Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Now that's inspirational!

Before yesterday I was vaguely aware of Jamie Andrew and his story.  He was that guy who had been stuck on a French mountain for days and had to be dramatically rescued.  I knew he had lost his hands and feet to frostbite, he did 'things' for charity and did the rounds as an after dinner speaker.

Yesterday I attended a workshop and seminar where he was one of the speakers.  Wow, wow, wow!!! If you ever get the chance to hear this guy, go!

Yep, he was an experienced climber who had a tragic accident that resulted in him needing both hands and both feet amputated.  His sheer determination and will to not only live but live life to its fullest is moving and inspiring.  Each day he would set himself a small challenge to learn to do something for himself again.  Sometimes it would take him all day to achieve something as simple as brushing his teeth.  But each day he set and achieved a new goal.

I sat there hanging on every word, marvelling at how he learned to walk again with his new legs and how he persuaded his prosthetitist to create the world's first prosthetic climbing hands.  I wasn't surprised that he was climbing again (proper ice climbing!!) or skiing (cross country and downhill) or had sailed the North Atlantic in a boat crewed by amputees.  Or that he started running, working his way up to completing the London Marathon.  By the time he said he had completed an Ironman I was just so humbled.  He finished his talk by juggling with 3 balls.  Seriously!

If he can do all that with no hands and no feet, then I've got nothing to complain about.  A truly inspirational man

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Best present ever!

This weird looking device is called a Flexibak.  It is an osteopath-designed back support cradle that eases lower back pain problems and discomfort. It gives back pain relief by correct decompression of key joints, allowing natural movement to return.  Basically you lie on it and do the exercises.  Check out the website at for more details.

I can be in major discomfort after running/cycling/gym session or just from normal day to day stuff like driving/carrying shopping. I do the exercises every night before bed and during the day if I'm particularly stiff.  This wee gadget is a miracle worker!  I can get up the next day and do it all over again.

I've had physio treatment on my back many times over the years (I'm over flexible from years of gymnastic training) When my back is bad I have to stop training.  Until now.  Since I started using it regularly my pain has improved enormously.  It hasn't cured me but it's made a huge difference.  And that's what makes it the best present ever.

PS Check out my new blog at

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

It's NaNoWriMo time!

Like I don't have enough things to do!  50,000 words in 30 days.  5th time lucky I hope :-)

Friday, 28 October 2011

Meet Mack

Inspired by my subversive friend I thought I should either blog or give up all together.  It's not that I haven't been doing anything blogworthy. Quite the opposite in fact, I've just been so flipping busy I haven't had the time.  And I have a tendency to put a lot of stuff on FB so most folks know the drama and saga that is my life!!

Since this blog is supposed to be about my tri efforts I'll stick to that but it's worth noting that everything else in my life is going well.  Except for selling the house *sighs*

So, meet Mack (short for Mackenzie) my ancient mountain bike.  In the pic we're just back from a very muddy ride round the fish farm near me. Mack is so old he used to have a baby seat on the back.  But everything is still in working order and he had a bit of a makeover recently.  Since then we've had loads of adventures including going to Arran and night rides round Stirling Castle. FB friends will know he survived falling off the back of my car (whole bike rack came off!!) while I was driving this week.  I still break out in a cold sweat thinking how lucky I was not to cause a major accident on the A9!  My guardian angel was looking out for me that night.

But I can cycle without aggravating my knee and my back. HOORAY!  I can work out at the gym painfree.  YIPPEE!! I can run a couple of miles if I wear a knee brace with no after effects.  WOOHOO!!! Still haven't been tempted to get back into the pool though. BOO!!!!

Stirling Tri is still the target.  I have a few other plans along the way.  Nothing compared to my more experienced running friends but exciting enough for me.  I am continually challenging and pushing myself (and am being challenged!) in so many positive ways (sea kayaking for example!!)  Sometimes I kick myself for waiting so long but good things come to those who wait :-)

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Be the change

As an educator I know the power parents and significant adults have to influence our children's habits.  Want your kids to love reading?  Let them see you reading. Want them to eat healthily? Eat well yourself.  Kids learn by watching what you do, not what you say.

