Monthly Archives: December, 2012


For Christmas, my two sons produced gifts that showed unusual originality of their behalf, but that were remarkably similar and could, unwittingly, cost them in the future.

full-mapMy elder son gave Scratch Map, a map of the world where all countries are covered with a layer of gold foil.  As you travel you are supposed to scratch away the gold foil layer to reveal facts and city details of the countries below.   But it can also be used to record countries already visited, and as we have already been to many that we certainly will not revisit, this is how my wife and I will use it.

TravelogueMy other son gave me Travelogue Travel Journal, which is suggested for someone to plan and record that once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Now put these 2 gifts together and what do you get? A clear picture where we haven’t been, so the incentive to plan a trip, or rather trips, to see how much of the world we can uncover before it covers us.

And that will undoubtedly be costly and mean a smaller inheritance for the boys, and our daughter who sensibly bought me running gear!



I don’t run everyday, not because I don’t want to but my muscles/joints do need time to recover (I’m not actually OCD about running, but could become).  However when I uploaded the latest runs from my Kalenji (Garmin like device) I already knew I had ‘beaten’ my previous month best, but didn’t know that I was so close to a milestone, in fact a milestone and a kilometrestone.

2012 run Although I always think/run distances in km rather than miles (a habit coming from more than 30 years of teaching Physics) I do mental conversions when it might be useful, and knowing 156.02k for December is so close to 100 miles (100 miles = 160.93k) the chance to do my first 100 miles in a month was tempting.

Also, the total since I started using the Kaenji in April was a remarkable similar distance away from 1000k  there was a double reason for a run before the end of December.

So even though the trainers were still very wet from yesterday’s Parkrun (very wet trainers + dry socks = slight less wet trainers + very wet socks) it had to be done.

Only a short gentle run was needed, so I chose the first part  a usual route, which leads to a park where I do hills or sprints and also an aerodrome which I use for longer runs.

Result.  100 mile I wasn’t obsessive enough to do exactly the distance needed for either of the goals.  year

Now a day to relax before Janathon.


Until very recently, my running was exclusively on very hard surfaces, at night and except for a very small number of races (4), on my own.  In mid December my daughter, her of the blog Diaries of a Marathon Widow, introduced me to Parkrun.  Without a reason not to, I decided to try my local one, Riddlesdown.  Well, there could have been a very good reason, having to be up before 8.00 am.  Since retiring 3 years ago, ‘before 8.00 am’ is just a blur.  That time is only witnessed if something special is happening, such as a race, having to get an early flight for a holiday or a hangover/badhead; but these events occur infrequently.

So on 15 December, barcode and senior bus pass in pocket, I was out of the house at 7.50 am.  The closest bus stop dropped me 2k  from the start, so a useful walk to loosen up and ponder.  I really had no idea what to expect.  How many would be there?  Would everyone be experienced and super-fast?  Were there possibilities to get lost?  Was the run along proper ‘paths’, well trodden grass or just across the countryside?  Am I insane?

I shouldn’t have been so apprehensive.  About 70 Boys and Girls of all ages and running pedigrees were there.  The one thing they all had in common was their enthusiasm (well, maybe they were all slightly mad as well!)  At the start the underfoot conditions were described as “very wet and muddy”.  After a few minutes I was able to confirm that was an accurate pre-run observation and I got to the end without getting lost, encountering all of the types of terrain I had pictured and I was able to feel pleased with myself for finishing, not too far out from my 25 min target (9s).

Today I have completed my 4th Parkrun, including the Christmas Day event.  I was beginning to think I had jinxed Riddlesdown, as before today the running conditions had gradually deteriorated  such that on Christmas morning we were told that if the conditions observed during the previous day’s inspections had been the current ones, it would have been cancelled.

I now run to and from the event, certainly a necessity as on a Bank holiday such as Christmas there are no buses, and I refuse to take the car as seems to defeat the very initial object of my running, to get somewhat fit.  Whilst not actually addicted to them, I will aim for a (golden) jubilee red 50 T shirt before the end of 2013.  I might even do 2 (or 3 is an option) on New Year’s Day, which would be a great started to Janathon.


As part of the Janathon guidelines is to blog everyday about the “run or form of exercise” done each day I thought I’d get in early, not about what I am doing today (waiting for it to stop raining) but why I am doing Janathon.


First, it has actually given me the incentive to start this whole blog thing.  I have been intending  for some time to do one for a Physics resource service I run for schools, but because it isn’t essential that hasn’t got off the ground…yet.

Second, because I can.  Being ‘retired’ I have the luxury of being able to pick any time of the day or night to run/exercise.  If I know I am going to be out after midday I have the morning to use.  If it is raining heavily (or at all) in the morning I can put things off until the afternoon.  But, of course, sometimes there won’t be a choice, such as for Parkrun, but that can be factored into the planner way ahead of time.

