Posts Tagged ‘haiku’

One week later: I did it

November 10, 2009

Hello.

So I ran and finished the New York Marathon, finally.  I did it in a glacially slow 5:15. Less than three hours slower than Paula Radcliffe! In fact I came 37,207th in the New York Marathon. But was only 3,834th in my age group!

So, here is how it happened:

Of course I woke up very early on the day and was ready to go 4.5 hours before my start time of 10.20.  Here is a picture of me being ready very early:

New York 2009005

marathon day 06.00

I then walked down Broadway to catch the Staten Island Ferry to the start.  I got there an hour early for my allocated ferry.  There were lots and lots of people dressed in running gear and looking excited, scared and determined.

I was able to get on an earlier ferry and headed off towards Staten Island and the start.  Here is a Staten Island Ferry:

New York 2009008

A Staten Island Ferry taken from another Staten Island Ferry

Imagine if you had to go out to sea to get to Stevenage and you will have an idea of going to Staten Island.

We were hearded off the ferry and on to buses which drove us through a grey drizzly suburb to Fort Wadsworth and “The Start”.  At Fort Wadsworth there were lots of runners queueing for toilets and lying on plastic bags and pieces of cardboard and there was a loudspeaker system blasting out repeating announcements in five languages.  It was quite cold and I was pretty nervous and there was still a couple of hours until my start time so I drank too much tea and lay on a bin liner on the grass:

New York 2009009

Me at Fort Wadsworth

Finally it was my turn to be coralled into the start. So I squeezed through a gate with a few hundred other runners who were allocated Blue Start, Wave 3 , Corral D. After standing in Corral D for a while we were walked slowly along through some parked trucks until suddenly we were crossing the start line and all started running over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.

And it was fantastic and exciting and really hard to stop myself running off much too fast. And for the first ten miles it was absolutely great.  Lots of people lining the route cheering and shouting and encouraging the runners.  I need the toilet a lot (all that tea at Fort Wadsworth) and had to stop and use the portaloos several times, which of course slowed me down (I ‘m sure I would have done the race in under five hours if I hadn’t had to queue for the loos so much – ha ha).

There were lots of people with banners and flags with phrases like “Run Jim Run” or “Run Stacey Run” or “Run Tony Run”. Hmmmmm. Coincidence? Or had they all stolen that clever format from me? No. Actually they probably all thought it up themselves, didn’t they. 

My favourite spectator banners were “Wow! You’re running the New York Marathon!” Which was at about 14 miles when I was finding it quite a struggle and I thought that was funny and it cheered me up. It helped to remind me that I wanted to do this flipping run for a very long time, and finally I was.

My other favourite was a man holding up a piece of tatty brown cardboard torn from a box with one badly handwritten word on it: “Kung”.  I have no idea what it means. This was in one of the more industrial areas of Queens I think and was therefore another welcome boost of amusement.

Several runners had messages on their vests. One was, alarmingly, “Heart Attack Survivor!” So I thought I should have written “Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome Survivor!” on mine. It would have looked good I think.

The bit of the marathon between 11 and 20 miles was quite tough. It was great to see my wife, Helen and son, Stan and his friend, Lucas at about 15 miles. But after that there is a really long stretch up through Manhattan to The Bronx.  And I gotto 102nd Street and remembered the song, “Across 110th Street” by Bobby Womack and realised that I still had 8 blocks to go before I got to that  and then would have to go through Harlem before getting to The Bronx – the song is about 110th Street being the southern  border of  Harlem.

In order to avoid the Nestle manufactured energy gels which were given out on the course, I brought along another brand. They were quite frankly the nastiest, most disgusting thing I have ever tasted. But having acclimatsed my stomach to these monstrous sachets of gloop on my long training runs, I was able to keep them down and feel some kind of psychological benefit at least. I believe they gave me some extra energy to keep me going. (Well they have absolutely nothing else going for them, so they must at least give you an energy boost.)

Eventually I got to 20 miles which was the furthest I had run in one go before and strangely that was very encouraging and I thought, “Great, this is all new territory and I can do it!”  I had prepared myself for the last six to be really hard, but actually they were better than the previous 10 miles. So the last six miles were good fun again.

Along the way I often seemed to be just behind people with their name in big letters on their shirts. So the crowd would shout “Go Kirsten”, or “Go, Steve”, or “Go Moose!”. But when people did shout “Go Allan!” it was a good feeling and it was nice to be able to smile back at them.  One such incident at about 23 miles was, I am sure, with Steven Spielberg. He said to me, “Go Allan. You’re doing a great job”. But I suppose I might have been halucinating, what with it being 23 miles and nearly five hours of running. But, then why would I imagine Steven Spielberg of all people?

And then with 200m to go I saw Helen again and it was brilliant to see her and I was able to run to the end with a big smile on my face!

Sadly all the official pictures of me taken on the marathon are absolutely hideous.  Every single one could have the caption, “Fat bloke staggers round New York Marathon looking like he is about to vomit”. So instead, here is an artist’s impression of what I thought I looked like crossing the finish line:

Stan cartoon of finish

Allan finishes marathon by Stanley Wright Sutherland

And then suddenly I was in a queue to pick up my bag as thousands of runners were funneled into a very narrow fenced in path. But felt great to have finally finally done it.

 I would recommend the New York Marathon for anyone, especially if, like me, it is probably the only marathon you ever run. It is a great city and the marathon shows it off well.

And that’s it. I ran a marathon. I ran the New York Marathon. I have banished the demons of last year’s health crisis. I have enjoyed the training and blogging.

