Blog Habits

Now that Christmas is well and truly over, and the unadulterated gluttony of the festive season is but a fond memory, everyone appears to be making the same mistake they made this time last year (and the year before that): trying to better themselves.

Very rarely do we stick to our New Year’s Resolutions, unless we set our targets extremely low (for example, I could vow to avoid eating tuna for a whole year, but bearing in mind the mere thought of it makes me want to retch, it’s hardly worth the gesture), and unless the resolution is something meaningful, well, what’s the point?

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Don’t get me wrong, if you have personally set yourself the challenge of losing weight, or giving up smoking, or learning a new language this year, then fair play, I hope you achieve your goals, but experience tell us that the majority will fail long before Easter.

For this reason, it seems many people are being drawn towards month-long gestures of betterment instead, led by a number of different charities up and down the country.

In recent years, we have seen the growth of campaigns like ‘dry January’ (which, having just checked online, now appears to have been adopted – rather appropriately – by Alcohol Change UK, although I’m certain it wasn’t their idea in the first place), but research indicates that a one month change to your alcohol intake has limited health benefits (particularly if you then spend the whole of February pissed to make up for it), and a more long-term alteration to your drinking habits is required.

Whilst I am all for these events in aid of charity, it seems you could now go through an entire calendar year of giving something different up each month, and the nation runs the risk of being swamped with novelty gestures – with the result that they could lose some meaning and significance.

For example, in just this opening month of the year, we Brits can choose to give up booze for ‘Dry January’; all meat, fish and animal products for ‘Veganuary’; and now women are being encouraged to stop shaving their body hair for ‘Januhairy’ (to name but three). As if January wasn’t depressing enough as it is, I’m now expected to make it through to February without any alcohol or meat, while married to Chewbacca*? No thanks.

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*for the record (because I value my genitals) my wife isn’t taking part in Januhairy, and even if she did, I’m sure she wouldn’t have that much body hair, and would still look lovely.

Anyway, that’s just January. We have eleven more months of this shit to get through.

My wife and children informed me the other day that our family will be taking part in ‘Dechox’ next month, which is the abstaining of all chocolate consumption for the whole of February in aid of the British Heart Foundation, and whilst they did say I didn’t have to join them (it is my birthday next month, after all), I have chosen to participate for a few reasons:

  1. I love a bit of chocolate, but feel I can realistically give it up for 28 days without too much trouble;
  2. I would far sooner give up chocolate throughout my birthday month than, say, alcohol (I don’t drink heavily, and not at all during the week, but turning 39 is going to require more than just a glass of wine or two, if I am to going to endure getting older without crying);
  3. The fact that the boys have agreed to take part makes me a very proud father; not least because Isaac, in particular, loves chocolate more than he loves me.

In truth, I don’t think either child fully understands the implications of going an entire month without any chocolate whatsoever; because I have since had to explain that this means no Jaffa Cakes for Isaac (he cried), and Ollie won’t be allowed brownies for dessert when we go out for my birthday meal (his immediate expression was very much one of ‘What the fuck have I agreed to?’)

Still, we have vowed to take part as a family, and complete the month we shall, because it is all for a very good cause: punishing Isaac (oh, yeah, and the British Heart Foundation).

That said, I do feel that some charities are perhaps jumping on the bandwagon slightly, and whilst I cannot deny their intentions are honourable, certain campaigns do strike me as, well, a bit shit frankly. For example (and because I would not want to upset any UK charities who may happen to read this), America is currently in the midst of ‘Walk Your Dog for January’. Now, call me old-fashioned, but shouldn’t most responsible dog owners be walking their pet every month? What’s next, Feed Your Cat for February? Don’t Kick Squirrels for September?

Anyway, because the situation with these ‘novelty months’ is – in my opinion – getting a bit silly, and since I do enjoy a bit of silliness (you may have noticed), I have decided to come up with my own twelve-month plan for the year, in addition to the current Dechox the family and I will be embarking on next month. Feel free to join me for any or all of the following, should you so wish.

‘Jamuary’

I shall be giving up all jam products this month (including doughnuts and cream teas), to raise awareness of underpaid fruit pickers on their ‘gap yah’ from studying the History of Art.

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‘Webuary’

I can’t give up the internet, as I have a weekly online blog to write, but I can promise not to kill any spiders for the whole month (on top of giving up chocolate for ‘Dechox’), which will really piss the wife off, since she hates the hairy little bastards (which is also how we refer to Isaac sometimes).

‘Starch for March’

I originally contemplated omitting all starchy foods from my diet, but then I Googled ‘What food has starch in?’ and, frankly, there’s not a fucking chance. So, because little else rhymes with ‘March’, I have decided to only eat complex carbohydrates for the entire month, in a sort of low-budget Super Size Me remake. In hindsight, I could have just ‘marched’ everywhere, but my commute is a fifty mile round trip, so that’s not an option either.

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‘April Showers’

I shall be giving up all bathing and personal hygiene for the month of April, to save water in aid of Africa (wildly generic, I know, but I’m sticking with it). I would like to place on record that I am personally hoping for an unseasonably inclement April, because if it does start to heat up ready for a glorious summer, I will become highly unpopular (well, more unpopular) at work.

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‘Theresa May’

Throughout May, I shall dress as our Prime Minister and insist on being called ‘Theresa’. Bearing in mind both our boys have their birthday in May, and we have just booked a short city break as a family, this could prove interesting. I am also very aware that Mrs May is not exactly popular of late (or ever), and I may need to hire a bodyguard. Hopefully I can dance my way out of any potentially volatile situations, with some of her signature moves.

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‘No Prune in June’

Rather self-explanatory, I suppose, although I should reveal that I don’t like prunes, and cannot remember the last time I ate one. Essentially, I have decided to give myself an easier month in June, having giving up bathing and then dressing as an elderly crone in the two months prior.

‘Pie July’

To make up for going entirely without prunes the month before (yes, I am well aware that I have just admitted this isn’t really a sacrifice), I will be rewarding myself in July by eating at least one pie per day. To promote a balanced diet, I will try to alternate between meat and fruit fillings.

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‘Auguffs’

I was struggling with an idea for August, so my wife has suggested ‘Auguffs’ – an entire month without breaking wind. To be honest, this one might be my toughest challenge yet.

‘Selltember’

On the basis my wife usually commences Christmas shopping around this time of the year, I vow to sell one item from the house every day throughout the month, to make space for the imminent invasion of toys. I can’t promise any of the items sold will belong to me, however, and a fair proportion of my wife’s shoe collection may mysteriously vanish (as revenge for ‘Auguffs’, and for dismissing my original ‘Sextember’ suggestion).

‘Frocktober’

Not content with spending May disguised as our wizened Prime Minister, I shall once again be embracing my cross-dressing curiosity, by only wearing frocks. Interestingly, this was my wife’s suggestion for the month, which I think says more about her than it does me.

‘Mowvember’

To save electricity, and therefore the planet, I will refrain from mowing our garden for the penultimate month. Admittedly, grass doesn’t tend to grow much by this stage of the year, and in fact ours doesn’t grow at all as we have an artificial lawn, but I think the gesture will be well received.

