Half way there is more than half way there.

It’s Sunday 27th March. 7pm has come around. I have waited all day to head out for my training run today as the weather was supposed to clear, which it has.

I wearily gather up my running vest so I can carry some nutrition, my head torch (cause despite the clocks going forward, it’s still going go get dark), kiss the wife and kids goodbye and then out into the twilight I go.

Heading up to the Havant road my path takes me westwards before I turn south and head onto Portsea Island (the island which Portsmouth city is on). Jogging past houses and flats, I am instantly struck by how much more you notice when running than any other form of locomotion.

I have driven, cycled and walked down this road hundreds, if not thousands of times, but running seems to allow me to take more in that any other method of getting about. I notice roads I have never noticed before, little cut through alleyways and paths weaving between the houses and flats. I am struck by the beauty of the twilight. It is quieter than I expected, and even though I am on a busy dual carriageway style urban road, there are few cars about.

Making my way further west the flats become a bit less frequent and more of the sky becomes visible, and it is a beauty. We often get stunning reds and oranges in our sunsets in Portsmouth, especially over the Solent, but todays sunset is lilac and purple and deep blue. There is a real “other worldly” sense about the night tonight. Dawn and dusk are by far my favourite parts of any day, but I think I especially enjoy sunset. The hustle and bustle of the daytime is giving way to the relative peace and tranquility of the night. The birds flying overhead are finding their nightime resting roosts, and not quite yet, but in a few weeks time the bats will be out, hoovering up insects as they expertly weave their way around the urban landscape. There is always great beauty to be found, if you just look around a bit.

Eventually I turn south, crossing over (or under in this case) the M27 and then making my way round the very top of Portsmouth Harbour. There is nobody about, and as I make my way past Hilsea Lido and then shortly afterwards, the SouthCoast Wakepark I am actually feeling fairly decent. I am just over 5km into my half marathon (21km, or 12.1 miles for those of use who like ancient units of measurement) and have completed the distance in about 35 minutes, which is far from fast, but perfect training pace.

They have recently updated the path around this part of Portsmouth Harbour, and they have done a great job. It is a great area to cycle or rollerblade or run or whatever, but tonight, other than an odd cyclist and a very occasional runner, I am out here on my own.

Looking west from the path around Portsmouth Harbour. The lights are the M275 that runs towards Gunwharf down the west coast of Portsea Island.

As my distance increases my pace slows a little, but this is inevitable. I am not as well trainied as I should be at this stage of my marathon training plan, but then again I never ever am, so this is par for the course. Never-the-less, I plod on, turning left again and making my way east across Portsmouth through North End. The houses here are mostly old Victorian terrace housing built around the turn of the century (1900 not 2000) and they have large bay windows and high ceilings. I have always loved this type of architecture and ponder to myself how so much of it is still in such good condition. I doubt when these houses were built anybody expected people to still be living in them 100 years later.

The occasional sickly sweet smell of what must be rather pungent cannabis hits my nostrils as I pass certain houses. “Clearly they are having a chilled one tonight” I think to myself, contemplating if they hear me shuffle past from inside their living room and are wondering to themselves what the hell somebody is doing out running. It is now about 8.30pm, I have been out for about an hour and I am going along nicely.

It is always strange where your mind goes to when you run long distances. More than an hour, and my mind seems to just relax into it. As long as I am not aching or struggling too much, I achieve a sort of Zen like state. I suppose it is the rhythmic pounding of my feet on the ground, the relaxed but elevated breathing, my heart going quicker than at rest, but I find the entire thing very relaxing. No sooner am I thinking how lovely and relaxing it is, than I turn south again and straight into the wind.

Now it is almost always windy in Portsmouth, so running in a breeze is standard fare for me. Running into the wind makes it a bit more tough going, but I soldier on past houses where old friends used to live, filled with memories of fun times. Many of these friends have left Portsmouth now, but the memories of BBQ’s and watching football matches and just hanging out remain. Great times.

Eventually turning back to the east and then northwards, I am out onto the Eastern Road and making my way North towards home. Now somehow (and I have no idea how) the wind is still into my face. Portsmouth has a unique way of channeling the wind so you always feel like you are running into it, and tonight is no different.

Slogging up the path to the side of the dual carriageway I am cursing the stupid wind. I am starting to feel pretty tired now and the last thing I need is the wind hampering my progress. I know that I have to do 10 miles (16km) before I will turn down the cycle path that runs along the north side of Langstone Harbour and the will be sheltered from the wind, but I am a few kilometres from that yet.

Approaching the 10 mile mark I start to get a bit of a second wind (pardon the pun). 10 miles always seems like a significant distance to me and I pick up my pace ever so slightly. I change from my usual audiobooks that I like to listen to when running, to a comedy podcast (The Wolf and Owl – extremely highly recommended) and turn onto the path that signifies the final leg of my journey. My kids call this path the “Dead Rat Trail” because they once saw a dead rat here, and imagining them talking about it amuses me as I complete the trail, turn north, then quickly west and am finally on the Havant road back home.

