Friday, June 12, 2020

Peeping out again.....

Where have the past 3 months gone? I really haven't felt like blogging, even though it might have helped amidst all this devastingly gloomy and very sad news. I did start a couple of times but really couldn't find the words. It's just been so awful hasn't it. So many people dead. So many people whose lives have been changed irreversibly by this devastating disease.

I have no idea what 'normal' is any more.

All my fund-raising marathons were either cancelled, reschedued for later this year, or moved to 2021.

Almost immediately after my last blog post, Mike and I went into an early lockdown as a way of shielding as we both have 'underlying health conditions' (I hate that term). We both said we'd do this and that, things we haven't had time for but wanted to do, but we didn't. I had lined up several knitting and crochet projects, a new loom project, books to read and several on-line courses I'd had earmarked for ages.

I did none of the above. Nor did Mike do what he'd intended.

Instead, we set about revamping the front garden completely. We're still at it. I reckon we felt the need for being outdoors and doing heavy physical work to take our minds off the horrors affecting the whole world. I also started another wave of the Six Pack Revolution just 4 weeks after I finished the previous wave. I'm just about to reach the halfway mark and it's really helping me to focus on my health and diet in these strange times. I'm finding the community aspect of it very helpful too as we're all split into teams and share our exercise challenges together which means there's always lots of positive support. This is a revamped version of the orginal 90 day plan and takes just 75 days to get the same excellent results!

I have no idea where to start with this catch-up so I'll just have to put down things as I remember them! I had to look back at my last post to find out what I'd written about then and it just seems sooooooo very long ago, a different lifetime actually, because the way we're living now is nothing like how we did then or will for the foreseeable future.

Perhaps I should just share some photos with a little text to give a feel for what's been happening here? I'll give it a go anyway.

Running stuff

I'm ticking over with regular runs but nothing very long at the moment. I've taken part in several 'virtual' runs with my running buddies just to feel connected. The last one was with Centurion Running with whom I should have been running the South Downs Way 100 miler this weekend. The virtual event was over 5 days and you could choose to run distances of 5k/10/half-marathon/marathon/50k/50miles or100 miles which you could run all at once or spread out over the 5 days - I opted for 50 miles as I thought 10 miles a day was very doable. I had to get up really early to avoid anyone else so I was out the door each day by 4am and back by 6am! I got a sweet little wooden medal and it felt nice to be part of a community of runners with a wide spectrum of ability - the youngest entrant was 5 and the oldest 85!

My next one is the virtual West Highland Way ultra-marathon which is 95 miles spread over 10 days so very doable without interfering with normal life. I started it this morning with a pleasant 9.5 miles and it should work quite nicely alongside my 6 Pack stuff.

In a previous post I wrote about the collaboration between ARUK and Tikiboo and I'm very pleased to announce that my blog about it is now live here. I enjoyed my 1st set so much I went and bought the other 2 as they are so comfy and I love the patterns; such fun! Each set of leggings has a matching bra top and I'm finding them really comfy for gym work and short runs.

Full length

Capri - can you spot the little ARUK comets?

Capri - definitely 'sharing the orange' in these!

Plus, I haven't shared this cute little skort (that's a pair of shorts joined to a skirt) from Flanci:

Crafting (or rather, the lack of!)

My cardigan started in early March is still on the needles and has only been picked up again this week. The crochet project I'd planned to do is sitting in a bag, partially completed.  The scarf I was weaving on my loom is finished so at least I've got something to show!

I was pleased with my colour choices as I think the lime green really pops against the purple

My edges got a bit neater as I progressed. Practice makes perfect!

I did a simple knotted fringe to finish the ends

I'll definitely be making a few more scarves with stash yarn to send to the homeless charity in Hastings.

In The Garden

The large pot on the tree stump has been a great success, starting with the beautiful Crown Imperials early in the season, followed by these splendid Tulip 'Fly Away' and then Scilla Peruviana:

Don't they look gorgeous set against the dark red of the Cotinus!

The tulips were a delight, so bright and cheerful

I like the Scillas best when they are only partially in flower as I love the green tufts against the beautiful dark blue flowers.

