Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fixing Dad Trailer

You know me, I never give up a chance to advocate exercise for about a hundred different ailments. But more and more, I'm seeing research proving this is true time and time again.

Today I'd like to introduce you to some friends of mine - The Whitingtons, and most importantly to their incredible project 'Fixing Dad'. See for the last year or so, Anthony and Ian have been on a mission to support their type 2 diabetic dad, Geoff, turn his life around and secure him a better future... And they're filming the whole lot along the way.

I can't write it any better than they have, so please read their words below, watch the trailer and find out more here. I can't tell you how far they've come since this trailer was made, but I can assure you that this documentary is going to be truly special.

Welcome to Geoff's journey to a better life. Geoff is our Dad and he has some serious health conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart problems, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and Charcot's Foot. At the start of our project, in late 2013, he weighed around 19 stone. He was being kept alive by a cocktail of drugs which thinned his blood, lowered his cholesterol, regulated his blood sugar, lowered his blood pressure and made him able to live in a body that was close to collapse. 
He is currently 62 years old. He lives in Ashford with his wife Marilyn. He works as a security guard for 12 hours a night after retiring from his job as a telecommunications engineer which he did for 40 years. 
Geoff is a nice guy, in fact he's possibly the nicest guy you'll ever meet. He'll give to the point of suffering himself and always puts others before him. Now he is in retirement with little money, severe health issues and a low quality of life. Geoff's working hours mean he has no hobbies or many close friends but he finds comfort in junk food, alcohol and working hard. It all started whilst working at BT where he was part of a heavy-drinking culture and became a member of the 'Fat Bastard Brigade', a group of men who prided themselves on drinking 18 plus pints a day.
We are Geoff's sons, Ian and Anthony. Our mission is to fix our Dad. He's given his life to ensure we or anybody close to him never went without. Now it's time for us to give back and give him the support he needs. We're using our film making experience to document our journey and this website as a resource for all the other people out there who have fallen victim to the temptations, stresses and let downs of life. If our journey to success inspires just one person to help another person get back on the right road we have done our job.
Join us over the next few months. Our dad's tried to sort himself out on several occasions over the last 20 years, but this time we are there to help motivate him. He's up for the challenge, so here goes!

To find out more about Geoff's story, head to the Fixing Dad website here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Oxford Half Marathon - Take II

Oh so you want to know about the actual race not some gushing tribute to my loved ones? Okay got it...

All joking aside, apart from the super popular races, it's not that easy to find out what the smaller races are actually like. So here's my actual race review of the Oxford half marathon, missing any real pictures, because sadly (?!) I was running.

All in all, The Oxford Half is a good race. It starts and finishes in the Kassam Stadium, home to Oxford United - obviously I couldn't pass up a chance to have a snap with the boys...

Starting in the stadium was pretty cool, and it meant that the start was really organised. So organised we ended up waiting around (keeping warm) for it all to kick off inside the stadium before making our way to the actual start line a short walk away.

It's got a pretty flat course once you get past the first mile or so, and the hills you do come across feel considerably more downwards than upwards, which is always good news! I feel that this was more than earned by a horrible little steep, uphill u-turn we had to make at 9.5 miles, which completely wiped me out. I wish I'd been prepared for it, as my tired legs just stopped working on the completely unfamiliar steep terrain.

Whilst we're on the subject of mile markers, my one real complaint was to do with the spacing of the mile markers... They were completely out. I used my Garmin throughout the run to pace myself and the boy, so I didn't feel all that affected by it, apart from being thoroughly confused when we passed the 1 mile marker at 0.85, and the 12 mile marker at 12.25! For the people who were timing against their watches at each mile, marker that's a real problem. So much so, I thought myself a helpful soldier and passed out information at how far we were to random strangers towards the end of the race - safe to say, they probably weren't grateful.

Back to the good stuff now though, the race takes you through some of the outskirts of Oxford, and we had a chance to race the 'Bannister Mile' 60 years after Sir Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute-mile mark on the same course. After that, we headed out onto the Christchurch Meadow, where my mother took another stellar shot of me - at least it's of the right person this time...


Once we'd headed round the Meadows, we took a short turn around Oxford town before returning to an extremely thin tow path along the river where we had some encouragement from rowers out for their morning paddle. Finally, we hit that nasty hilly bend I spoke about before winding our way back to the stadium. It was here I started to really struggle - I just don't think I did enough distance training before this half, and at the 10 mile mark (the Garmin's, not the marker's), I really hit the wall.

I pushed on through, but not before sending my running partner off.. and instantly regretting it as I came out the other side of the wall, felt great but lost my resolve a little.

I've found that the last couple of half-marathons I've done, (Great North Run not included), I've really struggled in the last two miles with motivation, and I've found myself walking (!) in the last mile which is just a little bit ridiculous when you've come so far. Definitely something to work on in the next couple as I lost a fair bit of time there.

Overall I really liked the Oxford half-marathon, a pretty flat course, and decent support from the crowd. But please, for next time, sort out your markers!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Two's Company - Competitive Running at The Oxford Half

For eagle-eyed readers of my blog, you may have noticed I missed a person out of my previous post.

Rest assured this was deliberately timed to provide a lead in to this follow up post - running with friends part II. 

In the last year and a bit, I've had the privilege of hanging around with a boy (I know right, eww), and the inevitable early-relationship bulge soon turned to a proper little paunch. 

With both of us suffering the onslaught of one too many Nandos (medium heat, if you're asking), something had to be done. So we both signed up to The Oxford Half. 