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‘Deafcember’

To raise awareness of local and national deaf charities, I will spend the final month of the year ignoring anything anyone says to me (my wife believes I am well practiced at this, as I apparently ignore most of our conversations already).

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Feel free to drop me a line if you take part in any of my campaigns, by e-mailing the following address: thisisalljustajoke@middlerageddad.co.uk.

Thanks for reading x

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Run FatBlog Run (Wilmslow)

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That’s it, it’s all over!

On Sunday, I successfully completed the tenth and final race of my challenge for 2018, when I ran the Wilmslow ‘Festive’ 10k. To say I am pleased that it’s all over would be an understatement, but at the time of writing this week’s entry my Just Giving page stands at £1,465, which is phenomenal. To put that figure into perspective, it means an additional 146 hours of research into childhood cancer, which makes every painful stride worthwhile, and I am very grateful to those who have donated.

Over the course of the year, I have seen two races cancelled at the last minute (including my inaugural race at Kidsgrove in January, which was cancelled – due to snow and ice  -with me stood at the start line raring to go); I have have battled injuries to my hip, knee and foot; I have tripped and fallen in training, suffering a gash to my right arm and leg; and I’ve been hospitalised with a suspected heart attack (which, thankfully, it wasn’t), when I collapsed barely twenty feet from the finish line at the Whitchurch 10k in April.

In short, it hasn’t been easy.

Which sounds pretty pathetic really, as a lot of proper runners will see 10k as nothing,  a brief jog and nothing more – but to me it’s my limit. I can’t imagine I will ever attempt a half marathon, and certainly never a full marathon, so I am in absolute awe of anyone who does.

Anyway, for the final time, here are my scores for the Wilmslow 10k:

Time: 47:08 (my second fastest time of the entire challenge, and whilst it was a shame to miss out on a PB in my final race by just 21 seconds, I shouldn’t complain too much, when I was struggling to meet my sub-50 minutes target just a few months ago.

Position: 723rd (out of 3,291)

Cost: I think this race is ordinarily around £19, but since I got a special offer to enter both the Wilmslow and Alderley Edge events for the bargain price of £29, they were essentially £14.50 each.

Course: The course itself was largely ok, save for the giant hill between 8 and 9k, and the fact that the organisers moved the finish line this year to ease congestion in the town centre and allow more of a finish ‘strait’.

Unfortunately, this meant the finish line was over a mile from the start, and on a country lane, which not only meant spectators fighting to get a place on one of the four buses the organisers put on (which thankfully my wife and kids did), but the finish line was very overcrowded. Oh, and then the runners had a choice of fighting to get one of the buses back, or face an extra mile-and-a-half to their car.

I think, on balance, I would have preferred the old route, whether it had a finish strait or not.

That said, apart from the one big hill towards the end, the course was mostly flat, on good condition roads – which, unlike at Arley Hall, remained fully closed throughout –  and was packed with enthusiastic spectators cheering us on. I even high-fived some kids on the final stretch, such was my euphoria at this bastard challenge being nearly over.

Each kilometre was clearly marked, and it was well marshaled throughout. Shame that moving the finish line has cost Wilmslow points, really – 7/10

Weather: Cold, but not quite as cold as the Oulton Park race in February, and certainly not as cold as Kidsgrove would have been, had it taken place. A little bit of rain, but not enough to put me off. Could have been worse – 7/10

Organisation: The organisation was very efficient, as I have come to expect from RunNorthWest, with a detailed pre-race pack sent through a couple of weeks in advance. The numbers were also posted out early, so there was no need for me to even visit ‘Race HQ’ on the day. They did advise against wearing headphones, but there was no way I was running my last race without music, and to be fair none of the marshals ever challenged me.

The results were online very quickly the same day, and I even got a text from ‘Nifty Timing’ the instant I crossed the line, so I knew my time, position, and wear I had finished in my category (middle-aged men who are shit at running, or something to that effect).

Wilmslow is, however, let down by the fact the start line in the town centre was so crowded, with no organisation of runners based on their ability/expectations, that the result was faster runners who wanted to get near the start were clambering over the barriers among the spectators, and this led to Ollie nearly taking a running shoe to the face.

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Shame, really, otherwise this race would have scored highly – 7/10

Official Photos: Yet again, Mick Hall was the chosen race photographer, and I have to say he is very efficient, uploading thousands of photographs the next day.

Unfortunately, with over three thousand runners to snap, it would be fair to say he didn’t exactly capture my best side:

So that’s one beheading, one with my eyes shut (I’ll share some of the blame for that), and one where the bint next to me has nicked my ‘race number ten’ pose. She’s either getting in on the action, or mocking me, but either way she can fuck right off. I might even cut her out of that one.

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There. Much better (and it even emphasises the pretty rainbow behind me).

Thankfully, my good lady wife grabbed a few good shots before and after the race, including a great photo of my sprint finish:

Still, Mick did his best, and they were all free to download – 8/10

Medal: Very nice indeed, and very distinctive. Good work, Wilmslow – 9/10

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Goody-bag: For only the second time throughout the challenge (the other being at Colshaw Hall in Knutsford), the goody bag comprised an actual bag. This was filled with some sweets, a caramel flapjack, and some energy powder (which I think you are meant to add to water, but after the ‘birthday cake’ flavour powder at Oulton Park at the start of the year, I don’t think I’m brave enough to try it). No running shirt this time, though – 7/10

Post-race refreshment: Just a bottle of water, but that’s only because the other treats were in the bag, and the finish area was so cramped, they wouldn’t have been able to organise fruit and other treats really – 6/10

Summary:

Course: 7/10

Weather: 7/10

Organisation: 7/10

Photos: 8/10

Medal: 9/10

Goody-bag: 7/10

Refreshments: 6/10

Which gives the Wilmslow ‘Festive’ 10k a total score of 51, meaning it is tied with it’s sister event, Alderley Edge.

So, without further ado, here is my final table:

Arley Hall                           54/70                     (77%)

Sandbach                            53/70                     (76%)

Colshaw Hall                      52/70                     (74%)

Alderley Edge                     51/70                     (73%)

Wilmslow                            51/70                    (73%)

Birchwood                          49/70                     (70%)

Whitchurch:                       49/70                     (70%)

Tatton Park:                        47/70                     (67%)

Oulton Park:                       46/70                     (66%)

Poynton:                              39/70                     (56%)

Arley Hall is therefore my favourite race of the ten (which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact it was my fastest race, and towards the end of the whole ordeal being nearly over).

That said, I did begin to wonder whether my scores were becoming more generous as the challenge went on, because I was getting fitter, my times were improving, and because I was less nervous before each race. However, when I look back over the final table now, I do genuinely feel that Arley Hall was my favourite race, and Poynton was a sack of shit, so apart from Birchwood being slightly lower than expected in hindsight, not to mention the fact Whitchurch is mid-table despite doing it’s level best to kill me, I think the scores are about right.