I dug almost everything out of this awkward bed near the gates as  it had been overwhelmed with low-growing carpeters and self-seeded Hypericums and it needed to be refreshed.

This gorgeous Azalea really shines out in the darker part of the bed and it has a lovely scent too.

This pretty variegated Weigela will be very happy here as it's been sitting in a pot for several years awaiting its new home.

But the biggest front garden project at the moment is the creation of a shade garden (my project) and a path (Mike's project!). Here are a couple of snippets:

I think will have to do for now as there's so much I could share but not enough time right now.

Stay safe everyone.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

185 and counting

Hoorah, I managed to get another marathon in without weather disruption last weekend! It was another SVN event over at Kings Wood, a lovely route through Forestry Commission owned land, which I've done several times before.

I knew that even though it had been raining heavily last week that it would be OK in the main as the route is on Fire Tracks, which are used for vehicular access and are mostly gravel/stone, with just a few muddy sections. This what my poor gravel garden looked like after the last downpour:

When I arrived at the car park the weather was a bit grey and overcast but it stayed like that the whole time which was perfect. I set out with no idea of pace or time and just ran how I felt.

Not muddy

Just a bit more muddy!

I reached marathon distance and decided that although I felt OK to go out for an ultra on the trail, I'd prefer to do another 5 miles on tarmac so I rang the bell and then trotted off along the lane on my own to get some extra miles in. I have another marathon this weekend and it's going to be a tough one.

Loving the purple dragon on the medal this time!

Speaking of purple, here's where I'm at with my weaving project of a scarf. I watched the course videos all the way through twice and then just dived in. I can see already that my tension and beating are both improving which is encouraging. Shelley has been banned from the room whilst I'm weaving as she doesn't miss an opportunity to climb up onto the table and play with the yarn or climb underneath the fabric!

She's also been helping me with my Six Pack stuff which I did indoors today. I do a few exercises then throw one of her toys for her. Here you can see squish square, catnip banana and a silver foil ball which she brings back to me, bless her.

I finally finished and mounted my paper-cut picture and Mike put it up on the wall for me. I spent ages putting the mounting pins in just the right place in order to get some interesting shadows and I'm quite pleased with the result:

The one in the black frame underneath is by Ian Penney, my teacher. Now that beautifully cut writing is something to aspire to!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Bits and bobs

I missed another marathon last weekend - mud and dire weather warnings this time!

This seems to be a pattern for the start of this year as that makes 4 I've missed because of the weather/safety issues and I've only managed to run 4. I was gutted at first and then I gave myself a good talking to and decided that it was more sensible to go for a long run along the lanes near home rather than driving 2 hours, walking lots and risking slipping and falling in the mud (so not getting a good run) then driving 2 hours home again.

So I devised a 20 mile route which involved either going up a hill or down a hill for 75% of my run. The beauty was that I was never more than about 6 miles away from home at any given point so I could always crawl home if I had problems. The weather was cold and overcast but was fine for the first 4 miles and then the rain came. Not just a little bit, blimming heavy stuff accompanied by strong winds for the next 7 miles. I got soaked. This was followed by a short sharp hailstorm just for good measure

I spotted these beautiful geese along the lane and their white feathers looked so bright in the strange grey light.

I was picking my way around the potholes and puddles along a little lane at 14 miles when a car came speeding along so I moved as close as I could to the hedge (we don't have pavements round here) to let him pass and what did he do? He drove right through a massive puddle really fast and drenched me. I just stood in the middle of the road and raised my hands in a shrug in a WTF sort of pose. He stopped the car and started reversing back - OMG he's going run me over I thought and prepared to run!!! But he actually got out of his car and said "I'm so sorry for drenching you, I just wasn't thinking" (phew!). Then he noticed my ARUK vest and said "Are you the lady who runs marathons?" to which I said yes. Then he took out a £20 note and gave it to me for my fund-raising as his grandmother is in the late stages of dementia. Now if that isn't an example of the power of attraction, or what goes around comes around, I don't know what is!

Then the sun came out and dried me off. 

