I’m really glad my company didn’t sponsor the Olympics. My life is already filled with too much of this kind of twoddle: Thanks for the nod on this one Enda!
And the award for worst song and cheesiest video of the year goes to Cheyenne Jackson with I Don’t Wanna Know…
You won’t find any Gangman Style, Adele, Tiki or Tinchy Strider in this list but I hope you will enjoy what I have included.
My list is in no particular order…
Cerulean Simian Mobile Disco
Proving once again they are true geniuses of electronic dance music. This is a stand out track from Unpatterns and is made even more enjoyable when teamed with the fantastic video. Electronic music doesn’t get any better than this…
Proof that you don’t need to be promoting a tour, book or album to reales a new single. Proof you can shoot a very effective video on a fairly low budget. Proof you can be Kylie and be filmed walking around Soho and the gays will admire you from afar. Proof that she still has it and this is one of the best floor filers of the year.
Run Boy Run Woodkid
Overplayed during the Olympics and used in countless ad campaigns this year this track has given Woodkid a lot of exposure. I love it. I love the arrangement, the vocals, the switch between strings and electronics. Most of all I love the way the drums motivate me when I am running This has become a staple of my favourite running playlist this year and I have to sprint through all of the track as it gives such good energy.
Good Time Owl City and Carly rae Jepsen
Following the internet viral smash of Call Me Maybe this was Carly’s next single and she teamed up with Owl City. This is such a summer hit, great bouncy lyrics and a wonderful melody throughout the song. I like it more than Call Me Maybe and it seems that this was released just at the right time. This deserved to be a massive summer anthem as it just lifts your spirits.
Sad Elton John vc Pnau
An “Official Song” of London 2012 Olympics this got a lot of air play and rightly so. Pnau found a real gem in the Elton John back catalogue and added some fantastic floating melodies to further enhance the dreaminess of the song. Just a shame the rest of the album was a bit of a let down…
Cry At Films Bright Light Bright Light
One of my most anticipated albums in a long time and after an initial love-hate struggle with Make Me Believe in Hope I can confirmed I am hooked on the album and this track. BLx2 deserves much more airplay and exposure than I feel he gets at present. His album is a fantastic mix of old school 80′s sampling with noughties electronics. Cry at Films is a perfect example of this. I love this track so much…
Requiem in denim and leopardskin Pet Shop Boys
This is one of the most poignant songs I have heard in a long time and is a fantastic way to end the brilliant album Elysium. Telling the story of a make up artist/friend who dies, this is a wonderful capture of what she meant to Neil and Chris and how the imagined her life to be. It’s very touching, stirring and holds a lovely chorus and arrangement throughout… If you only listen to one track from my list please make sure it’s this one.
We Come Running Youngblood Hawke
Don’t know where it came from. Don’t know how it got into my subconscious but it did and I love it!
Stars Hold on When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It
Reminding me of Tigercity and all those brilliant bands from the 80′s/90′s such as Deacon Blue, Kate Bush – this is a true winner. I love the build up, the choral arrangement and the guitar riffs throughout – it’s such a robust track. Possibly one of the longest song titles of 2012 too!
Rock and Roll Love Affair Prince
Out of nowhere Prince appears on the Jimmy Fallon show sporting an afro and playing music that sounds like it came from the Purple era. This truly is a return to form and although the EP had some lame remixes the original is a true classic. There is still no one else about who can create music like Prince.
A bit a mixed bunch I am sure you will agree but these have all stood out for one reason or another.
I haven’t purchased that many albums this year which cannot be a good indication of music in 2012 as a whole. In a year of economic trouble it seems that most music is formulaic and boring. It’s great to recognise that there is really good music out there amongst the crap (as listed above).
I have created a Spotify playlist of my top ten – have a listen, let me know what you think!
*I am aware these songs may not have been released in 2012 but it’s when I discovered them.
I don't believe it – after all the training, the begging for sponsorship, the self-doubt, deliberation, planning and exhilaration, I have finally completed my first ever 10K race.
