Sunday 19 May 2024

REP Arundel Tri 2024 - Gallery now live

The Raw Energy Pursuits Arundel Triathlon gallery 2024 is now live

search by your race number, and if you can't find yourself - have a search on 000. Apologies but we only got the first bit of the sprint tri swim - because the standard tri runners started to finish from around 8am...

it's a castle and flaggy things ! lovely !

don't go in the paddling pool over there

arty shots because no mist, and dry. Elbows hurt though.

not quite a drone shot..

again, dry ground and nice sunshine...

Amanda waved hello as I said happy birthday

more arty stuff...

that's a lot of water to be churning about to go forwards

it's the fun downhill bit innit.

That arrow is actually part of his bike seat post

fast machine

I think he's bent the frame

it's about this wide

come in number 1

happy days

Nice one Ed

happy to finish that run in the sun

Love a double thumbs up :-)

I present the referees and race directors... always buy them cake and coffee

so that was a quick day - 12hours end to end to get the gallery live - off 5hrs sleep, so might just go for my run in a moment - but first a word from my grey matter...

Mental Health Awareness week :tldr : Do some Mediatation. just as much as you go to the gym or go for a run.

So it's the end of mental health awareness week, and here I am up at 4am to take photos at 5:45 of people seriously committed to their physical health. And there's all the evidence that physical health helps your mental health - need to clear your head ?  go for a run !, or perhaps even a walk.

and does mental health help your physical health ? well judging by the triathletes I saw today...

Do you know why it helps clear your head though ? because your brain is prioritising balancing, because if it wasn't for balance - we wouldn't be humans. Preproception (balancing subconciously) is *the* way to force your brain to forget all the other noise going on and concentrate on keeping you upright.

And it works - having a stressful trip to the Bodyshop as your senses get assaulted by the temperature, light, sound, colours, crowd, and yes - the smells ? Need to calm things down  ? well just balance on one foot. Nobody will see you do it, and it will take 100% of your mental capacity - and all that other sensory stuff your brain thought was important back then - has just been dropped like sack of coal. Because Balance. Apparently it's important - who knew ?

So running and walking, and even cycling - because it's balancing or sorts - just sort of push everything else out of the way. You feel good, but when it comes back to brain clutter central, it hasn't strengthened your brain to process that stuff faster and get rid of it faster. It's still going to take you about 15 mins of running to even start to clear that mind of yours.

So what else do we have that could ? Whats the mental gym workout that we should all be doing *just as much* as the physical workouts we all do ?


*ugh as I hear a collective sigh* he's gone all hippy on us again...

Hear me out now...

Real meditation is not "taking a break" or "having a rest" - it's real mental hard work to clear your mind. Like physically going up to the attic and giving it a good clean out - it takes effort and on the way you will find a few old memories on the way that will slow you down - but you have to make the effort to clear it out. It takes time and effort.

But the rewards - just like going to the gym, your brain literally will build new and faster neural connections. This is called neuroplasticity. Start to do it and after a couple of goes - you'll be stronger and can do more hard work - just like going to the gym.

Your brain will speed up, you will remember things faster, you will have a quicker wit, you will be able to process a gabble of social situation faster and more easily, and you will be able to process irritating things faster and more efficiently - instead of them stressing you out. The left-right connection in your head will get stronger and faster - you will be able to connect up all those emotions but also be more reasoned and in control. Things that used to overwhelm you - or you were sensitive to before (cold, light, smells, difficulty with hearing) - simply won't register as you just process those signals faster.

A real meditation is hard work - learning to clear out your mind, letting thoughts in and moving them away - requires brain power. Just like the gym, you might feel weirdly tired after a meditation, but you will feel strangely relaxed and more mellow, chilled or connected for a time afterwards. You may even feel more focussed and ready to concentrate and in full flow. Let it go !

The goal (of a lot of meditation types) is a brain frequency (yes the brain has a processing frequency - just like your computer) - and aiming to operate in what are called Alpha waves = ~10Hz. There are other wavelengths of Beta, Gamma, Theta and Delta, and it's the Beta ones that lock you into stress, depression, exhaustion, fogginess etc. (we don't like the Beta, but that's what the outside world makes us think at).

So how do you get to an Alpha wave state ? ("Practise Anginsen!", or "wax off, wax on" if you're a bit younger...)

