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Running

AFGO

21st August 2017

I was walking the dog the other day and bumped into one of the regular walkers I’ve seen intermittently over the last three years.

Picture of my feet on my run

 

She asked me what exactly I was doing the other day running up the road with a rucksack. I was running up the road with a rucksack because I was on a LONG ONE. I told her I’d been on a 20 mile run that day, up to Stanmer round the woods, then down to Rottingdean to the sea and across to Brighton pier. I finished up with a beer and a packet of crisps in a bar with a quiet sense of satisfaction that I can’t quantify entirely. She looked at me like I’m mad. Running, as I’ve written before, gives me a release, an out from the chaos, a pause. I am going through what Glennon Doyle Melton dubs an ‘AFGO’ – another fucking growth opportunity and running is one of an arsenal of tools I am using to get through it.

I’m not like Glennon, I’m not sure how much I want to share out here, online, in this space. I don’t want to spill all my thoughts when I feel like I’ve been cracked open. But what I can do is share some things about my life and the latest news on the running front is that at the start of the summer I signed up for another ultra, a 50 miler in November. This, is reaching to be honest for my little body but it builds on the the 30 miler which I ran in May when I was at my physical and spiritual lowest. If I can do that, in that state I feel I can do 50. That run was weeks after life as I knew it and understood it collapsed. I don’t really understand how I managed it, but I think I found a part of myself training for that run that I needed to, otherwise I don’t think I would have been able to continue. It gave me healthy goals, to stay hydrated and nourished and steer me from that which does neither of those things and it helped with much needed endorphins. I prayed it would help me with sleeping but weirdly, despite being exhausted by training that never worked. I ran a marathon distance one Sunday and was still wracked with insomnia, running only temporarily stops thought when you run. After that you’re on your own!

Anyway I went one step further on Saturday, I signed up for something else. When I finish Wendover 50 in November I’m going to have qualified for what I call a ‘proper ultra’ (an ultra being any run over marathon distance) and I also have a place lined up on the South Downs 100 for next June. Yep, 100 miles… in one go. Me, the stay at home mum that makes the blankets. This period of time in my life is for redefinition and I feel like this is a suitably extreme move for an extreme time. I’ve got a challenging training schedule and timings are not ideal, I’m soon to throw a job into the mix but I’m determined to achieve what I want in the bits in between. The bits in between, that’s all we have. I made a new friend that day when I explained about the running on my dog walk, she got it, she understood where I’m coming from with it and as her text afterward said “BOOM. LET’S GO”

 

 

Crochet Running

Monday

27th February 2017

Picture of Brighton marathon and crochet

 

I ran Brighton Half yesterday. My first event of 2017! I should be basking in glory or something or at least feeling slightly brilliant about it, but in truth I’m on the sofa with a hot water bottle next to the dog watching TV after almost 36 hours of nothing. And I’m pissed off I ran it in the same time to what I did 4 months ago. No real tangible improvement whatsoever –  that stings. Apart from making some soup earlier today I’ve done no cooking, no laundry, no housework, no dog walking…. it’s like I’ve had to check out entirely. It’s happened before, I finish something and feel beaten completely flat. If you’re looking for something inspirational here move right along. Today is not the day… this could potentially put you off trying for anything! Sometimes I finish something and feel that rising sense of achievement and happiness, but this time, I’ll be honest, I didn’t enjoy it and I’m pretty relieved I just did it and got it out the way. I’ve done something to my knee and I’m really worried it’s a bit of a problem for everything else I have planned and it pulled down the whole experience.

 

Picture of me after the Brighton half 2017

 

I wrote a longer detailed piece about it all, the race, those couple of hours, but I read it back and it sounded very much like very self indulgent whinging, which of course it is so I deleted it. Anyway it hurts quite a bit and has made for a very flat couple of days.

However, when you can’t read very much or concentrate on anything you can make something, so I’ve started a new baby blanket today. At least Monday has felt in some way productive.

