Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Z is for Zumbathon! R is for RAISE LOADS OF MONEY... YEAH!!!!

Lucky me, I secured a place in the 2012 Great North Run: hurrah/ oh no, what have I got myself into this time?!!!! Not only will I be running 13.2 miles, I will also 'run the risk' (pun intended) of being filmed for LIVE television. The horror! Regular readers will know that I have a tendency towards the calamitous- Can you imagine falling over your own feet whilst being watched by 5 million Sunday viewers? I can. Unfortunately.

Anyhow, probable catastrophe aside, I decided to raise as much money as physically possible for my sponsor charity, Children with Cancer. So I went to see my lovely zumba instructor Kirsty who gave me a totally enthusiastic and resounding 'Yes!' Then she offered to help organise it and within three weeks we had planned the worlds best ever Zumbathon. I am not exaggerating, it's going to be immense!
Dutifully, I set up a Facebook page. However, as my bog standard blog goes to prove, I'm a bit of a techno-phobe. So, because I can at least write on this without my masterpiece disappearing, this lovely little blog will become the Zumbathon notice board for the next eight weeks.
Please comment- anywhere! Facebook if you can, on here if you can't. Join in the fun, let's get the party started 8 weeks early.
Even if your boogie has deserted you, you can still get involved. At the moment, we are in desperate need of helpers to:
·         collect money (and encourage people to give more)
·         run the raffle/ guess the name of the bear competition
·         serve tea and coffee
·         serve water
·         hand out free badges/ pens/ balloons etc
... and probably a thousand other jobs that I have yet to think of. If you are available and willing, please e-mail me using the address above or the Facebook page thingy. Any help would be much appreciated!

Phew, that's it for now lovely readers!
8 weeks to go x

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

D is for Distraction

Okay, so I've been a little erm...distracted recently. The reason for said distraction is sitting in the grass in the above photograph, yep, Fearne the puppy who shall, from henceforward be called 'Fearne the running puppy who sometimes tries to eat my laces when I'm mid stride.'
I read somewhere recently (I think it was on the Internet just after I typed 'how to stop your puppy causing broken bones/ limbs/ ruptured internal organs whilst running' into Google) that you shouldn't make puppy's run too young. The problem is though, that, far from the usual healthy amount of loathing most people show to the noble sport, Fearne actually enjoys it. In fact, she loves it so much that every single walk turns into a run. I'm thinking of shouting 'runnies' instead of 'walkies' when I pick up her lead but it sounds like an unfortunate by-product of eating curry rather than an enjoyable, healthy pursuit. So walkies it is for now- even though this is blatant false advertising.
During the Easter holidays I was due to do lots of long runs to prepare for my up-coming half marathon. Then I realised that Fearne loves running. Then I thought (being the efficient, busy Mum I am) 'what's the point me running on my own then walking Fearne afterwards...why not do the two together?' (Cue light-bulb moment) You can see where it all started to go wrong, can't you!
For the past week, I have run every day. Which is great. Not so great is the fact that my average mileage has only been 4 miles. At least 1 of which has been spent trying not to fall over Fearne when she stops for a laces attack and a cuddle. To say that I'm not ready for this half marathon is an under-statement. My whole training program now rests on the fact that my kids are spending the day with their Grandparents on Thursday so I'll have chance for a 10 miler. As for Fearne? I'll leave her a pack of laces to chew...she'll never even know I'm gone!
Happy Easter everyone xxx
(P.S. For Easter, my husband bought me a book called 'Run Fat Bi**h Run! Should I be insulted?)  

Monday, 26 March 2012

R is for revelation...

Okay. Okay. I know. If you read the race diary at the top right hand corner of my blog, this should technically be a race report. Yesterday morning I should have run the Bradford 10K. Yesterday morning I actually took my daughter to a 5th birthday party and sat drinking coffee with my friends whilst my daughter threw herself around a jungle gym with riotous abandon. We suffered an unfortunate Sunday morning clash: my son took part in the national karate championships (he won silver, very proud mummy) and my daughter simply 'couldn't miss her best friend in the world's party mummy...pleeeeeease.' If you're a mummy (or daddy/nanna/ pops/ big sister... or just a person who has contact with a child under 7) you'll understand that it was simply easier to give in. So I did.
It actually turned out pretty well. The Leeds half marathon is only 6 weeks away and a long run of only 6 miles isn't actually preparing me for a gruelling 13. On Saturday then, the real training began. I ran 8.2 miles, the furthest for a long while. I ran locally in the balmy sunshine. An azure ocean of sky flowed above the lush green pastures of farmland which surround my house. As I ran across the infamous Bronte moors, I could hear nothing but sheep bleating and the insistent humming of busy insects. Twice I stopped just to hear the silence. As my yoga instructor would say, I 'strengthened my line.'
As I was running, I noticed that there were quite a few cars parked up on a specific spot on the moors. People were flocking around a footpath which I had never before seen. The signposts read 'Bronte Waterfalls' 1 1/2 miles. Now, of course, I have heard of Bronte waterfalls. I know they are renowned for their beauty etc. and they are historically significant because it's where a Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights etc... to be honest, I've always seen that kind of thing as tourist bait. And, as with most of the local tourist attractions, presumed it was best avoided. But I recognised some of the locals walking on the footpath so resolved to explore the path as soon as I had some spare miles to run.
Today I had some spare time and a big fat zero on my Daily Mile account. So I explored the path. Boy, what a sucker I am. By avoiding tourists, I have deprived myself of the most beautiful spot... ever! I ran a mile and a half and found, at the bottom of a well worn footpath, a babbling brook of clear water, dotted with stepping stones. Surrounded by Spring's floral offerings and accompanied by the bleatings of what must have been several hundred new born lambs, it rocked. I sat for an hour. Gary beeped at me. He told me I had 'run' a 50 minute mile, he threatened to go onto power save but I was resolute. I sat there, cross legged by the water, face turned towards the sun like a flower until my petals felt like they were burning and I remembered that I wasn't wearing sunscreen! Like an intrepid explorer, I set off on a gruelling cross moor route following my intuition and crap sense of direction... then I ended up knee high in bog water. Never mind, at least I discovered the waterfalls.
Because I wanted you guys to be able to share in the beauty, I returned to the waterfalls with my camera and son for an after school picnic. However, the camera, like Gary, wasn't up to the challenge and, after screaming that it's battery was low, switched itself off. Never mind, I'll be back there soon and will take some pictures for you all. Perhaps I'll start collecting unusual, out of the way routes across Yorkshire and posting them up here so that everyone can share the fun. Well, as long as the kids don't have anything else planned...

