Tag Archives: Sands

#15babiesaday Campaign

If you asked me any time before January 2011, how many babies were stillborn everyday, I imagine I would have said 3 or 4. To be honest I just wouldn’t have had a clue, but not knowing anyone or really hearing anything about stillbirth, I know the answer would have been low. At the time we lost Ewan, 17 babies a day did not survive in the UK. More specifically this means babies born from 24 weeks gestation onwards who were either stillborn, or died within 4 weeks of birth. SANDS had a campaign at the time called Why 17? Why on earth, in such a prosperous country, were 17 babies dying each day?

On the positive side, this rate has started to go in the right direction, however in mine (and a lot of other people’s opinion), it hasn’t reduced enough. In 2015, the UK was rated 24th out of 49 high income countries. Poland, Croatia and the Czech Republic all had lower rates of stillbirth than in the UK. I’m not an expert but shouldn’t we be leading the way rather than lagging behind Portugal, Slovakia and Estonia?

Today, June 15th, Sands have launched a new campaign based on the fact that STILL 15 babies die every day. Now to all you lovely blog readers, that statistic isn’t new. Since the beginning of the year, it is something I have mentioned almost every time I’ve written. I’m over a third of the way through my 15 races for 15 babies challenge. A typical topic of conversation now is ‘how many runs have you got to go’. Most people think I’ve done more than I actually have (is that a sign people are getting bored? I hope not!).

The charity has a number of different social media initiatives for the campaign including the obligatory selfie shot! Click here if you are interested in any 15 themed fundraising. Of course I am pretty chuffed with myself to already be on the bandwagon with my 15 themed challenge …. hmmm I wonder if they saw it and realised what a cracking idea it was! One particularly effective initiative has been a tweet they have sent every 96 minutes, highlighting that approximately every hour and a half a baby dies.

          

I hope that in 2 or 3 years time we there will be campaigns of ‘Why 13’ or ‘Why 11’ or ‘Why 9’. And then a few years later we will be celebrating having the number 1 rating, with acceptably low to non-existent numbers. Just how amazing would that be.

Although I say time and time again how blessed we are with our beautiful, amazing rainbows, there will always be a small part of us with Ewan. When I see Dylan and Jude playing together, laughing and wrestling (!) with innocent, wide eyed smiles, occasionally I wonder what Ewan’s smile would have looked like and how his laugh would have sounded.

And although I went onto give birth without complications and have two healthy boys, nothing will ever take away the pain that I felt, that even now when writing about I can still feel in my stomach and chest, when I was told Ewan’s heart had stopped. When he was born into silence. When we went home alone.

All the joy and happiness we have experienced as a family over the last 5 years, and hopefully will do in the many years to come will never erase our memories of Ewan.

If by sharing this post, a selfie or a Sands tweet or by making a donation or getting involved in any other kind of fundraising, we can continue to reduce the number of stillbirths, then Ewan’s life will have truly had a purpose.

http://www.justgiving.com/15races15babies

#15babiesaday

#1ofthe15

#15races15babies

#TeamSands

Mother’s Day Run #4

Continuing with my 15 races for 15 babies, race #4  took place last week on Mother’s Day. Yes that’s right. The day I should be enjoying a lie-in breakfast in bed, I decide to swap for a 6.30am alarm call. The morning after the clocks went forward. Yes I was thoroughly and utterly mad.

My solo Mother’s Day breakfast

 

I had a short jaunt over the border into Yorkshire to Keighley. With a 9am start, having to collect our timing chips from 8am onwards and a 35 min drive, the half 6 start was needed. It was odd being up on my own, at what was really 5.30, having my race staple bowl of porridge in silence.

 

Chatting with Jo and Jayne at the start

 

Thankfully it was an absolutely beautiful morning. After the previous weekend completely soaking us, the sun was really welcome. The 10k I was taking part in, is an annual event and always takes place on Mother’s Day. Last year it snowed! Typical crazy Spring weather. Whilst basking in the sun, waiting for the start, I saw my friend Jo who I hadn’t realised was running. She and her friend had run the course a couple of times so could give me the low down on what to expect. It was nice to have someone to chat with waiting for the start.

