Thursday, 18 October 2012

What a Beautiful Day...

I am lucky enough to live by the sea, which makes for some fantastic running routes, but as much as I love the variations of the coast path and the crashing waves cheering me on, I have a particular fascination with the moors so when ever I get the chance I head inland for my moorland fix.
Until I took up this challenge, a trip over to Dartmoor involved nothing more strenuous than making a flask of coffee and a picnic and finding somewhere quiet to soak up the silence. These days, however, I find myself taking in a wholly different view of the moors. There is something quite remarkable about a long ribbon of road stretching ahead for miles through the wilderness, far from seeming daunting and never ending, it inspires me onwards, and rather than the aching relief when I come to the end of one of my usual routes there is always a kind of regret when I finish a run on the moor. I could have gone further, run for longer...
Dartmoor Running
Last week I was lucky enough to don my running shoes and head out across both Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor. We hit Dartmoor later in the day than we had planned. As is so often the case, shopping and errands took twice as long as expected and it was already late afternoon when we arrived. And cold! Boy, was it cold! It's the first time I've run on a truly cold day and for the first mile I was really having to force myself to carry on, to focus on my feet pounding the tarmac rather than the burning in my ears and my bitter cold fingers. I don't know if it really warmed up, or if I simply became numb to the pain, but beyond that first mile it seemed milder, less distracting.
Andy, as he usually does, followed my progress in the car, hopping from lay by to car park along the way, occasionally slowing as he passed me to offer advice or correct my stride. It's always interesting when he does this. He picks up on things I would never notice, and for a novice like me that's very useful...even if I do find it frustrating when he says 'OK, that's enough for today'. At one point I wondered what on earth I was doing wrong when he was wildly gesticulating from the side of the road, until I was close enough that the wind didn't snatch his voice away before it reached me, and he was yelling 'TURN AROUND'. Still not understanding I followed his instructions to be greeted by a spectacular rainbow stretching across the moor behind me.
Unfortunately we didn't have the camera ready in time to capture the magnificent display, but as it turned out that was fine, Mother Nature wasn't finished with me yet.
The cold was less noticeable, and I felt I could go on much further but dusk was lowering across that wide, open sky so Andy reigned me in with the promise of another run on the moor the next day.
And so it was that Saturday afternoon saw me enjoying my first ever proper off road run. Oh, I've run sections of the coast path before as part of a longer run, but for the first time I was to head out across open moorland.
Distant Cheesewring
This time it was Bodmin Moor, and we parked up at Minions. I had in mind a circular route, of about three or four miles, heading out past The Hurlers Stone Circle into the wilds, and coming back via the Cheesewring. With the Levellers on my MP3 and the wind in my hair, I set out on my new adventure.
It had rained heavily during the night, and the ground was very boggy indeed, but my new NB's coped admirably with the terrain, draining well leaving my feet wet but not soggy and uncomfortable.
I didn't really mind the wet though, it was a small price to pay for sights like these.
The Hurlers


Bodmin Moor
My legs sure knew about the rougher terrain the next day, but I loved every minute of it. I may just have found my new, favourite place to run. 

Friday, 5 October 2012

Shoes, Running for the use of

Once upon a time my primary concern when purchasing anything intended to go on my feet was looks. Nice pointed toes and teetering heels were the order of the day. I didn't really care what unnatural shape they forced my toes into, or how distorted my arch was to reach those dizzying heights, or even how damned uncomfortable they were, just so long as they looked the part on a night out.
Over the years however, the heels got lower and the toes less likely to take someones eye out, as the practicality of running around with a double pushchair or mounting an expedition to Sainsbury's, or jumping off a still moving number 38 on Shaftsbury Avenue without breaking my neck,  took precedence.
My first ever pair of trainers came from Lilywhites in 2003, a pair of Reebok's which up until last week I was still wearing! (Look, this running thing is new to me, OK?) To say they were past their best was putting it mildly, but hey, they were comfy - and as much as we hate to believe it when we're young, there comes a point when comfort wins out over fashion. It's the first sign of ageing, so watch out for that one ;)
I hadn't really put much thought into choosing that first pair. They looked OK, they fit, what else was there to think about?
Almost a decade later and my mind was in a spin. My Mum and Step Dad had very kindly said they would buy my very first pair of proper running shoes. All of a sudden I was lost in a world where the shape of my foot, my gait, and all sorts of technical stuff I'd never heard of before entered the equation. I did my research. I read reviews. I asked for advice from the people who know, and got more confused by the minute. Eventually, I just couldn't hold off any longer. There comes a point when you just have to put aside your research, make a mental note of all the advice and bite the bullet.

