Rotterdam Week One – the Hanson plan

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Date Workout Time taken Mileage average pace how did it feel?
2 Not NYD 10k 54.14 6.2 08:42 3
3 5 or Speed 46:28:00 4.92 09:27 4
4 4 or MP 6 39:46:00 4.25 09:21 5
5 Off
6 5 or 7 50:09:00 5.29 09:29 3
7 4 or 6 01:26:56 09:08 09:34 2
8 6 or 12 01:22:36 08:44 09:47 4

Hello!

So that was week one. A race, some speedy miles and more than a 100% increase from last week’s mileage. Woops.

  • Wednesday’s run had a couple of speedy miles in the middle: 8:44 and 8:38, and they felt pretty good.
  • Sunday’s run felt pretty leaden but I did chuck some good hills in there – Harvey Lane and Rose Lane, and managed to get up those with only a small rest at the top.
  • The scale is 1-5, 1 being terrible and 5 being pretty great, so I think I did pretty well this week, in a time where I went back to commuting to the office and back to work properly after the Christmas break.

Next week: a 10mile tempo run on Tuesday followed by a 5M MP run on Wednesday,woo!

This was the parkrun I was honoured to take part in on Saturday:

http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/health/record_number_of_runners_pay_tribute_to_father_and_athlete_mark_ring_at_norwich_parkrun_event_1_4840522

2017 goalpost(s)

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My goals are going to be attainable but flexible. I want to keep focus without pressurizing myself into the ground, and I want to build in lots of rest time too. The main thing I want from this year is to enjoy it.

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  1. 250 parkruns.

I’m currently on 242 so I reckon my 250th will be sometime in February. 250 runs and 1250km. That’s very nearly enough to run from John O’Groats to Land’s End. Phew. That doesn’t take into account the distance covered from and to parkrun either.

 

  1. Marathon PB.

My marathon PB is 4:12, set in Paris in 2013. I know I can do better than that. I will do better than that.

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Rotterdam’s marathon course. The A race next year

  1. 25 volunteer parkruns

I’m on 11 at the moment, so once I’ve done the 250 I will make sure I volunteer 14 more times at parkruns across the county/country.

volunteer-tshirt

  1. 10k PB

I set my 50minute 10k PB at Adnams in 2013. I want that sub 50. I can run 5miles consistently at 39minutes, so I’m sure I can do one more mile at 10minutes to get it, right?

 

  1. Rest

I will take four weeks off after Luxembourg and enjoy not running. I will swim or walk or cycle if I want to. I will not worry about pace and I will avoid running for that four weeks.

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Me in June 2017 (actually it’s the cat, but you get the idea)

 

 

Race calendar so far for 2017

2nd January – Wymondham Not New Year’s Day 10k

12th March – Colchester half marathon

9th April – Rotterdam marathon

27th May – Luxembourg Night marathon

8th October – Chicago marathon

the 2016 round up

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For various reasons and to varying degrees, 2016 was a tough year. Adjustment to different working patterns and rhythms, trying to juggle family with friends and running as well as a four hour commute twice a week and learning two new jobs simultaneously is hard work.

 

Running just didn’t seem to be working for me either, especially in the last six months. Paris training with P&D (Advanced Marathoning) seemed to be working, and I managed a near PB in Cambridge without toooo much effort. I was basically hitting my paces in training and although I was pretty knackered from 50 mile weeks and 15 hour days, it was all worth it to get the sub 4. Except I didn’t. Didn’t even come close. The day of the race dawned bright and clear and, well, hot. I didn’t even write a race report as I was so heartsore about how it went. I stumbled through the first ten miles, worrying about the heat and not being on pace. My mind and soul were fighting the entire way and eventually I gave in about mile 16, and ran/walked the rest to come in about 4.30. I was angry and ashamed – I spent so long running and training and for what? To limp home in the slowest time I’ve had since my third marathon?