That’s it for my running now, at least for this year. I don’t imagine I will continue to take part in regular 10k events (although I may be persuaded to compete in the Sandbach race again next year, with it being so local), and I won’t be training anywhere near as hard, but gentle jogs around the town, and the odd Parkrun when I can, are by no means out of the question.

Anyway, I’m so glad it’s over, as I’m sure you are too (back to cheap knob gags next week, folks), and I would just like to thank everyone again for their support and donations throughout this daft challenge. I would like to especially thank my wife and kids, for coming along to every event to cheer me on (regardless of the weather conditions).

Best of all, look at all the new running shirts and shiny stuff I have gathered over the past ten months:

Finally, there is just enough time for one last push for donations, so if you could spare a few quid to help me hit £1,500, take a look at my Just Giving page:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/greg10x10k

Thanks for reading x

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Run FatBlogRun (Arley Hall)

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Last Saturday I completed the ninth of my ten 10k races for the year, as I raise funds for my chosen charity, Kidscan, and I think the fact the challenge is nearly over is something we can all be pleased about.

I am pleased, because it means I will soon be able to bid farewell to long distance competitive running. I don’t like it, I’m not very good at it, and it is clearly bad for my health – and hips.

At the same time, you should also be pleased, because it means you won’t have to read about my running any more, and we can all get back to blog entries about my moronic children, and the various unfortunate events that seem to plague my life.  Be honest, we all prefer a bit of childish swearing and a cheap knob gag, right?

However, for all the pain and exhaustion I have suffered throughout the year, and despite the fact I have not grown to love running as everyone predicted, I am pleased I set myself this challenge, because it has been a real struggle for me (when it perhaps wouldn’t have been for most runners), so I feel like I have genuinely earned all the donations to my JustGiving page.

And, on that subject, I am delighted to reveal (to those of you who don’t already know), that last Saturday I reached my £1,000 target, which means more than one hundred hours of additional research into childhood cancer. That fact alone makes every single painful stride completely worthwhile.

My penultimate 10k took place at Arley Hall in Cheshire, and to say it went well would be an understatement, as I managed to shave more than a minute off my PB (which, bearing in mind my previous best put me in hospital for two days, to run faster without collapsing was certainly a bonus).

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Arley Hall

It’s not like the build-up to the race went particularly well, either, as I had been struggling with both my left knee and right thigh/hip in the days prior to the event (plus, Isaac had been his usual nocturnal self the night before), so we arrived at Arley Hall shortly after 8am with me already knackered and aching.

My lack of enthusiasm was compounded when we reached the ‘event village’ for the race (which was nothing more than a series of gazebos in a field), and I immediately slipped in sheep shit. The stuff was everywhere – indeed, my wife and the boys ended up victims to sticky ovine plop on their footwear too – and aside from the sheer disgustingness of it all, my paranoid brain feared it might cause me to slip mid-race and injure myself.

I managed to focus myself, however, and apart from the start of the race being a little congested, it wasn’t long before we were underway, dodging potholes (and more sheep shit), before leaving the grounds of Arley Hall for the country lanes of Antrobus – which, I am well aware, sounds very much like a low-cost travel company.

My calm was short-lived, however, because soon after we passed through the main gates of Arley Hall, some colossal fuckwit collided with me (naturally, in true British fashion, I apologised to him), and it really threw my concentration. Thankfully, I managed to compose myself by spending the next minute or so coming up with various penis-related insults to shout at him, should our paths cross again later in the race.

It wasn’t until I reached the 1k marker, however, that I looked at my watch and realised ‘Dick Van Dick’ (look, they weren’t all gold) had inadvertently – or perhaps deliberately – stopped my watch at 2:26, which meant I had no idea how fast I was running (other than to say it had taken me at least two-and-a-half minutes to complete 1k, but I could have predicted that much).

Whilst, in hindsight, it was not exactly rocket science to calculate my pace from that point onward, I was never that strong at maths under pressure anyway, and trying to work out the time at which I should reach the remaining markers suddenly felt like… well, rocket science.

It took me an inordinately – and embarrassingly – long time to work out that, so long as I could reach the 2k point before my (since-restarted) watch hit 7:30, that was approximately the right pace, and I would have to hope that the first kilometre was not slower than anticipated, otherwise I would struggle to finish within my sub-fifty-minute target.

No sooner had I solved my maths problem, however, I was then faced with two further distractions: the first being a horse rider, who had somehow evaded/ignored all the road blocks to come face-to-face with 1,400 runners (which clearly spooked the horse, and could have proven very dangerous), and the second being the fact I was then overtaken by a fat cow.

Now, before you start hurling insults like ‘misogynist pig’ or ‘sizeist neanderthal’, I must stress that I was genuinely overtaken by a fat cow (as in the oversized farm animal variety, or a bovine beast, if you will), which was running in the field next to me. Now, bearing in mind how ungainly cows are, and the fact they are rarely mentioned in the same sentence as words like ‘speedy’, or ‘streamlined’, this was rather embarrassing and off-putting.

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A pointless image, really

Fortunately, the rest of the event ran smoothly (pun intended), and aside from missing the 7k marker entirely – which caused a brief panic – I returned to Arley Hall in what I later realised was an alarmingly quick time (for me). This was much to the dissatisfaction of my wife, who was very concerned that I was crossing the line considerably faster than the Whitchurch 10k, and was expecting me to keel over at any moment.

There was no collapse, however, and once she had berated me for running too fast (I quickly explained about ‘Jordan Prickford’ stopping my watch so early into the race), there were congratulations all round.

I was also approached by one of the runners I had overtaken on my sprint finish (who had sportingly cheered me on), and he asked about my challenge, having seen my name and the charity on the back of my running shirt. He even promised to donate himself (which he hasn’t, yet, but it was a nice gesture anyway), and as we went our separate ways, we even managed a ‘cool’ handshake/shoulder bump, which in my head went a little like this:

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But in reality was probably more like this:

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Anyway, moving swiftly on to the scores:

Time: 46:47

Position: 354th (out of 1,347)

Cost: £19.00 – one of the more expensive events, but still decent value for money.

Course: If the organisers could get rid of the treacherous, pot-hole filled, sheep-shit splattered first/last 200m straight, then this would be my favourite route yet. It’s almost entirely flat (every event so far has contained at least a couple of nasty inclines), and this shows in my time. The course was mostly along decent roads and paths (unlike the muddy, woodland sections at Poynton and Tatton Park), and apart from a few potholes it was ideal.

Each kilometre was clearly marked (well, I assume 7k was, but I missed that one), there were marshals at every turn, and the sprint finish was pretty fun – 8/10

Weather: Like the last two events, the rain had come down pretty heavily in the days beforehand, but the race itself was dry, sunny and not too cold – 9/10

Organisation: The pre-event organisation, and collection of running numbers on the day, were both very good, but sadly there were some issues during the race. The start was a little disorganised, which resulted in me getting penned in behind some much slower runners, and the road closures were poorly enforced, leading to a horse rider, some cyclists, and eventually some cars getting through – all of which could have caused a serious injury (but fortunately didn’t).

