My First marathon: Report

On 20th of October 2019, i ran the first marathon, 42km (26.2 miles) race of my life.

This is a summary of how it went.


### Goals
| Goal | Description | Completed? |
| A | Finished without stopping | *No* |
| B | Sub 4:00 | *Yes* |
| C | Finish it | *Yes* |
| D | Sub 3:30 | *No* |

Finish time: 3:38

Training did not go well, I decided 2 months before the race to do a marathon.
However, i had been training and running half-marathons throughout the year so i was a little confident.

September, a month before the marathon was the worst for my training. Birthday month, celebration events at work plus colder/wetter weather put a damp on my running schedule.

At the start of October, 20 days to the race, i intensified my training. I did a couple of 25-30kms runs. This helped ease the fear and endurance problems. However, i suffered from Plantar facitis, i.e. sore heel. I could barely walk normally days before the race. Therefore, Insoles had to be worn for the race. Medication had to be applied for the sore areas on a race day.

Calm, relaxed but felt a little heavy-footed but it’s all good. The morning was beautiful. Not too cold, not too hot. I took the Metro to the Olympic stadium. On my ride, i met other marathoners, we chatted casually, that helped eased the nerves.

When we got the stadium, it was packed. The entrance was so small. Our waive was full. We arrived 20 mins past 9 but it was too late. We had no choice than to stay at the back with 4:00hrs waive.

Congestion at the start of the race. The first 500 metres was done at a jogging pace.

At the 1km mark, the race came to a complete halt. For what seems like an eternity, we waited for the crowd in front to move on.

I was at the back of the 4.00hrs runners, the overall pace was too slow for my adrenaline fuelled legs. Between 2.5 – 8km, i spent most of my energy overtaking people.

Shouting left, right as i approached and overtake runners from every angle.

This pace paid off as i quickly found myself at the heels of 3.40hrs pacers. First success!

The run through the city was good, lot of cheers, plenty of space to overtake.

At 18km, i was running shoulder-to-shoulder with the pacers. I passed them. The route, outside the city, along the canals was my favourite. it was flat, scenic with entertainments on each side. I could see the 3.30hrs pacers ahead of me. My new aim now is to catch them.

At 21km, i felt good. No pain, no tiredness, no thirst Except for a odd feeling at my shoes. I ignored it.

At around 25km, i felt my shoes was coming off, i looked down and the dreaded thing has happened. My shoe laces were off. I stopped at the side of the road and spent a good 3 minutes trying to tie my laces.

Why so long, you may ask.

It turns out that after running non-stop for 25km, you lose your strength and arms coordination needed to tie a knot.

From 25km – 30km, i stopped at every kilometre fixing my shoe laces, sometimes asking people for help.

By 30km, my leg started feeling heavy, the stop and go of fixing shoe laces was starting to have an effect. All adrenaline and will power seemed to drain out of me after seeing the 30km mark.

“Why is this not over yet”, i screamed inside.

Legs muscles started contracting uncomfortably. For the first time in almost 5 years of running, i had cramps in my legs.

I started slowing down and often stopped to stretch, the 3.40hrs pacers passed me. All hope of was lost.

My new mission was to complete the race. “I MUST FINISH THIS, WALK, JOG OR RUN”, i repeat to myself.

From 34 – 40km, i stopped and drank at every refreshment/water stops, I really liked their positioning. The crowds was very helpful through these 6 kilometres. They shouted my name, shouted “Allez”, “Come on”, “You can do it”

From 41km onwards, i could hear the voice of the announcer from the stadium, i suspected my friends will be around this area, so i picked up the pace to look good for the cameras.

Entering the stadium for the last 500m was amazziiing. Seeing the crowd jeering you up, the music blasting loudly, everyone picking up pace. it was a good way to finish the race. I felt like a football player.


Sore heels, cramp at my thighs, heavy legs but surprisingly not tired or thirsty. I limbered to collect my medal and pose for the pictures.

10/10 would do again. Although I was a bit disappointed with not getting below 3:30, I was happy that i achieved my mission of finishing it.

