Thursday, April 28, 2011

"QI: The Book of General Ignorance" - John Lloyd

Carrying on my occasional non-sporting thread, here is another book review...

Image: Paul /
"QI: The Book of General Ignorance" - John Lloyd
"Brilliant, although it is a definite consequence that you will be annoying all your nearest and dearest with the range of amazing facts... you'll think its "genius and hilarious!!" and want to share your knowledge - they'll think "oh, not another daft fact!!".

I read it from cover to cover, but it a very easy book to pick up and put down.  I have already found myself picking it up again to check some awesome fact that I'm not sure I've remembered completely correctly.

On the whole you are left feeling more like an A. Davies than a S. Fry, but that is really just the whole point.  An absolutely fantastic Christmas present for a 'know it all' relative, just make sure they are distant enough that you don't hear the facts bounce back at you... a test of memories could break out that would only end in tears by New Years!"
Basically seeing as I had been waxing lyrical (or not) about the books I'd read on LivingSocial's facebook app I thought may as well re-publish my opinion for anyone who finds my blog.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Virgin London Marathon 2012

Well in case anyone wants to join the madness of the selection ballot before the real madness of completing the course go click - Virgin London Marathon 2012 entry.

It is my fourth time in the lottery (ballot), as far as my memory stretches. I have always maintained that I will only run one marathon in my lifetime. Though that was on the assumption that London was tricky but not impossible to get a place for. I have read that if you have a pre-clocked marathon time it helps your entry, which tempts me to run one somewhere before tackling the biggest marathon in Great Britain. However there is a lot of 'folklore' that builds up around these events and it's often hard to pin down a real tip for entry success. One unnerving and uncorroborated 'fact' was that there are 50 applicants for every place, gulp!

There are ways to be more certain, and certainly ways of increasing the odds. The clearest way to be more certain is to run quickly, and by that I mean run a time which is 'good for your age'. It seems to be a tier below elite, for what I might guess are county / national level runners across age groups, who own prior competitive times. Clearly not something I'm likely to attain. The way of increasing your odds appears to be the 'charity bond' route, you promise to raise an agreed amount of money and the charity agrees to provide you one of the places they obtained from the organisers. Something I strongly consider, but the work involved in raising the amounts is not insignificant. In the end I have 99.5% decided to try the ballot every year until I am 40, and then try to get a charity berth in my 40th year - a slightly twisted birthday present perhaps?

Busy on the move

Image: Simon Howden /
Here we enjoyed a four day holiday weekend, and got really busy on the move. None of the movement was sports based thanks to a chest infection, but there was a lot of D.I.Y. and gardening done. Okay, so I was hardly working out gym style, however I was working hard. Moving heavy bags, digging, wheel-barrowing, fixing, constructing, power washing, and so on. As a result the back garden looks great and I feel like I ran something of a weekend long endurance race.

As a happy bonus, my weight is following a nice gently downwards trend over the last couple of weeks. All moving is as always, good moving. The sunshine over the last week, or so, certainly made my efforts largely more enjoyable. Hope to get some running and sports done before I have a week away in the U.S. with work.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Yes & No

Has there been movement in the last few days? Well, yes, in terms of the blog, I have added a group of static pages (listed just below the title bar). They are evolving, I keep changing my mind about how to use them, but for the moment they are:-

Upcoming Challenges - the page follows the title in content, it's what sporting events I am challenging myself with in the future.
Weight page - contains what I call my personal all time weight trend line (it starts in 2001, so isn't strictly 'all' of my time), as well as a brief outline of the history of my weight awareness and blog.
Personal bests - is at the moment incomplete, but will list my previous races, and event results (I might also change the title of the page).
About this blog - is simple a page attempting to explain what this blog is and isn't. Setting out it's motivations and disclaimers.
Links & Kit - is also an incomplete page at the moment, it will contain a list of sites and kit that I have found useful during the course of my blog.

Image: anankkml /

Otherwise, it was something of a lean weekend in terms of being on the move, apart from the press-up / sit-up challenge. In terms of the 50 press-ups and 50 sit-ups, it is getting easier slowly, and it is definitely making a difference even after a week of doing it. I did sport vicariously by watching a very interesting Chinese Grand Prix, and then London Marathon. The Marathon coverage left me with itchy feet, and looking forward to my next long run.

Friday, April 15, 2011

"A Most Wanted Man" - John le Carre

Carrying on from (ahem) 2009, I thought I would continue posting my  reviews as I discovered I had a few I hadn't put up. It does mean I'll need to get reading if I want to carry these on for too much longer, but anyway...

Basically as I had been waxing lyrical (or not) about the books I'd read on LivingSocial's facebook app I thought may as well re-publish my opinion for anyone who finds my blog.