Even so, it was with some surprise that during a recent conversation it was pointed out to me that Gordy's new found enthusiasm for all things sporting was partly due to me.  Me, the former exercise hating lazy bitch??  Surely not.  But then I gave it some thought.

Despite being ill and injured this year, he's seen me prioritise health and exercise in a way I've never done before.  We sometimes run, swim and cycle together although he's miles better at running and swimming than me now.  I still have the edge on cycling but that will change!  We talk about eating properly and plan meals so he doesn't run out of energy (he's veggie so getting enough iron and protein is a priority)

Tonight I watched him at TKD and realised that he was the only kid in the class who was able to do 10 press ups.  How did that happen?  And then I figured out that with the variety of stuff he's been doing he's just a fit kid.  Two years ago he missed almost 2 terms of school due to glandular fever. Look at him now!

His first rugby match playing for the school on Saturday

Gandhi said "Be the change you want to see in others" If the positive changes I've made in my life have contributed in some way, then I am one very proud mama.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Moving forward

Thanks for all the lovely encouraging comments here and on FB.  I'm more upbeat about the whole injury thing now.  But two weeks of relative inactivity haven't been easy.  My appetite hasn't decreased unfortunately and I suspect I may end up looking like a sumo wrestler if I'm not careful.  If the weather was better I'd be happily munching my way through salad but when it's this cold my body is convinced it needs to lay down fat stores to get me through the winter!

But I'm keeping busy.  Knitting, quilting, gardening, reading (Chris Hoy autobiography) and there's always stuff to be done round this old house.  It looks like the housing market won't be improving any time soon so I need to prepare for another winter here. That will keep me occupied and out of mischief.

I've also found 4 teaching jobs within my speciality so I've been busy filling in application forms.  Surely one of them will come my way?  Fingers crossed and universe been asked.

I loved this quote Fi left on FB. "Success is not measured by heights attained but by obstacles overcome. We're going to pass through many obstacles in our lives: good days, bad days. But the successful person will overcome those obstacles and constantly move forward"  Bruce Jenner

I'm moving forward :-)

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Day 3 aka Game Over

Day 3 began with a lie in.  Until 6.30am! I expected to be stiff and sore so wasn't surprised to find I could barely move. I genuinely hadn't looked at the day's programme (cos I would freak!) so when I found out it was a 5 mile pre breakfast run I panicked.  But a quick test run up and down the road and a liberal amount of Biofreeze on my lower back convinced me I was up for it.  I really was.

And the first couple of miles through knee deep puddles and muddy trail were ok.  I was actually enjoying being out in the pissing down rain.  And managing to run up all the hills!  And then my knee began to get sore.  Achey at first, then twangy.  Then so painful, I had to stop running.  It was a long tearful walk back to the car.

The short version is that I simply couldn't take part in any more exercise.  So I came home, 2 days early.  My knee puffed up nicely and I limped around the house in a foul mood, periodically sitting with a bag o' frozen peas on it.  A trip to the physio suggests I haven't torn or damaged anything but there is major inflammation. Treatment is rest for a couple of weeks and start back very slowly.  He also suggested I'm pushing my body too much.

I haven't been able to blog about it until now because I was so angry. Angry that my race plans have been thwarted again.  Every time I increase my levels of training I get ill or get injured.  It feels like I'm destined not to do a triathlon or half marathon this year.

So even though I didn't complete Fit Camp I learned a lot.  I pushed myself harder and further in one day than I've ever been able to do.  I still let the crap in my head stop me from believing in myself but I'm more aware of it and I'm working on it.

I have no idea what to do now.  I don't have a goal to work towards except don't gain weight!  How can I stay motivated when I can't train?

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Day 2

I got up in time (just) for a pre breakfast 3 mile run and beach workout.  Stunning location but eaten alive by the dreaded midges!!

Breakfast was followed by a 5 mile trail walk.

Lunch was followed by a 20 mile mountain bike ride on trails, closely followed by an upper body circuit session.

And rounded off with a collapse into the hot tub!!  It was hot and bubbly!!!

