Jul 16

Emergency Surgery

I had a lovely weekend planned. A haircut, lunch at one of my favourite restaurants, the the British 10k race on Sunday. All of that got blown away Friday afternoon when I looked up to find my eye full of floaters, dark strands filling the vision. They settled down, but over the next few hours, a blurred spot started to grow at the edges of my site and the eye now appeared to be filled with dust. Myy first thought was to pop in to the opticians on Saturday morning to see if there was a problem but some internet reading on the NHS site led to articles about retinal detachment and worried me enough to decide to give the 111 service a ring, just to check.

Now, as I’d just got off the train (I did not want to walk the 10mins home if I had to go right out again), the initial conversation was a little silly, The first thing they want to do is find out where you are just in case they need to send an ambulance and Chiswick Station was not in their list, so I offered them a pub name. They eventually found something that matched but seem to have issues without postcodes, which is just sill for a service that is part of an emergency response, you may never know where you may be if you want to call them, We worked our way through the questions – no bleeding, no breathing issues, no migraine, but, after a few minutes on hold as my call taker consulted, i was told to make my way to A&E within an hour and given the address of the nearest. But this was a mistake, as they should have told me to go to the specialist eye A&E at the Western Eye Hospital. When I got to Charing Cross (which is in Hammersmith, no idea why), the receptionists thought i should be elsewhere but said i should be seen anyway. The doctor immediately sent me to the eye place!

Two hours after arriving, I got seen by the doctor who spent a long time staring at the back of my eye and as long on the phone to her boss. I definitely had a retinal tear, she thought I had fluid behind the retina but there was nothing she could do then, so I had to return in the morning where I would be assessed by her boss and a decision made. Just in case, I was to be nil by mouth after 1am.

Saturday morning, 8am, I was back. Pretty much the first to be seen, the next doctor spent slightly less time looking at my eye and decided that i was a surgery candidate. But his boss, the consultant/surgeon, needed to make the final decision. So more hanging around the waiting room for her to arrive. She was already on her way in to do a procedure on a child as an emergency, it looked like i was to be the other on the list. Finally, I was examined by the surgeon and it was all agreed. I needed emergency surgery to fix the tear and get the retina back connected with the eye. Continuing the trend, the most senior spent the least time looking at the eye. The more experience you have, the easier it is to recognise things.

So I was admitted and found a bed and a gown. A few hours later, off to surgery, under a full anaesthetic. The decision was to fix the tear cryogenically and inject a gas bubble into the eye to keep the retina in the right place. From going into the operating theatre to waking up took 2 hours. They’d left me with a patch to protect the eye. I then had a choice to stay overnight, which given I had to be back in for checks in the morning I decided was the best thing to do. I did help that I was in a private room.

Everything was checked as Ok in the morning, so off home I went. But the surgery does not fix it immediately. I have to stay lying down on my left side, keeping the bubble pressed on the right side to keep thee retina flat until the fluid behind it has gone. All I can see is light and dark and large movements, until the gas bubble has been absorbed and the eye starts working again. There is a 90% chance that all will be fine, but still a risk i have lost some sight. We just don’t know until it heals. So 5-7 days lying down, another week off work before I go back for a checkup then still a few months for everything to get back to normal. It’s just one day at a time.

Jun 15

An F1 Pit Lane walk

Canada is one of the few F1 circuits that offer access on the Thursday before the race meet starts. You don’t even need to have a race ticket to access the track. So off we went to hang around the pitlane for 3 hours – along with a lot of other people! But it was not that crowded, the circuit had done this plenty of times before and had the organisation sorted. A queue, a bus to the pitlane and then the chance to queue up for driver autographs or just walk up and down the garages.

Neither of us wanted to get autographs – the queue was long, you never knew who you would get and neither of us tend to collect them – so we just went straight to the cars, taking lots and lots of photos. We also saw quite a few drivers heading out for their track walk.

Back into town and a bit of tourism – the Notre Dame Basilica. Built by the Francophone community, it’s completely different to the churches I usually visit, with the English reformation stripping out all the decoration back to the raw stone. I prefer the unadorned grandeur, but I can see the reasoning behind the decoration.

Montreal June 5 2014

We ended the day with a trip to Crescent St, which is blocked off and turned into a F1 party street, with lots of sponsor stalls and events. This is supported by the official sponsors; a few blocks over on Peel St seems to be slightly more unofficial, with non-sponsors getting into the act. Both a fun places to wander around! We bumped into a few F1 fans we knew from Twitter and ended up with a few drinks.

Jun 15

On the train to Montreal

Wednesday was another travel day. I met up with Sofia at the train station and we jumped on the 5 hour trip to Montreal. Definitely not as much beautiful countryside as out last train trip (Prague to Budapest) but pleasant enough. The plane trip itself would have been cheaper (we went business), but when you add on costs to get to and from airports, the time for that, the time waiting, the train was a far more pleasant and convenient experience, when you add in the large seats and the free drinks and meal.

