Wednesday 27 March 2013

Quiz Akabusi

Thank You!
There is plenty in this post for everyone: a full report of the results, a league table of teams and even a chance to have a go at the quiz yourself, but priority number one is to say a massive thank you to all our contestants who came along to our two quiz nights on the 18th and 25th March. 
Not only did you make each evening a hoot, but over the two nights you raised a stunning £1,484 on behalf of TEAM! which has already winged its way to Diabetes UK! 
On behalf of us all, thank you very much indeed.

We would also like to express our gratitude to a few other folks who were invaluable in helping make this happen, you are all brilliant:
  • The amazing guys over at The New Moon in Leadenhall for letting us use their pub; their service and support over the two nights was superb
  • Lucky Voice, Roast, Killik, Riverford, Kernel Brewery, EDF and Loake who all very kindly donated prizes for the raffles which were responsible for raising £519 of the total
  • Alison and Dave for their hours of work pre-quiz and strict policing during

Scores On The Doors!
There were some outstanding performances - for all sorts of reasons! - and both nights produced tooth and nail battles right until the final rounds. 
Usually there is only one winner, but in this case there were two and so congratulations go to our Victors of Quiz who were:
The Uffington Wassailers (18th) and The Mankini Men (25th)
For everyone else, while you are all champions in our eyes, for the competitive amongst you we've combined the two nights' scores in to the fabulous league table below - which you can click to make bigger - so you can see how you fared; the numbers in green are the best scores for that particular round over the two nights. 
N.B. The General Knowledge rounds changed slightly between the nights and the figures have been adjusted accordingly.

Let's Get Quizzical!
Finally, if you were part of these moments in history and you would like to relive your glory, or if you would like to have been but were not and fancy chancing your mental-arm against our Quiz Titans, then you can have a go at the quiz here!
Instructions for each round follow, if you do have a go, enjoy, and although there is no longer any entry fee, our donations page is here.
Good luck!

Round 1: Out Of Order!

Click on the answer sheet to the left and either print it out or write your answers on a bit of paper.
All you have to do is rearrange the letters in to the right order demanded by each question.
When you have done, here are the Quick Answers and here are the Detailed Answers. One point for each letter in the correct box.
Score to beat: Uffington Wassailers 11

Round 2: General Knowledge

Here are the Questions and here are the Answers
Score to beat: Quizimojo 17

Round 3: Absolute Beginners

In the video below are the introductions to 20 well known songs from the last four decades. One point for artist and one for title, but be warned they are quick! You can listen to them twice.
Score to beat: Mankini Men 38

WARNING: The video also shows the answers, so make sure you don't look at the screen while it is playing - unless you want the answers that is! To help you, the music - and the answers - only start after 10 seconds. (Mobile device users click here for video)

Round 4: Who's Who?
Click on the picture sheet to the left.
You get 2 points for identifying each of the 10 people pictured and you get a bonus of 5 points for working out what the connection is between them! 

When you have done, here are the Answers
Score to beat: Norfolk & Chance (Johnson) 18

Round 5: Classical Conditioning

Another music round in the video below, but this time there are 10 contemporary songs all of which borrow themes and melodies, almost note for note, from pieces of classical music. All you have to do is identify each original classical piece from which they borrow heavily - a point for composer, a point for the piece.
Score to beat: Max Is Out 16

WARNING: The video also shows the answers, so make sure you don't look at the screen while it is playing - unless you want the answers that is! To help you, the music - and the answers - only start after 10 seconds. (Mobile device users click here for video)

Round 6: True or False?

Does what it says on the tin! Here are your Questions and here are the Answers
Score to beat: Lootun Masseev 22

Quiz Top Scorers: Uffington Wassailers 104 

Sunday 24 March 2013

What Is Diabetes?

Run Graffiti
I've already commented on society's collective ambivalence regarding diabetes and alongside our fundraising, it is important to us that we continue Emily's personal mission to educate people about the condition and with this in mind, I wanted to put together a piece which would serve as a beginners guide to diabetes. As the condition itself is complex, there are many factors and details which have been simplified or left out, but hopefully not to the detriment of the science.

