Technology frustration

A lot of what I consider my daily life is only possible thanks to particular pieces of technology. Therefore my reliance on these gadgets is incredibly high so when one fails or in this case failure after failure I get incredibly frustrated.

I decided to go and run a steady 15 miles this morning, so packed my plastic drop bag with the essentials; water and some Twix’s. It was already feeling like it would rain heavy so I warned my wife I might come back early as I didn’t want to run in the rain today.

I dropped my bag near my usual lamppost and opened up RunKeeper. “start activity” I placed it in my pocket “activity stopped” dammit. So I pulled it out and did it again, put it in my pocket and accidentally pressed the button for a distance update. “3.95 miles” well considering I had taken 2 steps that may be a little off. So after trying nearly 8 times and just not getting RunKeeper working through a combination of user input error and poor GPS signal I thought I might just run at home. So my wife circled back and picked me up (at least the iPhone worked to make a call!).

Arriving home I thought I would jump straight on the treadmill. My wife then brought the AppleTV in from the other room and plugged it in. At least I could listen to some movies while I ran, something to pass the time. However Plex decided to be a total pain in the ass and not work, frustrated I decided to turn to the radio.

Listening to the radio poses one problem though I am reliant on the presenter given time updates so I can figure out how far I have ran. Thanks to the new BBCR1 morning presenter these time updates never happened.

So frustrated that RunKeeper had failed, then Plex, then the radio had failed me I was getting frustrated. I had no idea how long I had been running or how far I had ran. I am used to receiving feedback through audio so when I lose that I lose motivation.

So unmotivated and frustrated I just decided to call it a day. So I sat on the treadmill and ate a snack size Twix and Grayson stole a packet of Maltesers and we cheered ourselves up through chocolate.

Now there are solutions to all these problems but when you are already annoyed you don’t think clearly. So next time I will just try and be more prepared.

Compressed time

The week starting 28th of May is perhaps the busiest I have ever had.

In a 2 week period I am supposed to be:

Training with my guide dog
Undergoing eye surgery
Sitting my semester 2 university exams
Training for the SDW100
Celebtrating my 30th

Now unfortunately it simply isn’t possible to fit all that in. So I have had to unfortunately defer my university exams, surgery and drop my spot for the SDW100. It really is a shame that it was all scheduled in the same 2 weeks period but I felt the guide dog was the one I really couldn’t postpone.

I I had taken a pass on this dog I had no idea how long it would of been until I had another potential match. So on the 28th of May (the day after I run an ultra!) I will begin training with Ascot my guide dog.

As for surgery, I have no idea when that will happen now. It is a real shame as I really need that sorting as it is causing enormous problems in all areas of my life, although these may be eased with the presence of Ascot.

As for the SDW100, I will run that next year. Infact to make up for missing this year I may even enter the Grand Slam! So if anyone else would like to join me and run the entire Centurion Running Grand Slam let me know. We could get a nice collection of buckles going!

A Rough Day

Today has just seemed like one of those days where everything seems to go slightly wrong.

The day started out pretty well, I had to make a few adjustments in travel arrangements today so I headed round to my sisters to get a lift in with my brother in law. I then ended up shooting my willing nephew repeatedly with a Nerf gun. This was certainly a fun morning activity!

Arriving in sheffield we missed my first lecture due to a few issues and I had decided my time would be better spent working on an essay. A quick call from the press association attempting to schedule filming for that day gave me an opportunity to bargain for a lift home! They didn’t go for it so we rearranged for another day and I had to figure out another way to get home.

Shortly after this is where it all started going wrong. I had to attend an afternoon lecture to get an opportunity to chat to the lecturer about an essay I am yet to begin.

Just as I was about to approach the lecturer my phone rang. At the minute I always answer my phone immediately just in case its Guide Dogs, I am desperate for a guide dog so any phone call I hope it to be the one. Turned out it wasn’t and the lecturer left before I got a chance to talk to him. That was pretty much the entire reason I went in today for that quick chat to the lecturer.

I decided to make plans to get home and arranged to meet someone at the train station where I live. This meant a simply trip on the tram and train something I do regularly. However this time it just didn’t seem to go smoothly.

All the stair wells had been closed off, so when you use a cane the only way you find this out is when you bump into the barriers. So I eventually made it to the platform I needed to be at with a little assistance and I waited patiently for my train. My train always leaves on the same platform, so its a simply case of waiting on platform 2 for the right train.

“the train approaching platform 2 is the 1520 to Leeds”

Thats a little early I thought, surely its only around 1500. So I moved away from the platform and waited for the next train. A few minutes later another announcement.

“the train approaching platform 3 is the 1520 to Leeds”

Eh? So the train I just missed was the one I wanted? Dammit. So now getting annoyed I waited for the next train.

“the train approaching platform 2 is the late 1520 to Leeds”

This time I thought I would ask the conductor who got off the train what was going on. Turned out this train was actually the late 1520 to Leeds, who knows what the others were.

So I continued to wait and finally a train I could catch was announced. By this time I was becoming frustrated as I was worried I would miss my lift the other end. The train was announced and 10 minutes later it still hadn’t arrived!

