Day 8 – Statistics

  • Distance – 10km
  • Total Distance – 60km

Another 10km today. It’s getting a little easier, so next week it’s time to start concentrating on bringing the times down to reasonable levels, as well as boosting the distance a little….

I spent the afternoon up at the university wrestling with my Biostatistics module. I’ve always been terrible at maths. My GCSE “B” was hard won with hours of additional tuition and a shed-load of luck. Algebra is a big no no, but anything with numbers in brings me out in a cold sweat. This is originally why I did a Biology degree, as it’s the only science you can do where maths isn’t vitally important. Well, that’s what I thought. Of course, I realised fairly quickly that Biology actually involves a lot of statistics – so there were many tearful late nights sat with my friends on maths and computing courses begging them to help me with my coursework.

That said, I probably hate statistics the least of all mathematical disciplines. Unlike abstract maths there is at least a point to it. There was a lingering doubt that perhaps at nearly 40 I’d overcome my mathlexia and could learn to love the art of number crunching – but my terrible performance in a couple of pretest-tests this afternoon showed it was still in full force. Here’s a statistic – I managed to get 76% on one test on the second attempt WHEN I HAD ALL THE ANSWERS. Stunning. Next week I have to do six tests in total. It doesn’t take a statistical genius to work out that P < 0.05 I’ll do well.

That was a statistics joke. If you didn’t like it try not to be mean (and ANOVER).

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Day 7 – Week 1 done

  • Distance – 10km
  • Total Distance – 50km

Well, that’s Day 7. Hard to be all that jovial after the rather grim events in Paris today – so I’ll keep this short. Slightly longer today – a lovely 10km run through the wind and rain, along the beach, up a hill, around the town and back along the beach again. My feet are taking a beating, with bloody toenails and searing pain along the bottom, but that normally clears up in a few days. I was talking on Facebook again today about ultra marathons., I have run an ultra distance a couple of times (just over 60km) when training for an 80k (which didn’t happen due to an organisational cock up). I swore the training burden was too high and I’d never get myself back to that point again – but it’s a lingering ambition. I think to make it happen I’d need to agree to do it with someone else – that would provide the impetus to train (and the motivation on the day to finish) – but I don’t think it’s a 2015 target. Perhaps next year….

Sigh. Anyway – I’m fairly depressed with the world in general. So that’s that for now….

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Day 6 – Exploration

  • Distance – 6km
  • Total distance – 40km

Set off with the intention of running a decent distance, but ended up running about 3km in one direction (along the beach) then running 3km back in the other direction (quite close to the beach). Once I got back to the start I didn’t have the heart to do any more, so I sacked it in. My terrible distances have seen me cut hopelessly adrift from the Janathon top ten, languishing down in 13th place. But, I did find a nice new route which can be glued onto my existing one to make it a little longer.

The weather has been suspiciously good the past couple of days, I’m expecting an ice-storm tomorrow or meteor strike.

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Day 5 – Sockblood

  • Distance – 7km
  • Total Distance – 34km

Ah, the unique runner’s pleasure of deciding to wear white socks for a run and then finding one of your toenails has decided to get bluddy-wid-it. When toenails are starting to protest then that’s normally a sign that the running shoes need to go – which will be a little sad as I’ve quite enjoyed my current pair (a jaunty red colour with those no-lace-laces you get on triathalon shoes). Apart from toeblood it was another 7km tootle around Aberystwyth today with little incident. The weather is really rather lovely and I’ve found a nice route that culminates in the last 3 km running down the prom, alongside the sea.

Another couple of days while all my bits shoogle into place and then I’ll start pushing the distance a bit, as I’m hopelessly off the pace on the Janathon leaderboard. I know it’s not all about the competition, but I have my dignity to think of.

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Day 4 – Travel

  • Distance – 7m
  • Total Distance – 27km

2 countries. 450 miles. 1 ferry. No sleep. 1 stumbling late night 7km run. This is a recipe for limited comedy on the runthomasrun blog. That’s all you’re getting today.

Day 3 – Rain!

  • Distance: 5km
  • Total Distance: 20km

So, Day 1 was bloody freezing, Day 2 was foggy and Day 3 featured torrential rain. All part of the unique experience that is Janathon, I suppose. My legs were very sore this morning, and a few hours of trying to load 240 tons of stuff into a small hatchback didn’t help.

It took some effort to strap the GPS on and get out there, but strap and run I did and I enjoyed it. Nothing very impressive – just another slow amble through the French countryside, or what I could see of it through sheets of rain. I sacked off after 5k – the distances are not that impressive so far, but I’ll crank things up next week.

I’m setting off tonight for Calais – but thanks to some incompetent planning (and a 6 hour drive either side) I’ll need to sleep in a lay-by tonight before catching the ferry first thing tomorrow. Only after filling the car have I realised that I can no longer recline the front seat, so it’ll be a night of sitting bolt upright like a startled giraffe….

