Showing posts with label Running. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Running. Show all posts

Thursday, 4 October 2012


It’s been a week since my last post. Thought I should here I am. Competed in the Bristol Half Marathon on Sunday. It went as well as expected, in that due to the amount of running I do generally, it was a piece of piss. My time was around 1hr 28mins, which isn’t a pb (that’s 1hr 26mins which I attained at Sturminster Newton a few months ago), but to be honest, Bristol isn’t really the kind of ½ marathon you can realistically expect to get a personal best time at, simply because of the massive number of people taking part. There were about 14,000 competitors this year, and even though I started in the first wave, the mass of people all trying to run down relatively narrow roads lead to a lot of congestion. The crowd thins out about halfway round the course as people begin to tire, but by then the impact from the slow pace of the first half of the race has taken a good bite out of your overall time. It was a good event though, and just as well run (no pun intended) as last year, so maximum kudos to the organisers, the marshalls, and the army cadets manning the water/energy gel stations. Not that I used them – the last thing I wanted was water after suddenly needing a massive piss about a quarter of the way into the race. I held it for the remainder of the course and just made a beeline for the portable bogs after I crossed the finish line. I think my overall placing was 417th, which when you consider that there were over 14,000 runners taking part, isn’t a bad result.

After the race, I took a stroll around Bristol city centre with my significant other. I do really like Bristol, actually. It’s not as big as Manchester or Birmingham, but it still has a proper ‘big city’ atmosphere. There are various districts with a distinct feel, there are loads of shops, bars, impressive historical’s just a great city to visit and I’m a bit annoyed that I didn’t explore it more thoroughly when I lived there for a few weeks at the beginning of this year. I say ‘a few weeks,’ but it was more like two months, and during that time, I lived in possibly the grottiest house share I have ever had. It was in a district called Brentry on the outskirts of Bristol, right near the Cribbs Causeway M5 junction, so it was handy for shopping and getting on the motorway...but pretty dire for everything else. The house was this big old mansion type place that had been converted into flats, I and I rented a tiny room on the ground floor. I knew it was only temporary, but the meagre amount of time I spent there was pretty shit for two reasons – the house itself, and the housemates. 

The room, as I mentioned, was fucking tiny. There was mold on the wall below a window that wouldn’t shut properly, so there was a constant cold breeze blowing in to accompany the incessant noise of a dog barking in a nearby garden. There was one toilet/bathroom that was shared by the four of us, but it was a game of chance actually being able to get in there seeing as one of the housemates insisted on taking hour-long baths (how fucking inconsiderate), whilst another had her lesbian partner staying over almost constantly. I had no problem with this, but it kind of grated when I wanted a shower or needed to take a shit and couldn't because a person who wasn’t even paying rent was using the toilet. indeed, I often had to use mother natures own water closet for a piss...but never dropped the kids off outside - that would've been a little too uncouth, even for a morally redundant urchin like me. On the subject of bodily functions, though, on one occasion there were drips of blood all over the bathroom floor. I was a little confused by this...until I saw the tampon packets in the bin and clicked. I almost gagged – and that happened on several occasions (the dripping of period blood all over the communal bathroom floor - not the gagging).

There was constant noise from the flat above (seriously, it sounded like they were moving a safe around...every night of the week) and the kitchen was a mess constantly, no matter how much I attempted to clean it. I even cleaned out the disgusting fridge...only to find it filthy again a week later. So in sum, it was a shit place to live, and the area itself was pretty crap – I had the petrol stolen out of my newly acquired CBF 250 after about two weeks of ownership. That isn’t to say I dislike Bristol – I fucking love the place. Clifton in particular holds a place in my heart as it’s just a cool area...but Brentry? No. 