Arriving back at the house, I have completed a half marathon in just over 2hrs 30 mins, which is a good time for a training run, and most importantly, I have run the entire way without stopping and don’t feel like I am going to die, which is always a bonus.

I’m starting to feel like a proper runner again, which I am loving. It feels good to be able to go out and run long and enjoy it. Is a proper little bit of tranquility in an otherwise crazy world.

I hope you enjoyed reading this, and if you made it to the end, thank you for sticking with me. Just to remind you that all this training is in aide of the London Marathon for Daisy’s Dream, so if you can donate to my fundraising effort I would really appreciate it.

TTFN

Snooky

Well the weather outside is frightful

It is freezing outside today. Absolutely baltic. Brass monkeys. It feels like the longest winter I can ever remember.

Training for springtime marathons often involves a lot of training in bad weather. It is unavoidable. Most of the time training in bad weather doesn’t bother me (as you can read about here Some runs count triple) but recently I have just been feeling very cold.

Is a sign of old age I think. I also work from home, and am too tight fisted to put the heating on when I am home alone, so I spend the majority of most days being cold. Walk the kids to school and I am cold. Walk the dog and I am cold. Basically, if you are struggling to get the message here, I am cold.

But I have to train today. I need to go out running today. It is in my training plan, and the best way to get better at running, or to improve your endurance, is to run. So now it is a question of motivation.

Luckily, motivation to get out running is easy to find when you are doing the following

  1. Taking on some sort of crazy challenge (a marathon counts as this)
  2. Raising money for a great charity at your crazy event
  3. It is not long to go until the crazy challenge.

In my case I currently tick all three of these. Less than 7 weeks until the marathon, which is less than 5 training weeks as I will have a 2 week taper before the event.

So whilst you are all sitting in your houses this evening, think of me as I put my running shoes on and head out for a 2 hour run in the freezing, windy, dark, sleety, rainy British winter.

TTFN

Snooky

PS – I am currently a long way off of my fundraising target for the London Marathon, so if you are feeling generous (or sorry for me) and can donate to my fundaraising I would be very grateful.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/runsnookyrun

Why why why?

Those of you who have any small children in your life, will be more than familiar with the word why. Kids want to know why they have to brush their teeth. Why they have to go to bed. Why they have to eat their vegetables.

If you think about it, “why”, is our reason for doing a thing, or a reason that things have to be done. At a deeper level, “why” really drills down to your entire sense of self. Why do you do the things you do? What motivates you to do those things?

Anybody who has ever been out running will have thought “why” to themselves on a run. I don’t care if you run for 1 minute, or 1000, every single runner will have thought “why” to themselves at one point. “Why am I doing this to myself?”, will be a thought that has run through their brain, I guarantee it.

Marathons are a slightly different kettle of fish. Even good runners who love regularly running 10km, or 10 miles, will ask “why” when it comes to the marathon distance. This is because marathons are hard. It doesn’t matter if you are Eliud Kipchoge, marathon world record holder (2hrs 1min and 9 seconds), or some bloke like me plodding around in 5 hours, they still hurt the same.

So why why do I run marathons? The reason is two fold. Firstly, I enjoy the challenge of it. No matter how many I run, they are always hard and the training is increasingly tough as I get older, but as Garth Brooks sings, “life is not tried it is mearly survived if you’re standing ouside the fire”. I guess marathon runninng is my way of standing in the fire.

Secondly I run to raise money for charity. So many people rely on so many wonderful charities, and if it wasn’t for people like you donating money to people like me to support out fundraising efforts, the charitable sector would just not exist in this country.

Below is a video I made about why I am running for Daisys Dream. If you cannot be bothered to watch that, I have paraphrased it below.

My friend Michelle lost her husband of almost 20 years. He took his own life. She discovered what had happened to him when entering the house after returning from work. Michelle and Ted had a young son at the time. I can only imagine what Michelle went through, finding her husband and her son’s father had taken his own life. Those of you whom have been touched by suicide in your life will understand this. Those of us who are lucky to have never been affected by suicide will never truly understand how it feels, but we can imagine. The thought is harrowing.

Daisy’s Dream provided support, care and counselling for Michelle and her son, helping them both to deal with Ted taking his own life. Helping them to adapt to life without their husband/father.

They provide these services to countless children. Sevices that are so absolutely vital, and that the NHS is sadly just not equipped to provide.

This is why I am running? To support this superb charity and to help them provide these crucial services to as many children and families as they properly can.

If you can find it in your heart to support my fundraising efforts, I would be eternally grateful. Anything you can donate will help.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/runsnookyrun

Please give generously.

TTFN

Snooky