A Great Run Up North

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 The day I was to run 13.1 miles for SANDS finally arrived! It’s not an over exaggeration when I say that I’ve been working towards this goal all year. 12 months ago I could just about manage 5km every week or so. Three days ago I quadrupled that effort and completed my fourth ever half marathon, my first in nine years. Most importantly due to the generosity of my family, friends and colleagues, my Justgiving total now stands at £2,278 for the SANDS research fund.

Here’s how my day went!

Adam and I woke up at 5.30am in our lovely comfy B&B room to the sound of Dylan singing ‘Bob the Builder, Can you fix it’?? He was ready to get up but we weren’t!! A few shushes and we managed to sneak another hour sleep before getting up. The owner kindly got up early too in order to serve us breakfast. We sat and chatted with a couple from Liverpool who were also going up to the run. I managed to stomach a bit of porridge, some fruit and yoghurt and poached egg, drooling at the sight of Adam’s amazing plate of sausage, bacon and black pudding!

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Breakfast done, we packed up and got on the road, exchanging ‘good luck’s with the Liverpudlian runner. On went the Rocky soundtrack to get me pumped and motivated. I’m a sucker for Sylvester Stallone’s boxing saga. It makes me think of the early days when Adam and I first got together. I’d never seen it before and he introduced me to each chapter over consecutive weekends.

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The nerves started to kick in as we approached Newcastle. We parked the car just after 9am in the city centre near the Metro and followed the crowds to the start line. Even though the race didn’t begin until 10.40am, with 40,000+ runners plus spectators, we didn’t want to risk being late. Dylan enjoyed seeing all the people and picking out the runners in fancy dress. I told him I wanted him to tell me about all the different characters he saw when I finished. We parted ways as they went to find a place to watch the start. I queued for my last toilet break and collected the safety pins for my running number that I’d forgotten to pack. I knew a few other people taking part but with the huge volumes of runners (it is the world’s biggest half marathon you know!), meeting up just wasn’t an option.

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I finally found my starting ‘pen’ after walking past thousands of others. Given my predicted time I was near the back of the pack. And then I waited, and waited and waited. The start gun went. I waited some more, the Red Arrows flew over, waited a bit more again and then 32 minutes after the start I crossed the line!

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Waiting patiently for mummy!

My first priority once running got underway was to find Dylan and Adam. We made sure that co-ordinated so I was on the right side for them to see me. After a couple of minutes I saw them, Dylan on Adam’s shoulders waving. I managed a high five with them both, big smiles all around and then after that I was able to properly settle into the race.

So, I haven’t mentioned the heat yet. How can I have got 500 words into this blog without talking about how incredibly flipping hot it was. We spent half of July staring out at rain dripped windows and in September suddenly the country breaks into an unexpected heatwave! That was the first real obstacle. Adjusting to a race that could have been in Nigeria instead of Newcastle. I took advantage of the majority of the first mile going under the city underpasses and then afterwards tried as much as possible to go along the shaded parts of the streets, although there weren’t many of these.

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We crossed the Tyne Bridge (always exciting) and apart from being hot, I felt as though the first 5km was pretty comfortable. Although there are A LOT of people running, I remembered why I love the Great North Run. For one the crowds are amazing. There aren’t many sections of the race where there aren’t spectators shouting encouragement, handing out jelly babies or ice pops. Secondly I love reading all the different running shirts and seeing who people are running for. Some people think that runners are crazy putting themselves through the torture and pain of training and racing, but it truly is an amazing sight looking at all the good causes and thinking how many charities will be benefitting as a result of this one half marathon. I saw a few SANDS runners. I didn’t pass many of them (it was generally them passing me) but for those I did, I tried to have a bit of a chat and motivational high five with them.

The heat aside, I felt like I was doing pretty well and enjoying myself until about mile 10. At that point I was thinking ‘all the hard work done, not far to go now, it’s only a parkrun (5k) which I do every Saturday’. I might even have stupidly thought ‘easy’! I think that caused me to hit the brick wall. My legs turned to jelly, every leg muscle ached and every joint groaned. Olympic walkers would easily have overtaken me as I stumbled along. The last 3 miles were pretty much pure agony. So rather than dwell on it (I want to wipe it from memory) lets skip onto the finish.

