Best Laid Plans


While a number of Janathoners were embarking on their first park runs (jogblog and femmerun), and others were trying new park runs (Travelling Hopefully), I’m afraid to admit I was still lying in bed. I was awake enough to witness the pre-parkrun hubbub on twitter but not sufficiently awake to do anything about it. By the time I stirred into action it was 11:30 and we were close to missing the first badminton match of the year.

We speed marched down to the Brixton Rec, rubbing sleep from our eyes and clutching our brand new Xmas rackets.

On the court I stripped down to my court gear, and released my pro racket from its sheath, only to discover a great big security tag slap bang in the middle of the strings. Nothing screams Looter like a security tag in the middle of Brixton.

We went home dejected, with one speed walk and one sulky walk notched up for Janathon.

20130112-233141.jpgThings were looking up though as Sports Direct decided we looked honest enough to release the tag without a receipt and we popped into the local retro junk store to find the worlds best seed/map drawer which will revolutionise my allotment life.

I was so inspired by my bargain find that we managed to squeeze in a trip to the gym to rattle off a 5k on the treadmill. Hardly a scenic parkrun but it gives me an excuse for a beer so who’s complaining?

Today’s stout was a can of Murphys complete with widget in the can. It gave a perfect creamy head and an interesting bubble action so its a shame the taste is rather flat and nondescript.


Good For Nothing

I got accused of mis-selling myself this morning. It seems that I have a record of portraying myself as an active sort who is known to occasionally entertain with stories of puddle running, cold water immersion and wholesale slug annihilation, but who now seems to have turned into a bit of a lazy good for nothing. Albeit a grinning, happy, good for nothing.

Despite managing to accidentally close off my last post to feedback, the most tenacious of my readers still managed to get through and post astute comments, some of which could be paraphrased as: “stop enjoying yourself and get running again!” So with a definite theme emerging from the outside world it seemed like the time had come to re-acquaint myself with myself, and that means running, gardening and blogging.

The non-runner valiantly offered (actually under duress so it may not count as valiant) to become a cyclist for the afternoon and drag me around the river for 4.5 miles until we arrived at the allotment – in time for garlic planting. It must have been exactly 3 weeks since my last run and that was only a titchy one so I was desperately in need of dragging.

Running is so tough, I can’t imagine why anyone would do it really.

Reasons to Blog

I wasn’t going to blog today but as both JogBlog and FitArtist have made the admirable commitment to blog everyday this month, about anything and everything, I thought the least I could do was blog about a bone-fide run, even if it was short one.

Their challenge is entitled NaBloPoMo which is perfectly explained in Cathy’s post. She may call herself a pedant but today it rang too many bells as I sat in an accountancy lecture listening to the tutor attempt to simplify the functions of Internal Audit with the mnemonic (or is it acronym?) ISACSRACE. That apparently stands for, Independent, Systematic, Analysis, Controls, Systems, Records, Adequate, Complete, Exist. What the heck does that lot mean and how does it help me with internal audit?!

I’ve got about 10 days before the exam and am wasting this evening trying to decide whether to spend the next week commiting that helpful little snippet to memory – well actually I’m not, because I’m going for a run instead! 7 hours of that sort of rubbish and I need to break free!

Accountants are crap at mnemonics, medics on the otherhand are the undisputed masters, how about: “Some Lovers Try Positions That They Can’t Handle”?

This helps you remember the carpal bones (in the hand) from proximal to distal row, both lateral-to-medial: Scaphoid, Lunate, Triquetrium, Pisiform, Trapezium, Trapezoid, Capate, Hamate.
Pure Quality!

Joy of Paraffin

Although it may be good I have to admit that I couldn’t remember it, and had to google “dirty medical mnemonics” to trigger my memory, but you can bet in another 15 years I won’t be going to so much trouble to remember the functions of internal audit.

Anyway, back to my run. Did I mention that I went for a run today? A whole 3 miles! Split in the middle with an allotment inferno of gargantuan proportions. So you could say I did two runs today!
Impressive or what?

Utility Run

I’m supposed to be off work at the moment on study leave but it may as well be called gardening leave as I’m spending all my time on the allotment. Today I thought I’d make my non-studying day a little bit more productive by running to the plot and I’m glad I did as it brought me and the sportband just that little bit closer.

As usual I left the house with both wrists laden with super sporty gadgets but the garmin was playing me about big time. I was walking down the street exceedingly slowly but it was still taking an age sighting satellites. As I passed WHSmith I got bored and nipped in to see if they had anymore veg growing gazettes that I hadn’t yet read.
They hadn’t.
I went back out and the flippin garmin started back from scratch scanning the skies. A couple of minutes later, after numerous elderly folk had stood on the backs of my heels I decided it was time to start running – the gps would just have to run along behind me.

