Charity Update

Shaking the collection tinJust like to say a big “thank you” to my sponsors for the Bristol 10K! In total, I raised £135. That’s matched by my company to make £270, and counting the gift aid we’re at £301.03 for Saint Peter’s Hospice.

That’s a fab result, so thanks, all! I’d imagine I won’t be shaking my virtual tin in your direction again until we get close to the Bristol Half Marathon in September, so you can relax for a bit now 🙂

Image courtesy

Bristol 10K 2011

20110515 DSC01464

The Bristol 10K was my first race, this time last year. It’s a good, fun race, with a whole lot of people — 9,000 finished this year — and it’s right on my doorstep. It only takes me twenty minutes to get to the start line, and then we run right back past my flat and run out along the Portway, my default jogging route.

Last year I ran the whole way around with my friend Mike. This year I did it solo (though Mike met me at the end to take me for our now-traditional post-race Rocotillos milkshake!)

Running solo, and having done two half-marathons in the meantime, the race felt quite different from last year. For a start, I wasn’t the least bit nervous. Once you’ve done 21K a couple of times, a 10K is distinctly less intimidating.

It felt significantly easier, in fact, all the way around. I kept up a very steady pace, except for putting on a bit of speed here a couple of times to see what it felt like (not that sustainable, sadly!) And I just kept going, knowing I had plenty of distance in reserve, and enjoying the atmosphere.

And the costumes. The team (I’m guessing husband and wife) who jogged past as policeman and convict, joined with handcuffs; the “three amigos” with their sombreros and inflatable horses (mules?); the breasts bobbing along for breast cancer, and the Royal Engineers (I think), in uniform rather than costume, who did it with big heavy packs on. Crazy people.

On the downside, I don’t know whether it was lack of speed practice, lack of a running partner, or just the extra weight I’m carrying this time around, I came in at 01:11:15, which is 1 minute 47 slower than last year’s time. Still, that’s just motivation to train a bit harder for next year’s race!

On the upside, I’ve raised at least £135 for St. Peter’s Hospice, thanks to some generous donations from lovely people. Work will double that, so that’s a very decent £270 minimum for the hospice. Thank you, most excellent sponsors!

The next big race I’ve got planned will be the Bristol Half Marathon in September. I need to knuckle down and do some training and lose some weight for that! Maybe I can beat my personal best from the Bath Half…

I’ll leave you with a picture of my 10K medal, as it’s a really nice one — much more decorative than last year’s! I’m really building up quite a collection now…

20110516 DSC01477

Run-Up to the 2011 Bristol 10K

It has not been a brilliant run-up to the Bristol 10K. I feel pretty good, mind you, and I’m sure there’ll be no problem doing it. But I’d had hopes of losing more weight (I’ve plateaued since I was ill a few weeks ago. I’m well now, just not back on the wagon.) And I should have run a bit more, recently.

I would say that things keep on getting in the way, but let’s face it, a quick practice run takes about 40 minutes, and I’m sure I’ve had more than 40 minutes of extra spare time in the last few weeks. I need to work on that, and figure out what’s going on. And practice getting back on the diet wagon when I fall off, too. Bah.

Anyway. The Bristol 10K. It’s this Sunday! I’ve just kicked off my donations page at Just Giving, which you can find here if you’d like to help the lovely people at St. Peter’s Hospice. And my day-job employers have very kindly agreed to match the money I raise, up to a maximum total of £250, so at the moment, anything you give counts double 🙂

My aims for this year? Well, I’d like to beat last year’s time. I’m not sure how realistic that is, as I don’t seem to have got much faster over the last year, but it’s good to have an aim, isn’t it? Last year’s time was 1 hour, 9 minutes and 28 seconds, so anything faster than that will probably make me happy.

I’ll almost certainly be running with RunKeeper, so you can track me as I go around, if you’re interested. I’ll be starting some time between 9:45 and 10am, and you should be able to see a red dot moving around a map of Bristol on my RunKeeper profile page between then and whenever I finally stagger over the finish line.

