Sunday, 25 November 2012

Running with Swinton Ladies...

A few weeks back, When my friend Louise suggested I join her in her women's club race, I happily agreed, knowing it would be a great way to get me out the house, and running, on a Sunday morning. Thankfully, being far more organised than me, when I had still failed to sign up for the race come Thursday, Louise made sure I had a place, even offering to drive me there.

So, as I had made no effort myself to find out about the race, enter myself or even identify what distance the race even was, it was a lovely surprise to discover that I would be racing the Swinton Running Club's City of Salford Women's Race. A lovely 5.25 miles. Why so Lovely? because this is one half of the Swinton 10 mile race; trust me, having run the the double lap of the course, it truly does feel lovely to only run it once!

However, there was - of course - more to the race than that so, here is a brief account of my race experience:

Arrive... Rain... Rain... Rain... Cold now... Start... Run... Run... Run... Pass friendly marshalls... Run... Run... Run... Up hill... Down hill... Rain stopped... Up hill... Down hill... Sun coming out... warming up... round a corner... flat hill... Past Hope Hospital and more friendly marshalls... Up hill... Overtaking people - WOOP!... Busy road... Under pass... Passing more people - woop woop!... Up hill... Friendly marshalls... Up hill... Finish line in sight... Death hill... Sprint, sprint, sprint... Breathe!

Still panting, I collected my goodie bag (including a Freddo - yum!) and jogged back to force Louise into running faster up the death hill.

An official time of 46.24, suggests that all my hard work at Curves and BMF is paying off, now I just have to find a way to make it to club more often!

Oh... And to top off a brilliant race, I also won a spot prize...

...big thanks Swinton Running Club... A well organised, friendly and enjoyable race; I'll see you again next year!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Curious Adventures

Curiosity killed the cat; hopefully it does not hold similar ramifications for the runner. My last two runs have been curiosity fuelled, with the latter of the two being more successful - depending on how one views success; if success can be attributed to 'getting lost' then perhaps the former was actually the more fruitful!

When I moved to the pleasant parish of Prestwich last June, I knew that the beauty of Heaton Park would offer a welcome change to my running routine from pounding the urban highways of Harpurhey. What I wasn't aware of at that time, was the wealth of running routes offered on the other side of the 'Village'.

For those of you that know nothing of the area, Prestwich is a town situated about 3 miles north of Manchester. The oldest part of the town, known as Prestwich Village, holds many delights such as an artisan cheese shop - nom, nom, nom, Marks and Spencers' food - nom, nom, nom and a several little independent tea rooms - nom, nom, nom. In comparison to this, the place in which I used to live, housed several kebab shops, a Lidl and a Maccy D's... Prestwich is no Didsbury but it is, for us, a super-normous step up in the world!

So, with all these delightful places to shop and eat, it was all the more important that I significantly increased my running and found some new routes to keep myself entertained. 4 months on and that is exactly what I've finally managed to do. On Thursday, I was due to meet my friend Lisa for brunch. Lisa is a feeder. Yep... a proper feeder. She's super-skinny (even though she only gave birth 2 months ago), doesn't seem to be overly tempted by every sweet treat that ever existed (I'm not envious, really I'm not), yet she bakes sweet treats until they're coming out of her ears, which she then FORCES us to eat. Lisa FORCED me to go to Slattery's with her... honestly... FORCED. And so, with my arm tightly twisted behind my back, fearing what would befall me if I dared try to duck out of the chocolate fest she had in store for us, I needed a plan... a cunning plan... I would go for a run.

The plan was to run 6 miles. I ran 7.25. Why? Because I got lost. Well, I say lost... I had my Iphone on me, so I was never really lost, but as I didn't have a clue precisely where I was for most of my run, I think that an accurate description of my predicament was: lost.

The plan was to run to Phillip's Park, which I discovered the existence of at last weeks' Apple Day (don't ask). However, when I emerged from the autumnal wilderness of the Clough, I stumbled upon a cycle track... in fact, several cycle tracks... actually... more cycle tracks than you could shake a stick at. Cycle tracks to a lake, cycle tracks to a field, cycle tracks to woods, cycle tracks alongside the Irwell, cycle tracks over the Irwell, cycle tracks under the Irwell... cycle tracks everywhere. I had stumbled upon a cyclist's haven... nay... a runner's heaven... my heaven! It was so much fun! I ran and ran and ran. Until I realised I had no idea where I was, that Lisa would be arriving any time soon and that I was potentially MILES from home. Thankfully, despite my twisting and turning down all the different paths, my natural sat-nav had somehow managed to keep me heading largely in the right direction; a quick check on my phone enabled me to plot a cursory route home.

Despite the 'change of plan', ultimately that day all went according to plan... a swift two mile walk to the chocolate, a two mile walk home again, and a 30 minute gym session that afternoon, not only served to foil Lisa's feeding - although she did try again later that night with a HUGE portion of fish and chips! - but proved that curiosity pays - in calories if nothing else!

Of course, I couldn't leave my new discovery there, with so much still uncharted. So, today, I laced up my trainers and trailed out again to the other side of town. Desiring a threshold run, rather than a slower paced one, I didn't stray quite so far this time, but my run did take me out down some lovely country roads and into the world of the dog walkers, covering 4.2 miles in total. An added lunchtime jaunt around the park, with my dog, has set me up nicely for a couple of glasses of wine on my night out with the girls this evening. Something tells me, it won't be curiosity that kills the runner, rather the wine and rich foods which the runner feels the need to 'run off''!

As for those of you that scrolled through my extensive ramblings and thought 'no chance mate'... here's a pictorial tour of my curious adventures:

Through Prestwich Clough

Past the lake

Via Thirteen Arches

Into Phillip's Park

A quick "Heya" to the weasel.

Back out in the sunshine over the fields.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Loving the Spam

I have a spam filter.



Well, not me personally - although I'm not the biggest fan of spam (the meat variety, rather than the digital type) - but my blog (the digital type now, not the processed meat!) has. Phew... that was a little more complicated than I first thought. Let me start again.

My blog has a spam filter.



This is a shame. The benefits of it, of course, are that the comments section of my blog posts are not overrun with general diatribe (I can do that on my own!), germ ridden links and apocryphal advertising... it keeps us all safe - so to speak. The shame of it though is that only I get to read the funny (sometimes let a little giggle out kind of funny, but not usually LOL style funny and most definitely never the ROFL kind of funny) and entirely unrelated comments that might otherwise appear at the end of my blog posts. Instead, these are emailed, for my eyes only, to my google box!

So, with all potentially virus-ridden links removed - and at the risk of more spam detectors picking up some spammy key words and spamming me further, here are some of my favourites. At this point, one must remember that I blog about pointless, meaningless and, quite frankly, completely useless bumf:

Spammy Comment #1:

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Spammy Comment #2:

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Spammy Comment #3:

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And finally, my favourite - Spammy Comment #4:

This web site truly has all of the information and facts I needed about this subject and didn't know who to ask. Also see my webpage: spamcakes

... I have always thought that my blog contains all the information and facts that anyone would ever need to know about this subject. And now you know, that if you didn't know who to ask before, you do now!

Forget Google... I am the new oracle!

Monday, 22 October 2012

RUNNERS BEWARE!

Please read and share with runners...

A new craze seems to have hit the streets whereby people, in their cars, seemingly noshing on McDonald's, drive past health conscious runners and lob barbecue sauce pots at their heads!

This is not a joke... it's really happened... Yes... flying barbecue sauce hit me in the head!