Happy, sunny days

Didn't want to copy an image to put on here due to Copyright etc... but here's a website if you want to see what I see when I run. (Although when I see it, it is usually raining!)

Sunday, 18 March 2012

One woman and her Garmin... a love story

I don't know how it happened. Honestly, I don't. I was just minding my own business, living my life, a happy-ish underachieving runner when suddenly... suddenly... there he was... Gary the Garmin! Since we met, my life has been a whirlwind of 9 minute miles and hill training. He's revolutionised my life... what a guy!
I'm the one in the yellow jacket looking lovingly at Gary.
Today was the Keighley 10K, a very local race which meant that, shock horror, people I actually knew were also running. This meant two things- 1) I had to wear make-up/ put an effort in rather than looking like I'd just been dragged through a hedge backwards 2) I needed to do okay, as in, not embarrass myself. And that's where my Gary came in.
Nearly there... oh no I'm not. Gutted! 
The route was hilly so I set myself a target time of 1 hour, which, judging by recent runs, shouldn't have caused me any trouble. Unfortunately though, the first half k was on a narrow path which looped a field... I got stuck behind a group which didn't seem to want to move , or run, or, well, do anything really. Gary was screaming '13.45 minute mile... you can do better than this, what the....?' He's a real motivator!
Took this as proof that I can, on occasion, touch my toes. Some of my family doubt my skills- honestly, you just cannot get the staff these days! 
As soon as I was free, I sped off and managed to make up some of the lost time. It was pretty tough going, some of the up-hill running gave me lower back ache and the front of my shin was throbbing pretty badly but I kept going, trying to make up the time on the flat and down-hill stretches. Coming in to the last 0.3 kilometres, I could see the finish arch through a line of trees. Gary was telling me I had 2 minutes to finish the race, I felt confident... until I turned into the park and realised I had a full loop still to do! Aaarghhhh! I finished in 1 hour, 1 minute and 5 seconds. If I swore on my blog, the air would be blue right now, but I don't. Unfortunately!

But hey, on the positive side, today's was a much better performance than the Huddersfield 10K. My back is still aching, my shin is buried under a bag of iced pea's and Gary? He's sleeping peacefully in his case, waiting for next Sunday and the Bradford run. Bless him xx

Happy Mother's Day everyone xxxx

Thursday, 15 March 2012

A is for Another New Arrival!

Well, things have been extremely busy in the Sharp household for the past couple of weeks. As you know, good old Gary the Garmin arrived (and not a minute too soon). Then, just when I thought things couldn't get any more fly by the seat of my pants exciting, Fearne, our new puppy bounded onto the scene! And she is lovely (though not quite as useful as Gary.)
Here is a picture of Fearne- or, to give you her 'Sunday' name(with which she was christened by my daughter and a bottle of Evian)- Fearne Freckles Sharp. Look closely, can you see why her middle name is freckles?

 As you know, I spent a good deal of 2011 bemoaning the lack of a running buddy. Well, now I have one... a cross between a border collie and a whippet, she's shaping up to be a fine runner. She's already very quick...especially when she's tearing around the house with my shoes in her mouth. I promise, right here and now, not to be a puppy bore- I will not tell you how many times she urinated on the carpet yesterday (3) or how many times I got up with her in the night because she was barking (5) or how long it takes her to eat meals (less than 30 seconds, it's amazing to watch.)
For the moment, much to my frustration, she is housebound and I am itching to take her for a jog. According to the vets, the hound can be released in two weeks, just in time for Easter and the school holidays. Yippee! Two children and a puppy... my Easter is bound to be full of peace and tranquillity.
As for the running, well you'll be glad to know that I am still doing it! Hurrah. Despite the fact that I currently suffer from separation anxiety, I am not worried... it soon wore off with the kids! On Monday night, I went for a 4 mile run with the Saltaire Striders, who were as fabulous and fast as ever. Tonight, I am doing my first 'longer' run with them- a 6 mile cross country route with Fartlek training (I tried not to giggle then but... c'mon...Fartlek. Who came up with that name?!) This should prepare (or injure) me for Sunday's Keighley 10K. Hopefully our new addition will allow me to get some sleep before then. Much as I love Fearne Freckles, Gary the Garmin is far, far easier to look after! Yawn... 

