Friday, 28 January 2011

Family Affairs

Families, can't live with them,cant live without them.

I have 3 big brothers and being the youngest & only girl I've seen my fair share of squabbles throughout my life. My Brothers became even more important to me when we lost our parents.

Last week my cousin dropped down dead with a massive heart attack, he was only 46.Jimmy was a great character, someone who was life & soul of party and once you'd met him you'd never forget him. He was an entertainer and had his own Karaoke business purely because he loved singing. His claim to fame was beating Susan Boyle in a karaoke contests once! He did many charity gigs close to his heart over the years, hr really did have a big heart. He leaves behind a wife & a 6 yr old son. What words do you have for them? There's a great big whole i their lives now.

So the funeral was yesterday. It's sad but true that funerals are the only time i get my 3 big brothers in any one place together these days. Mainly because David & Alan don't speak to each other. I've tried to smooth things over and almost succeeded a few times but it always seems to break down at last mo. So now i leave them be, if one makes a comment i tell them i don't want to hear it.

Things seemed to go OK and they even managed to sit round table together at one point without any daggers getting drawn. progress perhaps.

We're not only ones to have these issues though, not by any means. My cousin Linda (Jimmy's sister) hasn't spoken to her sister for about 3 yrs, and not spoken to her Mother for about 2 yrs.

I'm very close to Linda & her husband and see them socially a lot, i've had many a conversation to Linda trying to get her to make up with her mother to no avail. She is just too stubborn. I've pointed out how bad she'll feel if something happens to her without them making up, how guilty she might feel. But no, she's not for moving. It really upsets me as i don't like to see my Auntie upset. Yesterday when we arrived at my Auntie's house you could cut atmosphere with a knife.

I spoke to Linda in the car and tried to reason with her that she needed to give her Mum a bit of leeway, she'd lost her son after all. Yes Linda had lost her Brother but no parent expects to lose a child, i cant begin to imagine the pain that causes. She seemed to listen to me and did make bit of effort when we arrived. I cant understand a lot of Linda's problems, she feels pushed out & less important because she doesn't have kids and her other 2 sisters do. Her Mum does seem to do more for them than Linda but then i can see why too. It's a minefield.

I tried to get round everyone yesterday and made sure i wasn't in any *camp* (like I'd ever camp ;)) and i know it sounds crazy but i like funerals for simple reason it brings everyone back together whether they like it or not. We see people we haven't seen for year and swap stories and laugh, and cry. I saw my Auntie Dolly for first time in about 15 yrs. she is 86 next month and as sharp as a tack, she told me a few stories about my mum and it made me smile, and made me sad at same time. Made me sad that Linda & Jeanette cant make up. I don't have that luxury.

I was already thinking about my Mum a lot this week anyway. She was a great Burns fan and i read at the weekend that the first Burns Suppers were originally held on Jan29th til they realised they'd got the date wrong. That's my Mum's birthday, i do wonder if she ever knew that, i suspect not as I'm sure I'd have heard it many a time over the years!

Had constant reminders of Mum yesterday, people telling me stories and telling me how much she was missed by everyone. When i found out one of my cousins would be 52 this yr it shocked me. My Mum died just 5 weeks after her 52nd Birthday. This year is be 21 long years since she died, i was just 2 weeks past my 21st Birthday.

Sorry if this is a bit of morbid blog, i just need to get these things down sometimes. Jimmy's funeral was indeed a celebration of his life. His coffin was piped into church to Caledonia, nice touch. And his parting song? You'll love this. Bat out of hell, Sang by Jimmy, blaring out as we exited the church, i laughed & cried at same time. Clearly the Minister had a sense of Humour, they'd had a service down in Stranraer last sat and the Minister refused point blank to play it!

I guess my point is, Dont let petty arguments get out of hand and make that special effort to see the people you keep meaning to but never quite get round to it. They might not be around for ever and you might not get the chance again.

