Rescuing Animals in the North East

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Thursday, 14 October 2010

Sleep tight Thumper - my little star!

Sadly we lost Thumper in the early hours of Wednesday morning (the 6th). I've been too distraught to even mention it to anyone. Had to call in sick at work and everything, I couldn't even make it through the bus journey into work without blubbing.
Thumper lying chilled out on top of the hutch after a brush.

He was such an affectionate little sweetheart who was so well behaved. I'm going to miss him so much. Such a little character, he didn't even appear very sick - I just took him to the vets "just in case" on Sunday then back for a follow up the next morning at the regular vets just to check. He was back at the emergency vets 4hours later when he didn't eat or drink anything or poop and he'd had  no noticable improvement despite the fact he'd been taking his meds. They kept him in overnight and were optimistic when he was eating his recovery liquid food and had made it through the monday night but sadly he didn't make it another night and died in the early hours of the Weds morning. He was really given everything we (and the vets) had, and he was so good when they were taking his temperature and doing all these horrible things with him like syringe feeding and putting him on a drip. He never ran away or bit anyone (although he did hide his head in the crook of my arm and start licking me like mad when we took him in for more medicine). I just can't believe he's gone. He went downhill so fast, even though he was taking his medicine well before he started to "act" sick. Then when the vets said he'd made it through the night and was a little livelier and was actually eating the recovery food - I really never expected him to die the following night.
Morning - thumper just waking up in his bed!

I've had my day of grieving where I cleaned (bleach, rinse, disinfectant & rinse) hoovered and scrubbed everything in sight. Boil washed all his washing machine proof toys and blankets - and binned the ones that couldn't be washed. Poor tilly has even been dragged in for a precautionary check up (which she hated - she launched herself out of the carry box in the waiting room, then attempted to hurdle over my husbands head when she was on the table at the vets). She's absolutely fine but is on some pro-biotics and getting wormed early just incase it was EC that caused Thumper's infection.

Reaching up to have his nose rubbed.

Solves my problem of whether to bond them. I wonder if he did just go downhill after Treacle died and just missed her too much to battle on afterall I know other people who's buns have had snuffles and much worse things and survived? I just keep wondering if there was anything else I could have done.

Despite his name he never actually thumped his feet......he was never a grumpy bunny. He was also a bit of a wuss too - he'd wander over to new stuff and if it moved he'd run a mile in the opposite direction. He was the only one of our bunnies who never ever bit or kicked or squirmed and he was the only one that didn't spit out his pancur all over his own face/or all over me.

Nodding off on my lap after i'd brushed him
When he was all sickly and sorry looking in the vets I was hoping he'd pull round and even thought that if he wasn't going to get better that it'd be better if he just passed away - how awful is that. My other half was saying if there wasn't going to be any improvement and that he'd never be 100% and would get recurring bad bouts of illness that it would be kinder to put him to sleep. But I snapped back at him saying not to be so mean and we at least had to give the medicine a chance to work. Plus I couldn't have done it, I couldn't even say it...I could never ask the vets to do that. My parents just had to have the family dog (who was 12) PTS and it broke my heart - I went to see him the day before and couldn't go to the vets with them or see the dog afterwards, I knew i'd not be able to cope. I prayed he'd get better because I knew if there was no improvement it would just send me to pieces having to make the decision to do the right thing. And now that he did actually die, I feel I wished it on him. I miss the little cheeky monkey so much. Tilly is lovely, very cute and full of character, but Thumper was a proper cuddle monster and so well behaved. He just was the perfect rabbit! :0(

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

HA Ha - We did it.....seee!

Phew.........after a whole week of intensive cold treatments and home remedies for both me & hubby (who came down with full blown man flu about 5 days before the race) we were well enough to actually do the race. The home remedies involved wrapping up warm and wearing a scarf 24/7 lots of hot baths and steaming my head over a bowl of boiling water, a bowl of boiling water & vicks every night in the room before going to bed. Both of us practically ate our own weight in oranges, grapefruit & kiwis to up the vitamin C as well as vitamin C, echinacea and multi-vitamin supplements. Hubby also started downing shots of that disgusting yogurt bacteria drink (bleurgh, makes me retch thinking about it). Lots of high energy carbs like jacket potatoes, pasta and lots of bread and biscuits to keep our energy up and the wonderful liquid ibuprofens and we were just about well enough on the morning. Although hubby hadn't had any of the robitussen I bought earlier in the week (after only the tinest tickle in the back of my throat that caused me to cough) he did have a tsp of some vile disgusting bronchial syrup that looked like tobacco spit from a western which was so disgusting it even scared his cough away. Thank god i'd already swigged the last of my cough syrup and got rid of mine cos there is no way i'd be drinking that stuff.

It was drizzley on the morning of the race as we packed up spare clothes and drinks and attached our luggage labels to our bags and layered up. I'd pinned and taped our race numbers and laid out all our clothes ready the night before. I was so terrified of needing the toilet half way thru I only drank one glass of juice at about 8am and made myself take 4 toilet trips before I even left the house. The metro was absolutely jam packed and when we got to newcastle we just followed the hoards up to the start line. There were loads of people in charity race t-shirts and lots in fancy dress, even a couple of teams congregated for a last minute motivational talk (or a "what to do if you get seperated" talk...I couldnt tell). I was nervous yet excited and hubby was becoming increasingly worried about the apparent fitness and experise of all the other runners, people rubbing their legs with deep heat and doing warming up stretches, some people who looked like your typical runners with all proper waterproof breathable gear (no old joggy bottoms and 80's retro sweat bands for them) and proceeded to convince himself he was actually going to die en route. He just kept mentioning the lack of "unfit" (i.e. overweight, ill equipped, the old and the smokers) and was still looking edgy as we made sure we were pinned into place properly and got our bags ready to put on the baggage bus. He made a bit of a hash spraying my hair blue and mainly got my ears....but it was raining and he was no hairdresser so I didn't say anything.

Just as we dumped our bags on the colour co-ordinated baggage bus and queue for one last toilet break before the race I spotted something I knew would lift his spirits. I had spotted two morbidly obese middle aged women dressed in joggy bottoms (which would soak through) and smoking!!! I had to contain my pointy finger and shreik with delight reflex but still manage to ensure he saw them. Thankfully I managed to do it discreetly (well I think I did, they didn't come over and squash me or throw me an evil glare through their nicotine cloud). I think that cheered him up a bit.

The warm up was good fun and Alan "get to those phones" Robson of local radio fame was warming up the crowd and giving local heroes Ant & Dec their grand entrance to start the race, we spotted loads of fancy dress including a group of "where's wally", about 6 wonderwomen  - a couple of which were men and a group of men in tiny blue thongs, silver tinsel wigs and well.....that was it - aside from a handful of blue balloons. They were certainly getting a lot of attention and people telling them how brave they were and cheering them (not anywhere near enough motivation to run in your undies though). I lost hubby at the start as he sprinted off while I strayed slightly off course in an attempt to hi-5 Ant & Dec, until a queue started to form at which point I weaved back into line with the crowds. It was a fantastic atmosphere and the queues of people was ridiculous, i've never seen so many people in my life. Chants of Oggy Oggy Oggy echoed from under the central motorway as we approached the tunnelled part sheltering us from the rain which seemed to fizzle out. I made it across the tyne bridge chatting away to michelle but as we came up the back towards the felling bypass I was having to weave in and out quite a bit to keep with her and almost went my length when someone caught the back of my trainer. I waved her on at Gateshead stadium as I thought i'd try battle on my own for a bit til there was a decent "gap" in the crowd of runners I was wedged in with.

Our friends Peter & Joe had already text to say they'd be watching & waiting to cheer us on at McDonalds. I scoured the people lined up on the kerb looking for them and past the McDonalds my heart sank til I spotted someone on the opposite side of the road Peter-shaped and screamed, shouted and waved like a maniac at him. To which he responded with a giggle and a wave as I didn't stop running while jumping all over. He yelled back asking if I'd seen the others, I shouted back through the mass of bobbing people jogging inbetween us to say Michelle was ahead of me and I hadn't seen David. I felt so good that someone was there just for me. As it turns out I didn't see anyone else the remainder of the hourney and I was only 3 miles in at this point.

