I only went and did it!!

Yesterday, the 28th September 2014, I did and amazing and spectacular thing:  I ran my first Half Marathon.  I did it!  I was expecting it to take over three hours and I did it in 2 hours 44 and 32 seconds so I am overjoyed that my legs took me that far and that fast.

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Runners at the starting line up

Bearing in mind I run off road, alone, with my dog, the tens of thousands or runners and their supporters was a world away from any of my training runs. I was glad that I had an experienced runner with me aka Crazy Running Sister, who knew what to do and where to go, otherwise I think I would have just wandered around, fretting a bit, because by the beginning of the race the nerves had well and truly kicked in.

Us, all raring to go

Us, all raring to go

I set off slowly, or at least as slowly as I could, because I tended to get swept away with all the other runners, with loads overtaking me straight away.  There were a handful of runners at a similar pace and I paced myself with them at the beginning, though I am not sure what happened to them by the end, maybe they over took me, maybe it was the other way around, because after the halfway mark I was just concentrating on not quitting, and my brain turned to mush.  At mile six I took some of the water they were handing out.  It comes in little plastic pouches that you squeeze to release the water and I breathed in a whole lungful and spent ages choking by the side of the road, and then coughing and spluttering for the next mile or so.

At the halfway point I had two caffeine tablets and some chocolate, that was nice, I was by a lake at the time and had just sped down a hill.  It felt good to be on the way back, and I knew that the Cub would be waiting to cheer me on at around mile 9.  When I saw his gorgeous smiley face, it really boosted me.  I took a minute out for a big massive cuddle and his words of encouragement “you can do it Mummy”, made my heart fly.

After that I was just telling myself that I was nearly there and when I passed the 11 mile marker I was feeling exhausted but happy.  My training had taken me to 11 miles, so I was then running further than I had ever run before.  I wanted to stop and walk but my legs wouldn’t let me – after all those miles it just felt easier to run than walk, though I still got a couple of walk breaks in.  Shortly after mile 11 I could see the 13 mile marker, because the course ran on and then came back on itself and boy did I want to take a shortcut over that wall!  The run up to mile 13 was just pure pain, I felt as though I wasn’t even running properly, just sort of hobbling along quite quickly in a vague running fashion.  People were falling by the wayside and being carted off in ambulances, a worrying sight, but I kept on keeping on.  There were some awesome ladies running alongside me and encouraging me, I really struggled up to the 13 mile marker and then the final 0.1 miles seemed the hardest of all.

Me, straight after the race

Me, straight after the race

But I did it!! And I raised over £400 for Elizabeth Finn Care.  The sponsorship page stays live until December, if you could spare some change, all you have to do is either:

Text: MUMC73 £1 (£5/£10) to 70070
Or visit: justgiving.com/mummylion
Today, I am walking about like baby Bambi on new legs, my poor pins are so sore that I feel as though I am learning to walk all over again.  Undeterred, I have just signed up for a 10k in October.  I think that makes me Crazy Running Sister Number Two.

Bedtime Story: Hello! School

Cuddle up close, and let’s begin:

A great book with lots of interactivity and plenty of opportunity for discussion.

How to keep wedding guests entertained

When it comes to getting married, there are a million and one things the bride will be worrying about on the day of her wedding and anything that can be done to relieve this pressure ensuring she fully enjoys the big day is a welcome sight. Wedding planners for starters will take all the stress away, but this doesn’t mean spending more of that tight wedding budget. There are some extremely helpful online wedding planners available, often free too. Wedding Site has an extensive wedding directory as well as a seating planner, guest manager and budget tracker, which help make the planning of the wedding go as smoothly as possible.

One easy way to help the wedding run its course without so much as a mishap is entertainment, for you (the couple!) as well as the guests. By placing an importance on thinking of a few ways to ensure everyone stays entertained throughout the entirety of the ceremony, you can be safe in the knowledge that everyone will enjoy the day as much as you do!

