It's hard keeping up with all the other stuff I've already vowed to myself to blog about (science, book reviews, secular humanist stuff, Indian veggie recipes), which is why I haven't started writing about my running either. (I'm still wrestling with whether people actually even care about the badly written, typo-strewn guff I spew.)
Last weekend I went flew home to surprise my mum for her 60th birthday and it just so happened to coincide with the Colour Blast Dash, a 5k race event organised to raise money for the Laura Centre, a chairty which offers bereavement counselling to parents whose child has died or to children or young people who have been bereaved.
I signed up with a friend, who's just recently taken up running and with whom I'll be runnning 10k with in Tromsø next month (more about that later).
It was a fantastically fun event and much more exciting and entertaining than the run I was planning to do anyway. I ran the second 2.5 km lap interchanging between forwards and backwards running between in colour blast station, just to add an extra challenge.
(My wife thinks Colour Blast Dash sounds like an item of make-up - "New Colour Blast Dash from Maybellene; for the woman who wants to show off her true colours".)
I started 'seriously' running around five years ago as a way of getting fit. Having never really run more than a couple of kilometers at a time, I signed up for the 10k CRUK Race for Life in 2009 as a way setting a target that I had to commit to. I completed that race in 45.53, 15 minutes faster than I thought I would when I set out training, and I've been a keen runner ever since.
I've done around half a dozen half marathon races and a few more 10k races since then. My fastest time for a half marathon is 1 hour 43 in the Birmingham Half in 2010, and slowest is 2 hours 5 in the Birmingham and Black Country Half in 2011, which took place 18 hours after I'd flown back from Montreal after a conference and was ridiculously jet-lagged. Last year I did the Oslo half in 1 hour 53, which I was pretty please with considering the sweltering heat.
Whilst getting faster is a goal, for me, the most important thing is just sticking with it, and signing up for events helps me do that.
Having the Oslo RoadRunner running club has also helped keep me motivated. It's a one-hour bus/tube trip away at 8AM on Saturday morning but it's totally worth it for the social element and the training advice. Whilst I lived in the UK it also helped me raise money for chairty through sponsorship but I've found that there just isn't the same culture for that in Norway.
This year I have set myself two major challenges. The first is to run both the 10k and the marathon at the Midnight Sun Marathon event in Tromsø on June 21st and the second is to run a full Oslo marathon in September.
The Tromsø challenge wasn't something I had planned but come about after my aforementioned friend took up running and wanted to run a race together. I had wanted to sign up for the marathon ever since I did a couple of runs around Tromsøya whilst up at UNN doing some teaching but I was scared about running a full marathon and couldn't really justify the costs (and carbon footprint) of flying up there just for a run, however cool it is to run in 'daylight' at 1AM.
We've been planning for my friend to visit for ages so the Tromsø event means we can kill a whole flock of birds with one stone: I'll be show my friend what an amazing country Norway is and take him to 'the Paris of North', run and support him through a 10k, and take part in a Midnight Sun race. Whilst I'm fairly confident about the run(s), I'm really not sure what the best thing to do in the two hours between the two races is. I can see running 30-odd km with such a lengthy break in between being tougher than running it in one go.
I admit I'm a bag of nerves when it comes to the marathon in September and know that I need to get more miles (ok, kilometers to my imperial-phobic Norwegian friends) under my belt, especially if I want to hit my target time of under 4 hours 30. Maybe I should go off and do some runnning instead of sitting here drinking tea and just writing about it.