Run and done

It had been a couple of weeks since I'd last been out running. My knee felt fine, and I was having a day off the gym on Thursday, so before I went to bed Wednesday night, I decided the next morning I would start up running again. My plan was to just run my short 7+ mile route, test out my knee, and see how I feel all round. If I was feeling good, then I could extend the route to cater how far I felt I could go.

So Thursday morning comes around. I didn't have a very explosive start, but I can attribute that more probably, due to the fact I ate 3 large bean wraps and drank 3 pints of water, all within 60 minutes of starting. I had in the back of my mind I'd be able to run further than 7 miles, so I wanted the extra energy and water on board, so I figured it was worth an uncomfortable first couple of miles.

Anyway, things feel good. My knee is holding up, and because I can properly bound off my right leg, rather than it being used simply as a peg leg as before, I'm going at a good pace, covering a lot of ground. And I feel fit as well. Approximately the first 4 miles of my 7 mile run, is the same route as the first 4 miles of my 14 mile run. I haven't looked at my stopwatch, but I can tell by the way I'm running, I'm well on pace to beat my target time for this route of 54:20, so approaching the turning where I would veer off to run 14 miles, I say fuck it, why not? I feel good and I feel fit, so what am I going to gain from just running 7 miles? I want to push my body further.

I'm always someone who doesn't appreciate the limitations of the human body. So when I planned this 14 mile route and was walking it last week, I went out of my way to make it deliberately hard. And about ½ a mile from here, I deliberately added in a detour so I would have to run the steepest side of Richmond Hill. It made me a little jelly-legged, but to be honest, I was still feeling really good, so with about 9 miles to go, this wasn't too much of a challenge. Though my face might not have told the same story at the top. So I carried on. The route I'd planned was pretty hilly, so for someone who hasn't run more than about 8 miles in recent years, it was a challenge.

Having not intended to run this distance, I had only brought with me 2 small water bottles that I could carry in my running belt. These both contained 6oz each, or 170.5ml. So in total I was only carrying about 341ml of water. This is plenty to be running my usual much flatter, 7 mile route. But for this, quite simply it wasn't enough. By this point I'd had 2 quite steep ascents. And I first realised just how dehydrated I was getting, when a fly flew into my eye. I rubbed my eye with my finger to try and get it out, but in doing so, was pulling into my eye the salt that was now sitting on my face. I wasn't really sweating too heavily. I don't know if I had run out of water to sweat or what. But there was just salt on my face. Rubbing my hand on my face, was like stroking a piece of sand paper.

This was probably an indication to me that I should stop at the next water fountain. My problem is I'm a pig-headed son of a bitch though. And I point-blank refuse to stop until I've completed a challenge I've set myself, in this case, to now run these 14 miles. And this reluctance to stop was further compounded when, as one gate I passed, I see a couple of people coming into the park. I didn't pay much attention to them, until a little while later, I have another runner breathing down my neck. Some people think of it as a good quality, some people think of it as a bad quality, but a quality that I have in abundance, is competitiveness. If someone lays down a challenge... just don't get me started. Now I think that this runner was one of the people I had just seen coming in at the last gate. So they were fresh. At first I was going to be the big man and let them past. But I'm not sure if they were using me as a pace-setter, or were just beginning to tire, but they sat about 10 or 15 yards behind me, just gaining infuriatingly slowly. This just pissed me off. I was willing to let them past if they were actually going, but I just did not want someone sitting behind me like this, getting gradually closer and closer. I'm very protective of my personal space at the best of times, but when I'm exercising, especially running, my radius of personal space multiplies. I don't want people just hanging around me like this. So eventually when this person had got to about 5 yards behind me, I just upped the pace, and pretty much just sprinted away from them. Sprining may be a slight exaggeration, but I must wonder what this person was thinking. It really wasn't long though until I'd opened probably a 100 metre gap. The problem now, was that by doing this, I had pretty much stuck my middle finger up at this person, throwing down the gauntlet saying, "I'm fitter than you. You won't fucking catch me!" So for the remaining maybe 4 miles of the park, I had to hold them off. I would never live it down if I allowed them past after this, so from this point on that was my pace-setting goal. I don't care how fast I go, as long as they don't get past me.

