Reading Half-Marathon 2009

Reading Half-Marathon 2009
Total 02:03:39
Position = 7626 out of ~17,000?

The day didn't get off to too good a start: 6am on Sunday morning doesn't tend to happen for me, and the DST change was just an extra kick in the teeth, making it feel like 5am. Obstacle the first: the tubes aren't running at that time. Fortunately, I now live in civilisation and could just get a 24-hour bus into town and connect to Paddington fairly easily. Once there, it became clear how popular Reading is with London residents: every incoming tube train seemed to disgorge another wave into the foyer. True to form, the expected 7:57 was delayed coming in, so those who could jumped onto the later one that was actually present. After a while, enough of us had made it onto the train to match a packed 6pm weekday: but the air was tinged with excitement and anticipation rather than the commuters' resignation and despair.

The comparison didn't even quite stop there as we queued up for the shuttle buses for the stadium. Apparently, Reading is the third biggest race in the UK in terms of number of participants: and it's not a big place with lots of transport infrastructure! In fact I didn't realise Reading *had* this many buses!

The start was well organised, in direct contrast to the RTTB in October, although with everyone packed into the long avenue, it took a while for the crowd to thin out enough to feel comfortable. The race passed through Whitley and up the infamous Whitley Wood Road hill- eliciting a collective groan from some runners who thought that the shallow rise up to then had been all they were required to do! The highlight of the race this far was the ice cream van that started loudly playing The Entertainer just as I passed :)

Once up the hill, it was down past Reading University and Kendrick Road towards the centre. A dogleg left to pass under the IDR flyover, with a crowd of manic drummers invoking a rather Ravenholm ambience. Then a trek up through the town centre to the old Abbey site, twisting around to the soulless Friar Street, and off out to Oxford Road.

On reflection, I think it was somewhere around here and as we went uphill again along Tilehurst Road that I fell off the pace a bit- I certainly remember seeing an army guy running along with full pack and heavy boots, that somehow got ahead of me by the time we got to the top of Prospect Park. At this point it should have been a bit quicker on to the finish, since it was all downhill (a bit); but in fact, looking at the graph, I never seemed to take advantage of the downhills at all. In fact, by the time we came down onto Berkeley Avenue, the downhill slope was more of a grind, as my knees and fact were taking the brunt. It's almost definitely long past time I replace those running shoes, though: they will be two years old this June!

So along to Rose Kiln Lane: looking to my left I could see my old kitchen window... the area hadn't changed! and then a not-so-thrilling run down the dual carriageway back to GreenPark and the stadium. We had to do a loop down to the start point and back down the avenue: I saw the 2-hour pace group on their way back as I was going out and realised then that I was too far behind target, with just over a mile to go. Although I had my Forerunner with me, I hadn't been checking my pace all that often: and in this end stretch I realised that when I thought I was going at a disciplined 5:40-or-so pace, I was actually going at more like 6:05... Failure! Woe!

Still, I managed to find enough in the tank for a decent finish: and finishing the race with a half-lap of the stadium works really well. Lots of people cheering who also have somewhere to sit... probably works out for them, too! Then out the other side to be wrapped in Bacofoil and de-chipped.

After the race, the shuttle bus system had its last laugh... the queue for the buses was a good half-mile long. I walked back into town. I think less than ten buses went past me the whole time-- the other side of the dual carriageway was chock-a-block.

All in all, it was a good race: my final time of 2:03:39 was inside my previous time by four minutes or so--- but still outside my target of 2 hours. Well, that just indicates a need to train better for next time! :)

Getting back into training

I guess it won't come as a surprise to those who know me that I've resolved to try and get fitter during the coming year. Which I've pretty much resolved every year for the past six or seven, with varying success. To recap, last year I managed to participate in the London Triathlon (3:16) and the Run-To-The-Beat Half-Marathon (2:08). I failed to get to the London Duathlon but managed to avoid injuring myself enough to need several months' worth of physio. I entered the London Marathon for 2009, but didn't get through the lottery stage. I did some commuting to work on the bike, but not regularly, and certainly not back to the 5-days-a-week I could do once; I failed to do anything else on the bike apart from occasional circular rides around London (boring) and the one trip up to my parents'.

So far this year I'm going for the Reading Half-Marathon (March) and the London Triathlon again (August). I'm not sure about later in the year--- the Barcelona Triathlon is in August, and while that would be nice (never been there at all) I suspect I'm going to have to watch the finances carefully this year (moving house and all). It would be nice to do something a bit special, maybe fly out to do a foreign race as a combined holiday. There's an Amsterdam Marathon in October, so that's a possibility. And it'll be flat, right? Although I'd prefer somewhere I've not been before... The Berlin Marathon is in September, and that's one of the big races (and also flat iirc). Hmm. Recommendations accepted.

It's hard to be enthusiastic about going out running in the winter, though. Although I did go out last Saturday when it was still -2 degrees: that actually wasn't as bad as I thought, although it was the first time I'd gone out with long-sleeved top, long tights, body warmer *and* gloves and not overheated! Fortunately it seems like that's in the past now, although the image of me in tights will linger with you all forever. I've been going to the gym instead, doing the occasional treadmill session (yuck) but doing more on the rowing machine; I think I've finally put my boatie-induced aversion behind me. I've managed to do 10,000m in 38:58 and 5,000m in 18:17; I'm not sure if these are actually good ergo times, but they're certainly a hell of a lot faster than I can run! I'm reusing the same training schedule I used for the half-mara last October; it almost did the job, hopefully I can push the envelope a bit this time round. And remember to take my Forerunner or at least a stopwatch on race day so I can know if I'm on schedule or not!