The journey to the race day was not as smooth as expected as I was planning to get an early train into London the day of the race, compete and come home. Thanks to Network Rail this was not to be as the rail line was being worked on. This meant we had a much longer journey in and no hope of travelling down on race day.
Richard and I pooled our resources and managed to secure a decent price for a hotel room at the Hilton on the bank of the Thames at Canada Water. The race day became a mini break in London and we had a nice day during Saturday.
We stopped mid way to get some lunch at a very nice pub/restaurant in Westfield Stratford called The Cow. As I was trying to bulk up on carbs etc I had the steak and ale pie which came with mash but I had a side of “mom chips” which helped fill me up. Once fat and full we made our way down to the river and checked into the hotel. We then headed out to Surrey Quays where we went to the cinema to see Gambit. We enjoyed this gentle English farce before heading back to hotel for a coffee and an early night.
All of this acted as a welcome distraction to the race until Richard woke up around 4 am. He got up to go to the loo but I could not and did not get back to sleep.
My back was still sore from the week before and lugging the bag around with our weekends bits in (and what was mainly my running kit), did not help my back one bit. I reluctantly had more Brufen on Saturday but avoided it on race day…
Anyway this was the start of my concern, this and many other things started to go through my head…
- Should I run with a bad back?
- Is it psychosomatic?
- Is it ever going to stop raining?
- Should I have brought/bought some track suit bottoms?
- Will I be warm enough for the journey to Greenwich?
- Will my back top hurting?
- I can't let my supporters down…
- What if we arrive late?
- What if we arrive too early?
- Should I race in my tee-shirt and nothing else?
- Should I wear my hat and gloves..?
- How do I warm up and cool down…?
All of these and many many more were going through my head by the time we got up… Of course just as I managed to drift off to sleep the bloody alarm went off!
We headed down to breakfast and thankfully the Hilton put on an excellent spread but I didn't seem to have much of an appetite. I was in that mode where you put food in your mouth but you lose the ability to chew – a bit like how I feel when we travel. Anyway I did manage a couple of cups of tea, some pancakes, bacon and cereal – all whilst trying to avoid the staffs best efforts to give me some juice. I knew that whenever I ran post juice I would feel ill so I avoided it like the plague.
We got back to the hotel and I jumped into the shower, sculpted my beard into a 70's moustache and was set to go… Nervous, excited and still in pain but ready to go…. Sadly however we had to wait what felt like an eternity for the bloody bus!
Thankfully this was punctuated by fun conversation from Richard (it was at this stage he gave me my much need pep talk – thanks for that love I needed it) and I received supportive phone calls from my parents and one of my best friends (who sadly couldn't come to watch as he was unwell).
When we arrived at Greenwich is was difficult to work out who was out jogging and who was taking part but as we neared the top of the hill (the hill aagghh!), we could see everyone registering and getting ready.
It didn't seem too busy at first but the number of runners soon swelled up. I made my way over to the registration tent with Richard in toe, acting as my non official guide, Sherpa and support team. Once I had my envelope of goodies we moved away from the crowd, found a bench and I got changed out of my civies and put on the rest of my running kit. Added the tag to my shoes (very swish if not low tech bit of kit that) and fastened my race number to my Alzheimer's Society tee-shirt. I have to thank Hemingway for the invaluable tip to purchase safety pins which I had done the day before so I could affix my race number to my shirt. There were pins in the envelope I simply didn't see them in my nervous haze though.
I decided to run in my 9″ compression shorts, long over shorts, Canterbury thermal long sleeve and my Alzheimer's T-shirt. I needed all this because even though it was a cloudless sunny sky it was actually really cold. The park is one of the highest points in London, next to the river and there were gales of up to 40 mph! I put on my sweater and headed back to the crowd with Richard, nervous but excited.
It was actually really easy to meet up with my friends and considering we made no plan the five of us hooked up really easily. We exchanged niceties, borrowed things like pens and pins to sort out our kit before we all decided it was actually quite cold and we all needed a wee. Typically there didn't seem to be enough toilets but we didn't spend too long queuing and if anything it gave us all the chance to catch up and have a natter pre race.
I decided whilst in the queue that I would run with my gloves as my hands were frozen. My legs were too but they would soon warm up once we got going.
