The Next Step…

Oh hello there. Nice to see you. Thanks for dropping by. For those of you who followed my marathon mission with me through to April I am most grateful. Recording the journey was the reason for starting this blog. Now it’s well and truly over (I will confess that I have only run three times since the marathon), I have taken a bit of a break from blogging during a busy summer term. And you will be pleased to know that ‘the next step’ doesn’t involve boring you with my running; just other things instead.

So I’m starting a new ‘alphabet series’ – the idea being that I work through from A-Z writing about different topics each week. I don’t know what they’ll be yet, so it’s as much a surprise for me as it is for you. Some will be mundane (you can decide which ones they are as we go along), some hopefully thought provoking, challenging or amusing. I may even persuade a few guest bloggers to feature.

To be honest, it’s mainly a way for me to write about and process things I’m thinking about, an insight to my brain (sorry, that will probably put most of you off); nothing more than that. If you want to read it then great, if you don’t then that’s cool too – I’ll never  know either way so you don’t have to feel guilty.

So there you go. I hope you look forward to some more posts from me over the next few months. Ideas welcome on a postcard (or comment box below).

Laters x

Advertisements

38. Take a break

Race day. 8 days away. A scary prospect. But I’m comforted by the fact that some very lovely people have agreed to come to London and be on the roadside to cheer me on.

If you would like to come along, the marathon is on Sunday 13th April. Obviously I appreciate any support along the route, but the most helpful would be anywhere after 12 miles on the north of the river, especially around Canary Wharf (miles 15-20) and towards the end of the route.

There is one condition to you coming to watch though. If you shout really loudly and I see you (which hopefully I will!) then you have to be prepared to have a speedy selfie taken with me. There is no getting out of this. I won’t exactly be looking my best so I’m afraid you have no excuse. Some lovely friends have made me a marathon scrapbook and I want to put pics in from the day recording how it all went.

So if you’re down with that, please do come and join me for a great day in London!

Gym 25 – 3.2 miles in 11.5 mins on the bike, 10 mins on the cross trainer, resistance machines and stretches and that was me done. I try and put the equipment to the highest level I can maintain to keep me working hard, particularly as road running has been so limited the past few weeks.

Run 66 – Another try at running outside, mainly because I get desperate for fresh air when I’m in the gym. 15 minutes later and I could feel my knee starting to go…which meant I had to stop. And that was at 12 min 12 sec a mile, which is slow for me. Enormously frustrating.

Gym 26 – Last proper gym session before the marathon. I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve done in the gym, and although it can feel very repetitive, I’ll probably still go after the marathon. Another 3 miles on the bike, and 1.6 miles in 15 mins on the cross trainer made for a good start to the day.

Gym 27 – The last ‘long run’ of the training was finally upon me. I actually did it on the cross trainer, which I’ve finally become friends with. 6.3 miles in an hour was pretty good going at 9 min 26 sec a mile. I don’t know how this translates to normal running, but that seems quite fast! The knee held up fine, and it felt more realistic than cycling. I was pleased with how it went, though I am now thoroughly bored of looking at the same wall for hours at a time, and am very excited about running outside! I think it’ll make me appreciate the crowds even more on M-day.

Physio 3 – Another physio session to re-tape and ultrasound the knee. Hopefully this will hold up whilst I’m on holiday. Just a few short runs to try and get through before the big day.

Now, what time is it? Holiday time? Why yes it is. Right, I’m off to Italy, see you all soon. Altitude training/ carb loading/ whatever you want to call it, I’m there. Just over a week to go, and it’s getting very real.

If you can’t make it on the day but you would like to sponsor me, my page is: www.virginmoneygiving.com/mimsmission

37. Fashion Fiesta

I always loved dressing up as a child. I loved imaginative play, and creating stories of adventure that my siblings and I would go on (usually on a plane somewhere and we’d pack all our clothes into bags and go off on holiday down the bottom of the garden). I loved my 7th birthday present from my Grandma – a handmade Snow White costume. I wore it to my party, even though I was the only one in fancy dress. And I have to say, even now if there’s the opportunity for dressing up, I’m there.