If you’re planning to drive along the M4 tomorrow then give any small black cars you see a wide berth…..

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Day 2 – Fog!

  • Distance: 9km
  • Total Distance: 15km

My legs felt like dragging a pair of recalcitrant 5-year olds around a shoe shop, but I still managed a credible, if slow, 9km today. It was foggy and this slight environmental hazard was compounded by the fact my glasses also kept fogging up. Fog + Fog = FOG. A lot of the run was spent gazing into the middle-distance wondering if I was about to crash into a tree, a tractor, a car, or a drunken Frenchman wending his way home slowly after getting ratarsed in the local pub.

I’m getting set for the drive back to the UK tomorrow – there’s a lot of stuff to load in the car and planning to be done. I also have to work out how to combine a 600 mile drive over two days with fitting in a sneaky couple of runs…. it’s a puzzle and no mistake. I can’t see anything on the P&O website that explicitly bans running round the car deck or self-service restaurant though….

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Day 1 – Welsh Feet…. Welsh Roads?

  • Distance: 6km
  • Total Distance: 6km

So, Day 1 of Janathon. Quite a lot has changed since the last one. I’m no longer in France, no longer with my original partner (and midway through a bitter split) and no longer capable of running 500km in a month. I now live in the sleepy seaside town of Aberystwyth in West Wales. Aberystwyth is famous for many things – its cliff railway, its camera obscura and (most importantly) the fact it has only a single escalator (which runs upwards). Aberystwyth is divided from civilization by a couple of A-roads that wind their way through mountain ranges so treacherous that even Hannibal would think twice about crossing with his elephants (I’m not talking about the A-Team’s Hannibal – as due to the complete lack of airports in the region it would be easy to get BA Barracus to visit without resorting to drugged milk). What am I doing in this remote corner of the world? Well, with a view to getting back on the job market I’m wrestling with a Master’s degree in Food and Water Security at the 116th best university in the UK. I am a Master of many things, but this is my opportunity to get a piece of paper that proves it. So far it’s going quite well, although generally speaking the summary of the degree appears to be the world is finished, there is no hope and we’re all going to die.

Still, chin up eh?

Running wise for the first 3 or 4 days I’m going to be plodding around France as I’m staying with a friend here at the moment. I started off today with a gentle lollop through the Sarthe countryside in sub-zero conditions. 6km in all, at an ambling pace, but I felt fine and it was nice to get out and about after months of stooging about writing essays or running on a treadmill. After last year’s incredible (worth pointing it out for the third time) distance I think I’ll be a little more reasonable this time out and just aim for a comfortable top 10 finish. I’d like to do a couple of half-marathons in the spring and summer so this is a good way of kicking off the training as well as reducing the additional runthomasrun that I’m building up around my waistline….

Good luck to all the other participants. Apart from Andrew Fletcher, my nemesis. I don’t think he’s doing it this year, but he will remain my nemesis until I select a new one.

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300km! The fight for second starts here.

So, that’s 300km up for the month (in fact I’m now at 316km). The target is somewhere between 450 and 500km. If I could do the latter I’d be pleased, but it will mean some serious kilometerage over the next 10 days – well, 18.4km a day anyway, which actually isn’t too bad.

My mortal running enemy Mr Fletcher is currently on 326km, but hasn’t uploaded for today (which I think was about 12km). So, probably around 22km separate us. It’s all very exciting. To be honest it appears that while the snow and freezing conditions have inspired me, they seem to have weighed heavy on Mr Fs shoulders – so I’m hoping the terrible weather keeps on coming in the UK. I have a Lance Armstrong “win at any cost” approach to this, as you can see.

So, why has my blogging been so tardy this Janathon? In all seriousness it’s because I tend to run twice a day. The last run is often late at night, and it’s usually absolutely bloody freezing. When I get back in my hands physically can’t type until they thaw out, and usually by then I’m slumped on the sofa under a blanket watching Family Guy. So, apologies. But I haven’t been slacking on the miles, as you can see.

Anyway, I could barely type that out, so I’m going to stop. Best wishes, and if you happen to see Andrew out and about remember to trip him up!

(Only joking).

 

Janathon… Day… er 9, 8… 7?

I bet you were worried.

My sudden, terrifying disappearance.

Two whole days missed. No kilometres logged on RunningFree. My second place in the leaderboard becoming third. Then fourth. Then fifth. I could hear the hushed whispers…. Has it all got too much for him? Has his body crumbled under the strain? Has he been hit by a small white Peugeot van and smeared messily across the French tarmac? Has he been spirited to the fourth dimension by a 16 foot talking beetroot wearing a fake moustache?

No. None of these things.

