Thursday, 30 April 2009

Wrap Up!

In the words of Hiro from Heroes, "Yattaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" - or rather, "I DID IT!"

In just 12 months I've gone from 2 flights of stairs to 26.2 miles (42km)! It's still a bit surreal that I've run a marathon, but Sunday, 26th April I completed the London Marathon, all 42 kilometres of it. I'll start off with a quick summary for those with less time / patience, after which I'll give a step-by-painful-step break down of the run.

In summary, it was an absolutely amazing experience! It was one of the most painful yet rewarding things I've ever done. It only took about 8 minutes to cross the start line, then 4 hours and 52 minutes to cross the finish line... I was hoping to 4 hours 30 minutes, but a combination of very hot weather and underestimating just how difficult the last 6.2 miles would be led to the extra 20 minutes. Still, am very happy with my time and amazed that I've achieved something I've always wanted to do but never thought I would! If you've never done a marathon, doing one of the big ones is well worth it - the crowds from start to finish were amazing.

Now that the summary without any detail is done, here's the detail...

It was a superb day. 3 days before the weather forecast was heavy rain and showers, but 3 days and many prayers later and it was blue skies and not a rain drop in sight! I started off in Greenwich Park with my entourage - Mel, Mel's folks and Chris (trusty running partner in crime!). It was a great buzz walking to the start line, seeing thousands upon thousands of runners, most in normal running gear, some in costume, some dressed as Elvis, some as donkeys carrying sacks on their backs...madness!!

For the first 5km we ran through Charlton and from the start line it was literally lined with families on both sides of the road! I spent most of the time on the edges high fiving all the kids as I ran past which was great fun - such a great atmosphere. This also led to me being unaware of my time and when I reached Greenwich I was about 9 minutes ahead of schedule.

Fortunately Mel and her mum saw me and yelled out - what a great idea that they wave Aussie flags as there's no way I would miss an Aussie flag in the crowds. I ran past them and was really happy to see them, then a few steps on I heard Chris shout out. I'm sure she was on top of a wall of something as she was above the crowds. A short way on was Mel's dad, but he had no idea I was there. I yelled out "dad" a couple of times, but to no avail. So I shouted out "Peter" and that got his attention!!

Forgot to mention, through Charlton there were 2 priests outside the Catholic churches blessing the runners with holy water as we ran past! At least I'd hoped it was a blessing and not our last rites... :o)

The crowds never thinned from Greenwich, although the high fives became less by the time we got to Tower Bridge. Once on the bridge I passed a guy that turned 18 that day (it was on his shirt) and he didn't look like he was enjoying his birthday... I wished him Happy Birthday as I went past, and without looking up he painfully muttered out a thanks.

After Tower Bridge I started running down Commercial Road towards Canary Wharf. I was feeling reasonably good at this point, although I was eating into the time I'd made up at the beginning. I knew Anita & Tara would be here somewhere, but had given up trying to look out for them when I heard the crazy girls screaming out!! They were on the other side of the road and I contemplated running over to them, but there was a barrier in the way, so a wave and a cheer and on I went. As I rounded the bend into Narrow Street I was surprised to see Mel and her mum, a mile early! They saw me and yelled out and was a good boost as I was starting to get a little tired - this was past the 14 mile mark. A few metres on I saw Tony, so was feeling in good spirits. Having run Narrow Street quite a few times it was a good section of the run, especially when Suzy & Pete started shouting out my name out of nowhere!! Was such a surprise to see them and almost ran over to them, but Pete just shouted at me to keep going! :o) Coming into Westferry was another great moment when I saw Chris and Mel's dad again - again, couldn't miss Chris' shout! And then around the bend there were Caroline, Ruth & Alex!! Awesome stuff!! Feeling good, a good buzz and energised to keep going - no thoughts of walking at this stage!!

Going down Westferry Road was kind of surreal - not only is it where I live, but the crowds had a real vibe about them. It was less of a family affair, but more of a party town with loads of balconies with people having dressed up and cheering us all on. It was at this point I saw in the corner of my eye these 2 crazy girls jumping up and down and calling out my name! then I realised it was Rach and Winnie!! :o) I then turned down Eastferry Road and there was Susanne, our neighbour, who belted out a loud "GO CLAYTS" as I ran past! Awesome stuff!! Ran past our local ASDA supermarket and the 17 mile marker and this was where I was starting to feel a quite tired. At the next water stop, around 17.5 miles into it, I succumbed and had to do my first walk... Boo... But I only walked for 100m and then picked up my legs again and on I went into Canary Wharf, where I saw Mel, her mum & dad, Chris, Anita, Tara, Becca & Mark. Being the charming gentleman that I am I thought it only polite to stop and say hi, give Mel a quick kiss, grab a fun size mars bar and some jelly babies and off I went went again. Mel said in a text to a Katy that "I was doing well, although the smile wasn't as big anymore..." Fairly accurate description.

