Friday, 30 September 2011

Ain't that nice!

Just as I was preparing to get myself all psyched out about to Sunday's race, I went to check today's post. And this is what I found. A good luck card from the charity I'm running for, the Epilepsy Society. And not just a card, some extra jelly beans too. How kind is that?

Hopefully they'll be really pleased to hear that my ultra generous friends and family have pushed the total raised so far to almost £600.

And if you haven't donated yet, you know what to do!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Visiting strange new worlds

No, I haven't gone on holiday yet. As an East Coast girl, Glasgow is a foreign country for me, so what better way to continue with my limbering up?

Actually, I'm getting much better with Glasgow now. I realise that's there's more to the shopping than Buchanan Street, Argyle Street and Sauchiehall Street. I can navigate my way round the Clockwork Orange. I can get to and from a number of cultural venues with relative ease. And I even know where you can get a mean cocktail and imagine you're inside an Art Deco cruise liner.

But when it comes down to it, where would I choose to spend a free weekend? Sorry guys, but Edinburgh wins hands down.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Limbering up

No, it's not about running. This post will be a running free zone - but just in case, you maybe want to drop by to my Just Giving page and sponsor me just to be on the safe side?

The limbering up referred to is about getting back in the blogging groove. Not now. I'm still warming up now. But soon.

To be accurate, in about 10 days, when I head off on my happy holidays and the travel blogging frenzy returns. I enjoyed it so much last year when I visited Spain  - and to my great delight, apparently so did a number of my readers. What more encouragement does a girl, especially one who's a frustrated writer, need??

Watch this space after 8th October and you can join me on my next big adventure! It will be great to have you along on the journey.

Monday, 26 September 2011

For whom the bell tolls

I posted yesterday to say that it was only a week to go until I face my marathon challenge in the Highlands, along the banks of Loch Ness and ending up in the fair city of Inverness. And also to say how absolutely terrified I am at the prospect. It really does frighten me. And the closer it gets, the worse I feel. Rationally I'm telling myself not to get worked up, but emotionally, well that's a different story.

Part of the fear is whether my body will hold up for the whole 26.2 miles. So far the furtherest I've run is 18 miles - and that was at a cost. In fact I had a physio appointment this morning to try to sort out the calf strain I picked up as a result of those 18 miles. I was fully expecting not to be able to walk this afternoon, but Simon really must have charmed hands since I'm not feeling too bad after all. It turns out that far from worrying about my calf, it's my shoulders that are the real worry, with several golf ball knots of nastiness tied up across that area of my upper back. Needless to say, I'm booked back in next Monday to undo the damage next Sunday is bound to wreak.

Unfortunately, the calf strain put paid to my distance training, and has also severely hampered my stamina work too. So, in truth, I don't actually know if I have it in me to keep moving for 26 miles.

The other fear is whether I'll be mentally strong enough. Yes, the constant pounding of foot on pavement for 26 plus miles is hard going. But equally tough is the emotional impact. For one thing, running for 6 hours is actually pretty boring - there are only so many times you can run through your current list of 'things to think about'. And then as exhaustion sets in, the ability to put thoughts in any kind of consecutive or sensible order vanishes and distraction by way of thinking becomes impossible. Even listening to music can become a bit of a trial - and that's supposing the iPod lasts as long as I do. Towards the end, there is every chance that I'll actually be forced to think about the fact that I'm running, still running, and I'm not sure that's going to be a good thing. Perhaps the hills will distract me? That's the hills I'll be running up, by the way, not ones to look at!

I was looking back over my various running posts from the last year and I was reminded of just how far I've come in such a short space of time. I had a wry smile when I saw me earlier this year congratulating myself for running 7 miles. I was also reminded how emotional I was when I completed the Edinburgh Half Marathon back in May. Even thinking about it now makes me overcome with emulsion - doubtless it will be much the same on Sunday. Lucky Emma - now you know what to expect!!

Which is an opportune time to give a shout out to my support team - those who've kept me going with advice and encouragement during my training this year, those who've worried about whether I should be doing this at all and tried (for all the right reasons) to dissuade me, the fabulous Sue who stepped in at the last minute to meet me at the end of my half marathon in Edinburgh and the wonderful Emma who has agreed to be there at the finish line to pick up the pieces. As I've said many many times, I have some truly amazing and fantastic friends.