Running

Misty

20th February 2017

A picture of mist at Stanmer

I usually feel quite flat when the kids go back to school, the house feels empty and still and it takes me a while to re-adjust. None of that today, I was too busy playing catch up: catch-up running wise, trying to claw back miles after my 10 day stint of no running over the last couple of weeks and then catch up life stuff. I visited my nana for the first time in weeks and stocked up at the supermarket. Then it was suddenly 2.30 and the late afternoon rhythm of after school activities and dinner and clearing and reading of stories happened and here I am pretty much ready to hit the hay. I’ve not fitted in any coding, I’ve not dented my to do list whatsoever. I am still behind, but slightly more sorted for the week.

Still, I got in some miles yesterday and today and for that I feel sated. I’ve covered 143 miles since January and I’m only 8 miles behind now on my virtual challenge. Have I written about that? I’m running the distance from Lands End to John O’Groats during 2017, it’s a good focus to get me out there. This morning’s run, though slightly eerie because of the mist was pretty thrilling to be honest. I pretty much spend the whole run beaming (almost certainly completely internally, most running photos confirm that I adopt a definite running grimace.) Rocco and I get a good pace on now, he’s absolutely flat out this evening. Though I feel he’d take issue with running more than once or twice a week we run really well together now, I love watching him rush through the trees to my side and we’ve even got to the stage where I can stop him running into the dew pond every time. No doubt when the summer comes he’ll insist but then at least he’ll have an opportunity to dry off! When we run in the woods I feel happier than I can describe adequately, it’s fills me up. I have never had a dog before and there is something about running with him that seems to heighten our connection, we keep pace, I don’t lose him, it’s shared time and I sense we both genuinely enjoy it as much as the other. I guess if you run with your dog you will understand what I mean otherwise put me down as one of those dog people. I’m down with that.

So, no creating today really aside from a half hour whilst Ruby had her class and of course I’ll get a babette square in. I’ve counted I have around 50 squares left of that and once I’m finished up with that I’ve lined up another incremental daily project for a friend, another blanket but in a completely different style. My head is, as always spinning with ‘next ups’. Another day in and out the house tomorrow but looking forward to making headway on some new projects this week. I’ve got to stop thinking I can get all the things done in one day. One thing at a time. PATIENCE AMY!

 

Crochet Life Running This week

:: This week ::

29th January 2017

Photograph of a graphic style piece of street art

 

:: Making ::

Still just adding to the babette this week. No further progress to report on that. I’m hooking up a hat, continuing on with my scrap project —

Crochet circle

 

It’s growing slowly, am hoping to find a circular cushion to fit this too… on the list.

Ruby and I also spent Saturday morning knotting up friendship bracelets. I made a couple with 8 strands but they aren’t finished yet and I’ve not got any pictures at the moment. Ruby mastered the chevron and has made a few now, she found the printed patterns for bracelets using any more than 4 strands difficult to understand (as did I, it took me a few hours and some youtube videos to decipher them!) That’s it for makes.

:: Reading ::

I finished Shonda Rime’s “Year of Yes” (3/5) and I’m stuck into “The Essex Serpent” by Sarah Perry now. I’ve also started reading a design book on design systems and user interfaces, largely out of my depth on that, but immersing myself in all things web design and development at the moment. It’s good to read something different.

:: Listening to ::

ABRA

I’ve watched nothing on TV except Homeland, we’re a season behind. Drinking? None. I know you can’t believe it either. I’ve run 17.6 miles this week, including one very muddy trail run with Rocco. I had 4 days off after catching a nasty cold last weekend, I just had to get behind early nights and lots of rest at the start of the week. Really not a huge amount going on, am still enjoying hibernating this winter. The daily coding is happening, I should have hit 100 hours in a couple of weeks, I say this tentatively as there is so much to learn and I am only at the beginning, but I’m finally starting to feel that it’s not so alien to me any more. I’m looking forward to being able to do it with my ‘morning head’ on this week. At the weekends I’m attempting an hour after the kids go to bed and my evening head is dull and sluggish and finds everything hard to grasp. On that, it’s grinding as I type, time to hit the hay.

Life Running

2017

1st January 2017

Paper on the floor

 

Earnest, new year, new intention post – be warned.

