33, no make that 32, Days to go and a bad running week

September 29, 2009

 Yes, only 33 days until I run the New York Marathon

Thanks very much to the two people who have very generously sponsored me since the last posting.  I could do with quite a lot more though… I know lots of people get paid about now. So please sponsor me. And tell all your friends and family as well. You can find my just giving page here.

I have had a bad week from a running perspective. Because of being ill last week and work commitments I have only managed two runs in the last seven days. Here is what my schedule for the week said I should do:

Mon: rest
Tue: 1 mile jog, then 3 mile fartlek then 1 mile jog.
Wed: rest or 5 miles slow
Thu: 10 miles steady
Fri: rest
Sat: rest or 3 miles easy
Sun: 18 miles slow

What I did was one three-mile run and one very slow 11 mile run. So out of all that, I kind of did the Thursday and Saturday runs and none of the rest.  That isn’t great at this stage of the game. So I have got to crank it up a bit for the remaining four weeks!!!!

I wrote all that yesterday.

So today I thought I would try  a bit harder and got up early and set off at 05.50 this morning for the: 1 mile jog, then 3 mile fartlek then 1 mile jog . 

It was relentlessly horrible.

I thought I was going to be sick. Even when I just stopped and walked for a bit it was horrible because the voice in my head (one with a harsh Scottish accent) started saying things like, “What are you thinking? You are running a marathon – that’s 26.2 miles by the way – in one month and you can’t even run five miles without stopping!”

I then made the mistake of weighing myself when I got back and found my weight has gone up a bit. Oh woe is me.

About this point I imagine you are saying, “Oh for pity’s sake. Enough is enough. Stop, already, with the moaning will you, Allan.” 

And it does feel like I have been a bit moany the last couple of blogs. And strangely, this morning, after that horrible run, I actually felt quite a lot better.  The other voice in my head (the one with the softer Scottish accent of the western isles) said something like, “Oh not to worry. You still have some time, don’t panic. Take it all a wee bit slower. See if you can do a bit of a better fartlek by the end of the week, maybe. Anyway, who cares if you take five or six hours to run the marathon.”

Now I imagine you are thinking, “OK. Voices in the head again. Voices with different accents and personalities. Uh huh. Maybe I should stop reading this blog, because Allan is clearly going mad.”

Well, you may think that. However, my friend Danny (who is nearly always right about everything because he spends a lot of time reading things on the interweb) was telling me, over a drink last night, that apparently, particularly with endurance stuff, the main instrument for success or failure is the brain – not the relevant body muscles, ie, those in the legs. So the key to success for my marathon is tricking my mind into thinking I can run it. So either of those Scottish voices might work for me so long as they can motivate and trick me into running a long way. (I tend to favour the nice one who tells me everything will be all right. I think they might make me some shortbread as well. While the other one would make me porridge with water and salt.)

So what I am saying is that I am probably not mad because my mate down the pub told me that he read something on the internet about tricking your brain. QED!

Remember to sponsor me: you can find my just giving page here.

 I think I have been talking about running too much. I am turning into that old marathon bore that Helen, my wife, warned me about last year.  Once again I am droning on about me me me and running running running while it has been a big week in our house this week.  Both our older two children have left home and started university this week. (Not twins, just both starting at the same time.) Which is of course wonderful and a bit gut-wrenching at the same time. And being a man of Scottish Presbyterian heritage I naturally want to talk to you all in great detail about my feelings over this important transition in our lives. Ha ha. Not really. Which might be why I have gone on about running so much this time. Hmmm…

This week’s haiku:

Training’s not so good
but it is all in the mind.
So please sponsor me.


38 Days to go and I am ill (but it’s only a cold)

September 24, 2009

Yes I have a cold, so I haven’t done the 10 mile run I should have done today by my runners world schedule    (pronounced with a sh like shed – I may be doing the New York Marathon but I will keep my standards). Any excuse it seems to avoid running those long distances.

I think that I have been anxious about a recurrence of the serious medical problem that prevented me from running last year and that has been a bit of an elephant in the room as it were. However, I got the all clear from the hospital earlier this month and don’t have to have another check up for a year! And  now I have done a 16 mile and an 18 mile run with only a normal amount of pain and muscle ache, all should be ok. But that doesn’t seem to stop me having crazy anxiety dreams about it. Being chased by large wolf-like beasts; or being trapped in a room with the walls closing in: the usual sort of thing.