Cherish the ones you love.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Back on the Way

The West Highland one that is. Seems like ages ago since i was there,last time was in November for S2S Ultra so it was good to be back. I'd booked The Oak Tree Inn for Ian's Birthday so i thought that it would be silly not to run a bit whilst there. So with that in mind i put the call out to see who fancied running from Drymen to Rowardennan and back.

Early morning start and as we drove through from a dry and clear Edinburgh it got more & more foggy. And more & more frosty, in fact all around Stirling area the trees and Fields were frozen white and fog was extremely thick. I was getting a tad worried. Ian kept reiterating that "you should avoid conic hill until March" until i turned radio up to drown him out and sang a bit louder.

We arrived in car park to find Norry patiently waiting. Soph soon arrived quickly followed by Alan & Dougie. Last but not Least Kate, Lucy & Robert appeared looking nervous and excited. Soph as usual was dressed for Antarctica and scared many a walker with her ninja get up .

We had nice mixed bag of people, some doing whole thing, others planning on dropping out at various stages. We set off and although the ground was pretty hard in some parts it was fine to run on. Kate & Lucy were there for first time and are both doing the 2nd stage in Fling relay so this was perfect training for them. I love seeing people's enthusiasm the first time they see the glorious sights. It takes me back to a mere 18months ago when I'd never set foot on a trail nor a hill until i myself did the relay. I even avoided running on grass before that! lol

It was fairly chilly til we started climbing and got warmer the higher we got. The views were just awesome. It was pretty icy on way up in parts especially on the rockier, wetter areas but all passable with care. The downhill was a tad hairier. Here i am skipping down looking rather happy with myself (thanks to Soph for pic) 5 mins later Norry warned me that "it was fairly slippy on those rocks.

That would be the same one i stepped on and went down like a sack of tatties then! Ooops. Picked self up and gritted teeth and bounced down a bit more, this time on my feet.

First dropout was the Birthday boy himself who was off to see his boys so left us at Balmaha and ran back via the road to avoid Comic hill which was quite frankly living up to its name ;) Off we set along road and onto next section. Few miles in and Norry was next dropout albeit unplanned this time. His knee was playing up and he decided to err on side of caution and hitch back to car.

Down to 7 we soldiered on and shivered every time we hit loch side and warmed up with every climb. I was loving every minute. Even Alan's singing didn't deter me. Soph was struggling for bit and put her ipod on and also started singing, I'm sure i saw some wildlife run for their lives....

Before too long we got to Rowardennan and after quick photo shoot we had a more dropouts, all planned except for Soph, she was really wanting to come back but had struggled a bit and didn't want to set herself back after bit of battle with injury/breathing trouble.

So now it was down to 2! Alan & I set off and i let him know I'd be stopping at Oak Tree on way back,it would only take me to 23miles but i was happy with that and eager to get checked in! Soph had promised to drop in for a cuppa.

We got about a mile away from Balamaha when suddenly this loony jumped out from behind a tree scaring wits out of us, it was of course mental Soph who'd decided to head out & meet us. Oak tree appeared rather quickly after that and after saying farewell to Alan we were about to head in when a girl runner came out and asked if we'd just been on WHW, she'd just done a 21mile run and had lost her iphone, poor thing. She reckoned she'd had it on last mile so set off looking for it.

In we went to the warmth of the log fire, cup of tea & glass of wine and i was happy bunny.On way to room we stopped to speak to girl who lost phone, she'd not found it but we had nice chat to them all about the Fling and other races we might meet at, one recognised me from my blogs!Really hope someone handed that phone in if they found it.

Soph came down to see room and was well impressed with the view we had!

Made Soph a cuppa then she set off home. I ran a bath and had nice soak. Wasn't until i got out i realised i had nothing to get changed into as my case was in Ian's car. Oh well. Lay on biggest bed in world wrapped in towels and had a wee snooze.

