Thursday, 20 December 2012

Trying to run....

I've entered a half marathon called The Island. Sounds auspicious but really it's a very scenic run along the Anglesey coast to Beaumaris.

Training had started and I'd managed to complete a 5 mile run and was feeling happy with my legs feeling stronger. Then on the Following Tuesday I went out with my running group and we tackled a 4mile cross country route over frozen fields. It was beautiful but as i jumped off a stile my ankle twisted and I landed flat on my backside. By Wednesday morning I couldn't put any weight on my foot so no running for me for at least a week.

Now sat at home with a really bad cough I'm still unable to run.

So at this moment I'm not sure I will manage The Island HM, but if I don't do this one, I will find one to do in 2013.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

First Race!

I have run my first race! It was a relay race in Derby and the Jog Duffield group I go to decided to enter as a team and I'm proud to say that after 7 weeks of running, we were honourably the LAST team in! Yay!

But lets put this into some perspective, we are all new to running, I've been going slowly since January, but only in the last few weeks have I been really pushing myself to run for a longer period of time.  The longest I have run for is 24 minutes and managed to run up my first hill a couple of weeks ago without having to have a gasping recovery.  I also gave up smoking 6 months ago.
Darley Park, Derby. When its not wet...

So when the first group at the Hairy Helmet Relay set off at full sprint and returned after about 15 minutes, I had my suspicions that we were not going to be up with the winners! So when Linda returned and tagged my hand, I set off on our second leg way to fast for me, the need to run not jog out of the start was too strong and I paid for it when I reached the hilly bit and couldn't sustain it, not only that, I was breathless and worn out before 1km. Duh!  I never really got into any kind of pace and my usual counting didn't help.  My plan of taking it steady, using the downhill to recover from the uphill to then go steady on the rest of the flat course disappeared.

As the testosterone sprinted past me time and again, I tried to calm myself and enjoy the race, but to be honest, I hated every minute of it.  I was way too far outside my comfort zone and my Monkey Mind was screeching very loudly.  I trotted in puffing and panting at about 26 minutes, unable to speak despite having walked part of the course.

So as a first experience of a race, I found myself asking if it was a good one and I have to say categorically YES.  The support and friendliness was amazing, I chatted to one lady at the start who said she was there for the fun of it and for having a goal to aim for, she advised me to build up gradually before setting off on her lap, the whole atmosphere of the event was great, our last runner was joined by two members of The Derwent Runners who ran the course with her and kept her company.  Our team of from Jog Duffield, who 7 weeks ago couldn't run for 10 minutes, stood and cheered her over the finish line. 

My learning curve was massive, don't let the nervousness and tension of anticipation ruin my run, to try and relax into the running, to try and get that usual pace that I am comfortable with so I can sustain the running, to ignore the sprinters charging past me and don't let that demoralise me.  I am running my life at my own pace and that I should be proud of what I achieve.  For someone with self esteem issues, this is a massive realisation.

I'm already planning my Race for Life strategy for July using the above factors.

The free pint of beer at the end was possibly the best I have ever tasted.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Word Art Competition with Arvon Foundation.

I've just submitted a piece of work to the Arvon Foundation for their Word Art Competition and feel rather pleased with myself.

I wrote a short piece trying to capture how it feels to run early in the morning and painted the route that I often run in a slightly abstract way, trying to capture the colours I feel after I have been for a run rather than something representational.

This is a new departure for me, I have often written words and thoughts but keep a lot of my creative writing secret.  So to enter a competition with a company that I, dare I admit it, desperately want to go on one of their courses, feels rather exciting.

So a big thank you to my sister Sylvia for pointing this competition out to me.

Running at 6am
This is a second version I have made, the first was a little book.  However, the little book has had a massive fit of shyness and has refused to come out and have its photo taken.   I cannot coax it out of its hiding place or in fact find its hiding place...

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Colours to Run to

Just finished off mounting and cello wrapping four of my latest paintings in the running series.  I'm really pleased with how they look.  They are based on the GPS tracking that I've got on my phone and I've done my usual thing of using the colours I wish the world really was.

They'll be on display and for sale this weekend at the Draycott Arts & Gardens Festival for £25 each.  I have debated internally whether to put them up for sale or whether to keep hold of them with the aim of having a solo exhibition based around the work produced for this blog.  I've decided to put them out there and see what response they get.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Mothers Day Treat

This year, instead of chocolates and flowers, my Mothers Day treat was my longest run yet.  I also persuaded my daughter to come with me on her bicycle and we headed off across the local park, through town, and along the River Derwent. 

This did involve lots of puddles, mud, stiles, gates and some more mud.  We had great fun.  We took it in turns to chase each other, then we chased the dog, who decided to try and chase a pheasant. She gave up because they are not as much fun to chase as squirrels and as we are vegetarian, there's not point in trying to catch our dinner.

I have also been reading an inspirational book called Running The Edge which explains the psychology of how to transfer the qualities needed to be a runner into the other areas of your life.  It's a cross between inspirational stories and quotes with practical psychology.  I'm reading it through, then going to go back and do the exercises of examining different areas of your life.

The main thing I have learnt is that I do not want to live an ordinary life, I want an extraordinary life.  I have always known that there is a part of me constantly searching for something, but I don't know what that something is, I just know I am never satisfied.  There is a restlessness within me that running is helping with.  I am always looking for ways to improve myself and my life.  The authors, Adam Goucher and Tim Catalano, called this the Running Maven.