The rest of the day was basically eating, a few drinks and a lot of lazing around! The hotel was to the north of the town centre, near the Village and the Latin Quarter, with a high level of students and good, cheap places to eat. The row of pink balls all along this section of the street gave an indication that this was the ‘Gay Villiage’ – or that could be just because that is what it was called on Google maps!

Jun 05

Some time in Toronto

The day started with coffee and chat. Gaming, game design, trademarks, AI, the future of humanity, startups, population growth and Malthus. Just your everyday small talk :-) A great chance to talk about different things, that I don’t have chance to think about in my everyday job.

Next, off to the airport for my next phase of the trip, heading up to Toronto. Newark airport was pretty painless, except for the need of Air Canada to charge for bags – why not just put it in the original price. They were not overjoyed at my insistence of paying cash though. Especially as there were a lot of crumpled dollar bills!

My original plans for Monday night fell through, so instead I headed to Canoe, a gorgeous fine dining Canadian restaurant, where the tasting menu included things like elk, pickled maple leaves, stinging nettle puree and coniferous cream. The chef makes a point of using local ingredients as well as bringing in his influences from Japan, with the desert of rice cake, green tea custard and red bean sherbert. I sat at the kitchen table and watched the chefs rush to meet the demand of a full restaurant, which was pretty good for a Monday evening. I absolutely adored this meal!

Canoe

Tuesday dawned foggy and damp but the sun quickly came out and the humidity went up. The first thing to do was sort out a phone sim for the week – despite the wifi ubiquity around and about, the F1 circuit won’t have that, so need to be able to connect there.

Toronto 3 June 2014

Then a walk round town before meeting Jeremy for lunch and catching up about the last 6 years or so since I saw him. More walking and another catch up, this time with Rick – it’s probably been 8 years since I last met him.

Great to spend the first few days of the hols just catching up with old friends, before heading off to Montreal to make new ones!

Toronto 3 June 2014

Jun 05

New York and New Jersey

It’s another holiday! This time to the continent of North America, with a combined trip to New York, West Milward (In New Jersey), Toronto and Montreal for the F1.

Emoisre state

An easy trip to Heathrow and all the way through the security ended with a slightly worrying beep of the machine as I went to board. Had my ESTA run out, what was the problem? It turned out to be a nice surprise instead as the computer had said yes and I was given a lovely upgrade to World Traveller Plus – bigger seats, small cabin, Yes, a good start!

Food done, sleep done, no issues with immigration, remembered how to use the subway and made my way to my hostel for the evening – where possible, I’m sleeping cheap and eating expensive! The Chelsea International is probably your typical hostel, standard welcome, rooms with lockers, basic functional place. But, clean, tidy, secure and works fine.

American Wagyu Carpaccio

A quick lie down and then out for my a meal, at Craft. I thought about the tasting menu but decided it was too much after a day of travelling so settled for American Wagyu Carpaccio, Monkfish and chard, finished with Banana Tartin with Peanut butter icecream. Enjoyed it and everything was well sourced and well excuted, but the nothing outstanding. Waiter was great but some of the servers not so much – my starter got delivered to wrong table..

Next morning, I jumped on a 90minute bus ride out to the wilds of New Jersey, to see a friend from my New York days. Breakfast at a 24/7 diner than out to the stables to see his horses and spend some time helping out building a fence for the stables, which is a rescue centre relying on volunteers to get things done. It was quite a change to be out in the sunshine doing physical work instead of sitting in an office all day.

US Day 1-2

We finished the day at a local sushi (local in these parts being a 20min drive away!). And at that point an early night to chase the jetlag away was needed.

Horses and fences

Apr 14

Running the London Marathon

London Marathon 2014

The day started off early! 5:30 wakeup to get 6:30 bus. I always prefer to be early and hate travelling in crowds and achieved this extremely well. Saw very few on the bus, tube or train and got to the meetup point 20 mins early, just before 8. So meet up with a few people from a running forum, plus with Angela, she’d volunteered to run with me – and I was extremely happy she did.

We entered the gathering area about 9ish, made the obligatory loo visit and then got ready – sun cream and vaseline. It was too warm to wear my throwaway clothes, which I’d dragged all the way there (and then took all the way back). made our way to Pen 9, and found a corner to sit and wait. When I’d entered, I had no idea what time I’d do, so probably put something close to 6, therefore we were at the back.

And we were off. I’d made the decision to run 9:50-9:55m/m as far as I could, knowing that I would fade and that’s what we settled into and pretty much managed for the nearly 30k. The first 5k was fairly quiet as we went through Woolwich areas, with the men yelling ‘hump’ making me smile, especially the kid who just kept up yelling. :-) Nothing much to report about the next 5k, we just kept ticking the miles down. the crowds around Greenwich were brilliant and my family had managed to get a spot right by the Cutty Sark so that was the first photo opp, even though by this point I was starting to look a little like a drowned rat, as I’d been pouring water over me in an attempt to keep cool.