I thought it was pretty poignant that I was running for Ewan on Mother’s Day. Last year I wrote how it’s a day that can be really difficult for bereaved mothers. Thankfully I have only had 1 year of being a mother without a child to celebrate with. And that gives me every reason to be doubly thankful ever since. Although they weren’t there to watch me run (far too early to drag them from their beds and our regular Sunday morning viewing of the Lion King), I knew I’d be able to give them a huge hug after I finishing. To lose a child and not be able to do that, is a devastating feeling on any day, but on Mother’s Day in particular.

The race wasn’t the most difficult out of the 4. It also didn’t feel like the easiest, but I ended up getting my best time so far. However, there is a big ‘but’ to come with that statement. My Strave app only recorded 9.8 km. So I’m not really sure if it counts. I definitely didn’t cut any corners so either my phone is a bit dodgy, the GPS messed up or the course measurement wasn’t 100% accurate. No matter, it was a challenging but good run. Described as ‘undulating’, there was a lot of uphill, but also just as much downhill too. Some of the hills were taken by me at a crawling running pace. I was determined not to walk, but at times I was very close. A few well placed local residents with Tupperware full of jelly babies helped to keep me going in the (believe it or not) unexpected heat.

 

The last couple of kilometres were downhill, so by the time I arrived at the finish, I didn’t feel too shot at. All the female runners were given a red carnation which was a lovely touch. A goody bag with some heavenly Eat Natural Dark Chocolate and Cranberry bars (relatively healthy but delicious) helped me ignore the blister pain. But the best prize of all was seeing my beautiful family half an hour later.  No rest for the wicked though. It was off with the trainers and on with the swimming cossie. Weekend family swims don’t get postponed because of a race and it was the opportunity to try out a new pool at Keighley (which we now love).

My obligatory finish photo (complete with carnation)

There’s a 5 week gap between this race and the next, the longest so far. It’s in Lancaster and should be quite a flat one, so maybe the chance of a getting a lot nearer my 5k PB of 59 mins 50. The fundraising for SANDS is going pretty well. A huge HUGE thanks to everyone who has donated so far. I’ve set myself a target of £500 and my Justgiving page is already at £377. If you’ve just been paid and have a few pounds to spare, please head on over.

 

 

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My progress in the 4 races so far is below. Also the rest of the races to come. If you fancy joining me, or have signed up for any, give me a shout.

#15races15babies #TeamSands #run4ewan

Results so far ….

Race #1 Blackburn – 1 hr 4 mins 3 sec
Race #2 Crosby Beach – 1 hr 6 mins 11 sec
Race #3 Accrington – 1 hr 1 min 57 sec
Race #4 Keighley – 1 hr 43 sec

Races still to run …..

Lancaster 3 Bridges 10k – 30th April

Great Run Manchester Half Marathon – 28th May

Run for All Hull 10k -18th June

Run for All Leeds 10k – 9th July

Run for All York 10k – 6th August

Blackpool Air Show 10k – 13th August

Run for All Bury 10k – 17th September

Lytham Windmill 10k – 12th November

Wilmslow 10k -26th November

Longridge Pudding Run – 10th December

+ 1 Spare run (Great Run in Harrogate was cancelled)

Sand, rain and fig rolls

Two race reports in one. The Crosby Beach 10k (did I say beach?? sure did!) from a fortnight ago, and yesterday’s Accrington 10k. With runs 2 and 3 now ticked off, I am now 20% of the way through my challenge. I am running 15 races in 2017 in memory of my son Ewan, and to highlight that 15 babies every day are stillborn, or die within the first 4 weeks of life. A link to my fundraising page for Sands is at the end if you have any spare spondoolies to sponsor me (smiley face, thumbs up!)

