Friday, December 31, 2010

End of year baking

Today's bread is a French Recipe named Pain de Campagne and is a very tasty rustic bread made partly with Rye flour with the addition of fresh oregano. It's great toasted or with cheese and Mike said it goes well with cooked meats as well.

It has a heart motif as it was made with love!

Having become accustomed to having puddings and chocolates over the Christmas period, there was consternation when there were no afters at lunchtime.

This obviously had to be rectified and so I rustled up this chocolate orange cake. I made it extra naughty by adding some orange chocolate liqueur to the frosting and filling. The orange zest and juice I added to the cake mix provide the health giving benefits of vitamin C (ahem, it's still the festive period and dieting starts tomorrow!).

Two it is then

I finally decided on the Louisa Harding tunic/dress named Two as I already had the La Salute yarn in my collection. The other reason is it features hearts which I love.

A lot of my craftwork features heart motifs so we have crochet, knitted, wicker, pottery, fabric and embroidered hearts all over the place!

I also found some beautiful Rowan Kidsilk Night which is a deep blackcurrant shade with some shimmery glitter.

I love anything sparkly and I love mohair, although I know that isn't everyone's favourite yarn to knit with because it's not easy to frog.

The La Salute is a dusky mauve rather than the grey tone as it appears in the photo.

I just did a little swatch to check out the pattern etc and see if I want to make any changes. In the pattern the hearts don't sit directly on the stripe but I just wanted to see how the hearts worked out.

I think I shall put another line of the Kidsilk Night above the hearts to make it into a band and to get it some more texture - the stripe is knit in 2 rows of garter stitch which gives nice definition.

I shall also make the whole dress slightly shorter, turning it into a tunic as I don't think a mini dress would look too good on someone of my advanced years!

I'm just off out for my last run of 2010. It will be a 'tempo' run which means I start slowly and then gradually increase the pace when I've warmed up, then slow back down again. I shall have to do some hard work over the coming weeks as I'm feeling very lardy after the excesses of Christmas!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Last race of the year

It was the Xmas Pudding Dash today which was postponed due to bad weather a couple of weeks ago.

I was originally going to combine two of the outfits I had worn for previous runnings of this race:

The Ms Santa outfit from 2007 & the festive elf from 2008.

Notice how Mr Finknottle (aka Pete) hadn't bothered to change his outfit from one year to the next!

In the end though I toned it right down to wearing my stripey elf tights and my Ms Santa hat.

There weren't many people there, probably because the new date didn't suit them but I managed to catch up with Johnny J who I haven't seen for ages.

He's very speedy but he waited around for me to finish and he ran a few yards up the last hill giving me tips on my breathing and when to accelerate towards the finish line.

The course was a bit shorter than the 5 miles it should have been because a section was too icy. Anyway, I managed a nice sprint at the end and completed it in 48 minutes which I was very pleased with as I've become very sluggish of late.

I absolutely adore the snowflake medal!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas socks

Started whilst watching a film on Christmas Eve in the evening and finished on Christmas Day whilst watching another film in the evening.

An easy-peasy, basic pattern. Knit on 5.5mm dpns using 2 strands held together; both aran weight, one variegated and one plain purple.

Very snug and great for wearing around the house to keep my toes toasty in the evenings when I'm sitting down.

I can't decide which knitting project to start next - a lacy scarf using Rowan Kidsilk Night from a pattern in Vogue Knitting magazine, Sylvi from Twist Collective or Two from Louisa Harding's Queen of Hearts collection.

I think Louisa Harding is winning by a head at the moment as I have some beautiful dusky purple yarn just waiting.................

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Festive Fun and a cancelled run

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. We ate far too much and I'm feeling particularly lardy today!

One good thing was that I actually made myself go for a run on Christmas morning. I've been saying I'd do it for a few years now but have always reneged on it until now. It was just 3 miles, nice and slow and wearing my santa hat and it felt great. I saw several dog walkers stretching their legs before the festivities began.

This little run had nothing to do with maintaining fitness as it was all about mental strength and I felt fantastic for doing it.

Sadly, the race we had planned to hold on New Year's Day had to be cancelled because of the dreadful weather. Some of the roads we planned to use were severely iced up and unlikely to be safe in time as the weather forecast is for more snow/ice etc etc. The Race Director said that we should make the decision to cancel for safety reasons so that we had plenty of time to notify people before they went away for the Christmas break.

