28 December 2009

Merry Xmas

I hope everyone's enjoyed a good break.

I went for a run from my parents' house on Xmas day, through Hampstead Garden Suburb and up to the Heath. I was hoping to find Jonathan Ross' house for a nice Xmas photo/card for this site, but he seems to have scaled down his lighting efforts compared to previous years and it wasn't obvious which place was his. Instead, you get a well-proportioned terraced house in Islington, which I passed during another run yesterday. I must remember to revisit in the dark...

I'd heard that the Mike Skinner of the art world, Banksy, has been busy of late and the main purpose of my foray up the Regent's Canal was to discover his new pieces before they got destroyed. Unfortunately my fears were partly well-founded - the main piece (which is in the article linked to above) already seems to be non-existent, having been defaced by other 'artists', though I'm sure Banksy was aware that this would happen and I quite like the irony of the graffiti workman erecting graffiti, only to be graffitied over within days.

21 December 2009


I was a bit apprehensive as Rob and I headed off to Tignes due to my pig 'flu-related fitness problems but it turned out that I was able to deal with a bit of pre-Xmas skiing fine. There wasn't a great deal of fresh snow but it was very cold indeed (I reckon down to -20C at times up the mountain) so the pistes had a good covering.

We managed a morning with a guide late in the week via Rob's mate Giles, a very nice bloke who works for the Development Centre. The exceptionally friendly and, frankly, awesome Nicko gave us a bit of light instruction whilst somehow managing to find some pretty decent powder - the photo on the right was taken after a 10 minute walk from the top of the Tommeuses chair, before a very pleasant ski down into the Vallée Perdue.

All in all, the trip was a decent way to begin like I'm regaining my fitness. I obviously need to start running properly again but it was nice to get a bit of physical activity under my belt. Hopefully the current cold snap in London won't last too long, as the icy pavements aren't going to be very helpful...

06 December 2009

Animals VII - is you da fox?

It was never really part of the plan to run less than 40 miles in October and November but it happened.October was the foot problem. November saw what I suspect was swine 'flu plus pneumonia. Thanks to my truly appaling GPs, very little got done until relatively recently and it took until three days ago before I finally ended up with the right antibiotic for the pneumonia, a full three weeks after I originally fell ill. At this point I should thank my sister Jane and friend Refik for their recent medical advice, which was infinitely more helpful than that of what were supposedly "my" doctors. The latter will be receiving a bollocking, assuming the post still works these days.

My mate Al is a great believer that runners shouldn't get too obsessed with illness and injury. I can see his point to a certain extent - these are a natural part of running and you can't wait until everything is perfect before you tie up your trainers. Niggles etc are there to be run through rather than whinged about, although obviously serious injury or illnesses are something a bit different. Anyway, now that I've had three days of feeling normal again, I thought it was time to test my body out. Three weeks is quite a while to go with no exercise, notwithstanding the close-to-half a stone that I've lost (I'm now below 12st and am technically a "normal weight" for the first time since god knows when).

Turns out I'm OK - clearly the short run I did was tough, but I think I'll be somewhere close to normal relatively quickly. It's a measure of how far behind I am versus my expectations that I was hoping to be competing in a cross-country marathon on the Gower peninsula. Hopefully I'll be in a position to start running proper distances by the end of the month.

21 November 2009

Swine 'flu two

Bloody irritating pig disease. I am amazed that I managed to run last weekend given the horrible events of this week - a temperature that's been as high as 40.6C, my first rigors (which lasted 40 minutes), some truly disgusting night sweats, intense boredom and a variety of other disgusting features. It's been 9 days since my first symptoms and there seems to have been fairly minimal improvement. Having said that, today's been OK so maybe there is a glimmer of light at the end of this long, painful and, frankly, mind-numbingly boring tunnel.

Anyway, I've three pics from previous events to show, which were purchased from truly extortionate official photo guys: the BUPA 10k, the half-marathon in Pembrokeshire and the first Vertical Rush (entries are open for 2010 by the way - I'm running at 10.30am if you want to join me).

