Race Review: Virtual London Marathon 2020

A version of this post first appeared on Fetch Everyone on 6th October 2020.

On Sunday 4th October last year, I completed the Virtual London Marathon 24 hour challenge (a 1.2 mile run every hour on the hour for 24 hours) that I had been planning for several months. It was a lot easier physically than I expected – my legs still felt absolutely fine and fresh 20+ miles in – and probably slightly tougher mentally. I knew what I had to do and I was able to keep getting myself out the door, but it just felt like it went on for such an insanely long time.

Virtual London Marathon
The middle of the night… sometime during the 24-hour period!

I posted some thoughts the day afterwards, along with a YouTube video about my journey through the 24 hours:

Stuff I forgot to mention in the video:

(1) While there were a lot of runners out and about, I only spotted one other guy who was definitely doing the marathon (i.e. had a running number on). I must have looked like I was struggling at that point as his exhortation of ‘keep going’ had a bit of a worried tone to it.

(2) I don’t have much luck with phones and the London Marathon. In 2019, when I staggered round the real race in 7:13, my phone spent so much time in my sweaty back pocket that the outer layer of whatever-they-finish-phone-plastic-with started rubbing off, leaving a mottled effect. I was happy to leave that as victory scars on the phone in 2019, but rather less willing to do the same with the completely smashed screen on my new phone in 2020, so the phone went into a repair shop a few days later!

I hope to do many marathons-in-one-go in the future, and maybe even organised longer endurance events, but I don’t think I’ll ever attempt to do such a long challenge as this just by myself (or with occasional accompanying Geth) again. There were a lot of very lonely laps out there. I’m really glad I did it, though, just to see what it was like and prove to myself that it was possible.

Two days after the event, I wrote:

‘I think it’s going to take me all week to recover from doing this – it was really intense, and I don’t feel like I’ve caught up on sleep or processed it properly yet. Hoping to feel marginally normal again by the weekend!’

In hindsight, it was a mistake only to take one rest-ish week – I ended up burning myself out later in October and needed two rest-ish months as a result – so I’ll bear that in mind for the next one!

(The ‘next one’ – the in-person London Marathon – is scheduled for October, but you just never know with this pandemic, so as I’ve mentioned before I just have to hope very hard!)

24 things I learnt from training for my ‘mile an hour for 24 hours’ challenge

A version of this post first appeared on Fetch Everyone on 27th September 2020.

When the London Marathon went virtual last year and I decided to combine it with the ‘mile an hour for 24 hours’ challenge, I thought that it would be fairly straightforward – just go out every hour and run, right? Still, I knew that I should probably practise doing that for a few hours a day, and I’m glad I did, because it turned out to be *slightly* more complex than I expected. A few things I learnt from my 24-hour challenge training…

Virtual London Marathon day

1. I realised I wouldn’t be able to eat proper meals for the entirety of the 24-hour challenge, because eating an actual proper meal less than an hour before running was resulting in a horrible stitch while I was out on the run. As such, I ended up grazing on small snacks for the entire day instead, and it was a bit of a balancing act making sure that I was (a) eating enough, (b) not getting a stitch or making myself feel sick, and (c) making sure also to eat stuff that was healthy and not just pure sugar!

2. Related to (1), it turned out that there was an exact correct number of mini rolls to eat in between 1.2-mile laps. That number was 2, or sometimes 3 if it was later in the day.

3. The neighbours all thought I was mad, having observed me running up and down the street several times a day, and I’m not sure my breathless explanations did much to mitigate this. The situation did not improve much on the actual day, when I went out 24 times in total, starting from midnight.

4. The running itself was not the challenging part, although my legs did complain a little when I insisted on going out for multiple runs just a couple of days after the Virtual GNR. The recovery in between laps seemed to be long enough that I could keep going out again without getting fatigued. This was definitely more of a mental challenge than a physical one – and a week before the event, the doubts that crept in about my ability to complete the challenge were absolutely nothing to do with not being able to run it. Physically, I felt like I could run a mile every hour forever (well, not really, but you know what I mean). It was more about being nervous that I wouldn’t have the mental endurance to keep going out again and again and again.

