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, 10 May 2014

Brum Run

Arriving in a wind and rain swept Birmingham the other day, I had one eye on finding the hotel and the other on sussing out the next morning's run route. As I squelched through the streets, I got a glimpse of the history of the town, its scale and its friendliness - despite the rain people were happy to help me find my way. Yes, this was going to be an interesting run and I was looking forward to exploring a bit more.

I was there for the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference and staying at the Premier Inn Canalside, a very short walk to the conference centre and the city centre.  And right next to the canal. That run got even more interesting!

6am and I'm up and ready to run. It's overcast but dry and I'd forgotten how the wind can get lost in big cities.  My feet took me to the canal path, I've not run along a canal before and being beside a different kind of water made a very interesting contrast with those North Berwick beach runs.

It was quiet - just how I like it. I'd seen quite a few runners out the night before, but I saw no one in the morning until I'd been running for quite a while - bliss. The ones I saw mostly said 'hello', a good sign. The cyclists however were not quite as courteous, coming up behind not thinking that I might not be able to hear them (I wasn't wearing headphones) and one cyclist who didn't say 'thank you' when I stopped to let him through a narrow bit of canal path. I'm a cyclist too - but like to think I'm a polite cyclist!

Running along the canals you get up close and personal with the city's past and its future. At one end, was the Mail Box, quite modern with bars and restaurants galore - all familiar names and menus.  Down past the back of the conference centre, over the little bridges, up and down the steps, the run was definitely not flat. It was a real treat, that's something I don't often get the chance to do at home.

Down to the Sealife Centre and a massive construction site and then past flats, flats and more flats - there's a lot of people living canal side in Brum, and I can see why.

I ran to the end of the paved path and decided not to run down the muddy track. I was intrigued to see where it went but the thought of a slip into those dark murky waters was sufficient to put me off.  I was going to run back to the hotel but there were so many interesting twists and turns that I just went where I fancied.

As the run went on, smells of frying bacon and woodsmoke arose from the houseboats knotted along the canals and the thought of a couple of rashers myself later spurred me on.  I realised I'd have to come off the canal path or retrace my steps. The path took me to the back of Centenary Square and the new library in a maze of roads and junctions. Here was a Birmingham of concrete ramps, dirty windows, traffic and dereliction, a stone's throw from the conference.

I headed back into the main square and down to Victoria Square with its beautiful sphinxes (I think!) and statues and more steps. Round that area the range of buildings is quite remarkable - the city wears its history on the sleeve.

Then back to the canal to see how far I could go in the other direction. Past more flats and businesses and things began to look a bit industrial. I decided it was time to head back. I knew I was a couple of canals over from where I started and without too much hassle, found my way back.   

A most enjoyable run and it gave me a real taste of Birmingham. Four and a bit miles, lots of steps and mini hills up and over the canal bridges, a good workout. As I reached the home strait, I contemplated a rasher or two as reward for my endeavours. By the time I hit the hotel dining room the skies and opened and the rain was back. My porridge tasked even better. And the conference was great too - psychology and running just go together perfectly!

Have a great week running, I'm looking forward to my first run with an informal running club in Longniddry - watch this space!

Take care


Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Edinburgh North Berwick Road Race: A Marshal's Eye View

The Edinburgh to North Berwick Road Race is a cracker, a real legend of a race.  49 years old this year, it's not always been a 20 miler - it's been various distances, including a marathon. It's a race with a fascinating history.

I'd love to run it one day, but I doubt I ever will. It's a lovely route along the East Lothian coastline from Portobello Promenade finishing on Elcho Green, beachside North Berwick. It's 20 miles in early May at the perfect time for quite a few marathons. So what's not to like? Well, the race has a 3hr 30 minute cut off time and that's a bit beyond me I'm afraid.

But there's more than one way to participate in a race... Races don't just happen by magic there's a lot of organisation goes on to make it all work, so when I was asked to be a marshal by Neil, a fellow North Berwick Chi Runner, I said yes. Neil, Claire, David and Stuart (my fellow marshals) had all marshalled the Dunbar 10k a few weeks ago. I ran it and they and their colleagues had really helped me get round so it was great to give something back.

The fastest runners arrive in North Berwick in under 2 hours, so at 12.30,  Kirsty the organiser from Active East Lothian and us 5  local marshals were out staking the last few yards of the route to keep tired runners off the putting green.  A table of water at the end and we were ready to head off to our stands.

Although the route is pretty special, the last bit of the race down hill onto Elcho Green and the finish line must have been awful for tired runners this year. Despite assurances that the temporary roadworks would be completed, they were still full-on.  This meant that the almost final stretch only had 1 pavement along with temporary traffic lights for the single line of traffic going up and down a steep hill. We had marshals at the top of the hill by the traffic lights and 2 of us by the roadworks to cover the most tricky and congested spots.

The  first of the 212 runners to complete the race ran past well within 2 hours looking strong. Runners were quite spread out which helped a lot as children with scooters, babies in prams, people in wheelchairs, golfers with buggies and families and friends of the approaching runners shared the narrow pavement with runners nearing the end of the journey. Somehow everyone got through without mishap and usually with a smile. Most runners were very understanding when an older person got a bit confused about which way to move or when the bus released a blast of fumes as they ran past

I alternated between cheering on the runners, checking they didn't take the wrong turn, answering questions from pedestrians and asking people to watch out for the runners behind them. Most of the passing and watching public were lovely, rushing to clear the path, standing back to let the runners through and giving them a cheery wave.  Quite a few locals and visitors asked what the race was and how far runners had run; some had even done it in previous years. Not everyone of course was sweet tempered and smiling, and one or two were quite rude, but the vast majority of people were at worst happy to accommodate the run and at best pretty impressed and inspired by it.

Running form and style varied greatly, what struck me most was that legs can look tired in myriad different ways. There were people running down the hill as smooth and slick as as silk, looking as if they could run for ever; others looked like their hips were about to dislocate; some runners ran as if their feet were on fire (they probably were!). I know my form at this stage would have completely broken down well before now, and I'd be running like a half shut knife, bent in the middle; a salutory lesson indeed.

The last person came in followed closely by the back marker and then we headed to the finishing line, dismantling the posts as we went.  A group of friends were gathered round the end, their little ones playing with the plastic tape as if they were crossing the tape at the Olympics. One day it might be them running here with their parents watching them cross the line. I do hope so, it'd be nice to think they'll be round for the 100th anniversary of the race.

Marshalling is not as good as running, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed it and the time flew by. And of course without voluntary marshals, races wouldn't work and they'd certainly not be as much fun.  So I'm pretty sure that my first marshalling experience won't be my last.

One way or another I want to be part of the Edinburgh North Berwick Road Race on its 50th birthday next year - if I'm spared and well of course.

Hope you've had a good racing weekend.

Take care