We have had a lovely weekend. Paul visited this weekend and we decided to have a quiet weekend. Luckily the weather has been dry this weekend which meant we could get out and about.
Saturday we took a drive to Dunwich Heath where we enjoyed a stroll along the beach and the coastal path. It was cloudy but the sea was like a mill-pond. I don’t think we have ever seen it so still up there. We wrapped up well but to be honest it was much milder than usual for November.
Following our walk we drove to Saxmundham where we enjoyed a very welcome lunch before heading home.
We spent our time catching, chilling out and generally enjoying one another’s company. Richard cooked a lovely dinner Saturday evening and we enjoyed some lovely aperitif, sherry and wine which made for a very relaxed evening.
This morning the sky was clear and sunny, Paul had escaped for an early run (it was about 3 degrees outside) and returned in time for a full English. As it was nice we decided to make the most of the day before Paul had to leave and headed over to Frinton on Sea. After observing the 2 minute silence at 11 am we left the car then headed down to the beach to watch people walking their dogs and riding their horses along the shore.
As it was chilly the beach was pretty much deserted which was lovely as it felt like we had the place to ourselves.
After returning home for tea and biscuits it was time for Paul to head back to London, and as usual a weekend with friends comes to an end far too quickly.
We said our goodbyes than I ensured I made the most of the weather and got my New Balance trainers out of the cupboard and went for a run.
Following our run on Friday I noticed that the leaves on the ground made the terrain a little slippery so I decided to switch to the New Balance trainers as they have much more grip.
It was chilly but I wore my long sleeve running Run Breeze top which was more than enough protection and got into my stride.
I enjoyed the run and my pace was good so I mentally set myself a route and decided to keep going until I reached 5K. This is the first 5K I have run in a while and it felt good to reach that virtual goal.
All in all I am feeling much better and am glad I am back into the running. It’s also nice not to be training for anything as it ensures there is no pressure or plan. I will get some races booked so I have goals to work to but for now I am happy to go out, run, switch off the head, switch on my legs and enjoy the me time out on the road.
All in all a lovely autumnal weekend.
This weekend Richard and I celebrated our Civil Partnership Anniversary (7 years) and went to Luxembourg.
Richard has been there before on business but neither of us really knew what to expect of it as a holiday destination. As we learnt most people come into Luxembourg to work or to visit en route to somewhere else in Europe (in fact I bumped into a colleague at breakfast in the hotel doing just that with her parents).
It’s a very quiet place but that’s not to say there isn’t anything to do.
We visited the museum of modern art, the Royal Philharmonic, Notre Dame Cathedral (and were lucky enough to enjoy an organ concert), the museum of Luxembourg, we walked around the old city and took in all the sites, including some of the many towers and castles.
Per captia Luxembourg is the third richest country in the world and it shows – people don’t think twice about driving to the shops in their Porches or Aston Martins whilst browsing the shops with the latest Prada handbags and wearing the latest Gucci winter coats dripping in jewels from Cartier. This was quiet self-evident in the cost to visit as Luxembourg either has expensive places or cheap places – there is no middle ground.
We had some lovely meals and the cuisine is as mixed as the culture of Luxembourg. Most people speak French and English (as well as Luxemborgoise) but Richard and I managed to uphold the Englishman abroad stereotype and made sure when we were tired that we would answer in Spanish! It made a few people smile and it helped break the ice but it was a bit embarrassing.
I managed to get a really heavy cold whilst flying out on Friday so wasn’t on top form so on Sunday morning we spent as long as we could in the hotel before checking out and then browsing the Museum of Luxembourg.
This didn’t stop Richard and I enjoying our time and celebrating our anniversary. We purposely didn’t plan anything and took our time, taking in the sights and simply enjoying one anothers company.
It really is a lovely country, the people are friendly, I have never ever witnessed anywhere like it before, it’s so quiet and tranquil but you get the feeling lots of hard money deals are going on behind closed doors. The architecture is a mixture of German, Danish, Dutch, French and English and the modern architecture would rival that of Seville.