Before Emily was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, my understanding of the condition was based solely on experiences of my Nana and someone at school. 
From these, I concluded that diabetes could affect old people but bore no major consequence aside from a prescription of tablets, a requirement for diabetic jam and that when it affected young people, it permitted a Marathon bar (now called Snickers) to be eaten in lessons and the occasional skive off PE.
Diabetes really didn't seem to be a big deal and I wrote it off as something quite benign and unimportant. However, the reality of the condition, as this blog's very existence makes brutally clear, is that underlying all the labels, the science and terminology and in the face of society's blithe, sometimes mis-informed, fingers-in-ears indifference towards it, diabetes is a big deal; a really big deal.

It is easy to understand that when your heart stops beating you will die, but in order to beat, the heart muscle must have a source of energy and this is true of all the processes that give us life - every cell and every organ in our body needs energy to survive and function.
Unfortunately, your cells are quite picky regarding their energy, in fact as far as they are concerned, they will only accept one type: glucose, and your body is constantly at work making it by taking what you eat and drink and turning whatever it can that is not already glucose in to glucose and pumping it in to your bloodstream.
Once there however, the amount of glucose in your blood needs to be kept in constant check - too much is toxic and too little means your cells run out of energy and your body ceases to work - and there are several systems in your body which act together to maintain an optimum level. 
If your body senses that there is too much glucose in your blood, it releases a messenger called insulin from special cells found only in your pancreas. The message insulin carries to your liver, skeletal muscles and fat cells, tells them to remove surplus glucose from your blood which would otherwise be harmful and it is this messaging system which becomes compromised in diabetes mellitus:
  • With Type 1 diabetes, the pancreatic cells that make insulin have been completely destroyed and therefore can no longer produce insulin. 
  • With Type 2 diabetes, insulin may still be being produced by the pancreas however, it is not as effective as it should be because its message is either not strong enough, it has become scrambled, or although correct, it is no longer being understood by the cells themselves. 
In either case, the body loses, or at very least becomes limited in, its ability to take glucose from the bloodstream which on its own would be bad enough. However, because cells are no longer absorbing and storing any glucose, your body - unaware of the communication breakdown - mistakenly concludes that you must be starving and that energy is vitally needed. In response to this perceived crisis, it releases another pancreatic messenger called glucagon which tells your body to take the glucose which it has previously stored and pump it right back in to the blood stream which, as we know, is unfortunately already full of the stuff.

Your body only has a limited supply of stored glucose (stored as glycogen) and when this runs out, the body - still convinced you are starving - starts to metabolise fat as a last resort and this causes diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which can quickly become a medical emergency. DKA is rare in Type 2, as there is usually some insulin on hand to stop things reaching such an extreme, but someone who develops Type 1 and who does not receive medical intervention will ultimately fall in to a coma and die. 
Although the condition may not be so immediately life-threatening for someone with undiagnosed Type 2, there are several serious long-term complications which are caused by the permanently elevated glucose levels. These include severe eye damagekidney disease, pain and numbness in extremities caused by nerve damage and heart disease and stroke caused by damage to blood vessels. Ultimately, even after diagnosis, the life expectancy of someone with type 2 is likely to be reduced, as a result of the condition, by up to 10 years.
There's clearly much more to diabetes than missing PE and buying special jam.

For Emily - as for everyone with Type 1 - no one really knows why she developed the condition. Current thinking is that a person may develop Type 1 diabetes when a genetic predisposition is triggered by a viral illness, dietary factors, particular drugs or something else yet to be identified which in turn causes the body to suddenly destroy the pancreatic cells that make insulin in a self-immune reaction. At the moment, Type 1 is not currently a preventable condition. 
Although development of Type 2 can be due to elements which are out of our control such as genetics and advancing age, importantly there are also other factors which are in our control such as lifestyle and weight which have been proven to significantly affect the likelihood of you developing the condition. 
Click here for a quick online test to see how you score for risk of developing Type 2.

The main symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes can include:

  • passing urine more often than usual, especially at night
  • increased thirst
  • extreme tiredness
  • unexplained weight loss
  • genital itching or regular episodes of thrush
  • slow healing of cuts and wounds
  • blurred vision

    For those who have developed Type 1 the symptoms will occur very quickly over a couple of weeks and are relieved on treatment with insulin.
    For those at risk of Type 2 it may not be as easy to recognise symptoms as it can develop over a couple of years and is usually diagnosed through a routine health check.

