direct you to my July 10th blog.

http://www.fetcheveryone.com/blog-view.php?id=4167&m=7&y=2014#blog315904
jennywren asks: Well absolutely. Very well deserved. Are you *sure* we haven't met?

Sharkie says: Oh thankyou, jenny. No, not sure at all. Who 'was' that masked woman I saw sheltering from the rain outside the Rio Cinema in Kingsland High St?
Carpathius asks: Hurrah! Congratulations, well deserved win. Do you have a favourite event, incident or funny happening from your track career, and if so what is it?

Sharkie says: Thank you Carpathius. There have been lots of great moments - training and racing, and lots of funny stories (usually involving Martians) so it's hard to pick out one. Two days stand out - the Southern Counties Vets Finals in 2010 when I did 8 events for my team including all three jumps, all three sprints including the hated 400, chucked a shot and ran the final leg in the 4 x1. I got two PBs and that year won the ladies vets trophy at Serpentine for the second time. So that was a good day (puffs out insubstantial chest). But so was a really hot day in Colchester this year competing for the Senior Serpie team (not vets) and not managing anything like the times and jumps of a couple of years previously. Just being there on a lovely day, with the sun beating down, doing the stuff I love, with people I like, managing season's bests and coming away feeling optimistic that there IS still more and better to come - THAT'S dead good as well. It's not always about PBs and fastest and winning.
LazyDaisy asks: Hurrah! Congratulations. With the gift of time travel, would you go back and start sprinting seriously earlier? Or would that have meant giving up stuff you wouldn't have wanted to miss out on?

Sharkie says: Good question, tricky though. Naturally I wonder how good I would have been if I'd done athletics as a teenager - but THAT was never going to happen. You know, as well as I do, that it just wasn't cool to be sporty in the late 60s and early 70s. And you are right - there's no way it would have fitted into my life before I was um ..forty. But, I would like to have started serious sprinting earlier - in my early to mid forties say rather than my mid fifties. There is such a lot of technique to learn - I'm always playing catch up and although one CAN learn new things - and should in my opinion - when one is older, it does take longer and is more difficult.
Cog Noscensme AHA asks: Do you have a favourite race distance?

Sharkie says: Oh definitely the 100m. That's METRES not MILES you lot! But I suspect 60m is my 'best' distance.
Flatlander asks: Keep those blogs coming! You seem to have lived in London for most of your adult life, so what keeps you there besides work, is it Serpentine, and what changes have you noticed in Dalston?

Sharkie says: I'm not in London as much as I'd like to be anymore - but I like being at the seaside nearly all the time too, so it's actually an impossible situation. My Serpie team is important to me - I would never have discovered sprinting without them - but it's just liking London a LOT that keeps hauling me back. Great cities are great. End of. (Dalston is gradually becoming more upmarket... but it will take a good while yet before it loses its overall working class character. I originally liked it and felt safe there because, odd as it may sound, it felt like where I grew up in Manchester - sort of 'ordinary'.
ChrisHB asks: You are incredibly supple, agile, with perfect control over every muscle. Have you always been like that or have you worked on it in your old age? (I think I'm older than you, so no offence possible).

Sharkie says: I certainly don't have perfect control over every muscle! Have you SEEN my recalcitrant right arm when I'm sprinting? But yes I've always been quite supple, although it's still a case of use it or lose it. Quite a lot of dance training in the past has been another big help. The agility has to be worked on at least as much as the mobility - physical confidence counts for a lot and that's partly about having control of your limbs and good body awareness (proprioception). It's never too late to learn it to some extent.
Billy-Whizz-Haining asks: Well done gorgus, you got my vote x

Sharkie says: Why thank you kind sir! Although I am 173 years old I am surprisingly susceptible to flattery. No fool like an old fool, eh.
.B. asks: Congratulations Sharks! Lots of questions have already been asked, so .. why Sharkie? Where did your forum name come from?

Sharkie says: Phew, that's an easy one. It's one of Raffo's jokes that I always have to be moving forward or I die. And of course I am the least shark like person in the world as I'm a rubbish swimmer and lack the killer instinct. I'm more like the Pathetic Sharks in Vizz. I do like eating whole fish though.
DazTheSlug asks: When do you think you will next stand on the edge of Kinder Scout and survey the view?

Sharkie says: It has been too long, but the pictures, names and places from my childhood will be in my head for ever.
Little Nemo asks: Congratulations! Now that you're a sprint queen what is the longest distance you currently run and do you miss longer runs at all?

Sharkie says: Hello my friend from the days of the 'Two and a Half Parks' (Serpentine club 6ish mile run invented by Little Nemo, folks). I vaguely miss Serpie Wednesdays and Saturdays, and it's nice to be able to 'just' run in various surroundings. But I find distance running very difficult these days and I do love running fast and the training it involves, so no, not really. The furthest I run at the moment is 300 metres - in training, I've given up with 400s, they're too hard and I am appreciably better at the short stuff.
runnerbean asks: Big congrats my FOP...if you had to stand up and talk about something that might influence people (non sporting subject or animal)what would you talk about and why?..

Sharkie says: Great question Beanie. Difficult though. If I was cleverer I would talk about the importance of self knowledge and the resulting self confidence that true self knowledge gives you. About people who are comfortable in their own skin and therefore don't worry about what others think and can be generous and open hearted. And sensible. Or something like that.
BaronessBL asks: Many congratulations on winning MotM. I can't think of a good running question so here's a dog one...If you could only pursue one of either agility or obedience but to competitive perfection (or at least top 10 in UK!)....which would it be and why?