And it's also time to shout out for Frances, my awesome running companion, temporary lodger and new found partner in crime. If it wasn't for Frances, I wouldn't be doing this, and while at times that might feel like quite a good thing, in reality it/she has pushed me to dig down deep and discover inner strength I didn't know I had. And for that I'm truly grateful. Thanks Frances, looking forward to beating this running demon with you on Sunday!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Foot soldiers

My ever loyal readers will be pleased to know that this time next week it will all be over. And - contrary to metaphor - I strongly suspect there won't be much shouting until at least a few days later. Apart from sneaking on to post my time that is.

For those of you who've managed to miss the relentless pimping of my next weekend's challenge - WAKE UP! Yes, it's very nearly marathon time. Next Sunday will see the awesome Frances and me attempting to complete our first ever marathon in Inverness.

It's been a strange roller coaster of a ride preparing for it, and as it gets closer I swing between absolute fear and dogged resignation. Who knows what the day will bring? Well, apart from pain and exhaustion that is. Hopefully there will also be a feeling of success and achievement too - no matter what happens.

If you're in the area, drop by the finish line about 4pm and say congratulations. If you've sponsored me, good on you. If you haven't, get yourself over to my Just Giving page and do the needful.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

That's what friends are for

I am blessed to have many great and wonderful friends but one of my best ones retired from work today and I'm really sad.

I know she's not gone from my life completely, but she won't be there in the office downstairs when things get tough. And we'll need to make that extra effort to catch up.

She's been my rock so many times and I'll so miss her.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Shiny new shoes

I am being sensible as a mark of respect to my forthcoming running challenge and only wearing flat shoes between now and 2nd October. And I don't even mean flat for me, I mean completely flat.

Those who know me well will realise what a sacrifice that is for me. But you will also know that it can only serve as an excuse to buy myself new shoes. Which I did and here they are!

Good old Clarks and their next day delivery option!

Just because I'm wearing flats, there's no reason not to be stylish or just that little bit kooky.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Happy holidays

I hinted yesterday that in just a few weeks I would be showing a vast improvement on my blogging output, at least in volume terms if nothing else. So now, the big reveal, the reason why - I've finally got round to booking my (much delayed) summer holiday and in just 3 short weeks I will be heading off on my next big adventure.

As regular readers will remember, last year I took myself off to Spain and enjoyed a fun filled 2 weeks touring Andalucia by train, including the getting there (but not, to my shame, the getting back).

Well, this year I intend to go one better and get myself to and back from Sicily entirely by train. Well, ok one bit will be by ferry - but probably not the bit you're thinking about. I have discovered that not only can you get all the way to Madrid in just 3 trains from Stirling (if you ignore the Metro transfer in Paris that is), you can also get all the way to Sicily (the football bit of Italy for the cartographically challenged amongst my readership) in just 5 trains - including the bit where they shunt the train you're sitting on onto a ferry across the Straits of Messina between mainland Italy and Sicily. How amazingly cool is that?!!

Since it's actually quite a long way from Stirling to Sicily, I'll be breaking my journey in Paris and Rome on the way and again in Paris and London (plus a brief stop in Ventimiglia) on the way back. Great excitement. While I've been to Tuscany, Venice and the Italian Lakes before - ie pretty much the north of the country, I've never been to Rome or further south. And I am feeling very virtuous for doing it all without air travel this year. Green brownie points all round for me.

So from early October, once the dreaded marathon is done - have you sponsored me yet by the way? - I will be packing my bags and preparing to leave for warmier southern climes. And I will of course be blogging all about it right here on Crafty Manoeuvres.

You have been warned...

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Keep on runnin'

It's been a while since I last bored you with stories of my running, and having run my hometown 10k this morning, it's seems an opportune time to start again. And before you say anything, yes, I know I haven't blogged about anything much at all over the summer. Just you wait until October, however, you won't know what's hit you then - more of that another day!

So before telling you about today's race, I think I should clarify that whilst I haven't been writing about running in the blogging ethosphere, that doesn't mean I haven't been banging on about in real life to anyone who will listen. Although it would probably be more accurate to say I've been boring them with tales of NOT running because I feel I've been doing more of that recently than I have of the real training stuff. 

And you all, of course, remember why I'm training - both the race itself and the worthy cause for which I'm running. Feel free to sponsor me if you haven't already done so [shameless plug completed - read on in safety].