However, the results were posted online very quickly after the event, and I’ll cut the marshals some slack in terms of the roadblocks, as it seems the motorists in question were not only determined to get through, but very abusive – 7/10

Official Photos: The race photos were courtesy of Mick Hall, who, if memory serves me, was at the Birchwood 10k a few months ago, and they were again free to download. Also, despite the fact there were well over 1,000 shots to upload, he had the photos on Facebook by the end of the day.

I only appeared in two (and the finish line photo was shit, so I’m not sharing it), but he did get a decent snap of my new ‘pose’ – which is actually meant to signify this being my ninth race, and is not intended to be a camp little wave (as my siblings initially thought):

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I’ll give Mick and his team 8/10

My wife also took some decent shots, including one of the sprint finish:

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Medal: Very similar to the Tatton Park 10k medals (on account of the fact this race is organised by the same people). Very nice indeed, if a little ‘samey’ now – 8/10

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Goody-bag: As with many of the earlier races, I was presented with a very smart running shirt for my troubles, and since I don’t yet have one in black, it was gratefully received (even though it’s a little useless for running in the dark winter months) – 7/10

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Post-race refreshment: With the event being organised by ‘RunThrough’, who also do Tatton Park’s monthly 10k, we again received some of their delicious flapjack, as well as water and a banana. Nothing fancy, but it very rarely is – 7/10

Summary:

Course: 8/10

Weather: 9/10

Organisation: 7/10

Photos: 8/10

Medal: 8/10

Goody-bag: 7/10

Refreshments: 7/10

Giving the Cheshire 10k an impressive total of 54/70, making it my new favourite with just one race to go:

Arley Hall                           54/70                     (77%)

Sandbach                            53/70                     (76%)

Colshaw Hall                      52/70                     (74%)

Alderley Edge                     51/70                     (73%)

Birchwood                          49/70                     (70%)

Whitchurch:                       49/70                     (70%)

Tatton Park:                        47/70                     (67%)

Oulton Park:                       46/70                     (66%)

Poynton:                              39/70                     (56%)

The score would have been even higher, were it not for the sheep poo (which took ages to scrub off), and the poorly adhered to road closures.

My challenge is almost over, so if you would like to donate, here’s a link to my Just Giving page:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/greg10x10k

Thanks for reading x

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Run FatBlog Run (Sandbach)

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Last Sunday morning, I ran the Sandbach 10k for the second time, despite saying at the finish line last year that I would never run another 10k in my life.

Of course, since then I have decided to run ten such races this year, all in aid of my chosen charity (Kidscan), and Sandbach was number seven on the list. The finish line is therefore very much in sight.

Technically, this was supposed to be race number eight, but ever since I had to walk part of the Tatton 10k in May, I have been kicking myself (not literally), because the challenge was to actually run ten races. To me, walking during one of them – even if only for a few minutes – felt like cheating.

So, even though I had the valid excuse of being scared shitless that I would end up in hospital again if I pushed too hard (and, if you don’t know what I mean by that, have a read here: https://middlerageddad.com/2018/04/13/run-fatblog-run-whitchurch/), and despite the fact my wife asked me not to, I have re-entered the Tatton 10k for next month in order to make amends.

As it happens – and rather fortuitously – Tatton is the only event that I can do again (because it is held monthly, whereas the rest of my races are annual); and since the friend who was due to run it with me originally had to pull out due to injury, but has been able to transfer his place, I have an added incentive to try again. Let’s just hope I can run it all (and finish under fifty minutes) this time, otherwise I’ll be tempted to take part in November (and, if necessary, December), until I get it right.

Anyway, last weekend was all about my home town of Sandbach, which is where my hatred of 10k races began last September. Whilst I still despise running, and feel sick in the days leading up to a race, I wasn’t as apprehensive of this particular event for two main reasons:

  1. I have run it before, so I knew the route, and that I was capable of completing it;
  2. For the first time on this challenge (after my mate had to drop out of the Tatton 10k in May) I had a running buddy, as my brother was taking part to support me.

Initially, when he first entered the Sandbach 10k a few months ago, my brother made his intentions very clear – he wanted to beat me. And, after only a month or so of training, having not really run long distances before, it looked very much like he would, as he was completing a few miles at a decent pace. However, when he didn’t run at all in the three months leading up to last Sunday, and confessed his plan was to simply ‘wing it’, I did begin to worry for him slightly.

Then, when the race instructions arrived last week, informing us that the timing chips would be fastened to our laces (rather than our running numbers), his plan apparently changed from finishing faster than me, to simply staying close enough to be able to remove his shoe and launch it past me at the finish line.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my scores:

Time: 48:45 (which, if we ignore Whitchurch – where I ran too fast and collapsed – is a PB)

Position: 90th (out of 368)

Cost: £16.00 – which is not only one of the cheapest events, but very good value bearing in mind what we got for our money.

Course: I don’t know whether it’s because some of the courses since last year’s Sandbach 10k have been horrible, or that my memory has softened over time, but I genuinely remembered the Sandbach route being relatively flat – apart from the railway bridge you encounter twice:

ScreenHunter_04 Sep. 12 22.13

It’s steeper than it looks

Unfortunately, I was mistaken, because whilst there weren’t too many steep climbs, the course was far more ‘undulating’ (which is seemingly 10k speak for ‘fucking hilly’) than I remembered.

Having said that, the route was all on decent roads (apart from the few potholes the organisers had thoughtfully stuck traffic cones in to warn us); the countryside scenery was pleasant (if a little dull, and, at one point, smelling of shit – which I assure you was the farm we were passing at the time, and not me); and it was a relatively straight-forward circuit..

Each kilometre was clearly marked, there were marshals at key points (although I could have done without every child being offered an annoying cow bell to ring as we went past), and the final straight offered a nice little sprint finish for those with any energy left – 8/10

Weather: Fortunately, the rain which had been forecast for most of the morning (and which was certainly coming down while we registered), stopped just as we headed to the start line, and the entire race – for us at least – was in sunshine. Ok, it was a little windy (again, not me), but otherwise the weather was spot on – 9/10

Organisation: There was no fancy pre-race instruction pack this time, but the e-mail which came through last week contained all of the information we required, and crucially made no reference to banning headphones (which, had the organisers done so, may very well have seen my brother drop out in protest).

Registration on the day was well organised, if a little cramped – which unfortunately led to me losing my timing chip with about ten minutes to go (many naughty words followed, but we located it just in time).

The results were also a little late being posted online, so even though the organisation was generally very good, I’ll mark Sandbach down a little for that (whilst giving an extra point for allowing us to wear headphones) – 8/10

Official Photos: The race photos were again courtesy of Bryan Dale, whose website I am fast becoming familiar with, but unfortunately ‘fast’ doesn’t describe the uploading of them, as they didn’t start appearing until yesterday. Still, they were entirely free to download and keep, without any irritating copyright watermarks printed across them, so I can’t complain. Here are the ones I appeared in:

8/10

I’ll also give credit to my good lady wife, for snapping the following additions (including capturing my sprint finish past three runners just before the line):

Medal: A little plain, and I am (probably irrationally) irked by the splitting of ‘Sandbach’ as though it is two separate words – however it is solid, good quality, and a nice little addition to my ever-growing collection – 7/10

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(This is the organisers photo, I don’t have five medals)

Goody-bag: I’m torn here, because normally when there is a good quality running shirt for all finishers, the goody bag is always minimal (or, in some cases – Birchwood, for example – non-existent).

