On racing trains and being 40

The train pre-race
I spent Saturday racing against a train. To those not familiar with the weird and wonderful world of running this involves what it says on the tin – racing against a train. It’s simple really. Pack the 2.05pm departure of the Talyllyn Railway full of friends and family and start a race at the same time. Run as parallel as you can to the train for the 7 miles there and 7 miles back and the see who wins. On this occasion I’m pleased to say I won (along with quite a few others) – but only by about 10 seconds, coming in at circa 1:47:30 – official results to follow.

What a race though. You get to run through fields, people’s backyards, up the side of steep hills, through muddy streams – anywhere as long as it’s close to the railway track. I fell over a couple of times, wore the wrong trainers and generally had a tough time of it. My legs were so tired towards the end I walked a few times just to recover – something I only do if I’m really, really suffering. The train did go past me near the end (but then foolishly stopped at a station allowing me to just beat it back) with my family sticking their heads out of the window and yelling advice and encouragement at me – or at least I think they were, I couldn’t hear a thing over the noise of the train. Overall, a great race for which I woefully under-trained and suffered as a result. Oh and despite it being cloudy and rainy I still got sunburnt.

Dave in pain

It’s not the first race I ran this week. That was the Rowheath 5k on Thursday. I suffered there as well. Almost a full minute behind my PB. What’s going on? I turned 40 in July so I’m now in the veteran category. I should be relishing putting down some great times yet instead I’m running badly in any distance you care to set me. What’s that you say? Why don’t I just start training properly? Instead of moaning maybe I could show my face on Saturday morning training sessions? Maybe run more than twice a week? Oh come on you’re just being silly now.

More on 4ip

Channel 4’s 4ip blog continues to offer up details on the thinking behind the kind of projects that might get funded when the initiative goes live in September. In the most recent post Stuart Cosgrove outlines the fund’s stance on Computer Games:

“But 4iP is not about pure gaming entertainment nor should it try to replicate or compete with the existing online or console games products. The objective is to work in territory where Channel 4 has a reputation – identifying areas of creative culture, where there is a gap or failure in the market and turning that opportunity into success.”

And he has something to say about ‘Serious Games’, something we all get excited about here in the West Midlands:

“The term ‘serious games’ needs next generational thinking and beyond the games themselves there is a challenge around the users, what communities are locked out of gaming and its traditional market positioning?”

He name checks a specific game that C4 have invested in. Bow Street Runners is a spin-out from the City of Vice series. In fact there have been many hints dropped in one place or another about the kind of projects that C4 are interested in. If I find the time I might collate them. What they will share as projects is that attempt to address market failure; to attract audiences who have yet to be reached by either conventional media or fall outside of the scope of core markets addressed by most interactive media producers.

Finally, he also mentions the computer game competition Dare to Be Digital. That allows me to show off the fact that I was on telly last week talking about it.

Did it rain while I was away?

Back from 10 days away to find the plot not starved of water and wilting, as I’d feared, but flourishing and bountiful and generally gone kinda crazy. I guess it rained in Birmingham while we were away.

August Harvest

The courgettes were half-way to marrows and there were 4 cauliflowers ready to pull. Before we left they had tiny heads on them but now had almost gone too far. Already had one in a potato and cauliflower curry. A couple of the lettuces were close to going to seed so we pulled them and are working our way through lettuce based sandwiches and salad in order to get through it. Runner beans aplenty of course but also some lovely succulent peas – mmmm.

I pulled a few main crop potatoes just to see how they were doing. Quite well as it happens. I need to learn how to store them properly when I pull the lot as we’ve about 4 rows of them (that equals a lot of spuds)

At the back of the plot the blackberries are coming in – again, lots of. I might try to learn to make jam.