Geography, Simplified!: Heat Waves

This post was written a good many years ago (I think 5 or 6 actually) for a blog that I used to write on with a friend. Since then I’ve been meaning to put more of my Geography Degree and teaching knowledge to good some use and yet I keep putting it off. Well, since the old blog seems destined to close down for good soon, I thought that I may as well drag some old content kicking and screaming from the pages of the past to share once more (also I’m hilariously lazy and this seems like the easiest way to bring the blog back in relative obscurity from total obscurity…) Please forgive any glaring issues, but ho hum. Welcome to “Geography, Simplified!”


It’s the summer holidays and it’s pouring with rain! What else did you expect from this wonderful country of our? A little bit of hot weather? Well, cast your minds back over the last few years (few months actually, we had a heatwave declared in June!) You can bet your bottom Pound Sterling (not Dollar. We’re not toddlers Americans) that with the hot weather comes the inevitable scaremongering from the media that will begin with some websites pondering whether our weather might descend into a “heat wave”. But what exactly is a heat wave? Let’s take a look.

“A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessively hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity. There is no universal definition of a heat wave;the term is relative to the usual weather in the area.”

Put simply, a heat wave is a time of higher than average temperatures in an area, but since the climate of two areas may not be the same, there is no single temperature that must be achieved for it to be considered a heat wave. The reccommended definition is that when the daily maximum temperature of more than five days in a row is higher than the average temperature by more than five degrees Celsius.

So how do they happen?

Well, heat waves are usually caused by an area of high pressure where the air and the ground get heated to excess and there is very little to displace the heat, such as cloud cover. A static high pressure area (one that does not move) can create a very persistent heat wave. Hot winds blowing from tropical or desert areas can also contribute to the creation of heat waves, with the warmer air being blown onto an area that is usually cooler, combining with the high pressure area. The “Heat Island” phenomenon caused by large urban areas such as cities can also exacerbate (such a big word, so grown up!) a heat wave and make it worse, due to the prolonged period of heat, cutting down the amount of night time cooling.

What damage can heat waves do?

Medical issues such as Hyperthermia (heat stroke) and Heat rash, among others can be caused by the extreme weather. A usual precaution taken during a heat wave is to set up air conditioned “cooling areas” for the public in most cities. In worst case scenarios heat waves can kill, as seen in the 2003 European heat wave, where around 15,000 people died in France alone. Wildfires can be started in some areas, where the heat affects dry vegetation and causes it to catch alight. In 2003 fires raged through Portugal as a consequence of the heat. Heatwaves can also cause physical damage to infrastructure with pavements and roads melting and buckling due to the heat.

You mentioned 2003 in Europe?

Why yes I did. All good Geographers love a Case Study and this is ours for a Heatwave. In 2003 a heat wave erupted over most of western Europe. You can see the areas affected on the map I’ve included at the end of this post. In 2003, the summer was the hottest on record since at least 1540. This created major health crises in many countries, with France being hit especially hard. This, combined with a drought that caused a major crop shortfall in the South of the continent, caused over 40,000 Europeans to lose their lives. The UK managed to escape the worst, and was brought a short period of relief by Atlantic cyclones, bringing cool, wet weather for a few days before the temperatures started to rise once again. Around 2000 people died in the UK.

Map showing the 2003 European Heat Wave

Well there you have it. The phenomenon known as a heat wave has been broken down a bit and explained. Now, whenever this rain stops you can understand what all the scary news articles are about! See you all soon for another bit of Geography, Simplified!

 

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Stop Doing That – On an aeroplane

I am not a very happy passenger on aeroplanes. I’m the first to admit that I hate flying and will try to avoid it as much as possible. However, this isn’t always the easiest thing and so, reluctant as I am I’ll board the plane and deal with it for a few hours.

Normally once we’re in the air I’m fine. I mean I’m not great at being sat down for prolonged periods of time and much to the chagrin of my sister (who is my long suffering travel buddy for most of my trips) I am a perpetual fidget. I don’t think that I’m that bad to be sat near though and I’m sure my coworkers who are on the flight back from our Naples field trip with me as I write this will agree.

What I am not, unfortunately, is a particularly tolerant man. Especially not when it comes to people being irritating around me and so this brings us to yet another installment of the blood pressure raising, teeth gnashing, fury inducing Stop Doing That series!

