Wednesday, November 29, 2006

These legs were made for running, these hands were made to knit

This last week I did some serious training with a total of 47 miles for the week (with a 10 miler on Saturday and 17 miles on Sunday). The weather was so vile that I didn't get an opportunity to experiment with the circular knitting needles but am going to try tomorrow.

Fund-raising is slow at the moment as I'm still in the planning stages but there have been some fantastic developments - Knitting magazine will be putting my details on their news page, with a photo of me running and knitting. Susan from has offered to put training progress updates on her noticeboard and will do a full blown article when the magazine is published again in February. Fantastic stuff.

I've just finished one of the fingerless gloves I'm making for my husband. I haven't got a digital camera so can't put a photo of it on here yet. Hopefully Father Christmas will rectify this problem!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Knitters are simply the best!

Last night a new on-line knitting magazine launched. You can find it at knitonthenet There's a lovely pattern for a short-sleeved cardigan which was designed by 'Just call me Ruby' and uses Anny Blatt angora (which is lovely to work with) teamed with Jo Sharp dk wool. As I browsed the site it suddenly dawned on me that maybe they could give me some ideas about my running/knitting challenge so I emailed the editor of knitonthenet. Then I went and checked out Ruby's blog which is really interesting and she is obviously a lady who loves all things to do with craft (just like me!) so I emailed her too. I didn't really expect to get a reply from either of them.

How wrong could I be! I had a lovely supportive email back from Susan Crawford, the editor of knitonthenet and Ruby replied and gave me some brilliant ideas to try out. She reminded me that Shetland knitters use a circular needle so they don't need to worry about which row they're on. They also attach their needle to some kind of belt so that they can let go of them. Fantastic! I shall experiment with these suggestions on one of my shorter runs next week. I've put a link to Ruby's blog in my list. If you go and look, do click on the previous post called 'butterflies'. It shows a close-up of some embroidery she's done on a dress - a really simple idea but so effective.

Anyway, back to my training. On Thursday I did another 5.5 miles of hills, Saturday was 8 miles on the roads then 4 miles across the fields (which was very squelchy as it's been raining a lot this week). Today was 15 miles, mostly along the lanes but with a bit of a detour across the fields towards Great Dixter. It was such a lovely day for a run as it's cool but sunny and the views from up at Dixter were fabulous.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The long and winding road

Today I was scheduled to run 8 miles at a steady pace so I chose a route through the village, towards Mill Corner, round Northiam and then back again. The first 3 miles are undulating with a nasty hill at the 2 mile mark. I set off 11 minute miling and decided to attack the uphills on the way out which I managed quite well. On the way back I was feeling a bit tired so I practised my downhill running using the technique Jan had shown me at Beachy Head. It's quite scary to just let yourself go on a downhill as you can feel your speed increasing but if you're going too fast you just put a skip into it and it slows you right down. Apparently it's a fell-running tip and it works really well. I feel quite tired now so I'm enjoying a nice cup of Earl Grey tea to revive myself.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Knitting whilst running

OK, as I've now committed to running the London marathon whilst knitting a scarf (well, it seemed like a good idea at the time!) I thought I'd better try it out.

Perhaps this morning wasn't ideal as it was very windy and I soon gave up and stashed my needles and yarn in our letterbox at the end of the drive. Hmmmm. A couple of things occured to me straight away - I will need something to carry the wool in (maybe a pouch behind) and once the scarf starts to grow it will become heavy so will need to be supported at the front. Could I have some sort of sling hung around my neck? I'm used to wearing a belt to carry a drink, car keys etc so I'm not really worried about having something across my back. I really need to start working at this.

Anyway, today is the official start of my training for the first race; the Draycote 35 mile ultra marathon. You can read about the race here Draycote 35

I'm using a Hal Higdon intermediate marathon schedule but increasing one of the final long runs to 23 miles instead of 20 miles. I found this a very good schedule when I did the Beachy Head marathon as it gave me loads of stamina. My run today was just a nice slow plod along the country lanes, up and down the hills for 5.5 miles. Im keeping my pace really slow to try and avoid injury.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Beachy Head marathon

I completed the Beachy head marathon on 28th October and it was my first off-road marathon. It was jolly tough because of the 7 Sisters ( a group of hills that come right towards the end, just when you're getting tired!). I was really fortunate to meet up with Jan around the 1/2 way mark as we kept eachother going and it was great to have some company.

Near the end of the Eridge 10 mile trail race

This is what I look like before a race!

Mum's Story

In 1997 my mother, then aged 81, had a series of minor strokes.  Shortly after that we started to notice behavioural changes notably memory loss and confusion over everyday items.  We thought it was just old age finally catching up with her.  Then she started wandering and had violent mood swings.  Although she already lived with us it became obvious that she couldn't be left alone for long and so I left my job to care for her. 

The next few years saw a gradual decline into the blackness that is 'vascular dementia'.  My normally placid mum became violent and aggressive.  She had psychotic incidents where she would see imaginary people (children hiding in her wardrobe, Russians sitting on the stairs, women stealing her clothes) and she would shout at them and sometimes throw things too.  She was so convincing that we used to go and check that there wasn't anyone there!  When my sister died mum did not know who Judy was or that she was her daughter. 

There came a point when I suddenly realised she no longer knew that I was her daughter and this was a terrible time for me.  In the last 2 years that she lived with us, life for us all became almost unbearable as she needed 24 hour care - she couldn't be left alone at all because she would either wander off or hurt herself, she never slept for more than 30 minutes at a time during the night, she became incontinent and incapable of doing anything for herself.  Finally my husband and I realised that we could no longer provide her with the care that she needed and she went to live in Castlemaine where Harry and his team did a splendid job caring for her.  There she lived a zombified existence unaware of who she was, what she was or where she was.  It was heartbreaking.  She died in March 2005, the day after her 89th birthday.

I ran my first London marathon a few weeks later.

What's it all about?

In June 2007 I will be celebrating my 50th birthday. Such a momentous occasion has to be marked in a special way so what else is a girl to do but run some marathons plus an ultra marathon of 52.4 miles! The events I'm planning to run are the Draycote 35 mile race in February, the Steyning Stinger marathon in March, the London marathon in April, the SIS South Downs marathon on my birthday in June and then the biggy, the Kent 50 mile challenge in July which is actually 52.4 miles.

As I’ve run the London marathon twice already I’ve decided to make it a bit more of a challenge this time. With the help of the lovely people at who have provided me with needles and yarn, I shall be ‘extreme knitting’ my way round - running for a bit and then stopping to have  a knit and natter with spectators. I plan to finish knitting a scarf en-route which will then be auctioned at a later date.

Mad woman! I hear you cry. That's as maybe, but having watched my poor dear mother taken away by vascular dementia I cannot rest until I have raised more money for research into this dreadful disease so I am supporting the Alzheimer's Research Trust.

Please read mum's story and you'll see why I feel compelled to do this.