Category Archives: Life

Olympicality

The London 2012 Olympics have finally begun….

 

Like the Marathon a few months ago, the Olympics have felt like a shot of positivity and good vibes shooting through this fair city. Being a sucker for sentimentality, I’ve been totally engrossed right from the Torch Relay, stalking it several times as it made its way to the Olympic Park.

I watched the whole opening ceremony with a group of friends, during which I learned of at least four countries I didn’t know existed before (Comoros anyone??) I have to say, the ceremony certainly was, erm, interesting… While the lighting of the cauldron and forging of the Olympic Rings were truly spectacular, for parts of it, I can’t help but think Danny Boyle spent a hefty chunk of the £27million budget smoking drugs!  I also loved that it has been an excuse to make up some new words – Seb Coe slipped ‘Olympicality’ into his speech – I’m pretty sure that’s a made up word, but I like it 😉

I’ve already been to Old Trafford and Wembley to watch Team GB take on the footy and will be swinging by Beach Volleyball later on this week – seeing Horseguards Parade transformed into a beach is well worth a tenner! I’m kinda hoping watching lots of sports will translate into some vicarious Great North Run training since I’ve been super slack in my preparations. Not completely my fault since I’ve been struck down with the flu, but I really need to get back in the game. Until then, will continue to watch random Olympic sports from my sickbed (Handball is my favourite so far – brutal!)

GOOD LUCK TEAM GB!!!!

Peace Out

xoxo

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Jubilicious

Someone would have to be living under a rock not to notice that this weekend celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. While I can’t call myself a huge royalist, I’m a sucker for nostalgia and being able to say ‘I was there when’…. Thus, my friends got dragged all round London this weekend as we soaked up the atmosphere

Union flags were everywhere and they seemed to make people happy.

This brass band started off my Saturday by playing the Muppet’s Theme Tune – is there REALLY any better way to kick start a bank holiday weekend???

Sunday saw the Thames River Pagent

Even though we got soaked to the skin and it took four hours to get home because London Transport in their wisdom kept a normal Sunday service despite over a million people flocking to the banks of the Thames (ok, enough ranting) it was pretty spectacular

Monday evening we headed to Hyde Park to watch the Diamond Jubilee concert. Ellie gets full brownie points for her themed picnic.

It was stunning watching some amazing acts over a beautiful London sunset. The lineup was pretty awesome and Stevie Wonder even got Rowan Williams grooving – legend

Finally this afternoon saw the Royal Family watch a fly past on the balcony of Buckingham Palace



This weekend typified all things British – namely Rain and Waiting.

We really are a nation that has a seemingly endless tolerance for queuing patiently. Some people had camped out for days to get prime viewing spots. While as I’ve confessed I’ve a soft spot for any big national event you can TAKE IT TOO FAR GUYS, ok.

Congrats Liz and thanks for the day off

Peace Out

xoxo

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Foot Watch – The Sequel

Whenever I’ve seen friends over the past couple of weeks, before we even get to the hello stage, I invariably get asked the question – How are your feet?? This is followed up quickly with “By the way dude, your feet are gross – Who even puts pictures of their feet on the internet” What can I say – bite me… Three weeks post race and here’s how they’re shaping up

Extra cushioning for future races I suppose.

Life after completing such a big milestone is weird – you can’t help but feel there’s a bit of a void.  I’ve made a real effort to keep up with running 3 times and cross-training a couple of times every week. I’ve been going to a few of my local parkruns and can’t say enough about how good they are – free 5k races every Saturday all round the UK – super friendly people with absolutely all levels of running ability. I’m also seeing my 5k time come down nicely 😉 I’ve put my Half Marathon medal on the bedroom mirror – still smile every time I see it!

Next race is the Sport Relief Mile down The Mall in London which should be a lot of fun. 25th March baby – see ya there

Peace Out

xoxo

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Mission Acomplished

Every now and again, the universe pulls its finger out and things come together to make a near perfect day.

Perfect weather, a beautiful route, a city alive with supporters and my very own fan club made for an awesome, awesome day. I was running with my very good friend Amy and we both made it across the finish line. There was some controversy after the race finished – it transpired that someone put a cone in the wrong place during a turn around and we actually ran half a mile more than the 13.1 miles we were supposed to! Our times were adjusted so I managed it in 2hours 27 mins which isn’t exactly breaking any records, but I was chuffed nonetheless.

I heard of a really nice idea which Amy, and I tried out – we dedicated each mile to a different person(s) I’ve asked Amy to be a guest contributer on this post – I can’t guarantee that these are perfectly in order, but here’s a run down of our race….

Mile One –  We dedicated the first mile to each other – so mile one goes to Amy who was running her second half marathon and killed it despite being unwell all last week – we did it dude!!

