Half Marathon

On my original bucket list, I challenged myself to enter a 10k race.  At the beginning of this year that really was a challenge for me, and it took a lot of work for me to manage to complete it.  Owning trainers is still a fairly new concept for me, and when I started running I was running in borrowed Tesco trainers.  At school I didn’t attend PE after year nine.  Exercise does not come naturally for me!  This time last year I hadn’t even heard of a burpee.  When I went for a run I was aiming to one day be able to share my 6+ km run on Facebook with the caption “Fighting For Seven” which was the name of the band Steve was in when we met.  But it took me a long, long time to get past 5k.

IMG_0237

So after I completed my 10k race back in April (in fancy dress!), and then went on to run a further 7k that evening (in a different fancy dress outfit!) without actually dying, I thought that maybe a half marathon was not such a scary prospect.  I wanted a proper challenge to throw myself into.  I signed up for the Dartmoor Vale half marathon, bought myself some proper trainers, made some excellent fitness plans, and stuck to none of them!  But I did get out there running, mainly by myself.  I also started going to a Boot Camp on the beach with some Mums from school.  The more I trained the less confident I became.  A month ago I ran another 10k race for some more race practice, and it got me excited again.  Then a fortnight ago I ran 12 miles by myself, without even music to distract me (didn’t want to waste phone battery and not record my mileage!!) and felt good about it.  But then I barely ran after that.  When I did go out I was slow and uncomfortable and gave up after a couple of miles.  Confidence blown once again.

I got a little boost when someone pointed out that race day was after the clocks changed, so I’d get an extra hour in bed!  I had every intention of really cutting back on drinking before the race, but on Friday night I “accidentally” got drunk – it meant I rested up on Saturday though!!

Next thing I knew it was race day.  I warmed up with my friend Gavin, who had suggested the race in the first place, and he gave me some sweets to eat during the race.  These kept me going, as they helped me split the race up and have smaller goals – I was just trying to get to the next sweet stop rather than to the end.  I had them at 4, 8 and 12 miles and they worked a treat.

I ran with a girl called Bryony, who I’d met once before for a run.  We had a really similar pace throughout and made a good little team.  I would even go as far as to say that I enjoyed it.  The weather was nice, cold, dry, sunny.  I saw Steve at about 5 miles, and then my friend Laura was there to cheer me on, right at the bottom of a massive hill, exactly where I needed a boost.

At about 11.5 miles I was flagging so she ran on ahead, I managed not to stop until the end but WOW it was hard.  My hands were freezing cold and had pins and needles.  I felt sick and shaky and like I could not go on.  There was a nice moment when Steve drove past with the boys and they shouted out of the window.  In my head I was just trying to get to 13 miles and then to sprint the last 0.1 miles, but when that time came I had nothing more to give so I didn’t speed up at all.  For the last mile, people who had already finished were walking back to their cars, and they were all really supportive and that boosted me.

12088290_10156153033495641_2340189204553864265_n

Immediately after the race. I finished in 2 hours 19 minutes 12 seconds – pretty much bang on my target of 2 hours 20 minutes.

Turning the final corner, I saw the finish line, and Steve and the boys and knew it was almost over!  I crossed the line and felt…nothing.  I didn’t feel relieved or proud or anything, just so SO tired.  All I wanted was to go and sleep.  I had a headache and a sore throat and I was tired and hungry and just felt ill. I would compare it to when I had just given birth to Oscar.  I don’t really remember, but I wasn’t interested in him at all, just so exhausted.  All I wanted was a shower and lots of sleep.

I stayed in bed most of the afternoon, and dragged myself out of bed at 5pm so that my friend Jen could take me out for a celebratory drink.  I felt absolutely horrific, but a pint of shandy at the Ship soon perked me up!  We got pizza too and that sorted me out.

Of course, now I am already thinking about next year.  I will definitely be entering it again and trying to beat my time (though I can’t see myself ever breaking 2 hours!).  I think the trick will be to be more strict on the not drinking thing (I’ll be 30 and a grown up by then so that will be easy right?) and to eat more breakfast before the race.  In the meantime I am enjoying the revelation that if you own trainers, they can also be worn as comfortable day to day footwear – this has changed my life!

Advertisements

Writing

I’m so proud of Oscar’s writing at the moment!  At the beginning of this term, if I asked him to write his name in a friend’s birthday card it would have been incredibly hard work, ending up in a big scribble or me writing it!  But in year two they have been learning about DRAGONS and Andy Goldsworthy.  Oscar is inspired!  I can hardly make him stop writing now!  It’s so much easier to help him with homework now that he’s enjoying it, I used to find it so frustrating.  Getting him to read or do anything maths-y is still a challenge, but it will come!