It was great running through Canary Wharf, which I'd done countless times but never to such big crowds, and there again were Suzy & Pete yelling out at the top of their lungs!!

After Canary Wharf I looped back through Poplar, where I really started to feel tired. This was about the 19 mile mark and again I succumbed and walked for another 100m - no mind games could keep me going at this point. Nearly clearing Poplar I saw Caroline again and caught a quick breather. Caroline informed me that a lot of people are quite sweaty and smelly as they run past, which I agreed with completely, having been overtaken by the same sweaty, smelly people... ;o) Break over, picked up my aching legs and on I went back onto Commercial Road and on towards Tower Bridge. Shortly before Limehouse I also heard a huge "GO CLAYTON YOU LEGEND!" as I ran past Ruth Guthrie!! You rock Ruth!! Somewhere along here I also saw Caroline, Alex & Ruth again, but I can't recall exactly where. All I know is how much I appreciated seeing so many friends along the way - even if it was the same friends over and over again some of the time!!

There's not a lot to write about the next couple of miles. The crowds were awesome, calling your name out, the odd high 5, but I was really in a whole new world of hurt at this stage. My feet were killing me, my calves really tired, my knees sore, my thighs tired and my back was starting to get sore as well... It was all I could do just to keep my legs moving forward. After Tower of London and heading down to the Embankment I took another breather and walked a couple hundred metres. I was tempted to walk more, but knew if I did I might not start up again!

Running along the Embankment was painfully great! The crowds really started to grow again as many of the charity support crews had their main cheer squads along here. I kept looking out for the Crisis cheer squad, but never saw them... In a daze I heard my name yelled out and there were Rox & Dan! I stopped for a few seconds to say hi, just because I'm so nice, not because I needed to rest... I then plodded my way with what was to be the longest 2 miles of my life! I think I saw Chris again at this point, but I can't quite remember... I also saw Ben at one point, but again, can't remember where! It was all a bit of a blur by this point...
Coming around Houses of Parliament there were all the Tamil protesters screaming out their chants. I couldn't really understand them, but I think it was along the lines of "Come on Clayts, you can do it!". From there we rounded the bend towards Buckingham Palace, where I saw everyone again - Mel, her folks, Anita, Thierry & Astrid, the Queen... I gave them a wave and then turned to run in the final 150 metres. In my dreams this was always when I pick up my pace and catch the guy in front and win the gold medal in the Olympics. Today though, I was content to just finish the marathon running, no matter how slowly.

Marathon over, 4:52:22.

NEVER AGAIN!!!!!!!!!

Although... :o)

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Here's what I'll look like on the day...

Here is what I'll look like on Sunday - nice sexy bright green running shirt with "CLAYTS" across the top!! Difficult to miss though... :o)

My running number is 37553 and if you wanted to follow my progress online, I think you can register on this Adidas website.

This is what I hope I'll be looking like towards the end - all smiles!!

It will most probably all grimaces and pain though...

Let me know if you're planning on watching the race and where you'll likely be watching from so
I can look out for you. See previous blog entry for when I expect to be at the various mile markers.
Looking forward to Sunday!! VERY excited!! Praying it won't rain though, as heavy rain is currently forecasted - this better be one of those times BBC get it totally wrong... If you're the praying type, please also pray for no rain in London on Sunday.

Stay tuned for updates of the big day!

Marathon Times & Markers

Hi everyone

Below is what time I expect to be at each mile marker. It is based roughly on being able to do 10 minute miles for the first 15 miles, then 11 minute miles and then 12 minute miles. I'm hoping to be slightly quicker as I'd like to finish inside 4:30, but this schedule, which is perhaps more realistic, shows me taking about 4:37.

