Hatfield Triathlon May 2017

It’s 6:05am on a cold and drizzly morning and I’m standing half naked and barefoot outside a swimming pool, racking up a bike I’ve never ridden and wondering why the hell I signed up for my first triathlon…

 

The dilemma

HSV May 17My mate, Steve, is over from New York for a couple of weeks and sends this message:

“Just entered a baby tri on with a pool swim. Up for it? There’s a few of us doing it in Hatfield.”

He tells me it’s a 400m swim (“8 minutes”), 20K bike (“you’ve been biking since 8 years old”) and 5K run (“meat and drink to you”).

I dismiss the idea but must admit I’m a little intrigued until I find out that the start is this Sunday – in just five days’ time – at 6:30am. No chance. Another friend also has a go at persuading me, but I couldn’t possibly do it. Could I?

 

The background

I may have ridden a bike since I was a kid but I’ve used one only about twice in the last year – to go to the shops.

As for swimming, I’m in a pool every week but that’s just to take my daughter to Water Babies.

Yes, I run twice a week and 5K should be easy for me, but with zero training in the other two disciplines and being the wrong side of forty I’m extremely doubtful I can pull it off.

In fact, the more I think about it, I’d be crazy to attempt it.

 

The decision

I like a challenge. I like the idea of doing a sporting event with friends.

I don’t like 4am wake-ups and wearing Lycra pants in the cold while soaking wet before jumping on a bike I’d have to borrow.

By Friday, I’m flip-flopping between seeing just how far I can push myself, to having a nice, warm lie-in. I enter the registration site to have a look at the details.

Yes or no? Braveheart or chicken? Chump or challenger?

 

The sign up

By Friday night I’m ready to commit. Let’s do this, let’s pick up the gauntlet and have something to discuss with my friends for years. Credit card at the ready, here goes nothing…

Registration Closed

I’m too late. I’ve procrastinated too long and now I’ve missed it.

Lazy Andy says “Phew! Got outta that one!” Determined Andy says “Maybe there’s another way…”

Cunningly going back to my browser session from yesterday, I continue my registration and somehow I’m in. But am I really? Or did they just take my money? A quick email to the organiser confirms that I’m the very last entrant.

Fantastic!

What the $#%! have I done?

 

The pep talk

It’s 10pm on the night before the race and I’m with a friend in the street loading a bike into my car. It’s not even my bike – my one’s old and heavy so I’m borrowing a hybrid. He gives me some tips.

“When you get off your bike, your legs will be mega wobbly. You’ll fine after a K or so, though.”

Great – my one and only guaranteed discipline will have me handicapped from the start. I head back to my house to finish the preparation.

My wife, Michelle, is supportive in the latest chapter of Andy’s Ambitious But Slightly Crazy Ideas, as long as I don’t seriously injure myself, which of course I can give no guarantees. After coming back from a family party (does Prosecco count as training?) I’m a bit late sorting my stuff, but by 11pm it’s all ready. Unfortunately it’s 12am before I stop going through transitions in my head and get to sleep.

 

Pre-race

03:00 I’ve completed the triathlon! Oh, it was all a dream. Back to sleep.

04:10 Alarm goes off. I’ve had 4 hours of broken sleep. Excitement is overriding tiredness, though.

04:30 2 slices of toast with Marmite, plus orange juice.

04:45 “Wtf?” My bowels tell me it’s too early.

05:05 I leave to pick up Steve.

05:15 We leave home.

05:35 We arrive at the starting area, surrounded by lots of people who look like they’re professionals. Me? I’ve got a bike complete with mudguards and stand, plus I’m rocking a skating helmet.

05:40 We can’t get my wheel on. What way round does it go? This could be a disaster.

05:45 Wheel is on and we meet up with the others. There’s 7 of us doing it and I’m definitely the oldest, least fit and least prepared of them all.

HSV May 17 Branded05:50 I’m branded. 17 adorns my left arm.

06:00 I have no idea how to set up my transition area. The bike won’t even fit in the railings, so the stand actually does me a favour. The lads help me sort out my race number then I gingerly strip off. Standing there in just my new black jammers, contemplating my first triathlon, I feel like Jonny Brownlee, but compared to others I probably look more like Johnny Vegas.

06:10 I’m starting in 25 minutes and I need a poo. I know from running races that toilet timing before the start is crucial. Let’s hope there’s no queue.

06:15 Relieved and just in time to hear the briefing. It’s well organised but…So. Many. Rules.

06:20 I’ve realised that Steve and I are the only ones here without some kind of tri top on. I try not to be self-conscious about what I’m calling my Man-made Objects Of Buoyancy (MOOBS). Could I look any less like I belong here? Least there aren’t any photos. Oh wait – here’s Steve’s uncle wanting a group shot.

06:25 We file into the pool. Shit just got real.

06:30 Number 1 goes off. It’s started!

06:34 I lower myself into the water. The boys cheer me on from above. 16 lengths ahead of me. The whistle goes…

 

The swim

First length: I’m actually doing a triathlon!

Second length: Get that push off and glide sorted, Andy.

Fourth length: I’m a quarter of the way through, but I don’t know what rhythm to use. When do I breathe? Left or right? Wish I’d trained now.

Eighth length: Half way. I’ve been tapped on the foot and as per protocol I’ve let them overtake on the turn. Git.

Tenth length. I gasp a few extra breaths at the end of the pool. This isn’t easy.

Twelfth length: My form is all over the place. Head up, down, sideways – I don’t care now. Just get me to the end. A couple more overtake.

Fifteenth length: I’m in the last lane! I’m vaguely aware of Steve cheering me on. I’m not quitting now, this swimmer’s coming home. I even manage a cheeky foot tap of my own and overtake someone.

Finish: I’m almost there! I then have a horrible vision of my pool exit. No-one is using the sensible option – the steps – they’re hauling themselves out of the pool. What if I don’t have enough arm strength? I could be stuck in here for a while. Somehow, I flop myself out of the pool. I almost raise my arms in triumph until I realise I’d better save my energy for the next stage.

 

The ride

I walk out as instructed and into the cold air again. The whole thing seems surreal – I’m dripping wet and now have to dry myself outside against the clock and get on a bike still in my swimming shorts? And I can’t even ride it yet – I have to run with it for a hundred yards before I’m allowed on. What kind of sadistic event is this? I’m still on a high after completing the swim and not drowning myself, so I don’t exactly hurry as I sort out my kit. I’d quite happily read a Triathlete Monthly, take a nap and then go on.

It must be about 9 degrees C so will I be cold on my bike? Steve suggested I wear my tracksuit bottoms, although I’m not keen on them flapping around as I cycle. I wrestle putting them on my wet legs when the bloke next to me says, “Don’t bother mate. You won’t need them.” Clearly a more experienced triathlete, I ditch them, don my helmet and gloves and grab my bike. In the meantime, my friend Lee has come out of the pool behind me and is already running with his bike ahead, so I follow his more urgent lead and we’re soon leaping on our steeds at the designated – if far away – mount point.