But back to the point – I was walking around Bristol city centre and I spotted this red carpet with velvet barrier things around it, you know – like what they have at film premieres and shit. I went up to the girl manning it and she said it was a competition to win £50,000. All you had to do was approach the safe at the end of the red carpet and put in a random 6 digit number. Guess correct and walk away with the cash. I slowly punched in my date of birth with baited breath...and was confronted with the message that my combination was wrong. Dammit! On leaving the red carpet, another promoter asked if I’d like to enter some other competition and thrust an entry card under my nose. To be honest, I wasn’t even listening to her as I filled out the form – I was paying more attention to my girlfriend’s attempt to open the safe (which also ended in failure). I completed the card, and went on my way, not even knowing what I’d just entered.

Fast forward to yesterday. I get a phone call from somebody at ‘Heart’ (which I later discover is the local radio station running the competition I entered at the weekend), who excitedly tells me that I won! “Won what?!” I ask. £1000 in shopping vouchers to spend in Bristol City Centre! So tomorrow I’m going down to Bristol in order to collect my prize and have a publicity photograph taken. Weird how random shit just happens, eh?

Thursday, 27 September 2012


One of the things most car drivers take for granted is the fuel gauge on their dashboard. I don’t have one on my current bike, due to the no-frills nature of the instrument panel. All I’ve got is a speedo, a rev counter, indicators, neutral and hi-beam icons. That’s it. No fuel gauge, no oil temperature...nothing but the basics. It’ll probably come as no surprise to read then, that on Monday afternoon I ran out of petrol. On the M5. It wasn’t a particularly nice experience, especially as I was overtaking a lorry at the time. There I was, thundering along at 80mph when suddenly the bike started to lurch and grumble, lost all power and started to slow down. Luckily, the motorway was fairly quiet so I was able to indicate into the outside lane and then trundle to a halt on the hard shoulder. I wasn’t actually aware of the reason for the bike’s reluctance to start up again (I just thought it was a re-occurrence of the problems I had a few weeks ago) until I opened the fuel tank and shook the bike from side to side. Empty. Great. I was two miles from the junction I was planning on coming off at so I had no choice but to push the Suzuki up the hard shoulder and up the ramp and then negotiate a bridle path before finding a petrol station. I filled up, and she started first time. So, if you happened to see a bloke pushing a Suzuki Goose up the M5 on Monday afternoon – that was me! 

Also, let this be a lesson to you: never underestimate the power of the petrol gauge. To be fair, I’ve had the bike for a few weeks now, and the only time I’d actually put any fuel in it was when I put a fiver’s worth in...erm...a few weeks ago. So I’ve only got myself to blame really. Small engine bikes are so fuel efficient, you almost forget that they actually require fuel, and without the gauge on the dash screaming ‘put some petrol in you dick!,’ it’s easy to forget. Furthermore - Suzuki Gooses (Geese?) are heavier than they look, so pay attention to your petrol level, fellow non-gaugers.

It wasn’t all bad though – my faith in humanity was restored slightly by the number of other bikers who pulled over to ask if they could help. When I told them I was out of fuel, most of them offered to take me to the nearest petrol station...but then we realised I had no petrol can and that it would require going back down the motorway to the next junction and coming back up on the other side in order to get back to the Suzuki. So I just resided to push it. But to those helpful fellow motorcyclists, I say thank you: you just don’t get that kind of assistance when you drive a car. 

I went to see the new Judge Dredd film the other day. I had high hopes for it, seeing as I’m quite familiar with the comic-based version of Dredd. Back in my early teens, 2000AD was one of the many periodicals I would waste my mum’s child benefit money on (or, if I happened to have a paper round for that particular month, my own money), so the Dredd character is one I have a particular interest in. When I actually sit and think about it, 2000AD and the various ‘Tharg’s Future Shocks’ spin-off comics were probably my first real exposure so science fiction, so you can see why I was really rooting for this new movie to be kick ass. I love the whole setting of the franchise – the huge, dirty mega cities, the idea of a no-man’s land outside the city walls, the dystopian lifestyle depicted within said walls. It’s like Blade Runner and 1984 rolled together, but with a bit of dark humour thrown in for good measure. 