Third, to really kick-off the preparation for my first official marathon.  I haven’t decided where or when that will be yet, but it won’t be before April 14, my birthday.  I know Brighton is on that day, and it would be an ideal one to do, less than an hour’s straightforward train trip from home and very runner friendly.  But when I first decided and checked it there were only charity entries still available, and the charity I would want to raise for (Afasic) isn’t on their list and I don’t want to cajole friends into donating to another (equally worthy) charity.  Any suggestions for a runner ‘with-aging-joints’ friendly marathon?

Fourth, (yes, I know all good arguments/debates use just 3 points, but I’m going for quantity not quality here) I will be on holiday in Zanzibar and Oman for almost 2 weeks in the middle of the month, so even if the British weather does its worst, with 2 metre deep snow, temperatures of -15°C and force 12 winds during the time I am away, I will smugly be able to Janathon (yes, it’s a verb as well as a noun); if those weather conditions hit at any other time I as well as most others will need a plan B.

Fifth, it could be fun!  I don’t normally run every day, on the non-running days I tend to do a couple of 4k walks around the block.  So I am intending to be creative and think of some other (free) things I can do to exercise when I’m not running.  I do have a few in mind, but other suggestions are welcomed.

Sixth, it will be a challenge!  31 days is a long time to do anything continuously, there are bound to be the odd days when CBA tries to take over or something else suddenly comes up and before you realise it’s 11.59 pm.  What to do then?

Seventh, just to be bloody minded.  If anyone suggests I’m mad, or my time should be used more productively, what better way to proverbially stick up the middle finger!

Eighth, it should allow me to carry on with the bad Christmas eating and drinking habits that seem to have crept in.

Of course the one reason that I am not going to suggest is anything at all to do with New Year’s Resolutions, because  these are meant to be broken well before the end of January, and it might be too easy to break Janathon on 1st January.

So, these are my reasons why, what other reasons have you got for doing Janathon?


For Christmas 2010 my daughter gave me an entry to the Croydon half, make you own minds up about that as a present!  For the next 3 months I carried on with my solitary 10k – 14k ‘evening’ (anything up to 11.00 pm) runs.  The only one that was any different was a morning run, with my daughter in early March along the Thames, about 16k.

So when 3rd April came along being on the starting line (well, 10m behind with other 2:00 – 2:15 hopefuls) in warm sunshine to tackle 21k was disconcerting.  The first lap went (too) well; adrenalin and the challenge of keeping ahead/overtaking those much younger than me sent me at too quick pace than I should have been at.  The long steady 1.5k climb after 12k at the beginning of the 2nd lap took its toll and after that even the slightest incline was  difficult (euphemism, insert your own more appropriated word).  But encouraged/bullied by my daughter, who also ran, I kept going and managed to stumble over the line and achieve my sub 2 hour target.

Croyon half end


Janathon seems like an excellent way to start a serious year; let’s see if it’s as appealing a week in!

I was recently introduced to Parkruns and my local at Riddlesdown has become a great way to start the weekend.  They even do extra runs on special days; I’m not too sure how impressed my wife was when I was up before 7.30 on Christmas morning for a 5k VERY muddy and wet run.


For most of us, the last gig is likely to be the most memorable.  Having said that, Pulp at Sheffield Motorpoint Arena on December 8th will be memorable for many years to come.  I suspect for most of the locals it will be the ‘gig of a lifetime’.  I was a late convert to Pulp.  For various reasons I wasn’t listening to much music when they were first around, so their joint headline appearance at Reading in 2011 gave me an excuse to get into them.  (They were joint with The Stokes, who I was so looking forward to seeing but they were such a letdown.  I suppose anyone following Jarvis would find it difficult, but Julian C et al seemed to think they just had to turn up, pretend to be waxwork models with limited limb movement and no banter and everyone would be satisfied.)


From the first words “You say you’ve gotta go home” at the beginning (nobody did) to the last “something changed” almost 3 hours later Jarvis, playing in his home city for the first time in 11 years, treated the crowd, with at least a 50 year age range, to as an emotional and electric performance as anyone  could have hoped for.  The girls in front of us would have been in primary school when they last appeared, yet they knew every word of every song.   The 50+ year old, 5 rows in front of us, similarly sang/shouted all of the way through.  Yes and so did I.

I hope the boy from Wrexham that we met on the tram out to the arena managed to stand once inside, I haven’t seen anyone actually crawl from inside a tram out onto the pavement; also I hope his mate found ‘the hill’ he had parked the car on.  And they were like this before they discovered the 2 pint ‘supa’ plastic glasses inside the arena.