I think the long runs have helped me feel a bit more positive about the whole thing and have prompted me to actually look  forward to the marathon and the trip to New York. A city I really love.

And on that note. Thanks for all the comments and support insisting that I still have my blogging mojo that literally one of you made. Good to know.  And another (the other) reader said I should be pushing the fundraising more. So here goes: Please please sponsor me. I am Fundraising Operations Manager for the NCT, so I really do need to raise some sponsorship for this run. It could get embarrassing.

I do think I am still a bit rusty with the blogging. After going on about campaigning for permanent signage on the London Overground  (MOSP), since this is an NCT thing, I should have said “And talking about campaigning, the NCT Campaigns and Public Policy Team is doing fantastic work at a UK-wide and local level working to improve people’s experience of pregnancy , birth and early parenthood.  Why not visit http://www.nct.org.uk/active/  to find out more and see how you can get involved!”  But I didn’t, so apologies Campaign & Public Policy Team.

Oh yes, I am also now in actual print on paper. Yes, rush to your local newsagent to pick up the exciting August issue of Charity Funding Report where, on page 34, you will find an article of stunning insight, wit and brilliance by me! If they have already sold out or by some crazy quirk don’t stock it let me know and I will send you a pdf! No haiku in the article, though.

I could not ignore
an elephant in the room
and was chased by wolves.

Only 41 Days to go!! Oh Crikey!

September 21, 2009

That’s right. Only 41 days until the New York Marathon. That doesn’t seem very long at all. (Because it isn’t.) It is less than six weeks, in fact.

I have been worried that I have lost my running mojo and my blogging mojo. Blogging has been very sporadic this time around. As has the running. I blame Neil Spencer. He writes the horoscope in The Observer. Like many people I don’t believe in horoscopes except when it suits me to do so. So sometime in early August when Neil told me that I should rest and take it easy until after my Birthday (28 August) I did what he said. I had a very lovely relaxing August with lots of food and drink and the occasional gentle run here and there.

This meant that a couple of weeks ago I spent a long night lying awake getting very worried about how far behind in my training I was and how I was miles behind where I was this time last year. I got into a bit of a panic.

(And did I mention that there are now only 41 days to go!!!)

So I have given myself a bit of a talking to (“Do some more running you soft southern soft softie!”) and have been out running a lot more.

Last weekend I ran a 16 mile run. It took me just over three hours, so it was quite slow.  (To give you an idea of how slow that is, my colleague, Andy, ran the Paris Marathon this year  – also raising funds for NCT – and completed it in pretty much exactly the same time it took me to run 16 miles. In other words he ran 10 miles further  in the same time.)

Helen, my wife, asked what I was thinking about on my long run. I wish I could have said to her, and could say to you, that I was really working through some important and difficult issue to do with work, or even world hunger, or the financial crisis. It would be great to say that after thinking about it all for over three hours I have found an amazing solution to the very important issue at hand.

However, I generally think about things like what can I write in this blog or how many minutes it is until I can stop. This week what I really actually thought about was starting a pressure group to force London Overground to make their signs permanent. (All or most signs on London Overground stations contain the message “Temporary Sign“.) I thought it could be called Make Overground Signs Permanent or MOSP. And we could have rallies and sit-ins and stuff, like in the 1960s, and we could shout:

“What do we want?”
“Permanent signage!”
When do we want it?”
“After a sensible and appropriate period of stakeholder consultation!”

Well it’s something to think about to keep me busy after the marathon!

Other, stuff I think about on my long runs is about the joys of New York and how much I am looking forward to being there again. And where we will eat! We hope to eat in my old favourite, Balthazar, again. So I have been trying to summon up the smells and tastes of New York to help motivate me to run and run and run.

So, this week I have run a total of 35 miles (ish). Including an 18 mile run today. (The longest so far this year – and it really is a long way, by the way (btw).)  My weight  is down to 80kg if I look at the scales at the right angle. (Not as good as at this time last year, but moving in the right direction.) But I have raised £0.00 on my just giving page. (Probably because I didn’t tell anyone where it is before now. Btw, if you sponsored me for the marathon I didn’t run last year, you are naturally excused sponsoring me for this one.) I have raised £5 off line, thanks to one very generous colleague. So please sponsor me if you can.