Friday, 2 March 2012

G is for Gary and O is for 'Oh, so THAT'S how to use a Garmin!'

Despite ear infections, work and being an un-paid taxi for my ridiculously busy kids, this week I managed to attend my very first run with an actual, proper running club- The Saltaire Striders!
Based on last Sunday's awful experience, I was expecting to find a group of super fit, 'running to the run' style athletes with car tyre sized calf muscles and tight fitting vests but no... the runners were really normal people. Honestly- several of them had even driven to the running club. They were really friendly, introducing themselves by their names (not by their personal bests- another thing I had come to fear) and warmly shaking my hand. By a stroke of luck, I had hit on the advanced beginners class. For the first time... well... ever... I wasn't at the back. In fact, I was actually near the front. I ran the first 2 miles at a 9 minute mile pace without noticing because I was talking (my all time favourite hobby) to a really nice lady, who, it just so happens, is also running the Great North Run for the first time in September! Small world eh?! We did Fartlek training (I still can't write or say the name without laughing like a teenage boy) and I just did it- up and down the hills, quick pace, absolutely no problems! The lead runner lady simply said, "you're never a beginner... great run, can you make it next week?" To which I replied, 'Hell yeah!'  And that was that. Back in love with running like the fickle character I am!
When Gary the Garmin and I went out tonight, I decided to use him to properly train- not coast and enjoy the 'experience' of being outside, wearing lycra in the freezing cold and getting beeped at by van drivers because my nipples are sticking through my t-shirt like chapel hat pegs- I ran properly. The way the group ran on Monday. I ran 4 and a half miles in 43 minutes. The first two flat miles were 8.45 and 8.34. The third and fourth miles were up-hill and even they weren't that slow AND I didn't stop... not once... not even to give the finger to the van driver who peeped his horn and shouted 'nice baps' as he sped into the sunset.
I honestly wish I'd gone running with a club earlier. I could have been training a lot more effectively if I had. It's funny because everyone I spoke to at the club had joined after reaching a frustrating plateau after a long period of running on their own... hopefully, the Striders will help me get over my 'hump' and then I will rock my next races. Then Gary and I can run to the run and talk personal bests with the proper runners! Yippee! Can't wait.
8 miles tomorrow. Happy running :) 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

R is for Reality Check!

It started so well. For once, my idea of 'early' morning coincided with the race organisers idea of 'early'... the race started at 11am! Which meant that I could lie in until 8, have a leisurely hour preparing myself mentally (whilst eating my own - slightly reduced- bodyweight in carbs) then mosey on down to the starting line. 
Looking relaxed.... little did I know...

I knew that this race was organised by 'proper runners' as my husband calls them- everyone he ever sees moving quickly- from the woman speed walking with her dog to the guy pushing a buggy up the hill -is a 'proper runner.' I'm not though... because I'm still going through a 'phase!' GRRRR...
Having never been to a race organised by a proper running club before, I was totally unprepared for the sheer level of professionalism with which these lycra clad people approached their sport. 'eee by gum, it was impressive. 80% of the runners arrived on foot... they had run to the race. For the hour leading up to the race (whilst my husband and kids emptied the bacon butty stand) they ran laps of the rugby club at which the race was starting. Then we set off... and it was blooming awful.
Me and Gabby pretending to be proper runners
The pack split straight away. 600 runners were in the race... 550 of them vanished in a cloud of dust, leaving 50 non-club runners flailing at the back... walking up the vertical inclines and swearing our way through 6 miles of painful, torturous terrain. Because I was dealing with my 4 year old, I actually started at the very back of the pack... I finished tenth from last... it took me 6 miles to pass 9 people including a guy on a crutch and a seventy three year old runner called Bernard.  It was his first ever race.
Suck much? Yes I do.
Where did everyone go? 
I feel no sense of pride as I write this blog. Actually, I have spent most of today feeling really cross with myself. If I could move my legs without wincing, I would kick myself! When my husband and I talked about it afterwards, he explained to me that some people are just built to run, it's genetic and that I have "other skills... like writing and... erm..." I may be deluded, but I think I am built to run. Thank God in Heaven above I am fit, healthy, I eat well, I stretch loads and hey, I really rock that lycra. It's time to face facts, I need some professional help! No. I don't mean therapy. I'm going to bite the bullet and join a running club.  I want to be in that cloud of dust, wearing a vest with my team's name on it having taken running advice from people who really know the sport.
Last year, I enjoyed learning as much as I could through lots of trials and many, many errors (remember when I pee'd into the patch of nettles?!) I have 4 half marathons and countless 10K's to do this year... it's time to get serious!
Feeling quite fierce. Grrr...  xxx

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A is for A Very Special Guest Blogger...

A few weeks ago, a lovely young lady called Liz e-mailed me and asked if she could post an article onto this blog. As soon as I read the article, I said yes and you will soon see why. Many thanks to Liz  for the time and effort involved in putting together such a professional article... regular readers, don't get used to it- we'll be back to general waffle and grumbles tomorrow! 
Take it away Liz... 
Liz Davies is a recent college graduate and aspiring writer especially interested in health and wellness. She wants to make a difference in people’s lives because she sees how cancer has devastated so many people in this world. Liz also likes running, playing lacrosse, reading and playing with her dog, April.