I had time to reflect and even had fun in Tromso, despite doing no long runs I actually had a great race and flew for the first ten miles.

After that, I had a couple of short races that should have been completely doable, but in fact I had a panic attack in and had to walk. I went to the GP to see about my asthma, as I couldn’t breathe for many of my runs in July and August. She told me that running was bad for my knees and then put me on symbicort – a heavy duty powder inhaler that seems to be doing the trick, although it’s not treating the cause.

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With the help of the wonderful Mr Charming and our brilliant friends, I’ve started to get my confidence back with running in the last couple of months. I took October off. No runs during the week, and parkrun at the weekend. I didn’t even take my kit to work with me during the week. It felt good. I was beginning to hate running, and I don’t hate running. Friends, I highly recommend a good chunk of time off after a  long training cycle. I haven’t done that since my first marathon, and I felt like each cycle was slower than the last.

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All time! 7773 miles!

Using smashrun, that actually turned out to be true. Smashrun, by the way, is a great site which brings together all of  your data from the disparate sources into one page. I started running with Nike+ and went to Garmin after my first marathon, and I was looking for a way to see it all on one page. Now my running record gores back to 2009.
Not only that, but it’s really easy to cut your data different ways. Average pace? Compare months year on year? Day by day? It’ll do PR/PB, races, run streaks etc. It’ll also tell you how many calories you’ve burned off in neat portions i.e. my run on the 28th December burned off  stick of butter (about half a pack in UK Terms). It’s definitely much more indepth than Strava or garmin  and a lot quicker.

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my first six months

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2013 – 1209 miles, nearly 4 times a week and 9.20min/mil average

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2016 – 1393 so more miles, but 24 seconds slower on average. 3.6 runs a week too so I go out less but run for longer.

I will do a separate post about my goals for 2017 – coming up in the New Year.

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Clockwise from the yellow and green people, links to 2017 race entry included where available:

My biggest lesson from 2016 is: listen to your body. Don’t blindly trust the training and don’t be afraid to re-assess if anything needs mixing up.

Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon December 18th 2016

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Useful links:

Steve’s 20 in 12 months Virgin Money website:  http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/20Marathons2016

Marathon website: http://www.fitprorob.biz/portsmouth-coastal-waterside-marathon-2015/

 

Medal: Yes. Huge.

T-shirt: Yes. Sizes are large

Goody bag: pretty good, a wide range of drinks and snacks

  • Strawberry, banana and chocolate milkshake
  • Cold pressed coffee
  • Beer – in pints and take away boxes
  • Water
  • Clif bars, nuts, rainbow drops, cough sweets, granola bar

Aid stations

Water, shot blox, nuts, mince pies, mulled wine, jaffa cakes, chocolate…

  • Each mile marker commemorated a person who has died this year. From Caroline Aherne to David Bowie.

pompey-route

Route: an out and back along the Portsmouth Waterside. The turnaround point is almost exactly half way.  There is a 3 hour cut off for the first half to avoid high tide. We were well within that but didn’t hear of the people behind us being stopped. We definitely were re-routed slightly on the way back to avoid the now underwater beach.

This was a special race. My friend Steve has spent this year running marathons in memory of his wife, Sharon, after her death from cancer last year. He ran 20 marathons to raise money for three charities which supported him throughout – The Loss Charity, Cancer Charity and Firefighter’s Charity, as he is a firefighter.

 

Portsmouth is the last of the challenge and is extra special because it’s a home town race. We are fortunate enough to belong to the BCRC – a tightknit, wonderful group of people who have been brought together through a love of running, and cemented long lasting friendships as well. We in the BCRC hatched a plan earlier this year to make sure that Steve had as many of us at the last one as possible (as well as joining him for the others too, of course). This plan involved many white lies and secrets, including some of our members travelling from America and Holland, as well as those ‘just around the corner’ having to pretend they weren’t available that weekend. That was the hard part. Telling our friend that we couldn’t make it, ignoring the invite, talking about it like we would be there in spirit but, hey, sorry but we’re all just too darn busy with our families.