15 November 2009

Swine 'flu

I've had an odd few days. I got back from a work day in France on Thursday night and was suddenly overcome with chills, muscle aches and generally feeling like crap. I had the day off on Friday and my temperature went down from 38.4C to normal, which seemed reassuring, so I went out for a couple of pints on Friday night only to wake up at 5am-ish feeling like shit again. Same thing happened yesterday. Similarly, today has been OK apart from the profuse 5am sweats. I don't really deal well with being ill - the last time I can remember having a multi-day sickness was in my second year as an undergrad, when I had glandular fever, so this has come as something of a shock to the system. I just did the NHS online swine 'flu check for a laugh and apparently I qualify for anti-virals. As if I'm going to take those.

I managed to go out for a quick run yesterday. I'd been planning to take in the fireworks at the Lord Mayor's Show but there weren't any - checking the interweb now reveals they were cancelled due to high winds. That explains the fairly obvious lack of pyrotechnics then. I did manage to get a great shot of a 60-foot pissing man though, which was part of some kind of diabetes awareness campaign...

Hopefully I'll be up and running properly next week sometime.

10 November 2009


I occasionally feel a little overly busy and the last week has certainly been that way. I've also considered giving up my ridiculous obsession with food. In the last week, quite apart from cooking Sunday lunch for a few mates, I've managed to attend ham school (yes really) and also another Dos Hermanos dinner. I ended up getting the invitation at the last minute - someone must have dropped out on the Friday - and suddenly my relentless pursuit of eating experiences started to seem a little OTT. By Monday afternoon, I really didn't feel like going after a very fun but tiring weekend and a really shitty day at work. In the end I'm glad I did, as the food (at Bentley's, which I love) was great and the people at the dinner were as entertaining as ever, really taking my mind off things.

I ran back to my folks' on Saturday but my camera ran out of batteries so you're spared a shot from then. I ran again tonight so here's a shot of the South Bank instead, just coming up to Gabriel's Wharf from the Oxo Tower. Bit of a crappy shot - it's not easy in the dark - but I love the lights.

01 November 2009

Reluctant indeed

It's not properly cold yet but this weekend has seen some runs that really were a bit of a trial. Yesterday's reluctance stemmed from Friday night, spent out in the recently opened Pinchito WC1. The cocktails are as good as the EC1 version near my flat and proved my downfall, but I still managed a quick 7 miles in the morning before a thoroughly enjoyable North London Derby, made all the more sweet by the pre-match build-up. Eat your words Robbie Keane.

I woke up late this morning, after George and Caleb's fancy dress party afforded me the opportunity to get the gorilla suit out for a second outing. I wasn't able to run back to my parents' house for lunch owing to the fact that I was bringing the pudding and cheese, so today's sortie was delayed until this evening. The 8 miles spent burping along the South Bank left me regretting today's over-consumption. Still, at least I seem to be back in reasonable shape again and hopefully ready to embark on some longer runs soon.

25 October 2009

Still running

Last week was fairly tough, with work-related stress compounded by jet-lag. All-in-all, I was glad when Friday came around, at which point the weekend started in earnest. Friday night was Carl's birthday in the Lansdowne, I went to the Ski Show on Saturday with Rob (who now looks unlikely to be running the MdS with me - gutting) and I'd been lucky enough to sort out a reservation last night at the pop-up Restaurant on the Roof. In the midst of all of this I managed a couple of runs. Again, neither especially long given my concern for my foot - six-milers. Pleasingly, I came through both unscathed, which is probably more than I can say for anyone unlucky enough to see me today, trying out my recently-purchased compression tights - apologies to anyone in the Victoria Park area who saw me and has presumably had to wash their eyes with soap/bleach/anything they can find before entering therapy.

I got a couple of snaps along the way but this week's winner was taken close to home, in front of Hitchcock's Reel on Leonard Street. Not sure quite what was going on but an odd-looking fella seemed to be fly-fishing for Ferraris. Weird. That's Shoreditch for you.