Ian arrived around 6ish and i quickly got out the stashed bottle of Veuve in my case, luckily said case having been in car all day meant it was nice & chilled! result.
Had yet another great dinner/service and I'd managed to secretly organise a cake for birthday boy.
Here he is on fire after candles turned out to be bit inflammable ...
Where's a London Fireman when you need him?
Wee walk next day to loosen of legs topped off a perfect weekend.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Conquering the 7 Hills

Had a totally well earned rest day on Saturday, nice lazy day which was much needed. The howling wind and torrential rain wasn't exactly luring me out anyway!

Very nearly decided to stay in dressing gown and give ceilidh a miss but really glad we didn't. Lots of dancing which clearly counts as cross training , especially in heels i was wearing! Took camera but forgot to take pics, probably due to dancing so much. Really good to catch up, i hardly make it club so nice to see everyone.

Mindful of our run next day we headed off home around 11.Plan for morning was 7 hills of Edinburgh out by no later than 10am.I did moan a bit about how windy it was sounding and asked if i could just stay in bed, I was told in no uncertain terms that wouldn't be an option.

So after grumping a bit we set off. We started off at Craiglockheart tennis club, so that's where we also finished. >

First hill, Craiglockheart, obviously.

Although it was superwindy at top of the hills it was actually quite weirdly warm. Wish I'd stuck to my original plan of shorts n vest as i was a bit warm tbh. Last time we were up there it was snow covered, what a difference a week makes.

Next in line was Braid Hill, we had to run across golf course and dodge some golf balls at one stage lol. Behind me in this pic you can see Arthur's seat but we had another one to get to before that.

Next up, Blackford hill. I ended up almost slipping down a muddy gully and hanging onto trees whilst Ian took higher/drier/more sensible route. I was following his instructions though!

I'd actually never been on Blackford hill ever! It was really good run off there, really loved it. Arthur's Seat looking bit closer now as you can see.
Fair bit of road to get to there and this is where i start to feel bit jaded, after running through lovely forest trails and up and down hills tarmac is a bit wearing on legs.

The climb up Arthur's seat seemed to go on forever, and got windier and windier the higher we got. I was clinging onto rocks at certain points fearing I'd get blown off side. Ian was struggling to hold camera to take pic at top so we got off there pretty quickly before we got blown off.
Still surprisingly a fair few tourists up there too!

Next up, Calton Hill. Only half a hill as coach called it. Oh he made me run up it too, made me run up several of them actually. Surely as an Ultra runner i get to walk the uphills?

It is only half a hill i suppose, i still took the huff 3/4 way up and walked a bit though ;) It wasn't so windy up there and i was being pushed on and told off for wasting time taking pics so off we went in pursuit of Castle Hill.

This part is bit tricky, not because of hills, terrain etc, but because of the damn tourists. It is quite a long drag to castle though and once again i was feeling it.

More tourist dodging as we left castle with our last hill in our sights, Corstorphine. Couple times i tried to stop and walk i was told to keep going til i got to steep hill (it was long drag of hill, but a hill regardless!) tough taskmaster he is.

Finally we reached the tower! wooop. We'd done it. 7 Hills done & dusted. wooop etc.
Only it wasn't so much was it, we had to get back to where we started so we could complete it totally, and get home of course.
So off we went heading back to craiglockheart, good run off Corstorphine hill , it was great fun.
Back to the streets though and by time i was at slateford i was wishing i could click my red ruby shoes together and wake up at home! Got pushed on though and more hills to slog up before the glorious sight of tennis club appeared.
We descent down to it and bingo, we'd done it. Another 3/4 mile back to house though and we had a bit of sprint finish along street to finish last section at a ridiculous pace of sub7 mm ffs.
All in all we did just short of 19miles in 3hrs 33. Cracking run, cracking route.
As we were running past the Dean Gallery we discussed just how great that route would be for any visitors to the city, you really do get to see every sight of significance and with the most amazing views to boot.
I do love this city.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Quick week

this week has surely flown in quickly! Think it's because I've been busy at work and I've got back into proper routine training wise.