All through uni, parties for all occasions involved a different theme – from Disney to ‘something beginning with M’, pirates to superheroes, 80’s neon rave to animals. We did the lot. And now I have hundreds of random items of clothing in a fancy dress box, ready to be used. I am often asked for various costumes by friends to which I can usually find something tenuously linked along the right lines. (In the last few months I’ve been asked for cowgirl, elf, Peter Pan and Christmas pudding).

I love making costumes, it’s always more fun when it looks a bit homemade and not quite perfect. For the last 3 years I’ve made a Christmas themed outfit for our work Christmas party. It began with slight confusion and bewilderment from the rest of the staff team…now they just groan when I mention it. It’s a bit of fun, so why not? Live life on the edge and all that.

20140321-135803.jpg

 

So this all brings us to a very important question. What costume do I wear for the marathon? I wouldn’t normally, but I am putting in some restrictions. It needs to be fairly practical as I still want to be able to run as well as I can – after all, this is the only marathon I’m doing, so I want it to be my best time I could have done, without being hindered by a costume! As the marathon is on Palm Sunday, it has been suggested and seconded that I should go for something involving a donkey/Jesus or a combination of the two. Although it would be hilarious, sadly I think it might have to wait for another time.

In reality, I want to have both the charity logos on my top, and you have to have your running number on the front. Plus I’ve been told the most important thing to do is have your name printed on your top for people to cheer for you. So I think I’m going for a purple (Rianna’s Fund) and green (Catching Lives) theme. But you’ll have to wait till the day to see exactly what it looks like (clue: there may be a tutu involved).

 

If you would like to sponsor me, my page is http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/mimsmission

35. Just keep swimming

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten what sport I am training in (though with recent weather I do wonder…). But I always think of Dory from Finding Nemo saying ‘just keep swimming, just keep swimming‘ whenever I try and motivate myself, whether that’s getting out of bed in the morning or getting round to doing the washing up. This may in part be due to the fact my nickname from some of my friends at school was Dory. Whatever the reason, it seems to help get me going.

Motivation is an interesting thing. We usually have a reason to do something. What gets you up in the morning? The smell of freshly made coffee read to be drunk? Looking forward to going to work (I genuinely mean that)? Your kids arguing, its only 6am and if you can get them to be quiet quickly enough the baby won’t be woken? Knowing you’ll see a beautiful view of creation if you can just make it to the window to look out across the countryside? (Handy hint – If you need a song to get you up, this is a fave of mine that I often play – always brightens my morning, good ol’ Si Cranston.)

Motivation isn’t just about starting something though, it’s also about wanting to keep going, sticking with it to see something through to completion. I have various motivations to keep me going through training. Immediate reasons are that I feel more awake after a run, and feel more healthy in myself. Longer term, I know it will all be worth it when I’ve raised money for two brilliant charities. I want to achieve something I really didn’t think I’d ever be able to do. I want to prove to myself and others that when you put your mind to something, it is possible. I want to tick something off my ‘bucket list’.

To help me stay motivated, a while back I put out a tweet to ask the twittersphere what words of wisdom they could offer. I have to say, most replies were from friends questioning why I would put myself through marathon training! Here are some quotes and inspirational words to help encourage you and I not to give up (I’ll think of these when I hit ‘the wall’)…

“If you’re going through hell, keep going” Winston Churchill

“Never, never, never give up” Winston Churchill

“Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward” Victor Kiam (let’s hope this doesn’t literally happen on April 13th)

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly [or run], you cease for ever to be able to do it” from Peter Pan

“It always seems impossible until it is done”

“Whatever you do, do it with all you have, or don’t bother”

“Don’t stop, never give up, hold your head high and reach the top. Let the world see what you have got, bring it all back to you. ” S Club 7 (In fact, this whole S Club 7 song is great! Oh man, I hope you know who S Club 7 is – if not, you need educating).

So there we have it. You inspired yet? Well go on then, off you go for a run round the block. See you in a few minutes.