Bilateral / Binaural music
Here's the good news - just as a piano playing middle C to the choir so they all know what's going on - you can play Alpha-wave embedded music to your brain to get it "into the zone". 

This gives your brain a really good example of what to aim for, and most often becomes "entrained" or "harmonic" with the music you're listenting to. So it turns out there is a short-cut kick start to meditation, listen to a bit of alpha wave music and you'll be chilled out and productive sooner than you know.

And here's the weird thing - I combined (because obviously why WOULD YOU DO THIS?) listening to a bit of this bilateral / binaural music whilst I went for a run. The one I have is a bit like "spa music" but you can hear on the stereo headphones - the change in stereo left and right. It was weird to start off, but then - I noticed my shoulders were more relaxed, the breathing was deep and sound, and then I checked my watch and I couldn't comprehend it - I was running 7:15 mile pace instead of 7:50 mile pace, and I kept it up for four miles. Nothing made sense anymore. I finished expecting to be utterly exhausted, but I wasn't and hey that was good.

But I also listen to it in the house on my headphones or around the house. Message me back if you want to know the track I listen to, and I'll put it in another blog for you or email you back with a link. I cunningly put it on in the house when the kids need to concentrate on their homework or something similar, or I have an important bit of work to do - and everything just flows. A friend of mine with a very sensitive 6year old played it in the lounge and kitchen for a couple of weeks - and the kid completely chilled out (and that was without headphones) and even said "I'm a lot less sensitive to things now". Yes, alpha waves work.

So, without pronouncing what else we need to know on Mental Health awareness week - I put it to you - if you look after your physical health and put time into that, they you might well want to consider putting time into meditation - and giving your brain a workout too. Because meditation done right - is hard work and builds it up, just like the gym does for your body. And if you believe in physical health - then I'm guessing it's not a big leap of imagination to believe in actually doing something for your mental health too.

If you think physical health deserves some of your time, then Mental Health - via meditation work - deserves an equal amount - and no less. (PS long term meditators live longer and look younger - so yes mental health does effect physical health).

enjoy your training, and until next time 

It's not a bad venue is it

That morning calm - always the best time - what your mind should be like

Sunrise, 5:25 over the fence - see that in another years time then...

cheers for now, don't forget to let me know if you want the music track...


Thursday 16 May 2024

Norfolk Macmillan Mighty Hike #1 2024 - live on the day galleries are a thingy

here's the finish funnel sight - what a relief !

I didn't blog that much with news  since the covid break, beacuse after that it was really the responsibility of the event organisers to tell participants where to get their free downloads - ( and to be honest - they did - because when you're paying for a service - you want to get your value for money out of it. And as they had the emails for all the participants - then they could and they did. That sort of suited me fine, but I'm also aware I wasn't telling people about new events and things they really ought to be interested in... so here we are 2024 and getting back on with things. SO - get yourself entered into a Mighty Hike - even if you think you're a runner really - as a way to facilitate a short break somewhere and see some lovely countryside - this is the way to do it -

Norfolk is nice (what you can't see is all the twitchers looking for a purple Crane - it's because they're all wearing camoflage)

Saturday at 7:30 am saw the start of the seasons Mighty Hike series for Macmillan. For the past three or so years this charity hike series has been the top of the charts for justgiving fundraising events. As a victim of it's own success we're now covering 15 events this year - up from the original 8, (who said free photos help with promotion and customer loyalty ?) but also a zillion and one other major and minor charities are all deciding that they can get in on the fundraising action of hikes along nice trails.

travelling light - battery, laptop, camera kit, power cables, food, chair and camera

Quite a lot are promoting places and entries into a general walk - like the Ultra Trail series, and there will be lots of charities there taking part and being represented. Others are putting them on but are not attracting the numbers for the organisers to cover the large fixed costs that need covering to put the event up into the "excellent" experience category. The macmillan ones certainly fall into this with large marquee tents at finishes, excellent catering, stops and food, and frankly the cleanest toilets ever seen in event history. As one of the regular "crew" at these events I'm slowly getting to know the team that "do the toilets" - which are a great bunch, and always have a good chat (unless I'm doing the tip toe dance and dash between finishers), but it's incredible what a difference to the event this standard of infrastructure can make to everyone's days. 