I carried on my run with a spring in my step and as I was feeling really strong I just kept up my pace throughout, running up the steep hills I usually walk up. At 15 miles I was nearing the shop in a local village so I stopped my watch to get a paper and couldn't believe it was showing just under 3 hours for that route - which would usually take me around 3.5 hours. I didn't bother restarting my watch as I knew I had 5 miles to get home, going the long way round as it's only 1.3 miles using the direct route, so I did some power-walking for the last section. 


Lots of faffing here as I really couldn't make my mind up about the yarn I was trying out for my cardigan, nor could I decide on the yarn for my weaving course. I swatched and swatched for my cardigan and finally had to admit that I needed to buy some more appropriate yarn which rather defeated my pledge to knit from stash!

The cardigan is Saitama, by Martin Storey seen below in  orange but I'm using up some of my Kidsilk Haze stash in pink with a bit of glitter (which doesn't really show up too much) and was supposed to be using it held together with Rowan Fine Lace but I really didn't like the colour of the Fine Lace so I spent ages trying to find just the right colour.

I managed to find a used copy of this magazine on eBay for £2 which was much cheaper than buying the Rowan magazine it was printed in originally!

It's hard to gauge the colours properly from these 2 swatches but it's the top one I'm using which is KSH with Rico luxury lace which gives a very pretty pale pink melange with a bit of sparkle.

Just to prove my point about colours here are the same yarns taken in different light - the bottom photo is closer to the true colours:

Six Pack stuff

I'm really enjoying my 3rd wave of SPR in the Intensive group and can't believe we've only got another 3 weeks to go! I'm feeling really strong, especially in my arms and legs which can only be a good thing.

Shelley has been helping enormously with my 'Challenges' and she loves coming into the garage with me so she can explore everywhere. She disappears and then emerges covered in cobwebs, bless her.

She also likes to 'help' when I'm doing my exercises indoors!:

A Wonderful Collaboration

I had some great news the other day when it was announced that Tikiboo had launched a new range of sportswear with 20% of sales going to ARUK to support their ongoing 'Share the Orange' campaign. How fab is that?! 

Of course I needed some in my life  so here you'll see my new Yoga outfit which I tried out this morning:

Thursday, February 27, 2020

This weather!

Oh my goodness, this has been a horrible month weather-wise with dreadful flooding in many parts of the country. Although we've been grumbling about the wind and rain we were very lucky here, unlike some poor people whose homes have been flooded with no sign of the waters subsiding yet. My heart goes out to all those who have been displaced.

There have been many trees down blocking roads so the tree surgeons were in great demand. We've had lots of branches down and the fence by the yard was partly blown over but has been repaired now. Poor Rusty Miller the wind turbine was battered by the first storm but survived with just one paddle hanging loose. He was, however, finished off by the next one. He looks very sad indeeed and we think he's beyond repair.

Mike took a few photos of the moody sky through the window inbetween the showers the other day:


Well it's been challenging that's for sure. Getting outside has been a rare treat recently with more miles on the treadmill than along the lanes!

I started out for a marathon last weekend and then thought better of it and turned home as the weather was hideous with torrential rain and very strong winds. As the event was up on part of the North Downs I realised it just wasn't worth the risk of injury.

This Wednesday, the 26th February, I was lucky to finally make it to the Marathon Day marathon over in Deal. Did you spot it? The 26th day of the 2nd month ie 26:2 and marathon disatnce is 26.2 miles! Traviss first held this event 4 years ago and each time until now I have had to miss it:
  1. Mike was poorly
  2. The car broke down en-route
  3. I was injured
  4. I made it
I set out bright and early and everything just fell into place perfectly. The roads were fine with no flooding, the motorway was OK with not too much heavy traffic, just a brief delay at some temporary roadworks and I arrived in plenty of time; until I realised the event started at 8:30am, not 9am as I'd thought so I had to dash to the start adn join the back of the pack, silly moo!

I deliberately didn't take my camera with me as I always take far too many photos in Deal and it was just as well I didn't as everywhere looked stunning and I would have spent far too much time taking photos. The sun shone throughout and although we were running into a strong wind on the outward section, it didn't trouble us on the return. The sky would hav ebrough Turner out with his sketchbook and the sea looked amazing with the sunlight dancing on the waves.

