Category Archives: Running

Reflections on my 2015

2015 was a pretty huge year for me, some lessons I’ve learned and some highlights are below.

 

Work

In January 2015 I ran/led my first direct mail campaign (of course I have been involved with them before but this one was my baby as I was head of the team at the time) with my team and we smashed all previous records raising over £250k with an impressive ROI. I still can’t quite believe I did this and I think it will certainly be one of my proudest work-related achievements for many many years.

In 2015 I have had the pleasure of having two terrific bosses who I have learned a lot from and have taught me so much. Although I am no longer managed by either, I still talk to them both and trust that our relationships will continue for many years. What is particularly interesting to me is that one of these people taught me that sometimes things happen for a reason and I shouldn’t let “now” get in the way of what is really important to me. I dreaded his arrival as he was to be the permanent solution to my “acting up” role – it turned out it was pretty much the best thing that could have happened, I loved my time “acting up” but, deep down, I didn’t really want to be designing mailings and liaising with printers and designers, I just thought I did because that was the opportunity that was there and was being threatened. I’m now much happier in a new role with a direct report to line manage and much more scope to play with and do cool stuff with data.

 

Speaking

Wow.

Toastmasters

I joined my local Toastmasters branch in May and have never looked back.

I decided to enter my first proper contest, Humorous Speech, starting out at the Club level in September. I won that and moved to the Area where I won again and advanced to Division level, which necessitated a trip to Bristol. After unexpectedly winning here (and being the first person in my club to get to a District final in HS since 1999), I then won the District final becoming District 91 (UK South) Champion.

Selina Jones at District Contest - Nov 15

I hope to write more about the experience in the near future.

Conferences

Having attended a number of CASE conferences as part of my job, I set a long-term goal at the start of 2015 to speak at one. Little did I know that by the end of 2015, I would have spoken at two!

I formed part of a panel (on solutions to problems) at the Development Services conference held in Birmingham in October. I was disappointed with my performance at this panel – having expressed an interest in speaking on it in June, I wasn’t told until late September that I was wanted (I assume someone dropped out) which meant I didn’t have much time to prepare what I was going to say (let alone remember what my original idea which I thought had been rejected had been). A panel session also meant using a mic behind a lectern. Ugh.

My other slot came at the Regular Giving conference in December (which I had attended in 2014), this year held in Leeds. I had been paired with someone I hadn’t met from UCL to talk about our approaches to predictive modelling. We had a couple of phone conversations and I was able to travel up to London to meet him face to face and do a dry run through the week before (thanks to going to a West End show!).
I was happy with my performance at this conference, I came up with some good slides, had prepared what I was going to say and had some terrific feedback from someone in the industry who I greatly admire who attended my session @adriansalmon  and from the Conference Chair herself.

 

Running

My greatest achievements were at the start of the year – getting two 20 mile PBS in March, managing to duck under 3 hours in Oakley 20. After an incredibly disappointing 8th marathon (which led me to write this post) – I finished in 4:50:48 – so in effect it took me nearly two hours to run a further six miles! Stupid marathons… I didn’t do that much running for the rest of the year.

I had an enjoyable half marathon in June where I supported a stranger to complete their first ever half in 02:01:58 (and wrote about it here). I also completed Oxford half again in October completely untrained having not run longer than 4-5.5 miles at a stretch a maximum of twice a week, I managed to finish in 01:57:35 which, I was actually pretty pleased with. I ran most of it with my neighbour and I drove us there as well so it was nice to have some company.

I tried another Men’s Health SOTF which I had loved so much the previous year, but sadly it coincided with the only cold week we have had this winter (in November) and I could barely use my hands let alone climb. I don’t think I will be back, it’s not worth the risk of another freezing cold day (I’ve got nothing against running in the cold, it’s the obstacle side of it that means I can’t do it, if I can’t feel my hands I can’t climb or pull myself anywhere).

Fun run

After my awful awful last marathon I decided that I needed to approach my next race very differently and actually have some fun and enjoy it, rather than slogging round with a time in mind.

The morning of St Alban’s half marathon arrived (I hadn’t even ran more than 6 miles since early May) and in a first for me – I left my Garmin at home and took of my watch so I would have no idea of the time at all.