18 October 2009

Animals VI: an emasculated lion

What a week. It commenced with Matt and AC's wedding out in Paris - a very cool couple and a great party, which was only slightly cut short by the knowledge that I had to fly to Chicago the next day for the start of a marketing trip. This saw me go to Madison, Austin, Houston, New York and Boston. Non-work highlights included catching up with Kiddo, Jill and their daughter Emily (Chicago), Shindles (Boston) and eating possibly the best burger that I've ever had (at JG Melon in NYC). I hate coming home from Boston as the flight time is so short but I managed about 5 hours kip before returning via brunch at the Walms' in St Margarets.

Running again. It seems like ages since I last took to the streets and I'd almost forgotten what to do. It's also got cold since my last proper foray, the Marathon du Médoc in mid-September. I took things easy yesterday with a quick 6-miler to test out my tendons. I was full of paranoia as I started out (past what was apparently some filming for the next series of Ashes to Ashes on my street) and I was conscious of every tiny twinge in my right foot. Amazingly all seemed fine so I ran another 6 miles today, again without any reaction so far. The main problem is I'm clearly much less fit than I was 5 weeks ago and my calves feel pretty tight, but it's great that I appear to be OK, having bottled the steroid injection because I'm a big scaredy-cat.

The lion is at the far point of these rather short runs, on the South side of Westminster Bridge. When you start to delve into these things, they always have amazing histories - the sculpture is made out of fake stone and was originally painted red when it stood on the site of an old brewery that made way for the Festival Hall. He was apparently 'modified' when he was moved to his new location, as he was rather too well-endowed for the sensibilities of the day, poor chap.

05 October 2009

What happens next?

First a penguin then a gorilla! My many (three) readers must be hanging on the edges of their seats, literally constipated with excitement and wondering what amazing feat will follow...

Well, sorry to disappoint. What happens next is: Dr Badenoch refers Andy to Mr Singh who diagnoses suspected inflammation of the peroneus longus tendon at the level of the cuboid bone and sends him on to Dr Vijayanathan for what is likely to be an ultrasound-guided steroid injection (tomorrow). Brilliant and in no way frustrating. I'll probably not be running for another three weeks or so - just what you want exactly 6 months before a 155 mile run.

26 September 2009

Great Gorilla Run

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted there was no post last week (though I did end up in the Guardian again). I seem to have acquired some kind of tendon or ligament injury to my right foot during the Marathon du Médoc that is taking ages to get better - it was so bad last week that I was worried it was a stress fracture (props to all those I bored with my whinging) but it has gradually got a bit better over the last few days. So instead of running, I spent my time watching the Wire - now half way through Season 3. That and eating. I've been to Olivomare with my mum (great), Franco Manca with Lotte, Harriet and Ben (just about lives up to the hype), Haozhan with Catherine (poor), Chisou with Nick, Dom and Rob (great) and the C&R Cafe (with a bunch of the Caius lot) in the last 10 days. Normally I get away with this kind of behaviour but I've not been running because of the foot. I am now massive.

And so to today. Obviously, I didn't want to go on too long a run. I wanted more of a short-ish test to see if my foot was OK. Luckily, I'd entered the Great Gorilla Run, a gentle 4.5-mile meander that started walking distance from my flat. I thus found myself putting on an animal suit for the second time in two weeks and wandering down to Mincing Lane for the start at 10.30am, generating the odd admiring glance. Come the race, obviously, the distance wasn't a problem but it was still a tough run because of my new-found furriness. I thought I'd leave my costume fully on the whole way round and ended up very wet indeed. I was expecting to be pretty moist but two unforeseen problems arose - the condensation inside my head/mask (not pleasant) and I also noticed (about half way round) that my hands/gloves were watertight and slowly filling up with sweat. Not at all pleasant. The event itself was obviously hilarious and it was nice to bump into Richard P at the end, an old friend from school and college.

My foot now hurts again. Hardly unexpected but... bugger.

