Happy beeps here, buddy. Come on.

The kit bag, ready to go.

I should probably be a lot firmer with my goals this year. I had a vague set of outcomes in my head last January, and that seemed to come together in the end (although I suspect with no help from me). I ended the year fitter, a little healthier, and with more words in hand than when I started.

Obviously, I kick off 2018 with a week of sinus headaches that leave me feeling like a useless sack of idiot whose list of things that need doing is growing progressively more insurmountable.

But, I have great friends and an awesome partner and if they can be upbeat, then damn it, so can I. 2018 goals it is.

Fitness

Getting to the gym seems to be the thing that slips most easily out of my schedules. Feel ill? No gym. Kids playing up? No gym. Got a lot of work on? Skip it. Swimming is easier to stick to because the classes are v expensive and missing a session involves asking the question: are you willing to lose that investment. But generally speaking, I think exercise has improved my quality of life across the board and it’s something to persevere with.

I would like to run at a 5 min/km pace over 5k and (stretch goal!) 10k distances. Right now I’ve got an inconsistent 5:20-5:30 trend on good days, but I think with a good wind and a kickass playlist, I can make it happen.

I don’t have goals in mind re: weights, but I do want to start building a programme that is a little less slapdash. Part of that means managing a workout diary, and putting together a training programme. I feel like the mix of compound lifts and bodyweight/resistance band stabilisation work is paying off right now (no injuries! no joint pain aside from this weird shoulder thing I’m working on!) so by spring I want to have a better overall idea of what I’m doing for any given session. The worst workouts are the ones I don’t plan ahead for.

Swimming: I would like to be able to do that this year. The current standard is more of a “almost but not quite drowning”. Needs work.

Books and writing

I need to read more. I always need to read more. It’s the other thing that falls by the wayside when other stuff comes up. Mostly I find myself falling asleep by the time I get eyes on the page.

Solution: use your commute, idiot.

I’m writing a thriller about a copycat killer who turns out to be something much, much worse than that, and really that should take me through to the summer if I am really lucky (unlucky, or “more likely”: the autumn). I would LOVE to be able to write something else either towards the end of the year or concurrently (spoiler: it won’t be concurrent) because I have a sharp, really nasty and completely fun fantasy story that I’ve been chewing on for what feels like two years now and I really want to just get it down on paper.

So…the thriller will happen. Anything else will be a bonus.

I would love to do some short fiction or a novella or something for audio, but we’ll see. I spent a long time writing a good half

million words of short fiction only to have no real idea what to do with it. If opportunities show up, I’ll pounce on them. 

Other

I want to spend more time working on that cookery thing. Just being a bit more willing to break out the cookbooks, or to spend a bit more time on prep and make our meals that little bit more special. Good food is just worth the effort, you know?

So. 2018. Let’s make it happen.

Wheels within wheels.

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I really don’t want to spend a lot of time looking back at 2014. It was a significant year for me and a lot of people close to me, but I can’t say I’ll look back on it fondly. That said, considering the general state of my memory, I doubt I’ll be able to look back on it at all. The years just seem to blur together in my head. I gather that this is not a unique outcome so far as perception of time passing goes.

So, 2015. What’s in store? Well, that remains to be seen. Some big changes, doubtless a vast number of little ones, but as to plans…I find myself in the uncomfortable position of having to be flexible. Ugh. Doesn’t the Universe know I love rituals?

As to what I can be certain of, I’ll be starting to get some exercise (aside from the obvious exercise of running after an 18 month old toddler whose favourite hobby is climbing things and then losing her balance). Possibly running, definitely some easy weights and yoga, but nevertheless something. I’m not quite a total potato (yet) but the couch really is starting to resemble a memory foam that is shaped to my body.

I’m still writing, albeit between long periods of chores and work and other stuff that means the work is going at a snail’s pace. I have two projects half done and I intend to finish both of them over the course of 2015.

And I’m definitely doing that Wattpad thing. That’s going to happen. I just need a few bits and bobs and then I can get started.

And that’ll be 2015.

Oh wait. I’ll totally read some books and stuff, too. I don’t know what, yet. A lot of people have been doing the books they’re looking forward to, but I seriously have a huge backlog to get through and if something cool pops up I might read it? I just can’t commit. I had a mad idea for a new project that would require a lot of research reading, but maybe that’s something for 2016 instead…

Fool, fool, back to the beginning is the rule.

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So, back in 2010 my brother said to me, “do you fancy doing a marathon?” Neither of us had ever really run before, and the one he emailed to me – the inaugural Kielder marathon – was a nightmare of hills and October chilliness a mere six months distant.

Of course we did it.