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YEY I finished!! The last mile along the seafront seemed to go on forever but finally it ended. I’ve got to give a massive thank you to the commentator at the end, who, at the time I rolled in was encouraging the crowd to give us a standing ovation and huge cheers. They obeyed, and honestly I felt like I’d just won an Olympic medal! Crossing the line I managed to keep it together physically and didn’t collapse! Mentally I almost crumbled and cried, but again just kept a hold of myself.

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After collecting my medal and bag, I eventually managed to make my way to meeting Adam and Dylan. It was too busy for them to stand at the finish, Adam instead keeping Dylan entertained watching the Red Arrows display. Hugs all round and an ice cream for Dylan (it has been a long day for him), it was great to see them both. It had definitely been the right decision leaving Jude with my parents, he would have enjoyed the planes but that would have been about it!

The journey home was long and tiring, but all in all it was a great day. My time?? 2 hrs 34. Not my worse and not my best. To be honest, given how I’ve felt over the past couple of weeks, I was happy to get through the full 13.1 miles and finish. Completing this was less about the time, and more about raising money and raising awareness of stillbirth. And for Ewan to know that I ran it for him.

If you would like to donate to SANDS, please visit my Justgiving page www.justgiving.com/runningforewan

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A well earned bath

12 months later….

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Almost 12 months ago, I wrote a blog making a bold statement. That I was going to take part in the Great North Run in a years time. Here I am, on the eve of said race, sat in a lovely B&B farmhouse near Hadrian’s Wall, about 40 minutes away from Newcastle. It looks like I’m doing it then!

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Adam and I drove up to the North East today with Dylan. We made the decision to leave Jude back at home with grandma and grandad. It’s going to be a long day tomorrow and whilst it would have been amazing having him watch me, it would be hard work for Adam. Dylan is a good age (4) to appreciate what will be going on, Jude at 19 months would not! I’m not worried about him, he’ll be being spoiled rotten.

The B&B is so peaceful. I only booked it about 4 months ago, which is too late to take advantage of any budget accommodation in Newcastle city centre. So instead of paying a small fortune for a Travelodge room 5 miles away, we decided on going a bit further afield. Being surrounded by field upon field of sheep is very relaxing indeed. Dylan was super excited when we arrived. He loves a holiday and hasn’t managed to hide his disappointment that it’s only for one night.

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How am I feeling about tomorrow? Mmmmm surprisingly calm given that I haven’t really had the preparation I was hoping for. I was going great guns with my training until mid-June after my 2 x 10k races, then I went off the boil a bit. A month later I got back on it and was doing reasonably well getting the miles under my belt, culminating in my longest 11 mile run 3 weeks ago. Then it’s gone a bit pear shaped since. Work has been crazy busy (anyone who works with me or in Further Education knows that is a bit of an understatement!). I’ve barely managed anything in the last 2 weeks at all and have felt pretty run down with work over the last few days. I have managed a couple of good nights sleep though so hopefully that will help.

Don’t expect any amazing times from me. I’ll honestly just be happy to make it round and enjoy the experience. At one stage I was really hoping to beat my best time and was aiming for 2 hr 15 mins but I can’t see that happening now. By getting round in one piece I’ll hopefully make everyone who has sponsored me proud. Most importantly I want Ewan to be proud of his mum. I can’t believe that the total raised so far for SANDS now stands at £2138! A huge thank you to EVERYONE who has sponsored me. There is still chance if you haven’t done so already – visit www.justgiving.com/running4ewan.

So if you find yourself at a loose end tomorrow, get BBC 1 on from about 10am. Maybe the tens of thousands of runners, raising money for amazing causes will inspire you to take part next year!

Those moments

Does anyone else ever get those moments? The ones where you just stop, take in your surroundings and realise just how incredibly fortunate you are? I’ve had a few recently. It probably helped that we went on holiday a couple of weeks ago and I’ve taken some leave this week too. The stresses and strains of daily life have on the back burner. I have stepped off the work treadmill for a short while and actually feel relaxed (well as much as is possible with a 4 year and 18 month old in tow).

