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All about Badger

Joined: 24 Aug 2005
Location: St Leonards, East Sussex
Occupation: Teaching assistant. Have been a PA/administrator/gadfly
Interests: Cooking, crosswords, curiosity

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Non-TT links I like
John Ibbotson Fund
Cardiac Risk in the Young
Justin Daerr: 12:55 to 9:20
Where would I be without Gordon Pirie?
Phil Wilson, dominating the dojo
2013 sport goals
Be a good dad and husband first
Consistent training
More sleep
Identity Parade - about me, me, me
Name: Dan
Born: 1971
Nationality: American and British
Resident of: Croydon (pop. 330,587)
Native of: Kandiyohi, MN (pop. 555)
Family: 'Wife' (married '00); two daughters ('Bambina' born '04 and 'La Nina' in '07); two cats; outdoor and indoor fish
Favourite song: "Bravado" by Rush
Tattoos: Watch this space
Epitaph: You had to be there.
Last Blog Posts
Looking up
The one about running very little
A week with Minnesota bookends
Vikings and victuals
War on Terrier
Sundays are for long runs and lollygagging
August in a nutshell
At this moment
Thinking about blogging

Total topics: 443
Total posts: 1621
 Tranquility Base 
Looking up
Thu Oct 31, 2013 11:54 am Badger
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Sipping the dregs of my decaf this morning, the morning after the night before. My daughter, or rather I, hosted a Halloween party last night for Bambina, La Nina and two of Bambina's friends. I provided the entertainment - pumpkin carving, bingo, pin the heart on the skeleton, lucky dip (blind, in bowls of disgusting goo - like lukewarm jelly, and wet gigli pasta coloured red for 'brains') - and the food: veggie burgers, chips and a vegan chocolate cake covered with a frosting pumpkin. Fun for everyone.

I find myself wishing that this week off for half term was actually a holiday. I have spent a lot of my time rushing around with the kids in tow. Admittedly, yesterday was fun and Monday was quite lovely. Before seeing Wife's new digs at a major London uni, we made a flying visit to the National Gallery to see the painting that the entire school has been studying in one form or another, Seurat's Bathers at Asnieres. In our brief sojourn I fell in love with the massive, emotive beauty of Delaroche's The Execution of Lady Jane Grey which reminded me of Goya's The Fifth of May. I saw the impasto smears of van Gogh's A Wheatfield, with Cypresses. I saw the bits of sand embedded in the en pleine air oils of Monet's The Beach at Trouville. For the first time I got to see a Canaletto.

I also viewed at close quarters a few Turners for the first time. I feel like I should appreciate Turner more, as a newly-minted Brit of five years' standing, but his style is not my cup of decaf. The foremost example in my mind is Rain, Steam and Speed, a mish-mash of wodgy yellows and browns which are supposed to show the brutishness of the new versus the gentility of the old, which was eulogised in Robin Harvie's Why We Run. In person, you have to depend on someone else's description of what's going on. On the other hand, though, The Fighting Temeraire was worth the trip, as it's a bit more vivid in its execution, a gleaming ghost ship being pulled by an ugly early steam tug.

In the last training session before we broke up for the week, my fellow TAs and I discussed breaking linguistic patterns and belief systems. This is very important to certain children who look for excuses - to challenge the kids' inward belief systems that are belied through outward language which often devolves into generalities: "Nobody likes me" ... "I never get picked for anything" ... "The teacher always ignores me". Unpicking the absolutes - the nobodies, the nevers, the alwayses - can lead to children seeing what they do through a new thought process.

We also talked about a bit of neuro-linguistic programming and tricks for positivity. One of the suggestions was simply to 'look up'. Apparently motivation guru Tony Robbins made the suggestion to John McEnroe to, after a missed shot, look up instead of down. The idea behind it was that missed shots happen all the time; the best thing that can be done is to accept, learn (not forget) and move on. The worst thing that you could do at that point is to berate yourself and crowd out all the input that would lead you to a solution. I can think of other reasons too, like opening the body up for a full breath, which can lead to new thought - an acting teacher of mine told my class "Why else do you think it's called 'inspiration'? We tell ourselves to look on the bright side, look for silver linings in clouds. I immediately thought of Psalm 121: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help."

So. This week I've practiced looking up. While running at this time of the year, it's a bit tricky to do that, with all the leaves hiding the potholes and roots! But this morning I looked up enough to see a sky that reminded me of the descending bubbles in a pint of Guinness; while stretching I looked up at the overcast again to be reminded of the Counting Crows lyric "Into the fog where no one notices / The contrast of white on white" as cloud moved across cloud. I start each morning by stretching my arms overhead. It's little things right now, but maybe they add up.

