Marathoner

Thoughts on spectating the London Marathon

While spectating the 2015 London Marathon so many memories came flooding back.
The pain, in body and mind, the endorphins, the ears ringing with the cheer of the crowd, hundreds of strangers shouting your name and cheering you on, that feeling of crossing the line. Gettings texts afterwards saying “I saw you finish on telly”, everyone wanting to see the medal and rooting for you. Those memories brought a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat, thinking of how those people running in front of me were going through all those things.

In 2014 I completed London, Halstead, Chelmsford and a 50 km in Kings Forest.
I think it changes people, you become a marathoner. It’s not something people just do, it something they become. I hate to think of how many people I’ve bored with the tales of it, to me it’s one of my proudest achievements. There is that joke, “How can you tell someone has run a marathon? They’ll tell you”. I think for me it’s if someone replies with 26 miles to the question of how long is a marathon, I can’t help but add “point 2” believe me, you feel that .2, that’s the most amazing .2 of my life and I can’t be robbed of it! (Well a marathon is 42.195 km technically anyway)

We spent most our time at mile 25. There was such a range of emotion passing by, some people looked totally unfazed, some were dragging their legs behind them, bleeding even. What everyone was wearing on their faces is will and determination. Everyone knew the finish line was imminent, we could see so many digging deep for the final stretch.

It was amazing seeing the elites, breezing by faster then I can sprint, looking as if they’ve only just set out, not 25 miles into a marathon. Seeing Paula Radcliffe, her radiant smile like a beacon as she ran, a true inspiration. But for me it’s all the others that make it special, everyone out there has a story to tell. So many of them would bring a tear to your eye.

You can’t run a marathon without going through a journey, those hours training, just you, the ground and your mind. Personally I think my journey has changed me for the better and looking forward to the next one.

Openly Secular

St. Peter’s Basilica

Today is Openly Secular Day.

I wasn’t going to bother writing anything, but it’s 1am and I’m up contemplating.
Most of the people reading this know that I’m secular, atheist, and humanist. I was wondering in the UK whether this day is needed, we are lucky to live in this country where people on the whole have freedom of religion, or more applicable freedom from religion. Even though technically this is a Christian nation (even though recent polls have shown the balance has swung on people’s personal beliefs). On the whole people don’t need to ‘come out’ as atheist in the UK, we have little fear of repercussions for leaving a faith or politicians need not profess a faith to be elected to office. However there are some countries this is not the case, notably the USA a modern country that for all intensive purposes should have modern progressive values. There are communities even in the UK where you can be shunned for not believing, and as shocking in modern days, there are factions that have carried out the death penalty for apostasy, even in the UK. Do we want people making policies in these countries being guided by the works of men thousands of years ago predating much of modern thinking or science, or do we want them guided by facts and science. Then there is the rest of the world…

Sphere Within Sphere (Sfera con sfera)
Sphere Within Sphere (Sfera con sfera)

Looking though my life I’ve never really been convinced by religion, but thought I needed it. Was Church of England Christian (even though I’m not baptised) for a short while, until I was prevented to going to church as a punishment, which made me wonder why you need to go though a middleman to access God. Which made me spend time as a loose believer in ‘something’. I had a stint with Wicca, I love nature and being part of it, so it felt logical to worship it. That still didn’t feel comfortable; always felt I was lying to myself. I wanted to hang on to something. I think I didn’t want to accept to myself that this is it, this is our one life; we will never be reunited with loved ones. As children cling on to Santa even though they know he’s not real, but they hope; I was the same with God(esses)s.
Eventually I couldn’t reconcile things, I couldn’t keep up with the cognitive dissonance, I felt I shouldn’t lie to myself anymore. Even though I gave up some things, I feel I gained more.

From becoming atheist I’ve a newfound respect of how precious life is, we have one and it shouldn’t be wasted. Would so many be sent to war if they weren’t promised glory in the hereafter. Being a good person (or attempting to) becomes a nicer act when it’s done for the sake of it (insert discussion on altruism) as opposed to being good because you’re being watched.

