Rattling That Tin Again

It’s the Bristol 10K on Sunday. It’s looking like it might be a bit of a scorcher, too, which will probably slow me down a bit — I tend to overheat easily on the 10K. Still, it’s not going to stop me, so please can you help give me some encouragement? Knowing that I’m raising a bit of money for Children’s Hospice South West will definitely keep me putting one foot in front of the other. All donations, big or little, very welcome on my Just Giving page. Thanks!

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Passing Around the Hat

This week, I probably won’t be running until Sunday, when I’m taking part in the Bath Half Marathon. This year I’m running to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis society. My mum died of MS nineteen years ago last month, and we still don’t have a cure or even much clue as to the causes of MS.

Any donations, big or small, would be very welcome. Thanks! (And thanks to those reading who have already given! You rock.)

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Back to the Portway

Portway Tree

Since my fastest ever half marathon, I’ve not done any jogging.

Partly this is the usual break I take after every big long race. Partly it’s because I’ve been very busy. I took on a four-week contract at my old workplace at the same time I was still working on the Android version of Get Running, at the same time as I was having a new kitchen fitted and then decorating it. As you might expect, that didn’t leave me with much time or energy for jogging.

On the plus side, I did cycle to work and back pretty much every day of the four week contract, which was good exercise, and seems to have kept any weight gain at bay, at least.

And now the contact’s over, the kitchen’s finished, and I’m back on the road. I nipped out for a little 3K jog down the Portway yesterday to start getting myself back in the habit — I find it’s best to lower your resistance to getting back into running by going out for laughably short distances to start with.

Speaking of the Bristol Half Marathon — thanks to everyone who chipped in to raise £110 for Children’s Hospice South West. It’s a great cause, and knowing that there were donations depending on my running helped me to get out there to train, and to keep going all the way around the course 😀


My only recent run was a slow 5K up the hill to the shops on Saturday. That’s because I’m (a) busy as hell this week, and something has to give, and (b) running the Bristol 10K on Sunday!

If you’d like to help me out with some charity-based encouragement, I’ll be running the 10K in aid of CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people. My Just Giving donations page is here, and any amount, big or small, will be very much appreciated. And might help keep me going, too 🙂


Bath Half Marathon 2012

I approached this year’s Bath Half Marathon with more than a little trepidation, and rightly so, it turned out. Since the Bristol Half, I just haven’t trained enough. Partly that’s due to winter, and partly because my routine’s been knocked off-kilter by quitting my day job. I also put on some weight over the last half of 2011 that I’ve not managed to shake off yet.

I mused on this during the approach to Bath, in a coach from Bath Racecourse. I really recommend their Bath Half park-and-ride service, by the way. You park at the racecourse, then wait in a nice warm room with a bunch of other runners (and decent toilet facilities – very important before a race!), then get taken into town in a nice coach. The shuttle service back after the race runs until 5pm, and it was only £9 including the booking fee.

Bath Racecourse Coach

Anyway. Yes, I was underprepared. The longest distance I’ve done since September was 10km, and that’s just not enough distance training for a half marathon.

On the other hand, everything else was going well. I’d made sure to eat right and get enough sleep for the few days before the race, and I woke up feeling refreshed and pretty cheerful on Sunday morning. On the way to the start, the weather seemed ideal for running, cold and overcast, but not too cold. Also, because this was my second Bath Half, I knew a lot more about what to expect, from where to find the Runner’s Village to the course itself.

Grey and Overcast

Standing in the long queue for the start line, there was the usual chit-chat with other runners. The nerves of starting and a shared purpose mean that people are happy to natter to complete strangers and compare experiences. I forgot about my lack of training, and just got into the running mood.

And that was the way I stayed, for the first lap, at least. The grey skies lifted and the sun came out, which is good spiritually, but not ideal for running – a lot of people I’ve spoken to since said it was too hot for them, and I agree. I was feeling distinctly overheated by the sixth or seventh mile, and starting to lose some of my chipperness.

