International Cat Day

I always desperately wanted a dog as a child. Probably not the opening line you expected on a blog post about International Cat Day. I never got a dog. I’ve still never owned a dog. I have however owned 4 cats. I guess they were my Mum’s compromise on the whole dog thing.

When I was 3 my Auntie Su moved to Canada. I inherited her cat Minstrel. He was black and white. I’m guessing that’s how he got his name. I don’t have any pictures of him so instead have a picture of my Auntie and I as we waited for her taxi to take her to the airport the day she left for Canada. Minstrel was run over. You’ll soon notice a theme here.

Su and I

After Minstrel I was given my next two cats Meme and Rusty. I named Meme after a cat in a story a teacher told me at school. It was about a black and white cat that rode on a Ferris wheel at a fayre. I was only meant to get one cat but I guess my Dad couldn’t resist the 2nd when he went to get them. I was around 6 or 7 when I got them.

Meme and Rusty

They were both really independent cats and were never lap cats. I grew up with these cats and have so many memories of them. I used to push them around in a pram in the garden for as long as they’d let me. My neighbours poisoned Rusty because she used to go on their garden. Both cats would wait for me at the top of the hill when I came out of school. Meme died first. She was run over by a car. Then Rusty lived until I was around 13 or 14. She too was run over.

It must have only been a year or so later that I got Freddy. He was named after Freddy Boswell on the tv show Bread. A house on my road had a sign in the window saying they had kittens and somehow I managed to convince my Mum to let me have one.

Freddy

Freddy was a nightmare cat. He learnt to open doors, he’d charge at your feet, he’d jump out and surprise you. He was a nightmare and was constantly called “That bloody cat” I only had Freddy for a year or two before he too was run over. I’ve just text my Mum to see if she remembered Freddy and her response was “That bloody cat” haha. It was thanks to Freddy that I was never allowed another cat.

Are you a cat or a dog person?

 

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Happy Yorkshire Day!

Today is Yorkshire Day! As some of you may know I’m originally from Sheffield, the 2nd largest city in Yorkshire. I’m proud to be from Yorkshire. It has so much to offer. I’m celebrating Yorkshire Day and below are some ideas on how you can too.

Yorkshire Day

Food:

Eat a Yorkshire Pudding but if you’re stuck for ideas of what to put it with, why not have a Yorkshire Curry? A Yorkshire Pudding filled with your favourite curry. If memory serves me right, the Yorkshire Curry was invented in Bradford, the Curry Capital of Britain.

For pudding enjoy a slice of Yorkshire parkin. I actually have to ask my Mum to bring this down with her when she comes to visit as I’ve yet to find it in the South. Morrisons sell the best parkin in my opinion. Oh and Morrisons are from Yorkshire too!

Drink:

First and foremost, we all know a good strong cup of Yorkshire Tea is a must on any day never mind Yorkshire Day.  And hey, if it’s good enough for the Brownlee Brothers, then it’s good enough for the rest of us. Just so you know, the Brownlee Brothers are from Yorkshire too. Another unsung hero of Yorkshire is Tetley Tea, which is almost as good as Yorkshire Tea.

If you fancy something a tad stronger then Yorkshire has lots of breweries including Black Sheep, John Smith’s and Kelham Island. Black Sheep actually make a beer called Emmerdale after the TV Soap that’s filmed in Yorkshire.

Music:

There are so many awesome bands from Yorkshire that no matter what your taste in music, you’ll easily find something to listen to. To name a few: The Human League, The Beautiful South, Arctic Monkeys, Def Leppard and Pulp. Fun Fact, I once saw Jarvis Cocker in Sainsbury’s. He was buying Panda Pop.

Movies:

There are so many quality Yorkshire films. The most famous are probably The Calendar Girls, The Full Monty and Brassed Off. Two of my personal favourites are Kes and Rita, Sue and Bob Too.

TV:

If you’ve not got time to watch a whole film then why not stick on an episode of Emmerdale, Heartbeat or Last of the Summer Wine. I’ve watched Emmerdale as long as I can remember.

Clothes:

To really celebrate Yorkshire Day why not don a flat cap. Bonus points if you can find a Whippet to accompany you for the day.

Culture & Leisure:

Yorkshire has a lot to offer in terms of museums, theatres and art. The Yorkshire Sculpture park is a great day out to admire the sculptures whilst breathing in some of the fresh Yorkshire air. Or go and watch a game of football. Did you know, there’s a rumour that Football as we know it today was created in Sheffield!

