Sponsorship details for my half-marathon

Yesterday I started merrily sending out e-mails to family, friends, colleagues and pretty much everybody I can think of, to ask if they’ll consider sponsoring me for my half-marathon run in September. I’ve already been delighted to have heard from a number of readers who are keen to sponsor me based on my earlier posts, so it’s only fair that I pop something up on this website! There’s a special website widget (oh, you lucky people!) in my sidebar now which you can use, or you can have a read about what I’ve been saying in the e-mail:

> I’m writing to ask if you’ll consider sponsoring me in support of The Prostate Cancer charity when I run my first ever half-marathon, in Glasgow on the 2nd September, 2007. My father was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer a few years back. Thanks to the medical and scientific advances in recent years, as well as his talking to the Doctor about the symptoms early on, he’s since made a full recovery.

> However I think it’s vital to both try and help improve the funding into research and treatment of this condition, and help raise awareness of it: I didn’t realise but it’s the most common form of cancer in men: 1 in 6 men will be affected by it in their lifetime.

> So if you’d like to sponsor me please visit this URL:

> http://www.justgiving.com/richardleyton

> For an easy way of donating, and also very tax effective! An extra 28% is added by the government if you’re a UK taxpayer!. I’ve also discovered that my consulting company will match your main donation, so there is plenty of incentive to dig deep! 🙂

> I’m hoping to try and raise £500 from friends, family, colleagues and anybody else that might be interested in supporting a great cause. A donation of any size will help bring me closer to that goal, so I’ll be grateful for any amount that you can help with.

> Some of you will know that I’ve been running for fun since September last year, inspired by the runners in the 2006 half marathon who went past our house (many of whom were running for charity). I’d thought about running plenty of times before, but that inspiration usually left when I turned my back on the runners! This time it was different, and it’s certainly been tough: I’ve still got a long way to go in my training!

> Needless to say, I’ve been writing about much of this on my website, and will continue to do so as I build up to the half marathon in September: The 2006 Run, My first run, My first race, and my running album.

> There’s also more to be found out about Prostate Cancer here: http://www.prostate-cancer.org.uk/.

> Thanks again for your time, and your support!

> Kind Regards,

> Richard

I should confess – just in case! – that there’s a ‘reasonable’ limit on the company matching amount of £2,500: It’s my own company after all, and I’m actually starting to worry a little! Hope that’s not beyond what folk think I *can* raise, especially given my initial target of £500 has now been revised up to £1500 due to the immense generosity of friends and family so far!

The 10k that wasn’t

A while back I mentioned I’d entered the East Kilbride 10k run, as part of my half-marathon training. To be honest though, since I discovered the very local MHFS 10k, the East Kilbride 10k lost a lot of it’s lustre. No matter, I still figured it’d be good to get the race practice under my belt.

Unfortunately, nature intervened and I didn’t end up going. I’ve unfortunately been battling a bit of a cold, and running just hasn’t felt like a particularly sensible thing to be doing. I’ll save you the specifics, but suffice to say the idea of running for protracted periods of time just doesn’t seem very sensible right now.

So sadly no 10k race time to report, and a general feeling of frustration that I’ve missed out on a weekends running. Hoping I’ll be able to manage a run later today or tomorrow, rain or not. Fingers crossed.

Men’s Health Forum Scotland 10k run

I’m pleased to say that the MHFS 10k went very well, and that I managed to get around in a reasonable time. I’d been hoping to finish it in 60 minutes (That’s what I put on my form), but had hopes for 55 minutes if I pushed a bit harder. In the end, I actually managed it in 53:56 – That’s my own time, not the ‘official’ time which I think I get tomorrow in the Evening Times special supplement.

I doubt I make a particularly photogenic runner (much less that I’ll appear in the 12 page supplement tomorrow!), but here’s a mug shot that Frances snapped just as I entered Pollok park, at around the 3.5km mark. A few more in my flickr ‘Running’ set. Richard at the 3.5km mark

The event itself was great, and a super atmosphere. Something like 2,500 entrants I gather. A delayed start was a bit of a pain, and it was a bit crammed in the early part of the course. There were also far too few toilets (10 if I recall, and no urinal that would have made sense for a male-only event), so a huge queue. And no water available at the start, at least that I could see: I’d forgotten to bring some along, but was well hydrated before hand.