When it finally did I boardedd the train squeezed into the totally inadequate seating and waited for the conductor. Who then proceeded to annoy me by questioning the validity of my rail card. Felt like swearing but I let it be and headed home in a grumpy mood.

So there it is my rant about today, seems stupid now and it was pretty much forgotten once I had finished my run. But british rail you do annoy me

Marathon Sandwich

The first of this years challenges has been entitled the Marathon Sandwich. It will involve me running the Sheffield half marathon, then running a full marathon, with a half tacked on the end.

The halves make the break while the marathon is the filling, making for a marathon sandwich! It will be a steady 52.4 mile run that I am intending to use for training for the South Downs Way 100 which is 4 weeks later.

The event takes place on the 27th of may. In order for people to take part we have decided to run the majority of the distance doing circuits of Endcliffe Park in Sheffield. So we are inviting anyone who would like to attend to run a 1.3 mile loop of the park.

I am raising money for a local blind charity Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind (SRSB). It is a wonderful charity that offers many services to the visually impaired within the district. It is the only local charity for some distance to offer such services as I travel all the way from Doncaster in order to attend their meetings.

More details of the challenge can be found over at Marathon Sandwich if you would like to donate to the charity please visit JustGiving

Post Surgery and the Media

Around a month ago I finally had eye surgery on my left eye. While the surgery went well I arrived home in quite a lot of pain. After 3 hours I couldn’t take the pain any longer and had to return to the hospital, turned out my cornea had been scratched during the operation and was causing my a lot of pain. Thankfully nothing serious so I went home and waited out the pain.

However the past few weeks have been incredibly difficult, the imbalance the surgery has created is too great. I am really struggling. This has unfortunately caused a few issues with university and training.

I will have to defer some of my university exams and essays till the summer. I simply don’t have enough time to catch up on everything I have missed. This is a real shame as I didn’t want to have to resort to this, but I would rather get a result I am happy with and wait till summer.

I also had to miss a small amount of training which is having an effect. My calf muscles seem to be having a real issue with lactic acid, I seem to build up the acid far to quickly. I hope this subsides in a week or so otherwise it will be a lot of grunting when I compete!

On the positive side I seem to be gaining a lot of media attention really and today received a wonderful writeup in the Guardian! You can read it over here. I have also given interviews for a number of magazines and newspapers, I will try and link to them as they are released!

Weekend at the stadium

This past weekend I had the pleasure of competing on each day at the Olympic Stadium.

Day 1 was a 5 mile route around the olympic village that finished inside the stadium on the finish line of the track.

We had set off from doncaster at 5am in order to drive down and arrive in London. I had read there would not be changing facilities so thought I would just go down in my running gear as it wouldn’t be to cold. I also seemed to forget to pack any normal clothes for the weekend break, so literally just had running gear, no coat, no jumpers nothing.

Arriving in London; after spending a large amount of time being lost! I soon realised how cold it actually was. My wife and I were not prepared for this weather. Everyone else seemed to realise it would be freezing and was wrapped up warm. Being northerns we decided to grin and bare it. However 3 hours later this tactic was no longer working. So we had to resort to buying official Olympic jumpers. I was worried my son might get cold so I donated mine to him and used my tough northerner training to get through the shaking.

As race time approached we headed to our holding gate and all the issues of being cold were forgotten. We were position at the back of the second wave as we had no intentions of making this a fast run. Then over the loudspeaker came an announcement “the visually impaired runners are due to set off next”. What?? there was a special section we were supposed to be in? we dashed to the front and missed the start, we quickly joined in around a minute or so after once they realised the majority of the visually impaired also had no idea there was a special section as they all begin to gather behind us.

The run took a scenic tour around the park and we were able to run around the freshly built arenas. My wife had never run further than 3 miles and never run faster than a 10:30 mile. So we pushed it a little and ran slightly faster than that. Sian was struggling a little around the course but the idea of finishing in the stadium spurred her on.

As we entered the stadium we ran in the service tunnels and the adrenaline really kicked in. Our pace quickly increased to 9 minute miles and we shot out into the stadium. Running on the track felt fantastic and the stadium seemed huge. Crossing the finish line was a great feeling and we even received a really hefty medal.

The next day we returned to the stadium for the 100m sprint. This is certainly not my preferred running distance and I am not a fan of sprinting. The full range of motion and the intensity just has injury waiting to happen written all over it.

We Hund around the stadium for a while watching the other races and took advantage of the polar opposite weather of the previous day. After a couple of hours me and Neil Bacon headed down to our holding area to get ready for the sprint.

(Get ready for the excuses) We entered the warmup facility where I did a few warmups before heading out to the track. Once we arrived outside and walked out onto the track itself I realised I couldn’t see the lines defining the lanes. I asked for assistance from the staff but it was to late, I was told to go for it!

So unable to see the lines or even how far I should be running; on the sound of the gun I went for it. I apparently took an early lead but I felt myself drifting into another lane, so I eased off and concentrated on trying to stay straight. This apparently was my downfall as I was overtaken by not one but two people!

I finished the race 3rd and felt a little disappointed. But then took splice in the fact I had just done a 100m sprint in the Olympic stadium so who cares what position I finished in.