Sharkie says: Agility certainly seems more fun and plays to Jess' strengths of speed and athleticism, although advanced obedience could be more interesting for Jess than the Kennel Club Good Citizen stuff. But what would really suit her is the Shutzhund thing which involves tracking, obedience with obstacles and 'protection' which I know she'd love as it involves launching yourself at potential ne'er do wells and hanging on until the handler says 'let go'. She's good at that. She'd probably quite enjoy a barking contest too or some sort of X factor affair which would showcase her remarkable singing.
DuncanG asks: Do you have a favourite track triumph that you could watch again and again and how does it compare to Akabusi in the relay against the USA?

Sharkie says: Me an' the boy often find ourselves watching Jess Ennis on the last lap of her 800m London 2012. She goes out hard on the first lap - as she always does (suicidal, frankly) and half way down the back straight on the final lap two of the big girls pass her. She hangs on round the bend and when they reach the 100 straight - although she doesn't have to, she's won the gold anyway, she says, 'No, I'm not having THAT. It's my race, I'm going to finish in style.' Adrenaline carries her past the big girls and she flies down the home straight to gold. Brave, mad, gorgeous.
Alice the Camel asks: Huge congratulations, I'm so pleased to see your name up there as MOTM! There are some fantastic blog subjects amongst these questions... I was going to ask the same as Fleecy - what's next on the Blog front? xx

Sharkie says: Thanks Alice, my blogging chum. I dunno! I am thinking about writing an independent blog though - but am not quite sure where to pitch it. I'm a bit ...random, to say the least.
GeologyRocks asks: Congratulations! Well deserved :) If you were stuck in a lift with one song playing on loop, what song would you choose?

Sharkie says: Any of my favourite songs would pall if the lift was stuck for a long time, and I can't bear that to happen - so I will sadly reject Hendrix's version of All Along the Watchtower, and The Stones Gimme Shelter. However perhaps it would only be stuck for about half and hour and Desolation Row off Highway 61 Revisted is 8 minutes long so perhaps.....
forest plodder asks: Many congratulations! Where in the world would be your favourite place to visit (and maybe run)?

Sharkie says: Thank you D! I love the South of France so... I don't know if Nice has a running track (it has to be a track) but that would do Nicely.
EarlyRiser asks: Well done! Why do we always run the same way around a track? And after a lifetime of leaning into corners don't you wear down one leg more than the other?

Sharkie says: I might have known once but I don't now. We sometimes run the other was round in training if we have the track to ourselves. My coach likes to mix things up wherever he can. It's odd how different it feels. Do sheep on Welsh hillsides have two legs shorter than the other two?
runningmumof3boys asks: Congratulations - well deserved winner !!!!! omg ive left it so long to ask you a question all the ones id have asked have gone to do with track/running ! so I will ask - if you could wake up tomorrow in the body of someone else who would you pick and what would you do ?
and finaly what face cream do you use to keep looking so youthful and can i borrow your shark dress one day sis ;-)


Sharkie says: Thank you little sis, where you go I follow! If you mean 'have' someone else's body rather than 'be' that other person then I wouldn't mind Kate Moss' body, she's twenty years younger and several inches taller but not too tall. And I've never wanted massive knockers so I don't care about that. I'd be happy with Jess Ennis' body too - hers is incredible and can do incredible things AND she's got great legs and a great bum (and she's even younger) so praps she wins out over Kate even though she doesn't look as good in a slinky party frock and heels. Boots No7 Lift and Luminate darling. And yes of course you can as long as you promise not to do a tri in it. Not even for team GB. xxxxx
Sunbed Athlete asks: Congrats!! We're you a sporty kid at school, teen years etc etc or did you do what most people did and hit the pub, look for boys etc then think one day I've had enough and took to something you wish you had done years before you did???

Sharkie says: I was a fast runner at primary school but not at all sporty at secondary school. Anything sporty was considered extremely uncool, especially for girls, in the 1960s. I was a bit of a rock and roll, JD swigging, Fag Ash Lil in my twenties and thirties. And forties. However as I'd always danced and cycled taking up running in my fifties wasn't too much of a shock to the system. I'd stopped smoking and cycled less far and didn't want to turn into a lard mountain But also see answer to Lazydaisy's question.
The Duckinator asks: Well done - about time you got this!

Just how hard is a full-on sprint race? Say a flat-out 200, how does the fatigue and mental concentration for that distance compare to longer distance?


Sharkie says: Thanks Duckie, me old mate. You sort of know really, don't you, being a sprinter (or MD runner at least) as well as a distance runner yourself - I should be asking you! It's so different. The concentration is much more intense you can't lose it for a millisecond- there is no such thing as auto pilot in a sprint. There would - obviously and even at my level - only be fatigue AFTER a 100m, but a 200 can seem a l-o-n-g way, and if you are running all out that final 50m can feel like it's against treacle. But a perfect sprint - you'll hardly feel you've run it 'til you're checking your time. 'Did I do THAT?' All the work has been beforehand and you just relax and run. But it's rare and precious. Well it is on a 200, for me, although it happened one sunny evening when I got my PB.
emsky asks: My current goal I am chasing is sub 30 5K (current pb 30:07 down from 38:55 this time last year). What was your first big running goal that you achieved

Sharkie says: You're doing really well reducing your times so dramatically. That 29 something can't be far ahead! Sprinting came later so my first goal was actually to run my first 10k ever (I was about 53 at the time) in less than an hour. I did.

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