30. Two amazing charities

So now my fundraising page is up and running (excuse the pun), I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you a bit more about the charities I’m running the London Marathon for. I really appreciate any donations made – you can donate through my Virgin Money Giving page here: http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/mimsmission   (If you would like to make a donation but would rather not pay online, please do contact me directly for more details.)

All money raised running the London Marathon will be split equally between these two fantastic charities. Both are fantastic, so here’s the low down…

cl

Catching Lives
Catching Lives is based in Canterbury, and has been running for over 20 years. They aim to support the homeless and vulnerably housed in and around the local area.  The charity does amazing work at raising awareness and changing attitudes to homelessness through working with the local community. They take work placements, deliver training and work with schools and youth groups to inform them; homelessness could affect any of us. They provide immediate respite at the open centre. Here clients are given access to many services which they wouldn’t otherwise be able to use whilst being on the street or with no fixed address. These include basic services such as meals, laundry, showers and clothing, as well as health services; social and emotional support;  advice , advocacy and referral; and work, learning and recreational activity. All these things are vital for clients to feel valued members of society. In the Winter months they have a community shelter open in a different venue for each night of the week. This has been invaluable in the past couple of years with such cold weather and often snow for days at a time. The aim is to try and help the clients find sustainable and appropriate accommodation, hopefully by the time the shelter finishes at the end of February.

Catching Lives are always looking for volunteers for a number of roles. If you would like to find out more or get involved, please contact  info@catchinglives.org

 

Rianna's Fund

Rianna’s Fund
In January 2003 Rianna, just eight years old, died tragically when a tree fell at her school in Ashtead, Surrey. This charity set up in her name, aims to help and support underprivileged children around the world achieve their potential. It is a charity close to my heart for many reasons. Rianna’s family  attend my home church, and it has been inspiring to see all the work gone into the projects that have been set up through Rianna’s Fund. They bring hope to children who would otherwise have nothing. They have now built a school in Kampala, Uganda, for over 640 children and funded school places for children across India along with many other projects. They believe that ‘one life can make many changes’, and that is exactly what has happened through this wonderful charity.

For more info you can contact Rianna’s Fund on riannasfund@aol.com

Thank you for all your support!

27. A new dawn

It may be a few days later than everyone else (you know timing isn’t my strong point), but I’ve been thinking about the new year.

On new year’s eve/day there were millions of status’ and tweets flying around the stratosphere about how great/terrible/exciting/dull/roller coaster (delete as appropriate) the past year had been and how this year will be better/even better/can’t get any better (delete as appropriate). I suppose we can get all sentimental and emotional (well, some more than others) as a new year means a new start, a new beginning. Chance to start over and move forward. Maybe leaving some things behind and looking to the future. A line in the sand. I do take time (this year there’s clearly been a lot to think about as it is now eight days in) to think about what I’ve been up to and what in my life is different (for the better or not) to this time twelve months ago; my hobbies, social life, physical activity, relationship with God. It is a chance to thank God for all He has provided over the last year, and to see His faithfulness clearly time and again.

Last night (first Tuesday of January 2014) was a momentous occasion for me. It was the one year anniversary since starting to learn to jive; my new year’s resolution from 2013. It is the first time I have ever completed a whole year of a resolution. Quite an achievement for me. I know many of you will be sick of hearing me talk of jive yet again, but I love it and I actually don’t know how I lived without it. It has (literally) changed my life – something I certainly hadn’t anticipated. Yet resolutions are exactly that – committing to changing something in our life (hopefully for the better) long term. But iit can be so easy to feel guilty about failing, to give up when the rest of normal life takes over again. Society moves at such a fast pace that by the time we’ve started something ten new ideas have come on the scene and all of a sudden we aren’t as committed as we once were.

