My Running Story

I’m a runner.

There, I said it. I’m a runner and I have been for just over a year now. Back in my not very distant at all past, I hated running and would do anything I could to avoid it. I mean, I was active and enjoyed sport but just not running. It was boring, repetitive and I just didn’t enjoy it in the slightest. With that in mind, I did once enter a 5km fun run when I was 17, which involved dressing as Santa Claus. Whilst nowadays 5km isn’t very far to me it was back then and I found myself hating almost every minute of it. Needless to say, I didn’t run for about 3 years after that, barring the occasional jog along the seafront.

So how did that change? Well, in part it was down to parkrun. Yes, if you know me at all, or you follow me on Twitter it’s that thing that I always seem to be talking about. The free, weekly, timed 5km run every Saturday morning was a great motivator that made me keep turning up, week after week and soon enough I was hooked. It’s been over a year since I became a ‘proper’ runner and started to put my trainers to pavement regularly, but how did it all begin? Why did I start parkrunning? What made me go up to Greenham Common on that fateful Saturday morning? Well…

It was a girl. Yep, cliched as hell, but that’s right. I started running to impress a girl. After talking for a while, the girl in question had stated on many occasions that I should start parkrun and on many occasions I hadn’t been bothered to turn up… Until she said she knew I wouldn’t. Now if there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s people telling me that I won’t do something so I laced up my trainers at 8:25 on Saturday 9th June 2012 and made it to the start line with enough time for a quick warm up. Oh jeez, this was going to hurt, wasn’t it? After not running for the best part of 4 years I was about to embark on a 5km jog. Eep.

Shockingly, and against all of my prior expectations, it wasn’t that bad. I was slower than I wanted to be, but faster Thani realistically expected and managed to cross the finish line of my first ever parkrun in a time of 27:27. Not too bad. I decided I might keep this up for a while, do the occasional Saturday but sure enough the bug was in me by this point and I have managed to keep it up, week upon week for what will now be the 50th parkrun in my tally in a little over a year. Not bad…

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Yep, that was me at my first ever parkrun.

So when it came time to leave home again and return to uni, I had managed to find a parkrun fairly near to Portsmouth and decided to keep up this running lark. I even managed to convince my housemates that they should come with me. Of course the idea of getting up to go running at 9am on Saturday was met with more resistance than that of a particularly demonic dictatorship some resistance, they turned up and in time have warmed to the parkrun lifestyle. Kind of. Well, most of them. Sometimes.

At first, Havant parkrun was strange, it wasn’t what I had gotten used to over the summer. Needless to say, that all changed once we started integrating into the group and in time it has come to be more of a family to me than a group of runners. The people there are fantastic and I’ve made some amazing friends in my time running with them. Havant parkrun also saw the creation of my running club, Tea Time Terrace, the origin of which will be explored a little later in another post. The Terrace has been a big motivator and has made the while thing more fun, combined with becoming surrogate members of the Cake Club, a group of runners that enjoy baking too (I know, it sounds like I was made for this club!). All in all, it’s been a fantastic 9 months at Havant and I’m excited to be back there come September for another 9 months at the very least (albeit without The Terrace, but hopefully I’ll manage ;p).

With summer coming back around, I’m about to start back at Newbury for the holiday stint, trying to bring my course PB down from its current state of 22:17 and enjoying myself. A lot has changed since I started – I have proper running shoes now! Ive even done a few longer distance runs, with a 10k and a half marathon under my belt and plans to do a lot more in the future. I’m sure a lot will continue to change as I keep running and I hope you stick with me through it all! Maybe you’ll even start a running journey of your own! If you have any stories to share, please do! Either pop your tale in the comments or better yet, START A BLOG and share it there! 😀

Oh, one more thing. I’m no longer staring things to impress a girl anymore. I guess I’ve finally grown up 😉

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(Well, only a little bit!)

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Stop Doing That… In a Fast Food Restaurant!

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might think that the topic of Fast Food is a bit played out since I’ve already talked about it a fair few times. If you’re new here or require a catch-up then please click here to learn about OCS (Obnoxious Customer Syndrome) or here to see the first “Stop Doing That” about ordering your fast food.

So where can we go from here? Surely I’ve already covered the most important parts, right? Well today, we’ll be looking at what happens when you move away from the counter and enter the restaurant seating area. There are just oh so many things that you can do here to make yourself one of the most annoying customers ever. So, without further ado let me attempt to help you realize and rectify your mistakes!