Once I've moved house, I should be a lot closer to work, so cycling in will be considerably less daunting in distance terms; although it's likely to be even more on road with the traffic than before, so I'll see how it goes. I might even be able to run to and from work some days! It's a little worrying how exciting that seems to me, although I'd also say that the option of being able to walk home after going out is alluring too :)

everyone's having a go...

I see Mesh have a "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" ditty on their Myspace page...

Heading up to the parental home soon. Disorganised, as is traditional. I also have developed a cold, which is strange because I haven't even seen anyone else for 36 hours or so.

According to my Steam stats, I've already racked up 17 hours of playing time on Audiosurf. This is getting silly.
  • Current Mood
    amused amused

still here

Seems I'm only getting round to posting once a month now. I wish I could say that's because I'm too busy with exciting fun things to post to LJ, but sadly not. Work is plodding on without much change, not much to say there. Although I do have some training to go on next week for the first time in years!

Continuing on the nostalgia trip, but in a slightly different vein, I was wandering around Cambridge a week or so back--- during the daytime this time, playing at tourist for a bit. This coming weekend I'm planning to head up to Stratford (-upon-Avon) and hoping for something other than a piss-down.

Since the last post, I went on an Inferno (pretty cool with lots of Rammstein) and Reptile (also cool) double-header. Which is looming again this weekend, not sure I can face both again. (Well, planning to drive on Saturday anyway especially with a day trip out the next day).

The weekend just gone was Vagabonds, which once again seduced me with its assortment of nice-if-pricey beers; admittedly since I stuck to Discovery, the assortment was lost on me in a sense but I appreciate it anyway :)

I've managed to get off my arse and go out for a run a few times in the past week, including a 25-minute 5Km on the treadmill, which isn't too shabby. I should probably find a winter race or something to aim for--- after all, my current 10Km PR was set on a post-Xmas run. I also need to think about what to do for next year now that I know I'm not doing FLM.

I've written and sent our ante-penultimate Greenford rent cheque. Moving house end of February. Well, moving out of the house and into a flat of some sort for me, I imagine... I think I'd relish living alone again for a while. So many things to sort out of what's here, though.

on and on

Last two weeks... hmm. I went to the Calling a couple of weeks ago. The place hasn't changed very much, has it? Met various old faces while there... certain others were muttering about turning up tomorrow as well? (pix:

That weekend (anything in between was work and not worth commmenting on) I went out to Vagabonds on Saturday, which was indeed quite a bit better for being able to drink while there :) Good time had by all, except for that damn bus journey... (pix:

On Sunday, I had a proper hangover for the first time in quite a while... :(

On Tuesday I went back up to Cambridge (getting all my nostalgia done and dusted in one burst here) for Wake Up Screaming. Am I getting old? Maybe the Halloween Party Special wasn't such a good plan after all. (pix:

For the next few days I had Aces High-induced neck/shoulder ache.

The next Saturday I went to see Infected Mushroom at the IndigO2. Which I actually quite enjoyed, although everyone else was almost definitely more drugged up than me. I thought that the live performance was pretty cool, although I got the impression the raver kids in the audience didn't appreciate it so much. Fun though. Got back home at 8.30am, just like being at Slimelight... (pix:

Today I was working on my workflow engine from a couple of years ago, generally swearing at the lack of documentation arouund JMS, JCA, XA and JBoss' implementation of same, and having a more interesting work day than I've had for a long time!


I'm pondering venturing out to The Calling (in Cambridge) tonight because:

  1. I haven't been out in ages due to being in Bangalore
  2. Nostalgia just isn't what it used to be
  3. I have a car, so I can

Is there much chance of anyone I know being there? Or indeed anyone at all? ;) (I remember some of the old days...)
  • Current Music
    Apoptygma Berzerk - Unicorn


My home is not a place, it is people
Lois McMaster Bujold

Although there's a certain truth to that, nevertheless being back in a familiar place is a considerable relief. Arriving at Heathrow and simply being able to lug my case down to the Tube and get home under my own steam (near enough) was so familiar that it felt like bliss, even if it did take ages.

I managed to get here eventually: I'd had to get up at 5am to get to the airport in time, not a consequence I'd thought through when planning my flight. The domestic leg went fine, arrived at CSIA domestic terminal (the modern, refurbished bit) and then it went a bit pear-shaped: the bus that's supposed to shuttle people between the domestic and international terminals didn't arrive. I wasn't the only one put out by this... tempers were definitely beginning to fray as peoples' departure times crept closer!

The bus finally turned up about 35 minutes late--- several minutes after my flight was supposed to have started boarding. Fortunately, Jet were on the ball and had someone on the bus to guide us through the international terminal; including, for instance, bagging one of the first-class emigration desks to allow us to bypass the queue. After that, we hustled through the security check area and got advised to run for the gate. Which I did--- so I guess the half-marathon training came in useful! :) Admittedly, legging it through an airport in jeans and Magnum boots carrying a laptop bag wasn't quite the same. Nor did it help that the outside temperature was about 33C, and CSIA's international terminal only has working air conditioning in some parts: notably not the outboard sections past the gates.

But I managed to get on the plane, as did at least some of the others who had been on that transfer bus: I'm not sure how many made it. The plane finally departed 20-30 minutes late, but after that it was plain sailing. I still didn't manage to get properly to sleep on the flight: not helped by the fact that the guy in front of me had a habit of lifting the window shade to look out every 15 minutes or so, despite the fact that we were on the side with the sun shining straight in. However, I managed to get through it, rather glad that I'd remembered to keep my MP3 player in my hand luggage this time. Since my luggage made it to Heathrow with me as well, I can't be complaining.

On the whole, glad to be home. I was too tired to be going out last night (not that I had anything planned) and still feeling strung out today, although I did make it out to Tesco to restock the fridge. Back to work at Victoria Street tomorrow: this means investigating how our expenses claim system works.