That said, the friendliness of the Bath Half course did a lot to keep me buoyed up. The rock band out on the pavement, the people cheering from windows, the drummers in Queen Square – all great for keeping you going.

But, sadly, with my lack of training, something had to give. Looping back past the start to begin my second lap of the course, I was already feeling like I’d run out of steam, physically at least. My feet were starting to feel sore (I ended up with some nice blisters), the heat was getting to me, and my muscles were running on empty.

Neither plenty of water nor the gel food thingy I ate helped much. I was tired, and getting more tired by the mile.

Time to start running on sheer bloody-mindedness, then. I concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other, and keeping up a jog of some kind. It didn’t matter what kind, or how fast, as long as I kept up something that looked and felt like running rather than walking.

And I carried on. I got slower as the miles went on, as you can clearly see in my RunKeeper track, and I wasn’t enjoying myself much, but I tried to keep my mind off that as best as I could. I thought of other things, I counted how many times I passed the bleach-blonde woman who was alternating walking and running, I enjoyed the comedy outfits.

The safari team who (by dint of clever costumery) included one member being carried in a cage by a gorilla got my “costume of the race” award, by the way.

And, eventually, I made it to a point where there were only five kilometres to go. That was an important psychological point, because I can always run 5K. 5K is my default distance. 5K is the distance I’d run in my sleep, were I prone to somnambulation.

In the last couple of miles before the finish line, you start to get more personal encouragement, too, especially if you’re back with the rest of the straggling, thinned-out crowd. “Just two miles to go now!” wasn’t too helpful, as two miles sounded like a hell of a long way, but the regular “Keep going!”s and “You’re doing great!”s were welcome.

As were the “It’s just around the corner now!”s (which started, truth be told, about a mile away from the final corner, but hey.) Once I was on “final approach” I knew I was going to make it without walking, and I just kept plodding on.

In the end, I crossed the finish line overheated, astoundingly tired, and with very sore feet, at 2:58:44. That’s a whole ten minutes slower than I managed the Bristol Half, and pretty disappointing.

On the other hand, I was bloody happy to have not given up, and I still felt like I’d accomplished something, once I’d recovered a little. I did it. I jogged all the way around, albeit slowly, and at least I came in under the three-hour mark.

So. Another medal, and another finisher’s t‑shirt that doesn’t fit (one size for everyone this year, Bath Half? Really? But I forgive you, because you were really well-organised and because you have more toilets than the Bristol Half.)

It’s also, so far, £126 plus Gift Aid raised for Bristol Mind. Looking back over my past Just Giving donations – which have all been for running – that means I’ve now raised well over £1,000 for charity by getting out there and hitting the streets. Thanks, all my lovely sponsors, for giving to good causes for the Bath Half, for all my past races, and, hopefully, for races to come…

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Two Minds

I’m in two minds as to whether to run tomorrow. I should probably do a last bit of practice for the Bath Half — I haven’t run more than 10km in ages.

On the other hand, my right ankle is feeling quite odd at the moment. It’s possible I did something to it yesterday, when I foolishly accompanied the five-year-old whose birthday party I was at into the clambering-around-rigging-and-dropping-through-pipes bit of the soft play centre we were at.

It’s not feeling too painful, but it does feel like I’ve done something to it such that it might be better left alone, rather than have me put 10km+ on it tomorrow morning the week before an organised race I’m signed up for. Hrm.

Think I’ll just see how I feel in the morning. In the meantime, if you’d like to sponsor me and my odd-feeling ankle for the Bath Half, my Just Giving page is here. This time I’m running for Bristol Mind.

Charity Update

Thank you, everyone who sponsored me for the Bristol Half Marathon. My company were kind enough to match all the donations, too.

So, working it out, with the donations, the matching, the gift aid, and the small fee Just Giving take, I think I raised £272.50 for St. Peter’s Hospice, which is brilliant.