The first Dredd movie didn’t do particularly well at the box office, but I still think it’s a pretty decent film (even if Dredd/Stallone does take his helmet off). I reckon the reason for that film’s lack of success was that the whole Judge Dredd thing was/is a British comic strip and American knowledge of it in the early 1990s was pretty limited. I’m guessing most people in the US had no idea what the fuck Judge Dredd was meant to be when the Stallone version launched. What? It’s a courtroom drama? Set in the future? With Rambo in it? I’ll pass, thanks. 

So the latest take on the Dredd universe? Well, it’s pretty fucking good to be honest. I wasn’t sure what to think when I heard that Karl Urban had been cast as the main man, but his performance was outstanding. And his chin/grimace is more ‘Dredd’ than Stallone’s could ever be. The storyline is fairly basic – Dredd and a new recruit (Anderson) get called to a homicide in one of the city’s vast tower blocks (remember the ‘block wars’?) and discover a massive drug manufacturing plot. The drug lord behind the operation then locks the block down and orders her gangsters to flush the Judges out before they can shut her down. It’s a simple story, but set in this world, it’s enough to power an entire movie. I don’t know what it is about Karl Urban, but he just ‘does’ Dredd so fucking well, and the gore and slow-motion effects blend perfectly with the firefights and humour. Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a comedy, but there are a few laugh-out-loud moments along the way. 

The only slight criticisms I have of the movie are the lack of character exploration of Dredd himself and the lack of exploration of Mega City One. Remember in the previous movie how the whole thing kind of hinged on Dredd’s past – the way he was cloned, had a long-lost brother and all that shit? And then there were the sections with the flying Lawmasters that showed you more of the city? There just isn’t any of that in this new one. I suppose this just sets up the possibility of a sequel where we get to see more about Dredd’s past and more of the city, so it’s not all bad...but I was left wanting more from the storyline. Also – where was the fucking ABC warrior?! More ABC warriors in the sequel, please. 

So Dredd then. Worth a watch if you’re a fan of the subject matter, but also worth a watch if you’re a fan of the science fiction genre in general, as the pickings at the cinema are a bit thin on the ground at the moment...apart from Looper, which everyone is raving about. It looks intriguing from the trailers I’ve seen thus far...I just hope it doesn’t turn out to be Inception or The Adjustment Bureau all over again. Two films which looked fucking awesome...but turned out to be either incomprehensible bullshit (Inception), or a totally wasted opportunity (Bureau). 

I only really go to the cinema if there’s a film on that I really, really want to see (I think the last thing I saw was Prometheus The Dark Knight Rises), mainly because it’s so fucking expensive. Dredd was only showing in 3D so I had to pay for the glasses too, and even though Cineworld advertise Tuesdays as ‘bargain Tuesdays,’ I still ended up forking out nearly £9 for the pleasure. When I got into the theatre after all the fucking weirdoes watching Anna Karenina had cleared out, I found that I was pretty much on my own and had the entire cinema to pick a seat from. So I sat right in the middle so I could get the best view of the screen and optimum 3D viewing angle. No sooner had I sat down than these two fuckwits came in and sat right behind me. As soon as their asses touched the seats, they cracked open cans of coke, started rustling crisp bags and began a full-blown conversation at the tops of their voices. Fair enough, I thought – they’ll shut up as soon as the trailers start. They didn’t. They carried on talking – at full volume – right through the start of the movie and beyond. When one of them started kicking the row of chairs I was sat in, I turned around and looked at them. This was enough to shut them up...for about 5 minutes, and then they started again. I just got up and moved to another aisle, and even though I was far enough away from the pricks to enjoy the rest of the movie, I could still hear them from the other side of the auditorium during quiet moments in the film. Who does that? Who pays nearly ten quid to go to the cinema and then talk through the whole fucking movie? I was determined to find out. 

