dalliard.net

Not Dead Yet

Yes, I am still alive. Yes, it has been a busy few months and yes, I shan't leave it so long next time. Here's a quick summary of what I've been up to…. Read More...
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Thank You

Number thirteen has been completed without mishap.

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Cardiff was my first half-marathon back in 2013, so it was good to come back for a third time. Whilst my time was no record-breaker, the size of the event probably was. It gets bigger and bigger each year. This time, over seventeen thousand runners crossed the start-line - and I was right at the back. It took me nearly twenty minutes to cross the start-line. I must remember to join the queues for the loos a lot earlier!

Nonetheless, the atmosphere is what makes Cardiff such a great event. I don’t think I saw a section of the course that didn’t have supporters. Even one of the local residential homes wheeled out its residents and got them cheering us on. The support is what makes the event and I’d really recommend it as your “first” should you ever want to try running a race of this distance.

The best part, though, is that as a result of your sponsorship £187 has been raised to support the Campaign Against Living Miserably. By my calculations that’s enough money for them to take over twenty-five calls. Thank you so much.

My next half-marathon will be in Exeter at the beginning of next year.
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Obligatory Begging Post

A couple of posts ago I stated my intention to enter my thirteenth half-marathon and (for once) be sponsored, with the proceeds going towards CALM, the Campaign Against Living Miserably.

So I've entered one. My thirteenth half will be Cardiff Half-Marathon, the place where I ran number one three years ago. It seemed such a fitting place to do it. Aside from the nostalgia value, the event is wonderful. The crowds are plentiful and supportive, the scenery is great, it's well-organised and the course is virtually flat. I'm looking forward to it.

Running has been my saviour. It took some time to figure it out, but getting an hour or so of running in every few days really has done wonders for my mental health and it only seems right to use that for the benefit of others.

And so we come to the crunch, the bit where I ask you if you'd be so good to sponsor me. I have two sponsorship pages, although I've subsequently found that if you use the Virgin link, more money goes to charity.

My JustGiving link is here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/donatetocalm
My Virgin Money Giving link is here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/calmdonation

Many thanks for taking the time to read this post - and if you can pledge a bit of sponsorship I'd be extremely grateful.
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CALM

This weekend I’m running another half-marathon, the Imerys Trail near St Austell, Cornwall. I was recently pondering the events I’ve entered since I started running and it dawned on me that this is my twelfth.

Bloody hell. A dozen of the buggers.

That puts a smile on my face, because when I was back at school I was shite at sport, which commonly translates to "lacks confidence" in school reports. I was the wobbling and puffing kid at the back of the cross-country group. "Sport" was just not my thing.

If only my P.E. teacher could see me now. What I lack in speed, I make up for in sheer bloody-minded determination.

I’ve been running for nearly three and a half years now and it's gone far past my original intention, which was purely to get fitter for my second-dan grading back in 2013. However, when I completed my first half-marathon that was the turning-point. Not wanting to lose the vastly improved fitness that I’d gained (or go through the pain of getting back up to half-marathon fitness again), I continued to enter more events.

There was another side-effect of running - I felt happier in my own skin.

And so this is the point where I lay my cards on the table. I’ve occasionally had poor mental-health over the years. I’ve had bouts of depression that have come and gone like an unwelcome, incontinent lodger who sleeps in your bed, drinks your beer and emits his gas in your face. At times, the irksome oaf has lurked around for years before finding other digs.

My unwelcome guest has visited me several times, my first being when I was around thirteen or fourteen, a time when I was probably too young to realise what it was. A combination of bullying at school and my parents separating started it all off, returning again when I was in my mid-twenties and a third time when my mother died. For me, depression is a disease which doesn't have a cure, but seems to come and go in episodes.

But I've been "free" for a while now - and that's jolly good.

The amount of evidence supporting improved mental health through running continues to grow. Studies aside, I find that it takes approximately 45 minutes for the benefits to kick in afterwards. It’s been said that there’s a “runner’s high”. Whilst I still think that's bollucks, whatever endorphin release happens during the activity seems to keep me going for a few days - and that’s got to be better than medication, with all the nasty side-effects that go with it. A run every three-ish days seems to do the trick. If I've missed one or been inactive for four or five days I start getting irritable - it's time to get another session in.

So if running does something for my wellbeing, then it seems reasonable to use that boost for the benefit of other’s mental-health too. Unfortunately, the subject is still an uncomfortable one for many in this country and I’d like to do something (however small) to address that. Over the years I've had varied responses to the condition, ranging from "Cheer the fuck up" to things a lot more supportive. It's only through support, openness and a willingness to change the stigma attached to mental health in this country that we'll ever address it. Us men are not good at talking, but if the stigma can be removed then we'll find it easier to talk about it.

Over those twelve half-marathons, I've seen a lot of people wearing running shirts advertising the charity they're running for. One charity has resonated with me more than any other, going by the name of "C.A.L.M" or the Campaign Against Living Miserably. They give advice, counselling and crisis support and the organisation aims to reduce the male suicide rate, particularly in the 20 - 45 age range - the biggest killer of younger men in the UK. There have been times in the past where I could've been a statistic.

I've decided that my thirteenth half-marathon will raise money for this charity. Getting through depression is a struggle. Because they're not obvious, mental-health issues are such a hard thing for some to comprehend. Your brain isn't in a plaster cast. To the average person on the street who sees you, you look fine. And yet, on some days, just getting out of bed is a struggle in itself. If I can raise something through completing an event and indirectly prevent a suicide, then I guess that adds something positive to my life too. It gives me some purpose when I'm clocking up the miles. Indirectly, whilst improving my own mental state, I'll be helping somebody else's.

