‘Race’ Review: Great Run Solo 12 Runs Of Christmas Challenge 2020

This December challenge was the second (and last as of now) of the Great Run Solo accumulators that I’ve entered, following October’s Hallowe’en event.

It followed a fairly similar formula to the Hallowe’en version, this time requiring participants to complete twelve runs between the 1st and 25th of December. Usually you don’t get the medal until the following month, but on this occasion they sent them out early (before most people had even completed the challenge) so that we could all use the alternative ‘tree decoration’ ribbon to hang them on our Christmas trees!

There were three medals designed for this challenge, and it was a surprise as to which one you would be sent. Mine was a Santa medal, but I’d have been equally happy with a snowman or reindeer!

Great Run Solo 12 Days Of Christmas medal
A little bit of extra sparkle for my 2020 tree!

The basic challenge wasn’t really a challenge for me as I run every day anyway, so my main interest was in seeing how much mileage I could rack up. It wasn’t as much as I would have liked as I was still on a bit of a post-London slump, and so I only managed the lowest of the three certificate levels, but anything was a win in the first part of December.

Post-Christmas I was a bit more refreshed and was able to move onto slightly bigger challenges, which I’ll discuss in the next few weeks!

Saturday ’80s Photo: Snow Wear, February 1989

The UK winter preferring to save most of its snow for February and March when people are already sick of winter is not a new phenomenon, judging by our family photo archives. My February 1989 wardrobe heavily featured this, um, dashing snow suit, something I have most definitely not seen on any of the small children dragging sledges around the snow-laden streets of Newcastle this winter. ’80s fashion: nothing if not careful.

Snow suit, February 1989
At least the boots looked vaguely cool?

I am a lot more cavalier about snow in 2021 and have been going out in Doc Martens, leggings and a light trenchcoat this week. I love a bit of ’80s retro, but I’m not quite ready to do one-piece snow wear again.

A week of feeling behind

It’s been a week of snow and power cuts and hence a week that has not really gone to plan. Other than the long-awaited outdoor 10k I managed last Saturday, the snow has derailed pretty much all my running this week. However, to be honest I’m kind of used to that after this long, bleak winter, and Geth and I have been looking into ways to make treadmill running less boring. I’ve ordered a Zwift Runn sensor, which you attach to the side of your treadmill in order to connect it to Zwift. I’ve been interested in trying Zwift for a while and a prolonged period of snow seems like as good an opportunity as ever… Of course, I thoroughly expect that as soon as it arrives, the snow and ice will clear up and I won’t need to use the treadmill again until next winter. Still, it’s a win either way!

In the meantime, Geth has discovered the RunDisney YouTube channel, which provides lots of nice video tours around Disneyland that enable you to watch the screen while on the treadmill and pretend you’re running round a theme park on a hot day in Florida (something that feels like a total fantasy at the moment). I watched one of the videos during my treadmill run this morning and it felt a lot less tedious than usual! Geth originally wanted to do a real-life RunDisney event for his 40th birthday last year, but obviously that has had to be put on hold for now. We’re determined that it will happen eventually, though.

The power cuts we had earlier this week, meanwhile, meant that work was disrupted quite a bit and I’ve not really been able to catch up. As such, I’m going to have to do a bit of work at the weekend, which is something I’ve been trying to avoid 🙁 Hopefully things will go a bit more smoothly next week.

Snow, February 2021
The world is endlessly white at the moment.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Cast of The Sound Of Music – ‘So Long, Farewell’*
Kate Bush – ‘Wuthering Heights’
Barenaked Ladies – ‘One Week’

*RIP Christopher Plummer.

Sunday

The Bangles – ‘Hazy Shade Of Winter’
Lindisfarne – ‘Meet Me On The Corner’

Monday

Lindisfarne – ‘Meet Me On The Corner’
Duran Duran – ‘Friends Of Mine’

Tuesday

Cast of The Sound Of Music – ‘Edelweiss’
Cast of Mary Poppins – ‘Let’s Go Fly A Kite’
Queen – ‘Flash’
Ladytron – ‘Destroy Everything You Touch’
Duran Duran – ‘Ball Of Confusion’
The Weeknd and Daft Punk – ‘Starboy’
Duran Duran – ‘Five Years’

Wednesday

The Weeknd – ‘Blinding Lights’
Lil’ Dicky, Chris Brown, Ed Sheeran, DJ Khaled and Kendall Jenner – ‘Freaky Friday’
Queen – ‘One Vision’
Duran Duran – ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’
Robson & Jerome – ‘Unchained Melody’

Thursday

Adam & The Ants – ‘Prince Charming’
Randy Newman – ‘You’ve Got A Friend In Me’

Friday

The Bangles – ‘Hazy Shade Of Winter’
Revo – ‘Sylvan Tranquility’
Duran Duran – ‘Winter Marches On’
Traditional – ‘Bonnie Ship The Diamond’

Phone Box Thursday: Watch This Space…

I’m still sifting through old Doctor Who episodes to find the next ‘wrong phone box’, so we’ll take a break for this week!

I found this phone box tin (containing toffees) in the Boundary Mill shopping centre in Colne a few Christmases ago. I got one for me and one for Dad, so there’s an identical tin sitting in my old room at Mum and Dad’s house.

