Back in the running game

Today I managed to get out for a run, the first one since my half-ironman at the end of August. A major part of the decision was due to signing up to the Brighton half-marathon 2017. Last year it was easy to focus on the training because the London Marathon was such a famous event – but I need to remember the Brighton marathon is just as far!

So – I need to take it more serious than last year and get more regular and planned training activity in over the winter. A trip to Australia/NZ over new year should help give me lots of opportunities for running.

Will put my runs back on Strava – please give me abuse if you don’t see me training! (Unless I get injured again!)

Mutable Blockchains? (Oxymoronic)

Exactly where does a mutable blockchain fit in the financial ecosystem?

I’m intrigued to see the use case, due to be announced by Accenture tomorrow, that would mean that a mutable ‘Blockchain’ within a private permissioned system is anything but.

Of course, I could be wrong – but this does seem a strange interpretation of Blockchain as used for financial institutions. Part of the beauty is being able to track back through transaction history to see what actually happened. See – I’m not saying that fat-finger trading doesn’t happen – but by admitting it does happen and recording the reversal in a later block you end up with more transparency in the process.


Gnu-style tooling on Ethereum Smart Contracts

The Ethereum project‘s fundamental goal of providing a distributed computing system, paid for using the cryptocurrency generated by the computations on the platform is a really interesting concept.

Smart contracts, however, have some key limitations, one of which was demonstrated by the attack on the DAO.

I anticipate in the future that we’ll end up with smart contracts that are congruent with gnu tools.  Where we currently manage a project by holding a hash of the tool available for download on a trusted resource (the organisation’s website) – we could then develop these single purpose tools as smart contracts.  Organisations themselves could be defined in a smart contract, and that contract would maintain a version history of ‘approved smart contracts.’

To this end, you could then ‘safely’ chain smart contracts together in an ecosystem similar to the original gnu utils.

I’m sure the economics of ethereum don’t enable this to be economically viable on the public live network, but it’d be interesting to see how far away the Ethereum project is from this becoming a reality.

Be interesting to know your thoughts.

#Brexit – communcation breakdown / too much information.

I’ve often woken up on the morning after a vote with a sense of disappointment.  It’s unfortunately a feeling that’s all-to-familiar for me and many of the people whom I choose to call my friends.

It is estimated that a week’s worth of information in a single newspaper contains more information that someone in the 18th Century was likely to come across in a lifetime.

Living outside of London, I grew up constantly frustrated by the London-centric coverage on the news; the family holidays where people would ask where you were from, and London became synonymous with England – or by big business talking up London being the capital of the world, and ignoring the wonderful cities of Britain who’ve contributed significantly to London’s affluence.  Would London be as affluent today without Sheffield Steel, Manchester’s Cotton, Sunderland’s Shipping & Cardiff’s Coal?  Industry helped lift London up to be able to compete at a global scale.

It’s easy to focus on a class-divide between the voting groups, but it’s both more complicated and more simple than that.  Where London and affluent Britain have failed to provide, the EU have stepped in to fill the void.  It is an unfortunate irony that the election results show that those areas most heavily reliant on EU funding (therefore abandoned by the current UK political system) have voted to leave the EU.  Theirs was not a vote for separatism, isolation, or political ideals, but a vote for change.

The other realisation after the vote, is that posts such as this one are being published places that fail to reach a representative audience.  What vehicle do we have that allows us to bridge the chasm between those who voted out and those voting in?  Historically that may have been the Labour party – but how many unions are properly represented outside of London?  Sure there are national unions, but due to the volume of people they need to represent in London, has their focus left their members outside of London frustrated?

Some videos have been doing the rounds based that illustrate ignorance & xenophobia; responses to those videos have been just as ignorant and xenophobic.  Neither side who’s actively engaged in this debate comes out of this with any credibility.  Those of us who failed to engage lack it even more.  Politics has always been a communication game – 100 years ago it was different.  It wasn’t possible to actively communicate every nuance of every policy – instead we had representatives that we believed acted on principle and with integrity.  Watching shows like ‘Peaky blinders’ – are we that ignorant to believe that ever was the case?  Is it not more likely that the controls around what was communicated were tighter?

We now have a different communication problem.  We need to find a way to communicate across boundaries.  We’ve got a supposedly neutral BBC, a right-wing Sky, and nothing balancing their arguments.  We don’t have a Jon Stewart.  We have a negative Guardian (when’s the last time you read an article with a positive spin)?  Yes – the world isn’t perfect and it doesn’t align perfectly to our ideals.  The answer isn’t to give up, to throw stones – the answer is to start to move it towards where we want it to be for the future.

Reaction to the referendum

I think one of the hardest thing to process right now is probably this:

The vast majority of my network supported ‪#‎remain‬, I could only influence people who already shared my views.

In reacting to the vote, you may be ashamed and confused about how anyone you know could vote the opposite way. Don’t cut them off, don’t cut them out.

We need to understand why they’ve made these decisions, and equip ourselves with knowledge to challenge and convince them, not build walls and claim intellectual superiority because we think we are right and they are wrong.

Leaving the EU is a huge decision, with indirect ramifications that are truly ugly. To pick an example from across the pond. No one ever thought Trump would get popular support for his “Deport all Muslims” policy, but here we are a few months later with him dangerously close to the American Presidency.

As disappointed as i feel about the EU result, should Farage and his right wing pals want to seek a mandate to support Trump with another referendum; I don’t want to be going to sleep that night with the thought of feeling as disappointed as I did on the 24th June 2016.

Politics isn’t just about voting. It’s not a choice for us to engage once a year, it’s about selecting people we admire and respect to represent our ideals, to let them make decisions on our behalf and to watch them be a shining example for our beliefs.