This was quite a blow but every cloud has a silver lining and the organisers, Nice Work, have promised to make a donation to the Alzheimer's Research Trust out of the profits from the Xmas Pudding Dash which had to be rescheduled to 28th December (it too was cancelled from a week or so ago due to the bad weather).

I was supposed to be doing an interview about the race with Danny Pike on BBC radio on Christmas Eve and I thought they would cancel it but they really wanted the interview to go ahead and used it as another example of how the bad weather has affected everything. If anyone wants to hear the interview, just click here and spin through to around 2 hours 41 minutes, immediately after the Coldplay track.

Over the last couple of evenings, I've knitted myself some lovely snuggly socks to wear around the house and I must take a photo of them tomorrow.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


The snow melted but now it's back with a vengeance. We nipped out to get a Christmas tree on Friday. It was sunny and bright but when we started heading home there were a few small flakes of snow falling.

Mike said "Never mind, at least we'll get home before it gets too heavy". Remember those words! We were 4 miles from home at that point.

1/2 a mile later the sky was black and the snow was falling so fast you couldn't see beyond the car bonnet. We crawled along until we reached Staplecross and turned to go down the hill and joined the queue of cars. It's a steep hill and there were vehicles trying to get up it - cars sliding backwards, a lorry on the wrong side of the road with its wheels spinning, more cars sitting waiting for them to get out of the way before they attempted to get up the hill themselves.

The only thing to do was to park up and walk home across the fields, which we did accompanied by our neighbour and her 2 small boys who thought it was a great adventure. We didn't want to leave the Christmas tree on the back seat of the car so Mike carried it all the way home (just over a mile). Thank goodness we didn't buy a tall one!

These photos were taken just before we set out to collect the car the next morning.

We planned to walk across the fields to the road to see if the road had been cleared at all and thankfully people had been out putting grit down. We now have yellow grit bins at the side of the road which makes such a difference on our steep lanes. Apparently, someone had kindly brought out their tractor and had pulled people up the hill so no-one was left stranded. It was rather scary when we got onto our lane as that was slippery but we managed to get back in one piece. This time, the snow came down after we got home so it was a day for bedding in and decorating the tree.

I'm wearing my new Fetch 'buff' underneath my hat and it was really snug and warm. When running, I've worn it instead of a hat and have worn it around my neck and I love it already.

It was supposed the be the Christmas Pudding Dash on Saturday but that had to be re-scheduled for 29th December. I don't think my Ms Santa costume will be appropriate then so will have to find something else!

Needless to say that running has been confined to the treadmill for the past couple of days but I might sneak out tomorrow if it isn't slippery underfoot. Perhaps a xc plod around the orchards as I know what the terrain is like underfoot.

One thing I have noticed is that my legs are aching from walking in the snow. It must be because you have to lift your feet up to get through the snow. It's been jolly hard pushing my wheelbarrow through the snow to the horses too!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2011 approaches

It's nearly that time again. The time when I have to announce my fund-raising plans for next year.

First though, I'd like to thank everybody who has supported me by sponsoring my efforts this year. Many people make donations year after year and I've been running marathons since mum died in 2005 so that's amazing. Not everyone can afford to donate so they give their support in other ways; a good luck card, a wave and a smile when I'm out running in the pouring rain, even just asking how my training is going can give me a real boost when the going is tough.

Thank you all. You really help to keep me going.

Now, back to my escapades in 2011:

First there's a 5 mile race on New Year's Day with profits going to the Alzheimer's Research Trust. I'm nervous and excited in equal measures as we need more volunteers to help with marshalling etc. Mike and I will be marshalling which will be a new experience.

The event has been organised for me by Martin and Cathy Burke from Nice Work who organise lots of races in our area. I have no idea how many people will brave the elements to support us - if the weather is nice and bright we'll have a good turn-out but if it's wet/cold/snowy then it will not be as good. Fingers crossed anyway. It's certainly not a route for the faint-hearted as it is rather, ahem, undulating!

For those dedicated runners who make the effort, it will be a great start to the new year.

In my own running events there will be plenty going on with added interest as you'd expect:

i) Brighton marathon. I ran the inaugural Brighton marathon this year and it was fantastic. In 2011 I am doing what I don't usually do - trying for a pb (personal best). My road marathon pb is 4:50 and I want to try to get nearer to 4:30. This means there will be lots of speedwork training going on. Eeeeeek!

ii) London marathon a week later. Yep, I'll be back again but this time I'm reverting to knitting as crochet was just too difficult. Not that knitting is easy of course. I can't release the details yet but hope to in the next few weeks. It goes without saying that it will be something incredibly silly!