I should, therefore, be grateful that we were at least given a carrier bag of ‘treats’, but because these were supplied by the two main sponsors, who happened to be a salt company (bag of salt), and bakery (loaf of bread), they weren’t exactly what I fancied having just run six-and-a-bit miles. Salty sandwich, anyone?

In fairness, we also got a chocolate bar, which I would normally be delighted with, but it was a Bounty (and, as everyone knows, Bounty is at the lower end of the chocolate league, along with Lion bars and Double Deckers). I mean, full marks for the gesture, Sandbach, but next year might I suggest sponsorship from a local brewery and chip shop?

Anyway, the shirt – whilst the same colour as the Alderley Edge one – is very nice indeed (despite splitting Sandbach into two words again) – 7/10

Post-race refreshment: This comprised the customary bottle of water, and a banana (which I gave to my niece, as I don’t like bananas). Ok, I could have made myself a salty banana sandwich (which sounds like a euphemism for something kinky), but in the end I decided not to bother – 6/10

Summary:

Course: 8/10

Weather: 9/10

Organisation: 8/10

Photos: 8/10

Medal: 7/10

Goody-bag: 7/10

Refreshments: 6/10

All of which means, we have a new leader:

Sandbach                            53/70                     (76%)

Colshaw Hall                      52/70                     (74%)

Alderley Edge                     51/70                     (73%)

Birchwood                          49/70                     (70%)

Whitchurch:                       49/70                     (70%)

Tatton Park:                        47/70                     (67%)

Oulton Park:                       46/70                     (66%)

Poynton:                              39/70                     (56%)

Sandbach is now my favourite 10k so far (although I use the term ‘favourite’ loosely, since I detest all running), and bearing in mind I only have Tatton – which I have already completed once – Arley Hall and Wilmslow remaining, this score will take some beating.

If you have read and enjoyed this entry, and would care to sponsor me, here is a link to my Just Giving page:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/greg10x10k

(Yes, Isaac is dressed as Santa)

Finally, since I suspect many won’t bother reading this entry to the end (if at all), and as a reward for those who have persevered, I’ll let you into a little (embarrassing) secret….

Once I got home following the run, I went for a shower, and decided to test the fancy ‘post-exercise muscle-cooling’ shower gel that my wife bought for me recently. Without going into too much detail (although I fear I may), by the time I realised the true strength of the gel, I had already applied copious amounts to my body – including my ‘gentleman’s region’.

I regretted my decision almost immediately, as my reaction quickly progressed from ‘Ooh, that’s a bit tingly’, to ‘Jesus Christ, that’s cold’, and finally ‘WHAT IN THE NAME OF HOLY FUCK IS HAPPENING TO MY GENITALS?!’ in a matter of seconds.

For want of a better description, it was like someone had cryogenically (or cryogenitally) frozen my penis from the inside out. It wasn’t painful, as such, but I did fear that the effects may be permanent, and I would be pissing icicles for the rest of my living days. Honestly, it was like I was sporting a Mr Freeze Ice Pop down there.

Fortunately, after a great deal of scrubbing, normal service has been resumed.

wow GIF by Call of Duty World League

And, on that bombshell….

Thanks for reading x

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Run FatBlog Run (Birchwood)

run-fatboy-run

Last Sunday, I completed the seventh race of my 10 x 10k challenge for 2018, at Birchwood, near Warrington (a place so nondescript, the BBC weather app doesn’t even acknowledge its existence – presumably because it is overshadowed by that monstrous IKEA down the road, which is seemingly so vast, it is now twinned with Luxembourg).

I feel I don’t need to repeat my utter hatred of running, as I have publicised this more than enough already, but suffice to say I approach each new 10k with the same feeling – one of dread. My siblings and I have coined this sensation ‘swimming lesson belly’, because when we were kids we all hating swimming lessons, and suffered that same sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs as the weekly lesson approached. To this day, I still can’t watch ‘Garfield’ without getting that same knot in my gut (it was always on BBC1, just before we had to leave our house for the local swimming baths).

Fortunately, the (slightly irrational) apprehension I suffer in the days prior to each race is easing slightly, which I assume is partly due to the fact I have now successfully completed a number of events without major incident (if we conveniently ignore the one race where there was an incident), and partly because the end is almost in sight.

That said, because I completed last Sunday’s Birchwood 10k in under fifty minutes (which is an unofficial target I have set myself, after the far more important task of actually running all ten races, I have decided to re-enter the Tatton Park 10k in October, because it is the only race so far where I had to stop and walk for a bit, and which consequently resulted in a slower than fifty minutes finish.

At the time, I cut myself some slack, as it was the first event following the Whitchurch 10k (and my confidence was somewhat knocked), but now the dust has settled, I can’t help thinking it might be the only race of the ten which lets me down, and I’d hate to pass up the opportunity to rectify that. Besides, it’s the only race I can re-run (as the majority are annual), and I currently have a little gap in October which it will slot into nicely. My wife isn’t chuffed with the idea, but it’s something I feel I need to do.

So, ultimately, the Birchwood 10k is actually now relegated to event number six, rather than event number seven, but wherever it sits in the grand scheme of this challenge, it couldn’t have gone much better.

Ok, the weather wasn’t ideal, as this was the first race where I have been rained on (heavily), but it turns out rain – despite the nuisance factor of wearing glasses – is ultimately preferable to the stifling heat I completed the Alderley Edge 10k in last month (which may well be the only time ‘Alderley Edge’ and ‘stifling heat’ have been used in the same sentence).

Overall, the Birchwood 10k was a well-organised, friendly event, with runners (and pacers) offering regular encouragement to one another, and it’s amazing how helpful that can be – particularly when this was one of those events where the wearing of headphones was unfortunately banned (albeit poorly enforced).

I even made a friend prior to the race starting (‘oooh, running fwend’), when an older chap and his wife noticed my bespoke Kidscan shirt, and commented that he too was running ten 10k races this year for his chosen charity (Alder Hey Children’s Hospital); so we shared our progress, and wished each other luck in our respective challenges. I especially liked him, because he had the decency to finish behind me by a few minutes (I do hate it when runners several years my senior make me look rubbish).

Anyway, without further ado, here are my scores for the Birchwood 10k:

Time: 49:13 (which, aside from the rather anomalous Whitchurch race, was just two seconds off my PB)

Position: 329th out of 957, which means I have just missed out on my final semi-official target of finishing in the top-third of each race (but, frankly, I’m not that bothered anymore).