Trust me. This will be a good one.

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STOP: Sitting outside of your allocated seats.

This one goes the same way as my unpublished SDT at the cinema post.  Please just sit where you are told. If you got a middle seat then just deal with it and don’t sit in my aisle seat. I will make you move. If you can’t follow simple instructions or a seating plan then I really am worried that you’re a part of the gene pool. The old excuse of “Oh there wasn’t anyone sat here so I thought it was free” just won’t fly either (pun heavily intended). Of course there was no sitting there. WE WERE JUST BOARDING THE PLANE! Long rant short – sit in your place and stop dicking about. Please.

STOP: Reclining. Yes, you.

Currently the man sat in front of me is the biggest cockwomble of them all. You know what’s a surefire way to get on my bad side? Recline your fucking seat in economy class you massive walking arse hole.  I LOVE having my knees crushed into my spleen just because you want to get comfortable and maybe have a little nap. We are all in economy for a reason; we didn’t want to pay extra for the legroom in business class. If you want to be comfortable and have a reclining seat then fuck off to first class you giant tit. We’re all uncomfortable and your making it worse. And if you’re the man sat in front of me on the BA flight from Naples then this goes double for you. Dick.

STOP: Standing up as soon as we land.

Where do you think you’re going? We are all literally stuck here until the little stairs are brought up to the plane. So sit your arse back down and wait patiently like everyone else.

STOP: Complaining to the cabin crew.

We are 35000 feet in the air.  Literally no one up here gives a single fuck if you only drink organic soy milk lattes. Deal with the slightly odd tasting instant coffee like the rest of us. Live a little. Also, do you know who cares even less than me that you can’t get your super special drink? The cabin crew, that’s right! They do this all day snd I guarantee you they want to tell you early where to stick your soy milk even if they won’t ever say it.

STOP: Having loud personal conversations.

We are all trapped in this tin can for a few hours. The time will pass at the same time whatever we do but it will sure as shit feel faster If we all just put our headphones on, listened to our favourite tunes, maybe read some of our book and just left each other alone.
I’m not exactly what you’d call a “people person” at the best of times but that goes quadruple for whilst I’m on a plane. I don’t want or need to know how many kids you have, what position little Jimmy plays on the school rugby team or what little Annie has been up to in pre school this half term. Please just ignore me and let’s sit in mutual silence. Please. I beg of you.

Well that’s about it for this – it’s been a while and I wouldn’t want to over exert myself!

Until next time ranters! 

Your First Year in Teaching as told by Peep Show (Or how you’ve basically become Mark and Jez without realising it…)

Almost two years ago I wrote a blog post at the end of my Teacher Training, summing up the whole year in song titles (CLICK IT – YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO!). I’ve been meaning to follow that up since I passed my NQT year last year and never got around to it, until today! I know that a lot of people outside of the UK might not resonate with me using Peep Show images but do you know what? I don’t care. I like Peep Show and I think it shares a lot of similar themes with your NQT year as a teacher.

 

This post is going to differ slightly to the last one by looking at only a few key moments throughout the year, but I swear that it hits all the key points! It also doesn’t only apply to my own experiences of completing my hellishly nightmarish NQT year (of which I have been less than kind on this blog already..) and instead will focus on a mildly more generic year… Although not too much as where’s the fun in me not complaining?

Guess we’d better get started!

The First Day

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Oh those first day nerves might well get the better of you and you end up standing awkwardly in the staff room during briefing as you haven’t figured out where to sit yet (trust me, it’s an important decision) but overall you’re happily optimistic. This year can’t be any harder than Teacher Training right? You know what you’re doing… You’ve got this… Right?

When you realize your tutor group don’t *quite* understand the “I’m here to help spiel…

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You’ve got your own tutor group! What a great chance to bond with the students and nurture and encourage a small group of pupils! You try to be as positive as possible with them, you let them know the rules and that they can come to you if they have any problems. Now, when you said that you were expecting it to be things like timetable crashes, lost kit or even some GCSE option decisions. What you didn’t expect was the endless tirade of tales they tell about each other. You can only hear so many renditions of “So and So took my pencil in maths” before your eyes start to glaze over and you hear yourself utter the phrase “I’ll have a word with them tomorrow”.