On the way to these 2 marathons there will be several shorter races to test how my training is going. I started my marathon schedule last week so it's very early days yet.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Last week this.....

The green, green grass of home.

This week, a snowy wonderland!

We've had over 12" which may not sound much for those in places where snow falls on a regular basis but for us down here in sunny Sussex it's incredible.

The sheep aren't in the least bit bothered, they just push their faces into the snow, make a hole and eat the grass.

Their faces end up covered in frozen snow but they don't seem concerned by it. They are very sweet when they spot us and come charging over, leaping through the snow as it's over the top of their legs!

Running for this week has been confined to the treadmill which does become rather boring after a while.

Tinker, being old and wise for a change, has remained curled up under a radiator for most of the time.

I've been busy making hearty soups and breads - this is a Russian potato bread to which I added some cheddar and it was scrumptious!

I realised that I haven't shown anything I've made for ages so here's a completed blanket crocheted in ripple stitch which is really simple and fast growing. A good project to have on your knee whilst watching TV. The yarns are a combination of bargains from last year and things I already had in my collection.

It's about 5' wide and 4'6" long which is just the right size for the two of us to snuggle under when sitting on our rocking bench (shown below).

Of course, we might have to wait for the snow to clear before we try it out!

This little rocking bench has been with is for many years and was purchased from a Garden Centre in Blindley Heath, in Surrey. The reason I can recall the details vividly was because Lulu was in front of us in the queue!

We used to sit, rock, drink wine and dream of living in the countryside; and here we are at last.

I'm busy making curtains and Christmas gifts at the moment but I'm thinking of starting a new knitting project soon. Plus I'm busy marking out an embroidery idea and designing another bargello cushion cover.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What's been happening (warning, long post!)

Well, that car crash certainly hit me harder than I imagined. Although I managed to run my 3 marathons I was still suffering with a very stiff neck and restricted movement across my shoulders which left me unable to hold my head in a good position to knit. I could only manage about 5 minutes before it started to ache like mad so I gave up in the end and turned to one of my other loves to fill the void while I recuperated - embroidery.

After many sessions with the Physio, an X-ray to check nothing was fractured I finally started to get some more mobility in my neck but I still had difficulty holding my head when looking down. This of course had meant that I couldn't use the laptop unless I piled it on top of a load of books and sat at my desk. It was very frustrating. At first it didn't interfere with my running but gradually over the weeks I was starting to stiffen up across my shoulders. This meant it was time for the magic hands of Mary Massage Lady who used her pointy, pokey fingers to get right into the knotted muscles and provide some relief. It hurt like heck I can tell you but after a couple of session with Mary and many more stretches I finally started to feel better.

I even started knitting again a few weeks ago but more of that later. So here's what I've been working on recently:

I'd often said I'd like to have a go at Bargello, or Florentine Embroidery as it was something mum did a lot of in the 1970s but I never tried.

In fact, we still use this waste bin that she embroidered when I was a teenager.

I knew I wouldn't be able to use a tapestry frame on my knee so resorted to a floor stand which I could tilt to a good angle so that I didn't need to hold my head downwards.

I scoured the secondhand bookshops and found loads of fantastic books to get my creative juices flowing. Of course this now means I have far too many projects I'd like to tackle! I already had a massive amount of tapestry wool so I chose shades of blue and red/pink that match the curtains in our lounge and started on a sampler cushion. It is very addictive and satisfied my crafting need.

Here's the front just waiting for the backing. I'm going to make a braid to go around the edge and some tassels using the same colours of the cover.

My next project will be another cushion cover but maybe in a 4-way design.

I also started to embroider a cardigan using some lovely silk and cotton threads, adding seed beads and bugle beads for added interest. Each section is different and uses easy stitches. I've just got to finish outlining the edges and inserting edge panels.

I'd forgotten how much I enjoy embroidery. I always used to do knitting in winter and embroidery in summer when the light is good but somehow the knitting had taken over the whole year.

Much as I love knitting, that won't happen again!

I found the most beautiful book in a secondhand shop recently - Swedish Embroidery by Eivor Fisher. It was published before I was born but still resonates with me today. I love the simplicity of this sort of work and am planning a wall hanging using crewel wool & embroidery silks based on one of the patterns. I got a huge amount of crewel wool from Sue at Kangaroo recently as she had reduced all her stock. You may remember that Sue very kindly provided me with yarn for my knitting exploits last year.