It made it all the sweeter to see his expression when he walked into the pasta restaurant on Saturday night to be met with 45 smiling faces, rather than the five he had expected.

After a happy meal (and, uncharacteristically for me, a couple of beers before the race) we all said our goodnights and walked back to the hotel. We stayed at the Premier Inn in Southsea. Within walking distance of the start line and the shopping centre of Portsmouth, the staff were very friendly. The hotel itself was a bit rundown but there was a covered car park which is free for guests, and the beds were comfy too.

A sea of green for Steve at the start line. Photo credit to the brill Karen Sweeting

The morning started with the usual pre race ritual of porridge as well as a kit check. I know plenty of people wore trail shoes for this race as it’s mostly off road. I chose to wear my old road shoes and they were fine – we didn’t break any land speed records so comfier was higher on my agenda than grip at high speeds! We gathered at the start line – The Pyramid Centre – from about 8.20am, with the race start at 9. Toilets were fine although the queues were long, as always. The atmosphere was relaxed though, and I had a nice chat with a lady about the races we’re doing next year.

 

We were called out just before the start time of 9am, and walked along to the start line. Before we knew it, the gun went off, the piper piped and we were running!

My plan was to take it steady and enjoy as much as I could. Training in the second half of this year has been really hard – my heart and mind weren’t in it and I had a couple of races that I had panic attacks in the middle of. I hyperventilated and had to stop before slowly carrying on and finishing. I took October off and have been gently easing back in, but that meant that I hadn’t run longer than 16M since September.  I managed 100miles in November which was surprisingly difficult given that I usually run 30-40 miles a week, but that shows how important it was for me to rest.

I recommend a good rest after a three-four month block of marathon training. I know people who can bounce back and run after three or four days following a marathon, but I felt that my recovery just isn’t up to that, and I was getting slower and more demotivated after each race.  I will write about my goals for 2016 in another post – more later!

Turnaround point! Photo credit to the lovely Abi @ARBettle

Turnaround point! Photo credit to the lovely Abi @ARBettle

So the Portsmouth marathon. I started out at a good pace, around 10min/mil. I’m pleased that I managed to maintain around that pace until well over halfway – probably about mile 15. We walked/ran from there and although the walk breaks got longer and the running pace went down, I still had fun and enjoyed spending time with friends I normally only speak to online. We eventually crossed the line in 5hr 13 – the last mile felt absolutely neverending! It’s a long stretch back along the sea front and it’s down a little dip, so you can’t see the gantry until you’re nearly there. Our garmins were slightly long (26.6miles) as we were re-routed around the tides.

Kisses for the finish line – photo credit to the wonderful Susannah MacNeill

I recommend the race  – the aid stations were well manned and stocked, the goody bags were delightfully stocked and that medal. Well, you could do some serious damage with that!

TRIBE Freedom Run – Norwich

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TRIBE Freedom Run – Norwich

Saturday December 10th 2016

 

The Freedom Run weekend was an initiative begun by TRIBE to support the Unseen charity in the last quarter of the year.  Unseen do an amazing amount of important work to give a lifeline to people enslaved – in jobs they don’t get paid for as sex workers or manual labourers, often trapped in places they don’t want to be. Unseen provide a telephone line and source safe houses for as many people as can contact them. Have a read of their website – there are some amazing, moving stories on there.

 

http://www.unseenuk.org/

 

The day dawned with a hint of rain in the air but unseasonably warm temperatures – a far cry from the expected minus degrees we would normally have mid December!

The Norwich TRIBE runners

Oh yes, that’s me with my eyes closed

Preparation for the weekend has been immensely complicated – luckily all I had to do was take care of the Norwich chapter of the Freedom runs, which wasn’t without it’s challenges. We had a last minute panic when the box of TRIBE bars and t-shirts hadn’t been received at home but was tracked to a mystery person having signed for them, with no notification from Parcelforce. Thankfully, on Thursday evening, the kindly soul who took them in gave up waiting for us to come and collect, and did the postie’s job for him!