Use it as a rough guide but perhaps look out for me a little earlier just in case my legs are feeling good on Sunday!! :o)

Mile / Time / Landmark
1 / 10:10 / Leaving from Greenwich Park
2 / 10:20
3 / 10:30
4 / 10:40
5 /10:50
6 / 11:00
7 / 11:10 Near the Cutty Sark
8 / 11:20
9 / 11:30
10 / 11:40
11 /11:50
12 / 12:00 / South side of Tower Bridge
13 / 12:10 / Tower of London
14 / 12:20 / West end of Narrow Street
15 / 12:30
16 / 12:41 / Westferry Road
17 / 12:52 / Mudchute & Crossharbour DLRs (Eastferry Road)
18 / 13:03 / Marsh Wall (near South Quay DLR)
19 / 13:14 / Entering Canary Wharf area
20 / 13:25 / Back of Canary Wharf (onto Commercial Road)
21 / 13:36 / Commercial Road (behind Narrow Street)
22 / 13:47 / Tower of London
23 / 13:59
24 / 14:11 / Along the Embankment - look out for Cleopatra's Needle
25 / 14:23 / (Crisis Cheer Squad opposite Cleopatra's Needle)
26 / 14:35 / Buckingham Palace (no time for scones with the Queen!)
26.2 / 14:37 / FINISH - Pall Mall

Will post a photo of my running gear tonight after I pick up my race number. Let me know if you might be watching the marathon so I know to look out for you - and where you might be.

Getting very exciting now!!! Difficult to focus on anything else...

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

It has struck me...

I was walking out of the office to get my lunch today with one of my colleagues and telling him about my preparations for the marathon and how my last two 20 mile runs have gone. The breakdown went basically like this:

Miles 0 - 14 are pretty comfortable
Miles 14 - 17 are harder work but still reasonably comfortable
Mile 17 - 18 is harder work with thoughts of walking running through your head
Miles 18 - 20 are quite hard work and with encouragement you can keep going, but by yourself it's difficult not to walk at times

It then struck me that 12 months ago I was puffing when I walked up the 2 flights of stairs to our apartment. I considered walking up those 2 flights of stairs, after walking home from the DLR (an 8 minute walk), to be exercise! Now, though, I can comfortably run 14 miles and no real problems running 20 miles.

12 months ago I was in the worst shape of my life and in less than 3 weeks I'll be running a marathon!! I've lost around 17kg and am worrying more about how I'm going to afford replacing my suits and jackets than anything else...

Actually, that's not entirely true - I'm a little worried how I'm going to complete miles 20 - 26.2 having never run that far before. I've been quite knackered after 20 miles, but thanks to so many of you that have donated, both in the UK and Australia, together with the crowds and Mel + family/friends cheering me on, I'm confident I can finish it! Andy has also challenged me and is sponsoring me "per mile that I run", so I'm going to do my best not to walk any of it!!

Anyway, just thought I'd share that with you. I'm in wind-down mode now leading up to the marathon. Running a half-marathon this weekend, after which will only be doing 6 mile or so runs.

It's getting kinda exciting!! :o)

Saturday, 28 March 2009

It's a looooong way...

No, not to Tipperraree (sp?), but 26.2 miles... I always knew it was a long way, but I ran 20 miles today, and I thought that was pretty darn far, not to mention exhausting, tiring, aching... I can't believe in a month I have to do that again, PLUS another 6.2 miles!

Aicarumba, what have I signed up for?!?!?!

In my recent half-marathon I felt pretty good after 13.1 miles. Last weekend I felt good after 15 miles. Today, I was feeling good up until about 17 miles, then I started to get a bit tired. Fortunately I was running with my new running buddy, and fellow marathon runner, Ang. She has run 20 miles beforehand so was a good encouragement and kept me running right until the end. Well, except for when we came to a hill - there's only so much we could do... ;o)

I'm glad that I managed to run the full 20 miles, but boy oh boy was I sore afterwards! And still am sore! All over! But no rest was to be had - Mel's folks arrive at 7:20am Sunday morning, so after an hour of R&R is was cleaning and clearing and moving boxes and furniture around. It was probably a good thing though as it didn't give my body a chance to go into freeze-frame, but still, was looking forward to veging out on the couch all afternoon...

Not looking forward to tomorrow or Monday - I'm gonna hurt I reckon!

Next weekend I'm doing another 20 mile run, so will try and do that a bit quicker - today we ran it in about 3:55, so to be under 4:30 for the marathon need to be doing the first 20 miles a bit quicker. Will be doing a few runs during the week - only 6 - 8 miles each, but at a much faster pace. Hopefully that will help.

If there's any runners in the East London area that want to run part or all of my 20 miles of fun on Sunday 5th April, send me an email.

Will let you know how I get on with my training and recovery! That said, going to be difficult with Mel's mum in town - quite possibly one of the best cooks on the planet!! You haven't had chicken satay until you've had Mel's mum's satay! Anyway, must focus on running... Not food... Running...

