Thursday, 24 December 2015

Running 1000 miles in a year

After-work run at Preston, Herts

Today I ran up my 1000th mile this year -yipee!  Here it is in numbers:

Number of runs: 170
Shortest run: 0.7 miles (late for church)
Longest run: 26.2 miles (MK Marathon)
Height gained: 32,178ft
Time taken: 143h 59m
Weight loss or gain: I lost a little in the Spring and then ended up 4lbs heavier!
Outlay: One pair of running shoes (these really need replacing after 600 miles)
Detergent: Several bottles of Halo anti smelly detergent for washing my running gear

Why did I do this?
Quite simply I need a challenge, without any kind of a challenge I am inclined to "tick over" and drift.  So having some kind of goal, something to aim for, keeps me going and gives me some kind of self imposed accountability.  Mind you, I did mention this challenge to a number of friends, knowing they'd check up on me to make sure I hadn't wimped out. This also helped keep me on track.

Although 1000 miles sounds quite a long way, it's actually no big deal when you have 365 days to do it in.  Actually most novice runners could do it I reckon, it's averaging just under 3 miles a day and put like that makes it sound very achievable.  I tended to have one longish run each week, say 10 or 11 miles and then two or three shorter runs on weekdays.  These shorter runs were often after work and around Stevenage.

The highlights

  • Getting ahead in January.  I ran a lot last Christmas, every day in fact.  This put me into a good position to spur me on.  
  • Training for the MK Marathon as this was a target within the overall target.  I improved my previous time and although I'm no notable runner, I was pretty chuffed to come comfortably under 4 hours.
  • Another race, arguably my favourite race, is the Ridgeway Run in October and I always enjoy this regardless of my time.  It's a perfect time of year for a run through some wonderful countryside.
  • Running in new places this year.  This includes around the pretty Hertfordshire lanes around Preston, Whitwell and so on.  A real highlight was running in Germany on our holiday there in Bremen and the one run I had as we passed through Hamburg. I also ran a little in Yorkshire.
  • Getting the course record for running up Bison Hill.
  • Having running as an on-going stress buster through some difficult times at work this year.  As you will have seen from the previous posts (and others dotted through the year) there has been a horrible restructure which I survived by the skin of my teeth - and then decided to quit having got a better job elsewhere!
  • Having some "me" time every time I ran.  This is an opportunity to be alone with my thoughts which sometimes was about problem solving, thinking things through and most of all, being thankful for all of God's blessings
The low points
  • Getting a really bad cold in December and not running for almost two weeks.  This followed a flu jab which I'm starting to regret ever having in the first place.
  • Picking up an injury in the weeks before the MK Marathon.  This was self inflicted through over training and increasing my mileage too quickly
  • Not logging a couple of runs but this is no big deal
  • Although I run reasonably well (cruising at 8:30 minute/mile) my core strength and above waist tone is not very good: I need better all-round fitness and this in turn will make me into a better runner, cyclist and so on.
Running 1000 miles in 2015 has been a fantastic thing to do.  Having said that, it hasn't been too difficult and any difficulty has been maintaining the discipline of doing it.  Having Strava on my iPhone was the key, keeping a log of my runs and having the weekly totals shown has been very helpful.

I have loved this, it's been a really good challenge to do.  I think what has been especially good is that it has kept me going through the year and it hasn't been about training for one big event.  It's about on-going fitness and I have been blessed with excellent health once again this year, for which I am extremely thankful for.

Dealing with smelly technical fabric
MK Marathon
Bison Hill
The best run in 2015
Ridgeway Run - tattooed legs and heavy feet

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Work-life update

I can hardly believe it is around 7 weeks since I last blogged here.  So much has happened.  Seeing as a blog is, quite literally a web log, I will treat this post as just that: a log of what's been happening.  Then I hope to resume normal blogging.

Work changes
My last post was about having complete faith and trust.  I also vaguely referred to something I wasn't in a position to share.   On that day I was interviewed and offered a new job which remained in management and I would maintain my salary.  I was also asked not to say anything as the unsuccessful candidates had yet to be notified.

I felt so thankful I had future employment lined up with security of a decent salary, pension and so on.  But it wasn't quite what I wanted or felt I would be best suited for.  I had also applied for another internal job as Partnership Manager.  This was a role I have already done but I knew would be tricky and I blew the interview.  I knew that was the case from 5 seconds into the first question.  My colleague who got the job will be fine.  It took me a while to find out I hadn't got the job as I think there were a few behind-the-scenes suffling around taking place.

What I hadn't mentioned at work at all was an external job with my Local Authority I had spotted and decided to go for.  Normally we can attend interviews in our work time but as I didn't want anyone to know about it, I took a day's annual leave.  When I found the job advert I wasn't actively seeking another job but it struck me as a job I could do.  It took me a few evenings to complete the on-line application and then fine tuning it on a Saturday.  Rachel double checked I had covered everything and cross referenced it to the job description.  Pressing the 'submit' button felt good and the day before the deadline as well!

Another interview
A few days later I had an email inviting me for an interview and, as is often the case nowadays, to give a presentation as part of the process.  I was very pleased to do this as I feel more in control and it's a good way of putting things across which might not easily fit into the remainder of interview questions and answers.  The interview itself went fairly well and I felt that I had given my best.