 

The support from Catton parkrun was brilliant. Not only did they respond without hesitation to my request that we hold the run in conjunction with the parkrun on that day, they offered help, introduced me to the park warden (who made sure the building was open for us, just in case we needed it a bit longer) and one of  the team even did the run with us! We had an announcement at the beginning from the RD, Paul Evans – a legend in his own right and the nicest marathon winner I’ve ever met!

mid parkrun - thumbs up!

mid parkrun – thumbs up!

The parkun itself was great, and we had set up our TRIBE runners with easy to spot t-shirts to gather everyone after the run, to do the next part. After a short pause to gather everyone up, we were off again as a group. The route was pretty easy to follow – out of the park to the airport then back to the park. Some parkrunners joined us on a whim, which was fantastic. Unfortunately we didn’t get a group shot of everyone but the total was probably about 15 people, which is great. We talked to many more that, raising awareness for Unseen through the leaflets that TRIBE provided, and cash donations on the day totaled over £40, with promises of online donations too.

 

Our Total is currently £360 with the cash donations – my Christmas wish is to push that over the goal of £500.

Being a part of something bigger than you, is what running is about for me. Meeting people, talking about the change we can exert on the world to make it a better place – that’s the impact we can have. If we can do that while jogging along talking to friends and would-be friends, even better. The photos and updates on social media from the #Fuelledbytribe and #TRIBEFreedomRuns were brilliant, as the runs set out across the UK.

most of the runners

most of the runners

Thank you so much to all who have supported so far – TRIBE,  the other ambassadors, my husband, my TRIBE Runner friends (including one who got up at the crack of doom on a Saturday to man the change bucket while we were out running) and all of the participants and donors. What a difference we can make.

 

Here’s that link – please, give what you can. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Suzanne-Sharman1

Number 12 – Tromso’s Midnight Sun Marathon

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Midnight Sun Marathon, Tromso, Norway – Saturday June 17th 2016

 

This year has gone so fast that it felt like I barely ramped up again after marathon de Paris in April, before I was jetting off to Norway. We set off on Friday morning (01.00hours) on a National Express coach. I was a bit puzzled as to how our arrival time at Gatwick was 7am. Until I realised that we were visiting all of the London airports before getting to Gatwick, through Thetford and Cambridge.   We trundled around the M25, visiting Stansted and all of Heathrow’s terminals before finally pulling into Gatwick at 7.30am. Bleary eyed and a bit stiff, we headed in to get breakfast.

 

We had a flight at 9:20 to Oslo, for a connecting flight to Tromso. The flight from Gatwick was delayed by half an hour, and then by another half an hour. We were inching ever closer to missing our connecting flight in Oslo, which made it a bit more stressful than I would have liked! We finally took off just before 11am, and as Olso is an hour ahead, this meant our window was very small indeed. So small that there was an announcement for the passengers with connecting flights – the Tromso flight would be held for us. For fifteen minutes. We were also unsure on whether our bags would make it on to the flight. Here’s an important lesson for you all, if you don’t know it already: if you are racing abroad and are out of sight of your luggage, PACK YOUR KIT in your hand luggage. Or wear it. Whatever makes you happy. I had helpfully packed all of my kit neatly into my suitcase. After a nailbiting couple of hours, we landed in Oslo and had 15 minutes to get through security (again) and try to locate our suitcase (maybe, the announcements were a bit confused). After five minutes at the carousel, we asked a couple of bored looking airport employees if our bags would come out or go straight to the next flight, and they shrugged a bit and told us they would go straight on the flight – the opposite of what we’d been told. We legged it to security and stood in the queue, panicking gently, which is always what you want when you go through airport security. Thankfully we made it though relatively unscathed, although I lost the bottle of water I had yet to open, that I bought in Gatwick. Boo. We ran to the gate and hopped on the flight with moments to spare, before realising that it was only half full and everyone we’d sped past, was trickling on. Clearly, they had decided to wait for everyone else. This turned out to be excellent news as a bringer of excellent news popped his head round the plane door to announce that all bags had been retrieved and were om the same plane. Hoo-ray.