I hit the Heworth roundabout and the incline got me, I had to walk as I drank from my bottle of water to finish it in time to pick up the next drink from the station (I didn't want to be stuck without a drink). The constant but ever so slight slope was really draining and I grabbed some powerade on my way past which was thoroughly disgusting but it was wet and it would do. Although who in their right mind gives out SUGAR FREE energy drinks at a half marathon??  After discovering how vile powerade was I tried focus ahead and ignore the runners straying off the road and dissapearing into the bushes by the roadside. I was now at my milestone marker, almost the 6 mile mark, the highest point and apparently no more downhill. This was where my sister in law had promised to put up a banner for us. I looked up for that little spurt of encouragement from the absent but considerate Emma and nothing....just a massive poster for powerade emblazoned with the words "FINDING IT TOUGH......TRAIN HARDER NEXT YEAR). I later discovered that Emma had in fact got up at 5am, driven to the footbridge past the spot that left her traumatised after a bus rammed into her car only to have it covered up by evil powerade with their cheeky beggar comment and their toxic drinks!!!!

The supposed "downhill" section did not appear. Yes it levelled out but at no point did I feel a downhill slope. The poisonous powerade was making me feel sick as I sipped it (found out later thats because the "isotonic" properties of the drink to "replace lost nutrients" actually translates as MINERAL SALTS). So not only was it minging, it had no sugar, just sweetener and was actually salty. Not great for the stomach when you're sloshing your way through a run and have only eaten a banana all day. As we hit the sliproad, crowds of people from the housing estate behind in Hebburn (I assume thats where it was) were lining the roadside handing out orange wedges, kitchen towel for people to dry their faces and icepops. I missed the icepops, I saw the evidence of empty trampled wrappers on the floor though. I did manage to peek into a wicker basket to find orange wedges and stuff one of them into my mouth breathing "ooh you legend" to the lovely lady who was handing them out. I ran about 300m with my orange mouthguard and spent about the same distance trying to pick the bits out of my teeth - this was one occassion I never thought i'd need floss for.

I'm sure i'd passed the St John's ambulance volunteers before but was only actually taking notice of what they were doing as they stood holding out shiney gloved hands to the runners. Ahhh Vaseline. The little lightbulb of recognition was swiftly followed by a small shiver as there's just something not right about people leaning towards you with a greased up rubber gloved hand. *Shudder*. I grabbed a water at the next station and smiled at the queues of runners who'd stopped to use the portaloos outside a petrol station. Someone ran past without a drink and muttered how vile the powerade was and I offered up some of my water. I seemed to come across a chirpy group, spirits were still high and people were exchanging little encouraging comments such as "love the tutu" and "its not this far in the car". As we hit the half way mark more people were dropping by the wayside and my water was running low again. I'd started to get hot and flustered so was now splashing most of my drinks bottle into my palm and wiping my face with my hand.

Half way and still this downhill section seemed to never arrive, I was sure I would have noticed it but it never seemed to appear. Although starting to tire I hadn't had to walk since my catch breath moment at Heworth roundabout I was feeling positive but hot and stuffy. Water was running low again and I slowed to a waitress style power walk as I approached a table of plastic cups a local womens institute had set up and thanked them as I huffed and puffed past. It was the coldest most appreciated cup of water ever and I really had to resist the temptation to just chug it down as I knew i'd either choke on it, get a stitch or make myself sick. It was sooooo nice. The next sight seeing event was a runner collapsed by the roadside with a group of fellow runners in matching t-shirts hovering round until the St Johns people waddled towards them carrying their big carryboxes of well first aid stuff. At this point I spotted kids cheering on the roadside with bags of pic n mix and wandered over to a lady with a tupperwear box and thanked her as I swooped past and grabbed what I thought was a dolly mixture.......nope liquorice allsort, the bobbley pink jelly-filled ones. I pulled a face as I chewed announcing that I didn't realise it was liquorice and the man running alongside me said neither do I but i'd eat bertie basset if he was in the crowd. I agreed and said I've never craved a sugarlump before and would happily eat one if they were handing those out.

I noticed some people still carrying their poweraid, glad to have ditched my vomit juice I spotted a runner in army gear with a backpack of about the same size strapped to his back who was starting to slow. I offered him a drink and he was so pleasantly surprised I think he actually smiled. I had a little chat (well I talked at him) and told him what a good cause he was running for and that I didn't envy him carrying all that gear. I wished him good luck and weaved forward a bit. It took forever to get to the 8mile mark and the locals were standing in their gardens and on bus shelters directing hoses at those runners who waved or shouted towards them. There was a band of middle aged heavy metal rockers on one of the roundabouts who received lots of deer head hand symbols and arms in the air as runners made their way past, too tired to sing along but wanting to show their appreciation.  Another long section of road and anambulance to collect a collapsed runner. I was struggling now and desperately wanted to walk, so I ate a couple of fruit pastilles I had jammed in the pocket of my running shorts and tried not to inhale them. Just as I was slowing to a fast walk the army man appeared just alongside my left shoulder. "Hello Again" I said as I shoved my fruit pastilles towards him and he took one, again thanking me like i'd offered him a piggyback. I wished him luck again and told him at this rate i'd probably bump into him again, probably on the finish line, and dragged my legs out of the trudge paced walk into a run propelling them with the power of arms and winced face.

My feet hurt, I was wanting to walk and I was so hungry. I have never been hungry while running I could have eaten the glitter glue off my top (although most of it had infact flaked off all over my hands and therefore all over my face when I was doing my water splashing technique). It was at this point I spotted two blonde girls with matching ponytails and matching guide dogs tops and I again with the power of my face muscles to try pick my pace back up and forget about my feet - how good would it be to finish with even more guide dogs people. But I couldn't keep up, I would catch them up and then get an exhaustion moment and have to slow to the point where I was running but walkers with a wide stride were faster than me. The next drinks station was a powerade one and I really didn't want the drink but was flagging so I took it and carried it with me, water in one hand and powerade in the other. Loads of people were just taking one gulp then flinging their bottle - the local kids were stamping on them and squashing them. What a waste I thought.........until I tasted it. Now the blue powerade was pretty vile but this "berry" flavour as they call it was worse, it was satan's moonshine, it was red as well. I suddenly realised why there was a sea of red bottles littering the grass verge. This flavour was achievement I did not think was humanly possible. Why would you voluntarily drink this stuff unless you wanted to make yourself vomit. I sent mine to join the collection by the roadside - stuff that i'd rather dehydrate and be wheeled home by the paramedics than drink that filth.

Then we hit the fantastic 10mile mark and there were more charity buses lined up cheering for people and making noise. The pavements were more full with supporters and in some parts they were 2 or 3 people deep some even in folding chairs and kids in toy tents lining the roadside. Then I heard the BUPA boost station, a DJ cheering and encouraging everyone shouting out thier charities as they came past, telling everyone they were nearly there and 10miles was the hardest chunk, we'd made it to the hardest part. Piles of jelly babies were littered on the roadside, then I saw crowds of runners and people in white gloved hands scooping into cardboard boxes. I ran up and put my hands out oliver twist style under the frantic volunteer who was concentrating so hard on not dropping sweets. I got some JELLY BABIES nom nom. I chewed the first one then just threw the rest into my open mouth with my hand, probably covering my chin and nose with the floury icing sugar but I didn't care. I'm not even a fan of jelly babies but the sugar hit was phenomenal.

I was really getting tired now, where on earth was this downhill section, 11 miles took ages. In fact the last 3 miles (9-11) felt longer and harder than the previous 9 put together. Its a lie all this downhill lark, just to stop people giving up at Heworth I told myself, my feet were really painful I was sure I had blisters and then the rain started again. I once again heaved my legs into a slow jog determined to drag my backside up yet another hill. Then suddenly I saw it, the sea! I'm sure it was, it was raining and the sky was grey it had to be. Then I was at the brow of the hill and a massive flashing sign confirmed "ITS THE SEA" as I noticed I was at the brow of a hill and a roundabout right at the coast. The rain changed from the fine drizzle to proper Norht East whipping at your face rain as I carefully ran the ONLY downhill section of about 50metres that had a wall of hay bales at the bottom forcing runners to swing round to the left. I was on the coast, this was the last mile. I was tired and wet and wanted to stop but there were crowds 6 deep by the roadside and people cheering and holding banners saying "the pain is nearly over". So I plodded on as the rain got heavier.

