About Me

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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

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

It's Been Quite a Year

It's got to that time again, where I look back over the year and think about what next year might bring.

The start of 2014 wasn't the best - Shaun's parents were flooded on Christmas Eve so Christmas Day was cancelled and we spent the holidays sorting out the house and getting them moved into temporary accommodation.

On 17th January came the extremely upsetting news that Sam had collapsed the night before whilst out running and had passed away that day.   All very sudden and certainly not expected.  We're still struggling to come to terms with it but doing the various events in Sam's memory has helped in a small way.

In late April we went through the horrible experience of my mother in law who suffers from Alzheimers going missing.  Thankfully she was found safe and well 2 days later after a massive search by the Police and Surrey & Sussex Search & Rescue.

There were some enjoyable highlights.   We returned to Roubaix to watch the finish of the Hell of the North (and celebrated my birthday)

celebrated Shaun's birthday at the Giro d'Italia which started in Belfast

went to York to catch the Grand Depart of the Tour de France

 and stayed at home for the Tour of Britain.

Personally I've absolutely loved getting out on my road bike - I've cycled as much as I can, great training rides

a Sportive

and an endurance event at the Brighton Velodrome

which has seen my cycling mileage go from zero to 37 miles.

We've had some big celebrations - Danni's 18th birthday

 our silver wedding and my parents gold wedding anniversary.

and my eldest nephew Phil got married

In July we bought Tribby our campervan which enabled us to spend weekends away, during August and into September.

We're still enjoying the campervan now - taking Archie out for walks further afield at weekends, it's been lovely to get back to Tribby and put the kettle on for a nice hot drink.   We even slept in Tribby over Christmas when we stayed at my parents - far more comfortable than their living room floor - if a little cold.

As for running front I'm not quite back on the comeback trail - having visited an NHS physio for a second opinion it looks like I have compartment syndrome.   I've been advised to return to a private physio for regular massage, ultrasound and acupuncture which will help relieve the symptoms.   It doesn't look like the NHS wants to treat me unless they can operate, which I don't really want to do as it sounds horrible!   I'm carrying on with the Boxercise and the Pilates and obviously the cycling and will return to running a bit later in the year.

We already have lots planned for 2015 - it's Shaun's 50th birthday in May so I have to find something amazing to celebrate.  I've got a couple of ideas so watch this space!

In February we're heading to London to the Cycle Show.  I'm also hoping that we can use the vouchers we got from my parents for a trip up the Shard and a special lunch.

In April we're heading back to Roubaix - but this time we're going in Tribby and hopefully spectating at the pave (cobbles).   It's also my birthday weekend !

In July we're heading to Brittany to watch a few days of Tour de France - in Tribby.

We've got a long list of cycling events we want to do but can't join any yet as we don't know what Shaun's rest days are.

The most exciting news is plans for a trip to Australia in January 2016.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Volunteering - How to be ace in the bag drop

We've all been there - doing the race where you have no alternative but to put your worldly goods in the care of a complete stranger in the event bag drop.  

On Sunday I volunteered at Brooks Brighton 10k (love this race as a runner and a volunteer)!    Last year we had a wail of a time on car park duties and on the route and then helped dish out bags after, but this year me and Nik (minus Michelle and our gorgeous friend Sam) we were allocated bag drop - from set up to clearing away (there were others by the way it wasn't just me and Nik serving over 3,000 runners).    We had the most organised baggage section which would have been so easy when it came to pick up.  Unfortunately Richard - the lovely organiser of bag drop - decided that Nik and I were far too organised and moved us to the section that resembled the above photo.

We had such a laugh - it helps that it's a local race so there are familiar faces and friends running.   It was a knackering but brilliant day and on Monday morning my back felt like it had been battered with 3,000 bags.   I absolutely love volunteering it's amazing how satisfying it can be when runners thank you personally for whatever you've done.   I can't wait to have another opportunity.

Here are my tips for the smooth running of bag drop.

