Thursday, July 22, 2021

Supakit and some running

What's Supakit? I hear you ask. Well they produce cat harnesses, collar and accessories see here. I found them when Shelley came to live with us from the RSPCA rehoming centre.

We were told she would be an indoor cat because of her history. We'd never had a completely indoor cat before and had always allowed them to roam in and out but to come indoors at bedtime so it was a new learning experience for us. You can read about her homecoming in the link.

She settled in quickly and after a few months we started to wonder if we could perhaps try taking her out for walks so we found an old cat collar and a leash and tried it. She was very nervous to begin with and was scared if she heard a car going along the lane which wasn't surprising given her horrible ordeal of travelling 70 miles in the engine of a car.

We realised that the collar wasn't the best option for her because there was less control and so I searched online for harnesses and thankfully I found Supakit and purchased a harness and leash.

Our first attempts at getting her into the harness did not go well. It was like trying to get a wriggling toddler into a pushchair. When we eventually got her into it and tried walking she either flopped over onto one side or did a really silly walk rather like John Cleese in the Ministry of Silly Walks!!! When I tried to take her outside we didn't get very far before she'd turn round and head for home. We kept trying for several weeks but it turned into such a trauma that we gave in and agreed that maybe she was a house cat after all. It still seemed such a shame though given the lovely area we live in.

Then I saw that the lovely people at Supakit were looking for testers of a new course called 'How to harness train your cat' in their Supakit Academy. Well of course I applied, never thinking that we'd be accepted but I was absolutely delighted when they confirmed that they'd love to have us as testers and so the training began. It's called 'How to Harness Train your cat' and is like a school for cats and their humans. You can read all about it in this link along with a short video.

I can't enthuse enough about what a difference this has made. 

Shelley and I did little bits of the course each day after I'd finished my run and exercises and it turned into a fun time together. Shelley especially enjoyed the treat she got when she did something well - are there any cats who don't like Dreamies? I noticed that the course instructor was using a sort of paste in a tube as a treat and so I purchased a pack to see if she liked them. 

The first time I tried them in a lesson she turned her nose up at them. Then there was a knock at the door with a delivery and so I left her unattended for about 5 minutes with the packets on the kitchen counter. By the time I'd got back to her she'd devoured 2 full packets by biting into the packets - there were teeth marks all over them! What I didn't realise until the next morning, when she'd been sick, was that she'd actually swallowed a part of one of the packets. Thankfully she was OK but I'll stick to Dreamies from now on as she definitely can't open the kilner jar they're stored in!

What I liked about the course was that it was in bite-sized sections and each day Shelley became more confident. I'd already taught her to come when called and we didn't need the sections on getting used to going into a cat carrier or backpack because she's used to going into her carrier when she comes into the gym with me to explore. So she associates the carrier with an adventure and fun rather than going to see the Vet.

I'm supervising mum's battle-rope action!

When you complete a section you send a photo or a video and get a little progress badge:

I knew we were getting there when she started to play wearing her harness and then came to sleep next to me whilst I knitted. Plus there wasn't the usual fight to get the harness on as she now associates it with fun and treats.

I would highly recommend this Supakit course if you've ever thought about harness-training for your cat as it's so well produced and they are clearly cat lovers who understand their kitties needs. They put together a little video using some clips I'd sent and watching it I realise how far Shelley has come as a result:

Thank you Supakit from me and Shelley!

The Running part

Oh my goodness it was nice to get to a couple of events this month. To see real people and run in sme lovely countryside. If everything had gone to plan I'd have passed the 200 mark last year but Covid and 15 months of shielding put paid to that so I'm slowly edging towards that magic number.

Marathon 188 was at Betteshanger again with the lovely Traviss and Rachel. Numbers were still restricted so it didn't seem too scary and I spent most of my time hardly seeing anyone, especially as some people were only doing a couple of laps. I was intending to go for an ultra but it was just too hot and so I didn't!

Marathon/Ultra 189 was an LDWA event, Andredsweald, which I'd run a couple of years go but this time was very different as you can imagine! Parking in a different place, no food at checkpoints except wrapped packets of biscuits/cereal bars/crisps, social distancing (as much as possible), facemasks to be worn at the start/indoors & at checkpoints.

The route had been tweaked in many different areas and although I had the written instructions and the GPX file it was quite tricksy to navigate. Thankfully I teamed up with 2 Davids and Julia and between us we managed to work out the route although we did do well over the 27 miles - my Garmin read 31 miles! The other problem was it had rained very heavily for a couple of days beforehand and it was a very up and down route so there was thick mud to wade through and exposed tree roots to trip over so we were much slower than usual. We did see Mole End and played Pooh Sticks at that special bridge though.

Anyway, that's marathon/ultra 189 done and dusted so I'm on the countdown to 200 if lockdowns/more bad news and restrictions allow! Here are just a few photos, none of the mud as there's no way I could take photos and squelch through the mud at the same time. I think my photos from 2019 are a better representation of the route and the weather was much better too.

The charm tree to ward off evil spirits

How very English! It was a mixed field of men and women

What's next? Hopefully I can get a few more marathons under my belt in August before we get stuck back into some form of lockdown! 