Red phone box tin
Red phone box tin. One of my favourite ornaments.

Hopefully I’ll have tracked down the next Who phone box next week! I’m steadily making my way through the Patrick Troughton stories…

Gig Review: LeBrock at the Head of Steam, 6th February 2020

I find it a bit depressing that this last Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the last time I went to a gig. I had so many booked for the rest of 2020, and now so many postponed ones booked for 2021… but as I’ve mentioned before, I expect it’ll be closer to 2022 before we can watch live music in a venue again.

As such, this very belated review marks the end of event reviewing on this blog for now. The next one – whenever it is – will be very special!

I’ve been really enjoying synthwave for a few years now, but this was only the second time I’d made it to a synthwave gig (the first being The Midnight a few months previously). Really hope we get a few more synthwave bands playing in Newcastle once the pandemic is over.

The support band were Tired of Fighting. Our friend George is in this band and is a huge synthwave fan, which is why they asked for the support slot as I understand it. Their sound isn’t very synthy but it was quite high-energy, creating a good atmosphere for what was to follow.

Tired of Fighting
Blurry photography as usual (there were a lot of dancing people in the way!) so I’ve had to cobble the band together in this image.

LeBrock, when they came on, kept up this energy throughout their set – which was surprisingly short, finishing quite some time before the venue closed, but featured all the songs they were best known for. I loved the set but I wish it had been longer – or that the venue had organised an extra band on the bill to fill the gap, as it sort of felt like the night had been cut short!

LeBrock
There was more energy onstage than it looks like in this image.

So with that early finish from LeBrock, that was the end of my pre-pandemic gig-attending. Not a bad way to end, but I’m really looking forward to the return of music events!

Booze Alternative: Fizzero Zero Alcohol Sparkling White

This sparkling alcohol-free drink was one of a selection I picked up at M&S last summer.

Fizzero Zero Alcohol Sparkling White
Fizzero Zero Alcohol Sparkling White.

It doesn’t have quite as much of a ‘fake booze’ taste as other zero alcohol sparkling wines I’ve tried, and so it feels lighter. It has an interesting grape-y medium taste, which is very pleasant.

I’ve not been in the local M&S Food for a while, but this one is well worth picking up again.

‘Race’ Review: Great Run Solo Hallowe’en Challenge 2020

I’ve mentioned before that, pre-pandemic, I was absolutely not a fan of the idea of virtual races. I miss real races a lot, and I’m fervently hoping that I’ll be able to race again later this year, even if it has to be in a COVID-secure manner.

However, I also miss medals, and doing virtual races and challenges means I still get medals during this strange time. Furthermore, it gives me extra running motivation, which can never be underestimated, especially in the colder months.

Since summer 2020, with all Great Run events cancelled or postponed, one of the things the Great Run company has been organising is a series of accumulator challenges, starting with the first Great Run Solo challenge over the summer and then monthly since October 2020. Accumulator challenges involve aiming to run (or sometimes walk / cycle / swim) a particular distance or number of runs over the course of a longer period, rather than all in one go.

October’s Great Run Solo accumulator was Hallowe’en-themed – and I LOVE Hallowe’en, so I thought I might as well give it a go, especially as it meant I would get a Hallowe’en medal at the end!

The option was there to log my runs on the Great Run website, but I found it much easier just to log them on Garmin Connect and Strava as usual and then confirm the total mileage / number of runs on the website at the end of the month. In order to finish the challenge, you had to complete fifteen runs, and if your mileage was over a certain amount then you could download a certificate. There were three levels of certificate to aim for, and I think I managed the middle one. Not bad considering I needed a break after the Virtual London Marathon!

I didn’t bother ordering the t-shirt as I have plenty, but I was really excited for the medal to arrive…

Great Run Solo Hallowe'en Challenge medal
I feel autumnal again just looking at it!

It glows in the dark (or bits of it do, anyway), which will be interesting when I finally finish putting up the medal display on our bedroom wall!

This challenge set the pattern for the Great Run company’s monthly accumulators. I’ve not been doing them every month, but the Hallowe’en one wasn’t the last. More on that next week!

Saturday ’80s Photo: The Patiently Waiting Wardrobe

Like most people, I’ve had no reason to get dressed up for anything over the course of the last year. I’ve been living in a uniform of leggings and jumpers for months and months now.

While this means my ’80s vintage jumper collection is seeing a lot of wear – and that I’ve recently amassed a fairly considerable quantity of brightly coloured modern-day leggings – there are other parts of my wardrobe that must be feeling a bit neglected at the moment. I put all of my jeans in a storage box the other day because I’ve simply not worn them since last March. As for my ’80s vintage dresses… well…

Vintage '80s dresses
They’re nothing if not patient!

I love these dresses but I’ve probably not worn them since summer 2019. They belong to a world where summer events regularly take place, and at the moment that world might as well be a fantasy.

It’ll come true again some day, though, and the nice thing about wearing vintage is that it doesn’t go out of style (because technically it already has been out of style for decades), so I know that when those summer barbecues and weddings and the like return, this part of my wardrobe will see the light of day again.