I hit the 800m mark and was having to wipe the rain out of my face, it got really dark but I refused to stop. It felt like an age before I hit the 400m mark and in the distance I could see the finish line. I suddenly had a burst of energy or willpower or just one of those "if I dont hurry up i'm going to have to stop" moments. 200m and the rain was heavier I could barely see but I wasn't cold and the song "umbrella" comes on my ipod, I giggled to myself and must have sounded like i'd actually cracked up. I strained a smile as I picked up my pace and ran towards the finish line throwing my arms up in the air as soon as I saw those yellow numbers and worked out my rough finish time.

My legs were wobbly as I bent down to pull off my timing chip but I managed, and although I was stiff I didn't feel like I was going to pass out or just keel over. It was a bit of a wander towards the race finishers pack and the rain was lashing down. I grabbed my bag and my first thought was for food but then went straight for the foil blanket and opened it and held it over my head and wrapped it round my shoulders grabbing it under my chin. I couldn't see a thing, it was absolutely pelting down like someone was holding a hose and it was grey. All I could see was crowds of people and just wandered along feeling completely lost, I didn't know where I was going and couldn't see anything. Then I the ground underneath my feet turned into a slope and at the foot of the hill was a massive sea of white tents with loads of posters and flags waving from it. That has to be the charity village I thought. I had promised friends & family that's where i'd meet them. I was a bit gutted I didn't see them in the last mile but assumed i'd not seen them cos of the rain and they'd have seen me and would be on their way to meet me. I hoped hubby was ok with his horrible cold in this horrible weather, he definately wasn't in any of the ambulances i'd seen - I checked out the colour of all the collapsed people's tops before jogging past and none of them were white. Blue, yellow and another off-yellow multi-colour but no whites.

I found the guide dogs tent straight away and toddled inside to shelter from the rain. Lots of smiley volunteer faces and shattered people lying on tables getting massaged, their faces squashed in agony. No husband or in-laws. Hmmm. I was asked if I was ok and offered a hot drink, I explained that hopefully my husband would cross the line soon and meet me here and was asked if I wanted tea or coffee. I didn't realise what I said but I was handed coffee so must have replied. I was ushered towards a crate of pre-packed sandwiches and grabbed a BLT. I then noticed the cold and went to get my race t-shirt out of my bag and managed to tip the contents of the bag all over the floor. A lovely lady helped me pick everything out and I wandered outside the tent into a plastic seat to sort myself out. I drank my cuppa and put on the race t-shirt and wrapped the foil blanket round my waist sarong style. I then attempted to eat the sandwich slightly shakily but I was so hungry I could have eaten a scabby horse. Ahh good choice, the salt in the BLT was gorgeous. Two young girls were huddled in the chairs beside me, their boyfriends holding their foil blankets round them and one of their mothers trying (and failing) to call her husband. One girl was shiverring really badly hugging a cup of tea and the other was eating a cereal bar. I recognised them as the two girls with matching ponytails I'd seen on the route. So I told them I'd spotted them and been trying to keep up with them all race and just couldn't. The mothering instinct must have taken over and the older lady was asking if anyone was coming for me as the networks were all down. I told her my husband was running and hopefully he would find me at the tent and that I had my in-laws supposed to be coming to meet us too. She reluctantly left a short time after I'd tried to persuade her someone was coming for me and I started to worry. What if David hadn't finished? Should I chance going to the baggage bus to get him some warm clothes for when he got here - but what if I missed him on the way? What if he hadn't finished and was in an ambulance and no-one had any way to contact me. I hadn't taken my phone as I knew the networks would crash and I had no-where to put it, plus David's music for running was an iphone and everyone else had one so I didn't need one. It seemed ages I was sat on my own.

When I finally saw him trudging towards me all wet and fluffy haired I was so glad to see him. He was soaked and burst into tears when I ran (well limped over) and hugged him. He was ok but I think with him being so ill in the run-up to the race and the fact that he must have had to run through all that rain i'd hidden from under my foil from was just too much. I got him a hot drink and hand fed him a sandwich as his hands were shaking too much to grasp properly. A lovely lady with bright red hair (who I later discovered was called Sorrell) came over and said she recognised us from a guide dogs open day we went to and asked if we were ok. David clearly was not, even though he said he was. I told her he had been ill with cold and was just a bit exhausted after it all. She ran and got him some chocolate and offered to have someone give him a massage if he wanted. He said yes but after something warm to drink, a re-wrap of his foil blanket and some food he just wanted to go home.

His parents went to get the car and drive as close as they could get to the finish area so he had less to walk and we went with Emma to the baggage bus to collect our things. I was so glad of my thick joggy bottoms and hooded fleecy top ahhhh warm and dry clothes were worth the extra walk to the buses. I pulled off my wet race top from underneath my fleecy one so I wasn't just putting dry on top of wet and we made the long walk back to the car. I later discovered a safety pin nestled in my sports bra from pulling off that t-shirt and massive blisters on the inner edges of the balls of my feet just under my big toes - exactly where it had been hurting me on the 10mile mark. But other than that and the walking like a penguin for a few days after, we both made it pretty injusry free! And the 13.1mile run plus extra couple of miles back down to the car meant we fully deserved the giant pizza and bar of chocolate we had for tea that night!!!!!

Monday, 13 September 2010


Well my whole entire year has been ruined. After a whole weekend of basically eating, sleeping, and pill popping. I'm still loaded with cold and its developed into a tickly cough which means I cannot run. I really want to but I know i'll never manage it if I can't breathe sitting still. I'm so annoyed. I'm one of these who works through everything but I'm seriously debating taking some sick days. I never do and where does it get me? My whole weekend away of activities has been ruined. I wanted to go rock climing, hire a bike and go for a nice long run in the forest and all I did was snooze cos I was too exhausted to do anything else....and here I am back at work wishing the hours away so I can go home and go to bed! I've been training all year, spent hundreds of pounds on physio to make sure I was injury free and fit enough to run, made hubby buy me new running trainers which also cost a small fortune, I've raised all that money and dressed up in a giant dog suit, rattled collecting tins and begged and pleaded for people to part with their cash. All my hard work down the drain basically cos i'm run down. I am not amused. I'm secretly praying that a last minute bottle of cough syrupp a few days off work in bed might sort me out but I doubt it very much. I'm so gutted I could (and may) cry my eyes out. Its so not fair *stamps foot*. I've really put in the effort, the Great Winter run in freezing temps trekking through the snow late at night to get to the venue, the 10k, the charity sunshine run in ridiculous heat. The 10k the day after my birthday (which I gave up a birthday drink for) and walked as I was injured. Bloody typical. Going to wait til literally the final hour.....but if I cant do it i'm putting the banner up for David over one of the foot bridges, making signs and dressing up in the dog suit at the finish line for him!!!! I haven't put in all this effort for nothing, i'm going to support him 100% and make sure he crosses the line for BOTH of us. Now excuse me while I go away and sob uncontrollably and swig my cough medicine.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Lurgy Spoiler.......

Well with less than a week to go i'm loaded with cold. No-one I know has one, except one of the girls I used to work with who i've not seen since unless the cold virus has mutated so it can travel through email or text I have no idea how i've got it. I went for a run with hubby on mon night from our house to his friends and back, which was a nice gentle run, a bit of grass, a bit of road and a few hills. It was really windy and it did slow you down a bit having it blasting in your face, I took my jacket but ended up tying it round my waist to run back cos I was so warm. My nose also was running loads on the way back - should have realised that was the sign of a cold on the way. I've been taking multivitamins every day but I think with working all week (including a 10pm finish on Thursday) followed by an all day wedding on the Friday, a leaving party on the Saturday which went on til the early hours, then a 4 hour treasure hunt on the Sunday.....i'm just completely run down. So there's been no running for me since, just early nights and a concoction of tablets and high energy food to try fight off this cold. Apparently if its just a head cold I can still run - providing my temperature has gone, according to all the runners forums and magazines if you have a fever its likely to be a viral cold or infection and if you exercise with a virus it can attack your heart (you hear of perfectly fit people keeling over and dying at the finish line - bet that's cos they ran with a cold). Also if its chesty or you've got a cough and you run you can end up with fluid on the lungs, a collapsed lung or even more fun pneumonia!! So now the sore throat has eased off, i'm praying it stays above my throat and doesn't develop any further. Then all i've got to do is get rid of my temperature.....and of course the lovely snotty nose & congestion that I have at the minute. I could run with the snotty nose but the congested head is a bit of a killer - dont fancy a pounding head on race day. I've put in so much effort I would hate to have to miss it just cos of a case of the sniffles - broken leg yes, cold no way!