So one moment in particular was on a steam train heading up the side of a mountain in Wales. Sitting with my husband and two boys, I looked at them and in that moment appreciated how lucky I really was. I wished I could travel back in time 5 years and show the newly bereaved, but also newly pregnant me what life would be like. I couldn’t have dreamed I would be so blessed.

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The times when we were on holiday when I had ‘those moments’ were in situations where we were either doing something different and special (boys + steam trains = absolute joy or boys + castles = bliss). Or we were just enjoying our company as a foursome (Jude insisting on spending most of a meal out high-fiving the three of us in between grabbing mouthfuls of food). Being on holiday allowed me to just concentrate on being with the family. Forget about the ironing and what was on the never ending to-do list at work. The most important decisions are centred on which beach to visit or whether to buy an ice-cream mid-morning or mid-afternoon!

I know in an ideal world we would spend more time appreciating the good things in life and counting our blessings. I forever see posts on Facebook about cherishing the little moments, making every moment count and that each day is a gift. I’m not against these at all, I understand the point that is being made. It’s just that reality does get in the way and sometimes it can be hard to cherish a toddler tantrum, a fussy eater or whingey moods.

I like to think that I am an appreciative person. That I am, in general, an optimist and a glass half full character. I do wonder sometimes if my loss has made me more thankful when it comes to parenthood. Do I hug them just that little bit tighter on occasion? That’s something I will never know.

Whilst having ‘those moments’ does make me think of Ewan, that’s a good thing. It’s important he remains an active part of me. It also makes me look at my rainbows, my rays of joy after the storm, and be truly thankful for every day, the bad as well as the good. They helped me to heal, smile and laugh and enjoy life again.

I’m off now to buy my lottery ticket for this week. I want to be on holiday all the time!

 

A Home Run

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After a week of gorgeous half term weather, I found myself dreaming of rain last Sunday morning. Unfortunately it turned out that my prayers weren’t to be answered and I woke up to a glorious blue sky. Hmmm, not really the best conditions for running 10,000 metres.
FullSizeRenderSo here we were, round 2 of my 2016 running challenge. A 10k race in my hometown of Burnley. Despite the heat, I was really looking forward to the run. We all piled into the car at about 8.30am – Adam, the boys and me. The start and finish of the run was in one of Dylan’s favourite parks so he was happy to come along and watch. He even joined in with my pre-race breakfast of porridge and honey.
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It was a very different affair compared with 2 weeks ago in Manchester. Instead of 35,000 people taking part, there were about 1500 in Burnley. Waiting to start I chatted to ex-work colleagues and saw old friends. It had a real community feel to it. A lot of people turned up to the start to see us all off, but it wasn’t too busy that Adam and the boys could stand by one of the barriers and wave as I went past. It was a great boost to see their smiling faces (although Jude was apparently very upset to see me fly past without stopping!)

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And so we were off. And typical of the Burnley landscape we were almost straight into a hill. In contrast to the Manchester 10k which was relatively flat, this course was one of many hills. On the flipside though, whenever you run up, you have to run down! At least our first hill was under the shade of the Towneley Park woods.

I looked back at my description of the Manchester 10k. I used the words busy and hot a lot. Thankfully Burnley wasn’t too busy and I was able to run without the fear of tripping over someone’s ankles. But hot it definitely was! Sunny to be more precise. To be honest, weather and terrain-wise, Manchester was much much easier. But guess what, I managed to beat by Manchester time by 16 seconds. And broke the magic hour mark, woo hoo!!

IMG_0948Although the run was harder, it was easily a prettier run to experience. Knowing the area helped as I knew what to expect at almost every turn. The last stretch was (again) on a hill which was a really tough finish. But with about 200 metres to go, I saw my own personal cheerleaders waving to give me that last surge of energy. As I ran past, Dylan handed me a bunch of dandelions. I don’t know who had the bigger smile at that point, him or me! It gave me the push to attempt a sprint finish – meaning that I crossed the line at 59 mins 50 seconds. Even though it only took a couple of minutes for my time to come through as a text message, I knew from looking at my watch that I had more or less beaten my personal target. I almost cried with relief!