The atmosphere was great. There was a good mix of people in fancy dress and loads sporting Moustaches in aid of Movember. There were quite a few serious runners out there too but I knew we were in it to compete and complete.
One foolish bloke ran in a Mankini – thankfully he had a jock strap on to hold everything in place but I didn't relish the thought of having to be behind him as you ran. One can only imagine the amount of chaffing he suffered as a result of his choice of outfit!
Before too long it was time to kiss Richard goodbye and head off with my friends and fellow competitors. There was a warm up exercise going on by the DJ booth but we hung around the side jumping around trying to keep warm by simply moving.
I am not sure if this was a mistake as I usually walk 5 minutes before I run and don't stretch. I had walked quite a bit to get to the race but we did end up in a crowd waiting to start for 10 – 15 minutes before we got going…
I think we were all excited to be running and the atmosphere was really good. Loads of people came out to support and Richard was accompanied by loads of people taking photos etc.
All too quickly the race started and given the long run of flags, the crowds and the number of runners I didn't actually realise when we had actually crossed the starting line.
Enda, John and Feargal ended up about 2 people ahead of us in the walk to the start and this gave them the benefit of running ahead of us which saved them some time. Janice and I didn't try to catch up with them we just decided to stick together.
This was really nice of Janice as she is a seasoned athlete and she decided to stick with me through the race. It was nice to have the company and for the first km or so we were chatting as we were going. Jan's pep talks did help and they helped me take my mind off the pain in my lower back which I knew was going to cause me problems.
The first loop of the park was fairly uneventful but I remember all the support from the crowd and all the high fives I was giving to children as we passed.
I didn't take any headphones and decided not to look at my iPhone so had no idea about my pace etc. Actually I wonder how many iPhones were competing yesterday?
Turns out we were hot off the blocks and I had a great pace for the first couple of KMs. My average was very close to my best training pace so I must have gotten into the swing of it. I did mention to Janice that all the posture, Chi running and techniques I had learnt seemed to have been forgotten but we both decided to run what felt comfortable.
It all went well until we got the first large loop of the park. Due to the Olympic clear up the route was re drawn and we ended up running up 2 of Greenwich’s meanest hills twice during the race.
The first hill was a pain to walk up on the way to registration and running it was not fun. Janice and I ran as much as we could but as we reached the top (and saw sight of Richard for the first time), Janice announced she felt sick – thankfully she wasn't but this is where we realised this course wouldn't be a walk in the park (literally).
Once along a new set of flat terrain we reached the top of a major decline which we hit at speed. I actually had to stop as my feet ran away with me and it was on this first downhill I felt the sharp twinge in my back… I thought I was doing ok until we reached the bottom of the next hill and started to feel a pain in my groin.
On the flat I was amused and perturbed that we were both overtook by a bloke running with his toddler in a buggy which he was pushing. He was also maintaining a full conversation with his daughter whilst he ran around the course!
Neither Janice nor I particularly enjoyed the hill but we ran as much of it as we could. Janice tried to spur me on by telling me that we were close to the 9KM marker. This would have been great but my iPhone showed 4.5km and I knew we had to do this loop twice. This is when I realised this awful hill would be the final km in the race. Not great knowing that at 4km.
As we powered up the hill I put a spurt of energy into my legs as we passed an official photographer – Jan laughed as she had seen what had got me motivated. I then decided to do the old bunny ears behind her when I saw the next camera man
We were urged to run to the left by a passing marshal as the lead runners were coming up the hill (bastards). The guy in front whizzed past us but I felt some great amusement when the woman ahead of us ran into him knocking him sideways, he had to dodge to avoid a child on a bike and nearly tripped over a dog. At this stage we were at the top of the hill and Janice and I were cheering and joking with the woman in front for knocking some of his precious time off his race – he was going to be first no matter what the cost!
We passed the start finish line without much more incident and carried on through to complete the final big loop. I high-fived a cute toddler and ran on with Jan still trying to give me advice. It was around this time the voice in my head made me realise how much pain I was in and told me to not go mad. Richard told me not to try to kill myself on the run but I knew I could do it.