The Benefits of Staying Active for Cancer Patients 
Exercising is sometimes one of the last priorities for cancer patients, particularly if they have just undergone chemotherapy. Although physical activity might seem like too much work, exercise can actually improve a patient’s physical and mental state. Before post-operative patients begin a new regimen, they should check with their doctors to see which specific workouts are the most appropriate. Treatment for lung cancer and mesothelioma causes patients tends to focus on increasing lung capacity while arm exercises might be best for breast cancer patients.
Physical Effects
Exercise helps to build physical strength and endurance. After being in the hospital, or going through bouts of chemotherapy, many patients find that regular workouts help to rebuild their strength, and makes handling treatment side effects more bearable. At the same time, exercise can help prevent the onset of pain associated with cancer by decreasing its prevalence.
Improved Mental Outlook
Aside from the physical benefits, exercise directly improves the mental states of cancer patients by increasing the release of good mood hormones and preventing anxiety. Since this type of chronic illness takes such an emotional toll, many patients find that having a sharp brain and positive outlook are both imperative to surviving the disease.
Types of Exercises
Cancer remission often leaves survivors weak and with little physical energy. This can be disheartening to patients who were once extremely active and engaged in high-intensity activities, such as running. In order to reap the physical and mental benefits of exercise without setting goals too high, cancer patients should focus on low-intensity exercises such as swimming and walking. These workouts are also perfect for those looking to start off slowly and gradually add on laps or miles. Yoga can also be incorporated into a routine, but it is best to seek the guidance of an instructor to prevent injury.
            No matter which workout a patient chooses, consistency is important. Patients can focus on exercising 20 to 30 minutes at a time to start, for three days a week. As cancer survivors grow stronger, they can consider increasing the duration and number of workouts they do—with the consent of a doctor.
When to See a Doctor
The first time a patient works out after being in the hospital can take its physical toll on a patient’s muscles. However, if a patient experiences a great deal of pain or extreme fatigue post-exercise, then he or she should consult with a physician immediately. Regular exercise does help most cancer patients recover, but a few might not be physically ready for it as soon as other patients in remission. 

Sunday, 19 February 2012

I is for IT'S ARRIVED!

Meet Gary the Garmin. He's reliable, trustworthy and will run with you through the most horrendous weather conditions. I might just trade in my husband... 
...and it's just as wonderful as I had hoped! Not only did it arrive two days early, it also started working as soon as I plugged it in. I know, how amazing! Okay, I had to run to the top of the street so that it could find a satellite with which to set the time but I often have jump on my bed  to get a signal on my mobile phone. I know it's fantastic but it's not a blooming miracle worker (otherwise I would have lost another stone this weekend and I would be driving a brand new yellow Porsche 911.)
Because I'm a girl who likes to name everything (my car is called Sally, my husbands car is called Victor- much to his irritation) my new Garmin is called Gary. Inventive I know. A real inspiration. I just don't know where my idea's come from. Gary and I went for an eight mile run today. We spent 5 miles running into the arctic wind. It's the first run I've ever done where I haven't actually gotten warm- I started the run shivering and finished the run blue. But Gary was magnificent- he peeped every time I ran another mile and his backlight was simply wonderful. Sure, I nearly fell under a car playing with Gary's buttons. Sure I lost the satellite signal a couple of times. Sure, I almost deleted my workout when I was trying to save it but hey, that's technology for you.
As it turns out, Gary arrived just in the nick of time. On Friday I received an e-mail telling me that I am officially running the BUPA Great North Run! EEEEEKKKKK...what are the chances of that happening? Actually, about 8 to 1! I never expected to be successful but here I am, already waking up screaming in the middle of the night because, in my dreams at least, I am doing my very first televised half marathon in the nude. Even worse, I've re-gained all of my wobbly bits... and they are filling the screens of the nation's disgusted viewers! Apparently the television adds 8 pounds to svelte models... I dread to think how I'll look... like a cross between king-kong and an umpa-loompa. Perhaps I should bite the bullet and go dressed as an umpa-loompa then at least people will think I'm being ironic.  
Do you think I'll be able to hide myself in a crowd this big? It will be like 'Where's Wally?' A new national sport! 
I fear that I am ranting (again. ) Obviously, the race is not until September and I will not spend the whole of the next 7 months fixated on my wobbly bottom in an umpa-loompa's costume, nor will I fret and have nightmares about humiliating myself... in public... on national television. No dear readers, I will be cool, calm and collected... just like normal. (In case you were wondering, that was me practising being ironic!)
7 months to go x

Thursday, 16 February 2012

N is for New Arrival

Hi everyone and happy February! It may be a little late but I have just realised this is my first February blog- oh no! I have been running and exercising- I promise. I've even lost 2 more pounds. The problem is that I've been a little... well... distracted.
The truth is you see, on Monday the 20th of February, I am eagerly expecting a new arrival. I know it will be hard. I know there will be times when I feel like giving up and throwing in the towel. But I am ready, dear readers!
Believe me, I have done this twice before so I am fully prepared for:
·         middle of the night floor pacing whilst my husband and I struggle to find the on/off switch
·         stress and confusion whilst we try to decipher everyone else's instructions and tips
·         the expense- have you any idea how much these things cost?
On Monday morning, my middle aged, sweetly smiling, definitely balding post man will act as the stork when he delivers my new GARMIN! (Cue rapturous round of applause.) I have been researching the new addition to our family since Christmas and am truly giddy at the prospect of being able to put funny looking links onto my Daily Mile account so that fellow runners can share in my delight/pain- of course, it could take me until next February to work out how to switch the thing on but hey, keep the faith!
            According to Amazon, my new baby will look like this:

It's not the most expensive Garmin- it won't tell me my heart rate whilst counting my steps and telling me I'm only working at 30% of my actual ability (i.e. that I'm being lazy.) If it did that, the thing would end up swimming with the fishes in the local canal. No, it looks nice and simple... I just hope that appearances aren't deceptive!
            If you have any top tips please let me know... otherwise my miles will consist entirely of floors paced during arguments with my techie husband...
            4 days to go x

Sunday, 29 January 2012

A summary of this weekend's trials and tribulations

Hi there! I'm feeling very mathematical this week so I have decided to hit you with some key facts and figures.