London Marathon 2014

All the time we were playing dodgems, trying to get around people and at times we were definitely slowed by the crowds. In Surrey Quays, one guy ran right into the traffic island marker and took a very bad fall right in front of us, Angela helped him up (and then he did the ‘I’m OK’ and just limped on. I noticed there were lots of crowds around the shopping centre, assuming they’re combining their day out. And all through the earliest parts, heaviest crowds were round the pubs. I didn’t take any of the beer that was been offered though :-)

At Tower Bridge and I definitely had a emotional moment, very close to crying, but got through that and made sure I was smiling for the camera. At this point, I was definitely starting to feel it, half done, another half to go. It was time for another gel, which I was taking every 4.5 miles. The hips were starting to get sore (although they were fine at the end of the race) and from about mile 16 my arms and legs were basically pins and needles and there were times when I could not feel them properly – not a nice feeling at all! From about mile 17, my ability to sport gaps and move into them had started to go and I got stuck behind people a few too many times. From here, Angela switched from running with me at my pace to encouraging me and keeping me going!

I was having to dig in now and mental goal changing from finishing in a time, to just finishing. The heat was getting to me, I was feeling sick and pins and needles were getting worse. At 20 miles I did 30 secs walk and that was to try and shake some feeling back into the limbs. That then became the pattern for the rest of the way, it was my mental reward for making the mile. Saw the family again at mile 22(ish) and there was no pause for photo, it was a matter of keeping going! On and on, with more more people walking or trying to stretch out cramp. you could just feel the determination and grit to get to the finish here. The Blackfriars tunnel was good, loved the Lucozade balloons.

Onto the final stretch, the Embankment. I’d run along here a fair bit during training and now it was just full of people rather than cars, a far better picture :-) Everything was focused internally now, keep going, keep going, one step at a time. There was nothing in the legs at all, no ability to increase the pace. Although looking at the Garmin, I was moving faster than I thought! The last 3 miles were run at a pace of 10:33, 10:45, 10:45 which is still faster than my LSR pace, it just felt a lot slower. It was all about the mind games. 1 mile, it’s the run to Kew Bridge, 800m, it’s 2 laps. Round the final corner, wash hoping the sight of the finish would give me a boost, but no, nothing. Plod, plod, plod. Tried to raise arms for camera, nope, not happening. I’m still pleased with my final time though, 4:30:10 is pretty good. And I completely smashed the others from work :-)

Through the finish and the everything stopped. The legs didn’t quite want me to stay upright, so Angela and a friendly marshal supported me until I convinced the legs to work again! Timer chip cut off, medal collected (oh yes, I LOVE that medal) and bag collected. OMG, the walk to the end of the mall to get into the park, then the queues and crush to try and get somewhere. All I wanted to do is sit and have a drink and stretch out. Finally out, drink, snack, change the shoes as my feet were so sore! Then met up with Malcs (and others, I can’t remember!), and he and Angela made their way to the pub and I went to meet the family at the Help for Heroes meeting place, which was a welcome haven. Quiet, a seat, food, drink and a massage on the legs. I also got a second medal, as well as a round of applause as I walked in :-)

London Marathon 2014

My first marathon done, a wonderful experience even with the pain. So what could I do differently?

  • Don’t get injured! I missed about 4 weeks of training, at a point where it was high mileage and a lot of running on tired legs. So when I hit that in the race, I had no experience to fall back on.
  • Think far, far earlier about my race pace – and don’t change plans! I’d trained at 10m/m but given I wanted that as an average, started off quicker. Would I have finished quicker if I’d started off at 10m/m and then still slowed, I don’t know.

So what am I going to do now?

The goal for the summer is to build on my speed, with the aim of bringing my half time down as far as possible, Sub 2hrs should be pretty easy (I hope, but let’s see where I can get to) So I’m going to join in the local running clubs Speed work evenings – and hopefully get some coaching on form as well

I’ve got 3 halfs booked for September, with Ealing being my main focus. I’ll be running through the P&D plan for that. And I intend to keep the mileage up over the summer as well.

London Marathon 2014

Feb 16

2014 – week 7

Reading

Doing

  • I started a new job, although it’s a contract for a few months, I’m back working. :-) More about this another week.
  • Went to a evening at Ogilvy, taking a look at what they are up to in the social space.
  • Had drinks with my ex-colleagues. Slightly too much, but it was a great night! :-)
    Drinks (13th Feb 2014)
  • Ran the Dorney Half-marathon, a last minute entry at the beginning of the week. It went brilliantly and I got a new PB. I also met up with a group of people from a running forum I’m taking part in.
    Runners (15th Feb 2014)

    Training

    Overall, it was a pretty good week. The runs all went to plan, in fact were slightly easier than expected. The training is working. There were 2 key sessions, one with 5 * 800m fast intervals and the other the half-marathon, which was a test of marathon pace with a faster last 3 miles. The race went perfectly to plan and I knocked 7 mins off my personal best, at 2:07:03.