At the end of the interview I was asked if I had any questions to ask myself.  I breathed out heavily, smiled and asked "do I lose marks if I don't ask anything, I'm exhausted!".  The interviewers both laughed with me and reassuring said I didn't.  Actually I followed this with saying sometime thing about time scales and when I'd know the result.  In the nicest of ways it was explained that although they had been interviewing through the day (it was a Friday), there was one further person to interview on the following Tuesday.  Because of this, the earliest I would know would be on that Tuesday afternoon or possibly on the Wednesday.

Tenterhooks  on Tuesday
From the interview on Friday, the days went slowly and I kept thinking about the interview.  I was almost replaying it in my mind, going over the things I remember saying and trying to match this against the questions I could recall.  The rapport seemed fairly positive between myself and the interviewers and I was left feeling it had gone fairly well.  I knew I had done my best but naturally he big question was "was this good enough?  Was there to be someone else better than me?".  Perhaps?  I just didn't know.

Friday went, Saturday, Sunday and Monday crept passed slowly.  Tuesday and then Tuesday afternoon arrived.  Luckily for me I didn't have any meetings so I was just working at my desk, which is in an open plan area.  My phone was there on my desk and I'd listen out for it overtime I got up and walked across to the printer or tea station.  I even took it with me when I went to the toilet; I just didn't want to miss THE phone call.

Five thirty came and there was no phone call.  Running through my mind was the thought of the successful candidate having a phone welcome conversation followed everyone else the following day, myself included in that.  I was a little philosophical but not giving up either.  I changed into my running gear and went for a post work run around Stevenage and that's when things changed!

I was almost back to the office and jumping into my car when my phone rang.  I took the call and was amazed, thankful, surprised and totally flabbergasted I'd been offered the job.  Forgive me for not going into all the details.  I did, however, apologise for being a tad out of breath and for the noisy traffic in the background through explaining I was having a run.

"You're putting me to shame Doug, I'm at home now and I thought it would be better to call you after you would have finished your work for the day".

I became a little cold having stopped running to take the call and so I ran back to my car with that extra spring in my step.  I called home to share the good news once I was at my car and drove home with the most enormous grin on my face.

Keeping quiet at work!
I knew my new employer was wanting to move swiftly to all the pre-employment checks which would include references.  I also knew that it would be bad form on my part not to say anything to the CEO before a reference request arrived in his inbox.  I waited until the Thursday to tell him, I was just wanting to savour the moment for myself for a little while.

The CEO genuinely was delighted for me and was generous in the things he said.  I also agreed I wasn't going to announce the news widely until I had the contract and I was actually handing in my notice formally.  I shared the news with a very small number of close colleagues, of whom I trusted.

Is it really happening?
It took about 4 weeks for all the pre-employment stuff to take place.  Occupational health, DBS check, references, bank details and so on.  It was, at some point, slightly surreal.  It was helpful that the new HR department kept in regular touch with me about all the different steps taking place.  Eventually all the checks had been done and I knew my contract was coming and I had to give some thought to how I might announce the news more widely.

I was a fairly regular attendee at SMT, the senior management team.  Although I wasn't quite in that club, I often had business there of one kind or another.  And so as I was giving a general update on some things, I left staffing to the last bullet point.  I updated SMT on my small team and then shared the news about myself.  Many seemed surprised, especially as I'd been offered the internal job.  Afterwards quite a few came up to me wanting to know more and then the news spread more widely.

The last few days
I managed to negotiate a slightly early exit on account of the informal notice I had already given.  Gradually I shared the news with external people, some of whom had heard on the grapevine.  I sent a round-robin email to everyone.

A Director thought I needed a bit of a "jolly" before I left and I got asked to go to Anglia Ruskin University to represent us at the employment fair for criminology students.  So I went there on my penultimate day with a colleague having spent a couple of days clearing my desk etc.  I liked that as it wasn't much fun moping around in the office.

The last day came, last Thursday.  A colleague from Norwich came over to see me as she's picking up some of my work.  And then the last few emails and sorting this and that including my final "out of office".  The CEO took me out for lunch which was nice, though we were both slightly guarded.  Back to the office I produced cream cakes for everyone and at 3pm came my farewell.  The CEO was very gracious and said some lovely things.  I also wanted to thank my colleagues around me and say how many positive memories I was taking.  I surprised myself by referring to the tough times in my work.  These were the times when I had learnt the most and had generally benefitted myself.  I could think of the tough lessons I'd learnt, the stress I'd had on occasions and how this had pushed me to the edge.  I held back on those things, there are times when it's best to do this.

I handed the CEO my ID card, phone, iPad and door pass.  We shook hands and I went downstairs to Offender Management and said farewell to a number of colleagues individually who hadn't realised I was actually leaving there and then (a couple of others are going on Christmas Eve).  I said my farewell to the receptionist, asking her to finally sign me out.

Running and so on
Well everything has been going okay until 10 days ago.  My mileage for the year stands at 970 miles and I managed to pick up the most awful cold about 10 days ago.  You know this has happened before after a flu jab and I'm not convinced they serve me very well!  It's only today that I'm really anywhere near ready to run and I know I'll go around the bend if I don't get out there for a few miles today.

I suspect I need to take it easy as it must be 10 -14 days since I last ran.  I also guess I need to run a bit everyday now to hit the 1000 mile mark before the 31st.  It would be nice to have a few miles to spare and I'm sure I'll reflect on the 1000 mile challenge over the next couple of weeks.

Washing smelly technical fabric
Bison Hill
MK Marathon race report