5. However, while the 45-ish minute period during which I sat down between laps may have been long enough for recovery, it certainly didn’t feel long enough for anything else! I couldn’t really get into some work or a book or a videogame, or do anything other than a bit of Facebook browsing – because the next thing I knew, I needed to go out for another run. Most of the people doing this challenge on YouTube used the time in between runs to get stuff done off their to-do list, and I take my hat off to them, because I wasn’t able to manage anything else on the day besides running, refuelling, and trying not to fall asleep!

6. During the training, I felt incredibly embarrassed and guilty about spamming my followers on Strava with up to six running activities in the space of a few hours. I didn’t, in the end, do an apology post for the 24 separate activities that clogged up their feeds on the day of the challenge – but I seriously considered it!

7. I still can’t decide whether I actually ran a marathon or not. Initially I was of the opinion that ‘no, it doesn’t count, I’m not running it all at once’, despite the fact that I was going to be in the results and get my medal and t-shirt and everything… but in the run-up to the event, (a) the London Marathon social media channels were very encouraging of people splitting the distance into multiple runs and (b) I discovered through my training and the actual challenge that going out for 24 runs in a day is its own type of tough, so maybe I should bestow the title of ‘marathon’ upon it after all. I don’t consider it a PB, though, even though my total moving time was a lot less than the last time I ran a marathon!

8. Running in the middle of the night was an interesting new experience, and I was relieved that, on challenge day, nobody along the route got suspicious for some random reason and called the authorities about the madwoman running past their house once an hour in the dead of night (see also (3)). I’ll actually did a few practice midnight runs in the last week before the challenge in order to scope this out…

9. Sleep deprivation was also an interesting obstacle. I planned to spend a couple of days in the run-up turning night into day so that I could sleep most of Saturday in preparation for starting at midnight… but this didn’t work out, and so I ended up staying awake for about forty-two hours with no sleep breaks. Strangely, the adrenaline prevented me from getting sleepy!

10. Somehow, despite running it exactly 64 times in training for the challenge, I wasn’t sick of my 1.2-mile route by challenge day. However, after running it another 24 times on the day itself, I couldn’t really face the same route for my recovery run the day after!

11. I had to do some strict laundry scheduling in the last few days pre-challenge, as I discovered that hanging around between runs in the same kit feels grim as hell and so I needed to change clothes after every few laps in order to feel marginally less grim (even my between-run trackies needed refreshing every once in a while). This was also necessary due to the fact that, as it transpires, even the most comfortable of sports bras starts to chafe if you hang around sweating in it for too long.

12. Stretching after every single lap was boring and possibly unnecessary, but I continued to do it anyway because I had remained uninjured during training and didn’t want to do anything to jeopardise that.

13. Multiple run practice was the only reason that I actually managed to keep up with the Fetch Everyone ‘Run The Sum’ game (where you run the sum of the date in kilometres every day, e.g. on the 17th you run 1+7: eight kilometres) in September. I certainly don’t think I could have managed it on just one run per day!

14. Related to (9), I had to try to learn how to drink coffee in between laps without feeling ill, because I thought that Pepsi Max alone probably wouldn’t cut it for caffeine on the day. As it transpired, neither agreed with me on the day and so I didn’t consume very much caffeine at all!

15. Next door’s cat has all sorts of hangout spots for different times of the day that I would never have known about if I hadn’t been out doing multiple run practice at all hours. Cats are fascinating.

16. Geth, it turned out, thoroughly liked the idea of ‘crewing’ for me during the challenge, which was something he’d picked up from watching hundreds of YouTube videos about ultrarunners doing impossibly long races. He thus ended up accompanying me during middle-of-the-night runs, helping to record video for my running vlog, and generally not sleeping as much as he would normally have done on a weekend. Reciprocity demanded that I go out to meet him at various points on his October long runs with fresh supplies of water and gels, which was quite nice (and a good excuse for a walk in those slightly less locked down times!).

