Last Sunday I ran the fifth Ealing Half Marathon in London. It was my first time running the Ealing marathon, which only started after I moved away from Ealing to São Paulo.
I had been training all over the place in September and my travel schedule was a bit crazy just before the race. Leading up to September 25th (race day) I was training in Serra Negra (São Paulo), São Paulo itself, Oxford, Montreal, New York City, and London. Even though I had quite a few flights this month, I still managed to get up and go out for a run each day. One day when I was travelling from Oxford to Montreal that meant taking a run at 5am in Oxford then catching a 7am train to the airport and being in Montreal by 5pm that same evening.
The Ealing race was really well organised. The race day team were excellent and there was no stress collecting my race number or dropping my bag off at the start. The weather was perfect too. It had been raining early in the morning, but had cleared up for the race start at 9am. It was a little chilly, but dry, so it was perfect for a long race.
I started the race intending to aim for a 1:45 time, but I found myself soon following the 1:40 pacers and finding that the pace was OK. I decided to stick with them as I was not having any trouble. There are a few long gentle hills in the race, but the pacers were excellent. Not only did they let us know when the hills would end, they got the crowd excited as we passed by.
Once I was 3-4km from the end and I knew that I could finish even if I put in more effort, I started running faster than the pacers. Eventually I completed the race in 1:38:21, which is my best half marathon time.
It’s a great location and a great race and really well organised. I know that I live far away, but as the 2017 race is on my birthday I might have to find an excuse to be back in London for that one!
If you Google “Ealing Tweetup” thousands of results pop up. That’s because this event is still one of the biggest social media focused events in London, even though it has retained a strong community-focused non-commercial spirit.
I kicked it off back in 2009, but I’ve been living outside the UK for over 4 years now so it’s fantastic to see that the event is still regularly running in Ealing. Michael Greer is now looking after it with the Ealing Hour team and from what I can see online it is still a great event.
I’m leaving Brazil tomorrow and after a quick stop in New York I will be in London by Saturday. I’m going to be at the next tweetup, which is on Tuesday September 8th at The Forester in Ealing. Tickets are free and I’d love to say hello in London.
Click here to register for the event and please say hello on Twitter before the event. I’m @markhillary on Twitter, Periscope, and Instagram 🙂
The video below is from December 2010 outside the Kings Arms pub in Ealing, west London. I was leaving London for São Paulo, but I had about a week left between leaving my home near the pub and leaving the country – so I lived in the pub for those final few days in England.
I’ve stayed there again on a couple of visits back to London and I’m happy to say that I’ll be there for the duration of the London Olympic games in July and August… I have my flights booked and three weeks living in the pub.
What could be better than London in the summer, with the Olympics going on, and home being a London W5 boozer?
I walked into a florist shop today and ordered a whole load of flowers. They wanted over £700 for my order. I said, OK, I can pay that.
Then they said: “Oh, we need to add £10 for delivery…”
Delivery in this case was to a place that is a five-minute walk away from the florist. I asked if they were joking – in fact I said something like, how about a ‘buy more than £500 worth and get free delivery’ deal for me?
They thought I was joking. They had to call up the managing director of the store just to ask if the £10 could be waived.
Another example of great British customer service… I would have told them to stick the order, but I don’t really have any time available this week to go shopping around, so I just hope they do a good job… once I get the flowers I can decide whether to post the company name here…!
What’s a shame is that a mate of mine runs a florist business, but he is down in Aldershot, so it’s not really convenient when I really want to stop by in person to get some flowers and to get the majority of them delivered. I bet he could have done a better deal for me…
I walked past The Grove in Ealing last Friday and it looked open – so I went in. The manager came over and said that they were not really open – it was just a dry run to test all their systems and staff, the pub actually opens today – October 11th.
But, he did let me get a free drink, which was nice.
This is the pub that used to be Finnegan’s Wake. FW was not a bad place – usually full of TVU students and with a focus on live music and comedy. You never went to FW for a nice meal.
The Grove seems to have turned all that around. It’s much smarter and the emphasis is clearly on offering good food in a smart pub – although I never got to see the menu, it looks like a gastro-pub and I couldn’t see the old stage area anymore.
They will need to work hard to capture this entirely new audience, but it should work – good luck to them!
I had such a great birthday at the weekend.
It started off by seeing Stephen Fry on Thursday evening at the Royal Albert Hall… though I prefer him on TV to this live show on stage. The endless chat about his memoirs felt quite forced in front of a theatre of 5,000 people. But then I stayed at the Hilton Tower Bridge that evening and spent a day as a tourist on Friday – saw The Town at the Vue Leicester Square and War Horse at the New London theatre.
Then on Saturday I had a karting race near Heathrow with mates in the afternoon and a great evening at the Rose and Crown, Ealing, where the Biblecode Sundays were playing… and about 50 friends all taking over a big section of the pub!
It was really special and something I won’t forget. Thank you to everyone who gave me gifts – I have not managed to respond personally to everyone, though I have been trying to on Facebook.
Oh, and Chippy – I guess the Billy Bragg T-shirt was from you! No name on the wrapping paper, but who else would buy me a ‘Milkman of Human Kindness’ T-shirt?