Amy – Yooooouuu! Very proud of one of my favourite people and her new found running talents! I was very happy to share the day with you – and well done on your victory!

Mile Two – To Stephen who I work with who told me his Mum lived with Alzheimer’s before her death a few years ago

Amy – To your Nan – all the pain and hard work inspired by her, to a great cause too.

Mile Three – To Ellie – one of my top 3 favourite people – to her resilience for coping with a really tough year and her 100% enthusiasm and encouragement for this crazy idea I had last winter

Amy To Geoff – my favourite boy, thanks for the support despite knowing my lack of training. Wouldn’t have been the same without your shouts at various time points, and of course the kiss at mile 6

Mile Four – To Barcardi Ali my crazy Auntie who put on an event in her home bringing in hundreds of pounds and who is recovering from a nasty operation this week

Amy – To Mummy and Daddy – for all their support in my daft escapades and always checking I’m alive and well at the end

Mile Five – To Chloe who let me stay with her and the family all weekend in Brighton and made me a good luck hot water bottle the night before. Also one of my most favourite people on the planet and who I won’t see for months as she’s traveling with work 😦

Amy – To Grandma Love – what a rubbish couple of years and dedicating this warm up to the Great North Run which I am doing to raise money for the Stroke Association.

Mile Six – To Mum – the best role model a young woman could wish for – shining example of always putting family first

Amy – To Grandpa Love – for being a wonderful Grandfather and for all he does to look after a wonderful Grandmother

Mile Seven – To Grampa ‘The Don’ – this guy could write a book about the things he’s experienced. One of the most loving, gentle, charismatic people you could ever meet – plus, he’s 87 and can txt – legend!

Amy – To my legs! 2 miles of sheer torture followed this point – I should also raise a glass to lucozade and glucose at this stage!!

Mile Eight – To Dad who really excitedly got behind this whole endevour and for a whole host of reasons is truly a Dad in a Million!

Amy To Philip – my wonderful baby brother!

Mile Nine – This is where things really started to hurt! This mile was for Granny – a remarkable woman who is living with this bloody awful condition of Alzhiemers with such dignity and grace

Amy  – To Lisa – my favourite little sister in law

Mile Ten – To my brother Dee – the most genuine person I know. Great Dad, great brother, great bloke!

Amy – To Stevie B – my wonderful big brother, for all of his big brotherly love and guidance

Mile Eleven – To Trevor – a guy I’ve never actually met but who is a friend of my aunt. His father has Alzheimer’s and gave me £100 for this cause

Amy – To Katie – My favourite big sister in law

Mile Twelve – To my sister Caroline who has raised a little star in the form of my niece Hannah. Don’t know how you find the time to do all you do sis – ’nuff respect.

Amy – To Grandad & memory of Grandma Baraniak – what wonderful Grandparents, Grandma is still very much missed

Mile Thirteen –  I ran out of miles to fit everyone I wanted to in, so the last one was for my whole family – I’m incredibly privileged to have grown up with such cool people around who only want the best for me – I’m truly blessed. At this point, I started crying like a baby and continued until the finish line

Amy To Auntie Linda – well what can I say about her…for the laughter she brings to my life and her love of Lily the little border collie! Mile last .2 which was really a sneaky .7 … my fellow runners on the day who had to keep their legs going that extra half a mile!!


Additional good things about the day

(1) Beating Katie Price

(2) So. Much. Free. Stuff.

Was in a wall of pain the next day and have two feet full of blisters, but honestly, it was worth every last step.

Overwhelmed by the support I’ve received and will let you all know the final total in a few weeks time, but the Just Giving page is still open here if you want to drop by

Could probably write so much more, but for now, that is all.

Until next time

Peace Out

xoxo


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The Final Countdown……..

So, one week until the Brighton Half Marathon- my first ever proper race. A few months ago running 60 seconds was a challenge so part of me can’t quite believe this is actually happening 🙂 It’s been a mixture of emotions this week – doing fewer and fewer miles in the week before a race is actually really difficult.  You can’t help but worry that all the fitness you’ve spent months cultivating will wilt away during a week of sloth. I’m nervous, but really exited and really pleased that some of my favourite ever people are coming along to share the day.

I was very sad to wake up to the news that Whitney Houston has died. I’ve spent many happy an hour dancing along to Whitney in ironic 80s bars. I’ve added One Moment In Time to my playlist for next week in her honour. I’m hoping that will spur me along in addition to the good wishes and donations so many people have sent. I’ve been genuinely stunned by how generous people have been – ‘anonymous’ – you know who you are – I don’t, but thank you – that was amazingly generous and also people who I’ve never met – e.g. Stephen Griffiths – thanks for the dollar! The Just Giving page is still open so feel free to take a look by clicking here and chucking me a few quid if you feel able / inclined

I’ll let you know how I get on – Wish me luck!
Peace Out
Xoxo

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Ok, So This Is Actually Happening

I had a minor freak-out just over a week ago. This arrived

I remember clearly sitting down and entering the Brighton Half Marathon one gloomy, rainy night in September. At the time, I thought it was 50/50 whether it would actually happen and I didn’t tell a soul about what I’d done for a month. Now with  three weeks to go, I’ve realised this really is actually happening, and I’m kinda excited –  very, very excited! Following on from my last post, things have been better. I ran 10 miles last Saturday which went well and breaking into double figures was a real psychological boost.