It is not clear yet why these people are choosing to pummel runners in the head with half eaten barbecue sauce pots from well-known multi-national fast food chains. It may be that ill-gotten points are to be gained from this scenario - much akin to the points one may gain from knocking a cyclist off their bike, or running an old lady over on a zebra crossing - or perhaps it is simply a dirty food protest from Maccy D's munchers.

Whichever, I think the irony of throwing filthy fast food pots at a runner's head was probably entirely lost on the thrower, but it certainly wasn't by the throwee...

Runners... BEWARE!

Maybe that's what they were trying...

Monday, 10 September 2012

The End...

I'm having my last little cry of 2012. I say 'last' as I can't imagine that anything will be able to move me to such emotion, over the remaining months, as the Olympics and Paralympics have over the past few weeks. Of course, I'm watching highlights of the Athletes' Parade. Well, I say 'of course' but if I was amazed at how involved I became in this summer's sports, it was nothing in comparison to the surprise of those who know me well...



Right now, sitting in front of my telebox, I feel like I've watched the best reality show - ever. There's been drama, action and emotion at every turn, not to mention the 'characters' I've come to love. Right now, Boris is announcing to my living room that these athletes stood behind him are our 'greatest team' who have 'bought athletics home', causing 'tube train passengers to break out into spontaneous conversation' which, as we know, really, truly is a great achievement! And (for once) he's making sense!

I really don't know what I'm going to do now... start saving for a holiday in Rio, I guess...


Monday, 27 August 2012

Bring on the Superhumans...

"Are you excited?" My friend asks me. We're standing in the stands of Old Trafford watching Team GB play Senegal in the Olympic Games.
"Excited?" I query. "What, about?"
"The Olympics!" She replies in a manner which I can only describe as excited.
This seems a strange question; why would I be excited?
"The Olympics?" I offer back, trying to hide any form of incredulity in my voice and failing miserably.
"Yes!" she replies, in a manner which, I decide now, is undoubtedly one of excitement. "I can't wait... why, aren't you excited...?"

But, despite my friend's evident enthusiasm on that day, I just couldn't conjure any kind of similar emotion. Was there something wrong with me? Should I be more excited? It's not that I didn't want the games to be in London and I certainly wasn't one of those nay-sayers that were so prolific in the British media pre-Olympic Games. No, I was simply apathetic. I neither cared, nor didn't care. I imagined I would catch a few events on 'the box'; that The Games would affect me rather in the same way that football does each season: I enjoy watching it live and when it's showing 'live' in the corner of my lounge, I'll glance up occasionally to see what's caused Mik to swear profusely and leap up and down with excessive arm gestures.

How wrong was I.

The game at Old Trafford was pre-Olympic Opening Ceremony. It turns out that, for me, the Opening Ceremony was a turning point. I was entertained. I was moved. I was proud. And I can use those three words to summarise the whole two weeks. The Games continually entertained me, surprised me even. I felt tears well in my eyes when the National Anthem accompanied our athletes standing atop of the podium.
A whole new world of exciting sports had been revealed to me; who'd have thought I'd enjoy watching weight-lifting, would be engaged by equestrian or would find myself leaping up and down and screaming at swimmers? Certainly not me. But I there I was, fully affected by these people and their sports. Their effort. Their achievements. And, frequently, over the two weeks, as we worked our way further and further up the medal table, Mik would look over at me, shake his head and ask "You having another cry?".
"No." I'd assert, looking away and surreptitiously sweeping a tiny tear from the corner of my eye.


But, the Olympic Games have ruined me. I want more... I expect more.  No longer am I satisfied with the weekend offerings of our television companies. X-Factor? Red or Black? Celebrity Big Brother? Boring. I'm spoilt; I want more. After two weeks of watching people with real talent, doing something that takes real hard work and real dedication, they just appear anaemic and inadequate. I need more.

So, I can't wait for the Paralympic Games to start this week, and I know I'm not the only one, am I?...

Bring on the Superhumans!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

How Very British

The tube is rattling along at a pace of knots and I'm doing my best 'stare at my feet and pretend I have no idea that I'm snuggled as close as is humanly possibly beneath the closest stranger's armpit' look. I'm on my way to Notting Hill. That's the posh, swanky, sloaney bit of London with cute painted houses and vintage shops selling second hand clothes for extortionate prices - for those of you who aren't posh, swanky or sloaney enough to know this already.

I'm here to meet up with my friends Ellen and Louisa for a day of very British, middle class fun. We're having a very British, middle class picnic, bought from apt British middle class stores such as Waitrose and Marks and Spencer's, - other apt and British middle class stores are available - and we're going to drink British, (though possibly French, but we'll make sure we drink it in a very British manner) middle class champagne whilst sat in the beautiful (British) surroundings of Royal Kensington Gardens, - how very British and middle class.

I mistakenly look up momentarily and accidentally catch the eye of the armpit bearer; we both shift uncomfortably and resume our respective staring at nothing, relieved to re-assume our very British, middle class tube roles.


Later, we're going to drink fruity Swedish cider that contains elderflower, of all things, in a British bar on the Portobello Road, after which we will complete the day supping wine in the theatrical surroundings of Regent's Park where we will be entertained by a group of 'players' performing A Midsummer's Night's Dream. Seriously, I think to myself, can you GET any more British and middle class than that?

The motion of the tube begins to slow as we approach the station. The strangers around me begin preparing themselves, picking up bags and shuffling closer to the doors. naturally, I politely disengage myself from the gentleman's elbow as he prepares to alight from the train, moving a small boy - eight? Nine maybe? Yes, nine, definitely, - moving a nine year old boy in front of him as he does so. I wonder briefly what plans they have for the day, Madam Tussaud's perhaps, The London Dungeon's or just shopping on Oxford Street; certainly nothing as British and middle class as my friends and I have planned for the day. The doors open. I shift aside.

"Here we are," the gentleman says to the nine year old boy as he nudges him gently towards the doors, "this is our stop, off you get Moriarty."!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Labels

I'm lying on the beach, In Ibiza - not the clubby bit, the other bit; the non-clubby bit ...there's an 18-30's only rule in the other bit and I think you might evaporate or burst or turn into a pumpkin if you're tempted to dip your little toe into the place past 31 years old... We're taking in the sights and sounds of the 'real' Espania.



I've recently become distracted by two groups of people in front of me. I've labelled them: Posh English Girls and Chavvy Spanish Family. But this has disturbed me. Why have I labelled them in this way? Have I become a labeller? When did I become so judgmental about people to a point where I give them perky little labels... Full on titled names? I think that this is something I've always tried to avoid, labelling people, it's something I often tell Mik off for. In fact, I can see his smug grin now when he realises that I too, have become a labeller. I decide not to tell him. But, as I lay here, with the sea lapping at my feet and the sounds of sweet childish laughter lilting on the air, I become more preoccupied as to why I have labeled each group in the way I have. I try to look for the obvious distinctive features. Ponder whether everyone on the beach, no matter their nationality, would perceive them in this way. Or whether it's just me.

Posh English Girls are sweet. There are five of them in the group. Three are left here at the moment as the two Chanel glasses-wearing ones have apologised for being boring before leaving to enjoy their balcony away from the 'awful sand'. They've just been given a couple of inflatables by some Dutch holiday makers who are going home - they didn't say they were Dutch, that's just an accurate guess, but they did say they were going home - they are now planning on how to surprise the other two girls in their group with the inflatables (Posh English Girls not the Dutch) which seems to involve the inflatable turning up on the balcony doorstep all of its own accord, whilst they hide, in fits of hysterical hilarity around the corner. Perhaps this is how I know they're posh; in my world, inflatables do not posses the capacity to do this. Listening in to their conversation, it is relaxed, soft, quiet. They discuss what 'Daddy' does for a living in between their reading of 'Fifty Shades...' and 'Grazia' magazine.