I took a few snaps whilst we were there, as did Richard and most are from our iPhones as we decided to travel light. This is a selection of my favourite photos and there is a set on Flickr you can browse through.
I would highly recommend Luxembourg if you wanted to get away for a couple of days It’s only an hours flight from London and theres nothing quite like it.
So today was the day and what a glorious day – the weather was very good and we were treated to a spectacular autumnal day.
I was more than a little stressed/worried en route to the bag check but there was still time for Richard and I to stop and take some photos of the phenomenal sunrise.
I joined the 2:30 group and was worried it may take 3 hours to get to the end because of how long ago I started to taper but once I got started I needn’t have worried.
The atmosphere and the buzz of the crowd really do help carry you but I was sensible enough to ensure that I did not run too fast and that I maintained a good pace.
I was ahead of my average pace for most of the race but was sensible with my splits and ensured that I had a couple of gels at the 50 minute marks. That and the ample supply of water and Lucozade, I was more than hydrated and fuelled enough for the run.
Richard and I stayed in town to enable us to be there in time for the start of the race (bag drop was from 7:30 am). We walked down from the Hilton in Queensway and made our way to the baggage area. Shortly after that we met Paul and then briefly Em and her boyfriend Liam.
We dispersed at that stage and that was the last time Paul and I saw everyone again. We didn’t get to catch Enda or Faergal at the start and by the time Paul and I completed our warm up (courtesy of the Royal Army) – it was already time to get going.
Well it wasn’t – we queued for a final pee stop but it took 30 minutes to get to the toilets. That’s my only compliant this year as I missed the start as I had just got to the loo. That’s not a big problem when 16,000 people as my group didn’t actually cross the line until 9:30 anyway.
There were runners of all shapes and sizes and as usual they were all very friendly.
The route was brilliant and I was privileged enough to run on roads that are usually chock full of cars in London. Running over Westminster Bridge in the road, down the centre of The Mall towards Buckingham Palace, up through Whitehall etc – all made for a very inspiring and fun race.
Here is the full race route – how many famous sights can you name?
I wasn’t completely ready for such a grand crowd but boy did it help! For the first time I had my name on my running top (thanks to the British Heart Foundation sending me the letters) and it was fun to run and hear your name. I tried to thank everyone who called out my name (Ian Waite from Strictly Come Dancing called out my name as I crossed the finish ) but to be honest I did concentrate a lot and didn’t hear everyone.
I have to say thank you though to:
- The blonde lady on the Embankment who gave me a very loud cheer and a smile
- The guy by Embankment bridge who shouted “go on my son” and as I turned to thank him, he winked at me
- The support team from the British Heart Foundation – I have never given so many high fives!
- All the other charity supporters who were great at getting you motivated
This really made a huge difference and I spent most of the run with a smile on my face.
I didn’t start to feel uncomfortable until about the 8 mile marker but to be honest it was nothing I couldn’t handle and even though my mid run maths was a bit dodgy I was determined not to stop running, not to walk and to do as best I could.
I was a little annoyed by tourists and Londoners who insisted on crossing in front of the runners (thanks for that) and by those who chose to walk whilst not moving to the side of the tracks but that’s all part of racing I guess.
I did set RunKeeper which (even though I didn’t think it did), actually did a great job of tracking my run and uploading my information to the web live. The Royal Parks App only seemed to work for a while but as Richard said this morning it had to fail given how it had to broadcast live updates of 16,000 runners!
I did see one celebrity – Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim) was decked out in his tracksuit heading towards the baggage area whilst smoking a cigarette – don’t you love superstar DJs!
I want to say a big thank you to Richard for supporting me through all this and for the late dinners and all the rescheduling of our weekends we have done to enable me to fit in all of my training. After all I even did some training in Vancouver! I could not have done it without his support. Richard has taken some brilliant photos from the day and even though I didn’t see him and Paul in the crowd on the home straight, he did manage to capture my progress perfectly. I love my baby x
I also want to thank Paul for all his training advice and support, for coaching me through my running and joining me on our odd lunchtime in London. Thank you so much Paul you are a star!