Cost: £18.00 – which is pretty much average, although there was an unexpected – and rather randomly calculated – £2.08 ‘processing fee’, making this one of the more expensive races, unfortunately.

Course: A bit of a mixed bag, really. We started outside a shopping centre, ran along some roads – which were only partially closed to traffic – covered a couple of miles of parks and cycle-paths, when headed back onto the roads – including crossing the M6 twice (don’t worry, there was a bridge, they aren’t that fucking stupid) – before finishing on the other side of the same shopping centre.

A very windy route, which you could easily get lost on if it weren’t for the excellent marshaling (and sheer number of runners around you), but it was almost entirely tarmac and, aside from the three times we had to cross roads over bridges, it was relatively flat. Overall, it could have been much worse – 8/10

Weather: Had the rain stopped fifteen minutes earlier than it did (or not turned up at all), the weather would have been pretty much perfect, but by the time it dried up I was already soaked. Still, the temperature was ideal, and apart from some muddy spots, once the rained ceased I could have no complaints – 8/10

Organisation: Ok, the pre-race pack which was posted out to us may not have been as polished and glossy as the Alderley Edge publication a couple of months ago, but it still contained every piece of information I needed, not to mention the rather unwelcome news that – due to the route not being completely road-closed – headphones were banned, and anyone seen wearing them would be disqualified. As usual, it turned out a number of people ignored this rule, and seemingly got away with it, but I wasn’t willing to take the risk 8/10

Official Photos: Unlike every other event I have taken part in so far, this one boasted not just one but two official photographers. Unfortunately, both want to charge me to show you the snaps I feature in, and one of them almost missed me completely, in that he only captured the left side of my body – and none of my (admittedly no doubt red and panting) face.

In fairness, this was probably because my sprint finish was faster than anything he has ever witnessed, but I still don’t want to pay over a tenner for a glossy picture of the poor bastard I was zooming past on the final straight; as his particular moment of glory was overshadowed by my left elbow and a bit of side-boob.

The other photographer did manage to take one snap of me, but I again look like shit, and even though his prices were more reasonable, I still object to paying for a photo of me looking dreadful just so I can explain my point to you, dear reader 6/10

Medal: Solid, metal, an unusual shape, and bright green – which means it certainly stands out among my collection. We also have three of them as a family, since a kindly old chap decided he didn’t need medals at his age, and gave the two he had (I presume the other was from a friend) to our boys. I tried to disguise my disappointment at the fact they had received the same medal I had worked bloody hard for, despite only spending an hour in the warm in Costa, but fear I didn’t hide it too well – 8/10

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Goody-bag: There wasn’t one, but in its place we received a rather fetching – and good quality – running shirt (my fourth of this challenge), in bright green to match the medal.

Rather annoyingly, however, not only did the children who ran the 2k fun run earlier in the morning actually receive a goody-bag (look, I’m not suggesting I desperately wanted a yo-yo and some bubbles, but the crisps and chocolate would have gone down nicely), but yet again my kids were the recipients of some left-over bags, so now they had medals and treats, for achieving the grand total of fuck all. In the warm.

Still, at least the little scroungers didn’t get a t-shirt, and it is really nice – 7/10

 

Post-race refreshment: We got a bottle of water as we finished and…. that was it. Not even a flapjack. Oh dear, Birchwood, and it was going so well. I have, however, decided not to mark them too harshly, on account of the fact I have usually felt too sick to eat the flapjack or jelly babies offered at previous events anyway – 4/10

Summary:

Course: 8/10

Weather: 8/10

Organisation: 8/10

Photos: 6/10

Medal: 8/10

Goody-bag: 7/10

Refreshments: 4/10

Giving Birchwood a total score of 49/70 (or 70%) – placing it joint third with Whitchurch on my leaderboard:

Colshaw Hall                      52/70                     (74%)

Alderley Edge                    51/70                     (73%)

Birchwood                          49/70                     (70%)

Whitchurch                        49/70                     (70%)

Tatton Park                        47/70                     (67%)

Oulton Park                       46/70                     (66%)

Poynton                               39/70                     (56%)

I am still amazed that the Whitchurch event is doing so well, as I have nothing but horrible memories of what happened at the end – and in the days afterwards – but the scores don’t lie.

For my next race, I’m coming home – in more ways than one. Not only is the Sandbach 10k walkable for me (and, by that, I mean I can walk to get there, rather than walk the course), but it’s the first 10k I ever did last September, and I now appreciate how flat the course is. Plus, my brother and some friends are joining me for this one, so it isn’t filling me with the usual dread (or swimming lesson belly) which most of the others have.

As ever, if any of you fancy sacrificing the cost of just one drink from this weekend, and chucking it towards a charity working really hard to combat childhood cancer, then here’s the link:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/greg10x10k

Thanks for reading x

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Run FatBlog Run (Alderley Edge)

run-fatboy-run

Over the last week or so, I have gained a number of new followers – welcome.

To bring you up to speed, my blog is published every Friday via WordPress, and has no real theme or topic. It’s not a blog on cooking, or fitness, or parenting (although parenting often features, because our boys are an almost endless source of comedic material); but is instead a random collection of whatever shit happens to be mulling around my head at the time, or going on in my life, and which I think you may find amusing. In a way, this is like therapy for me, because my brain can be a very dark and foreboding place at times, so it’s nice to share my weirdness with you all (for free).

Despite there being no particular theme to my blog, this year I have set myself a challenge to run ten 10k races for my chosen charity, Kidscan, who are a children’s cancer charity based in Salford – and I have been posting a ‘report’ of each race after the event.

If you haven’t read any of these ‘running’ blog entries, then please don’t be put off from reading any further. They are nowhere near as dull as they sound, thanks in no small part to the fact I am utterly shite at running, and catastrophe usually befalls me when I don my running shoes. Plus, each of my ten races this year are somewhat unique, and hopefully these blog entries will serve as a nice record of my charitable exploits in years to come. Future generations may even mistake me for a nice guy.

(Oh, and if you have read any of my previous running entries, don’t tell the newbies that the last paragraph was complete bullshit, ok?)

Anyway, for all newcomers, and as a reminder to the rest of you, here is a brief summary of my challenge so far – and, if you wanted to read any of them, there’s a handy link to each entry underneath):

Race #1 – Oulton Park 

Ran around a race track in very cold temperatures. Hated every second.

https://middlerageddad.com/2018/03/09/run-fatblog-run-oulton-park

Race #2 – Poynton

Completed a circuit of the village where I grew up (and now work). Hated every second.

https://middlerageddad.com/2018/03/30/run-fatblog-run-poynton

Race #3 – Whitchurch

Ran too fast around a very steep course, collapsed near to the finish line, spent some time in hospital. Needless to say, hated every second.

https://middlerageddad.com/2018/04/13/run-fatblog-run-whitchurch

Race #4 – Tatton Park

Still shaken by the events of the Whitchurch 10k, this was my slowest race to date (by some margin) as I had to stop and walk a few times. Hated every second.

https://middlerageddad.com/2018/05/11/run-fatblog-run-tatton-park

Race #5 – Colshaw Hall

Rather enjoyed this one, just a few weeks ago (only joking, I hated every second).

https://middlerageddad.com/2018/06/22/run-fatblog-run-colshaw-hall

Anyway, last Sunday I took part in my sixth event, in Alderley Edge (posh Cheshire), which entailed running down the A34 bypass… then back again. It doesn’t really matter if you are familiar with Alderley Edge or not, as I am sure you can imagine a single-carriageway bypass, but just in case you are desperate to visualise the event, here’s a photo:

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Believe it or not, I am on there, so feel free to play your own version of Where’s Wally? (or Where’s Waldo? for my American following). To help you, I am wearing a purple running top.