17. In the 10-15 minutes before my next lap was due to start, I found myself at a loose end, impatient to go, and was often tempted to start the lap early. Related to (5), the 45-minute downtime was a really awkward length. However, as set out in the terms of my challenge when I first announced it, the plan was to go out every hour on the hour, and I was determined to stick to that… even if I would probably have been done with the marathon a lot quicker if I’d kept shaving 10 minutes or so off the rest period!

18. It felt a bit awkward running past the same council workers doing the roadworks every hour on the hour. I also observed more than I ever expected to observe in terms of the progress of said roadworks.

19. While I was regularly doing non-multiple-run-practice days up until the Virtual GNR a few weeks before Virtual London, the period in between was really dedicated to training for this challenge and so I found I was starting to miss both (a) running for longer than 1.2 miles at a time and (b) running on other routes. I planned to do a lot of exploring and venturing out to new places once the challenge was over! (This didn’t transpire as I was a bit burnt out.)

20. I was having some serious issues around my shoe rotation. I run every day (I started my run streak on 1st January 2020), have three pairs of running shoes currently in use, and never wear the same pair two days in a row due to all the standard shoe rotation arguments about shoe foam needing more than 48 hours to decompress and thus live its best life. However, does all of this go out the window if running multiple times per day? Should I have been rotating my shoes from lap to lap? Was I interrupting the foam decompression process by pulling on the same ones again 45 minutes after I took them off? So many questions.

21. Much to my surprise, in training, my laps sped up throughout the day. I tended to start off with a nice gentle lap that worked out any stiffness from overnight, and it seemed to get faster naturally from there. This trend did not continue on the day of the challenge; on the whole, I was fairly steady. It didn’t really matter to me, though, as I was just happy to finish each hourly mile.

22. ‘Needing’ to make my own goody bag to open at the end of the challenge (due to London Marathon not sending the medal and t-shirt until after the fact) was a really, really good excuse to buy new running gear. Not that I ever seem to need one.

23. I’ve never had a problem with arithmetic, but for some reason, when it came to the number of laps I’d done so far in a day, I could barely count to three. I kept finding myself arriving home thinking, ‘So, I’ve got two laps to go… is that right? Have I really done three laps already? It doesn’t feel like I’ve done three…’ I don’t know what I’d have done if I didn’t have my Garmin to keep count for me. This was even more ‘interesting’ on the day when I needed to keep track of 24 laps while sleep-deprived!

24. As fun, intense, and different as this challenge was, I have really, really missed real races over the last year, and I can’t wait to be on a proper start line again – not least the proper start line of the proper London Marathon in October 2021. Things are looking a bit bleak and endless at the moment, so I just have to keep crossing my fingers that we will be able to race again by then!

Very nearly ready to go

One final practice mile in the rain today before my 24-hour challenge / Virtual London Marathon, which starts at midnight tonight…

…and it looks like the rain will be continuing through the night, so that will provide a bit of a distraction for the first few laps as Geth and I try to keep dry in between runs!

I’ve done just about everything I can to prepare, and at least I still have time in between laps if I find I’ve forgotten anything before I get started.

Here’s the link to my JustGiving page again – I just need a few more donations to hit my fundraising target of £300 for the RNLI, so any spare pennies will be gratefully received!

Keep an eye on my social media feeds (links at top of blog) for updates during the challenge. I may also post a couple of unrelated blogs tomorrow, as I hopefully will have a bit of time between runs for getting them written!

Otherwise, see you on the other side…

Running endurance snack table
I very much doubt we’ll eat all of this stuff in one day, but it’s best to be prepared. This gives me lots of options so that I can go by what my body feels it needs in between runs.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Queen – ‘Bicycle Race’
Sacre – ‘The London Marathon [Theme From The Trap]’

Marathon weekend has landed!