    Managing diabetes for Type 1 is via injections of insulin several times a day in order to maintain a balanced blood sugar level, combined with a healthy and balanced diet. This is easier said than done and I know Emily struggled when she was first diagnosed since even having a cold or getting upset can tip the scales but with time, Emily was acutely aware of how her body would react to certain foods and activities and made compensatory judgements with the injections to keep an even keel. That said, every coat pocket, handbag, nook and cranny of Emily's flat was littered with Dextro tablets for quickly responding to hypo symptoms when the glucose dropped the other way.
    Those with Type 2 will usually be advised to manage the diabetes through lifestyle interventions first such as weight loss (where appropriate) and an increase in regular exercise. If there's no improvement then orally administered drugs and/or injected insulin may be necessary.

    Incredibly, just 28 years ago in 1985, there were an estimated 30 million adults with diabetes worldwide. By 2010 this figure had reached 285 million of which 90% were Type 2, the number is now over 370 million. However, these numbers pale against future forecasts. In the UK, Diabetes UK say that 
    "Most health experts agree that the UK is facing a huge increase in the number of people with diabetes. Since 1996 the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has increased from 1.4 million to 2.9 million. By 2025 it is estimated that five million people will have diabetes. Most of these cases will be Type 2 diabetes, because of our ageing population and rapidly rising numbers of overweight and obese people."
    Diabetes is serious. Do yourself a favour and do what you can to reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This prediction need not be a reality.

    Friday 22 March 2013

    The Tale Of The Half

              Elliot            -         Katie         -        and... Rhian's Badge

    The last month of Sundays has been witness to some exciting race action from TEAM! with members toeing the lines of Silverstone and Reading half marathons respectively.
    Chip times currently in are:
    An outstanding run by Elliot - Chapeau Sir! - who was kept company, at least for the first few yards, by his partner Renal who ran a superb 02:14:38 despite having the sniffles.
    You can see some pictures of James through his official time page linked above and although Rhian was too wet and cold to have her picture taken and waved off the paparazzi as she bundled herself in to her car, her excellent race report can be found here.
    Well done you heros of the asphalt!