STOP: Not clearing your own table
This is something that majorly bugs me. It’s not difficult to do either, so there’s no excuse for you getting up and wandering off WITHOUT taking the tray with all of the rubbish and detritus from your meal and putting it in the bin. Seriously, the bins are out there, in the lobby, for you to use. In most cases you walk past at least one bin to reach the exits! It’s not hard. If you don’t take your tray to the bin then I hope you enjoy the special hell that will be waiting for you. you know, the one reserved for child molesters and people that talk at the theater. (Bonus points for you if you got that reference. If you didn’t, you can educate yourself here: Special Hell)

STOP: Covering the tables in sauce
I mean really, we give you paper plates for a reason so is there any need to cover the entire table in sauce? Do you know how difficult it is to get that stuff off once it’s dried!? It’s like adamantium, you can’t destroy it!

STOP: Getting carried away with the napkins etc.
You know full well you’re not going to use that entire wad of 50 or so napkins for your single burger meal, so how about you just grab a few and not half a forest’s worth of napkins. Save the Earth guys! (And yes, stop me having to sweep up hundreds of unused napkins every shift.)

STOP: Throwing what seems like the entirety of your meal on the floor
I know that occasionally, things fall on the floor. I’m ok with that really. I don’t mind having to sweep the floor, I have to do it anyway. I do take a personal vendetta fueled by my own burning rage against people who do this slight umbrage with those people that seem incapable of using a table and have managed to tip an entire trays worth of food and rubbish over the floor. Table manners do exist guys, please try not to forget them just because you’re not in a fancy restaurant!

 

Hiatus

Yes, that’s right I’m back after my two and a half men month hiatus. Which I kind of forgot to mention. Whoops.

Yes, the disruption to your regularly scheduled (HA! That’ll be the day!) blog updates was completely intentional. I have had a LOT to do recently, what with finishing my dissertation and then studying for exams. Unfortunately this meant that blogging had to fall by the wayside. Never fear though, I have now finished university for the summer at least, I’ll be back to take up my next challenge on a PGCE Geography course in September, providing the exams go well!

Now then, shall we pick up where we left off? I know it’s been a while but I think I remember how to do this…

I do have a LOT of things to talk about now though, so sit tight and enjoy the exciting ride as I catch you up on what I’ve been up to! Just because I’ve not been posting blogs doesn’t mean I haven’t been planning them – and yes, that includes a few new fan favourites! (I don’t know who I’m trying to impress, I don’t have any fans besides the room cooling type…)

Starting from tonight, new blog posts will be appearing! I’ll wait whilst you get the celebrations out of the way, take your time…

All done? Excellent.

Tonight, the (unintentionally) long running story of my trip to Rome will finally come to an end, and in the coming days, weeks and months I’ll be blitzing through the “Blog Ideas” note on my iPad.

Enjoy!

 

Bolt Round the Holt 2013 Half Marathon

It’s been a while since I wrote a post about running, so I thought that the recap of my first ever half marathon might be the occasion needed to make this post a little bit more interesting to those of you that are non-runners.

As I mentioned, this was to be my first half marathon, as I usually stick to the 5km distance of a parkrun for my running escapades, though I have completed a 10km whilst dressed as Father Christmas. But still, a half marathon is equal to 21km a full 11km more than I’ve ever run before.

I wish I could tell you the tale of my perfectly crafted and well detailed training plan that I rigorously stuck to from the day that I submitted my entry into Bolt Round the Holt but alas, I’m not one of life’s most sensible crowd! As it was, my training plan consisted of a single ten miler, some 8 mile runs and a 7 mile one, on top of the regular 5km parkruns. Not the best plan to make sure that you can manage a full 13 miles. Luckily, my housemate Tom decided to enter alongside me and his training wasn’t much better so there was some comfort there.

Race day arrived and after the car trip down to Alice Holt Wood near Farnham we were registered, got our race numbers and then decided to wait around, soak up the atmosphere and then, when it was finally close enough to the start to justify removing the warm clothing in this horrifically biting April weather we’ve been lumbered with, we started warming up.

After a half hour delay due to an over crowded registration desk the aerobic group warm up started, although we were shivering the entire way through it, just wishing that the start would hurry up and arrive as we’d already warmed up, before finding out about the delay! Finally though, we were arranged on the line and ready to go: just a single kilometre short lap to begin with for us 21kers before starting the bulk of the race – 4 laps of the 5km loop.

Settling into what I thought was a comfortable pace for this distance, I made it about half a lap before being caught up by some of my fellow Havant parkrunners and decided to stick with them for a while, in order to keep myself motivated. The kilometres were decreasing, we were passing some people, we met yet another Havant parkruner on our second lap whilst she was nearing the end of her 10k run, and we were dealing well with the grotesquely chewy energy gels provided at the water stations. Unfortunately, my time with my fellow parkrunners was nearing it’s end.