I’m sure I’ll post an update here after the event, so — more to follow on Sunday!

Weighty Matters


Avon Gorge, from Sea Wall
Avon Gorge, today 🙂

I’ve been taking it easy since the Bath Half, giving myself some recovery time, though I did manage to wander out for a 5K last Sunday, and a 5K today, too.

But my thoughts recently have been more on eating than on exercise. Because, despite taking up jogging, my weight has been remarkably static. Checking back to some numbers I captured on in August 2009, pretty much when I took up jogging, I can reveal the massive effect one and a half years of regular exercise has had on me: I have put on a pound.

A single, solitary pound. That’s the difference between my weight now and my weight back then. And not only that, but it’s a pound in the wrong direction.

So, yet again, I think I need to concentrate on my eating for a bit. The exercise is definitely doing me good, and I’m a lot fitter than I would have been without it, but at over seventeen stone, I clearly need to lose a bit of weight by adding some calorie control as well.

Being a geek, I have, of course, started off my diet by purchasing technology. I’ve bought a Withings Body Scale, a Wi-Fi-connected scale that will record, graph and share your weight. If you look over to the sidebar of this blog, in fact, you’ll see a (slightly ugly, sadly) weight widget that has probably got a pretty recent reading on it — which was sent directly here from my shiny new bathroom scale, a few seconds after I last stepped on it.

If you want to know more about the Withings, I’ve written a detailed review on my more geeky blog, here.

Also on the technological side, as suggested by my friends Hal and Rowly, I’m using to record my meals and stay below a set calorie limit.

My plan is to drop half a stone before the Bristol 10K in May, which should (a) be a realistic target, and (b) make sure I don’t feel quite so lardy as I plod around Bristol in front of hundreds of onlookers.

I’ll probably be trying to get out for at least a couple of runs a week from now on, just because the weather’s getting nicer — it was definitely Spring today! — and it’s lighter in the evenings, and I’ll just tag occasional progress reports on my weight onto the end of my normal “I’ve been for a jog” posts. And we’ll see how I do! Wish me luck…

Back on the Road Again

20100516-20100516-P1000433.jpgThis month has been pretty slack for me, running-wise. But that’s a fairly conscious choice. I didn’t want to too much the week before the 10K, and I felt like resting on my laurels a bit after it. Plus I normally take it easy after any long jog, and 10K definitely counts!

But today I got back on the road again, out for a normal Sunday jog. A lot quieter than last week’s, and sans cheering crowds, but still nice. Bridge Valley Road remains closed to traffic, which means you get to jog right up the middle of it rather than being relegated to the narrow strip of pavement up that runs up the one side, plus it was mostly sunny.

So, I guess today marks the end of my training for the 10K. And the start of my training for the Bristol Half Marathon, which is on 5th September. Which feels both a long way off and scarily close at the same time, bearing in mind I’ve never done a run longer than three quarters of that distance…

Before I go, I’d like to thank everyone who sponsored me on my Just Giving page, and elsewhere. If I figure in the Gift Aid for the UK donations, and the £250 my company are going to donate, I reckon I raised a total of £709.08 for St. Peter’s Hospice, which is fantastic! Thanks all!

My First Race: The Bristol 10K

20100509-20100509-P1000324.jpgSo, having checked I’d got everything about three times, I set off this morning to walk down to the start of the Bristol 10K. Everything was very civilised and well-organised. I got a preview of what was to come by walking in through what would become the “handouts at the finish” section, where they were already stacking up space blankets, laying out trays of water bottles, and building the T‑shirt racks.

The race “village” was centred on Millennium Square, which gradually filled up with a huge crowd of what turned out to be more than 10,000 runners. And that’s a lot of Deep Heat fumes, believe me. Everyone seemed friendly, the queues to drop bags off were nice and short, and I soon found a few people from work who were running, too.