So here I am with a nice, new pair of New Balance 610's.

And I love them!

Now, you may have noticed these are men's running shoes and that is for two very good reasons. The first, and most important, is that I just don't get on with women's trainers, they just don't suit my feet. It didn't matter what brand, model or size I tried, they just felt too constricting. Every time it felt like I was trying to squeeze my toes into a pair of my old pointy heels! The other reason, and almost as important in my book, is the range of colours women's running shoes tend to come in. I'm sorry, but I don't do PINK! Alright, I know they aren't all pink but a rather high proportion were, or mauve, or aqua, or lemon. I like to think of myself as being feminine, but I'm NOT a girly girl. Once a goth, always a goth. I think it's in the blood. I wish manufacturers would realise we don't all want pretty pink sparkles on our feet. I'm forty-two, not six.

That's not to say I paid much attention to colour while trying on the vast array of possibilities (Sorry Andy, I know shoe shopping with me is your worst nightmare and I've just elevated it to a whole new level!), I didn't really care what colour they were (yes, I know I'm contradicting myself, I'm a woman, and its my blog so that's allowed) so long as they did the job. These were comfortable, with plenty of room in the toe box for my odd shaped feet, and lots of support around the heel which was important as I have quite weak ankles.  I hadn't actually gone looking for trail runners but given the terrain around here and the fact that I'm starting to extend my runs and look for longer routes, there's a good chance I'll be spending quite a bit of time on the coast path. And with winter fast approaching, even a lot of the smaller roads around here can seem more like muddy trails by November! These seemed a good option under the circumstances, as they are apparently suitable for both on and off road use.

I haven't tried a longer run in them yet, the farthest I've been is about 4 miles, but the longest run I've ever done has only been 5 so that's OK, I'm building up to it :) I have to say that so far I've found them very comfortable on a variety of surfaces and really appreciated the extra stability off road. Wow! What a difference! Now, I know all I have to compare them to is a tatty old pair of trainers but for me, the difference is astronomical. I have been able to run on paths I wouldn't have even contemplated before. I no longer look off in to the distance with longing thinking somewhere is just too steep, uneven or muddy, I just give it a go.

And I'm faster!

Speed isn't that important to me. I'm sure some hardened runners may gasp with shock and horror at that statement but it just isn't. Maybe that will come in time, but I hope not. The important thing to me is that I actually get to a stage where I'm capable of finishing the marathon. Finishing. That's it, as long as I actually finish it, with my knees, ankles and sanity still in one piece, I'll be happy. How long it takes me doesn't matter. Which is perhaps as well because I'm slow. I don't always bother to time my runs but I do know it has always taken me 22 minutes to run the 2 miles to my favourite little beach. But since I got my NB's I'm doing it in 20. Like I said, I'm really not that bothered about the speed but it is proof that my lovely new shoes must be doing something good.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Barefoot Walk Postponed