Cue to pick up my finishers t-shirt and goody bag. I saw a one of my work colleagues who had run 2 weeks before and also got a better time.  There was clearly something in the Lancashire air pushing us along.

I got big hugs all round when I met up with Adam and the boys a few minutes later. I tried (unsuccessfully) to get a good finishers photo with Dylan and Jude but they had other ideas. Bless them, they were ready to go home!

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Reflecting afterwards on the run, it was really hard. But all the effort was worth it to have Dylan and Jude watch me finish, and then to get a PB in the bag. They don’t know why I am running yet but they will someday soon. The medal will be tucked away in Ewan’s memory box which is where I’ve decided I will put all my running memorabilia. It feels like the right place, where he can look after it.

Now, onwards and upwards to the half marathon. I’ve proved I can go half the distance this year, so it’s time to step up the training. Wish me luck!

If you would like to sponsor me, please visit my fundraising page. All amounts are gratefully received, however big or small.
www.justgiving.com/running4ewan

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My Great Manchester Run

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15 months after giving birth to my second rainbow, 3 years since my last 10k race, and over 5 years after losing Ewan, I woke up last Sunday morning bright and early and ready to embark on the Great Manchester Run. Late last year I set my sights on running the Great North Run for SANDS which will take place in September 2016. To help myself prepare, I signed up to 2 x 10k races (I’m considering a third too!). The race in Manchester was the first of the challenges.

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As well as raising money, specifically earmarked for research in stillbirth and neonatal deaths, my aim is to continue keeping Ewan’s memory alive. I was delighted to receive in my race pack a few weeks prior to the event a plain bib which could be personalised to wear on my back. On Saturday night I fished out my black marker pen and then, in the absence of coloured felt tip pens, I grabbed Dylan’s box of crayons to brighten it up. I was pretty chuffed with the end result. What do you think?

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I drove myself to Manchester which only takes about 45 minutes. Unfortunately Adam had to work so couldn’t come and watch with the boys. I met up with a couple of people from work beforehand, but because we all started at varying times, as much as two hours for some people, we didn’t all manage to get to run together. My ‘wave’ started at 12.25pm. Because I had arrived early, I managed to watch the elite runners get underway. Firstly the wheelchair athletes, the women and finally the men. I watched the first wave of the ‘non-elites’ go and managed to spot a few SANDS runners and one of my college team members. I decided not to wait any longer and headed towards the holding area for the blue wave.

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With over 35,000 people taking part, an event such as this needs military organisation. and it worked. It was the first time I had taken part in this event and was easily able to find where I should congregate for the start. I turned up just before the mass warm up which was handy to get the blood pumping and muscles ready. A few more announcements and then we were off!

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Well, almost! It took about 7 minutes of shuffling before I actually crossed the start line. But then I really was off.

So what was it like? A few words spring to mind. Hot, busy, fun, busy, tiring, busy, memorable, busy, hot! Ok so a few are repeated. But that is because it really was very busy … and very hot! The weather did eventually break and the rain was pretty heavy, however that was about 5 minutes after I finished!

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I really enjoyed myself for the majority of the time. The course felt pretty flat compared to what I was used to training in hilly Lancashire. I had set myself a target  of trying to complete it within an hour. It was pretty ambitious given that my longest training run was 9.7 km completed in nearly 1 hr 1 minute. Still, I figured that the flat course would help. We ran all the way out to Old Trafford , Salford Quays and back from the city centre. Annoyingly, just as I was well in my stride by the time we got to Old Trafford, the running mass slowed down. I saw people taking photos and and even stopping to pose. Argh, it’s just a football stadium!!