I'm always drawn to the simplicity of so-called Folk Art in all its guises, whether it's knitting, sewing or painting. I love the clean lines and uncluttered shapes where a simple line can suggest many things.

This all kept me going for a few months until I felt able to knit again. I decided to start small and make some socks from the book 'The Eclectic Sole' which is full of interesting sock designs. However, I would urge caution to anyone attempting these designs as they are not for the faint-hearted. Not because they are especially complicated but because of the errors in the patterns.

After much debate I settled on the cover design, named 'Migration' and cast on the required number of stitches. I'd never tried a toe-up sock before so it was interesting to start this way. I chose 2 balls of Opal sock yarn and decided to use the pale colour for the main body with the variegated yarn for the pattern.

I soon reached the main pattern but after a while I realised something was different from the photo on the book - can you spot it? Yep, the zig-zag pattern after the toe was missing. I checked the chart and the written instructions in case I was being a numpty (which, of course, was not beyond the realms of possibility!!!) but I'd done it correctly. Off to Ravelry to check if anyone else had the same problem. Oh yes indeed they did! In fact, almost everyone had omitted them except a couple of people who'd worked out that you had to include a few rows from another chart before starting the foot pattern. Grrrrrrrr, time to rip it back a bit.

The next time I got a bit further and tried it on for fit. Crikey it was snug but there was no way this would go over my high instep. I checked the pattern to see what lay ahead and realised that I'd have to increase the foot stitches both at the start and towards to the instep. I looked at the pattern and it wasn't too complicated to modify although it would perhaps be off-putting for an inexperienced knitter to have to amend the pattern. Grrrrr, rip number 2.

I added an extra pattern repeat all over the foot and then another pattern insert to get over my instep. Happiness (although still a bit on the snug side). Then it was the heel. Now short row heels often leave those troublesome holes so I went on-line to search for an alternative. I found this method which I used. It took a couple of goes to get it just right but it was worth persevering as it's a neat method. Then all I had to do was lose some of the extra stitches I'd cast on for the instep.

I quite like the end result but I do wish that designers would get their patterns test knitted before publication!

Time for an update!

It's long overdue I know so apologies to the lovely people who still read my blog. I really haven't felt like blogging for the last few months as I think I needed a break from all the fund-raising etc plus I was unable to knit for 5 months following the accident and have only just started again (details in my next post).

Photos and a proper update to follow soon.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Here are a couple of action photos from the London marathon snapped by the Alzheimer's Research Trust supporters.

People asked me what I did with the length of chain whilst I was crocheting and here you can see - I coiled it around my left wrist and then when it got too heavy I tied some yarn through the middle and attached it to my belt.

I don't know why I look so happy as my arms were really hurting at that stage (around mile 14)!

My neck is still giving me a few problems but I've had more deep tissue massage and it seems to have eased it a bit so I'm hoping I'll be able to knit again soon.

In the meantime I've been crocheting on my ripple blanket and doing some bargello needlework as I can hold my head higher doing that.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Result - 6:00:24!

Here's a link to the marathon results where I was surprised to see that only 2 more people came in after me. As there were originally 12 people behind me that's a lot of people dropping out which shows how bad the conditions were.

The lady who came in last was doing her 209th marathon. What a star - makes my tally of 20 look a bit lame!

Today the only pain I have is from my fall and I'm very impressed that my legs and neck feel absolutely fine. My hands are still sore and the wounds are a bit weepy (too much info?), the bruises on my arm and leg are turning a lovely shade of mauve and my ribs and tummy hurt whenever I laugh.

I'm giving my body a few days rest from running to recover but I'll do plenty of walking to help speed up my recovery. I think I need a trip to Mary Massage Lady too.

Many thanks to everyone who reads my ramblings. I love it when people leave comments and it's wonderful to meet some fellow runners and knitters in races.

I think I need to try some more knitting now my neck has improved too so I'm looking at my stash to see what to start next.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Over the hills and far away

With a weather forecast for torrential rain and winds this year's Three Forts Marathon was never going to be an easy run. Not that it's an easy option anyway as with over 3540ft of climbs it's a test not only of the legs but of mental stamina too. Add to that the fact that I've already the 2 marathons in as many weeks and you get the picture!

When I left home at 7:30am it was drizzling but the further west I drove, the heavier the rain to the point that I got drenched walking from the car to collect my number at the start. The thing is that once you get wet you know you can't get any wetter and just have to get your head down and get on with it.

