Race catch up #2

And so we move on through the year to…

March 25th – Wrap up and run 10k

Another 10k, another jog around Exeter’s quay.

This race was organised by Age UK, which formed in 2009 as Age Concern and Help the Aged combined. They campaign for respect, kindness and help for older people, and are a very good charity.

I’m having trouble remembering how the race went, but I know I got a t-shirt. Overall, it was a lot more comfortable than the previous 10k, but then that’s to be expected with another couple of months training under my belt. My finish time was 44:21, which was under the target time set by Coach Amesbury. I finished 69th out of 562, so I was quite pleased with that too.

Firstly, a photo of myself and Coach Amesbury (who ran much faster than me) before the proceedings and after the choreographed aerobics-style warm up, held at Bedford Square.  Needless to say, we didn’t participate.

Just to cap off, here’s a photo of me after the race with my nephew, who is checking out my funky new t-shirt, which one day I will pass down to him (the balloons weren’t for me).

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Race catch up #1

Here starts the catch up process. Owing to excuse 1, 2 and 3b (work, job & laziness; 3a is tiredness), blogging of my progress has been sporadic to say the least. So here’s a series of posts documenting the races that I have mentioned (or not mentioned) only briefly, thus far.

February 12th – Exeter half-marathon

The first half-marathon of the year. I’ve only every done one half-marathon before in 2008 (I think), the Great West Run, also in Exeter. I managed a time of 1:45:17 for that and so, whilst I was hoping to beat that time, the reality was that I am probably carrying a bit more and going a bit slower than my 23 year old self. It’s amazing the crap you’ll eat and drink whilst doing a PhD.

The race went surprisingly smoothly, which was probably aided by the flat nature of the course as much as anything, although my jelly beans may also have helped (“not just jelly beans, M&S jelly beans…”). I finished with a time of 1:43:20, just shy of 2 minutes faster than my previous time (can you call it a PB if you’ve only done it once?!).

Here are some photos for posterity (nb. although it appears I am not taking it seriously, this is merely the effect of a delerium brought on by the packet of jelly beans I am holding – although Coach Amesbury would like to suggest I “wasn’t running anywhere near hard enough” *cue nightly final-mile flashbacks “LEAVE NOTHING ON THE TRACK!!!” being screamed at me from some b@stard on a pushbike*).

The more serious ‘nearing the finishing line’ expression:

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What a great place for a race!

The Capital Runners Richmond Park 10k today. Beautiful morning, beautiful course and only interrupted by a herd to deer running across the track. Not a bad way to kick off my non-Exeter based racing. More to follow…

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And we’re back…

So keeping a regular blog is proving rather more of a challenge than I had thought, especially given that I usually have a lot to say about everything to anyone who’ll listen. Ach well.

In between manically trying to finish my PhD, getting a new job, and moving an entire house load of crap (well mostly crap, with some nice things thrown in for good measure, like my girlfriend! ahhhhhh) I have been doing some running too… promise!

Admittedly, at 209 miles so far this year, I’m slightly behind schuedule. By 29 miles to be precise. But that’s only (only?!) a marathon and a run to work and back so over the course of the next few months I’m sure I can make it back up in no time.

I have also run two races.

The first was the Exeter Half Marathon, in which I managed a new personal best of 1:43:12, smashing my previous time into the stratosphere by 2:05. Okay I exaggerate, but it’s nice to get faster.

Similarly, the Age UK 10k series held a race in Exeter, which I ran on Sunday. Can’t say I enjoyed this very much, but still managed to improve on my previous 10k time by 4:01, coming in at 44:11. My legs felt heavy from the start and I lay the blame for that solely at the door of my colleague and life-coach, Matt Amesbury. He made me run rather faster than I would have liked for a large portion of our last pre-race run. I think it was because I was talking too much, the crafty tyke.

I intend on putting up some photos very soon, and writing some more blogs about why I’m doing this – to promote better mental health and prevent suicide.

I picked up a leaflet on the way to work today from a charity called SANE. It’s the 25th anniversary of the ‘Black Dog Campaign’ to promote better awareness of mental health issues. It is a shame that I can’t support all these charities, but in the end you have to choose and here’s a bit more about my choices.

Also, of course, here’s a link to my donations page, should you wish, although I’m sure you might need a bit more convincing that I’m actually doing this!

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First donation!

The lucky winners of the first donation prize are……GAIL AND SIMON POVEY FROM BRIDGEND, SOUTH WALES! Come on down, let’s have a look at what you’ve won: Details TBC.

In all seriousness, thank you very much Gail and Simon, for kicking things off, in my quest to raise £1000 for running 1000 miles. It is much appreciated!