Speak in a Yorkshire accent:

Yorkshire has a dialect all of it’s own. The Yorkshire accent is highly recognisable but only locals will be able to pinpoint where in Yorkshire you’re from simply by hearing you speak. Time to start practising your Ey Ups and Eeh Bah Gum’s!

Have you ever been to Yorkshire?

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My First Weigh In

This week was my first week following the Weight Watchers Smart Points plan. I’d eaten like a bloody saint! Part of this was because it’s been so damn hot. All I’ve wanted to eat has been salad as it’s been too hot to cook. Anyway I had tracked every morsel of food that had passed my lips between last Thursday and this one.

I’d done a cheeky mid week weigh in only to find on my scales at home I’d lost a bit fat zero pounds! I was horrified and actually could have cried. I’d eaten like a saint and had nothing to show for it. So, when Thursday morning reared it’s head I was nervous. It turned out to be the hottest day of the week so far. I got home incredibly sweaty and feeling very blah and wondering if being stupidly hot would mean I weighed more or less. I’d also tried to just take sips of water after 4pm.

I had a quick shower and got to the class at 7. I waited nervously in the queue and then my turn came. I had a brief chat with my class leader, Claire and then stepped on to the dreaded scales. Amazingly and to my absolute astonishment I’d lost a rather whopping 6lbs! I was blown away and felt quite smug when Claire said “You’ll be getting your half a stone sticker next week”

I then went to browse the shop whilst other people were being weighed in. I bought two books. They’re pocket guides, one for eating out and one called “Shop” that has the points in for lots of branded products.

Afterwards I waited for the class to start. This week there were only 4 of us that stayed behind for the meeting. I’m guessing people don’t want to stay because of the hot weather? I imagine this will increase tenfold come the New Year!

weightloss tracker

I’ve Joined Weight Watchers

Way back when I could run, Alison, who I ran the Gosport Golden Mile with, told me about a special offer Hampshire County Council were offering. If you have a BMI of over 30 they would give you 3 months free Weight Watchers membership.

I’ve contemplated trying Weight Watchers and Slimming World before but the membership prices have always put me off. I always think to myself “I know what to do. I can do it for free” Truth is, I can’t! So I googled Hampshire Council Weight Watchers and was sent straight to the correct page.

I filled in the information and found out my BMI. I know I’m overweight, truth be told I know I’m obese but somehow seeing my BMI was 40 was still a bit of a shock. I don’t know why though, as I don’t know what it was before! Anyway I submitted my information and expected to find something out immediately. However, you have to wait for a letter to arrive with more information on.

A couple of days later I got my letter through telling me I had qualified and that they had booked me in to a class. I was a bit panicked by this as the class wasn’t the closest to me and it was on a Wednesday at 10am, when I’m at work. I gave them a call and was told that I could actually attend any class, so that was a relief. I found a class 0.3 miles away at 7pm on a Thursday. Much more suitable!

I eagerly awaited Thursday, then had to wait a whole other week until the following Thursday as I’d forgotten there was a staff meeting after work. Grr! I got dropped off at the class and felt nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. I got there and everyone was queuing so being British, I joined the queue, not evening knowing what I was queueing for! Turns out we were queuing for the class to open. You join the queue then as you file in, you’re weighed one by one.

One of the people helping there saw me holding my letter from the Council/Weight Watchers and asked me to come forward to fill in a registration form. I was then weighed (I’m sorry I’m not brave enough to post my starting weight yet) and told how many points I was going to be allowed each day and how many extra points I got as spares to be used through the week. I’ve been given 30 points a day and 42 extra points.

I stayed for the meeting after the weigh in which actually felt really awkward. There was only 6 of us there and 3 of the 6 were first timers! The leader, Claire, asked questions and it was like pulling teeth getting answers. It did get easier though the longer we were there, people warmed up and offered more answers. She also gave tips on how to survive summer events e.g. a wedding or a BBQ with friends.

At the end, Claire asked us newbies to stay behind as she’d show us some information videos and tell us about her personal journey. The was a bit surprised by her “weight loss journey” for some reason I expected the leaders to have all being attending Weight Watchers for years and having lost at least 5 stone. Claire joined about 6 months ago and has lost nearly a stone with 5lb still to go.

So how have I been finding it? I’ve been doing it since Thursday and it seems ok so far. I need to take my own lunch to work as eating at the work “salad bar” isn’t going to cut it. Everything is covered in mayo or just not actually healthy or salad!

