50km in DC

I’ve just got back from a work trip to Washington DC. It’s the second time I’ve been on a work trip since starting to run, and I ran on five of the six days I was there. The photo above this post I took towards the end of my last run, on Monday morning, when I passed by the Capitol for the final time. As the friends I stayed with lived just a couple of kilometres from the Capitol, all of my runs ended up taking me past this iconic of buildings. I was a bit spoilt!

In total, I ran exactly 50km, which is highly satisfying. On my first evening, I decided it might be a good idea to prolong my bedtime after the flight from the UK by going for a 5km run, and my host joined me, showing me a route he takes that goes by Union Station and the Capital, then back out along East Capitol Street.

 

https://www.strava.com/activities/519004553/embed/6d63524ef2c3aee64d1dd0d431c3753c42c6d61e

 

What surprised me? The lack of Strava segments! Strava can’t be that popular amongst DC’s runner as there were plenty out and about whenever I ran (with the exception of Sunday morning).

Next morning I pretty much ran the same route, expanding it a little in a couple of places rather than stop to wait to cross a street.

 

https://www.strava.com/activities/519232214/embed/0c5cc80ad0c5e891ce0d7cc49ea4c4d88e64fb8f

 

Friday morning or evening didn’t really work out for a run, but I did walk the best part of 15km at such a furious pace that Google Fit thought I ran quite a bit that day anyhow…

All of this, however, was the prelude to Saturday’s run. With the Reading Half now just two weeks away, this was my last weekend to get in full distance, and as a big House of Cards fan, with my host we plotted out all the scenes on the opening credits of the show, linked them up minus a couple, and had a half-marathon length run to get on with!

 

https://www.strava.com/activities/521162661/embed/0a6f8e60502b92166e024b1d92ee9d7523ea4f65

 

The House of Cards Half Marathon was seriously satisfying, despite taking place on a pretty miserable day overall – got drenched, and quite cold particularly running over the Potomac River twice. My host Nick ran half of it with me, stopping at the Jefferson Memorial.

On Sunday morning pre-church I decided to run to the Washington Monument since that had to be about 10km, and it would be my last opportunity to head down the Mall.

 

https://www.strava.com/activities/521905607/embed/6b585f52ad1cb39367e27b2598f4e37d375939d5

 

Sunday morning was, at first, very quiet indeed, I barely saw a moving vehicle before getting to the Capitol.

Monday morning was my last run, and I returned to the same route, roughly speaking, as the first two runs, with the addition of going around the Capitol rather than just up to and past it.

 

https://www.strava.com/activities/522835476/embed/99f0cb3f266d0f01d905bd459f0e7f37dde4f73d

 

Overall, a monumentally satisfying set of runs, and a set that’ll take some living up to. Running on American streets had its ups (ease of adding a few extra meters to the run if need be, ease of creating a run, fewer unexpected things around corners), but also its downs – having to wait to cross at busy intersections, although I’m sure the latter could be avoided if one tried hard enough. Overall though, more than just the change from running around Didcot and Reading (!), the amount of iconic sights to run past was hugely enjoyable.

Reading 5

Yesterday I ran a 5 mile race – my first, mainly because it’s a race at my workplace, running around the very pleasant University of Reading campus: The Reading 5 Mile Race 2016.

Here’s the view from the “start line”:

2016-02-14 10.56.49

Though perhaps not the most polished finish line or race organisation, nonetheless this was far from the worst race I’ve run (Coventry 10k gets that vote). The race began on time, the organisers were friendly and they sent out numbers in the post ahead of the day.

Here’s a very serious looking photo of me just before the start:2016-02-14 10.57.22

I took a less serious one, as my wife moaned that this one looked way too serious. But I looked quite scary in that one, so I’m not posting it.

 

Here’s post race – a time of just over 40 minutes (but less than 5 minutes per km which was pleasing) for the 8.4km, plus a medal, made me reasonably happy:ArE-o0hfJsHOl1wlwwcKsl6cDR9heH_7fQB412kEwmNC

In addition, post-race jaffa cakes along with the distinctive medal, bumps this race up significantly in my own personal rankings of running events.

Failing – but what to talk about?

This is my first post for a little while, but I’ve (a) been busy, and (b) I’ve not had anything obvious I’ve thought about writing about.

I’ve stepped up my Reading Half training a bit, running 15.3km last Friday, and I’ll try running 16km tomorrow evening, but that’s about it.