shiny tentage with great food options

Also - not all the rival events have free photo downloads. On the day. Ok I'll say that more clearly - none of the other events have them. Some of the cynical participants thought the endless messaging at the start to say show your numbers were a scam to rinse them of more money (like disney), and were overjoyed to find out that they were free and all part of the event. It makes a massive difference in participant loyalty, engagement and according to justgiving - if they use them on their profile - they raise on average 13% more - which if you at least enable everyone to do it and give them the material to do it - when they are raising £750k of a single weekend - then that 13% goes a long way - we like to think we help them pay for our services.

the rather nice event vibe at the finish area on the saturday

Saturdays event went smoothly enough - with 39,000 odd images all uploaded and done by the time the last walker crossed the marathon finish line. Thanks to the event organisers installing a Starlink web connection (no I'm not telling you the password!). Sunday - less smooth when it turned out that the search facility on the gallery had mistakenly been disabled by the gallery providers during an overnight *upgrade (not an upgrade). They're in New York, so a tense few hours waiting for them to wake up on a sunday, smell the coffee and get with the beat Baloo. They did and so thankfully at 4:30pm everything kicked back into easy search and download... but it was a tense few hours. A disarmingly relaxed "that's all fixed for you apologies for the inconvenience" was all I got back, which culturally rubs me up the wrong way and certainly didn't feel like an apology for spoiling a few thousands peoples moment of getting their photos - but sunday night is when the real online action starts - and we had that - so all was ok... and then just the 4hr drive back to the office with the data...

was a lovely sunset, but that north sea breeze does cut down the air temperature...

a lovely view ready for the start of the shingle. Lasted about an hour with the boat there.

not knocking these guys also turning up for work, but it's not the view we were thinking of at the time - an dyes they parked it there and went fishing...
The north sea comes with warnings. My warning is don't sit in the sun facing the off shore breeze for hours on end without a very very warm coat and factor 50 suntan lotion...

This is the bling you're thinking of

The medal awaits the returning hiker, and a sturdy glass of "no-prosecco" alchohol free refreshment

they went thataway..

early practice arms - you're only at Sherringham !

It's like baywatch, but in green

voila the finish !

synchro fours entry to olympic finishing

no surrender, even if they are thumbs up

swim practice begins

bring me sunshine... all the while...

great to BEE here...

TAXIIIIIII !!!!!! nope.

it was a bit weee and a bit woah

They filmed Dads army near here you know. Including the surrender scenes as reimagined here

jump to the ryhthm, jump jump jump to the rhythm...

So that was the weekend. Top tip  - be prepared for the onshore cold north sea winds. Even if it's sunny and hot out of the wind... you will get sunburnt, wind burnt and salted.

Next weekend is the famous REP Arundel Triathlon - 5:45 am start and sold out - but come along to spectate anyway... the traffic is super easy that time in the morning. (note to self to check A27 overnight opening).

so until next time, I expect to see you at the Snowdonia mighty hike, all ready and set for a great weekends walk...
Keep training and enjoy the nice weather

Wednesday 8 May 2024

Three Forts Challenge and The REP Bluebell Run 2024 galleries now live

 "We all face challenges in our lives, and it's how we come to meet them and raise ourselves up that marks the measure of onself." said the Vice Chariman of American Express to me one day, as he pulled himself up to his full 6ft4in height, (yes, that is the No2 most senior person in the whole of American Express worldwide), after I'd asked him "How's the new job?" whilst earnestly washing my hands in the mens loos.

"We all face challenges". Try it this way - do the 3 Forts Challenge wearing a T-Shirt saying "Death", and see if that's not a pretty hardcore way to tackle a tough half marathon. I didn't have a go at him about his number not being on his tshirt.

The background is that after spending 30 years being just focused on one side of Amex - the cardmembers, he had - without any notice - been put in charge of the other side - Merchant Services - ie Shops accepting Amex Cards. It had been 2 weeks since his unceremonious job change, and to be honest - he looked Haggard. The Chairman had dumped it on him and he was showing it.

Life has it's ups a downs. Weirdly for running it's the ups that can cause the downs.

And there I was, Mr unknown by comparison, running a "be nice to new customers" program across 7 countries and a multi-million dollar budget with over 250 staff around the world making phonecalls to new customers, thinking - If HE can be screwed over in an instant - what chance have I got here?

