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!

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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!

My week as a vegan

The last week has been spent trying to live as a vegan. I’m already vegetarian so this basically meant cutting out cheese and milk, I don’t really eat eggs anyway.

There have been high and low points. I’ve eaten much more healthily than usual, packing my plate with more fruit and vegetables and eating a more varied, colourful diet. Everything I’ve eaten has felt pretty guilt free so I’ve eaten lots of it, hunger certainly hasn’t been an issue. I hope to keep this up.

Low points were trying to drink tea without cow’s milk. It’s not terrible but it’s certainly not good either. I will definitely be going back. My period is due any moment so I have given in to chocolate a couple of times, and to cheese once. Poor Steve has suffered the effects of a bean and fruit based diet, and I had to make a couple of emergency stops whilst out running, so I know the change of diet has certainly taken effect!

I haven’t found it difficult to think of things to eat, it just takes a bit more effort on my part: checking labels, finding alternatives, and cooking more food from scratch.

What next?

I’m off to France tomorrow so cheese will be making a big comeback. Judging by my previous travel experience, cups of tea are not going to improve for me in France! I will be going back to cows milk for tea, but I will probably continue to use almond milk for cereal and smoothies. Mainly I really hope to carry on eating more fruit and veg and less carbs and sugar now that I’ve had a kick start.

Sixth Day

So last night I made some dark and chocolate and avocado truffles, and I… accidentally… ended up eating some milk chocolate in the process.

I got back on track this morning with an almond milk, banana, and peanut butter smoothie. I snacked on an apple and a nakd bar, then stopped off at Smugglers for another quinoa salad (out of date so only cost £1!)  

On my return to the office I had ryvita with avocado and walnuts. And then my boss came in with some ferrero rocher and I caved. Those things are just too delicious!  

In my defence, my period is due. No more should need to be said.

Dinner was a butternut squash risotto.   

Followed by last night’s truffles and some “ice cream” made from peanut butter blended with banana and chia seeds and frozen.  

So more slippage today! But I am still really pleased with the healthy eating I’ve been doing – it’s about the journey not the destination!

Fifth Day

I ate some cheese today. It was left on Charlie’s plate and I couldn’t bear to let it go to waste. But I don’t see this as a complete failure (I’m certainly not going back to day one!), just a little slip, and an understandable one, because.. cheese. This is the longest I’ve ever been without cheese ever. The previous record was 18 hours.

This lack of competitive nature is what stops me from improving more at running. I can’t imagine ever teaching the point of injury or even tears. I’ve never had to break through “the wall” because I don’t get to it in the first place. At work we are putting together a team to enter the Great West Run, a famously hilly half marathon in Exeter this October. With that as my motivation I went out and ran 15k today.  

  It was a beautiful sunny morning and I ran a hilly route that I would never even have considered before, but I was rewarded with beautiful views. This was after having just a smoothie and some walnuts for breakfast.

I came home ravenous and started off with some rice cakes, before moving on to a sausage sandwich (yum!).  

  Dinner was a shepherds pie made with quorn mince and topped with sweet potato mash (and no cheese, apart from for the boys: my downfall).  

Not my most successful day, but a good healthy day, which can only be a good thing.

Fourth Day

Yesterday was a FANTASTIC day of fundraising. Volunteering in Health had its annual family fun day on the den in Teignmouth. The sun shone on us all day (a little bit too much in the case of my arms) and the money hasn’t yet been counted, but I’m confident that we smashed last year’s £1800.  

 My breakfast was weetabix with almond milk. I had a bad stomach ache all morning (too much fruit and veg I think) so treated myself to a proper (cows milk) cup of tea and carrot cake muffin, it totally worked, think I’d changed my diet a bit too drastically all at once! Lunch was a falafel salad which was delicious.  

  I got in from the fun day with an hour to spare until going out to another fundraiser in the evening (this one put in by Red Rock Harmony) so just had leftover curry with soy yoghurt.  

I’m over halfway! A little slip today but I can live with that, I couldn’t afford not to feel 100% on such a busy day. 

Third Day

Before you think I went to bed having only eaten ryvita for dinner, don’t panic! After I’d posted on here I had sausage and chips 🙂  

  Today has not been such a successful day! Oscar asked for a chocolate milkshake for breakfast, so I made a smoothie with almond milk, kiwi, and dark chocolate. My blender isn’t quite powerful enough so there were specks of chocolate in it, giving a weird texture.  

I also had tomatoes on toast – one of my favourite breakfasts.   

Today’s lunch was another salad, mango soy yoghurt, and nakd banana bread.

For dinner I had a cauliflower curry, which was tasty, but I don’t make a lot of curry as it never turns out quite right. Must ask my dad to give me a lesson as it’s all he eats!  

Tasty as dinner was, it was perhaps a bad choice of dinner to eat before a run.