Thanks have to go to WalkJogRun whose Beginner Half Marathon training plan I used to get me up to speed and to the guys from Full Potential who were brought in by the British Heart Foundation to help the Heart Runners train efficiently and effectively.
And of course thanks to all of you for your support, your encouragement, for sticking with me and following my journey on the blog.
And last but not least thanks to everyone who has sponsored me in my efforts to raise as much as I could for the British Heart Foundation. There is of course still time to sponsor me but thank you all for helping me break through my target and raise a massive £1,365.65! Thank you all.
Here is a selection of photos Richard captured today
We had a wonderful day today being abused in the Elbow Room Diner, walking around Canada Place and Stanley Park (about 14K in total) before making our way through Davie Street on the way back to the hotel
Click here to see some of our photos so far from our first 2 days in Vancouver
Why is this news? Well like 30% of the population until last weekend I was unable to ride a bike. I never had any interest in bikes, I found them cumbersome, boring and didn’t see the point. I used to walk everywhere with my parents and found bikes to be an inconvenience.
That’s not to say my parents didn’t try. I had several lessons, a bike of my own but simply no interest. I am sure my school friends would recount how they used to hang around on their bikes and I simply did not join in. I probably missed out on certain activities but it has never troubled me.
To be honest cyclists used to annoy me just as much as runners #coughs.
So what’s changed? Well I think the running has helped and this year has been a bit of a year of breakthroughs for me. I am fitter than I have ever been, I am more confident in my abilities and I have realised I am not afraid to try new things or more importantly to fail – the running has given me the confidence.
When we booked our trip to Canada Richard mentioned he would love to cycle around Stanley Park in Vancouver and this was the catalyst to get my ass on a saddle.
It hasn’t been easy – trying to learn on Richards bike in the garden was troublesome and it put me off for a while.
Thankfully the government identify this gap in ability in the population and as a sustainability action they offer every council money to teach adults and children to cycle. I, like everyone else is entitled to 2 hours of free lessons.
Last Saturday I turned up at Colchester Leisure Centre feeling very nervous but excited that they may be able to help.
The instructors put us at ease (there were four of us in the lesson) and found a bike to fit me.
They simply took us through a 5 step plan which had us walking, striding, balancing, pedalling and cycling around a flat playing field. I was completely amazed and overjoyed when 29 minutes later I was cycling on my own. I had made it! 39 years later and I could cycle! I didn’t know why I had put it off so long and couldn’t help but grin for the remainder of the day.
I had 30 minutes left to lesson one so used this to practice turning and to get as much advice from the instructors as I could.
Bike gears, inclines and coping with traffic are all alien to me at present but I have kept up the practice and have been using Richards bike this week to get myself acquainted with riding.
Whilst at the lesson one of the instructors mentioned Re-Cycle. They are a not for profit charity who take in old, unwanted and unused bikes and refurbish them.
Once they have enough to fill a shipping container they send them to rural communities in Africa for the locals to use.
In order to gain funds to ship the containers they sell on a number of the bikes and that’s where my funds went today.
I purchased a Giant Boulder 510 which originally retailed for $400 and I bought it for £55. The bike is a couple of years old and it is perfect for me to perfect my skills as a new cyclist.
The engineer at the warehouse was very friendly and recommended the bike amongst the others as it was the best fit for my height and had the highest quality brakes, frame etc.
He allowed me to ride the bike around the car park and I was happy with the weight and the size, the engineer adjusted the gears for me, explaining how they worked and I was sold!
He also gave me some tips on how to remove the front wheel so that it fitted in the car.
I doubt I would have got such a service from the swanky cycle shops I was browsing in London this week (and they wanted at least £400 for a bike!).