The last of the cakes for the busy August/September period has been done - woo hoo! Since hubby enjoyed himself making the piano cake he wanted to make the sponge. So he did. Bless him, he followed the recipe to the letter, exact measurements with scales, following the instructions exactly by putting the ingredients in he exact order and mixing exactly as long as the recipe said. I usually just chuck it all in and mix til it looks combined-ish. He even spread the buttercream & jam in the centre. They looked like pretty good sponge cakes to me - I was very impressed. I iced the cake with blue roll out icing with a few bits of white folded into it to make it look like sea, and hubby traced a map of Australia with a cocktail stick into the light brown coloured icing and I made a flaming galah (a parrot with some flames stuck on), and a kangaroo & koala that i'd modelled out of leftover bits of icing and left out to harden earlier in the week, plus a grey icing shark fin. A last minute trip to Asda for giant jelly tarantulas from the pick n mix & a bag of fizzy snakes sorted the outside decoration. I never got a piece of this cake either.........but Emma my sister in law got a wedge of it and said it was lush, also one of the revellers who came back to the house for the after party apparently stole the galah off the top of the cake so clearly that was popular!!

Pray for me to be healthy in time for the run - i've got blue spray paint for my hair, blue legwarmers and blue sweat bands specially.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Got your Number

OH MY GOD.......the race packs have arrived, i'm right at the back in the pink section with the fun runners (but i'm in the front block of runners and michelle is in the back of the green section and she's faster so I dont feel so bad). My number is 47361 and lovely hubby is 47360 eeeek!

I had my physio massage last night and she said my legs were coping quite well but I had a bad knot in the middle of my back (which has been giving me bother). Its sore today where she's worked the knot out but its making me more conscious of my posture which is a good thing. I've had all sorts of conflicting advice and although I feel totally under-prepared loads of people have told me I can do it, and that they've ran with much less training or never having done a distance as far as I've covered in my training so i'm feeling slightly better - ish. So long as I enjoy it and dont injure myself it will be fine. So long as I dont finish in the position of my race number i'll be happy. Although on the positive side, the charity cheering squads positioned all the way along the route are at really motivational parts and our charity (Guide Dogs for the blind) are at the 10-11mile mark - right where I imagine i'll start to flag so that'll really give us a boost. The shower sprays are from 8mile onwards and there are basically drinks points every mile or so. Phew

On the cake front i've got the leaving cake to do this Saturday night, but i'm off work during the day so should manage it.

Here's my Mam's cake...I had no idea what to get her and ended up buying a cinema voucher cos she said she hasn't been in ages - thought it would be a nice treat as its something she would never think to spend money on herself for. I struggled for a cake design then realised that the main thing that makes me think of her was the 2 dogs following her round stuck to her leg. So I made a round chocolate sponge, filled and coated in buttercream, chopped the bottom off to make it look paw- shaped and used the left-over mix to make 3 muffins. I coated the muffins and the main cake in buttercream and covered in chocolate roll out icing to make it look like a brown paw. The alterior motive for chopping off the bottom was also because the only cake base I had was too small and the round shape was overhanging by loads!

I made the 2 dogs out of leftover pale brown & yellow roll out icing then smudged the black all over it to make dog shapes. They were quite tricky to do, especially the fat one (Amber) getting the barrel shape to accurately resemble the dog was tricky and I had to make her a lighter colour by putting more white in the brown colour and mixing grey round the edges rather than black. I'm a bit dissapointed that they dont look more like her dogs - but you can tell they're dogs so I didn't do too badly.

We went for a Japanese meal (where they throw the egg and cook it all infront of you on a hotplate) and they cooked all the food in the shape of her age...and set fire to the hotplate so it was kind of like a big candle to blow out. Then at the end of the meal they brought out the dog cake, and it survived quite of the ears fell off the dog but that's not so bad really. She text me the next day to say thank you and how lovely it at least I know it tastes ok!!!

Tonight i'm going to pop to the supermarket to stock up on pet things, then go for a run either on my own or with Michelle. She's going to bunnysit Tilly for me when we go to centre parks the week before the run, Tilly's a proper attention seeker so would be great with her kids and she's really entertaining to watch - plus she's litter trained and has been an indoor bunny before so that should work fine. Just have to warn them that she growls & charges if you try to take her food or toys off her. My other friend Ann is going to pop over to check on Thumper let him run round and feed him. He's started making his own way out of the hutch (bottom door obviously) and if you go to pick him up he usually runs straight back into the hutch so he can be herded back in. He'll be fine to be left and checked on and let out for a few little hop-arounds but Tilly will eat her way out of the hutch, she loves to chew and trash the place if she's left to her own devices too long. Hopefully i've managed to upload the video of her. Its her in the run, she was snuffling for treats (or attention) she comes running upto you when you approach her - she's lush!

And this is Thumper sniffing the air to see what's on offer (he also must think the camera is a treat). Then when he realises there's nothing in it for him he goes back to what he enjoys most.....scoffing grass. He's such a handsome chap!

Awww pants - they're all sideways, oh well everybody lean to your left!!!! :0)

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Treading water....

Well i'm still stuck at the 8-10mile mark. After managing a 5mile easy run round my favourite route with Michelle and a 10mile gym session made up of bike, treadmill & cross trainer i'm starting to panic. But I know I will be able to do it on the day. Time's getting more and more tricky to organise and my training is becoming distinctly erractic. Although I was impressed with my 10mile session in the gym only a pitiful 5miles was on the treadmill, but in my defence it was absolutely swealtering, and the aircon was switched off :0( I was not impressed. I was so warm it was making me feel sick, I kept wrapping a wet facecloth round the back of my neck and then alternating it between wrists to try keep my temperature down. It was ridiculous, even at the Sunshine run outside in 30plus degree head I wasn't that hot. We know we can do it, we know were fit enough, its just mind over matter at the minute, both me & michelle are terrified of getting injured this close to the race so are avoiding pushing ourselves too hard, but at the same time I'm feeling guilty cos i'm not covering the miles. Its all too much pressure, and my social calendar and workload is absolutely choc-a-block. I barely have time to fit in sleep at the minute, its crazy. Going for a sports massage tonight - going to get them to work out my shoulders I think cos i've got an achey back which bugs me when I run.

The cake-making is going well, another 2 birthdays down and another 2cakes baked and iced within a 12 hour window, deadlines schmeadlines. oooh i've also managed to make an icing kangaroo and koala bear which are dusted in cornflour and wrapped in clingwrap ontop of the fridge to try harden up ready for the Australia leaving do cake on Saturday. I have no idea what that one is going to look yet. May leave the creative design to hubby and his rice crispy cake creating skills!

My friend Peter ran over a frog not long after he passed his test and was he's had frog themed presents ever since......
This is the frog made from roll out icing and with marzipan yellow spots.

The cake was carrot cake with half fat & half sugar - Peter's a bit of a healthy eater and I felt bad giving him a cake with that much sugar on top without cutting some calories from the cake itself. I used by plastic number shaped cake pans, iced with blue royal icing (the stuff you mix with water & food colouring). Then I cut out some lily pads with green roll out icing (I mixed some leftover blue and yellow and white scraps to make a few different shades of green). I had everyone looking everywhere for Jelly from sweets. Lizards, seahorses and crocodiles but no frogs - the only place I found them was inside a jumbo bag of HARIBO kiddies supermix, of course we only got a few in the bag and were left with all the other shapes - which of course had to be eaten!