So I’m risking it and putting it out there so I can try and complete this one too – this year I want to read the Bible in One Year.  I’m following HTB Church’s app, written by their vicar Nicky Gumbel. It comes straight to my phone every morning, and I read the passages and short commentary with each section. I am a slow reader, particularly in the early morning, so it takes me about half an hour to read it all. I’ve found by trial and error (basically epic fail) that if I don’t read it as the first thing I do, I rapidly run out of time before I have to leave for work. But this is not about feeling guilty for missing a day. It is about growing in relationship with God, who wants the best for us; not being punished for not keeping up.  Will you join me? It is always good to encourage others so let me know if you are doing it too!  If it’s something you want to join in with (it’s not too late to start!), sign up on their website to the app or to get the emails. Maybe you aren’t a Christian but you want to find out more about what is in the Bible and what on earth I am talking about – please do get in touch, I’d love to link you up to an Alpha course near you where you can explore the Christian faith and ask questions.

In thinking about the ‘new’, I have been reminded of the passage in Revelation 21v5 talking about a new heaven and a new earth where it says

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

When the time comes, heaven and earth will pass away and God will make all things new and perfect. What a hope to hold on to! Our life in eternity with the Father, and it will be heaven. Literally.

25. For one day only

IT’S CHRISTMAAAAAAAS!!

Happy Christmas Day 🙂

Wahey! I’m sure none of you will read this on Christmas Day, but if you happen to, for one day only this website is worthy of existing… https://isitchristmas.com/ see what I mean?

Today we remember the birth of a baby born in a dirty stable, who grew up to be more than just a man wandering the streets saying nice things. The Son of God had entered our world.

Jesus, Emmanuel, ‘God with us’.

24. The Penguin Marathon Strategy

At the end of a busy term, I look back over the past couple of months and wonder how I’ve managed to keep this running lark up. But then again, I’ve had a plan all along – to tell people I’m running a marathon, then they keep asking me how it’s going, so I have to do some running to have something to update them on. And its worked (so far) – win! My pride would not allow me to back out now. It’s all or nothing.

I was doing a little bit of research recently about the marathon and looked up how many ballot applications there were this year, and found this out… 125,000 applications for the ballot were made in less than 12 hours! I have to say, I was not expecting that! I was clearly not the only one who set a reminder on my phone to apply as soon as it opened. I clearly didn’t think through the fact that as soon as I clicked ‘apply’, it did in fact give me the tiniest chance of getting a place. And that tiny chance could actually become a reality. I will keep reminding myself of this when I want to give up…124,999 other people wanted this place, but I got it. Don’t stop.

As some of you know (I keep raving about it) I’ve been reading Marathon Running for Mortals. There are some great words of wisdom in it, and anyone planning on or in the process of training for a marathon MUST read it! I am not an avid reader by any stretch of the imagination, but I have loved reading this brilliant mix of invaluable advice, personal anecdotes and good humour.

For those of you who don’t have time/patience/energy to read it, here are a few quotes that I enjoy…

  • If you’ve got this far [starting the race], if you are standing in the pack at the start of your goal race, you have already accomplished more than most. Take the time right there and then to congratulate yourself. For you, and the for the hundreds or thousands of other participants, the party is just about to begin.
    (NB. I might wear a party hat at the start of the marathon, you never know…)
  • Don’t try anything new on race day. Don’t try anything new on race day. Whatever you are feeling during race week, it’s normal. Don’t try anything new on race day.
  • When you get to the race site, immediately get into the portable-toilet queue. I’m not joking. Do not stop to talk. Do not look around for friends. Make a bee-line for the portable toilets. I don’t care how often you go to the toilet before you leave the hotel; you are going to need to go again before the race starts. Don’t take any chances. Get in the queue. When you’ve got to the front of the queue, then got in and out of the portable toilet, get back in the queue again. Trust me on this one. Stay in the portable toilet queue until you have to line up for the race.
  • Mile 20 is ‘the wall’. For many runner and walkers, this is where the marathon starts. As a friend of mine used to say, the marathon is 20 miles of hope followed by 6 miles of truth.
  • What you decide to do with that medal is up to you. We recommend that you wear it until you have annoyed everyone in your life. Wear it to work. Wear it to college. Wear it to bed. Wear it everywhere. Show it to everyone. Tell everyone how you earned it. And don’t take it off until someone pries it from your fingers.
    (NB. YOU HAVE ALL BEEN WARNED)
  • The gift of finishing is available to everyone standing at the start line. It’s available to everyone who is willing to accept who they are at that moment – not who they want to be or wanted to be, but who they are.
  • And finally – The Penguin Marathon Strategy:

image

23. It’s all in the genes

I found thinking about this post rather amusing. Parents often say the infamous words ‘just you wait’ as their offspring moan about how embarrassing they are or how they would never do that when they have their own kids. As I’ve got older, I’ve caught myself doing things that I never thought I would. This is purely because I’d told myself I wouldn’t do them as I know my parents do. Worryingly, I seem to be taking after my father…

– Washing up in hot water with the washing up liquid added once the water is in the bowl so it doesn’t make lots of pointless bubbles before you’ve even started. Beginning with the small cleaner items first, working through to larger dirtier items systematically – it’s practical, which is good, so not a bad one to start with.

– Hoarding. Yes I’ll admit, not such a helpful one for everyone else as my housemates and colleagues will testify. I try, really I do, but I have to keep things ‘just in case’. It is a work in progress, I am slowly attempting to get better at throwing things away, but please be patient with me if it takes a few months before I can part with something. (My poor colleagues got more than they bargained for last summer when they dared to throw something out that I wasn’t quite ready to file under ‘B’; that is the large green Bin in the car park…)

– Being late. I’m working on this one, and I beat it every so often, though not as often as most people would like. My housemates have been known to use a whistle (think ‘Sound of Music’ stylee) to give me a 2 minute warning before we have to leave the house. I do appreciate everyone’s unending generous spirits towards my failure to understand the basic concept of time means I sadly cannot be in two different places at the same time – and therefore have to realise I need to leave one place before I am able to get to the next.

– I can fall asleep anywhere. Literally. I’ve been known to fall asleep in a club (not alcohol related I hasten to add, through probably sleep-deprivation from school placement had a part to play). I can be in the land of nod before a plane has taken off, and not wake up till it lands. Going to the cinema is a waste of money as I rarely get past watching the opening trailers. Catching a few minutes of shut-eye on the train is always welcome though. Thanks for this one Dad, it comes in handy sometimes, but it’s not always the most convenient of tricks.

image Yes, Dad and I somehow ended up wearing coordinated socks when he came to visit a few weeks ago. It’s all down hill from here really.

Having now given dad a grilling, it’s mum’s turn (don’t panic mum, it’ll be fine). As you may have noticed from previous posts, I love lists. In fact, I practically run my life by lists. This is mainly down to mum, who keeps a notebook of lists. Very sensible if you ask me. Thanks mum for training me in such wise and helpful ways that I can organise everything by tick lists.

There is one other thing to share that l have learnt from mum. Since she first started running, if she sees another runner she has one of two reactions: 1) ‘Oh, how do they run that fast? That’s not normal!’ or 2) ‘Keep going, you’re doing great!’. Both of these are verbalised regularly, never within hearing distance of said runner – in fact, it is usually in the car as we drive along. I never used to get it, but since I’ve started running, I’ve found I do exactly the same thing. Wherever I am, if I see a runner, I give either one of those reactions. Sorry to those of you who have witnessed this – I can honestly empathise with how you feel.

Mum, I know exactly what you mean now. I’ll carry on encouraging people from the car – though I’ll try and stop wishing that the speedy ones would somehow slow down, and try to encourage them too. Even if it takes a bit more of an effort on my part.

22. Perils of the Path

Bit of an exciting week has been had. Well, I say exciting…I think it is exciting, or at least interesting, but you may not. Read on, my friends, and see for yourself…

Run 34 – Tuesday morning was a quick dash round a few roads as I hadn’t accounted for a) having to be at work extra early to meet someone  and b) having to de-ice my car so much. But something is better than nothing.