I am very proud of my new bike and happy that my funds have helped some remote community in Africa. Who’d have thought deciding to learn to ride would have such a global impact?
I have my second lesson next week which concentrates on cycling in smaller spaces and along cycle paths in a group – my aim is that I want to turn up on my bike.
I cannot thank the tutors enough, they gave me the confidence to get on the saddle and ride in under half an hour!
When I finished the first lesson I was so elated I called Richard and then my parents. My dad had to sit down when he heard the news! 😃
Richard and I popped into Colchester today and had a browse around the shops. I found the local cycle store (which until today, never knew existed) and thanks to the friendly staff, I bought a cycle helmet and a bike lock.
My aim now is to get out as much as I can, even if only for ten minutes a day and get myself better acquainted with my bike.
I did go for a ride this evening and bravely took myself on some loops around the estate. This doesn’t sound like much but it’s a major step for me which enabled me to get used to cornering, cycling uphill, coasting downhill and learning to stop. This is something I need to grasp as I can panic and hit the brakes too hard. A couple of times I nearly went over the top of the bike but I am sure I will get there.
Ultimately I am enjoying my new hobby and I hope to be proficient enough so that Richard and I can hire some bikes in Vancouver.
Things are mental at work. I’m not enjoying things one bit at present and each day there is more pressure and my head is spinning.
Planning a run in the middle seems mental but I wanted the release in my day and wanted to ensure I enjoy an evening with Richard as he will be home when I get in.
I had a massive headache and was contemplating not running but I am so glad I did.
I got out at lunch and headed towards Westminster.
I encountered the first group of tourists and crowds at Westminster Bridge and ended up with the other runners on the kerb or the cycle lane.
Things got very congested on the other side and I was struggling to keep any pace. I don’t understand why tourists pay so much money for attractions such as the London Dungeon. The queue was ridiculous – there’s so much more to London! Anyway…
I was supposed to run a 45 minute conversation pace. At this stage 45 minutes at any pace looked like a challenge.
I had to literally fight my way through the crowd and it was by the Millennium Eye that I had my first casualty. Tourists it would seem do not look where they are going and a woman came out of the queue and instead of looking ahead she was looking behind. I dodged her but caught her elbow with my water bottle.
The crowds persisted all along the South Bank but I managed a decent pace and decided to keep going.
I aimed to run 5k then increased this to 6k and so on…
At Southwark a young girl with an oversized handbag was an unexpected obstacle and during my attempt to miss her she stuck her arm out and I caught her bag. She called me a tit. I simply made some comment about using the handles as they were intended and carried on running.
There were many near misses today as London is now at the height of the tourist season. It’s very different from dodging fields full of cows and rabbits when running in Colchester.
I decided to continue to London Bridge and stupidly thought it’d be an idea to run up the stairs. They are very steep and I was knackered when I reached the top. At this point I stopped the timer and walked across the bridge. I had a well deserved drink too.
Once on the other side of the bridge I felt fine but was tired of the crowds. I decided this wasn’t going to stop me though and started the timer again.
I then ran back onto the bank of the river and headed back towards to office and Blackfriars Bridge.
I made it back in 45 minutes before stopping on the bridge to so some stretches.
Regardless of the crowds and the sporadic approach to the run, it all came out well.
Nike reports 6.96 km and Garmin recorded 6.65 km. Not too shabby as I was under several bridges and in quite a few walkways so both devices did well to track my route effectively.
With the walk across London Bridge in the middle I probably tipped over 7k which I think is very good going considering I felt like death before I started.
Apart from the odd post run ache I felt much better this afternoon and was very grateful I went for the run.
I want to run some more of London and aim to ask Paul for his companionship on future runs. It’s just a nightmare to schedule anything at present as my work calendar is subject to change without warning.
At least the running, my baby, Brandy and my friends help to keep me sane in amongst all this chaos.
I’m looking forward to an evening curled up on the sofa with my baby and miss Brandy.