    Tuesday 19 March 2013

    Iain's Running Chat Part 2 - Training

    2013 will be my 3rd London Marathon and if you were to draw a line graph charting quantity and quality of training done in preparation for each of them, it would be a fairly steep line in the upwards direction.
    In 2007, Alison and I ran simply because neither of us were runners: we had been down to watch the race first-hand the previous year and witnessing the emotional effort of so many people just inspired us to take up the challenge. Our training started at the end of the summer, and looking back on it now - bizarrely I can still remember some of my first runs - it was woefully inadequate for the task at hand. The race itself was fine up to mile 17/18 and then at Canary Wharf the wheels fell off, accompanied a few miles later by the axles, chassis, shortly followed by the engine, leaving me to walk/jog the remaining 7 miles muttering like a psychotic and you can amuse yourself by working out my splits here. Although my training was based on the London Marathon's own 32-week non-runner to marathoner plan (now 24 weeks), I had missed some runs, did others too fast and made all the mistakes that everyone else does but you believe just won't apply to you.
    2010 was an improvement - I knocked 43 minutes from my 2007 time, finishing in 4:05:57, but although my training was better, I continued to make schoolboy errors which cost me a sub-4 finish: Just a month before the race, I discovered that my Nike+, which I was using at the time to pace my training, was slow by 5%. While this may not sound much, that is the difference between training for a 3:59:00 and a 4:11:00 marathon. I ran too far, too near the race (a 26 mile run 3 weeks before) and in the race I was stuck in a slow pen and ran the first three miles way off pace, panicked, and then ran the next 3 miles over a minute faster than pace to get back on track - all very silly.
    Of course I still screw up - last year I had to pull out of London when I tore my calf in training because I did not listen to my body, increasing pace and distance too quickly, but as it is not by our triumphs but by our failures that we grow, I am now a slightly wiser - and maybe better - runner.
    The one thing I can say with absolute certainty is that it is essential that you give yourself time by establishing your marathon goal and create and commit to your training plan very early doors (realistically 7-8 months before the race).
    The programme which Alison and I are following this time round was developed in South Carolina by Bill Pierce and Scott Muir and this year marks the 10th anniversary of their creation of the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST).
    I am not going to review the programme in any great detail here as there have been any number of far more able commentators who have covered it over the years, and of these, few are better qualified than the legendary Amby Burfoot who's excellent and succinct article on the subject from 2005 can be found here for those of you who would like to understand the basics. 
    Ultimately, if you want to go the whole hog, you will need to buy the book and it is worth noting that the programme's data sets are constantly being tweaked as a result of their ongoing research, so make sure to get the latest edition - currently the 2nd (revised edition) published in April 2012.
    I was introduced to the programme back in 2008, but it would be 4 years before I actually did anything with it (sorry Nick - you were a running Soothsayer). For Alison, she took to it because she wanted to do as little running as possible and she loved that cross-training was inherent in the plan as she already swam three times a week. 
    Once you have the book, nothing could be simpler: you sort out your paces (there is a little bit of maths involved) enter a plan in to your diary and get on with it. The book tells you what day, how fast and how long to run and in theory, although you could probably do this without a GPS watch, I would strongly suggest that you don't. We upload our runs to our Garmins and head out the door - minimal thought needed and that is a big calibre weapon in the battle against the chair/bed-to-front-door training barrier.
    Aside from the 2 x cross-training sessions, the programme's three runs a week consist of a Track Repeats session, a Tempo Run and a Long Run and they each serve different training purposes. 
    My personal bĂȘte noire used to be the track repeats which on occasion have reduced me to tears as I somehow scrape through yet another 50 minutes of legs-never-going-fast-enough-screaming-at-trees-and-being-a-little-bit-sick-in-my-mouth horror. Up until two months ago, I was convinced that I was over-clocking it a bit, but then I listened to an edition of the educational and entertaining MarathonTalk podcast in which Martin Yelling confided that he used to get so nervous about his interval sessions because they were so horrendous that he could not sleep. That is when I realised I was probably doing it right.
    By the simple expedient that they are the easiest, tempo runs are my 'favourite' (it is all relative), being 5-10 mile runs at a fairly sharpish, but achievable mid-pace and long runs are ok, but only when they are less than 17 miles. Runs over 17 miles are my new nemesis
    Over 17 miles you start to get the unwelcome, unfamiliar and unpleasant sensations which herald the equally unmistakable and indescribable approach of The Wall and the further you go, the worse it gets. The wall is one of those things that you have to experience yourself; no one can describe it to you in any meaningful way because regardless of what someone is telling you, on some level, there will still be a part of your competitive monkey brain tutting and saying 'well I'd run through it'. However, if you would like a glimpse of what happens when you really screw it up and completely bonk then this will certainly help
    After these runs, it usually takes me 24-36 hours before I return to feeling normal again and during the last 7 weeks, we have run 4 x 20 milers and 2 x 18 milers.
    I have grown to detest that feeling to such an extent that I would now gladly take the short-sharp agonies of a track repeat session over a 20 mile run any day, but the brutal truth is that come race day, the knowledge that you have absolutely paid your dues with miles is one of the strongest antidotes there is to fatigue. Because you have run your plan, because you know that you have put in every mile you have been asked to, because you have earned your entitlement to not only finish but compete, you are possessing of a knowledge that bolsters a belief that has the power of 100 energy gels. Grrrr.
    Happy planning, happy training, happy trails.

    Tuesday 12 March 2013

    Guerilla Knitting and Chocolate Carrots

    The last couple of weeks have been a frenzy of preparation for the eagerly anticipated quiz-which-turned-into-two quizzes that Iain posted about last week! Because we never manage to learn that everything we do takes much, much more time that we think it will, the organising venues, questions, prizes and raffles has meant that I haven't managed to squeeze in a blog post for a while, but I must as I've got loads of pictures and news to share!
    Big news to start with: my lovely friend Claire, who I've known since we both studied Biology at The University of Bath, was victorious in her conquest of the Bath Half Marathon on the 3rd March! Claire not only achieved a superb time of 1:55:52, but in support of TEAM!, she raised a fantastic £260 for Diabetes UK. I am so touched by Claire's huge effort and proud of her magnificent performance: Thank you so much Claire!! x x