Go back out to your communities; love not hate. This one may be lost, but we now have to better make our case.

The London Marathon – done.

It was a strange thing running down Birdcage walk at the end of the marathon. I wasn’t sure what feelings I’d expect; elation? pride? achievement? I didn’t feel any of them, but just a massive sense of relief and an overwhelming urge to burst into tears. I avoided the latter (narrowly), but the sense of relief as the 26.7 miles of running/shuffling were completed.

Preparation for a marathon begins the day before. We’d got all our clothes sorted, and began to ‘carb load.’ Weirdly this was one of the toughest parts of the challenge; we drank plenty and made sure to eat plenty at every opportunity. We had to make sure we didn’t over-eat, but also at no point during the day did I ever feel hungry. Our last meal was at 6pm, and we were tucked up in bed and asleep before 9pm.

The day began well; an early start followed by a large bowl of porridge. I wolfed it down, and had a pint of Ribena too. We got the tube down to London Bridge, and joined the crowds headed over to Greenwich.

Greenwich Park was buzzing – Karly and I were in different start pens, so I left her at the Red Start whilst I headed over to Blue. It’s hard to grasp the size of the occasion – runners were setting off for the Women’s race, the wheelchair race and parathletes left all within a few hundred metres of us – but all of the focus was on self-preparation. Do I have the right food, am I wearing the right clothes – when shall I ditch my bright yellow poncho?

Thankfully the weather on the day was perfect; I left my poncho behind as I stepped into starting pen 6, and finally felt ready. I was nervous about my knee – at 10 miles in on my preparation run there was no way I could have continued, let’s hope it matched my 16 mile prep run and disappear.

The first 13 miles were great; the crowds were present from the start, but the noise & support really began around Greenwich & Cutty Sark. I did my bit of civic duty by giving out copius numbers of high-5s to old & young, even running round the outside of the Cutty Sark hairpin, partly due to wanting to give out some high-5s, but also due to the fact I was struggling to unwrap a starbust. Whilst I appreciate the sentiment of hygenine by providing runners with individually wrapped sweets – I’d much rather dip my sweat-encrusted hand into container of haribo. One to note for next time if you’re showing up to support.

Things were going well; I saw my friends @ a local pub just before hitting Tower Bridge. I say I saw them – but they didn’t see me til I was well past, and sarcastically shouting ‘Sh*t support guys’ back in their general direction. I apologised later, but was in high spirits at this point so all was good in the world.

I knew Tower bridge was the only real ‘hill’ on the course, and that the crowds would make me want to run faster. I’d checked my pace at around 9 mins / mile for the run so far, hoping to pick up the pace a bit later on in order to hit my sub-4 target. I’d passed the 9:09 (4 hr pacer) around mile 10, and knew that I could drop the pace slightly and still make my goals.

Unfortunately Tower bridge had other thoughts; I’m not sure if it was the incline or the distance I’d travelled, but turning right just off Tower bridge and my knee started to hurt. Not just the dull ache that I’d experienced doing the Colchester 1/2 marathon, but a sharp pain on the outside of my knee. Balls. I knew it was the tight ITB wanting to let me know that my stretching regime hadn’t been quite up to scratch in the months preceeding the race.

Straight after this was a St John’s ambulance stop. I was their first victim of the day, and asked what they had that I could use to pin back my ITB to stop it from being aggravated by dragging over the little bone protruding on the outside edge of my right knee. I got some tape. You know the standard medical tape that is use to hold on bandages? Needless to say, 50 metres down the road and I was cursing. It still hurt. Was I going to turn back and try and get them to try something else – they had nothing else. Balls.


It was then I had to look twice. Discarded in the gutter at the side of the road was a knee support. A few sizes too big, but a knee support nonetheless. Maybe I could get that on and use it to help me at least get round the second half. I slowed my pace, then made an about turn to go and pick it up. I apologised to the crowd for being a ‘tramp’, and they seemed to turn away in disgust as I picked up the support. If it could only get me round the next 10 miles, then at least I could walk the last three…

I started running with it and immediately I noticed an improvement. The knee was now fine but oh – my muscles were TIGHT. The support was tight around the top of my calf and the bottom of my hamstring, and that has the undesired effect of shortening both muscles. I then spent the next two miles adjusting the support to balance between numbing the pain, and stopping it from restricting my muscles too much. It was around the 15 mile point when the 4 hour marker went past me – but I was smiling because at least now I had a chance.

The next few miles around the Isle of Dogs was tough; my knee was less painful, but the muscles cramped at being restricted. I reverted to walking/running as I knew that in the grand scheme of things it was likely to have a negligable effect on my overall time. Walking/running I tried to maintain a pace of 10.5 mins a mile – and managed to keep this up for most of the rest of the race; crossing the finish line at 4h23 minutes.

What have I learnt? Runnning a marathon is tough. It’s a mental challenge as much as a physical one. You can spend months in preparation, with the risk of injury hanging over you to undo all your good work. It’s also not just about the running – I’d have done well to have lost a few pounds, but also to change my lifestyle to run-commute to work, rather than bike-commute. The biking was undoing all the good work I’d done on stretching out my ITB & hip flexors – going for a long ride wasn’t helping at all.

However, I got round, and I’m happy enough with the time. The second best bit? It’s beatable, and I hope that next time I decide to do something stupid like run a marathon I’ll get the preparation even better. The best bit? Running with Karly Jose – my girlfriend, & Hanna Jenvey to raise nearly £6000 for the Duchenne Family Support Group.


If anyone knows who the knee support belongs too – I’ll happily return it to it’s original owner.  Please let me know!