After the credits started to roll, I went outside and waited for these two fucktards to emerge from the cinema. Because of the lateness of the hour and the small number of people watching the film, I easily spotted them after about 3 minutes of loitering, and I approached. “Thanks for the running commentary,” I began, “I really enjoyed paying £9 to listen to you talk through the entire film.” One of them was quite big and I was expecting trouble, but he stepped closer to me and apologised. I didn’t want his fucking apology at that point, but I was glad I’d given them a piece of my mind, as most people today just let shit like this slide because they’re scared to open their mouths in case they get shanked. Not me. If someone threatens to shank me, I’ll shank the fucker first – in the eye. But that’s just how I roll. Anyway, this bloke started apologising whilst the other one was suddenly quiet. Turns out it was a dad with his mentally handicapped son. The son is on medication for his extreme ADHD and other mental issues and that’s why they were talking – it’s the only way to keep the son’s attention and stop him wandering off etc. I did feel a bit bad about jumping to conclusions and having a go at them without knowing the facts, but how the hell was I supposed to know? I can totally see why the guy took his son to the cinema at 9.30 if he has to talk to him through a showing...but why sit right behind the only other person in there?! Jesus. 

Last bit of overly geeky horse shit: I’ve finally discovered why I can’t play original Xbox games in my 360: the hard drive. You see, my 360 is one of the slim ones, but it’s the matte black 4GB version. I discovered, much to my dismay mere weeks after I’d bought it, that 4GBs of memory simply aren’t enough if you want to install games and demos etc on your system. So off I went to eBay and I got an unbranded HDD for peanuts, whacked it in, and hey presto – more space than I’m ever likely to fill! Winner! Alas, I’ve since discovered that due to the lack of a partition for the saving of original Xbox game files, this unofficial hard drive renders the console unable to load original Xbox no Halo 2 or Outrun 2 unless I go and give Microsoft even more of my hard-earned for an official hard drive. And to that I stick two fingers up. 

It’s the Bristol half marathon this Sunday and I’ve already got my race number and timing tag etc. This’ll be the first race I’ve taken part in this year where I haven’t been totally smashed the night before, so I’ll be sure to divulge on here how I get on. Bearing in mind that all of the previous post night-out races have resulted in either personal bests (Sturminster Newton ½ Marathon) or podium finishes (Puddletown 3rd and East Manchester 2nd), I reckon it’ll be interesting to see how I get on.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


Hello there. There are two reasons why I haven't updated in a week. The first one is, simply, that I couldn't be arsed. The second, and main reason, is that last week I was in the Hungarian capital, Budapest. For those who don't know what Budapest looks like, here's a picture:

I spent a rather splendid four days in the city, sandwiched betwixt overnight stays in a hotel at Stansted airport...which was perfectly acceptable, but just not Budapest, so probably doesn't count as part of the holiday. Am I digressing again? I think I might be, but such is my style. Anyhow, Budapest. What a place. Before I went, I had no real idea of what to expect from Hungary. Obviously, I'd heard of the country and I knew it was somewhere in Eastern Europe...but that was about the extent of my knowledge. I knew nothing of the culture, the food, the people...and on reflection I really had no idea what to expect when we got off the plane. Would there be horses and bears roaming the market square? Would there be powerful floating mages offering me magical potions for a few rupees? Would I have to round up chickens in order to pay for a glass of brown water? All these conundrums and more didn't really go through my head on the way there. Back in reality, I needn't have worried, as Budapest is pretty much like any other European capital: beautiful architecture, busy roads, lots of attractions and plenty of places to eat and drink.

One of the best bits about Hungary is that it isn't part of the Euro, so you still get a pretty good rate for your Pound - indeed, you can expect to get around 1000 Forints for about £3.50. Add to this the outstanding value you get for your Forints (a beer costs about 400 Forints on average - that's about £1.30-ish!), and Hungary is a fantastic prospect for those looking for a bargain holiday (people like me, for example). This value-for-money shit doesn't stop at beer either - food is ridiculously cheap, and it's fucking good too.