Jan did say I had done more in training but the combination of the hills, back and groin pain meant I was off my game and full of doubt.
At the top of the next hill Janice's advice bore no more weight and I think she realised I wanted to just get on with it so she sped up and left me to do my own thing – we cheered and waved as I went down the hill and she ran up.
I managed to get my head back together and apart from worrying about running out of water I continued to run and felt I had a good pace. On the final approach to the hill I decided the pain was too much and I would speed walk up the hill. The lady we chuckled with earlier passed me and cheered me on. Convincing me to run. I ran for a while but the hill was too steep and the pain was too much. I let her pass and reverted back to speed walking. I am glad I did though as my speed walking seemed to be faster than the running pace of those around me.
Janice kindly held back near the top of the hill and waited for me so that we could finish the race together. Lots more pep talk was given and a joke or two shared about how we would cart-wheel over the finish line. It helped though as we both put our foot down and went for it.
I don't remember crossing the finish line – well I do I just don't know where the finish line was!
I saw Richard and co cheering as we crossed the line and before you knew it we had our foil blankets on, were wearing our medals and stuffing as many sweets down our throats as we could.
I could not believe I had completed the race. I had been in so much pain and had so much doubt on the course, especially in the last km and that bloody hill that I was incredibly chuffed and pleased with myself for competing and completing.
Richard gave me a kiss and hug as he congratulated me and it was at this point I remembered I had raised £1,540 for Alzheimer's Society by running a 10K. Not bad for someone who didn't even own running shoes in June!
We managed to catch up with one another, filled our faces with our free bacon sandwiches (thanks HP) and took lots of photos etc – there was lots of cheering and whooping from us all.
Enda suggested we queued for our race times and it was then I discovered I had completed the race in 1:04:09. Not bad for a newbie and not bad considering the course and the pain I was in. I wanted to get close to an hour and am very proud of my time.
I don't get the bravado of having to be finished in a set time, I simply wanted to run the course and complete it – and I did.
I think our times ranged from 51 minutes to 1:04 so we all did really well. We should all be very proud of our achievements as we all run just for fun. I am sure Janice could have been faster but she was kind enough to run with me – she did cross the line a fraction of a second before me though.
I'm trying to work out whether the lack of warm up cool down has caused the pain in my groin etc. but then again I already had the back pain before is started running. I did do some stretches after the run but did most when I got home!
I didn't enjoy changing in the biting wind but it was necessary as it was very cold. I didn't enjoy the free mango flavoured coconut water they gave away at the end but the bacon butty got rid of the taste.
I was so encouraged and pleased by the atmosphere and the friendliness of the runners and supporters. From the lady who we joked with during the race to a guy I chatted to in the timing queue who admitted it was only his second 10km. Like me he's only just started running. I didn't catch his name but it was nice to meet him.
The spirit of the whole day was very nice and I had a thoroughly good time.
Richard and I stopped in Greenwich for some lunch before heading back on the arduous journey home. I think I finished the race at 11:15 and we got in at around 3.
I was really really sore coming home and carrying the bag just made matters worse – thankfully Richard was kind enough to carry it most of the way for me – he also gave me a very welcome massage when I got back.
I am starting to feel a bit more human now but glad I took the day off. I have a heat pad on my back and an ice pack on my groin and both seem to be doing the job of relieving any suffering from the race.
This may sound extreme and may put some off running but it was worth it – I had a wonderful time and have raised a fantastic amount of cash of a very deserving cause. This is something I will be very proud of for some time.
I don't plan to run for the next couple of days nor do I expect to given my upcoming work load but I shall be back in my trainers as soon as I can as I have the Santa 5K to run here in Colchester the weekend after next
Thank you again to everyone who has supported me, offered advice, sponsored me and listened to me drone on about the wonders of running since I started this little adventure. All of it is unexpected and all of it is very touching and moving and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart (which is just as well as it's probably the only part of me that isn't sore!).
I had been planning in my head since the weekend to attempt another 10K run. I had planned to head out with the same routine I did on Saturday with the intention of hitting the magic 10K again.
