Archive for November, 2004

The judge’s decision is final – updated

Tuesday, November 30th, 2004

It would seem that my watch was almost in sync with the official timing system on Sunday, for the posted result copied below.

If you’re not thoroughly sick of my crowing yet, you can now watch me stagger over the line in a video kindly provided at the Video Finish section of the Run London website. Type in my name where indicated and it should come up with the above details and show an imbedded WMV clip including the frame below.

Nike’s content providers have managed to make it difficult to grab screen images so the above is the best I can manage with what I have to hand

What not to wear this winter

Monday, November 29th, 2004

Self-deluding 40 year old with dopey grin before

Disbelieving 40 year old with dopey grin after

I ran London

Sunday, November 28th, 2004

It’s 23.10 and I’m over the moon as I’m back home after the Nike Go Nocturnal Run London which was my first ever 10k race. 

According to my watch (official times will not be posted for a couple of days), I completed the course in 53.43mins.  I am stunned as I thought that my target of 60 minutes was optimistic.  Having said that, I have trained hard and put in (most of) the preparation and cut out (most of) the beer.  My race plan (to run steady 6 m/ks) went out the window early on when I was a minute up a 1km, 2 minutes up at 2km and 4 mins up by 4km.  Though I was worried for the rest of the race that I’d done too much too early, I decided to go with my gut feeling.  I pushed hard on over Tower Bridge and back and was 6 minutes up on my schedule turning for home.  Still feeling OK by the time I ran through the 8km water station, I upped the pace again and was breathing hard through 9km.  I only really faltered when I mistook the footbridge over the last section in the park for the finish and gave a last kick too early as a result, making the last 400m the longest I have ever run.  However, nothing could stop the smiles when I dared to look at my watch.  A personal best of 53.43mins.  As you can probably tell, I well and truly chuffed.

Many thanks to Doctor Stu and son Luke who braved the elements to hold my kitbag, cheer me on and take photos.

First news report of the event here.

The Running Man

Thursday, November 25th, 2004

I am aware that I am neglecting the few regular readers I have left but various things including laziness arising from having a crappy headcold have kept me from posting recently.

Foremost in my non-work activities has been preparing to participate in the Nike Run London 10K, my first serious attempt at a road race. My marathon-running doctor friend Stuart has continued drag me round the locality in an attempt to increase my stamina and I went to Oxford Circus on Saturday to pick up my race pack and dayglo running top from Nike. The fact that the race number printed on my sleeve is in the 20,000s and I shall be starting some 90 minutes after Paula Radcliffe does will give you an idea of how I expect to perform. I ran a 29 minute 5k this time last week and so I hope to get near to the hour mark on Sunday night.

My cycle commuting is helping to provide me with a little cross training to and from work and has been blissfully uneventful – the odd mad driver and delayed train have not dampened my enthusiasm. I have written a few hundred words on my return to cycle commuting for the print version newsletter of the local group of the London Cycling Campaign, the Tower Hamlets Wheelers. In all likelihood, it will appear in .pdf form in the newsletter section of their website in due course.

Another activity that has been taking up time when I’m not at work has been looking at the possibility of emigrating. Although it is something we have been looking at for some time, we have recently been a little more proactive and have taken some steps to check out various possibilities. From the responses we have received, it is entirely possible that 2005 could see us leaving the UK for a fresh start in foreign parts. But not if I don’t get back to work we won’t.

Jealous? Me?

Thursday, November 18th, 2004

Because a friend of mine has just bought a place in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada? Not a bit. Really. Honest. OK, there are a few little teeth marks in my knuckles.

Small but beautiful

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

TinyApps.Org is a handy site detailing many small but well crafted apps that are out there for users of the Windows and Palm OSs. There’s even a blog and an RSS feed to keep up to date on what’s available.

A run in the park

Sunday, November 14th, 2004

I have been fending off a cold/cough type thing for two weeks now but it continues to linger and take the edge off what are otherwise good days.  This is particularly annoying as I am trying to up my training schedule for the Run London 10km race at the end of the month and each training run is proving to be a battle at the moment.  I have enlisted the help of a marathon-running friend Stuart and he has been upping the ante with longer runs and hill work to build my meagre levels of stamina. 

We did one such run yesterday morning and having warmed up by plodding through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, we circumnavigated Greenwich Park – the whole route (including the under-the-river bit is shown above.  The combination of cornflower blue skies, golden brown leaves and crisp sharp air in the lungs was superb and there seemed to be no better way to start the the weekend. 

There’s something very cinematic about running through piles of russet leaves in a beautiful sun-bathed park.  Striding down the avenues of trees, I could see every filmic cliche one could think of including the old lady with a miniature dog in a tartan jacket and obligatory Harrods carrier bag; the divorced Dad cramming a week’s worth of love and attention into a Saturday morning kick-about; the loving couple rubbing noses, swapping meaningful glances and hand squeezes and the baseball capped tourists snapping megapixels worth of shots to show the folks back home.

Sadly, time pressures meant that I was unable to take up my friend’s offer of a post-training relaxation session in his newly installed outdoor hot tub.  The thrill of a treadmill session at the gym this morning failed to lure me and my sore throat from my pit so I decide to blog instead and think about going later. Maybe.

my lo-fi ears are listening to Love Of Strings/Moby

What’s in my bag

Sunday, November 7th, 2004

Inspired by the ‘What’s in my bag‘ group over at Flickr, I turfed out the contents of the front pannier of my folding Brompton bicycle to see how my haul compares. If you think this is bad, I should tell you that I didn’t empty all the pockets of the notebook case or the CaseLogic audio bag!