What I am struggling to get my head round is the point system. Not the counting points, that bit is easy thanks to the app (which is very similar to MyFitnessPal) but the way they work. I always thought overnight oats were a healthy breakfast. They’re 5 points. If I want to add yoghurt to them then that’s free so long as its fat free and flavourless. So I added a muller light fat free vanilla yoghurt which is actually less calories than the fat free plain yoghurt. That takes it up to 8 points. However, I can cook a full English and that’s only 5 points?! So what they’re telling me is sausage, eggs, bacon and beans are healthier than oats and a fat free yoghurt?! Maybe I shouldn’t question it? It’s proven with all the success stories that Weight Watchers works as long as you stick to your points. It’s just a bit baffling when I’m used to counting calories. But maybe calories isn’t what it’s all about anymore? The points in a food are calculated using calories, sugar, saturated fats and protein. Which seems to be a more holistic way of looking at food. I don’t know, but as long as it works!

weight watchers starter pack

Have you ever used a weight loss programme before? Were you successful?

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What do you blog about when you have nothing to blog about?

I am still injured. I’m still not allowed to do anything. No walking, running, swimming or cycling. I told a friend this the other day and she said “Bloody hell, what’s left?!” Exactly! I’m feeling pretty miserable. I seem to have reached a bit of a plateau. My injury is definitely better than when I first did it but I’ve reached a point now where it’s just the same every day. No better yet no worse. I’m doing all my stretches and foam rolling daily like I’ve been told, yet nothing. It’s still more painful at work and feels better when I’m at home at the weekend. At the moment I don’t work Mondays which means I get three days of good recovery. Yet I go back to work and it gets worse again due to the amount of getting up and down from the floor.

So here I am, a week on from my last blog post and I feel like I have nothing to blog about. This weekend I didn’t even volunteer at parkrun. I persuaded my husband and friend to go to Southsea parkrun instead so I could just be anonymous and not have people looking at me sympathetically whilst saying “Oh, you’re still injured?” I just can’t face it. Does that sound selfish?

I’m going back to see my physio today but I know already what she’s going to say. As there’s no improvement it’ll be the same advice. No walking, no running, no swimming no cycling. I just feel like there must be something I can do.

For now, that’s it. That’s all I have to blog about.

 

I Met Dame Kelly Holmes

Dame Kelly Holmes

Dame Kelly Holmes is a double Gold medal Olympian. She won the 800m and 1500m at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Recently on social media she’s been doing something called #joininjune where she has visited various places around the UK and joined in with different fitness class, bootcamps, cycle rides and parkruns.

I’ve mentioned local legend Nick a few times on my blog. He had the crazy idea of us putting a video together and getting her to join us at parkrun and in Gosport to run. So at parkrun we filmed a video asking her to join us, headed up by Geoff, the VC of my running club Gosport Road Runners.

Now if I’ve got my technical skills right, then below should be the video:

Afterwards Kelly Holmes responded with this:

Instagram Story

Which naturally got everyone very excited. But then we didn’t hear anything and she posted that she was going elsewhere for the last Saturday in June and everyone’s hopes dropped. 7th July was our 3rd Birthday at Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun. Yep, we’re still pretty much a baby. We were having a Rio Carnival theme for the day and the RDs were planning a surprise in the run brief. But then we got a surprise of our own on the Monday of our Birthday week. Dame Kelly Holmes was coming after all!

That Saturday morning everyone was really excited. People were in fancy dress, and I’m talking huge head pieces! We had music playing and oh, word had got out about Kelly Holmes so we also had 601 runners!

parkrun volunteers

Honor (left) Me (Middle) and Erica on the right

The run briefing got underway and Honor and I had hidden in amongst the runners. Maggie was RD so she started the brief, then handed over to us where we sprung ourselves upon people and asked them to tell us the “rules”. It was good fun. I felt like one of the reporters that cover the marathon or something.

Afterwards Kelly got up and said a short speech too which was lovely. She said she loves parkrun for the community. Just a bunch of people running together. She also spoke about how it helped her with her own mental health struggles and how the community of parkrun have helped.

Kelly Holmes addressing the crowd

The runners were then sent on their way and Kelly started right at the back with the very last runner.

Kelly Holmes Running

She then worked her way through the crowd and finished somewhere in the top 20. She stopped just at the funnel though and went back to begin high fiving the runners and offering them encouragement. 

Kelly Holmes high fives runner

She stayed right until the very end high fiving people and cheering them in. She then began the picture taking! Her cheeks must have been so sore from smiling as the queue snaked it’s way down the prom.

Naturally I joined the queue and go a picture with her.

Dame Kelly Holmes

Afterwards Dame Kelly travelled to Stokes Bay and ran the Golden Mile too. I however opted for breakfast!

