The Road to Half–One Week to Go

Back in July I posted here in a post entitled The Road to Half discussing my progress towards the Run to the Beat Half Marathon. Well time has flown by and before I’ve known it, the race is next weekend.

Since July, my longest run is no longer 15.5km but just shy of 22km, where 21km is the distance for the half marathon, and I’ve run a total of 451km since getting my Nike+ Sportsband at Christmas and after Run to the Beat and a 10km or two, I will breach 500km which I think for someone who couldn’t run to the shops and back a year ago is a big achievement.

Covering the final part of the distance, 15km onwards was actually relatively harmless, except perhaps to my knees. Having finished the build of my mountain bike, lovingly named Mr Pink I’ve been getting some cross-training in which I think has helped my overall speed and stamina, however after a day at Whites Level in Afan Forest with a couple of friends, I was worried that I may have overdone the cycling leaving my muscles aching for days and days afterwards. Thankfully I went out earlier this week and managed to cover the distance one last time before calming things down ahead of next week.

I was reminded of the cause I’m running for this week when all of the information and kit for the race came in the post – I’ve got my race number and my pen details for the start, and I’m going to be meeting the NSPCC teamGO team before the race for a chat and a team photo, so I’m really looking forward to meeting the other people. It would be nice to meet some people there who have actually been helped by the NSPCC.

Over the course of the next week, I’m going to be sleeping and eating well and ensuring that I’m in prime condition for the race.

I today updated my Virgin Money Giving page at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/richardjgreen to include my offline donations which people have so kindly pledged. This brings my donation total up to £505 so far, which is £5 over my target donation, so a massive thank you to everyone who has donated to help NSPCC, but that doesn’t mean that the work it done. Just because my target was £500 doesn’t mean I can rest and stop trying.

With one week to go before Run to the Beat, and with my donation page open for a few weeks after the  event also there is still plenty of time to help support NSPCC and all the work they do to help children around the UK and protect them from cruelty, so if you haven’t already been able to sponsor me for them in person or via Virgin Money Giving then please do spare a few pounds for them as every penny helps a child somewhere so it’s a totally worthy cause.

The Road to Half

Checking the ticker on my Virgin Money Giving site today was a grim reminder that I’m not doing enough. As of today, there is only 83 days until the London Run to the Beat half marathon.

I went out and did Basingstoke Parkrun on Saturday morning setting a 5km PB of 28:33, besting my previous PB by 1:11 which was nice, but not the 27:00 dead I was hoping for, however there is next week for that (fingers crossed). Aquatots caused us a few problems with the summer term so we are skipping lessons for the summer and waiting until autumn term, which gives me some track time Saturday mornings. This is good for me as it helps me mix up the distance between 5km, 10km and the long 15-21km runs.

My longest run to date is 15.5km which means I need to pull another 6km from the bag to reach the 21km required for the half marathon distance, not to mention hill training as I’ve been told that the Greenwich route has a few little surprises along the way.

The 15.5km run hit me hard and the day after I felt like somebody had taken a wrecking ball to my knees and calf’s especially. Of late, I’ve been out cross-training on a bike in Basing Forest near our house to try and work the thighs some and it certainly seems to be working. I need to try and get my camera down to Basing Forest with me one day as some of the views are spectacular too! My weight is down to my record low (at least for the last two years) of 14st 4lb. Even so, I’m still not pushing the envelope. Breaking that last 6km is going to need more from me, and more from my will power.

I’ve decided today that I’m going celibate on luxury. Between now and the half marathon, I’m having no more chocolate, no more deserts or ice cream or nothing. No more Pizza Hut or Dominoes, or McDonalds or KFC either. Will it stick? It will certainly be hard, but I can try for sure. Tomorrow, I’m heading into work early for a long lunchtime run, and I’m hoping to be able to do 17km tomorrow to raise the distance bar. Trying to aim straight for 21km is not good motivationally for me.

Will that be hard? Hell yes, especially as my bio-mechanics still seem to be struggling to come to terms with my new support shoes to help correct my rolling gait, but I’m hoping that tomorrows trial with carbohydrate loaded Lucozade Jelly Beans and post-run protein recovery bars will help me power through. If not, then I will be a broken mess for a day or so afterwards.

Running London Race to the Beat for NSPCC teamGO

I’ve been running the 10km distance for quite a while now, and I’m comfortable there, however I don’t want  to get complacent with my efforts. With the London Virgin Marathon 2010 having just passed, I was really feeling the running bug even more than I would normally let on.

I think the thing that really sealed it for me though was reading some of the articles in the April/May issue of Runners World about the people who have suffered at the hands of disease and illness but still have what it takes to carry on.

NSPCC LogoIt was humbling to say the least and it got me thinking about the people I care about: My family, and upmost among them was my girls, Madison, Jessica and Layla.

I don’t think of any of the three of them as privileged – They don’t live in a fancy mansion or get to dress in designer clothes, but they get what they need, sometimes more, but never anything less. This made me stop and think about the kids out there who do have less though, who are under-privileged and the one that sprung to mind was abused kids. Kids are kids. No matter what is wrong with you, life or how you are feeling, a child should never face the brunt of that, and for that reason, I’ve decided I’m going to do my bit to support the NSPCC.

No offense to them in the slightest, but I often feel that charities like Cancer Research get a lot of attention particularly at sporting events like these, which means that they often get lots of runners and lots of sponsorship meaning that other important causes sometimes get forgotten or pushed aside.

I’ve never given to a charity before largely due to the fact that, as selfish as it may sound, we need the money ourselves – Bills don’t pay themselves, however running is free, which means I can help a good cause, have a good time doing it and it doesn’t stop the bills getting paid.