Good news abounds – my legs still work, the bike’s gears seem easy to use, and despite having a soggier bottom than a Bake Off disaster, it looks like I’ll be fine. The roads are empty and the marshals are doing a fine job directing us at every turn and roundabout. Being one of the first twenty or so out, there aren’t too many bikes around. My next question is the same as the pool – how fast do I go? A little late, I press a load of buttons on my Garmin, find the never-used cycle option and start it. I’ve no idea how long it will take me or what the course is like so I decide to take it easy.

HSV May 17 Bike1 mile: The course is flat so far so I risk a daredevil move by taking off a glove and opening a gel packet while maintaining speed. I down it like Popeye did spinach.

2 miles: The swimmer who started behind me (18) is ahead but slows right down as she has trouble with something. Do I stop and help? What would Wiggins do? I ride on past.

4 miles: Riders are starting to overtake me, not gradually either – whipping past me on bikes far superior than mine. Yeah, but do they have mudguards?

5 miles: Oh here’s a hill. I’m still in energy conservation mode. My speed reduces. Would I be quicker getting out and walking? I overtake a woman cyclist like a snail overtaking a slug.

8 miles: Lots of cyclists are now streaming past on the opposite side of the road. I’m shocked at their speed. At this rate, they’ll catch me up despite my head start. Suddenly I hear my nickname being shouted as one whizzes by, “G-Money!”

“See you in five!” I reply, resigned to being overtaken in the too-near future. Undeterred, I push on.

10 miles: Bluebells! I can see bluebells in the woods. This ain’t a nature trail, Andy. Get a grip.

11 miles: How much further? After all this time, I realise that my watch not only shows how long I’ve been in transit but shows mileage. Duh. And it’s showing 11 miles…so I’m nearly there! Soon I’m coming in to the dismount part, wincing as I wrench my bottom off the saddle. This time I’m running fast with my bike. Am I allowed to overtake in transition, or is it like the F1 pit lane?

“Glad that’s over! This is my first one!” I announce excitedly as I overtake a woman.

“Me too!” was all she offers in response.

Time for my speciality…

 

The run

My transition is simple – bike stood up, helmet off, warm top off. I’m ready to go. Where do I go though? It’s a little unclear as I approach a marshal who belatedly points me round the corner. I was expecting to have the legs of Mr Jelly after the ride, but surprisingly I’m in good form. I don’t think I’ve got a lot left in the tank but I start at a steady pace that’s not too far off my usual pace. I down my last gel, anything to give me some fuel to complete it.

Once again, due to my early swim start there aren’t too many competitors around, so it initially feels like a jog through the countryside. I pass two people (men for once) who are barely doing more than a trot. I’m carrying a half-empty bottle of Lucozade Sport but I take a cup of water to wash down the gel. Being the litter-conscious man I am, I hang on to the cup.

HSV May 17 RunThe ground is very uneven, following deep tractor trails, but it’s something different to my usual cycle tracks and I quite like it. One or two runners catch up and pass me and I then come to the first of the two kissing gates that border a field we have to traverse. It’s a weird thing for a race route, but doesn’t bother me, as long as I don’t get chased by any bulls. Could do with a litter bin, though – I’ve still got the cup until I deposit it at the feet of a marshal.

Two miles fly by at a comfortable pace before I get to a long stretch of concrete that I can see is leading me back to near start. Halfway up, number 18 goes past me, and it’s all I can do to keep in sight of her. Round a corner and suddenly there’s the finish line! Give me max power! I sprint to the line, beaming a huge smile as I jump over the line.

I’ve done it…I’ve completed a triathlon…I’m a triathlete. It feels amazing.

 

HSV May 17 MedalThe finish

Time for the free stuff. That banana’s got my name on it, the water barely touches the sides. The shiny medal will maybe stay round my neck forever.

I congratulate a couple of the boys who’ve come in ahead of me and wait for the others to finish. They’ll probably have beaten me in total time, but to me it’s a secret victory. I didn’t buckle, I didn’t crash by the roadside, drown or fall down a ditch. My muscles – as shocked as they were – held firm when I needed them. The last of the group come in and we have a team photo. I’m cold, I’m hungry but I’m smiling.

 

Après Tri

HSV May 17 Group FinishCrank up the frying pan, – there’s seven ravenous triathletes that need to replenish some calories!

We head back to Stevenage and hit a restaurant en masse. WAGs and children descend to join in and listen to tales of triumph and struggle as we pore over the timings, comparing transitions and events. My daughter, Amber, wears my medal, Michelle is proud but also glad I made it in one piece.

Bring me coffee, juice, meat, potato, beans – hell I’ll even devour a fried tomato. The waiter struggles to keep up as the plague of Lycra-clad locusts consume everything in sight.

 

My effort could have been more and I’ve been pushed harder in other runs, but this feels different. I’ve completed three marathons but this ranks up there in my achievements, purely due the lack of training and the but-can-I-actually-do-it element.

 

I swam, cycled and ran. Whether that makes me a proper triathlete or someone that’s just dabbled I don’t know. What I do know however is that I feel a sense of great accomplishment…and that I’ll be back for more.

 

 

Posted in Bike Outings, Swims, Timed Runs | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stevenage Half Marathon 2016

6:30am Ok, I’m awake. Do I feel like running 13.1 miles today? Let me see. On one hand, the weather is bright and sunny and my legs feel pretty good. On the other, I have what is probably a slight chest infection, the forecast is dodgy and I haven’t run more than 6 miles all year.

Sod it – let’s do it. I’ve paid, it’s local and I’ve done plenty of challenges that I never thought I was ready for.
Stevenage cycle tracks here I come – right after breakfast, of course.

Cornflakes and a slice of toast for my breakfast while my daughter, Amber, has hers. She’s only a toddler but maybe I’ll run the course with her one day. Or perhaps she can help guide my zimmer. My kit has been meticulously prepared last night and even my GPS watch has found some satellites. Given its soak in the washing machine last week, I’m quite surprised it’s talking to me, let alone lumps of metal thousands of miles above us. At 10am I hastily don my trainers and we leave, with plenty of time for the 11am kick off.

My wife, Michelle, is driving me to the start, a few miles across town. However, she insists it’s an ideal time to pop into Argos on the way and buy a last-minute birthday present for her dad. I would prefer to remain focussed on the race and don’t want to risk an Argos-related delay just because order number 239 comes down mistakenly as hair curlers or something. But she’s the driver, I’m the one going out for over three hours, so I stay quiet.