But minor gripes aside, the weather was brilliant. Almost too sunny(!) along the earlier stretches. Pollok park was a relief with all the shade, and lovely and familiar. A great atmosphere, plenty of vocal support, and some great drumming from a marching band that seems to show up at most of the marches I’ve been on… Only downer was I seem to have lost my free t-shirt. So ‘only’ have a medal to leave hanging about in obvious places 🙂

I slipped in to old habits a little and ran a bit harder than I really ought given I’m trying to manage my training by heart-rate at the moment, but I didn’t feel much the worse for it at all. I paced myself nicely so that by the last few kilometres I had plenty in reserve and was able to overtake most of the folk I’d noticed rushing past me earlier on. Next week there’s the East Kilbride 10k to look forward to, although I’m undecided yet as to whether I’ll run it quite as hard as this.

But all in all, a great event, and I’ll definitely be back next year!

Update – Ok the official results are in, and I came 1307 out of 1975, and my official time was 00:55:47 – so quite a disparity from my own time. Must have paused it or something accidentally, although that really doesn’t make much sense. Or maybe the chip didn’t record me at the start. No matter, it’s still about the time I was hoping for, and gives me something to aim for next weekend in East Kilbride! 🙂

Men’s health forum Scotland 10k for men

I do apologise for folk who perhaps visit this website expecting apple-fanboy posts, or why being a humanist is a positive way to lead your life, only to be confronted by lots of posts about how much I’m currently enjoying running. Of course, folk reading it for the running might be in for a bit of a shock when my interest radar veers off in one of those directions 🙂

Anyway, just an addendum to my previous post about half-marathon training, and that’s that I’ve discovered and signed up for, another 10k. This one is quite literally “around the corner”, as it follows one of my own long training routes I started using recently. In fact it goes practically past our house! (We’re on that little ‘J’ shaped bit of road in the bottom-right of the map)

The 2nd Men’s Health Forum Scotland 10K for men is on the 17th June. It was a successful event last year, and it sounds like it’s going to be even bigger this year. My friend Keith, who I met up with on Tuesday, is running it, and a lot of his colleagues at work are taking part. It should be a lot of fun, and it can’t get more convenient/familiar than this, so a great way to start ‘proper’ running events.

Of course, it’s not a picture of perfection. The 17th June is Frances’ birthday, so not entirely sure she’s particularly enthusiastic at the prospect of my getting up early and disturbing her birthday lie-in…. But it *is* for the great cause of raising awareness of health issues in Men, and one very closely related to the cause I’ll soon be raising sponsorship money for: The Prostate Cancer charity

Some half marathon progress

Well I’m now quite excited at the prospect of entering the half-marathon here in Glasgow on 2nd September. I had been rather worried that I was being rather optimistic about my fitness, and whether I could manage the distance. But a few things have happened to get my optimism back on track, indeed I’m today sending off an application form for a 10k at the end of June!

The reason for my worrying was that I’d go out for a run, and not then manage my efforts particularly well. I’m basically not that good at focusing on what I should be doing after I leave the house, and get swept along by the adrenaline. I have (well, had) a terrible predilection to looking down at my watch and thinking about my pace, rather than what I had intended to do and what structure I’d intended to take. I also found I was getting really rather tired, and sneaking in walking breaks at times, and my times hadn’t really improved either in a good few months. So pain with no gain. And certainly no fitter or faster. I had hit a plateau and couldn’t see a way past.

So I started reading running books and magazines quite extensively the last few weeks with a view to better training and approaches, and it was very clear I was simply pushing too hard, too often. What I needed was a way of managing my efforts. A running club is definitely on the agenda, but I still feel I need to have been doing this for a bit longer – and certainly more consistently – before I join my local club which does have a minimum ability requirement. So, being the geek I am, I decided to splash out on a heart-monitor/GPS trainer gadget and manage my efforts myself, at least for now. I like working towards goals, and this gives you them by the bucket load: Run 1km at this pace. Slow Jog 2km in Heart Rate zone 3. Run 0.2km. etc.

It’s also *very* shiny.

It’s already proved it’s worth. I set out to do my usual run (so I could first understand what I was doing wrong), and was rather shocked to discover I spent most of the time in the top heart-rate band (Band 5 – 89%+ of maximum heart rate). No wonder I was feeling so tired! Training guides are really quite clear on the subject that you’re not really improving when you’re pushing hard all the time – that’s for race days, and even then it’s best kept to the end.

