The Ghost of Christmas past

Once upon a time I was a soldier. I was a proud member of the Royal Hampshire Regiment – “The Tigers” – my local county regiment. Ninety per cent of our RHamps cap badgesoldiers were recruited from Hampshire – mainly from the county towns of Portsmouth, Gosport, Fareham, Southampton, Andover and Basingstoke. It is a regiment where generations of sons have followed in their fathers footsteps, as I did. It was a proper proud family regiment.

Although it has long since been merged with other regiments, the soul of the Regiment lives on today through friendships and reunions. The name may have gone but the spirit remains. Once a Tiger always a Tiger!

I joined the 1st Battalion in Germany in 1980 and spent a happy year there before the regiment moved lock, stock and barrel back to the UK in early 1981.

As a celebration of returning to the UK, our rugby team came back a few weeks early on a tour of Hampshire. In three weeks we played seven of the top teams in the county. We beat a lot of them and those we didn’t beat on the pitch we beat in the bar afterwards. It was a fantastic three weeks during which we were effectively professional sportsmen

Rugby aside, my abiding memory of the tour was having half my moustache shaved off (yes this was my “moustache period”!!) and being very upset when no-one noticed that I had half a moustache for three days.

Tiger rugby tourThis week on Facebook someone published pictures of the programme for the Tour and unexpectedly there I was face to face with a photo and bio of my 21-year old self. My first thought was my God I look young. There is a reason for that; I was young.

The other shock I got was reading my statistics – especially my weight. I was pretty fit at the time and at the start of the tour I weighed in at 10st 6lb 6 (146lb) – I am 5’ 7” so that is light. I don’t have any records of my weight from those days and always assumed I was about 15 lbs more than this.

This got me thinking. Firstly, on a very practical note, it got me thinking about my weight. I know that I drag too much weight around my runs and triathlons with me. There has to be some logic in “lighter being faster” and I keep promising myself that I will get down to a racing weight. The problem is that I have no reference point for what should be – until now.

There’s no way I am going to get to 10st 6lb (146lbs) from my current weight of about 12st 3lb  (170lbs). But it has given me a target to shoot at. I think I could comfortably get down to about 11st 7lb (161lb) which would mean lugging 10lbs less round the race course. So that is top of my new year’s resolutions – get to a proper racing weight. I am hoping that as I have been a good boy all year, James Duigan’s book, “Clean and Lean Diet” will be in my Christmas stocking. I can’t wait to get started!

It also got me thinking about my ambition. You could understand that as 21 year old I had a head full of sporting plans and dreams. If you had asked me then what would be in my head when I was 54 I would have said words like “pipe and slippers” and “slow jogs”. But here I am at 54 and my ambition is undimmed. If anything I think I have more to prove to myself now than I did then.

I ran my fastest half marathon time ever just two months ago and I am getting faster all the time on the bike. I also think my fastest marathon is ahead of me and next year I am going to try something longer and harder than I have ever tried (more in another post). So put that in your pipe and smoke it 21-year old Peter Whent. I may not be able to knock out 6.5 min miles like I once did, but there is life in this old dog yet and I am going to show you that 54 is the new 21!!

On that bold note, I want to wish everyone a happy Christmas. The best part of blogging is the fantastic group of likeminded friends I have made. I have really enjoyed your company in 2013 and look forward to more next year.

For us Christmas is a family affair. Presents, church and then a big lunch followed by a lot of relaxing. Whatever it is you are doing I wish you all a happy and peaceful festive season before we all get “back on it”!


10 responses to “The Ghost of Christmas past

  1. Peter, I loved reading about your 21 year old self. Sounds like that three week rugby stint was one of the highlights of your life. Isn’t it great when we realize our 54 year old selves far exceed anything we could have imagined when we were younger? I never would have thought I would have two handfulls of marathons and an ultra under my belt at this age. Let’s keep breaking even more norms in 2014. Merry Christmas!


    • Thanks Angela, it is so nice to read a comment from you on my blog again. I look forward to continuing to push the boundaries that I can push and reading about you doing the same.


  2. Have a lovely Christmas. Sometimes I work with old people (80 and 90 yr olds)and they often comment that the person inside is still the 20yr old! So don’t expect to be any different in your 70’s. Good luck with clean and lean.!


  3. Peter – I may have had a glass of two of Christmas cheer but I think you are awesome! So glad to have *met* you through blogging and looking forward to sharing the next part of our adventures. Here’s to a clean, lean and mean 2014!


    • Thank you Becca – I’ll drink to that. You know how much respect I have for your incredible achievements. I too look forward to sharing our continued adventures in 2014 and beyond. Have a great Christmas.


  4. I really loved this post, Dad. I didn’t know all that stuff about the army, I Also didn’t know you were ” a gritty little scrum half”! Good Luck with CLEAN AND LEAN.


  5. I’m turning 50 in 2014 and i’m going for my next marathon PR. Not that I was ever competition for Mo Farrah!
    Happy New Year.


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