 

stevenage-half-2016-andy-start-smallWe start at the jewel in Stevenage’s running crown: Ridlins Stadium. They know how to lay on an organised race here. I’m early, so there’s a bit of milling around to do. Might as well use the rather good facilities here and then pretend I’m an elite racer checking out the competition. Or just take a selfie with the finish line in the background in case I don’t make it later.

 

 

 

 

Once I’m fully ready, I suddenly see a race number and face I recognise from the online world – it’s a Twitter friend who said she’d be running today. Feeling a bit stalker-ish, as she walks past I ask her if she’s Clare, and next minute I know I’ve been introduced to her friends and participate in a group photo, which is a better reaction than running away screaming. Usually I’m a lone runner at these events so it’s nice to have company at the start. We make our way near the back among the 500-odd starters and listen to gentle banter between the runners. You can cut the atmosphere with a spoon.

stevenage-half-2016-group-smallHonnnnnnnk!
The horn blows and we’re off. My game plan is simple: slow and steady, don’t worry about the clock and see how I go. I simply don’t have the fitness to do anything else; as much as I want to burn off and try for a sub two hour, it ain’t gonna happen. So, first dilemma: do I stay with my new friends, or shoot off? I decide I have to just go at the pace my legs take me and see what happens. After a minute it looks like I’m going to be slightly faster, so although it would be nice to run with someone, I slowly creep ahead of two of them.

2 Miles
I’m loving this new pace. Hills don’t seems half as bad when you’re slow, even if they do take longer. 10 is the new 9, in terms of minutes per mile. We enter Fairlands Lakes and there’s my family! I smile and wave to Amber who seems a bit shocked to see her daddy. A quick greet and I’m off again, hearing her cries as I go.

3 Miles
Nommm nommm nommm! As a kid, you are constantly told not to accept sweets off strangers. But no-one told you that you can’t give sweets to strangers – and that’s exactly what one youngster is doing as we run past. I grab a couple of jelly babies from a tub and thank him.
Here’s my family again. We’ve looped back so it’s an easy walk for them to catch me. This time Amber seems very pleased to see me, even clapping this time. However, I barely move metres away when I hear “Dadddddyyyyyyyy!” and more crying. Maybe next time I’ll piggyback her along the way.

stevenage-half-2016-andy-race-small4 Miles
The trouble with the course being your home town that you know very well, is that you just want to go the sensible route. All these underpasses could really be avoided by a quick shortcut across the road. I have a chat with a guy in a vest who’s at the same pace as me. He has a daughter in Amsterdam and recently done the half marathon there, after starting running again this year. Everyone has a story and it’s nice to meet people you’d never normally meet. Unfortunately, our conversation is cut short by a rogue shoelace on my right foot coming undone. That never happens to me when running! Then I remember in my rush to put them on I never checked the laces. Lesson 1: Always sort your laces pre-run. Lesson 2: It’s almost impossible to tie laces on with gloves on. Thirty seconds are lost faffing around, and my new friend is gone into the distance.

5 Miles
I’m going past my old school. If only my old P.E. teacher Mr Bowles could see me now – that scrawny little kid who was average at sport can actually run. Slowly, but he can run.

6 Miles
The start of the killer second loop. It’s so annoying running past the turn for the finish, when you have another seven miles to go. At least there’s a crowd here, who I pretend are there especially for me. I’m feeling good, entering uncharted territory for the year but confident I can make it. Let’s do this. Again.

8 Miles
“Come-on-Andy’s-dinosaur-adventure!”
Of all the tunes to pop into my head, this one from a children’s show is a little random. But hey – it fits my rhythm nicely. Plus my name is in the title so it’s made for me.
I begin to wonder if I’m losing it…

9 Miles
Yeeeessss! I ‘m smiling widely, probably enough to frighten anyone who’s sees me. The reason? I know I’m past the worst and I’m heading towards the finish. I can see the map in my mind, the furthest point of the second loop is behind me. This time last year I was really struggling. Wahoo! Damn, I’m doing well.
I’m definitely losing it.

10 Miles
Where’s my pace? I seem to have only one gear. I’m slow enough to notice how still it is as I cross the expanse of Fairlands Valley for the last time.

11 Miles
Uh oh. I can’t feel my legs. They’re so cold I can’t bend them into anything other than the shape they’re in now with this rhythm. And I have hills to climb. The worse hills. I have to stop. No, keep going. Here we go again – the same internal argument when the going gets tough. Andy’s dinosaur adventure can do one. I have to stop.
I feel ashamed for a few seconds, but know it’s for the best. I expect a wave of people to overtake me, but when only a few do, I realise that probably signals I’m near the back anyway. Time for a mint chocolate Gu gel. Man that’s gooooood! Right, let’s get to the top of this hill and start again.

12 Miles
Just one more mile to go! I’m going to do it! I’ve joined a lady in pink who I might as well run with now. We chat a little just to take our minds off the last mile and a bit. Runners who have finished and are on their way home pass in the opposite direction and I’m impressed by my lack of wanting to strangle them by the same medal that I still have to go through a lot of pain to obtain.
We’re both struggling though, and at different times we stop in the lead up to the last little hill towards the stadium. I’ve no time to aim for and right now no inclination to push myself. Last year somebody helped me run up the hill and I try to repay the favour by encouraging The Pink Lady, but alas she’s stopping. I plod on to the muted cheers of a not-so-packed stadium.

The Finish
To end a half marathon on a track confuses the mind. I’m knackered. I don’t care what time it is. I know I’m going to finish it even if I have to crawl. But…there is red spongy ground underneath my feet! I’m an athlete! It’s 400m to the finish and I’m Michael Johnson! Fly, Andy, fly to the finish! I take off…

200m later and I realise I’m more like Boris Johnson. I hear a shout from behind and I’m delighted to see The Pink Lady has recovered and is not too far away. I would slow down and wait, but let’s face it – I need every second I can get. The line approaches and I beam a wide smile, pumping my arms as I cross the line like a delirious runner who was oblivious to the 400+ runners who had beaten him to it. I snap out of my self-obsessed mode and clap The Pink Lady as she comes in, exchanging a tired high five. Then it’s the goodies: Banana, t-shirt, sugary bite-sized snacks and the medal. My medal. My wonderful, well-earned, goddammit-I-did-it medal.

stevenage-half-2016-andy-smallPost race
I’m handed my bag back at the baggage tent in super fast time, as if they’ve been waiting for me. Then I realise with so few bags left, they probably were. I flop down to change into something warm when I’m suddenly greeted by my Twitter friends, Clare and Peter, who’ve just finished. I attempt a selfie, after which Clare offers to help and takes a good one of me, considering my sweat and obvious exhaustion. I repay the favour and see if Peter wants a photo too, but he’s revelling in his trophy of a cigarette. I go to leave, as Michelle is being the brilliant runner’s wife and picking me up.
“See you next year?” Clare asks.
I think for a second, and realised that I actually enjoyed it this year. It was long, I was slow and embarrassing low down the field. But it was fun, in its own hellish underpassy way.