After that, though, I stopped running so much. There were a string of things that factored into it – work, stress, hospital visits, headaches, weird medication side effects – but mostly I just stopped. I lost a lot confidence in my ability to do things post-collapse, and running felt like too much of a struggle. I don’t just run slow. I run kind of ugly, too. I bob up and down when I should be going forward, and my left leg does this weird thing when I get tired and kicks out behind me, which Lisa thinks is hilarious. At almost five and a half hours to get round the marathon, it felt easier to just not bother.

I started again this morning. As you can expect after a three-year hiatus on distance running, It was not pretty. In all honesty, it wasn’t a hell of a lot of fun, either. My ipod is hiding somewhere in the house and my digital watch has died, so I spent the entire distance counting in my head. Counting.

I need to find that ipod.

To try and spur things on I installed a tracking app on my phone. I can’t get Zombies, Run!, because the new version won’t install on my HTC Desire, because Orange won’t upgrade the OS. I should sit and install it myself, but I’ve already had to format my phone once (oh yeah – to my friends reading this: if I had your number before, I probably don’t now – text me please!) and I feel drained at the thought of installing everything from scratch.

I went with MapMyRun instead. First impressions? Not too bad, although the pace counter is a little bit twitchy. At one point it clocked me as doing 21 km/h which I’m pretty sure is an anomaly. Also, I don’t mind ad support to make things free but it’s a bit heavy on the full-screen pop-ups. If anyone has a decent alternative, feel free to let me know.

I also re-started my Fitocracy account. Will it stick this time? I dunno. We’ll see how I do.

The Kielder Marathon

This weekend Alistair and I both completed the inaugural Kielder Marathon.  It’s been a surprisingly short six months since we both found out that we had got places and that we were going to be doing our first marathon ever, and while I can’t say that I enjoyed the actual running of the marathon, it’s been a pretty fun journey.

One of the first things I should say is thanks to everyone who supported us while we were training up for the event.  We raised £1343.80 for kidney research, which was far in excess of what we anticipated.  So thanks all, from Nigel, Alistair, and myself.

I will warn you now, there are photos of paleness after the link.

Continue reading “The Kielder Marathon”

Where did the week go?

And all of a sudden, it’s Friday. I can’t believe how quick the week has been, and it’s not like it’s been a particularly busy week.

I got my number for the Great North Run in the post. I am number 37116, which means I’ll be starting waaay back in the pack in amongst the walkers. This does not bode well for a good time. My brother (who’s about 10,000 places ahead of me in the numbers) is also vexed over his allocated place and has suggested we see about getting ourselves bumped up the order a bit so that we can actually run the race.

On the writing front, I recently got some very good (and very severe in places) feedback on my work-in-progress. Notable issues were with the structure and voice, but neither of them is completely insurmountable and there was enough good feedback for me to feel like it’s actually worth keeping on with the project.

What I am doing, though, is pretty much re-writing the whole thing from scratch: moving from 1st person to 3rd, introducing a second POV, cutting large swathes of backstory and removing one character entirely. Also the biggest twist of the story is going to be delivered up front. I think it will be a lot easier second time round, although re-typing almost 100k worth of work with a change in viewpoint is going to be challenging in and of itself.

Since I really don’t want to have to do it a third time, I’ve been writing up a scene index and detailed synopsis so that when I do sit down to write it I’ll know exactly how what I have got fits into where I want to go with it, and if something doesn’t work I can alter it at the synopsis level without having to write it all out again first.

It’s great, because up until now my writing has existed in a bubble – I’ve had no direction as to where I’m going wrong or how to improve beyond the odd flash of insight from my own reading experience. It’s refreshing to have someone go “right – here’s where you’re strong, here’s what needs work” and I can only improve from it.

So, yeah. Back to work, I guess.

Newark Air Museum. Oh, and a short Sunday run.

So, we went down to Newark this weekend for the half marathon.

While we were in town, though, Alistair was quite keen on seeing the Air Museum.  And when I say excited, I’m not kidding.

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At a little over six quid to get in, it was somewhat pricey, but nevertheless a very interesting wander round was had.

Continue reading “Newark Air Museum. Oh, and a short Sunday run.”

Newark Half Marathon – the day before.

After a summer of 10k races, Alistair and I will be upping the distance tomorrow with the first of our two planned half-marathon races.

As far as races go, you can’t really imagine two more different than the Newark half and the Great North Run.  The latter is one of the biggest, most well-known running events of the British racing calendar and will have somewhere in the region of 50,000 runners participating.  For Newark, I’m number 195.

This will also be the first race this year sans racing chip.  It feels archaic, but pleasantly so.  I can forsee a lot of jostling, congestion and dodging in the Great North Run, and it’ll be good to have a race where that’s not going to happen.

I think Alistair is looking to hit a time of around 100 mins for the half.  I’ll be aiming for 2 hours.  Anything I can manage over and above that would just be a bonus.

Wish us luck!  Photos and race report to follow!