I have never done so much exercise in one day.  I discovered a few more things about myself.  I'm a big scaredy cat going downhill on a bike!  I was constantly told to get my hands off the brakes.  And true to form I struggled going uphill as well.  Encouragement in the form of "PEDAL, PEDAL, PEDAL" had little effect on my dead legs. No problem, I got shoved up from behind. And when that wasn't fast enough I was dragged up!!

I discovered that when you run out of energy it means you haven't eaten enough.  Ooops!  Forgot I had stuff in my backpack.

And I fell off. THREE times!  Once into the river, once going up a hill and once at the side of the main road (that one really hurt!)

But I kinda enjoyed (most) of it.  Although I don't half ache all over!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Day 1

It might be a pretty ski lodge with Wifi, outdoor hot tub and a wood burning stove but it may well be the scene of my demise.

Boot Camp (cunningly renamed Fit Camp!!) has commenced.  A deceptively leisurely evening arrival was swiftly followed by a short sharp shock in the form of tomorrow's schedule!  A 6.30am pre breakfast run and beach workout, followed by breakfast, followed by a 3 hour trail walk then lunch.  I haven't even got the heart to look at what I'm doing after lunch or in the evening.

I love how optimistic Clark is in thinking I'll be able to get out of bed before 6am!! I guess I should have warned him I'M NOT A MORNING PERSON!!!!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

I am woman, hear me roar

The above image is a take on the classic 1972 Helen Reddy song "I am woman"  I recently discovered it on a wander round Youtube.  It speaks to me on so many levels and I can understand why it became an anthem for women's rights throughout the seventies.

But it's the chorus that really resonates with me this week.

Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

Sometimes I believe that I can do anything.  In the last couple of weeks I've run for my club, I've learned to cycle with SPD pedals (not learned to stop yet without falling over though!!), I've been out for an 8 mile run (my longest run in 9 years) and realised a teenage ambition by becoming a biker chick!

Oh yes, I am woman! Tired but happy :-)

Monday, 25 July 2011

5x5 relay

I was brave and took part in our club's 5x5 relay on Saturday.  This event was created a couple of years ago to celebrate our 25th year.  Basically teams of 5 run a leg of approx 5 miles around Crieff and Comrie.  Each leg is very different (road, trail or hill) so it suits all kinds of runners. 

My team were The Royal Family headed by Queen Elizabeth herself!  Thanks to Kirsty who made our fab team t shirts and gave us our titles.  I'm Duchess of the Turret since my leg was running downhill from Turret Dam into Crieff. I like running down the hill!!

 It looks like I'm all alone up there but everyone else was in front of me!  Note the Sharon-esque leg pose ;-)

Phil came storming in over the hill to hand over to me in 2nd place.  I think this photo might end up in a club caption competition!!!

The relay is designed to be a fun event.  The runners fall into 2 camps.  Those who take it all very seriously and work out team tactics and those who don't (me n Charlie!) But I surprised myself.  When 3rd place Charlie caught up with me and passed me I was quite disappointed.  I really wanted to hold my 2nd place for the team.  So it was with some glee I saw that he was struggling so I pushed on and we kinda ran together for a while.  When we hit the flat I pushed on again and he couldn't keep up.  I knew he wouldn't catch me so I kept going.  I really thought I'd hold my 2nd place.

So I was quite scunnered when Colin came flying past me with about half a mile to go. He might joke that he's an Old Git (it's on the back of his hoodie!) but he's a good runner so I took comfort in only losing one place before handing over to Her Majesty who ran the final leg which is the 10k route.

It's the first time I've taken part in the event and I loved it.  And I've found there is a wee competitive streak in me! Maybe next year I'll run an uphill leg!

(photos by Liz Mestecky)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The C word

I got a row for using the C word.  As usual it was in relation to my run this morning. I sent a text to Clark saying I had managed my 5 mile run but had made the mistake of attempting to run up Laggan Hill.  I have a complete mental block when it comes to hills.  My head says I can do it and I really want to do it but my legs have a different idea. They just stop.  We have endless conversations about why this happens and so far I haven't found the answer.  So when I said I had a good run but still can't do hills I got the reply "stop using that f*cking word - it is not in my dictionary!" (the * wasn't me, you know I have no problem writing or saying fuck and all its derivatives) 

I don't know how to get round this.  Even wee gradual inclines floor me mentally.  I'm constantly seeking flat routes to run (and cycle) but as I'm increasing my mileage it's getting harder to find decent routes without just going 10 times round the block.  I'm gonna have to run up hills cos something else has started happening.  When I grind to a halt, my head fills with more than just running related crap.  I'm a half empty glass kinda person so even when there's a lot of great stuff going on I'll always be focusing on the negative.