13 September 2009

The Marathon du Médoc

I've wanted to do the Marathon du Médoc for a few years now and finally persuaded my brother to come along with me. It's billed as "le plus longue du monde" because of the 20+ tastings as you pass the châteaux around the course, along with the oysters, Bayonne ham, steak, cheese and ice-cream in the last three or so miles. 90% run it in fancy dress. This year's theme was the circus, so we (obviously) went in costumes that were totally unrelated, my brother as Elvis and me in a penguin suit. It looked good on the website but was thick, black and generally highly unsuitable for running on a sunny day in Southern France.
The course was spectacular and the 'race' was great fun but it was somewhat slow going given the frequent refreshment stops. We got round in 6h20, 10 minutes before the course was officially shut, having drunk and eaten at every station that was serving things along the way. I was pleased this morning that the race, the drinking and the ridiculous costume hadn't taken too much out of me. My legs aren't too stiff, which is a marked contrast to my only other marathon, London in 2006, although my time then was considerably better!

Extra photos, for the extra dedicated, can be seen here. Respec' to my bro for keeping me company and making it round to the end; also to the guys at Gruaud Larose for providing what I think was the best wine of the day.

10 September 2009

Basel and Cologne

I was away this week with work, arriving in Basel on Monday evening. After a few meetings on Tuesday, I courageously assumed that the weekend's through-fall problems were resolved and went for what turned out to be a great run in beautiful weather. I started off through the old town - past the town hall and the cathedral - then along the Rhein and down one of its tributaries. This took me past the footie stadium (one of Basel's must-sees apparently) and into some proper woodland. Navigating (poorly) via my Blackberry and a printout from mapmyrun.com I then ended up climbing a decent hill up to a meadow halfway to somewhere called Muttenz, before returning via the Botanic Gardens. Just over 9.2 miles in 1h33 - not very quick for me, but good fun.
The next day, we finished up in Cologne, where mapmyrun.com had found me a straightforward run down the banks of the Rhein. This one was much quicker in every way - 4.2 miles in 32 mins. On the way, I saw some cool buildings overhanging the river, below. Cologne holds good memories for me - another first moment of freedom. My friend Gus and I spent our first night Inter-railing here just after A-levels. We only spent a few hours here on our way to Prague but it was my first trip as a proper independent traveler and it prefaced what was a hilarious holiday, a massive loop through Greece, Italy, France, Holland and Belgium. One of our first acts was to climb the cathedral - visible on the right hand side of this shot.

06 September 2009

Animals V

Friday night saw me arrive at the Dog House in Kennington at about 6.30pm and leave at about midnight, after various friends had come and gone - Charlie, Lotte, Osh, Harriet and Ben in that order. Saturday afternoon and evening was taken up by Anna's birthday lunch and drinks. In the intervening couple of hours I managed to fit in my 11 mile loop around London's central Parks. I ran anticlockwise for a change, to Regent's Park first, then Hyde, Green and St James'.

It's funny when you reverse a run - you often see things that have previously totally passed you by. Whilst I was expecting something new, I was amazed to see a vast bronze horse's head at Marble Arch - I couldn't understand how I'd missed it before, particularly given my animal obsession. Turns out it's only been there a couple of months. Phew. I did notice a view from the bridge in St James' Park that I'd never really noticed before though, across the lake to the Horse Guards building, with (I think) the FCO on the right and the London Eye poking out above it.

I was going to run back to my folks' for lunch again today but have been afflicted by a bout of what the Germans so descriptively call "durchfall", which put paid to that. Oh well.

24 August 2009


Just back from a long weekend in France - another trip involving freeloading with some very generous friends. I stayed in Martha and Matt's place once before (strictly speaking, Martha's parents' place) a couple of years ago and knew what to expect - a few days in a lovely old farmhouse hanging out with a couple of their friends and M&M's exceptionally cool kids, Hope (my very pretty god-daughter) and Ferdie. As anticipated, we also ended up eating and drinking like locals and, this time, with locals, since the village fete was on. This involved losing at boules to some grizzled pétanque veterans, followed by dinner in the school playground with a few hundred French types, who entertained themselves and us in truly inimitable fashion. God knows where they all came from - French Wikipedia suggests that Castéra-Lectourois only has a population of about 300!