Ok let’s start with Race #2. Adam and I have been to Crosby beach in Liverpool a few times. I’ve written before about how it has special memories for us going back to when we visited a couple of weeks after Ewan died. A link to the run kept popping up on my Facebook feed, so I showed it to Adam. On the QT, Adam runs as well, but in direct contrast to me, doesn’t shout about it to the rest of the world. He clocks up a couple of 10k runs a week and on hearing about the Crosby run, said that he wanted to join me.

So having ditched the boys with their grandparents, we set off to Liverpool early Sunday morning with Bruce Springsteen blasting away in the car. Arriving at Crosby the weather was a bit miserable, grey and drizzly. The view of the beach with the wind turbines out to sea, and seemingly hundreds of statues in the sand, never fails to impress. We had the ‘keep the jacket, ditch the jacket’ debate and eventually went without. It was a good call seeing as the rain stopped as the race started. We were a bit surprised at the size of the field. I’m not even sure there were 100 runners. The worry of coming in last was a real possibility.

Off we went, heading along the field to the promenade. In my head I’d thought that about 4-5k of the run was on sand. WRONG. It was more like 8k. Thankfully the sand was pretty hard and well packed and I managed the first 5k in a reasonable time. I was playing Chariots of Fire and the Rocky ‘Flying High’ theme in my head and actually quite enjoying myself. Then as the second 5k kicked in, my body started to complain somewhat. I don’t think I realised the impact the movement of the sand was having on me. The course was a loop down the beach and back. I saw Adam running back towards me so there were big smiles, words of encouragement (from Adam at least) and a high 5 on the move. It didn’t twig how far ahead he was of me until I reached the end of the beach and had to turn back!!

Somehow I dragged myself to the end of the course. I won’t lie. It was painful. Despite it being almost 100% flat, I couldn’t believe how much harder I found it in comparison to the Blackburn race two weeks ago. Adam was waiting to cheer me on when I reached the finish. Afterwards he asked if I had enjoyed myself, because I hadn’t looked as though I did at the end! Yes, it was hard but I DID enjoy it. It was great having Adam there to share the experience with me. He got an absolutely brilliant time – 52 minutes. Mine was definitely nothing to shout about. I’ve hidden it away at the bottom!

Onto the most recent run yesterday and the completion of Race #3. Not as far to travel this time, Accrington is just 10 miles away. However with a 9.30 start, it still meant an early get up. And since this little cherub transferred from cot to bed a couple of nights before, we are back to disrupted nights and earlier than usual mornings (it’s a good job he’s so cute!). So I didn’t get quite as much sleep as I’d hoped.

The rain from Saturday managed to hold off for most of the morning, but it was still pretty damn cold. It’s funny to think that in about 3-4 months’ time, I’ll probably be complaining of the weather being too warm! I took the obligatory pre-race selfie (sheltering) in the car before collecting my race number and chip. I saw a couple of people I knew beforehand and thankfully the field was a lot bigger than Crosby.

The course wasn’t too bad. A few hills (this is Lancashire after all), but going uphill, means coming downhill as well. This was at the end so I managed to speed up for the last couple of kilometres. Strava told me afterwards that I recorded my fastest ever kilometre, mile and two miles, which I was suitably chuffed with. It started raining in the last 5 minutes or so, which was fine during the race but a bit miserable at the end when my body started to cool down.

My time in the end was the best of the 3 races. I’m edging closer to my PB of last summer. As you can imagine, one of my goals will be to beat it at some point this year. Perhaps on a flatter course…. without sand!

My only real disappointment was the lack of a medal at the end. I obviously overlooked the tick-box when booking, asking if I wanted to order one. Or I probably had my thrifty, penny pinching head on, didn’t want to pay the extra £4 and hadn’t thought about getting all 15 medals lined up together at the end of the year (sad face). Never mind. I’ll wrap the rest up in my new Ron Hill Accrington 10k head band instead!

Sorry, I’d forgotten there was another disappointment. I randomly (and stupidly) decided to give up chocolate until Easter, mainly to see if I have the willpower to do it. So, at the end when what I really wanted to do was stuff my face with a Snickers, I had to settle for fig rolls from the pound shop instead!