So thanks to all who have supported and encouraged and sponsored me (it is still not too late to sponsor me – click here to donate). It was great as I trudged the 26.2 miles (actually my Garmin GPS thing said I ran 26.59 miles in all!) to think about all the support I have had while I have been training and writing this blog. It really did help get me round.

I would especially like to say thank you to my long suffering family who have had to put up with me going on about running this marathon for years and then have me absent while I do hours and hours of training runs and then drone on about them and then write about it and insist that they read about what I have already bored them to distraction with anyway. So thank you Stan, Delilah and Mathilda and especially Helen for all your support and love.

Marathon haiku:

New York Marathon:
finally, the run is run.
Thanks all for reading.

 

Advertisements

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.

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 11 – Why I am like Haruki Murakami

August 10, 2008

This week:
Weight: Down 1kg at 78kg! (target: 73kg); Miles run this week: 24.78!
Total funds raised up only £5 this week, but others have promised to “when I get back from holiday”: £217.82 (including Gift Aid) Only £782.18 to go.  Sponsor me at my Justgiving page by clicking here.
Days to go to the New York Marathon: 83 (not many).

This week I started reading What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir by Haruki Murakami. It is very interesting. It is a book about how important running is to him; how he runs and why he runs.  He does this very eloquently and it is very inspiring to read someone write so well about running.  I am as a result of reading the book looking at increasing the number of runs I do in a week and this week I did five runs (including one of ten miles) and got up t 24.78 miles for the week. (For my growing number of metric readers that is 39.87954432 Kilometres.)

So, like me, Haruki Murakami, runs and wrtites about it. He does running to keep his weight down, to keep fit and because he likes doing it.

However, he runs a lot more than me (six miles a day, six days a week, usually) but then he has more control over his time (he can have a nap in the afternoon). And he is a much faster and more experienced runner than me. Though he describes himself as a “mediocre” runner he has done lots of marathons in times which I can only dream of.

And of course there is a difference in the way Haruki (I feel I can call him that now I’ve read 60 pages of one of his books) and I write. I hope he will take this in the spirit in which it is intended, but I think he could put a few more laughs in there. And not a single haiku so far!

So maybe this blog should be called Week 11 – Why I am different to Haruki Murakami!

Murakami talks about eating and food and losing weight. He says the more he runs the healthier he feels and the healthier he eats – he doesn’t want to eat anything but fruit and fish. Again, I am slightly different.

Earlier this week I found myself in the car park of the Crown Plaza Hotel in Marlow, Buckinghamshire (for work reasons, I hasten to add) surrounded by three smoking men. It is now 8 months since I stopped smoking. And I felt quite pleased with myself, even allowed myself a smug little smile. An interesting (interesting to me anyway) effect of the healthier lifestyle I am now leading (don’t smoke, don’t eat so much, don’t eat stuff between meals unless it is fruit and such like) is the fact that I have started treating myself to swanky meals out.  I used to read the restaurant reviews in The Guardian and enjoyed reading them. But now I think, “Oh that sounds great, and since I am saving so much money by not smoking I can go to that restaurant if I want”. So I do.  And I look up the restaurant on the Interweb and hopefully look at sample menus and think about what I would like to eat and drink. Which I know is sounding a bit obsessional and potentially unhealthy.  Salivating over the thought of a big blow out meal when I am limiting myself to leaves and fruit. But I do eat well – just less of it and no crap. And I go with Helen, my wife, and or the children and we generally have a great time.

So this year I and one or more of my family have eaten some very good food in some very interesting restaurants. Like Belga Queen in Brussels, Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, Maze Grill in London (where I declined the opportunity to eat a £120 steak) and Le Cafe Anglais in London to which I have been twice now. Once with both my daughters, Mathilda and Delilah, and once with just Delilah. Both times it was great.

However, my “I’ve not smoked for eleven months and I’ve run a marathon” treat will be at Balthazar in New York, which is my favourite. (“Ooh, look at Mr Smartypants with his favourite restaurant in New York,” said a voice in my head when I wrote that. But actually it is because it is in New York and therefore something extraordinary and part of the whole experience of being in New York that makes it my favourite. (And by the way, I don’t get lots of strange voices in my head arguing with me all the time, in case anyone was wondering, and they don’t say “Kill, kill, kill” or anything like that.)) Anyway, although eating in a good restaurant is not the main reason I am doing all this, it can help sometimes (like on today’s 10 mile run) to imagine myself sitting there in Balthazar with my wife the day after the marathon and smiling smugly.

Despite appearance
Haruki Murakami
Is not much like me.

See, Haruki, not that hard is it?

First two weeks of training

June 6, 2008

This week:

Weight: 83kg (target: 73kg); Miles run: 19

Have started new food and fitness regime. My key to weight loss has always been “Eat less; do more” which I suggested might be my bestselling diet book idea. My colleague, Tim, said it was more of a haiku than a book, really. So here is my weightloss haiku:

Eat less and do more
Is a way to lose some weight
That has worked for me.

Did my first “tempo run” at a ridiculously early hour on Hampstead Heath this week. One mile slow “warm up” three miles fast “tempo run” and one mile slow “cool down”. I was guessing at distances and so on but checked it with the very good mapmyrun website and I was pretty accurate. Despite this I am thinking of getting a gps thing to “help me train properly”.

The run was hellish by the way. But strangely exhilerating. So it seems despite being encouraged to be an atheist by an atheist father and continuing to be an atheist all my life, the Presbyterian roots of my Scottish ancestors continue to influence me. Which may be why i am doing this marathon in the first place. Aha.