10 March 2009


My first special training event will be next week's jaunt in aid of homelessness charity Shelter. Known as 'Vertical Rush', it will involve climbing London's second-tallest building, Tower 42 (the old NatWest Tower).

I remember reading an article about tower running a few months back and thinking "wow, that sounds cool". A couple of weeks ago, I saw a poster in Bank tube advertising Vertical Rush and wanted to get involved. I then re-read the original article after registering and present selected quotations here:

"Tower runners all talk of one universally shared experience - the pain"
"After my first race, I puked in a garbage can. Everyone high-fived me"
"Tower runners love to relate stories of elite marathon runners who assume they'll cruise to the top, only to drop out in a crumpled heap on the 43rd floor"

Luckily, Tower 42 is only 42 floors high and I'm not an elite marathon runner, so the last comment definitely won't apply to me. Nevertheless, the write-up worried me enough to take the organiser's suggestion of training a little. So, at lunchtime today, I found myself climbing the the Monument (right), which happens to be about three minutes from my office. Built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London, the viewing platform is 311 steps up, 160 feet above the ground. This makes it a quarter of the height of Tower 42 (although with one third of the steps - clearly they had short legs in the 17th Century) - so a good training run rather than anything directly comparable to next Thursday's event.

Bugger me, it hurt. The first half was OK. The second half left me gasping for breath, with my thighs and calves burning. The real event will be exceptionally unpleasant. The only vaguely good thing was managing to get this snap from the top - Tower 42 is the very tall building in the centre of the pic.

Finally, I'd like to give a big thank you to Dos Hermanos and the Guild of Fine Food, which organises the Great Taste Awards, for my dinner tonight. The former are a couple of well-known food bloggers, who organised a fantastic dinner a couple of weeks ago at Vinoteca - my second meal there, but easily as good as my first visit (the mutton pie was awesome). At the dinner, in exceptionally uncharacteristic style, I won a hamper that was organised by the latter.

Having now munched my way through a load of the "3-star gold winners", I can confirm that the wild boar salami from the Real Boar Company is awesomely piggy and genuinely complex, Products From Spain's manchego is really excellent given I don't normally find it that particular cheese especially exciting, Hi-T's fudge rocks (it won the 'fudge, plain, including vanilla' category after all) and CoCouture's Irish Whisky Truffles were worthy winners of the 'dark truffles with alcohol' class. The reason I'm writing about this now is that my dinner is one of Harvies Pies steak pies. They have made me a happy man...

I met a bunch of great guys at the dinner, mainly food bloggers (links to their sites are on the right of this page). I felt a little humbled in their presence, given my readership averages (I think) in the mid-to-low single-digits, whereas theirs is in the hundreds or thousands. In some ways I'd like to write a food blog of my own. On the other hand, somehow food seems so integral to my life that it seems a bit odd to want to write about it as though it is something noteworthy, rather than it being a sine qua non. I can't contemplate life without being able to eat well; this blog only exists because I still think of running as somehow alien to me, given my still-'sturdy' build.

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