19 targets for 2019

That last blog I wrote was more successful than I thought it would be, second only to my sporting background in Dunoon one which can be found here

Anyway, with me not really being a fan of New Year’s Eve and having run 10 miles today (more of that later in the week), I thought I would sit in and set myself 19 targets for the upcoming year.  So, here they are:

  • Give more to charity – yeah, I am going to commit myself to doing this.  Trying to raise money for charity myself has given me an insight into how difficult it actually is.  So, every month I am going to donate the equivalent to my slowest parkrun of the previous month.  So, that will motivate me to go as fast as I can!  If my slowest time is 14 minutes 31 seconds then it’s £14.31 – easy.
  • Raise as much as possible for RNIB – this is a really important one for me.  I have always wanted to run the London Marathon and the RNIB have given me the opportunity to do this.  Loads of people apply for these charity places and they put their faith in me to raise them a bit of cash so I will be trying my best to do this!  Any fundraising ideas let me know!  The old JustGiving page is open here  but I am open to other ways as well.
  • Spread the word of RNIB – Linked to the point above, as well as raising money I would like to raise awareness of the work of the RNIB.  My work are giving me the opportunity to speak about this and I am going to try and spread the word in other ways as well, such as this YouTube clip here:
  • Get to under 14 stone – this will hopefully happen as a result of my training!  Nothing tastes as good as slim feels and all that!  Must get that Christmas weight shifted.
  • Stand on the rocks at The Gantocks lighthouse – I have had this as a target before but didn’t get round to it.  It’s been all painted now so I am not so sure about writing my name on it anymore…
  • Run 42 km a week – I reserve the right to edit or amend this target if it is proving too difficult!  42 km is the length of a marathon so it’s as suitable a number as any other I suppose.
  • Use time at the start of the day more productively – instead of lying in bed looking at my phone for an hour at the start of every day I am going to try and use that period of time more wisely.  Mornings are great once you get up and do something.  I used to love the mornings in Dunoon after finishing nightshift, we had the town to ourselves until the first ferry came in, the putting green at the Queen’s Hall was all ours!
  • Defend the staff golf championship – this was my finest day of the year.  I played the best golf I have ever played and won my first gold trophy ever, the best I had ever done before was 2nd in the Bart Meechan Trophy (beaten by Jim Ferguson in the final).
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Champion golfer of the year
  • Complete the London Marathon in time to make my flight home – I had to mention this here.  I have a target in mind for a time but I think the first marathon is all about making it round!  Having said that, my flight home is at 2130 from London Heathrow so my target should just be making that.
  • Gain my 50 parkrun tee-shirt – I bang on about parkrun a lot, this year I want to get my 50 parkrun tee-shirt, I am on about 25 just now so I’m halfway there.  It’s pretty cool that you get a free tee-shirt when you make it to that landmark.
  • Volunteer 6 times at parkrun – I think the suggestion is that you should volunteer for every 10 parkruns you do.  So, I will set myself a target for 6 volunteering sessions this year.
  • 3 litres of water a day – this is fairly easy when I am at work but the challenge will be at the weekends and in holidays, I am going to go for it though!
  • Takeaway once a month – sorry to the fast food outlets of Motherwell but I am going to limit myself to one takeaway a month – cancel that holiday in July Mr Singh.
  • Try and do one kind thing a day – not sure how this will work out but one good deed a day shouldn’t be too much to ask.  Please pull me up for this one and make sure I am doing it!
  • Keep a tidy classroom and car – as mentioned in my previous blog, I learned that decluttering and being tidy make me feel a lot better.
  • Do more work in the house – this is a suggestion from Kirsty!  I need to help out more with the housework and be better at it as well!  Also, learning some DIY skills would be good.
  • Climb Ben Nevis again – this has been a target before but this year I really want to do it.  Kirsty is enjoying her hill walking and I quite like it on a nice day, plenty of them at Ben Nevis…
  • Spend less time with my phone in my hand – another self-explanatory one.  It’s quite frightening when you see how long you are looking at your phone for, need to break that habit.
  • Crowd surf at a heavy metal gig – I was at an Iron Maiden concert and thought the crowd surfing looked great fun.  Part of me really wants to try this although I will freely admit that this is one that I am unlikely to do – maybe that should make me try for it even more!

There we go then, hope everyone has a great new year and a happy, calm and stress free 2019.

Volunteering

That was some wind this morning, the kind of wind that is going to seriously annoy you on 2 of the 4 straight bits at Strathclyde parkrun, fortunately I wasn’t running today, I was helping out at it – result! I mentioned in my previous blog about parkrun that I was going to make a serious effort to volunteer at one soon, I seem to have picked the right day for it certainly, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

The view from my marshal point, not bad!