I’ve got a bit of a break now until my next race, so don’t worry, I won’t be boring you for a while. In the meantime, click the link below to go to my Justgiving page to spur me on with training (winking, smiling face).

10k results so far…

Race #1 Blackburn – 1 hr 4 mins 3 sec

Race #2 Crosby Beach – 1 hr 6 mins 11 sec

Race #3 Accrington – 1 hr 1 min 57 sec

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1 down, 14 to go!

15 races for 15 babies, first race – tick! Woo hoo I’m off the starting blocks and have one 10k under my belt. Today I completed the Blackburn 10k Winter Warmer, with less than ideal preparation. I’ve spent the past 2 ½ weeks in a cold/cough/flu like state. I was struck down mid-January and had to put running on hold for two weeks. Thankfully I managed to get out this week and although I was still sneezing and spluttering in training, I didn’t feel quite like death any more.

However I was starting to get a bit nervous when I read the finer details of this first race. An email we received a week before described it as ‘a challenging course and the section out of the park and up Buncer Lane is almost entirely up hill!’ – they felt the need to add an exclamation mark. Oh. Dear. A local newspaper article wrote ‘and it takes in a gruelling climb up Buncer Lane’. Oh. Crap. Even though I run up and down hills a lot where I live, the adjectives being used were starting to worry me. Buncer Lane was worrying me!

I decided that all I needed to do was just get round and complete the course, and try my best not to be last. I have mainly only run in races with large fields. As in tens of thousands of runners. The maximum taking part in today’s event was 600. It’s not so easy to hide in a field of that size.

Still, I was determined to get my racing year off the mark. Up early with the boys, I fuelled up on porridge and fruit and was out the door at 9.30am. Adam and I have decided that for the winter races, we won’t drag the boys out to watch. There’s nothing worse for them being stood in the cold waiting over an hour to see their mum!! I arrived relatively with plenty of time to collect my race number and chip and warm up. I tried to ignore the hundreds of uber-fit club runners and shuffled along the start line, keeping towards the back. Then we were off.

The first kilometre and I’m thinking ‘this is ok, it’s not too steep, I can handle this’. Then we hit The Hill. The Buncer Lane I had been reading about. All I can say is Ow! Ow! Ow! The descriptions were spot on. It was indeed a gruelling climb and it felt like it was going on forever. Of course it didn’t and I just about managed to keep running all the way up. I did NOT want to walk. The run flattened out and the we started a steady descent. The race was in an area of Blackburn I haven’t been to before. The views at the top were pretty awesome and helped to soothe the pain of the hill. I knew from the intermittent voice from my Strava app that my split times were way below what I would normally run, but I was past caring. I was just happy to have conquered the climb. Check out the elevation on the picture below!

I made it through the rest of the run, even managing to chat to a couple of runners. I just about coped with another short, steep hill after being reassured by a regular competitor that the end was almost in sight. We came back into the park where the run had started and finished with a lap on the running track. I crossed the line and just about managed to stop myself from collapsing with joy. I really hope that this is the toughest of all the 10k’s I’ve signed up for. I’m not sure I’m built for anything harder. I wasn’t expecting an amazing time, well not in comparison to my PB. I checked my results this evening – 1 hour 4 mins 3 seconds. But time doesn’t matter, competing and completing does.

Thanks to my lovely friends, my Justgiving page jumped up £65 today so it was definitely worth dragging myself out. On my way in the car, I thought about Ewan and the reasons I was running. The thought of him will always keep me going. And the hugs I got from all my boys when I got home.