 

The rest of the two hour ish flight passed in a blur of reading and napping, until suddenly we were passing over beautiful snow covered mountains. I got a bit confused on the way back, and thought we were flying over Scotland on that fight!

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Photo credit: Steve Holder

Tromso is one of the most northerly cities in the world, and is actually inside the Arctic Cirlce. At this time of year, as you may have guessed from the title of the race, it never gets dark. The weather wasn’t great and the temperature hovered around 6 degrees C, and it was a bit overcast. I’m not sure it would have been blazing sunshine if it had been a bit less rainy though – the light seemed to be perpetual twilight.

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Photo: me. The view from my hotel room

The other thing about Scandinavia is it’s expensive. Boy, is it expensive. If Sweden can be likened to petrol garage prices, then Norway is the equivalent of a West End cinema concessions stand. Phew. Beer can be touching £10 for two thirds, and a pizza cost me nearly £20. Both were delicious, of course.

We ate at Casa Inferno, a steampunk themed pizza and beer place.

I had absolutely no problem with this perpetual twilight, and I was out like a light as soon as my head touched the pillow in the Scandi hotel. Breakfast was included in the price of the hotel room, and was a glorious buffet. I ate far too much on Saturday, but I couldn’t resist. Hot food, home made baked beans, cheese and bread, smoothies, pancakes and DIY waffels. Delicious.

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Photo credit: Me. Nutella, Strawberry Jam and honey…

Our group then headed out to pick up race numbers and do some shopping at the expo.

Tromso is small. You can walk pretty much everywhere and the airport is a couple of miles away and is walkable too, if you feel so inclined. It’s not exactly pretty though.

We found the expo after getting mixed up between City Hall and County Hall (something common in Norwich too). There wasn’t much expo – a couple of racks of running clothes and a table or two of mugs, bottles, beanies etc, all branded with the Midnight Sun Marathon logo. I couldn’t resist the gilet and a snazzy water bottle, and I was relieved to find that the t-shirt fitted as that was pre-order and there were no size guides available. I sized up based on the fact that they would probably be quite fitted – Amsterdam, Paris and Stockholm race shirts are.

 

Race packet pick up was smooth and they even checked your chip, courtesy of a very polite, very enthusiastic small boy and a scanner hooked up to a PC. The goody bag had a buff in it, sponsored by a Norwegian drinks company.

 

After that we had a small wander, then sat down for lunch at 1pm. Lunch was pasta, as per usual for a carb load. I was still pretty full from breakfast but decided that I should eat as I wouldn’t have anything else before the race. The pasta was nice, the restaurant was spacious and the staff friendly. Following lunch, our team headed back to the hotel for a rest before reconvening at 8pm, for the race start at 8.30pm. Honestly, nothing is far away in Tromso!

We ate at Egon, found here.

I actually managed to sleep properly for an hour or so, which was very refreshing.

All set in my capris and a vest, I went to the hotel reception. There were a lot of runners there as it’s a running weekend – as well as the full, there’re also half, 10k and fun run for the family. Alongside that, the Royal vessel had moored right beside the hotel, so we got to see the King and Queen of Norway alight a couple of times over the course of the weekend!

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Photo from the wonderful Susannah

The field for the marathon is relatively small, about 1000 people. The half marathon is about 4000, and set off two hours later. The route is interesting in that the second half is the half marathon route, so just as I was flagging a bit, suddenly all of these fresh runners were around me, which was great. I enjoyed running past people doing the half marathon – it’s a great confidence boost!