The fact that both my first sponsors and my t-shirt-designer-in-chief, Abi Hulatt, both hail from Bridgend is rather poignant. The town was caught up in a media storm in 2008 as 24 young people are thought to have committed suicide in less than 12 months. They were nearly all between 13 and 17 years of age. In this instance, it seems that media presence and coverage did more harm than good, causing many to suggest the town had been ‘demonised’ in the press. The exact details of the situation remain unclear, but what is certain is that the loss of so many young people in such tragic circumstances is something that must be addressed. Not just in Bridgend, or even just the UK, but across the world.

This can only be done by increasing people’s awareness of mental health issues and suicide – two things tackled by my two chosen charities Mind and Samaritans. So why not follow in Gail and Simon’s wise and sensible footsteps, learn a bit more about both organisation and maybe even donate if you can.

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One down, eleven to go…

I’m happy to say that I completed Exeter’s prestigious, Christmas-belly-wobbling, FirstChance10K on Sunday. I dragged myself around in 48:11, which I’m fairly pleased with, given the time of year, my relative lack of training – especially when compared to the lithe, limber and lycra-clad team runners who made up a good portion of the 503 entrants! Overall, a really well organised event, and a great way to start what will hopefully be a good year.

As you can see from the ‘after’ shot above, not only am I looking supremely tired (and I didn’t even go out once over Christmas!), but I’m also wearing a fairly doggy old t-shirt. This is soon to be replaced by a rather more swish one, complete with my very own ‘one thousand small steps’ logo as designed by my good friend Abi Hulatt, textile designer and (alleged) trainee pastry chef.

Finally, thanks go to my sister, Kate, and my new nephew, Ollie (3 months and counting –  setting his very own ‘personal bests’ every day, and thoroughly enjoying the only time in his life that he will actively encouraged to scoff his face, sleep and then scoff his face again), for coming along to support me and snapping this delightful mugshot.

Anyway, remember to find out a bit more about my chosen charities, Mind and Samaritans, monitor my progress, and maybe even donate!

Feel better outside, feel better inside!

P.S. For ‘Sprint Finish Action Shot Complete With ‘I’m Really Pushing Myself’ Facial Expression’, please follow this link.

P.P.S. And this link.

P.P.P.S. Oh, and this one too.

P.P.P.P.S. I beat him.

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And they’re off…

My first monthly race takes place on Sunday. The aptly named ‘First Chance 10k‘ will be a great opportunity for me to test my fitness ahead of the first half-marathon of the year in 5 weeks time, on February 12th. Of course, with the race being so early in the year, I had to do some training in December, although this won’t count towards the 1000 mile total. I’ve had three moderate (and ‘official’) training runs so far this year, totalling 18.9 miles. I’ll tip this over the 20 mile mark tomorrow morning with a short run, just to stretch my legs out ahead of Sunday’s race. The course is extremely flat and apparently ‘good times’ are possible. I’m not sure quite what a good time, but I guess it is all relative. Mo Farrah can run a road-based 10k in 27:44 minutes. So if I can run it in less than double that I will be happy. I once heard a story that Michael Jordan adopted his famous number 23 Jersey after wishing he could be at least half as good as his older brother, who wore the number 45. Sometimes modest expectations pay off.

Over a month has passed since the passing of Gary Speed, and whilst his name may not be as present in the media as it was in the weeks immediately after his death, it is important that we do not forget what happened. For the millions of people affected every year by mental health issues, the problems rarely disappear so quickly.

Poor mental health can be caused by, and dealt with, by many different reasons and in many different ways. Mind was set up to to promote better mental health and to reduce the stigma associated with people’s problems. At times when people feel they have nowhere to turn and noone to speak to, Samaritans are just a phone call (08457 90 90 90), email (jo@samaritans.org) or visit away.

If any good can come from Speed’s tragic death, and we must try to find some, it is that it has raised awareness of depression and other mental health issues faced by professional sportsmen and women. The periodic or sometimes daily battles faced by Marcus Trescothick, Paul Merson, John Kirwan, Tony Adams, Kelly Holmes, Frank Bruno, Neil Lennon, Stan Collymore and a handful of others were already known about, to an extent at least, but the real value comes from the the increasing confidence with which people now feel able to talk about their problems. Andrew Flintoff is a prime example of a sportsman who has ‘come out’ in the wake of Speed’s suicide. Of course, it is not just people in the media spotlight that suffer from mental health issues, but the fact that someone, portrayed by the newspapers as a carefree joker, has battled with depression behind closed doors is an important lesson for all of us.

It is important that we do all we can to encourage better mental health, for ourselves, our friends, our families and even perfect strangers. It is important that we do all we can to learn from the lessons we have been taught Justin Fashanu, Robert Enke and, now, Gary Speed.

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