Feb 09

2014 – week 6

A bit more activity this week

Reading

Doing

  • I started mentoring for this programme Digital Mums. A good scheme to teach new skills and the support local businesses.
  • I went to a leaving do, a friend from Momentum who has moved on and caught up with a lot of ex-colleagues.
  • I went to the Zoom F1 auction, which was selling pictures taken by F1 journalists/drivers/team members. A good night – and a chance to wear my new slim styled dress :-)

Zoom Auction (7th Feb 2014)

Training

A slightly heavier week, as mileage ramps up. It’s 9 weeks until the marathon and things, in general, going well. Hopefully, this weeks issue won’t cause a long term problem. As well as the recovery runs, I managed the following sessions

  • 6 miles progressive, where I started slow and increased speed every mile, finishing with a 8:50m/m
  • 20 miles steady. My longest run to date. Went well, but needed to fuel better.
  • I started but had to abandon the 16 miles with 12 at marathon pace. A cold was the first issue, so my heart rate was all over the place, but then also had a hamstring issue that meant it was not a good idea to continue. Lots of stretching and rolling ahead.
Feb 09

2014 – week 5

Another quiet week (well, if you call some travel quiet). We’ll have to stop that soon!

Reading

  • Life as a Non-Violent Psychopath. A neuroscientist working on brain scans takes a look at his own and how similar it is to psyshopath brains. A great read, and interesting journey of self-discovery.
  • The Day we Lost Atlanta – how 2″ of snow paralysed a city of 6m because of lack of transport investment
  • Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars. I’d call myself a feminist. However, I find the fragmentation and worthiness, leading to all of these public arguments, silly and self-defeating. There are so many different ways to express, why should you fit into someone else’s definition and how do you fit into them all!
  • My Wife Doesn’t Get how it is in Advertising. I think most people don’t get how silly it can be in advertising/marketing etc. Some of the expected behaviours are just weird.
  • No chance for Stephen Glass: the long, strange downfall of the journalistic wonderkid. Should a journalist who faked and made up a lot of stories get a chance for a new life? According to the Californian Supreme Court, not if he doesn’t change.

Doing

  • I ‘watched’ the first F1 test of the season, well, watched via Twitter and reporting. The last few years I’ve travelled to a test, but not this year. They’re not going to Barcelona and I did not fancy a trip to Bahrain.
  • I went to Naples! The reports of Pompeii and Naples can be found earlier on the blog. A great long weekend, with lots of good art, architecture, history and food.

Naples

Training

A short week, I only managed a 12mile and a 5mile run before I went away. I did do about 10miles walking everyday in Italy, so I was still spending time on feet!

Feb 09

Visiting Naples Part 2

The dry (if overcast) weather that I had for the day round Pompeii did not hold for the rest of my stay and there was plenty of rain around. For the rest of my trip I’d planned walking round Naples, Churches and Museums. My Lonely Planet guidebook had a good walking day set out and that’s what I sort followed!

I started off at one of the city gates, the Porto Nolona. To get there, I’d jumped on the Metro, which is surprisingly modern and clean (given the rest of the city). The city had got various artists to design the stations and they were all pretty nice!

Naples

The walking tour took me round ancient streets and churches. Having visited a lot of Uk cathedrals, visiting those in places like Italy, which never went through the Reformation, is always slightly disconcerting. Colour and pictures and paintings? What is this! I’m used to them being plain, with the stone only forming beauty. The sheer number of images is mind-blowing, especially when you see some of the painters. The Caravaggio Le Sette Opere di Misericordia was particularly wonderful. So much to see and wander round, I never got to all of them.

Naples

The history of Naples in the 20th century is not the best, a town beset by a lot of corruption. But I think it may have been responsible for the historical legacy of the old town centre, with it’s lanes and small roads, the surprise squares and statues. It was not modernised at all and is fascinating to wander round. Certain streets are home to specialists, such as Via San Gregorio Armeno, which is full of presepi makers – figures for nativity scenes.

Naples

I made sure I had time to try the local speciality – PIZZA! I went to Pizza Gino Sorbillo, generally regarded as one of the best places in town for pizza and it was brilliant – both the busy restaurant and the food :-)

Naples Food

At this point, I decided it was time to head inside for slightly longer as it was getting a bit wet. As I walked towards the Archaeological Musem I was totally bemused by the attitude of the locals to the rain. It’s as though this was a once in a lifetime event and they had no idea how to deal with it. Just a little sprinkle had people heading for cover. It’s not as though you couldn’t get umbrellas…for most of the weekend, you couldn’t go a block without seeing opportunistic salesmen.

Naples (1 Feb 2014)

The Musueum was great, with lots of Roman art and lots from Pompeii. Again, I think it would have been great to be able to see the artifacts in situ as such, how did they display the various artworks alongside the everyday objects. The mosaics were amazing, to think these were basically floor coverings. the Gabinetto Segreto (Secret Room) was also fun – flying phalluses with bells on! Seriously, what were these for?