If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know I had planned to be walking barefoot last weekend up Cornwall's two highest peaks, Rough Tor and Brown Willy. Unfortunately a trip to visit family the week before resulted in just about everyone we came in contact with passing on the dreaded lurgy. I rather jokingly asked on facebook who was to blame (you have to have someone to blame don't you?) and they were falling over themselves to take the credit for it! The most likely suspects are my grandchildren, and as they are both under two the plans we had for doing something drawn out and painful to the guilty party had to be shelved. Where's the fun in suffering if you can't plan your revenge?
As it was, instead of feeling the cool earth beneath my feet on what turned out to be a beautiful autumn day (perfect walking weather), I was alternately shivering and baking while simultaneously feeling like I'd been run over by a bus. Repeatedly. My nose ran like a tap and even my finger tips ached, but I think I got off lightly compared to Andy. I could still function, even if I did feel bloody awful doing it, poor Andy spent the best part of a week wrapped up in a blanket with a hot water bottle. And that was before our boiler packed up leaving us with no heating or hot water! All in all it was a miserable week :(
I haven't given up though. I will still be doing this challenge, I had really been looking forward to it. It does give me time to plan it better though, and drum up some more support. I was so keen to get on with it that I didn't give myself a lot of time to raise money (which is the whole point, afterall) so maybe the delay is for the best. I may even be brave and increase the distance! We'll see...
The new date is still to be confirmed, so watch this space. I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Thank You to Sharp's Brewery

A big THANK YOU to Sharp's

for donating a 5 litre mini keg of Doom Bar to use as a raffle prize.

That'll go down very nicely :)

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Walking Barefoot- My Cornish 'Twin Peaks' Challenge


Possibly, certainly even, but if I'm going to raise the significant amount of money I'm trying to raise then I have to do something a bit...well, out of the ordinary.

And so, on Saturday 22nd September (weather permitting. I don't mind rain but fog may cause a delay of a day or two. Even I'm not mad enough to climb Cornwall's two highest points if I can't see where I'm going) I will be walking up Cornwall's 'Twin Peaks', Rough Tor and Brown Willy, barefoot. Yes, you read that right. BAREFOOT!

It's actually meant to be good for you, seriously, after all the human race managed quite nicely before shoes were invented. These days people even go on barefoot walking holidays. Don't believe me? Have a read of this. See? Maybe my idea isn't quite as mad as it first sounds. Still not convinced? Here you'll find 125 reasons why you should go barefoot.
Brown Willy (Bron Wennyly), the highest point in Cornwall is 1375ft (420m) and his little brother Rough Tor is 1313ft (400m).

Want to join me? No, I didn't think so ;) But you can support me by visiting my Virgin Money Giving Page to donate. Anything you can give is very much appreciated and all goes to help Tommy's fund research into the prevention of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.
I'm really looking forward to it and Every Step's for Dillon so.... Best foot forward!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Uphill Struggle

There are a lot of advantages to living in a beautiful part of the country. I get to spend all year in a place some people have to save all year just to visit for a couple of weeks. Lucky? You bet I am! I have the sea on my doorstep, the moors within easy reach, and miles of stunning, undulating, countryside in between.

I can run through tranquil woodlands, or with the music of the sea in my ears. I can run along winding country lanes between high hedges full of life, or across wide open moorland watched only by soaring birds of prey and the occasional curious pony. Not for me the monotony and fumes of city streets. Wonderful, yes? Yes, indeed, but there is a downside. Or more accurately, an UP side.

Cornwall is a land of hills. There is no getting away from it. It doesn't matter which direction I head in when I open my front door each morning the one thing I can count on is a bloody great hill somewhere on my route.

I cheated a bit when I first started training (OK, I cheated a lot) and deliberately planned routes that encountered hills going in a favourable direction, ie. down! This was a great motivator. I got to cover more distance than I could have managed otherwise and the general downhill direction meant I invariably ended up at the sea. What better place could there be to sit for a while and catch my breath before plodding, exhausted, UP hill towards home?

This was fine when I was only attempting short runs of a couple of miles, but the very thing that makes this land so beautiful means I can only go so far before the path starts to rise again to crest the next hill. As I gradually increase my distance I have to accept the inevitable and begin to tackle those pesky hills.

There is one particular hill on the return stretch of my favourite route which starts out all innocently as a gradual incline. It is a twisting trail along a narrow lane between Cornish hedges covered in moss and ferns. It is shaded and cool, it is peaceful and pretty, it is evil and designed by the devil himself (not that I believe in him, but hey, I have to blame someone). It twists and turns, making it impossible to see just how steep and long it is when I, all gullible and inspired by the downhill stretch, embark upon its dreadful length.

