Spending the night in a cardboard box

It’s not everyones idea if a Friday night, but this evening I’ll be sleeping rough. It’s all in aid of St Basils, the Youth Homeless Charity right here in Birmingham. As I write this, I’m surrounded by about 30 others who are all going to brave the November cold for this good cause.

My home for the evening is far from luxury, it’s two cardboard boxes that are not quite long enough to cover my feet and a giant plastic sheet… But the point is that’s more than some of the cities homeless have. I’m hoping my sleeping bag and cycling gear will do the trick, but the truth is it could be a long night!

But it’s for a fantastic cause and I hope it will raise a lot of much needed PR and money… So enjoy your nights sleep and watch for updates on the weather!

Here is one not made earlier
Here is one not made earlier


Everybody Hurts…

REM’s Everybody Hurts was perhaps not the best way to start my half marathon adventure, but it was the first song on my iPod as I crossed the start line.  I did have to smile to myself as I thought, yeah, thats true… this is going to hurt.

I didn’t get a lot of sleep on Saturday night, partly because I was thinking that in a few hours I would be donning trainers and running gear to tackle the ‘undulating’ course of the Birmingham Half Marathon.  Thankfully however, the rain that kept me awake had just about stopped by the time we began to run.  It was cold and windy, but without the rain I was feeling a little more optimistic.  The team from Future had assembled and travelled across together, which was good, as it turned out that all of us had not quite done as much training as we had planned! However, some Jelly Babies soon made up for the lack of practice and we all moved to the start line.  With 9,000 people running, the start line was pretty busy, and as such, the main race didn’t start until about ten to ten.

In true rowing fashion, I went off far too quickly, and made it through the first mile in about seven minutes.  I was aiming for about 10 minute mile pace, but clearly, this pace was going to be a little too quick.  The first part of the race took in the delights of fly-overs, which never seemed as when you drive through them! The climb on the way out of the tunnel really made the legs feel hard.  By about mile two, I had just about settled into a rhythm, and taking on some water at the first drink’s stop, I started to feel good. 

The course then took us through the centre of town and out towards Harborne, which actually went pretty quickly and before I knew it, I had reached the six mile mark.  At this stage, the legs began to feel a little heavy, and in my mind, I was calculating at which point I would reach midway.  The seven mile marker was where you know that your halfway round and on the way home.  The only problem that was at that part of the course you meet runners who are already on the home stretch… three miles ahead of you.  This was the tough part for me, and between mile seven and eight I hit the inevitable wall.  This was the point where I realised that actually, to run a half marathon you do need to train… at least a little more than I had! My only real training was indoors on treadmills, for an hour at most, and as my legs began to feel heavy, I suddenly decided that should I do this again… I will train properly.  Here, you would have thought that my choice of music would have helped, but again, my poor taste let me down.  Annie Lennox, Walking on Broken Glass… I know how you feel I thought as I began to walk for the first time.

At the mile 8 marker and up until about 11 miles, I walked and ran in small bursts.  I would run until my knee hurt and then walk it off.  This took me pretty much to the 11 mile marker, where it became very clear that I was almost home.  I grabbed a bottle of free Powerade and felt ready to head for home.  The sign ‘Finish 500m’ was the best thing I had seen all day… Broad Street was in my sights.  The support throughout the route had been fantastic, and here the people clapping and shouting along the side lines made all of the lactic acid disappear.  I had a short burst towards the end, and with the finish clock in sight, headed home in a time of 2 hours and 5 minutes.  I was setting two hours as my barrier, but in truth, I was happy to have finished.  Laura had come to see me cross the line, and it was fantastic to see a familiar face as I joined everyone else in wrapping myself in a silver blanket and collecting a medal.

When I finished secondary school, I updated my CV with some challenges going forward… one of which was to run a marathon before I was 25.  After Sunday, not only do I have only a year left, but I have now also completed half the distance.  I am under no illusion that a full marathon will only be twice as hard, but at least I know how I’m going to feel at 13 miles now.

So in truth, my half marathon experience was truly positive one.  The Birmingham Future team raised much needed funds for the Birmingham Foundation, and despite some very stiff legs today, I throughly enjoyed the whole day… I also need to seriously think about my choice in music.

