About Me

My photo
Wife (to Shaun), Mother (to Danni), Dog walker of Archie the JRX, improving cyclist, reformed gym bunny, broken runner Collector of exercise DVDs & equipment. Cake is my weakness together with cider (Westons only thanks)and brandy. Noisy spectator of running & cycling events. Owner of Tribby the campervan

Friday, 30 August 2013

It's official - I am Injured

Yep time to fess up - I have been running through my calf pain for quite some time now and yesterday I could put it off no longer - I had to get to the physio!

After a chat to ascertain what the problem was Matt did some investigations into the pain in my calves and shins.  It was quite painful especially the mid point on my shin.   Apparently I have a high pain threshold which is why I've continued to run through (or is it just that I didn't want to accept the inevitable?)  I'm also very naughty and don't warm up properly before or stretch after, and only occasionally (once a week) a session on the foam roller.

Matt did some deep tissue massage on my calves - I think at one point there was a 12 on the 1 to 10 pain scale, although he didn't quite reduce me to tears.   I've had ultrasound on my shins too, and now I'm taped up on both legs to aid recovery.

I've been given strict instructions - absolutely NO RUNNING for at least 2 weeks (bet it'll be longer!) and no walking hills with the dog or going further than about 3 or 4 miles, which quite frankly is a pain.   With the days becoming cooler I was looking forward to getting on the Downs with Archie for some longer walks instead of our little walks we've been doing in the heat, and I was looking forward to getting out running!

I've got some exercises to do throughout the day, including toe pumps, and foam roller for 10 minutes every evening while I'm watching the telly.  Back to Matt in 7 days for another assessment and some more ultrasound.

I'm hoping to get some swimming in whilst I'm not allowed to run - that's on the "can do" list.   Shaun was hoping to get me on the bike soon, but that's on the "no, not at the moment" list!   I'm going to be a nightmare getting through this injury.   Oh well, it's all my own fault - yes lesson learned!

Friday, 23 August 2013

#RunWithAnIdea 4 "Real Runners Don't Walk"

This week's Run with an Idea bi-weekly debate is to me an interesting one.   

Real runners don't walk!

Do they not? What are we calling a "real runner" - Mo Farah ? A Kenyan marathon runner? A club runner? Someone running an Ultra? Or someone like me who just runs for fun and sometimes fits in a walk break when the going gets tough?

I was chatting with my brother a couple of years ago about when he considered I'd become a real runner - he said it was when I'd completed my first running event and got a finisher's medal (not the Race for Life!) which just happened to be the British 10k, which I finished in 1 hour and 12 minutes - yes I walked and I've always had to take some kind of walk break during any run or event I've done because I never learn from my previous mistakes of going off too fast at the start, or not hydrating enough in the run up to it.    Does this mean I'm not a real runner?

You never see the pro athletes taking a walk break!  You never see club runners walking during a race although I have heard Ultra runners may take a small walk at some point - or spend an extra 5 minutes chilling at an aid station. 

Maybe the question should really be what is a real runner?   I've never classed myself as a real runner - despite my inspirational younger brother saying I am - I'm a plodder, usually at the back of the pack so I don't get in anyone's way.   
I was looking round the tinternet whilst I was thinking about this subject, as you do, and putting "do runners walk" in the google search I found this interesting feed on daily mile.  The consensus of opinion seems to be that you're still a runner if you walk during a marathon!

And I found this on another site about the top ten training mistakes -

1.3 Training Mistake 3 - Breaks in long runs

The relative difficulty of long training runs is different between runs that are continuous and runs where there are breaks. Even relatively short Walking Breaks will allow for a surprising level of recovery, which is why ultramarathoners can cover such long distances. Unfortunately, many marathoners intended to race without any Walking Breaks, but do not train that way. I believe that Walking Breaks can be used as part of marathon training to extend the distance that can be covered on the longer long runs. However, allowances should be made when evaluating your training. A long run with plenty of breaks should not be equated to the same distance and pace run continuously. Also, some of the long runs should be is continuous as possible. Often it is impractical to avoid stopping completely; you will need to refuel, cross roads, or change clothes. With some planning, it should be possible to minimize these interruptions and to keep the run is continuous as possible (see Race Simulation below). When doing Race Simulation it is important not to pause your watch on any breaks that are taken, so you have a good evaluation of the training impact.

and this advice given on 
So maybe real runners do walk after all!  Fitting in small walk breaks actually helps.   How do the pro athletes do it?

Yay I'm a real runner - what do you think?

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

What We've Been Up to since Tunisa!

I thought I'd share what we've been up to since our return from holiday.   It's certainly been a fun packed couple of weeks.