Still, as often as they can be irritating, your tutor group can also be amazing. Nothing beats the satisfaction of seeing a formerly naughty and underachieving student improving based on your mentoring. (Personally I love being a Form Tutor – it’s one of my favourite parts of the job!)

About 3 weeks into the second half term…

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Oh this one’s an easy one. You’ve made it past half term, you’ve had a week off and you miss the easy days of university (personally I had 8 hours a week in those golden days – now I can EASILY do 8 hour days and then some). You start to get a bit disenfranchised and pine for the 9-5 that your uni friends have going on. Oh what a world it would be where you didn’t work in the evening and at weekends…

Your first Christmas build up

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Here’s a warning for those people like me who absolutely LOVE Christmas. Not everyone does. Most schools don’t really do a large amount for Christmas, and of course since you’re a grown up, you have to be sensible and keep churning out the usual lessons for your students, no matter how much you might want to watch Elf for all 6 periods of your day! Being responsible sucks sometimes.

The Marking. The Horror.

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This one is very much self explanatory. IT’s a repetitive task but you’ve gotta do it. Keep on going!

When the dark days take their toll on your eating habits…

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It’s after the Christmas break, you’ve already abandoned your new years resolutions and you’ve caught yourself buying endless amounts of Uncle Ben’s Rice Time pots instead of making your own meals from scratch. It’s been three weeks since you even contemplated eating a fresh piece of fruit. It’s a sad reality of teaching that if you don’t work hard to keep yourself healthy and eating right it can slip easily and once it does its a downhill slide to rock bottom. You realize there’s only so many Rustlers Microwave Burgers you can eat before you start to feel repulsed by yourself… You resolve to make some changes that probably won’t ever happen but it’s comforting to lie to yourself…

6 Little Letters – OFSTED

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It’s probably your first time facing the onslaught that is Ofsted. Everyone goes into panic stations and the school stays open later so you can get your lessons plans sorted. You spend longer planning a single lesson than you ever have and make sure you’ve got all the buzzwords in there! Just don’t let that panic show on the day! Remember Han Solo “Don’t get cocky Kid”.

When it all gets a bit overwhelming and yet you still lie to everyone that you’re fine.

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Hopefully this won’t be you, but it certainly was me and my friend Rachael. We lied to ourselves, to each other and to our mentors. We were fine and didn’t need any help. Honestly. I’m fine. I’ve always had bags under my eyes. No, seriously. I am getting enough sleep. I’m fine. I promise…

When you finally admit there might have been a problem…

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At least you’ve finally admitted it! You can get this sorted now you’re being honest. It’s a big change to overhaul everything and get back on track but you can do this! You’ve been through worse. You survived the placement school. You’ve got this far dammit! You can do this. Although there’s still that niggling feeling that it’s all going to go horribly wrong. Better push that aside for now…

When your friends ask you how your life is going

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Its been so long since you’ve been on a date that you start to worry they might have changed all the rules and you’ll never adapt. Before you came out tonight it took you a good 20 minutes to find a shirt that WASN’T a work shirt. You’ve not had to look presentable for the outside world in a good few months. These normal people just love to rub their free time in your face. Still, it’s nice to know that despite your massive workaholic tendencies you still have a group of friends ready to stick by you, even though they dont’t quite get why being in the pub until closing on a  Tuesday is a bad idea…

When you just start to sink into the routine

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Oh all those worries and insecurities have become routine by now. There’s no need to worry about them because you’ve got so good at multitasking you can eat your breakfast, reply to emails and brush your hair all at the same time. You’re like a highly skilled octopus which can live on land. You take whatever comes your way in your stride. It’s all just another day at the office for you.

When you *FINALLY* embrace your inner wierdo

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It’s about time you stopped worrying what everyone else thought. Let your Freak Flag fly as they say! You’ll notice your teaching gets better and your students respect you a bit more when you put a bit more personality into your lessons and stop being so rigidly by the book. Good on you!

The final push of NQT year

A little bit of you has died inside. You’re very much a different person. This year has changed you. You’ve been to hell and back and dammit all if you didn’t survive. You feel more confident. You finally know what you’re doing. You can go into the summer holidays happy that come September you won’t have the same freak out you did this year. It was tough, but it was worth it! No more evidence folders! That’s got to be worth the hassle alone…

 

Well there you have it! Some key NQT moments summed up with Peep Show Quotes.