So, although it is all a bit close to the edge (I don’t know if I mentioned to you that there are only 41 days to go!) I think I am getting there with the running. I will leave it to you to decide on how the blogging is going.

running and blogging
are back on the road again
just in time, I hope


I have decided to run the New York Marathon after all- oh lordy!

August 24, 2009

Oh Lordy indeed.  I just realised my last post was in March. So I assume you had given up on me ever writing again. Well much has happened in the world since last I posted, like the death of Mollie Sugden, but almost as important is the fact that I have made the decision to run the New York Marathon this year after all.  And there are only 10 weeks to go until 1 November (the date of the race) and I still weigh too much and I am behind on my training schedule.  Although I did run 10 miles yesterday and have run about 21 miles in all this week.

I am a bit behind because I spent another lovely holiday in Cornwall.  Now I know none of us wants a repeat of last year’s infamous “Cornwall/Mushroom” blog post.  But I will just share with you, this year’s amusing holiday snap. It seems that as we were staying what was once a farm dairy,  in true Marie Antoinette  fashion, I tried to pretend I was a farmer.


RunAllanRun as Farmer

RunAllanRun as Farmer

Only in a small way – I just tried the headgear and the “Get off my land” expression, but I think it is an interesting start.

Anyway. This doesn’t get a marathon run, does it? Or an NCT Early Days Helpline fundraised for?

So from now on, it is back to me regularly telling you riveting stories about running early in the morning and trying to find something to make you want to read more.  May be I will talk more about the (still) temporary signage on the  London Overground. (How long does signage have to stay the same before it becomes permanent?) Or maybe there will be more exciting adventures (and misadventures) with North London’s wonderful and exotic  woodland creatures. And of course there will be haikus.

 So join me on this year’s thrilling rollercoaster ride of  “quite interesting” writing about running, training, self-doubt and anything else that I think might make you laugh out loud (LOL (or LOLBACALI)). Speak to you again soon.

marathon again
run, train,  lose weight, blog again
feels like deja vu!

Week three – Eye of the Tiger!

March 16, 2009

Days to New York Marathon – I don’t know because they haven’t said how many on their website, and anyway I don’t know if I am going to run it. Funds raised – no more so far, but then i haven’t asked anyone for any, especially since you gave me all that money last year and I didn’t run.

Distance run this week: about 7 pathetic miles; Weight this week: lets just call it high shall we. Enough that I need to lose at least 12 kilos. However, I had a medical for BioBank last week and I can reveal that I have 25.7% body fat, which is roughly equivalent to a Peanut M&M, apparently (but less than a Reese’s Cup).

Thanks for the kind comments on my last blog to:

  • Delilah, my daughter, for taking LOLBACALI into her lexicon and her world
  • Andrew, my dear friend, for posting a link to Caitlin Moran’s much funnier writing about running (thanks, Andrew)
  • and my friend Kathryn for suggesting that if I decide not to do New York this year I could do the Robin Hood Marathon in Nottingham because I could do a fast time. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. He he he he. The idea of me doing a “fast” marathon! Thanks, Kathryn. LOL. (Or LOLBACALI.)

The idea for this week’s post is shamelessly stolen from my blogging heroes, The West End Whingers, from whom I have learned almost everything useful that I know about blogging – namely that comedy is much more important than facts.  So, a very long time ago the whingers did a piece based on the statistical data you get when you write a blog  which includes the very interesting list of words that people have typed into Google to find you.

So here are some of the funny, sad and frankly disturbing search engine terms that were typed in that led people to RunAllanRun:

  • most big mushroom  
  • kid walking up hill
  • postmodernism temporary permanent
  • how to afford stomach cramps while train
  • raising children and running bus
  • “how to play eye of the tiger” piano  
  • “tristram shandy black page”
  • haruki murakami smoking
  • i don’t like murakami
  • wooly foot numb nhs
  • haikus about new york being upbeat
  • iceland + rainwear  
  • mr men mp3

I read many of these phrases and simply think, “What?!”  and then I think how very disappointed they must have been when they came across this blog.

