We never know where life is going to take us or what challenges it brings. In January 2010 I was happy, so happy I wanted to stay that way for as long as I could. I realised that if Ali and I wanted a long and healthy life together, we had to change. I was clinically obese, had a bad back and my knees were feeling the strain. I had various health problems and I was ageing faster than my years. I looked ahead to a life I did not want. It was time to change. By the end of the year I had lost 4 stone - 56lbs. My confidence rocketed - I had taken control and it had worked. I was exercising, enjoying buying clothes, speaking up for myself.

I began to believe in myself again, I began to dream. For years I had watched marathons with admiration and a lump in my throat. In April 2013, I ran my first marathon.

This blog is about living life as a slim person, staying slim and fulfilling my dreams. Come and join me, support me, advise me!

Take care, Sue

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Night Moves; Running by lamplight

What a week! It's been non stop. I finally managed to get out for a reasonable length run. It was in the evening, after dark. Yes, it's autumn in Scotland!

Lots of folk love the autumn, the cooler days, the fresher air, the colours (I like the colours bit!).  Whilst many runners positively welcome the drizzle, I like sunshine and warmth, but there's something that I really like about autumn and winter - running in the dark. I love night running, it's like having an invisibility cloak and it appeals to my inner lone wolf, the bit of me that runs alone.

It's usually when Ali's out that I get an evening run this time of year. I get in from work, sort Mum out, then nip home and get the insulated leggings, ear warmers, thick socks and layer up. I find all the reflective bits and pieces I have and head out onto the darkened streets. Okay, so I'm not invisible, that would be a bit risky, but I am anonymous, or so I like to think! In the dark I can just focus on running.

I've got a route that works any time of the day or night with a few extra loops if I want to extend it. North Berwick has plenty of hills and lots of quiet streets. I trot past the lighted windows, up the hill to the top car park and gaze down on the twinkling lights of my home town below. What goes on behind those rosy windows and closed doors? What sort of people live there? What's happening in their lives, what joys, what sorrows?  I wonder as I look forward to the welcoming light and warmth of home (and some dinner). It's very different to what I think about when I run in daylight.

I'm not very brave, I don't go off the well lit streets. But running in circles and loops in the dark somehow distorts my sense of time. There are downsides of course - people smoking outside of pubs can make the High Street a bit of a no go area. Drunk golfers politely trying to move out of my way can slow me down.

Arriving home is even nicer after a night run. It's usually too late to eat much, especially if I want to get a good sleep, but I'm not that hungry anyway. What matters is I've been out, in the dark, after work, when most people are sitting in front of the tv and I've run. I get a snack, make a cuppa and watch tv til Ali gets home.

Running in the dark has a pace and space that I really like. At night there's something exciting about being outside after dark.  I'm not often out after teatime these days. When I was younger I'd be out dark o'clock on a regular basis - not now!

I'm sure it's different to running very early in the morning (well anytime before about 9 am in the winter here!).  I don't think that's my cup of tea. Yes it's dark and even more deserted, but folk are in bed asleep and I like it that in the evening there are still people about, up and doing things. I've also not tried running in the dark with a head torch. I sort of like the sound of that, but I'm not sure. There's nothing invisible and low key about a headlamp on your head and do I really want to nrun off the beaten track in the dark? Not really.

So, as we head towards the shortest day and the long dark days of winter beckon, I shall cherish my night time winter runs and get some good training in, ready for next year's marathon. I've my next night time run planned....

Whether you're out and about by moonlight, street light, day light or torchlight have a good one!

 Take care


Sunday, 30 October 2011

Walk Don't Run! On Holiday in the Lake District.

Well, that's us back from a totally wonderful week in the Lake District. Blessed by warm and dry weather, we had a fantastic, relaxing and healthy time in one of the most beautiful and friendly parts of the UK.  I've done the blog to share with you some of the many delights and treasures we found there. So put your feet up and come to the Lake District!

Because of Mum's care arrangements, we weren't sure we'd get away until the last moment. A massive 'thank you' to Community Care at East Lothian Council for making sure Mum was safe so we could get a break and to my sister for coming down so we could get everything ready to go.

I was so excited about the trip. My twitter friend @runninglady2 is a fan of the Lakes and introduced me to Chris @NTGrasmereinfo so the week before they really helped build up the excitement and anticipation of the week to come. 

We rented a cottage from Lake Lovers and what a cracker it was. Cosy, clean, quiet, well equipped, a real home from home. I sent Chris and Denise a tweet to say we'd arrived and then promptly lost reception!  One more tweet might have saved us from the one let down of the week - dinner at The Lamb Inn at the Red Lion, Grasmere. A sticky table and  a very dry and disappointing cumberland sausage.  A shame as the pub was cosy and the staff really friendly, but it was the only duff meal we had.

The next morning we awoke refreshed - worry-free sleep is a luxury I will never take for granted.  After porridge we set off.  A beautiful, sunny and warm morning. Our first walk was a circuit round Elterwater to break in my walking legs. It's been quite a while since I went walking like this and it was very strange to walk and not run. 