The weekend was fantastic and I managed to walk away with 2 medals to remind me of the events and some great memories to take away with me. I also managed to tear up my muscles; sprinting just aint for me.

Olympic Stadium

This weekend I have the pleasure of not only competing once at the Olympic Stadium but twice!

Late last year I received a tweet from The National Lottery about entering their Olympic Park Run that would give me the opportunity to be one of the first people to cross the finish line at the stadium. It was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down and quickly entered. I was lucky enough to receive a slot in the event.

It also marks the first time my wife Sian will be acting as my guide runner. It would of been better if Sian had trained a little but hey the adrenaline on the day will get her beyond the finish line easily.

The second event on the Sunday was even more out of the blue. Again thanks to twitter I saw a tweet from the RNIB about the chance to compete in a 100m sprint at the stadium. Without a doubt the one event I would LOVE to run, but frankly am terrible at. I cannot sprint at all, so will be the one limping over the finish line last!

So this weekend should be a great opportunity and rather strangely I have an incredibly low bib number. (9) so they appear to be under the misconception that I am fast! This will definitely not be the case.

Busy Month

This month is without a doubt the busiest month in recent memory. With 6 essays and 3 exams all due over the next 2 weeks I am immensely busy. It has been a great opportunity to learn more about new areas of psychology though and I am finding a real interested in synthetic psychology.

It is a great combination of the technology I love and models of psychology. Creating artificial neural networks that can control robots that learn and interact with humans just sounds so 21st century! Will definitely be exploring more over the summer break.

This month has also been a big surprise on the TV commercial front. It has appeared online and on the TV! I also have a prying campaign running in many running magazines so keep an eye out for me. I have embedded the video below

I also promise to get updating this blog again as soon as this hectic month is over!

Once in a lifetime

Once in a lifetime is a saying that gets easily used. When my wife and I travelled America we lauded how it was once in a lifetime. In reality we will no doubt repeat that trip in a decades time. We often use the saying when the task in actuality is easily repeated.

For once though I believe I have a once in a lifetime opportunity. I have been giving a condition place to be a London 2012 Olympic Torchbearer. The condition being I pass the security and background checks, pretty sure I will pass this easy enough!

So I am truly honoured to have been chosen. It is without a doubt the greatest reward for the past year of hard training and running. I would even rank it higher than my TV commercial!

Like most things in life there was a long string of interwoven events that led to me being nominated.

Disregarding all the training for a while, the timeline went a little like this:

I wrote a blog post about my experiences with RunKeeper and how it enabled me to train solo outdoors. This was quickly picked up by the RunKeeper team and appeared on their blog.

The Daily in New York found the story and ran an article on me.

This was quickly followed by Wired and CNN. Resulting in me filming a short for CNN that aired earlier this year. The Wired featured blog ran for a number of months and brought in lots more attention.

During the time I was writing for Wired I lost my pacing team. So I began a search for a new pacing team and perhaps the most instrumental people in the timeline were introduced.

I contacted UP & Running in the hopes they could help me piece together a pacing team. They went above and beyond and ran a small in store campaign and mentioned it on Twitter. This brought in the initial point of contact James Clay, along with James came Matt Puddy and Charlie Baxter.

Matt and Charlie took up the reigns and began to put together a team. Matt ran all the logistics, planning and organising. He was incredibly instrumental in allowing me to run my first ultra run.

With the run complete the next event was the ASICS call. They wanted a blind runner for a TV commercial and I didn’t really fit the bill. I had a quick chat and mentioned what I was doing alone and with my pacers was a better story than the one they were on the look out for. They agreed and the TV commercial was created.

These interwoven events created my running journey of the past year and were the basis of my nomination. I was kindle nominated by Charlie and Matt and was chosen. But without all those other people my story wouldn’t have got out there and the opportunity would never have presented itself.

So to all those people Thank you.

There is however one last mention. For my wife, she was there through all the difficulties of training, the time I was passed out on the bathroom floor, when my legs failed during training, when my water was stolen and most importantly she had the faith that when I said I could run alone she believed it.

2012, the prospects

2012 is looking to be a great year for projects, university and family life.

2012 will see my first year of university complete and hopefully coming out with a great grade. It has been tough going this past couple of months so I hope to have it all on track and get that all important first.

As for projects for 2012 where to start! I hope to launch a number of blogs focussing on running and fitness within the disabled community. I often forgot how lucky I am to have access to equipment and knowledge when it comes to exercise. So I plan to start a blog dedicated to making fitness accessible, from reviewing home equipment, creating audio instructions and simply workouts I hope to make fitness at home (and the gym) that little bit more accessible.

I will also be running the “Marathon Sandwich” blog that will detail the training for running the combined 52.6 miles needed to complete the sandwich (all in one go of course!). I am running this event to raise money for the SRSB which offers fabulous services to the blind. I will detail this more as time progresses.

I also have a few projects which will remain undisclosed until plans are firmed up!

As for family life, well that is always exciting. 2012 will see Graysons 2nd birthday and his first words! That is set to be a great occasion. Pretty sure there will be lots more trips to astrobound too!