I managed to recycle a cake board and some candles and en route to the birthday BBQ, Michelle stepped in with curling ribbon and cellophane to replace my carrier bag which was keeping the cake covered! He loved it, although so did my hubby - and keeping him from eating the big frog was quite a challenge.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

10miles & a piano cake

Well last night I got off my backside after using various excuses such as: hubby's not coming with me, the gym isn't open long enough to get a decent training session done, the weather is too bad. I did 5m on the cross trainer, 2 on the bike and 5 on the treadmill. Although the treadmill was on an incline I found it really hard going to motivate myself running whilst staring at a white wall only having my sweaty reflection by my side for company. Have decided i'm def much better running outside with scenery and a companion to keep me motivated. It was so warm in the gym I thought I was going to pass out. I kept wetting a face cloth and wrapping it round the back of my neck or round my wrists. Who in their right mind doesn't put the aircon on in an upstairs gym in summer. Stupid people complaining of the cold obviously aren't putting enough effort into their workout. My legs are fine this morning although my feet are a bit sore, I've discovered as well as my face & hands going all puffy & swollen when I overheat from running so do my feet. I had to stop and loosen my laces twice to stop the circulation from cutting off.

Another busy weekend (of non-training) managed, we got lino for the hutch renewed my cinema pass and managed to make a cake for Leah's birthday. I even roped in the help of hubby, who was very enthusiastic and managed to fashion a mold out of cardboard and greased clingfilm to make our rice crispy cake-style piano. I of course baked the cake and did the icing, but he did a very good job of spreading the buttercream - bless he's quite the perfectionist and wanted to trim the cake to make it perfectly level and square....til I pointed out there would not be much cake left if we did that. The sheet music was even made from sugar paper. Go us!!! Next mission is a 9mile run outdoors round our hometown - hopefully without a man threatening to jump off the co-op roof and forcing hubby & his mates to re-route half way through this time. (Dont ask). And cake-wise its my mam's birthday this weekend - she's getting a chocolate paw print cake, and my friend peter is 30. When I first met him at uni, and he hadn't been driving long he confided in me that he'd run over a frog and became traumatised and felt really guilty about it. So naturally he's had frog themed gifts ever since. Also one visit to one of our other friends at uni involved  us all camping on the floor, Peter not having a sleeping bag brought the spare duvet...which happened to be pink, frilly and very girly (as he was still living with his mum at the time). So he's been affectionately known as pink duvet or PD ever since. Im thinking a 30 cake with the "3" blue and covered in lily pads and frogs, and the "0" made to look like a bed with pillows and a pink glittery cover!, no surely not, its affectionate jest.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

8 miles - and no chainsaw wielding rappers in sight

Well we did it! Me & Hubby decided to do 7-8 miles yesterday as our next step up from the 10k (6.2miles). So along with his running buddy who is trying to get fit before travelling round Australia for 3 months and my running buddy who is also doing the Great North Run we clocked 4miles in the car from the Stadium of Light to the Souter Lighthouse and parked up in the nearest carpark ready to go. We ran from the Whitburn Lodge car park along to the Wearmouth Bridge (well the traffic lights at the bottom of it anyway).

The first part was fine, we even had a bit of a laugh running past the speed detector to see how fast we were going. Me & Michelle managed 6mph whereas the boys put a proper sprint on and got 8mph. Show offs. Me & Michelle stopped after about 10mins to have a good stretch and the boys really got away from us. We trailed them all the way along the coast practically upto Latimers where David dropped back a bit. We closed the gap on Gary leading alond the seafront at Seaburn and heading uphill towards Roker. However being girls we had a call of nature and had to dissapear into the public toilets next to the RNLI and the Roker cafe bungalow. We didn't think we'd have lost that much ground until we rounded the corner on our way past the harbour view and saw a little little black figure in the distance heading up towards St Mary's. We were both astounded how long it takes girls to pee!!! He lapped us just as we were passing St Mary's about 400m from the turn around point (the traffic lights at the bridge). On our return lap we passed hubby at practically the same point. He looked very determined and was jogging along at a steady pace. Although not exactly full of  beans I chirped up that we were half way and I wasn't flagging just yet. To be honest I was quite pleased with myself for not stopping (other than the toilet break). I did have to stop about what must have been the 5 or 6mile mark as I started to get pins & needles & then a numb foot so I loosened the laces on my trainers and the blood flow was restored - ah my lovely toes, welcome back. The return portion along the seafront was gently sloping back down hill so it went by quite quick and we were jogging along chatting and being distracted by how pretty the beach looked. Then we hit the row of restaurants on the seafront and the smells of garlic bread and other goodies were wafting towards us and driving us insane. Right at that point we hit the very long and gently sloping hill back to where we had left the car. As we passed morrisons supermarket  and a park on the way into Whitburn we decided it couldn't possibly be more than another mile. A steeper incline hit around the village centre near all the shops and I recognised a dentists surgery from the first part of the jog down and announced we had 2 more fields of horses and a housed area and we'd be finished. At this point my legs really struggled with the hill and it was like running though treacle. Michelle carried on ahead not daring to slow down her pace. As hubby would later put it, we could smell the familiar smell of horse poo and knew it couldn't be much further. I was really flagging and feeling faint and truly shattered and my knee was starting to ache, although on a positive note my teeny tiny compression shorts were managing to keep my hip from going nuts or giving up on me. The last dregs of my water I dripped down my neck and I was begging for the finish. I still saw michelle running on ahead of me and as I rounded the last corner she'd gone. I knew that meant either she'd sprint finished way past me out of view or the finish was within sight. I spotted a pub but couldn't remember the name of the one we'd parked at and was hoping praying as I caught a glimpse of my luminous yellow t-shirt in the relection of the pub window that this would be the one. I recognised the carpark and in the corner was the car with a waving gary and a pacing michelle.

As I slowed to a walk my knees went numb and I couldnt feel my legs to bend them properly, I felt like I was walking on stilts. We all paced and stretched and stomped around the car park to cool down and as not to seize up completely. I had just cooled down enough to put on my fleecy jacket along with Michelle in her joggy bottoms and towel (no jumper) and Gary wearing hubby's oversized blue superman hoodie, as we saw him trundle into the carpark. We compared satnav jogging gadgets (3 between the 4 of us) we had various distances from 8.2 to 8.8miles and Gary's time came in at 1.27, Michelle at 1.29 me estimated 3 or 4 mins after that then hubby at 1.40something. So all in all very impressive. Hubby said he had to walk a portion of the last 3miles and said he was completely exhausted and had nothing left. As shattered as he was I tried to get him to do some stretching cos I knew if he didn't he'd seize up and suffer for it later. He just kept saying he was running on empty and had nothing left. After a little few stretches and a bit of pacing he got in the car and I drove as my legs were starting to ease a bit. We all chatted about how hard it was but were quite chuffed with our bit selves for doing it. 9 miles next week I think were going to try, and I'm not working this Sat so I must have a little 5k run on the weekend to keep my training up.

Im sore this morning but not bad, took some ibuprofen this morning just to ease the aching and according to the SatNav gadget we burned 1012calories, so after talking about biscuits for most of the run....i've managed to eat 8 out of the 12 bourbons in the packet I tret myself to on my way into work. nom nom nom

Here's a map of the looks really far and impressive on a map!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

5 Weeks! Aaahhh

Its only 5weeks til the Great North Run, and i'm bricking it! I went out last night and managed a rubbish lap of the estate with a bit extra added on, it must have been 3miles if I was lucky, and I was absolutely shattered. I'm going out again on Weds with Hubby and my running buddy Michelle. Hopefully a nice long run along the coast will help. I'm much better if I run with someone, it stops me from giving up and helps with constant pace. It was so hard last night I couldn't believe it I'm so out of shape, I know I was running on grass rather than road which for me is tougher but still. I had a doctors appointment and have discovered i've put on 11lbs in the last 6months. That's horrific (although for 3 of those months March-May I was having physio and barely able to walk). My clothes dont feel any smaller but thats a lot of weight to put on. I'm going to have to hit biscuits and sneaky sweeties on the head, plus no more cheese sandwiches and crisps when i've been on a late shift at work. I know I was going through a phase of eating half a packet of custard creams with each cup of tea on a night. oops. A cup of tea and a banana will have to do instead. I cannot stay at this weight, last time I was this heavy I went and signed myself up to a slimming club. I think my downfall is probably the fact I've stopped having breakfast and then eat biscuits or cereal bars at work. Its not really a good breakfast now is it? I'd be better off getting myself out of bed 10mins earlier and making scrambled egg or something. I will beat the scales and get them to say what I want them to - even if it means moving them round the bathroom til I get the spot which reads lighter.