Paying It Forward

Saturday, November 6th, 2004

As I mentioned in my Dublin post, I was the beneficiary of a stranger’s kindness recently.  I like to try and ensure that I ‘repay’ such kindness by assisting someone else if a similar fashion and, this week, a few flashes of serendipity have allowed me to do so.[1]

Earlier in the week, whilst transferring from one train to another at Baker Street, I came across a blind chap standing by a set of platform gates, which were closed due to over-running engineering works.  It transpired that this unexpected barrier had thrown his memorised journey to work into confusion because he usually just changed trains here  each day (via a 20ft tunnel connecting the platforms), so he had no mental map of the rest of the station.  I once worked with and assisted a deaf/blind chap who had memorised numerous tube journeys, with its own set of remembered door positions (to be in line with exits), so I had a fair idea of this chap’s predicament.  I offered him an elbow and we made our way to the ticket hall, with me calling out steps and corners whilst trying not to whack him with my folding bike.  Once there, I was able to enlist the help of a station assistant who took over and made arrangements for the chap to get to work.

Thursday was a long day for me and I was eager to be on my way home when I jumped on my bike and pedalled out of my office car park heading for the train station.  Joining the main road, I was greet by the sight of three caped crusaders on fully-laden bicycles heading in the same direction so I fell in belong side them and said hello.  The two women and the chap all introduced themselves as being from Ontario and Oregon (Katrina’s name I remember but I can’t recall the others) so, after reciprocating, I asked the obvious question: what on earth are two Americans and a Canadian doing cycling around a London suburb in superhero capes.  It turns out that they are one of many groups worldwide who cycle around from community to community simply volunteering to assist charities and community programmes.[2]  With night drawing in, they were looking for somewhere to camp overnight but, being just yards from London Heathrow’s north runway, they were having trouble finding any where to do so.  After considering the ploughed fields alongside the M4 motorway, I suggested they follow me to the local churchyard where there was sheltering trees and grass on which they could pitch a tent.  After a chat and exchanging email addresses, I left them to chase up the church warden for permission to camp and headed for the station.  I guess the church warden was amiable enough because, as I cycled past the next morning on the way to work, I could see tents and bicycles through the trees in the church yard.  The last I heard was that they were heading for the West Country and Wales. 

[1] For those not familiar with the concept of Pay It Forward, it is based on an idea for a school assignment that occurs to the young protaganist in Catherine Ryan Hyde‘s book of the same name.  Following the book’s screen adaptation and the resulting movie, the idea of paying it forward instead of paying folks back gathered momentum and there are a number of web sites and organisations that are using the concept in various ways.

[2] I tried to find mention of such activities and the ‘Haul Of Fame’ reference they suggested I looked for but sadly I can find no reference on the web.

my lo-fi ears are listening to National Express/The Divine Comedy


Saturday, November 6th, 2004

Halloween in Temple Bar

“The public museums are closed on a Monday.  All of Dublin’s museums are public.  Except for the private ones.  Which are often open on Mondays”.

“On the left, you will see the main entrance of Dublin’s Trinity College, which was established under the patronage of Queen Elizabeth the Second. No, that’s not right, it wasn’t; it was Queen Elizabeth the First.  Ah well, no matter, they were both from the same family.”

“Would those who have just boarded please stop talking?  I am the only one who should be talking – otherwise, others cannot hear me!”

And who, in their right mind, would want to miss such a tour bus commentary?  The characterful and impassioned bon mots of Ursula, our truly unique tour guide had me folded double, gasping for air at the back of the open-topped double-decker bus for a good part of an hour and a half.  I hadn’t laughed this much since I saw Eddie Izzard at the Albury.  The idea had been simple – take advantage of Ryanair’s £9 flights to take the sprogs on their first airplane trip and have a couple of days and a night to explore the delights of Dublin.

Cheers of the trip included:

Tears of the trip included:

  • Jurys Inn Christchurch – supposedly a 3 star hotel but one which, despite careful research and booking, provided us with:
    • two attempts to provide us with neighbouring rooms, the original rooms leaving the kids being on their own, two rooms away and out of shouting distance.
    • a bathroom with a soap dish pulled from the wall and a shower that turned scalding hot without warning when showering our youngest.
    • an unusable, disconnected telephone that might have been essential had sprog no.4 been scalded before we could grab her.
    • sharp broken furniture in the sprogs’ room.
    • a cursory shrug and a wan smile when I pointed out the above problems.
  • Bank Of Ireland – for shutting down a cash point without checking if anyone was using it!
  • A delayed return flight and the absence of any seating at the departure gate – not fun with tired kids.

The trip was great fun even if it did drain the bank account at an alarming rate (there is no such thing as a cheap weekend break with four kids!) and the folks we met on our travels, from cabbies to passers-by, were very friendly.  Talking of friendly folks, I must make special mention of one person.  As I stood by the Bank Of Ireland cash point that had swallowed my card, not wanting to move in case it spat it out again, I became aware of someone beside me.  I turned to face a strikingly lovely woman with pale skin and cascades of red hair. “Would you be after me watching the machine while you pop round and ring on the bank’s bell? They’ll still be there if you’re quick.”  Before I could draw breath, she went on. “Why would you?  Leaving a complete stranger to grab your card.  I’ll pop round, explain and have someone come out to you.”  With that, she turned on her heel and disappeared round the corner, re-emerging five minutes later with a smile and a “I’ve told them what’s what and they be with you shortly.  I’ll be on my way now – have a smashing time – bye now.”  Blurting a ‘Thank you so much’, I waited for the chap that eventually returned my bank card whilst watching her walk away, slowly merge into the evening crowd.  This beautiful and utterly charming woman was in my life for about 45 seconds but saved me from hours of hassle with one kind act.  Don’t tell SWMBO but I think I’m in love with my very own Dublin angel.

my lo-fi ears are listening to Life For Rent/Dido