500m later the garmin beeped at me and asked if I was actually inside! I switched it off – power to the people! I was only running 2k so I couldn’t afford 10 mins at the start just to capture data, I could have walked it in that time.

No such nonsense from Nike+ Sportband. Just switch on, walk, press start – RUN.

My new discovery, the bit that makes me almost love the sportband, is all down to Buckeye. The training log over there on the righthand sidebar is driven by buckeyeoutdoor and if you have a blog you owe it to yourself to register and get yourself a widget – just look how cool it is! They’ve set up a Nike+ challenge and if you join that and then enter your Nike+ username in your profile, all your runs get automatically uploaded. In this day and age where I seem to be uploading my stats to about a million trillion different online logs, that sort of convenience is just impossible to resist.

Enduring Love

Well you all creeped me out with your comments to my last post, how am supposed to run along the canal without fear of being shot by some misplaced American gunslinger or tumbling into floaters of dubious origin? I’d planned another running commute yesterday and even went as far as packing my running clobber and endured the horrendous public transport ordeal, only to find at the end of the day that I had forgotten the Enell contraption, otherwise known as the shoulder boulder holder. No running without that I’m afraid.

Prime Suspect

Of course you know me well enough by now – I love this running malarky so much there’s no holding me back. I’d even sacrifice a friday evening of partying (for partying, read evening watching Gardeners World) for a trog along a deserted canal and a rendezvous in a terrifying canalside dock. I was deeply absorbed by the thrilling audiobook playing on the iPod when I took this snap. I was in the middle of a WWII bombing raid over West London when two cyclists bore down on me, yelling for me to get out of the way. For the second time in a week I had to throw myself to the ground to avoid a premature bath.

Grand Union Canal

Apart from that little adrenalin rush, the rest of the run was rather peaceful. I left work later than usual because we are in the middle of the most exciting month end of the year if accounts can ever be described in those terms. The canal was deserted apart from some frisky bunnies and a convoy of Herons working their way down the waterway. I wasn’t quick enough to catch the clumsy birds dragging their lanky legs behind them so instead you get a photo of these pretty little plants.

They may be pretty in a prehistoric sense but I have a feeling that they may be specimens of the evil horsetail. I will therefore have to take my body, shoes and clothing through a decontamination zone before I set foot on the allotment. Wouldn’t want to transport it.

Good luck to any nutters plodding round the London marathon on Sunday!

Brand New Running Commute

My social life has been unusually brisk over the last week or so and while it hasn’t entirely prevented me from running, it has interfered with my blogging. Not to fear though, it looks like I’m going to be starting yet another new job, way back out west again in the public transport no-go zone. This will act swiftly to curtail any mid-week social plans and force me to refocus on important stuff like running and writing about running.

It also means I can pull the bike back out of the shed and I get to throw some brand new running commutes into the mix.

EPCT to Shed

I had an interview at the new place today so I thought I’d trial a new route for the way home. It proved to be a great opportunity to squeeze in the long run I missed at the weekend.

This route bears some resemblance to my first running commutes (the ones where I was brave or foolhardy enough to run along the canal) but now I appear to have taken up residence in the shed, all running commutes have to end at the allotment rather than my flat. That nicely adds about 5k to any route – an absolutely essential addition to any half marathon plan.

The new shoes came out with me again, I know I suggested I was going to save them for the big day but I can’t resist the temptation, and they really do make the long runs so much more appealing.

New route: 14.23km
Time: 1:50:13

New Shoe MoJo

I cut last weeks long run short to attend pressing matters at the allotment so this week I thought I’d reverse my priorities – head to the plot first and then leave the afternoon free for running. After a few hours of digging in the wind I couldn’t decide if I was more in need of back stretching run or a luxurious hot muscle soak waiting at home.

Asics Gel Kayano 14

A mere 2k into the run and the muscle soak proposition was a clear winner, I was seriously considering a sharp left manoeuvre even though it might have been hard to try and pass off the short 5k loop as the weeks long run. Fortunately by 2.5k my spirits were soaring, I seemed to have discovered my new shoes. The run started to feel like a gentle jaunt across a sea of fluffy clouds and I was beginning to wonder if I could extend the run.

Don’t you just love new shoe days?

I’ve always run in Asics, I started with 2120’s but after a spate of problems with my ITB, a visit to the physio and a trip to the local specialty shoe shop to have my gait assessed, I moved up to the shockingly expensive Asics Kayano 13 model. I love everything about this shoe, except for the price, so when the Runnersworld Spring Shoe guide came out last week I poured over it in search of an equally comfy shoe at half the price of course it still nedded to be ideal for the overweight over-pronator. I found the ideal shoe but it wasn’t half the price, in fact I think it was a touch more expensive – Asics have brought a new Kayano model, the Asics Gel Kayano 14 and if possible it seems to be an improvement on my existing shoe.