Anyway, what about the running, Allan? I hear you cry as one. (Probably because there is only one of you reading this.) Well, I continue to stagger around north London like a wounded water buffallo. (Rather like the way this blog lumbers its way to you once in a while.)  Last week I had a run so bad, so short, so slow and so interrupted by stopping and walking that I was embarrassed to be wearing running shoes. If anyone from Asics had seen me they might have paid me to wear someone else’s brand. But I am running – sort of. And I intend to reduce my fat content to a more acceptable snack food equivalent, that’s for sure, maybe a sesame snap. Because it is back to that never fail formula for losing weight for me: burn more calories than you consume!  Eat less; do more. It really does work!

However, this week’s haiku is a tribute to my google searchers:

iceland plus rainwear
raising children running bus
eye of the tiger

Speak to you soon.

Week ZERO – it starts all over again!

February 16, 2009

Firstly. Apologies for the last blog.  By way of explanation (not excuse), I had just had a flu jab – so was probably a bit feverish or something. But China Cat Collection indeed! What was I thinking of? or WTF (which my three teenage children (actually Mathilda is now 20 so not a teenager any more) reliably inform me is young person shorthand for “What the flip!”). OMG (Oh My Gosh!) Hilarious! or LOL (laugh out loud). Or were you perhaps LOLBACALI (Laughing Out Loud But Actually Crying A Little Inside).

But TBH (To Be Honest), the problem is that there was no focus!  What is a running blog with out running! Without a run to train for. A goal to aim for! (BTW (By The Way) that’s nearly a haiku(TNAH) .) (ITTEN – I Think That’s Enough Now!.)

So what to do?

Well as chance would have it I recently had an outpatient appointment at the hospital at which we discussed my condition and the continuing lack of an obvious cause of the problem. So the upshot is that the doctor and I discussed the possibility of me training to run another marathon while they monitor me a couple of times during the training to make sure nothing weird is happening.  I imagine this is partly because I may be something of an “interesting” case. But hey, if that means I am monitored and so feel a bit more secure about training then I am up for it!

So after these winter months of inactivity and near hibernation where I have put back all the weight and more that I shed last year I now have something to aim for. A  goal. A focus. A marathon. New York? I don’t know but a marathon in the autumn is what I am planning.

And with the days getting longer I am looking forward to getting back out there and learning to run again. The few weeedy runs I have done this winter have been absolutely rubbish. I am an embarassing, shambling, wounded water buffalo of runner at the moment. But that will change. And, you, if you want, can follow my progress all over again!!!

So, once again you can share in my rubbish runs, my “hilarious”  musings on postmodernist signage on the London Overground, my trashing of other more famous writers who write about running and of course the poor quality weekly haikus:

days are lengthening
running is back in my life
my blog’s back in yours!

Ah, it’s good to be back. Speak to you soon.

Week minus seven – collecting cats

December 21, 2008

“I hate china cats, but that one is actually all right.” Those were the fateful eleven words I said to Helen, my wife, some years ago.  “Why fateful?” you ask. Because ever since that day I have been a “collector” of china cats whether I like them or not (and it really is not).  Helen and our friend Suzanne delight in finding china cats in charity shops to add to my “collection”.  Helen recently returned from a trip to Cornwall with eleven of the little lovelies which she had found. There were tears in my eyes that day, I can tell you. 

So over the years I have built up a couple of bowls full of them, which I mostly put under the bed. So this year to ensure my collection was taken to the next level, as it were, Helen bought me a display case and this week after months of avoiding it, the case was put on the wall and the cats finally put on display for all to see.  And do you know what? Hideous as they mostly are, put on display like that I actually find myself having a little look in the case as I go past and smiling at the amazing weirdness of them. People sat down and designed an produced these extraordinary things.  And I feel a little bit pleased to have them out there now.

“That’s all terribly interesting, Allan,” You may (or more probably may not) be saying, “But what the devil has it got to do with running or fundraising?”  Well not much really.  But last weekend I went running and I had one of the worst runs of my life.  I ran with speed and general demeanor of a wounded Water Buffalo.  This weekend I went running with Helen and we ran together and talked and I ran better than I have since the operation. It was a very short run but it was one that felt OK.

And I have had a lot of support from lots of people during my training for the marathon and since. And people have helped me to get back out there running and encouraged me to stick with the blogging.  So that’s a bit like the cats really.  You know, something terrible surprising you by getting a bit better after all.

