Monday, 23 March 2015

Travels and Travail

Newhaven Harbour, Edinburgh
So, the initial plan is that we’ll have a four night city break in Edinburgh to celebrate our sixteenth wedding anniversary, with a short pause on the return journey to visit Tom’s aunt in Harrogate. Then Tom’s PhD work creates a couple of extra stops; a meeting in Sheffield and a course at the OU in Milton Keynes. Once we take travel time and costs into consideration, we decide to book a couple of extra nights in Premier Inns along the way rather than dashing backwards and forwards then we’ll come home reasonably refreshed… won’t we?

Well, Edinburgh’s terrific and the Premier Inn’s in a great spot at Newhaven Harbour. We have sea views from our room and an excellent Loch Fyne restaurant right on the doorstep. There’s so much to see in this wonderful city and we make the most of every minute covering mile after mile until our feet can’t walk any further.

Proving we've yet to master the 'selfie'

After whistle-stop visits to Harrogate, Sheffield and Barnsley, we’re beginning to feel a little institutionalised although Premier Inns are great; they’re clean, comfortable, do exactly what they say on the tin and breakfast there sets you up for the rest of the day. But, my goodness, eating out in the evening is a different story. Perhaps we notice it more because given where we live we rarely bother to venture out to a restaurant, but we quickly discover that finding somewhere economical to eat that doesn’t involve non-stop fried food and utterly indifferent service is almost impossible. ‘My lips are very dry,’ Tom observes at one point. ‘It’s probably scurvy,’ I reply because it’s so long since I’ve seen a fresh vegetable. 

With just two nights left before we can go home, we arrive at Milton Keynes and are pleasantly surprised to be shown to a room with a balcony.

And there, sadly, the nice surprises end. Tom checks his phone and finds three missed calls. My mother-in-law, we are dismayed to hear, has had a mini-stroke…

To date, MiL’s tired, of course, but doing well. A few more test results to come, but so far, so good. It’s been a shock to all of us and a reminder, as we needed it, of the importance of showing our loved ones how much we care about them.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Llanelli Waterside Half Marathon 2015

Lining up for the Llanelli Waterside Half Marathon, I have a strong sense of déjà vu. It’s another cold, grey, murky Sunday morning - just like last year - but with added wind and rain to ring the changes. I’m drenched and freezing cold before I even cross the start line, but it really warms my heart to see Ma and Tom there cheering me on.


And we’re off! I love this course – an 'out and back' along the stunning coastline – but, my goodness, the horizontal rain, gusty winds and mixed terrain certainly make for challenging conditions. Even more so for the marshals who stand at their posts for hours and do such a magnificent job - although I can’t resist throwing a few names at the guy who cheerfully quips as we pass, ‘see, if you had run a bit faster, you could be home by now!’. Nevertheless, I dig in and feel… well, not too bad considering! Fuelled by hearing Ma and Tom cheering as I reach the home stretch, I’m delighted to cross the finish line with a course PB of 2:0:39 coming 9th in my class and 735 out of 1175 finishers overall.


A few post-race thoughts:
  • Ma tells me even alpha males were commenting on how tough the race was as they came in – glad it wasn’t just me!
  • I always feel outnumbered by blokes at this race… and  that’s because I am: 768 men (most of whom are under 40) to 442 women, of which only 18 are in my age group.
  • Being soaking-wet makes for some interesting injuries; Ma reported a few cases of severe chafing among the men, mainly thighs and armpits. I felt quite smug about this until the euphoria wore off and I discovered the band of my sports bra had given me a painful friction burn!
  • Will I do it again?  You bet!

Many thanks to everyone involved in the organisation of a wonderful race and a special thanks to Ma and Tom for their love and support.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Quick March

One of the down sides of living on the coast of west Wales – and there are plenty of up sides – is that we spend a lot of time on the road just travelling from 'A' to 'B'. This month looks especially busy but with lots to look forwards to. Still, one week at a time. 

First on the agenda, we’re collecting Ma so she’s here for her birthday on Friday and, all being well, to see me finish the Llanelli Half Marathon on Sunday. My dear friend, Ann, got me into running when she introduced me to Epsom Allsorts, an all-women’s group with formidable skills in talking and laughing whilst running. The club highlight was the dreaded Hogsmill Run and one year I enlisted my parents for a bit of additional support for the final stretch. All I could hear as I headed for the finish line was Ma bellowing, ‘COME ON CHRISTINE!!’ so I’m hoping that her presence will give my feet a little extra lift on Sunday.

Taking those first steps with a club introduced me to racing, gave me the taste for running by myself and the confidence to enter half marathons. Short of anything unforeseen happening to stop me completing the race, this Sunday will be my seventh half marathon. Seventh! I’ve been running for so long now that I’m in the oldest age group and feel like Granny Grumps lining up with a load of thirty-somethings. Still, it’s hugely enjoyable (apart from the first mile which is always hell) and means I can eat pretty much what I like so I hope to keep running for as long as I possibly can.

In other news, I’d like to thank lovely Flowerpot for nominating me for this blog award and whose own blog about living, walking and sailing in Cornwall is always an enjoyable read.

So, three things that have recently inspired me:
  • The rooks have returned to the rookery to rebuild their nests. A welcome sign of Spring… but where do they go the rest of the time? I read Crow Country by Mark Cocker to find out more about these fascinating (to me) birds.
  • Running (again); those long, solitary miles repair, restore and inspire.
  • My family; it’s their love that makes everything else worthwhile.

If anyone would like to take up the baton, please consider yourself nominated. All you have to do is link to my blog and display the award logo then nominate other bloggers in turn with links and a comment to let them know what to do.