Successes in 2017

I said I would post more often, and not leave it another several weeks again.  But then it was all work-stress, preparation for Christmas, getting sick, etc. etc.

I haven’t even run in my new minimalist shoes. (I know!) When you’re busy, it’s just easier to stick with what you know, I suppose, and what I know is shuffling along in the same old shoes, with the same old gait.

At least it’s better than not running at all though.

One thing I did do is pick all my medals up from a pile on the floor (where they had been languishing) and start to show them the respect they deserve by displaying them properly. The medals you see in the photo represent competitive races I’ve completed, and in one case, a race I dropped out of.

Training often encourages a tendency to always be looking forward to the next thing, which is good, and at the moment would be the Farnborough Winter Half Marathon for me.

But sometimes it’s  good to take the time to celebrate previous achievements.

This rack of medals represents how far my running has come in 2017, since I began training for the Reading Half Marathon, as most of the medals were acquired this year.

Left to right, we have:

  • Dash in the Dark – this was a really well organised, 10k, around the woods, with a lot of neon bling on display from the competitors and the organisers. (I did sport a few glow sticks myself). I really enjoyed this event and there was something really special about following the trail of glow sticks around a moonlit woods. This medal was particularly cool because it lets you know that you entered the event during its very first year. (Long may it continue…)
(Yes, that is tinsel around the medal rack.)
  • The Rutherford Appleton 10k (last year’s event)
  • The Hurt (2015 event)
  • The Henley 10k (2015 event – this was held on the same day in October as the Rutherford 10k, which I entered instead in 2016 and 2017)
  • Windsor 15k (the red and white medal) – this was three loops of Dorney Lake, a man-made lake, built for rowing. It wasn’t particularly scenic but I quite like events that do circuits because it helps me to pace myself effectively. It was also an unusual distance and slotted in quite nicely as an intermediate step before the Reading Half. The 15k distance wasn’t the only event being held on the day, although all of the distances focused on doing loops around the lake (you guessed it – each loop itself was roughly 5k)
  • The Brixton 10k – this was a great event – two loops around the park in London. Lil’ sis’ and I signed up at the last minute so that we could visit our brother in Herne Hill for the weekend without sacrificing a weekend training run. I have to admit, it’s one of the most colourful medals I’ve been awarded though.



Running as a release

This is a response to today’s word prompt: gratitude

By shuffling my way through lots of miles, over a period of a couple of years, I have gotten myself to the point where I can comfortably run a 5k or a 10k and find it a joy instead of a chore. It still takes effort when I’m trying to go fast but I can jog along non-stop quite easily.

This allows me a release when times get stressful. Between my job; my landlord; living in a spiritually and morally bankrupt society; anxiety about the coming zombie apocalypse and worrying about my image on Facebook, stress is never in short supply! (Some of those were jokes but I won’t tell you which ones!)

There’s just something about leaving the house (going into the scary real world where everything is offline) and engaging in physical exertion that hits the re-set button and takes me out of my own head.

I live in Berkshire, near the Thames Path, and I get to run alongside some fantastic greenery. (The featured photo is my favourite taken whilst running and shows Caversham weir at sunrise.)

I am grateful that I have the money to buy decent running shoes and enter events. I am grateful for having the physical ability to be able to run, and I try not to take that for granted. I am grateful for the support of friends and family, and for the people who read this blog.

If you are reading this and thinking about starting running, I hope this post will give you that last push that you need. You will feel better and you will meet supportive people. You will lose weight and get fitter. You will be able to blast music through your headphones and get an endorphine high.

There is literally nothing not to like!

And finally, if you want to run but you haven’t exercised in years and you’re terrified of trying, please consider reading this post.

Zombies, Run – virtual race

I need to start this with a shout-out to my bro.

This isn’t the first virtual race that Zombies, Run! have done but I have always hesitated before to spend the money on one as it is expensive to enter, even when compared to real-world races. That said, I do like ZR and I wanted to give it a go.

I think my brother could sense that and knew I would never buy an entry for myself – so he got it for me as a gift. Kudos!

This is what arrived in the post:


And here’s what I unlocked in the app itself (you get both the 5k and the 10k, but also two bonus stories for Halloween):


Admittedly, this does differ from other race events in the sense that you are very much in your own little world. You don’t get the support from marshals or by-standers, or the opportunity to meet other runners. You don’t get water stands either, although for a 5k or a 10k, they’re not as necessary.

Another thing you don’t get is the general sense of occasion. You have to make that yourself. Nevertheless, you are racing on your own terms, at a time of your choosing.

Opting for the 10k version first, I set out on a gorgeous Autumn evening, the time of day when the setting sun casts long shadows:


But as it got darker, around about the 4k mark, the story started to draw me in. There was a sudden scream in my headphones that really made me jump!

To quote Negan from The Walking Dead, it started to get “creepy as shit”. If you can choose your music to complement an eerie or sinister mood, all the better. I recommend listening to a band like Mogwai, Explosions In The Sky or God Is An Astronaut if you really want to go for the full-on soundscape to enhance the “mission”.

The narrative was played out in fine ZR form, engaging and entertaining, with strong characterisation, and a plethora of pop-culture references to be had – as always, ZR never takes itself too seriously. (There was even something a bit Dr Who about it.)

On reflection, starting out at 5pm may not have been the best idea though, as it was busy in the park and I did miss parts of the dialogue. All I wanted to do was populate the landscape with the constructions of my own imagination, but the outside world has a way of interfering.

Thanks a lot traffic lights!

Stop laughing so loudly little kid – the Zombie apocalypse really isn’t the time to be enjoying the park with your family!

This morning I saw an email directing me towards the worldwide leader board, which was exciting. Apparently 398 people have run the 10k race so far, with the 5k being much more popular. Anyway, I am currently ranked 150th under the username Cornetto (after Shaun Of The Dead). There have been 1266 runners doing the 5k.

I joined them this morning, setting out early after the clocks went back in the UK. This time it was a lot quieter, but with the same gorgeous low sun, this time rising rather than setting:


This meant that I heard all of the dialogue. (I don’t think the 10k has any extra dialogue, but it’s more spread out.)

I came in at 26:40, ranking 163rd on the leader board (for now – it’s constantly updating).

And here is my medal (which was in the envelope marked “to be opened at end of race” of course):


And yes, those are massive sweat patches – this is a genuine post-race selfie!

Anyway, moving on, here are some fun stats from the leader board:

  • entrants in 46 countries
  • 3,177,517 collective calories burnt
  • 1289 collective hours spent running (enough time to watch “The Lord Of The Rings” 139 times)

In conclusion, virtual runs cannot replace real events, but they could certainly provide an entry point for people who are not yet ready to run in front of a crowd. This one certainly had its own pluses, and it got me putting in an effort to get the fastest time I could.