The problem here, was by this point I was highly dehydrated. And I knew another water fountain was upcoming, but if I was too proud to stop before to get a drink, to stop and let this person past, now I definitely was. This coupled with my knee now starting to flare up with mild pains similar to those that had troubled me before. So for the next few miles, which was very hilly including another ascent up Richmond Hill, I was in pain, my mouth was dry, and I had this thing following me. I call it a thing, I had only seen it as I'd glanced behind me as I was running, and I couldn't tell from the silhouette that I saw from the corner of my eye if it was a man or a lesbian, so to be politically correct, it's just a thing.

Although the thing may have closed up the gap again somewhat, forcing me to pretty much sprint up this second ascent of Richmond Hill to open the gap up again, I held it off until I got to the end of the park. Now I just had about a mile to a mile and a ½ until I was home. Much of this being another descent down Richmond Hill, so it shouldn't have been too difficult. But by this point, I was uncomfortably dehydraded, and the pain my knee was causing me had meant my right leg had essentially reverted back to being a peg-leg once more. It was embaressing just how much of a struggle this final section was, but I made it home. A hilly 14 miles, non-stop.

If you're someone who does much middle-long distance running, you'll know what I mean when I say, you don't realise how much you're hurting, until you stop. The second I got home, the light-headedness I experienced will have been due to how dehydrated I was, and it was nothing like I'd ever experience before. Seeing weird shapes in my eyes, I was struggling to stand up. Then being rested, my knee started to stiffen up. I took off my trainers, and my white socks were heavily blood-stained from where I'd worn through blisters, and just worn through my skin. I even had abrasions on my waist-line from the chaffing of the swimming shorts I was wearing to run. And for the next few hours, I was feeling like I'd never felt before. I was chugging down water, and soon after getting back, I'd eaten a cheese sandwich, drunk about a pint and a ½ of protein smoothies, and had consumed what can only be described as a mountain of pasta. My stomach was so full I couldn't stand up straight, but my body was still crying for more water. In the end I just had to lay down, in the fetal postion because I could not straighten out, and slept for a couple of hours.

When I came around again I more of a resemblence of a normal me. But having the time to rest, my knee was now fucked. I had blisters and blood-blisters on my feet. I was just a mess. The whole point of me going out running, is to get me fitter, and keep me healthy. Yesterday I was pretty much house-bound, although I did manage a slow cycle to the supermarket, and limped around doing my shopping. Not just because my knee was a mess, but my feet had expanded with blisters to the point that they were bigger than my shoes. It just wasn't fun. Which is why I'd called this blog, "Run and done." As much as it's going to hurt me not being able to go running for the time-being, at least not regularly, right now I just don't have the tools. The dehydration was my own pig-headedness and stupidity, and I don't really care about blisters. But simply, my knee can't hold up. This was a 14-mile run that I completed, so it's improved on where it was. But if I keep on damaging it like this, it's never going to have the time to fix itself properly. It's hurting me just to write, but I'm going to have to lay off the running for a little while. It puts my whole fitness plan that I spoke about in previous blogs in the shitter. I'll be doing what I can, maybe having the occasional run, but 3 or 4 times a week like I was planning? Not a chance. The best I'll be able to do is replace running with cycling, walking and gym cardio. It's not going to be the same though.

UCH Sharks @ Durham, 2008 You know what I find most frustrating about this, is I think (I'm not 100%) I can pinpoint the exact moment that my knee was injured. And it was an act of someone elses stupidity that caused it. It was in an American football training session, I think my final ever one. I'm never going to blame anyone else when I get injured once I kit up. You know the risks of playing, and that's part of the fun. But I can remember the exact tackle I made where I think this injury was caused. And landing the way that I did, was just down to someone else's idiocy. I don't blame them and I definitely won't name them, but it's very frustrating, that in what I think was my last ever training session, I get an injury like this, which, as it feels now I think could affect me for a long time, due really to someone else's stupidity. But like I said, you know the risks when you kit-up. So I blame no one but myself. It doesn't mean it's not frustrating though.