Even though we only spent four days in Budapest, my girlfriend and I saw and did a fuck-load of stuff. We visited the underground labyrinth, a couple of castles, the holocaust memorial museum, the House of Terror (the building in which both the Nazis and the Soviets set up their respective headquarters when they were lording it over the Hungarian people), several art galleries, the opera house, the national stadium, markets, shopping centres, and of course plenty of restaurants and bars. We had a cruise on the Danube (which also included a traditional Hungarian buffet) and I went for several epic runs around a park/island in the middle of the aforementioned river that splits the city in half. The weather was also really nice, which added a certain something to the experience - especially on Thursday when I went for a jog at dawn and was treated to a spectacular sunrise.

The trip seemed to fly by way too quickly, and before we knew it, it was time to go back home to shitty old rainy England. Bah!

Here are a few more select photos of the great city of Budapest:

If you're thinking about going to Eastern Europe, I really would recommend visiting the Hungarian capital. I can't really comment on the rest of the country as I didn't venture out of the city, but I was really taken with the feel of the place, the history and the welcoming nature of the indigenous bartenders. Although I'll never fully accept that 'don't go to the bar' shit that they do in Europe. It's just plain weird. Apart from that though, 'twas cool.

Monday, 20 August 2012

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Well, what a weekend that was. One of the best I’ve had in a while – but also, conversely one of the worst too. I’ll elaborate.

I went back home to the fair city of Manchester to attend a work seminar thing on Friday and due to the fact that I have family and friends there, I decided to make a weekend of it, couch surfing and seeing old pals. The seminar went well (apart from all the stuff that went a good few miles over my head), and afterwards I met up with a couple of mates for a few drinks in town. It wasn’t a late one, and I was back indoors by midnight, but the whole experience was turned slightly sour the next morning when I realised I’d lost my driving license. All of my other cards where there in my pocket...but the license was gone! How the fuck this happened, I still have no idea. I had no reason to get it out – indeed, I’m pretty sure I got none of my cards out throughout the entire how it managed to vanish into thin air is a complete fucking mystery. What makes it even worse is that I now have to dish out another twenty quid for a replacement photo card...that’ll take weeks to arrive. The main aggravation factor with this is that even though I’m almost 31, I still look (according to every shop owner/bar tender in the land) ‘under age,’ so buying alcohol is pretty much off the agenda until my new license arrives as it’s my only bit of accepted identification. I suppose I could carry my passport around with me...but that’s just weird. At least I’ll have an excuse to give my liver a rest I suppose.

People keep telling me to tell the police that I’ve lost it...but what’s the point? The police are fucking useless at the best of times and all they’ll do is write my details down on a post-it note that’ll waft off the desk and into a bin as soon as somebody opens a window to let the stench of stale coffee out of the office.

Saturday afternoon, I went back into Manchester for a more leisurely wander around the city. It’s been a while since I graced my home town and I always marvel at how quickly new buildings and developments spring up. I found myself walking around a whole new sector of the city centre that looks like something out of an Arthur C Clarke novella – it’s all glass towers and open boulevards...actually quite a nice place, if you like living in Gattaca. It was also, coincidentally, my mother’s birthday so I bought her a gift and then went to have a look around the National Football Museum. It‘s recently been installed in the Urbis centre (ripped from its former home at Preston North End’s stadium), and I must say that for a free attraction, it’s pretty damn impressive. The shape of the Urbis building (it’s like a giant wedge of cake) means that you’re constantly heaving your ass up stairways to get to the next part of the museum, but the sheer number of interesting football-related artefacts (old footballs, old kits, old tickets, old...stuff in general) is staggering. I suppose this is to be expected in the National Football Museum, but meh. What is also quite interesting is that it is housed in Manchester and not London...but that’s another story. After the museum, I moved on to the Arndale Centre, but not before spotting former Olympic athlete Linford Christie in the street. He was setting up some kind of sporting event for under-privileged kids and they’d sealed off the road to set up a running track, supposedly for running races. I didn’t stick around to see what went on, but Kudos to Linford for doing something like that. He’s a bit of a monster in reality, too – I honestly had no idea how tall the guy was. If he hadn’t been a sprinter, I’m pretty confident he could’ve played Cole Train in Gears of War 3 instead. Or something.