Running Out Of Time

Sometime ago I agreed to run the Birmingham Half Marathon which is taking place this Sunday, the 26th October.  The 26th also happens to be my birthday, so I’m hoping for some birthday luck to get me around the 13.1 mile route.  I’m not unfit, I like to keep active, and clearly with LEJOG next year, I’m already in training.  I also took rowing pretty seriously while at Durham, which gave me a good fitness base.  

However, the last few weeks have been busier than ever before, and training has been hard.  Please don’t see this as an excuse, I will, without a doubt, complete the route, but I get the feeling it is going to be harder than I had hoped!

Either way, I am going to be running as part of the Birmingham Future team for the Birmingham Foundation, and am hoping to raise as much money as possible for this very worthwhile cause.  So while I sweat and cry my way around the route, please think of me on a Sunday morning while you enjoy your extra hour.

A Featured Blogger

I have recently become a featured blogger on another site, something I’m quite pleased about.  The blog in question is a way of featuring bloggers in Birmingham, so its entirely relevant to what I am aiming to do with my blog.  Paul Bradhsaw of Birmingham City University runs it alongside his Online Journalism Blog, and I am very thankful to him for featuring yours truly as one of his Birmingham Bloggers. 

Please ignore the rather cheesy iPhone photo –  I was away for the week on a Tax Technical training course with Deloitte and with little access to email and a Mac, this was the best I could provide Paul with!

Welcome To Birmingham

On Wednesday 8th October I’m going to be joining around 200 other new graduates in the City at Birmingham Future’s Welcome to Birmingham Event.The event was held for the first time last year, and was such a sucess that it will be repeated again for many years to come.It is basically a chance for a range of new Graduates in the city to get together in one place, and to receive a welcome from people who like them, joined Birmingham as graduates and have now established their careers here. This year, Peter Rees-Steer and Anthony McCourt are going to be speaking, as well as a brief networking session with Sarah Gee.

The event is held at the prestigous council house, and hopefully will be a chance for new graduates to make some friends who are at similar stages of thier career. Birmingham Future run a range of networking events, aimed at encouraging more people to get involved with the city, and this is a fantastic place to start.

Training has begun

It has certainly been a while since my last blog post, over a month in-fact, which is a little scary.  But it has been a pretty busy month with lots going on, and somehow, I just haven’t found the time.

However, LEJOG training has begun… the joys of hours on the bike are something that I have to look forward to, and if this morning’s ride is anything to go by, its going to be a long and wet route to completing the end to end journey next year.

First things first.  I have bought a new bike, which is below, and which I am really pleased with. I did toy with the idea of taking on the trip on my mountain bike, but a combination of it being far too heavy, and almost eight years old, made me think that actually I should take the plunge into buying a road bike.  The plan for next year involves my brother driving the support car behind me, so I’m keeping everything else as light as possible.  The guys at Snow & Rock in Birmingham City Centre were really helpful, plenty of advice for someone who has no clue about these things.  However, two weeks ago I spent a few hours talking and getting lots of advice and after trying a few models, ended up with what its below:


White, Fast & Light

White, Fast & Light

So far, I am really impressed with the choice.  Its Italian, feels fantastic on the open road and is realitively simple to ride.  Once I go used to clip pedals (stopping at my first set of traffic lights was an experience) I haven’t looked back.  In really bears no comparison to the old weight of the mountain bike, which I am sorry to say, has been stripped and may never see the road again… but it served me well!

So this morning I took on another cycle route, I’m building up the miles slowly while I get used to the bike and riding on the roads again.  It was pouring down with rain, and there were plenty of cars who were keen to ensure that should the rain not be getting me wet enough, they would help out by driving through the puddles just that little quicker.  But I put in some good miles this morning, miles which I am sure will pay off next summer.

So training has begun, new bike, new shoes and new routes… there is no going back now.

Birmingham Future Have a Blog

As most people who read my blog, Birmingham Future are the organisation who set up, manage and run the Graduate Apprentice programme, which ultimately, is the reason that I have a job! As part of my aim to give something back to the people who are responsible for that, I have recently set up, and had agreement to run the Birmingham Future Blog.  The aim is that its a place where anyone who wants to know about what the organisation can do can visit, find out a little more, or comment on the activities that we are involved in.  Its going to be quite informal, with only selected information being included at first, but I’m hoping that it grows into a really useful resource for all involved, or those who want to be involved, with Birmingham Future.  So take a look at the blog, find out a little more about who and what Birmingham Future, and leave your comments.