Running today via the hospital to visit a colleague to the station, I decided as I’d lectured all morning to take a bit of time to run 5km rather than the 1.6km it actually is, door to door. It was a lovely day, very spring-like.

It made me think that I was concerned about whether I’d keep things up over the winter, but arguably I’ve somehow managed to up my level over the winter. I’m running most days these days, and running a good half a minute per kilometer faster now, too.

Will just have to see how that translates into finishing time in my second half marathon in April…

Reading Half Marathon

Yesterday I entered the Reading Half Marathon. I’d promised my better half that I wouldn’t run any half marathons in 2016, but now I’m running two (with the addition of the Edmonton Half Marathon in August.

Why? Well, part of it is people I know running it, another is where it goes (through my workplace, the University of Reading), part of it is the timing (after the end of term so something “fun” to look forward to).

I’m also “treating” myself to training for it on Friday afternoons, since this term it’s almost certain I’ll be working late on Thursday evenings due to my teaching schedule (2-5pm Thursday, 9-11am Friday), so once I’m done on Fridays I feel I’ve earned myself an afternoon run around the town on the roads the half marathon will take.

Last week I ran the part of the route from the University down to the railway station on my way home, the coming week I plan on running a bit further – out towards Tilehurst to make things up to 10km. After that, I’ll run 12-14km next Friday, and keep ratcheting up until I run the full route sometime before the end of term.

I’m hopeful that it’ll be relatively straightforward, injuries barring, to build up to running 21.1km again – I’m running almost three times that distance, on average, per week, so either I can reshuffle those kms, or add a little to them each week.

2015 in running numbers

2015 was a great year for me. The most life changing event was without a shadow of a doubt the birth of my second child, but less earth shatteringly, I also managed to finally get into a regular routine of exercise – running.

I started running in November 2014, mainly motivated by realising that via smart phones, data can be recorded about runs, and maps plotted much more easily than I’d ever realised. I like data, and I love maps.

After a while that novelty wore off (though I still do enjoy that), but I realised running was great for getting about and seeing more of places.

I’m going to take a few moments and indulge myself in a numbers-based look back at the last year. The numbers make it clear what a different 2015 was to 2014. In 2014 I went on 14 runs from November on, and covered 40.3km in 4h 39m. In 2015 I went on 303 runs, covering 1707.1km in 160h 50m.

I’m a statistician by trade, and that’s a huge structural change. The years 2009-13 would have been characterised by something even lower than 2014, maybe 5-10 runs, covering probably about 30km.

I’m hopeful that the structural break remains; 2016 has started in earnest with 3 runs already totalling 18.1km, and on Saturday I’m taking part in the Woodcote 10km race. In February I’ll be running a 5 mile race organised by the Reading Students Union on campus, then in March the Goring 10km race.

I’m also teaching a forecasting course this term and may well indulge in using some of my running data to make particular points about forecasts and targets…

On (not) running every day

The biggest thing, I think, that running  has forced me to think about is how I use my day.

A constant moan I make is that there aren’t enough hours in the day for all the things I’d like to do (work, family, checking Facebook), but then I manage to make time to go running.

The reality is it’s all about priorities. And also everything in moderation. There simply are days when even going out for 15 minutes is not the right thing when one has a number of other responsibilities – to do otherwise is to be very selfish.

Not running for one day will bring to an end a streak of consecutive days ran, but will that matter, in the grand scheme of things? Who am I trying to impress with my streak of consecutive days of running? Few, if any, of my friends would really care, and would probably actually conclude I’m a little obsessed.

On the other hand, will not running one particular day help reduce the stress levels of other important people in your life? Or will it simply improve their levels of happiness (to put things more positively)? If not, great – go do that epic run. But if so, I think prioritising running every day over everything else is, as I said above, selfish.

Running around the streets of my youth

With it being Christmas, I’m back home and hence running around the streets I used to run (in a playing sense) and cycle around as a very young boy. The one thing I quickly realised was that I was much smaller back then, so distances that seemed long are actually not very long at all. Containing myself to the streets I used to regularly explore around my house would make a very difficult 5k run – lots of tight alleyways with sharp corners which would slow me down – assuming I could even get along them, as some are now totally overgrown.

Nonetheless, I went to school about 1.5 miles away, and hence running around that walking route, and variants of it, plus the area around my old school gets me more satisfying runs, and runs that allow me to reminisce.

Today I’m planning a long run that involves mixing together a few different childhood memories whilst affording me a scenic run (not so easy around here!) along a canal out towards the hills.