I reach the first bend thinking 'yeah, I can do this, easy peasy'. By the second my legs are starting to ache but I'm still going strong, if a little slower. By the third I can see sunlight through a break in the trees and  I exult 'Yes! I'm nearly there!' and then wham! Another turn reveals it stretching onward and upward, steeper and narrower. By now my legs are starting to quiver and I resort to conning myself. Just to the next lamp post. To the next bend, then I'll rest. It's only 10 yards to the post box, go on, you can do it. Oh god, there are people coming! Happy holiday makers skipping downhill with buckets and spades and windbreaks and picnics. Smile. Smile! SMILE. Look like this isn't killing you. 'Good Morning!' they chorus. Christ! Do they expect me to answer? Nod, smile. Talk is impossible. It's more of a grimace than a smile but at last they are gone and the road ahead is...still there. Still going up. I'm red faced, sweating, panting, legs like jelly. Almost there. Almost. Just make it to that driveway. OK, now, just one more bit, one more bend, and the steepest bit...but I can see the top now. It's there, just there, just a few steps more. I can't do it. I can't. Impossible...done. I'm there and I'm not dead. Amazing.

And I get to do it all again tomorrow. Oh joy.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Thank You Toy Day

I just want to say a big thank you to the lovely people at
for donating this lovely childens kitchenware set to use as a raffle prize.

No smart play kitchen could do without it.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

This Week's Update

Miles run: 14

Miles Walked: 17

Other exercise: Avoided completely ;) but shhhh, don't tell Andy! lol

It's been a pretty good week all round. The runs are getting easier, that's for sure, and I'm gradually starting to increase the distance. I think I need to start setting my alarm clock though while the weather is so nice (I knew we'd get a summer eventually) as I find it a real struggle in the heat and its sooooo tempting just to give up and sit on the beach for a bit before it gets busy.

From a fundraising point of view I've received some great donations to use as prizes which is always a boost to my confidence. It can be a lonely ol' business, this fundraising lark, so it's always great to get some support from people I don't even know. I've also launched a local photography competition, making the most of the stunning scenery in this part of the world, with the winner getting to see their photo turned into a postcard. I'm really looking forward to seeing the entries start rolling in. I'm starting to put plans in place for a coffee morning, trying out cake recipes and hunting down cups and saucers and making posters, which is keeping me busy even busier.

Another round of letters have gone in the post, and I've made a load of leaflets and posters advertising the photo comp. Some are already out there but I've still got a stack to take around to all the holiday parks. Busy, busy, busy. Trying to collect a load of stuff for a boot sale too. Gotta get that total rising!

Friday, 10 August 2012

Everybody Loves a Bunny

Isn't this FANTASTIC?

A warm thank you to The Warehouse in Looe for donating this lovely bunny.

Thank You Card Box & Thorntons

 A big THANK YOU to Card Box & Thorntons in Looe

for kindly donating these wonderful raffle prizes.

Tarot for Tommy's

Maybe not the most conventional form of fundraising but what the heck?

I've been reading the cards for over 20 years now so I think I've just about got the hang of it ;) 

So, do you have a yearning to have your cards read? Is there a tricky situation you like some answers about? Tarot isn't fortune telling in the way most people think, but it can provide an in depth look at what's happening in your life and help you see the best path to take from here. Love? Home life? Career? Money? The tarot can help you get to grips with any problematic issue, or if you'd rather, give you a general view of where your life is heading, what to look forward to, or what to avoid.

You can get your tarot reading by making a donation of £5 (or whatever you can afford) at my virgin money giving page Every Penny Counts and then email me on with your question.

I shall do my best to email you back with your personal reading within 48 hours.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

This Week

Miles run: 4 1/2
Miles walked: 10
Migraines dealt with: One humdinger that won't let go and has kept me housebound for 3 days :(
Total weight lost since start date: One Stone! Yes, 14 whole lbs :)
Clothes I can get in for the first time in years: Loads! It's like having a whole new wardrobe.

