Google Cardboard Plastic

Google have put a rather amusing spin on their own VR platform Cardboard and it’s excellent.

For all the serious and hard work that they achieve, it’s always good to see their more tongue-in-cheek side that keeps them both appealing and endearing as a brand to people (not to mention a regular feature every year on April Fools Day!).

What’s realer than real?  Probably nothing.  Or maybe something…

Forget virtual reality, this is the first headset for Actual Reality.

Fully immersive, lightweight and waterproof.  What more could you want?

Cardboard Plastic.  Well played, Google.

Ultra Marathon Update

As my training for the rather ominous sounding Ultra Marathon is ramping up I thought it was about time I provide an update. In fact I’m due a blog update full stop!

July alone saw me total up 263km in training, culminating last weekend when I banked my longest run yet – 50km (31miles)!

Yes it was tough, very tough.  But to mimic what I’m aiming to do in the Ultra itself I didn’t run it all non-stop.  I ran the first 25-30km and then alternated 5km runs with 5 minute walks.  This allowed a small amount of recovery for my legs, kept my HR within a reasonable zone, and gave me a chance to eat.  One thing I’ve learnt is that, whilst I’m not good at eating while running (is anyone?), I do need to take on board fuel – Malt Loaf and Jaffa Cakes reign supreme!

50km before and afterBefore and after my 50km, I’m sure you can work out which is which!

If you follow me on Strava you will see that my runs of late have tended to get slower and longer.  An Ultra Marathon is all about endurance and building that up is my aim.

Bar a calf strain a few weeks ago that gave me a week or so off with just some light cycling as my only exercise, training has broadly been going very well.

By and large I’ve stuck to my schedule, it doesn’t look like it from the amount of crosses and corrections to my wall chart but these distances were deliberately rounded up when I planned it so that if I wasn’t able to make a run it wouldn’t impact too much.

Ultra training logClick the image to view larger

Mapometer has become one of my best friends in planning almost every route that I do, the elevation feature is particularly handy in avoiding hills on my longer runs!

A lot of people have a skewed view of how much training for an Ultra can take over your life.  Yes it does involve a lot of time, but with some careful planning it hasn’t impacted my family or social life too much.  Short interval or hill sessions are very beneficial, and I’m fortunate enough to work near some scenic routes and off road trails that have allowed many a lunchtime run from the office to add some variety to my schedule.

Hill trainingDiscovering local hills and off road routes

I even worked in some “doubles” by running to work in the morning and then running home again!  Surprisingly only slightly longer than my usual commute time door to door.

Of course my longer runs do mean I can be out for hours at a time, but leaving early can mean I’m often back my lunchtime, or if we are going out somewhere I can leave a couple of hours early and run there to meet people.  It’s all about planning!

I’m under no illusion that this challenge is going to be extremely difficult physically, but the mental side of it is what I am still struggling with.  That 50km activity was a huge effort, yet that distance would only just about put me halfway on the actual day.  HALFWAY!

Getting my head around doing that all again is something I am not yet sure about!

Granted on the day there will be more support, regular drinks stations, and hopefully even some company from other runners that are aiming for a similar pace to mine.  I’m hoping all these little extras add up and pull me through!

The weather of late has been getting very warm.  Planning water stops and spots to refill my bottles has become a key factor in determining routes after I got caught out in a long run up in Lincoln.  The temperature was even warmer than forecast and with barely any shade over the whole route I virtually collapsed at the end with severe dehydration and on the verge of heatstroke.  That is something you really want to avoid!

HeadtorchGoofing around with my head torch – a mandatory item for the Ultra

I’ll detail all my kit, food, drink and bag drop contents in another post nearer the race.

My current training total over the past 18 weeks now stands at over 750km, and with not that many more to go the butterflies are starting to appear when I think about race day.

Of course at the core of this, and making it hugely worthwhile, is the ability to raise money for a very deserving charity, Millie’s Trust.

You can read the full story and my reasons for choosing Millie’s Trust here and any donations that you are able to spare would be incredibly gratefully received on my Just Giving page.

All being well this weekend will see my training hit its peak and I’ll hopefully complete my longest run of 65km.  Wish me luck!

Like Ice In The Sunshine

Following a weekend of beautiful Summer-esque weather that has actually continued into Monday I’m beginning to believe that Summer is well on its way.