Yesterday, my new thing for the day was to take part in my first ever organised race – a free Park Run. I was really nervous beforehand, having visions of the park full of Keenos running the 5km in 6.87 minutes with me shuffling behind half an hour later.  Although I didn’t exactly win, and initially had flashbacks of horrendous school cross country, it was actually really lovely and people were super friendly. Before we started, Park Run Virgins (there were about a dozen of us) were asked to identify ourselves and we got a big clap and cheer from the rest of the 280 strong group which genuinely put a smile on my face. I ended up running 5K faster than I ever had before, didn’t come last and even passed a few people. It also helps when you’re running round places like this.

Don’t get me wrong, although the people there were mostly Normals, there were a few Keenos as well. I overheard things like ‘well, so, maybe Tim could run that 5k faster, but I totally feel like I could run that all again at the same pace – maybe even quicker. Bet Tim couldn’t do that’ That statement would be annoying even coming from a 13 year old, but this guy was at least 30. Seriously dude, get a (non-competitive) hobby. So, a lovely first race followed by a further 5mile jog back home. Will definitely be doing it again.

(WARNING, SOME SMUGNESS COMING) Without getting too dramatic, pressing ‘send’ on that half marathon application turned out to be one of the best, and most important decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I feel a million times better than I did last year and genuinely feel like a whole new world has opened up over the past few months. If you’re teetering about entering into your first race, in the words of Nike, Just Do It. I’m so glad I did.

Enough with the pep talk, until next time

Peace Out

xoxo

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Tales of a Miserable Run

I’ve been basking in New Years smugness recently (a la last couple of posts). I’ve been running, swimming or doing something active every day this week and it’s been going well. I’ve actually been enjoying myself – even the killer hill route I’ve discovered of which I partook four miles of on Thursday.

Today, however,  was just one of ‘those’ runs where every step was an effort. I did eight miles and, similar to what I do in my every day life, I decided not to make it easy for myself. Although the Brighton Half Marathon is pretty flat, I’ve decided to do all my longer runs in a beautiful, mahoosive Royal Park . Although it is beautiful, it’s also pretty hilly and my ‘try a new thing every day’ plan backfired when trying a new running route saw me faced with some pretty evil inclines. Normally, after a couple of miles, I get in ‘The Zone’ and although I’m not particularly fast, I can get along without too much effort. Today, that just didn’t happen even though the weather was stunning and I was running around a gorgeous lake – I just wasn’t feeling it. The last mile was particularly awful. Didn’t stop though and am pleased with myself that I finished. Hope next week is better – it better be – it’s a 10 miler!

Apart from today (when I spent an hour and a half wondering how I could have come up with such a stupid New Years Resolution) I’ve really enjoyed trying something new every day. Amongst other things I’ve found myself walking home from work (a mere 7.8 miles), grabbing a cup of coffee before catching my train (where I bumped into a colleague which led to a nice chat on our journey in) and a genuine revelation is that it’s so much nicer to travel round London on the bus rather than tube. So although today has mostly been spent being grumpy, it has actually been a lovely week. 2012 is still being good to me.

Until next time

Peace Out

xoxo

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Back In The Game

So this is the first week I’ve properly got back into preparations for the Half Marathon in February. I knocked out six miles this morning and everything feels good! So, for the next six weeks my life looks like this

Monday – Swim

Tuesday – Run 4 Miles

Wednesday – Pilates

Thursday – Run 4-5 miles up some hills

Friday – Swim

Saturday – Run 8-12 miles

Sunday – Curl up in a ball and die / Pilates

Sounds a peach, doesn’t it!! I’ve also been given a Wii Fit over Christmas so I’m gonna do a little bit of that every day to help with stretchy things. Not too sure how reliable it is though – yesterday it had my fitness age at 25 – today it was 36! I also got some new goggles for swimming – first time I tried them out they were way too tight and for a whole day it looked like I’d been punched in both eyes – good one.