Ok, a bypass is not exactly the most interesting of routes, but the organisers relied heavily on two unique factors, to entice people into entering their particular event:

  1. Many of these 10k races involve road closures, but not usually one of the busiest bypass routes in Cheshire (even on a Sunday morning);
  2. They placed live entertainment along the route – to break the monotony of running along a predominantly straight road.

It also seems that either the organisers themselves, or someone involved in the setting up of the race, had a similarly twisted sense of humour to those behind the Colshaw Hall event two weeks earlier. If you read that entry, you may recall that there was a particularly nasty hill, which had not been referred to on any of the pre-race documentation, and the organisers chose to place this sign at the top of it:

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The gits.

Anyway, the Alderley Edge team (or some little fucker gone rogue), decided to go one better with their own version of a ‘motivational’ sign, because shortly after the 2k point, when all the runners were already starting to flag thanks to the heat, there was a very obvious ‘Just don’t be shit’ sign by the side of the road. Ok, it was actually ‘Just don’t be Sh1t’, in a lame attempt to avoid any ramifications, but it would hardly take Alan Turing to crack that particular code, would it? Fortunately, I thought it was pretty hilarious, but I suspect someone may well have taken issue and kicked it down by the end of the race.

Anyway, I have been rating the various events against each other, so here are the results of the Alderley Edge 10k:

Time: 49:48 (which is just about within my unofficial target of finishing each race in under fifty minutes)

Position: 423rd out of 1,733 (so still in the top third, which is another unofficial target of mine). Interestingly, over 2,200 people entered the race, but a handful failed to finish, and several hundred didn’t even bother to show up. Wimps.

Cost: £19.50 – which is one of the more expensive races, but the organisers (Run Northwest), allow you to enter both this and the Wilmslow 10k (which should be my final event in November), for a discounted price of £29.00, so they’re really £14.50 each. Bargain.

Course: As you might imagine, a bypass is not the most interesting of routes, but when it comes to running, I’m not really in it for the scenery anyway. Plus, running down a predominantly straight road – and then back again – has certain advantages: it’s easier to keep track of your progress (and even easier to work out the half way stage, as it’s the only time you turn around), plus there is very little scope for getting lost. Add to that, the fact there was live music at four points along the route, and it wasn’t as dull as you might think.

The course itself was mostly flat, nice smooth tarmac, and with no chance of any stupid / aggressive motorists ignoring the road blocks (even though I did nearly get hit by an ambulance dashing to the aid of a fellow runner), it was easy to concentrate all my efforts on not dying – 7/10

Weather: Too. Bloody. Hot. Ok, as with the other events, I can’t really blame the organisers for the weather, but baking heat is sometimes a risk when you organise an event for the start of July, even if this predominantly-overcast country of ours, so they have to accept some responsibility. Still, at least it wasn’t snowing – 6/10

Organisation: Very well organised. Lots of pre-race information, contained in a nice little booklet – which was posted out to us with our running numbers (and timing chips) the week before. There were several enthusiastic and supportive marshals along the route, two water stations (due to the heat) – which were both efficiently manned – and plenty to do at the Race HQ, for those not taking part themselves – 8/10

Official Photos: Free to download from photographer Mick Hall’s website, and to have all 20,000+ uploaded, and individually tagged (so you simply put your race number into the system, and it brings up all the photographs you are in) within a couple of days, is extremely impressive. As per usual, I look like I could die at any second in all of the ones I feature, plus I appear to have developed a rogue left arm when I sprint finish, but that’s not Mick’s fault – 9/10

And here are some my wife took before, during, and after the race:

Medal: Sizeable, thick and heavy (three words which can also be used to describe me) – 7/10

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Goody-bag: Difficult one to judge this. Normally, when there is no goody-bag, I am highly disparaging of the event, and give a low score as a result. However, the organisers quite cleverly stated that the lack of goody-bag was to save on plastic (so I would look like a dick for complaining), and they did give us a rather fetching running shirt instead. In fact, this is my favourite running shirt of the three I have received so far this year (the others being at Oulton Park, and the ill-fated Whitchurch event) – 8/10

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Post-race refreshment: Plenty of water, and a nice selection of flapjacks. I opted for caramel (not that you care), but it was delicious and, had I not been feeling sick to my stomach at the time, no doubt I might have had more than a nibble, before my eldest son scoffed it. Still, no jelly babies though – 6/10

Summary:

Course: 7/10

Weather: 6/10

Organisation: 8/10

Photos: 9/10

Medal: 7/10

Goody-bag: 8/10

Refreshments: 6/10

Giving Alderley Edge a total score of 51/70 (or 73%) – another very impressive score, placing Alderley Edge just behind Colshaw Hall on the leaderboard:

Colshaw Hall                      52/70                     (74%)

Alderley Edge                    51/70                     (73%)

Whitchurch:                       49/70                     (70%)

Tatton Park:                        47/70                     (67%)

Oulton Park:                       46/70                     (66%)

Poynton:                              39/70                     (56%)

I now have a nice little break until 19th August, when I’ll be running the Birchwood 10k (no, I haven’t a fucking clue where Birchwood is either), and, as ever, if you’d like to chuck some money towards a fantastic cause, here’s the link:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/greg10x10k

Oh, and for anyone still trying to spot me on that bypass photo….

IMG-20180702-WA0003

Thanks for reading x

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Run Fatblog Run (Colshaw Hall)

run-fatboy-run

Last Sunday, I ran the latest event in the ridiculous 10 x 10k challenge I have set myself for this year, and it took place within the picturesque grounds – and surrounding countryside – of Colshaw Hall, in Over Peover (pronounced ‘peever’, for anyone even remotely interested), which is near Knutsford in Cheshire (pronounced ‘Cheshire’, for anyone even remotely interested).

Regular readers may be aware – or may recall – that I am trying to run all ten events for charity, and my aim is to do so in under fifty minutes each time.

Unfortunately, having collapsed shortly before the finish line at the Whitchurch 10k in April, this knocked my confidence somewhat for event number four at Tatton Park the following month, resulting in me stopping and walking a few times (through a fear of ending up in hospital again). As a result, I not only missed my target of running the entire race, but my time was well outside fifty minutes (54:13, to be precise).

Fortunately for me (and I use the word ‘fortunately’ with more than a mere smattering of sarcasm), Tatton Park is the only one of my ten events to be held monthly, so I do still have the option of re-running it later in the year, should it transpire to be the only race where my targets have been missed.

