This has been brewing for a while now and I’m glad to finally link to it: Crofton Tales – Handcrafted Goodness.
For me, the favourite day of the year is, of course, 6th February, the day I was born. Second favourite? 5th of February because it was the birthday of another great Finn, Johan Ludvig Runeberg. I’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth and on Runebergs day, we have this seasonal delicacy called, to everybody’s surprise, Runeberg’s Cake. If I was to name my favourite cake, this would be it. Looking at it, it doesn’t look or soundlike anything special but the secret is that it’s made with rum. In my case, lot’s of it.
What a fantastic Sunday this was. Our streets took part in the national Big Lunch event where – to put it simply – you talk to your neighbours and have lunch with them. I haven’t got the precise numbers but there must have been at least 100 to 120 people taking part on our street. Everybody brought something to the party, whether it was pasta salad, sausages, a band or a cake to the cake competition, it was all great. We had neightbours like ourselves who’d just moved here and people like Joyce who moved here in 1929. It’s pretty humbling, really.
Darina and I took a few photos during the afternoon and here’s a small selection of them. Click to see them bigger and then use your left/right arrow to move to the next one.
For more info on The Big Lunch check out their website at thebiglunch.com
On monday last week I passed a non-insignificant milestone; 1000 kilometers ran since I started in August last year. This has resulted in a fitter, healthier, smarter and, all in all, much improved me. Thank you all for the support, I will keep going (unless another brick falls on me and is more successful than the previous one and finishes me off).
I had no idea how hard it would be. Absolutely no idea. And this is where I would want to be a great writer. I would love to tell you in saturated technicolor how the race went; how my body performed and what went on in my head as the mile marks passed.
I finished the race in 4 hours 29 minutes and 29 second.
I started of with the pace of about 9 minutes per mile* which, if you can keep it up, gives you just under 4 hours as the final time. First 2 miles in Edinburgh are downhill, which is great. Nice easy Sunday jog down Regents Park, fantastic scenery, wide roads to accommodate 14000 people flowing down in unison. 4 mile mark was the first where I thought: ‘What a nice distance to comprehend, one sixth done’. Little did I know.
Anyhow. It’s funny how quickly the first 5 miles went past but soon we arrived at the beach. It was becoming clear that the weather report wasn’t wrong this time. It was going to be the hottest day I’ve ever spent in Scotland. Marathon or not. Sun was blazing from a clear blue sky, directly ahead of us down Portobello promenade. I knew Darina and her family would be somewhere there so I was looking forward to that but still.. it was about 20c hotter than I had hoped for.
By this time I really had to wee. There was the relay change over spot but no loos right next to it to conveniently use. I waited until right after 10 mile mark – while on the phone to my brother who was helping me do Twitter updates – I saw an open gate that led to a field where it’d be easy to relieve yourself. And I did.
Timing for big events like these are done with little RFID chips you wear on your shoe or – like now – around your ankle. All you do is run over this mat and it knows your there. It’s a pretty cool application for simple technology that could be more widely used. I really wonder how they did runner times for large scale races before RFID. Sounds impossible.
At 2:03:25 I stepped my foot on the half way timing point. Pretty steady speed I had kept up from the beginning.
Darina had just phoned me so I knew to expect them somewhere after 15 miles. This stretch after 14 miles was annoying if anything else. We saw the soon-to-be-winners of the race. They had a big Mercedes SUV in front of them with the time 2:03. (Winner of the race, Martin Williams, came in at 2:18:24.) Strangely and very unlikely for Scotland, the weather wasn’t turning for worse. Or it was, not just in the way you’d expect when saying it was getting worse. It was getting hotter and hotter and the last turning place wasn’t even close.
Probably one of my favorite bits of the race was before Gosford House on a field that led to a forest, one of the only places that had shadows. I think it was the variation that this field gave to the endlessly long, almost straight roads.
I wonder if they allow visitors at Gosford House, it looked pretty nice.
After the forest, we got back to the road leading back into Musselburgh. About 7.5 miles to go. I can’t remember if it was just before or right after the 19 mile mark but it was by far the most de-moralising part of the day. The water point that was supposed to have water, energy drink and gels was dry. No water, no nothing. We had already done a good couple of miles in the fields since the last water point and people were pretty angry to not get anything. What made it worse was that we had no idea if there’d be any more water before the finishing line. It was pretty bad.