Saturday evening I went out for a meal with my old dear (as I said, it was her birthday), and also managed to meet up with my sisters and their respective partners, so all in all it was quite a good day.

Sunday morning was always reserved for the East Manchester 10K race that I entered a few weeks back. Unfortunately at the time I entered, I hadn’t factored in that I had no way of getting to the event, other than under my own steam as a) few people I know who drive would be up at 8am on a Sunday to give me a lift, and b) there is no direct public transport between where I was staying and the race start point. So I got my running gear on and ran the three miles to the park where it was being held. It didn’t help that I arrived way too early and then had to sit around for 45 minutes after collecting my race number, but when the race started, I was well up for it. It was only a 10k (my usual race distance is half marathon (13 miles)), but by God was it tough. I was in about 6th for most of the race as the ‘elite’ athletes all raced off ahead...but slowly I made my way up through the rankings (and almost got lost at one point due to the lack of signage in a wooded area), and ended up finishing the race in second place. Second fucking place! Out of about 120 other runners! I got a medal and a voucher for £20 from a local running shop (which I used to buy socks...) so I was happy with that...but the 3 mile run home was less welcome.

Sunday afternoon was spent again walking around the city centre, but this time I went exploring the older side of the city where the cobbled streets and old warehouses still loom menacingly. It’s really atmospheric in certain parts of Ancoats and the outer limits of the Northern Quarter – it’s all old fire escapes and grand old office buildings with impossibly decorative frontages hidden by decades of grime and soot. The little warrens of alleys hold so much industrial heritage and history it almost makes you sad that it’s all so hidden away and forgotten. Manchester is widely regarded as the birthplace of the industrial revolution, and was nicknamed ‘Cottonopolis’ back in the 19th century on account of the sheer number of cotton mills and chimneys blocking out the sun and filling the air with smog. To travel these narrow, cobbled back streets in 2012 and see how the buildings that represented the pinnacle of the industrial age have fallen into disrepair and decay is very sombre. Everything is so silent and eerie, but just a few streets away, there is bustling traffic, street music and thronging crowds of shoppers rush around. I think that’s the main thing – the quietness and the lack of people. Once upon a time, these alleys were full of people, imports and exports from the canals and the hubbub of business, trade and industry. Now...just silence and crisp bags blowing in the gutter. The towering glass buildings of the modern age in the middle distance only highlight the juxtaposition. What a strange sight they make – two complete contrasts of the ages. Hmm.

Manchester in the 19th Century, apparently. At least it's sunny.

Anyway, late Sunday I ducked out of the rain (didn’t I mention the rain?!) and into a little city centre pub to catch a bit of the Manchester City v Southampton game, before getting the train back south. I’m always a little bit sad when I have to leave Manchester, not just because it’s my home town, but because there’s nowhere quite like it in the UK. I’ve lived in so many different parts of England and visited so many more...and none of them has the same feeling, the same vibrancy, and the same welcoming atmosphere. Bristol comes close...but it can’t match Manchester for nightlife, entertainment, heritage, warmth and diversity. London does, obviously, but it’s also too big and impersonal. I think it may be that when I leave, I’m usually going back to somewhere I don’t really know anyone of have much of a social life – much like where I’m living now. It never seems to make sense that I’m leaving a place I love and feel at home, to return somewhere I’m relatively unhappy and a total outsider.