Walk 2 – I had a day off work on Wednesday, and went to London with Guest Walker 2 to try and walk parts of the marathon route. I thought it would be good to do at some point before April, to try and get my bearings and work out vaguely where I’ll be going. I like to know these things. We decided to head for Greenwich Park and find the start so I could see where this ordeal would begin. It was ridiculously foggy, but quiet and beautiful, even at 11.45am when this ‘what I call’ lovely (soz, Miranda moment) picture was taken. Well at least it was quiet until we came along. 20131211-235722.jpgWe did a 3 mile circuit round the park and back out to the Cutty Sark which is also on the route. After lunch we headed for the finish line in St James’ Park, and worked backwards along the route following it all the way back to Tower Bridge, and then back to London Bridge again which was around 6 miles. So we walked about a third of the total route, and I feel like I’m piecing the route together. Not bad for a couple of girls having a chilled out day off.

Non-Run – Thursday morning I woke up bright and early (5am to be precise, don’t know why) and ready for action. It wasn’t till I looked out the window and saw how icy it was on the paths that I realised it really wouldn’t be sensible to try and run. I’ve never felt gutted about the weather stopping me from being able to go for a run, until now – it means I think I’m going to have to join the gym to be able to get through the winter months. Oh dear.

New Person – So, the low down on this new person is as follows: basically someone arranged for me to meet a sporty type person (fitness instructor…I think) as they had run the marathon previously, and could probably give some helpful advice. Brill, I thought, sounds…helpful. And it was. Three things to think about in training for the marathon: building in distance, building in variety, and building in fuel. Apparently he’ll tell me more about it next time. It also appears he’s going to be a total hero and write out a training plan or my for after Christmas, and help me out along the way. Amazing! Thanks FI (his name from now on).

Run 35 – Time for a long run on a lovely bright but chilly Saturday morning. After our weekly house pancake session, off I went. It was a great route down around the edge of the city walls and then heading out to Chartham and back. It’s a flat path that runs right by the river the whole way, and very peaceful to run along. However, there were serious perils I encountered along the way – take note, and learn:

People – yes, you lot. Well, most likely not you per se, but human beings using the path. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing the British nod and brief ‘hello’ to those who I pass by. But sometimes there comes the ‘excuse me’ situation where you try to ask discreetly, which is clearly too under-the-breath, so you ask a bit louder and then make them jump and it all becomes a bit of a confusion for a few seconds. Runners, brace yourself, slow down and shout loud and clear. It’s the only way. And then of course you have the competition, fellow runners out enjoying the morning. One girl overtook me and although she was a lot faster, I had her in my sights for ages. Then all of a sudden at a gate she stopped and turned to run back again. Being so focused, I just followed her when I got to the same gate, thinking that was the end of the path. It wasn’t until I started running back and heard my arm (RunKeeper) shouting ‘4 miles’ at me that I clicked – it wasn’t the end of the path! Quickly I turned back again and it was another half mile till I could finally quite literally shout, ‘wahey, I’ve made it to Chartham’. Moral of the story – don’t get distracted by other runners. Keep your eyes on your own prize.

Animals – Oh yes, animals, and it’s not just the dogs off the leads that think it’s fun to run in circles around you. Sheep are also a hazard. A gang of them heading towards you is quite terrifying. And then there is navigating the poo  everywhere that at points makes it hard to see the path.

Kissing Gates – I decided from the start that slippery cattle grids were too much of a risk to run over and I would be using the gates at every opportunity. This was going well until a fellow runner reach the gate at the same time. He went for the gate the same time I did and well…awkward whale alert. And it wasn’t until I was almost done that I saw my choice of gate usage was a good one – two girls were crossing the cattle grid as I came pass and one slipped and went through the bars. Giving first aid wasn’t on my list when thinking about the run this morning (don’t worry, she was fine – more a bruised ego than anything else I think).

It was a good run, and the 1 hour 28 mins it took to do 7.6 miles reflects a much more realistic average time of 11 mins 38 secs a mile compared to last weeks Olympic speeds recorded. Goodo. Onwards and upwards.