As I walked up the hill I tried to force myself into thinking positive thoughts. I've been reading a few books on the subject but I think deep down I don't actually believe what they say.  Visualising myself running up the hill just doesn't work.  Chanting like 'the little engine who could' doesn't work either.  The thing is I'm sure I'm physically fit enough to do it now.

I could avoid hills but as I improve I'm discovering what kind of runs I like. I like off road, I like loops rather than out and back runs.  And I like running down hills.  In this weekend's upcoming club relay event I requested the run down from the dam.  5 miles straight down!

Not using the C word is simplifying the problem.  I could say I have difficulty running up hills.  But the truth is right now I can't go up hills and I don't know why.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Clyde Stride

There aren't many things or people that can get me up at silly o'clock on a Saturday morning especially after the week I've just had!!  But my friend Lee is one of them. There are no words to describe what she has done for me so when she asked me to be her wingman during her race the Clyde Stride, I didn't even think about it.  I didn't even ask what she wanted me to do.  I just promised her I'd be there on the day.

And what a day it was.  It was fantastic to meet up with lots of old friends running or helping and lots of new ones too.  We rode in a white van delivering drop bags and water to checkpoints.  I told her when to eat and she told me when to put up more signs.  We righted the world (obviously!!) We picked up an injured passenger (Mark, who was lovely) and we arrived at the finish in plenty of time delivering the finishers' bags.  Mighty fine day oot!

In the absence of my personal torturer, this week's training has been haphazard to say the least. But a timely abusive text convinced me to go out a stress busting run on Friday night instead of reaching for a glass of wine. I've never been out a run where it was almost dark on my return!

Yet more 'encouragement' today saw me out a run this afternoon.  I'm starting to think that a run of  4 or 5 miles is now just a 'wee run.' How did that happen?? Need to start upping the mileage as the half marathon gets closer and closer.  I'm also upping my cycling mileage this week.  I've been given a wee gadget thing for Delilah that measures heart rate, mileage, calories and probably gives me my daily horoscope as well!  Looks like I'm taking all this rather seriously, doesn't it? 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Crieff 10k

280 starters made this year's Crieff 10k our biggest for a few years and certainly the biggest field in my time as organiser.  Like all events there were a few glitches but the event passed without major drama.  Although my name is on the permit, like all these races there is a huge team behind the scenes making sure everything possible is done to make it a good race for everyone concerned.  Huge big thanks to my fellow Strathearn Harriers for making it a successful day!

For the first time we had a junior race, a mile round the hockey playing field.  It was open to our own juniors and we invited kids from the local schools.  Gordy finished in a time of 6 min 59 secs.  Just think what he could do with a bit more training! 

My own training is continuing in the manner to which I've become accustomed ie all over the bloody place!!  Monday's run started well but I literally ground to a halt and had to walk back to the house.  On reflection I know why.  I hadn't slept well on the Saturday night (understandably), I'd been up since 5am, I didn't eat breakfast before leaving the house at 7am and forgot to eat/drink until the race was over.  Then later was too tired and emotionally drained to eat more than half a pizza. So basically no fuel in the tank on Monday morning.  Lesson learned despite the mitigating circumstances!!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Firsts n last

I took part in my first serious race since 2004, the Brig Bash 5.  It was the first time I've taken part in a race that wasn't a mass participation event so there was no hiding in a crowd of people dressed as fairies or Superman.  It was the first time I've ever run for a club and the first time I've taken part in a championship race.  So a load of firsts!

I wasn't really sure if I wanted to do the event.  I know I can run 5 miles, I'm just slow and steady.  I'd checked the previous 2 years' race results and quickly realised I'd probably be the last runner.  But I'm trying not to compare myself to all the fab runners I know so quietly decided I'd do it.  I only told 2 people and Gordy who came with me to be my support.