I'm not sure what my next event will be yet, but Bristol Half-Marathon is in September and would allow adequate time for me to badger the likes of you reading this for money in sponsorship. Once the event details are finalised, I'll post a link here as well as a pinned post on Twitter and naturally would be very grateful for any contribution you can make. I'll post again in the next few weeks, once my legs have stopped hating me after tomorrow's event.

Thanks for reading.
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A fitting end

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Here are my beaten up old running shoes, which over the last two years have carried me for about 1,500 miles. I've worn them far longer than I ever should've. They have rips, the soles have large flat-spots which are about to wear through and the cushioning isn't what it was - but wearing them was a bit like wearing a favourite pair of jeans. Old habits die hard. However, now is the time to give them a dignified retirement and get them replaced. This poor old pair of Nike Lunareclipse 3s are being replaced with a pair of ASICS GT-1000 v3s. I only hope that they manage to give such good service.

As you might've gathered at this point, I'm still running - and as September approaches, I'm looking forward to having a new set of challenges to work towards. To kick things off, I've got my name down again for Bristol Half-Marathon. When I run this event, it'll have been six months since I ran my last, so I'm looking forward to blowing out the cobwebs and taking part in a large event again. The race is close to flat and it'll give me a good chance to beat the time of 2hrs 5 mins that I managed last year. As the months go by, my times have gradually got a little bit quicker. I'm still hoping to break that magic two-hour barrier very soon.

Not long after that, in a departure from my usual races, I'm running in something very different event - and to be honest, I'm not entirely sure why I've entered it. Nonetheless, here's a sample of what I'll be up to.


It's called the "Tuff-Enuff, Above & Beyond" run and I'm going to get extremely muddy and wet indeed. If ever there was a suitable place for a pair of trainers to shuffle off this mortal coil, this would be the one - that's of course, should I make it around. Road race this is not.

Finally, should I survive that, I'm down for Exeter's Great West Run in October. I've not entered this event before, so it'll be good to take part in a local event that's been running for so many years.

Which leaves me with one question - up to this point, I'll have run nine half-marathons. Perhaps I should do something big for my tenth? Any suggestions?
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Smashed

October’s coming to an end and the clocks are changing tomorrow. As the daylight goes and the nights draw in, my final running event of the year, the Plymouth 10K brings things to a close. It’s been a good year. In September, I completed Bristol Half-Marathon is 2:05:25, over eight minutes quicker than I completed Plymouth’s Half-Marathon six months earlier. The following weekend, I completed the Ashburton Mud Run with @ms_dalliard and then set yet another best at Cardiff the week after, completing their half-marathon in 2:04:25.

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Annoyingly, I could’ve knocked another minute off that time, but three miles into the race I was desperate for a wee. A time of 2hrs and 3 minutes would’ve been awesome - not just as a personal best, but also because I would’ve been able to hold @bikesian65 to his promise of buying me a pasty and a pint for smashing my time by more than a minute!

To round things off nicely, I also ran the Siblyback 10K last weekend and managed to well and truly break the one hour barrier with a time of 57 minutes. OK, that’s still about 18 minutes off the leader, but it’s confirmation that a two-hour half marathon isn’t far away. I can now sustain nine-minute miles.

In conclusion, this brings me to my objective for the coming year - to complete a half-marathon in under two hours. I’ll now continue training through the winter and chances are that the majority of my running will now be in darkness. With a torch strapped to my head, I’ll keep going and I’m lucky to have a great training venue on my doorstep, free from traffic and other distractions. My first event is likely to be the First Chance 10K in Exeter in January and I’m hoping to keep to maintain a consistent level of performance over the winter. That’ll allow me to have a good chance of completing Plymouth’s half in under 2:00:00.

Finally, I’d like to thank my friends for their encouragement, especially @AMHurley28 who got up at shitty o’clock and joined me on the road-trip to both half-marathons. It was good to have the support. Thanks everyone!
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Autumnal Challenge

It’s been over eighteen months since I started running, an activity that I’m pleased to say has now become a well-engrained habit. I routinely run three times a week and that’s allowed me to keep whittling away at my times. As it stands at the moment, these are my personal bests:


So far I’ve managed to improve a full five minutes on my time from my first half-marathon at Cardiff.

However, it’s now time to look to the future and like most people, I find that I perform better if I’ve got a goal to work to. For that reason, I’ve set myself an autumnal challenge - to run three races in three weeks.


The Mud Run is a shorter event and should (hopefully) allow me to rest my legs a bit between the two half-marathons. I’m hoping to break my personal best at either Bristol or Cardiff - and it goes without saying that I’d like to run Cardiff faster than I did last year!

The decision to take up running was something I’ll never regret because it’s had a positive effect on so many aspects of my life. My energy levels are better, it’s helped with my general fitness, being instrumental in my last jujitsu grading - and it goes without saying that fitter people are happier too!

I don’t know if I’ve just tuned in to it, but I notice that more people are running now. We shouldn’t be surprised - it’s a cheap activity, apart from a new pair of running shoes every so often. Coincidentally, I’m on the verge of wearing out my current pair of trainers having run approximately 850 miles in them. That’s something of a novel thing for me, to wear out a pair of running shoes by, you know, actually running in them. I doubt the me of ten years ago would’ve believed I would ever do that!

Look out for another update in October.
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I've started so...

…I’ll finish (13.1 miles). Read More...
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This

On Sunday I managed a first, running the entire half-marathon distance without stopping:

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The time wasn’t blistering (about two and a half hours), but I’m pleased with myself. I’ve now got just under four weeks to get that time down to my target of 2:15:00. As a non-runner (I still say that, despite this), I feel like it’s been an achievement to start at nothing back at the beginning of the year and get as far as this.

As always, you can continue to watch my progress here - or failing that, you can read my summary of the race when I finish it on Sunday 6th October.
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