So you see – a weekend that was both awesome, and pretty shit at the same time. Awesome as I got to see family and friends, win a silver medal and bask in the might of the great Northern metropolis of Manchester; but pretty shit because ultimately I had to leave. I think I’ve made my mind up on the experiences of this past weekend alone though – after my current job placement ends in April, and after I’ve been travelling for a few months, when I return to the UK it’ll be to settle in Manchester.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Acid Reflux

Took part in my second half marathon of the year on Sunday. I say 'second,' but if you want to get technical it was my first, as the previous race was a '20k' race, which (if you want to get technical) is only about 12.5 miles. I actually came 3rd in that race (and 1st in my age category) and I still have no idea how that happened considering how horribly drunk I got at a party the night before.

Sunday's race started in similar fashion, as I went to a BBQ/pub session on Saturday afternoon/night and probably got slightly more inebriated than is advisable the day before a half marathon. Indeed, upon opening my eyes on Sunday morning, the last thing I wanted to do was even draw breath, let alone drag my arse over 13 miles of  hill and dale. But I somehow found the strength and with a little help from my significant other, a few hours later I was milling about amongst the crowd of neon-clad competitors at the race starting area. I also drew some motivation from the fact that one of my girlfriend's friends was also competing in her first ever half marathon, and she'd brought a small fan club with her who were also quite enthusiastic about my involvement too, so hats off to them. Anyway, the starting klaxon went and as it did, the massive acid reflux raging up my throat did nothing to help my case (damned real ale coming back for revenge). To be honest, the first couple of miles of a half marathon are pretty bad when you're hungover, but after you start to sweat out the toxins and you find your pace, it isn't so bad. In fact, I'm a firm believer that the sugar from the alcohol stored in your body actually helps with fatigue as the race goes on. Evidence? Of course: I finished the race in 27th place out of 410 runners, with a personal best time of 1:26:32. Not massivley impressive in the grand scheme of things (I didn't win, clearly) but I took part in the same race last year and finished 50th with a time of around 1:31:00, so to come in 20-odd places higher with a personal best time is pretty damn good - especially with a hangover! Next race is Bristol half marathon at the end of September.

Might get hammered the night before and see if I can continue this streak of improving times!

Friday, 12 August 2011


Did another half marathon last Sunday. It was the Sturminster Newton half marathon, more affectionatley known as the 'Stur Half,' and I must say that it was a really good event. My previous half marathon was the Plymouth one, and whilst the Stur Half was on a much, much smaller scale it was every bit as well organised. In case you give a toss, I finished in 50th place, which I don't think is too bad considering over 400 runners took part and I started quite a way back from the starting line. I'm not sure how the organisers got their timings, as the Stur Half didn't employ a chip timing system like Plymouth did, but I'm happy with my 01:31:09. Slightly dissapointed that they didn't award medals to all finishers, but I suppose that as it was only a small, locally run event I shouldn't complain too much (and I did get a free cake and t-shirt on completion).

The next race in my less-that-hectic schedule is the Bristol half marathon in September and I'm also considering the New Forest one later in the same month, but the only thing that concerns me about that one is that you aren't allowed to wear headphones/listen to music as you run. This is a bit of a problem for me, as music blasting through my lug holes is one of the only things that motivates me when I run. Have you ever tried running or jogging without music? It can only be described as horrendous - the only sound the desperate rasping of your own laboured breathing broken by the occasional clearing of the makes a pretty unpleasent activity even more unbearable. To that end, I'm not sure if I'm going to enter the New Forest one. I suspect I'm not the only person who will give it a miss either as several people I've asked about doing the event have also complained about the same ban on aural entertainment. Maybe I'll look at some other, less stringently managed races instead.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

I Ran So Far Away

Finally worked out how to upload my running totals from my Forerunner watch to the Garmin Connect website this morning. It's pretty cool to be fair. Not only is it much more detailed than the software that you can install on your PC, but it allows you to share the details of your runs and training sessions. Yesterday I completed a fairly epic 22 mile jaunt around the highways and byways of Somerset and here's the little info pane that relates to the run:

