Pink! It’s my favourite colour

Me in a fetching pink vest

Fetching, non?

Hey, remember me? I’m that guy who writes stuff round these parts, although there’s not been much of that going on lately.

And it’s not like there haven’t been plenty of things to write about. Quite the opposite in fact, there’s been loads: the end of one school year for one, the start of a new one for another (including Megan’s first day at nursery)and that’s before considering summer holidays in France, Lincolnshire and Buckinghamshire or the Commonwealth Games right here in Glasgow.

All of those things deserve posts, and maybe I’ll actually get round to writing them at some point, but there’s something else that’s taken up a fair chunk of my time recently that absolutely needs mentioning first.

12 days ago, I competed in my first duathlon – that’s a triathlon where the swimming part is replaced by an extra run. As if one run isn’t enough! I managed to complete the two 5km runs, with a 20km cycle in between, in a fairly respectable (I think) time of 1:35:17. And this Sunday I’ll be running my first half marathon in 20 years at the Great Scottish Run. Exciting times!

Duathlon finish line

The end is in sight :)

Either of these events would be a test on their own. Taking on both is even more of a challenge, and one I did think long and hard about – especially 15 days apart. So why am I doing this to myself?

Back in July we learned that a good friend had been diagnosed with breast cancer, which was quite a shock, not least because she’s younger than me. Fortunately, things are looking good for our friend, and it looks like things have been caught early enough. But many other women (and men) aren’t so lucky, and with 1 in 8 women expected to be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lives, finding new cures and improving survival rates is imperative.

Which is why I’m taking part in these events – to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign, a UK based charity funding world-class breast cancer research projects. I’ve set myself a fundraising target of £600, and at the time of writing have raised a total of £440. And that’s where you come in – I’d love to smash my target and you could be the person who helps me to do that.

You can donate via JustGiving by clicking on the following link – https://www.justgiving.com/Richard-Black3/ – and any donation, no matter how small, will be very much appreciated. Not least because it will make the blisters, the sore legs and the early starts for training runs/bike rides all the more worthwhile.

And who knows, smashing that target might even encourage me to write more on this here blog! Actually, maybe that’s not an incentive to sponsor me. Yeah, ignore that bit. As you were…

But thanks for reading. And if you decide you can spare a few pounds, thanks for that too. I really appreciate it, and I guess the folks whose lives it saves in future will too.

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Keep on running

MS Society logo

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that 2012 was all about the weight loss, and that a big part of that was taking up running. I ran my first 10k race last September’s Great Scottish Run, and thoroughly enjoyable it was too. Unfortunately a muscle strain at the end of October forced me to take some time off, and then Christmas happened, and then it’s not been the weather, and… well, suffice to say I’ve not chalked up as many miles this year as I’d have liked, although thankfully I’ve kept off the pounds I shed in 2012.

What I found last year was that the very act of entering a race was a great way to keep running. Having something to aim for kept me focused, and got me out on the pavements on many occasions where it would have been much easier not to bother. With this in mind, I’m pleased to say that I’ve now signed up for my first race of 2013, the Edinburgh Marathon Festival 10k.

Not only that, but I’ll not just be running for myself this time, I’ll be raising money for a very worthy cause, the MS Society, at the same time.

A few people asked me last year if I was running for anyone, but it wasn’t something I had really thought about. And by the time I did think about it, it seemed too late to get anything organised. “Next time” I said to myself, although I had no idea who or what I might like to run for.

That changed a few months ago, when Andrew, husband of one of Gemma’s best friends and a good friend in his own right, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Andrew is also a runner, and has run for many a cause in recent years. He was also very supportive of me when I started running last year, offering advice and encouragement whenever it was needed.

So it seemed very fitting that I should run on behalf of the MS Society, the UK’s leading MS charity. They fund research into the condition as well as providing support and information about it, and have been doing so since 1953.

MS is currently incurable, so this work is really important, and I’m more than happy to do my bit. And you can do your bit too, by sponsoring me for my run, which you can do by visiting my Just Giving page. Go on, you know I want to.

I have no idea how much I’ll be able to raise, so it was difficult to set a target. I’ve gone for £150, and although it would be great to beat that, I know that anything I raise will be worthwhile. But with five weeks until race day, that’s only £30 per week, and put like that I think £150 is definitely reachable.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some running to do. Oh, and if you’re following me on Twitter, or friends with me on Facebook, rest assured this won’t be the last you’ve heard about this! :)

In case you missed the link above, you can sponsor me at my Just Giving page. And if you pay tax in the UK, please make sure to tick the Gift Aid box, meaning even more money goes to the MS Society. Thanks in advance!

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

We go the distance till there’s nowhere left to go

GSR 2012 start lineBack in 1993, I ran a half marathon – that’s 13.1 miles don’t you know. From memory (it was a long time ago!) I finished in about 2 hours and 8 minutes, not bad I thought, but I definitely remember being harangued at the finish line by folk handing out running magazines, who were busy telling everyone they should have been at least 10 minutes quicker, and that a subscription to their magazine would help us to shave that time off. Nothing like letting us bask in the glory, eh?

Pleased to have finished, and in a fairly respectable time (middle third, based on this year’s results) I said I’d be back to do it again.

Well, 19 years later, I’ve finally made my return to the Great Scottish Run, albeit running in the shorter 10k event. And about time too!

GSR 2012 finishSunday was the big day, and I’m pleased to say that not only did I finish the race, I did it in an official time of 51 minutes and 30 seconds, which was as good as I’d dared hope for, and better than the 55 minutes or so I was more realistically expecting. And the 60-65 minutes I’d guessed at when I filled in the entry form just a few short weeks before.

Woo! Hoo!

My whole family were at the finish line to cheer me on, which just made the great feeling even better. And later on there was beer and ice cream too – all in all it was pretty much a perfect day!

Family BlackSo… 19 years between races… distance halved each time… my next race will be a 5k in 2031, yes?

No chance – I’ve caught the bug now. What started back at Easter as a way to burn off some extra calories has now turned into a genuine hobby, something which I’ve grown to enjoy, and something I’ll keep doing for a long time to come. I’ve already started looking for the next race, in spring/early summer 2013, with early candidates being Edinburgh, Lincoln and Hull. I’ll also be back at the Great Scottish Run to hopefully smash this year’s time into little pieces. Or something like that.

There is, of course, a big part of me that’s keen to step things up, and go for the half marathon again – after all, I’ve done it once so why can’t I do it again? The sensible part of me knows, though, that I’m no longer 17, and my knees are DEFINITELY no longer 17, so I’m going to stick with 10k races for the time being.

A kiss for Daddy's medalBut longer term my sights are definitely on eclipsing my youthful self, and maybe 2014 is the year to do it. With the Commonwealth Games coming to town that year, I expect the Great Scottish Run will be an even bigger occasion than it already is, so what better time to step up to the next level?

Assuming my knees haven’t buckled by then, of course. :)

EDIT: It occurred to me last night that I didn’t explain this post’s title, and it probably won’t be recognisable to most. It’s the opening line to a song, A’s “The Distance“, which came blasting into my ears at about 7k into Sunday’s race, just when I wanted to pick up the pace. Perfect timing, because it was an ideal song to help me do just that. So thanks A!

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!