Good news though, I managed to get all the cakes done in time for the birthdays. One delivered in a taxi in giant tupperware boxes to the restaurant. They brought it out lit with football shaped candles just before our dessert course. We had a fab meal apart from hubby ordering beef tartar for starter not realising "tartar" is not to be confused with "tartare sauce" but is actually raw.....but marinaded beef. Needless to say he was the brunt of all the cow/cannibal jokes all night.

And the other cake was taken over to my sister's (after the 3rd attempt) on Sunday. I went over and she wasn't home, so I went to the parentals, then picked up hubby from his mates house - hoping she'd be home after that....and wasn't. So third time lucky I went over and caught her at home - with the crazy dog, who was very good and didn't even try to eat the cake, the puppy training classes must be paying off. Although he's still a nuts dog!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Someone chuck a stopper in the sands of time!!!!

Cake Dilemma!
I'm rapidly running out of hours in the day. Anyone know of any way to make time go slower or find an extra hour in the day. I need to channel Hiro from TV series Heroes (which was brilliant season 1...then seemed to completely  lose the plot - so much so that I lost all interest after becoming addicted enough to actually learn how to use the sky plus function). If only I could stop time and zoom around getting things done while people and time stood still. Although things like ovens wouldn't continue to work would they - so that wouldn't solve my "where to find time to bake a cake" problem. Hmmm. It also doesn't help that i've ordered some cake toppers (sugar paper decorations) specifically for a birthday cake which is to be produced and eaten on Saturday night, and they've still not arrived.
Stupid e-bay, I emailed asking and double checking the delivery times and mentioned that I needed them for a specific cake for a specific date as birthday cakes the day after a party dont quite have the same effect. The delivery time was confirmed as 2-3 working days first class. Well its now day 4 and they're not showing as being email apologies....nada!! There had better be a sugar-paper filled envelope land on the mat this morning or someone will be getting negative feedback and demand for a refund. Grrr I'd planned the whole cake design around these, even bought £4 worth of other cake decorations. I've got some plain sugar paper but have never coloured it before.....and have no idea where sells food colouring pens, I know where I can get food colouring paste but i've never used it. I wonder if it will go on with a paintbrush? Hmmm might have to stay up til 2am devising that as a backup plan. I also am being eluded by chocolate foil wrapped footballs. They were all over the place a few weeks ago (world cup) and are a staple of pick n mix and mix ups in corner shops. I'm sure I've got them from the local supermarkets before......but now I need one. Yes ONE just the one all the supermarkets seem to be denying their existence. I've found somewhere on line that sells them but you have to buy half a kilo of the things plus postage and after the internet experience of trying to get the sugar paper design shapes i'm not going there again. Plus they'll def not get here in time now. How annoying I dont even have a plan B design....I suppose I could go with another alternative but it involves completely different sweeties, icing the lot. I'd also have to be creative and model some shapes out of fondant icing which I really dont fancy doing last minute or in the early hours of the morning when i'm sleep deprived. Pants! The best laid plans and all that.

Organising my life
On a positive note I have been very pro-active and booked my extremely overdue eye test - they've put me on stop and refused to send out any contact lenses til i've had the appointment. Which in hindsight is a stupid idea on their part because......I have to be wearing my contact lenses during the eyetest, and if they stop sending me them, that's going to prove a little tricky. I explained that I worked and had no more holidays to take so couldn't come in during the day and work part time on a Saturday so would have to either go first or last appointment so that I could jig around my Saturday shift so suit. Its 4 weeks for the next Saturday appointment they have i'll definately not have any contact lenses by then. Plus its the Saturday morning after an all-day wedding. Not good - my eyes are going to be red, tired and blurry from all the late night drinking and dancing!!! Thank you for your extreme lack of customer service Specsavers. Their excuse when I called was...we've been trying to get in touch with you to make an appointment since July (bearing in mind its only August now and they still wouldn't have had an appointment for 4 weeks had I called in July). And by trying to get in touch.....they sent me one letter to make an appointment then one the next week saying i'm "on stop" for my contact lenses. The logo should have "blacklisted for common sense"

I also changed my dentist appointment to a week when there wasn't just me in the office holding the fort, and an early one so If it over-runs and I am late back for work, I can just work through my lunch break. I never want to each lunch after having my teeth poked and prodded anyway. Plus if I need anything doing i'll be numb and sore anyway. Its really awkward trying to book something 6months in advance, Im already rapidly chocking up my diary with things I have to do up to November. The next part of the challenge is to try get there and back on public transport when I live 20mins drive away from the dentist, and home is a further 20mins by car in the opposite direction to where I work. Hmmm 40mins journey there & back on public transport, if hubby isn't on a late start or someone can be sweethearted into being my chauffeur for the morning i'm going to have to take a half day. Seriously a 40minute car journey on public transport is realistically going to take me about an hour and a half providing I catch all the connections and dont have to wait. I dont mind public transport....its cheaper than a taxi and doesn't take THAT long - once you're travelling. Its just the connections that really leave me struggling for time, because there's never a direct route and the individual buses only seem to run every half hour so if you miss one its a nightmare!

I have even booked a checkup at the docs tonight. I'm thinking since its a bizzare time on a Monday night, and I usually go running on a Monday night, I might jog down there and jog back. Two birds, one stone...and that way I cant get the usual raised eyebrows when I step on the scales or comments of "ooh you dont look THAT heavy, but you're still within BMI so its fine". Watch both eyebrows go crazy Elton John style when I tell them i'm training for a half marathon! I like to believe I have heavy bones rather than it being the blubber that moves the needle above what doctors consider is the "right" weight for me.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

4.5 Not bad but its not 13.1 now is it?

Well I went out last night straight from work and tried a different route with my running buddy. More scenic along the coast to coast route past some lovely fields and partly cross country. I thought around mile 3 I was getting a stitch but its a pain in my upper hip, lower abdomen. And its not on my "bad hip" side. I'm thinking its an over-compensating thing because i've got the one damaged hip.....or I shouldn't have given up on my physio exercises so soon. So i've wrapped the resistance band back round the coffee table ready for tomoroow morning when again I will do my exercises whilst watching the morning news. I've also started brushing my teeth on one leg again to stabilise my core muscles, and I did more of those hideous bridge pelvic exercises that we did in pilates to try strengthen the hip and leg muscles. I also did one 90degree squat against a wall and held as long as I could whilst gripping a yoga brick between my knees so that should give the muscles a wake up call.

I think the teeny tiny but very stretchy compression shorts may have to be used from now on, its either that or have my hips bound with shed loads of giant elasterplast tape again. I think it must be my hip/core muscles because I noticed last night if I held my tummy in while running and straightened up a bit the ache eased. Although once i'd sorted that out my right foot (the one with the bad hip) started to go numb. Now i've had numb toes before but after my £100 investment in fancy pants mizuno proper running shoes a size bigger than i'd usually go for.....that seemed to have stopped. I wonder if my laces were just to tight or my gammy hip had mis-aligned some nerve from tottering around in heels all weekend at the hen do. We'll soon find out when I have another go on friday morning. Yep the intention is to get up early on friday morning and go running even if it is just a few laps of the estate (only the criminally insane and dog walkers are out at that time in the morning and I dont want to be chased by either along a cycle track at 5am).

My work buddy who was going to try go to roller derby skating classes with me on Sun is working so is having to bail - gutted, although I did rain check on her last night cos I had a cake to ice, my run to do and had to go to the pub with the girls to pass on afore mentioned cake. Got another one to bake tonight ready to ice on the weekend. Too many things to do and not enough time. Wonder what the weather is supposed to be like on Sunday....I might see if anyone wants to attempt a boot sale with me to clear out all our crap and try get some money back. If the weather forecast is rubbish i'm going to go for a run and yoga instead.

Monday, 2 August 2010

TWICE the distance, HALF the motivation.

