Tai Chi

“Try everything once except incest and folk dancing” – Sir Thomas Beecham.

Well I’m glad to report this post does not involve incest, nor folk dancing (although I have already tried that – primary school in the 1970s was very different to today), but it is about trying something new.

Following on from trying pacing at parkrun last month, when the opportunity arose to attend a Tai Chi session at work I jumped at the chance. The coincidence that it was one of my running friends, Valerie, who was taking the session made it a lot less daunting but I still had a look on You Tube to see what I could expect. Apparently it involved a very muscular man in a tight white vest, standing ankle deep in water. I showed the video to my husband who asked if work were also going to provide the waterfall that the man was standing in front of, but as the location for the session was going to be on the second floor I answered that this was unlikely, unless there was a major plumbing incident.

I arrived at 8:15 am promptly, and was relieved to see my friend Valerie hadn’t morphed into a muscular man in a vest. There were only 4 of us, plus Valerie, in an open plan space at the top of the office, surrounded by unused chairs and desks, so it could have felt a little awkward. Maybe surprisingly it didn’t, after we got started it just felt very relaxing and calming. The cracking and popping of joints I’m sure helped break the ice, and loosened us all up before a day sat at our desks.

I really enjoyed it, and felt almost too relaxed for work afterwards – but sadly that soon wore off. I was very pleased to see the sessions will run again next week, and have already signed up. Thank you Valerie!

What’s better than parkrun?

What could be better than parkrun? Actually, what could be better than attending your friend’s 100th parkrun? No, no, what could be better than attending your friend’s 100th parkrun, in the sunshine?

I’ll tell you. What’s better is persuading your daughter to come along and marshal at parkrun whilst you run, before dropping her at the station to go back to university.

Well done us, and well done Lucy (another Lucy!) on your parkrun milestone!

parkrun pacing – try anything once!

After my local parkrun recently invested in some lovely pacing tabards, they requested volunteers to wear them for the first time. Ever keen to try new things, I said I’d give it a go and put my name down as the 32 minute pacer.

Thinking I probably ought to practice running to a certain time, I popped out for on local 3 mile route and ran it in 32 minutes and 1 second (this did include a stop to retie my lace). Not bad I thought!

Full of confidence I rocked up on Saturday 1st September.

How smart do we look? And just in case you don’t recognise me, here we are again:-

So did I manage to get even closer to my target 32 minutes and win the box of chocolates? Not quite, my official time was 31:30. Obviously I needed to stop and tie my shoelace again!

I wasn’t lost …

… I just didn’t know where I was. Well, I knew roughly where I was but I couldn’t see how to get back home. Right – excuses out of the way, I’d like to describe my run this week (yes there’s only been one. So far).

I grumbled home from work, in a foul mood and telling myself I’d feel better after a run. In my running gear I decided I’d go out of the front door, turn left at the end and do my usual loop. I ran down the drive, turned right, and realised I was already going the wrong way. Ah well, never mind, I’ll run down to the green, then up between the houses to the village hall, turn left and go round that way, I thought. Brilliant. I made it to the footpath by the village hall, and was struck an inexplicable desire to see where the footpath that went straight over went to.

It went across many fields and through gateways (with me peering through each one to see if I could spot the local cows before I ran into it). It ended up near the local long barrow which was approached through armpit high grass.

Ah – there’s the stile

What an adventure! Now I just had to turn around and heard back the way I came. Um- just needed to find the path. Then I just needed to remember how I got into that field. Then I realised that where I thought I could squeeze through onto a footpath I actually couldn’t, and ended up squeezing over and through a very rickety gate.

Ah – there’s the path!

Safely back to the village hall and I simply had to get out of one field, across the cricket pitch and home. Easy peasy, except I couldn’t get out of the field. Up and down along the electric fence I finally gave in and clambered over. I managed not to snag my Lycra, but just at the point of no return I realised the barbed wire had caught my trainer lace. I managed to wrestle it free just as I crashed over the top, then had to slink past the village kids at cricket practice.

Still, I’d made it back home safely. I wasn’t too badly nettle-stung (only both legs from ankle to knee), and I felt like I’d had a real adventure.

Roll on the next run!

Celebrating 10 years of running – by starting again

I suddenly realised today that it s round about  10 years since I started running. Not continuously, obviously, have you read my last post?!)

Back in 2008 myself and my family travelled to Alberta, in Canada. We were visiting our very good friends who had emigrated there the year before. We also managed to fit in some skiing (we were in driving dstance of the Rocky mountains – we couldn’t not!)

As with every other time I’ve been skiing, for a few weeks beforehand I made a desperate attempt to gain even a little fitness before I had to encase my feet in the plastic prison of ski boots again. This usually involved very short runs which were swiftly abandoned when my face turned puce and I could no longer breathe.

Our holiday was amazing  It was so good to catch up with our friends again, and the wide, open beautifully groomed pistes were a joy to ski on.

When we returned home and recovered from our jetlag, my husband and myself bth comented on how fit we felt. It was obviously all of the high altitude training we’d been doing. Buoyed up by the rush of oxygen to the head, I decided to pop out for a little trot around the block.