Yeah, I’ll be back.

 

Posted in Timed Runs | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Season Review 2016/17

The new football season is almost upon us! Here’s what I think might go down over the next ten months. If any of these actually happen, then I’ll do my next blog post in my underpants…

 

August

After much hype over new record signings, brilliant managers and money galore, the Premier League kicks off with an amazing anticlimax as all ten of the weekend’s first matches end in 0-0. Much of the blame of many lethargic performances is put on the late night Olympics coverage. Jose Mourinho is ecstatic, however.

 

Arsenal reveal their intriguing last-minute deadline day purchase of Pikachu, who will act as cover for the injured Jack Wilshere.

 

September

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is fined £20,000 for turning up late for Man Utd’s first leg of their opening Europa League match. “Zlatan never plays on Thursdays!” he says to reporters, before phoning his wife to record Emmerdale.

 

October

Disco BallAfter their last minute win over Dortmund, Gary Lineker attempts to invoke the spirit of last season by promising that if Leicester win the Champions League, he will dance the Charleston naked in Strictly.

 

November

England beat Scotland 8-0 at Wembley in their World Cup qualifier. Sam Allardyce’s controversial selection Bobby Charlton rolls back the years with five goals to reclaim his position as England’s all time goalscorer.

 

December

North of the border, Brendan Rodgers said he was delighted at the effort of his players and that if it wasn’t for a couple of close decisions, Celtic may have got a draw, following their 6-0 defeat at Rangers. Both sides finished with 7 men, although by this time only 124 fans were left in the stadium due to ejections for inappropriate chanting.

President Trump sparks more controversy as he shuts down the entire MLS league after announcing that soccer “…is for sissy dorks who aren’t good enough to play a real sport.”

 

January

The Times report on the news that Man Utd are planning to make a sensational combination of bids totalling £1 billion for Messi, Ronaldo, Romeo Beckham, Usain Bolt and Pele’s left testicle.

Liverpool players sheepishly celebrate their narrow 3-2 win over League 2 Stevenage in the FA Cup third round with an open-top bus parade. Klopp plays down criticism saying “We were 2-0 down with 5 minutes to go, so I think it is well deserved.” Liverpool FC refuse to comment on reports that the bus was not properly taxed, having been registered as SORN for the past 5 years.

 

February

Everton are revealed as the surprise leaders of the world’s richest club league, after a bidding war for Lukaku between Chelsea and PSG gets out of hand. Afterwards, Roman Abramovich is quoted saying, “I should have stopped at £850m, but there was no way I was letting those French bastards beat me again.”

 

March

Champions League disappointment for English clubs in the last 16. City lose 3-2 to Bayern, Spurs 4-0 to Basel and Arsenal 7-6 to Barcelona, with Messi scoring all 13 goals. Leicester rejoice, however, after a penalties win over Juventus, leaving Ranieri to say “I am just thinking of my dinner tonight, nothing else.”

CrownChaotic scenes at Old Trafford as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, fresh from his five-goal haul against Bournemouth, conducts his post-match interview adorning a real gold crown. Within minutes, the Swede is karate-kicked to the floor by an enraged Eric Cantona shouting, “There can be only one!”

 

April

Wayne Rooney’s eldest son, Kai, buys out Accrington Stanley with his pocket money. He immediately installs Rafael Benitez as manager, enraging Newcastle fans just days before their key relegation clash with Burton Albion.

A twenty-page spread in OK! magazine covers the lavish ceremony in Madrid in which Cristiano Ronaldo marries himself.

 

May

The season concludes with an epic last day as no less than seven teams battle it out for the title. The title changes hands five times in injury time across four matches. Sergio Aguero’s 99th minute winner wasn’t enough, nor Sturridge’s late strike before he was carried off injured. Even the self-appointed goalkeeper Zlatan’s fingertip save round the post to secure the win for Utd was in vain. And despite leading the league for 2/3 of the season, Arsenal’s dreams were in tatters after Koscielny’s 8th own goal of the season.

It was left to Southampton to claim an unlikely top spot with the latest goal in Premier League history, in the 134th minute. The delay was largely down to the decision of the club to change their manager in the 74th minute, and the associated paperwork. New manager Francis Benali worked his kind of magic though as super sub Matt Le Tissier scored the deciding penalty before being carried out of the stadium on a wave of Saints’ fans.

 

And finally…

st-totteringhams-dayBetter news for the Gunners a week after the season’s conclusion: Spurs are left devastated as they are docked 1 point and go down to fifth place after Harry Kane is found to have worn an illegal shin pad for the last thirty seconds of their final match. Arsenal fans immediately crash Facebook servers with a reported 1.2 trillion memes over a 5-minute period.

 

 

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​ 5 years to the Moon

Is this the title of my new book? Another blockbuster from Stevenage’s finest?

Sorry, but no.

The blog title is because today marks the fifth anniversary of writing the very first words of 26 Miles to the Moon. At 9:30am on 1st August 2011, in a small box room on the edges of his home town, a nervous yet determined wannabe sat at his desk and typed the initial words of his debut novel. It was either that or sit in his underpants and watch Jeremy Kyle…

 

Ten things I’ve learned in this time:

 

1. Writing a book and getting it published is one of the best things I’ve ever done! The reward and benefit in terms of experience and happiness have been invaluable. It’s been a fantastic ride.

2. Writing a book and getting it published is one of the hardest and longest things I’ve ever done! Man, it took a long time. I never complete long projects, and yet somehow I saw this one through. I also had to learn so much along the way just to make it. Sure, it’s hardly climbing Everest, but did Sir Edmund Hillary have to cope with rejection letters, the Oxford comma, Internet forum twats and Friends repeats to distract and hinder him?

3. That you can’t do it alone. You need other people, whether it’s to edit, critique, advise, promote, motivate or just to slap you when you’re being a pretentious “You wouldn’t understand – it’s a writer’s thing” chump.

4. That I can write a good book and make people laugh. Sure, 26 Miles to the Moon is never going to become a classic, poured over for decades, its rapier-like, cutting-edge comedy analysed and copied by future greats…but people like it. I’ve had mostly good feedback and readers that I’ve never met and don’t owe me anything have sent me some wonderful messages. People have actually said they have laughed out loud reading it. I’m proud of that, even if it a took a few cheap nob gags.

26mttm Ratings5. That you can’t please everyone. After a good year of constant 4 and 5 star reviews, I recently had my first 3 and 2-star ones. Even then the comments weren’t that bad. I’ve learned to grow a thicker skin and accept criticism is part of a writer’s life. Doesn’t stop me shouting “Ignorant bastard!” at the screen before I remember this fact, though.