Have you ever met an Olympian?

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Southampton Airport Runway 5K

On 24th June we got up at the rather ridiculous time of 3.30am. That’s because my husband was running the Southampton Airport Runway 5K. I was supposed to be running too, but I’m injured, as you know.

We left the house at 4.30am and made our way to the airport. Registration opened at 5am and the race began at 6am. We arrived just after 5am. We weren’t sure what the traffic was going to be like once we hit the airport, as it happens it was really quiet.

Spectators weren’t allowed through to the runway, instead we had to spectate from the roof of the multi storey car park that overlooked the runway. I walked down though anyway to see how far I could get.

Once my husband had registered, this meant he received a wrist band to get out of the car park for free, we milled around. I spoke to a couple of people I know through parkrun and work. Lots of people were in fancy dress, including a guy in one of the inflatable dinosaur costumes I keep seeing. As the start of the race neared I headed back up to the roof of the car park and got a spot at the fence. Whilst waiting I got to see the sun come up

Sun Rise

I watched the warm up and confirmed to myself that 6am was definitely too early to have to listen to Steps “One for Sorrow” blasting out. The race started at 6am sharp, to be honest the runners looked like little ants from the top of the car park. I did manage to spot my husband though as he set off beside the inflatable dinosaur!

From the start line they ran to the end of the runway then around the end of it to go back on themselves. Then it was one long run out and back. To be honest it looked like hell.

Map

As you can see from the map it’s over a mile on one long piece of concrete! Although my husband assures me it didn’t feel that long and actually felt shorter.

The race wasn’t a chip timed race. My husband finished in 32:16. He was unfortunately beaten by the inflatable dinosaur man!

He made his way up to the car park and gave me the goody bag to look through. It didn’t take long. A bottle of water, a magazine about the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance and a window sticker supporting the aforementioned air ambulance. Bit disappointed there was no food!

We were back home by 7.30 in the morning so had the rest of the day to do as we wish, that was a definite advantage to the race. It was over so early but wasn’t fun getting up in the dark.

And this blog wouldn’t be complete without a snap of the dinosaur! 

Dinosaur Fancy Dress

 

Physio, Transformation and the Founder!

Physio

The Monday after the Gosport Golden Mile I managed to get an appointment to see a physiotherapist. I couldn’t get in to see my usual physio so went with one I’d been to before a few years ago. She came to the conclusion that I had an inflamed adductor. The adductor is the muscle that runs up your inner thigh and in to your groin. She told me I need to let it settle down so no walking, running, swimming or cycling as they’ll all aggravate the muscle. She gave me a massage, highly embarrassing given where my pain was, and did some ultrasound on there too. I’m to go back in two weeks which, as I’m so far behind with blog posts, is actually tomorrow as I’m writing this (Sunday) but yesterday as I post this! Confusing!

Transformation

People have been telling me recently that I’m looking slimmer and more toned. When a picture was posted of me at the Gosport Golden Mile, for the first time, I could see it too.

Transformation

The picture on the right was taken about 2 years ago and the one on the left, just over two weeks ago. Feeling pretty pleased with that.

Meeting the Founder

On 20th June I went to Solent University in Southampton to attend a talk given by Paul Sinton-Hewitt, the founder of parkrun. When I arrived I met up Anna and her friend. I also saw Roger and Dave, our former parkrun ambassador, a lovely guy (who I think was also called Roger) from Havant parkrun and Martin, the Event Director of Whiteley parkrun. Whilst we waited to be let in to the lecture theatre we reminisced about our university days. It’s fair to say Solent University, particularly the Atrium we were stood in, is far more modern than the campus I spent my University days on.

Solent University

When we were allowed in to the lecture theatre I gave Anna instructions to get us to the front, whilst I hobbled down the stairs behind her.

Selfie

We took a selfie whilst waiting for everyone to take their seats and discussed what questions we’d ask if given the opportunity.

Paul Sinton-Hewitt

Paul talked about so many topics, all under the umbrella of parkrun of course. It was raw and incredibly honest. He spoke of the first parkrun, his core team, the various countries that want to set up parkrun, his role within parkrun and how that has evolved. It was really interesting. At the end people were allowed to ask questions and some people were pretty tough with the questions they asked. He answered them all though. The talk was only meant to be an hour but it went on for a glorious hour and forty minutes. I was in my element and was pretty disappointed when time was called. We were however invited to get a selfie with him.