I’ve also been trying something new every day this week – nothing huge – I’ve not found a new cure for the common cold or an answer to why you always lose at least one sock in a load of washing. I have, however, discovered two new places to get a nice cup of coffee, that I actually like Ryvita,  some lovely new places to run, a more interesting way to get home from work, that honey in my porridge tastes really good and that I actually prefer running at night-time. Nothing revolutionary – but lots of things that will make my day to day life a little nicer 🙂

So, until next time – Peace out – hope 2012 is still being awesome for you all

xoxo

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The Smug New Years Post

So, we are now in 2012. Outside my room, the rain is absolutely tipping it down – Good start 2012 – Must Try Harder.

I’ve returned to London following an amazing trip back home to Northern Ireland over the holidays. Times like this always make you take a bit of a pause. You meet up with people you haven’t seen for a year, you see what they’ve done, achieved or produced and it makes you take stock of how you’ve spent that last 365 days. While I was at home, my Mum received some sad news about an old work colleague. This lady had been overweight and unwell for years – she gradually became more and more obese until about six months ago she just gave up and stopped going out. She’s now in a coma and receiving palliative care. A few months ago she tearfully told my Mum she felt she’d wasted her life.  (WARNING – Here comes the smug bit) It’s a real cliche, but stories like that really make you realise that life isn’t a dress rehearsal – there’s no way I can go back and change past regrets, decisions or experiences. I’m running the Brighton Half Marathon for the Alzheimers Society and this also makes you think about bigger things like what it will like to grow older, look back over your life and what you will be proud of.

I met up with a good friend for coffee last week and we talked about how we spent this year and how I never thought in a million years I would be running a half marathon. It made me wonder what other things I’ve told myself I can’t do, what limitations I’ve put on myself, what experiences I’ve talked myself out of. I’m not a huge fan of New Years Resolutions (they’re usually abandoned by January 9th). Despite this, I’m going to try an experiment for a month. I’m going to try something new each day. Nothing major, nothing earth shattering, but to challenge the ‘No, that won’t work; You won’t like that’ voice that so often pops up. That’s where I think the exciting things in life happen – not in outlandish Gap Yah japes, but in the subtle shifting of new experiences from day to day – of eating something new, getting to work a different way, going someplace different in your free time. So January will be a month of newness – could be exciting…..

(WARNING – EVEN MORE SMUGNESS)    I started off this New Year the way I mean to go on – up and running. I made it to the lovely park near my house despite the hangover and the head cold I can feel emerging and felt amazing. This is definately NOT how I started last New Year. It’s incredible how things in life can change so quickly and so dramatically. I just cannot begin to describe how unlikely I thought this scenario would be as I embarked upon 2011 and I also cannot begin to describe how much healthier and better I’m feeling compared to this time last year. The hip is feeling good and I was able to keep up with all my cross training and stretching over the holidays. It’s going to be a real challenge over the next 6 weeks, but I’m really excited about the ride. Ok, smugness aside – the rest of the day will mostly be spent eating popcorn and watching trash. A very Happy New Year – I hope 2012 is awesome for you. Peace Out

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Where Will it End??? This Madness has to Stop

So dear readers, it’s been a while, and for much of it I’ve not been allowed to run. I have been keeping up with other things but if I’m being honest, the past few weeks I’ve been a bit down hearted. By this stage T day has long since past and my weekends should be filled with runs of 7miles+ and recovery drinks. Instead my  torturer Physio has only allowed me to do tiny little runs and even with my theme song, it’s not stopped the real worry that I might not have enough time to get prepared for the half marathon in February.  That good old English winter hasn’t helped. Last week I got up at six am to go for a run. It was pitch black, lashing with rain and  freezing cold – I lasted approx 1 min 37 seconds before I cried a few actual tears and headed back home. I really, really don’t do cold.

I had a moment where I seriously thought of chucking it in. Six am starts are becoming wearing and the woman in the Pilates DVD is starting to get annoying. Then I came back home for Christmas yesterday and remembered why I’m doing this. I’m running for the Alzheimers Society who have provided my family with incredible support over the past couple of years. People have already pledged to give me money and I would hate to let them, or the society down. So, dammit, I’m going to do it. I went out this morning for a little bit longer and remembered how much I love my latest hobby. I felt fab afterwards and the offending hip was 89% ok.

I’m going to have to modify my training plan and throw myself into a dedicated physio routine, but I’m officially back in the game 🙂 Talking of physio, here’s another rant. Remember when I talked about the yoga mat. Well, this pales in comparison to what I’ve added to the list of stuff I own. See below

Since when did I become one of those people who owns a Yoga Mat AND a Trampoline. Last week I spent 45 mins standing one legged on a trampoline while this brick of a torturer Physio threw rugby balls at me. It ranks up there as one of the most surreal experiences of my life, but apparently, from his perspective, I was developing balance and co-ordination skills. Hmmm. Anyway, I need to keep practising this at home so a trampoline was acquired and assembled. The day I get a Pilates ball is the day I know it’s gone too far!

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