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Stephan’s Abbey runny

I feel like I can start this post off best by borrowing a line from one of my all-time favourite video games – The Longest Journey. ‘Prepare to take the first step on the longest journey of your life’. That was the line that filled my mind as I made my way to the starting line for my half marathon last Sunday. Thanks to the magic of cars and trains this wasn’t quite as true for me as it was for Miss Ryan, but we can work together to forget about them for a moment.

Before Sunday I had never took part in a running event of anything near this length (my previous longest being three miles), and the most I had ever walked continuously is about nine miles. Participating in the Coombe Abbey half marathon was about to set new personal records all around, and with that in mind, I had preemptively adopted an approach similar to my favourite character from The Middle – Sue Heck. At no point did I want to resign myself to giving up and, despite the best efforts of the sun on my last two laps, I managed to pull my body across the finish line 3 hours and 20 minutes after I set off. This time will stand proudly forevermore as the day’s longest completion time for the half marathon, but my goal for the day was solely to get to that fabled finish line, and for those last two laps it was this desire that kept me going, long after I knew my time was going to be pretty slow.

finish

After 13 miles, this was the best sight of the day.

After collecting my finishers’ medal I took the opportunity to collapse on the grass in a relieved heap. Shortly after this the presentation of trophies to the 3 fastest male and female marathon runners took place outside the tent to the right of the picture above. These individuals ran twice the distance I had in the same region of time, so I think it’s a safe bet I won’t be troubling anyone for a top 3 position of my own for a while yet. During this presentation my legs had capitalised on the opportunity to seize up, my hamstrings in particular refusing to cooperate. This made the journey back to the car quite amusing. If I had to guess I would say my walk looked similar to one of our zombified friends from Resident Evil.

Overall I had a brilliant day so a big thank you goes out to Go Beyond for hosting the event. A thank you to my fellow participants too, whose words of encouragement and general enthusiasm around the site made everything a little bit easier, especially in those final laps. My body would have probably thanked me for spending more time in preparation, so that’s a painful lesson learnt for next time. I’m now on the hunt for my next half marathon to participate in. I know there’s one in Northampton in September, but I’m unsure if I’d be able to get out there early enough on a Sunday morning.

Now I know most of my body can make it to the end of a half marathon I just need to work on bringing my finishing time down. The Go Beyond team confirmed on Facebook after the race that they can return to Coombe Abbey next year, so I will be looking forward to doing it all again under the sunshine of 2014. Thinking about it, it might be good fun in the rain…

Curious minds that would like to see the full list of finishing times for the 10k, half or full marathons can find those here.

The Go Beyond Challenge Facebook page can be found here.

click to see my picture show

Speeding towards summer

Yesterday afternoon I walked out of the exam hall for the last time this year. I felt good; OCR had saved my favourite unit (organic chemistry) until last, and all the revision I had done for this exam in the months before left me feeling like there was no question I couldn’t answer. That’s always an exciting place to be, and a feeling that maths and biology exams happily robbed me of. I can’t really complain though because my second biology exam opened my eyes to the existence of water bears. Did you know they can survive for over 100 years without water? Puts our 3-4 days to shame quite nicely. They belong to the kingdom Animalia as well. Yep, that’s one mark I’m not getting…

For the next three weeks at college we’re in what has been termed progression month, which technically makes me an A2 student now. A scary thought after looking at the A2 units in biology yesterday. This fun ride started today with my first A2 maths lesson, and continues tomorrow with biology and chemistry. We’ll also be registering with UCAS, and will be making a start on our personal statements. Once I start writing that I think it will really hit me how close I am to getting where I want to be. Whatever else happens over the summer break I’m not letting my maths capabilities slip away from me, so I’m planning on doing quite a bit of that over the summer. I’m quite looking forward to the taster session of decision maths at the end of this month. I’m hoping it will be as enjoyable as I found statistics to be (I was the only one who held the opinion that statistics was enjoyable in my class).

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My favourite colour too.

My favourite colour too.

We’re now just under a month away from Camp NaNoWriMo, and what will be my second attempt at getting to that fabled 50,000 word goal. I fell quite a bit short of this target last November, but I set my sights on this July attempt shortly after the November attempt Preparations this time around will feature more than 20 minutes sitting on the sofa scribbling ideas down in a fit of desperation. No ideas for a setting or story yet, but I might drift away from Medieval times gone by and try something new. Now that my exams are finished I can really start to put some time into creating a plot and some characters, thereby giving myself a slightly more optimistic chance of reaching the goal I set last November. If you’re planning on taking part be sure to leave a comment and let me know. We can cross that finish line together. 🙂

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After a few days of toying with the idea, I’ve finally decided to take the plunge and sign up for the Coombe Abbey half marathon taking place on the 30th June. This will be my first attempt taking part in a running event of this length, and is a neat 12.1 miles longer than the previous running event I took part in, namely the Sport Relief Mile. The plan is to go out for some early morning jogs during the week before heading off to college. Then at the weekends I should be able to do the same, but for longer periods without the time constraints of getting the bus to college. Focusing on early morning jogs means I’ll avoid the majority of the hot weather we seem to have been promised over the next few weeks. This is definitely a good thing, because my tolerance for hot weather is nothing close to what it used to be in my childhood.

I look forward to focusing my efforts on preparing for this now my exams are finished, and an added bonus to participating is I’ll get to see Coombe Abbey for the first time. If this goes well and I can make it to the finish line under my own power, I’d quite like to take part in the Warwick Castle half marathon next March too. All going well I’ll be able make it for a day out to Warwick Castle over the summer too. It’s by far the tourist destination I most want to visit in the UK,  and is helped to this title in some way by their possession of a working trebuchet, my all-time favourite Medieval plaything.