I need to look up a bit, in running and in life. I've ramped my running waaay back in the last month due to that niggle. It's to the point where I wonder "Why bother?" But occasionally, like this morning, there're moments of hope. The top of my foot didn't hurt in warmup or running. Only when I grabbed my instep to stretch my quadriceps did I get a twinge. I've been consistent in icing, stretching and strengthening, so hopefully there's change on the horizon.

This morning I gave a lot of thought during my run to where I was going to pull back financially to make up for my piddly salary. Lottery, alcohol and swimming came to mind - if I gave up all three I could save at least 73 every month, although swimming has always been my 'luxury'. That still leaves over 50 that I could save. As for adding to my income, I've added my name to those giving tutoring at school. I thought about renewing my pursuit of the Davis technique for dyslexia - I could help out people and ask them only to pay what it's worth to them, since I'm not certified. I've thought about writing. The dreaded second job ... what's it going to be?

B Fat Albert
Focus on easy, because if that's all you get, that ain't so bad. - Caballo Blanco
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. - Native American proverb

The one about running very little
Sun Oct 13, 2013 11:14 am Badger
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As I walked back from the Common this morning, having already hit my 25-minute ceiling, a woman quickly tip-toed from her car to her garden gate in the sprinkling rain. "Morning," I said. "Good morning," she replied, "How are you?" Without a moment's thought, I said, "I'm well. And you?" "Just fine."

I'm well. And I am well. Funny thing about injury, you can get locked into one of two thought patterns. One is I am going to run no matter what, and do what I like, nothing's going to stop me. Another is I am injured, therefore nothing about me is right. I've been guilty of both through the years. But when I wrote my 'manifesto' of sorts last December, my more-conservative-than-thou plan, I included the little item "injury cap: 25/25" - meaning that when injured, I could run no more than 25 minutes on a weekday or weekend long run. I am following that now, for good or ill.

I am well. The rest of me, including my right foot, is fine. Even my sore left foot is not sore 95% of the time. I'm in good shape. I'm healthy. I'm still following a good diet. I'm not even close to sick. It's just that running, one of the best expressions of me that I have, is causing me a minor discomfort.

I have spent more than a little time looking at ultramarathons this weekend, comparing entry fees and kit lists. It occurs to me that I don't really have the money to enter any race, nor have half the stuff on those lists. I don't have lightweight or waterproof anything. I've got a pair of minimal shoes that are getting more minimal with every run (the upper is now fully torn across the instep, meaning it's more like a lace-up sandal now). I'm wearing 15-year old shirts, 25-year-old sweatshirts. Not long ago I was priced out of triathlon. Cycling is too expensive and time consuming considering what you get out of it. I can barely afford the one trip to the pool a week to keep up with my love of swimming. Maybe, just maybe, I've been priced out of competitive running now too.

So. I'm well. I'm still injured. Still running less than I would want to at this precise moment. But not only has my attitude to injury changed, so has my attitude to my active life. I just need to be active. That's it.


Good news for La Nina: she got her Level 3 swimming badge, having finally swam front crawl across the training pool without compulsively touching the bottom for some reason. Her backstroke is fantastic; mastering the breathing on her front has been a real challenge. Lifting her head instead of turning it, that was the key problem, and now it looks as though she's surpassed that hurdle. On to the Big Pool!

Both Bambina and La Nina were a Learning Star of the Week for their respective classes in Year 5 and Year 1. It's not often siblings are named in the same week, but coincidence reigned at school this week. I wish I could've been in either of the KS1 or KS2 assemblies to've seen it, but that's the job I signed up for. Assist with teaching, monitor lunches.

My former flatmate is married to an author. She asked on Facebook for help with a plot point for her new teen book and I was really inspired. I responded with half of a plot of my own creation spun off of her suggestion. She said I should pursue the story and see if it would sell as a young adult novel. So I'm going to storyboard it and have a whack over half term to see if I can throw 10,000 words against the wall to see if they stick.

B Cool
Focus on easy, because if that's all you get, that ain't so bad. - Caballo Blanco
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. - Native American proverb

A week with Minnesota bookends
Sun Oct 06, 2013 8:46 pm Badger
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Me with some other guy from Minnesota - yep, that's ultramarathon legend Scott Jurek

After the Vikings game on Sunday, I thought I'd had a great dose of Minnesota. But, catching up with my Facebook timeline during the week, I realised I had another chance.

