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.”

Zero to marathon in six months, continued.

Time does fly pretty quickly when you have a deadline approaching, and when that deadline involves committing yourself to running for well over four hours (I’m not making any bold claims with regards to finishing time), it’s pretty scary to realise how far you’ve got to progress in so little time.

June was a poor month for training.  I started off strong, getting some circuits of the lake near Lisa’s family home in Sweden under my belt, and with it some much-needed hill training.  Unfortunately I caught a horrible cold while I was there, and spent about two weeks coughing my lungs up and unable to run.  The last week of the month was pretty much me trying to find my running legs again, and that blank mental space where you can just pound out the miles.

Currently, it doesn’t seem to be my body that’s flagging.  After about half an hour of running, though, my mind starts to wander and my pace oscillates – I slow down, realise I’m slowing down, speed up, go too fast, slow down, and the cycle repeats itself.  I really need to work on finding consistency in my pace so that I’m not tiring myself out after the first hour from lack of concentration.

I also really need to sort out my diet.  That’s a big priority at the moment, and hopefully the renal dietician I’m seeing on the 12th has some useful advice.

So the first of two 10k races this month is on Sunday, the 4th July.  It’s in Leeds, and Alistair will be there along with me.  He’s had a shit month, too, with some knee pain flaring up and preventing him from training properly.  He’ll be fine, though.  He’s indefatigable.

I just wanted to use that word.

Fundraising is going well – we’re nearly at £1000 now – and if you’re able to spare a couple of quid, we’d certainly appreciate it.  If you can’t, then no worries – cheering from the sidelines is also appreciated!  You can find the fundraising page here.

On the subject of writing, the urban fantasy novel I’ve been working on continues apace.  The major redrafting/rewrites are maybe two-thirds done (I have some rewriting to do at the end) and now I have to start thinking about synopses and cover letters for submission.  My endless swathe of short story rejections let me know not to get my hopes up about it ever going any further than that, but you’ve got to be positive about these things.

The exciting adventures of Failboat Mackenzie-Flumpkin.

I am not enjoying the hot weather.

Well, that’s not strictly true.  I’m not really getting the opportunity to enjoy the hot weather.  Hot weather, it seems, is something that happens when I have my back turned, or I’m standing in an air-conditioned lab for the best part of the day.  I get a good look at it, and other people’s enjoyment of it, on my hour’s commute in both directions.  Even with air conditioning, it’s still a sticky, uncomfortable drive.

That said, I’m not a hot weather person.  I can lounge comfortably indoors reading, or writing, or talking, or watching movies, or whatever.  Outside in the sun, I just fidget and wonder how long I have to endure it before I can go back inside.

Whenever I go to the beach, the fact that I’m going to the beach always comes as a surprise to me and thus I always arrive inappropriately attired, usually in jeans and wearing the wrong shoes – the last time was in Italy, on a shining stretch of pristine golden sand that I looked out over and thought to myself, “brilliant, I can go barefoot” and promptly burnt the soles of my feet on.  I should have known better, especially after climbing the tower of Pisa and discovering that standing on the sunward side of all that shining marble was like stepping into a solar furnace.

I want to go out for a run, but I daren’t do it while it’s still so hot out – I learned my lesson from the Hull 10k.  I might have to go to the gym later instead and set my alarm clock for an early-morning effort tomorrow.  After being ill for a fortnight, I’m way behind on training and if I don’t push myself now then next month’s 10k races will be dismal, and the half-marathons will be murder.  The marathon itself looms insurmountably in the distance and if I think too hard about it I start to panic a bit.  Hopefully Alistair and Nigel are getting on better with their training than I am.

That’s enough of that.  I am not going to be maudlin about it again.  That marathon will bend its knee before me, come hell or high water.*

Also, I am halfway through editing my novel about witches, which means that now half of it doesn’t suck as badly as it did a month ago.  Woo and, indeed, yay.

*Sod’s law dictates the latter may be an eventuality since it’s a trail round a lake.

I can’t beat the title of my last post.

So, this morning I did the Run For All Hull 10k.  It was a beautiful day out, but just way hotter than I would have liked for running.  If they had scheduled it for 6 am, it would have been perfect.