I was using it to practice my ultra-marathon pacing but of course went out for too fast and reached halfway in 2 hours so made myself power-walk the last laps to make up for being so silly. I finished in 5:29:29 but stopped my watch at 26.2 miles exactly, just because! Then I trotted off for an extra 5 miles to make my run into an Ultra-marathon. A grand day out all round.

That was marathon 184 and my 4th of the year, having missed out 2 due to bad weather, so just another 16 to go to reach 200.

There's more to come as I've got another marathon this weekend and there's finally some crafting in hand together with the usual bits and bobs of day to day life.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Behind again!

Oh dear, I seem to have got out of the habit of blogging for some reason. Must do better!

My 3rd event of the year took place in muddy old Ranscombe last weekend. It wasn't quite as muddy as back in 2018 but it wasn't far off. This time, as back then, I set out with the intention of doing an extra lap to get an ultra under my belt but this time, although I couldn't face another lap of the mud-slide, I changed into my road running shoes after marathon distance and headed out along the main road for an extra 5 miles to get to 31 miles.

Here are some photos to give you a feel - at least there wasn't quite as much flooding this year and there was no snow and the sun came out so it was much nicer:

There have been a lot of changes recently, the best being a lovely new mud-free car park and these rather impressive composting toilets (which cost a whopping £10,000 each).

Paul tried unusccesfully to take a selfie but was photo-bombed by us.

As Traviss had said that it wasn't as bad as 2018 I decided to try the first lap without my walking poles. This was after lap 1 so I knew that my poles were needed! Thank goodness I'd put my gaiters on as they make such a difference.

The next batch of photos will give you an insight into the extent of the mud!

From left to right: Debbie, Kirsty and Jo. Only Debbie went on to complete the whole thing as Kirsty and Jo had enough after halfway.

Thsi section got worse and worse after each lap and I ended up walking it after lap 3

After a few hours the sun came out which made everythign feel better. Some of the wooded areas were bone dry but large sections were still treacherous and I was very grateful for my poles.

There are some lovely views and Mike and I will be heading off there for a walk when the weather improves.

The highland Cattle were out grazing around the Darnley Mausoleum

He was all sleepy and chilled

I always take a photo of this tree as I love its shape.

There always has to be at least one photo of beautiful bark!

My time for marathon distance was 7:02 as opposed to 7:09 back in 2018. I love the new medal as it's got a bunny on it, along with a deer, a butterfly and some Highland Cattle:

A lovely medal as always from Traviss. It's the first in a series of 4 throughout the seasons and if you do all of the events you can join them all together to make a circle.

On the crafting front there's not much going on except for a bit of knitting and crochet but I have just joined a weaving bootcamp which I hope will kick-start my journey into the world of weaving.

I'm now into week 4 of the Six Pack Revolution, the Intensive Wave again, and I'm really enjoying it. I wrote about my first adventure here if you're new to my blog. This shortened version is great and I'm already seeing a difference in my strength and stamina and my jeans are looser which is a bonus! For me, this Wave is all about strength and stamina rather than weight loss as I've maintained my last results quite well.

The meal plans are full of my old favourites with some new things thrown in and Scott even launched an SPR cookbook last year which you can see here on Amazon, although I didn't buy it 'cos I've got all the recipes anyway. They're all quick and easy to prepare.

Exercise-wise it's the same format as my first wave in the link above with a discipline of daily exercises Abdominal exercises to be added into the mix on alternate days with different Challenges of varying duration which focus on specific areas of the body and are guaranteed to get you sweating!

Shelley's been helping enormously both inside the house and in the garage (which she's enjoying as there's so much to investigate):

Here she's helping me with Diamond Press-ups!

And here with Decline Press-ups (on the 4th step)

Exploring the garage is great fun whilst mum does silly things with weights and Battle-Ropes!

Next time I write I'm hoping there will some craftwork to show but in the meantime I"ll leave you with a photo of my beautiful Paperwhite daffodils which are filling the whole house with their amazing scent!