Lesson Learnt

Run more than  at least 35km before going for a marathon, i have never felt so much pain and mental anguish after seeing that 30km mark.

Do not wear a new shoe or accessories on race day. It turned out that the insoles that i worn was affecting my leg position thus making the laces come off faster.

Wear a smart watch, it is always good to monitor your pace.

Train well before marathon. A healthy diet goes a long way


The humanist religion

The humanist religion worship humanity. It expects humanity to play the part that God played in Christianity and Islam, and that the laws of nature played in Buddhism and Daoism.
The well known religions has some great cosmic plan that gave meaning to the life of humans. Humanism reverses the roles and expects the experiences of humans to give meaning to the cosmos.
According to humanism, humans must draw from within their inner experiences not only the meaning of their own lives, but also the meaning of the entire universe.

The primary commandment of humanism is: create meaning for a meaningless world.

Now you may ask, how did this all started. To grasp the depth and implications
of humanist revolution, consider how modern European culture differs from medieval European culture.
In 1300, people in London, Paris and Dublin did not believe that humans could determine by themselves what is good and what is evil, what is right and what is wrong.
Only God could create and define goodness and righteousness.
Although it was widely accepted that humans enjoy unique abilities and opportunities, they were also seen as ignorant and corruptible beings.
Without external supervision and guidance, humans could never understand the eternal truth and instead would be drawn to fleeting sensual pleasures and worldly delusions.
Medieval thinkers pointed out that humans are mortal and their opinions and feelings are as fickle as the wind,
Today I love something with all my heart, tomorrow I am disgusted by it, and next week I am dead and buried.
Absolute truths and meaning of life must therefore come from a superhuman source.
This view made God the supreme source of meaning and authority. This is integral as whoever determines the meaning of our actions – good, bad, evil, wrong – also gains the authority to tell us what to think and how to behave.

God’s role therefore affected every facet of daily life. Suppose in 1300, in a small English town, a married woman took a fancy to the next-door neighbour and had sex with him. As she sneaked back home, hiding a smile and straightening her dress, her mind began to race: ‘What was that all about? Was that bad or good morally? what does it imply about me? Should i do it again’.
In order to answer these questions, the woman was supposed to go to the priest ans ask the holy father for guidance.
The priest was well versed in scriptures and these sacred texts revealed to him what exactly God thought about adultery. Based on the eternal word of God, the priest could suggest avoid eating meat for the next seven days, make a pilgrimage to the Holy mother of God. And it goes without saying that she must never repeat this dreadful sin.

Today things are different. For centuries, humanism has been convincing us that we are the ultimate source of meaning, and that our free will is the highest authority of all.
From infancy, we’ve been bombarded with a barrage of humanist slogans counselling us: ‘Listen to yourself, follow your heart, do what feels good’.
Accordingly, when a modern woman wants to understand the meaning of a fling or an affair, she’s less prone to blindly accept the judgements of a priest or an ancient book.
This partly explains the changing fortunes of the institution of marriage. In the middle ages marriage was considered a sacrament ordained by God. An extramarital affair was consequently a brazen rebellion against both divine and parental authority.
Today, people marry for love, and it is their personal feelings that give value to this bond. Hence, if the same very feelings that once drove you into the arms of one man now drive you into the arms of another, what is wrong with that? your new lover might provide an outlet for the emotional and sexual desires that are not satisfied by your spouse of twenty years. Why not enjoy it?
But wait a minute, you might say. We cannot ignore the feelings of the other concerned parties. The woman and her lover might feel wonderful in each other’s arms but if their respective spouses find out, everybody will probably feel awful for quite some time. And it leads to divorce, their children might carry the emotional scars for decades. Even if the affair was never discovered, concealing it could involve a lot of tensions, resentment and growing feelings of alienation.

The most interesting discussions in humanist ethics concern situations like extramarital affairs, when human feelings collide.
What happens when the same action causes one person to feel good and another to feel bad? How do we weigh these feelings against each other?.
Modern people have differing ideas about this but no matter what their stance, they tend to justify it in the mane of human feelings rather than in the name of some holy scriptures and divine commandments.

