#18in18 – starting to get serious

If you’ve visited my blog before you’ll maybe be aware that I’m attempting to run 18 half marathons this year (#18in18). Granted, to many experienced runners, it might not sound a big deal but to me it’s potentially quite an undertaking.

So far I’ve done four out of the 18, which the maths genii amongst you will know means I’ve got 14 to do … and all before the middle of October!

I’ve only really messed around up to now. A bit of tinkering here and there, if you like, plus general training in an attempt to get me fitter for the bulk of the challenge.

However, now, it’s starting to get serious.

I have at least seven races booked over the summer which will bring me well over the halfway stage, with the remainder spread out over August, September and October culminating with the Royal Parks Half. I started in London, I hope to finish in London … although if circumstances dictate I’ll have to push on into November or December then I will.

Next up is number five this Saturday (May 26th) when I’m back over the water for the Lee Valley VeloPark Half which is, basically, 13 laps around the outside of the Olympic Velodrome from London 2012!

Anyway, hopefully the following will cast a little more light on what I’m trying to do:-

What is #18in18?
I’m running 18 half marathons in 2018. Why 18 though? It’s 2018, so 18 seemed to be an appropriate figure. I don’t think I’m fit enough to run any more than that!

Why do it?
Lots of reasons. The idea initially came to me when I missed out on a ballot place for the London Marathon. In the past, training for the marathon has helped keep me running and active but, without that to motivate me, I knew I needed something to maintain my focus not only during ‘marathon season’ but throughout the entire year.

Then I thought about it a bit more. I don’t know if I can do this. Yes, I *think* I can, and I’m confident (at the minute) that I can but I know it will be a real challenge.

I’ve got Type 2 Diabetes and other unrelated health problems, I’m carrying too much weight and you’ll always find me trundling along at the back of a race. I’m not an athlete. I’m just an ordinary bloke from Northern Ireland trying to do something to better himself.

So, I thought, why not go public with this challenge and use it to help or inspire others in a similar position?

A lot of us have thought about running and duly dismissed it. “I’d be too slow, I’d be laughed at if anyone saw me, I’d finish last, I’m too fat, I’m not fit …”. I’ve heard them all and I’ve used them all.

I’m not for a moment suggesting that anyone reading this drops everything and goes out to run a marathon or half marathon or anything like that. But, if I can inspire even one person to take up running regardless of how far or how fast then it’ll be job done as far as I’m concerned.

I am the dictionary definition of “If I can do it anyone can.” … I’m running for people who think they can’t.

Am I doing it for charity?
Not primarily but I would also like to use the challenge to raise something for Diabetes UK.

I ran my first London Marathon for them and since then have received lots of advice and support not only from the charity but from their other runners, and have made some good friends along the way. So I’d like to give something back. I have no set fundraising target, no charity places to pay for, I’m paying for all my races myself and funding my own travel. Everything I raise is going straight to Diabetes UK.

I’m aware that everyone seems to be rattling their virtual collection tins under your nose these days but if you would like to donate something to help Diabetes UK continue their research and support into the condition then I’d be delighted and honoured if you could.

No worries if you can’t at the minute, this is a year-long challenge so maybe you could do so further down the line. My JustGiving page is https://www.justgiving.com/18in18

What races am I doing?
It all started in early March with The Big Half in London, and ends with the Royal Parks Half in October. But it’s not all London based, far from it. I live in Northern Ireland so a lot of the races will be at home which is practical for both logistical and, more importantly I guess, financial reasons.

For example, my second race was the Larne Half Marathon, my third was a virtual run around my hometown with number four comng on VLM day when I swapped Greenwich Park for Greenisland Golf Club.

I do have hopes to do at least one race in Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland too but we’ll see how that works out. My schedule is starting to fill up a little now but I still have lots of races potentially pencilled in that I could do but nothing much has been confirmed yet so if there’s a race local to you that you think I should do I’d welcome your suggestions.