Miles run: 15 in total. 5 on Friday, 10 on Sunday.
Time spent running: 2 hours, 50 minutes: (2 hours this morning... not very fast which leads us to...)
Back injuries sustained whilst carrying humongous bags of compost around the garden on Saturday: 1... lower back... ouch!
Pedestrians argued with: 2 (and their perfectly harmless dog) *
Pedestrians said 'thank you' to (with large grin): 11
Runners I smiled at and said "Hello": 12
Runners who responded: 3
Times I felt like saying 'smile you miserable moron, you're supposed to be enjoying yourself,': 9
Times I actually said it : 9 (all in my head)
Calories burned: Not enough to work off the weekend's little indulgences (namely chocolate cookies and maltesers.)
Pounds burned during the hellish month that is January: 6! HURRAH!

* To be fair, the woman was totally obnoxious. I was running on Friday night on a path which is really narrow. There is room for two people to pass but it's a tight squeeze. When she saw me coming, the woman moved to the outside of the path- nearest the road- so that her dog was safely tucked away next to the wall. Her husband walked behind her, looking slightly scared.
I refused to run on the road. I stopped in front of them and folded my arms! (I had had a pretty awful Friday it has to be said, and was in great need of some running meditation.) The woman started moaning. According to her, runners are a menace to society and we think we own the pavement- so did her dog apparently, who stopped and left a large present on the path for someone to tread in. I'm sorry to say that I lost my cool. I don't swear on my blog, so I cannot recount the exact words I chose to bestow upon this creature of non-existent manners but they worked. She moved for me!
With a smug little smile, I ran away, swaying my 6 pounds lighter bottom in time to my i-pod! Take that rude pedestrian! Ha Ha!
Am hoping to run 7 miles in the morning if the back holds out! Keep your fingers crossed please everyone! x

Thursday, 26 January 2012

G is for Gormless...

Can't see the link between meditation and
snails? Read on and you soon will! 
(p.s. I look nothing like this slender, well
groomed cartoon woman! Unfortunately.)

After dance aerobics last night, I hit the gym- BIG STYLE! Dripping with sweat, I leaped onto the treadmill (alright, slithered might be more appropriate) and started to pound away. Because, as my regular readers know, I 'love' the dreadmill so much, I decided to share with it my new found love of 'meditative running,' (I have the copywrite on that name- okay!) The gym was heaving and yet, for a miraculous three miles, no-one used the treadmill next to me. It was crazy busy. Heck, at the reception desk, there was a queue forming... yet no-one ran next to lovely me... weird huh? Then I caught my reflection in the mirror... and understood why. Dripping with sweat isn't pretty. Dripping with sweat whilst wearing lycra is even less attractive. But dripping with sweat whilst wearing lycra and running with your mouth hanging open is even more grotesque- I swear, I looked unstable. I suddenly became very self conscious- straightening up, closing my mouth (and wiping away the snail trail of dribble) then I thought 'who the heck cares,' and resumed my vacant expression. No-one spoke to me all night- I was free to train in my cool, calm, meditative state.
Usually when I'm on the dread, I feel every single mile... I count my brain cells as they die of boredom but not so in my MS (meditative state is far too much to write every time). Lost in a land of nothingness, I ploughed on, managing three miles of sublimely average running without even flinching! If only the cosmic calm of the universe had followed me to the cross trainer. Have you ever seen anyone get confused by a cross trainer? Have you ever seen someone get caught in a cross trainer? Have you ever seen someone get caught in, trapped by and then fall off a cross trainer? I have- and I was looking in the mirror when it happened! I've watched other people train on these weird machines of torture and they make it look so easy- just moving forwards and backwards whilst their pony tails elegantly swish behind them. I tried to go forwards but my hand moved faster than my feet... it wasn't pretty folks. It wasn't pretty at all (especially since I still had a snail trail of dribble next to my lip... oh yeah... and the lycra... and the sweating!)
Unattractive times x

Sunday, 22 January 2012

R is for revelations!