 

6. Comfort zones are for wusses. I can swear on live radio, pose for newspapers and magazine photos, sell my book like Del Boy and take to the mic in bookshops to address my peers. When I need to, I can step up. Albeit with wobbly legs.

BNBS Authors Small7. That other writers are all in the same boat and are fantastically supportive. I’ve met dozens of writers – mostly online but also a few in person – and they’re a great bunch. Confident, neurotic, shy, extrovert, wacky, inspirational, tough, disciplined, optimistic, pessimistic, dedicated, determined…whatever traits they have, they’ve make a success of their work and I’m proud to be among them.

8. To manage my own expectations. I admit it – part of me did believe that once it got there, it was destined for international success, book awards and that by now I’d be writing for a living, deposit down on a yacht. I still have that hope and belief, but with the expectation that life doesn’t work like that. It’s a tough, tough business with millions of competitors. You just try your best, expect the minimum and maybe you’ll get lucky. You’ll never stop me dreaming and reaching for it, though.

9.That I have to do it all over again with book 2… but at least with the experience and knowledge of having been through it once before.

10. Finally, that I have to stop looking back and start looking forward. Which means the end of nostalgic blog entries like this!

 

Half a decade of my life spent plotting, writing, editing and promoting one book.

Time for the next level – which is convenient, as book 2’s plot is nearly ready to start. Let’s go again!

 

ps Shout out to 2021 Andy – I know you’ll be reading this, 10 years after 26 Miles to the Moon. How’s that yacht? Did you finish book 2? Are you bald yet?

Don’t answer – I’ll find out soon enough…

 

 

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On the bright side

Ten reasons why losing to Iceland today wouldn’t be as bad as you think:

Iceland Blue Lagoon Small

  1. We can all stop deluding ourselves we’re experts in politics and resume pretending we’re experts in football.
  2. Our hooligan contingent can return home, get a new tattoo and catch up on the latest edition of Moron Monthly.
  3. The Sun might have a hilarious, witty pun that we actually haven’t read before. (But probably not.)
  4. France will be gutted they don’t get the chance to knock out les rosbifs on their turf.
  5. We can blame the 2016 Leicester Effect ™ for giving every minnow the outrageous idea they could actually triumph.
  6. It’ll finally give our Scottish friends something to smile about.
  7. We can concentrate on Wimbledon and remind ourselves we’re not English – we’re British.
  8. There will be no more bland interviews with the England players saying that the team has belief, they’re right behind the gaffer and that they can go all the way.
  9. We’ll have lost a tournament without a single metatarsal being broken. (Although there’s still time to do that on the flight home.)
  10. Given his Euro exit credentials, Roy Hodgson will become a better candidate for Prime Minister than Boris Johnson (with the only downside being that he might make Wayne Rooney his Chancellor).
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Stevenage Half Marathon 2015

06:00 Sunday November 1st 2015: Stevenage Half Marathon day! I’m awake, mainly due to my daughter, Amber, deciding that the day starts now. With my kit all laid out the night before and a 10:00 start, I have no worries for a little while. Might as well get up and play. And by play, I mean read her some books, get poked in the eye a few times and make sure she doesn’t wreck the place.

07:00 The white toast pops up, done to perfection. Might even have a third slice, especially as I’m bound to be sharing it with Amber, whether I like it or not. She’d better be there to cheer me on.

08:00 Engage bowels! Sure, no-one will want to read about this, but as every distance runner knows, it’s an important part of race prep. The alternative isn’t worth thinking about.

09:15 I get a message from my mate, Chief, saying that due to him working, he wouldn’t be able to see me run, although “…it would be entertaining to see you blowing out of your arse on a foggy winter morning.” Foggy? Winter? Looks nice and bright here. He might be right about the other bit, though; I’ve had nowhere near enough training after knee problems, and have no idea whether I’ll even make it round a tough course for 13 miles.

09:30 I arrive at the start: Ridlins running track. It’s no Olympic Stadium, but it’s Stevenage’s finest. Ah, here’s the fog. I say goodbye to Amber and my wife Michelle, hoping to see them after a few miles still looking fresh.

09:45 I’m changed into my kit. Legs out, number pinned.

09:50 I go for the vital, final toilet break. It’s a fine line between leaving it as late as possible to empty out as much liquid as I can, and making sure I’m not in a long queue and then rushing. The difference between a relaxed start and one where you’re searching for a spot to pee like a dog hunting a lamp post.

09:58 I line up with 500 runners, most of which I’ll won’t see for dust.

10:00 The hooter goes to start the race. Game on.

10:06 Damn. I remember this long slope from previous training. It’s ok now, but this course is two loops, so in about 6 miles’ time I’ll be back here. A bloke strides past me, which wouldn’t be too surprising if it wasn’t for the fact that he’s pushing a buggy as well. With twins in. Show off.

10:20 There’s my parents! Dad’s snapping away with his camera. Like son, like father. I smile and step up my pace.

10:30 There’s Michelle and Amber! I stop for a few seconds to give them a sweaty kiss. Amber’s got a look of “What the hell are you doing and who are all these nutters?” about her. If she could ask me this, I wouldn’t have the answer.

10:40 I unwrap a sticky Gu energy gel, jet blackberry flavour. Tastes goooood.

10:50 Five miles in and I know I’m gonna be in trouble. My legs are tired. They know in less than two miles I’ll have done my biggest run this year…but then I’ll have another six to go. This won’t be pretty…

11:00 I’m euphoric. I’ve emerged from an underpass and the sun hits my face as I reach a nice downhill. I’m beaming, almost laughing. This is great! What a wonderful day! I love running! What the hell was in that Gu?

11:15 “This slope’s more of a hill now.” A quick chat with a woman next to me to occupy my mind as we ascend the slope for the second time. We reach the top and then soon have another small incline to tackle. My speed falls to near walking pace.

11:20 I see a familiar face up ahead – a friend who popped out during work. He’s done this course too, so understands my suffering as I go past.

Andy 2015 Stevenage Half Marathon Web11:30 I must walk. I need to walk. Can’t keep going on and on. Water station coming up. Lovely water. Stop and walk, just for a few seconds. Oh yes.


11:32
 Half the family have gathered to see their hero, only to see me casually stroll towards them with a plastic beaker in his hand. Great timing, Andy. Maybe Dad can use Photoshop to blur the background. Amber still looks bemused. I briefly stop and thank everyone, wishing I could stay longer.

 

11:35 I’m playing cat and mouse with two women who overtake me then start walking. I do the same, and we continue this pattern for a while up some small slopes. They have music blaring and are chatting so not even sure they notice. My right leg is reporting damage in the knee area and it ain’t good. I know my time won’t break any records, so I’ve decided to limit damage and not risk anything. These inclines, I’ve decided, are made for walking.