Along with the other highlights, I went running. Unfortunately I was a couple of days late for the 40-degree heatwave that had just swept through the region and which had left the sunflowers looking somewhat dehydrated - though I think the flowers are so heavy this late in the season that they do tend to droop even in normal years. Still, my first sortie gave me some time running on the hills that I have been so sorely craving and my second, of about 10 miles, combined them with 35-degree temperatures. Suffice to say, the last 20 minutes or so were not an enormous pleasure but I managed roughly 9-minute miles so I was fairly satisfied.No more holidays planned for 2009, for anyone who's getting envious! It does seem as though I've been away a lot this year for some reason.

16 August 2009

Saturday lunch

I ran to Hannah and Fraser's house on Saturday, two great people who I don't see nearly often enough. They're out in West Ken, which involved crossing Hyde Park, which it turns out I don't really know too well. Presumably this is down to my North West London prejudice against anything that isn't within walking distance of the Northern Line. Anyhow, it was a fun run and carrying a pack didn't feel too bad at 9:30/mile pace. I got to go along the little bit of sand known as Rotten Row (below), which I always thought was a corruption of the French but Wikipedia informs me there may be other etymologies behind it. A delicious lunch involving some great lamb chops was followed by a fun afternoon that took in the delights of some rather unusual Polish flavoured vodkas before finishing up in the pub.
I also went for a run on Sunday, which took my total mileage for the weekend to around 18. Unfortunately, with only 7-and-a-bit months to go until the MdS, I'm going to have to start doing that kind of thing more often, though it was a beautiful day and a very pleasant run...

Finally, kudos to my mate Riz, who has pointed out that the flowers in a previous post are not in fact wisteria at all but are buddleja. Smart-ass.

09 August 2009

Kenwood House

Not a great deal to say about today's run. I ran back to my parents' for lunch, via Hampstead Heath. The pic is of Kenwood House, the well-proportioned Robert Adam building.

Now I'm back at home, two episodes into the third season of the Wire. Happy days.

03 August 2009


I am lucky to know someone as generous as my friend Refik, who invited a bunch of us out to his family's amazing place in Turkey, in between Urla Iskele and Çeşmealtı. It was a great week and, in marked contrast to my other trips this year (lots of skiing and a bit of walking), it involved doing nothing. Well, nothing except eating. He's a great host, proud of his country and keen to ensure that everyone enjoys the best it has to offer, which includes great fruit, veg, fish and beer. Turkish wine, however, is a bit less impressive.

I fitted in three runs, avoiding the hill behind the house where last year I attracted the attention of numerous working dogs who weren't too friendly. I ran along the coast instead, through Urla Iskele and beyond. The pic to the right is of Karantina (quarantine) island, past which my runs went. It's now a hospital rather than a place to send plague victims.

Things I learned: running in mid-30 degree heat is OK as long as it's not humid (it was much easier than Orlando) and there's a breeze. Oh, and P20 suncream really works and doesn't make you sweat as much as the normal ones - very impressive.

25 July 2009

Cambridge redux

A very Cambridge day on Saturday, starting with breakfast with my friend Matt at Albion, which took a while to digest so I didn't end up running until quite late in the day. The sides of the Regent's Canal are currently covered in wisteria, which always reminds me of Tree Court at Caius, and I was thinking of my old university as I was running along. After I while, I came across another quintessential Cambridge view, that of a hapless punter in all sorts of difficulty, blocking the entire canal round about Mile End Park. Turns out you can rent them as of fairly recently...

19 July 2009

Marco Polo

I ran my >10 miler around Chelsea Bridge last night as penance for recent excesses and over-consumption (lunch at my sister's on Saturday, lunch at Herms' birthday on Sunday etc). Forgot to wear my iPod, which was annoying given the 1.5 hour duration.