Beyond them, in the sea, Chavvy Spanish Family are loud and brash. Not speaking much Spanish past the essentials of 'hola', 'gracias' and 'mi casa est blanca', I'm unable to ascertain if they are shouting to each other a critique of the protagonist in 'Fifty Shades' or, if they are musing over their fathers' successes in life. I assume they are. They are certainly enjoying life. Splashing about - a lot - dunking each other, demonstrating the sort of overt affection that I, as a typically reserved English lady, find a little too excessive for the public arena. Their zealous and exuberant behaviour calls to mind that poster from back in the 80's... You know, the one that used to don the walls of every public swimming pool: 'no bombing, no diving, no heavy petting'.
'They'd be thrown out of an English swimming pool if this was the 80's' I think to myself as I glance at the beach lifeguard... He's watching them closely.



I look from them, to the Posh English Girls quietly quaffing their Evian, and back again... No, I just can't pinpoint what is is about them that has caused me to label them in such a way. Perhaps it's just intuition. Perhaps it's just me. Internally, I chastise myself. Who am I to pass judgement on these groups of strangers? To label them like some prejudiced, judgmental labeller? Suddenly I feel ashamed. The Posh English Girls are just quiet, lovely girls with well-pronounced words and dads they're proud of; and the Chavvy Spanish Family are just fun-loving, ostentatious, beach-goers, enjoying themselves in a loud and overly boisterous manner.

As I look back from them fooling about in the sea, I vow to myself to never again enter into such flippant, flimsy labelling and, most definitely, never mention my foray into this sordid world to Mik, who would surely mock me for these foolish ways.
I catch Mik's eye. He raises his eyebrows at me and smirks.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Julie!

Past experiences have taught me that alcohol is not the best fuel for exercise; it does not make for a pleasant work-out experience the following day. Needless to say, having consumed a fair amount of birthday alcohol yesterday, I was not looking forward to my Curves session today; so imagine my surprise when I superseded all previous workouts, smashed my target and burnt 430 calories! Gold medal for Maggie!

Having achieved my planned early(ish) morning work out I spent the rest of the day with my lovely friend, Anj, and her even lovelier 2 1/2 year old son whirlwind of energy, Zain. We lunched at Wetherspoons (where they now do a very tasty and super-healthy 'Superfood salad), we played in the park (Zain testing my newly developed arm muscles with persistent swing pushing), and... we changed my name. Why? Because it was easier...

"Hello Julie!" Zain beamed as I entered his house;
"Maggie... this is Maggie". His mum gently corrected.
"Julie push me." Zain insisted as he sat poised on the swing;
"Maggie." His mum and I gently corrected.
"Thank you Julie" Zain politely thanked me on receiving his ice cream;
"Maggie." His mum and I gently corrected.
"There's Julie's car" Zain excitedly exclaimed as we left the park;
"Maggie." His mum and I chuckled, in gentle correction.
"Bye, bye Julie." Zain smiled as he waved me off;
"Bye, bye Zain" I smiled back.

2 1/2 year olds are particularly stubborn... it's easier to change my name!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Tipsy turvey!

Well... tomorrow is gonna hurt... that's for sure!

Right now, admittedly, I'm a little tipsy. I have spent a fantastic night out with a great group of girls, where I spent the entire night eating pizza and drinking wine... actually that's not strictly true, I also treated myself to an Eaton Mess! Mmmmm...

Anyway, in my new leaf promise (that I made only yesterday), I am due at Curves tomorrow morning where I will inevitably die!

So, this is goodbye. Farewell friends. It's been good and we've had a (relatively) long life together. I never thought the turn of my 34th year would also signal my penultimate day in this world but at least it's been a good one! Tomorrow, I will endeavour to fulfil the fitness promise I have made myself and, let's face it, it's not gonna be pretty. If - and that's very unlikely - I live through this experience, I'll see you on the other side; if not, it's been fun...

Au revoir world...

Maggie.

PS... on the plus side: I painted my kitchen this morning and it looks muchos nice! :-)

Ooooh... pretty!!!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Back in the game

Sshhhhhh...

We all have to stay as quiet as possible, so I'd appreciate it if you'd read this in a whispered voice; which is due to this little man:


Who is in my care tonight... I know... poor him!... whilst his parents have some well-earned quality time together. Of course, this leaves me with very little to do, so what better time could there be to catch up with all of you whilst my nephew is snoring away (and he really is snoring quite loudly!)?

Needless to say, however, that 'catching up' could take quite a long time as it's been several months since I have posted on this blog. So, to avoid a mass-exodus of readers at this moment in time (all 3 of you are very important to me), I shall now provide a brief, yet comprehensive, account of my past 3 months:

June: 
- moved house - family visited from USA - family caught virus and threw up all over new house - unpacked into new house - ran SOTOS 10k, in Fleetwood, after a whole day out drinking alcohol and nearly died - recovered (almost) - Went to Stone Roses concert (in the park opposite my house...woop!).

July:
- end of school term - ate - drank - ate - drank - got fat - joined Curves gym - started diet - started running on my own so I didn't die when I returned to running club having not been for a ridiculous amount of time! - ran - Curves - ran - Curves - ran to Curves - still too scared to go back to running club - watched the Olympics - went to lovely friends' wedding - got less fat (woop!).

August:
- watched more Olympics - Curves - painted kitchen - babysitting nephew (in present tense because it's actually happening now!).

Ta daaaa! ... Ooooh, a bit loud... sorry... whispering again...

And now that you're up to date, let's move on to more important things... what happens next. Well I intend to start blogging more again. Let's face it, I've been pretty poor recently and I still owe the lovely people at UnderArmour a proper review of their T-shirt they sent me... watch this space! In conversation with a friend last week, I realised the close connection that exists between lack of blog posts and lack of exercise:

Friend:  I seem to have missed your blog posts recently, are you still posting on facebook when you write one?
Me: Oh, that's because I haven't written any blog posts recently... actually, for quite a while if I'm honest... Oh my word, for like, a quarter of a year or something mad like that...
Brain: Yes, you Orca, that's why you got fat and unfit... you can't blog if you haven't done anything to blog about! Oops!

Well, today is new leaf day. Tightening the belt and intensifying the exercise a few weeks back has meant that I am already successfully on my way to being able to actually tighten my belt! And who can fail to be inspired at the moment with all the excitement and hype of the Olympics?! But it's not just the 'elite' athletes who are inspiring me to get out there are run; if you haven't read about Team Fools Rushing's amazing achievement at TR24 last weekend, then hop over to Fortnightflo's blog to read her account... absolutely crazy fab!

Anyway... best go... the little man is waking... who shouted??!!!

Catch up again tomorrow, when my (birth)day begins with a run in the park with a couple of friends who have just taken up running. :-)

Monday, 18 June 2012

Whatever happened to Juneathon?

Juneathon: you might think I have given up.

You'd be right.

I have.

In fact, last week I achieved a new height of Juneathon uselessness (for me); taking my sum effort from 'shoddy' excuses and 'invented' exercise to 'completely and utterly non-existent': No running, no exercising, no blogging.

I have never reached such lows.