11:40 “This is the worst bit,” I say to a marshal. “Every bit is the worst bit to me!” she helpfully replies. I’ve reached the furthest point of the loop and I’m on my way back. Albeit with the finish line on some other planet.

11:43 “Fulfill your dream. Reach your goal. You have the strength. You have the strength.” Yep, it’s my New York Marathon mantra again, dug out in my time of need and repeated as I zombie shuffle along the cycle track.

11:44 Family alert! This is the last time I’ll see them in the race so I lap up all the encouragement. Is that Amber clapping? I pick up my pace, and with a downhill stretch coming up, my grimace turns into a grin.

11:45 “Just 5K to go!” I’ve even found time to encourage a guy at the 10 mile mark, although I think he got confused with my conversion of the 3.1 miles left.

11:50. Run. Walk. Run. Walk. It’s not ideal, but it’s protecting knee, which is reminding me it’s still here and that it would be nice to stop and have an ice pack. Fat chance – I’m getting to the finish line even if I have to crawl there. A man who’s a decade or two older than me jogs past. I’ll catch you later, I say to myself, then suddenly realise that might be wishful thinking.

11:55 A moment of realisation: I haven’t had to run in pain for a long time. I’ve forgotten that long distance running requires you to be mentally strong, to keep going when the going’s tough. With so little training this year, I haven’t had to push myself beyond just being tired. Mentally, I’m as prepared for this as if I was in the final of Mastermind tomorrow. I yearn for my previous inner strength from years gone by.

12:00 I know I’m near the back of the field now, among the stragglers. I may walk for a minute here and there, but no-one really overtakes. A man and woman, the latter complaining of her new pink trainers, slow to a walk and I chat, mainly because being this close to them and to say nothing seems rude. The downhill comes and I pass. “See you later!” I say, before regretting it as they resume and glide past me.

12:05 The old guy is in the distance. Dammit.

12:09 The last water station. Can I run all the day to the end after this? Let’s give it a go!

12:10 “Jelly Baby?” It’s not Tom Baker asking, but the offer of the runner’s favourite from a marshal is music to my ears. Just the thing for the last mile I think, as I blindly grab a couple from the box and shove them in my mouth. Wait minute – yellow and green? Damn the Jelly Baby roulette…

12:15 I’m slowly jogging and catch up one woman whose back number I recall seeing occasionally over the last few miles. We exchange a few words and I decide that as I’m not going much faster, I may as well run with her.

“Last hill,” I say, muscles screaming to walk.

“C’mon! Let’s do this together!” she replies. Part of me screams to just let her go, but my competitive side knows that I can do this, that it’s the best option. I’m a runner for goodness sake; man up for the last stretch. We soon reach the top.

“Just one corner to go!” she says.

“Plus one lap of the track,” I add. By the look on her face she didn’t know that. Ah. Yes, the final 300m is done on the stadium track, a fitting finale but a bit unexpected if you hadn’t run here before.

12:18 “Go on Andy!!!!” It’s Michelle and Amber! They’re here, just before we enter the stadium! Seeing them, after over two hours and plenty of struggles, makes me momentarily overcome with both pride and some other emotion causing my eyesight to become blurry. Almost there…

12:19 250m to go and I can taste the finish line. The angel who helped me up the hill is slightly behind me. “Go on,” she says, beckoning me to go ahead. I contemplate this for a second or two. Should I stay and finish together? Seems cruel to leave her so close to the end. But it’s a running track. I love a sprint finish. Whether it’s the last of the Gu, Jelly Babies or seeing my wife and daughter, my legs do have a kick that would rival Mo Farah, albeit a Mo running backwards, with the ‘flu, carrying an anvil.

“Are you sure?”

She agrees and I kick for home.

12:20 “And here comes 317, Andy Males!” The stadium announcer has had less to do in the last half hour, so for a second I’m the man. I cross the line, arms in the air, stop my watch, grab a water and flapjack, collect my well-earned medal and t-shirt, and look for my family.

It’s over.

I survived.

Take me home.

 

Andy 2015 Stevenage Half Marathon Finish Web2Shout-outs to:

Fairlands Valley Spartans for brilliantly organising a great event.

Lady Sponge Fingers – After 13 miles, your flapjacks are a moist slice of heaven.

Claire Macdougall – For helping me up that hill!

Michelle, Amber and family for their much-needed support.

 

 

Same time next year?

 

 

 

Like this blog? Then check out my running novel, “26 Miles to the Moon”. It’s a comedy about the New York Marathon, and has a 4.9 star rating on Amazon: 
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1910565245

 

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2045 and all that

Great Scott! Space-time continuum! Hoverboards!

Yes, I’m jumping on today’s bandwagon, but only because Back to the Future is my favourite film and I just have to celebrate the day its sequel was set in.

However, instead of looking back at the past’s version of the future (which is now the present and soon to be the past), I shall be looking 30 years into the future from today. Got that?

Anyway, here’s my oh-so-serious take on the year 2045:

2045

 

 

 

Sports

Fresh from leading England to last year’s Euro 2044 success, England manager Wayne Rooney defends the much-boycotted tournament in Russia saying “You can only beat  what is put in front of you, but personally I think playing Gibraltar in the semis and then San Marino was a tough ask, especially after our penalty win versus Devon.”

Romeo Beckham starts his FIFA presidency with the promise of eradicating this century’s biggest footballing problem: the prolific use of the word “unbelievable”.

 

Technology

Apple shares were boosted by the announcement of the iBrain 8SE with its new feature of thought-calling up to ten of your friends simultaneously. Apple say that they have now solved the problem that plagued the 8S that led to four people in Utah each having to undergo a lobotomy.

 

Space

After years of speculation, this week it was confirmed that Mars had a rich history of life, and that primitive orc-like Martians roamed the planet. Infra-red images even showed up markings on a plain, with scientists suggesting it was evidence of an early sport. BT and Sky are currently fighting over the rights to show recreations of matches that possibly occurred.

 

Entertainment

Madonna extends her record of the world’s most successful female artist of all time with her latest album, “Zimmertime”, despite critics insisting she now puts the leotard away.

Strictly Come Dancing is relaunched four weeks after the Bruce Forsyth hologram malfunctioned on live TV. The BBC explained that his vocals had been inadvertently mixed up with Gordon Ramsay’s disc, and have apologised for any shock it may have caused.

 

Books

Best-selling author Andrew Males causes a stir when he announces his next book “99 Miles to Uranus”.

In his regular Telegraph article, he also looks back at a blog post he did on October 21st 2015 on the future in thirty years, explaining although that it was all tongue in cheek, when he thought about it, its last paragraph “kinda did my head in.”

 

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The secret of my success

defining-successBefore anyone reads this blog post title and thinks “Andy’s getting a bit big-headed isn’t he?!”, let me explain: It’s about me questioning the success of my book – it’s a secret even to me. Plus it’s a chance to use the title of a great Michael J. Fox film…

 

 

 

 

“How’s your book going?”