Hmmm - well the GNR training was going so well, but since the 10k a fortnight ago my training has slowed to a complete halt. Not all my fault, we had our anniversary we had a very sickly bunny (see post below), a hen-do (also see below) and various other activities and events  such as our 4-year anniversary that just knocked my training all to pot. My last training attempt was a poxy 2miles exactly a week today. Rubbish! But i'm determined, i'm going to go out tonight and try add an extra loop onto our local 10k loop we've been practicing on. May need to rope in my running/gossip buddy for some company & support. She's running for macmillan nurses, and i'm running for guide dogs so we'll be advertising the charities whilst training if nothing else. Our route takes us up past the local wildfowl park and through an industrial estate up beside Nissan so we usually run past plenty of trucks. I'm going to try print out all our photos and see if I can scrap-book or chuck everything in a photoframe of  our races as a bit of motivation. My little training plan (well my little personal goals week by week) says I should be upto 7.5miles by now and i've done sod all since the 6.2 2 weeks ago.
2006 - First Race for Life
I started with a 5k race for life the year of my wedding - a little extra keep fit to get into the dress and we did it with a group of the girls to make it enjoyable. But having been the little porky kid with asthma who always ended up last in whatever PE lesson we had.....I didn't dare run it. I walked, my exercise was muscle toning and light aerobics (aquafit, yoga and the odd bit of swimming despite the fact I swim like a stone, which I dont understand cos I have plenty of buoyancy...sadly on my legs & backside rather than upfront). The following year after seeing young girls walking along trailing drips (bearing a sign with a message for the other patients on her ward), mothers powering pushchairs up hills, and being overtaken by quite a few nanas and women considerably larger than me belting past running I felt ashamed. The next year I was working like a loony so didn't do the race but regretted it and was determined to RUN the next year.


2008 - Race for life....steps up a gear
So in 2008 I ran it with my new sister in law and managed record breaker but I was chuffed. I actually did it and ran most of it. My sister-in-law who despite a slim figure.....doesn't do exercise and her diet consists of mainly mcDonalds & creme eggs was also thrilled at completing it. My husband and mother in law were there to cheer us on which was so encouraging.

They were handing out leaflets for a 10k run in the same area so I signed up. I never realised it was 6 and a bit miles, but thought to myself....well a year ago I wouldn't have been able to do 5k at all and i've managed it. If I double my effort I can double the distance.
2009 - The Great North 10k Sunderland (plus accidental extras)
I built up my treadmill time minute by minute until I could manage the full 10k, I was determined to put in the training as this was a proper run. Looking at the route it looked so far.....and I started to realise how much of a distance it actually was.....I had never driven that far around Sunderland before, never mind tried to run it. I decided to get sponsored (to make sure I actually completed it - no excuses) and ran for Diabetes UK as my dad was diagnosed after displaying symptoms and suffering with it for a few years. Leading upto the race I didn't sign up for the race for life as I thought it was cheeky asking for 2 lots of sponsor money. I was going to support the girls running it this year and cheer them over the line. However fate had another idea
Herrington Park Race for life friend Ann was rushed in for an emergency appendicitis 1 week before the race for life and couldn't do it. So as I was training already, I volunteered to take her place so she didn't lose all her sponsor money and all her hard work wasn't for nothing. I managed to run all the way round no stopping at all, and even managed to beat my previous time shaving off a good 4 minutes! My husband promised I could have a pet rabbit if I beat last years time - so that was the real deal breaker.
My friend Michelle ran it with bad knees and my friend Ali who try as she might never could get a running pace going without messing up her breathing also ran it. The feeling of sisterhood was very strong that day. Although hubby did enjoy pointing out that Michelle wasn't training for a 10k and managed to beat me by a good few minutes. Grrrrrr, the competitive green eyed monster glared back at him.
Then literally 2 weeks later my sister, having heard all the good experiences of others doing the race for life signed up for a work team at a different location - same race though. Her employer Warburtons (the bread people) were also going to match whatever the ladies from her office raised in sponsor money so long as they wore company t-shirts for the race and let them use photos in their newsletter. Fate decided to stick its nebby nose in for this one too......
Saltwell Park Race for Life 5k
One of my sister's team sprained her ankle while training and had gone to the doctor's who said she couldn't run it, keen as she was she insisted she wouldn't run....she would walk instead, all bandaged and supported. The doctor was not impressed at this and ruled her out of it altogether. In I step.....of course wearing the Warburtons t-shirt and being honarary member of their team. My sister walked it as she also has a history of knee problems. But I was going to run this one especially after my hubby's comment a few weeks before. Sadly everyone failed to tell me that Saltwell Park is on a really steep hill! The first 2k was fantastic, beautiful park....jogging on the grass, downhill....the remaining 3k was a winding uphill drag back to the finish and was so steep those walking up the hill were overtaking those who couldn't stop for fear of never being able to get going again. I was in the first group. I managed a sprint finish and was absolutely shattered, I looked up and to add insult to injury i'd only managed 37mins because of my walking on those hellish hills. But I couldn't dwell on that. I had a 10k to do, and at least i'd practiced for all gradients!!!

My Diabetes UK running vest came, hugely massive as apparently women don't run...only men, so all the tops were sized for men. My medium although did fit, also had armpits down to about my last rib and gathered around my bum as it was made for narrow manly hips, something I have never and will never have -short of having my backside lobbed completely off. So I found a t-shirt that would fit underneath, blend in and save me the embarrassment of flashing lots of my hot and clammy flesh on the race day! I was also sent some SCAREY HAIR...and it was....bright pink and black 90's troll style hair attached to a headband. Team this with my bright pink leg warmers and I was set!!! The race number arrived and I knew there was no backing out. The start was segmented with fun runners at the back - i'd based my time on about an hour and a half (2 lots of 39mins, my slowest race for life time plus a bit extra incase I started to flagg).
Great North 10k, Sunderland 2009
The atmosphere was brilliant and we jogged away, as we were going through the town strangers clapped and cheered and fancy dress runners smiled and waved at everyone. It was only as we looped back round the city centre to head along the coast that I really started to struggle and had to have a walk break. As others slowed then started again, them picking up the pace encouraged me to drag my feet that bit wider and run on. As we rounded the corner after the bridge there was a steel drum band playing songs to motivate people on and just as we hit the 4k mark I was feeling confident I could do it. Until all the club runners filtered past us on the other side of the road - they were nearly finished!! I struggled along to the water point and through the shower spray tunnel and jogged along side another flailing runner for a while telling her she was running for a brilliant charity (British Heart Foundation) and how my Grandad had died of complications after a heart by-pass operation. She thanked me saying that was just what she needed, someone to spur her on and give her a kick up the backside she needed and off she went. I was struggling past the 8k mark still smiling although through gritted teeth, but as mean as it was I was encouraged that there were still a few on the opposite side of the road with all that journey i'd battled through still to go. I was now trudging & power walking to the 9k mark when it started to rain, and it was lovely! Again I picked my feet up round the last corner as all the crowds of people were shouting at people not to give up, a fellow runner powered up the last hill with me into the car park offering encouraging words then as soon as we got to the barricaded area the crowd got louder and were screaming for people to make it. I heard one unfamiliar voice shouting....."c'mon sprint finish" and surprisingly the sight of the finish line made me realise I wasn't actually ready to keel over and die, I had just about done it, the sooner I got to that finish line I could stop. So I sprinted for the finish line and heard (didn't see at all) but heard my mam screaming my name as the finish line came closer and closer into view. As I got nearer I also could filter out my sister & husbands voices cheering me on. I threw my arms up and grimmaced a smile as I ran over the finish line. 1hr 17 and I was completely knackered. Diabetes UK had a stall at the event and I went over to buy some goodies and show my support. It was a brilliant day and I raised about £270. Hubby decided he wanted to do a race after absorbing all the atmosphere, although i'm betting he took one look at me and thought...she managed it surely it can't be that hard.