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What better way to celebrate than to feature Simone Rosenbauer’s deliciously simple Like Ice In The Sunshine series which takes an artistic look at slowly melting ice lollies set against a complimentary block colour background.

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Inspired by melting “bodies of different shapes and sizes” whilst sunbathing on Bondi Beach, Simone has captured that essence and translated it into something that everybody loves.  The saturated colours of the ice lollies so reminiscent of childhood summer holidays and the inevitable dripping and melting as the sun beats you to eating them.

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Nothing says summer like a Twister melting all over your shorts.

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Check out more of Simone’s work here.

Transparent Wood

Yes, you read the title correctly, transparent wood!

Transparent wood

The same block of wood before and after treatment

A team at the University of Maryland has developed a process to remove the colour and light blocking properties that wood has, rendering it not only stronger and more insulating than glass but also more biodegradable than a lot of current plastics.  Wow!

To turn the wood transparent, Dr. Hu and his team boil the wood in water, sodium hydroxide and other chemicals to remove the lignin (an organic polymer that gives wood its colour) to leave behind the colourless channels of the wood’s natural cellular structure.  They then pour epoxy over the block to increase the strength.

Video from New York Magazine

Ok, it doesn’t have the optical clarity of glass but for a material that is inherently opaque the transparency is impressively high.  And don’t forget, this is only a recent discovery.  I’m sure that with more research the process can be refined to improve the clarity beyond the current maximum of 90%.

The natural channels that remain in the wood have more than just an aesthetic quality to them.  They actually guide light waves along the internal structure, focussing them rather than dispersing them.  This means you could not only get more light in through “wooden windows” but you could also improve the yield of solar panels with a coating of transparent wood!

The potential for use as windows and in other building areas is incredible, particularly when you consider that it has the conceivable ability to surpass steel’s strength to weight ratio for structural elements.

I look forward to being able to build a transparent tree house for my daughter one day!

 

Ultra Marathon

It’s been a couple of weeks between posts here on IG, partly because work has been really busy, but mainly because I’ve been getting my head around my latest challenge.

An Ultra Marathon.

Yes, an Ultra Marathon.  The Thames Path Challenge Ultra Marathon.
That’s 100km.  62miles.

Whichever units you use to measure it, it’s beginning to dawn on me just how far it is.

In the past I’ve complete 40mile duathlons, 125+ mile bike rides, even a marathon (a few years ago), but this is something else.

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I’m still not entirely sure what prompted me to look into Ultra distance events, but here I am four weeks in to a 23 week training schedule and, bar a slight muscle strain last week, all seems to be going well.

I will try and post monthly updates on here with how it is all going, but for now I wanted to let you know one of the main reasons behind my motivation and that is raising money for Millie’s Trust.

milliestrust

Millie’s Trust was created by the parents of Millie Thompson who tragically passed away in a choking incident in October 2012.  Their aim is the advancement of health and saving of lives by providing first aid education and awareness, first aid training courses, and paediatric courses for nurseries that are readily available and for minimal cost.

Having a young daughter myself that is approaching nursery age this charity resonates a strong feeling with me and really highlights the gap in the law regarding first aid and the lack of compulsory first aid trained staff in childcare settings.  I am hoping to raise as much as I can for the charity by putting myself through the challenge, the pain and the inevitable chafing that will come with the training.

Any donation or sponsorship that you can spare, however small, would be amazing and very gratefully received.  It will be giving me a much needed boost during my longer runs knowing that it is worthwhile with the funds going to an extremely valuable cause.

https://www.justgiving.com/gary-thornton-ultra-marathon

JustGiving

I’ll check back in with an update soon, wish me luck!

Evian Babies

They’re back!

After winning our hearts with their swimming, roller skating and dancing, the Evian Babies are back with a new surfing advert Baby Bay.

This recurring Evian campaign must be one of the few relentlessly successful advertising campaigns out there.  The first spot of Water Babies aired nearly 18 years ago, and with only small changes (mainly to the activity that the babies take part in) the campaign is consistently turning out modern and engaging adverts that never fail to make us smile.

Another incredible advert that has been superbly executed, keep up the good work Evian.

Full credit for this goes to BETC, Wanda and Mikros Image.

More information (and some brilliant t-shirts!) over at babybay.evian.com.

Panda Slide

Happy Friday!

PANDA


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