So I set off on Sunday morning to do something more in-line with the training guides (and, perhaps, common sense) which was a slower, easier run. I decided to aim for a 10k route to build on the distance, but not at any point getting into the top heart-rate band holding it mainly in bands 3 (70-79 of MHR) and 4 (80-89). Much harder said than done! Trying to find the right pacing so as not to trigger my new gadget to beep at me for having a Heart rate in the wrong zone was difficult. But it’s all about understanding you levels, and I got there in the end, and the result was a very pleasant, thoroughly enjoyable and refreshingly slow 10k at an average pace of 6.15m/km, so just over an hour. I know I can push harder if I need to, but for now I’ll just take the fact that (other than crossing a couple of roads), I didn’t walk at all, and learnt how to keep my heart rate consistent and in effective zones. If you’ve Google Earth installed, and are interested, here’s the route I ran (You may need to ‘Save As’ and then open it; The laps are my gadgets HR zone distance zones, ie. HR 4 for 2k). The joys of technology! 🙂

I’ve a few other programmes lined up: I’m able to plan my workouts in advance with the device which should make being more organised about my training much easier. But I do need to calibrate the pre-programmed workouts with my existing fitness level and half-marathon training programme I’m following. But this new device is looking very good, and that’s even before I get to get excited about graphs, maps and analysis tools at my disposal now!

Other plans in the next wee while: I’m hoping to get new running shoes tomorrow. My current pair are safely over the 300 mile mark now, so I need to get another pair in good time so off for a fitting. Then there’s the East Kilbride 10k on 24th June, to get me some race experience and see if a month of half-marathon training has helped.

But it’s a much more structured and enforced training programme for me over the next three months, which I’m hoping should put me in good stead to firstly finish it, but – with luck a time of around 2 hours. My only immediate challenge now is how I’m going to fit in the training runs when I’m on holiday *on* the Norfolk Broads! Thankfully there are plenty of places to moor, and lots of flat land, so it should work out well 🙂

Finally entered for the Great Scottish Run!

At long last I’ve plucked up the courage and today sent off my entry form for the Great Scottish Run Half Marathon, on 2nd September, 2007, here in Glasgow.

As I’ve been running now for 8 months, I had a bit of a dilemma about whether to run for charity or not. On the one hand I figured I do the running for fun, and would probably have entered in the race regardless. So as I am gradually building up the ability to run that sort of distance anyway, where’s the challenge?

On the other hand, I watched the race last year, and figured it was high time I got off my arse and actually *did something* about getting fitter. Fitness is not the sort of thing you can order online like most else I need or want. So I’ve been putting in a lot of effort, and think that there’s still a heck of a way to go to be able to run it comfortably. It might be ‘fun’, but it’s hard work! I’ve certainly never run that sort of distance yet: The furthest I’ve managed so far is just over 10km, which is under half the half marathon distance of 21.1km. Any way you look at it, a half marathon is still a heck of a distance for a new runner, and I’m pretty pleased that I’m feeling good about the prospect of running it, but am still rather pensive about how I’ll do.

So I sort of settled on a compromise. As it is a new challenge, and that I intend to do it ‘properly’ (ie. no quick six week training programme! I’ve already started and there are three full months still to go!), I decided I would only run for charity when I first tackle a new distance. So for this – my first half marathon – The charity I will be running for is The Prostate Cancer Charity, and I’ll be posting details about sponsorship in the near future: I don’t want to start too early!

I have certainly been staring at the application form for a long time now, and had been in two minds about even trying the half marathon distance, perhaps going for the 10k instead. Indeed, I went for a run this morning and pushed too hard (I was trying a new, much flatter route so surprised myself by my apparent pace), so came back feeling rather exhausted for the duration I was out. But my problem is I’ve not had enough of a focus on the patience and pacing required for a longer distance. So now that I’ve actually *posted* the form and entry fee, I think I may actually find it easier to focus on going slower and racking up the distances, with pace as a much lower priority (initially at least!).

Runners, runners, everywhere

It’s no surprise that when you take up a new activity you notice other people doing it a lot more. The shared experience and camaraderie, from a simple smile as you pass other runners, to talking about it with others, to writing about it on your weblog (who, me?). I’m yet to join a running club, but hope to do so when I’m a bit more comfortable over a longer distance, have plucked up the courage to go along, but fully expect that it will be a useful step.