This was him doing his homework recently.  The homework was to draw a found item and look at textures, colours etc.  Instead he chose to write an essay.

12112089_10152702589517614_4934754895556929080_n

I’m no writer, though I do like the idea of it as a career!  In my last couple of jobs I have done quite a lot of bits of writing.  Then in my work with older people I have met so many inspirational people.  One night (I think it was back in March) I couldn’t sleep and an idea for a story came to me.  Then I really couldn’t sleep, because I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  The next day I came down to my computer and wrote, and I was really surprised with how well it turned out.  I entered my story into a couple of competitions, not expecting to get anywhere, but you never know!  I didn’t get through in either competition, but that’s ok!  If you’d like to read it, here you go!

I’m on fire!

I’ve got terrible at updating this blog, but it’s because I’m spending less time on the computer/phone which can only be a good thing.

A couple of weeks ago, it was one of the final sunny Saturdays of the year, and we had some friends over.  So I decided to light the chiminea so that we could sit out in the garden.  It took a while, and we had no firelighters, but I managed to get a lovely roaring fire going and we spent the rest of the evening in the garden.  Now if Steve’s out this winter I have no excuse not to have a open fire!

I’ve taken lots more photos, including a couple of gorgeous ones of my beautiful boys!

11705800_10152565339902614_2411368691726548138_o 11741087_10152565339817614_6292622135607359667_o

and lots of colourful ones too

11947668_10152637035137614_2833829982509215727_n 11057472_10152560413617614_5546075497543748200_n 11891541_10152631822642614_4638887094490198558_o

11872064_10152616276122614_503825505139196241_o 11391361_10152479950772614_897754179467301472_n

I’ve ran in another 10k race, and the half marathon (Dartmoor Vale) is this Sunday!!

As for Calais…I don’t want to go by myself, so I’m trying to piggyback along with others, but it is hard to get anyone to commit to specific dates.  I think possibly that’s just the sort of people that want to do this sort of thing – they’re either a bit disorganised or have the flexibility to just go whenever.  Also the information keeps changing about storage and what donations are needed so some people are waiting for the right time so that they can deliver what they’ve collected.  I am determined to go though!

11988241_10152661895577614_981581538068460042_n

An update

Everyone keeps asking me how I am getting on with my 30 things.  And the truth is that I haven’t done anything specifically towards them for ages now.  But I’m a “the journey is more important than the destination” kind of girl, and the reason I’ve not been doing these  things is that I’ve been busy with other challenges.  Sometimes I think life would be a whole lot easier if I stopped giving myself all these challenges and projects, but I can’t see it happening any time soon.

From the original list, I’ve completed 15 of the 30 things, which isn’t bad going.  But I’ve also taken on other challenges.  So, not only did I run in a 10k race, but I did it in fancy dress. And then signed up to a half marathon.  I’m growing my hair long (not exactly challenging, I’ll admit!) but have also quit using shampoo (nine months now and my hair has never been better!).  I had a go at writing a little poem and children’s book, but also wrote a short story.  I was really pleasantly surprised at my writing, though I don’t imagine I’ll do anything more with it.  Giving blood was a really good thing that needed a nudge to do, but will now do as often as I can.  Eating on a budget and as a vegan have both made me look at my diet and make some positive changes.

But for my biggest challenge, I have decided to go and spend a week in November volunteering at the refugee camps in Calais.  I’ve never done anything like it before, and I know that I will only make the tiniest of differences, but my job at Volunteering in Health (and parenting!) has shown me that TIME is worth so much more than money or things.  An hour spent having a chat with someone who’s lonely can make SO much difference to that person’s day and week.  It shows them that someone cares, gives them a chance to share things they need to talk about, and just generally cheers them up.  My plan is to go over and help wherever I’m needed, whether that’s picking up rubbish, sorting donations, distributing food, or building shelters (not sure how helpful I’d be on that front!).  (And don’t worry, I’ve done my research and will be doing it properly, not just rocking up with a van-load of stuff and causing chaos.)  If you’d like to come with me, or help in any way, or if you’ve been and have any advice for me, please get in touch!

Back to my 30 things – out in Calais I hope I might even manage to cross off a couple more items from my list – start a fire, sleep under the stars, don’t use electricity for a whole day, buy dinner for someone less fortunate.

That will leave me with knit/crochet a hat for myself (I might manage that one), draw something I’m proud off, go out rowing, get a tattoo (I know what I want, roughly).  Then there are some that I know I won’t get around to this year, but that’s ok!  I’ve had some fantastic experiences and done some great things this year that I probably wouldn’t have done without having set myself this challenge from the beginning.