So if I’m not prepared to settle for a cheaper shoe, I need to find a cheaper source for my fancy running shoes. I’ve just ordered from a new online retailer,, who were offering the Kayano 14’s at £88.99 with free delivery. Mine arrived the next day, so I’ll definitely be using them again.

Back to the run, I was springing along the track, realising that my mojo had returned. Full of the joys of running, I was back to sweating, puffing and grinning as the usual Richmond Park breeze did it’s best to flatten me.

Richmond Park

I was still smiling at 9k so when I noticed the offroad track that has tempted me for the last couple of months, I cut across the road and headed for the hills.

I love it when running feels like this – when pace seems irrelevant and the spirit of adventure grabs you, I wasn’t even worried to dirty my new shoes.

I think I’ll be saving these for the Wilmslow half so I can look forward to a morning of running on clouds.

Distance: 12.36 km
Time: 1:43:19

Gratuitous Naked Photo Post

Naked Shakti

For those folk that enjoyed the tale of the early morning wake up call by the nearly naked runner, here’s a quick update to show you that she still hasn’t learned her lesson.

Naked Shakti

I was out of the house early this morning as I was volunteering at the running (RPTT). My plan was to do a minor sweep of the neighbourhood collecting food scraps for the allotment compost bins so I rang Shakti to make sure her bin was at the front of the house as I passed. She was still sleeping and I obviously flustered her a bit. As I passed by with the trailer I found her hovering on her doorstep, wrapped in a towel and pushing on her firmly shut door.

At least she had the foresight to take a towel with her this time, you never know, she may take the house key next time. I refused to hand over my spare key til I had taken photographic evidence. It’s a tough life having a friend with a blog – no privacy.

The Long Road to Pyjamas

Running route

Having spent the whole of boxing day sitting in my pyjamas it’s not all that surprising that today I felt the need to both take some exercise and find a replacement for my now threadbare sleeping attire.

So this morning I togged myself up in my classiest luminous yellow running gear, slung the salomon pack on my back, synchronised 2 gps gadgets, plugged in the iPod and set off for a little jaunt along the river in search of M&S. I normally avoid the sales like the plague but I think I got something right today. I was able to jog past the queues of impatient cars honking at each other and once in the shop people just seemed to make way for me. Maybe I dazzled them with my top or perhaps they were running scared of my sweaty, muddy body. Either way I had a clear path to the pyjama section, grabbed my prize and was out in no time.


From the shop I ran on to the allotment where I was greeted by the remnants of a recent massacre. Someone or something had been using my plot as an operating theatre, bright red beads of flesh where sticking to my dibber and not far away from that lay a jolly fresh liver. Not pleasant, but what is worse is that I forgot all about it and at some point during my general pottering around on the plot, I managed to step on it and squish it into the sole of my shoe.

Still, I got over it and after a bit of digging I was off again, turning quite a productive day into a useful 6.8 km training run. That’s 6.8 garmin kilometres, the N82 and sports tracker came out with a very generous 8.2 km estimate. Mind you, I left the sports tracker function running on the phone while I went into the store and although the output appeared to suggest that the N82 was still holding a signal while I was wandering around it must have gone a touch haywire. There is no way I walked 1.4 km in search of those pyjamas!

Running route

It’s Christmas!

You should see the floor of my flat – tis littered with no end of exciting possibilities. I could of course take a snap and show you but then you’d see the truth, which involves an awful lot of boxes, wrapping and all those other things that I haven’t quite got round to putting away yet.

There are about 5 more months to go before I get thrown back into exam anxiety so in the meantime I’m needing a new project, that’s in addition to the running project and the allotment project which have ceased to be a new and have now slipped into the realms of “norm”. In times like these my fall back project always seems to be “teach yourself programming”, so here I am with a floor full of teaching manuals. The trouble with programming is the plethora of different languages out there, and then there are different variations of the same language like C, C+, C++ and C#, what is the novice supposed to make of it? As I can’t be bothered to research this too much I’ve opted to dabble with two languages at the same time: Python and VB.Net.

I’ve got python cos its free and sits nicely with computer that I just broke and accidentally forced into being a linux machine and VB.Net because that goes with my windows laptop and because Sporttracks, the best program ever (that I should have written) was developed in dotnet.

I’m sure no one is interested in all that but the other thing fighting for space on my floor is a little package that I’ve been asked to trial. Inside is a running rucsac the Salomon Raid Revo 20 and the latest Nokia N-carnation, the N82. What joy eh? I can see that I’ll have to go out and do a bit of running over the hols to try both of these gadgets out. Is it possible that the N82 could beat the N95 as running gadget par excellence?

The Raid Revo 20 is particularly welcome, I ordered the Inov8 Race Pro 18 ages ago but it seems to have been lost by the Royal Mail. I’ll try the salomon substitute tomorrow on my running commute and report back.