I must be getting somewhere :) Now if I could just clear my head...

Monday, 23 July 2012

Thank You Skinner's Brewery

How wonderful! The fabulous people at Skinner's Brewery have sent me a voucher to collect an 18 pint polypin of their wonderful Cornish Ale to use as a raffle prize. I'm sure that will go down a treat and help me sell an awful lot of raffle tickets.

A big Thank You to Skinner's brewery.

A Big Thank You to Ginsters

A big thank you to the lovely people at Ginsters

who donated a Cornwall Edition Monopoly Set to be raffled off to raise money for Tommy's.

I picked it up on Friday. My first raffle prize. Yay!
That really made my day :) 

Friday, 29 June 2012

Can YOU help?

It's fairly obvious that I'm going to struggle to raise my target of £2,500 without help. Not that I'm short of ideas you understand, and there is plenty in the pipe line, but fundraising on such a grand scale takes time and energy, and I really need to start training too. There just aren't enough hours in the day. Now unless someone has a direct line to the Gods, and a favour to call in, I don't think I stand much chance of nudging those precious 24 hours up to say 30 or so.

So, with that in mind, I'm asking for some willing volunteers. Hands up everyone who can organise a little something to help me reach my target. It doesn't need to be much, every little bit helps. Big or small, everything is very much appreciated and goes to help Tommy's research into the causes of miscarriage, still birth and premature birth. If what we do helps see even one baby safe in his mother's arms we'll have achieved something wonderful.

You want to help? Great!

Perhaps you could do a bootsale and donate the proceeds,
or hold a coffee morning.
Have a cake sale at work (everybody LOVES cake),
or a 'guess the number of sweets in a jar',
or a 'guess the name of the teddy bear'.
Get sponsored to shave your head,
or dye your hair a silly colour (*note- my daughters are exculuded from this one, bright and wild is normal for them!)
Hold a teddy bears picnic,
or a barbeque (we will get nice weather sometime this summer, honest).
Start a swear box.
In a band? Do a charity gig.
In a team? Hold a charity football match,
or rugby match,
or a golf tournament.
Get your boss/teacher to let everyone come to work/school in jeans/pyjamas/fancy dress for a pound.
Get your kids to do a sponsored silence (go on, you know you want to)
Hold a raffle,
or charity auction.
Get your local pub to host a fun day,
or quiz night.
Organise a treasure or scavenger hunt.
Sit in a bath of baked beans,
Collect pennies, or pound coins, in a smartie tube....

The possibilities are endless.

If you want to help, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. Don't forget to go to my facebook page Running For Tommy's and let everyone know what you're doing so we can all cheer each other on.

You can make a donation by going to my Virgin Giving Page Every Penny Counts.

Friday, 15 June 2012

I'm on Facebook

I get about a bit don't I?

You'll find me here.

Pop along and say hello,

or give me a thumbs up,

or just a shove in the right direction.

Your support is very welcome, especially on a wet and windy day like today when I'm feeling very sluggish.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

There's a hole in my shoe

Hmmm, I think these may be past their best.

What do you think?

                                                      Are they showing signs of wear?

Can you tell they're nearly 10 years old?

If I'm not going to run the marathon barefoot (No! Before anyone suggests it, NO!!!), maybe it's time to invest in a new pair of size 6's.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Open mouth, Insert foot

I learnt a very long time ago that if you strive towards a very big goal (I'm fairly certain that running the marathon counts as a 'very big goal') it's best to break that down into lots of little bite sized goals, each one taking you that bit closer to THE BIG ONE than the last.

For that reason I haven't thrown myself into marathon training straight away, no matter how tempting that has been. First off I appointed a trainer, which may just have been my first mistake. The speed at which my husband accepted the role, coupled with his accompanying evil grin, suggests that he may just use this as an opportunity to get his own back on me for years of being on the receiving end of my PMS!