Thank you to my lovely friend Jen for giving me a push of inspiration to come back to this blog and review how I’m getting on (better than I thought!) for the first time in ages.  What a year!

Blood.

Today I finally gave blood!  My conscience has wanted to do it for a long time, but doing my 30 things has finally given me the push I needed to go through with it.  Unfortunately over the last year people I know have had serious illnesses, which has brought home just how important giving blood is.

IMG_2707

Back when I was about 15 I wasn’t very well and had to have a few blood tests which made me feel really faint.  Then when Oscar was born I had to have a drip.  Having that drip put in was hands down the most painful part of my entire labour and continued to hurt long after he was born.  Those two experiences meant that I was feeling really nervous about giving blood, but as a first timer I was treated like royalty, and all the nurses really went out of their way to make sure I felt comfortable.

I booked online a while ago at www.blood.co.uk after trying for a walk in appointment back in January and there not being space.  When I arrived they warned me they they were a bit behind and it might take a while, but I was in and out in about an hour, which is what I’d expected (an hour of quietly reading a magazine, a big treat for a Mum of 2!).  First I had a chat with a nurse about my medical history, lifestyle etc (fortunately I’m very boring so this all went very smoothly) and they made sure I’d eaten plenty throughout the day (no worries there) and did a finger prick to check I’m not anaemic.  As a vegetarian, I was pleased to find out I have high iron levels (I had spinach in my dinner especially!).

Next I was shown to a special seat and set up, ready to go.  The nurse then put the needle in, which felt more weird than painful.  I braved a couple of sneaky glances at the blood pumping from me but could only bear to look out of the corner of my eye.  For the first minute my arm continued to feel a bit weird but after that I couldn’t really feel anything.  Throughout this bit you are asked to keep opening and closing your hand, and clenching and unclenching your bum, all to keep your blood pressure up.  Nurses came over every couple of minutes to check I was ok, and weirdly told me that I was doing well, as though it took skill.

Finally, after about six minutes, a nurse came over to tell me I was done.  Having the needle taken out was the bit I was dreading most, and it wasn’t pleasant, but of course it was fine and over before I knew it.  The nurse slowly adjusted my seat to bring me back to sitting, and showed me over to the all important snack area!  I stayed for about 15 minutes, a wonderful time of drinking squash, and eating orange club bars, crips, and a macaroon.

All in all it was actually kind of a pleasant experience: a quiet hour, free food, encouragement to eat all day long.  I have booked to do it again in Teignmouth on Monday 7th December, and so should you!

Hair

One of my 30 things is to grow my hair long. I have very thick hair so when I have long hair I have a lot of hair to deal with!

I’ve been “no poo” (not using shampoo or conditioner) since new year and it’s made my hair much more manageable. It has its bad days, but certainly less of them than I used to, and most of my problems stem from my fringe, which refuses to grow out.

I mainly use water only. About once a week I rinse my hair thoroughly in the shower with water. I try to massage my scalp to get the natural oils moving, and then I comb it through in the shower. I get quite a lot of hair out on the comb, with little bits of what looks like dust on it. Sometimes I finish off with a capful of cider vinegar. Honestly I don’t know the theory behind this, it just seems to be the done thing but lots of no poo-ers.

Here is my hair halfway through the year. I don’t have a before picture because I never used to wear my hair down as it was too much hassle! 

  

A trip to London

This month has been pretty epic for me, first my trip to France, then last weekend I took Oscar to a local one day festival called Lemonfest.  We had a great time getting into the festival spirit (I surprised myself with my hula hooping skills and have since invested!), and I think Oscar will remember his first real festival experience for years to come.  Oscar and his friend Lucca had the BEST TIME EVER having hay fights!  My main pull for going to the festival was that The Subways were playing, but I was so worried that Oscar wouldn’t make it up late enough.  But he did it, and we had lots of fun jumping and dancing around to them.

11390271_10152466857707614_6443607191052514931_n 10986568_10152466857987614_213172136904396183_n 11139973_10152466857932614_6696453779686861552_n 11168562_10152466857842614_7647881081072741766_n

This weekend I’m going up to London to see Death Cab for Cutie (this is my year of live music, I’ve already seen the Decemberists and Belle and Sebastian this year too).  After two weekends away without Charlie I didn’t feel I could get away with a third, so I’ve decided to take him with me.  We’re going up on the Megabus (5 hours) so that’s going to be challenging!

I’m planning on taking him to the Natural History Museum to see their wonderful dinosaur, but am open to suggestions for other activities.  He is three and a half.  I did a similar trip with Oscar just before his fourth birthday, also during a heatwave!

Looking forward to a lazy weekend at home soon!