Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Firewalking Fairies

I'm the one on the right. Alex recently dyed her hair and now we look quite similar. Oops!


Hot to Trot

Saturday just gone was the day I did my firewalk for charity. The Charity in question was Mouth Cancer Foundation and the firewalk took place in Ipswich as part of a bigger fundraising event. It was a chance for me to meet up with some friends and do something outrageous. Normal people just meet for coffee.

I got into the swing of things by donning a tutu and some wings to become one of the “Tooth Fairies” for the evening; a lot of the girls taking part work for a dental practice. 30 were meant to take part, 15 dropped out and 4 were recruited on the night. We had a briefing session lasting an hour and a half which really only needed to be 30 minutes, tops. The chap leading the session took us through a number of body language exercises that really wound everyone up. By the time we actually got round to seeing the firebed being lit I think we were all just itching to get on with things. Nerves were nowhere to be seen. Maybe that was his strategy. Another half hour of exercises including talking ourselves down such that we supposedly became weaker (raise your strong arm and someone else presses down on it) and then stronger and we were finally allowed to do the walk.

I had no fear, after the part of the talk that explained how it’s possible to walk on hot coals, despite the heat that was coming off the bed. It was 20 feet long and the part we walked on was only about a foot wide. I didn’t manage to get many good pictures but I have got a bit of video of me doing the walk. A couple of people got tingly blisters, and I did get a couple but I didn’t even notice them until much later that evening. A few of us wanted to do it again right away but they were a bit swift about putting it out.

Certificate in hand we made a beeline to the bar for a well deserved bottle of wine, a burger from the BBQ and a boogie to the band. I raised £221.66 through Just Giving and a few more pounds in the collecting tin at the local dental practice.

If you ever get the chance to firewalk I highly recommend it!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Grim injuries

Parkrun & Grim

I’ve not parkrunned for a while. Mostly this is because I’ve had other places to be on a Saturday morning but one occasion was due to the fact that Frimley parkrun got cancelled for a week. I’m still not sure exactly what’s been going on but Steve seems to have been asked to step down and it’s now being run by someone else. I was really upset and I’ve yet to go back there, even though I’m sure it’ll be just as friendly.

I have reached 22 parkruns now though which means I may just make the 50 by the end of the year. I signed OH up to parkrun and we both tried Basingstoke on Saturday for the first time. OH achieved what I have yet to which is 5km in under 25 minutes. On his first parkrun. Hatehatehate. I had a bad run and was convinced that I came in around 35 minutes. I was therefore disproportionally happy to discover my time was only 31 minutes. Still not good but better than expected. The course is 2.5 laps of rather undulating parkland. It's a pleasant enough course but not being familiar with it, it felt very long and I'm not good with hills (yet). So all in all I was in a fairly black mood afterwards which probably spoilt OH's morning a bit, sorry sweetie, I'll try not to take it to heart so much in future.

The last time I ran before that, and I use this word in the loosest sense, was at Beast in the East the weekend before. I was woefully underprepared having done precisely no hill training but my confidence was buoyed by my cheerleaders. I was in no way aiming for a time, just to get round. I fully expected it to take an hour and a half and surprised myself by crossing the line in 1:19. This was put into perspective by the winning time of 37 minutes, faster than the winner of the Frimley Park 10k! The course was brutal, 1.8km of motocross track start and end with gradients so steep I had to scramble up and slide down. My favourite part was the forest trail, a single track that was very peaceful, accessed after the cargo net which provided little challenge given that the marshalls were holding it up for us!

I did trip and fall on the single track resulting in grazes and vibrant bruises (photo to follow). My knees ached so much afterwards that I didn’t run all week afterwards.

I think this was one of my favourite races. The organisation was great and the sense of camaraderie was wonderful; lots of encouraging words and helping hands meant very few people didn’t cross the line. Every single marshall had a smile, a clap or an encouraging word. The announcer name checked almost every single participant and the motocross course was designed such that spectators (of which there were far fewer than at other races I’ve done, save the Forest 5) could follow the runners almost all the way round. There’s a lot of footage of me tramping round so I’ll try and put some up later.

The t-shirt was pretty cool and the goody bag as good as any I’ve had anywhere else. I didn’t expect it to wipe me out as much as it did and the afternoon was pretty much spent sleeping. I’m almost certainly going to sign up again next year although I don’t think I could hack the Winter version. This is mainly due to having chatted with a girl on the Monday who did do it… I’m going to try very hard not to let my competitive side get the better of me.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

PT2 and Surfing

Continuing with the updates, the week after the VLM I had my second PT session with Jo from Funkfit. I was thoroughly looking forward to this as the first one had been so much fun. I was anticipating a repeat session but it was all change.

I cycled up to the playing field to meet Jo who proceeded to put my through my paces with the ViPR and a BOSU ball. There was a great deal of flipping the ViPR and balancing on the BOSU ball whilst doing various exercises such as squats, deadlifts and bicep curls. The killer was the plank whilst circling the BOSU with my hands.

I was expecting a real hard sell at the end seeing as these were discounted sessions but Jo was terribly laid back about it all and it made me feel more favourable towards using the company again sometime. I probably wouldn’t be able to afford personal sessions very often but will try the fit camps for sure. I know that Jo will offer me advice if I need a boost or a kick start which is great.

I wholeheartedly recommend Funkfit if you live in the Reading area. It’s fun, effective and interesting. With my next spare £20 I’m buying a kettlebell!

It did all stand me in quite good stead for the Easter break when I took a trip to Cornwall with my mum. We stayed at the amazing Scarlet spa and eco hotel for two nights before moving on to Boscastle. In an attempt to combat the effects of all the delicious food we consumed (lunch at Fifteen was a particular highlight) I did some body boarding. We managed to get my board in the back of the car and my wetsuit withstood the 10 degree water well enough to allow me to mess around in the sea for several hours each day.

Wetsuits are so unflattering.

Friday, 20 May 2011

VLM Helpers medal

The pallets of Lucozade we gave out

Virgin London Marathon Volunteering

I can’t believe that it’s been over a month since I last blogged. That’s, frankly, unacceptable. I’ve not been idle though (heaven forbid) so I’d best give you a run down of what I’ve been up to over the course of the next few blog posts.

On the 17th of April I volunteered at the VLM which was hugely rewarding. I was assigned to the Blue start to hand out Lucozade to the participants. I was joined by a dozen hugely enthusiastic school kids and Jackie who I chatted to most of the morning. I bumped into my friend Sarah who ran last year and was aiming to improve her time this year. I’d not seen her for several months since we left the company we worked for so that was a lovely surprise. The atmosphere was amazing and I got to see the tail end of the Red start. It’s all very slick and once the runners are away you’d hardly know anything had been going on save for the giant balloons.

For a couple of hours of my time I got a Lucozade t-shirt and cap, a VLM Staff t-shirt, a volunteers medal and as much Lucozade as I could walk away with. The sense of community was astounding. On my way back from the station I got chatting to a couple who had also been helping out and the seed of an idea to run abroad got planted. Paris and Rome Marathons were sold rather well.

My mum had recorded most of the coverage so I got to see it later over a glass of something cool. Special thanks go to my dad who drove me to Blackheath that morning after my train got cancelled. Thank you Daddy!