Humnism has taught us that that something can be bad if it cause somebody to feel bad. Murder is wrong not because some god once said, ‘Thou shall not kill’. Rather, murder is wrong because it causes terrible suffering to the victim, to his family members and to his friends…..(to be continued)

1. Self motiviation speech

The world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, it’s a very mean and nasty place.
No matter how tough you think you are, it will find a way to beat you to your
knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.
But it is not about how hard you get beat, it’s about how hard you can
get beat and keep moving forward.
It’s about how much you can take and keep moving forward
that’s how winning it is done.
Now if you know what you’re worth,
you will go out there and get your worth
but you have to be willing
to take the beats and not point
fingers saying you ain’t where you want to
be because of him or her or anybody.
Cowards do that and that is not you
You’re better than that

Positive thinking

Today, i was talking to someone about positive thinking and how it affects one’s life. Positive thinking is all about choosing to think good thoughts rather than bad thoughts. Every situation you encounter in life is open to your own interpretation.
A person with a positive attitude tends to interpret more situations as good than bad, not because those situations are objectively good but because they recognise that it is within their power to choose.

Here is a story i heard from someone that illustrates this point better.

There once was a farmer, one day the farmer’s only horse broke out of the corral and ran away. The farmer’s neighbours, all hearing of the horse running away, came to the farmer’s house to view the corral. As they stood there, the neighbours all said, “Oh, what bad luck!”. The farmer replied, “How do you know this is bad?”

About a week latern, the horse returned, bringing with it a whole herd of wild horses, which the farmer and his son quickly coralled. The neighbours, hearing of the corralling of the horses, came to see. As they stood there looking at the corral filled with horses, the neighbours said, “Oh, what good luck!!”.
The farmer replied, “how do you know this is good?”.

A couple of weeks later, the farmer’s son broke his leg when he was thrown from one of their new wild horses that he was trying to tame. A few days later, the broken leg became infected and the son became delirious with fever. The neighbours , all hearing o the incident, came to see the son. As they stood there the neighbours said “Oh what bad luck!”.
The farmer replied, “how do you know this is bad?”.

At the same time, war broke out in the country. In need of more soldiers, a captain came to the village to conscript young men to fight in the war. When the captain came to take the farmer’s son, he found the young man with a broken leg, delirious with fever. Knowing there was no way the son could fight, the captain left him there. A few days later, the son’s fever broke. The neighbours, hearing of the son not being able to fight in the war and of his return to good health, all came to see him. A they stood there, each one said, “Oh what good luck!”. The farmer replied, “how do you know this is good?”

What does Agile in a workplace mean to you?

I was asked this question recently at a meetup? It took me by surprise, i waffled and somehow manage to get my points across.
But as i sit down here this evening, i decide to note down what i think Agile in a workplace means.


I believe
Agile means working in cross-functional team

Having daily catch-up with all team members to discuss what you are doing
and how things are going.

Working in short iterations.

Developers are empowered to estimate the work and have an input on what they
want to work on according to the priorities.

Having a unified backlog, prioritized by someone responsible for the product
(the product owner)

And Developers participate in testing the application.

If you’re standing on someone’s shoulders make sure they’re a giant

Today I’d like to tell you about the cost of being too lazy.

As part of building a software project you will also need to build a website. When building the website for telepresence I looked around for a suitable documentation theme for the static site generator I was using and eventually settled on one that more-or-less fit the project vision.

Over time I discovered many problems with the design, and specifically the hand-rolled CSS it used. I fixed the most obvious of the problems, or at least the ones that were most obvious to me, and moved on; thinking about web page rendering was very low on my priority list for the project.

One day, however, a colleague pointed out that the website was completely broken on smartphones. I hadn’t bothered to test the page on a small screen since I assumed most people reading documentation do so on a larger computer screen. A few days later I decided to verify this assumption.