So, an interesting Saturday morning, as I missed my alarm but managed to catch up with a run from Hyde Park through London with Proctor, Minnesota's own Scott Jurek, organised by the Serpies (Serpentine Running Club). Jurek was in London to speak at VegFest at Kensington Olympia - he flew in the day before, immediately swung up for a run in the Lake District, then back to London. It was an easy-paced jog through the parks near Buckingham Palace, onto the Embankment down to the Wobbly Bridge, across and back to Westminster Bridge on the South Bank and back via Birdcage Walk.

This morning I had basically a 'farewell' run of 80 minutes along the Wandle Trail. My tendinitis, or whatever it is, is to the point where I wake up with an ache in my foot. So I'm scaling back, way back to the beginning - 20 minute runs and focused massage and ice. Hopefully that will mean a recovery and getting back to where I was. Which was closing in on seven hours a week and very soon double days, an exciting prospect. Which I will now postpone to a fitter date.

I figure that I'm old and ugly enough that pursuing my running through what is now obviously an overuse injury would be simply stupid. The fact that my training has been phenomenal to this point is rendered irrelevant by pain and I have to address it. With luck I get that level of fitness back in a few months with a healthy foot, rather than in a year or more with a compromised appendage.

Small-world-wouldn't-want-to-paint-it moment: today I discovered that the lovely, chatty young woman behind the desk at the leisure centre where the kids have their swimming lessons was an art student at Loughborough Uni at the same time as Vanessa Raw, and they know each other. Funny how things turn out.

And my swimming is good, too. Catching up with ttowel's latest blog, I'm inspired to learn my CSS and wish I had a wetronome. I feel fast, but know that 34 minutes a week is a bit of a limiter. Which is why ttowel's achievements on 1K per session is galvanising.

Bed now beckons - a long weekend as we went swimming as a family today. Worn out. Smile
Focus on easy, because if that's all you get, that ain't so bad. - Caballo Blanco
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. - Native American proverb

Vikings and victuals
Tue Oct 01, 2013 8:55 pm Badger
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Had a great time last Sunday at the American football game at Wembley between my team, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. For more on that, read and see PaulL's account here.

I for one enjoyed the whole thing, as it's been almost 20 years since I've been to a football game and I'd never been to a Vikings game ever, even though I lived in Minnesota for 28 years and two years in Minneapolis itself. I loved the atmosphere as it was a Vikings 'home' game and even though Steelers fans (like Putt Putt) were waving their Terrible Towels there was an obvious bias that a northern European fanbase brings to the festivities (the Vikings played the first non-UK exhibition game in Gothenburg years ago). Good thing they won, although they made it very exciting by very nearly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in the final seconds.

Thanks to Paul's lovely wife Ann I made good connections home and was right back making everyone's lunches for Monday and setting out my breakfast and running clothes before the clock struck midnight.

Good running in September. Last year I was burned out after a smoking hot August and then didn't run for two and a half months. This week I'm creeping up on 200 hours since getting back on the horse last December. I've been progressing so slowly and naturally that over 25 hours of running feels no worse than 10 used to. Still I'm hesitant, and carrying what feels like tendinitis in my left foot, so before I get carried away with more and more mileage I'm already tweaking my schedule in my head to include some downtime as we get deeper into the darker hours heading towards winter and more minutes on concrete instead of trails.

So what to do? I wish like ttowel that I had an indoor rower for some engine building and some all-over body shape. I plan to do more upper body bodyweight exercises and core stuff. I doubt the turbo will make an appearance, though. Swimming always gets a look-in if I can. I've been making strides there on efficiency and streamlining. One of these days I might swim more than one day a week!

I'm also considering what to do to earn a little more money. I don't really want to work seven days a week, but a couple of nights, say, driving a supermarket delivery lorry isn't out of the realm of possibility. If I owned a car I could go the private hire route, but ... c'est la vie. I've mulled over a bookkeeping qualification and offering tutoring services.

Work as a TA is going well the second year around and I'm getting a lot of encouraging noises about trying out teacher training again. Last school year, after watching teachers go through their day and seeing what student teachers and NQTs experience (not to mention the personal pummelling I received in my probationary period), I cancelled my application then and there. But watching this year's new head of Year 5 has changed my mind - she brings a lot of energy, enthusiasm and thought to the position (after she led Year 3 for the past few years). I'm considering getting the hybrid KS2/KS3 qualification as being a good generalist could blend with some of the specialist knowledge I have in English, maths or music.