  1. Keep calm, make sure you have liquid refreshment to hand & brace yourself
  2. If the event doesn't supply their own bag labels make sure you have plenty of sturdy tags of some description and a Sharpie - don't bother with sticky address labels they were rubbish!
  3. Stand in one place and only accept bags for that particular area (none of this running up and down the bag area - you're wasting far too much energy).  Be courteous to the runners (most of whom will be in a flap because they've left it til the last minute to get the race) and ask them kindly to move to the section where their bag will be held.
  4. Chat to the runner as you're writing their number on the tag and wish them luck as they trundle away - you'll be amazed at how that makes them feel!  
  5. If it's not too busy try and keep the bags in a rough numerical order.
  6. As soon as the runners have all headed to the start line start "fine sorting" your baggage area - it really helps if you have OCD doing this job.   Make sure you have enough space between the bags to move later!
  7. Once you've sorted your own baggage area move along and help someone who is totally disorganised.  No-one likes a shirker!
  8. If you haven't already - now's the time to take a drink!
  9. Once the race has finished have one person (me on this occasion) at the barrier and your best buddy (Nik) standing among the bags.  If you can, clock the runners number as they're coming towards you and shout number to best bud.  If you're bag area is fine sorted this will be really easy!
  10. Once it gets busy it's best to ask the runner for a description of the bag - shout number and description to buddy and then collect the bag and hand it to the runner.   If it's taking a while to find the bag ask the runner how their race went.   Thank them for being patient.  By the way just because the runner says it's a black rucksack (or whatever the description is) doesn't necessarily mean it is.  Runners are forgetful and/or colourblind and your idea of a rucksack/holdall/suitcase may be completely different to the owner of the item! 
  11. As soon as the bag drop is clear tidy up and then help with any other jobs you can see need doing - like picking up discarded banana skins, gel packets, undrunk water/sports drink bottles and discarding clothing!
Have you got any top tips for volunteering? 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Doing Something Different

Ever since the shinsplint injury started and I was told not to run I've been looking for some form of exercise which I enjoy and I feel comfortable doing, something that wouldn't aggrevate the shins and meant I felt like I was working out - first stop conversion to road cycling.   I love cycling but I'm not that good at it and I hate going out on my own.  I did a couple of weeks ago - I didn't get very far, in fact only 2 miles, and then had a 2 mile walk home with a punctured back tyre.   Yes, I could have mended the puncture but ......... (a) I don't know how to (b) I took my spares but forgot to take a pump because hubby always carries the pump (c) it took hubby 40 minutes to get the tyre off when I got home, using ALL the tools and a lot of bad language.

A month or so ago Danni and I started doing pilates.   I'm quite enjoying it but don't feel connected with the teacher - she didn't recognise Danni after our 5th week which was a bit concerning, and she never comes round the class and corrects anyone's positioning - which I actually think is quite important.   The week before last I purposefully did every exercise wrong in some way even when she was looking round the room watching everyone and still she didn't come over & correct me!  We'll still keep going, correcting each other where we can.   I certainly feel relaxed and stretched when we've finished.

Last week I spotted my local leisure centre were starting a Boxercise class.

 I've wanted to try this class for ages, but normally it's run by expensive franchises or the bigger gyms.  The opportunity to try it out at £4.15 seemed perfect.

On Tuesday I headed for the local sports hall - alone and feeling slightly anxious.  How many people would be there? Would I know anybody?  Would I be able to actually do the exercises or would it just be another embarrassing Zumba class where I come out feeling rubbish?    I really didn't need to worry, Claire the instructor introduced herself as soon as I walked in the door and asked lots of questions about  my health and exercise/fitness status.  I told her about the injury and she said to keep the aerobic side low impact.   Phew that was a good start.   There were about 20 ladies, quite a few from Claire's Boxercise classes and a few newbies.

We very quickly got into our first aerobic section -  learning the punches, kicks and doing star jumps etc (low impact version for me).  We then paired up and donned gloves and pads and started another section with more punches.  the next section was a circuit for conditioning including burpees, wall sits and planks (and lots more).  Back to the pads and gloves and then before we knew it the hour was up and we were doing a cool down and stretch.

Did I enjoy it - oh boy yes - massive smiles all round.

Am I going back - most definitely, in fact I've already booked my place!

The other good thing - although on Thursday I have serious DOMS in just about every single part of my body and I've had to do giraffe impressions to be able to pick anything up from the floor, my shins are no more painful than they were on Tuesday morning - looks like I might actually be on a comeback.

I'm still waiting for my NHS physio referral - nearly 6 weeks now and I'm still waiting for my permanent orthotics to arrive - a month later!   I'm seriously considering starting back running in the New Year physio referral or not.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Pedal in Preston Park

At the beginning of the year as part of the Sam Smiles charity challenge I'd considered doing an endurance ride of the velodrome at Preston Park, Brighton.   When I heard about an event being organised to raise funds for the local Motor Neurone Disease Association and Martlets Hospice it just had to go on the list of events.