The scientific reality of human creation links us to all life on this planet, we are related to everything, we have commonality will all the rich tapestry of life. As Carl Sagan said “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff.”, how kick arse is that‽ we are literally made from stars. I feel leaving the books and stories enable me to see beauty in the world at a deeper level, we are allowed to ask why and find out why.
We get the answer to some questions, which almost always lead to more; the universe contains so much natural wonder when we open our eyes to it.

Bernini’s “Cathedra Petri” and “Gloria”

I remember seeing a poster of the Alpha course, it was a man standing on a mountain with a beautiful vista before him. The caption read “Is there more to life then this?”. My thoughts were, does there need to be. Isn’t creation beautiful without adding stories of vengeful gods. You feel the ground beneath your feet and know it’s been sculpted by immense forces over billions of years, you see the grass, trees, flowers and know how they’ve evolved to become such beautiful items. You see the stars above, and wonder of distant planets and worlds beyond our reach. Religion is constrain my human imagination, the universe doesn’t get put in such small boxes. To quote Sir Arthur Eddington “Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.”

5th Jan 2015

Monday morning… yuck!

Struggled with getting up, had an awful night sleep.

Dragged myself in and when getting my first coffee of the morning my friend Emily walked by with bad news. They’d just let her go, apparently she doesn’t suit sales. Such a pity, she’s a very bright lady that had a lot of potential, but was squandered. Hope she finds something soon that’s more fitting for her, will miss her.

Mum’s birthday today, which is also when we lost Granddad. A bittersweet day.
Glad that we’re taking her to see Cats at the end of the month (Michelle’s idea) and that Sam is taking her to the zoo (bought an adoption package for a sun bear which includes tickets).

Had a half hour escape with Sammy and we chatted while wandering the aisles of Tesco, it’s lovely to see her as usual.

Pretty much an uneventful afternoon.

In the evening was yoga, was a lovely lesson that my body really needed.

For dinner we had (fake) chicken nuggets and chips, sometimes it’s fun to have something like that.

Followed by an amazing coconut curry chocolate

Drove: 10.3 km
Walked: 0.6 km

4th Jan 2015

Today started off with my first run as a member of Mid-Essex Casuals and my third race of 2015, not bad for it being the 4th day (parkrun prefer you to call it a fun run, but you have a position, times, exact 5km route… sounds like a race to me)
A cross country back at Great Notley Country Park. A route I had run in December.

The temperature was -2 °C and there was fog. So on the route was a lot of mud, water, bits of ice. Great fun and the park looked absolutely beautiful with it’s coating of frost. It took me 44 minutes to get round the route, just over two minutes slower then last time! Even though I’ve been feeling healthier. Must be that extra mass I’m having to drag around after all the festivities. At the end of the race I had noticed my hair had frozen! Not had that happen before. Warmed up with a coffee that one of the other members had filled a couple of flasks with (thanks!) and headed back to the shower at home.

Home and shopping… has to be done…

After making lunch I watched the Big Fat Quiz of the Year 10 year anniversary show with Michelle with made us both laugh so much. Noel Fielding and Russell Brand make a hilarious team.

After the quiz I tucked myself away to do some studying, logged into the forum to make sure I’ve not missed too much discussions (it’s been really quiet in there, we’re all enjoying the break I think) and got onto logarithms. Michelle watched the second Hobbit film in preparation for us seeing the third on Tuesday. Last week it’s showing in Braintree, we almost missed it!

Drove: 9km
Walked: 1.5km
Ran: 8km

3rd Jan 2015

Saturday!

Even though it was only a one day working week I was grateful it was Saturday.
What I wasn’t grateful for was the sound of rain I heard when I woke up, knowing that I’m heading out to parkrun.
The rain slowed when I got to parkrun and had a very muddy run around the route which I completed in 28:20, no where near my best time but things are feeling better with the running now (had a flu or flu like thing last month and taken me a bit to get over). I really enjoy parkrun, chat to a few people on route, Len for a lot of the first bit, Lauren until the end. Afterwards went for coffee with Pete and Dan joined us.
Went home and ended up chatting with Michelle for a fair bit about her (our) Granddad over in Canada, it seems his health isn’t quite as good as it should be and they’re thinking of arranging for him to go home to Guyana. Michelle’s been trying to convince her Mum to go visit.
Shower, then it’s baby Jack’s first birthday party at the Morgan’s.
Was a nice little gathering, saw quite a few friends. Peter, George, Amanda, Wanye (and baby Thomas), Louise, John, Norman and Hannah. Was great catching up with those we hadn’t seen since before Christmas. Jack enjoyed his gift of a xylophone (not sure Alison is friends with us now though 😉 ).

