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!

NFL fan night – Edinburgh, 7th January 2013

Jeff Reinebold, Neil Reynolds and Mark Brunell 7-Jan-2013

On Sunday I wrote about my excitement at my team, the Washington Redskins, returning to relevance with their first division title, and first home playoff game, since 1999. Sadly the  excitement was short-lived, as the season came to a shuddering halt, along with quarterback Robert Griffin III’s injured knee. Fingers crossed it’s not as career threatening as it looks, but it’s definitely a nasty one.

My post-season blues were very quickly shrugged off, though, as I had something else to look forward to – an NFL fan night to be held in Edinburgh the following evening. Although I hadn’t been lucky enough to secure tickets, my friend Ian had, and so it was that we headed through to Auld Reekie not really knowing what to expect.

We arrived at the venue, the rather magnificent Hub, about 10 minutes before the evening was due to begin, and found ourselves decent seats in the middle of the hall. I reckon about 200 fans were in attendance, mainly decked out in NFL jerseys or other merchandise, and with most of the league’s 32 teams represented – exactly the kind of thing I expect the organisers were expecting to see.

After a brief welcome from Sky Sports’ Neil Reynolds, the evening began with a film, Barry Sanders: A Football Life. Now I love NFL Films, who’ve been setting the standard for sports documentaries for a long, long time. And this retrospective of one of the best running backs of all time (third best, according to his own father!) didn’t disappoint. The mix of archive footage and interviews, mixed with modern day interviews was perfectly presented, and I learned a lot about a player I remember fondly but didn’t have much opportunity to see play.

Jeff Reinebold and me

with Jeff Reinebold

After the film it was on to the main event, a chalk talk and Q&A with coach Jeff Reinebold and NFL legend Mark Brunell, who just happens to be the last Redskins QB to win a playoff game! This portion of the evening was let down slightly by technical issues – Reinebold appeared to be having problems with his telestrator. Instead we got a live action demonstration of zone read blocking, during which he managed to “offend” Edinburgh Wolves head coach Don Edmonston with a jibe about offensive linemen’s athleticism. Other topics covered included the upcoming NFL games at Wembley and a look at each of the teams still in the hunt for this year’s Super Bowl, as well as answering questions from the floor.

Things came to a close about 9:45,, and after getting pictures with Reinebold and Brunell it was time to head for home. I really enjoyed the evening, and felt like I learned a lot. Reinebold is a charismatic presenter, who makes even the complicated aspects of the game easy to understand (the game itself, he says, is actually pretty simple – something I’d agree with) and had the audience in the palm of his hand. As you’d expect of a 19 year NFL veteran, Brunell had some stories to tell, and it was great to hear first hand accounts of guys like Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez and Drew Brees. Reynolds, too, was excellent, keeping the evening moving and throwing in some stories of his own.

Mark Brunell and me

with Mark Brunell

Similar events are being held tonight and tomorrow in Birmingham and Leeds, and I’m sure all those in attendance will enjoy them as much as I did. It’s great that the NFL are putting on events such as those, and bringing the game closer to far-off fans. As I wrote the other day, it’s all a far cry from the week old highlights we watched back in the 80s, and long may it continue!

I’m already looking forward to the next event, whenever or wherever it might be. Glasgow would be nice!

Tickets for this year’s NFL International Series games at Wembley are now on sale. Visit http://www.nfluk.com/tickets-events/nfl-wembley for more information

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!