Photo booths and throw away cameras

Placing a photo booth at the reception is a great way to ensure your guests have an amazing time and will remember your day for a long time to come. You can either rent a photo booth or make your own to save on costs and you can add a number of props to the booth which guests can use when taking photos to make them even more wacky and silly. Even the bride and groom can have a go!

Alternatively, adding one or two disposable cameras to each table at the reception is also a good idea as it allows guests to take pictures of moments during the receptions and interactions the wedding photographers might miss, and you might miss too. The guests will love finding the best pictures to take on the cameras and by the end of the night, they are sure to all be full of photos.

The best part about it has to be the surprise element. With digital camera, we can see everything before they’re even printed. Here, you will find some real gems.

wedding photo

Personal touches

A lot of couples like to get the guests involved in helping them remember their special day and there are a number of ways you can do this. You could get guests to all write a little note in a book or around a photo of you and your husband/wife that you could later frame to hang up.

Another idea is to include questions on name cards such as “What should we name our first child?” or “What is your favourite memory of us?” for the guests to think and fill out, to be handed in at the end of the day so the bride and groom can read out all of the answers. There’s bound to be some hidden jokes in there!

Dance-offs

Weddings are famous for two types of dancing, the romantic first dance of the newlyweds, and the hilariously bad dancing done by many of the drunken guests. Focusing on the latter can provide yourself and guests with multiple hours of enjoyment and amusement. You can organise a dance-off between the maid of honour and best man, or the father of the bride and the father of the groom and decide you wins with your husband/wife in the style of the roman emperors and the notorious thumb up or down during gladiator matches.

Alternatively, provide your guests with dancing shoes like flip flops, making it easier for them to dance in more comfortable, suitable shoes and leaving nobody an excuse not to dance! If you really do need it, there is a lot of handy dancing advice around to ensure you are one of the best movers on the dance floor.

dancing man

Scavenger hunts and I-spy

Create a list of moments that are likely to happen throughout the reception and challenge guests to be the first to capture them all on their own camera or one of the disposable cameras. Award some prizes for the first person to take a picture of everything on the list, creating something enjoyable for the guests to do whilst also getting a large number of great photos. Like a wedding bingo! Write down the moments you really want captured forever on the list so that a number of people take photos of them and you get at least a few really good photos. Some will still include blurs and fingers over the lenses but that all adds to the feel.

Some examples of moments to think about are things like the groom watching the bride from a distance, the groom playing with his ring and the bride and her mother dancing.

Upcycling your old analogue TV

No doubt you’ve gone digital by now and are busy enjoying your super-thin, light weight, superior image quality HD television (if you haven’t, check out the stunning range at hispek.com). But what of your old friend the big bulky analogue TV? You spent so much quality time together – all those Friends repeats, Yellow Pages adverts and Michael J Fox films – surely you can’t just throw that away. If you are struggling to part with your old TV here are a few ways you can ensure it stays in your life. Please be careful when trying these upcycling ideas – some older televisions were built to last. Where protective gloves and goggles when necessary.

A new aquarium

A popular choice, this: take out all the inside mechanisms of your big old TV and insert waterproofing elements. Fill with water and voila! You have a new fish tank. Who needs Finding Nemo.

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You’re on the telly – at last!

Ever imagined yourself on the small screen? Now’s your chance to get on for real (well, sort of). Insert a mirror for the screen and then present the TV show of your dreams, starring you.

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Bed for pets

Remove the electronics from inside the box, take out the screen and replace with fabrics and a comfy pillow. Your dogs will never want to sleep anywhere else.

New decoration

You’ve seen it done in your local hipster bar. Spray paint the whole box then add your own embellishments. You old analogue TV could be used as a foot stool or you could pile up two or three, glue them together and you’ve got a handy bedside table.