I am considering doing something that feels incredibly brave and way outside my comfort zone.  I'm currently researching this idea, so don't want to commit to anything publicly yet!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

GPS Tracking

I've been playing with GPS Tracking by downloading Sports Tracker to my phone.  Initially this was to see hard data on the progress I've been making, but then I started to play with it...

At first just zig zagging across the field to see how sensitive it was to smaller movements, which came up with this:-

I like the effect of leaving an ethereal trace of where I have been on the landscape, more than just footprints, but an essence of myself.

I then took some string up the local playground and gained some very bizarre looks from teenagers as I wrote on the football pitch, and then walked it.  I also tried to map my friends living willow labyrinth, but that just ended up looking as though a toddler had been scribbling on the trees.  I'm a bit clearer on how precise the GPS tracker can be.

At this point my own kids pretended not to know me...

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Running Experiment.

Running Experiment 1

I've been working on abstracting my photos, taken while running, and turning them into paintings.  This is my first experiment and I'm quite pleased with it so far.  I'm also working on a small handmade book, which includes text.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Wild Swimming

A chance encounter at the swimming pool last night has relit my interest in wild swimming.  I may have lain dormant because of the cold weather, but last summer, I spent lots of time gazingatwater.  This new interest has been inspired by watching the wild swimming programme on the BBC last year.  The programme took Dr Alice Roberts on a wild swimming journey that followed Roger Deakin's travels around the UK to find the best outdoor places to swim.

I read Roger Deakin's inspirational book Waterlog and the bug had me.

However, I found I was too nervous to enter the local rivers on my own and settled for a swim in the sea near Beaumaris.  I knew this was safe as I had spent my childhood on these beaches, in and out of the water.

Last night, I took myself off to the local pool as a break from the running and to unwind after work.  Usually, I get snippets of conversation as the drift past my ears, a complaint about a husband or friend, never something to inspire me.  Until last night, I overheard a conversation about swimming in the River Derwent that I felt compelled to gatecrash. 

I am now sitting with the excitement of knowing someone who goes Wild Swimming and is a member of a group that does it.  It's too cold to go yet, but it gives me time to keep working on getting fitter and find a wetsuit. 

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


I was joined by my friend and artist/beginner runner this morning for a 4km run along the river Derwent.  It makes running easier when I have to keep up with someone else and we are both competitive enough to not want to give up in front of each other.  Invarieably, it is me who stops first!  I dream of the day when she puffs 'I got to stop!' at me...

I have had to struggle with my own perception of what is achieveable and what is real, I am not going to be able to run 5k instantly.  As I struggle to keep going, I remind myself that I have recently stopped smoking, got at least 4 stone to loose and having not exercised in years.  I am having to learn to be kind to myself and learn to ignore my monkey mind.

Belper After The Hail Storm

Monday, 5 March 2012


Julia sat and took another bite out of her limp lunch, the token piece of healthy rocket hanging over the edge of the crust, and balanced the book alongside her plate. The book was easy to read, easy to follow and made it all sound so easy. It had sat for a couple of weeks on the bookshelf, sandwiched between Susan Jeffers and Julia Cameron, hidden where she knew no one would bother to look at it.

It felt like a she was about to embark on climbing Everest without an oxygen mask. And in trainers. She would frequently daydream back to the days, when cycling 8 miles home from the office had been a downhill free pedal, or further back when the stand on your pedals, thigh muscle torture of hills had made her burn with pleasure or running several kilometres had been a meditation on repetition. Or the pleasure of feeling every muscle in her body ache from 50 lengths of the pool had made her collapse into bed with physical exhaustion.

Childbirth, alcohol, prozac, closely followed by divorce and a life on benefits were displayed on her hips for all to see and judge her by. Unable to reach those peaks of physical activity, Julia sought solace where she could find it. Between the pages of a vast library of subjects, art, philosophy, identity, personal development, cookery, paganism, christianity and exercise. Bloody exercise that over the years had become her nemesis. From her sofa she could read about all the subjects and interests she loved. However, this did not transform into actually doing and the longer she digested these tomes on life, the less she actually lived it.

She had however, lived the life of the dieter, from slimming clubs to amphetamines to bulimia and regrettably none of these winning the competition for her sylph like form and her head remained crownless, leaving her stand on the nhs spotlight of 'obese, increased likelihood of heart disease'.

She didn't want the narrative of her life to read like a Hattie Jacques biography, with descriptions of voluptuousness and larger the lifeness. She wanted a Trinity or Lisbeth Salander description and the realisation that reading these descriptions was not going to metamorphosise these lean muscular figures off the page and into her reality.

Reading and consuming would not make her reality that different. She had to take her trainers firmly by the laces and assert some authority over them. She had to live.

The book (still reading between the lines) insisted she went for an actual walk. Encouraging words of inspiration assured her it was the place to start, the dog raised its eyes in hopeful agreement.

'I suppose,' Julia mused at the depressed dog, 'a good place to start would be with getting dressed...'


In my imagination, I run a lot further than my body can actually do in reality.  Every night when before I go to sleep, I imagine myself running my chose route.  When I drive in the car, I am looking for tracks that will take me off road to enjoy the freedom of trail running.

However, when I actually get out there, especially in the cold and wet, my body is soon screaming to remind me that I am still a beginner.  It cries for sympathy it deserves after 8 years of no exercise at all to suddenly have this new torture thrust upon it.

My mind is willing, the body is willing.  However the muscles still have to catch up... But as George Bernard Shaw said 'Imagination is the beginning of creation.  You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will'.

So my mind running wild across country, up hills, down through muddy tracks and crashing through streams is just the start of this journey of imagining a healthier, fitter, slimmer me.