Museo Archeologico Nazionale

I was back at a museum on Sunday, this time the Palazzo Reale di Capodimonte. Loads of paintings from masters, including Raphael, Titian and my favourite Caravaggio. There’s a LOT in this place and it’s well worth getting the audio guide, even if the translation seems odd at times and the narrator has difficulty with some of the names. As well as the art collection (most of it came from the mother of Charles VII of Bourbon), you also get to wander round the royal apartments.

Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte

I really enjoyed my time in Naples, there’s so much to see and I only touched the surface. I’d like to go back to see Herculaneum, to see more of the museums and sights and spend more time wandering around. That said, Naples does not give the impression of being welcoming – it’s in the architecture. It’s all closed and square, with shutters, with lots of grafitti, with no glimpse of what is behind the walls. I never felt unsafe, but the streets themselves seem to tell you to watch out and don’t bother them. I fully recommend it though, but probably go with friends and be prepared.

Naples

Feb 09

Visiting Naples

Last week, off I went to Naples for a long weekend visit. With so many cities in Europe to visit, Naples may not be the first on the everyone’s list, but it has plenty of attractions, the main one for me being Pompeii. The others were food (practising my carb-loading for running) and the art. I managed to squeeze all of these in!

First up was Pompeii, on what turned out to be the driest day of the weekend. A brilliant place and going at this time of the year meant that for much of the time I was wondering round the places and streets on my own, with plenty of time to sit and take up the atmosphere. You could definitely feel the volcano looming over the town. There’s always a worry that it may erupt again, but there are many more ways of monitoring so I don’t think there’ll be the same massive surprise as there was in 79AD.

Pompeii

Dotted around the site were some of the plaster casts that had been taken during the 19th century excavations. You look at them, in some of them seeing the expressions on their faces and can imagine the terror they must have felt as they realised there was no way out of the town.

Pompeii

Interesting that over the years, people have not changed. There’s still grafitti, the sports in the arena, the plays and music in the theatres, the places of worship, bath houses, swimming pools and fast food shops. It’s all there, we haven’t changed that much.

Pompeii

The fast food shops were great, with the inbuilt counters with spaces for the food containers. Not that much different from today’s canteens. What I found interesting is that the concept of the shop as the front of the house which just had a shutter pulled down out of hours was still found in Naples. So many of the shops there were literally rooms behind a shutter, no glossy window displays for them.

Pompeii

One thing that has changed is our public attitude to sex. The brothel had a lot of people going through it, all wanting to look at the wall pictures that are still perfectly recognisable as various pictures. In the Archaeological Museum back in Naples there are a lot of other pictures and objects (flying phalluses with bells on were my favourite) showing that there was a very different regard for sex.

Pompeii

Pompeii is well worth a visit, although in summer it is supposed to get really hot and unpleasant to walk around. It’s huge, I spent at least 6 hours walking around and quite a few of the places were closed for work – they’re still digging it up and working on it. I think the only thing I’d like would have been to see some of the places kitted out completely, a few replicas, to understand how the houses/places worked and how the objects that I saw later in the museum would have fitted into the lives.

Jan 26

2014 – week 4

Reading

Got few a fair bit this week! I really ought to record the books I’m reading too, I only do that occasionally.

Doing

I’m guessing there’s a correlation between reading and doing, because my activities last week were limited to interviews and exercises, with a couple of catch-ups with ex-colleagues! I’m going to have to change that this week! I did manage to eat some haggis for Burns’ Night though.

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties. (25th Jan 2014)

Exercise

After last week’s light week, it was back to the heavy work. So 2 recovery runs and the following work sessions:

  • 8 miles with 4 at 10k pace. HARD session I never settled into and did not manage the 5th mile at pace. too cold and breathing never settled.
  • 11 miles steady
  • 18 miles steady. This was my longest run to date, with me making sure I had the right gels to keep me going. Legs definitely sore at the end of it, but not too bad the day after.
Jan 19

2014 – Week 3

Reading

Doing

  • Had my first ever full-length sports massage. Ouch! Seriously, I had bruises. But I did notice a difference in the next run, with muscles that often give a twinge working fine. Ideally, you’d get one weekly, but every 3-4 weeks at a minimum. It all depends on finances as they’re not the cheapest!
  • I was on Russia Today, on its programme CrossTalk, directly as a result of my appearance on Al Jazeera. The topic was pretty much the same, social media and journalism. This was not in a dedicated dark studio, but on the corner of the office, so had people working around me. Weirdly, I had a screen backdrop which showed a live view of London – the camera providing the view on the screen was pointing out the window behind the screen!
  • A had a good chat with the people behind Digital Mums. I’m probably going to be doing some mentorship on their pilot project, to train at=home Mums to do community management. I think this is a really good idea!
  • I had brunch with someone I used to work with in JWT New York. He’s just started a new role and is over here for 3 months connecting with new and existing clients. Had a good meal in Chinatown and took him on a whistlestop tour of Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and the Southbank. We were going to go into Westminster Hall, but apparently at a weekend, you can only get in if you are on a paid tour!
  • Had dinner with a bunch of bloggers. David Weinberger was visiting London and there was a small dinner with some old-school bloggers.