Obviously I must point out that a few of these moments, whilst startling similar to real life events that many newly qualified teachers go through, have in fact been slightly exaggerated for comedic purposes. It’s a great job, Teaching. I don’t think I’d trade it in for the world, despite the ups and downs!

Maybe there’s a part 3 coming soon. Maybe not. I think I need to spend a bit more time experiencing it before I try to make light of it all!

Until next time teachers!

Baking Bad: Recreating the Technical Challenges from the Great British Bake Off – Week 2: Viennese Whirls

The second technical challenge from this season of the Great British Bake Off is Viennese Whirls. Now, it shocked me that these came up as the technical for biscuit week, since I’ve always considered Viennese Whirls to be a cake rather than a biscuit. Oh how wrong I was!

Viennese Whirls are a British confection consisting of a soft butter biscuit piped into a whirl shape, said to be inspired by Austrian pastries, though entirely unrelated. They are made up of 2 biscuits with jam and butter-cream sandwiched between them.

Making jam is the first thing on the list for this technical recipe, however I have no time for that so I started MY technical challenge by adding some pizazz to store bought jam. Ah well, can’t have it all and my argument is that making jam isn’t baking. With that done, it’s on with the biscuits…

After mixing it all together, you’re guided to draw around a 2 inch biscuit cutter. I had no idea what this was and sure as hell wasn’t going to measure it but it worked out well in the end. Following a quick chill in the fridge the next challenge was trying to get the biscuit dough into the piping bag. With the completion of that wrestle it then became a challenge to pipe swirls of the mixture into the circles ran on the grease-proof paper.

This is when things got tricky.

IF you didn’t watch this episode of GBBO you might not know that Viennese Whirl dough is remarkably stiff and does not like coming out of piping bags. After a few attempts to do perfect swirls I resigned myself to the fact that I would settle for mediocre as piping is one area of baking that my skill set is lacking. I’m just awful at it!

Once all 24 rounds had been piped it was back off in the fridge to pull a Mr Freeze and “Chill Out!” before being popped in the oven to bake!  During baking, the swirls lost some definition sadly and the result was a bit of a sad looking Viennese Whirl, but I still think they looked better than some of the contestants in the tent!  Plus, they tasted delicious too – a fact even my work friends who helped me eat them will attest to!

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This week I’d score myself a 6/10 for presentation and a 9/10 for taste. But we all know the only opinion that matters is Mary’s so I think this time I’d receive a “Slightly happy Mary Berry”.

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Until Next time…

 

Baking Bad: Recreating the Technical Challenges from the Great British Bake Off – Week 1: Jaffa Cakes

So the Great British Bake Off is back on our screens and in full flow (by that I mean coming up to week 3). I’m an avid fan of the bake off as well as being an amateur baker myself. You can find some of my recipes in the archives to the right if you’re interested in what I’ve done so far.

Despite all my baking I’ve never decided that I was crazy enough to attempt the rounds of the Bake Off. Yes I’ve occasionally made a few different recipes that have featured on the show, but there’s one thing that has often eluded me – the Technical Challenge. But what is a technical challenge I hear you ask? Well, allow me to show you this extract from the Bake Off’s website:

Technical Bake

This challenge separates the wheat from the chaff. Take one basic recipe, with the same ingredients and instructions, and ask our bakers to produce the finished product… sound easy? Well, any variation on the finished product will be a result of their own technical knowledge and experience – or lack of. Bakers are laid bare in this task and this is where the pressure’s really on in the bake-off.

So without further ado I’ve decided to bake each of the technical challenges from this season of the bake off and see how I do, as an amateur baker in my own tiny kitchen. Let’s get on with it!

Week One: Jaffa Cakes

First up – it’s Jaffa Cakes! Who doesn’t love a jaffa cake? Gorgeous little spongey, orangey, chocolatey packs of goodness. They are simply amazing, especially with a cup of tea (though no dunking!). If you don’t know what a jaffa cake is, then check out this brief section from the ever knowing wikipedia:

“Jaffa Cakes are biscuit-sized cakes introduced by McVitie and Price in the UK in 1927 and named after Jaffa oranges. The most common form of Jaffa Cakes are circular, 2 1⁄8 inches (54 mm) in diameter and have three layers: a Genoise sponge base, a layer of orange flavoured jelly and a coating of chocolate.”