2009 Encompass Health Care 5k
This one was described to us by our friend as a local fun run "a walk in the park" literally as it was a 5k course through the local park organised by the doctors surgery she worked for. I should have known something was wrong when she never took part herself and was just acting as a steward. So our little pub quiz team signed up and went to collect our t-shirts, after all i'd done a 10k - this should be easy. My evil arch-nemesis the hill had returned, with a vengence!!!! Running along with one of the guys (who we later discovered used to run for the school team) I thought we were a little faster paced than normal but hey-ho we must be quite fit by now and it was slightly sloping down hill, for most of the course so far. Then we hit the first hill and we both started to run out of steam as our pub friend just bounced on ahead like a kangaroo across a flat stretch - how did he get over that hill so effortlessly? This monster hill just about finished hubby of whereas I ploughed on at my own slower pace and passed skippy the bush kangaroo just before the "turn around point" then as I looped back round I came across hubby and tried to will him on with "nearly half way". The rest of the way was a slow jog followed by a catch-my-breath-before-starting-again paced walk.

A girl ahead of me in her trendy sports gear, perfect make up and slimmer figure was struggling....she was walking, and she looked so much fitter than me. I was constantly behind her and everytime I managed a burst of energy she also got a move on. Another killer hill that I had to take a run at and I was almost home, just one straight section then about 200m through a few trees and I would see the finish line. Yet just ahead the "looks fit, but clearly didn't buy the sports gear to wear in the gym" girl was walking again, the little podgy kid who was ridiculed in PE got a bit competitive and decided this was the chance to take her! I owed that poor girl, i'd been force-feeding her ridiculous quantities of chocolate most of her life. But that girl started running as soon as I did. Well I wasn't having that!! So I turned by laid back jog to keep up into a flat out power-run and the wanna be wag also had a spurt of power. Well this was just the popular girls ignoring the podgy kid allover again, and that riled me. So I pounded, trying to use my arms to power me and I swear my feet left the ground my stride had grown so much. I just got level with her about 5m from the line as I heard my in-laws, skippy and some of the other pub guys cheering. That girl obviously felt my breath on her neck and I swear the force she used to get away from me could be seen on the back of her head, I knew she was wincing. But she pulled past me. Cow....she had effectively turned on her heel and swished her hair at the fat girl. She couldn't allow someone the chance to pass her at the last second. grrrrr.

Hubby came by a few minutes after me followed by an injured, hobbling and clearly in pain sister in law who had pulled something and was in absolute agony determined to finish even if she had to walk. Hubby then decided that was way too hard and he'd need to sign up for another run to keep his training up in order to join me for the 10k next year. So we signed up for the Great Winter JANUARY!!!!!

Great Winter Run 2010 Edinburgh 5k
It was the most horrific weather i'd ever seen in the Christmas period, and stayed that way for the New Year too. I'd even invested in wellies and had been using them to trudge through the snow getting to work. Roads were closed, people were snowed in, buses weren't running. The gritters were facing a shortage of salt. But we had our race numbers and timing chips and the email saying that the race had been cancelled/postponed never arrived. My friend got engaged and arranged her party the same night of the race. But we were going to do everything in our power to do it. Hell, if we got there and it was called off, we'd run the route regardless. So on the Friday night after we'd both finished work we packed up the car and drove to Edinburgh, despite the severe weather warnings, 12" of snow in Alnwick which literally covered parked cars upto their wingmirrors, -7degrees reading on the car's thermometer at Berwick and a dodgy stretch of driving on re-frozen slush in the pitch black. We got to the hotel and passed out as soon as our heads hit the pillow. Next morning armed with base layers (the tightest breathable lycra you can get) plus wooly hats and gloves we met up with my cousins at Holyrood park and carefully walked through the snow to get to the startline. It was like running on sand - almost impossible, and although the route had been altered and slightly shortened it was still hard, the temperature was still -2, the elastic had decided to give up on my trousers (so I ran it all with one hand on my trousers) we were still only fun runners. We did it in a decent enough time and apart from one point where I was sure I was sliding backwards trying to get up the hill when hubby had to wait for me, and the down section where I had recovered and hubby had used up all his energy reserve battling the hill...we kept pace with each other. Proud that we'd done it but dissapointed that we'd not trained hard enough we signed up for the Great North 10k as soon as the reminder email came through and entered the ballot for the Great North Run.....why not?

2010 Race for Life 10k, Herrington Park
After the 5k in freezing Edinburgh, I decided I needed something between then and September if I was ever going to manage training for the Great North Run and my sister mentioned that this year they were doing a 5 and a 10k race for life. So we signed up for the 10, she was just going to walk it as it was quite a distance and I was determined to run as a practice for the Great North 10k in July. Sadly this race was the day after my 30th birthday so drinks would have to be kept to a minimum, and italian (pasta) would be on the menu for the birthday celebration meal. Around mothers day I pulled the muscles in my hip and could barely walk or lift my leg. After about 4 weeks of intensive private physio (couldn't get a doctors appointment and was convinced they'd send me home telling me to rest and take painkillers which I obviously couldnt do). Thankfully it did the trick, it was agony at times and I had lots of exercises to do every day to aid the recovery but my fab physio and my determination meant I could move!! I would just have enough time to re-start my training and providing I took it easy not to injure myself again - would be able to do the GNR. I was advised to walk the 10k if I felt upto it and to keep up with strengthening exercises from my physio all the way through and to just put loads of ice on after the race. I managed it, achey and ended up having to sit with icepacks on my lap all evening. But we did it with a smile - in ridiculously hot temperatures for May 28degrees in the open sunshine and were slathered in suncream, with sunglasses and hats (mine a massive spongey 30th birthday cake hat). I was gutted I couldn't run it, but relieved as I would never have managed it in that heat!

2010 Chronicle Sunshine Fund Run 5k
We didn't get a place through the general ballot - apparently 150,000 people had applied and there were only 40,000 places. So we applied to all the charities asking if anyone had a place and if we could both run for them. We both wanted to run for the same charity, but realised this may be virtually impossible as spaces were hard to comeby. Diabetes UK offered me a place since i'd fundraised for them before but there was a minimum sponsorship amount and no mention of a place for hubby. Anthony Nolan Trust also contacted us about a place but again a minimum sponsorship amount was needed and realistically we didn't think between us we'd raise that ....never mind EACH especially considering we'd be asking the same circle of friends & family. My father-in-law sponsors a guide dog puppy, has for we thought we'd try guide dogs. It was £300 each sponsorship per place and they would give us both a space.......perfect, that was the lowest minimum amount we'd come across so far. We could do that. So we organised a tombola, dressed up in a giant dog outfit and shook a collecting tin at a local pet shop, set up a justgiving page and handed a box of pinbadges round for people to sell at work. My parents also collected using a guide dogs tin in their pubs for us. We're already upto £1260 with all our paper sponsors too!!
One of our friends works for an IT company that were sponsoring the Chronicle Sunshine Fund Run, it was 5k along the Quayside a nice flat race, only £10 to enter and 2 weeks before the 10k. Perfect. So we donned our pink t-shirts and went to run that on one of the hottest days of the year 32degrees this time - urgh. Hubby kept up with me for the first 3k then had to have a walk break, and I kept my pace steady all the way back, constantly being overtaken by a larger guy in expensive sunglasses running with a team of solicitors. He would walk and i'd overtake him, then he'd run and overtake me but end up having to walk again...I couldn't be bothered with that so I just kept on at my own speed. Hubby's wedding ring jangling on my necklace as I ran (its loose and falls off when he runs so I hung onto it), it really helped me keep pace the jingling and reminded me that I sort of had was the next best thing to having him run alongside me.
Now as the finish approached I was dreading it, but had smiled all the way and was managing at a good leisurely pace. But I have a phobia of bridges and am terrified of the millenium bridge. Because it is made to MOVE, it has HOLES IN IT you can see the water underneath and it MOVES and RATTLES when you walk across it. So as soon as I approached the bridge, a small group of after-work drinkers were clapping on the crowds I told them I wanted to be in the pub instead then launched into my sprint finish as I legged it past everyone on the bridge to the finish line. 32 mins....wooo hoo, personal best. I managed to get photographed and was most impressed when I was offered sweeties with a bottle of water when I finished. They were the tastiest packet of fruit pastilles i've ever had and probably devoured as fast as I ever had. I trundled back to the finish line to cheer on hubby and passed him a bottle of water as he flew past me only 5mins later.