#15races15babies

#TeamSands

#run4Ewan

#winterwarmer10k

 

 

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15 Races for 15 Babies

Taken by the fab Burnley Parkrun photographer David Belshaw

After finishing the Great North Run last September, I knew that I wanted to carry on running. I was blown away when family, friends and colleagues helped me to raise over £2300 for Sands, for running the half marathon and 2 x 10k’s in 2016. When I was unsuccessful (but secretly quite pleased) with the London Marathon ballot, I decided to be a bit more creative. There were plenty of other marathons to go for, but to be honest, I’m still not ready to put in the hours needed for decent training with the 3-4 hour long weekend runs needed.

Inspiration came through reading various posts from a brilliant Facebook group I was invited to join called Run Mummy Run. There are 30,000+ members all of varying running abilities, from 15 minute milers to ultra marathon runners. It’s a huge support network where stories and achievements are celebrated and no question is too stupid. Being part of this virtual running club has kept me going throughout the winter, a time when I have never trained before. Not at night any way. I only managed to pull on my trainers after the boys had gone to bed when it was dark, windy and wet outside because I knew thousands of other mums were doing the same.

So, onto my challenge for this year ….. ready? ….. drumroll …. (it should be no surprise really given the blog title!) … I’m going to take part in 15 races over the course of 2017.

Because I am now such a running geek (as I was politely informed the other day), all my races are on a spreadsheet. I haven’t signed up for them all yet – some still have dates to be confirmed, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that I will win a place in the Vitality Liverpool half marathon. Feel free to join me in one, or come out and cheer if the race is near you (warning – you need to live in the North!). The more the merrier.

Blackburn Winter Warmer 10k – 5th February

Crosby Beach 10k (Liverpool) – 19th February

Accrington Ron Hill 10k – 5th March

Vitality Liverpool Half Marathon – 2nd April

Lancaster 3 Bridges 10k – 30th April

Great Run Manchester Half Marathon – 28th May

Run for All Hull 10k – 18th June

Run for All Leeds 10k – 9th July

Great Yorkshire Run (Harrogate 10k) –  July (date TBC)

Run for All York 10k – 6th August

Blackpool Air Show 10k – 13th August

Run for All Bury 10k – 17th September

Lytham Windmill 10k – 12th November

Wilmslow 10k – 26th November

Longridge Pudding Run – 10th December

So why 15? Because every day in the UK, 15 babies are stillborn, or die within the first 4 weeks of life. Every day, the lives of 15 families are changed forever. Hopes are shattered and dreams are broken for 15 mums and dads to be. On Saturday it will be 6 years to the day when we were told that Ewan had died. And although I always say how lucky we are to have 2 amazing boys with us now, the pain I felt on that day and for the weeks, months and years that followed, will be with me until I take my last breath.

Stillbirth is not rare. This was a tragedy which happened to us and could happen to anyone. The UK’s stillbirth rate is still unacceptably high, especially in comparison to other lower income nations.

I want my challenge to be memorable and meaningful. To raise money for research and also raise awareness of stillbirth.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/15races15babies

I’ve even got one of those fancy text codes (I sound ancient writing that don’t I?!)

Text COXR51  followed by an amount of £1, £2, £3, £5 or £10 to 70070

Please share my Justgiving page and if you have a spare cash over the year any donations will be gratefully received.

My geeky spreadsheet!

#15races15babies

#TeamSands

#SandsSuperstar

 

 

Wave of Light

wave-of-light

7pm is usually getting out the bath and into pyjamas time in our house. I was panicking so much that I would miss the Wave of Light so I lit my candle a wee bit early and took photographs in advance to post.  #Waveoflight is now trending over social media as I type. In some ways it is tragic there are so many photographs of candles commemorating babies loved and lost, but how wonderful they can all be remembered and shared in this global community.

The SANDS Facebook post simply stated:

“For the light they brought into our lives, of which this candle is a living sign.”

I have pictured our candle with our angels and rainbows light. My mum’s cousin gave this to us last Christmas. It floored me a bit when I opened it. She had got everyone else in the family lights which were similar and had children/grandchildren on, I don’t know why but didn’t expect ours to include Ewan on as well as Dylan and Jude. I absolutely love it and it has pride of place in the living room.