Drinks cabinet

Retro is usually style of choice for any drinks cabinets but instead of an early 20th century globe, why not go for a 1980s television set. Again, it’s just a case of emptying out the inner workings, removing the screen and then stocking up on your favourite tipple.tv2

Give it a new lease of life

If you are very fond of your old TV, the design may be very dear to you or the memories may be too strong, insert a new LCD screen into the old model.

Relegate to second TV

Maybe you need another TV for DVDs in another room, rather than splashing out on a new model, keep your old trusty analogue for that purpose.

Try Lomography

No, I didn’t know what it meant either. But the guys at lomography.com are all for upcycling your old TV.

Or if you do want to get rid of it

There are plenty of recycle schemes to use if you want to see the back of your analogue TV’s bulk for good. Alternatively, take it to your nearest charity.

5 Ways To Treat Yourself

You work extremely hard – admit it! A mum never does.

You’ve had a challenging summer attempting to entertain the kids and now it’s time to think about yourself. They’re all back at school, and whether you’re a working mum or not, this means a little more alone time to unwind and relax.

There is always plenty of room to treat yourself and here are just 5 amazing ways you can make yourself feel like a trillion pounds:

Retail Therapy

There’s nothing like a new top or shiny pair of shoes to brighten your mood. Us shopaholics get that little rush after purchasing something so delectable that we often have to wear that item straight away! What is more of a treat than splurging on jewellery? Whether your birthday is coming up or you’ve had a tough month, any excuse goes.

If you love accessorising then the high street always has affordable and on-trend options for you to adapt your look with ease, however for something a little more distinct, head to the specialist jewellery stores. You’ll get something unique and 100% YOU.

Still in need some more inspiration? Why not update your watch?

You’re so used to the functional style that solely informs you that there aren’t enough hours in the day; something a bit more special will make you feel a bit more special too.

Brands such as Chanel and Chopard are wonderful delicate choices available at stores such as www.watches-of-switzerland.co.uk and there are hardier versions too if you’re worried your busy mummy lifestyle means a limited lifespan.

A wonderful timepiece is the ultimate treat.
watch

Chocolate

From an amazing piece of jewellery to something oh-so simple; chocolate. This will be especially relished if you’re usually so restrictive in your diet. And chocolate doesn’t need to be so bad

It is a known fact that a certain amount of chocolate will make you feel happier and fuller too; dark chocolate has been proven to be far more filling than other types of chocolate AND lessens your cravings for other sweet, salty and fatty foods.

And there are more health benefits too.

Dark chocolate in particular has been proven to reduce your risk of heart failure, strokes and heart attacks and can lower your blood pressure by up to a third when eating approximately one or two serving each week. What’s more, if you’re a bit of a health and fitness nut, a little bit of chocolate can actually aid in weight loss when teamed with your usual regime. It contains healthy antioxidants when combined with lowering blood pressure can benefit exercise for overweight individuals. Why not make it a weekly treat?

chocolate

Get decorating

I’m not talking about uprooting entire rooms, plastering and spending hard earned cash on new appliances and expensive furnishings. Just adding a few bits here and there that make your house feel more like a home. With kids, your home can sometimes resemble a toy explosion and we all have a room that is just our own, whether it’s the bedroom or a study.

When out and about, if you see that little trinket or a few cushions that don’t necessarily go with your assemble but love anyway, treat yourself! These little bits and bobs will remind you of great times when you’re feeling low.

A bubble bath

A spa day might be a little out of reach. After all, Christmas is just around the corner and who exactly has the time for that anyway!

