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18ck and the Holy Grail[Hastily pastes from Evernote while lunch cooks] What... is your name? 18ckWhat... is your quest? To prepare for the Great North Run on the 15th of September What... is the capital of Assyria? I don't know thAAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!! This will be a simple one in a lot of ways. Yeah, I know there's a lot of stuff in it but it's quite focused on one goal and I'm only measuring the things that matter 1. Travel as fast as a Swallow*/** The charity I'm running for has given me a half marathon training program devised by Full Potential Training and tailored to the needs of a slightly tubby 44-year-old who has recently been laid up and got out of the habit of running, so I will be following that basically as-is. I don't normally follow a program, just run a bit more each week until I get up to the right distance, so I'll be interested to see how much difference a proper schedule makes! It's mostly running of course but there's some pilates and cross-training built in and I'll be doing that. If I basically follow the whole thing, it's STA+3, STR+2. I reserve the right to make some changes - like I'll be doing the longer runs on Thur and Sat instead of Fri and Sun because it fits better with my normal week, and I'll probably not do the 20 min run on the day before the race for example; changes due to tactics are OK; due to laziness, not OK. 2. Weigh the same as a duck OK, this is the one: I've been losing weight slowly and steadily but in this challenge I am going to speed it up a bit and hit eleven and a half stone (161lb) , which is my target weight. It's a seven week challenge so that's just one pound per week - not overly challenging, I reckon. Not only will this make me almost unbelievably hawt, but it will also make it easier to run, which will be nice. If I manage that it's CON+1 CHA+1 DEX +1 3. 'Tis But a Flesh Wound Although I am mostly recovered from my terrible injuries, I will be keeping up with proper stretches and light exercise as advised by the physio. The running program already has pilates built in so that's covered already. Core exercises on at least 50% of all days, plus stretches at the very least after every run = DEX+1 CON+1 4. Prepare for a Pretty Nasty Taunting It occurs to me that as a Silly English K-nig-ht, riding around the countryside, I might need to lay siege to castles occupied by foreign mercenary types who might shout such things as "A sua mÃ£e era um hamster e o seu pai cheirava de sabugueiro". So, in order to know how to conduct myself in these tense diplomatic negotiations I will be learning a foreign language. Let's say um... Portuguese. I need to step this up a bit I think. I'll do at least one weekly session of Lathrop and Dias study (but no fixed end-point this time), at least one set of flashcards per week, read "Bichos" by Miguel Torga all the way through by the end of the challenge and do at least half an hour of actual conversation per week. Conversation is definitely the thing I am worst at in the language, which is why I need to make it a goal. The book looks interesting. Unlike the last book I read, it's not a translation of an English book but an original work of Portuguese fiction and I have no idea what the plot is about, so it'll be harder going. Luckily it is quite short! WIS+2 CHA+1 Bonus Grails: 1. "I just want to... Sing..." / "THAT'S ENOUGH OF THAT!" This one is a sort of add-on to the others. I like listening to music while I'm running and walking and what-not and that's fine but I think I need to connect more with my surroundings so I will be doing at least this:Make at least two journeys (walking or running and not always in the same route!) without sonic accompaniment per weekRead "On Looking" by Antonia Horowitz and ignore the fact that it is a bit self-indulgent. Try and learn from it and notice more things in the world around (I'm actually reasonably good at this already but I'd like to be betterPay more attention to food while eating (think it's called "mindful eating"...?)Find ways to elbow my smartphone out of my life. It's constantly bonging and tinkling at me and I am not always good at ignoring its attention-seeking behaviour.This isn't an easy one to measure and I don't really want to measure it because it's the sort of thing where pressure to hit goals is actually counter-productive. If I feel like I've done well it's +1 WIS and if I don't then it isn't. 2. "Today the blood of many a brave knight shall be avenged!" Give blood (appointment booked quite early in the challenge) - No points available just a feeling of self-righteousness 3. "Brave, Brave, Brave, Brave Sir Robin" Emulate the example of Hammlin in the run-up to her marathon a couple of challenges ago and test various methods for topping myself up with water and carbs in mid-run so I know what works for me. Last time I did a half I winged it and ended up feeling like I was going to spew. This is not the way to do it. If I can do it properly this time it's +1WIS again Reward: "You're using coconut shells!" On Steve's principle of "reward yourself with things that reward you back", if I manage to knock 5+ minutes off my half marathon PB and get it down to 1h55, and if I manage to raise Â£500 (that's - what? - like $750 I think) for the charity I will reward myself with a "Learn to Ride a Horse" day at Richmond Park Riding School. Actually, I'd like to do it in 1h50 but given my recent history, I'll set my sights slightly lower. I intended to do the course a while ago but it got bumped due to lack of funds. Obviously I won't know if I get the reward when the points are divvied up because the race isn't tilla week after the end of the challenge, on the Sunday before the next one starts, so I'll stay in challenge mode till then and probably have an easy couple of weeks after that (I'll be on Jury service anyway so I'll be doing a lot of sitting!) OK, that's enough blather. Time to... http://youtu.be/rEkLPfXu6hs * = unladen ** = african