“Our little Star is shining bright, his love exalted in the night. Watching over our Rainbows here who frolic and play with radiant cheer”.

Thinking of our little man tonight, and all the other angels sadly taken far too soon.

My love goes out to everyone who has lit a candle tonight.

#Waveoflight

xmas-light

A boxful of memories

panda

I once read an article about a mother who lost twin babies. She was sent home from hospital with a scrap of paper towel with the words ‘twin one’ and twin two’ and their birth weights. That was it. Nothing else. The scrap of paper was all she and her husband had to remind them of their babies. This was about 25 years ago. Thankfully things have moved on since then.

Creating and holding onto memories for a stillborn baby is one of the most important parts of the grieving and healing process. As the parents of a child which was never able to take its first breath, make that first step, utter a first word, experience the first day of school, the few memories we have are treasured and extremely precious.

Of course I have the memories stored away in my mind, but we also have a memory box filled with various things which all relate to Ewan. Things that are tangible that we can take out and look at.  I knew quite early on that I wanted to buy a special keepsafe. A beautiful box to keep everything in. An online search eventually took me to Reads Creations, a company making personalised wooden memory boxes. They had just what we wanted. And here it is. P1100237 P1100239

dylan-and-memory-box

We usually keep it in our wardrobe so it is neatly tucked away but easily accessible. One day I took it out and left it for a couple of days. Dylan took a shine to it and enjoying sitting on it. I managed to take what is one of my favourite but also most poignant photographs. When he is older he will understand the significance.

 

So what keepsafes do we have? Probably too many to mention so I’ll pick out a few for now.

cards

We received an overwhelming number of cards from family, friends and colleagues and struggled to find places to put them in the house. There were so many kind words and even those which said ‘I don’t know what to say’ still meant so much. Occasionally I will get them out and have a read through some of them. The photograph of my favourite cards is at the top – the pandas. It wasn’t even a bereavement card. It didn’t have any words, just a simple picture. Adam and I thought it summed up how we felt.

I still have cards to add to the box now. One of my dear friends sends me a card every year on Ewan’s birthday. She keeps his memory alive by recognising that he should have a card to celebrate like everybody else.

p1100251

This necklace holds a particularly strong memories for me. I was wearing it the day I went into hospital to find out his heart had stopped. I can visualise myself now, sat in a chair playing with it. I wore it again when I went to give birth and then to his funeral. I carried on wearing it for a while but started to worry I would lose it, so now have it tucked away for safe keeping.

 

p1100249Another dear friend gave me this cross-stitch a couple of months later. I can remember she gave it to me in what seemed to be a bit of an apologetic, ‘I hope you like it’ kind of way. I was so touched that she had gone to the effort of making something like this for us. It was incredibly thoughtful.

We have quite a few photographs. Obviously all his scan photographs are there, including one taken at the scan taken which determined he had died. I always feel a little bit funny about that one. Especially as I didn’t know it existed for a few months until my consultant handed it to me when I was pregnant with Dylan. We have all the photographs we took of him in the hospital. These are in a little album. They are mainly ones taken with our camera but some from the midwife too.

There is plenty more I could show you, but maybe for another day.

It’s at this point that I really want to acknowledge and thanks SANDS for their contribution to our memory box. If it wasn’t for the work SANDS did, particularly in the early days of the charity, then we wouldn’t have the memories we have now. It upsets me to think of the mother of twins in the article. Families left hospital with nothing and weren’t encourage to create their own memories. Instead it they were encouraged to forget and move on. SANDS worked hard to train professionals to make them realise that the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality didn’t work. Acting is though losing a baby never happened wasn’t going to help parents, instead it made it worse. By allowing parents to take photographs and hold their babies, it helped their grieving process enormously.

So for this I am eternally grateful.

Our memory box will also be a painful reminder of the loss of Baby Ewan, but it is also a source of comfort. A reminder of our support network and all the wonderful people who helped us through some dark and difficult times. It is a reminder that Ewan was loved and still is. And most importantly that his memory lives on.

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!

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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