There was a stretch of a couple of kilometres which were two-way. This meant that as I was starting out, I could look for my Nelson and Colne College team-mates who had started in the waves before me and hopefully cheer them on. We had our college logo on our t-shirts so they were easy to spot. I managed to see 2 staff members, but my brain just couldn’t work quickly enough. By the time I had got their names ready to shout encouragement, they had run past. Still, it helped to pre-occupy my mind for 15 minutes on the way out to Old Trafford and then on the way back too.

I knew I need to work on an average of 6 minutes per km. I clocked myself as I went over the start line and then at each km marker would check to see how I was faring. I was on track for the first half but it was between 5 and 8 km that I slowed down. At one point I was tempted to run with guy who had a portable speaker attached to his waist. He wasn’t just keeping himself going but entertaining everyone else around him too. As I passed, the speaker was playing ‘Dead Ringer for Love’ by Meat Loaf, one of my all-time favourites (and although he wouldn’t like to admit it, the first song Adam and I danced together to!). It gave me a welcome lift as a trudged on.

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Checking my split times on the website, I completed the last 2 km in 12 minutes and 2 seconds, which in retrospect was pretty good for me given it was the end of the race. I know I pushed myself hard on the last kilometre (I’d love to know that split time), and probably looked horrendous on the last stretch. Although there are plenty of official photos, I haven’t bothered to look at them. I’m not the prettiest runner in town.

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I finished though. And although I just missed out on going under that hour mark by 6 seconds (damn Old Trafford!) I was elated to complete my first challenge of the year. I collected my goody pack and started to devour the obligatory free food. I managed a few selfies to send to Adam (and upload to Facebook) before the rain started. I decided I deserved a Starbucks hot chocolate (with whipped cream) before heading home, proudly sporting my medal in the car!

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Running for Ewan really pushed me to complete this, and finish it in the best time I could. I was proud to wear his name on my back and hope I will be able to for future races. A huge thank you to my work colleagues who also ran for SANDS and to everyone who sponsored me (and the rest of the team).

My next event is just 5 days away – the Run For All Burnley 10K. Adam and I completed this 3 years ago when it was held for the first time, so I am really excited to take part again. We both raised £400+ for SANDS back then. I am also looking forward to Adam and the boys being able to  watch me seeing as it is so close to home. Anyone in the Burnley area, make sure you are en route cheering and supporting. You’ll need to be up early as it starts at 9.30am. I hope to see you there.

If you would like to sponsor me, please visit my fundraising page. All amounts are gratefully received, however big or small.
www.justgiving.com/running4ewan

My first (volunteer) parkrun

For only the third time this year, I wasn’t stood on the start line of a parkrun at 9am on Saturday morning. With my first 10k on tomorrow morning, I didn’t want to push myself too much and risk having tired legs. But instead of taking it easy and watching back to back Disney films with the boys in our pyjamas, as any normal person would, I still decided to head on over to Burnley parkrun, to help marshal the event.

IMG_0667Typically disorganised as ever, I didn’t get the boys up and dressed and dropped off at my mums in time to make the volunteers briefing at 8.45am. Instead I turned up just as the running latecomers were speeding up the avenue to the start. A few nice lady marshals took me under their wing and suggested I head on over to one particular part of the course which was free. I grabbed a vest and headed off to get there before the first runners arrived.

From my vantage point I could see the huge colourful crowd of 300+ runners all gathered in front of Towneley Hall. It was a pretty amazing sight to see them all suddenly mobilise and set off from a distance. My spot was about 500m into the run so I didn’t have too long to wait before the front runners came thundering past.

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Crowd at the start line through the trees

Before sitting down to write this, I had a look on the volunteer page and it listed all the different roles. It says:

‘Marshals guide and encourage the runners around the course warning them of any obstacles or hazards, as well as ensuring that other park users are aware of the run. They are also the eyes and ears of the run director out on the course. Marshals perform a crucial function; if there aren’t enough marshals then the event can’t go ahead. So if you’re running and see them out on the course, please say thanks (particularly if it’s wet, windy or cold) and always follow their advice. They’ll most likely be wearing high vis – so they should be easy to spot.