Actually, that's not strictly true: there was the Janathon 'effort' that mainly involved exercise of the 'imaginative' kind; there was also a huge portion of time last summer when I didn't even bother to invent exercise, choosing instead to eat chocolate and 'exercise' my waist line in a different manner; and then of course one shouldn't forget the episode (or maybe one should...) where I ran a half marathon then threw up all over the steering wheel of my car whilst driving along the motorway at 50mph... That was pretty low!

Thankfully, although my Juneathon 'attempt' is most definitely over, there are some lights at the end of the tunnel... Some 'optimism', so to speak... Perhaps some 'redemption', one might say:

1. I have been running - Unfortunately, not with club, but running all the same... The knackered, sleeping dog at my feet is proof of this!

2. I have a Curves appointment booked for tomorrow evening as part of my 'do more than run to get fitter and tone-up' summer strategy.

3. This blog post has more inverted commas than any other blog post I've ever written... I wonder how many I would need to win a 'most used inverted commas in a blog post ever' award...

4. I have used the phrases 'one shouldn't forget' and 'one might say' which is excellent use of Standard English and consequently should redeem my use of the words 'ergo' and 'twat' in a previous (and possibly best forgotten) post.

5. Today I managed to wear my 'Under Armour' t-shirt - sent to me for review by the lovely people at Under Armour and designed to protect my delicate body from the harmful rays of the deadly Manchester sun - in actual real-life, warm, deadly sun! Wow! Which also means I can now write a proper review! Yay!

6. Finally, I have been enjoying reading lots of Juneathon blogs, even if I haven't had time to write them... Oh yes... I have been a silent, yet active, participant. And have been equally pleased to see that I'm not the only one who is 'inventive' with qualifying exercise!

Good luck to all those still in it... As for me, my next challenge is the Sotos 10k, in Fleetwood, this Sunday. And, as I would rather avoid adding another 'low' to my list, I have my fingers crossed for cooler weather than last year's 30 degree death run!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Juneathon Day 9

It's Juneathon Day 9 and the tide has turned. Oh yes. No excuses. No fake exercise. No hyperbole...

Today, I ran.

I round the outside of the inside of Heaton Park (if that makes any sense!). And when I say 'I', I actually mean 'we' - and not in the royal sense - as in me and my old (original) running buddy, Paula (not Radcliffe). It probably isn't, but it feels like years since we ran together, it's certainly been a good few weeks since we last caught up, so for the entirety of the run, the running was accompanied by chatting... No change there then!

I have to admit, I've no idea how far we ran but I'm going to guess at about 3 miles. The dog came too so we've a very peaceful night on our hands as she's zonked out on the sofa; something tells me it won't be long before I'm joining her... But first, some chinese takeaway and maybe a small(ish) glass of wine...

Friday, 8 June 2012

Juneathon days 5-8

Ok... So I'm clearly NOT doing Juneathon properly. I should make it clear, before we continue with this charade, that I am not (THAT) stupid and realise that the point of Juneathon is to run, or exercise, everyday of June. It is day 8 of June, and I have not done this; ergo* I have not done Juneathon.

Despite this, I am now going to continue this post with a few completely acceptable (poor) excuses and pretend that the exercise I have done is a more than valid contribution to Juneathon.

Juneathon Day 5: a very British - wet and windy - walk along the sea front, with the family, at Lytham St Anne's... Plus a cheeky cuppa and a cake on the exceptionally windy pier whilst we watched people perambulate beneath with the sand seeping freely between their toes, despite the freezing conditions!

Juneathon Day 6: Another (unfortunate) trip to Ikea... Yes, I'm still counting Ikea as exercise! If you've ever been on a bank holiday, you'll understand!
PLUS I supervised some building of furniture!

Juneathon Day 7: Does a walk around The Lowry art gallery count? How about a trip to Argos? A walk across town? Ok... One of them must count! This post has now become interactive.. Make your pick... Now!

Juneathon Day 8: The dog came home from holiday! Yay! Actually, that makes it sound rather like she turned up on the front step with her suitcase having jumped out a taxi... It didn't quite happen like that... Obviously! I did actually go to pick her up. But, wait for it... Once we'd returned home, we went for a walk! Woop! Proper (almost) exercise! Also - mega bonus - whilst I was picking the dog up, my mother -in-law taught me to knit!

I made this (*scroll to bottom of page to see photo as blogging on stupid iphone app!*) it's either a baby's thong (yes, that is a little bit wrong!) or a dog's eye patch... Make your pick... Now!


* However, I have seemingly made myself sound like a complete twat** in my blog by using the word 'ergo'.

** I've now also used the word 'twat' (twice)... This is a new low point between me and my blog!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Juneathon days 2-4

Well, it's been eventful.

Juneathon day 2: Ikea trip. Say no more. If you've ever been to Ikea, at the best of times let alone a bank holiday, you'll understand how that is definitely exercise. And, if that east enough, I also built a wardrobe!

Juneathon Day 3: a proper run. 6.30am. I've no idea how far I went but I ran for about 1/2 hour and it was great. Next time, I'll get up later and run in the park that doesn't open until 8.

Unfortunately that night I came down with a very violent stomach big. I will not go into details, you don't need that in your life, but needless to say Juneathon Day 4's 8am run went right out the window. However, a walk around the park to 'get some fresh air' wore me right out and Weill therefore count as my exercise for the day.

Fingers crossed that Juneathon Day 5 will be a little less... Ummmm... Messy!!!

For now, I'm enjoying the Queen's Jubilee garden party... I wonder if I'll get a party like that out the front of my house after 60 years of work... One can only hope!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Juneathon Day 1: moving day

Juneathon day 1 and what did I do?

None of your bunny-like gym routines.
None of your fish in the water swimming gubbins.
None of your easy-peasy jogging options.

Oh no.

I went hard... went strong... I moved house!

Seriously! That is unbelievably hard work and I'm not even finished yet! Somehow, I have to magic all the boxes from my old house into some sense of liveable space in my new house!

Oh... And we've lost the cat!

Juneathon day 1 activity: moving house
Time: 10 hours and counting
Feeling: exhausted but happy!!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Run for Cake

I ran the Bupa Great Manchester 10k today... here's a picture of me, and my friend, lovely Louise, before the race...



In a state of frenzied dementia earlier this week, I had set myself a target of 53 minutes for the race! I don't know why I thought I could achieve this as my last 10k time was over 56 minutes!

I didn't.

But... I did have a good time, which is the main thing. And... I definitely ran faster because of my target; and because Coach Pete jumped in and sped me along for a bit on the way out, and the way back; and because Paula cheered me on; and because a random person shouted my name in encouragement with 400 metres left to run (thank you, if that was you!). Of course, I was a little gutted as I have run it much faster than this in the past; but...realistically, I am not up to full fitness at the moment, and I am not running as much as I was when I hit my speedier times. I'm on it though, and I'm trying to exercise more, run harder and eat better - except for today... ignore today... because today, I ran for cake...

this cake...



As for my friend, lovely Louise, it was her first ever 10k race and, despite her nerves at the start, - I tried to tell her I still get those but she was muttering some rubbish about me being a pro! - she smashed her target of 1.15, hitting 1.01 instead! A well deserved medal for speedy Louise...



Something speedy Louise noticed - once she'd recovered from her speedy antics and was watching the coverage at home - was a little sneaky me: on the TV, bombing plodding past Jonathan Edwards' shoulder... look... teeny, tiny, three second me...




Thursday, 17 May 2012

Monday, 14 May 2012

Hunt Lane Death Laps

There's no better feeling - for a runner - than realising that there was a point to all the pain!