I’m the type of person that likes New Year as a marker, it feels fresh and full of possibility, a chance to wipe the slate clean and start over. I enjoy the reflection part, working out what worked that year and what I’d like to improve on. It’s my kind of time. I had a good think yesterday morning about 2016 and all the good experiences I had. The last 4 or so years on December 31st I try to write my list of 50 “humble brags” for that year. I started off alright, in the few blog posts I actually wrote last year I covered my intentions around running and I completed my 1000km challenge in November, so I can own that one. Done. I had that as my first humble brag, of course I did.

2016 was also the year I started learning how to code, I joined a running club, I read 32 books (not the 50 I set out to, but 32 all the same), I made two huge blankets and 8 baby blankets, I learnt how to make hats, I did a lot of crochet. I put all these things down. However, be under no illusion I struggled to get to 32 and even then stretching the list out to 38 over the rest of the day was hard!

In any case I had had two things at the start of last year I knew would pick me up and set my 2016 in the right direction: running and reading, I genuinely believe both feed into me being more productive and creative. This year I’m building and adjusting on those two: I’m going to run 1000 miles in 2017, including a marathon and an ultra distance. I’ll include in my Sunday “This Week” round up the distance I’ve covered that week and my overall distance for the year. As far as books go, my goodreads challenge for 2017 will be for a more realistic 35 titles.

I have two other intentions:

:: to code everyday.

:: to meditate for at least ten minutes per day.

These are my new big rocks, my new daily priorities. They’re in this crochet blog because I think both will make me more productive and more creative. I’ve dipped in and out of meditating in 2016 and for many years but with no consistency. I alternate between both metta bhavana and mindfulness of breathing buddhist meditations for no other reason than that’s what I was taught to practice at the buddhist centre and I like them! I also maintained a good coding streak up until Christmas time and have clocked in 50 hours overall. However Christmas coding was woefully intermittent. The meditating allows me to focus better in the day and you can’t code without focus, so they both feed into each other.

The next thing that will define 2017 that I’m genuinely slightly worried about throwing out there is that I won’t be consuming any alcohol. For the whole year. This is my public declaration and my digital place of accountability. Those that know me will find this reasonably amusing (I can hear “good luck with THAT!” from you all – cheers!) There are so many reasons for this, I think it’s another post entirely but it genuinely comes down to curiosity. What would change? Will I make more, will I read more, will I run more, will I be happier?  So I’m writing it off for 2017 as a personal experiment just so I can see.

(Pip Lincolne pretty much sums up all my reasons here)

Right 2017. Let’s do this.

 

 

Crochet Running

November

1st November 2016

The West Pier

November. It feels like it’s come around too quick, September and October were just a big blur of running and school and back to the rhythms that come with the children. Now it’s almost the end of autumn, some days there doesn’t feel as if there is any natural light, the rain keeps pouring and everything feels completely drab and other days, like today, it’s cool and clear and calm.

As it’s almost the end of the year I’m starting to think about how well I’ve managed to get anywhere close to the two things I set out to achieve for myself at the start of 2016. The first was the running: I wanted to run 1000km in 2016 and I’ve just checked in to see that I’m on 959km. So close! I have made big efforts to make the whole running thing a non negotiable, one of the ‘big rocks’ of my life and I’m really pleased I kept going. Apart from the fact I’m able to run longer distances whenever I feel like it and I feel stronger and fitter, everything else falls into place a bit more on the days I do it. I think better, sleep better and focus better. I thought at the beginning of the year that committing to 14 miles a week was do-able, but I knew I couldn’t let myself slip too much to be able to do it. Some weeks I’ve had to write off, last week during half term was one of those. I’ve had one of those total wipeout scenarios where it feels like all the energy has been drained from you when there are no discernible symptoms except a sore throat. There have been a few weeks like that this year, I don’t know what it is, do I just burn out every few months? Or is it all the bugs you inevitably get when you have a family?

The other thing I had hoped to achieve but which is looking unlikely is reading 50 books in the year. I’ve read 25, but with just 8 weeks left of the Goodreads reading challenge I think I’ll be happy to get to 30, which is more than last year. I think 50 books in my spare time along with all the making I do was a bit of a stretch. Next year I will try again!