For the record, my list looks like this but it is very much subject to change (those in bold are either done or booked):-

  1. The Big Half (London) – 4th March 2018
  2. Larne Half Marathon – 24th March 2018
  3. Reading Half Marathon (Virtual) – 15th April 2018
  4. East Antrim Marathon Series #NotTheLondonMarathon – 22nd April 2018
  5. Lee Valley VeloPark Half Marathon (London) – 26th May 2018
  6. Lacock Half Marathon – 10th June 2018
  7. Lisburn Half Marathon – 20th June 2018
  8. Swansea Half Marathon – 24th June 2018
  9. Bath Two Tunnels Half – 8th July 2018
  10. Dark Hedges Half Marathon – 22nd July 2018
  11. Cookstown Half Marathon – 29th July 2018
  12. Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon – 12th August 2018
  13. The 401 Challenge Festival of Running Virtual Half – 25th August 2018
  14. Waterside Half Marathon – 2nd September 2018
  15. Chippenham Half Marathon – 9th September 2018
  16. Belfast City Half Marathon – 23rd September 2018
  17. Great Scottish Run (Glasgow) – 30th September 2018
  18. Royal Parks Half (London) – 14th October 2018 

All I ask of you is to  follow my progress, read my blogs, offer your support, make a donation to Diabetes UK if you like. I know I’m being selfish, but I’ll need your backing to complete this.

However, what would really encourage me is hearing your story. Has my challenge inspired you to put your trainers on and go for a run, maybe even for the first time? I’d love to hear from you. Are you already a runner but have suffered from the same doubts and lack of self-belief as me? Any hints or tips? Let me know.

But, please, keep tabs on my progress and keep in touch. Hopefully it’ll be fun and interesting and, for me, not too sore on my old body!!!

The story so far:-
Relive the Big Half – Blog
Relive the Larne HalfBlog
Relive the Virtual Reading HalfBlog
Relive the #NotTheLondonMarathonBlog

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Nothing else matters

Sometimes you just have to go out and run. No worries about speed, no distance or route in mind. Just go and do it.

That was today.

There had been plans for a small group of us to do the local parkrun, but that fell through because of illness so Iverene and I decided to go out for a run together at 1pm, all fairly last minute and, until we met up, not even a route or distance was mentioned.

In the end, we decided to go for a lap of the football pitches, then up the Toome Road along to Tullygarley, out the Dans Road before turning for Galgorm and once we got into the village back through the golf club to Tullygarley and home again.

We didn’t even know how long that’d be, so it was a pleasant surprise to see at the end that we’d covered 6.5 miles.

The run was intended to continue with our low heart rate training but, to be honest, we didn’t really focus on that. Yes, we slowed down if we had to but, compared to previous efforts when we did concentrate on the task in hand, this was fairly lackadaisical.

Not that that was necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps it was the gloriously sunny day but there were times we were running along and chatting away only to forget – or not really care – what we were trying to do.

As you can see from the elevation profile below there were a number of fairly steep sections (Toome Road tunnel, Golf Club etc. etc.) and we did make a conscious effort of getting to the top of those uninterrupted, which we did, so that was good from a training perspective.

But, as I said at the outset, it was just good to get out there when it would have been far too easy not to bother. Nothing else really mattered today.

Relive my run

Déjà vu

I’m beginning to make a habit of this! It’s Tuesday, that means Cullybackey C25K, followed by a run home back to Ballymena.

I did it last week, and I did it tonight again. In fact, this was week six of the C25K programme and this was the third time I’ve run back home. I guess I must be enjoying it.

As stated, this was week six which meant runs of ten minutes, six minutes and ten minutes. Talking to someone beforehand this seemed to be the week that most people dreaded because it was taking them into double figures, but it was great again to see so many continue to turn up, complete their runs and maintain their progress.

For my part I thoroughly enjoyed it. Really gentle, a pleasant route along the river and good company. It’s hard to beat running and chatting.

Moving onto part two, again I ran the 7km back home with trying to control my heart rate once more my focus.

Not much to say about it, except that it was a great run home, I felt really comfortable moreso than last week.

An almost identical time too – it differed by three seconds – but very pleasing to see that my average heart rate dropped a notch, not by much but a drop is a drop which is my objective with this current bout of heart rate training.

I started off a little slower than last time, but picked up my pace a lot towards the end and finished stronger whilst managing to stay within zone. I think I can confidently put this one down as a success!

Relive my run (Cullybackey Cosy Sofa)
Relive my run (Run home from Cullybackey)