Turns out something like 30-40% of the visitors used smartphones. And the website was completely broken when using a smaller screen, so up to 40% of visitors were getting a very bad first impression. I spend some time wrestling with the CSS, and eventually managed to make the website look OK on small screens. Not great, but it was better than nothing.

One obvious mistake here is making assumptions and the other is using some random person’s hand-rolled CSS design.

There is a reason that CSS/HTML frameworks like Bootstrap exist: building responsive, accessible websites that work across a variety of screen sizes and browsers is difficult to get right. I couldn’t do it myself, without a lot of time spent doing research, and really there was no reason to think some random person could do it right either. And I’d already observed design choices that indicated some level of ignorance (animations that made pages appear to load more slowly than they actually did is a bad idea; faster load times are preffered.)

I’d tried to save a little work by using a pre-designed theme, but I hadn’t bother to filter on “uses a standard framework.” If such a theme couldn’t be found I would’ve done better by taking Bootstrap or some other such framework and using it to build the design I wanted. Then I could have spent my time getting the design right, instead of having to fix problems in a domain I am not an expert in and don’t have the time to learn in detail.

Don’t make my mistake: if you’re dealing with a complex domain like web page design, use a framework or library built by experts who actually understand best practices. Even if there’s a little bit of a learning curve, it will prevent many mistakes you and save you time in the long run.

The search for belonging

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this too,but in the last couple of years, the incredible scientific feat of decoding the human genomehas passed from the world of esoteric science, into the world of the mundane.

These days, for less than the price of two theatre tickets,you can, and I quote,‘Bring your ancestry to life through your DNA’.

The market-leading company, 23andMe, will apparently use their worldwide database of genetic sequencing to give you personalized information on your ancestry composition, any DNA relatives you may have lurking undiscovered in your family tree, and even your Neanderthal percentage.

And it occurs to me that whilst it may do one no harm to discover that you’re a few percent Neanderthal (after all, so is everyone else), or that you’re only 25% European, alongside sub-Saharan African or East Asian ancestry;discovering that you have a direct match on their database for a sister living in Australia that you previously knew nothing about may be rather more problematic.

Of course, there may be some health benefits in terms of inherited genetic diseases, but quite what one is supposed to do with the information that you have a slightly increased chance of developing Alzheimer’s Disease is a bit of a mystery to me at the moment.

Anyway, the health reporting isn’t what’s driving this new industry in personalized DNA sequencing.
People are, it seems to me, buying into this because they are curious to understand more about their identity.

‘Who am I?’ is one of the defining questions of our time. Am I a European, an African, or an Asian; a mongrel or a Neanderthal? Who should I identify with? Which tribe do I belong to?

In a globalized world of instant communication,and social networks that transcend all geographical barriers, it seems that we are living through a ‘crisis of belonging’.

It’s the same question that drives the huge interest in family tree research:‘Who am I?’ Or, to quote the BBC, ‘Who do you think you are?’ – the title of course of the ever-popular TV show in which celebrities discover, and I quote, ‘secrets and surprises from their past.’
Except it’s not from their past at all– much of what is discovered, and the stories that are told,are from many generations before anyone alive now was even born.

Logically, of course, it’s all nonsense: you don’t have to go back very many generations before you have more ancestors than there were people living in the entire world!

The time of the Norman Conquest in the 11th Century achieves this by a fact of three or more.
Which means that, basically, we’re all massively in-bred. There is no ‘pure line’ in any of us.

So, defining ourselves by our genetic or ancestral heritage is a logical nonsense.
But it continues to make emotional sense, and people keep doing it,
as the events in Charlottesville over the last couple of weeks have vividly and tragically demonstrated.

And as I said, I think this is because we have, in our ever-diverse Western Society, a crisis of belonging.

We don’t know who we are.

We’re programmed, at a genetic level, to live in villages of about 2-300 people, which is about the number of people you can comfortably get to know and sustain some kind of relationship with.
Any more than this and it becomes quickly overwhelming.

Interestingly, the average number of friends that Facebook users have on the platform is 338, but with a median of 200. The figure 2-300 is about right for a community.
Churches often struggle to grow beyond 300, because they start to feel impersonal, and people get lost.