Having set myself up, like a right plonker (still a en vogue word right?!), in my previous blog post for Coach Pete to 'push me' in training, I worked VERY hard tonight. The session - 4x hard efforts around a 0.84 mile loop - left my lungs gasping for breath and my legs struggling to stand throughout each 3 minute recovery period; Combine this with the screaming muscles, inability to breathe and near-death experience of each hard effort, I had little confidence that I had run well. I finished the session disappointed.

Thankfully, Pete is better at maths than I. Which is a good job as he was able to work out from my splits that my slowest lap (6.46) had seen me running the loop at a 7.40 min/mile pace! 7.40? Wow! Who knew I could do that?

Needless to say, by the time we'd completed the cool down and returned to base, my confidence,that I can complete the Manchester run this Sunday in 53 minutes, had returned... And that's all I need right: confidence? Well, that and a strong pair of legs, a lot of will-power and hell of a lot of stamina... But that's all? Yes?

Yes.

That's all!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

It's time...

My times are on the up again! I have just achieved 26.53 at the Littleborough 5k; in March I ran the same race in 27.01. It's a small, but significant, reduction!

But, it's time to do better. It's time to cut the excuses. It's time to shape up! I need to lose the fat and improve the fitness; lose to gain, so to speak.

So, I am now banning biscuits, buns and booze for the next two weeks. This will make me less blimp-esque and more brawny-esque! I will then run the Bupa Great Manchester run in 53 minutes... Then, quite possibly, gorge myself on sweet, tasty carbs in celebration for the rest of the day...

My goal: to return to sub 25.30 5k times and sub 50.30 10k times.

All I need to do now is apply a little bit of PRB - positive running belief - can I do this? YES I CAN!

Monday, 30 April 2012

How NOT to play netball!

'Seriously, it'll all come flooding back to you as soon as you step on the court' my friend reassured me as she cunningly convinced me to join her netball team for tonight's game. Yep, you heard that right: netball.

I haven't played netball since I was at school and, trust me, I wasn't particularly good at it then! But, guilt is a powerful emotion, and by the time we'd left the pub last Friday, I was convinced that it was better I play - badly - than leave them a (wo)man down!

And, oh my, was it a baptism of fire! On arrival at the sports hall, we were met by five worried faces: 'We're playing Universal' they announced. Apparently, this was bad. It was bad. They were good. Very good. Very, very good! In fact, these were semi-professional players with the ability to apparate suddenly away from me, and into the path of the ball!

Anyway,  it was an experience, it was fun and it may be something I could be persuaded to repeat, if someone was ever to risk persuading me again. For the time being, in case any of you have considered taking up the great secondary school game of netball, just a mere 17 years after packing away your netball skirt, here's my quick guide to 'How Not to play netball':

1. Agree to the position of 'Goal Shooter' even though your mere 5'2'' stature pails in comparison to the 6'+ giant goal keeper and you haven't held a netball in 17 years, let alone attempted to throw one into a small netted ring!

2. Close your eyes when the ball comes flying towards your face. Some say it's better to catch the ball with your hands, but your nose is a far more effective barrier.

3. Trip over your own feet whilst vying for space as your goal attack aims at the net; the fall to the floor conveniently distracts all team members - warning: this may also cause distraction to your own players!

4. Immediately run into an offside position as soon as the second half begins - having easily convinced your team that Goal Shooter is not the job for you - when you take on the position of Wing Attack. Ignoring the conventional boundaries of play will help you to escape your defence marker!

5. Be kind enough to let your defender win the ball every time. She's very good after all; when she's not apparating across the court, she's got a perfect catch and aim - she deserves to win!

If, at the end of your experience, you have a bruised nose and a grazed knee to show for your efforts, you know you've done well, but have room for improvement... as it seems that broken fingers are the sign of a 'great' player...

Hmmmmm... maybe I should stick to cheering...



Sunday, 29 April 2012

Marshalling Manchester Marathon

People are amazing.

Today, I observed  the courage, determination and tenacity of the runners taking on the Manchester Marathon...  and the weather! For 26.2 miles the runners were battered, bruised and drenched by the strong winds and, at times, torrential wind; and I hear it was the same for those at Milton Keynes.

Having vowed never to run a marathon again, when I'd heard about the return of the Manchester Marathon, I decided I would take the opportunity to 'pay it forward'. The crowd support at London is amazing, and I honestly believe there were times where I wouldn't have continued running if it hadn't been for the supporters, it makes such a difference. So, I wanted to give that back a little bit - If I'm not going to run a marathon, I can bloody well help other people run it instead!

My first marshalling responsibility was on Park Road, just down from Stretford Fire Station, which placed me between the 3 and 4 mile marker.

Park Road before the runners arrived

 At this point, people bounded past. I was joined quite quickly by a handful of local residents and stranded car drivers (the less said about some of them, the better!) who joined me in whooping and cheering the crowd of runners (Hi again to @m4rkyben who was also cheer leading there) who were coping very well with the weather conditions at this stage. Big smiles... heavy rain... several angry drivers later and my marshalling responsibilities were over. The rain was really coming down heavy now, so we headed back to the warmth of the pub meeting point. This was also on the 25 mile stretch of the race course, and after only 10 minutes the front runner came whizzing past - and seriously - whizzing is the best word I can find! I was astounded by his speed!  It was at this point our group leader discovered they were short on marshals for the second part of the course; it seems not everyone was willing to brave the weather.

Well, when you're wet, you're wet... you certainly can't get any wetter! So, I headed off with a couple of other people to continue the marshalling fun. This time, I was placed on the downward slope of the Stretford Mall underpass. Yes, you read that right: downward slope - I could read the pain in people's faces as they began that decent - ouch!  It was a brilliant position though. By this point the runners were quite spread out, so it was easy to see everyone I knew. It was also a great position for whooping and cheering, and that is exactly what I did... sometimes with others, sometimes alone... but always doing my best to pay back what others did for me. Which is when I decided that people are amazing... despite the weather, despite the pain and despite the fact they'd run more than 25 miles by this point, people thanked me! seriously! they smiled, they cheered, they even complimented my hat... well, it is a lovely hat!!

Top tip: wear a stupid hat; it keeps you dry and
cheers runners up!

It was cold and wet, but today, I saw the very best... and worst... of human nature. But the worst - the sweary drivers, the mean pedestrians and the angry 'I've got to get to workers' - were magnificently overwhelmed by the very best: The local residents who braved the rain to bring me cups of tea and coffee - thank you!; the passing pedestrians who stopped to cheer with me when they heard how far the runners had run; and everyone who ran the marathon today... your fortitude in the face of what was thrown at you today, makes me feel like even I could do it again!


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Forgotten Race

I'm not running the Great Manchester Run this year.

Or, at least, that's the answer I've given to those who've asked; the answer I've given because, as far as I was aware, I wasn't.

So, imagine my surprise on reading an email that happily informs me that my race pack will be with me in just a couple of weeks; and my even greater surprise at logging into my Great Run account and seeing the words:

Bupa Great Manchester Run ---> entered.

So, if you are one of the people whom I've told, categorically, that I won't be running it - no, definitely not this year, it's become too expensive and it's not worth the money, blah,blah,blah... - apparently, at some point, I clearly had a change of heart and will be plodding past Old Trafford (at least) one more time.

I just hope this is the only race I've absolutely no recollection of signing up for, I'm not sure I would be greeting an email from the Manchester Marathon with quite the same verve!


Sunday, 22 April 2012

Reflections of a Magathoner

What's wrong with me?

...I should hastily state that that is a rhetorical question and answers are most definitely not needed on a postcard; I don't want to see those answers!...