Ran doubles everyday so far this week. Except Wednesday, only ran in morning and went to gym. I've ran 9 times this week and still got weekend left! It did hit me around 3pm today though, felt very tired at work. Thought about getting bus home but decided to run for bit and see how i felt. Bus passed me on princes st and i played catch with it all way to morningside and ended up beating it big time :o)

I now only do around 3 miles to gym and 2 or 3 after and it's really helping push my pace. This morning for instance the splits were
8.30 gym
7.59 after gym
6.53! good god! :-o

dont think i've ever got under 7mm before, mental.

Talking of the gym, I'm getting to see who the regular early birds are now. There's wee old man, man with PT who i think must be football coach after overhearing some of their conversations, gym bunny who might as well stay in bed (I'll get back to that) and few randoms scattered around for good measure.

gym bunny- I've only ever seen her on the the cross trainer. She's there when i get to gym (earliest i get there is around 5.45) she's on it when i leave (latest i leave is 6.30) She is hunched over it, leaning on the bars. And i thought at first she was just standing slouched over it but on closer inspection she is moving her feet ever so slightly. She'd use up more calories lying in bed wiggling her toes. she actually doesnt break sweat. I'm a sweaty mess by time i finish my session and mine is less than 30mins

Another strange sight this morning. Man jogging on spot. Why? The place is has plethora of dreadmills and cardio machines. Most odd. Picking up on John K's blog re-weather, i couldn't agree more! It was torrential rain when i left house so i had jacket on but was mighty relieved to get to gym and get it off, had good session at gym and upped my dumb bells to 10k for my deadweights, so that's 20k! woop!
shoved jacket in bag for run after gym and ran in my vest and shorts. fabulous, summer is here ;)

Restday tomorrow, followed by Club Ceilidh tomorrow night so maybe not so much of a rest!

Happy weekend everyone :o)

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Weebles wobble but they dont fall down

Haha, i loved weebles. I had this wee playground>

when i googled weebles and found some pics they all look a bit sinister now!

Talking of childhood toys, does anyone remember frisco disco? that was my first record player, i found a picture on Ebay but i'm pretty damn sure mine had a microphone and earphone's, i remember driving my big brothers crazy singing the 2 records i had over & over until i was unplugged! lol

Sorry, i know this has nothing to with running but someone said weeble earlier and it instantly sparked off many happy memories :o) Although I've definitely felt like bit of a weeble on the ice and snow this week, lets hope i don't fall down either....

Friday night was catch up night. Chris (who used to work for me) emigrated to Canada about 6yrs ago now, he went over with Leisa whom he met whilst they both worked at Museum with me.Long story cut short, they got married. At time i thought they were bit of odd couple, Chris was the original party guy and into his clubbing, Leisa quite the opposite and preffered starbucks to nightclubs. but they got married and off they went to Canada. (she is Canadian) They came last year to visit and i was shocked to find out Chris had put an enormous amount of weight on. He'd been really heavy as a teenager and i feared he was heading back same way.

to cut to the quick, he's back and this time alone. They split up in October, Leisa had a new man by end of month and is now living in Miami! Chris seems happy to stay in Canada for now as he has a stake in the Hotel he works at and owns a house there too. Everything seems completely amicable which is good, Leisa still regularly comments on his FB page and Chris is happier than I've seen him in years. Oh, and 4 stone lighter! He admitted himself he ate when he was miserable and since October he pulled his socks up and joined a gym, he even joined one for time he's over here. Very proud of him. We had a great night, too much food, too much wine but great time nonetheless. By time we left restaurant there had been a few inches of snow, mental.

With the snow being so heavy overnight so we decided to head up Craiglockheart hill in the morning to test it out, last time we attempted it the ice was way too slippy.Glorious views from top and a beautiful winters day.