We arrived in torrential rain with accompanying thunder and lightning.  I nearly went back home! But I reminded myself of why I'm doing this and duly registered.  Then the nervous wait for the start.

8 other Harriers were running and they were kind enough to be encouraging and not express surprise at my presence.

204 runners set off and I quickly settled into the rear of the field.  For the first mile I could easily see runners in front of me but they quickly pulled away.  I didn't mind and set about running my own race.  I know where I've been and how I got here.  I'm learning to be happy being "upright, outside and running"  It wasn't until one of the marshals shouting encouragement to me that I realised I wasn't last!  That was all the motivation I needed. 

I finished in 203rd position in a time of 57m 24s.  I'll never break records but it was a HUGE improvement on my last 5 mile run.  And Gordy shouting "Well done Mum!" as I crossed the line really made me smile.  I wouldn't say I enjoyed it at the time but I'm enjoying the satisfaction of completing a race.  And I earned a club championship point.

And I wasn't last! :-)

Friday, 1 July 2011

Up n down

My only excuse for not blogging regularly is that I've been rushed off my feet with all the voluntary stuff I do but rest assured I have been training regularly.  Now the school holidays are upon us I should have more time (although there is a wee race I'm organising on July 10th!!) 

I'd love to say training is going well but that's not quite true.  I'm really struggling with motivation and my lack of progress especially in running and swimming.  One great run is swiftly followed by 3 crap ones.  One good gym session is quickly followed by one that ends with me in tears at not being able to do something.  I cannot get my head round the whole PMA thing.  I want to run faster and longer so what stops me?  My head and my body are just not talking to each other. 

Clark tells me I'm too negative.  I tell myself I can't run up the hill so I don't.  Self fulfilling prophesy and all that.  I want to run up the hill so why can't I??  All suggestions gratefully received.

I know that having the right kit doesn't make you a better runner/cyclist/swimmer but I picked up my new pair of Addidas prescription sunglasses this morning.  They are worth every penny (thank goodness I like beans on toast!!)  Being able to see properly while cycling makes a huge difference.  I was very brave this morning and started my cycle from the house (I live on a blind bend at the top of a hill that is notorious for accidents!!)  I did a 12.5 mile loop in 67 mins. The last mile was uphill and nearly killed me. But I did it!

See, I'm ending on a positive note!  Although I've not managed to do much this afternoon except potter about the kitchen.  Well, we're officially on holiday now.  Just need some sunshine :-)

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Short n flat

For the first time in my adult life I wore a pair of shorts yesterday to run.  I've always been self conscious of my legs and preferred to wear 3/4 leggings in summer and full length in winter.  But I decided it was time to get the legs out and wear shorts.  My legs ain't perfect but they're reasonably toned, not much cellulite and only a couple of wee broken veins.  Not bad for a 45 yo mother of 3 who's been an exercise hating lazy bitch for most of her adult life!

I took Delilah out for a spin this morning.  The plan was a wee 10 mile loop but I managed to hit a pothole and got a flat tyre.  So only managed 6.6 miles. I've had a fair amount of abuse (you know who you are!!) when I admitted that I don't know how to fix a puncture and don't even own a tyre pump.  I may be inexperienced but I'm not dumb.  Once I learn how to do it I'll be fine.  In my experience there are no stupid questions.  If I don't know how to do something I'll find someone who does and ask them to teach me.

And now I have the excitement of waiting for a Wiggle parcel to arrive :-)

Monday, 13 June 2011


The main reason I went on the Harriers away weekend to Badaguish was to avoid sulking at home on tri day.  Oh and I was promised it would be good fun!!!!  So with that in mind Gordy and I loaded Samson up with as much camping gear as we could fit in and headed north in glorious sunshine.  Yeah, remember that one day of summer?  In fact it was so lovely someone forgot to pack his jacket and jumper!!!

On arrival we (Phil M and Gordy) put up the tent, then everyone congregated at the wigwams for drinks and BBQ.  Those of us in tents looked longingly inside the wigwams.  Then when it got too dark to be outside we moved into the lodge which was total luxury. 