Transcend SDHC 8GB memory card On the plus side, being pretty much house-bound yesterday meant I had the opportunity to get quite a bit done. First off, I ordered a camera from Amazon. I put aside my refusal to pay £140 for a camera that was once £135, which was hard for me to do, and bit the bullet and ordered the Fuji. I hadn't used my free trial to Amazon Prime, which essentially gives free express delivery to members for an annual fee. So I signed up for my free trial, and my camera got delivered incredibly promptly, arriving this morning at 10:30. That's barely 24 hours since I ordered it. I've since cancelled my Amazon Prime membership. I still have 29 days left however, so if anyone wants anything delivered the next day for free from Amazon within the next 29 days, then I'm your guy. With the money I saved on buying the Panasonic, I've also got a tripod, an 8gb memory card and a leather case being delivered from various places around the UK. They were things that I would probably have to buy anyway had I bought the Panasonic, but doing it this way, I can definitely justify it. I can't believe the price of memory these days either. £10.64 for 8gb of memory! When I bought my 1gb card in Canada in '05, it cost me about $100 if I remember rightly. Now it's a tenner for 8gb. Awesome. That's a shit-load of photos. I haven't yet had a chance to play around with the camera, so that is something I'll be doing for the rest of today. Hopefully I'll have had a chace to take some test shots next time I write a blog, so anyone who is interested on how good this camera actually is, I should be able to provide some evidence.

As well as this, being immobile yesterday, I had a lot of time to get on improving this website. I had 2 main tasks I wanted to achieve, and I didn't care if it took me all day to do it. The first was to make these blog entries printable, and the second was to make the homepage much more impressive by replacing the boring cartoon picture of me that was currently there, with some sort of system which constantly changed the pictures displayed. I had no clue where to start with either, so my first port of call was to post threads in all 4 webmaster forums I've been using lately.

I got quite a variety of responses for both queeries. To make these blogs printable actually turned out to be pretty easy. I made a separate style sheet detailing which areas of the pages I wanted, and how I wanted them displayed on print, and linked each blog to this style sheet. Easy. So now if you go to print-preview for these blog entries, instead of getting a mess of gold writing, adverts, buttons, logos etc, you get a black and white printout of the main area of the page. Images within the blog are still printed, but other than that, it looks pretty good. It even comes out in a different font, more reader-friendly on paper, because that's the kind of guy I am. And, with help from the forums once more, I've even added "Print this blog" buttons to the bottom of every page. I don't actually know why anyone would print these blogs, but at least now they have the option. When I say I add something too all the blog entries, you might notice I never do this to Test Entry 1. This is because I want to keep this blog exactly as it was first created way back in February, as a sort of shrine, or time-capsule, that pays testiment to just how bad my HTML once was. It's something that I can look back on and see "this is where I started."

So that was one problem solved, and fairly easily. Getting a rotating stream of pictures on the homepage wasn't such an easy task. As with the printing problem, I received an array of answers to this queery. The more likely ones pointed to javascript, which hasn't been my best friend in the past. I watched City of God for the first time last night, and a quote that stands out from that film, was "A hood never quits, he takes a break." I'm a bit like that. I'll try something, it doesn't work, I'll get frustrated and quit, before trying again a bit later. This was how I eventually got pictures to rotate on the homepage. I tried one method. It didn't work so I gave up. I came back a bit later, and tried another method. It didn't work so I gave up. Eventually I ended up making a mock page to test out some Java, and try and workout what the fuck half of it means. Like with the changing quotes that I have on the homepage, I don't know what half of the java code I've added actually means. What I have done through trial and error on this test page, is workout what exactly I need to change, to change the speed of the rotation of photos, and to add and take away photos. Eventually though, I worked out the code I needed, and how to use it.