But that aside, I know I can trust him to keep me on the right track. Which so far has entailed losing a bit of weight. I had a knee injury as a teenager which still, very occasionally, plays up in cold, damp weather so it stands to reason that the less weight my poor, old knees have to carry around the better. Although he might have been a little more tactful, 'lets get some of that fat off you' is not what a wife wants to hear. Especially not when she's half way through baking a scrummy chocolate cake. I could almost hear those calories laughing at me as I opened the oven door :(

So far I've lost almost half a stone. I was doing rather well I thought.  And I said as much.

Silly me!

Nothing wipes a smug smile off my face faster than a big bully of a husband trainer adding sit-ups to my morning routine! I think I'll keep my observations to myself in future ;)

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Making It Real

This morning a parcel arrived. A rather heavy parcel. A parcel I've been eagerly awaiting.

I tore open the packaging like a kid at Christmas. There were leaflets and stickers and balloons and banners. There were funky, pink collecting tins and tee-shirts and my running vest...

O.M.G. My running vest!

It hit me like a double decker bus. I'M REALLY DOING THIS!

I sat on the floor surrounded by fund raising paraphernalia and slowly it began to sink in.

My husband's been asking me, almost daily, for the last two weeks 'Has it sunk in yet?' At first the answer to that was always 'No,' but slowly I began to nod and a tentative 'Yes, I think so,' would escape my lips, followed quickly by a confident 'Of course,' and he'd just smile. Andy had realised what I was refusing to see. It hadn't sunk in, it hadn't sunk in at all.

OK, Drew, you don't need to look so smug. Everyone gets to be right occasionally, even you :)

So I'm sitting here a little shell shocked, but that's OK, I'll get over it. I've got a couple of collecting tins leering at me every time I look up and they're not about to let me forget I've got work to do!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Baby Steps

If I'm being honest, this whole marathon/fundraising thing is a little bit daunting. Exciting, obviously, but daunting all the same. It's a lot of money to raise isn't it? £2,500. Two thousand and five hundred pounds. That's enough to give anyone sleepless nights, not to mention the thought of running 26 miles.

But then I had a thought. Yes, sometimes I do actually think. I can do this flylady style. And that means taking baby steps, doing things just a little at a time.

I've been looking at the whole amount, thinking how on earth am I going to raise £2,500? Ideas have been spinning around my head so fast I've been looking at the world through a blur, a haze of collection tins, coffee mornings, boot sales and rummage sales and cake sales and, and, and, and....

Stop. Breathe. Think baby steps.

£2,500 is not that much, not really.

All it takes is for 2,500 people to give £1

or 1,250 people to give £2

or 625 people to give £4

or 500 people to give £5

or 250 people to give £10

or.... well you get the picture.

When you look at it like that it's not half so frightening.

Thank you so much to everyone who has already donated, I've been bowled over by your generosity.

Your support means a lot. :)

Friday, 18 May 2012

Going For Gold

Wow! I'm really doing it. I have to admit it's taking a while to sink in. I'm really going to have my work cut out between now and next April. April 21st 2013. That's when I run the Virgin London Marathon.

I have a golden bond place to run for Tommy's which means I have to raise a minimum of £2,500, half of that by December 31st 2012.

Scary stuff!

Why am I putting myself through this? That's simple. I'm doing this for Dillon, for his parents, and for every parent. Every penny I raise helps Tommy's research into the causes of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. The statistics are shocking. In England and Wales in 2009-2010 around 241,055 lost a baby during pregnancy or birth, with 10 babies stillborn and 97 born pre-term EVERY DAY. Every step I take, every penny I raise, will take them just that tiny bit closer to reaching their goal of halving the number of babies that die during pregnancy and birth by 2030.

Dillon's little life was far too short, but he fought for every second of it and he's my inspiration. So if I get a little nervous about reaching my target amount of money, I'll just think of Dillon. When the training seems too tough and the weather too bad, I'll think of Dillon. When my legs ache and my feet are sore next April, and the finish line seems a million miles away, I'll think of Dillon.

You can help me reach my target by going to my Virgin Money Giving Page Every Penny Counts to donate.

Thank You.