Last year, I was running the London marathon - well, I say 'running', it was more running, then jogging, then staggering! - and it was possibly one of the hardest challenges I've ever undertaken. Not only was it physically challenging, in ways most people would never imagine - if you've run any kind of long distance you'll likely know the sort of bodily 'challenges' I'm referring to (Paula Radcliffe certainly does) - but it was also one of the emotionally charged events of my life! Crossing the finish line reduced me to a sobbing, blubbering wreck; I was overcome with pride, relief and the incredulity that I'd actually completed it!

Perhaps that explains why, this year, I'm sat on my (slightly fatter backside - I really should do more running again!) watching the London Marathon welling up every time they show someone crossing the line! Seriously! It's ridiculous; correction: I'm ridiculous! I suppose at least I realise!

Of course, watching something like this also makes you reflect. Would I do it again? Could I do it again? I'd wanted to run it faster; could I?

No.

Is still the answer to that one. A year on, the whelming emotions of finishing are still very vivid, however so is the pain, the porta-loos and the long weekend runs!

Good luck to all those still out there, including Henry and Carla, who I'm tracking on the website! - you're doing well, keep it going!! And well done to everyone running marathons this year, particularly to those of you running more than one! As for me, I may not be running one again, but I am looking forward to marshaling at the Manchester Marathon next Sunday. If you're running it, let me know so I can give you an extra special cheer in your final five miles!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

BIG NEWS!

I guess, technically, The Magathon blog is really a blog about running; but, I can't pass on telling you my BIG NEWS so I have found a tenuous, very loosely relevant, running link to my BIG NEWS! ...

Last night, at 8.39pm, whilst my piriformis was being battered and bruised by my Physio, my lovely Sis-in-Law was giving birth to my teeny, tiny, cute-as-a-button, 5lbs 15oz of gorgeousness, nephew (and rendering any attempt of me gaining sympathy for aforementioned piriformis torture completely null and void!).

Yes, that's right... I'm Auntie Magathon!

Friday, 6 April 2012

A Good Friday

2 weeks: 3 races.

It began with the Asics Wilmslow Half Marathon in some of the hottest conditions I've ever run in... Well, in March anyway; the London Marathon was pretty damn hot last year! I'm not good in heat so I took it steady, and although my time was slower than last year, my Run Britain race profile has ranked my performance higher than the year before; confirmation, if I ever needed it, that it really was as hot as I thought it was!

Race 2 was the first of the Littleborough 5k's. For those of you unfamiliar with my local area, Littleborough is a little village within the boundaries of Rochdale; it's pretty, scenic and has a massive hill! Again, it was quite warm, but with this one taking place in the evening, the conditions were comfortably balmy.

Then it snowed!

So the temperature was significantly lower for race 3, which I ran today in the slightly cooler conditions of 5 degrees. Good Friday has always been the date for Salford Harrier's 10k race and, although I don't particularly like the route (a double loop of Salford's most scenic industrial and housing estates), I decided at the last minute that I should stop being so precious and get out there and do it. I'm glad I did. Although my time was still 3 minutes slower than I've run the course in previous years - slower running is still a hangover from the London Marathon, would you believe! - I did complete it in a time of 55.27, which is my fastest 10k since London and... Wait for it... I got 2 points in the club championship! Yes! That's right... I actually ran home ahead of someone else from club - just! It was tough, and if it hadn't been for the relatively steep down hill just a mile from the end, I'd never have done it; it took everything I had! But, I did! Yay!!

So, I think all in all, today has really been a 'Good' Friday! Hopefully, it has been just as good for you too... Here's to a relaxing, and enjoyable Easter weekend and, if you've nothing better to do with your time, I'll leave you with a picture of me running the Wilmslow Half and you can play 'what is that guy saying to me'!

Happy Easter (eggs)!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Is there a cure?

HELP!!!

I need help!

I've just discovered I have a serious disease and I have no idea what the cure is!

Procrastinationitis attacked in the early hours of Sunday morning. In a well-timed stealth assault, the assailant bombarded me whilst I was enjoying a night out with my friends. I know... How rude!

Those of you aware of this debilitating disease (it is believed* that 99.9% of the population of Great Britain suffer from this at some stage in their adult lives) will be familiar with the early symptoms, which manifest themselves in a subtly aggressive manner. Unfortunately, at 2am, when I agreed to stay in the club and dance to the cheesy music for 'just a little longer', I was unaware that this, small decision, was actually the beginning of a much more serious matter. By 3am there was no turning back. At 9am, it was too late; the Trafford 10k was to start in just half an hour, and I was lying in bed: procrastinating.

Yes. I said procrastinating!

And things have only got worse. I could have gone for a run Sunday afternoon. I didn't. I could have gone for a run Monday morning. I didn't. I could have gone to running club this evening... I didn't.

The evidence is clear; google-diagnosed, whilst procrastinating on the sofa: I have Procrastinationitis.

What do I do?

I need to have a think about that...

*by me!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Odd

What with everything that's happened over the past couple of days, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm now a part of a real life Truman Show; recent events certainly read like the script of a sit-com.

I'll let you decide for yourself...

Today, I awoke at 6am, showered, dressed and drove to Tesco Extra. I bought myself some breakfast and lunch for the day and continued my way to work. I chatted with a colleague, prepared my lessons and marked a couple of books. At 8am I sat down in staff briefing, chatting merrily with my colleagues as we waited for the meeting to start. It was ONLY then, that I looked down and realised that, if my antics yesterday were to have provided some level of comedy value then, you ain't seen nothing yet!

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to a whole new level of Monday madness: As I walked around, all day, like this...



Sunday, 26 February 2012

An unmitigated disaster!

If there was a higher power guiding my life, I would say that today, it decided to teach me a lesson for lack of faith and ignorance. When I was unable to sign up for the Great North West Half Marathon, because I was too late, I refused to accept this fate; instead of saying 'oh well, not to worry, it's only one race amongst many- I'll do it next year.' I thought 'I bet I can sign up on the day, there's bound to be some runners who drop out.' and I promptly hot-footed it to Blackpool.

I say 'promptly' but I did, of course, wait for the day of the race before setting off to the great, grey British seaside resort; which was today.

At 7am, I leapt from my comfy, warm, delectable bed and sped my way to Blackpool promenade. Where, by 8.30am I was a fully fledged, legitimate racer. I idled away the next few hours, waiting for the other Oldham and Royton Road Runners by drinking tea and reading various intellectual material (not 'Now' magazine... No, no, no, not me... I very definitely didn't read 'Now' magazine because I'm a cheap skate and it was only 65p!!) in the bar of the Hilton hotel.

At 11am, after a swift mile warm up along the seafront, and another toilet stop, we were off. To begin with I felt really good: I was running at 9.25 min mile pace and feeling quite 'bouncy'. However, the title of this post includes the word 'disaster' so I'll spare you the full exposition and get straight to the problem. At mile 3, my l knee 'went'. By that, I mean it kinda twanged and my leg collapsed a little beneath me. Obviously I stopped to stretch it out. I stretched, walked a little, tested it with a little jog, decided it was fine and continued. Only it wasn't fine. As I hit another undulation in the pavement, my leg did another collapsy dip.

Now, at this point I probably should have stopped running. I didn't. Obviously. And don't look at me like that, you know you wouldn't have either! You see, there were 3 reasons not to:
1. I got up at 7am in the morning to do this run. 7. 7AM. On a SUNDAY!
2. I was always going to be last out of the club runners in this race, but last gets you 1 point. Dropping out just gets you to Loserville!!
3. Running 13.1 miles earns me over 1,300 calories... That's more than a day's worth of guilt-free, fat-free food... I wanted those calories burnt!