This wasn't the end of this problem though. When I first moved this code from my test-page to the homepage, it was moving all subsequent content in the <div> tag to accomodate different sized photos. The problem with this, is that if someone is watching the webcam (yeah right), or reading the text I have on the homepage, it will be constantly moving to accomodate different sized photographs. A bit like watching TV on a trampoline. So to rectify this, I decided to absolutely position the rest of the div tag and give it a z-index higher that that of the photos, so that when a photo was bigger than the space, it would be placed underneath the successive text. This in itself took a lot of trial and error to come up with code that was acceptable to both Internet Explorer and Firefox. The problem now was that when a photo was shorter than the point at which the second <div> tag started, there would be a black space between the two tags, where it should be an orange background. So to combat this, I had to give the first <div> tag a set length and a background color orange. This all worked, but I also wanted to have captions for each photo, otherwise to anyone who's not me, they're just random meaningless photos. This really is an amateur solution that I came up with, but I looked online to find the amount of red, blue and green in orange. Then with each photo, I went into paint and extended the photo width with orange space. I would then write on this orange space in black text, the caption I wanted. It would then appear with the photo on the homepage, looking like a caption. Because both the South Sawyer Glacier, Alaska, 2008 orange's perfectly matched, all a viewer would see is the black writing. I liken this solution, to fixing a broken drain pipe with duck tape, rather than calling out a professional. It might not be the best solution, or the most durable, but as long as no one else sees it, it doesn't really matter. They will be none the wiser. With my solution, it looks like I know how to add captions to my photos, as long as no one looks under the hood, and sees that the captions are just part of the pictures. It might not be professional, but it works. And that's all I care. Believe it or not, solving those two problems, pretty much took up all of my house-bound Friday. I sold a couple more books on Amazon as well, so all in all considering I couldn't walk, it was a pretty good day. Just a side note, my knee was a lot better this morning, so I was able to slightly retardedly walk to the post-office. My god that girl who works there has some revealing tops. This one didn't even get close to covering her bra. It's awesome. It makes going to the post-office fun!

Incidentally to anyone struggling from the same dilemma of how to automatically change photos, the page I ultimately ended up using is found here. I gained a lot of respect for the Ozzu forum as well during all of this. I ultimately couldn't understand what the fuck someone who replied to me was going on about, but someone made a big effort to help, by going onto my site, and using my images and code to try and explain how to help. This thread is here. I might add Ozzu to the links page just because of how impressed I was. What that also taught me, is how unreliable Google analytics is. This person had obviously been onto my site as they'd taken pictures of me, from it. Yet they didn't appear on my Analytics report today. Unless they used some strange method to browse my site, it can only be a fault of Google analytics. Though they do provide some reliable information, one of which was probably the favourite place I've ever had someone visit this website from. In my report on Wednesday, I'd had someone look at my website in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. How funny is that? Ulaanbaatar. You can't write that stuff. Why, if you're given the freedom to name a city, would you go for the seldom heard Ulaanbaatar? It's hilarious.

One other change I've made to the website, is I've now swapped over the positions of NFL news and travel news on the headlines page. Being a travel website, it seemed illogical to have NFL news before travel news, so that has been rectified. To be fair it seems illogical to have NFL news on a travel website at all. It is a little bit of a concern to me, the unreliability of Feedzilla to provide news headlines. They're good 85% of the time. But the other 15%, the headlines take a long time to appear, and my site suffers as a result of that. I'll monitor how good they are over the coming weeks to decide if I want to go another route. And finally on the website, I'm struggling a little to find similar websites to swap links with. It turns out, there are no websites in the world, like this one. If I search Google through my webmaster tools for related sites, nothing turns up. And I spent a while manually crawling through pages and pages of Google results looking for websites like this one. I can't find any. So if anyone knows of a website like this, it'd be cool if you could let me know, because I'd still like to get a "Related websites" page up and running. It's a little tricky when I can't find any related sites though.