Mmmmmm, saaaataaaaaay....

Monday, 23 March 2009

Silverstone – My Third Half Marathon

15th March 2009 – Silverstone Grand Prix Track, England

The adidas Silverstone Half Marathon was my big pre-marathon event and was an awesome race to run – well, at least for Formula 1 fans anyway! The race is run on the Grand Prix track at Silverstone, so if you enjoy F1, then it’s pretty exciting being on the actual track, overtaking on the outside or the inside, running over the curbs, down the straights, through pit lane... I felt like a cross between Lewis Hamilton (although not as aggressive in my over-taking), Kimi Raikkonen (without crashing into any walls) and Mark Webber (i.e. an Aussie, but with more of a chance of finishing the race). If you’re not an F1 fan though, the circuit would be reasonably boring as there’s not a lot of scenery to look at…

There were over 10,000 running the race this year, and due to traffic problems they delayed the start by about 15 minutes. Not an ideal start, but it was a beautiful day, sunny, blue skies, about 15 degrees, so no one really minded. Well, except for the 40 or so guys (and 2 women!) that 5 minutes before the start all jumped the barrier and went over to the wall to go to the toilet before the start!! Very odd behaviour…

I was aiming for a sub-2 hour, but whereas previously my fitness had let me down, this time I woke up with a sore right foot! Not sure how or why, as it was perfectly fine when I went to bed… Maybe Mel kicked me during her sleep… :o) Alas, I finished in a time of 2:03:14. Just outside my target, but the time bodes well for a 4:30 finish in the marathon. Anyway, as for the race…

I started off the run at a good pace (for me), and after cutting across the curb for some over-taking manoeuvres of the back-markers, a la Lewis Hamilton, I found myself keeping 1:00 – 1:30 minutes ahead of the 2 hour time. I kept this up for the first 9.5 miles, when I started to feel a bit tired in the legs and by the time the 10 mile marker came by, I was pretty much right on the 2 hour time. I really felt like walking, but I pushed on – helped hugely by seeing Mel at this point which lifted my spirits a lot!! By about 11.5 miles though, I’d been compensating for my sore foot and the pain moved up to my right knee. It was pretty sore so I put pride aside and walked for 30 strides, really stretching out my knees. This seemed to do the trick and my knee felt fine, so I started running again. Unfortunately though the sore knee and the walking meant I’d blown the 2 hour finishing time, but I pushed on to do the best time I could.

The atmosphere finishing was amazing. All the supporting families etc were alongside the running track cheering everybody on as we made our way from the outer service track back onto the GP track. We finished with a run down the home straight and I had a real burst of energy so with a final surge I finished the last 0.1 miles with a bit of pace and finished in 2:03:14 with the chequered flag waving me in! That’s about 5.5 minutes off my Cardiff time and about 8 minutes off my Dartford time.

It was a great race and anyone into F1 and running I’d recommend doing this in 2010!

On a better note though, thanks to all the gym work and weight-loss, at the end I felt like I could run another couple of miles. I didn’t have enough to go faster, but I could go further. All bodes very well for the marathon!! And unlike Dartford and Cardiff, my legs felt pretty good and I could walk without any pain the next few days as well. Wahoo!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Donating to My Chosen Charities

Hi all

Just thought I'd put another post with the details of how you can donate to my charities - namely to update of new info for the charity in Australia.

IN THE UK - Please don't forget to tick the Gift Aid box if you're a UK taxpayer

Please donate to Crisis via my JustGiving page:

IN AUSTRALIA - All donations of $2 or more are tax deductible.

Please donate to Friends of Brain Injured Children as follows:

1. Please send a cheque made out to “Friends of Brain Injured Children (ACT) Inc” to

Friends of Brain Injured Children
SHOUT Office
PO Box 717
Mawson ACT 2607

Please let them know you are supporting my marathon run so we know how much we’ve raised, plus your return details so they can send/email you a receipt.

2. Payments can be made electronically to their Commonwealth Bank account at:

Friends of Brain Injured Children
BSB: 062 902
Account number: 00903646

Please email Libby Steeper at with your name and address, date & amount donated and receipt number (if known) so they can send/email you a receipt.

Thanks again everyone for your support!! It's a massive encouragement to me and also those at Crisis and FBIC!!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

To burn or not to burn, that is now the question!!

So, there are a few views out there on the topic of my previous article. Do I carbo-load? Do I use sports drinks/gels? Do I rely on my body to burn fat?