Image: Paul /
"A Most Wanted Man" - John le Carre

"The book affirmed my belief that le Carre is an absolute master of his craft.  The characters come to life, you are so swiftly and elegantly plunged into their worlds creating connection.  The plot pacing is deft and by turns subtle and stridant.  At the end of the book I did though feel a little crest fallen by the bluntness of the ending, though it did wholly fit the message I think perhaps the author was hoping to put across.
Great read, recommend this to anyone who thinks le Carre is purely a cold war spy author."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

50 + 50 = a 'simple' friendly challenge

Image: scottchan /

My rowing buddy (who it is safe to say is madder than me) suggested some time back that we should do more core work. Later, and I'm not sure where it came from, he suggested doing 50 press (push)-ups and 50 sit-ups every day.

That sounds relatively straight forward doesn't it? I thought not much more of it. More recently he has injured his knee and is doing a number of things to accommodate fitness while not potentially further damaging his leg. We chatted about what he was doing in the gym and so on, whereupon he mentioned the 50 + 50 thing again. He has been doing them and is finding it increasingly more comfortable.

After we'd chatted I thought, "that sounds alright, I'll give it a go"... that was on the weekend just gone, and I promise you it isn't all right... I hurt!

The moves are simple, require no equipment and take a little less than 5 minutes to do. So by the end of day one I found it wasn't too bad, and thought "heh, I had to switch to knee press-ups and crunches but it doesn't hurt much". On day two, I did the same but found the aches had begun, and the third day tried to do more of each in the classical style. Now it is day four and I have yet to do this 'simple' thing classically all the way through, but am quite sore. Though the kind of sore that implies good work has been done.

Little things make big differences, or so they say. This is a case of wait and see. I hope to tell my buddy the challenge has made a difference, and that it is 'easy', some time soon!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cardiff Half marathon 2010

The Cardiff Half Marathon, based in Cardiff's Bay area, had expanded for 2010 to a 15,000 runner city event (the largest mass participation sports event in Wales) and drew me to pull on my running shoes. Inspired by friends and colleagues who were sponsoring me via my ‘JustGiving’ page, I had completed a training plan, and even had a tentative race plan. I set off from my office on a cold crisp morning ready to run my first half marathon in five years.

I chose the Huntington's Disease Association (HDA) to raise money for because through my work as a research scientist I became aware of the organisation. Although my work academic research based, I am aware that treating any disease is more than medical therapeutic strategies; it is about human interactions and support. As an organisation providing this very support, I felt I wanted to raise some monies for the HDA’s excellent work.

The run itself went extremely well. The event was well supported, well organised, and I even managed a personal best of 2hr 3min 31sec (chip time)*. Moreover, I felt I could tell all my kind sponsors I'd earned their collective £364 (inc. GiftAid).

In the first couple of miles
Halfway round
* the race was shortened for reasons of safety on the day, so a truly new PB will unfortunately have to wait a while longer.

A couple of articles about the race from the WalesOnline news site:
"Joy for thousands of runners in Cardiff Half Marathon" - 17th Oct 2010.
"Cardiff Half Marathon 'too short'" - 19th Oct 2010.

The organisers have a very slick web site - Cardiff Half Marathon, with a very active facebook group, and also a blog.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Time for a spring clean

Image: Danilo Rizzuti /
Every now and then I succumb to the temptation of the blogger people and toy with changing the design / layout of the 'on the move' blog. Today was such a day, and so here is the parred down 'simple' white layout. Simple is, at least in my opinion, best. I prefer clean crisp web pages.

Now all I need do is figure out how to get the 'share' buttons to appear on posts (which I just did ;-P see below), add a few static pages, and I'll be happy until the next overhaul.

Also, as soon as I get a few more spare moments I will be reporting proper 'on the move' running event news!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Warm spring with everything blossoming

Image: Graeme Weatherston /
It seems the a lovely warm spring has sprung in South Wales with everything blossoming, and that isn't just the flowers and trees. Several friends are starting new fitness plans (and blogs), and seem to be doing very well indeed. My wife is doing brilliantly with her running plan to get ready for a half-marathon later in the year. She's already looking lean and strong, so I have to admit to a little envy.

I am still feeling my way back from the broken toe, though happily the four runs that I have done have gone very well.  The usual frustration of wanting to be where I was pre-injury is in full force, even though I am aware of the phenomenon and how to scale back expectation, I still can't help feeling a little troubled.  I am doing a 6mile loop and a 2.2mile loop as ways back into distance and pace running. Before too long I hope to step up the weekend run distances and run for an hour and a half a time.  Yes! I to am hoping to run a half-marathon (and run it well) towards the end of the year.

Hope things are blossoming in your efforts to be 'on the move'.

Ps. I'll pop some blog links in later ;-)