A picture of sunrise this morning

Today was the first day I felt totally myself in about a week. Despite all the craziness of halloween last night I was up before sunrise and as soon as it was daylight I was able to go out with Rocco on his walk before taking the children to school and going on my run. It was a good friendly walk, with nice people up early as well, it really set me up for the day.

Crochet granny squares

The intention for November then is to reach the 1000km mark and finish a bunch of makes, including a new granny square blanket I started a few weeks ago. I think I’m also going to be hooking up with the mins game again. This is the third time I’ve done this process over the years, in between I have been constantly decluttering but I still feel that there are a lot of books and bits and pieces lying around the house with no purpose that I want to let go of. I might even crochet a few baubles to relive this time last year when I was furiously stitching for a Christmas Fair.

 

Running

10 years on… Great North Run

14th September 2016

GNR Medals

I had been looking forward to running in Newcastle’s Great North Run last weekend since I found out I’d got a place in the ballot all the way back in February earlier this year. I wrote about all the running I’ve been doing in  this post. It’s become a big part of life, more so since I read that book. Part of ensuring I achieve my goal of 1000 km’s in 2016 was booking in a bunch of races to keep me motivated, but this, I have to say was my most anticipated. I remembered the atmosphere, the scale and the people that made 2006’s Great North Run one of my best running experiences to date. It did not disappoint.

The night before I’d booked Souter Lighthouse as the camping spot for me and my friend Matt to have a sleep pre race.

img_0292

I can’t fault the location, in fine dry weather, being so close to the coast was amazing. We took a walk down to Marsden Rock and got pizza from a van in the car park on the headland and took it down to the beach.

Marsden Rock

However, camping, after travelling for 9 hours, in the freezing cold and not getting much sleep was just a bit of a bummer. I was kicking myself for not throwing some duvets into the car. When I was sleeping, I was dreaming about all the people I have ever been camping with working together to get as many blankets together as possible to get warmer while we camped. It was that kind of restless night.

By 6am I was so cold I couldn’t be bothered to try and snatch a few more zzz’s and headed to the car to get changed. Getting changed in a one man tent had proved too challenging the night before and the car’s got blacked out windows. Winner.

Sunrise at Souter

 

I woke up to this sky. Absolutely incredible. It was so incredible, the fact that I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep felt suddenly very insignificant, I just felt lucky and awestruck. I watched that sky change for some time.

 

Day breaks over Souter

Then I sat in the car, with the radiator on and had a large coffee before getting the coach into town.

Here I am in my adidas crochita gear ready for race start:

Me

 

By the time we got penned we had already walked 7km. By day end, including the race (13.1 miles – half marathon) my little legs had moved my body 39km. Altogether, the wall to wall support, the music, the bands, the locals handing out sweets, oranges and ice lollys, the unlikely and happy coincidence that Mel, (who I had been in touch with on Facebook and not seen for years) managed to pick me out of 55,000 runners at mile 5 made for an unforgettable experience. Added to these highlights, the runner’s camaraderie on the bus and on the track combined with the other extraordinary stories of  individuals and teams running for charities made it at times emotionally overwhelming.

I have only just started to feel myself today, 2 whole days after getting back home. Lack of sleep, running, walking and driving for so long manifested in a flat, depressing, holiday blues type hangover of exhaustion that has been hard to shake. I was almost crying on the drive back I was so weary. Aching weariness like this is hard to push through. Why would you voluntarily do that to yourself I can hear you ask? Well, beneath, that veneer of weary is the elation at completing something you set out to, a sense of accomplishment and a happy neat package of an experience to pack up and make a part of your life. Unless you’ve done something similar it’s nearly impossible to explain. However today chores were done and the normal rhythm of my day resumed. I am restored.

Also, importantly the times improved. In 2006 I ran this race in 2hrs 12 minutes and 15 seconds. Now, in 2016 I got 1hr 53 minutes and 26 seconds. That I’ve got better means I’m fitter and faster than I was before and encourages me to keep trying to improve – it made me immediately think of the quote from Murakami :

“Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself. At least that’s why I’ve put in the effort day after day: to raise my own level. I’m no great runner, by any means. I’m at an ordinary – or perhaps more like mediocre – level. But that’s not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.”