Clutching at straws really, I know.  But at least I’m blogging. And I bet you can’t wait to see pictures of the cats! (Next time maybe.)

Hope you all have a great festive season and holiday if you are having one. 

I’ll be back in 2009, hoping to run for NCT again!

This week’s haiku:

“I hate china cats.”
But the cats kept appearing.
Now I quite like them.

Week minus five or something – what next?

December 8, 2008

Sorry for the delay in writing this.

I have been struggling with what to write. I went to New York with Helen, my wife, anyway, even though the marathon was off the agenda. And I had a fantastic time. Saw Paula Radcliffe win the New York Marathon again. We were there for the election and it was great being there for what felt like a very historic moment. I met an old school friend, Nick, who I haven’t seen for 25 years or more (the wonders of facebook). And of course ate at Balthazar more than once. But as we all know from the infamous “mushroom” blog my enjoyable holidays tend to make for a dull post.

I could go into further detail about my medical situation, but I thought that might be too gruesome, as Daffy Duck would say.

And then I read an article about Slow Blogging . Which is a “movement” whereby a blogger only blogs when they have something interesting to say – which seemed to fit my blogosophy (yes, blogosophy). Or is that just an excuse for laziness?

I was finally spurred into action for this blog by the fact that someone left the RunAllanRun facebook group – presumably due to the lack of activity. And why does that matter?  Well many of you have been kind enough to say that you enjoy reading my blog, and well gosh darn it, I rather like that appreciation.  So as you can already see, of course the solution was obvious – a blog about the blog! That old post-modern standby that has served me so well!

So it struck me that I have lost the blogging spirit while I have not been able to run while recuperating from the surgery. However, I am now starting to run again. A little light jogging – but hoping to build up. I also weighed myself for the first time since the operation and was shocked at the amount I have put on in these two months of inactivity. And all of this has got me wanting to blog again. (That and the terrible vanishing facebook group.)

So it seems that blogging and running/training are now linked in my mind in some Pavlovian way. Which is quite interesting really because the blog was not really about the running as far as I was concerned.

One thing in particular about New York and being there on the day of the marathon this year that was “difficult” for me, was being on the Subway with lots and lots of people who had finished the marathon. They were wearing their medals and T-shirts and wrapped in tin foil blankets and I thought that it should have been me! And it made me think, “Well why not next year?”. And then I was able to reply, “Because of the artery thing, you idiot!” To which I could say, “But that’s better now. And anyway it will give me something to blog about for the next 12 months!” To which I was again able to reply, “Yes, but what about the whole artery/surgery/scary death thing?” To which I reply, “But I want to run the marathon…”

So there you go – a bit of internal conflict again. (Still under control, though, no “Kill. Kill. Kill ” voices, you’ll be glad to know.) Looks like I am getting the blogging mojo back!

The couple of runs I have done have been rubbish – like I am starting all over again. You may think the same about the blogging. I agree this is not the best blog posting I have ever done.  (I personally like the Green Eggs & Ham vs Mr Men one.) But like the running, it feels like I am starting again. So maybe next year, if I am still running and still blogging (and you are still reading) you will be able to see a different picture of me at the finish line of the New York Marathon than the one below. (I mean one which shows me having run the marathon, rather than just standing at the finish having taken the subway there.)

NY marathon finish line

NY marathon finish line

I want to write blogs
I want to run marathons
Let’s see what happens.

Week 18 and beyond – Catastrophe!!!

October 12, 2008

I will not be running the New York Marathon this year! I may never run a marathon!

Since I last wrote I have had emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from an artery in my leg. This was really very serious and quite frightening.   It started with a sudden cramp like pain in my leg which prevented me doing my training run a couple of sundays ago.

When the pain continued through to the next day and my foot started to feel numb and tingly with cold toes I phoned NHS Direct. They told me to get to my nearest A&E. The A&E Doctor at Hammersmith Hospital looked worried, used phrases like “circulation compromised” and sent me to Charing Cross Hospital with a note saying he couldn’t find a pulse below my right knee!  At this point I was getting very worried indeed. At Charing Cross Hospital I was given a scan and then a Doctor called me into a room to discuss the scan. His first words were:

“It is not good news.”

