Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Month in Review: (an optimistic) January 2018

The first page in a clean notebook.
When the 1st of the month is a Monday.
Clean sheets, clean PJs and a clean towel all at the same time (the Holy Trinity, made even better if it's an early night on a Sunday).
Week 1, Day 1 .

All the new starts that give us a little spark, the thrill of starting something new and the resolve to use our best handwriting, finally fill in a personal finance spreadsheet or remember to pre-cleanse, moisturise AND apply eye cream each night. So why does it seem, all of a sudden, that as soon as New Year rolls around, that it's a bit passé, a bit basic and all round looked down upon to set resolutions or try and up your game in the New Year. There's a level of smugness at which I check out, but on the whole if you're choosing to use the New Year as a chance to reset and achieve something, then I hear you, well done, me too.

I'm saying a massive fuck you to basic and doing it anyway. After all, what other people think about you probably says more about them than it does you anyway.

This month I've used the New Year momentum to set in place a regular training plan again- I'm currently using the Kayla Itsines app which is working for me as it's short resistance workouts I can do at home before I got work without needing to get up too much earlier than I would anyway.

Hashtag 6am Club *yawns*

I finally made it to training with a new running club. They're friendly, they train in a way I'm familiar with and they go to the pub after training. I think I've found a new running home.

I tried a running crew- Club running is so much fun but I wanted to try something that was a bit different. Backpackers are part of Chasing Lights Collective, they meet at the Lululemon store on Regents Street each Thursday and I can't think of anything more joyful than running about central London looking for Lumiere installations than doing it with people who took a genuine interest in encouragement and getting to know each other.

I dragged Tom around a 10k race (first race of the year, bring it) whist it was sleeting and snowing. There were a few points where I wondered exactly why I was running in the sleet when I could still have been in bed, but I'll take my 1:01:31 time as a nice start to the year on a hilly course off the back of a bit of a bit of a hiatus. Major kudos to the marshals and RunThrough team for bringing all the enthusiasm, because I was cold, but they were standing around in the very same weather conditions and must have been freezing their bits off.

I also signed Tom up to volunteer (are you sensing a theme here...?) on the same days I'm booked in at parkrun, he whinges like nothing else about getting up early the night before and always has a blast when we get there. I'm pushing on with being a Run Director at Walthamstow parkrun and challenging myself to get my really quite lazy behind out of bed to run a few more parkruns this year.

My mate, neighbour and work buddy who we'll call Bear has been making noises about exercising more this year so I've been signing us up to anything that looks fun nearby to our home or the office in a bid for us to find something fun as running and cycling aren't her thing. So far our clear winner and the class we've returned to is Bounce (trampette based) which I count as my full body work out for each week.

Because we work together, Bear & I have also been sharing lunch duty. In a bid to spend less and eat better one of us brings in lunch for us both. Not only do we get to eat decent homemade food, it also forces us to take an actual lunch break away from our desks as we work on different floors and generally need to divvy out the contents of our lunch before we can eat it. YAY for lunch breaks.

My very same mate also came with me to do look at swathes of white fabric for the first time ever.

And in the spirit of New Year joy, I also topped off this month with booking a holiday. In 4 weeks time I'll be back here and I already can't wait. So go forth, roll your eyes, mutter your 'Basic Bitch' grumbles, but I'm not waiting for spring to be full of the joys, and next time you find yourself feeling less than charitable about someone's renewed efforts in a fresh year, maybe give them some encouragement to keep up the changes they're trying to make in their life.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

One, Two, Skip A Few... 2017 in Review

I seem to have lost a few months off the end of 2017 there... Last time I wrote a blog post I reviewed September which was a full month after I'd started a new job, returned to living at home in London full time and done a final stint covering for my old job as part of my exit. To say the autumn was hectic would be an understatement of fairly epic proportion. but in the spirit of completeness, I thought I'd take a look back on 2017, another crazy year!

I started the year how all good years should start... on holiday. We took a quick break in Spain and enjoyed a lot of good food and some bonus winter sun.

Training for my first half marathon got serious with 10 weeks from the start of the year until race day. Training was greatly helped by officially joining a running club, March AC features heavily through the rest of my year...

My focus on running for joy got me a spot on the MyProtein Women social media this month as I continued training in earnest for the Cambridge Half. I also got serious about getting in the gym regularly to try and build strength to avoid injuries which have been problematic before.

And just to cap it all off, I discovered I had a place in the Royal Parks Half via the ballot, giving me an autumn race to aim for.

First half marathon completed (despite having run a full 26.2 in 2015), Cambridge was the race that went mostly to plan, a good day was had by all and I got my name in the paper (even if they did spell it wrong).

March was a half marathon month, after running Cambridge, I volunteered at my first really big event- the North London Half. Tom and I got up at the crack of dawn (actually a bit before) and spent the morning cheering runners on at the half way point of the race as they came out of the Allianz stadium, a great experience and one that inspired me to do more volunteering.

Spring is for frolicking right? I threw myself round the Inflatable 5K course with friends. It was a blast but I ached like nobody's business the following day.

I also cracked my bike out for some very Sunny Easter weekend riding which was joyous and made EVEN better by the dog on the roof of the pub. No, really!

I got cheer marathon finishers as the came through the final finish area at the London Marathon, which is always a humbling experience AND I went to BeFit and got GLITTER BRAIDS.

I kicked off the first weekend with the Wings For Life World Run because why wouldn't you want to be chased through the Cambridge villages by David Coulthard?