If you really can’t squeeze in a delightful spa day with friends and family (or in pure solitude if that’s what you prefer) then a simple bubble bath can works wonders, especially if you’ve had a taxing day. Why not make it a weekly ritual? Complete with your favourite magazines, new book and soothing music. But how can you run the perfect bath? Here are a couple of simple tips:

  • Make sure you have that decent amount of undisruptive time, and make sure your family knows too! 30 minutes is usually an ideal time for the perfect bath during the late-ish evening an hour or less before bed. Perfect wind down time.
  • Get it hot! You’ve now got 30 minutes of blissful alone time. A chilly bath after 10 minutes is going to have the opposite effect of treating yourself. The air around the bath can hinder its heat so make sure you’ve got the heating on too.
  • Get into the habit of keeping magazines and great books near the tub.
  • Lastly, don’t forget the extras that make it complete; candles, scent sticks and aromatherapy smelling bath washes will all help you wind down.

bubbles

Explore

When you’re in a bad mood, it can be easy to just recluse. However, make sure you get up and about to combat the mood and treat yourself. Whether it’s a relaxing wander around the surrounding countryside or a trip to your favourite local coffee shop for your favourite cake and a chat with an old friend, exploring makes you more active, productive and your day more worthwhile.

To take it one step further, why not book a long weekend away exploring the UK or even Europe? You can get many cheap flights to amazing destinations such as Amsterdam, Barcelona or Rome for just a few days and you’ll come back refreshed and rejuvenated.

Europe is right on our doorstep and we don’t take advantage of it the way we should, but we’re the same on our own soil too. Staycations have been forever growing in popularity over recent year and you can find some absolutely stunning locations from user reviews and recommendations.

Enjoy the Autumn spells with Bingo

Autumn has made a pleasant visit to us with slight breeze and may be we will have fewer rains compared to last August. Winter is coming soon, so we need to start piling up our warm clothes. The temperatures swinging from one extreme to the other leaves us little space to wander about. Sometimes, it could be too rainy or windy to travel or even take a walk around the park. Feeding the birds are my favourite but with gusts of wind, it could be quite unpredictable.

Well, now that we have got accustomed to the unpredictable spells of our British weather, we tend to look out for other things. Being with our kids is one of the amazing past-times, a mother would get but once they sleep off but sometimes we still have the energy. My tiny tots even ask me, mum what would you do when we are not around. I pondered for a while, when you become a full-time mother, it’s quite hard to remember when we had given ourselves the the time. I remember when I was with my family as a kid, I would play Bingo with my Nana.

It’s no rocket science in this digital era, I just typed away Bingo in my search engine and voila I was ladled with so many bingo sites. I had quite lost myself in the melee out there.What’s more, you get to play with games which brings out a smile on your face in a gloomy day. You could be playing with your next door neighbour too, fancy aliases helps in keeping up with confidentiality. I could be a super hero or Harry Potter ( my kids love that character). With so many bingo sites available out there, you will be definitely puzzled for choice.

One of my friends told me about GameVillage Bingo, a fun site with the village theme. You could play with an amazing round of bingo games along with my personal favourite Dingo! The welcome package is good and hey, you could even listen to Bingo radio. The best part is the RJ plays non-stop latest tracks and some retro too with no commercials at all! That did catch my whims and fancies. Glad to have a site where I could listen to my music and even play good bingo games. Guzzle down at Village Inn or catch the Speed Train for a quick session. Pre-buy tickets for the big games in case your hands are full!

Check my favourite bingo site , I will give it an A+ with their unique games in offering and their varied monthly promotions. Well, my eyes are on the free prizes now as they have got prizes perfect for my kids too. This is the best way to beat the gloomy weather out there!

Making running a spiritual experience…

Or, my favourite fitness apps.

Just a quick post today because while I was out pounding the canal paths today it occurred to me that I should share my favourite apps with you. A few months and several hundred miles ago, I admitted that running for anything over an hour was pretty boring.  My runspiration sister suggested that I maybe apply elements of my meditation to running and soon after, I discovered Chi Running.  I can definitely feel the Chi pulling me forward, when I am in the correct alignment.  If the app is a bit pricey for you, there is plenty of Chi Running guidance on YouTube.

I’ve always used Endomondo, to track my workouts, and sometimes use MyFitnessPal to track my nutrition.

