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Taking up a new lifelong lesson in bodybuilding

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I was down at the local track in Melbourne recently for a 5,000m seeded-race, where you get to line up alongside runners of a similar ability and ideally running a similar pace.

The plan was to see could I still break 20 minutes over the distance I used to race for real: that’s still running at a half-decent pace, just under four minutes per km sounds good when you regularly jog around at five minutes per km. I wouldn’t dare check the equivalent mile pace, the old running currency of my time.

Earlier in the day I got a call from Carol Kolimago, my room-mate at Villanova University, who moved to Melbourne a few years ago with her family. We were in college together for four years, ran on back-to-back NCAA winning cross-country teams in 1990 and 1991, when running really was our only form of training.

Carol wanted to come and watch my race for another catch up. After 30 years it’s still special to have this opportunity to reconnect with such an important part of my life, especially as I often talk to my daughter Sophie as she embarks on a similar journey at the University of Washington.

I was trying to play down the race, hiding among the men in the mixed field, and it was encouraging hearing Carol cheering for me on every lap, like we were back in college chasing points, or even chasing an Olympic dream. We still have much in common, continuing to run and cycle and challenge ourselves, and Carol has completed a few Ironman triathlons, including the Kona World Championship in Hawaii.

The common thread of endurance training continues to filter through our lives. It’s hard to lose that mindset, believing endless running and cycling and cardio workouts are the best way to maintaining health and fitness throughout your life.

I’m reluctant to let go of any part of my running, especially when I can manage all the little aches and injuries these days, even if heading out the door I sometimes feel like I’m just wearing away at my body, maintaining that lean and lightness while burning as much energy as required.

One day last year we met up for coffee, and on the way back I dropped Carol at this new gym she’d just signed up to. Like most runners, I’ve always done a bit of gym work here and there to try to maintain some general strength and core fitness, at one point in my career that included lifting my daughters Ciara and Sophie when they were very young. I still have my 5kg dumbbells at home, a few medicine balls, but didn’t enquire too much about this gym and new personal training regime Carol was going to.

Carol Kolimago taking part in a Victoria ICN (I Compete Natural) competition
Carol Kolimago taking part in a Victoria ICN (I Compete Natural) competition

Roll on a year later, and Carol has once again stepped far out of her comfort zone, leaving behind the obsession with daily runs or doing some level of daily cardio activity, and committing to a whole different mindset of looking after her body both inside and out by stepping into the world of competitive bodybuilding.

This isn’t what you might think of traditionally; this is all natural bodybuilding, where you fuel you body through copious amounts of clean, simple nutritious food while working specifically on building muscle and transforming your body.

I was keen to hear more, and talked with Carol after my race all about her competition, how she got so strong and confident in just nine weeks once she committed to the Victorian ICN (I Compete Natural) competition, where she won six categories. That alone provides all the feedback you need to keep working hard.

It’s so easy to keep doing the same things over and over again. Sometimes different in name, but essentially the same mindset with whatever activity you do, the foods you eat, and the commitment you allow yourself to give to a hobby or fitness regime.

There’s always another road race to sign up to, marathon or cycle from one end of the country to the other. If you’re programmed to rise to these challenges you just know what’s required and it’s so often just about preparing enough that you’ll be able to comfortably complete the distance. Sometimes it’s also about reawakening the competitive spirit.

Like anything else, when you see results you gain more motivation to do more, and there is no greater concrete feedback than seeing your time as you cross the finish line, reading through the results after, and breaking down the categories

I’ve always known that as we get older weightlifting is something that can benefit everyone. It helps to improve your core and posture, how you carry yourself, still none of that seemed so obvious than with Carol’s transformation and commitment to the gym.

I was inspired to pull out the dumbbells from under the bed, and be a bit more regular with my sit-up routine. I also signed up to a gym for four weeks to train with people and push myself a bit more, to commit to something different, something that is so easily forgotten at the end of the day, when the energy levels are draining and home duties like cooking dinner and relaxing start to creep into your head.