London streets

Training

It was a lighter week in the plan, a recovery week before it all gets hard again. Two light recovery runs and the following main runs.

  • 8 miles with 8 * 100m sprints, speeding up to get the legs moving quicker.
  • 8 miles easy running, done along the river, just about getting the tide time right so I could use the tow path
  • 12 miles easy running, in Richmond Park on a sunny morning. So many runners out in the park, wonder how many of them are doing the London Marathin too?
Jan 17

2014 – Week 2

Reading

  • Things learnt from 5 years on The Story by Matt Locke. A great set of things that he has learnt running his The Story Conference, from the need of side-projects, that you have to do things many times to get things right and that things are valued more when paid for with own money (rather than expensed on employer).
  • Is the sea floor littered with dead sea animals by Deep Sea News. A factual take on the scare stories of Fukishima radiation. It’s not hitting the US!
  • The Most In-demand job skills in 2013 was Social media on Red/Write. yay, that’s good to know. Here’s to it continuing in 2014. Although, reality check, it should social media AND business knowledge, how to actually use it strategically, not just how to use Twitter.

Doing

A pretty quiet week in the main.

  • My project to have a photo for every day in 2014 is progressing well. Here’s the Flickr Set
  • Visited Shoreham-by-Sea to meet up with Adam, chat, and have coffee. A slightly shorter visit than planned as I had to come back up to London at short notice, but it was great to be by the sea!
  • Went along to a friend’s birthday party for a few drinks, a good chat and a fun catchup. Was good to myself my ensuring plenty of water was had along with the wine, so I felt pretty good the following day…unlike some! And I avoided the shots.

Training

A hard week, with a total mileage of 40 miles. Two small recovery runs, plus some hard sessions:

  • 9 miles with 5 at 10k pace
  • 10 miles steady
  • 16 miles with 10 at marathon place. This one I was dreading but it went better than expected.
Jan 05

2014 – Week 1

It’s a New Year! 2014 is here and has done its best to make its mark with the weather.

Reading

  • How to run the perfect marathon by Beer Belly Running. I’m going to be reading a lot more like this as I have no idea what to expect (pain, I know there’ll be pain, but what else? :-) ) It’s 14 weeks today. I have a lot of miles to get through.
  • Facebook reveals mobile growth by country. (TechCrunch) One thing about being a public company is Facebook has to give information to investors that it would not have normally made public. This is interesting reading about how it is spreading, especially with the rise of the messenger plus the deals it is putting in place to make Facebook use ‘free data’ with certain carriers.
  • How the content industry almost killed the Blockbuster and Netflix. (TechCrunch). A look back on the entertainment industry and its continued inability to understand the disruption that keeps hitting it.
  • LOL My Thesis. A tumblr with one line definitions of academics study. A lot of fun reading.
  • Paul Dacre – the man who hates liberal Britain. A New Statesman study of the editor of the Daily Mail

Doing

  • Visited the Bank Of England Museum. A fascinating little place in the City, showing the history of the bank and of money and banking in the UK. Shows how banknotes came to replace money, the rise of the cheque and how, in England, this bank became the only one that could issue money. Well worth a visit – especially to handle the HUGE gold bar they have.
  • Appeared on Al Jazeera TV on Inside Talk, talking about social media, viral videos, fakes and journalism. How should journalists verify video that appears on the web. Making these programme is weird as the main studio is in Doha, so you’re in a dark studio, facing lights, you can’t see the camera so hope you hope you’re looking at the right place and you can’t see the videos they are talking about. This was the first long discussion I have done, it’s normally been small slots in news programmes but this was a 30min show. Enjoyed it (and apparently did OK). Also, more telly makeup so took picture that is becoming my new avatar.
  • Did a London Treasure hunt through In the Hidden City. A brilliant idea that uses text messages to send you clues for places around London. Do it fast, you can get prizes, but the real prize is taking the opportunity to see places about London you may never have been before. This one took us from the National Gallery, through St James, Soho and up to Marylebone.
  • Updated my CV and applied for jobs. Cost cuts are work meant re-structuring and me no longer having a job :-( So after getting through the holidays, I’ve now taken stock and am busy getting my details out there! Anyone need a digital thinker/social media strategist/project manager? You can see what I have done on my About Page/LinkedIn.