So what does the Queen of Baking herself have to say about Jaffa Cakes? Well, this blurb comes from the start of her technical challenge recipe.

“Jaffa cakes are nowhere near as tricky to make at home as you might think.” Well, what could go wrong?  Follow Mary’s recipe here to make your own and see!

Firstly its a case of zesting an orange and adding it to some orange flavoured jelly and boiling water. So far so good, right?nothing can go wrong? Well, thats my first issue. I followed the recipe and zested what I’d consider a small orange. Turns out it was not a small orange and I ended up with far too much zest in my jelly! Still, it tasted fine, if a little pulpy – though it set fine and went into discs perfectly, as seen below.

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Next up was the sponge. I’ve made a fair few sponge cakes in my time and I’d say that I’ve gotten pretty good at it too, though I’ve never made a whisked sponge before. I was a little apprehensive, but I absolutely nailed it! I think the sponge was the best part of my Jaffa attempts! Simples!

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Now the board is set, the pieces are moving. Time to put it together and melt some chocolate. I assembled the jaffa cakes, putting the disc of jelly onto the sponge. I melted down the chocolate. And that’s when it all went to pot. Pouring with a spoon didn’t work as the hot chocolate wanted nothing about staying with the cold jelly. It disappeared down the side of the cake in a weird gloopy mess. Piping the chocolate worked a little better but still left gaps. The whole thing looked a mess. I’ve had issues with chocolate in the past when I bake and this was no exception. Guess I need to work on it before I apply myself! 😉

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Still, a quick trip to the fridge solved the problem mostly and they tasted great! Overall, I’d give myself a 4/10 for presentation and a 7/10 for taste.

But what about Mary’s judgement I hear you say? Well, I’d rate this bake as a Concerned Mary Berry.

273Stay tuned for next time – I take on biscuit week and Viennese Whirls!

When I said I wanted to run more… – A TftMaBoL Update

Recently, I followed the lead set by YouTuber Craig Benzine (WheezyWaiter) and set myself some tasks that would help to improve  my life and lifestyle. The Tasks for the Maintenance and Betterment of Living The Tasks for the Maintenance and Betterment of Living (or TftMaBol for short). One of these tasks was that I wanted to run more, and boy did I do just that.

When I said I wanted to run more, I didn’t mean I wanted to do it all in one day.

Last Sunday, the 17th July 2016, saw World Emoji Day roll around (it’s a thing – check the internet) and a good friend of mine, along with the rest of his running events company, On The Whistle, decided to mark the occasion by holding the World Emoji Day Run in Havant. The World Emoji Day Run (WEDR from now on because I am a lazy blogger) was a 6 hour timed challenge to complete as many laps of the 4.5 (ish. And I mean ish) mile course within the time limit. 1 Lap earned you the medal. 3 Laps, you’d completed a half marathon. 6 Laps and that’s a little over a marathon. 7 or more? Well that’s insane an Ultra.

It was a great day for running, not too sunny (to start with at least), not TOO hot (but still very muggy!) and the whole event had a great atmosphere. Very friendly marshals marked the key turn points on the course and the rest was marked by tiny pink flags which, as Race Director Kiernan mentioned in his safety briefing prior to the start, “If you haven’t seen a pink flag for a while – you’ve got lost”.

Luckily I didn’t get lost thanks to that innate Geography Teacher Compass (that’s a thing right?) and made it round the course, thanks mostly to the encouragement of the people I was running with.

My first lap saw me trying to hold on to the pace set by fellow blogger Paul Jeffrey as he is a bit of a veteran of running longer distances and I thought that if I could stay with him then I’d be fine. Sadly, I didn’t even manage a whole lap with Paul, slowing down well before he did and finishing my first lap by myself. I really must thank Paul for coming back to check on me when I slowed down and for all the encouragement at the Rest Stop and on the course -I wouldn’t have made it round my first REAL long distance run (besides that half marathon I did a few years ago) without you checking up on me!

I then was joined by fellow parkrunner Jason H who I did stick with for more than a single lap and in fact managed two laps running alongside (mostly, I got a bit carried away and sped off at the end of the laps!) before letting Jason speed off for a lap as he had a deadline to stick to in order to get out on the course for a final lap. Jason kept me going with good conversation and a great strategy of run/walk where needed and again, I don’t think I’d have made it round without him! I completely forgot about the fact that I’d breezed through lap 3 and thus 13.1 miles which WAS the furthest that I’d ever run before! 