Carol is also getting the same satisfaction from training in the gym as training for an Ironman, only in a different way. Two hours in the gym working hard can deliver results in a fun environment as opposed to pounding the pavement, laps in the pool and hours on the bike outside alone, which can wear you down so much more.

There is a time and place for everything, and the safety of doing what you know over and over again can often outweigh the courage required to do something completely different. Carol also shared her nutrition programme with me, which goes along with the daily gym workouts focusing on different parts of the body each day; four meals a day including protein, fats, vegetables and starchy-carbs in every meal, even if vegetables for breakfast would take getting used to for most.

She also told me the only non-weight training she includes is 14,000 steps per day; no more, and she is as lean as she was way back in Villanova and eating so much more food, building muscle , with very little muscle wastage, by working across all areas of the body each week.

It was definitely food for thought: my next goal is how to get the balance right between weight lifting and running, building up a bit more muscle to get that perfect combination to use one sport to boost another without having to compromise too much.

No doubt the balance changes depending on your goals and targets, whatever you choose to do. After just breaking that 20-minute barrier for 5,000m – 19 minutes, 40 seconds be exact – there’s still plenty of satisfaction from running, but also the wonder is my strength letting me down, and is there more I can do to reawaken and even rebuild the sleeping muscles?


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Coronavirus rules for driving tests spark complaints

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Claims of rude testers, of not being allowed to cough and having to drive with windows open due to Covid-19 were among the complaints received from people who failed driving tests recently.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA), which oversees driving tests nationally, released a sample of the 1,505 complaints received since the start of last year under the Freedom of Information Act.

New figures show the driving test centre in Cork had the highest pass rate with 75 per cent of people passing, while the lowest was Charlestown in Dublin with a 42 per cent pass rate.

One person complained he had told his tester he had asthma and might need to cough because he had recently changed inhalers, causing irritation to his throat.

“I was advised that if I coughed at any stage, the test would be over immediately. This was difficult to control while under exam pressure and added a huge amount of unnecessary stress and pressure,” the individual complained.

Another individual complained their tester said if their face mask slipped “a little bit from my nose” while driving, the test would be ended.

“I’m in shock how he treated me that day,” said the complainant.

Another learner driver who failed said their car was hot and “very uncomfortable” because the tester said the hot air de-misters had to be kept on to prevent the windows fogging up because the back windows had to be kept open due to Covid-19.

One complainant said the tester seemed to have prejudged the test when they spotted a small stain on the driver’s seat as the car was supposed to be “spotless”.

‘Anxious’

“The tester was clearly taking it too far. I was complying with all Covid precautions as I had just Hoovered and sanitised the car and it was simply a mark on the seat.”

There were general complaints beyond Covid-19 issues. One person complained about feeling “anxious” because the tester was “sitting there shaking his head”.

Another said their tester repeatedly shook his head and sighed several times, and then made notes on the score sheet, which was “extremely off-putting and really unfair”.

Another driver said the tester was “extremely condescending and patronising” and mocked their answer to a signpost theory question about an “unguarded cliff edge”.

“We don’t drive along cliff edges in this country,” the tester was quoted as saying.

The RSA has been dealing with a backlog of driving tests due to the pandemic.

The centres with the next highest pass rates were Clifden (71 per cent), Killester in Dublin (70 per cent), Birr, Co Offaly (70 per cent) and Cavan (69 per cent).

The test centres with the next lowest pass rates were Dublin’s Churchtown, since closed (44 per cent), Nenagh, Co Tipperary (44 per cent) and Mulhuddart (45 per cent) and Raheny (46 per cent), both in Dublin.


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Former US presidential candidate Bob Dole dies aged 98

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Bob Dole, the long-time Kansas senator who was the Republican nominee for president in 1996, has died from lung cancer. In a statement, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, founded by Dole’s wife, said: “It is with heavy hearts we announced that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died earlier this morning in his sleep. At his death at age 98 he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years.”

In late February, Dole announced that he had advanced lung cancer and would begin treatment. Visiting him, President Joe Biden called Dole his “close friend”.

