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!

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!

I’m a road runner baby

Road Runner - meep meep!This year has been all about the health and the fitness in our household, appropriate in an Olympic year, non? I’ve written before about The Diet, and I’m pleased to say that my journey there is almost complete – just a couple of pounds to go and I’ll be a happy man. (Note: I could maybe be tempted to go further, but people are starting to tell me I’m looking a bit thin, so I’m going to draw a line. For now, at least…)

As well as being more careful about what we eat, both me and Gem have got off the couch and started exercising on a regular basis, something neither of us have done for aaaaaages.

Back in January, we started out on Wii Fit, which was a fantastic starting point – nice, easy, gentle exercise to start using muscles that haven’t been used in a very long time. Focusing on the aerobic exercises, it wasn’t long before we could see a difference, on the scales, on the measuring tape, and, perhaps more importantly, in how out of breath and sweaty we were at the end of a workout.

One of the great things about Wii Fit is that the more you use it the more exercises and levels you unlock – something that keeps you coming back for more. To an extent, it also stops you trying to do too much too soon, something that’s liable to result in an injury and put you off entirely.

We both knew, though, that Wii Fit wasn’t going to be the be all and end all of our new lifestyle, and that sooner or later we’d more on to other things. We’ve now replaced Wii Fit with Zumba Fitness 2 two times a week, and are working our way through the various levels that offers. Again, it’s a really nice feeling when you start to find the routines less taxing than when you started, and can start to add in more challenging ones. Still plenty of mileage left there.

I’ve also started running, and am pleased to say that I’ve just signed up for my first ever 10k race, at this year’s Great Scottish Run. Half a lifetime ago, when I was young and took my fitness for granted, I ran the GSR half marathon, and maybe one day I’ll manage that again, but one step at a time, right? Let’s see how I get on with the 10k first.

Currently I’m running two or three times a week, and trying to add distance each week. At the moment, the furthest I’ve run is 6.4km, which is almost two thirds of the distance I’m aiming to cover in 4 weeks time. I’m slightly ahead of the training schedule I devised for myself though, so I’m confident I’ll be able to complete the race and get my first (well second, if you count the one from 18 years ago) medal.

After that, who knows? I’m getting a real buzz out of running at the moment, and I hope that doesn’t disappear once the challenge of completing the race has gone and I’ve got nothing to aim for. I don’t think it will, but if it does, there are plenty of other races out there to be entered, right?

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!