Well there weren’t any hazards near my area, but once I got over the ‘I feel a bit silly stood here on my own clapping’ feeling, I like to think I did a good job of cheering and encouraging the runners on. My most useful moment was probably relieving one of the runners with a dog from a small plastic bag full of … well I’m sure you can guess. She looked pretty happy not to have to carry it around for another 4.5km!

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Long line of runners

It was interesting seeing the huge variety of runners and I still marvel at what an amazing event is. From the clearly talented runners finishing in under 20 minutes to those struggling at the back but persevering with each and every step. From the tiny dots only 5 years old to the more senior runners of varying speeds and abilities.

After seeing the last runner past my post, I ran back to the finish line to try and catch as many as possible coming through. By then I had no worries about clapping and cheering them on and stayed until the last runners came through.

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If it wasn’t enough to received a lot of smiles back and a hefty number of ‘thank you’s’ from the runners taking part today, I even got a thank you text message instead of my usual run time and position. I had a great morning and it only took an hour or so of my time. Although I am concentrating at getting fitter and better at running myself (with parkrun’s help) I hope I can give up a few more Saturday mornings to help out.

So now I am just preparing for tomorrow. All my kit is laid out ready. I’m just hoping that the aches and pains in my ankle and knees are just psychosomatic seeing as they have just appeared in the last 24 hours!! Wish me luck!

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It’s good to talk!

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We don’t talk about Ewan a lot. That sounds pretty silly doesn’t it? Saying that on a blog which is (in essence) about him. But writing is different to talking,

What I mean is, whilst talking about him is not a taboo subject, it’s not something I do every day, or even every week. It’s not because we’ve forgotten about him. It’s just not something that comes up in day-to-day conversation. Current conversations now revolve around how long did Jude sleep for his daytime nap, or where has Captain America’s shield gone? (Answers, usually about an hour and a hour, two if we are lucky, and no idea – it’s been missing for weeks!). You get my drift.

That’s not to say we don’t think about him. We see his hand and footprint every morning and he is always in our thoughts.

The past couple of weeks have been a bit different.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to talk about the SANDS charity at my mum and dad’s church. Every year in May, the congregation gather together one Sunday morning before the service and have breakfast together. At the end there is a collection for charity which changes each year. In 2011, the year Ewan died, they chose SANDS as the recipient and raised £260 in donations.

Five years on, I was incredibly touched to be told that they had again chosen SANDS. But this time I was asked I would go and speak about the work of the charity and about why it was of such importance. I have spoken in public about Ewan, but not for some time. I wanted to use the opportunity to explain how the work SANDS has done over the last 38 years made a real impact on Adam and I when Ewan was born. Instead of him being taken away from us, we were able to spend time with him, take photos and make memories. It sounds so simple, but parents of stillborn babies 20+ years ago were not afforded the same treatment.

The generosity of the congregation raised £311. A huge thank you to Bethesda Street United Reformed Church in Burnley.

Last week I met up with our Communications Officer at work. Each year a group of staff take part in the Great Manchester Run and raise money for charity. Those who run get to put forward the charity and choose.  Figuring I had nothing to lose, I suggested SANDS , and was delighted when it was chosen by my co-workers/runners.

I offered to talk about my own experiences with Becky so that she could put together an article. The result is the link below. I think she made a pretty good job of it!

http://www.nelson.ac.uk/adults-news/ncc-team-prepare-charity-run-support-brave-colleague/

Last time I looked, the College Justgiving page stands at £155 – I’m hopeful for a lot more!

I think some people might think that talking about Ewan is something I don’t want to do, for fear of me getting upset. Five years ago, that would have been the case, but now, with the benefit of time and healing, I can talk about him and just be …. normal. I like to talk about him, because he is our son, a part of our family. I like to talk about SANDS because it focusses me to be positive about our experience, because without their tireless campaigning and education, it could have been so much worse. And I don’t get upset because our lives are filled with so much joy. Just look at the two monkeys below and you will see why!