So, I adjusted my pace once again and bedded in with the 2hrs11 pacing team. This strategy took me another 7 miles until, at mile 10, the same undulating path caused me to pull up once again and I waved my pacemakers a fond farewell. By now, this race had turned into one of the longest in the world and I was really starting to struggle, so thank goodness for Asheela who pulled up alongside me, at mile 11, and started chatting. Having run 4 marathons, and in training for her 5th in London this year, she provided a good, steady pace, great company and a much needed distraction from the pain in my knee for the last stretch and I can't thank her enough for that. If you know Asheela from Leeds, please pass on my gratitude!

And so, hobbling over the line, I proudly received my goodie bag.

Well, thank goodness for goodie bags I say. As very quickly, the pain in my knee became accompanied by a pain in my stomach which was threatening to show me it's contents despite my reassurances that there really was no need; I had seen everything that had gone in, in a far more pleasant state only a few hours earlier. We entered battle. My stomach vs my mind. Unfortunately, whilst driving on the M61 at 60mph, only 1/2 mile from the safety of a service station, my stomach won. I won't give you the puke-filled gory details but needless to say, it's quite hard to vomit into a goody bag whilst maintaining full concentration on the road. I mainly missed the bag. However, I did manage to empty it of my medal before the evacuation... There's a bright side to everything!!

Putting everything into perspective, and with the power of hindsight, I now think that maybe I'd have been better off staying tucked up in my lovely, warm, comfortable bed this morning; then again, if I had, there'd have been a far less interesting story to tell. And I wouldn't have earned myself 1 whole championship point and a medal!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

I have a plan...

Over the past couple of weeks, running has only occurred twice a week at club due to a complete lack of motivation to force myself out of the house / work/ coffee shops/ restaurants/ parties/ shops/ bed!

So it comes as no surprise that, with an equal level of procrastination, I managed to completely miss the deadline to sign up for the next club championship race which is the Great North West Half Marathon, in Blackpool, this weekend.

But... I have a plan:

1. Get up stupid early (for a Sunday).
2. Make a peanut butter sandwich.
3. Drive to Blackpool, carefully eating -aforementioned peanut butter sandwich on the way!
4. Shamelessly beg/ buy/ borrow/ steal race place from organisers.

If all goes to plan, I will then have 2 1/2 hours to kill in the delightful seaside resort of Blackpool... Where I will try not to kill myself and instead Maybe eat porridge in Starbucks!... This will then be followed by a slow 13.1mile jaunt along the seafront and a much needed one extra point in my club championship kitty!

...I'll let you know how I get on!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Excess and Exercise

This week has been a blur of food and running. Therefore, as someone who is trying to lose a few pounds, it has also been a week of finely tuned balance.

The blur began last week on Wednesday with The Impossible Session. With a night out on Thursday (scoffing my face with fish and chips in Bradford) I felt I had no option but to force myself to attend the 'hard' Wednesday night session at running club- please note: 'hard' is placed within the inverted commas for emphasis and in no way suggests any form of irony... Trust me! - So, we set off to the starting point where Pete described the session: run out for 8 minutes, come back in 7. Take a 1 minute recovery (1 minute? That surely can't be enough??!! - it wasn't!). Then, run out in 6 minutes and return in 5; out in 4, return in 3 - all still with a 1 minute recovery in between - and finally, out in 2 and return in 1. We duly undertook the session which required pushing out and literally sprinting back and, to be fair, I was doing very well at arriving back in the allotted time. Until the final interval of course, as this one was actually, physically impossible. By this point, I was pushing out at about 8.30 min miles; even with my poor maths skills, I can work out that to return the same distance in half the time would require me to run back at 4.15 min miles. Yep. Impossible. I can't - obviously - run that fast! I ran back as fast as I could instead.

The following night, I stuffed my face with fish and chips in celebration of Mik's dad's birthday (happy birthday Sean!) and completion of the impossible session. On Friday, I stuffed my face with cake and pizza; on Saturday we took Doris for a long walk, so I could stuff my face with Chinese; on Sunday, I walked the 6 mile round trip to the city centre so I could stuff my face with Sunday dinner (guilt free) and then I took Doris for another 3 mile walk.

Come Monday, you'd think I'd have had enough of stuffing my face. No, you're right, not if you know me... In fact, if you know me well, it'll be no surprise that I dutifully continued to stuff my face with sandwiches, wedges and the-nicesest-chocolate-in-the-world when I visited Slattery's tea rooms for a 'ladies-what-lunch' catch up with the girls.

By the time I left Slattery's, my stomach ached with the excessive delights I had stuffed it full with, so, naturally, by 7pm I was out running 23 hills at running club. Ouch.

Unfortunately... Or maybe, fortunately, these 'stuffing my face' exploits are due to continue for the rest of the week. In fact, I am currently sat on a train heading to London where I will be taking my mother for an surprise birthday afternoon tea... Nom, nom!

Thankfully, in all of this, I have one saviour; that which will hopefully save me from gout, obesity, or just simple stomach explosion: myfitnesspal. I have installed this little, trusty app on my iPhone, and have been using it to ensure that my excesses have not become excessive! And, despite the slight obsession I've developed with the thing, I think it's doing me good. I've always maintained that dieting is not about denying yourself things you want, or denying your body food it needs; that's not sustainable. If I had been doing that, I would have given up and gone 'off my diet' on Thursday with my fish, chips and curry sauce - I didn't mention the curry sauce before did I :-o - Instead, I've been keeping my excesses balanced with my exercises. Granted, I've not been eating the most nutritional diet in the world this week (so the gout is still a possibility) but I have managed to keep losing weight! Woop! All I have to do is keep the average calories, over the week, below the red line on the pretty little graph (shown below) and it doesn't matter if the little, daily green ones turn red every now and then! Simples!

And perfect, as I'm off to stuff my face with more food... Ooooh, and maybe a few glasses of wine... What? I'll have a salad tomorrow!

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Not-a-pyramid Pyramid Session

Magic Moments come at a price. Yesterday, I had to pay up. In fact, I paid so highly for my amazing Yasso capabilities on Sunday, that I was even too exhausted to write this blog post yesterday. I've only just recovered.

In real terms this tiredness translated itself into the Not-a-pyramid Pyramid Session. Not-a-pyramid because a pyramid requires two equal sides to create it's shape, whereas my attempt looked more like this:


Still, it made for a good recovery run!

Which segues me nicely into some congratulations... WELL DONE to all the Janathoners who, today, completed 31 days of running and, tomorrow, will (hopefully) be enjoying a well-earned rest. You are inspiring (or mental!) and I am in awe -even my pathetic unofficial attempt fell by the wayside just a few days in. Maybe I'll join you during the warmer climes of June... then again, maybe I'll think on that just a little longer.

Anyway, here's to a well-earned rest and a great start to running in 2012.


Sunday, 29 January 2012

That magic moment when...

... You realise you've just achieved something you didn't think you could do... however small that may be!

Fuelled with copious amounts of hangover following a fab night at the theatre, watching Oliver, last night, I didn't expect much more than a vague attempt at plodding back and forth along the same stretch of road several times when I joined some runners from club today. The session, mainly aimed at the marathon trainees, was the Yasso 800's; but rather than doing them on the track, we used the same stretch of road we had used on Monday night's session. For those of you unfamiliar with the session, it's built around 1/2 mile reps - which the others were aiming to run in 4 minutes (as they're aiming for a 4 hour finishing time in the Manchester marathon) - followed by 1/4 mile recovery in the same time. This is repeated 10 times.