Yesterday I ran 8 miles in the rain and gale force wind and I had three startling revelations:
·         I stopped enjoying running when I started to think of it as a job and adding it to my 'to do' list rather than my 'I want to do' list
·         I stopped enjoying running when I set myself tasks to do whilst notching up the miles: find something exciting for the blog, work through that tricky sub-plot in chapter three, re-decorate my bedroom in my head, analyse that conversation I had with... about ... because it didn't end the way I wanted it to (fill in the blanks)
·         Waiting half an hour in the freezing cold to be picked up makes you pretty cross- no matter how zen you feel after a run of many revelations!*
(* Husband responsible for collection. 'Forgot!' How very dare he!)
 Give this girl pink spandex and a fanny pack! Me yesterday! 
When I look back at my blogs, I can pinpoint almost exactly when I fell out of love with running: it was after the reindeer 10K. With no races to motivate me to run outside and terrible December weather, I hit the gym. I hated running in the gym. Really, HATED it! I hated it so much that I had to force myself to go... and in doing so I was forcing myself to run. So I started to associate running with boredom... Hey-presto! Terrible psychological association number two! (Number one was associating lycra with running, sadly this association refuses to be broken and I have been damaged for life.)
Do you want to know my foolproof method for achieving such fantastic, deep rooted, life affirming introspection? Run in horrible weather. I don't mean slightly horrible weather- a bit of wind and light drizzle. I mean torrential rain: droplets the size of your fists and force 8 winds that up-root hundred year old trees and blow old ladies into the canal. Because, if you focus on anything else except for the actual process of running, you will join the old lady in the canal! You must keep all your wits about you, your senses intact. In doing so, you have to tell the chattering monkey, the annoying whiny voice that goes on and on to shut the chuff up! And just run.
I did this. I focussed on breathing- I had to, the wind kept stealing my oxygen! I counted my footsteps. I felt the stinging cold whipping my face. I watched the world flying around me- plastic bags, random newspapers, tree branches. I laughed at birds trying to fly into the wind (then realised that they were probably laughing at me too!) I switched off. And before I knew it, I had run seven miles.
I have to say at this point that I did get a few weird looks from passers by when I was in my 'zen' like state of tranquillity. I think that when I relaxed my eyes, they may have crossed a little bit. Also, I think my tongue may have been hanging out... I tend to do that when I'm concentrating.
Despite pedestrians looking at me like I had arrived on the sunshine bus, I really had a very nice time. I have resolved to use running as my free time, the thing I do to get a bit of peace and quiet and what is a hectic life. And suddenly I feel better. Hurrah!

Friday, 20 January 2012

B is for Bridget Jones!

10 stone (have lost 4 pounds during last 10 days, only one tiny stone to go), cigarettes 0 (stopped smoking last February but still feels good to write a zero), alcohol units 0 (giving my body January off since drank whole years quota in December- well, 'twas the festive season and all that), times checked on my left knee (currently swollen to the size of my thigh) 83 (poor but still better than yesterday's record breaking 156!)
Whilst re-reading Bridget Jones- one of my all time favourite books- for the twentieth time, I was inspired! Sure, it's unconventional to write my actual weight at the top of the blog but now I have made it public I simply HAVE to step away from the flumps/ chocolate bars/ apple crumble and custard and, instead, eat healthy things like celery and avocado and... erm... beans and stuff.
I should be running tonight. My calendar clearly says 'RUN 6 MILES (or die.)' Was obviously of un-sound mind when I wrote the bit in brackets, could possibly have been under the influence of too much Christmas spirit. And I want to run. Believe me, running 6 miles in the torrential rain is my absolutely perfect way to spend a Friday night, but sadly I cannot. The reason being that I have hurt/ broken/torn/ripped/ bashed/ paralysed my left knee. The blame lies entirely with aerobic dance. If you put twenty thirty something women in a room at once and make them grapevine to 'Sexy and I know it,' something terrible is obviously going to happen.
There I was 'wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggling...yeah' when something went 'snap'. Bravely, I tried to wiggle on but my knee was Not In The Mood! Because I am totally devoted to my fitness goals (and it was raining outside and I didn't want to get my hair wet running to the car), I persevered.Me and my snapped knee boogied half-heartedly through Greased Lightning and It's Raining Men...we even attempted the Shuffle. But what 'Sexy and I know it' started, 'Zorba's Dance' finished. I hobbled out of the studio feeling more like crawling that wiggling.
By the time I got home, the knee was swollen. Badly. I had to use some of my healthy frozen vegetables to reduce the swelling (now I cannot possibly eat them... it'll have to be crisps instead). I have spent the past two evenings sitting with my knee elevated whilst covered with a veritable medley- if I actually ate the vegetables, I might be nearer my target weight but that's a whole different issue.
I have a full weekend of running ahead of me and, come swell or high water, tomorrow I'm lacing up those trainers and hitting the hills. As Bridget Jones would say, 'Oh dear. This won't end well!'

Monday, 16 January 2012

W is for waffle... which I absolutely, positively, DO NOT do!

According to my husband, I waffle, which is rich coming from him and his never ending 'Assassins Creed' anecdotes. I mean, running is pretty important to me and it's essential, as a woman, to share that joy with other people. In fact, psychologists say that women are twice as likely to.... Oops. Maybe he has a point!
In an effort to show Mr 'words of one syllable' that I can be concise, here is a summary of this morning's run:

Beautiful Yorkshire Morning. Endless blue skies.  -2 degrees. 7 miles. 80 minutes. Up-hill. Ouch. Followed by hot shower. Might have given self shingles. Oops.

Hurrah! See, can absolutely be concise! To further prove my point, here is my summary of Friday's run.

Friday night. Dark. Cold. 4 miles. 41 minutes. Couldn't feel my finger tips.

Am officially the queen of summarising- take that X-Box boy!  

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Y is for "Yoga! Yippee!" (and Yogaches.)