I got to help Alzheimer's Research UK kick off their summer campaign to #RunDownDementia with a pledge to run 200km before October 31st and after a phenomenal PB at the London 10000 in 2016, my face could not hide my disappointment on the line as I ran over 13 mins slower in 2017, but finish lines before finish times- it's still a great course and I'm already signed up for this year.

May & June are often busy with fun things because my birthday falls right at the beginning of June and Tom's is only 2 weeks before. this year was no exception and June was MAYHEM!

I kicked off my birthday with a full day first aid course so I could progress through a training course in July, the upside is that it was a beautiful sunny day and I spent most of the late afternoon enjoying drinks on the South Bank Centre terrace. Unfortunately my birthday is June 3rd and returning home to the breaking news of terror attacks in places filled with people who had been doing exactly the same thing was sobering.

The following weekend, for my sins great and many, I found myself in the car on the way to Reading, to spend 24 hours running 5 mile laps and camping. Yes. I know. But Endure24 was a real experience. I ran as part of a team and whilst I'm not sure I could cope doing it year in, year out, it was an insane experience to have completed. Also, the medals are massive!

I drove straight back from Reading for a shower and quick change before we headed to the airport. 2 weeks of R&R on the Costa del Sol. The recovery was much needed although getting out of my seat when we landed was.... interesting.

The return home included more racing, this time a touch more appropriate  for post-holiday- a Prosecco Run. 10k (although I think we ended up doing more like 11 after a detour) and a frankly obscene amount of prosecco. Not a bad way to spend the weekend after 2 straight weeks on sunshine!

July turned out to be another exciting month. It kicked off with an unexpected change in career. An opportunity popped up at the right time in the right place and I made the decision to leave my job with my parents and their company to something completely and wildly different, not to mention being back in London full time.

I ran a super slow 10k at the British 10k which although a pricey race entry (I used a free place from volunteering) is a truly brilliant route through Central London including Westminster.

I also completed Ride Leader training with British Cycling to start running Breeze rides- free bike rides for women which are open to any and every ability.

And yet more excitement- The World Parathletics Champs came to London and we headed over to Stratford for the penultimate night and got to watch some truly thrilling athletics. It was a bit of a spur of the moment night out but I'd thoroughly recommend it to anyone who fancies a varied and exciting night of sport!

My final full and official month working with my parents was bittersweet. An exciting new challenge beckoned but I also found myself leaving behind friends and the start of a life I'd started to build in the area I spent most of my week in.

At the end of the month as I moved back to living at home full time, I headed to my new nearest Parkrun and ended up as unofficial run director a little unexpectedly.

Completing the first few weeks in my new job was a bit insane. I got back into cycle commuting- a joy once more! Started finding my feet a bit in a new industry and a new role and tried to find a new routine. I did better at some of these than others!

I went to my first live football match with work and to the recording of a new comedy show due to air this month, so there was entertainment to be had all ways round.

September wasn't exciting to look at like this but for me it was all change!

This month I did my final weeks of cover for my parents as part of my exit strategy, when I returned to my proper job, I realised I'd already carved a niche that was noticed in my absence. I also headed off on the first of what's becoming a fair few work trips to Alicante. October was probably low point of the year as I struggled to find any kind of meaningful rhythm in my personal life with no real running or training happening and trying to meet new people. I also ran a shocking half at the Royal Parks Half Marathon, which I didn't rate at all.

I did appear (or rather my t-shirt did) in Runner's World as a little claim to fame.

For me this means my favourite night of the year- Fireworks at Alexandra Palace. We had our usual enjoyable evening of much food, mulled wine and lots of big bangs and flashes!

Remembrance has typically been a hectic time of the year for us, but this year less so. I ran a pleasingly speedy 10k despite my poor running in October and a struggle to train or other winter races.

I had to work a Sunday which happened to mean heading to the ATP World Tour finals at the O2... there are worse ways to spend a working Sunday, especially if you happen to be the plus one along for the ride like Tom was!!!

Work continued to be insane for my, super busy, lots to learn and more trips, the highlight was a day trip to Geneva. What I saw from the taxi was stunning.

In amongst the mayhem I had some good things to look forward to, not least a little jolly to Lanzarote with my running club from Cambs. I really missed my friends and it was a welcome chance to have some fun and catching up with with them all. I'd intended to run the full marathon distance but given my training had gone so badly, I opted for the half instead which was challenging enough as it was. It was also my first official disqualification (only because I started on the half line with my assigned marathon bib- with full permission from organisers I should add).

And just like that, the C Word... Christmas. Not my personal favourite time of the year and this year was even more intense with work related functions. But as the big day rolled around we settled in for a night in with our neighbours (and good friends) and then a day at home indulging in good food and quite a lot of wine.

We did our usual family rounds between Christmas and New Year, and headed home o try and finish the year with a bit of a kickstart in looking after ourselves- eating a bit better than we have been (note to self, wine is not a meal at the end of the day) and getting some exercise back on track.

In all, 2017 has been a very intense year. There's been a lot of change, some awesome highlights and a worrying decline in taking care of myself which I'm on a mission to resolve this New Year- back to a regular training routine- hello 6am club, eating a full quote of meals- I repeat, wine is not dinner. And making time to get back club running. I've earmarked a few local ones to try and I hope it'll bring me the same joy as my beloved March AC does. Not necessarily resolutions, but a hit of the refresh button.