    At the last TEAM! meet we discussed some ideas to help make us visible to our (we hope) numerous marathon-day supporters and whilst elephant costumes would certainly tick that box, we settled on the idea of 'branded' running caps. 
    After an exhaustive, several-hour search, I finally came across the perfect hat - but it was from last season's collection and no longer on general sale! 
    Brooks, however, were very helpful and made a special effort to help me get hold of some and even let me sample one free of charge to make sure they'd fit the bill (see me road-testing it below). It's uncanny how Iain's TEAM! logo of white border and purple background is reflected in the Brooks hat - almost like it was made specially for us! 
    As with the laces, Mum and Dad are donating the hats to TEAM! and I hope everyone will wear theirs with pride - I shall get them out to everyone in good time for dress-rehearsals when I've sorted out how to get 'TEAM!' in big letters on the front, which is easier said than done... answers on a postcard please.

    A week last Sunday saw Iain and I battle the 20-miler for the third time and it doesn't seem to get any easier. There's still the niggling thoughts of 'How the hell am I going to add another 6 miles to this?' as I shuffle up to our front door at the end, and I'm not relishing the prospect of the last two 20-mile instalments. 
    Iain used Cadbury's Mini Eggs as running 
    carrots to coax me the last 400m :-)
    I was also using this run as a decision point for the rest of my training: If my knee became swollen again after the run, then I would drop down to the FIRST Novice Plan for the rest of the training. 'Thankfully' there wasn't a great deal of swelling so I couldn't give myself that get-out and I shall hope that continuing the 'Sellotape and Clams' regimen will see me through. Incidentally on my most recent Physio visit I was told that not only are my butt and deep abdominals doing little to nothing to help my legs run, but now it has been discovered that my calf muscles are too long and not helping matters either. Quite how I can even get out the front door using only thighs and quads is beyond me but goes a long way to explain why I hate cycling up hills and why I quickly get lactic build-up when I climb stairs. I'm wondering if I'll get an extra-special marathon medal for finishing it in the most inefficient way possible?

    To finish, here are some pictures from the latest 20-miler that added a new-to-me section of the Thames Path. An exciting highlight was the Guerilla Knitting cheering up the otherwise fairly Derelicte landscape of East Greenwich and Charlton, and I saw The O2 and Thames Cable Car from a new perspective:

    Back to the quiz...

    Wednesday 6 March 2013

    Iain's Running Chat Part 1 - Essential Kit

    After a rather extended wait, and with apologies to those who asked for this type of content before Christmas... here is the first of two pieces in which I wax lyrical about my personal experience of running. Today, like Lloyd Grossman, I will take you through the keyhole as I cover the material goods of my running world in descending order of importance.

    I appreciate this may be stretching the term, but for me this is the single most important piece of kit as without it literally nothing would happen. 
    With running, as with most things of endeavour, it is very easy to harbour appealing, idealised, romantic imagery: getting up, looking out of a window at the just-breaking-dawn, deciding to pull on the running shoes and set off along an empty beach in your pants like they do in Chariots of Fire. However, this is London, I have 45+ hours of work to do in a week, this blog to maintain and at the moment a quiz night to put together. There is no beach. There is no time. And if there was time, my preference would be to spend it reading a book, watching something entertaining, seeing friends, eating or sleeping. And yet, because to be human is to strive, there is a plan and that plan is sacrosanct because if it starts to become negotiable then it will all fall apart.
    I will cover my plan in detail in the next installment but for the moment let it just be said that there has been one plan covering September 2012 to April 21st 2013 and it tells me, in detail, when to run and what to do when I am doing it.