I’m pretty sure we passed another one or two dry water points, guessing from the clusters of empty bottles we passed. Luckily there was a ten-year-old girl spraying water on us from the curb. I stopped to get some refreshment from the ice cold water. That was pretty sweet.
It must have been around 22 miles when we got more water and energy drinks, not too late but it took a while to get recharged.
Last miles went by really slowly, I had to walk for 50 meters three or four times, just to get motivated to continue. It wasn’t that my leg were hurting; joints were fine and I had no chafing, just really, almost completely, exhausted. Mad feeling.
But, like many things, it finally came to an end. Darina and Eilish were there just after 26 mile mark and I could see the finishing line. I crossed it and I cried like a little girl.
It was absolutely amazing.
*as big of a metric fan as I am….
It was a massive mistake and a failure the organiser did with the water stations. Not only was it annoying, it was literally putting runners lives in danger. 5000 out of the 13000 runners who started pulled out. 10 treated in hospital and 160 by medical staff by the route. There was also other issues that the organisers will have to improve upon for next year. More toilets along the course and better signage all around the event. I was quite disappointed to find in my goody bag a t-shirt meant for ‘the Hairy Haggis’ – relay team. It wasn’t a problem getting a new one sent out after I called them today.
With all the problems they had, I’m definite that I’ll run it again one year. They will listen to the criticism and make it a better event. It’s a beautiful and a fast route and I’d recommend it to anyone.
Few more photos from Edinburgh Marathon:
It’s come so quickly somehow. It feels like it was only yesterday that I met Darina – it was our five-year anniversary when we got engaged – and it feels like there should be more days until the Marathon in Edinburgh. There’s now ten days left until that. Shit.
Training so far* hasn’t gone to plan from the point of view of following my training routine. Not at all. You know, life’s got in the way with all sorts of things it throws at you. Mostly work. All good, though. Mainly because of last weeks great long run**, I still feel pretty confident about it. So confident that we’ve booked flights Athens in November for The Marathon. Since last week I calibrated my Polar and I’m waiting for a moment to go for the last – what I call – an evil run***. Next week I’ll spend mostly doing short fun runs, eat lots of carbs, drink a lot of water and try not to drink too many ‘hob infused hydrants’, beer.
There will be another pre-marathon update sometime next week but if you happen to miss it, I’ll be live tweeting along the cobbled streets of Edinburgh on Sunday 31st at 9:00 BST.
* And there’s very little I can do at this point anymore.
** 19.5k at 6:10/km, then 5.5k fast at 5:10/km and slow 2k in the end.
Yes, as we’re all accustomed to, this blog goes quiet from time to time. It’s never intentional, sometimes life is just too busy to sit down and write interesting things down to be shared. To correct the fact that it’s been so quiet, here’s a quick update.
1. Travelled to Finland, twice. First for easter holidays and the second time to celebrate my mothers fiftieth birthday. I know it’s my mom and all but I really can’t image she’s only fifty, I can still remember her being 29 like it was yesterday. She’s still as beautiful as she was back then.
2. We’ve moved! Behind is the lovely East London with it’s parks, Broadway Market and flat running grounds. With us now, South East London’s spacious house, Borough Market and hilly running tracks.
Here’s two photographs I took in Finland over the easter. First is of my grand-parents from my dad’s side. Part of a series that’ll have all of my family one day. Yes, one day. The second is of two swans flying in heavy snowfall.
There’s couple of really good things or changes I want to carry to the new year.
It’s too easy to ignore things when you’re seemingly busy. It’s too easy to put things off just because you think there’s more important things to do. It is today that I have to lay the ground work for tomorrow.
I know it sounds fucking philosophical but if this was the only lesson I learned from last year, I’d be happy. Stay on top of things, do my best now and be ready to do that tomorrow as well.
One of those groundworks I did last year – and I’ve written about this before – was to take better care of myself. There’s few things worse than being 27 and in the worst shape you’ve ever been. It’s easy to wait until tomorrow to get started. it’s too easy to put things off. Luckily I stopped doing that last August, dusted the good old Asics and started counting the kilometers. Now – 591 km later – I’m looking forward on doing my first half marathon in two weeks and full 42195 meters in the end of May. I’m 28 and in the best shape I’ve ever been. Ever.
Work-wise, I think I’ve learned to be a bit more proactive. Autumn was a bit too quiet for my liking and that was pretty difficult. As a result I started looking for more jobs and not relying on things that were supposed to be happening. It’s good to be busy now but I know it’s not going to last forever – try this May – so I must keep that in mind. Be proactive.