Selfie with Paul Sinton-Hewitt

The final slide shown was the one below that just summed up what parkrun is and what it means to so many people.

parkrun slide

Do you parkrun? 

What does parkrun mean to you?

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Gosport Golden Mile 2018

After watching the Gosport Golden Mile in 2017 I’d decided I wanted to sign up. I’d opted for the 5K race rather than the mile. This was obviously because I thought I’d be able to run it instead of being injured.

The night before I knew there was no way I’d be able to run 5K so I asked the organisers by email if I could swap to the mile race. Now I know what you’re thinking. The sensible thing would have been to not run at all. However by the morning I was barely in any pain at all so I thought I’d give the mile a whirl and if it hurt I’d stop and walk the rest.

Before the Mile

Before the start. From left to right Phil, Adam, Angela, Tee, Alison and Me! These are a mix of friends from parkrun, junior parkrun and Gosport Road Runners.

I lined up at the back, knowing I’d be one of the last. I stood beside Alison and we met up with Kerry, another GRR and her Mum.

Start of the Mile

I started off pain free. We were running at about a 11:30 min/mile to begin with which I knew was too fast for me. I told Alison this, as she’s a similar pace to me and we slowed it down a little.

To my utter surprise as we were running past the playing field I saw Sarette and Wilson who I recently blogged about here They were out for a walk and decided to stop by and spectate. It made my day to see them! They gave me a little cheer and then I featured on their Instagram story.

Wilson

We passed by Pebbles café where we go after junior parkrun and my friends Maggie, Paul and Jade were there cheering us on after finishing the results processing. Maggie snapped this picture of Alison and I.

Running the Mile

By now I was starting to hurt a little. As we progressed it just got worse. I wanted to stop but knew I was helping Alison to keep going. I managed to run until the end but it was very painful and I’d now developed a limp/hobble. I managed a time of 13:32. When I was fit I was hoping to break in to the 12’s

Race Medal

Afterwards we went and watched a special presentation for Loyd, a member of Gosport Road Runners. Loyd had diabetes and had numerous problems with one of his legs as a result. He asked the NHS to amputate his leg. Now he’s getting back to running using an artificial leg. He’s currently awaiting a fitting for a blade but needs to wait for the swelling on his stump to fully go down. He’s such an inspiration, not only did he run the mile (and beat me) he did a triathlon the week after and is going to be training with other para athletes!

We have a road runner on some of our team shirts and they club had made Loyd his own version wearing a blade.

Road Runner

Loyd's presentation

We then went and watched the 5K race for a bit before heading back to the car. I had to hobble back to the car. Where we had parked had a slight incline to walk up and the pain was incredibly bad! I tried getting in to the car and couldn’t lift my leg to get it in. It was like all strength had left my leg. That evening again I had a hot bath, I put ice on it, I tried stretches and vowed that if it was still as bad in the morning I’d do my best to get a physio appointment.

Have you ever run a mile race?

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A parkwalk

This post has taken me a while to actually get round to writing. I started it straight after the parkrun (16th June) but just couldn’t face finishing it. The pain in my groin I got at parkrun the week before has just developed in to a full blown injury. When you can’t run, the last thing you want to blog about is running. But anyway on to the post…

My groin felt uncomfortable all week. I probably shouldn’t have done the workout at the gym. It didn’t make it worse, but equally, it didn’t help it. On Saturday I decided I’d just walk parkrun as I had a race on Sunday and didn’t want to make it worse.

When we got to parkrun I went and found Jacqui who is a fellow Gosport Road Runner and today was also tail walker. I told her I was injured and that I planned on walking the course. She told me her husband had also had a groin injury and that he had a sheet of stretches at home. After the parkrun I messaged him on Facebook and asked if he’d mind sending me those stretches.

We walked the course and chatted about injury. Jacqui is dealing with an ongoing foot injury. We also talked about Weight Watchers as Jacqui has just joined. I’ve thought so many times about joining Weight Watchers/Slimming World. She’s getting on well with it and having some success which is great to hear.

We walked at a good pace and my groin pain wasn’t too bad until we got to maybe the last quarter. Then it became worse, the thing is, because of where we were I had to walk to the finish regardless.

I ended with a time of 57:49 and a whole heap of pain. We slow walked up to the café afterwards and the pain subsided a little and went whilst we were sat having breakfast. Unfortunately by the time we walked home afterwards it was a lot worse.

The day after I was meant to be running the Gosport Golden Mile 5K. When I got in I had a hot bath with Epsom Salts to see if that’d help. Afterwards I iced it and rolled around on a tennis ball in the hope that’d help before the next day!