Another rest day mile today…

…and there’s just one more to go tomorrow morning/lunchtime (depending on how well my sleep preparation goes) before the big challenge starts at midnight! I’m so excited and so nervous 😯

I spent today finishing off all my day job work for the week, and then this evening I drove to Asda with Geth to pick up all the stuff needed for Sunday. I can’t eat big meals during the 24-hour challenge as it gives me a bad stitch if I eat too much just before running, but I still need to make sure I have enough fuel on board during the day. As such, I will be carefully grazing throughout the day, aiming for about 200 calories worth of snacks between each run (as I will burn 150 on each 1.2-mile lap). I have lots of boxes of small bakery bites (flapjacks and so on), protein bars, energy gels, crisps for when I need something savoury, bananas, berries… and an absolute ton of coffee and Pepsi Max to keep me awake haha!

The last time I experienced a marathon weekend was a very different type of London Marathon. Though the way I’m running the marathon couldn’t be more different, I’m equally excited! I also had the confirmation email today that they’ve successfully deferred my ‘real’ London Marathon place to October 2021, so a year from now I will be back doing it traditionally (assuming this awful pandemic has retreated by then!).

I usually only post running vlogs over the weekend, but I expect I’ll have lots to say tomorrow so will probably update as normal.

Dinosaur bobble
I order a lot of Lucy Locket Loves leggings at the moment (they’re brightly coloured and I have found they are a very effective way of cheering myself up during this awful year) and they often put free gifts in the packages. This mini dinosaur has got detached from his hair bobble, so I think I might turn him into a brooch at some point.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Cast of Pocahontas – ‘Colours Of The Wind’
Fifth Harmony and Ty Dolla Sign – ‘Work From Home’
Limahl – ‘Neverending Story’

Fresh starts

Bit of a victory mile this morning…

…as the London Marathon decision (which was announced yesterday evening) worked out really, really well for me.

First of all, I will be taking part in the (Virtual) 40th London Marathon in a slightly altered form. Participants have 24 hours (from midnight to midnight on Sunday 4th October 2020) to complete the virtual race, and are allowed to take breaks. As such, I will be combining it with a challenge I’ve wanted to do for a couple of months but couldn’t commit to until I knew what was happening with the marathon – I will be running one mile an hour for 24 hours on 4th October! (My usual ‘mile’ route is closer to 1.2 miles so I will be running around 28.8 miles in total – more than enough to complete the Virtual London Marathon.)

I’m thrilled about this – it feels like a challenge I can really have a good go at this year, seeing as I run that route most days and could do so in my sleep – whereas my ‘training take two’ for the full marathon was not going as well as I hoped due to the general uncertainty of the pandemic, and I don’t think I would have run to my full potential had the physical race gone ahead this October. It also enables me to raise a bit of money for the RNLI (here’s my JustGiving page if you’d like to donate!), which I’ve not been able to do this year due to all my races being postponed, and it will be something exciting that I’ve not done before. I really feel motivated now, and am considering entering the Virtual Great North Run as well in order to give me a good training base for the challenge!

(I’m also quite looking forward to watching the special biosphere-protected elite race on TV in between mile runs on Sunday 4th October, as that will hopefully provide some inspiration!)

Secondly – assuming that COVID-19 is no longer cancelling races by next autumn – I will be running the next in-person mass race at the 41st London Marathon in October 2021 (they’ve delayed the usual April date to give the pandemic a better chance of clearing off). My place for the 2020 race was a ‘back of the pack’ place, which was generously given for free to all runners who took more than seven hours to complete the race in 2019, due to the problems that arose at the back of the pack that day. All ‘back of the pack’ places are being deferred to 2021 – so, unlike ballot place runners, whose places will be spread over a couple of years, I know for definite that I will be on the start line in October 2021 (again, assuming that COVID-19 is thoroughly in retreat by then!). I am really grateful for this additional certainty, although I do feel for other ‘back of the pack’ runners (and other groups of runners who won’t be allowed to defer to 2022 for various reasons) who can’t run an autumn marathon due to calendar issues.