This is a question I’m asked almost daily, by people who know it’s now published. This is great because a) People remember, b) It’s a constant subject to connect to people with and c) I like talking about my book.

It was an easy question to answer when I was writing it. It was also simple during the crowdfunding campaign. Leading up to publication, it was a matter of a progress update. But now it’s out there and mostly beyond my control, how do I respond?

 

A) “It’s going great!”

Usual reply: “Cool. How many have you sold?”

Me (thinking to myself): Damn. I only know Amazon figures, and that even modest monthly sales figures for books that aren’t in the charts are not going to sound impressive to the average person, so I’ve got no chance.

Me: “Er, well…it’s not exactly troubling the charts, but it’s still early days…”

 

Costa-Awards-Logo2B) “I’m up for a couple of awards!”

Usual reply: “Oooh! Must be doing great! Hired your tux yet?”

Me (thinking to myself): Damn. It’s not quite the Man Booker Prize or the Oscars.

HDA2015_Finalist_1

Me: “Well, you know…one’s just an entry in hundreds, and the other’s a local business shortlist, so chances are I won’t win anything, but it’s nice just to be in it…”

 

 

 

C) “Good, thanks. It’s in a couple of Waterstones, on Amazon and dozens of places online.”

Usual reply: “Cool. How many have you sold?”

Me (thinking to myself): Hmmm, getting déjà vu here…

 

So I don’t know all the sales figures yet and I haven’t won anything. Some might say “Of course it’s a success, Andy – look what you’ve achieved!”, and to a degree they’re obviously right. I succeeded simply by getting a publishing deal and getting it onto the shelves. I’m not trying to belittle what I feel is already a fantastic achievement…but does success restart from there? Reset the counter to zero? What actually constitutes success for me now?

 

The answer has come to me recently. And the source is you – the ones who are actually reading my book. The people who send me unexpected tweets, texts, emails and Skype messages. One minute I’m at work doing some business analysis (that’s what I do) when the phone beeps and a message comes through. Sometimes it’s just an update on what chapter you’re at. Other times it’s you telling me how much you’re loving it. Occasionally, due to a certain event that you’ve just got to, you want to rip my head off (which, believe it or not, is what I expected).

Therefore, my best reply to the question is this one:

 

D) Me: “Great! I’ve had so many wonderful comments and feedback from people who’ve read it. Just the reaction I wanted.”

Usual reply: “You must be very proud!”

Me (thinking): Yeah, I am actually.

Me: “Very. It’s why I wrote it in the first place – to entertain.”

 

 

How successful in the charts/awards/wallet my book will end up being will be revealed over the coming months and years.

But right now, it’s achieving just what I wanted it to achieve: Laughs, smiles, and the occasional threat of bodily harm.

 

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Hitting the promotional trail

Getting to say the word “testicles” on live radio has been the highlight of my promotional activities so far. Here’s how a self-confessed quiet author has stepped up to put himself out there recently…

 

Radio Gaga

Andy BBC 3CR Low ResI’m sitting in the studios of a BBC radio station and the live program I can hear pumped through the reception has just announced a local author will be on soon. Flipping ‘eck – they must mean me!

I fiddle with the rapidly-diminishing cup of water as I glance towards my wife, Shell, next to me, giving me a “You’ll be fine” look. I get whisked away downstairs and plonked in front of a wonky microphone while the presenter Nick Coffer wraps up the current section live on air. This is really happening! Don’t fluff your words, Andy. Pronounce your “th’s”. Don’t swear. Don’t say “err” too much. Sound enthusiastic. Be yourself. This could be car crash radio…

Woah…it’s over. Did I survive? A quick check to see I hadn’t disappeared into a hole or self combusted. Hey, that wasn’t bad. Shell’s smiling and impressed. I turn on my phone again on the way home and several texts instantly come in to say how well I came across. I did it. I’m a radio celeb! I go back home with all the swagger of cowboy.

sg1 radio logoFriday brings another radio interview, and this time it’s local. So local the station’s name is half of my postcode: SG1. Of course, now I’m a seasoned radio professional, this should be no problem. I go alone and enter the offices of a building that previously housed the only nightclub that opened late in town (and a location in Stevenage classic film “Boston Kickout“). Last time I was here I was probably all over the place and slurring my words. Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself.

I’m enjoying this! Mike’s introduced me as a “maverick”. The closest I’ve ever got to being called a Top Gun character is “Goose”. Then comes the request. You want me to do what?? Mike’s just announced to the world (well, the part that’s listening) that I will read the first page or so of my novel. Out loud. On the radio. It’s like I’m 12 years old and the teacher has just pointed at me to read the next page in the book as everyone listens.

I now have three options:

  1. Run out the door screaming, “Nooooo! You’ll never take me alive!”
  2. Hope for a sinkhole to appear under us, taking me into the comfort of oblivion.
  3. Man up and read.

I have a few minutes to consider my choice. Number 2 doesn’t look like it’s happening. Number 1 is tempting but I have to face the fact that I have do this sort of thing now. Deep breath…

One page later, I’ve realised that I’ve said the words “Penis”, “Bum” and perhaps my favourite, “Testicles” on the radio.

Maybe an alien circling the Solar System will one day pick it up and wonder what it’s all about. Hopefully he’ll download the Kindle version…

(Click here to hear the interview)

 

Expo-sing myself

Expo 2015“Getcha copy of 26 Miles to the Moon here! C’mon madam – fancy a bit of a laugh? Something to tickle your fancy? Betcha do!”

Ok, so I’m not really going to say that here at the London Marathon Expo, but flogging copies of my book from a suitcase on a stall does make me feel very Del Boy.

The charity that I raised money for – Dreams Come True – have invited me down to their stall today to see if I can sell copies of my book. I’ve seen a few series of The Apprentice- how tough can it be?

OK, so I’ve just realised I’m not a salesman. There’s plenty of interest, but how do you get runners who’ve come here to register and buy running equipment to buy a book? Smiling nicely in my specially-printed t-shirt and saying “I’m the author!” Isn’t working. C’mon Andy, embrace being out of your comfort zone. Sell it. Baby needs a new pair of shoes…

I’m now in the zone. I’ve got my patter down about the plot, and have leapt on anyone who’s given the book even a slight glance. In a crazy ten-minute period, three signed copies have found their way to new homes. Martin and the girls nod in appreciation. I even have the confidence to go over to the Runner’s World stand and give them a copy of the book in the hope that they might review it. However, by the look on the face of the woman I handed it to, I think there’s as much chance of it making it within their pages as Grey.