 

The gun was fired and we were off. In terms of training, I felt that I had forgotten to ramp up after Paris marathon in April, although I have stuck to my usual 30-35miles a week and had some good races and long runs in there. My longest run had been 21miles, but as this race only had one goal ‘Enjoy Yourself’, I was interested to see how it would feel.

For the first ten miles, the only mile where I was slower than 9min/mil, was the one where we went over the bridge. I felt so confident and effortless, I kept checking my watch to make sure it was right! After that, a bathroom pitstop was in order and when I started again, I realised my rhythm had been disrupted and to return to that pace would mean too much push and not enough enjoyment. I loved this race. Every mile was great and while it wasn’t easy at all, I felt so in control – it was the opposite to Paris, where I had this big Sub 4 goal looming over me and a sudden 25 degree heatwave.

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I talked to the people around me, waved to the spectators (who were really kind and vocal, especially when they saw my marathon bib) and tried to take in as much of the race as I could. The terrain is quite bleak – it’s starkly beautiful anf the church on the other side of the bridge is breathtaking, and could easily be featured in the next Scandi-Noir drama.

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Thanks to my lovely friend Steve for this photo. He’s raising money for a wonderful clutch of charities by running 20 marathons this year. http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/20Marathons2016

All too soon and the finish line was coming up fast, through Tromso’s high street. I found an extra bit and sprinted to the finish line, where I was given a beautiful medal and two people tried to give me a space blanket at once. I then proceeded to hyperventilate at the relief of finishing, the satisfaction of finishing the race, and just being overwhelmed with the people around me. After a few seconds I was fine, and passed the athlete’s drinks table and the big screen, on the way back to the hotel. I walked along past the finish line, and was so pleased to see the finishers inches away from their medal and space blanket too.

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Photo credit: facebook page for MSM

It was a once in a lifetime experience – finishing at about 12:45 was really strange. Mingling with drunk people having hobbled to your hotel, is really weird. It was great though. My one regret is not buying food to eat afterwards – we had a packet of biscuits and a bag of crisps along with a couple of cans of beer. I chose sleep over food as the rest of the gang went out in search of Burger King – this was a bad move as I woke up feeling really hungover! Luckily, the breakfast sorted me out, swiftly followed by a local delicacy – cinnamon bun.

 

Marathon website: http://www.msm.no/midnight-sun-marathon.242498.en.html

My friend Steve’s amazing challenge for this year – all donations welcome: http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/20Marathons2016

 

 

Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here – Anna Breslaw

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Scarlett Epstein

 

I read the first few chapters of Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here by Anna Breslaw, through the book review website netgalley. As an aside, I’m quite new to the site but it looks great – you apply or request advance or proof copies of books and then, if you’re approved, they get sent to an electronic device for you to read and review.

Scarlett Epstein is a fanfic writer who loves a show about monsters (which is Buffy The Vampire Slayer, basically) and is devastated when it’s cancelled. Her best friend IRL doesn’t understand the obsession but that gap is fulfilled by a number of online fellow fan friends, some of whom are adults who have real life jobs. Scarlett’s an only child in a single parent family and feels inferior to her peers and classmates, who have whole, rich family lives (in monetary terms if not emotionally).

Her crush and love of her life, Gideon, has been stolen by her nemesis and arch enemy, who just happens to be her best friend’s sister.

The story is good and I have to say, I wanted to read more and I was a bit upset when the sneak peek ran out. My favourite character was her rebellious, weed smoking octogenarian neighbour. It reminded me a bit, bizarrely, of Anastasia Krupnik’s friendship with Mrs Stein.

I would also say that there’s more than a passing resemblance to Rainbow Rowell’s fangirl, and another parallel to be drawn with Patrick Roth’s pithy script for high schoolers. Just because it’s not entirely original does not make it a bad novel, of course.

I am looking forward to reading the rest when it comes out on April 19th – Amazon link here.