Training

The training picks up hard now, with 42 miles in the plan

  • 8mile steady with 10 100m strides. These are fast sprints where you push yourself hard
  • 10miles to and from a New Year’s day parkrun, with the 5k fast in the middle. Well, not that fast. I usually do my parkruns on a flat course, this was in Richmond park and there are hills!
  • 10miles steady. It was a lovely run until 6miles in when the heaven opened, hailstones poured down and there was thunder and lightening. I got very wet and it was horrible for 2 miles. Then there were blue skies!
  • 15 miles steady, again round Richmond Park. No deer seen today

Dec 31

Reviewing 2013

That’s it. The year is done, 2013 is over, 364 and a half days have been experienced. So that means it’s time to look back on my ambitions for 2013 and see if I achieved them! The framework was Change, Connect and Challenge, a way of structuring my thoughts for the year. Practically, I split these into 4 areas – physical, relationships, career, and experiences.

Physical

This was me in November.

This is me on Nov 2011 (I actually can’t find one from 2012)

I said that I was going to change physically, that I was going to get thinner and fitter and healthier. But I’ve said that in previous years too, what made this one different? The external pressures were the same, the internal monologue was the same, but this time, the INFORMATION I had was different and that changed the internal motivation. I could see far more about where I was and where I was going. As predicted, the FITBIT was the trigger. Not just counting inputs, but being able to assess output and then understand the balance between them made the difference in my brain. Every step counted, every piece of food weighed and assessed – and manage the gap.

The second element was finding exercise that was easy to add to my life. And that was not the gym, although I have used that a lot, but it was running. There was a random challenge from Juliet on a night out, about running a half marathon in September stuck on my mind and the following morning, I took a look at the site and entries had literally just opened. So I entered the Run to the Beat half. Which meant I had to train, had to have a programme, had to have more structure than a few gym classes a week. My sister also entered, which meant I now had a remote competitor to challenge on training too.

So I ran. I entered shorter races, I found out about parkrun and along the way, I put my name down for the London Marathon, (as of course, you never get in first time), as that had been a random fantasy every April as I watched people run.

I lost 4 stone (for non-Uk people, that’s 56lbs0. I ran my half marathon, and another 2 weeks later and then I found out that I HAD got into the marathon, so training continues…this journey is only just beginning!

My training miles

running

Relationships

Better, but still work to be done on this. Internet dating was a failure, did not do that at all well. But did better at getting out and seeing people

Career

The plans and development that were being discussed at the beginning of the year never came to fruition, opportunities changed and flexed. I spoke at a couple of conferences, about social media and preserving brand voice, had a number of articles published (through employer PR team) and was on TV a few times, again talking social media. So not as much as I wanted, but still, in the main, a good year. There will be major changes coming up though, but more on that when looking at 2014.

Experiences

The LOOP: I completed the bottom half of this, from Erith to Hatton Cross, but then put it on hold as I could not fit it in with the running training. I plan to complete in 2014.

Christopher Wren Churches: I did almost all of them in one mad day in December.

Japan: the trip to Japan was a major success! The race was brilliant, the country was amazing and I had a brilliant time! Just read the daily blog posts

What else?

  • I went to Barcelona to watch F1 Testing
  • I took trips to see cathedrals to York and Arundel
  • I had a go at learning to surf.
  • I was in the audience for the BAFTA TV awards.
  • I went to conferences: TEDx Houses of Parliament, Over the Air at Bletchley Park and Playful 2013
  • I went to Silverstone for the F1, Goodwood for the cars and Henley for the rowing
  • I ran around the Olympic Park for 5 miles and finished the run in the Olympic stadium
  • I got to drive the Jaguar F-Type for a weekend

All in all, a good year!

Dec 29

2013 – Week 52

Christmas Week, that weird one (which carries on into next week) where life does not follow normal pattern!

Reading

Doing

I spent almost the whole week at the parents doing family things! I was due to travel on the Monday via train, but with the bad weather that was predicted, Dad came to pick me up on the Sunday. Good job too, as many trains were disrupted. So the week was spent catching up with family,, a bit of eating, a bit of drinking and a lovely walk in the Clent Hills on Boxing day. I also got my Dad set up on Flickr so he can put his many years of holiday photos on there instead of them being stuck across a couple of machines.

Training

A combination of injury recovery and being at parents meant training was a little mixed this week.

  • Gym session with 15miles on bike, some weights then a a short 2.5mile run back home (in the pouring rain!)
  • 5.6 miles steady run around Himley Park/Baggeridge Woods on Christmas Day. It was a gorgeous bright morning and the park was filled with dog walkers
  • Park run with my sister Sarah (who’s training for a half marathon), plus my other sister’s husband Paul. It was the first park run for both. I ran round with Paul, who has not run for ages and definitely not since his accident – but running with one arm was manageable, he just needs better trainers!
  • 15miles steady around Richmond Park. I started off with the local running club group but they were going far too fast for my plan for the day, so I dropped back and completed it in just over 2.5 hours.

Dec 23

2013 – Week 51

The year is nearly done. Thoughts turn to plans for 2014, personal, professional, what ambitions will I set myself for the year?

