November: Two Different Endurance Challenges

The end of November saw a couple of achievements to reflect upon. First, I completed my thirteenth National Novel Writing Month – here are some thoughts on how this one went:

  • I’d done a lot of prep work beforehand, yet on the first day, it took me a little time to get going as I hadn’t looked at my notes for a while.
  • This year was pretty straightforward as NaNoWriMo goes: there were only a couple of days where I didn’t write at least 1,667 words due to external circumstances wearing me out, and I didn’t feel the need to skip ahead in the story as often as I usually do.
  • For some reason, there were several days where I thought about writing and felt anxious that I wouldn’t be able to produce anything. In these cases, however, the hardest part is just starting to write – once I was underway, the words tended to come fairly easily.
  • It was certainly enjoyable to write a dinosaur story; some of my favourite scenes involved exploring the prehistoric environments that the characters found themselves in, with one of them – a palaeontologist – taking the time to put what they were seeing in context. Turns out, in a science fiction story, you can get a lot of words out of scientific exposition.
  • Another fun little thing I did was feature the protagonist of a previous NaNo project about vampires – or rather, an alternate version of her. This character intended to become a policewoman before being turned into a vampire – so, in this alternate universe where vampires don’t exist, I had her fulfilling her dream and filling a small role in the story.

The story itself is nowhere near finished, so I intend to continue into December, and then use future NaNoWriMos or Camp NaNoWriMos to write sequels.

At the same time, throughout November, I was training for my first proper half-marathon event (after running a virtual one last year soon after lockdown). My training runs had gone so well, I was feeling confident of not only finishing, but setting a good time. I brought my NaNo project to 50,000 words on the last Saturday in November, in time for the race on Sunday. That morning, the weather was freezing cold, but at least the worst of Storm Arwen had passed and there wasn’t much wind. As we set off, I checked my time against each of the mile markers, and was very pleased to find that I was ahead of my expected pace and still feeling strong. Just before the halfway point, it began to snow, but what did that matter? This was great!

The feeling didn’t last, however. By the 10 mile mark, I was having to will myself to keep going, and by 11 miles, I had very little left in the tank. Finally, I had to alternate between jogging and walking. (There was a nice moment at this point when another runner, passing me, gave me a pat on the back in encouragement.) In the end, I put in one last spurt over the line for a chip time of 01:49:38. It was a great time, though I couldn’t appreciate it immediately as I was exhausted, cold, a little queasy, and had apparently lost control of my mouth as I could barely speak or even smile for my post-run selfie.

So this half-marathon was both a positive result and a learning experience; next time, I need to be more mindful of my pacing and how much it matters over a long distance. I already have another event booked for the New Year; my aim for that one is a mental reset, where I just go at an easy pace and try to enjoy myself the whole way round.

About R.J. Southworth

Hi there. I've been blogging since January 2014, and I like to talk about all sorts of things: book reviews, film reviews, writing, science, history, or sometimes just sharing miscellaneous thoughts. Thanks for visiting my blog, and I hope you find something that interests you!
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3 Responses to November: Two Different Endurance Challenges

  1. isoltblog says:

    Congratulations on the Writing and running wins! Your dinosaur story sound fun-I do love when characters from other stories get a cameo (Stephen King does it quite often in his novels). The half-marathon sounds tough, but you pushed through. All the best for your next event.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Angela! Having done so many NaNos now, I’m getting into the habit of making Easter Egg references to earlier stories. I like seeing them in Stephen King’s works, as you say: his latest book, Billy Summers, is a thriller rather than horror, but it has the characters visiting the spot where The Shining took place.

      The dinosaur encounters in this story involve travelling to alternate universes at earlier times rather than actual time travel, so now I’ve got the basis for my own multiverse like King did with his Dark Tower series. Who knows what could happen?

      Liked by 1 person

      • isoltblog says:

        You can have lots of fun playing around with characters and times within your multiverse. I have a few King novels still to read, so look forward to finding the easter eggs. I love his Dark Tower series, which also ties in with short stories & novels in part-Roland Flagg in particular ( The Dark Half, if I remember rightly), plus Low Men in Yellow Coats (has been a while, but think that’s correct)

        Liked by 1 person

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