Although I felt strong, my body started to also feel stiff, and so I’ve rediscovered Daily Yoga, which contains loads of Yoga workouts including pre and post-run stretches.

Do you have any to add to this?

 

The Avios Travel Rewards Programme – What Exactly Is It?

You read, and hear about reward schemes all the time – supermarkets, for example, offer shoppers rewards all the time for choosing to shop for groceries with them. But how do you sort through the various schemes to pick the ones that are the most useful to you? With so many companies and brands vying for your attention, it can be hard to focus on the reward schemes that can really count towards something. The bare essentials of the Avios Travel Rewards Programme are simple. When you’re wandering along the aisles of a supermarket, or filling up your car with fuel, you could be adding points to your Avios stash at the same time. Of course, it depends where you shop, and whether you’re part of the programme!

The travel reward programme offers members the chance to collect Avios via their everyday purchases, which accumulate over time. Various companies are part of the programme, meaning that you can redeem the Avios you have collected. Perhaps you want to broaden your travel horizons and use the Avios to pay for a flight to Dubai, or maybe you’d prefer to stay a little closer to home and take the family to Butlins for a week. Maybe you would prefer to use them to cover the cost of the Eurostar to Paris, or to pay, in part or in full, for a hotel room in the heart of Barcelona. The options are endless!

How do you collect the points? It’s easy to do. Simply sign up to the programme and shop at the places that work alongside Avios. So, for groceries, shop at Tesco and use your Club card. You can trade in every £2.50 Club card voucher you have, for 600 Avios. Alongside the grocery shopping, fill your car up at a Shell petrol station. Sign up to their Drivers’ Reward Club and if you swipe your card every time you fill up the car and opt in to receive Avios as your collection Reward, you will receive Avios automatically. You can also collect via the Avios eStore, while the Lloyds and TSB credit cards also give you the chance to collect Avios on eligible purchases.

When it comes to spending, it’s worth checking the Avios.com website for more information about where you can go, and for how many points. When it comes to travel, naturally, the further you wish to fly, the more Avios it will cost, but you’ll be surprised at how many Avios you can accumulate if you make the most out of your program memembership.

It’s completely free to sign up to the programme so why not join today, after all, you need to be in it to win it!

Two and a bit weeks till the big day….

..by which – I am sure you’ll be aware of if you follow me on twitter – is the Half Marathon Day. Four years ago I had a bad knee, went on dog walks with a stick, and my doctor told me not to run.  Well, I have never liked being told that I can’t do something so when I discovered barefoot running could enable you to run without the usual joint problems I gave it a go.  For a year I did short one and two mile run/walk combinations and then my sister encouraged me to sign up for a half.

Well, a few months in and having gone from one to six miles in distance rather rapidly, I was finding the eight mile stretch really hard.   I wanted to reach ten miles before the summer holidays because I ran while the Cub was at nursery and I knew I wouldn’t be able to run much in the holidays,but this didn’t happen.  I also wanted to spend as much time with him as possible before he entered the school system and so we had an amazing and blissful holiday in the sunshine,having adventures, teaching him to ride a bike and swim and just having a relaxed last few weeks of freedom.

My running was scaled back to one, two or three miles, once or twice a week. I had sustained an ankle injury, and needed some new more protective footwear, I thought, as my Vivobarefoots were wearing down, plus I needed a running style makeover.

IMG_20140911_105343So, the week he started school I knew I had one month of intensive training to do to catch up, restore and increase my mileage.  I was lucky to receive a grant so that I was able to replace my footwear.  After a lot of research and against the advice of my running coach I bought some Inov8 (Terrafly 277, I really want some Mudclaws for winter, dream on!) shoes (she recommended I visit a running shop for gait analysis after my ankle injury but I didn’t have the time or money for this).  My running bag is by Work play bags, it is very comfy indeed, the perfect size for my key,my S3 and a shewee & some running gels, but I do put my phone in a plastic food bag because it gets a bit sweaty and I don’t want my body-steam to harm it.