Met plenty dog walkers, few Mountain bikers and couple runners out enjoying the crazy/lovely weather.Mind you, i only say it's lovely if its crunchy and non slippy, i was soon complaining when i got into my heels and dress for my night out!
So next night out was my staff Christmas party. This one i wasn't looking forward to so much. No we're not celebrating stupidly early we just know we'll get better service and better food having our night out in January!
It wasn't too bad actually, Food was really very good as was service. After meal we went across to pub over road and had few drinks. Was home and tucked up in bed bed before 12 though so a pretty tame night by my standards!
Had lovely lazy Sunday with no running. Pile of Sunday papers and watching footy with Stephen, followed by nice roast dinner. Pretty damn good all round i reckon.
Back into training mode on Monday and up at 5am. Run to gym, then to work, then home. After working all day that is, i didn't just turn around and come home once I'd got there lol .Today i took gym rest day but still ran to and from work. Still surprising myself with my pace, clearly this run faster to run faster stuff really work huh? Been told I've got to run even faster though. Gulp.
It was almost tropical this morning too, really need to get my thinner running jacket back from the depths of Newcastle where i left it
Managed to get group organised to run on WHW, plan is to do Drymen to Rowardennan and back, if conic hill is mental like this time last yr we can bypass it on way back like we did then.
Got fair few people coming along and looking forward to the weekend immensely.
Gutted for Phil (flip) who has once again hurt his foot and has scuppered chances of joining us, get well soon my lovely friend , miss you. x
Running Club Ceilidh this weekend, i hope i don't bring a couple down on dance floor like i managed to last year! :-o

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Stiff little Sandra

After gyming and doing double runs 2 days on trot by mid afternoon on Wed i was groaning everytime i bent down (damn squats) hey. no pain no gain they say (who are they?)

So i decided to give myself a wee rest day from gym and just run to/from work, cutting the mileage slightly too. What a result. I knocked 45secs a mile of the morning run (5am) and a whopping min and half off afternoon run! (3pm)wtf! pace was 8.37 and 7.43 respectively. Normally in morning i struggle to get under 9min mile tbh and often fall into a comfort zone of between 9 and 9.15.

So to get 7.43 this afternoon blew me away, i actually thought garmin was playing up for first mile (7.24!)but soon realised i was just bouncing along happily.

Back to gym tomorrow, got busy weekend ahead and need to try a counter attack lol

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Back to reality

i must be one of few people quite happy to be back at work! Not that i didn't enjoy the holidays, it's perhaps that i enjoyed them a bit too much and quite like my early morning routine!

So it was back to basics this morning, alarm set for 4.45, up dressed, cup T and out door just after 5. Did 5 mile route to gym, arrived at gym and was mildly surprised to only find 3 people there. There was more activity in the snowbound blizzardy days! most odd. I do like being in gym before 6am though,and this morning was a bloody hard workout having not been for about 2 weeks.

I've moved my last set of weights up a bit. I'm still on 5kg (that's 2 x 5k one in each hand)for my shoulder presses (i do a small squat doing these) I've moved from 7 to 9kg(or 18k that should be?) for my dead lifts which are alternated with my planks and it near on killed me this morning. Ok, i might be slightly exaggerating here but it was hard work! Altogether i do 4 sets of supersets involving free weights, kettlebells and pulley machine thingy.
Still, bish bash bosh 30min workout was done and i worked damn hard for it. another mile run to work and i was raring to go if a little jelly legged by then.

Busy day today but not too bad. Had cracking run home, only ever run that fast normally when chasing coach but i was flying when i left work! Wish someone would clear pavements for me though ffs, I'm sick of getting dirty looks or running onto road cause people are taking up entire pavement or dawdling around like 80yr olds on way to funeral parlour.

So there it is, starting as i mean to go on. Gym at least 3 times a week, more if I'm not too tired. I'll maybe try and move onto 6k for my shoulder press soon, watch this space.

yikes, a blog all about training.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

a Year of Ultra's, Surprises and wee hot pies

Sometimes you have to look back before looking forward, so that's exactly what Ive just done.