I arrived at around 0845, a little nervous as I always am when I need to meet new people but I had no need to be as everyone was friendly and welcoming. My first task was to be handed a tent pole to assist with putting up a wee tent in the prevailing hurricane – as someone with their Chief Scout Award this should have been easy meat – but it was no nijer tent like we used in Scouts so I probably was more of a hindrance at this point. Soon enough the rest of the volunteers arrived and we were issued with our high-vis jacket and lanyard with emergency information etc. on it, turns out being a marshal has some more responsibility than making sure people go the right way! I was assured I was in for a pleasant morning and was assigned to marshal point number 2 (the one I secretly wanted anyway!). I walked round the kilometre and a half to 2 kilometres to my point with the man who was going to be at marshal point 3 – he had 2.5k to walk. We had a good chat abut parkrun and running and I enjoyed learning about his running past and how well his children and grandchildren do at running (one of his sons seems to be a runner of quite some repute with some really impressive times). One note of encouragement for me was that he told me he didn’t put on a pair of running shoes until the age of 49 – it’s never too late to get started. We eventually got to my point and my fellow volunteer wandered off into the sunlight / cloud / rain / wind to his point further on. Here I was, now all I had to do was wait for the runners.

Continue to enjoy yourself in a safe and orderly manner – thankyou!

The wait was quite pleasant and it wasn’t long until I saw the runners streaming up the South West side of Strathclyde Loch. I could already see one guy had opened up a big lead (but it’s not a race!) – he was fair flying into that wind. All I had to do at my marshal point was make sure people went the right way along a fork in the path and offer some encouragement, I was a bit hesitant at first, not quite sure what to say but I soon got the hang of it. The reactions I got from all the runners made the morning really worthwhile. A few high 5s, load of people saying thanks to me, a few comments about the wind and a big smile from most had me smiling all morning as well.

A nice rainbow summed up the morning

Another great thing about being a marshal is getting to see the runners that are usually way ahead of me, the speed they go at it something I will hope to approach one day. Gradually more and more people came past and I recognised some of the people that are usually around the same speed as me, all looking far more comfortable than I feel when running! More and more people passed by with a friendly wave, a thumbs up, a “thanks marshal” or a smile. Being able to offer some encouragement to the runners on their way back past me for the second time was really rewarding, that was a tough stretch into a fearsome wind and every single one of them had all of my respect for getting out there on such a rotten morning and getting it done. When I said “great run” to them, I actually did mean it. I think I said well done, great effort to people just out a walk or a run who weren’t doing parkrun but even they smiled and said thanks.

I did not have to utilise the lifebelt – phew

While standing at the marshal point a couple of people stopped and asked me what was going on. I actually felt really proud to be able to tell them about parkrun and how it was happening all over the UK and how it was free and open to all abilities, I think I bored one guy with how much I was banging on about it as he wandered off mid-sentence! Soon enough the tail walker came by and I could pick up my little signs and make my way back round to the start/finish area.

On arrival back at the start we were thanked for our work and off home I went – via the bakers, I think I deserved a wee treat after being out in that cold! Overall, I loved this morning. Volunteering at parkrun is amazing, the appreciation shown by all the runners makes it such a rewarding and worthwhile experience and I would urge everyone to give it a go, I will certainly be doing it again – if they let me…

Marshal point 2 is the best marshal point.

Just to add that just as I was about to hit “publish” on this, I got a text from parkrun saying:

Stuart, thanks for volunteering today at Strathclyde parkrun. Your efforts are greatly appreciated by us and all the runners” – that was nice.

This is part of my London Marathon training blog, I’m running it for the RNIB, if you would like to sponsor me a quid or something you can text SMTR76 £1 to 70070. Or you can visit my justgiving page here or you could simply share this blog, that helps me massively too. Thanks a lot.

What’s happened and what’s happening?

Hello, I’m just going to post a small update on where I am with things, typing this on my mobile so it will be a short one probably.

Random picture of a run I did.

First of all, my fundraising is going really well, a massive thanks to everyone who has supported me. Every single donation I get is really important to me and gives me a boost. I’m currently at almost £1,000 as can be seen below.

Justgiving page

My Panini draw raised £188. It should have went for £138 but I got a coupe of extra donations for it. It turned into more work than I thought getting rid of all the stickers but I got there eventually!

I also managed to book flights and hotel for the weekend in London in April, this has near enough bankrupted me coming in the same month as car service, MOT and insurance, I should do something about the service and insurance next year and move it to another time of year I guesd. We are flying down with British Airways into London City Airport Friday evening, I even splashed out extra money on emergency exit row seats in both directions! Booked a hotel in Croydon too for 2 nights. With work on the Monday morning I can’t hang about after the run, straight to Heathrow and a flight home, does anyone know where I would be able to have a shower by the way?

Another cool thing that has been happening is that loads of people are asking me about this and showing me loads of encouragement. I was at a growth mindset training session at work today and we were talking about goals and how to achieve them, this is certainly a goal that will take a bit of achieving. The messages and conversations are all great though, keep them coming!

Training is going ok but I’m in a bit of a paradox, I’m running well but that makes me think I deserve a burger or something so I’m not shifting weight like I want to. I reckon dropping a stone and a half would make my life so much easier, must focus on getting that right!