Mentally this sounded like the right thing to do and buoyed up by my elation for hitting 10K I wanted to prove I could do it again.
I admit I have been a bit sore since the weekend. I have also been falling sound asleep on the train which is worrying as I could end up in Ipswich or Norwich!
This evening I woke up a couple stations from home and had one of those post cat nap stinging headaches. It was then I realised how tired I was. I decided to reach for my iPhone and drop a quick note to my running guru Paul. I simply asked:
“Do you think I'm mad to try and do a 10K this evening?”
Thankfully I received a swift and sensible response:
“Yes. Take it easy and go for a gentle run instead. You need to rest to improve X”
I decided Paul was right and programmed iSmoothRun to complete a 30 minute run and boy was I glad I did.
I hammered my way through the first 15 minutes but I simply went too far, too fast and my body reacted. I started to get congested so put the brakes on and slowed my pace.
I continued running the remainder of the 30 minutes and clocked a fastest pace of 5:35 but this averaged out to 6 which is more sensible.
I am so glad I didn't try to push to do the same routine as Saturday as I simply don't think I have had enough time to recover or the energy. Paul was completely right. You should walk before you can run!
I did try the gloves I bought for the winter as it was colder today and there was a fair wind blowing. I had to lose them about of a third of the way in as my hands were feeling quite sweaty. Thankfully I was wearing my jacket so was able to put them in my pockets – albeit not very elegantly! At least I know they are in my jacket for when I need them.
Today's fastest song was DVNO by Justice but I honestly cannot remember hearing the track play. I know I was concentrating on my breathing and my footsteps so maybe I didn't hear it. I do believe I have to stop thinking about my breathing etc as this I feel can make matters worse.
I have a medical check up tomorrow and hope that I can find a way to sort out this breathing/congestion problem when I am running in the cold. I've had some good tips from the contributors on the Runners World forum but I do want some medical opinion too to ensure I am doing the right thing.
My sponsorship continues to creep up for both my races and once again I want to say thanks to those who have contributed to the Alzheimer's Society and the Colchester Hospital Cancer Centre through sponsoring me. Thank you.
I managed close to 6K tonight but had some problems with the GPS signal on my phone. I am getting increasingly bored with Vodafone. I tried to use the passbook Starbucks app in London but it didn't work thanks to the lack of data signal. How can the UKs biggest mobile phone company not provide the basic service I pay for. Crap!
Anyway a good run, I'm not in pain so the LunarGlides are fine. I'm also very grateful for the advice of my friends and support of my new online running community.
We could have done without the Thomson Aga-doo evening entertainment but apart from that the holiday was brilliant.
We had a late flight back last night which was delayed by an hour and got us into Gatwick at 3:15 this morning. It took the usual hour or so to get through the damn airport and we arrived home at 6:30 this morning. Tired but happy we have had such a lovely holiday.
We will definitely go back to Cyprus but not sure we’d do it with Thomson Holidays.
This is a selection of photos that I have not already uploaded (the wi-fi by the pool was great as I could blog and I lounged in the sun).
We spent most of our time in the hotel apart from one afternoon where we walked in the sweltering heat along the shore to the Amathous Ruins. We also took the bus into Limassol Old Town one day where we had a look around the castle, the archaeological museum, the Orthodox Cathedral and the market quarter.
Compared to most holidays I didn’t take a great deal of photo’s really. Although I did make the effort to go to the beach bar yesterday and take some shots of the coast. These will be uploaded later as they are still on the camera.
For now enjoy this current snapshot of Limassol, Cyprus…
I will upload some beach photos later on – I will add them to the blog but you will also be able to see them in my Cyprus photo album on Flickr along with these photos and many more.
I’ll end for now with this photo I took at Amathous Ruins of a black kitten curled up sleeping in a broken pot
Best of luck to the cutest boy to come out of Plymouth since Richard and I!
Seriously though I’d like to wish Tom Daley and all his team mates in Team GB the very best for the Olympic Games.
I also want to say a big hello to Liam Heath as I know Em is missing you and very excited that her number one fella is competing in the 2012 games.