In general, then, I’m on a real high about my running plans for the rest of the year. I’m even going to be swapping out some of my weekday one-mile runs for two-mile runs in order to build more of a mileage base! Following the 24-hour challenge, I’m planning to work hard on my 10k pace over the winter in the hope of getting that sub-hour result at the Sunderland City 10k in May (pandemic depending) and then start building up the distance again with the Edinburgh Half Marathon, also in May (pandemic depending).

(I really, really hope that we can have races as normal again in 2021 and that all of this planning will come to fruition.)

Anyway, in only-semi-running news (as far as I’m concerned walking is good training, and it was related to Geth’s running anyway!), Geth and I went for a nine-mile walk this afternoon to scope out a new section for Geth’s long run. Geth is hoping to run the Yorkshire Marathon in autumn 2021 (if we can get in – what’s happening with Yorkshire is a whole other kettle of fish that deserves a post of its own!), and so is gradually building up his distances for the long run he does every second Sunday, thus requiring additional loops for his route. It was a warm, muggy day and so we appreciated a stop-in at Brinkburn Street Brewery in south Byker – it was our first time in a pub since March, but we both felt really comfortable there. They are managing their distancing admirably – we only had to wait a short time before being shown to the beer garden, where we had plenty space to ourselves and didn’t feel encroached upon by other customers (some of the beer gardens I’ve walked past lately are not like this at all!). I would definitely stop in again on a quiet weekday afternoon, though I’d probably book next time as I think we were quite lucky to get a table.

A very quiet evening now, with both of us collapsed on the sofa in front of some YouTube!

A ‘pace run’ tomorrow morning, though after today’s exertions I doubt it’ll be that pacy. I’ll post my running vlogs over the weekend as usual and do another update on Monday.

Sober girl in socially-distanced beer garden
Back to the random flavours of Fentimans that you get in pubs (so possibly look out for some new Booze Alternative posts soon!). It was nice to have a bit of semi-normality this afternoon.

Today’s earworm playlist:

ACE+ – ‘Riki The Legendary Heropon’
Meat Loaf – ‘You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)’
Abba – ‘I Have A Dream’
Vangelis – ‘Chariots Of Fire’

Tenterhooks

The usual mile today…

…but of course the main running focus has been the nailbiting wait to find out what’s happening with the London Marathon rescheduled date. A few media outlets have picked up the story this morning as it seems to have been leaked that the mass race will be re-postponed to the spring and the October date will just feature a few elites running laps of a London park (which would make good TV but won’t really be the London Marathon in my view, so if that’s the plan I hope they call it something different!). Some sources are suggesting that the official announcement will be made this evening, while others are saying it’ll be 7am tomorrow morning.

Either way, I’m finding it very hard to be productive today, because waiting for this announcement is very distracting!

My ears are doing a bit better today. Last night, I tried the drops that came with the pack Geth bought from the chemist a couple of weeks ago, and they felt a lot more effective than the oil, so I’m going to switch to those for a few days. After that, I will have a go with the bulb syringe from the pack (gently!) if my ears haven’t fully cleared from the drops.

I’ll be spending the rest of the day further trying to distract myself. I’m not sure how successful I’ll be.

London Marathon 2019
I will be back on that start line… but it’s looking increasingly unlikely that it’ll be this October.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – ‘Rio’
Vangelis – ‘Chariots Of Fire’

Driving, training, drinking (fake) bubbles

A longer running vlog today…

…not because my run was anything special, but rather because there’s been a bit of news about a couple of the postponed races scheduled for later this year. Edinburgh Marathon Festival has re-postponed from September to its usual May date, and so Geth and I will be deciding whether to apply for an entry refund or roll our entries over to May. I’m leaning towards the latter at the moment as I was really looking forward to doing the Edinburgh half – we just need to organise the diary properly, as late May/early June 2021 is already getting a bit packed with rescheduled events!