If you ever want to ask me about Ewan, please do. I will be happy to share, because  as Bob Hoskins once said … ‘It’s good to talk’

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My first holiday Parkrun

With my first 10k race (the Great Manchester Run) taking place in 6 weeks, having a rest from training isn’t an option whilst on holiday. So this morning I took the opportunity to be a real Parkrun tourist and turned up to Penrith Parkrun bright and early. As well as it being my first holiday Parkrun, it was also the first Parkrun of the year where I didn’t have a jacket (well hello sun!) and also the first time I wore my new Parkrun wristband, an early birthday present from Adam.

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My parkrun and Centre Parcs wristbands

One beauty of Parkrun is that with it taking place in 350+ locations around the UK, if you are away from home and want to run, it’s is likely there will be somewhere nearby. It’s a great opportunity to compare different courses and discover new places. Penrith Parkrun is in a truly enviable location. At one point I was running towards the dramatic (still) snow capped peaks of the northern Lake District. In the opposite direction I could see the sparkling river Eamont in front of the Appleby fells. And then hidden behind the busy A66, the crumbling tops of Brougham Castle. Pretty spectacular really.

Snowcapped Lakeland Fells

Snowcapped Lakeland Fells

As mentioned earlier, it was the first time this year that I ran without a jacket. In short sleeves no less. That felt like a cause for celebration in itself. The sun was really strong, I had to remind myself that it wasn’t July. It’s the excuse I’ve given myself that I didn’t run as fast as I’d hoped. When I first turned up, I thought there might be a good chance I would beat my PB because the course was so flat. The sun beat me (and probably also because I hadn’t drunk enough water!)

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Hot but happy!

Here’s hoping the good weather continues for the rest of the week. We have embarked on our first Centre Parcs adventure, so maybe I’ll write about our experience as CP virgins. It’s hard not to be relaxed when this was my view writing earlier (it helped that one child was napping and the other conked out watching the Little Mermaid after a busy morning at the adventure playground and pool!)

Thoroughly relaxing view

Thoroughly relaxing view

I think I’ve earned a bit of a relax after my morning workout.

If you want to read more about my running and fundraising goals this year, take a look at some of my previous blogs.

Getting my Great North Run place

The Great North Run Idea

The Importance of SANDS

I am raising money for SANDS in memory of our angel, Ewan. If you are able to make a contribution, however big or small, please visit my justgiving page www.justgiving.com/running4ewan.

Due Date

A mother should never dread the due date of her baby. She might be worried or nervous, but in most cases she will be buzzing with excitement and anticipation. Not so the mother who loses her baby before the due date arrives.

We knew Ewan had died 8 weeks before his due date. I’ve written before about one clear memory I have of that morning when I went to get some petrol. As I was filling up, I remember thinking that ‘in 8 weeks our baby might be here, in 10 weeks it probably, most definitely will be here’. Not to be.

Very early on, I knew that we had to do something on Ewan’s due date. Whilst I know that very few babies arrive on their actual due date (it’s something like 4%), I knew that the day would mark a very important milestone. I just knew that I couldn’t spend the day sitting at home, watching the hours pass and wondering what might have been.

So Adam and I made plans on how we would spend 11th March. I have written already about our love of Scotland. At that time we had recently discovered the West Coast Highlands and Islands and so decided to head up to the Isle of Skye. If you look on a map, Skye is pretty far north. It’s about a 4 hour drive north of Glasgow, and that’s just to the southern tip across the Skye road bridge. I booked a cottage on the northern tip, a place called Uig, another hours drive. Looking at it now, it seems as though I was trying to get as far away from home as possible. That thought didn’t really cross my mind at the time. We just knew that Skye would be a beautiful place to escape to.

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We split the journey up and stopped a night at a beautiful B & B at the southern tip of Loch Lomond. The following morning was the 11th March. We looked onwards and upwards. We had a weekend of amazing and wild scenery to look forward to.

The roads skirting along the length of Loch Lomond, onto the high ground of Rannoch Moor, through Glen Coe, past Ben Nevis and up to Skye give you simply spectacular views. They are a thousand times worth the journey to get that far north. There was still plenty of snow on a lot of the high ground after that particularly long and cold winter, which extended onto the mountains of Skye. The scenery was simply stunning. I’d like to think my photographs do it justice, but it doesn’t!