Yep, that's right. You read that right.

Ten.

I'll be honest, I turned up to the session thinking I'd have a go and see how far I got. I wasn't aiming to do all of them and I certainly wasn't so presumptuous to think that I'd be able to keep up with the rest of the group, who are all much faster runners than I.

So, you can imagine my amazement when I finished the first rep only slightly behind the rest of the group. Followed by further amazement as I continued to keep up, falling only 15 (or so) seconds behind on each rep. Of course, there were two perfectly simple reasons for this - neither of which involve any kind of hocus pocus, Harry Potter style wizardry!

The first is that the rest of the group, although faster, were running slower; proven on the final rep when Pete knocked his time down from 4 minutes to 2 minutes something (I don't even know what the something was because my brain got distracted by the number 2 at the start of the time!).

The second of the reasons is that I cheated. Cheated myself that is. Not wanting to fall behind the others, on the 1/4 mile recoveries I took a reduced recovery time. this meant On the next fast rep, I started with the rest of the group and ignored the extra recovery time I should have (technically) taken.

All of which led to 'that magic moment'. On each fast rep, I expected to fall further behind. I expected to slow down. I expected to tire. Yet I didn't! In fact, my last two reps were my fastest of the lot, hitting 8.10 minute miles (a pace that hasn't been in my running vocabulary for a very long time!) As we ran back to the cars, taking our total distance to 10.5 miles, I realised just how well I'd run today; and so, Twitter might be obsessed with '#that awkward moment' but for me, today was all about '#that magic moment'!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Hey Little Cupcake!

Cakes, sugar paste and buttercream were the ingredients for this evening and, for once, I wasn't eating! Well, ok, I admit it, I did HAVE to have one of my creations when I got home... It just looked too irresistible!

So what exactly have I been up to?

Well, I've been taking part in a cupcake decorating course at 'Hey Little Cupcake' situated in Spinning Fields, Manchester. This cute little cupcakery provided me with a pretty pink apron, freshly baked cupcakes and all the utensils and know-how to enable me to get creative and decorate my very own, beautiful (if I do say so myself!) cupcakes.

Starting with sugar paste, I perfected butterflies, stars and flowers before moving on to learn how to make the perfect buttercream (I am now LUSTING after a Kenwood mixer!). Then the rest of the night was spent learning, and practising, different decorative effects, that were to make our cupcakes look as yummy as they taste; including the 'Cookie Monster' and the Hey Little Cupcake classic, 'Viva Las Vegas'.

Considering I missed running club for this calorific creative evening, I should have resisted eating one of my creations once I'd plonked my backside back on the sofa; yet, alas, I am a far weaker woman than that and I caved after just 5 (or maybe 3...) minutes back home. Still, as Bad Wabbit (of http://badwabbittails.wordpress.com) revealed, following his attendance at a marathon workshop the other day, what is more important for a runner is carbs - sporty peeps should aim to intake 60% of the little blighters as part of an overall daily diet - and there are plenty of carbs in a cupcake... Especially an 'American' which squirrels a sneaky Oreo cookie within its soft, scrumptious sponge... Mmmmmmm.

Ok, so I'm stepping away from the remaining 5 cakes and planning several runs over the coming few days... After all, practice makes perfect and I need to perfect my creative skills... Cupcake anyone?!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Calories? What calories?

Fresh air, country walks and the company of good people meant for a fun and relaxing weekend and, it seems, great fuel for running.

After a weekend in Alton (not Towers!) enjoying myself with my family, I was understandably tired by the end of today's working day... There had been many wine o'clocks in the evening (watch this space for the wine-o-meter cannily suggested by http://fortnightflo.wordpress.com)! So, running club was not the first thing on my mind this evening - lying on the sofa was! However, due to my over-zealous wine consumption at the weekend, I knew that whilst I had been working hard today, many pesky calories had been equally hard at work, hurriedly attaching themselves to my ass! Not good. Running it was.

However, despite my initial lethargy, I ran better, and felt better, than I have in ages. Running 4 x 1/2 mile reps with 1/4 mile recoveries, I aimed for 3 and completed 4... And I didn't come last! Bonus!

Plus, clocking up just over 6 miles in total means that those pesky calories have been well and truly beaten into submission...

Ha...

Have that calories!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Pooped...

Parents' evening followed by running club?...

I'm completely pooped!

Zzzzzzzzzzzz

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Smashed it!

That'll be a reference to my beep test PB.. Which I totally smashed today!

Hitting a whole level higher than last time, I reached 8.5; and if you haven't already been able to tell, I am very chuffed with myself!

We're having a final go (for a few weeks) at it again next week and hopefully I'll be able to reach even higher again; however, I'm going to have to work on my turns before then as at the moment, I think that's what's holding me back. By far, the hardest thing for me is finding that explosive power needed to sprint from a standing position, which is what is essentially created by having to turn and run in the opposite direction; it's just not something I'm used to. Saying that, I'm quite enjoying the challenge of trying to raise it each week and am already looking forward to my next attempt!

However, what I was more impressed with today was my weight lifting ability and core strength. Moving on to the fitness room after the beep test, our 'teacher' took us through a range of resistance and endurance exercises using the weights and equipment... Despite my usual aversion to picking up anything in a gym with the letters 'kg' at the end, I really enjoyed myself and discovered that I'm stronger than I thought. So, by my (extremely accurate) calculations, I reckon I only need to spend a few more hours in the fitness room with my new 'kg' babies and I'll be hitting level 9 before I know it... Plus I'll (clearly) be an eenie meenie, skinny mini, teeny tiny, weight loss goddess...

Surely?!!!!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Too many excuses for the excuses!

I can't lie, I tried to find many excuses why I shouldn't go running tonight. However, none of them were good enough. I kept finding excuses for my excuses! And so I went.

It was an out (in 20 mins) and back (in 18 mins) run...

Out: I very quickly became the last runner out of 18. Up hill, struggling, pathetic!

Back: I'm in the lead!!!! Until, I was very quickly overtaken by several runners on their return. Ignoring them, Not giving up, running hard. Finish 37:45

Not bad, not great, but at least I tried! And... That's 350 calories in the bank for wine o'clock at the weekend... Who needs excuses?!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

I ran 10 miles because...

I didn't have to!

When running partner, Paula (not Radcliffe), asked me if I wanted to join her on her 10 mile marathon training jaunt today, I thought 'you know what... Yes I do...!' not 'oh, wish I didn't HAVE to go out today.' or 'no, I want to laze about on my sofa.' or even 'I suppose I should.'. No, I didn't think any of the above, just a simple 'Yes...' Oh, and 'Brilliant! That means I can have a couple of glasses of wine!'.

And so, I have run 10 miles today... Because I didn't have to... And I loved it!!

I also discovered (thanks to the very knowledgable girl behind the counter) that the best treat to eat at Eat is their Victoria sponge slice - only 166 calories would you believe! I also discovered that it's worth asking what the calories are in the food - if you've got geeky-OCD-like-calorie-obsession-problems like me - because they have a folder behind the main counter with them all listed... And I learnt all about prams - thanks to not-so-little-bro and lovely-sis-in-law- and just how dear (as the kids would say (no, really they do!- I know, it sounds like something your granny would say doesn't it!) they are!!! Seriously... This baby thing is quite pricey, I'm glad I'm only 'The Aunt' (official title!).

Anyway, did I mention I ran 10 miles today? I've no time to be wasting on here... I've got wine to drink people!... Now, where did I leave that glass of well deserved calories?
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