Reading

Doing

The week before Christmas seemed to mainly involve having Christmas dinner with people! Or drinks. In total, had 3 dinners this week with various groups of friends, at a restaurant, a pub and a dinner party at home. Setting myself up well for the holidays – where I need to get out and do some more things!

Training

Not so good, another week with an injury, so planning on spending the next week focusing on stretching and strengthening before getting back out there.

Dec 16

2013 – Week 50

An interesting week, with potential for huge changes. But more on that as they crystalise!

Reading

  • Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregellis. An interesting Alt-history story, the first in a trilogy. What happens if the Germans had harnessed mental powers in WW2 and what would be the UK response.
  • The Brilliant Hack that brought Foursquare back from the dead on Wired. Story around the latest changes to Foursquare. I’ve been a consistent user of the app for years but recently it lost its way. When looking for recs, want to know what’s available in the street I’m standing in, not something a few miles away. The latest version has brought that back, so I’m happy about that. I’m also going to be more of a old fashioned user, as I like it to track my visits. If you do that, you can great maps like this! (So I rarely go NW or SE in London…)

    Foursquare Checkins - London - first half of 2012

  • Train times vs House Prices. by Anna Powell-Smith. Turning data into information. Where is the best place to buy to minimise commute and maximise value?
  • Concussions and Rugby in The Guardian. A story of rugby, a schoolboy and Second Impact Syndrome

Doing

  • Went for cocktails with friends at Purl. Lovely place!
  • Went to the launch party for The Walk, the new app from my friends at Six to Start. It’s had some great coverage!
  • Drinks with an ex-colleague who has just started a role at the National Gallery. Sounds really exciting!!!
  • Dinner and drinks with friends over from San Francisco. Had a brilliant meal at Hakkasan, had my first glass of Chateau Margaux (mmmm!) and then introduced them to a London pub the week before holidays. A trip to De Hems was spent watching people in Christmas jumpers try and hook up whislt singing along to 80′s songs mixed with Christmas songs. Can you believe they’d never heard of a Fairytale of New York?!

    Chateau Margaux

Training

It was my first official week of the marathon training, as I start the 18 week training plan. It kicks off with 8 miles with 4miles at half-marathon pace, then the rest of the week as steady runs. The knee brace is working well, I’m nursing a shin injury so being a little careful, but things going well.

Dec 08

2013 – Week 49

Reading

  • Odon Childbirth device: Car mechanic uncorks a revolution. A feature about Jorge Odon, a car mechanic from Argentine, who has invented a new device to help with childbirth.
  • What we can learn from fake tears on social media (The Kernal). Why people push their grief onto social media when a celebrity dies. (something you would rarely see me doing, I never know the person!)
  • Raising Steam, Terry Pratchett. I didn’t want to start, as it could be the last book from Pratchett. He’s an author I’ve bought all the stories,the first when he was signing books in Blackwells when I was at college. At that point, there was no queue at all, something that would never happen these days.

Doing

  • A little work dinner for a pitch team, just some wine and Italian. It was the first time I’d been to Vapiano’s, where you queue up to order your pasta or pizza. Decided I don’t like the system. Ordering at a counter and waiting for them to bring it is one thing (like GBK, or Nando’s), but don’t like the having to wait around for the order to be cooked!
  • An evening out at Fashion Fringe. The 10th year of this event had a little celebration, announcing that it was also the last year. Not my usual event, but it was a lot of fun, with wine and sushi and loads of interesting dresses to take a look at. There were apparently celebrities there, but my usual lack of recognition was there and failed to see anyone I could put a name too!
    FashionFringe London
  • It was time for the office Christmas party on Wednesday. A well put together evening at UFF Tea Merchants, where it’s all styled like the 30s. We had a band playing old time music with a lead singer aged 74, who was pretty brilliant. Overall, a very good night. I left at a reasonable time without going overboard, which meant I then had the pleasure of watching the office the following morning struggle! :-)
  • I used my last spare day on Friday. A long run, followed by a lovely lunch at the Cinnamon Club then a trip to the National Gallery. it was supposed to be wrapped up with drinks with a friend, but their work got in the way.
    Venison
  • Nelson Mandela died on Thursday night, so wandering around town on the Friday there were gatherings at the statue in Parliament Square and outside the embassy in Trafalgar Square, where people were queuing to sign a book of remembrance.
    Memorial

Training

After a week off for injury, I was back training this week.

  • 3.34 miles @ 9:57 paces. Fairly steady run
  • 3.05 miles @ avg9:46 pace. Interval runs, with fast 1k pieces (well, sort of)
  • 9.03 miles @ 10:42 pace. Steady run around Richmond Park
  • 16:04 miles @ 10:45 pace. Another run around Richmond Park, along with the hills. My farthest run yet! Felt pretty good, although last mile was painful, but I kept up the pace. There was a santa run there at the same time, but did not fins myself in the middle of them!
    Santa Run in Richmond Park