Reading back on my blogs from this time last yr brings back many happy memories. I'd only just starting blogging here i did a bit of copy n paste job from my old blog. This was the year i decided not to take my husband back, considering it was he who left me and then wanted me back 6 weeks later it was bit of shock. I decided the trust was well & truly gone, without that you have nothing.

I'd already had to remortgage house and everything was back into my name, scary but surprisingly comforting at same time. Made all the more scary by tensions and insecurity at work, we ended up losing contract and after a shaky few months of worry and more worry things have settled down. Thankfully i had my running to take my mind of it all

My first year as an Ultra runner, and what a year it's been. Never could i have expected things to go so well, to enjoy every tiring, sometimes back breaking step, to see Scotland in all it's gloriousness. To see places i thought I'd never ever see, and to meet so many very special people. The fling was my focus, had been from minute i entered, everything leading to it was a by product. And my god i loved it, every minute of it. I also was in floods of tears at the end knowing I'd raised over £2600 for Marie Curie, a charity so very dear to my heart. That and the fact my son had secretly got 2 trains and 3 buses to turn up and see my finish, i had no idea and was overwhelmed.

The races just kept on coming and i loved them all, Cateran trail the week before the Cateran Ultra could've been a big mistake for me, it wasn't, on so many levels. The laughs I'd had along the way I'd never trade. The support I've had incredible, the Ultra running world is surely the most friendly of places to find yourself and i thank god (OK, maybe George, Karen & Jen) for showing me the way.

I've learnt that in life we can make choices to shape our lives, but we are never entirely certain of how things will turn out. You cant always control your own destiny but you can make it your responsibility to look for the positives, to reach for the stars and to make the most of a bad situation. I think that's how i go through life. I've had many a dark day, it's always in January i miss my Mum the most, miss her seeing what I've achieved and mourn the fact she never met Stephen. But i also know it's another part of life that has shaped me and made me a stronger person.

I couldn't have predicted how this year would turn out. There are things i wish could've been handled differently, people i wish i hadn't hurt.But as i said above, sometimes we have no idea which way our life's will turn.

Enough of the coulda woulda shoulda....

Christmas was lovely,run first thing with Santa hat on, not a soul around, back home to stockings, champagne breakfast then we opened rest of pressies. i got spoilt as per usual with lots of lovely things i love. Chanel, Champagne, Shoes, Clothes etc etc. Stephen *actually* liked ALL the things i bought for change, especially the burberry jacket. bingo. Few days after Christmas we went to Linda & Graeme's for dinner. They were as per usual great hosts and had a fridgeful of champers & fabulous food, got home to find a party in full swing :-o now i couldve just chucked everyone out and went to bed like planned. But i mustve been feeling too festive, or to drunk as we just left them to it and headed off to Ian's' to stay.

Bad idea. Stephen got his ipod touch stolen and i got my old phone (which was broken but its not point) stolen. I didn't need to shout to much at Stephen as i think he beat himself up without any help from me! I'm thinking he may not be throwing anymore parties. New Year was fairly quiet but lovely. On New Years day we headed off to South Queensferry to see the loony dookers. Unfortunately we missed most of it as we had to park a million (ok, maybe 1.5)miles away and walk there. Seeing all the loonies shivering and soaked through made us laugh and i have no desire to ever join them!

Oh i've been running too! I ended the year on a fairly respectable 2103 miles. December being on of lowest monthswith 109. I'm quite happy with that.

So now it's time to look forward. To shift the extra pounds i'm pretty sure i've accumulated this past month. To plan for the year ahead. I'm curently in duscussion or should that be negotiation? with coach as to what races i'm doing (allowed to do!) lol

I hope to get back to all the old haunts, to see all the lovely people i met on my travels this year (to beat my times!) sub 11 fling & cateran? And the biggie, to complete (and enjoy!) the Ultimate. The West Highland way race.
Happy New year to you all, may all your hopes and dreams come true.

Bring it on.


This could be a long blog, but 100 miles is a long way. I've always had a pull to this race for various reasons. I've heard many g...