The other race news (or non-news, really) from today was that the London Marathon announced that they’ve not made a decision about whether to go ahead in October yet, and will update us again on 28th July. This was a surprise, as I fully expected them to announce a re-postponement to next spring. I have mixed feelings about this development (as I’ve explained in detail in my vlog linked above), and I still think it’s very unlikely that the October date will go ahead, but I think the best way of looking at it is to appreciate the structure that another five weeks of marathon training will give me when it comes to my running.

In non-running news, Geth and I finally got round to collecting some books from his office at the university today (he needs them for working from home, as the university won’t be back working on campus for many months to come). As we were out in the car anyway, we took the opportunity to do a big shop at Asda. It’s so much easier when you don’t have to lug it home by hand 🙂 I found a couple of bottles of my favourite alcohol-free fizzy as well!

I’ve mostly been working on my game otherwise today, though I have been fairly distracted by the London Marathon issue! Looking forward to spending some more time on it tomorrow.

Textbooks
Some of the books we didn’t take home. I took a record of them all so that Geth can remember what’s at the office.

Today’s earworm playlist:

ACE+ – ‘Engage The Enemy’
John Williams, Michael Land, Peter McConnell and Clint Bajakian – ‘Indiana Jones And The Fate Of Atlantis: Opening Theme’
Living In A Box – ‘Living In A Box’

Finding balance

I went out for an absolutely beautiful run this morning…

…with perfect sunshine, and perfect energy, and so many lovely spring flowers along the way. I’m planning to do a few new and different routes this week and am really excited about my morning runs. They get me out of the house for just long enough every day that I don’t feel trapped or cooped up by the lockdown, and am perfectly content to stay inside for the rest of the time.

In all honesty, other than the general feeling of apocalyptic dread and accompanying nightmares (which I’m guessing is the case for everyone at the moment), I have been lucky enough that the current situation is working out quite well for me:

  • While my day job work has slowed down a bit, it hasn’t stopped completely, and I work from home anyway so haven’t had to adapt my work setup.
  • Obviously I was hugely disappointed a month ago when it was announced that the London Marathon was postponed, because training had been going so well. However, I’m really appreciating the more relaxed approach to running I can take at the moment, and I hope that I’ll be able to build on the work I’ve already done and run an even better time in October, presuming the new date goes ahead.
  • Stress-wise, I am actually benefiting hugely from life going on hold. For the last couple of years, I have felt as though I have had far too much on and have been constantly falling behind with my to-do list. I end up dreading going away on trips, because I know it will disrupt my daily routine so badly and lead to weeks of stress as I try to catch up with everything. But right now, I have nothing getting in the way: all my trips and events have been cancelled or postponed, and all my weekly classes and meetings are on hold. Every day is exactly the same, and for me, it turns out that that is exactly what I need. I am going to have to do some serious thinking about what life is going to look like for me after the lockdown is over.

I feel pretty guilty that it has taken a horrible worldwide pandemic for me to have the free time I’ve been dreaming of for years, but it has given me the impetus to reassess my priorities in life.

Tomorrow is a Wednesday, but that doesn’t really matter right now. I’ve got no middling-distance midweek run to do, no ukulele class to go to, no worries about fitting everything else in inbetween. It will be very similar to today, and that is absolutely fine by me.

Cat in spring garden
Another paparazzo shot of next door’s cat exploring our garden. He’s a little confused by the shorter grass now that Geth is out mowing it regularly again.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Cast of The Lion King – ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight?’

New Year’s Resolutions 2019: the outcome

So, on the 1st of January 2019, I wrote a post about all my resolutions for the year. Let’s see how those turned out…

February 2019
Some winter snow in February.

1. Finish sorting out the house contents.

Uh… not a good start to the list. I don’t think I got anything done in this area. It’s now a resolution for 2020, and apparently one that I need to prioritise.

2. Write 500,000 words in 2019…

I absolutely smashed this one, writing approximately 875,000 words in 2019.

3. …and edit and pitch all the words I’ve already written.

I pitched my 2011 middle grade/young adult novel to twenty more agents, and none of them bit, though a couple did say they liked it. I also submitted poetry and short stories to a lot of magazines and competitions – again there was no success there. I just have to keep trying in 2020. I’ve already identified the novel project I’m going to be pitching this next year, and it should be in a submittable state by the spring.