More photos of wildlife and gardening to follow soon.............

Stay safe everyone, wherever you are in the world.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Oops I did it again!

 ...Forgot to post, that is!

The most exciting thing is that I've actually completed 2 real-life running events, the first time I'd run with real people in 15 months. The first one was an SVN event at Betteshanger country park. Mike has very nervous about me going but I just needed to start getting back out into the real world to get some serious mileage into my legs.

I have to say that when I arrived it felt odd; no hugging/high-fiving/no nibbles other then sealed packets (I took my own stuff anyway) and water in bottles. As usual I was really early which was nice 'cos I had a lovely chat with Travis and Rachel, Race Directors. It's been a very challenging time for them with hardly any events being held which meant all the outlay they had to make with regard to medals/booking sites etc etc didn't have the usual reward. In fact they lost many thousands of pounds on a batch of medals they'd ordered from China when the company went bust so they lost their money and the medals.

I hardly spoke to anyone, although there was lots of waving and blowing of kisses, and just kept myself to myself, pounding out the miles. It was a flexible event in that you could run as many laps as you liked within a 12 hour time limit so I opted for marathon distance as I knew Mike would be worried and I'm glad I did as it eased us both into it gently. I didn't take any photos either so my only comment is that was marathon/ultra 186 at long last.

Whilst I'm in the running mode I'll share my latest adventure from last weekend. 50 miles! Yep, that's right, after just one marathon I decided to go for a biggy - LOL!!! There was actually method in my madness as I needed a 50 miler in order to qualify for any 100 mile events I want to do in 2022. This was a low key event, with reduced numbers of entrants, held at Denbies Vineyard. The only downside was that each lap was only 1 mile and believe me that became very tedious after a while, although not quite as bad as a track marathon!

There were plenty of people I knew there but I was careful not to run in any groups.

At the start it was overcast which was pleasant but by the afternoon the rain came in and lasted for 4 hours so I was well and truly soaked. It also made the grass very slippery and the mud didn't help much either.

Some people were doing the 100 mile option, others were running 1 mile every hour for either 12 hours or 24 hours, so they brought their tents along for inbetween runs.

There was only 1 incline but of course it felt massive by the 50th time of running or walking up it.

Anyway, I plodded along, stopping for a nice break at halfway to change my socks and shoes, which were soaked, and have some lunch - how very civilised! I didn't feel the need to push my pace as I knew I'd get round in well under 15 hours which is the usual qualifying time for a 100 miler.

I finished in 12 hours and was very happy with that and I felt fine the next day except for my hands as it seemed to have made my arthritis flare up - how ridiculous is that?! Anyway, that's marathon/ultra 187 in the bag and a qualifying time to boot.

It's a rather nice 'Muckle' which is Rik's name for a medal that can also be worn as a belt buckle (which I probably won't do!).

The Six Pack Revolution (aka SPR)

I'm getting near to the end of another wave of SPR in the Xtreme Team again. Scott has revamped the challenge exercises and I'm really enjoying them. I'm definitely much stronger as a result and I enjoy the dicipline and accountability.

Each time we do one of the challenges we have to film snippets of our workout to show the Coaches so they make sure we're doing it correctly and helping with alternatives if there's an injury or you're struggling. For example, I can't do Burpees as my wrists are too weak so I always have a few different options. 

Here's a little snippet to show the sort of exercises we have to do. This one is called 'Monster' and I quite enjoyed it as I Iike breaking down the reps into small sections:

I'm not really focussing on losing any weight now as I'm happy as I am but I definitely want to develop more muscle strength, especially as my arthritis is getting progressively worse. I'm mindful that my dad was crippled with it and had to use a wheelchair at my age and I really don't want that thank you very much!

Shelley the Superstar

When Shelley first came to live with us we were told that she should be an indoor cat which was a new experience for us. We thought that we would try to acclimatise her slowly to her surroundings by taking her for short walks on a leash and so we bought a lovely harness and leash from Supakit.  At first she didn't like the experience of the harness being put on but once outside she enjoyed exploring close to the house. However, it wasn't long until the arrvial of Covid which made us even more cautious.

A few months ago I saw a request from Supakit asking for testers for their Supakit Academy aimed at teaching owners and their kitties how to use a harness and lease safely. So I wrote to them about Shelley and her traumatic early life and we were offered a testing place. I can't reveal any of the details just yet but suffice to say that Shelley is enjoying our sessions and is doing really well!

I have a zillion photos of wildlife and the garden to share but there don't seem to be enough hours in the days right now. Plus I've completed at least 2 knitting projects since my last post so I really do need to get my act together and catch up before I forget everything.

I have to admit that I am somewhat anxious about the easing of restrictions announced by the PM the other day and will continue to wear a mask in an enclosed area etc although from the recent Twitter polls I've seen most people intend to abandon them completely. I know that we aren't quite ready for that just yet so please be kind to those of us who've been shielding for so long as you never know their back-story.

Stay safe everyone and I'll try and do another catch-up very soon.