So that takes me to 4 laps completed – 18 miles. I thought that was respectable enough and hesitated on finishing my 4th lap to ring the hand bell and end my time on the course. But then the little voice (insane little voice more like it) kicked in and said “If you’ve gone this far, why not make it 5 laps? You’ve got plenty of time…” and lo and behold I’m piling haribo into my mouth, refilling my water belt and I’m back on the course jogging (slowly. Basically speed walking. In fact probably not even that) around to start another 4.5 (ISH) mile loop. Quite frankly this was a ridiculous thing to do. I’d already changed my shirt once due to it being drenched and at the end of lap 4 I took it off completely, preferring to risk being a bit cold to having super chafed nipples – they’d already been ripped apart in the first 4 laps. Now, I’ve never run 23 miles before. I’ve only ever run 13.1 as I stated and I had no idea how much my feet would HATE my decision to carry on. They got through though, just, with thanks to all the fantastic people I met on the way round and I crossed the line for the 5th time, having just completed 23 miles. Ten miles more than I’d run previously.

After crossing the line, I was told that I had 4 minutes to make a decision about whether I was going to finish there at 23 miles or get back on the course for a 6th and final lap and push towards my first marathon…

Thankfully I made the right choice, realised how tired I was already and rang the bell to end on 5 laps, 23 miles. The marathon can wait for another day. One where I’ve trained for it and I’m 100% happy with how I’m running. I got given my medal, complete with half marathon badge and finished very happy, but very sore!

I loved the WEDR – it was a great event in a great location, organised by great people and I cant recommend On The Whistle enough for all your 6 hour challenge running needs or desires. The next event is in September, and after that November.

See you at the start line!

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My Running Story – Volume 2

Just a little under three years ago I wrote a post entitled “My Running Story” which you can read if you click on the title just now (the blue words. CLICK THE BLUE WORDS!). In this post I outlined my transition from a run hater to finally using the word runner to describe myself, over the period of a year. I also shared a brief bit about why I started running and why I decided to continue. (Spoiler alert: I started running to impress a girl. Of course I did, what else was it going to be?) Today I thought it was finally time to update my running story and see what has changed in these last three years. I’ll do it in three parts…

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My newest pair of road shoes, which I got from my parents for my 24th birthday. These are my 4th pair of “proper” running shoes for roads (and the easily the brightest)!

Part One (Hundred)

Straight off the back of that blog post I kept on running and never looked back. I didn’t get particularly fast and never did manage to bring down my Newbury parkrun pb time (it’s still at 22:17 to this day). I found myself actively enjoying running, to the point where it quickly became my favourite thing to do. I found myself going out running in the week, not just at parkruns and I entered and completed a few more organised race events (I say race loosely, I have never and will never run one of these with the intention of racing it to win. I just like organised routes and medals). I injured myself a bit but nothing major and I kept ploughing on with the distance, eventually getting to the point where I entered the BUPA Great South Run. I finished the GSR in a time of 1:24:08 (I think – somewhere around there anyway) and whilst my legs hurt for days after it, I was incredibly proud of what I’d done.

My friends had all left Portsmouth at the end of our final year in University, that previous July, around the time of the last post, and I found myself mixing a lot more with the Havant parkrun regulars. I’ve made some wonderful friends through Havant parkrun and I if I’m being completely honest I don’t think I would still be running today without their support. It gets hard sometimes (more on that in Part 2) but the people I’ve met and run with kept me going. The crowning achievement of this next year of running was the day that I ran my 100th parkrun, earning entry into the coveted 100Club and getting my next free parkrun T-Shirt. I was even incredibly lucky to have two of my three best friends and ex-housemates come down for the weekend to run with me on my 100th, in addition to the Tea Themed course and Hi-Vis vest that I received from my parkrun friends. I was happy in my ability to run and felt more comfortable doing it, talking about it and enjoying it.