It seems we most naturally relate to smaller communities; and so, faced with the vastness of our world,
with all its diversity of ethnicity, gender; sexuality, social standing; political opinion, and religious conviction,
we search for meaning, for identity, for that elusive ‘sense of belonging’;
and we do it by seeking answer to the question of who we are:
Are white or black, British or English, European or French, African, Asian, Neanderthal, whatever…?

Which at one level is fine. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of quiet genealogical research,
I’m partial to it myself, and there’s nothing inherently dangerous about having your DNA sequenced.
But if these things are symptoms of a deeper malaise, if they arise from our crisis of belonging,
then that same sickness can also manifest itself in racism, sexism, white supremacy, neo-Nazism,
homophobia, gay-bashing, and the worst kinds of nationalistic sabre-rattling
such as ‘the world has never seen before’.

But of course, for all of our technological advancements,we aren’t the first generation to experience a crisis of belonging, we aren’t the first generation in which people have struggled to know who they are.

The Roman Empire dominated the known world in the first century and has many parallels to the globalized media and financial empires of our own world.

The Romans were technologically dominant with a massive military machine and an all-encompassing trade and financial network, all held together by the religious ideology of Emperor-worship.

People who, just a generation before had no experience of life beyond their village found the Roman Empire on their doorstep, informing them in no uncertain terms that they were now part of something much bigger.

The ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity of the Roman Empire was greater than at any time before it in human history and it was something which would not be repeated until relatively modern times.

And so in the first century, people faced their own crisis of belonging. To whom did they belong? To Rome or to Galatia? To Philippi, or to Palestine, or to Jerusalem? Who were they to regard as their tribe, as their people?

Great, this is something that have happened before.But the questions still remain.

How do we handle a world living with the consequences of a crisis of belonging?
How do we deal with ethnic tensions that blight our towns and cities, from Cologne, to Paris, to London, to Sweden, to Palestine, to the streets of Homeland America.

I will say, particularly in the light of Charlottesville, that Black Lives Matter.

And before we say that Charlottesville is not London (one of the greatest and ethnically diverse city in the world) and that we it doesn’t happen here – believe me it does.

The London riots of the 2001 were when I first became aware of the power of ethnic difference to incite violence, and I now know that they took place in those very cities where white people had become enriched with very little care of their ethnic minority neighbours.

We live in a deeply divided country, and a deeply divided city, with people of all different nationalities, living and working side-by-side.

And yet, according to this guardian article if you are a black graduate of a British university, you will earn on average 23.1% less than your white fellow graduates.
Since 2010 there has been a 49% increase in the number of ethnic minority 16- to 24-year-olds who are long-term unemployed, while in the same period there has been a fall of 2% in long-term unemployment among white people in the same age category.
Black workers are more than twice as likely to be in insecure forms of employment such as temporary contracts or working for an agency.
Black people are far more often the victims of crime and you are more than twice as likely to be murdered if you are black in England and Wales.
When accused of crimes, black people are three times more likely to be prosecuted and sentenced than white people.

Saying that Black Lives Matter is not the same as saying White lives don’t matter any more than saying that Children’s lives matter would be the same as saying that adult lives don’t matter.

But we have to recognize that we live with a heritage of ethnic oppression

There is nowhere here for white privilege to hide and simply saying that ‘I’m not a racist’ doesn’t get anyone off the hook.

In 2007, the bicentenary of the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, I was part of the discussions at Trinity College Dublin as to whether it would be appropriate for the Irish government to offer an apology for their complicity in the ongoing legacy of slavery.

And I heard some interesting responses:
‘We never owned slaves, so what have we got to apologise for ?’
‘We didn’t ask to be born white, and asking me to apologise for
who we are is just racism in reverse.’
The insight I took from this was that a lot of people are diminished by white privilege.

It has been said that when you are used to privilege, equality feels like discrimination and many white people will cry foul when their supremacy is challenged.

We need to understand that equality is only equality if it works equally for both white and non-white.