Halfway through the first kilometre of lap three, K16-17, I started to flag a bit whilst they managed to keep the pace up. By the end of the first hill I was falling even further behind and my inability to run on flat surfaces (yes, I’m one of those weird people that actually LIKE running on hills as I can get a good pace going) meant that they were getting smaller and smaller as they ran off into the distance. I resolved not to give up and kept forcing myself through the pain in my legs, this being the furthest that I have ever run in one go. Making it round to start the final lap, I was tired, I was in pain and I was cursing whoever it was at the organising committee that recommended that you wear trail shoes on the run, when you needed them for maybe 300m of the lap if that. Oh how I longed for my road shoes!

Te final lap saw me have to slow my pace on the final part of a hill so I was pretty much walking for a hundred metres, in order to remove the K Tape I had on my knees as it was flapping loose, but I kept the running going and all of the people that passed me encouraged me and told me to keep going, as I was doing to the people that I passed. The final hill saw me slow to a walk in order to cough up what felt like a lung when I mis-swallowed some of my final gel but then I was off again, pushing myself harder than I have in a long time, not wanting to give up and wanting to beat the people around me to the finish line as I’d come this far.

Entering the home straight my housemate was on side cheering me on (or shouting abuse at me, which is more likely) as we’re the three Havant parkrunners that I’d been with on the run. I managed to cross the finish line with a horrific expression on my face in a time of 2:13:00. Not too bad for my first half marathon, especially one as hilly as this, and with no training!

Here’s a picture of me from the run, it’s taken quite early on, as you can tell by me still smiling and not grimacing in pain as the later photos show!

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Who am I?

No, I’ve not suddenly become a little forgetful and troubled by my existence in the face of impending doom like Theoden, king of Rohan.
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Nor am I starting my slow descent into becoming Johnny, the tackling Alzheimer’s patient (Extra points available for telling me that reference in the comments).
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Instead, I thought we would get to know each other a little, with these very simple questions. Should be a bit of fun though, right?

1. What is your name (can be first name or one you go by)?
Rob
2. How old are you?
20
3. What is your username and why did you choose it? (WordPress, twitter, etc)
ThatRobHall, because I’m THAT Rob Hall
4. What’s your job?
I’m a student, so I’m avoiding the world of work for the time being
5. What are your dreams/plans for the future?
Two very different things, my plans are to finish Uni, get a job, enjoy my life.
6. What is your favourite music genre?
PopPunk
7. Who is your favourite band or artist?
Bowling For Soup
8. Do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend?
No
9. Who is your celebrity crush if you have one?
Emma Watson
10. What is your favourite food?
lasagne
11. What is your favourite drink?
Tea
12. What kind of operating system do you use (Windows XP, Windows 7, MAC OS, Ubuntu etc)?
Windows 7
13. What are your favourite websites?
Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, 9gag, YouTube
14. What is your favourite book?
The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, hands down.
15. What is your current obsession?
Castle.
16. What is something that others do that can annoy you?
That’s a large pool, why not check these out instead….
17. What do you like the most about your best friend?
He’s as utterly ridiculous as I am
18. Are you into girls or guys or both?
Girls
19. What was or is your favourite subject at school?
Geography, predictably.
20. How do you usually dress when chilling out or out with friends?
Jeans, t shirt/shirt
21. What do you normally wear during the day whether that is at work or at home?
See above
22. What do you wear in bed?
I’m a big fan of t shirt and comfy pyjama bottoms, rather than the Guy Standard of boxer shorts
23. Do you love or hate your computer?
Both.
24. What is your favourite colour?
Purple
25. What’s your favourite film?
Serenity
26. Do you prefer a bath or a shower?
Bath
27. What bad habits do you have?
Too many to name, chiefly: swearing
28. Favourite gaming console?
Wii, go ahead and laugh gaming purists
29. What did you last LOL at?
A joke on sickipedia
30. Do you have any addictions?
KitKat Chunkies
31. Where is the best place you have been?
Rome (you can check out my trip here: part1 part 2 part 3
32. Where would you like to visit if you had all the money in the world?
Wherever takes my fancy really!
33. Do you have a favourite quote?
“It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to. ” – Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit
34. What makes you angry the most about the world today?
Laziness and apathy combined
35. What is your favourite TV series?
Castle
37. Do you like follow for follow?
No, I’ll follow you if I like what you do and find you interesting and I hope that’s why people follow me too!
38. Do you drink?
Occasionally, I am a student after all!
39. Favourite hobby?
Tae Kwon-Do
40. If you had to choose between the internet and music which would you choose?
I can get music on the Internet, so Internet!
41. Do you ever want to get married?
Someday
42. Where do you see yourself in 1 year?
Hopefully, looking forward to the Easter holidays
43. Favourite fictional character?
Gandalf
44. What animal species are your favorites?
Dogs
45. What kind of instant message platform do you use? (Msn, Skype, IM)
Skype and FacebookChat
46. What was your childhood dream?
To be a train driver
47. Have you got any specific talents? (Singing, drawing..)
Rapier wit and of course, modesty 😉
48. Describe how you relax
Either in the gym or running or watching TV and reading a book
49. Do you have kind of body art? (Piercings, tattoos, etc.)
No
50. Do you know any other languages than English?
I know parts of French, German, Italian and Korean but not enough to speak confidently in any.