I thought, “Aaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhhhh!”, as you do when a doctor says that sort of thing.

He then said, “You certainly won’t be running a marathon in November.”

At this point I started to see myself like the piano that the jazz cats in The Aristocats are playing when they sing “Everybody Wants to be a Cat” when it goes crashing down through the building…

“it’s not good news” CRASH through the floor.

“You certainly won’t be running a marathon in November” CRASH through the next floor.

I wonder if I will ever run again. CRASH through the next floor.

Or walk? CRASH through the next floor.

Or live?!! CRASH!  “Aaaarrrrrgggghhhh!!!”

Anyway the upshot is I had a blood clot blocking the artery in my right leg. It was successfully removed in an operation the following day. The top theory for the cause of the blockage is that there was a kink in my artery near the back of the knee and the “huge muscle build up” (honestly, their words not mine)  I developed from my marathon training pounded against the kinked artery during my many miles of training.  Although not common, this does have a name: Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome. (So there is a medical term for the back of the knee!)

So you could say that I was having my own credit crunch crisis (which all went crazy while I was in hospital). A “liquidity” problem in my right leg caused the muscles to “go bust” which could have led to a serious physical “meltdown” if the “Darling” team at Charing Cross hadn’t “bailed out” my failing vascular “banking system” with a “multi billion” something “rescue package” to “pump liquidity back into the system” and prevent “Icelandic”[that’s enough now].

I am feeling very lucky to be alive and walking and in one piece after this experience.

However, I am very disappointed about the marathon. In fact, it was all so distressing I tried to pretend that it was not happening to me by growing a beard to make me look like someone else:

me trying to look unlike me

me trying to look unlike me

But it didn’t work.

And apparently, I was also thinking about you all. Shortly after my operation, I said to Helen, my wife, “I’ve got an idea for the blog. I’m going to go all Tristram Shandy. Black Page.” (Helen says this hilarious idea was made even more hilarious by the fact that I was attached to a number of machines which were inflating and deflating various pads and bags around my body in amusing ways and (because it was so soon after the operation) that it took me five minutes to say those 16 words because I fell asleep twice during the telling!):

Tristram Shandy's Black Page

Tristram Shandy


Later as lay in my hospital bed and I stared at the clock on the wall opposite as it ticked slowly slowly slowly round to 3.10 am (I didn’t sleep well in hospital) and the wind whistled round the building outside and I thought about not running the marathon and all the work I had put in to the training, I thought that tumbleweed across the desert might be a more fitting image.

tumble weed

tumble weed


Yes, self pity, I’m afraid. But overall I am feeling very lucky to be alive and walking and in one piece after this experience.  Life is very wonderful.

And many of you will now be thinking, “Gosh, that sounds like a very frightening ordeal, Allan”. Yes, it was thank you. “And I am really pleased that you seem to be OK after all that.” Yes, me too, actually. “But can I ask about the sponsorship money I gave you through justgiving? Now that you will not be running the marathon I sponsored you to run, what happens about my money.” Ahh. Yes. I’m glad you asked me that. Because I checked up that situation. And here is what the justgiving FAQ page says:

“I’ve pulled out of the event – can my donors get a refund?I already have donations on my page…

We can’t refund donations made to your fundraising page because they’re processed immediately and paid directly to your charity. It’s what makes Justgiving so efficient!

If your donors would like a refund, please ask them to contact your charity. We give refunds only in exceptional circumstances, with the charity’s written approval. ”

For some, I guess, that will be “not good news”, as a doctor recently said. So it seems to me that the very generous and kind people who donated money to NCT for my marathon have a few options:

  1. Ask NCT for your money back.
  2. Leave your money where it is but insist/encourage me to do something else, eg, reach my weightloss target of 73kg (which would be about 26lb down from when I started so those of you who sponsored me £1/mile could now sponsor me £1/lb!)
  3. Leave your money where it is in the hope that I will be able to run the New York marathon next year instead (I would like to run the marathon next year, but not sure it will be medically possible – the doctors weren’t encouraging on that point.)
  4. Leave your money where it is because it is really quite impressive that I have run 356.81 miles (574.23 km), (most of them before 6.30 in the morning!) including a couple of runs of 18 and 20 miles,  since I began keeping a record 18 ish weeks ago. And NCT is a very worthwhile charity.