I also happened to find out about Chi Running through #ukrunchat.  Chi Running felt right for me, it was a variation on the energy efficient style of running that I thought I had invented myself.  It also made me concentrate on “nose before toes” to reduce joint impact, and (my words) kicking up the dust rather than feet out front.  I also got some Xero shoes, which is as barefoot as you can possibly get, for every day use and so that my posture would be correct even when walking, because heel striking jarrs when you walk in barefoot shoes, so they teach you to move with much less impact.

So, armed with new shoes and new technique I have battled my way up to nine miles, breaking through my eight mile mental and physical barrier and getting myself a 10k medal to boot.  Googling “half marathon training” only told me not to do a half marathon a your first race.  Oops! Too late, running advice websites.  So I’m ditching the online training plans and going by what my body tells me.  Tomorrow I will run my first ten miles and then I am at the minimum required for race day.  Next week I want to do two eleven miles, just for my own peace of mind, and then it’s scale back and rest week.

Someone asked me, in response to my declaration of runner status “doesn’t anything good ever happen in your life?”, a comment that I found odd, and indicative of a very overweight man trying to justify his unhealthy life choices.  But I used to look at runners and think they were a bit mad too, and I didn’t understand the obsession.  I understand now.  Yes, it takes over your life just a bit, but compared to a night on the booze or a shedload of cake, the feeling I get from a long run far surpasses the temporary pleasure of being drunk or stuffing my face.  Indeed, the euphoria I feel after eight or nine miles lasts me until bedtime, and the hangover of aching hips and crumbling ankles and feet the next day is so much better than an alcohol hangover (pain, but no brain fog), and, it is beneficial and not detrimental to my body.  The freedom of a short five mile run after the battle of the long run makes me feel so positive and light and happy.

I’m hooked.   I feel ten years younger, I can eat anything I want yet I choose healthy, I am strong, I can do this.  I have beaten my own body.  I can do ANYTHING.

Text: MUMC73 £1 (£5/£10) to 70070

Visit: justgiving.com/mummylion

 

#Germie #BootsBackToSchool

So, The Cub has started school and what with school uniform, shoes, drinks bottles and all the other bits and pieces that I had to  think about, I neglected to consider the new big Germ Factory that he was about to enter, not to mention: NITS! 0647_BackToSchool_Blog Post_FA_Landscape

Well, my clean-freak-OCD tendencies have been stretched to their limits living with a dog and an adventurous boy so when I saw that Boots had identified digit-ill potentials for cross-contamination of young people in schools, I had to sit down and do some Big Deep Breaths.

LUCKILY, the benefits of growing up with a dog has strengthened my son’s immunity.  If you Google “dog child health” you find many links to articles suggesting that the muck a dog brings into the house boosts a child’s immune system.  The health benefits of walking the dog and the emotional benefits of petting and looking after them are quite obvious but dogs can help to protect your child from ear, nose and throat infections as well as reducing the need for antibiotics.

So (and this is becoming a theme of mine now!): Get a dog (but only if you can look after it properly including picking up the poos and vaccinating it, get it from a rescue not a breeder, and make sure you have plenty of time and energy for a lifetime of training and exercise (training includes training yourself and your family about proper care and  how to respect your dog).  It seems like a lot of work, but it’s worth it, even if your carpets will never be the same again.

Mind you, the advice seems that the benefits of the dog-child immunity partnership occur in the first few years of life, so if you’ve hit school age, the window of opportunity may have passed.

However, if you don’t have a dog (and if you do), I still think vitamins and minerals in addition to eating good “clean” (fresh, home prepared) food and plenty of fresh air and cuddles (and hand washing)  is a really good way to protect yourself against any nasty germs.

So, time for a #selfie.  Or, should I say, #germie:

Which one is your favourite?

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