My run was my standard loop around Chelsea Bridge, taking me past what I now know to be called the Marco Polo building, just opposite Battersea Park. An unremarkable building, ugly even. However, it has a slightly bizarre symbolism for me.

Picture the scene. I've just finished my A-levels. The summer holidays and a place at university await. My best pal, Osh, decides we need to go for a drive around London, so a bunch of us piled into his old-school VW Beetle and just took off - him, me, I think the Scrimgeour twins and one other. It was, from memory, a beautiful summer evening and the feeling of freedom, driving around London, was exhilarating. At some point we drove past the Marco Polo building, which was, back then, the HQ of the Observer I think, and we got out to marvel at its shiny whiteness. I remember feeling a very clear sense of excitement, of a new phase of my life about to start - hardly surprising given I'd been at the same school for the previous 11 years and was really only just about to experience my first taste of independence. The memory of being in that car, with nowhere to be and total freedom to go where we wanted remains vivid. Somehow, the building's name, evoking exploration and new horizons, is strangely appropriate.

Why does our fifth companion in the car remain nameless? Well, he was the one who, when we ended up driving back through Brixton fairly late in the day, cowered down in the front seat of the car whimpering "I don't want to get shot". Now, whilst this was back in the day when cabbies would refuse to "go South of the river at this time of night", his concern that we'd be shot simply for being white guys in a car was pretty pathetic even considering our tender years...

15 July 2009


No running this week but plenty of exercise, courtesy of a 6-day trip to the Pyrénées with a few of the Caius lot. We flew to Pau and made our way down to Gavarnie. We then started our trip, armed with little more than a couple of maps and several tons of trail mix, cheese and local sausage. Our little wander took us up to the Breche de Roland (in the background below), round into San Nicolás de Bujaruelo on the Spanish side before wandering along to the highest peak in the French Pyrénées, the 3,298m Vignemale. The view from the top, down across the glacier, is above.

The walking was tough-ish - we averaged just under 1,000m of ascent per day, generally with a c15kg pack on, so I don't feel like I've missed out on my training. The ascent up the glacier was particularly exciting for me, never having used crampons or an ice-axe before, and it felt liberating to be doing a trip like this independently - without a guide. The other real highlight was the flora and fauna - not usually my bag. Nevertheless, the fields of flowers were really stunning and the unexpected (for me anyway) and multiple sightings of marmots frolicking in the sunshine was a joy given the number of times I must have skied a run called 'Marmottes' (every resort seems to have one). Finally, I mustn't forget to mention Dix' inspired decision, not only to organise the trip, but also to buy us all berets at the start. It really helped us to make friends.
The trip was useful in other ways too. It really highlighted again how important hill training, cross-country and training with a pack will be in my prep for the MdS - much tougher than road-running. I also managed to pick up some kind of injury to the medial collateral ligament in my left knee, which I'm currently hoping will disappear of its own accord...

05 July 2009


The blog seems to be unintentionally turning into a kind of chronicle of 'how I got my hangover last night' - like the "I see you like to recycle" Drinkaware campaign on the Tube. Last night's excuse was a visit from Kiddo, a friend who now lives in Chicago, over for the 4th July weekend. We got to watch the Nathan's competition (it turns out I can get ESPN on Sky), which produced another amazing contest - it's hard to believe how far the sport has come even since my first visit to Coney Island in 2004. This was followed up with the usual idiocy...

The pic is of some dudes fishing in Limehouse Basin, with the temples of Mammon in the background.

29 June 2009


I'm some way off my peak of weddings, which still stands at 11 in one year, and it's been a while since the last Caius shin-dig - out of London anyway - so it was nice to get out to Farnham for Crawf and Jen's this weekend. It was a slightly brutal schedule kicking off with the Lions test at 2pm on the Saturday (what a game), taking in a bit more cricket and then the world's hottest restaurant temperature-wise before a bit more beer for good measure. The wedding itself was on the Sunday night followed by a midnight cab back to Shoreditch, which made for an interesting Monday morning, but I think a lot of fun was had by all. It was good to see a few faces that aren't around that often - hi to the Shindlers, Big Jase, the Wilmots and the new Walmsley to mention a few...