Ready to run...
Hanging out with the team at the Kassam Stadium - Oxford Half

Running with a boy is funny, especially for me as I'm very much a solitary runner, so he has to put up with me cutting him up at every turn and people looking pitying at him because I'm clearly slowing him down! 

But despite all that, he sticks with me... And that's because training with a buddy is so much more fun. For starters, they'll force you to get outside when really a full packet of Doritos and a Netflix boxset is calling, and they keep you running when you start to feel rubbish. 

But more than anything, they help put the competition back into running which is the one thing I know that can sure-fire get you up in the early hours, chasing down PB's.

If anything my running was a bit stagnant before I started running with a pal again. I was trailing the same routes, never really paying attention to how long it was taking me to get anywhere, or running with a rucksack (more on run commuting later) so there was always some excuse for my varying pace.

5K PB's

In the last two weeks I've smashed my 5K pb and come within a minute of my half marathon time (given the level of training I did, it's quite an achievement), and that can only be attributed to someone who's reignited my competitive streak. 

So cheers boy, you may have beaten me by 3 minutes this weekend but I was just playing nice. Game on. 

Race time: 1:59:05

Friday, October 10, 2014

BBC - Get Inspired Series

For regular readers of my blog, you'll know I'm pretty passionate about the link between exercise and mental health - and there I'm not just talking about those people who are diagnosed sufferers of illnesses; I'm talking about everyone who feels stressed or anxious sometimes.

My wonderful friend, fellow runner and occasional guest on the blog Lottie (shout-out), sent me a link to an amazing campaign that the BBC are running as part of their Get Inspired series.

The campaign focuses on how exercise and a healthy lifestyle can help with a whole variety of mental illnesses and kicks off with a short film about a bipolar sufferer named Simon Lamb.

I urge you to watch the film below, and find out more about the campaign here.

BBC Get Inspired - Running Saved my Life

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Confession: My One Big Love

Running is one of my great loves. Don't get me wrong, we've fallen out and been that on-off couple that everyone really thinks isn't right together, but this time I really feel that we've turned a corner. And what's sparked this now unwavering devotion to each other? By turning it into a three-some.

Everyone knows that exercise with pals is best, but actually finding those pals that want to wake up at silly o'clock, don some lycra and go do squats in some dodgy park is pretty rare. I'm extremely lucky that through the last year, I've been able to find two of those people and introduce them to running.

The first, is my wonderful sister. A long suffering supporter of mine, from the banks at Henley to calling me mid-marathon for a chat - it really is those little touches that make all the difference.

Throwback - Jog Off
I'm sure she won't mind me sharing this throwback...

Back in June, while I was on a totally amazing holiday in Kefalonia (eating all the bread, olives and baklava I could get my hands on), I noticed a post by Bupa Running giving away places to the Great North Run to those who had specific goals they wanted to meet. Given my sister lives in Newcastle (where the run takes place), I somehow got it into my head that it would be amazing if we could do it together. It seemed an amazing fit, as she was leaving to head back to Oxford to become a doctor (hello, Bupa!), and it would be an amazing send off. Unfortunately for her, I forgot she doesn't really run.

So, I signed us up and we were lucky enough to win places each. Having delivered the news to my sister, and received a very over-enthusiastic, not-entirely-genuine response, we started training. It's slightly strange as she was in Newcastle, yet I was in London so there were a lot of WhatsApp conversations, but the thing that helped the most was setting up a Google doc, where we recorded what we were doing as our training.

Having given my sister only three months to go from 2k to 20k, I was truly surprised by how amazingly she did come race-day. We ran together the whole way and to get to go through that experience with someone is incredible, from those first few optimistic km to the sections where I really thought she was going to hit me (there were some poorly aimed water bottles at least...).

Crossing the line with her was pretty special so a big thanks to Bupa, and head over to their Facebook page as they're running a Great South Run promotion right now.

Race time: 2:31:41

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Another Year...

... Another rejection magazine from the London Marathon ballot. To add insult to injury (oof, sorry), the boy has got a place after only his first go!

So, off I go to contact all of the charities that I'm truly passionate about to see whether I can get a place. Otherwise, I'll have to make do with cheering from the sidelines for another year.

Having said that, I may just have to start planning another overseas marathon trip instead...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Confessing my sins

It's been a while, lets not lie. But in the same way as dining with old friends, the words come easily enough. Stick with me, there's a story behind this silence.

The last year has been full of ups and downs, injury and heartbreak and just really really busy life. I've seen a boy, dumped a boy, seen another boy (still happily going strong), and been really really poorly. I've travelled (some of) the world, and I've moved house (too many times).

But the one thing nagging me through all of this, was this. This tiny little corner of the internet, that only my mum and occasionally my friends read. My mum now has a full time occupation, which means she can't sit around each day reading her youngest daughter's whimsical chatter on her blog anymore, so my regular readership is now a bit fat zero.

But do you know what? I don't care, not one bit. I've re-read my posts at times when I've felt a real pang of guilt and sadness about leaving behind my own little slice of the internet and it's brought back to life what I was doing, and the way I was feeling at a particular time. And it's brought it back so vividly and so brightly, I hate the idea that all these memories and thoughts and feelings are all going to waste.

So, with three half marathons ahead of me until the end of the year, this is my little pledge: however infrequently, I will write on this god-damn blog.

So stick with me guys, there's plenty of miles in this old girl just yet.