We spent the afternoon chatting and snacking.
As the party wound down we jumped in the car and visited my parents home to visit Mum before her birthday. Mum, Sam and Andrew were there. Dad was there for some of it but had churchy stuff to do so was tucked away upstairs in the study for most of it). Mum made up a lovely pasta dish for us, we chatted, I did a bit of studying, revising trig stuff (most of it similar to school really, just in radians. Radian is the length of a the arc of a segment by the radius of the segment. There are 2π radians in a complete circle). Gave the cats lots of fuss too.
Ran: 5km
Drove: 38km

2nd Jan 2015

First day back at work. Harsh…

Had an awful nights sleep, struggled to get off and then kept waking up.
Left me feeling really tired when my alarm went off.

Got up to find Michelle had left me a little care package. Mostly things I needed to take to work but included a sweet note. Did bring some cheer to a bleak day.

In the bag was my decaf Illy, chocolate coffee beans and the Cthulhu calendar Michelle had bought me, all things essential for survival at work.

Managed to get in a coffee and chat with Sammy before embarking on month end, which helped cushion the blow.

As it was Friday it was pub lunch day, Queens Head wasn’t doing food so we tried the Horse and Groom again. Food was quite nice (veggie Mexican burger) and had a pint and half of Moorlands.

Michelle messaged and suggested that we catch a film, Mockingjay Part One, the latest in the Hunger Games series. I’d seen the other films and listened to the audiobooks whilst running, so was really up for that. Something to look forward to after the reentry shock of back to work.

The rest of the work day was pretty uneventful (thankfully!)

The film was amazing! Loved every minute of it, so much tension, especially as I knew what was about to happen. Poor Michelle didn’t and some bits really shocked her.

Drove: 19 km

1st Jan 2015

Going to try to pick this up again, I end up doing so much it’s hard to keep track of so thought I’d give it another go.

The New Year was hailed at the Morgan’s, it was a little more low key then usual due to baby Jack needing his sleep so was held in the garage. Even though it might have been quieter, it was still great fun. Saw Laurence, Alison, Pete, George, Hannah and Norman there. Drunk rather too much, chatted even more and played some laser pool.

Had a few pints of a lovely cappuccino porter I bought from Glastonbury called Thriller.

A cocktail made by Laurence which was disaronno and whiskey.

Mikkeller MAD Beer Umami – Contains seaweed
BrewDog ABSTRAKT AB:16

At about 3am we were all flagging so took the walk home, Michelle and I chatting away which made the walk go really quick.

8 am (ish) time to get up, yes really!
Great Notley parkrun was having a new years day event, and because it was on a Thursday Laura was able to make it. She came and picked me up and we joined the parkrun family for the first run of the year.

Was a fairly mild morning, but there was mud and ice on the course. The hill was very muddy, the Flitch Way Marathon finished there on New Years Eve (DNS for me 🙁 was undertrained due to getting ill). We completed the course in 35 minutes and saw lots of friends before and afterwards.

After Laura dropped me off home, I wiped off the mud and joined Michelle back in bed, slept until gone noon.

The afternoon was pretty lazy, watched the Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2014, and 2013 as we missed that last year. Wandered across to the Morgan’s to help tidy and to get my car, ended up chatting a little bit as well.

After getting home I heated up a tajine I’d cooked a couple of days before and watched The Butterfly Effect with Michelle. Quite a dark and thought provoking film, we had to watch the Simpsons after to balance out effects of the film.

Then to bed read a bit of the book Mum & Dad bought me for Christmas ‘What If?’ by Randall Munroe, creator of xkcd.com; I’d thoroughly recommend it. Podcast to settle down for an early night ready to face the first working day of 2015.

Walked: 3.4 km
Ran: 5km
Drove: 1.8 km