I managed to squeeze in a hung-over hour in on Sunday morning before the main event, running up Castle Street and a big hill to get into Farnham Park. It was a very pleasant run once my headache had subsided a bit - beautiful weather and great to get out onto some grass for a change.

25 June 2009


...to my three loyal readers. No post last weekend. That's because I didn't run, for a variety of reasons - partly illness (swine 'flu?), partly busyness (the Lions test, a non-christening, my mum/brother's birthday barbecue and partly because I was still a bit tired after the North Downs 30k (which doesn't bode well for the MdS).

So, as compensation, here's a mid-week write-up. Not much to say, apart from my run took me past one of the Street Pianos (right) and one of my blisters from 11 days ago still hurt. Again, not encouraging for next April. At some point I need to read my copy of the not-geeky-at-all 'Fixing your Feet'...

14 June 2009

North Downs

Today's run was a bit hardcore - the North Downs 30k, nearly 19 miles of hilly cross-country terrain. Pleasingly, the race started from a leisure centre on Thong Lane and went through both Shorne and Lower Bush. Less pleasingly from my point of view, it was sunny. The first 10k went well enough. The second was pretty tough. The third was gruelling - a lot of up-and-down and, by that stage, I was tired (and salty). I haven't run that far since my marathon in 2006 and my training has been a little more erratic that I would have liked in the last month or so, and it showed. Nevertheless, I ended up finishing a shade under 2h45m, which I guess is pretty decent given the circumstances. Rob whipped my ass again. Highlights: finishing in one piece, the poppies (above), the marshals (and their life-saving jelly-babies) and the cake provided by the organisers at the end. It wasn't as pretty as the Pembrokeshire race but was fun in a really, really hard way.

06 June 2009


I got back from Orlando on Thursday morning. I was visiting with work to attend a medical conference but managed to find time for a couple of runs. Not really knowing the city, I followed a fairly unimaginative route from my hotel, past the massive conference centre (and the 30,000 attendees in the 4 m square foot floor space), around SeaWorld and back. A few points occurred to me on the runs:

1. Running in mid-30C heat and very high humidity is enormously unpleasant.

2. I hate cities where you have to drive everywhere - they lack soul. Many of the roads didn't have pavements, which made jogging tough. People presumably drive off somewhere nicer for their runs rather than running in Orlando itself, because there were barely any other joggers around. SeaWorld seemed to be 75% car park and 25% amusement park.

3. Grass in the US is very thick.

The conference was less busy than in previous years, which left a bit of time to visit SeaWorld itself with a handful of clients and competitors. The highlight was undoubtedly seeing some leafy sea dragons - very cool fish - with the Manta rollercoaster a close second. The Shamu show ("at the heart of every being lies a sense of wonder") was corny American horseshit - my heart was not transported to the edge of wonder as they claimed - but allowed me to get this quite cool snap on my mobile phone.

25 May 2009

Bank Holiday 10k

I've only ever run a few races - a couple of half-marathons, the London marathon in 2006 and the off-road 15 miler earlier this year. Today saw my first 10k, the BUPA 10,000. I wasn't especially confident going into it. I don't really run fast when I train - no speed-work, no hills, no intervals etc - and that's what you need to do to get a decent time in a shorter race like a 10k. This was coupled with a poor "build-up", by which I mean going down to Plymouth with a bunch of friends for the first two days of a glorious Bank Holiday, involving some very picturesque beaches but also the usual self-destruction that such a trip brings (fry-ups, beer, barbecues, stupid games, pasties etc - thanks for hosting to Bobby J). The Saturday saw an epic game of beach cricket at Mothecombe and me pulling a hamstring whilst pushing for a tight second run. Finally, my sunburn wasn't making me feel the best.

