Quiz Night

As the week progressed, the teams for the quiz night increased in numbers, the questions were formulated into a series of brain-bashing rounds, raffle prizes were flooding in and we were all set for a fun, money-making extravaganza.

Over 100 people turned up on the Saturday night to Stanborough School to form 12 teams ready to do brain battle to the death, or at least until the questions ran out. Quizmaster Rob, who had single-handedly put these mind teasers together, set up and introduced everyone to the evening’s entertainment. Brains were set whirring, pens were rattling between dentures and animated discussions were opening up to such dilemmas as to whether it was Led Zeppelin or Def Leopard who performed with a one armed drummer.

I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to create a round all about me, but by the time I had thought how self-regarding this was; ten questions had been created and ready to go. The only difficult aspect was creating ten cunning questions that even my own family wouldn’t know about me. I think the rest of the table containing my Mum and two sisters thought their Christmas presents had come early. Sadly not!

We had pizzas at the break, a raffle near the end and even a sweepstake on my Marathon finishing time. Add to this all the entry fees received, the final cash injection was over £680 for the evening which is great news and helped push my total to over £1700 so far.

Big thanks to Rob for putting this quiz together, Sue and Trish for raffle ticket selling, pizza cooking and general support and everyone who turned up and gave so generously on the evening. I would also like to thank all the companies that generously offered great raffle prizes for the evening.

These include Brasserie Blanc, Cote Brasserie, Skye Optometrists, Printed Clothing Ltd, RedKen, Health Barn Clinic, Westfield News, Phoenix Hairdressing, Outdoor Scene, Prontaprint, Tesco, Vitality Exercise and Murrays the Printers as well as some good friends who donated some lovely prizes.

MK Half Marathon

The quiz evening had gone on a little longer than expected and I had been careful not to scoff too many of the biscuits or pizza on display, so munched on an earlier prepared but now cold baked potato. Why? Well, six hours after getting in to bed that night I had to get out of it again to get ready for the Milton Keynes half marathon. A big bowl of porridge, a water melon electrolyte drink (credit to Kerry Kennedy for this marvelous concoction) and an energy bar were all devoured before the journey up to the Xscape Centre in CMK.

It was probably the hottest day of the year so far, which wasn’t ideal, but maybe a more typical temperature for April, so good preparation for London. I bumped into Kevin and Simon from work, but before long we had to make our way to the starting areas and last minute queues for the toilets.

I had it in my mind that I wanted to break my PB of 1:59:07 as the course was generally flatter than Watford. I positioned myself in the sub two hour pen, did as many stretches and warm up exercises as possible and off we went. It was a busy first couple of miles before we got into more open park land and could spread out a bit more and fit into your own pace. I wasn’t desperate to go, but for some reason I took advantage of a vacant Portaloo at the first water stop. This decision to stop when I didn’t really need to would come back to bite me later.

We wound our way around Milton Keynes passing through some of the quieter areas including Willen and it’s lovely lakes. There was a lot of support en route including kids offering jelly babies and less generous pub goers tempting runners with their half finished pints of beer. One the slightly more bizarre sights was a guy who had pulled up to the side of the road in his van, doors open, blasting out heavy metal as he proceeded to play guitar hero with a Henry vacuum cleaner and Viking helmet. But, the one thing that had stuck with me and used as inspiration whenever my legs are getting tired is a young lad, probably only 10, who had dragged his drum kit to the end of the drive and he sat there and just went through his drum drills. Well done kid!

I was planning on 9:15 minute miles for the first six and then up the pace in the second half to sub 9 minute miles. This was pretty much going to plan, but the last couple of miles were on a slight incline and in the middle of Campbell Park was a energy sapping hill that was reduced seasoned runners to Sunday scuffers. The sight of people throwing up and collapsing along the course made me decide not to use my Garmin for the last mile as I didn’t want to get drawn into an unnecessary sprint especially after the hill in Campbell Park.

This may have also been a regrettable decision, as I got over the line in 2:00:20, so a little injection of pace or the omission of the toilet stop would have seen me get in under two hours or even beat the previous PB.

I saw Chris Downing at the finish line who had smashed his half marathon PB, I will have to slip stream him at the London Marathon if he is going to be that fast.

Week workouts

My midweek workouts this week were a bit curtailed by one of those annoying underlying colds that you wish would either go away or just do it’s worst. 1K Abbey Avenue reps on Tuesday and a conditioning session on Wednesday down the gym went well and actually made the cold symptoms a little less significant. I packed in carbs over the next couple of days ahead of my long run. I was eating a frightening amount of food on Wednesday and Thursday. I was full time grazing.

With a 50th birthday party looming on the Saturday evening I took the decision to move the long run to the Friday before instead of the Sunday after.

Loop de loop

As I was on my own, I had to devise to route that allowed water and electrolyte pick ups, so after loading up the porch with drinks and supplements, I set off on my first loop from home. A six mile circle down to the Noke Hotel and back up through the lanes to the Holly Bush and home filled the first hour. I picked up and ‘dropped off’ some liquids, had a quick stretch and set off for a five mile double loop of Chiswell Green. The third loop was a bit more eventful as I had a small altercation with a recycling truck driver, who deliberately speeded up when he saw me approach a crossing. There was an exchange of gestures and colourful language before I continued back around the lanes to the Holly Bush and Gardens of the Rose.

There is lot to be said for having a distraction when the running gets boring or a calf muscle starts to tighten. You are encouraged to fill your head with positive thoughts like powering across Tower Bridge or running down the Mall and crossing the finish line in front of Mo Farah. For the first two hours of the run today I had the drumming kid in Milton Keynes to inspire me, but now all I could think about was running in to the truck driver again and what interesting conversation would develop. Any thoughts of running away would be futile as I was now up to 15 miles and in no mood for sprinting across the Hertfordshire countryside. I pushed on around the local streets until I got up to 18.5 miles and despite the third rate cold I was carrying and the relatively warm weather, I was in one piece and felt surprisingly OK.

I went into town to pay in the takings from the quiz and paid a visit to all the people who had given raffle prizes to express my gratitude with a thank you letter and piece of rocky road I had made the night before. An attempt to have a sleep in the afternoon didn’t work and the evening was a right off and disappointingly even at night I found sleep very difficult to come by.

Saturday was supposed to be a day of rest, but that is impossible when you have to look after a 9 year old Ruby and a 7 year old Hugo. I was hardly a picture of athleticism as I chased down a football in the park with amusingly straight legs.

I finished off this week with a four mile recovery run on a glorious Sunday morning around Verulamium which, despite the recent dry spell, was still flooding  between the Ver and the lakes.