The first night I got 2 hours sleep.  Gordy seemed to sleep ok but then he is a seasoned camper.  So I turned up rather tired for the 5 mile trail run on the Saturday morning.  Frankly it was so BAD (mentally not physically) that when we got back I nearly packed the tent up and came home.  Only a coffee intervention from ladies club captain Ali stopped me.  But the black gloomy feeling that had settled on me stayed with me the rest of the weekend and well into the following week.

On the Sunday morning (after another 2 hours sleep) there was a Hare and Tortoise relay (that's me in the pink, photo by Helen)  Obviously I was a tortoise but that didn't help with my feeling that my crapness as a runner was being reinforced.  3 undulating miles later at the back of the field and I was raring to get packed up and go home.

I've deliberately waited a week before blogging about the weekend and the following week.  Maybe I had unrealistic expectations about the weekend.  The company was fantastic, I ran both planned runs and Gordy had a ball but I expected to come home full of enthusiasm about running. Instead I felt like giving up altogether especially after then struggling on a run with Clark.  Maybe I was on a downer about not being able to take part in the tri.  Maybe it was simple sleep deprivation.  As I get older I value a good night's sleep in a comfy bed.

But every experience is a learning experience.  I will never ever sleep in a tent again!! I need to stop comparing myself to more experienced runners.  I accept that I'm not particularly competitive.  The challenge for me is always just to keep doing it because I can.  And I need to develop a thicker skin!!

The challenge for the summer is to build up my fitness to survive a boot camp in August (still not sure how I got talked into that!) and the Glasgow half marathon in September.  I'm ready to step it up a gear.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

TRX Sux!!

I used to think exercising on a bosu was tough.  Or on those gel discs that resemble Katie Price's boob implants.  But Clark has outdone himself in finding a new instrument of torture called a TRX suspension trainer.  It's evil.  Now I don't mind working hard, I don't mind pain cos I know it's doing me good.  But this level of pain actually woke me up throughout the night as I turned over in my bed.  I winced as I got out of bed this morning.  And I actually cried when I sneezed.  Yes, I know my core is still weak and needs strengthened.  Yes, I know it will benefit my running.  But Clark Hamilton is a bastard!!

Other training news includes me improving my running times over 5k.  Since starting training properly again after whooping cough my breathing has been quite sore so I've deliberately been pushing myself harder that I did previously.  Just to see how it feels.  And I'm so pleased to report that I haven't died yet and I've taken nearly 2 mins off my time over the last fortnight.  Next step is to increase the distance at the same pace.

I've been out on Delilah a few times and my confidence is growing.  Times are slowly coming down as well so need to venture further afield soon.  I'm getting good at putting the bike rack on my Ka which is now called Samson!!!  And I'm learning so much about how to maintain a bike too. 

But I still haven't stepped back into the pool yet :-(

This weekend sees me and my youngest taking part in our running club away weekend.  Me in a tent!! And running on hills with proper runners.  Still wondering how I got talked into that one!!!!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Delilah meets Ka

Took Delilah out for her first outing on the bike rack on my new Ka.  We both survived ok.  It took me longer to get her strapped on safely than I managed time in the saddle!!

I love cycling but I'm finding it quite hard.  I don't feel confident going out on my own and am really scared of falling off at speed.  I've only fallen off once so far and that was onto grass.  But I know I need to TTFU and just get out there.

She needed a quick hose down when we got back and I have to apply some dry lube to her bits apparently (ooer!) but I'm learning about bike maintenance.  And other stuff, like liberally applying Vaseline ;-)


Hello!  Thanks for checking out my new blog.  I'm an old hand at blogging, been doing it for a few years now but I wanted to start afresh with one just about my attempts to complete a triathlon this year.

2010 was a life changing year for me.  A lot of it was pretty horrible but I survived.  I came out the other end stronger, happier and healthier than I've ever been in my life.  I decided I would like to do something meaningful to me so I challenged myself to train and compete in a triathlon.  All was going well until I got whooping cough.

I'm almost back to full health, I'm training again and I will take part in a triathlon this year. Running and cycling are going well although I'm not back swimming properly yet.  But I'm nearly there.  Whenever I feel tired, sore or just plain sorry for myself I think of Jane Tomlinson and all that she achieved.  She is my inspiration.

Give me some time to play about with the blog but do come back and visit :-)