Since I've started running, my walking pace has speeded up. My legs are impatient and it takes me a while to get used to the slower pace. But it's also mental. I realised that now I think about speed and distance diferently.  My head cannot understand why a 6 mile walk takes hours! Running is so efficient, you can get from A to B so much quicker and still see everything you need to see. What is the point of walking, it's sooo s-l-o-w.....

It was very lovely walk, despite my inner walker and my inner runner having a bit of a punch up! They were however reconciled at the Eltmere Inn where we and other walkers, cyclists and assorted dogs enjoyed the fruit scones of our labours. A quick pint at the delightful Badger Bar at Rydal on the way back completed a good first day.

Sunday was misty and damp, but the clouds were due to lift later, so we stocked up on the papers before heading off for brunch at Greens in Grasmere (no website but see them on tripadvisor). A real treat there - a  very yummy and very large bowl of homemade veg soup with homemade bread - a great start for a walk up to Easedale Tarn.

As we climbed the slopes, my walking legs began to switch on, and as my quads began to work, my mental turmoil eased.  It's not that I don't like walking, it's just that I really love to work those quads, and going up hill was doing that.  I stopped thinking about running and walking and just enjoyed the feel of my legs working. A lovely walk back down through woodland, accompanied by the adorable Herdswick sheep and off for a swim at the Wordsworth Hotel before tea.

Monday was a gorgeous day, clear, bright, warm. We did a great walk from our cottage in Grasmere to Ambleside via Loughrigg Fell and back via Rydal along the magical 'coffin road'; and through Rydal Hall with its gorgeous gardens and waterfall and past Rydal Cave an old quarry working. The usual quad stretching scramble up and the knee jerking descent, but some fantastic views and we stopped for lunch at Dodds in Ambleside for fabulous home made bacon and lentil soup and fresh ciabatta. (The food and service were so good we went back for dinner the next night. The pizza did not disappoint.)

Pudding was an ice cream from Joseph's ice cream van near the WhiteMoss car park which fuelled us up the hill and back into Grasmere via Dove Cottage. Today's post walk swim reduced to a dook in the jacuzzi due to the large number of small and noisy people in the pool.

Tuesday was an early rise to make the most of the good weather and we had a long steep climb up to Alcock Tarn that towered over our cottage with fanstastic views across the lakes. We couldn't resist shopping for new walking and running gear - an ideal fill in until we went to see the Ambleside Players perform 'The Weekend' by Michael Palin. There's nothing quite like amateur productions is there.

Wednesday was the well known and much loved Catbells at Keswick. We started in rain and wind and it was very busy with some slippy bits, but it was beautiful and well worth the crowds for the fanstastic views. By the time we hit Keswick, we were cold, but we were soon warmed up  by cumberland sausage sarnies and tea at the very fine Wild Strawberry Cafe Main Street Keswick.
Thursday was a damp day, but it is after all only water, so we headed off to Troutbeck via Wansfell through the mist.  At the top I had a flashback to a walk I did there in the 1970s as a teenager, when I went up to my knees in bog. Funny what you remember! We bought cups of tea at Troutbeck Post Office and sat on the bench outside in the drizzly mist eating our lunch, bliss. Sarnies ouside always taste better.

On our last night there, we ate out at Potted Out in Grasmere. We ate hummus made in heaven and yummy pizza and chips, oh and drank wine. I helped Ali eat his creme brulee. Okay, so we indulged, but the food was great and I think we'd earnt it.

Too soon it was our last day. We packed, tidied the cottage and headed off. We popped in for a final batch of Grasmere gingerbread. It is unbelievably delicious, even to me who considers gingernuts as unfit for human consumption. And then to meet the lovely Chris at the Grasmere NT Office across the road.  We got even more ideas of things to do in and around Grasmere next time we're down. Maybe even to do the Grasmere Gallop next June.

One final walk on our way home - Kings How near Keswick. Another panting scramble up rocky paths, a traipse across a bog and a swift ascent to a panoramic 'top of the world' view. Brilliant sunshine, shirt sleeves, bliss.

Down for lunch, a final visit to Booths to stock up on their amazing range of quality local food and drink and then back north.

It was a truly wonderful holiday, and we made every moment count. The weather was great, and we spent a lot of time walking in shirt sleeves in late October (spot the Scots! Most walkers were a bit more clad than us!).  It was very different to walking in Scotland - not just the weather, the walks were much shorter so we had time to potter about so days felt long and luxurious.  Even though it can be busy, we found many places and times when we were totally alone, it was like we had the walk to ourselves. So many great walks and magical places, and even more to look forward to next time.

I hope you feel you've had a bit of a holiday reading it. Once I got used to walking again, I really enjoyed it. It is good to have time to look around and there's no way I could have run up those hills anyway. I'll leave that to @pyllon; @runner786 and @dingdongrun!

Back to work tomorrow, the holiday is nearly over. Looking forward to my next trip to the Lakes already and really wondering if I've forgotten how to run.....

 Take care