I started off steady and having fun and then at about mile 2 or 3 I found a guy who was running his first ever half marathon, he’d only ran 14k before (for those imperial-minded amongst us a half marathon at 13.1 miles is 21.something-I-think-1 k) and was a little worried and hoping to come in under 2:30. I offered to run it with him, we stopped for a brief walk every now and again, I gave him some tips to tackle the uphills (“forget about your legs, just concentrate on pumping your arms backwards”), tonnes of encouragement and we finished in 02:01:58.

And I had a PB of my own – a race I really enjoyed. I had a lovely time both talking to my new friend and feeling like I was helping him. The course was great, very beautiful, spectacular organisation and I loved the mementos, a really nice technical t-shirt with big fun logo (I will snap a pic and add it), a medal and an ice lolly which in my hurry to wolf it down, I managed to stick my tongue to it. Ouch.

But to run without the pressure of a watch, knowing that my time was irrelevant because it was his time – wow, that was freedom!

Will probably do this race again; (maybe I will even race it). The next one is on Sunday June 12th 2016 – there is also a walking half marathon option which I think is a terrific idea and a 5k (which I think I could have got an age category place in as a senior woman – most adults who could run well did the half!).

Calling it quits?

After my second worst ever marathon at Milton Keynes last bank holiday Monday, which came out of nowhere (I had done two fantastic 20 mile races in March including one in 2:58:44 pace, so a sub4 marathon should have been possible), I am now wondering if it is time to call time on marathons.

My 8 marathon medals in chronological order

My 8 marathon medals in chronological order

I struggled from about 5, so it was a long long trek to the finish line. I did keep one promise to myself though; I crossed the line smiling thanks to a girl I picked up at mile 15 similarly struggling and we chatted and ran/walked the rest of the way.

Why did it go so wrong? I got overheated and despite tipping water over myself at water stations was unable to cool myself back down (I wonder now if I even had heat stroke). I also got my taper wrong, pretty much giving up with runs of any real length after my successful 20 mile race; 5 weeks out from the marathon – I knew it was a mistake at the time but with Easter, visiting relatives and frankly celebrating a brilliant 20 mile race (which I mentally labelled as my “A” race), it was what I wanted to do at the time.

It sucks though – all that training and a 4:50:48 finish. Interestingly, it seems that there were a lot less finishers than last year (especially females). I also seemed to claw back a few places in the last 6 miles – which is interesting because I was mostly walking then!
Ugh. Still; to get round was an achievement considering how terrible I felt for so many miles. And the medal is lovely, but; I’m not sure I can handle such a long build-up to disappointment again (my 2014 MK marathon was similarly disappointing, going well until mile 18 and then falling apart and coming in at 4:21). My age graded results are always much better for the shorter distances too, which always get neglected in pursuit of a marathon.

Am I calling quits on the marathon?  Watch this space…

Running infographics again

Hello all.

Busy at work – we are in telethon and I am still stat-crunching as the gifts continue to come in from our most successful direct mail ever! Which is terrific as this mailing which landed in january was, of course, the one that I led on during my time heading up the team.  I am currently putting together a presentation with infographics for a team meeting (when I will also be using my whizzy remote), so thought I would update my running infographics, you can check them out below.

I note I also still have not written any race reviews which I said I would so. Oops. Or book reviews of PresentationZen, Score!, Fundraising Analytics etc.. Double oops

My infographic (click on the link)

 

So, my Christmas presents have been getting a work out – my team have been using the remote for telethon training and presentations, and of course I have been through the book from cover to cover, gearing up for my April staff meeting presentation!

presentations

 

My year of running

I thought this would be a good time to reflect on my year in running. I view my own “running year” as running September to August for reasons too dull to go into (with a target of at least 6 races, including 1 marathon each year) but a fellow blogger reviewed her calendar year, so sod it, so shall I.

2014 saw me:

Do my first obstacle race
Do two races in one day
Get a PB sub 24min in a 5k
Get a 10k PB of 48:44! PB by over a minute.
Get a half marathon PB (in February after having set it October 13).
Pace a running club friend to her half marathon PB (by 7 minutes) – a really phenomenal feeling.

Not a bad year really! Sadly a sub 4 marathon alluded me and consequently I spent June and July sulking. Actually, other than the half in Feb, all those achievements were all in August, October and November…
In March I did a relay (3.6miles) with some people from the work running club, great fun and a definite fixture for 2015.

2015 will see another marathon (MK again) but I think I will shelve the sub 4 plans. At least one more obstacle race is also a must, and check out my local parkrun.

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