There have been a few technical issues, now resolved. When I say “technical issues” I mean an issue of me not using technology to provide updates because of my general laziness.

However, my distances have now been logged, and I stand proud on 137km so far this month (on foot) and 49km (on the bike). This puts me comfortably back in second. Hopelessly adrift of fletchea, granted, but not out of the running (ho!) completely. To be fair, I don’t see fletchea doing any pedalling, so I think I should get to add my bike distance and running distance together. Sounds fair no?

It was an interesting run today. Well, I ran 12km this morning and then another 9km tonight, but the latter was the more interesting of the two. I changed my night running strategy today. I figured that running late at night isn’t without risks. I live in the middle of nowhere. It’s quite feasible that if I set off for a long run at 11pm on a day with the temperature below freezing, and fell into a ditch and broke my ankle I could perish of hypothermia before I encountered another human being. I should point out that I wear the same thing if it’s 30 above or 10 below. Shorts, T-shirt, socks, shoes. It’s warm enough if you’re running, but the moment you stop? Ooooh boy. I suppose I could wear full length lycra leggings and one of those puffy running jackets but I’m far too stylish for that. Even if it means certain death if I stop running.

Anyway, while running through scenarios in my mind of me being chipped out of an ice block in 500,000 years time by a future civilization and pondered over (“what was the sparkling bracelet upon his foot? Was it perhaps a mating ritual?“) I decided to experiment with running 5km circuits close-in to my house, figuring that even if I broke my ankle I could probably crawl home before becoming entombed as a human mammoth.

Amazingly I encountered some runners! Real ones. I occasionally see a few people shuffling round in shell-suits puffing and wheezing like an old steam tractor, but my strategy to go round and round the local village finally put me in sync with two local people who seemed to know how to run properly. Being France what could have been a lovely moment where two groups of people could meet and share a singular love of a sport was instead a bizarre social encounter which left me puzzled for a while afterwards.

First of all one of the runners (both male) was wearing a luminous sports bra. Let us call him Pierre and his friend Jean-Paul (I have no idea what they were called, but it seems reasonable). Neither Pierre or Jean-Paul had torches or generally fluorescent running gear. Considering it was pitch-black this seemed peculiar. The only means of alerting passing cars to their presence was the luminous sports bra. Admittedly he was wearing it over a T-shirt, but even so… It’s not really pertinent to the story, but I thought I’d mention it.

After we had exchanged pleasantries, I enquired how far they were intending to run. 15km, came the entirely reasonable reply. Did they run all the time? I asked excitedly (having never seen anyone in about 2 years of running in the area who looked like they took the sport at all seriously). Oh yes! came the reply. Every Tuesday and Thursday, and sometimes Wednesday at 6pm. Now, I can’t be sure this is a lie, but considering I’ve run through the village at about 6pm about 200 times and NEVER SEEN ANYONE EVER I thought this was a bit odd.

We chatted a bit, but whether I was invited to join them in the future or not, I don’t know….

This is what puzzles me. I taught a French class the other day (well, I taught a class of French people about English) and we talked a lot about the differences in culture between France and the UK in terms of social interaction. For example. In France the phrase “Oh yes! I’d be delighted if you wanted to come and stay at my house! Stay as long as you like!” actually, genuinely means “come and stay at my house as long as you like!

In the UK the phrase “Oh yes! I’d be delighted if you wanted to come and stay at my house! Stay as long as you like!” means “stay in my house for 2 or 3 days tops, after two weeks the sight of you will make me want to vomit and if you stay any longer I will personally stab you to death when you sleep with a rusty screwdriver“.

The French don’t understand this. Their social interactions are very blunt, rather than a tapestry of little white lies. But they also sometimes say very little and expect you to decipher meaning from tiny gobbets of information. It could be that by proffering information on the exact timing and location of their mini-running club that they would be delighted for me to tag along in future. They might even expect it. I don’t know. It’s all very confusing.

But anyway, apart from the luminous sports-bra I was shocked at their relative lack of lighting or visibility equipment. When I enquired as to why this was Pierre said he knew the road like the back of his hand. Which is fine I guess. But when it’s pitch black you actually need to find the road you know like the back of your hand before you can demonstrate your hand-related knowledge of said road. He seemed adamant that head torches were bourgeois accoutrements and entirely unnecessary . I didn’t argue. One thing you learn early on in life is never argue with a Frenchman wearing a luminous sports bra.

A maxim for life. You might want to write that down.

We ran together for 5 or 6km before we parted. The set off up the main road, disappearing into the rain, cloud and light fog with only a thin strip of luminous bra-strap keeping them alive. It was a peculiar meeting and one that lingered long after it had finished.

The question remains – do I run tomorrow at 6pm, try to meet up with them and try to learn more about these mysterious, phantom runners, guided purely by glowing lingerie. Or should I continue to run alone?

I think we both know the answer to that.