Category Archives: Non Running

On The Up: The Self Transcendence Series

With the frustration and fatigue of my London Marathon result fading, it was time to focus on the next chapter of my running career. Mixing it up, I’m concentrating on the short distances from a mile to 4 to get those legs going again.

Searching the online race directories (including RunBritain and local race info compiler OxonRaces.com) I found there was a 3 mile race in just a couple of days, it was local and would cost just £3.

It was part of the “self-transcendence series” inspired by an athlete and spiritualist named Sri Chinmoy.

The four-race series uses the Peace Mile around Oxford’s Cutteslowe Park and comprises of 2, 3 and 4 mile races.

Looking at last year’s results it appears to be a quiet series, with only 30 to 40 people at each race but a range of paces that I’d sit nicely within.  The only drawback was that the first race was on my wedding anniversary and I was due to go out for a meal with my wife.

Fortunately I have an amazing wife (that’s why I married her) who could see that this 3 mile race could kick start me again following my marathon disappointment. And we could go out once I got home. Result!

There were some familiar faces from the local running scene but no-one that I knew to talk to and no-one from my own club, Witney Road Runners.  There was a real mix of runners and a relaxed, low key feel with some of us opting to wear club vests with others just wearing plain shirts.

After a simple sign up and depositing the £3 entry fee (£5 if you’re not EA affiliated) I had a quick warm up before we assembled on the start line, with what felt like half of Abingdon Road Runners – they made up more than a third of the field!  There was still a little congestion as we all tore off towards the grass but the field soon thinned.

The loop has a mix of grass, gravel and tarmac and is mostly flat, with a hill after half way, but that means you’ve got a downhill toward the finish line!

As you pass the start/finish line the organisers are counting out the race clock so you have an idea of your pace.  I was positively surprised and slightly alarmed at a six-thirty-something given that I had no idea of what I was going to be capable of.

A controlled second lap followed where I was joined by a face I recognised who then helped to motivate me round the rest of the race.  A very encouraging Andy Phelps of Headington Road Runners acted as a great pacer, a marker to hang on to.

Heading into the last few hundred metres my pacer instructed me to push on to the finish and I crossed the line in 19:46.  Quicker than I expected, even taking into account that the course appears to be slightly short.  And on reviewing the results, I was second Senior Man – admittedly, 2nd out of 2!

There are no medals but there was water and jaffa cakes to enjoy so I stayed to applaud the remaining runners home and found myself part of friendly impromptu running conversations with other runners.  And then realised I had an anniversary dinner to get too so rushed back to the car!

Despite the small field and relaxed feel, the atmosphere was welcoming and supportive and I can’t believe more runners aren’t partaking in this very cheap accessible race series.

I shall definitely be taking on the 2 mile race on 22 May as well as the 3 mile race a week later (celebrating the 30th anniversary) and am gutted that I won’t be in the UK to complete the series with the 4 mile race in June.  Hopefully I’ll see more clubmates join in at the future races.

I’m not sure it has anything to do with Sri or his principles but this race has really lifted me and provided a spark to my running again.  I look forward to seeing what I can do at the future races.
“Running offers us the message of transcendence. In our running, every day we are aiming at a new goal….. … every day we are running towards a goal, but when we reach that goal, we want to go still farther. Either we want to improve our timing or increase our distance. There is no end. Running means continual transcendence, and that is also the message of our inner life.”

Porridge Swap Begins

Here’s something I’m helping to initiate for the charity I ran London Marathon for. It’s not your usual fundraising plea…

#PorridgeSwap

Welcome to the official launch of #PorridgeSwap!

Inspired by the “one red paperclip” story, the premise of Porridge Swap is simple: start with a portion of instant porridge, swap it for something bigger and better, then continue to swap for 12 months before auctioning the final item to raise funds for African Children’s Fund to support projects like their Porridge Clubs in Kenya.

Kenyan Porridge Club One of the Kenyan Porridge Clubs supported by African Children’s Fund

Starting in Small Charity Week 2015, the #PorridgeSwap will continue until the start of the 2016 Small Charity Week, when the final item will then be auctioned.

So how will it work?

  • Each item will be listed in its own post
  • We’ll invite you to make an offer of what you’re willing to swap
  • Once we’ve received an offer or two we’ll announce a deadline for any more offers
  • Then we’ll review all…

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#LondonMarathonSelfie Winner

As a keen Twitterer I find myself entering all manner of competitions.  Some of my friends think I’m lucky but if you enter as many competitions as I do, it’s hard not to win one or two of them.