First some brilliant news.   Shaun went to see his consultant about what was happening concerning the leg op.  We already knew that they didn't really want to operate this year but he wanted to speak to the main man.   In view of the fact that he's lost over a stone and is building up the leg muscles with cycling the consultant is happy to leave him as he is until he finds he's in a lot of pain.  So that's great news - the consultant more or less said "see you in 10 years"!

On 11th August Shaun took part in the Wiggle Haywards Heath Howler Sportive.   We had a ridiculously early start that Sunday morning as I'd offered to be "bag lady" and chief supporter - it was only fair, he's spent the last 6 or 7 years following me round running events & doing the honours!   So off we drove at 7 o'clock in the pouring rain to Ardingly College where the event start was.   When we got the other side of the South Downs the rain stopped and the roads were completely dry which Shaun was pleased about.

Ardingly College is a lovely venue.

There was a massive car park and everything is well sign posted to the start line and registration.   It was very calm considering there were 950 riders taking part, there were three different ride lengths and everyone had certain times to set off.   Much calmer than any running event I've ever been to!

Once he'd registered Shaun got himself and the bike organised for the 'short' 40 mile ride he'd signed up for and headed to the start and that was the last I saw of him for 2 hours 33 minutes.

Look where you're going
he's gone!

 I was hoping to find some WAGS hanging around, but that doesn't seem to happen at cycling sportives so I had to put up with reading my Kindle and drinking tea supplied at the refreshment tent.  There was also a lovely array of homebaked cakes but I didn't feel I could as I was only sitting down, although I did go for an occasional wander to alleviate the boredom!

About 2 hours after he'd left I decided to walk up the road where they would be pulling in for the finish, it took me about 15 mins to walk up to the junction and another 15 minutes to walk back, during which time Shaun passed me with a massive grin on his face!   He'd caught me out again and I wouldn't get a photo of him crossing the finishing line, just a smug look when I caught up with him!

One thing I did note (and I won't do it again) sportive participants don't appreciate any loud support - I clapped those who came in before Shaun and said well done but not one single "thank you", nod of the head, thumbs up - zilch.   Next time I'll either stay at home or stay in the car!

It was a good morning and Shaun actually made it back in time to be given a gold award - which is pretty good - apparently!

A couple of days later Danni flew off to Bulgaria for a week's holiday with her boyfriend, Sam, and his family.  She had a lovely time and I'm glad she's back.

In the meantime she's had her AS results - not brilliant but she did pass.   We are currently looking at her options and it looks like she's going to start afresh in a new College and see what she comes out with.  There's not much point in looking for a job, there still aren't many around and she has no idea what she wants to do.

Shaun and I spent Saturday and Sunday in Somerset

Holly Cottage
saying farewell to our Australian friends who are returning to Australia after 4 years of trying to make a go of a life in the UK.  Saying goodbye was one of the hardest things we've ever done.   Lou and Andy are a great couple with lovely girls and we will miss our annual August Bank Holiday visit to Holly Cottage.

We had a lovely meal at The Sanctuary in Taunton on Saturday night with some of their friends.  It's not really the sort of place we'd normally go to but it was nice to treat ourselves.

There was a lot of wine consumed that night and Sunday was a lazy affair, apart from Shaun and Andy going out for a hangover bike ride

and Lou and I taking Holly for a walk with everyone else that was staying at the cottage.

I had thought of taking my running shoes for a Sunday run, but there are no footpaths for a mile in either direction and Shaun assessed the road to be too busy to run along!   I must admit they are a bit hairy so I'm glad he stopped me!    We had a lovely lazy lunch, which started in the garden until the heavens opened and then ended in the dining room

and then our final farewells - our next group photo will be in Melbourne unless they come back for a visit in the next 18 months.  We're really going to miss them!

The next event is the Color Run at Brighton - our packs have already arrived so all we need to do now is get out and do some training !  Shaun and I are off to watch the penultimate leg of the Tour of Britain which again finishes in Guildford.

Friday, 9 August 2013

#Run With an Idea - Debate 3 Juice Cleanse Healthy or Hype?

I know I've only just posted and it's unusual for me to post again so quickly but this week I was invited to join in with the Run with An Idea Debate.  Basically I'll be posting every 2 weeks on a chosen subject which other bloggers/readers can then debate.  Not really sure how this is going to pan out, but let's give it a go.   This week's post is about juice cleansing - is it healthy or just a load of PR hype!

Personally I'm not a great one for drinking my meals.   I like nothing better than tucking into a plate of meat, veg and carbs at dinner time or for breakfast and lunch whatever takes my fancy and is available in the fridge/store cupboard.

Also having a husband and daughter means that family meals have to be a "one size fits all" meal - not sure I could sit and have a juice if the other two are tucking into scrambled egg on toast for breakfast.  

I know which one I would feel better after!
We're also not great kitchen gizmo lovers - we only have a kettle, a coffee maker and a slow cooker on the kitchen top!