It was nice to see a good crowd at the start and there seemed to be more people than last time I ran it in 2008. I started right at the back so I could settle into my own pace and not worry about other people. The slopes were going to be treacherous under foot as the combination of rain, slippery chalk and loose flints meant that I really had to concentrate hard so I didn't lose my footing. There really isn't much to say about the run as the scenery was mostly obscured by cloud and rain so I just had to focus and trudge along steadfastly. My legs felt absolutely fine and I had no aches and pains so I was very pleased.

On the way up to Devil's Dyke I passed 12 people so I knew I wasn't last. This part of the course was an out-and-back stretch so I got to see all the faster runners coming down the hill as I plodded upwards. I shouted hello and well done to them and most of them reciprocated which was nice. Trail and Fell runners are a friendly bunch.

It was somewhere close to the halfway point at 14 miles (this marathon is an extra mile coming in at just over 27 miles rather than the usual 26.2) that I lost my concentration momentarily on a downward stretch and found myself falling fowards. I knew instinctively that I'd have to put my hands down to stop my face hitting the ground but I didn't really think about which other bits of me would hit the deck. Then splat, ouch, I was face down in the grit and flint! I thought that the slippery chalky bits would be my downfall, not the flinty, gritty bits.

So I assessed the situation - my gloves were completely shredded and I could see my hands were bleeding, my number had ripped off my jacket and was being blown against a wire fence nearby (I grabbed it before it could escape), there was mud all over my jacket, shorts and my legs and there was some blood on my left knee. Hmmmmm. I looked around but of course I knew there was no-one nearby as the people behind me were at least a mile behind and the next aid station was about 3 miles away.

I cleaned the grit out of my hands as best I could using the water from my bottle (good job I don't use a sports drink!), tied my sopping wet hanky around my left hand which was bleeding the most and had a jolly good cry. I think that if anyone had come along at that point I probably would have given up and pulled out. Thankfully nobody did come along so after a few minutes of self-pity I managed to get my mind back in gear and started off again.

At the next checkpoint I saw some friendly faces including Pete (aka Mr Finknottle from the RW forum) and the marshalls topped up my water bottle and gave me chocolate biscuits to speed me on my way. Sometimes a choccy biccy can really make things seem better! Then I just had to dig deep and churn out the remaining miles. At one point the rain and wind combined made me so cold that I really couldn't feel my fingers and I did get a bit worried as hypothermia can be big problem up on the South Downs in these sort of conditions. I tried wiggling my fingers to no avail so then started to circle my arms around in windmill fashion and shook them to get the circulation going again. Eventually the feeling came back which was a massive relief.

As I approached Chanctonbury Ring the wind was blowing really strongly and a thread of cloud was being forced over the top of the hill ahead of me. It looked as if someone was having a bonfire! When I ran through the cloud I felt the temperature drop even further. Up ahead was what remained of an aid station but it seemed as if most of it had been blown away.

I must say that the marshalls were absolute stars for standing out there for hour after hour in such gruelling conditions as it must have been very cold and miserable for them. Without their dedication we runners wouldn't be able to run our marathons.

The last few miles are a blur really, except for the final 1.5 miles which were all downhill so I thought I'd be able to up the pace a bit.


It may have been downhill but it was so claggy and slippery that I really had to watch my step. I did manage to cross the finish line bang on 6 hours which was the cut-off time and I had a lovely reception from the marshalls. I collected my medal and immediately headed off to the first aid tent to get my hands cleaned up.

The crew of the St John's Ambulance were lovely and they told me that they'd had 15 cases of hypothermia and many more people coming in with assorted cuts from slipping as I had. I headed for home, with both hands dressed in bandage but feeling very proud that I'd managed it and I have to say I am amazed that my legs felt so fresh and strong. I did have my doubts about running 3 marathons on consecutive weekends but it just shows what you can achieve if you put your mind to it.

The next morning the bruises started to appear - this one on my left arm is really quite sore. I have a lump and a friction bruise above my left knee, my tummy and ribs feel bruised as I landed flat on my front (I thought all that fat I carry on my front would have cushioned the impact but apparently not!) and there is grazing under my left knee.

I still feel great though.

Now, what's next?............................................

Monday, April 26, 2010

Virgin London Marathon

So another day dawned (well it didn't actually as it was still pitch black!), the alarm went off at 4am and it was action stations again! This time the taxi was at 5:30am so I had lots of time to prepare everything and we managed to get to Blackheath before the road closures came into force (the trains from where we live don't get there in time so we always have to do this).