Fill it out for yourself and leave it in the comments!

Roaming Rome Day 3 – Stairway to Heaven

Waking up Monday morning, my sister decided to push through the pain and swelling in her tooth and stay on in Rome, mainly because we hadn’t yet seen the Vatican! After yet another delicious trip to the breakfast buffet we decided to go and ask at the front desk where exactly we might find a supermarket. Much to my relief and annoyance, the very helpful receptionist told us to turn left at the end of the road and keep walking and we’d see it about 5 minutes away. All this time and there was a supermarket right on our doorstep, and here’s the kicker: it was open until half 8 on Sunday night! We could have solved all of our problems!

Anubis was always my favourite Egyptian God

Anubis was always my favourite Egyptian God

Hercules stands tall in the Vatican Museums

Hercules stands tall in the Vatican Museums

After a trip to the shop to stock up on the essentials (we finally had water, I was so happy) we were hopping on the metro and heading out to visit the Vatican museums! After going through the security scanners and waiting in line for quarter of an hour, we were on our way up the stairs and into the Vatican museums, opting out of the short itinerary route provided and instead taking the longer route through the exhibits.

The Vatican museums are huge. I mean seriously huge. There’s so much on show and it’s all from different cultures. There’s an Egypt room, an Ancient Greece room, the Raphael rooms which he and his apprentices frescoed and of course, the Sistine Chapel. Also, for all of you geographers out there, there’s a map library which, I’m not going to lie, wasn’t quite as impressive as I had been led to believe but it was still impressive to see the detail put into these old maps.

The geographer inside of me got very excited by these maps...

The geographer inside of me got very excited by these maps…

After a good few hours of wandering through the exhibits (you could easily spend a whole day in there!) we finally arrived at the Sistine Chapel, which was absolutely breathtaking. The work of Michaelangelo on the ceiling of the chapel was absolutely incredible – although I didn’t realise how small the section with “The Creation of Adam” on it was, I thought it was huge but it turns out it’s actually not that big and forms part of an artistic patchwork over the ceiling. I tried to get a picture of it, but I got repeatedly shouted at by the Vatican security guards and, not wanting to be escorted out of the Vatican, I put my camera away.

Me, in front of St Peter's Basilica

Me, in front of St Peter’s Basilica

The afternoon was spent in St Peters square where, the day before, the Pope had given his last mass before retiring. You don’t realise how huge everything is until you’re standing in the centre of it all. It was also really warm outside, so it was lovely to enjoy the gorgeous Roman Spring weather before coming back to the eternal chiller that is England.

Of course, my sister and I felt that we couldn’t visit St Peter’s Basilica without making the climb up to the dome to get the panoramic view over the city from up high. The climb up to the Cupola as it’s called is roughly 550 steps unless you take the lift up to the first roof (we didn’t take the lift) where it will be only a mere 320 steps until you reach the very top. Let me just put it this way, those stairs are windy. And narrow. In places, they’re pretty diagonal too where the curved roof of the Cupola slopes over the top of you. The final steps to the balcony at the top are extremely tight and instead of a handrail, there’s just a long piece of rope dangling from the top for you to grab on to. It’s worth the climb though, the view was stunning although there were a LOT of people crammed onto the balcony – there could be a queuing system put in place quite easily to limit the number of people up there at one time (or maybe that’s just my overwhelming Englishness coming out yet again).

You see that little bit at the top of the big dome? That's where you climb to.

You see that little bit at the top of the big dome? That’s where you climb to.