In my continued (increasingly desperate) bid to have a body like Beyonce, I returned to yoga last night. I can't recall when I stopped going. It just seemed like, between running upward of 20 miles a week, and developing Jodie Marsh style muscles in the gym, I forgot to book my yoga class a couple of times... then a few more times and before I knew it, I was having one of those, "I know I should go back but can I face the accusing looks of my yoga teacher/ I wasn't exactly her BEST student... what if she was glad to see the back of me and won't let me re-join the class?" moments.
In a bid to boost my confidence before I attended the class, I ran 5 miles on the dreadmill, then lifted some more weights. I also wore one of my race t-shirts as a, 'look , I was doing something worthy when I wasn't saluting my line,' kind of statement. After the initial sarcastic comments, quite a lot of tut-tutting and 'You're going into your lumber again... which is no surprise since you obviously haven't practised... blah, blah, blah...' I settled into the class. And it was brilliant.
A complete body class, we stretched our calves to our upper shoulders. Anyone who has ever done yoga will understand me when I say that it hurt... in a really good, deep stretching, body really needed this kind of way. When we meditated at the end of the session, I almost fell asleep because all of the stresses and strains of running were, for that moment, released. I had the best nights sleep in ages... it was bliss.
This morning I felt like I had been hit by a bus. Muscles I had forgotten about were groaning in protest every time I tried to move. I had to literally lift my legs so that I could get into the shower! I think I push my body pretty hard with the running, the weights, swimming and booty shaking but nothing produces the sore after effects of yoga. Then again, it's like my teacher would say, "practise makes perfect... and no practise makes a yoga student who has gained a stone since she stopped regularly attending classes!" Needless to say, I'm already booked on for next week. Bring on the yogaches!  

Monday, 9 January 2012

P is for Puddle Racing... the running craze that's drenching the nation!

Do you sometimes wish you could liven up your run with a game which combines the fun of the log flume with an Olympic sprint final? Are you bored of arriving home bone dry? Have you got a masochistic sense of fun?
If so... puddle racing is just the game for you!

Why should ducks have all the fun? Try puddle racing today! 
Playing Puddle Racing is quick... sometimes it's SO quick you don't even know you're playing!
You will need:
  • Yourself- running- outside- next to a road (preferably a really busy road, on which are lots of wagons/ lorries/ guys in white vans)
  • A competitor- this competitor must be driving a motor vehicle. The heavier and bigger the vehicle, the greater the challenge
1) Innocently run along the road side wearing your usual amount of spandex. Some competitors listen to their i-pods whilst running, others prefer the sound of silence/ bird song/ babbling rivers/ the garbage van emptying the wheely bins... you know, sounds that help them to reconnect with nature.
2) Run next to a massive, really deep, really dirty puddle... keep running...
3) See the wagon driver who has just turned the corner, spotted the puddle then spotted you as his next unwitting puddle racing contestant.
4) Glare at the puddle then glare at the driver, prepare to sprint as the driver revs his engine. He's determined to splash you
5) ... ready...steady... RACE!!!!!!
6) Race to the other side of the puddle. If you manage to defy the odds and escape un-drenched, stop and do the Shuffle/ the Freak or some other suitably impressive dance of victory.  
7) If you lost, keep running (but try not to drip too much on the path otherwise you might just slip and hurt something.)
Well done! You played your first game of Puddle Racing. You need never be a bored runner again!
I played puddle racing this morning. I lost!
I ran five miles of an eight mile run wearing squelchy spandex. It wasn't my finest hour. As he drove through what can only be described as a swimming pool full of dirty water, I'm sure I heard the wagon driver howling with laughter. Just you wait... next time I'll be ready!
            The very best thing about losing at puddle racing was that, because I was soaked, I sprinted around my local mountainous route. I ran eight miles in only 1 hour, 13 minutes. I didn't walk, I didn't nap, I didn't nip behind a tree for a wee and sting my bottom in a patch of nettles... I just kept on squelching. Perhaps I need to arrange for the wagon driver to chase me around my half marathon course, then I'm sure to achieve my personal best! 
Happy puddle running lovely readers x

Saturday, 7 January 2012

S is for... SMILE! You're running.

Since booking the Leeds Half Marathon, I have been having a little trouble sleeping. It's not the steep hills on the Ring Road that keep me awake, it's not the fact that we pass a pony sanctuary on the way through Meanwood (I really don't like ponies... I was once bitten by one. Honestly.)  It's not even the fact that I have to wear spandex and run through student land (otherwise known as Headlingly) while all the freshers bounce around with their perky bottoms and perfect pony tails. No. It's the fact that, in all probability, I will see someone I know.
            It's not the 'seeing' that worries me. It's more the 'getting beaten by' and 'wearing spandex in front of' the person I know which is my problem. And, because I hate staring at the ceiling in the wee small hours (and listening to my husband snoring) I decided to take positive action and resolved to do something about it. And the something I decided to do outside! There's nothing half as motivating as fear of humiliation.
            Last night I ran 4 miles... in the dark. I enjoyed it so much that tonight, I ran another 6 miles. I know, can you believe it?! It's been almost 4 weeks since my last proper outdoor run and I was expecting my body to have a bit of a protest, but I felt really strong and only the prospect of running on un-lit roads in the dark (I am more scared of ghosts than attackers) prevented me from running further.
            Running in the crazy wind, rain and dark has forced me into some extreme wardrobe activity. Last night I wore a vest, a long sleeved t-shirt, a hoodie and an illuminous jacket as well as full length legging and football socks. I don't mean to brag but I looked magnificent! I looked even better when I realised that my hood had a string around it and I could pull this string really tight so that the rain wouldn't get on my face. I had that string so tight that the air couldn't reach my face- at mile 2 I started to hyperventilate and had to loosen off a little. Imagine Kenny from South Park... now add football socks and a wobbly botty... oh yeah. Like I said, MAGNIFICENT!