As a 10km runner at the moment, I felt I was being perhaps slightly optimistic to aim at a full marathon just yet. The step from 10km to 40km seems rather daunting, however a half marathon at 21km seems perfectly reasonable when I’ve ran 15km once before, but nobody said that was going to be a cake-walk.

Today I registered as a runner for the NSPCC teamGO in the London Run to the Beat Half Marathon 2010 in Greenwich.

The race is on September 26th, 122 days from today. The NSPCC ask that all runners raise at least £300, however I want to do more – I want to get to £500 because I the cause it worth it. I’m running with a target time of 1hr 50mins but I’d be happy with sub 2 hours.

Between now and September, I’m going to be doing all I can to promote NSPCC. I’ve asked for their permission to alter the branding on my blog here and also my Twitter page to their green colour and to incorporate their logo into the site to try and help. I’m also going to be wearing the NSPCC running vest I receive for participating in the event on my daily runs to try and get people in the area of my office to see me and perhaps stump up a few donations for the cause.

imageOnce I receive all the information from NSPCC, I will be able to collect offline donations, however I have setup a Virgin Money Giving account online at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/richardjgreen where you can donate online and the money is automatically handed over to the NSPCC.

I’ll also be spamming links to the page on my Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts for people to access.

 

Thanks
Richard

Running My Way to My First 10km

I’ve been running now for about seven or eight months, and anyone that knows me will say that I’m not someone to rush projects of mine – I like to make sure I’m prepared and ready for the job ahead.

I started running not through personal choice but through encouragement from a friend, Gary Glasscott. During 2009, I put on quite a bit of weight reaching the dizzy heights of 15 stone leaving me border-lining a 36 inch waist and feeling constantly unhappy with myself.

Gary suggested I went to try out a free community event called Parkrun with him in the Basingstoke War Memorial Park on Saturday mornings. I figured it was only 5km, so even if I walked it it wouldn’t take any longer than an hour.

Richard J Green running ParkrunMy first run was about 45 minutes which was a mixture of jogging and walking to balance the pain, but I made it over the line. More surprisingly, I came back the next week and did it again.

By about week three, I had gone out and bought my first pair of shorts and top as running in a ropey old T-Shirt and some old DIY shorts wasn’t going to cut the grade. Gary also lent me his year old Sauccony Hurricane running shoes as I was running in some Sketchers I brought back from my last trip to America which were less than suitable for running giving me shin splints and more.

As the weeks went by, I found the running getting easier and my times slowly getting faster.

 

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Endomondo for Windows Mobile Review

This context for this post began as a dispute between me and my brother – Or rather my brother disputing me, but either way, I wanted a way to verify the distances being tracked by my Nike+ Sportband pedometer.

By accident whilst crawling the Windows Mobile Marketplace for free applications (I don’t like paying for them) I spotted Endomondo, a free community driven GPS running application for Windows Mobile.

I downloaded the application to my phone and over HSPDA it installed in less than a minute. You can use the software by itself without registration or you can signup online. I signed up online to see what it was all about and it’s really nice.

My phone has internal GPS which is a must for this to work (I wouldn’t recommend carrying a Bluetooth GPS module too). I normally use my Microsoft Zune to listen to music while running however fortunately my HTC Touch HD is the same size as the Zune so I was able to use my Zune armband to hold the phone.

By creating a profile on the website you allow for a couple of things to take place:

  1. An online log of your runs
  2. Calculation of calories burnt
  3. Instant upload

One and two are the norm for me using Nike+. My online profile requires me to complete some information about me and as a result it can calculate my estimated calorie burn although not precise as there is no corresponding heart rate information.

Three however makes this really interesting. Firstly, I have a data package for my phone is is needed unless you want to find £2.50 per megabyte or whatever the price these days attached to your phone bill. As the GPS data is gathered the phone displays in nice big text the time run and the distance travelled along with the satellite status (Green for OK and Red for No Signal). In real-time the data is uploaded to the website, which means if I wanted to for example, I could leave a PC with the website for Endomondo open and allow people to see my progress on the run. Although gimmicky to me, I’m sure someone such as a personal trainer could find a powerful use for this.

I returned to my PC after the walk and logged into the website and as expected the data was already there:

image

As you would expect from a GPS tracking product, it shows exactly my altitude, my speed and my route all visually on the screen using a Google Maps API to provide the mapping.

It’s scary really because I’ve only ever been used to the information provided by Nike+ and it’s quite bizarre to be able to see exactly when I crossed the road and exactly what path I took around a roundabout.

All in all, I think this is an excellent product made even more excellent by the fact that it’s free, however I won’t be using it regularly for a couple of reasons:

  1. I’m terrible at keeping my phone charged which means I would end up wanting a run but being stopped by my phone.
  2. Windows Media Player on Windows Mobile is clunky. The buttons aren’t easy to press while walking let alone running, and finger gestures aren’t very well accepted for swipe to change track or tap the screen to pause.
  3. My phone only has 8GB of capacity for all my apps plus music, where as my Zune has 80GB for all my music.
  4. I want to be able to use Zune as my music service/device so that I get the tracked play counts etc.

My primary use of Endomondo today was to allow me to calibrate my Nike+, however a 10km event I’m entering in Ropley near Winchester later in May might prove an interesting outing for Endomondo to see the how effectively the GPS tracks the altitude change as there is a large hill in the course.

If a version of the Endomondo application becomes available for Windows Phone 7 once released later in the year with it’s native Zune integration then count me in.

Windows Phone 7 + Zune Integration + GPS Running + 32GB microSD card = Success.

UPDATE: I just found a section on the Endomondo website titled Live Map. From here, you can use a feature called Peptalk which allows someone at a PC to type a message which is then converted through text to speed and played out of the headphones / speaker of the persons phone meaning this product is defiantly suitable for Personal Trainers to up the ante.