We have a good routine now where we go to the same little cafe which opens at around 6:30am (but doesn't have a toilet), have a coffee and I have a pain au chocolat until around 7am then we get a newspaper and go to a cafe further up the road (where there is a toilet!) where we bag a table and sit and have a leisurely time with another coffee before heading off to the Green Start pen. It works really well because I don't have to worry about anything and can just relax. I was really stressed the night before and had convinced myself that I wasn't going to be able to run the marathon never mind do any crocheting on the way round so it was important that the morning itself went smoothly.

Thankfully I didn't have any more interviews to do so at 8:15am we headed off to the Green Start. The usual balloons were lined up but the one of the motorbike was the most striking and was the largest one I've ever seen!

We wandered over to my start pen where Mike attached the wool to my little apron and I made myself known to the people from Guinness World Records. We had a group photo taken and then one on my own and I headed back to say goodbye to Mike.

There are details of all the runners attempting records here. I met Gill Begnor who was wearing a bottle costume and had to get under 5 hours for her record. I hope she did OK as I have no idea how she managed to run inside that costume! The group photo is here.

The weather forecast was for sun, sun, sun but it was very cloudy at first. Then it started to rain and so I bade farewell to Mike (with the usual teary moment) and he headed off to London whilst I went back to try and shelter from the rain. I managed to find a carrier bag in my kit bag so I ripped a hole in that and stuck it over my shoulders to help keep me a bit warmer then sneaked into one of the tents to shelter until the rain abated. I wished I'd taken one of the many space blankets I've accumulated from my many marathons as that would have kept me nice and warm.

At the start I saw the green caterpillar of 34 runners, complete with Princess Beatrice - they went past me during the marathon too and she smiled and said "wow, that's wonderful" when she saw my crochet - and I also met SarahL from Fetch sporting a gingerbread man costume. Sarah is a very speedy runner and she was still pretty darned quick despite the costume!

Then it was time to line up ready for the start. Several people came over to tell me that they enjoy reading my blog and several more runners passing me en-route said they often popped over to see what I'm up to which was nice. Thank you for stopping by!

I always knew that the crochet stunt would be harder than the knitting for several reasons - it's harder to get into a rhythm when you're using just one hand, sweaty hands mean the wool doesn't feed through easily and also means I can't use the nice comfy bamboo hook, the chain wouldn't be as weighty as a scarf and so would blow around if there was a breeze and last but not least is that it's harder to crochet without looking at what you are doing so I had to look down much more and take more care about where I put my feet! Having said all that I soon got into a rhythm of sorts and set my pace accordingly. I had to get round in under 6 hours for the world record and as the forecast was for sun later I didn't want to go fast anyway (quite apart from the fact that I'd already run a marathon the week before!).

The marathon was wonderful as always. The crowd was brilliant, calling out the names of the runners to speed them along, but what was extra special for me this year was the number of runners who went past and offered encouragement. Many of them said they'd read about my antics or seen me on GMTV or heard the radio interviews and 2 ladies running for the Alzheimer's Research Trust even said they'd been inspired to run the marathon having read mum's story. That made it all worthwhile for me as getting publicity for such a worthy cause is paramount in what I do.

I saw lots of RW forumites and Fetchies plus 2 ladies went past and said hi, adding that Mary Massage Lady (my favourite Sports Masseuse) had told them to look out for me! There were 2 Fetchpoints at 13 and 22 miles, the Runner's World Team at mile 17 around Mudchute and the Alzheimer's Research Trust team at mile 14 in Narrow Street. I usually like to stop and just say a quick hello but I was struggling a bit so just waved and smiled. I expect there will be some photos later as the ART cameras were flashing away and I saw RichK at Fetchpoint!

As the crochet chain grew I was wrapping it around my left arm and when I finished a ball I then tied some spare yarn around it and hung it from my belt, joined in a new ball and started again. When calculating how much yarn I'd need I used my scarves as a basis and added a bit more on. This proved to be wildly inaccurate as I only got through 4 balls of yarn and Gerard had kindly donated 10 balls so I hope he doesn't mind! I'll make good use of the excess yarn though by crocheting some blankets and selling them for the Alzheimer's Research Trust.

By mile 23 the wind was blowing my yarn around too much and I found I was slowing right down so I realised that if I didn't speed up then I wouldn't get round in under 6 hours. So I stashed my yarn and hook in my apron pouch, put my sunglasses on, stuck my head down and strode forth finishing in 5:43:22.

