Posts Tagged ‘Marathon’

Ran the New York Marathon today in 5:15.

November 1, 2009

Pleased with myself. Will do a proper blog soon. Thanks to all for your support. It really helped.

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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!

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?

Week 8 – Postmodernism

July 18, 2008

This week:

Weight: Up one kilo! (What?) at 81kg (target: 73kg); Miles run so far this week: 17.63
Total funds raised: £89.74 (including Gift Aid) Only £910.26 to go.
Sponsor me at my Justgiving page by clicking here.
Days to go to the New York Marathon: 106

One of the many strands of what I understand to be the theories/non-theories of postmodernism is that of the self-referential work or art. Art or literature which is essentially about itself as a work of art. Stories about authors struggling to write a story. TV shows about actors and writers working on TV shows with real actors playing “themselves”. So, probably not strictly speaking postmodern but interesting and linked, a neatly constructed pile of bricks becomes a work of art when an artist arranges the bricks and says they are art and the bricks are shown as art in an art gallery.

And this week my running blog is heavily influenced by this concept.

Last week my blog was very positive and upbeat about my running and prospects for a successful marathon in November. So while I was out doing my run on Sunday (8.15 am, 9.40 miles in 1 hour, 35 minutes and 42 seconds at 10.11 minutes per mile and an average heart rate of 148 bpm burning approximately 1060 calories – or a whopping 1091g of turtle meat! (look at that – a reference to those in the know to an earlier posting in this blog about the calorific values of various kinds of meat)) I found myself thinking about my positive blog last week and it helped me to run further than I have for some time. My blog inspired me. So this week my blog is about how great it is to be writing a blog which helps me to run which gives me material to write my blog.

And i have some very exciting statistics about my blog as well. For example:

Top Posts are:

  1. About Allan, 51 views
  2. Weeks 6 and 7 (already!) – competitiveness, 7 views
  3. Weeks 4 and 5 – pain, 5 views

so between weeks 4&5 and weeks 6&7 I had a 40% increase in readership (possibly). A readership uplift figure that The Guardian would kill for, I think you will agree.

And Monday 14 July, Bastille Day, was the busiest day on my blog so far with an amazing 47 views! I don’t think that the blog traffic and Bastille Day are related but I could be wrong.

So to sum up. My blog is helping me to be better at running which will I hope make the blog better and maintain your interest for 106 days more to see whether I run this marathon thing!

Todays poem will come as no surprise:

haikus are poems
of seventeen syllables
as is this haiku.

Thanks for reading.