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On Skye, we eventually found our tiny cottage, a former Granary, and settled in. Out of the three nights, we had two blazing sunsets over the sea, looking out across the Little Minch towards the Outer Hebrides. I love the photograph Adam took of me smiling with my head out of the window. Looking out at the sunsets brought real calmness and peace. On the day that could have been one of the hardest tests, I am happy.

31 87The next day brought cold, but fine weather. We threw our warm gear on and headed to the Old Man of Storr, Staffin and Kilt Rock. We did quite a bit of walking and in the afternoon I started to get tired as we were heading up to a summit for more spectacular views. I was frustrated with myself, even though Adam kept reminding me that it wasn’t 8 weeks since I had given birth and my body was still recovering. I reluctantly agreed to turn back (why is he always right??).

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The rain for which the West Coast is famous for, joined us on the Sunday. Although it was tempting to stay tucked up indoors, we braved the elements and drove to the Waternish peninsula to go to the beach! I loved watching the wind whipping the water off the waves. Later that night we huddled up and listened to a wild storm raging around us outside.

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With heavy hearts we packed up to go home and back to reality. It was only a short trip but we came back a little more energised and with the ability to carry on facing the difficult challenges life was throwing at us. We didn’t forget about Ewan whilst we were in Scotland, we took him with us and continued to talk about what had happened and how we felt. But the trip gave us an excuse to ‘do’ something and enjoy ourselves. Smile, laugh and be silly without feeling guilty. Be normal. Start healing.

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How do I feel now on the 11th March? It’s funny. It’s actually not a day that I usually think or worry about. January is a huge focus for us as this was when Ewan was born. Being perfectly honest, when I thought about writing this post, I had to double check whether his due date was the 11th or 13th.  Most importantly though, it is now my niece’s birthday. She is 3 today (Happy Birthday Emma – see you tomorrow!). It’s quite fitting that we can now celebrate this day, laughing and smiling as we should. And I like to think that Ewan will be celebrating with us too.

 

I’m In!!!!

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An excuse to get some new running shoes!!

Well if you like my Facebook page then you can guess what this post is about. I can’t say it more simply that I GOT IN! Yes, I’ve finally got confirmation that I have a charity place to do the Great North Run in September. Crucially, the charity place is for SANDS.

I’m not being overdramatic when I say that I was devastated not to get a place through the ballot. I really was. I’ve been running regularly since the start of the year (well at least once a week) and just assumed I would get in. On the day the results of the ballot were emailed out, at least 5 people I knew were celebrating on Facebook because they’d been successful. I wanted to be so pleased for them, especially as most said they wanted to run for SANDS too.

I hoped SANDS would have some places, but also knew that they wouldn’t have many. I sent my application off along with a few begging emails. One of my friends (who got a ballot place) emailed in support saying she’d been planning to run with me. Another friend said that I could have their place if I didn’t get one through SANDS (how lovely).

I really was worried I wouldn’t get a place. And I really didn’t want to contemplate what would happen if I was unsuccessful. As much as I wanted to run, I didn’t want to run for anyone else other than SANDS. The charity is more important than the run.

Now I don’t need to worry about getting in. I just need to worry about making sure I train enough!! I know I can run 13.1 miles. I’ve done it 3 times before, so that does help. Not that it makes the training any easier mind. My regular Saturday Parkrunning will give me a solid foundation but I now need to make time to get out during the week. Bring on the lighter nights!

So I’m sorry that now I’ll be harping on about this for the next few months. Hopefully you will enjoy tracking my progress (and not be too bored with it!). Who knows? Maybe you’ll even be inspired to get those dusty running shoes out from under your bed and sign up for a 5 or 10k yourself. And even better, raise money for SANDS.

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If you are interested in my Great North Run journey, you might want to read my first declaration of intent – Running for Ewan

If you want to take up running and don’t know where to start, why not look at Parkrun – I’m hooked. Read more about it in 8 Reasons to Love Parkrun and My First Parkrun