As I crossed the finish line I looked around for the adjudicators for Guinness and we then had to measure my chain. Now any knitters reading this will know just how easily a ball of yarn can get itself into a right old tangle. Well add 26.2 miles of being jiggled around to the equation and you'll have some idea of just how tangled my hanks of crocheted chain were. It took ages to disentagle them before they could be measured but we managed it eventually and I was shocked to find I'd managed 77.4 metres! I never thought it would anything like that length so was very pleased!

After a brief interview they presented me with a temporary certificate and I collected my goody bag and could finally go to meet Mike (who'd been waiting patiently for ages).

He seemed to have had a good day and had been shopping so we had loads of bags to carry.

I am always ravenous after a marathon and he hadn't disappointed me - I tucked into a scrummy cheese salad sandwich straight away before we headed off to get the train home and to put our feet up for the evening.

What a great day for my 19th marathon. Now what about next year........................................................


It sounds glamourous to say you've appeared on GMTV doesn't it? Well, it doesn't come without a bit of hardship I can tell you! On Friday morning I got up at 3:30am, the taxi picked me up at 4:30am to get to Tower Bridge for 6am.

There were a few of us doing live interviews from 6:30am until 9:30am. The knights and their lady - they duelled relentlessly and ran around a lot, shouting!

Then there was myself and Rik. From left to right we have John, the lovely taxi driver from Hastings who drove me there and back and waited around for hours whilst we filmed, Fran Ridler one of the Press Officers for the VLM and Rik Guard.

So what we had to do was a series of 'teasers' where we stood next to Dan Lobb the presenter and gave a brief description of what we intended to do. These were just to get interest ahead of the actual 'spot' which lasted a bit longer. Sadly the spots weren't very long and none of us managed to get in much about our respective charities plus I didn't get to explain the link between my crocheting and dementia which was very important to me.

Inbetween shots we were allowed into the hotel restaurant for brekkie or coffee and there was the usual surreal mix of elite runners - (Deena Kastor was having breakfast at the table next to us), assorted Press Officers and a group of runners in fancy dress!

Rik's unique way of marathoning was to sing all the way round. He's a professional singer and he's written a song about his mum who suffered from dementia with the proceeds going to the Azheimer's Society. I don't know how he got on in the marathon but it certainly won't have been easy - sometimes it's all you can do to breath without having to sing too!

However, we were promised more time on the end spot at 9:25 and when my turn came I was so determined to mention the 850,000+ sufferers of dementia in the UK, the lack of funding for the Alzheimer's Research Trust and that each chain I crocheted was to represent the way dementia affects the brain that I didn't draw breath. I got most of it out though!

Then it was a quick dash home to get changed for work. By the time I got home form work at 6:30pm I was well and truly ready for a rest and it didn't seem 5 minutes until I was getting up for work the next day. Of course it couldn't be a nice easy day at work could it and instead of a nice relaxing day I spent all day on my feet, rushing around then it was early to bed for another early start ahead of the London Marathon.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I Knit, therefore I am!

Today I had to make a 5 hour round trip to London and back to visit the Excel Centre to collect my running number for the London Marathon.

There is slick process of registration whereby they give you your running number etc then activate your chip (the thing that gets attached to your running shoe and records your start/finish time accurately). Directly in front of me in the queue for my number was Lee Evans the comedian and the staff took a photo of him!

I recorded a short interview with BBC Radio London which is to be broadcast on marathon day. That should ensure I get plenty of shouts of "Come on knitting lady" (even though it will be crochet!). We did the interview close to the Guide Dogs for the Blind stand where they had lots of gorgeous dogs they were training to be guide dogs. They were having a wonderful time.

Then it was off to see Gerard at I Knit to collect the yarn he had kindly donated. We'd had a bit of an upset as although he'd sent some yarn to me in the post it never arrived and as I was in London anyway it seemed sensible to go and collect it.

I didn't know the area at all but the shop is situated in a vibrant street and I can see why it's such a success. It's crammed full of lovely yarns, the sort you want to pick up and squeeze. Amazingly, I didn't buy anything but I have however made note of a few Habu yarns that they stocked and something is brewing away in the back of my mind for them.

The staff were all lovely and very friendly and I came away laden with yarn and I hope I manage to crochet the whole lot. It's hard to gauge how much I'll use but I don't want to run out like last time I knitted the scarf as that was very annoying.

Even better, Gerard has very kindly said that if my secret plan for the crochet chain doesn't happen for whatever reason (no I can't write about it as it wouldn't be a secret now would it?!) then I can display it at the I Knit Weekender in September which might raise some more money for the Alzheimer's Research Trust.