We’ve just got back from a trip to B&Q (new blade for the lawnmower required), and our route takes us all the way around Pollok Park. I’d already noticed a lot of runners in the Park when I was out earlier, but there were a large number on the side of the road. I presume it must be a combination of it’s popularity up here, the beautiful weather we’re having right now, and perhaps folk being inspired to dig out their running shoes after last weeks London Marathon.

All great stuff, but I’m pleased that I started running back in September when the weather was getting colder, the rain increasing, and the nights drawing in. Having stuck with it over the winter months I think I’m now safely able to say that I’ve stuck at it, and it’s become an essential part of my routine, and a great way to prepare for work, or de-stress after it. The beautiful weather is certainly all the more enjoyable when memories of cold, dark, damp runs are a dwindling memory. Sticking at it was tough at times, but I’m pleased I have done. I hope the same is true for all those new runners out there at the moment.

I’ve sat on my application form for the Great Scottish Run for a while now, as I work away the last niggles that the half-marathon distance is within my reach. I’ve decided that I will run to raise money for The Prostate Cancer charity. I thought it might be a bit cheeky to run for charity, given that running is a hobby, but as I’ve never run such a distance before and it’s a very good cause, figured I wasn’t pushing it too much. I’ll be putting sponsorship details up in the next month or so, so start saving those pennies 🙂

What just happened?

Help me out here. I have some strange feeling I might actually have just gone for a run. I put on my old trainers, some shorts, and went for a 25 minute jog/walk/jog/walk type thing around Pollok Park this lunch-time.

My inspiration comes from the realisation quite recently that I don’t do any regular exercise, and seeing 20,000 people run past the end of our street inspired me to actually have a go at it myself. But then I often say that when I see ‘normal’ people doing these marathon things. Somehow though, this time it was was different. Perhaps it’s my age (33), or the fact that it’s not the first time I’ve said “I should do that”, or maybe even the smiles on Frances and her family’s faces when I mentioned I might be doing it, that meant this time I was determined to at least make a start.

It was, as is to be expected this early on, all a bit laughable really – I barely managed more than a few minutes at a time, but having a sense of reality about this is vital: It’s going to take time, so a small amount – regularly – should hopefully mean that things improve quite quickly. A minute or two’s run, followed by a few minutes of walking, meant I got round the Pollok Park circuit I had in mind in about the right time. It’ll also be a nice yard-stick for how well I’m doing. I’m already excited about the possibility of improving to the extent I can do a complete circuit without stopping sometime.

I’ve promised myself a few geeky gadgets to encourage me along the way. There’s a new iPod Nano coming soon, which I think I’ll get to while away the time, and maybe a digital watch with some wizzo features (as my mobile phone isn’t the best thing to be using to keep track of my time). Hey, a guy like me needs incentives!

I’m certainly not as brave, or as determined as Sharon, who seems to be in a similar frame of mind/stage right now, but entering the London Marathon next year!. If I’m still doing it by that time, I’ll be pleased. Whether I get as far as actually *entering* even a half-marathon is yet to be seen. If I’m still posting ramblings about jogging in a few months time, as the winter draws in up here, maybe, just maybe… 🙂

The Great Scottish Run

2006halfmarathonI’ve just got back from spending about an hour lending a bit of moral support to the runners in this years Great Scottish Run, which goes right past the end of our road.

Whilst I missed my friend Keith (I think I under-estimated how good a runner he was!), I stayed as long as I could giving a bit of support to the runners as they went by. It was particularly nice that a few folk acknowledged my presence – I can imagine after 8 miles, particularly if you’re not a regular runner, the last thing on your mind is saying thanks to people comfortably under an umbrella!

Every time I watch a race, particularly when I go out onto the street (as with the London Marathon a few years ago), I’m (briefly) motivated to set myself the goal of doing it next year. I’ve been quite interested by Gordon’s efforts in this regard – he’s actually decided to follow through with it. Maybe this month I’ll actually give myself the kick I need to get out and start doing some regular excercise… With the beautiful Pollok park on my doorstep, I’m fortunate where many folk are not for somewhere enjoyable and off-street to run around. Hmmmm. Maybe.

Update – 2nd Sept 2007 – A year on, and yes, I actually did run the half marathon! A full write-up here, including pictures taken by friends and family of the event.