All-in-all, I wasn't expecting too much from the race today, so when I found myself with the 'elite athletes' in Red zone A at the start - the first wave of runners to set off - I was a little shocked (I must have lied about my expected time on the entry form or something). Somehow in the end I think I managed acquit myself fairly well with a time of 41m 29s to finish as the 226th male out of 4,500 - there were a lot of people in fancy dress I guess!

In other news related to previous blog entries, I have now eaten in La Figa - lunch with Lu - and it was pretty good. I had pizza 'la figa' (of course). Surprisingly, it lacked anchovies. Secondly, my mum tells me that she thinks that my grandfather, Arthur Glover, was responsible for the grasshopper outside what was Martin's Bank on Lombard Street. Finally, it turns out Will le F has actually used the catapault thingy outside the Tower as part of his odd historical re-enactment job.

16 May 2009


It's funny. Somehow this blog is ending up less personal than I thought it would be. Having lived in London (basically) all my life, I thought it would end up reflecting a lot more of me than it has. I think that a lot of this is down to the disparity between where I run and where I've lived and played. As a stolid North Londoner by birth and one educated in South Hertfordshire, I have little connection to places like Victoria Park in the East End. Even the Regent's Canal was a fairly recent discovery for me, apart from the stretch just by Camden Market, where I did hang out for the odd evening when I was a kid, drinking warm cans of lager. Etc.

This post bucks the impersonal trend. I ran back to my folks' place for lunch - round to Camden, up across the Heath and the lazily-named Heath Extension, where my mate Jonny memorably had his rugby stag a couple of years ago. From there, I entered the extraordinary and, ultimately, unsuccessful social experiment that is Hampstead Garden Suburb. The top photo is of St Jude's church, close to where my nursery school was. The lower one is of my parents' house (and mine from the age of 2 until university), with my primary school in the background, poking above the hedge. What could be more personal than that?

10 May 2009

Go go Gadget arms!

I try not to get annoyed with the crowds that extend between Namco (a fabulous place - bowling, pool, cheap beer and that game where you dance when the floor lights up), past the London Eye and the South Bank Centre, extending all the way to the Tate Modern. Yesterday's run felt almost like Parkour, as I jumped onto barriers, round statues and generally tried to avoid the tourists. Yet I still prefer to run the route rather than changing course to avoid the throngs - I quite like seeing people enjoy my home city I guess - and occasionally you come across people like my long-armed acquaintance here.

04 May 2009

Animals IV

Whilst I quite like monkeys...

...I am particularly pleased that I know where to find a 3-foot steel grasshopper:

26 April 2009


I have just returned from a fantastic stag weekend, but one that left me with a touch of self-loathing. It involved numerous traditional stag weekend activities - silly outdoor stuff (hovercrafting and canoeing), curry, fry-ups, copious amounts of Butty Bach and small-town "clubbing". We were incredibly well looked after by Alan at the Old Pandy Inn, which is well worth a visit, if only to try the Welsh Dragon sausage - about 15" long, 1lb in weight and filled with chillies. Crawf, our stag for the weekend, put in an exceptional performance, dressed in a clown outfit and resembling nothing less than a Weeble for most of last night (Weebles wobble but they don't fall down), consuming heroic quantities of booze and yet remaining mostly upright and hugely entertaining. A truly great effort, especially considering he'd come all the way from Greenwich CT in order to be with us.

Anyway, I had only run 45 miles this month and I was aiming for 60. Also, the weekend had involved horrific calorie consumption. This resulted in me forcing myself out on my return for a 10 miler, round Chelsea Bridge. The route down took me along the final couple of miles of the London Marathon, pretty much all over bar a few stragglers and some guy in a camel costume. This week's photo is of Boadicea, who I remember being a very welcome sight in my 2006 marathon - she's just at the end of Victoria Embankment, just before the route turns off the river and up towards the Mall. At that point, you know you're going to make it...

Well done to my bro, who made it round in 4:06, despite injury-hampered training!