Part 2  Mojo No Go

It all went a bit to pot after the 100 Club. I’d suffered at the hands of my PGCE year and put on a bit of weight. That continued throughout my time in my NQT year and found myself stressed and working so hard to keep up with the gruelling demands of the school. I lost myself a bit and didn’t run as much. I hardly ever went out in the week and my road shoes sat neglected on our shoe rack. I had no mojo to go out and run. By the time I’d got home from work and had dinner it was usually 8pm and I had books to mark and lessons to plan. I was writing a new scheme of work each half term, and frequently even wrote two of them since I was teaching three different subjects at this point. I even had to plan my own RE lessons since it was apparently a “weakness in my teaching” (I did take the time to explain on multiple occasions that yes, my RE teaching wouldn’t be as good as my Geography teaching because I hadn’t studied RE since Year 11 and even then I didn’t like it. I’M A GEOGRAPHER! But did anybody listen? Of course they bloody well didn’t and of course it was all my fault who else could plan those lessons? Oh I don’t know… THE RE DEPARTMENT MAYBE? No. They didn’t.)

As a result of being tired and stressed my running suffered. My times got slower and I just couldn’t be bothered to put in the effort to bring it all back together. What was the point? I was slow anyway and I didn’t enjoy running anymore. It became a bit of a chore – something I only did to keep myself vaguely active and only then once a week at the most. I tried going to the gym to get back into it, but I was too lazy. I just couldn’t be bothered anymore.

I still went to parkrun though. Every week on Saturday morning I’d get up, I’d go to parkrun and I’d run 5 kilometres. I might have been a lot slower, I stopped to walk a lot but I still did it. It was this routine, and the people I met and mentioned before that pulled me through my year and a bit of no mojo. As I said, I would have probably quit if it was only me.

It all came back eventually though. I found myself running in the week again and making time for it. I started training regularly in Tae Kwon-Do once again after taking roughly 5 years out to do University and Teacher Training and I slowly brought my fitness back to an acceptable (by my standards) level. I’m still a lot slower than I was but I’m okay with that – at least I enjoy it all again!

Part 3 This is the bit that sounds like a Bowie song (because of all the ch-ch-ch-chaaangeeeees!)

Queen Eizabeth parkrun’s annual Summer Barbecue. I blame this place and tie as the catalyst for where everything about my running story changes. For years, since starting parkrun and catching the bug for it I’d wanted to be a Run Director (One of the people who is in charge of the run for a week and makes sure it all goes smoothly) at Havant parkrun. In my “Year of running dangerously” (or running more and enjoying it if you prefer) I’d ingratiated myself into the volunteer team at Havant parkrun. I hung around to help pack stuff away, I volunteered more and I enjoyed it. I became a bit of a regular fixture and got to know people really well. I wanted to Run Direct because I wanted to give back to the place and the thing that had kept me going through a year of hating work, through three years of learning to love running. It felt right and I was always on the lookout to see if a spot on the RD team ever opened up (it didn’t).

My enthusiasm must have been noticed by Dave, the Event Director (man who is “in charge” as it were of all the RDs and deals with parkrun HQ) who also happened to be the parkrun Ambassador for the area (person who helps new parkruns start). Dave mentioned that there was finally scope to get a new parkrun in the North of Portsmouth since the Southsea parkrun was doing so well. The funding was in place as long as a willing, enthusiastic and passionate team could be found to organise it.

Dave asked if I’d be interested in taking the reigns and becoming the Event Director for this new run.

I said yes.

Things kind of floated by for a few weeks until One Fateful Day at the QE Summer Barbecue when I asked the first two people to join my core team as Run Directors. From there we went through a bit more recruiting and a lot of course design, redesign, measuring, remeasuring, finding funding, finding people to run with us, finding volunteers to help organise us and around 8 months later we finally held our inaugural parkrun.

Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun has just had it’s 7th event and we’re still going strong. The 4 of us on the RD team have settled in nicely and it’s got a great atmosphere – largely down to the fact that all the volunteers we get helping are such amazingly positive people, and we’re lucky to have so many of them stick around with us as our Core Volunteers who we can always rely on to help us keep the parkrun going. I love being the Event Director and overseeing everything, working with my team to make the run happen and some of the stories you hear from people are so heartwarming and positive, it really makes you remember why you do it.

I love parkrun. It made me a runner. It made me a volunteer. It made me a better, more rounded and friendly person.

It also made me run in the week more and realise that if I can stop being lazy for an hour, I do still love running!

I’ll be back with Volume 3 one day, I’m sure…