On Saturday Shaun and I headed to Preston Park to meet up with Nik and her husband and some fellow Boshers who were also taking part.   The plan had been to see what the weather was like before we decided on the amount of laps - luckily it was a dry day so the aim was 100 laps each, a distance of around 57km (37 miles).

We even managed to get a trip out in Tribby too - much easier than trying to load the bikes in the boot of the car!

It was quite busy at 12 when we arrived as the youths had only just finished their laps and there were still quite a few club cyclists completing theirs.   We did our first 50 laps (about 20 miles) and took a quick hot drink and cake break (Shaun hoovered up the sausage rolls).
Break time
 The next 50 laps seemed to take forever but eventually we were all finished - Shaun did 122 laps, Nik did 107 and I did 100.  Everybody who took part got a finisher's medal, and buy more drink and cake!

It was a brilliant afternoon of cycling -  the first velodrome ride and the furthest I've cycled this year.   At the time of writing the update from the Pedal organisers is that a total of 14,493 laps were ridden, raising over £10,000 for the two charities.

Time to start planning or next year's events.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

In memory of Sam !

Today is Sam's birthday - the last couple of weeks have been a little "difficult", getting organised for Color Run had bought some sad feelings to the fore.  

Sam loved doing Color Run last year, the inaugural event for Brighton so it was fitting to take part this year and we were joined by Sam's mum, Lou who was chief photographer, bag carrier, supplier of water and chocolate at the end.  

This year's t-shirts were printed with our Just Giving text numbers.  

Queuing up for the start was an emotional moment - especially getting a mention from the starting crew.   We were soon off on our trip through the color along Madeira Drive.   Sam's cry of "drop and roll" featured heavily, together with snow angels and generally getting smothered in as much as paint as we could.    Last year we promised we'd revisit the pink zone on the way back to the finish !

I'm sure Sam would've loved this year's Color Run - apart from the guy in Orange zone who told us to get off the floor!

Last Sunday I took part in an SRS cyclosportive - the Brighton 2 Brighton!  I actually have no idea why I thought this was a good idea - it takes in one of the county's toughest hill climbs - Devil's Dyke  .   I've still got a lot of work to do on hill climbing and I hadn't been out on the bike very much in the last couple of weeks.   Shaun decided that the 20 mile route (Pequeno) would be sufficient to give me experience and a sense of achievement.    We arrived at Hove Lawns at our allocated time, collected our map, race number and timing chip and then joined the queue to head out to Shoreham before turning North and then starting the climb up the Dyke.   I have to say it was exhausting - some really horrible short, sharp hills, some lovely downhills.   All in all a great event, although the start of the route left a lot to be desired as it was on some very busy main roads before we got to the countryside!

The climb up Devils Dyke itself was horrible - I had nothing left.  My breathing was all over the place despite having done two separate doses on my puffer and I couldn't risk my heart rate going any higher.   I already suspected I'd have to walk the bike up - I managed the start of the incline but after a few turns of the pedals I was off.    The walk of shame was all mine!   Shaun continued on without me until he got a short way up and then he insisted on pushing me up with a few "shoves of hope".  We'd done it, between us, I'd made it to the top!    The descent back into Brighton was amazing - apart from having to stop at a large busy roundabout and various traffic lights.   We made it back to Hove Lawns in 2 hours and 1 minute and were awarded Silver.  When we got home I checked on the website and found out we'd missed Gold by 1 flipping minute.  Guess that means we'll be back next year to knock that 1 minute and a bit more off the time!

I'm pretty pleased with how it went, I knew beforehand I'd struggle up the Dyke but I'm glad we did the event - apart from the lack of medal!  Official photographs aren't available at the time of writing - if there are any I'll post them ..... of me doing the walk of shame.

So two more events done in Sam's memory and additional funds for the fundraising for Brain & Spine Foundation.    Two more events for me for this year at the moment - Pedal in Preston Park (laps of the Brighton velodrome) and support/photographer at the Brighton Santa Run.

If you would like to donate please click on the Brain & Spine Foundation link above.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Tribby's Travels - the New Forest

We've just had a lovely week off work and spent some of it in the New Forest.

On Saturday we went to the wedding of Shaun's nephew, Phil, to Emily.  

It was a lovely day - I love getting dressed up, even though I'd had a fair amount of stress finding the right dress, but eventually I found just what I was looking for.

Mother & daughter 

Daddy's girl

Me & him
Don't we scrub up nice?