Turns out that 1g of body fat can be used by the body to burn 9 calories. Whereas 1g of carbs only burns 4-5 calories. So the body is much more efficient at using its own fat as a source of energy than it is at using carbs for energy. Seems logical I guess... If you’re used to loading on carbs before a big event, then apparently once your body has utilised all the energy from the carbs, that's when you ‘hit the wall’ – the body then won’t be trained to switch to burning fat, so you don't get any new source of energy coming through - hence the use of the sports gels and drinks etc.

If you train the body to use its own fat as a source of energy, then you’ve an endless supply coming through (no comments necessary!). I have pretty much been on a no-carb diet for 4 weeks now so am going to continue along these lines. My diet will include fats that the body can easily break down for energy (nuts are good for this), so hopefully that should be all I need to get through the marathon.

This has been based on the research of (lots of people, but in particular here) a guy that ran across America and holds the world record – something like 11.5 days!! He ran the equivalent of 2 marathons a day, so I think he’s probably worth listening to… Of course he’s not the norm, but my trainer at the gym said for us regular folk if the activity is under 2 or so hours then it doesn’t matter if you carb-load as you won’t run out of energy from the carbs, and if you exercise for over 5 or 6 hours then it will be different, but for those in the middle (about 3 – 6 hours), then it’s better for your body to burn fat than carbs as you’ll run out of carbs when there’s still a loooooooooong way to go… I’ll see how I go over the next 3 or 4 weeks and whether I can see any results as I increase the distances run.

The first test will be the Adidas Half Marathon this Sunday - where we run around the Silverstone Grand Prix track!! Hopefully I'll be more like Hamilton (i.e fast!) than Webber (never sure if I'll finish...). Watch this space...

Monday, 9 March 2009

To carbo-gel or not to carbo-gel, that is the question...

Whenever I do a long run I try to take one or two of the carbo-gels, but have never taken the amount they say as to do so would mean for the marathon I'd have to carry a backpack to fit them all in. In trying to find out a bit more about them, I came across this article which was quite interesting.

It basically says the performance results from energy gels are much better than if you just drink water, but not as good as if you drink the sports drinks. His reasoning was that the sports drinks are already mixed to the right concentration, whereas if you mix the gels with water, you can alter the concentration and thus the effectiveness - too much water and you reduce the carb intake, too little and your body doesn't break it down as quickly...

So, sports drinks the way to go?? Well, where does one fit several bottles of sports drinks to drink during a marathon??? At least you can store a few gels using the elastic of your shorts, so maybe they are the answer.

Anyone had any experience before I go and buy a bunch of gels in the strive to reduce dead-legs?

Friday, 6 March 2009

A promise by me, a runner, to you, a walker...

After going for a good run the other night it occurred to me on several occasions that people really don't like to walk in straight lines. If you're a crooked walker, why is that?? What is it about straight lines that is so difficult when walking?

As a relatively recent convert to running it is difficult sometimes to overtake walkers because you don't know where they're going. Usually it's ok and only happens a couple of times per run, but the other night it happened loads of times. Very frustrating... Fortunately it was at night and not much traffic and I could run on the road for stretches, but on weekends it's a different story. I know some people get annoyed at me when I'm running and give me looks like I don't have a right to use the footpath if I'm running, but if I'm not on a bike, I'm a pedestrian just like you...

So, my promise, as a runner, to all those that walk, is that I won't run right behind you, all sweaty and smelly and breathing down your neck, if you promise to walk in a straight line and give me jusat a little bit of space on the footpath so I can overtake you without having to use the road.

Does that sound fair?

Running Muzak!

What music gets your toes tapping??

I've got my playlist for when I'm running, but have had the same songs for a while now so thinking of getting a few more to keep my mind entertained whilst I'm pounding the pavement.

So, thoughts on some good songs??

Here's a sample of what I have at the moment:

* Rocky soundtrack (nothing better!)
* Guns n Roses (suprisingly great to run to)
* Bruce Springsteen
* Michael Jackson
* John Denver - Thank God I'm a Country Boy
* Smashmouth
* Good Morning Vietnam soundtrack
* Um, there's more but can't think of them right now...

Any suggestions gladly welcomed! The key to a good running song is a good beat (reasonably fast) and upbeat lyrics - so no love songs and no songs that just groan on and on and on and on...

So suggest away please! :o)

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

PLEASE SPONSOR ME!! My Charity in the Australia – Friends of Brain Injured Children

Although principally raising funds for a charity in the UK, I thought whilst I’m at it I would try and raise as much as possible for the above charity in Australia as well.