With my marathon fever in full force I tweeted a good old selfie as part of TNT’s #LondonMarathonSelfie competition, celebrating their role as logistics partner for the London Marathon:

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Think my geeky t-shirt may have helped me win

I then, as with many of the competitions I enter, completely forgot about it until I got a tweet confirming I’d won!

Brilliant timing, given that I’d decided to do the honourable thing and retire my marathon shoes.

When the package arrived I opened it like a Christmas present, eager to find out what model and colour of Asics I’d won.

A gleaming pair of Asics GT-2000-2 were staring back at me, in glorious TNT orange.

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Now all I have to do is decide which orange top to wear with them:

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A post #LondonMarathonSelfie

Thank you TNT, these will certainly help me with my post-marathon running targets.

#Janathon 2015 Day 3 – First Run of 2015

It’s day 3 of Janathon and finally I’ve recorded my first run of 2015.  And it was a special one.

This morning I opted to stay in bed instead of getting up to go to parkrun but it wasn’t because of the weather and it wasn’t to avoid a run.  With a long run due tomorrow morning today was the last chance of the festive break to lay in.  And I’d promised The Wife that we’d go for an “urbanrun” instead – it’d be less muddy than parkrun.

With the rain tapping on the bedroom’s velux, I thought it might disuade The Wife from heading out for the run.

I shouldn’t have doubted her.

The Wife hasn’t been running for long (just over a year ago she decided “if you can’t beat ‘im, join ‘im) but she’s got a great stubborn streak and we’re trying to harness it during her runs.

It turns out she had it with her today.  The weather didn’t stop her setting foot outside and, in fact, it didn’t stop her putting in one of her strongest 5k runs to date.

It wasn’t a personal best in terms of time (that’s not surprising considering the weather was terrible and a couple of road crossings slowed us to a standstill) but it was definitely a personal best in terms of attitude and attack: her determination to get stuck in despite the rain and digging in through the last kilometre to increase the pace was awesome.

I’m very proud of her.  And she should be too.

The Hidden Secret of Shreddies

Another day, another run.  Tonight was an easy 5 miles to shake out any stiffness from Sunday’s 10 miler.  The run was good – relatively relaxed but still achieved 9 minute miles – and as has become my post-run tradition, I checked my feedback from adidas miCoach, stretched, showered and then had a nice cold half a pint of fruit juice.  Refreshing!  Tonight I felt like I needed something else.  Resisting the chocolate, biscuits and crisps I thought a bowl of cereal would be a healthy option.  But not all is as it seems! Continue reading The Hidden Secret of Shreddies

Why run?

Since my last post having reached the half way point of my half marathon training I’ve tried to apply a more positive and determined attitude to my adidas miCoach workouts.  Sure, the app tells me what pace band I need to run in but I choose at what point in the band.  It was time to push for the top of the bands instead of taking the easy option of sitting at the bottom.  My determination has been rewarded with a great sense of achievement.  Not only have I put some of the doubt about my pace behind me but I feel great! Continue reading Why run?

My Theme Park

As my 2012 Arthouse sketchbook tours America searching for its 3rd checkout I’m starting to think about participating in the 2013 project.  The one thing holding me back is a lack of inspiration.

When signing up to the 2012 worldwide art project you had to select a theme from a list of 30 or so words, phrases or titles.  Whilst I found this list initially very constrictive, it provided a great starting point to get my creative juices flowing.

The 2013 is different.  Instead of whimsical themes that grab your imagination by the hand and lead it off into the sunset, there is a choice of 10 book “categories”.  This somewhat clinical starting point had just built a barrier between me and the 2013 project.  The Wife, who enjoyed her first forage in the woods if creativity with the 2012 project, was devastated: how was she going to find the spark to generate enough energy to overcome her nervousness towards being “creative”.  She found being forced to choose a theme in 2012 helped push her forward.  This year’s list was just too vague to offer her any direction.

The only way I was going to get over my own barrier and help The Wife find a starting point, would be to brainstorm like I’ve never brainstormed before.  Clichés, sayings, single words; they all spewed onto the page of my everyday sketchbook. Continue reading My Theme Park