On Sunday we packed up Tribby and headed to my parents to pick up the dog and start our few days away.  Our first destination and one night stopover was the lovely Beverley Farm at Medstead.   We got a great welcome from the owner Andy who showed us around this small site.  We were the only unit staying that night so we had a lovely field all to ourselves with electric hook up, and three rams in a neighbouring field.  

Hook up at Beverley Farm is a little different to most we've found - at this site you pay for what you use!  We gave Andy £2 for our overnight and the next morning just before we left Andy came down and told us we'd only used 90p worth!   Apart from the hook up, water & CDP there are no facilities so it's only suitable for motorhomes and caravans & there are only a couple of pitches.   Unfortunately we didn't have much time to explore apart from a couple of walks with the dog.  We will be back to Beverley Farm in the future for a weekend stay and explore a bit more as it's only an hour or so from home!

On Monday morning we carried on down to Sway, on the New Forest.   Rushcroft Farm is another lovely site, small with hook up (charged at £2 per night), Water, CDP, washing up facilities and two toilets and two showers.   When we were there there were only half a dozen units staying so it was very quiet, although there are quite a few pitches.

The thing I loved about this site was the railway which was a short walk away (and the only drawback to the site too as the farm backs on to the track so it was a bit noisy - but you got used to that after a while).  On Tuesday we decided to go into Brockenhurst by train.   Sway train station means that you can practically go anywhere on the Forest and beyond so there is no need to move the campervan if you want to go out for the day- no worries about parking, car park charges or traffic!  We had a lovely day walking round the shops and walking Archie on the Forest.
Brockenhurst - The Splash

Archie loved running around - especially through the poo!

On Wednesday we decided to stay local and walked around the Setthorns Inclosure (which is mainly used for camping but has some lovely trails to walk and cycle).  

It was a lovely walk and we saw a deer

On the way back we popped into the Hare & Hounds for lunch and a well earned cider!

Archie loves a pub chip!
On Thursday we headed home - we will be back to the New Forest next year.   It's the ideal distance from home for a long weekend and is ideal for dog walking.  We also need to come back with the bikes!   I think that's it now for Tribby until next year when we've got quite a few trips planned already!

Saturday saw the pass through Newhaven of the Tour of Britain.  Shaun headed into Brighton to see the finish and I stayed at home - mainly because I'd agreed to bake cakes and help with teas and coffees at our local park.   It was great to see the town turn out to support!

What's next?   Next weekend is the Color Run in memory of Sam and it looks as though I've signed up to do the Brighton 2 Brighton Cyclosportive the following weekend!   Watch this space for more news!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Tribby's Travels - Bank Holiday Weekend

Our fourth trip out in the campervan was to a very small site in the wilds of Kent at Braid Farm, Smarden    Our friends Paula and Dave have had Bessie motorhome for nearly two years and they wanted to join us so Bessie and Tribby had their first trip out together!  We left Archie with my parents for the weekend and took the bikes to get some use out of the bike rack and to see something of the area.

Bessie didn't arrive until late on the Saturday so Shaun and I headed out on the bikes - a lovely 17 mile ride around the country roads.  Not too sure about the driving of some Kent residents - they seem to have 2 speeds - go and go faster!

On Sunday morning (following a drink & food fuelled Saturday night) Shaun headed out on a solo ride for a couple of hours.   When he got back he suggested walking up the road to Headcorn Aerodrome where there was a big car boot being held.   That didn't last long because by the time we got there the stalls were starting to pack up.   As we were in cider country (and there were quite a few farms dotted around us) we decided to venture out to Biddenden Vineyard which was about 4 miles away - Shaun and I went on the bikes and Paula & Dave travelled in style in Dolly (their little towing car).   We bought some lovely produce, walked around the vineyard, tasted some cider and wine and made the journey back to the campsite!

There were a couple of things we loved about this site - one was the resident wallaby population

the other was that there were only about 10 "units" parked on the site with a massive big field and a wood to walk dogs round.
We also liked being near the Aerodrome - although it was pretty noisy all weekend with light aircraft flying in and out all the time - it was great to see the different types of aircraft and parachutists jumping out of the planes.

Monday's weather was dire for the whole day.  We left Paula and Dave and Bessie at the site and made our way home.      I think we'll definitely be back to this site, with or without the dog - not sure what he'll make of the wallabies!

Our next trip is just around the corner - we've got a family wedding on Saturday and then we're heading to the New Forest on Sunday to Thursday - the longest trip we've done so far!  We've got to get back as the Tour of Britain starts this weekend and goes through Newhaven on Saturday - wouldn't miss that for anything!