I'm sure that juicing is extremely healthy, and there does seem to be some evidence for it but I'm obviously far too traditional in my approach to eating.  Replacing meals with juice would mean me being far too organised.   Of course I could go down the road of signing up to one of the many companies who do all the hard work for you and pay to have ready-juiced meals delivered to the door - but blimey have you seen how much they charge?   I think this is where some of the hype comes from - those great glossy shopping ads on the telly with the "skinny, white toothed" presenters doing the hard sell!  Having had a good look round the worldwide web there is also a lot of evidence that it's not all it's cracked up to be.

Having said that I do need to do something about the ever increasing size of my body - maybe giving it a go wouldn't be such a bad idea - just need to convince Mr B that we need a juicer, after all I managed to convince him that I could last a couple of months on Slim Fast shakes (which lasted 2 days), to join Slimming World (I did nothing but gain weight), join WeightWatchers (he couldn't cope with adding up points to 20!) - convincing him that I'm going to cleanse with green liquid will be easy peasy (NOT).  Maybe I'll just stick to the good old method of eat balanced, low fat meals and doing the exercise I keep promising myself I'm going to do.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Well that was an experience!

We're back from our holiday in Tunisia - the one we booked in February which British Airways (god bless 'em) decided to turn into the biggest farce on the planet one month to departure.   If you follow me on Twitter you will know that they decided due to operational issues to cancel our return flight meaning we would either have to come back 2 days early (which we have) or stay 2 days longer (which we couldn't because we couldn't afford to and I didn't want to use any more annual leave).   The problem was compounded by Alpha Rooms (the internet travel company we booked accommodation, flights and transfer with).  They offered to amend our booking or cancel for a full refund, unfortunately they seemed unable (or unwilling) to amend the flights their end and we had to do that through BA.  Once the flights were changed they were happy to change the accommodation (with us losing the cost of the 2 days) and the transfers.   We couldn't claim the loss on insurance because we hadn't actually left and the accommodation provider was unwilling to refund the difference!   BA refused to pay any compensation but after a "few" (lots) emails back and forth, they finally agreed to a goodwill gesture of a £50 voucher to spend on a future flight.  Shaun spent ages on the phone sorting this out and it wasn't until the Saturday before we left that our booking was actually confirmed and a refund being offered by Alpha Rooms the day before because they had changed the provider.   I took every piece of paper we had been sent, just in case!

We checked in online 24 hours before and on Thursday went through the automated check in and bag drop, sailed through border checks and security and then spent a lifetime in departures shopping and eating.  We knew there was no food on board apart from a snack so made sure we had something substantial before we left.   We kept checking the screen to see where our flight was boarding - it just kept flashing "please wait" and once we got to the time we knew we should be taking off it had become pretty obvious that we were now delayed!   We didn't have to wait too much longer before we boarded.  Shaun was sitting in the window seat and could see the cases being loaded on - jokingly he said that he hadn't seen our cases go on.   Little did we know until we got to Tunis that dozens of passengers cases hadn't actually made it on to the plane due to the pressure of the turnaround, fortunately not ours.   Anyway back to the journey.  Luckily the flight is only 2 hours 30 minutes and before we knew it we were landing at Tunis.  Oh boy what an experience that was.  Passport control was madness, and no-one had mentioned that we had to fill out entry cards - chaos ensued.  Not quite sure anyone could read the hastily completed cards but they seemed to serve their purpose and soon we were dispatched through baggage reclaim and out into the utter chaos of Arrivals - a sea of faces but not one was holding up a board with the name of our transfer company.   We stood in the hall looking a little lost with a few other people and somehow the transfer company found us!   A very uncomfortable 2 hour drive from Tunis to Sousse in a minibus with no air conditioning, in the dark!

When we finally reached our hotel, the Marhaba Royal Salem

we were greeted with a query concerning 2 bookings in Shaun's name.  It took a while to explain that Alpha Rooms should have cancelled one of them, but we only needed 1 room.  At the time we didn't realise but not only were there 2 bookings, but the departure date hadn't been changed either!   It was a shame we'd missed dinner but were told there were late night snacks available if we wanted them.  We went up to our room, the one that was ready, and dumped off our luggage, returned to the Snack Bar to find warm pizza and chips - when you're hungry anything will do, all washed down with a cold beer!