I was amazed. It didn’t feel quite as had as I remembered, I didn’t feel like I was dying, and I actually quite enjoyed it. I started popping out several times a week, making sure I was avoiding neighbours and the bin men as much as possible. I should point out that at this point I was running in a T-shirt and jeans, so as not to look like I was actually running. I had a cheap pair of trainers bought from a high street sports shop, and a pedometer. All the gear!

It was only when a neighbour commented that she’d seen me “dressed so I didn’t look like I was going running” that I realised my cover was blown, comfort would win out over shame, and I bought my first lycra.

Sore knees nearly brought me to a halt, but online advice took me to my local running shop to get some “proper” trainers. I felt like a total fraud, compounded by the fact that I nearly fell off the treadmill (I’d never been on one before) and the assistant had to stand with her arm behind my back to stop me doing it again. Red faced, I left the shop with a large bag of the most expensive shoes I’d ever bought, and life was never the same again.

10 years on, I have lost count of the number of races I’ve run , except for the marathons – there was definitely 3 of those. I’ve been awarded a County award (I might have mentioned that once or twice), and I’ve had weeks when I simply haven’t made it out of the door with running shoes on. I’ve been bought a road bike, and learnt to swim proper front crawl (face in the water and everything!).

I am a runner!

Starting Over

A few months ago I realised that I simply wasn’t getting out running (or cycling, or swimming  for that matter). A combination of bad weather, dark evenings, and simply feeling like I’d had enough by the time I arrived home after a day at work meant that it just wasn’t happening.

I consulted the oracle (A.K.A. my running friends on Facebook) who gave me various ideas of how to fit exercise into my day. They also wisely told me not to beat myself up if I didn’t manage it – life is too short for any extra stress.

Now I may have taken this advice a little too much to heart, to the extent that I rarely seemed to make it out.  The weather warmed up, the days lengthened, but still I found excuses not to run (usually that hungry teenage boy who greeted me as I arrive home with a look that said “Hi Mum, how was your day, what’s for tea and how long will it be?”)

Last weekend I decided that enough was enough. Work is menial but stressful, and I need my exercise as something positive to help my mental health and to feel good about myself. I needed to pull my finger out, give myself a good talking to, and not take any nonsense. Tough self-love!

Duly admonished, over the next week I managed to fit in a swim (600m of gasping and flailing), a cycle (20 miles of whinging and moaning) and a run (4 1/2 miles of gasping, flailing, whinging and moaning.  I’m nothing if not a multi-tasker).

I felt ridiculously stiff after each of these, it was really quite depressing. I suddenly realised it felt like being a beginner again, and there’s no shame in that. I just need to remember to take it slowly, and Keep Going!

End of Janathon 2018

So it suddenly struck me, I never did write up my last two days of Janathon. Seeing as this means I’ve now failed at Janathon I shouldn’t worry about it, but I’ve already failed once and continued on so here goes.

After Slaughterford 9 I was worried my legs wouldn’t be speaking to me. However I managed to keep moving and on both evening completed Janathon by performing “tooth brushing squats ” thus doing my daily exercise whilst demonstrating superb multitasking skills.

Okay, so my last 2 days weren’t as exciting as I might have hoped (and have proved that good things don’t necessarily come to those who wait), but at least I’ve proved I’m a completer/ finisher.

Roll on February!

Janathon Day 29. Slaughterford 9 Race

Slaughterford 9 is a hard off-road race. I’ve run it twice, but as it’s organised by my running club in the last few years I’ve had to volunteer to marshal instead.

This year the race is part of the Wiltshire Off-Road League. The club runners who have run the previous four races in the league this year were allowed to run it, as a very special honour. And to gain points for the club in the Club championship, of course.

We still had to help out, so all of us Harriers racers were out bright and early on car park duty. The weather was cold, it was faintly drizzly, and it was very soggy underfoot. At about quarter past nine we escaped in order to strip our many layers off, collect our race number, assemble for the team photo and to try not to shiver too much.

The race has a mass jog down to the start line, because everyone has to cross the very busy A4 to get there. After shuffling myself towards the back, with very little ceremony we were off. The early part of the race is practically on home turf for me, so I knew exactly where to walk and where to push on. I looked longingly up the footpath which leads to home, and resolutely followed the racing line.

I don’t want to describe every muddy, sticky, squelchy step of this race, take it as read it was hard. Instead I’ll let the pictures speak a thousand words:-

Downhill near the start. Smiling!
Downhill near the start. Smiling!

 

More mud. Less smiling.
That face!
Just delirious now
Caught up with Liz. That’s definitely a walk I’m afraid, but this *is* the top of “The Sting”!
The final push to the finish line. Much gritting of teeth

I finished. I surprised myself, I had genuinely been dreading it. It was my slowest time, but in fairness it was the worst conditions I’ve seen on the course and I was in the worst condition to run it as well.

The best bit (slight exaggeration ) was getting ready for bed and realising I didn’t still have to perform a random exercise whilst cleaning my teeth for Janathon.

Janathon Day 27. Squat!

Day 27. The day before a big race. A day to be spent resting up, hydrating, and eating well. Probably not a day to spent at the annual awards evening at our local cycling club. It had to be done though, as my husband was being presented with a clutch (well, armful) of awards.

I did leave early, and I was the driver so wasn’t drinking, so it wasn’t all bad. Unfortunately I left before the dancing started, so tonight’s activity was toothpaste flavoured squats again.