Five Goals for the 29th Year.
- Do three things I can be proud of in the end of the year. Maybe an exhibition. I’ve wanted to do one for a while.
- Stay on top of things. Leapfrog with work. While doing a job today be ready to start a new one tomorrow. Take better care of my paper work.
- Concentrate. Maybe an AppleScript that’ll stop me from launching NetNewsWire between 0800-1700. Stop trying to multitask as much.
- Diversify. Learn a new skill. Don’t know what yet. Any suggestions? I’ve got a PHP book on loan from Alex, maybe that. Maybe not.
- Make five people happy for a day. Nice experience or something that’ll help them in life.
It’s been a really good year over all. I’m happy in life and every year seems to be getting better. Let’s make this an ever better one. Over and out.
Just last week, 32 days early, I completed the 300 km running challenge I set myself 3 months ago. There were two things I wanted to accomplish with this:
1) Get into shape for our up-coming trip to New Zealand this christmas
2) Feel better
It was something that had been nagging me for quite a while; the thought of being 27-years-old and in the worst physical shape I’ve ever been. Weight kept creeping up at the pace of about a kilo per year and my 11-year-old brother can now challenge me in doing chin ups. I used to run before moving to the UK but was never really able to keep up the routine here. And routine is, I think, one of the most important things when it comes to exercise.
By setting that goal, it was easy to motivate myself to go outside and run. Another even greater source of motivation has been that my friends Ville, Johanna and Heikki joined me on the challenge. Ville ‘virtually’, as he lives in Finland. It’s been so good to have company along the way.
Another challenge Ville and I set ourselves about 7 years ago was to run a marathon by the time we’re 27. I don’t think we’ll quite make it (after all we are both 27 already) but to try and live up to that promise, I’m signing up for the Edinburgh Marathon that takes place in May next year. I haven’t set a target time yet, we’ll first have to see how training goes.
A Little Bit About Equipment
Good shoes are the most essential thing you can invest on if thinking of taking up running. After all, on a 10 km run your feet will hit the asphalt some 11’000 times, they need something nice in between. Mine are Asics Gel’s that my dad kindly passed on. He’s been using the same make, model and size for years now but the ones he bought earlier this autumn didn’t fit properly. Apparently Asics had changed the recipe. They fit me perfectly so that’s good.
First running gear item I bought after starting was shorts. Problem I had was that my thighs were rubbing against each other and causing a rash. Instead of trying out the Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr method of walking/running without knees touching, I decided to get NikeFit shorts. They have a little pocket in the back that’s good for keys and perfect size for the iPhone. Surprisingly, can’t even feel it’s there.
Talking about the iPhone, I tried out RunKeeper for some ten of the last runs. It’s a general exercise app that I was really excited with what it promises; distance, pace, speed, path on a map etc. Just what you’d expect from a well equipped running watch. It took me five or six tries before I got a solid good result from it. One thing or another always seemed to go wrong. Some of the problems are inherit to how the iPhone work i.e. you can’t have apps running in the background – which means you can’t properly lock the screen while running – and GPS drains the battery really fast. Biggest problem, however was the unreliability of the app, things like the screen showing that one minute I’m running at a steady 9 km/h and next I’m sprinting at 20 km/h (once it even said I’m running at almost 200 km/h). Also system wide warnings like low battery and incoming text messages paused the training, which meant that either you stopped to pay attention to your run and fixed your tracking or – more likely – just kept going and had a big gap in your route. Although it has a build in screen lock, I found on few occasions that it had released and paused or stopped the trip. Very annoying.
All this said, I think if they can fix the problems they have, it’ll be very useful. Cool thing that it does is it sends data of your run to their website and you can view it there along with a map of the run. It does it very quickly; if I press ‘Save Trip’ downstairs after the run, it’s ready to view by the time I’m in the flat. It’s also free, so barrier of entry is very low, all you have to do is to bear with it’s short comings.
Over all, good thing about running is that it’s not about equipment or skill or even time, all you need is the will to get started.
PS. Some Numbers Gathered Along the Way
83 days to reach the goal
Goal was reached 86.67 km a head schedule
Daily average was 3.63 km
Shortest single run: 2.94 km
And the longest: 17.33 km
20349 calories burned while running
weight: -4 kg