You can vote on your preferred option by adding a comment below.

So this may well be my last blog posting. Unless I (or you) can think of something useful I can do (over and above the 350 miles of running) to justify the sponsorship. So thank you for reading. I’ll let you know if there is more to say…

I have run a lot
I have written a lot too
I hope you had fun.

Week 17 – In which Allan is hit by a squirrel, given “evils” by a gangster fox, runs even further and discovers “existential running”

September 23, 2008

This week:
Weight: once again, still at about 76kg! (target: 73kg) but I don’t really care at the moment; Miles run in the last seven days: 35.92 (57.8077 km)
Total funds raised up quite a bit: £376.79 (including Gift Aid) Only £623.21 to go. Sponsor me at my Justgiving page by clicking here.
Days to go to the New York Marathon: 39 (oh my!).

I think the change of season is having an effect on the wildlife of North London. It is very noticeably darker when I do my early morning runs. So, for example, one morning last week as I ran on to Hampstead Heath, two geese flew (heading south?) picturesquely (majestically, even) across a very bright moon shining in a dark night sky. 

Another morning as I left the house – again in darkness – a fox which was a few metres down the road gave me an aggressive and arrogant stare, as if he were in a Guy Ritchie film, and was about to say, “This is my manor, son! You’re only here right now because I let you. You remember all those rabbits and guinae pigs your kids used to have that disappeared? I had them. Understand. So naff off.” (Actually that sounded more like Fletcher in Porridge, but you get the idea.) “Gangster fox terrorises Tufnell Park runner shock!”

And on another morning  run – yet again in the dark – a squirrel ran into me.  I thought squirrels sense of self preservation was such that they were pretty good at avoiding humans, but it seems not. I wasn’t trying to sneak up on it or anything (because that would be quite odd in a man of my age), but as I was running along this squirrel didn’t seem to notice I was there until I was right next to it at which point it panicked and ran straight into my foot, then bounced off and ran away.

The point of all this being that this equinochial period is a time of change. Days get visibly shorter each week. Temperatures drop. Animals change their behaviour – flying south for the winter (birds), being bolder and more aggressive in their foraging for food (fox) or stupider (squirrel). And I have been thinking about some changes too.

I have done some very long runs recently. Longer than I have ever run before. Last week I ran 18 miles (29.1291km) and, the weekend just gone, 20 miles (32.2030km). This has helped me to turn a corner in my thinking about the marathon.  Having done these runs, I now know I can finish the marathon. Even if I have to walk the last six miles, I can do it. This is quite a profound change from the way I felt a few weeks ago when I was panicking about it.

One of the things that has changed is that I have been making sure I eat my porridge before long runs and I have been drinking energy drinks and energy gels during the long runs.  Energy gels are absolutely disgusting – “The great taste of vomit with the texture of wallpaper glue!” -but they do seem to give me the energy I need to run a very long way. (Be warned Nestle makes one brand of energy product called PowerBar.) So I am not so worried about the 3kg I still need to lose to reach my target at the moment. I am making sure I have the fuel I need to run a long way.

I have also been reading a book called Running & Philosophy: a marathon for the mind, edited by Michael W Austin. Which is “a unique anthology of essays exploring the philosophical wisdom runners contemplate when out for a run. It features writings from some of America’s leading philosophers, including Martha Nussbaum, Charles Taliaferro, and J.P. Moreland.” (Thanks to Kathryn of the Bradford chapter of the north of England regional branch of RunAllanRun readers for recommending this to me.) It features such exciting chapter titles as “Chasing Happiness Together: Running and Aristotle’s Philosophy of Friendship”, “John Dewey and the Beautiful Stride: Running as Aesthetic Experience”, “Can We Experience SIgnificance on a Treadmill?” (to save you the effort, the answer is “not really”) and the surprisingly upbeat “Existential Running”. Some of it is a bit forced but there are some really interesting essays which are helpful in linking some of the feelings of elation and struggle involved in running to some established theories about life and happiness. 

So, since I have after all chosen to do this marathon and this training ,when I get up and go running in the dark or run a “challenging” 20 miles it can be useful to think about freedom and choice and all that sort of stuff . Or I can just enjoy the amusing antics of my local woodland creatures!

Birds are flying south
I am running in the dark
But still enlightened!