Bumping into my colleagues pretty much set the whole race up. I formed up into the big queue for the slower starters — the race got going in a couple of consecutive streams — alongside some of them, including my friend and erstwhile boss Mike. As we filed toward the start, first shuffling, then walking, then at a slightly unsure, crowded jog, we stayed together. We agreed we’d go at our own pace, and if it felt like we needed to fire our iPods up and blast on ahead, or slow down and walk for a bit, that was fine, and we’d split up guilt-free and maybe meet at the end.

But, as it turned out, Mike and I run at pretty much the same pace. My carefully-selected iTunes playlist fell by the wayside because I never felt the need for music. We just jogged along, nattering occasionally, keeping each other company while enjoying the unusual experience of having random people cheer us on every now and again.

The race headed out of Bristol along the A4 Portway, under the Suspension Bridge, turning back towards the city centre again at the 4K marker. On the return leg, I heard my friend Tara cheering me along, which was fab 🙂 I was feeling fine; the weather was pretty much perfect for running, cool and overcast, but not too cold, and with no rain. And it was fantastic to run along the A4 without any traffic to get in the way, or any fumes to spoil the Avon Gorge air.

We struggled up the short and sharp uphill section of flyover to cross over the water and come down on the south side of the water, to complete the loop around the entire harbour and back to the finish line. This was the bit where things started feeling a little harder. Cumberland Road, that runs in a straight line along the south side of the harbour and the north side of the river, is a long road with a slight incline, and the main thing that kept us going was the encouragement from small pockets of cheering people, and passing the 7 and 8K markers. That was definitely the bit where we just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other and not much else.

Once we got closer to the city centre again though, things got easier. The roads were lined with people, lots of support and cheering, banners, kids, people shouting out to friends they were waiting for — it was a proper welcome. We crossed over Prince Street Bridge — again, nice being able to do that without worrying about traffic — and passed the 9K marker just as we hit the Centre. Lots of music and cheering by this point, and we just kept on going.

20100509-20100509-P1000330.jpgComing up to the end, Mike said to me, “Sprint finish!” and upped the pace. I’d not even thought about that; I was in a bit of a steady-pace trance, but I followed his lead and we crossed the line together!

On the whole, it was definitely a much more sociable experience than my normal long-distance runs. Not that I seem to be affected too much by the “loneliness of the long-distance runner”, but running with 10,000 other people, and one running partner in particular definitely felt pretty good.

It also seemed to do good things for my pace. The official times aren’t in yet, or at least not for the slow people like me. The front runner, Kenyan Gordon Mugi, managed it in a smidge under twenty eight and a half minutes, which seems almost inconceivably fast to me. But looking at my RunKeeper log, which seems pretty accurate, I think Mike and I managed to get through in around one hour and ten minutes, pretty much dead-on seven minutes per kilometre pace, which is a lot quicker than I normally manage on my distance runs.

But, frankly, if I’d taken an hour and a half I’d still have been happy: I’ve done my first race. I’ve been there, and got the t‑shirt, literally. And a medal. And race-pack with some goodies. And Jess, Mike’s wife, took us both up to Rocotillos on the Triangle to treat us to some extra-large, extra-thick milkshakes, which were bloody fantastic, and probably replaced every single calorie we’d just lost…

So, that’s my race report — I honestly can’t think of a single way it could have gone better. Looks like I’ve smacked through my charity target, too, with £275 raised on my Just Giving page, and somewhere between £50 and £100 to collect from the paper sponsorship form I’ve been hawking around work. That and the fact that my company is going to match the first £250 should see me hit somewhere around the £600 mark for St. Peter’s Hospice, which is ace.

Right. Think I’m going to have a nice bath to see if I can minimise any aches and pains for tomorrow. And pack my medal in my bag for the morning. Not, of course, that I want to show off. No, of course not. I just need to prove that I ran the race so I can collect the sponsorship money. And the best way of doing that is to take the medal into work. No showing off involved. Really. Ahem.

Medallion Man

The Day Before

Despite what I said last time, I didn’t get a chance to run last weekend, so I’ve had a full week off. Which feels fine to me.