Onto my travel, which you might think would be the first thing spoken about seeing as this is a travel blog. Not so though. See... I'm a maverick. Unfortunately I've had an email from the housing person at Panorama. And to quote: "I have placed you on the waiting list, however our staff housing is currently full. I will notify you if we have an opening." So that's a bit shit. How the fuck am I supposed to sort out accomodation in a remote town in Canada, from here? That's a good question you ask. I got another email yesterday, listing the 13 other people currently in my situation of needing housing. I now have all their email addresses, so I think I'll be firing off a mass email by the end of the weekend. Try and convince someone it's actually a good idea to live with me. I now have their email addresses, so if I was going to be sly, I could look them up on Facebook and see which ones are hot, and email them first... though I'm not sure I can afford to be picky right now. I'll only do that if I have to choose between people. And I bet there's people reading this whining "But what if they've got their profile settings set to private?" Firstly, stop being pedantic. And secondly, there's a way around this that I stumbled across a while back that lets you see the large version of peoples profile pictures, regardless of their settings. So suck on that. That email was sent round yesterday, and I haven't received any emails yet, so I guess it'll be up to me to make the first contact, which is cool. I'm not shy. My ideal person, would be someone near to Panorama so they can sort a place out, hot, and a push-over so I can get the best room. I'm trying to figure out which of these 13 people is most like that by staring at their email addresses. It's not working.

The other thing on this email that it listed, was the department of each person. I was listed as Mountain ops, which I wouldn't have paid much attention to and considered this to mean lift operator in some form, apart from the fact that other people were listed as Lifts. So how the fuck does mountain ops differ from lifts? I'm betting it's the fact I need to know how to ski, which is shit. I have been alerted to Xscape in Milton Keynes which has some kind of indoor snow slope, as opposed to dry-slope. £25 for 2 hours though! What a rip-off. However it is becoming apparent to me, that at some point, I'm probably going to have to learn to ski, seeing as I'm "mountain ops." I'll figure something out. Hopefully there'll be snow in Whistler by the time I pass through there and I can get some practice in. Why do I get these bright ideas? Couldn't apply for a job I was actually able to do, oh no. That would be too fucking easy.

The other thing about this second email that I got, is that I was the last person listed. Do you think that is because I'm last on the waiting list for staff accomodation? I home not. I'd much prefer to not have to do any work to get myself sorted.

I've eluded to the fact in previous blogs, that I think I've been putting on weight since I changed my diet to a much higher-carb diet. Imagine my surprise when I take a reading on my health monitor for the first time in about a month, and not only is my body-fat percentage pretty much unchanged, but my weight has dropped 2kgs (this was before I ran the 14 miles). How the fuck have I lost weight? I've been eating like a damn pig. I really don't understand my body. To have lost a third of a stone with what I've been eating... it bemuses me. I'm not going to complain, because the foods I've been eating now are much more enjoyable that what I was eating previously. But it goes against basic nutritional theory that I should start losing weight now. I really do have a strange body. I've been doing an extra 30 minutes light cardio in the gym everytime I workout, but I'd have doubted that would have such an impact. I don't know. Maybe I'm just made a strange way.

Now can you believe this? Abbey finally contacted me regarding a credit card, and they fucking rejected me those sons of bitches. I have savings to travel with coming out of my arse. On what grounds do I not qualify for a credit card? It's like rejecting David Beckham for a football scolarship. And I love how they tell me, that if I have any information contrary to what they have already seen, I have 30 days to send it to them. They conveniently forget to tell me what they've seen though. Sons of bitches. I don't want their stupid Zero card anyway after they put me on the phone the other day. I already have 2 cards I can use comission-free abroad. Hopefully I can get one more off Nationwide and I'll be set. I cannot believe I got rejected! I'm actually a little insulted.