It was lovely to meet Gerard and his team at last and I want to say a massive thank you for all your support.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Oh no!

The cold I've been keeping at bay for the past few days has finally caught up with me. I'm dosing myself up to the eyeballs and hoping it will have gone by the weekend or I might have to walk rather than run. Boo hoo.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Brighton Rocked

Oh yes indeed, Brighton rocked yesterday!

The inaugural Brighton marathon was absolutely brilliant. The route was lovely, the crowd support was amazing and equalled that of the London marathon, the goody bag was excellent, the medal was enormous and good quality, the weather was a little on the warm side but I still managed to sneak round in under 5 hours coming home in 4:56:57. I was very pleased with this because I was feeling under the weather as I had caught one of the many colds that was going around at work despite telling anyone infected to keep well away from me! A combination of adrenalin, caffeine and Lemsip Max seemed to done the trick (and perhaps the 2 glasses of red wine Mike gave me to calm me down the night before!).

We had to get up at the crack of dawn to get there, park up and then catch a bus to the start. I sometimes marvel that in a crowd of several thousand (7,500 on this occasion) you can actually bump into someone you know. Here I am chatting to Ruth (aka Plodding Hippo) who has appeared at most of the marathons I have run as she is a marathon addict.

The lady on the left was telling us which pens we had to go to and for some reason I was in a faster pen than Ruth. One of us must have put the wrong time on their application form!

Here I am in my start pen before it filled up with nervous/excited/impatient runners. There was a 15 minute delay at the start which I later discovered was because somebody had parked their car on the route despite gigantic yellow signs telling them not to park there!

The weather forecast was for it to be sunny so I planned my race strategy accordingly. I always slow right down in the heat because if I don't then I feel sickly so I ran the first 10 miles at 10 minute miling then slowed to 11 minute miling, passing the 1/2 mark in 2:15. As the sun got higher, my pace slowed down to 12 minute miling which meant I was still feeling relatively comfortable.

As usual, Tracey's husband Bernard was out and about with the kids, snapping away but this time I didn't even spot him and he sent me several photos! When I approached the 23 mile mark, someone announced that Fat Boy Slim was up ahead and for some reason I decided that I had to beat him. I speeded up to 11 minute miling and caught sight of him. He looked as if he was suffering, as did many others by this stage, so when I went past I said "Well done, you're doing really well. Just keep going" to which he replied in a sulky manner, "Well I'm not going to give in now am I?!" Pah, I thought and upped the pace to 9:30 minute miling and left him in my wake listening to shouts of "Go on that Redhead!" I managed to maintain that pace right until the end and it felt really good to be running strongly right at the very end.

I got quite a surprise after the finish when I heard someone shout my name and turned to see Paul with whom I did the tandem ride last year! Sadly Sarah was stuck in Barcelona and hadn't been able to get back as all flights were still suspended because of the volcanic ash in the atmosphere.

It's all go now

Last week was rather busy with media stuff - On Friday morning I did a live interview with Danny Pike on BBC Radio Sussex which I'll try and put on here later ( not having much success so far!). They had being doing a live interview/phone-in with Gordon Brown and I came on after that. Many thanks to my boss who allowed me to do this in his office at work.

Then there was an interview with the Kent and East Sussex Courier plus an added bonus in that the Hastings and Battle Observers both printed the Press Release from the Alzheimer's Research Trust.

On Friday evening Mike and I drove over to Brighton to do a quick live interview with Simon Parkin, the weatherman for ITV Meridian. That was fun!

Apparently vans are in short supply at the moment as everyone is out and about following politicians ahead of the General Election so I think this one deserves a photo.

On these occasions there is always a lot of hanging around waiting - not at all glamourous. Mike and I got there early to avoid the friday night rush on the roads. This meant there was even more hanging around to do and after we'd walked around the park we just went and sat in the car until it was nearly time.

Here's the team.

The microphone was attached to me.

I explained that knitting involved 2 sticks and crochet only had one hook. It's not easy explaining everything in about 1 minute!

I took one of my scarves with me which Simon wore and we chatted briefly about my plan to crochet around the London marathon.

Sadly this lead to a bit of confusion at the Brighton marathon as people kept shouting "Hey Redhead, where's your knitting?!"

We stood in our places to check the light/shadows/sound levels etc.

Then it was the live broadcast. I prefer live broadcasts as you don't have time to worry about what you're going to say.

More about the marathon to follow, suffice to say it was FAB.