The next morning we got up and wandered down to breakfast - a wonderful array of food available.   Greek yogurt and honey and an omelette later we were ready to explore and find a spot for sunbathing near the small pool 

Small pool at 5.30am!
which we had decided would be best as all the families would be in the larger pools where the entertainment and water slides were - WRONG!  By 9.30 the "bomber boys and girls" and "butter fingers water polo brigade" had arrived.   Our first day spot would not be our second day spot!
Day 2-8 sunbathing spot!
We heard on the Friday that the day before a politician had been assassinated in Tunis and that the airport was now closed to all flights and the country was on 1 day general strike.  On the Saturday the funeral took place and there was rioting in Tunis.  Our holiday also coincided with Ramadan, some of the staff were a bit grumpy during the day, but I suppose it's not surprising.  They work long hours and have little chance to eat as it is.  Everyone outside the tourist industry feasts as soon as the sun goes down - not the hotel staff  - they're serving and running around after ungrateful tourists who enjoy gorging themselves on food and alcohol when it's freely available for 24 hours a day.   It made us appreciate them even more.

The first 4 days were pretty much the same - Shaun getting up at 5.30 for his morning swim, towel laying and early morning sunbathing ritual, returning to meet me at 7 for breakfast and then spend the rest of the day sitting by the pool, chatting to other families and couples we were sitting near, swimming, lunch at 1, return to the poolside for more of the same and then dinner between 8 and 8.30.
Pimms o'clock before dinner!
On Tuesday we'd booked a morning trip to the visit the amphitheatre at El Jem (that's the one where Gladiator was filmed) and then on to Monastir.   It was a very early start, even by Shaun's standard.  El Jem was over an hour away.   We had an early breakfast (sadly no egg station open so just yogurt and pastries that day) and went to reception to wait for our pick up.  Another family we'd made friends with were also going.   A minibus arrived and Shaun and I were ordered to take our seats on the minibus but the other family weren't - alarm bells were starting to ring!   We worked our way through Sousse, finally stopping on the seafront only to be told we were on the wrong bus.  We were told to sit on the wall and wait for our coach - yes you guessed it the other family were on that one!   Anyway, who knows what had happened - something else to have a giggle about!

El Jem is amazing - I'll let the photos do the talking!   Unfortunately we only had an hour, which really wasn't long enough!


We got back on the coach and were taken to Monastir to look at the Ribat which had been used during the filming of Life of Brian.  

It wasn't that interesting, so after a quick walk round the walls we left and went off to explore.  There was a lovely shop which had fixed price goods in and this lead into the Medina.  We didn't go in very far as we didn't want to get caught up with the traders.  We did buy some Sahara Rose/Desert Rose/Tunisian Rose and were completely fleeced by the little git who sold it to us.  We didn't pay very much but when we got back to the Hotel we found some in the local shop for a fraction of the price we'd paid.   We also visited the beautiful mausoleum where the body of Bourguiba (the President of Tunisia) is.     

We got back to the hotel just in time for lunch and then an afternoon of sunbathing.

Wednesday and Thursday were much the same and before we knew it it was Friday and time to  pack and come home.  Luckily as our hotel room was still booked until Sunday we had use of the room all day so could sunbathe and swim all morning, go to lunch and then shower and change before being picked up.   Our flight was due out at 8.15pm, the transfer was arranged for 3pm.  Even with a 2 hour drive that still meant we'd be in Tunis Airport a long time!   The journey was interesting - the driver decided to waste time by going the back roads through the villages instead of the motorway.  It was good to see the locals setting up for their evening feast and Ramadan celebrations.  Our markets are wonderfully organised, Tunisian ones are just set up on the roadside with goods displayed - the butcher had various animal heads on hooks displayed, the most interesting was the firearms stall!

We actually arrived at the airport about half an hour before check in was supposed to open but it was open already so we checked in without queuing and sent straight through border checks and security to the departure lounge.   We did some last minute duty free shopping and found a place to sit.    We were sat next to a lovely Irish lady who lived in Sousse with her Tunisian partner.   During our conversation with her we found out that there had in fact been a lot of trouble during the week, not only the assassination but also a car bomb in Tunis, an army patrol had been ambushed and beheaded and a fire had been set on the mountains to flush out terrorists causing trouble.  She was convinced that once Ramadan was over there would be major rioting and killings.  Thankfully we were soon to be on a plane heading home!   The flight was actually delayed following the thunderstorms in the UK that morning and when we finally boarded we found out our flight was practically empty - lots of room to spread ourselves out.   It wasn't a pleasant flight home - terrible turbulence over France and some dramatic lightning below us.

All in  all it was a lovely holiday and it has made me appreciate what I have - we met some lovely people and we both hope that "the troubles" are over and done with very soon.  We certainly won't return until things have settled down, not that we'll ever know - the British Foreign Office have no travel warnings for Tunisia although today we find out that US Embassies are to close indefinitely across Africa and the Middle East and the British are closing their Yemen Embassy over this weekend.    There is so much more to see there.

I did take my running kit but couldn't find a decent or safe route to run.   I could've used the hotel gym which was very well equipped but it was always very busy.   I've done a lot of swimming instead so it's back on the training plan over the next couple of days.   It's been a while since I've run so it may be a start from scratch plan!