4. Take weekends off.

Hahaha! Well, I’ve been slightly more successful than usual in not doing day job work at weekends, but only slightly. Writing and admin is another story – the to-do list just slips and slips and slips throughout the week and it’s never all done by Friday. I’m not really sure if this is something that can ever be changed.

5. Buy fewer clothes.

I was pretty successful in this area! I only bought stuff I actually needed (well, maybe the Duran Duran t-shirts weren’t exactly necessary, but they’re very nice). I don’t even feel the need to go out to every single vintage fair anymore.

6. Run a marathon.

Done and dusted! Of course, circumstances conspired to ensure that I’ll be doing it a second time in 2020…

7. Perform some of my poetry in public.

I was convinced that this one wouldn’t happen, but it did – eight times! I don’t even feel nervous about doing it anymore, which would have seemed totally impossible to me this time last year.

8. Get sober.

I got sober on the 5th of January 2019, and so I am very nearly at my one-year anniversary. While I’m very proud of myself for getting this far, I recognise that sobriety is a lifelong process, and so I can’t get complacent about it or think that the work is done. I’ll continue to utilise the great online and offline support communities that I’ve found, and to take more care of my own mental health.

9. Get back into the habit of music practice.

Rather optimistically, I thought I’d be able to make a multi-instrumentalist of myself in 2019. I’ve only really had time for my ukulele, but I’m really pleased with how it’s gone. I’ve done three terms of classes at the Sage Gateshead, moving from the absolute beginner to the beginner to the intermediate class, and with the intermediate class I really feel that I’ve found my level. Looking forward to class starting again next week! I also love that I can just find tabs online and teach myself new songs.

10. Actually play some videogames.

This didn’t really happen until about September, but I have been able to get some decent videogaming time in during the last few months of the year. It’s something I love, and I have lots of new ones to play, so hopefully there’ll be even more of this in 2020!

Plus some unexpected bonus achievements…

The first unexpected thing I did this year was buying my car in May and properly getting back into driving again! I’d been meaning to buy a car for years, but I’d been hugely procrastinating about it because it seemed so complicated and I’d always been such a nervous driver before. Having a calmer temperament now that I’m sober has really helped with my driving, and I feel much more confident about it now that I’m getting so much practice in.

The second was starting to learn to code in the autumn. It had always been something I was interested in, due to my twin loves of retro stuff and videogames, but it was only this year that I finally got into it thanks to some of the ’80s Twitter accounts I follow discussing the Adventuron system (for creating illustrated ’80s-style text adventure games) in August. I was able to take part in a couple of game jams in the autumn and improve my game development skills, and I even wrote an Adventuron game for NaNoWriMo (or half of one, anyway – I’ll be finishing it in the first part of 2020, along with a few other games I have ideas for). I also started learning to program in BASIC in preparation for getting the BBC Micro up and running again. I have a lot more coding goals for the next year, but I’ll discuss those in detail in my New Year Resolutions 2020 post tomorrow!

Phone Box Thursday: Great George Street, London

Finally! We’ve come to the very last phone box of the London Marathon route!

(This series has gone on for such a long time that I’m starting to understand why I took so many hours to complete the thing – I must have spent a good ten or fifteen minutes pausing along the route to take photos!)

Red phone box
Red phone box, Great George Street, London, 28th April 2019.

(Coordinates 51°50’11.9″N, 0°12’80.8″W.)

This box is the last one in the row stretching between Big Ben and the east end of Birdcage Walk, which is the bit that takes you down to the front of Buckingham Palace and onto the Mall for the finish. I was so wiped by the end that I have to confess I didn’t even notice I was running past Buckingham Palace!

A nice, well-preserved K6 for our last London entry for a while. It’s making me quite excited for the 2020 London Marathon now…one in which I certainly won’t be taking so many phone box photos, given that I’ve already got them all. That should guarantee a PB straight off the bat!