Sticking with money a second. I'm not saying I'm so tight that I price-watch Tesco value products, but, Tesco Value baked beans are down from 20p to 18p this week, and Value kidney beans are down from 14p to 13p to 12p. Inflation my arse! It's bargain time. And... if you get the right guy behind the chicken counter, he doesn't seem to have any qualms about giving you free chicken. I asked for 8 chicken nuggets and a piece of Southern fried, which should have cost £2.39. I got 13 nuggets and a piece of Southern fried for £1.39. He's my new hero. What inflation?

Just finally, I saw this article on the BBC website the other day. How is it that a country like Norway can afford to donate $1 billion to save the Amazon, but we can't? Surely anyone with any degree of foresight can see that protecting what little remaining natural landscape that still exists, is key to the future of our very existence. Especially a landscape which provides so much of the worlds oxygen. And you have to ask yourself, how much have the UK government wasted in recent years that could have gone to such a worthy cause. Illegal war in Iraq anyone? That'll be a few billion. How about privatisation? How many billions of pounds profits was it that energy companies announced this year? British Gas alone raised £2 billion didn't they. That's money that would either be in the pocket of the people, or being charged in taxes if it hadn't been privatised. That's just British Gas in the past 12 months. And again, I have to pose the question, why do the people stand for it? A police force can only police if the people let them, and a goverment can only govern if the people let them. I bet both the British Gas shareholders and the British government cannot believe their luck that the British people act like such fucking pussies. It infuriates me. We illegally invade Iraq, a war that the British people supposedly didn't want. Yet our "democracy" would have it that those responsible for such a debacle get re-elected on both sides of the Atlantic. How do people accept that this is democracy? That each person is having their say, when a government can act unlawfully and against the will of the people, but remain in power. A govenment is there, simply to govern the will of the people. How is a govenment that acts so vehemently against this will, allowed to remain in power. The British democratic system, simply doesn't work. But the people act like fucking pussies and do nothing about it. British Gas are laughing all the way to the bank, taking billions from the people, and handing it to shareholders to stockpile. And the people do nothing about it. They must ask themselves each and every day, how did they get so lucky. How do they operate in a community, where people do nothing. They don't stand up for themselves and they don't act when things are wrong. People seem to forget, that we elect the government. They work for us. When we don't like what they're doing, and they're allowing companies like British Gas to profit at our expense, we don't have to stand for it. But we do. We all passively sit by, and idley let government introduce laws that breach our liberties and right to freedom. And let the rich become richer, whilst the poor are suffering. And we do nothing. We live in a society of worthless pussies. I can't wait to get the fuck out of here. And by letting government and corporation get away with what they do, the people bring any discrepencies on themselves. People talk disparagingly of 7/7. How they're attacking "innocent" people. That they didn't even want the war in Iraq that these attacks were in revenge for. These people who were killed, like you, and like me, did nothing when we decided it would be fun to have a war in Iraq. The blood is on our hands, and their hands, as much as it is the governments hands that we allowed to take us there. The people are responsible for the atrosities in Iraq as much as anyone else, so to call them innocent... When the people let a government take actions, the people are responsible for the reactions. Now we all have to deal with the consequences of Iraq. And I'm as guilty as anyone else for what happened there. I don't give a fuck if you went on some stupid march through London to oppose the war. What good has a march ever fucking done? The war still went ahead, and we sat idley by. There's one thing that government listens to, and that's violence. Diplomacy with government has never achieved anything, as was proven with this stupid little march. And now we sit by, as corporations profit by providing "essentials" like energy. It was £2 billion this year for British Gas, and they just raised prices. How many homeless could be housed? How many acres of Amazon could be saved, if we actually stood up and acted for what we believed in, rather that sitting by and watching the world around us, be taken from us as people search for personal gain? It sickens me to call myself part of such a disfunctional society. Until the people stop acting like such pussies, and take back their ability to have a say, then any repercussions for the actions of our government, they fall on our doorstep. Any blood that our government spills, it is on our hands. Obviously I don't approve of terrorist actions in this country, if only for my own safety. But I don't blame them for a second. At least they're taking action when something they don't like is forced upon them.

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