Finally, I’m volunteering at parkrun on 8th December, as promised in my parkrun blog. I’m also running in 2 Santa races over 5k. One in Cumbernauld and one in Glasgow so they should be fun.

Coming up, I’m trying to organise a quiz night in Glasgow in February or March and I’m trying to get a few well known runners to interview to try and attract done more traffic to the blog, I guess it’s a case of keep chipping away! If anyone wants to write anything give us a shout because I can see me drying up soon! I’m also going to try getting to a track in Glasgow over Christmas to compete against my 10 year old self in a Thistle Award challenge. I will find out the points values for a man in his early 40s and see if I can score more than this wee guy here:

Aside from that there’s just the countdown to Christmas, Kirsty is getting me a pair of Nike Pegasus which I’m scarily excited about and I will return the favour with my annual donation to Jo Malone, the amount of money I’ve given her over the years she can’t refuse me a wee donation for a raffle prize surely? If anyone has any hints or contacts that maybe able to get me something then please let me know. My good friend Cory has already secured me something really decent and a few other people have said they will help me out too.

For once, I’m not going to link my justgiving page or text number, I just wanted to give a wee update towards the end of the month.

Thanks for reading and for your support,

Stuart

Parkruns are Gallus

Parkruns are amazing, they are great, they are fun and you never regret running them (although you will regret not running them). I would probably say they are the biggest and potentially most important thing to improve health in the UK since the smoking in public places ban. I am incorporating parkruns into my training for the 2019 London Marathon which I am running for the RNIB (text SMTR76 £1 to 70070 if you want to sponsor me a quid). This blog is about today’s parkrun at Strathclyde Park, a great parkrun, where else would you get views like this on a Saturday morning while keeping (or getting) fit?

I am not too sure of the history of parkrun, I know it began in London at Bushy parkrun and Leeds University played a big part in its growing popularity and now it is in many locations around the world. You could find out more at their UK site.

Parkrun is a free timed 5k race which happens all over the UK in various park at 9am (0930 in Scotland – we get a longer lie up here). They set you all off on your run and start a timer. As you cross the finish line you get a token which is then scanned with your own personal barcode and hey presto – later on that morning you get a text message telling you your time. Today’s parkrun seem to have been heavily supported by the CO-Op.

It was another crisp morning, not cold enough for frost and ice but cold enough! Classic anticyclone in winter weather (one for the geography geeks).

Here is where we got our goody boxes at the end, more of that later
Well branded by the CO-OP
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I liked these inspirational messages

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Always a welcome site at the end

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Dogs always welcome

Watch out, it will break your arm apparently!

Soon we got to the start of the event. I always like this bit. First of all everyone has to stand on the grass! We don’t have priority in the park and everyone has equal access etc. This is a decent moment because they wish people Happy Birthday, congratulate people on milestone parkruns and ask for volunteers. Parkrun couldn’t operate without the amazing volunteers and I really should make the effort to volunteer myself but I am always scared I will mess it up! I have volunteered at junior parkruns a few times but not at Strathclyde Park, that will change next month, I promise.

So, we set off. It is important to remember that parkrun is not a race, it is a run, you are running against yourself and your previous times or you are running for the fun of it. I realised this on my 2nd parkrun. I struggled round and was stuck for ages behind 2 younger children. In the last 200 metres I “sprinted” past them, feeling all smug and a little guilty, but mainly smug that I was defeating them. When they tore past me 100 metres later I came to the convenient realisation that it is not a race!

You very often see the same people at these runs. One of my favourites is the man with the pram who always effortlessly runs past me despite pushing his child in a pram. I also was running behind a lady in a New York City Marathon jacket, again making it look effortless whilst I struggled on! I couldn’t get past her at all! But she summed up parkrun for me by asking people who looked like they may be struggling if they were ok – all runners seem to be really nice.

The massed start

As we continued through the run I realised I wasn’t going to crack 25 minutes today. I came pretty close. My final time according to my Garmin watch was 25 minutes 11 seconds, my second best time I think.

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My splits show I could have probably pushed kilometres 2-4 a little more, but I am always scared of burning out, I need to trust the training! After the race was finished we got our little boxes from the CO-OP, it contained a healthy recipe book, a tin of chick peas, some tinned tomatoes (I love them) and a bottle of extra virgin olive oil.

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So, there finished another parkrun. I can’t quite get over to you how much I enjoy these. They tick every box for what a good ethical organisation should be. They combat lots of problems we are facing at the moment. They benefit you physically, mentally and socially and if I were a doctor I would be prescribing them left right and centre.

Just as i was about to publish this my result came in. You get it sent as a text and you can also see it on the parkrun website along with your progress if you want. 295 runners today, brilliant!

Thanks to parkrun UK, the amazing volunteers (especially the wee girl with the cowbell at the turning point) and the CO-OP for today, that was great – again.

If you have managed to read this far and want to find out more about the work of the RNIB who I am running the London Marathon for you can check them out here and if you want to sponsor me you can do so here or text SMTR76 £1 to 70070. You can also donate 2, 3, 4, 5 or 10 pounds that way too.

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My reward for finishing today