Due to post-half-marathon sore feet, a big long photo walk the following weekend, and being extra-busy in the last few days of my day job, I’ve not actually been running recently. This seems to happen for a while after every half marathon, so I’m not too worried yet.

And on the plus side, having given up the day job to concentrate on learning new stuff (specifically iPhone and Android development) at home for a few months, I should have more time to go running. This should be extra-good over winter, as I’ll have a lot more chance to get out when it’s light. But I’m going to have to work harder on sticking to a schedule without the structure of working days to guide me, I think… We’ll see!

Race Day: Bristol Half Marathon 2011

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Yup! Another day, another medal. I’m getting quite a collection now!

I enjoyed the Bristol Half Marathon on Sunday, despite having had some reservations about my weight and the amount of training I’d been doing. I didn’t think I stood much chance of beating my personal best from the Bath Half.

At least I arrived relaxed and well-prepared for the running. After a couple of half-marathons and 10Ks I’ve got the preparations down quite well now, from pinning my number on to checking the weather forecast before I set out.

The weather was a little too good, as it turned out. The sun was blazing away, and the Portway, which makes up the bulk of the route, is pretty exposed. Once we’d all set off from the Centre, I was glad of the few clouds there were occasionally drifting in front of the sun.

I ran this one on my own — there’s another reason to speed up my running: you have more options for running partners if you have more speeds available than “dead slow”! — so I spent most of the race just enjoying the feeling of running and being part of the general crowd around me.

And people-watching, of course, especially the crazy fancy-dressers. This race didn’t disappoint on that score, with bagpipers piping their way around, a couple of people “wearing” a boat in support of the Marines, a waddle of penguins, several dogs, and Bob the Builder, to name but a few of the sights.

I also got a chance to wave to a few friends — I’d only just set out when Tom snapped me (with a proper old-school film camera, apparently) on my way past, plus I spotted several people coming back down the Portway as I was on my way out, including Jose and other usual suspects.

I kept up a very steady pace all the way around, just plodding along as usual. I felt pretty good up to somewhere around the fourteenth kilometre — that’s the way back into town along Cumberland Road — where my legs started to feel a bit dead, but even that wasn’t so bad.

Trudging around the last bit of town, I was determined just to keep going, mostly because my legs seemed to have got into that fragile momentum which might have been difficult to get back into if I’d slowed down for even a second.

As it turned out, I had just about enough energy to keep going right to the finish line — perked up at the last minute by my friends Emmeline and Arnaud cheering me on — and I came in at an official time of 2:48:15, breaking my previous personal best by just over a minute. Hurrah!

And that — apart from the now-traditional milkshake at Rocotillos (honey and Crunchie bar, thanks for asking) was my Bristol Half Marathon 2011. I guess I can give myself a week off, then start getting back into training. The next long race will be the Bath Half in March, hopefully…

Bristol Half 2011

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Yes, the race pack has arrived 🙂

With two half-marathons under my belt now, I feel fairly confident about this Sunday’s Bristol Half, despite the fact that the belt in question has had to expand by a notch or two in the last few months. A holiday in the Lake District actually saw me lose a couple of pounds last week — clearly I wasn’t drinking enough beer to keep up with the walking — so I’m relaxed and looking forward to the weekend.

Also, yesterday I did 10-ish‑K around Leigh Woods, and I certainly felt like I had some energy left at the end. It was nice to see a fair few other runners obviously practising for the Half — I saw a few people in race tops, plus a few guys in combat fatigues wearing hefty packs, so I guess there’s going to be a services team or two marching round, as usual.

Of course, all this confidence could be completely scuppered on the day itself by a bad night, awful weather or even just a cold, so I’m still going to be crossing my fingers a bit.

And, as usual, asking for a bit of motivation in the form of donations to the charity I’m running for, St. Peter’s Hospice. They’re the official race charity for the Bristol Half Marathon, and a very worthy local cause. I’m collecting donations on my Just Giving page — please give generously!

Thanks! And good luck to anyone else looking forward to the Bristol Half or any other event at the moment!

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 sxc.hu.