Anyhoo ... it's time to make the lunches.
Focus on easy, because if that's all you get, that ain't so bad. - Caballo Blanco
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. - Native American proverb

War on Terrier
Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:31 pm Badger
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Had a little run-in with a dog this morning on a narrow path heading to the Common. It wasn't unknown to me; I had seen it with its owner on several occasions and I had been charged by this particular dog in a more open space last week, where a. it was better lit and b. there was more room to avoid it. When it charged me this morning, I didn't know I hadn't avoided it until I felt the pain from my right leg. I'd been bitten mid-thigh.

As I write, the bruise has come up around the tooth marks and the area where the skin is broken. Thankfully there was a pair of shorts between tooth and skin.

I'm pursuing it through the police and hopefully will get the owner's details tomorrow on the Common, same bat time, same bat channel.


My fatigue continues. I've been getting to bed pretty consistently around 10pm with everything set up for the morning (kids' and our lunches, my breakfast, running clothes and work clothes). Every morning without fail I wake up an hour before my alarm, around 5am. Not a happy bunny. Ordinarily I would be jumping for joy at seven hours of sleep - especially when the girls were little - but now I just need a little more to sustain the energy levels I need at work through the whole day. The run takes care of the morning. A banging headache was added to the mix this afternoon, which was banished with very loud tuneage via the iPod.

Cooking has been more interesting of late. I seem to be having vegetarian days, coming off my vegan diet to see how my new creations taste. There was a savoury spinach bread-and-butter pudding, a lentil kulbayaka and today's Rosemary Conley lentil bake.

I've discovered how to use the RANK.EQ function on Excel! while playing around with my training log, ranking my current month against all other months. Now that I don't have to do it by counting down columns of data, who knows what kind of twiddling I can do now!

My current month of running is going well, on track for 25+ hours (touch wood). Can't speak for my swimming, which has been hit-and-miss (still ploughing ahead with my fly the best I can do), but running seems to be tripping along nicely. My only complaint is a nagging tendinitisy thing on my medial left foot which I'm treating with stretching and strengthening. One run a week has fast sections - but that only comes to ~2% of my weekly time. The rest is nice and easy. I wore a HR monitor last week on a short run and I'm hitting a nice moderate heart rate, well below my lactate threshold.

Time to make the lunches ...
Focus on easy, because if that's all you get, that ain't so bad. - Caballo Blanco
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. - Native American proverb

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My Personal Bests - to date
400m 1:03 (1989)
800m 2:16 (1989)
1500m 4:32.92 (1994)
1600m 5:06 (1989)
3200m 10:42 (1989)
5000m 16:59.6 (1994)
8K 28:24 (1994)
10K 36:36 (1993)
15K 56:42 (1994)
12mi 1:15:15 (1994)
Half 1:32:37 (2005)
Full 3:55:23 (2005)

10mi 29:33 (2002)

50yd free 0:25.8 (1989)
100yd free 0:56.4 (1989)
200yd free 2:06 (1989)
500yd free 6:04 (1989)

Olympic 2:26 (2003)
Half 6:44 (2009)
Ironman 12:23 (2006)
A short history of fitness
1983: joined swim team 'cause my brother was on it. Thrashed 25 yards in a speedy 52 seconds.
1984: ran x-country. At midseason race I was 6th in the girls' race (who started 5 mins after us).
1985: training more seriously. My 1st race win, a local 3-mile, in 19:03.
1987: 1st triathlon, Fun In The Sun (Spicer, MN). Oly, swim was short if memory serves. 2:50-ish.
1988-9: ran Varsity in x-country. Broke 1:00 for 100yd free.
1989-93: years in wilderness (university). Topped out at 13 stone 2.
1993-94: joined uni running teams. Ran over 500 days in a row at one point, longest week 91 miles. Then plantar fasciitis and back into the wilderness (life).
1995-2001: fits and starts. Left the farm, eventually the US. Married Wife, moved to England. Started commuting on mtn bike.
2002: joined cycling club. London Tri sprint (1:19?). Bought a Trek.
2003: Windsor 2:28; London 2:26. DNF at HIMUK.
2004: Bambina born! Changed footstrike. Got heavier.
2005: London Marathon on sprained ankle.
2006: Ironman UK (Sherborne) in 12:23:08.
2007-8: La Nina born! Work upheaval, found permanent job. Heavier again.
2009-12: rediscovered running. Took low-paying teaching assistant job: inspiring but incredibly tough.

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