Thankfully, I was back on track last Sunday, as – despite my legs begging me to stop and walk a couple of times towards the end – I managed to run the course in 49:23, which is very much in line with what appears to be my ‘usual’ pace (Sandbach last September was 49:16, Oulton Park this February was 49:11, and Poynton in March was 49:28). I conclude, from that information, that I tend to run a 10k in just over forty-nine minutes.

I was particularly pleased to complete the Colshall Hall 10k, for a few reasons:

  1. It was event number five; so, leaving aside any possible re-run of Tatton Park later this year, I’m half-way to the point where I can load my running shoes into a cannon, and blast them toward the horizon;
  2. It has gone some way to restoring my confidence that I will not collapse and nearly die each time I run more than a few miles;
  3. My preparation for the race was pretty dreadful, and not what most runners would recommend before a 10k.

Let me expand on that last point.

Normally, I don’t tend to run too much leading up to a race, and will only do a few miles earlier in the week. This time, however, I decided to instead run a full 10k circuit around Sandbach on the Tuesday evening, and then get extremely drunk on the Friday night. Ok, all the alcohol was well out of my system come the race on Sunday morning, but I was still feeling the effects of spending the whole of Saturday generally tired and hungover.

But, above all, most runners (and anyone with an ounce of common sense) will tell you it is best to avoid any injuries prior to a race, particularly when those injuries are to the whole ‘foot’ region.

So, imagine my displeasure / anger / rage, when – in rushing around before the school run last Friday morning – I stamped down hard on one of Isaac’s metal toy trains. I suppose I shouldn’t necessarily blame him for the injury (although that didn’t stop me), as I should have anticipated that he would want to keep his collection of Thomas The Tank Engine trains in a partially obscured spot on our bedroom floor. Only a fool would expect them to be in plain sight, or, I don’t know, in his own fucking room, but Isaac has never really conformed to what society would deem ‘normal’ behaviour.

So, Isaac left his collection of trains just where he wanted them – in a prime spot to badly hurt Daddy (and make him use many colourful expletives), two days before one of his races.

Of course, I don’t only blame Isaac, as naturally it took two people to cause my injury. No, I don’t mean me – as I dashed around like a headless chicken trying to locate a pair of socks – I mean this little shit:

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For the uninitiated, this is ‘Ferdinand’, one of Thomas the Tank Engine’s friends. And don’t let his goofy-toothed expression fool you, either, because Ferdinand, I discovered last Friday, is an evil metal bastard.

Now, I would upload a picture of my foot at this point, to emphasise not only the amount of pain that the initial injury caused me, but also the damage which persisted come Sunday’s 10k, however:

  1. The visual bruising didn’t do the injury justice;
  2. The pain has thankfully now almost gone, as has the bruising, so I should have taken a photo earlier in the week, because now you would just think I was being pathetic.

You’ll just have to trust me when I say that I was still having trouble walking, let alone running, by Sunday morning, to the extent that I almost pulled out of the race. Thankfully, in a short ‘test’ run with about half an hour to go, I realised that running would be relatively pain-free, so long as the middle of my left foot didn’t come into contact with any stones, potholes, tree roots, or another person’s foot (the latter of which being a real shame, as it’s often a tactic I employ when overtaking a fellow runner, to gain an advantage).

Anyway, my foot held up nicely, I finished the race in a respectable time, and I’m now well on my way to completing this challenge. So, without further ado (as I am well aware that these running entries aren’t very popular, and most of you stopped reading a while ago), here are my ratings for the Colshaw Hall 10k:

Time: 49:23

Position: 272nd out of 1,078 runners (which I’m really pleased with, as I have an unofficial target of trying to finish in the top-third each time, and there were dozens of ‘proper’ runners there from actual clubs – including a group from ‘Sandbach Striders’, who I managed to overtake and finish faster than – ha!)

Cost: £19.95 – on the expensive side, bearing in mind we didn’t get many goodies for our troubles.

Course: Easily the most scenic so far, comprising delightful little country lanes (without ever sending us down hazardous muddy tracks, or canal towpaths – Poynton 10k, I’m looking at you). The route took us all round Over Peover, and past the iconic Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank:

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There were a few unexpected ‘hills’, however, which the organisers failed to mention – but when they clearly have as twisted a sense of humour as I do (bearing in mind the sign they positioned at the top of the steepest hill), it’s hard to stay mad at them for too long,:

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I did swear quite loudly at the time though, as it was bloody steep. Still, the course gets a solid 8/10

Weather: Almost perfect. Like Whitchurch, it was a little on the warm side for my liking, but it was dry, breezy, and about as good as I could have hoped 9/10

Organisation: Very impressive indeed. Each kilometre was marked clearly, there were helpful and enthusiastic marshals at every key point, and the pre-race pack was sent out nice and early, with everything you might need – not to mention the fact they allowed us to wear headphones, and sent us our race numbers and timing chips in the post, so there was none of that awkward safety-pinning with just a few minutes until the start of the race bullshit 9/10

Official Photos: Taken and uploaded – for free – by Bryan Dale, who I recognised from an event earlier this year (or possibly even Sandbach last year). He apparently had 5,000 photographs to sort through and upload to his website, which he clearly worked around the clock to achieve, so that we weren’t left waiting for long. I can’t really blame him that I’m either hiding, or looking like I might collapse, in the five in which I appear:

There is also apparently an official video, which will be uploaded to the Colshaw Hall 10k Facebook page soon, but I am yet to see it. Hopefully, I’m not featured 8/10

Medal: Massive, solid, and heavy, everything you want in a medal 7/10

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Goody-bag: Not bad at all, actually. Ok, we didn’t get a t-shirt, but we did receive an actual bag (with the event logo on), containing a delicious chocolate-covered flapjack, and a packet of Haribo 6/10

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Post-race refreshment: We only received a bottle of water, but that’s because the flapjack and sweets were in the goody-bag. Still, when my previous post-race refreshment has comprised the likes of bread and fruit, I didn’t feel like I was missing out. Wouldn’t have minded a big tray of jelly babies, like they had at Oulton Park and Poynton though. 5/10

Summary:

Course: 8/10

Weather: 9/10

Organisation: 9/10

Photos: 8/10

Medal: 7/10

Goody-bag: 6/10

Refreshments: 5/10

Meaning a total score of  52/70 (or 74%) – a very impressive score, meaning Colshaw Hall is now top of my leaderboard:

Colshaw Hall:              52/70               (74%)

Whitchurch:                49/70               (70%)

Tatton Park:                47/70               (67%)

Oulton Park:                46/70               (66%)

Poynton:                       39/70               (56%)

Amazingly, the race which nearly killed me is still doing rather well near the top of the table. Maybe I should enter it again next year?

Ok, perhaps not.

My next race is a week on Sunday, in Alderley Edge. If you’re local, feel free to pop down and cheer me on. If not, you’ll just have to donate instead, won’t you?!

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/greg10x10k

(Isaac was there, but refused to pose)

Thanks for reading x

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