As many of you know, my Godson in Australia, Ryan, had a few ‘complications’ (I’ll leave out the details) when he was born which resulted in him being born with brain damage. You can see from the below photo what Ryan went through for the first few months of his life, and I can’t even begin to think what it must have been like for Cara & Jeff (Ryan’s parents) and their family – it was difficult enough for me to come to accept, let alone them!!

When I emailed Cara and said I’d like to raise some funds if I could for one of the charities that helped Ryan out, she immediately said the charity Friends of Brain Injured Children – you can find out a bit more about the charity on their website. They are currently helping 21 children with brain injuries by encouraging their families to seek a range of therapies and to go for early intensive therapy. FBIC help them pay for this and provide information and support. Most of the children are severely disabled, but their fantastic parents are making a big difference in their long-term outcomes. 8 of them are now in mainstream schools and going pretty well.

Early Therapy – early identification and intervention are critical to how well a child with brain injury develops.

Programs and treatments include:

* Conductive Education (recognised as a world leading program)
* Osteopathy
* Point Percussion Therapy (acupressure)
* Speech Therapy
* Botox program
* Applied Behaviour Analysis Program
* Bowen Therapy
* Nutrition Therapy/ Naturopathy
* Physiotherapy and therapeutic massage

Conductive Education is a multidisciplinary systematic and holistic approach which enhances the child’s physical, cognitive and social skills and emotional well-being. Basically, it is learning how to learn using a variety of techniques and activities.

“Conductive Education is one of the main reasons why my little girl can now walk.”

The therapy sessions cost $50 each for a 1 hour session. How great would it be to be able to provide a number of therapy sessions for families that either can’t afford them or are still struggling with circumstances that they just don’t know what to do?? That’s my aim!!

If you would like to support FBIC, please send a cheque made out to “Friends of Brain Injured Children (ACT) Inc” to the below address. All donations of $2 or more are tax deductible. Please let them know you are supporting my marathon run so we know how much we’ve raised.

Friends of Brain Injured Children
SHOUT Office
PO Box 717
Mawson ACT 2607

Or alternatively payments can be made electronically to their Commonwealth Bank account at:

Friends of Brain Injured Children
BSB: 062 902
Account number: 00903646

Please email Libby Steeper at with your name and address, date & amount donated and receipt number (if known) so they can send/email you a receipt.

Thanks for your support!!

Ryan in his chair – this is his smile which wins all the girls!!

Ryan with his little brother Jack and his funky wheelchair

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Gone Skiing!

Ok, will update on my running exploits and what not in a week or so - am off now to Austria for a week of skiing!! Wahoo!!

Will also have an update on a charity I'm hoping to raise some money for in Australia - Friends of Brain Injured Children. These guys really helped my friends Cara & Jeff when their first son, Ryan, was born. Many of you know about Ryan (my Godson in Australia) and what they all went through when he was born, but I'll let you know more details of what the charity does when I get back.

Until then, keep well!


Now, why am I doing this blog and recounting my running exploits for you all to read?

Well, I’m not doing this to record my memoirs for my one-day best selling autobiography (although it’s conceivably not out of the question…), but rather because I’m going to be hitting you all up for money!! :o)

I’m running the London Marathon for Crisis, who are a UK charity that helps homeless people in the UK. Mel has volunteered for Crisis Christmas (see below) for the past 3 years as both a general volunteer and in the kitchens. I volunteered for the first time last Christmas (2008) also in the kitchens. Heaps of other friends have also volunteered and all agree that the work that goes on is pretty amazing. Working as part of a small team to help produce meals for a few hundred guests plus a couple hundred more volunteers is quite a task, but fortunately the head chefs weren’t Gordon Ramsay wannabies shouting and swearing at us. It was a great experience and if you’ve never done it, I’d highly recommend volunteering for Crisis Christmas 2009 (registration is usually open from October).

You can find my page to donate here via JustGiving ( If you are a UK taxpayer please remember to tick the “gift aid” option so that Crisis will get an extra 28% from Gordon Brown – such a generous fellow!

You can find out more about Crisis here, or you can read on…

Crisis Skylight
Our Crisis Skylights offer a variety of activities for homeless people and the general public. Our first Skylight is based at Crisis head office in east London. Our second Skylight is in Newcastle.

Crisis Christmas
Crisis opens seven centres between 23 - 30 December offering homeless or vulnerably housed people companionship, access to essential services, learning opportunities
and a programme of entertainment.