So, that combined with wanting to see more of my brand new kid, (instead of commuting - this was before working from home was really a thing) meant the best way for me to rise up to the challenge was to quit, because I sure as hell wasn't in control of my destiny there. 

As all cancros runners know - they're not really in control of their destiny

And neither was he, he sadly passed away on the company jet flying back to New York from a heart attack/clot, I'm reminded he died aged 55. it's almost 9 years since that happened, and almost 16years since I chatted to him, but the whole episode has stuck in my mind. I'm one year off his last birthday now. It's a bit ominous.

And more to the point - what have I done in that time since that conversation and closing in on being the same age as he reached ? I think one of the most shocking things was and is that he was only 11 years older than me - but when I was 38, and he was only 49, he looked more like 59. He died 6 years after I left, and that was indeed terrible and tragic. I don't think he exercised much, and I'm often aware that runners tend to look younger than non-runners. (ref to Bon jovi groupies in the last blog)

when facing challenges, it's important not to surrender on the harder bits

More broadly - do I think I would have been able to be the vice chariman of anything aged 49 just before Covid hit home ? Nope. and do I ever want to be - Nopey nope. Doesn't matter that I have an MBA from a top business school. I watch back at my colleagues from those days and see the survival of the most political in the higher levels, and perhaps also those more willing to say "yes boss" so they're not the next one to be sacked, and more readily willing to sack entire departments instead. It was indeed a bit of a psychopathic playground for management - sack or be sacked, always reorganise to make whatever was necessary to look more efficient. It was an endless cycle every 2-3 years.

But here I am, typing a blog that has a distribution of over 25,000 and I wonder to myself - is that a measure of success comparable to perhaps Amex having 76,000 employees ? ( I mean it's not a bad feat to have so many subscribers who haven't unsubscribed yet ! What keeps you here anyway ?

what keeps you here ? the runs, the views, the happy people enjoying their thing ?

Which brings me onto a lovely bit of feedback from Sundays 3forts given in person whilst I was sat at the finish line, (because no, I get almost zero feedback on the blog, and for all my wafflings and the general state of the union speeches I could write - i get effectively zero feedback - except you unsubscribe, or you don't. Please don't !)   and - the feedback was they liked the photo captions and the general comments. Which frankly is lovely to know and to be appreciated, so thank you.

I shouted "do you like the blog?" all I got was a happy double thumbs up. That'll do grommet.

So here's some more photos and captions.

Usain Bolt wasn't firing an arrow - he was pointing at the drones

By the way - The 3 forts and the REP Bluebell Galleries are now live and online for free downloads.

For those of you who have recently competed in other local events and been asked to pay, all I can say is sorry, not our events, all the event organisers we work with wouldn't dream of such a thing, and unerstand the whole point of driving value for money out of your entry fees and then enhanced repeat participation and loyalty to their races - which means a steadily growing race. 

Parkrun - you've been tangoed...

If your races aren't long enough, get a dog to take you on the zig zag

He was trying to point at the barcodes he'd carefully folded over, thereby slowing down the cataloging process for everyone meaning you got your photos later than possible.

if this isn't the picture of a happy day out on the downs, then I don't know what is ! 

oh ok, this might be even more of a picture of happiness out on the Downs !

If this isn't the picture of how to face your challenges, and win at them, going out in the world in leopard print leggings, and just doing it. Why the hell not ! and you do you !

So, frankly that's enough of my musings for one night. I hope the local elections got you all you asked for, and I'll leave you with the rather interesting fact I learned from the BBC today that more Americans have booked flights to Paris to see Taylor Swift, than have to see the Olympics. Quite what that says about the minority of the American population that are actually passport wielding citizens, and you might also begin to understand why - when faced with the challenges that life threw at me when I was at Amex, I chose to tread a different path. And if you're not sure how insane America is, and also how little anyone else cares about what you do - just watch what Trump is getting away with and his behaviour, and look at how few words were written about Ed Gilligan in the wikipedia page I refered to him above. Zilch, nowt, not much.

Nobody cares more about your happiness and health than you. So prioritise it, get out there, do that running, and enjoy yourself - because nobody will be writing your wikipedia entry about it except yourself. Nobody Cares, so be free and do what you want to do (as long as it's legal please).

Until next time, and I hope you don't have a twisted ankle and still ruptured achillies like me... enjoy yourself silly.