Still, couldn’t complain about the course.  Despite the fact that it was very warm, the course was pretty flat throughout; maybe a little tight in places considering there were 5000 people trying to run along it, but nevertheless it was a decent route to run.  I was all kinds of disappointed at 8 km when I checked my watch and realised I wasn’t going to make sub-50 mins, but I had nothing left in the tank to even try at that point.  Everything after the middle section that ran along the side of the Humber with no shade was just a half-aware slog for me.

On the injury front, my knee is still playing up – I had to take a week off between this race and the last one because it was making horrible grinding noises and seizing up.  I think I’ll need to hunt down a physio or seek some other form of similar consultation if I want to progress in my training at all.

Next race is the Leeds 10k, I think.  I’m not making any predictions on time for that – apparently it’s quite heavy on deceptive climbs so maybe just get round, keep things sub-60 is a good target for now.  We’ll see how the training goes, I guess.

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Getting set at the start line. I had forgotten by about 3k that I was wearing shades; it was so bright.

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Penis? Check.

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Just past the finish line.

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I still haven’t realised I’m wearing shades. Obligatory post-race pose.

Weigh anchor, Muttley; there’s a medal in it for you.

So, one week until my next 10k.  Yesterday I couldn’t walk properly because of the pain in my knee.  Sub-50 isn’t looking like such a great prospect anymore, to be blunt about it.  Not getting my hopes up.

Still, I can’t decide what to do – do I wear my Beverley 10k long-sleeved shirt for the Hull 10k?  In accordance with the principle of cross-sport fashion, I should really find something other than running to do, and fast.

The principle of cross-sport fashion sprung up out of a conversation with my brother that I had while we were both studying, and both indulging in an eclectic jumble of sporting pasttimes.  Our theory was that if you turn up to the class/event/practice hall/dojo/whatever in the appropriate uniform/club shirt/complimentary wearable memento of a previous competition, there is an instant expectation that you will have some reasonable level of ability or familiarity with the sport.  Likewise, you can always pick out the beginner in a group by their non-conformance, not so much a statement as a necessity in most cases as pretty much every sports club encourages beginners to turn up in “comfortable” clothing.

A follow on effect of this is that beginners will invariably segregate themselves from the main pack of uniformed club members before class starts, and on becoming part of the club proper they will adopt the uniform asafp.

This is all very hand-waving and qualitative, of course, but it was a fun line of conversation to follow.

What we ended up deciding was that you could gain a psychological edge over your peers (and opponents) by turning up to club A in garb appropriate for club B and vice-versa; for example, by turning up to a kung fu class in a t-shirt from the climbing wall and hanging about by yourself before class starts, people will underestimate your ability to kick their legs out from under them.  Likewise, by going running in the same t-shirt, no-one has any expectations that you’ll be able to run fast.

Although reading that back, apparently what I’m really saying is that climbing t-shirts are great, because they exude an air of laziness and irresponsibility.

I should go climbing again.  The wall in Hull is meant to be very very good, but I must admit the prices are a little off-putting and I don’t think I could justify a full-year membership at the moment.  Still, they might have nice t-shirts to run in.

Resolution.

At 6.30 this morning, it was a beautiful day.  The sun was shining, there was light breeze on the air, and only a few wisps of cloud marred the perfect blue wash of the sky.

By race time, it was overcast and spitting with rain.

You can’t have everything, I guess.

Race organisation was alright – they could have started, should have started, way way earlier in the day.  Also the set-up for the start was cramped into one little street, with ten yards between the five-minute time divisions.  For about a thousand or so runners, it was way tighter than it needed to be.

The run itself was…painful.  Around mile 2, on the first decent bit of hill, the right side of my stomach started cramping up.  By mile 4 it was solid, and I had to walk for a couple of minutes to stretch it out to make sure I’d be okay to continue.  I’d promised myself a sub-55 minute time for the race, and when I started running again I was very conscious of the fact that I’d have to make some effort to pick up my feet if I was going to make it.

I bimbled up to mile 5, then once I was sure I wasn’t going to cripple myself, I started upping the pace a bit.  It was maybe a little early for it, and the real kickers all surged past me in the last kilometre, but I made it under my intended time at the end. 53:19.

Next race is the Run For All on the 23rd, in Hull.  Will I be able to break 50 minutes?  We’ll see.

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