Skylight Cafe
In our welcoming cafe at 64 Commercial Street you'll find tasty food, refreshing drinks, great art, and an inspiring space. Most of all the cafe offers a route into work for homeless people.

Crisis Supportive Housing Model
A new model for sustainable communities. The Crisis Supportive Housing model provides innovative solutions to homelessness while creating high quality, affordable homes for low-income essential workers, and formerly homeless adults. Crisis is seeking to develop projects using this model.

Crisis Changing Lives Awards
Crisis provides grants of up to £2,500 to help homeless people move towards a work-based, vocational goal. The money can be used to fund training, or buy equipment needed to find work or set up a business.

The Learning Zone
The project provides free courses and study support for homeless people in many subjects. Come along and learn in small, friendly classes. All the courses lead to an accredited qualification.
Crisis Connect
Crisis Connect is the national advisory body for deposit schemes. We support the development of schemes through research, training and events. We also support the nationwide network of best practice SmartMove deposit schemes.

Crisis campaigns, policy and research
In addition to the projects and services listed above, Crisis also campaigns, and develops policy and research on homelessness.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Knobbled Knees

After the Cardiff half marathon I took a couple weeks off, then started some light running again. My knees felt a little bit better after a couple of weeks, then I went out for a 12 mile run and at about the 8 mile mark my right knee went really painful and I had to walk home the rest of the 4 miles… Not fun! It was ok(ish) after that and played football and aggravated it again and was painfully limping for the next few days! Such a dumb game football... ;o)

Anyway, off I went to the doctors and had to get an MRI. If you've ever had an MRi, it's pretty weird. Lot's of weird sounds and noises - like being at an England football match!! Since the MRI it’s been fine though, which was a bit strange. I rested for 3 weeks then slowly got back into some running and have pretty much been ok since – no troubles really on either knee, although am now wearing a knee brace thingy which seems to help.

I went to the doctors last night and the MRI results showed there was some evidence of ‘tearing’ at the top of the knee joint, but it wasn’t clear that there was any damage and at least there weren’t any floating bits of bone (which the doctor was worried about). The report said there could be something wrong behind the knee cap, but without going in with the camera they wouldn’t be able to tell. Given my knee seems to be working the doctor suggested I just keep going and come back if it starts hurting again – i.e no point going in for some surgery if it’s not troubling me. In my professional opinion, I agree!

Hopefully nothing will go wrong, at least before the marathon anyway! The gym work I’m doing and weight loss should also make life easier for my poor knobbly knees!!

Cardiff - My Second Half Marathon

19th October 2008 – Cardiff, Wales – my second half marathon

I ran this with some friends from church (St Peter's Barge) – Chris (again!), Vitor and Ed. Mel came along as official photographer and jelly bean distributor, as well as the return driver given my legs weren’t functioning after the race…

Unlike previous years the race didn’t go through either Millennium Stadium or Cardiff Castle, which was a shame. Still, was a reasonably nice route with some nice scenery. A bit boring at times and very flat and some areas where the path is reasonably narrow yet you have members of the public insisting they walk through the park, despite the 10,000 runners coming the other way… Ah, wakey wakey peoples!!

I started out at a good pace and was going well, then around the 5 mile mark my knees felt like lead and just weren’t functioning very well. I wasn’t in pain or anything, they were just like jelly. At around the 8 mile mark I was overtaken by the “2 hour” pace-setters. I tried to keep up with them, but unfortunately my knees wouldn’t let me. So I just kept going doing my best not to walk.

I ended up finishing in around 2:08, so 8 – 10 minutes slower than I was aiming for, but about 3 minutes ahead of Dartford, so at least I improved my time. My online review is here.
Again, I won't go into detail about the trouble I had walking for the next few days...

Crisis Square Mile

I did this run through a contact a colleague had. He was asked by one of the city firms that sponsored the event whether we wanted to run, and so a few of us at work did – I ran with Mo, Roberto and my now trusty running-partner-in-crime Chris. It was a 3.5 mile circuit in the City of London. We started by St Paul’s Cathedral, ran down some streets, down some stairs, up some stairs, across a couple of bridges before finishing with a run across Millennium Bridge and back into St Paul’s.

They had to change the route 3 days before the race because the organisers were not told that Tower Bridge was going to be opened mid-race! D’oh! Anyway, aside from 2 delays of 5 – 8 minutes whilst you had 2,000 runners trying to get up a single flight of stairs, it all ran pretty smoothly.