But back to the NOT running. It's been for a variety of reasons. Some of which, yes, are to do with motivation. Others are to do with over busy-ness. But it's also been about injury. Yes, dear reader, I am now a serious runner and can talk about that niggling calf strain or the bad bout of runner's knee I'm suffering from. Which is all good enough reason to justify my rather poor performance in this morning's Stirling 10k. Not only did I not beat my time from last year, I also didn't beat my running companion, Miss Awesome herself, who shot ahead at just after 5km and was but a mere streak of white in the distance for the rest of my race. My age adjusted performance was worse - even though I'm a year older and clearly much fitter (ahem!). 

And to cap it all, the official race photographer (the 'getting less than awesome by the second', Frances) somehow managed to make me look fat in my pre-race photograph. You will understand that it is a trick of the light and that I am in reality a slim svelte size 8, with the well toned body of a 28 year old. 

The only saving grace, I guess, is that there were no post race photographs and I think I managed to dodge any of the real official race photographers on the way round. 

Yeah, maybe I'll go back to not blogging about my running after all...

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Leaders or followers?

I'm often struck by how relatively few people are willing to strike out on their own and be leaders rather than followers. In every walk of life there seems to be an aversion from standing out from the crowd, or taking the route less travelled.

This has been highlighted to me again this week as I've got to know my new flatmate better and realised how strong she's been in ploughing her own furrow for much of her life. I thought I was doing well but this awesome woman puts me to shame!

It's a lesson to up all - not to be unconcerned about or oblivious of what others think. That would be unrealistic and probably unsafe. But not to let that knowledge hamper or constrain us unnecessarily. It's all too easy to find reasons not to do things, particularly when they make us somehow different. It's far harder to know it, understand it, and still take the risk to do it anyway. To lead rather than to follow. To stand alone and tall and to take the chance of failure in the hopes of achieving success. One thing is for sure - if you don't try, you'll damn sure never succeed. Go figure!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Hi. Remember me?

I hadn't realised it had been a whole month since I last posted. I knew it was a long time, but I didn't realise I had let the whole of August go by without posting anything at all.

And it's not like nothing's been happening. I haven't just been sitting around with my feet up. I've been putting my back into it all - much like these guys. Well perhaps not like these guys, but in my own version of working hard, it's a close run thing.

There's been plenty to write about, just not enough time/free space to do the writing in I guess. What with visiting relatives (Big sis and the Wee Guy, sadly now finished the UK section of their holiday and on their way back home via a short stop over in Amsterdam - capital city number 5 for the intrepid duo!!), work (general mega chaos with added failure to organise a summer break and a last minute study visit to Sweden thrown in) and running (maximum distance run now 18 miles and with only 3 weeks to go to the marathon, I am now officially tapering down), there's not been a quiet moment. So - my loyal readers - I apologise and promise to try to do better for the rest of the year.

One of my resolutions for this year was to blog more regularly but that hasn't really worked out. There's a number of reasons - some are to do with the general busy-ness outlined above, others are to do with a strange malaise that came over me this year. Having set out to change a whole heap of things in my life - work, home, me - I guess I'm feeling I'm not doing that well.

And, as some readers will know, at times like that my hermit instinct takes over. I withdraw and decide that the world doesn't need to be inflicted with my self absorbed ramblings.

I know I'm being hard on myself - no, really I am! I have achieved a lot already this year - and while I may still be in the same job, living in the same flat and with no realistic prospect of an improvement in my love life in the offing, I am far more sane than I was at the start of the year. I've dealt with some shitty stuff and come through the other end, changed my hairstyle (the two are not unconnected!), started looking for somewhere new to live, learned new stuff - particularly all things broadband and I am now fluent in Geek, visited new places - Shetland and (almost) the Arctic Circle, and made new friends (again, the two are not entirely unconnected!).

I've pushed myself further physically than I've ever pushed myself before and proved that I can do endurance - let's hope it works on 2nd October. Bizarrely, I've even managed to put on weight while doing it - I think I'm perhaps too successful at the carb loading aspect of it all. And, while I really don't like the added weight concept, I am forced to admit that I look and feel better for it. Is sanity is connected to weight?

So, all in all, while I might think I haven't posted because I think I'm a mess, when I sit down and think about it, I'm not really. I'm actually quietly, in my own corner, doing ok. And that's pretty good really. I'm pleased with that.