            I've really enjoyed the running but I have noticed one thing: No-body smiles in winter! I passed at least 10 other runners and not one of them smiled, their lips didn't even twitch. I smiled and I waved but they simply ignored me (perhaps it was because my face was purple owing to the lack of circulation caused by the hood.) For whatever reason though, winter runners seem mean and grumpy. Perhaps it's the weather, perhaps it's because they are too seriously tough to smile, perhaps they are blinded by their ambition to run 26 miles in the torrential rain... whatever the reason, they don't smile and it's not acceptable.
            So, first thing Monday morning I am going to order myself a 'Smile... you're running!' t--shirt with a huge happy face on it. I'll force them to smile the miserable people! If my master plan fails, I'll just wear it to bed. At least it will give me something to smile about whilst counting my husbands thunderous snores at two o'clock in the morning!

 Smile if you're a runner! x

Thursday, 5 January 2012

M is for M-o-o-o-o-ves like Beyonce!

Day 5 of my quest for the perfect body (perfect is probably too strong a word... body that doesn't wobble and is firm-ish in some/ most area's would be more accurate.) Quite honestly, I didn't want to go the gym. I was also a little bit cross that dance aerobics was scheduled at the same time as The Big Bang Theory on E4, nevertheless, I accepted these minor irritations with my usual grace and, after strapping my body into the obligatory eighteen layers of lycra, I hit the leisure centre.
            Dance aerobics was first. I  spent an hour forcing my spare tyre to wobble and roll in time to LMFAO. It was fab and I loved it. Then I went to the gym, which was almost deserted despite it being only day 5 of January. I expected it to be full of fresh faces, all 'don't know how this machine works...giggle,giggle', and 'gosh I love the gym because I've only been twice,' but no. There were a couple of the regulars: sweat stained, grimacing with pain, (you know, normal people) and me (who gave them a run for their money with both the sweating AND the dodgy facial expressions. If grunting and scowling simultaneously was an Olympic sport, I would definitely snatch the gold!)
            After 4 miles and a bit of weight lifting, I went for a swim. I only did 40 lengths...well, E4 were showing The Big Bang again at 10 and I didn't want to miss it!
                                    All in all, a good start to the new year.
 Separated at birth? Absolutely! Can't you see the startling physical resemblances?!

Because it's only week one of January, I am holding firm with my new years resolutions.  I've booked some of next year's races. As you may remember, it was my intention to run a marathon this year but I have decided - in my infinite wisdom- and because my butt muscles were a little bit crampy when I booked the races- that I will spend this year mastering and really getting to grips with the half marathon. Perhaps I might even cross a finish line without my life flashing before my eyes and my dead Nanna ordering me to walk towards the light. To this end, I have 4 10K's lined up before March and the Leeds half marathon in May.
            I was born and raised in Leeds so I'm already feeling pretty sentimental about conquering the mileage. The only problem is that I might see someone I know... even worse, I might see someone I used to go to school with... showing my lycra clad, cellulite ridden bottom ... wearing a fanny pack... eek! Better get back to the gym. I'm going to really need a body like Beyonce if I'm gonna rock that half marathon! 

Tuesday, 3 January 2012


Hello again and Happy New Year to all of you Bloggies out there! I must admit that it's been some time since my last blog... it's also been quite some time since I ran anywhere (apart from to the kitchen cupboard for more chocolate.) I'm ashamed to say that I haven't even been to the gym for three weeks.
Yes dear readers, it's sad but true. Somewhere between three bottles of Christmas wine, five boxes of chocolates and the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special, I fell off the wagon. Big style!
I don't know what happened... one minute I was filling my Christmas list with all kinds of fitness gadgets, the next minute I was becoming re-acquainted with my sofa and the wonders of SKY+. Obviously sensing my shift in mood- from go-girl to no-girl, my husband bought me a running book called 'What I talk about when I talk about running.' Basically it's written by a famous novelist who says that he simply cannot write well if he doesn't run.
This got me to thinking... I kinda 'forgot' to write anything whilst I was snoring on the arm of my sofa. So perhaps the guy has a point- running and writing are the perfect combination? If so, I need to get going... and fast! Another tiny factor which adds to my new found impetus to exercise is my weight: Since I stopped smoking, I have gained 1 stone and 4 pounds (11 pounds of which have appeared since I stopped training for my half marathon- even I can't ignore that kind of math!)
So, not only do I need to re-ignite my love of all things spandex and write every day, I now need to lose a pesky stone and a half. And what better time to change my life than the New Year! And what better way to write my steps to success than in a list... it's resolution Heaven!
Kelly's New Year's Resolutions - an exhaustive and thorough list!
A: Arse! Lose my second arse which is wobbling somewhere just above the back of my knee caps.
B: Bite the bullet and run outside. Yes it's dark, yes it's raining, yes my hair gets frizzy in the wet but I must conquer the winter!
C: Cut out the obsessive viewing of 'The Big Bang Theory' and actually write something myself.
There. Sorted! Such is the power of the list that I am now going on-line to book a few Spring races.
Aerobics, gym and swim tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be able to bend my knees enough to walk to my laptop to type in my report. Fingers crossed x