After making it down, we witness the changing of the Swiss Guard before heading back to the hotel for some much needed downtime and then spent the evening in an absolutely fantastic little ristorante in Piazza del Popolo called “Il Brillo Parlante”. if you’re ever in Rome and staying near Popolo you should definitely visit this place for dinner – their pizzas were absolutely delicious and such a reasonable price!

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel looking forward to our first day in Rome where we didn’t actually have anything planned, so we could indulge in that brilliant treat the next morning – the lie in!

 

iPod Shuffle Game!

The idea for today’s post comes from my friend Kat. If you’re new here you might not realise that I have what most people would call a terrible and eclectic taste in music. Personally, I think I have a smashing taste in music, but then again if you’ve read any of the Christmas or Valentines music posts, you might be able to make a case to the contrary.

One day in our uni computer room, Kat and I decided to shuffle our iPods and see which of us had the weirdest (or worst, in fact) music come up. Needless to say, we probably should have been doing some work but this seemed more important at the time (and it’s given you a blog post to read, you lucky devils). Needless to say, this then gave rise to her idea that I should do it again some time and post the results on here.

We’d better get started then…

1. Wings – Little MixThis is one of those guilty pleasure songs for me. I know I shouldn’t like it but I cant help it! It’s really catchy, nice and happy, shiny pop music. It’s also great to have on a running playlist! Just so you don’t think I own the full album, this song did come as part of NOW83, not a specific Little Mix album.

2. Heartbeats – José Gonzalez
This has been on my iPod for as long as I can remember. I don’t know why it’s there or how it got there to begin with but it’s a lovely song anyway. I remember hearing it on pretty much every TV show around for ages and it’s just such easy listening that clearly I couldn’t help but download it!

3. Moon Boots – The Script
You know when you download a new album and then transfer the whole thing to your iPod to listen to it? I did that with 3 by The Script and up until now I didn’t know that this song existed. Listening to it now, I quite like it even though it’s pretty much like every other pop song out there. Nice and chilled out, The Script never disappoint!

4. Lets Go To The Pub – Bowling For Soup
Let’s not beat around the bush, I love Bowling For Soup. They’re my favourite band. This song is just one of those happy, catchy ones that fully emphasise why they’re such a great band: They’re relateable! Which group of friends out there hasn’t decided to go to the pub to blow off steam after having any number of crappy experiences in a  day? Or even just to celebrate having a good day? Standard fare for BFS, this song epitomises their “We like to have fun and make music” philosophy.

5. I Want – One DirectionThis song is absolutely awful. Another casualty of the “whole album shift”, One Directions first album got uploaded onto my iPod to see if it is as bad as everyone was saying. Half of it is, the other half I quite like (commence flaming in the comments…). Sadly this song falls into the first category.

6. Feel Like Home – Fort Minor
Back in my teenage years I absolutely loved both Linkin Park and rap music. Therefore when Mike Shinoda, the rapper from Linkin Park started a rap group I was in heaven. To do this day, Fort Minor make the cut for my iPod and I always love it when they crop up on shuffle.

7. Battle of Jericho – Hugh Laurie
I like all kinds of music, especially blues and soul, so when Hugh Laurie released his album I checked it out and quite liked the sound. Battle of Jericho is based upon the biblical tale of Joshua and it’s a nice song if you like this kind of music. Plus, Hugh Laurie isn’t just an actor, he can sing too!

8. My Name Is – Eminem
I went through an embarrassingly long phase in my early teenage years where I wanted to be just like Eminem, so much so that I even unsuccessfully dyed my hair blonde at one point. I thankfully out grew it (both the hair dye and the phase) but I still like the music Eminem produces.

9. Bread – Alex Day
I knew we’d get to the weird part of my iPod before long. Bread is a cover of Alex Day’s flatmates original with a more electronic/dancey feel to it. A biographical song about Flora Spread, a baker with ambition, Bread is a little weird, but I quite like it. Plus it conveys a message at the end.

10. Selfish – Daniel Powter
Most people only know Daniel Powter as a man that has a bad day but he’s so much more. His latest album is brilliant if you like the standard pop music genre like I do.

Well there you go. You’ve now had a look into the first ten songs that appear on my iPods shuffle function tonight. Maybe you liked one of them and decide to try out the band, maybe you hated all of them and think I have the worst taste in music possible. Either way, why don’t you shuffle your iPod and leave the names of the first 10 songs in a comment? Let’s see if we can dredge up some terrible songs that you forgot were on there!

Oh and if you want to know what my friend Kat’s first ten shuffle songs were then I’ll try and get her to comment them below for you! I’ll warn you now, her iPod has some right rubbish on it!