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

Friday, 23 December 2011

Of Mice and Mums - a week in Marigolds

I think I might well give up trying to plan anything.  I had this week all sorted out, a week off work to help Mum settle in after her stay in hospital, get us all ready for Christmas and enjoy a run or two. A whole week. You'd think that would do it wouldn't you? Well, it didn't quite work out like that. Yes, expect the unexpected number 3 million two hundred and fifty thousand and one.

As I type this blog, I hope the worst is over and things are back on track for Christmas - but my fingers are still crossed! My once soft hands are calloused and dried out by days of washing and scrubbing.  I am whacked, but every bit of this house has been scrubbed within an inch of its life.

It all started with the pre Christmas urge some of us have to tidy up (i.e. blitz) the house. Christmas is such an evocative time, and each one brings back the ghosts of Christmas past. The ghost of 'let's stock up the fridge in case it snows'; the ghost of 'who forgot to set the oven timer'.  And the ghost that sets you on your knees with everything from the kitchen cupboards on the floor and a j cloth in your hand tidying up for Santa. Yes, my Mum told me that story. I think it's linked to the winter solstice and some cleansing ritual or another.

Anyway, I donned the Marigolds, filled the bucket and started off and the first little treat happened. When I emptied out the porridge and pasta cupboard I found ....  mouse poo. Yuk! Not much, and most of the food is in plastic containers, they'd only got at Ali's (unopened) rice crackers and a low fat 'health' bar (the latter probably for bedding!). But even one turd is enough.  My first reaction was to have a little chat with the two fur beings that are allegedly cats. How can you have two cats and a mouse move in? Age is no excuse I told them as they lay on their cushions staring at the fire. I was pointedly ignored, they reckon their hunting days are over and I guess they are well over retirement age, even in these hard pressed days.

So out goes every bit of food that a mouse might possibly even have looked at, in came the mouse traps and on went the boiling water and the marigolds. Luckily it was a very limited mouse visitation. I like mice and we live near lots of fields.  I can't blame them for wanting to keep warm and get a nibble or two.  I just don't want them nibbling our food!

Once the kitchen has been cleaned to within an inch of its life, I begin to relax.  It's beginning to feel like Christmas and I start to clean the rest of the house, planning my nice long run. My legs have got really twitchy, but I just couldn't run until I got everything cleaned up. Housework is quite good cross training and great upper body work - isn't it??

Next thing, Mum gets out of hospital, so time to get her ready for Christmas. I pick her up, stock her fridge up and get her settled in. All is looking good and back on track, I begin to eye up my running shoes and think about a route.  I bring Mum round for a cuppa and a bit of company - a rare treat for us both. She's happily watching Catherine Cookson when she gets a sore tummy. The wee scone is safely back in the Edington whilst they get her better.

Yesterday morning dawned overcast but I headed off to get a run in before visiting time. I really do have to run when I can and I made the most of it and had a good long one - 14 miles, my longest run yet.  The sun came out as I ran towards Tantallon Castle and on to the beach. I only need a tempo and a short run this week to keep on top of things. That feels manageable.

I think we're more or less shopped out now, just pressies to wrap, family to gather and the big day to prepare for.

I hope that wherever you are and whatever you have planned, all goes well for you and your loved ones.  If you get a run, savour it and treasure it, as the saying goes, you never know the moment.

Take care


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Taking it easy: slowing down to speed up

I am one of these people who charges about like the proverbial blue ar**ed fly. I do everything far too fast, including running.  I run as fast as I can for as long as I can, or until I can't run any more.   I just don't do slow, and I don't do easy, so a slow easy run wasn't top of my training priorities. That's got to change and last week was part of that lesson. I have to learn to take it easy if I'm going to do this marathon.

My first easy run was on a cold morning, when I decided to slip in an extra run to see how my body coped with 3 runs close together. I went at my jog pace, put on some easy listening and set off. It felt good to be out with no pressure and no hassle, just to enjoy the run. My main focus was to make sure I didn't injure myself or scupper my evening run. It worked.  I had a lovely relaxed run and was up and running that evening, legs fresh and springy.

I forgot about easy runs after that as I focussed on the core long, tempo and sprint/hilly ones. Once again, I was dashing about, making the most of time and training hard. But last Saturday I set off on a long slow run as part of my marathon training. Except, I did it again; I got the pace wrong, I was still too fast.

But the penny had begun to drop. As all the guides say, a marathon is just a really long run, so whatever speed you go, you have to run for 26.2 miles. A slow easy run means your body works within its comfort zone in terms of speed, so you only push on one element - distance.  Now when one reaches the middle years, wear and tear is an issue, so a slow easy is gentle on the limbs, gentle on the joints, gentle on the body and gentle on the mind.  A welcome relief in the frenzied push towards getting that marathon done and everything else.

I have found it really hard to switch off the speed bit of running, partly because it's just my way and I have got into a pace rut. But going fast is also about vanity and ego. In the gym, on the road, on the beach, I hate the thought that people see me running slowly and think I'm not very good. I am aware of every car driver, walker; dog and gym rat and I know that they are all, every one of them, judging my speed - and finding me lacking. I am embarrassed to run slowly.

Egotistical and narcissistic I know. But if I'm going to run a marathon, I have to get over this and run longer, farther and slower and not care what other folk think.  They are, of course, not in the least bit interested, and are not going to be there when I pass the finishing line and complete my first marathon.

I've had to give myself yet another talking to and change how I think.  I have put on a hew head, probably like actors do. In my head I am a serious runner, doing serious training that is essential to me achieving my goal - my marathon. This is my race, my training, my body and mind. I have to get through 26.2 miles more or less alone. It doesn't matter a jot what others think - except of course Ali, my family and friends and they all think I'm bonkers anyway!

So far so good, but I only managed a very small slow run at the gym this week.  No long run this week due to work and social pre Christmas madness (and a slight surfeit of red wine).

This week's stats - are a bit rubbish as a result.  Only 17.5 miles; 4 runs - one intervals, 2 tempos and 1 mini slow.  However, my 9 mile beach run was 4 miles into a strong headwind on soft sand, so I'm not too fussed.  That beach is very very useful when it's icy!

Here's the view today from the beach, one final hill at the end and then back for soup! What a beautiful day to run!

With the holidays coming up, Mum coming out of hospital and Christmas to prepare for, can I up my mileage to 30 miles and get my long run over 15 miles by the New Year??? Watch this space!

Whatever you're up to, I hope you're having a good week and all is well with your world.

Take care