I did another run today, but it was only a ten mile one as my legs were fucking killing me from yesterday's little escapade. Here's the info box thingy:

I'm doing a few more half-marathons in the coming months so this gizmo really helps with the training, and being able to embed the workouts on your own blog is a nice touch. Still on the subject of running, I bought some Saucony Jazz 13 running trainers a few weeks back to replace the bargain basement Saucony Prestige I got from M&M Direct. To be honest, the only real difference I can see between them (apart from the price) is that the Jazz are 'Pro Grid' and have a little window in the heel so you can see the cushioning thing, while the Prestige are just plain 'Grid' and have a solid heel with no window. They're both pretty comfortable, as you'd expect from Saucony, but I'm not sure splashing out on another pair was such a good idea when I'm trying to save money for my impending return to the real world (see previous posts on redundancy for clarification). Saying that though, the Jazz are a lovely shade of electric blue whereas the Prestige are boring old white, so I suppose it was money well spent. Not just an investment in fitness, but also an investment in fashion. Like the Scarlett Pimpernel. Or am I getting that reference confused with something else. Meh.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

(Half) Marathon Man

Took delivery of my latest piece of running-based tech yesterday - a Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS watch. You may recall that I previously owned a Garmin Forerunner 405 (or you may not. In which case – I did.), but had to sell it in order to pay my rent when I lived in that fucking weird house-share last year. Anyway, I got my new Garmin 110 yesterday and went for my first trial run with it (13.6 miles, just in case you wondered), and the verdict is thus: It’s every bit as good as the Forerunner 405, and happily (in my humble opinion) omits the slightly fiddly touch-sensitive bezel and questionable water resistance.

As you may be able to guess from the numbers in the title of the device, the 110 is marketed as a ‘lite’ version of the 405, and as such it boasts fewer features (for one, it doesn’t support wireless data transfer to the PC software suite that collects your activity records), but to be fair I never used the advanced features of the 405 anyway. For me, the important factors of any run are covered: time taken, distance covered and speed. Don’t personally need any more than that to be fair. I’ve not updated this blog for a while (well, prior to last week) so you won’t know (or care) that I’ve been keeping on top of my running and even took part in last month’s Plymouth half marathon. According to the official timing website, I completed the 13 mile course in 1 hour and 31 mins, coming in 200th out of about 6000 runners. Which suits me fine, considering it was my first competitive run/race. I think the actual winner did it in 1 hour 5 mins, so I’m more than happy with my time. I can see why people get so addicted to doing those kind of events though, as even though I’ve done much longer road runs on my own, the sense of achievement when you cross the finish with a large crowd cheering is amazing. As a result, I’m also doing the Bristol half marathon in September and there are a few 10k runs I’m looking at entering between now and then.

On a slightly different note, last night I looked at the records from when I had the Forerunner 405. I only owned the thing for 5 months, but I appear to have run, jogged and staggered a grand total of 741 miles during that period. No wonder I fucked my leg up...

In other news: Wii U. Why? I know I said the same thing about the iPad when it came out, but for fuck sake Nintendo - who exactly is the Wii U meant to be aimed at? They're taking a console that alienated the hardcore Nintendo fans and then complicating it. I don't know about anyone else, but when I saw the promo videos for it, it just looked like too much hard work. What, by the way, is wrong with just having a normal console with a normal joypad that connects to your TV? Pfft. I already know I won't be bothering with the Wii U and it's not even out for another year or so.

Call me a morbid, depressing, nay-saying cunt-hole if you want, but the Wii U just looks like a gimmicky waste of time that'll be fun for a few days and then just end up sat under the telly collecting dust. Like most of the Wiis various mates own.

Right. I'm off for a run. Or a brew. Probably a brew. Knackered.