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.

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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.

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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!

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!

Dress Making

One more thing done!

Make and wear a dress

I have had a go at this once before and it didn’t go so well. This time I think I’ll use an actual pattern and do it properly! I have made a skirt that became a staple item for two summers, so there is some hope for me yet.

This was suggested to me by my friend Cheryl.  We had a wonderful fabric shopping trip (to the lovely Meme on Gandy Street in Exeter) which led to us both making skirts a couple of years ago.  Cheryl’s little boy, George, who  is the same age as Charlie, is currently in hospital in Bristol fighting cancer, so this post is dedicated to him.  They have created a Facebook page to follow his fight, go give them a like.

After many hours on Pinterest I decided I wanted to make a dress with a nice floaty circle skirt.  I started out by cutting up an old sheet to make a long, full circle skirt:

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I was pleased with how it turned out, it was great fun to wear!  Bit a little too long and too full.  Oh and it would definitely need ironing, and I can’t be having that!

So I went and bought myself some nice pink and blue jersey fabric and made a half circle skirt, and a top, which I sewed together to make a dress.  Thanks to The Pineneedle Collective blog which was very helpful in making this, though I didn’t follow her instructions to the letter (I find trying to follow instructions only leads to disappointment, much better to make it up as I go along and see how it turns out!).  This Circle Skirt Calculator was a lifesaver too.

I wore it to work yesterday and I like it, but I much preferred it when it was a skirt and top, so now that I’ve crossed this off my list I am going to chop it back into two pieces!

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(The photo on the left is a little blurry as Oscar took it!)

I’ve also made another skirt and top which I am yet to take a photo of, they’re a bit summery so I am waiting for better weather!

Two down…Twenty Eight to go

I’ve finished my first two things!!

Get something published

Back in my primary school days, I wrote a short story about playing on Shaldon Beach, which got published in the Parish Magazine. In November the charity I work for was featured in Devon Life, along with a photo I took. But for this, I want something a bit more purposeful to be published, somewhere. Think this is probably going to be my toughest challenge.

I thought this was going to be my toughest challenge, but I got one of my favourite photos printed in February’s Devon Life.  Here it is:

And, on Saturday I entered the Spinathon for Volunteering in Health, and span for THREE HOURS in a row!  On the day we raised a whopping £2000 – fantastic!

Enter a Spinathon

My parents love cycling. My Mum and Stepdad met in a cycling group. Some of my strongest childhood memories are of cycling. Like the time we were at the Turf Locks and Dad told me to “Look at that”, so I turned around on the back of his bike and got my feet caught up in the spokes. Or the time my younger brother learnt to ride without stabilisers before I did. Or the time we got new bikes for Christmas and went for a mega bike ride in the rain on Boxing Day. Or the time my brother rode his BMX on what was clearly a mountain bike ride, and fell off his bike and had to go to hospital (though not before we stopped off at Trago). Therefore me and cycling do not get on. At all. The charity I work for is holding a Sponsored Spinathon on 17th January at Finlake so I am going to enter that. If you’d like to enter, or to sponsor me, get in touch.

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Last night, Steve and I went to try and give blood, but unfortunately all the slots were booked up.  It’s great that they were so busy, but I was so looking forward to saying I’d done three things already, and I was so nervous about it, it would have been nice to get it over and done with!