    GPS Watch + HR Monitor

    Because all of my training is done at set paces, a good GPS device is essential for outdoor running. Since 2011, I have used my Garmin Forerunner 305 with HR chest strap and this is my number 2 essential bit of kit. Although I am only using a fraction of the features on it, the watch simply removes the need to think during a run - it tells me when to go faster, when to go slower and when to stop and I don't really know what more I'd want to ask of it.
    Tracking you with high precision, the watch provides an essential counterpoint to all subjective assessments of speed and effort and if you like your data, it provides plenty of it. Historically, the Garmin own-brand data analysis software has been quite bizarre in its terribleness, but they have finally leapt in to the internet age with their Garmin Connect service which, bar a few teething issues, I have found an excellent tool.  Specifically, I really appreciate the ease with which you can put together complex workouts  and send them through to the watch which, in my experience, has been point and click and pretty seamless. 
    In the interests of full disclosure, Alison has the new Garmin 405 and there have been a few issues and bugs getting it to talk to the website and not all of them have been ironed out.

    Unless you are Zola Budd, these are pretty essential. It is also essential that they fit, that they provide the right support and that they are not worn out
    I have three pairs which I wear in rotation, and I keep a track of how many miles each pair has done; when they get to 300, they get replaced with a new pair. The current mix is: 
    I started off with the Ghosts but I have come to prefer the Sauconys as they are a lighter shoe whilst still being supportive. That said, I do value having a mix of brands on the go as it does not allow my legs and feet to get too used to a particular shoe, and importantly they do not get rubbed, strained or otherwise stressed by the same trainier-based issue every run.


    For most runs, I head out in a pair of dual-skin running socks such as those provided by Hilly and although I have had a, not entirely positive experience with Hilly's customer service, the socks are very comfortable and have proven themselves hardy beasts. 
    For long runs I will occasionally wear a pair of knee-length compression socks - current ones are from 1000 mile - and although I am still deliberating whether they make a marked difference, I am moving towards the opinion that they do, and I will running the marathon with them.

    Base layer, insulating layer and protection layer. 
    Could not agree more - easy, versatile, practical.
    Although I have various items of clothing for layers 1 and 2, my essential bit of kit is my protection layer which is currently a Craft active run jacket for when it is cold and a Saucony Vizipro gilet for when it is warm. They are both indestructible, windproof but with great ventilation and have seen me through 24 months of year-round running. You can get away with using t-shirts for base layers, but a good outer-layer will make the difference between an ok run and a miserable one. 

    It is surprising difficult to find earphones which stay in your ears while running, and I prefer to run with some aural stimulus. For the past year and a half, I have been using a pair of Phillips SHS8100/10 Earhook headphones which despite being relatively inexpensive, have proved themselves to be ideal running kit - they stay where they should, they are not uncomfortable and I can just hang them outside my ears and still hear the music when I want to listen to the world around me - dodgy parks and the like.

    On any run over 70 minutes, I will have some water with me. My base consumption level is 1ltr/hr and so if I am going out for up to 2 hours, I will just take a belt and a 1 or 1.5ltr water bottle. If I am out for more than that though, I will take a Camelbak
    Because the tube is right there, it is much easier to sip continuously throughout the run and the 2 ltr bladder means I can run for up to 3 hours without worrying about water. Very handy ideed! Alison has just got the Marathoner pack, but I am just as happy with a Day Star.

    Foam Roller
    This is what you need to roll out your ITB, hamstrings, hip flexors and calves and if you are doing a lot of running, you need to be doing all those things.
    I have a love-hate relationship with my 66 fit roller - it can hurt like hell, but I am sure that using it regularly in combination with stretches has greatly reduced my risk of injury and that is priceless. 
    Get one and use it!

    Last, but by no means least, Vaseline. No matter whether you choose lycra or non-lycra - I run in both - you do enough miles and you will eventually rub somewhere very uncomfortable, a fact I usually discover post-run in the shower as salt from dried sweat gets washed on to the fresh chafe-age. It is a wonderful, life-affirming sensation.
    All of this can be avoided with the liberal application of soft paraffin thanks to the wonders of 19th Century science and I strongly recommend you do.

    So there you have it, a whirlwind tour through Iain's running kit essentials. Questions or comments on a post card to the usual address and in part 2, I will cover the running plan itself. 
    Until then; happy trails.

    Tuesday 5 March 2013

    It's An Even Bigger Quiz!

    Tremendously, amazingly and with some speed, our quiz night on the 18th March has sold out!
    We certainly did not expect that and because we still have teams who wanted to come but had not yet confirmed, we have spoken to The New Moon, and added a second quiz night a week later on the 25th March! Hoorah!