On Sunday the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, like Biden a Democrat, ordered flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff.

Born in Russell, Kansas in 1923, Dole served in the US infantry in the second world war, suffering serious wounds in Italy and winning a medal for bravery.

His wounds cost him use of his right arm but he entered state politics and soon became a longtime Republican power-broker, representing Kansas in the US House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969 and in the Senate until 1996. He had spells as chairman of the Republican National Committee and as Senate minority and majority leader.

In 1976 he was the Republican nominee for vice-president to Gerald Ford, in an election the sitting president lost to Jimmy Carter. Two decades later, aged 73, Dole won the nod to take on Bill Clinton.

Against the backdrop of a booming economy, the Democrat won a second term with ease, by 379 – 159 in the electoral college and by nine points in the popular vote, the third-party candidate Ross Perot costing Dole support on the right.

Dole received both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian honours.

In the Trump years and after, Dole came widely to be seen as a figure from another time in Republican politics.

On Sunday, the political consultant Tara Setmeyer, a member of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, tweeted: “I cast my first ever vote for president for Bob Dole in 1996. A war hero with a sharp sense of humor ? another piece of a once respectable GOP gone.”

However, Dole remained a loyal Republican soldier, telling USA Today this summer that though Donald Trump “lost the election, and I regret that he did, but they did”, and though he himself was “sort of Trumped out”, he still considered himself “a Trumper”.

Dole called Biden “a great, kind, upstanding, decent person”, though he said he leaned too far left.

He also said: “I do believe [America has]lost something. I can’t get my hand on it, but we’re just not quite where we should be, as the greatest democracy in the world. And I don’t know how you correct it, but I keep hoping that there will be a change in my lifetime.”

On Sunday, Jaime Harrison, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, said: “Sending heartfelt condolences and prayers to the family of Senator Bob Dole. We honor his service and dedication to the nation. May he Rest In Peace.”

– Guardian

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Bournemouth is the most popular coastal town for buyers, says Rightmove

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The most popular seaside location for house hunters this year has been Bournemouth, new research has revealed.   

Rightmove identified the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain, based on the highest number of buyer enquiries via its website.

The Dorset resort is the most popular, followed by Southampton, Hampshire and Brighton, East Sussex, with the South coast dominating the list. 

Rightmove has identified the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

Rightmove has identified the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

The top ten list also includes Blackpool, Lancashire – a coastal resort known for its amusement arcades and donkey rides – where prices have increased 8 per cent in the past year to £137,301.

It compares to the average house price in the top 10 locations, which rose 6 per cent this year. 

It is just ahead of the national average rise of 5 per cent, from £318,188, to £333,037. These figures are based on an average between January and November 2020 compared to January-November 2021. 

At the same time, Rightmove provided a list of coastal locations that have seen the biggest increases in house prices this year.

Padstow in Cornwall topped that list of coastal hotspots, with prices rising 20 per cent this year, from from £548,382, to £658,588.

The most popular seaside location for house hunters is Bournemouth (pictured), according to Rightmove

The most popular seaside location for house hunters is Bournemouth (pictured), according to Rightmove

AVERAGE ASKING PRICES IN COASTAL HOTSPOTS 2021
Rank Location Average asking price 2021 Average asking price 2020 Average asking price increase 2021 vs 2020
1 Padstow, Cornwall £658,588 £548,382 20%
2 Whitby, North Yorkshire £254,218 £217,620 17%
3 St. Ives, Cornwall £473,161 £411,484 15%
4 Porthcawl, South Glamorgan, Bridgend (County of) £307,051 £270,505 14%
5 Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire £173,612 £153,140 13%
6 Newquay, Cornwall £317,846 £281,204 13%
7 Filey, North Yorkshire £214,617 £189,914 13%
8 Pwllheli, Gwynedd £222,607 £197,213 13%
9 Brixham, Devon £299,127 £266,604 12%
10 Preston, Paignton, Devon £303,684 £272,029 12%
Source: Rightmove       

It was followed by Whitby, in North Yorkshire, which came second, with prices rising 17 per cent from £217,620, to £254,218. 