And tomorrow, I run the Bristol 10K 🙂

I’ll be starting off in the second of the two groups — i.e. with the slow people, at the back — at 9:45 tomorrow morning. This is my first ever race. Not that I’ll be treating it as a race; there’s nobody I want to beat. I’ll be happy just to get around and to enjoy the shared experience of running with a whole bunch of other nutters, whether they’re the pros who I’ll only see passing me on their way back as I head out towards the Suspension Bridge, or the people in gorilla costume who I might stand a chance of keeping up with.

If all goes according to plan I’ll be using RunKeeper to track me as I go around, and if the technology works then you’ll be able to watch me run on a live map at my public RunKeeper page. Just visit the web page during the race and you’ll see where I am, and be able to watch a little dot crawl slowly around a map for an hour and a quarter. No, I don’t expect many avid viewers, but hey…

Anyway. I’m runner number 9210. I don’t know how long it’ll take me to get through the start, but I should be finished about an hour and a quarter after that. I’m really not sure how long it’ll take me, because I’ve never run 10K on the flat, or run with a bunch of other people before. But I’m sure I’ll be posting a post-run update sometime tomorrow afternoon, so I’ll let you know how I get on!

It’s a Sign

20100428-20100428-P1000235.jpgThe Bristol 10K is approaching. It’s on road signs now, so it must be official!

My plan to do a few runs in this penultimate training week is going well; I got out for another 5K this evening. I also managed to get to the other side of the river before the high tide and the bridge swing separated the north from the south, so it was out along the towpath and away from the traffic. Much more civilised.

Also, at the suggestion of a couple of friends on Twitter, I checked out Blacks for technical tops in large sizes, and at least found a couple claiming to be XXL rather than XL, with one that even looked as if it might not be in the desperately unflattering figure-hugging style they mostly seem to come in. Hopefully they’ll arrive in time for me to try them on, and try running in them before the 10K.

So, I’ll probably do one or two runs before the race, maybe getting out on Saturday and Monday, seeing as it’s a Bank Holiday. I’ll definitely check back in here before the race, whatever happens… See you then!

I Don’t Feel Too Steady on My Feet

I don’t feel too steady on my feet…
“…I feel hollow I feel weak”

Well, I did a bit. And just as that line in the Stone Roses She Bangs the Drums came around, too. But I had just powered up Bridge Valley Road deliberately a bit faster than normal, to see if I could improve on my uphill pace without actually dying.

And I did. Although the pleasant benches that are scattered around the Downs looked a lot more attractive than normal by the time I got up there. But I resisted, and ploughed on with a 6.75km route.

It was hard work; it did take me about three kilometres before my legs didn’t feel quite so heavy and uncooperative after the hill, but I came in with an average pace of 7:49 per kilometre, which is significantly faster than I normally manage when I include that bloody hill in my runs. The last time, a few weeks ago, I did it in a leisurely 8:14, so it’s not surprising it took a lot more out of me…

Still, good workout, and I feel fine now, especially after the large Boston latte from Boston Tea Party 🙂 They’re lovely in there, and have now taken to keeping a loyalty card for me under the counter, so I don’t even have to remember to carry it around with me when I’m running.

Less than a month to the Bristol 10K now. Can’t see it being a problem, really. I shall probably do at least one more 10K pretty soon, then go back to my normal routine for a week or two, then take a week off before the race itself…

Running for Money

Hello, lovely readers! You’re looking great today. Have you lost weight?

Yes, you can tell I’m buttering you up for something, can’t you? Turns out that it’s only a couple of months until the Bristol 10K, which is happening on 9th May. My very first race!

So, as you might expect, I’m here, cap in hand, to ask for money. I’m running for St. Peter’s Hospice, a local charity helping people with incurable illnesses.

I’ve set up a Just Giving page to accept donations, and I’d love if if you could please pop along there and sponsor me.

It’s a worthy cause, and it’d help me run, too — I want to have something more than sore feet to show for this 10K, and making a donation to the hospice would be great.


Oh, and by the way: I love what you’ve done with your hair!