It was good practice for running in crowds and how to swerve in and out of slow(er) people. I’m not sure what time I ran due to the delays, but was circa 28 minutes which I was happy enough with.

The interesting bit was waiting around for Mo at the end. He still says he finished the race, but as we never saw him at the finish line, we think he doubled back after the start, grabbed a hot dog and caught the train home… Hmmm…

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Dartford – My First Half Marathon

26th July 2008, Dartford, England – my first half-marathon!

I can understand why they run these first thing in the morning, but it doesn’t make it any easier to do! It’s quite difficult to get yourself out of bed early, knowing that you’re getting up to put yourself through a couple of hours of torture. But up I got, had some toast and water for brekky, and off we went to Dartford, picking up Chris on the way. We met Chris’ colleague, Clint, at the ground. It was such a nice day – blue skies, sun shining, not too warm, a perfect day really to be outside – but possibly in a beer garden with a pint rather than running 13.1 miles…

Anyway, off I started at 9am for my first half-marathon. The first thing I learned in this race is that a lot of people think they are a lot faster than they are! It was quite congested doing a lap of the track and heading out, and without pushing myself at all I must have overtaken a few hundred people in the first mile alone – at which point many had already stopped to catch their breath! Things were going good for the first 3 miles and I was running way ahead of my target time – this happens when you use someone as your pace-setter that is faster than you… Ooops! At the 3 mile mark came the first hill. It’s a short hill, but it’s not too far off vertical and it was a bit of a killer! When I got to the top the road bended around I thought I’d get a reprieve, but then they make you run up another 50 meters before it dips and you get a rest. Tough work!

Miles 3.5 – 9 were pretty OK, with nice scenery, good weather and generally keeping 5 minutes ahead of my target of 2 hours 10 minutes. At the 8 mile mark I took an energy gel that Chris gave me – note to self (and others): NEVER get banana flavoured gel, it makes you want to gag! :o)

At mile 9, things took a turn for the worst as I came to hill number 2! This is the opposite of hill number 1 – it’s not overly steep, but it keeps going up and up for about a mile! I got about half way up and my whole body screamed out for a break. So I stopped and walked for about 100m, then tried to start again, but the legs said a clear and emphatic, “NO CHANCE”. So I walked the rest of the hill… D’oh! This ate into my time and when I got to the top of the hill I was struggling to stay with my goal.

I learned my second lesson at this point – race organisers lie! They said after the second hill it was a gentle downward finish for the last 3 miles, but it wasn’t! It was a nice gentle downward slope for about a mile, then it flattened out so you had to work for the last 2 miles, which was tough when your legs are so sore. At this point all I wanted to do was stop, but I pushed myself to keep going. I wanted to stop even more when I got overtaken by a guy that must have been at least 60 (if not older!) – the lady at The Jog Shop refers to these steady old men as “wombals”!! But I pushed on and came into the final 0.1 miles which was a lap of the racing track. With all previous finishers there to cheer you on, it gave me a real boost and managed to pick up my pace and catch 3 people on the track, which felt good indeed!! I finished in a time of 2:11:42. Slightly over my goal, but I was happy with that time. My online review is here.

Despite the pain I was in, I was quite pleased with my efforts – I had gone from being exhausted from a flight of stairs to a half-marathon in just under 3 months!! I’d also managed to drop about 8kg along the way, wahoo!!

I won’t go into the difficulty I had walking for the next few days…

How it all started…

I’ve always wanted to run a marathon. Ever since I was little I imagined running in the stadium in the final event of the Olympics, to the cheers of tens of thousands of supporters… Of course, I quickly realised the Olympics were (slightly) more on the unlikely side than likely side, but I still wanted to run one. Then things got in the way and as the years went by and my fitness went down I’d pretty much given up on the thought of ever being able to run a marathon.

Then my friends Chris and Lynne joined a running group in which they trained for a half-marathon. Mel & I had dinner with Chris afterwards to hear all about it, and somehow by the time we’d finished dessert Mel had managed to convince Chris to do another half-marathon and me to do my first, and that we’d be training 2 or 3 times a week to do it.

Anyway, that’s how it all started back in May 2008. I really had no idea what to do, but I told my friend Jane in Guernsey (who I thought was crazy having recently started running) that I was as crazy as she was having started running myself and signed up for the Dartford Half Marathon!! Her husband, Paul, soon sent me a running schedule to help me build up from 0 miles to 13.1 miles in 10 weeks.

So a quick trip down to The Jog Shop for some shoes (my then runners were several years old and well past their used by date!) and off I went, a la Forrest Gump…