Cornwall’s St. Ives is in third place, with average values rising 15 per cent from £411,484 to £473,161.

A house with a good sea view and location will cost you, as it will probably be worth at least 40 per cent more than the equivalent inland, if not more.

Robin Gould – Prime Purchase 

Robin Gould, director of buying agency Prime Purchase, says: ‘Many people love the idea of living beside the sea, even more so since the pandemic struck and we have all been spending more time outside. 

‘However, a house with a good sea view and location will cost you, as it will probably be worth at least 40 per cent more than the equivalent inland, if not more. 

‘A frontline house is arguably worth 30 per cent more than one immediately behind it.

‘I recently bought a “frontline” house near Polzeath in north Cornwall for a client, which was right on the cliff top with stunning coastal and sea views.  

‘Although the house itself was very “vanilla”, most people would have forgiven it anything to have that ever-changing, interesting view.’

Also among the most popular coastal locations for homebuyers is Brighton (pictured)

Also among the most popular coastal locations for homebuyers is Brighton (pictured)

QUICKEST COASTAL MARKETS TO FIND A BUYER
Rank Location Average asking price 2021 Average time to find a buyer 2021 (days) Change in time to find a buyer 2021 vs 2020 (days)
1 Saltcoats, Ayrshire £111,419 19 -35
2 Troon, Ayrshire £178,666 22 -8
3 Westward Ho, Bideford, Devon £297,138 24 -46
4 Ayr, Ayrshire £161,301 25 -15
5 Kessingland, Lowestoft, Suffolk £219,538 25 -22
6 Littlehampton, West Sussex £364,180 26 -28
7 Goring-By-Sea, Worthing, West Sussex £396,078 26 -23
8 Marske-By-The-Sea, Redcar, Cleveland £181,882 28 -15
9 Canvey Island, Essex £308,261 28 -23
10 Weymouth, Dorset £283,585 29 -25
Source: Rightmove       

The red hot property market this year has translated into the time it takes to find a buyer hitting a record low number of days.

The average time find a buyer across the whole of 2021 is 44 days, 15 days quicker than the average in 2020.

Saltcoats in Ayrshire is this year’s quickest coastal location to find a buyer, at 19 days on average.

Troon in Ayrshire came second at 22 days, and Westward Ho, in Bideford, Devon was third at 24 days.

Calshot beach was included as Southampton, which features in the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

Calshot beach was included as Southampton, which features in the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

THE INCREASE IN COASTAL SEARCHES IN 2021
Rank Location Average asking price Increase in searches 2021 vs 2020
1 Morecambe, Lancashire £164,424 32%
2 Blackpool, Lancashire £137,301 21%
3 Great Yarmouth, Norfolk £194,066 15%
4 Swansea, Wales £180,603 15%
5 Saltburn-By-The-Sea, Cleveland £227,611 15%
6 Southampton, Hampshire £249,053 14%
7 Llandudno, Conwy (County of) £235,316 13%
8 Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, South West Wales £319,587 12%
9 Southport, Merseyside £215,838 12%
10 Scarborough, North Yorkshire £191,879 12%
Source: Rightmove     

Meanwhile, Morecambe, Lancashire saw the biggest jump in coastal buyer searches compared to last year, up 32 per cent, followed by Blackpool, up 21 per cent, and Great Yarmouth, up 15 per cent.

Tim Bannister, of Rightmove, said: ‘After a year where coastal locations really captured the imagination of British buyers, it’s interesting to reflect on how the overall picture looks at the end of the year.

‘In terms of average asking price growth, homeowners in Cornwall and Devon are the real winners this year, with properties in some areas outpacing the national average, though this does mean that it is increasingly difficult for some locals to get onto the ladder.

‘The speed of this year’s market really is astounding, seen in the time to find a buyer in some areas, particularly in Scotland.

‘Overall, this has been the year that either through changed lifestyle priorities, or the ability to work remotely, living in coastal areas has become possible for more buyers, which is reflected in the data we’re seeing in this study.’

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