By the end of the day, I’ve sold a modest 12 copies, but more importantly I’ve enjoyed myself, learned a lot, and seen first hand how eye-catching my cover is. Add to that meeting Marathon Man Rob Young (world record holder for number of marathons in a year, provider of one of the quotes on the back of my book and all-round hero), it’s been a good day.

 

Pod-casting the net wider

xFMI’ve just been told my book has been mentioned on a top podcast! In a rather fortunate mistake (for me), XFM’s Elis James and John Robins were sent a copy of 26 Miles to the Moon, and so unexpected was it, they spent a few minutes mentioning it on air. I download the podcast and listen with an amazed grin to hear my name and the book’s title on air. Admittedly I hadn’t heard of them before, but they’re really cool, and by the sound of the program, a good laugh.

A week later and I’m mentioned again as the mix-up is discussed at the start of Episode 64. Whose show can I gatecrash next?

 

Rights here, rights now

IPR Magazine Cover OfficialI’ve just seen that the rights to my book are now up for grabs – and documented in a magazine that’ll go out to thousands!

It’s not all about book orders, you know – you can the sell the rights to many aspects of a book. In theory, Penguin could pick up rights to publish in America. Disney could decide the buy the rights to 26 Miles to the Moon: The Film.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…you gotta dream big…

 

 

Blog on

GGDAndrew Males is a guy who’s being blogged about!

 

The infectiously-enthusiastic and kind Justine Machin has done a two-part feature on me and my book at her website Girl Gone Dreamer. She sent me a load of questions for the first part, and the second is her review of my book. My first detailed review! This is all fantastic coverage. She might be up and coming (and a writer, too), but she has connections and is my biggest fan on Twitter by far!

 

As you can see, books don’t sell themselves, and any help from others is not only appreciated but vital to get the word out. You never know who might see what and when.

 

Sign of the times

Andy 26 Miles to the Moon Book Launch SignI’m in a branch of Waterstones…with my book on the shelves…and people are waiting in line for me to sign their copy!

I guess this is what every author dreams of. Right now, it’s a bit surreal. There’s getting on for forty people here purely to help celebrate with me the launch of my book. Or maybe it’s the free drink and cake. Either way, it feels like after nearly four years since the initial dream, from the first scribbled words of a potential plot, I’ve made it. 26 Miles to the Moon has made it. If I wasn’t so busy signing and chatting, I might have a drink myself.

 

 

Costa Bravo

Costa-Awards-Logo2

Wow! My fantastic publisher, Britain’s Next Bestseller, has just nominated 26 Miles to the Moon for the Costa Book Awards! I find out in November whether I make the shortlist.I might have a slim chance, but you got to be in it to win it…

 

So that’s it for the moment, but far, far from the end of it. It’s a good base to start from, and excellent experience all round for me; I learned so much in doing all of these activities. I’m also trying to help others, sharing my experiences in the hope they’ll be useful to authors just behind me.

Some days I admittedly feel like forgetting it all and just leaving my book to do its own thing. It’s tiring. It can be uncomfortable. It takes you away from your writing. Haven’t I achieved enough already? Why continue when I can just rest and look back with a smile?

But then…who got anywhere without hard work?

 

Let’s see how far it can go.

The trail continues…

 

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Publication day

I’m a published author!!!!

Basket

 

Amazon

 

My novel, 26 Miles to the Moon, went live on this day, Friday 17th April 2015.  So away from the hard sell, the lapping up of the best wishes, and the thanks – how do I feel about this all?

Honestly? A bit stunned, I think.

Here’s how it panned out…

 

1st January 2015

I’m starting the year on 172 orders, still 78 short of reaching my target. It’s obvious what my one New Year’s resolution is. I think I can do it, but there’s only a few weeks left.

13th January 2015

I’ve just reached 200 orders! Double centurion. 50 to go…surely I can accelerate to the finish now? “Ahh, but surely you’ll just buy up the remainder yourself now if it looks like you’re not going to make it?” That seems to be a recurring question. Answer: No. This book’s getting sold…

16th January 2015

225. I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it! Yeah so what if I’m being a bit cocky now, but c’mon – 1 week left and just 25 to go? Suddenly I’m being inundated by kind folk suggesting that if need be, they’ll buy up the remainder. That’s just amazing. Everyone is suddenly taking to this as if it’s their own mission. Get Andy his publishing deal! I really think I’m going to do it…

18th January 2015

Lift Off! - CopyI’ve *!$%ing done it!!!! I’ve reached my target!!! I’m going to be published!!

250 not out. Wow. I’ve done it. We’ve done it. I’ve fulfilled my dream, reached my goal.

Wahooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

19th January 2015

Right, suppose I’d better get some editors and edit this book to within an inch of its life…

28th January 2015

A while back, I Photoshopped my cover on an Amazon page to see how the cover would look as a thumbnail there. Today, it’s on there for real, for pre-order.

Shit. Just. Got. Real.

16th February 2015

Man, I’m knackered. Two editors plus a keen-eyed friend have kept me in edits for the last few weeks. Finally, I’ve sent it off to my publisher, BNBS, to get it typeset. Almost there…

11th March 2015

I’ve got the first typeset of my book! Wow, it looks like an actual proper book! Just got to go through this now and make a few changes. How hard can that be?

15th March 2015

This is ridiculously testing and taking ages. Stoopid book.

24th March 2015

It’s 2am and I’m still editing. What if I find more mistakes? Is the damn thing any good? I need more time!

I also have no idea of what my wife looks like.

28th March 2015

I’VE FINISHED 26 MILES TO THE MOON!!!!

After over 300 small edits just on the proof, several times reading the whole damn 400+ pages, I’ve signed off the final version to get sent to the printers.

I never want to see another flipping comma or speech mark ever again…

14th April 2015

My book’s on its way! I’m going to see my book in just a few hours, actually hold it in my hands! I’m about to be published!

15th April 2015

Houston, we’ve had a problem. Due to a slight mix-up, the books took a slight detour and won’t reach me until tomorrow now. Well, I’ve waited nearly 4 years…

16th April 2015

Andy-Books-Jump2After getting home from work, taking the cat to the vets and having dinner, I’m all set to open the box of 25 free copies the publisher has kindly sent me. Yes, I waited until everything was done so I can concentrate on this momentous occasion. Here we go!

Wow. It’s my book. It’s real. It’s big. I’M HOLDING MY BOOK! I’m actually holding a paperback book with name on it! I did it!!!!

 

 

17th April 2015

And so to today. I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet, still. I didn’t go mad last night, despite the jump. I think I was more relieved that the journey is over. Well, this part of it anyway. Plenty more left to do, I know, but the 45 months it’s taken to get to Publication Day is a long time. Literally thousands of hours of hard work, full of doubt, despair, anxiety, joy, wonder and finally fulfilment.

 

The Great Space Race is on.

Can I just sit down for a second and clap while it goes past?

 

 

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