Tag Archives: Work

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

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

My Great Manchester Run

IMG_0681

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.

IMG_0679 IMG_0680

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?

IMG_0691

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.

IMG_0700 IMG_0689

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!

IMG_0719 IMG_0720

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!

IMG_0715 IMG_0723

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.

IMG_0897

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.

IMG_0732

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!

IMG_0734 IMG_0743

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

It’s good to talk!

Sands logo

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’

IMG_0578 IMG_0596

 

Juggling Mummy – Home life, Work and Fundraising

Juggling balls used to keep things in the air

Wow it feels like such a long time since I sat down at the laptop to write. The blog I posted last week about Ewan’s birth was one I had written (in the main) some time ago and I just updated it and made tweaks. Since we returned from our holiday last month it just feels as though life has been super hectic. I am getting to grips with returning to work, adapting to Adam’s new job and shift patterns, keeping up with day to day house jobs and running around after a now mobile baby and his brother. Then on top of all that, last week I organised and held a quiz to raise money for Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) and a local charity Friends of Serenity. Don’t get me wrong. I love the crazy, mad busyness. And although some days feel hard, I thank my lucky stars that I have two happy and healthy boys to run around after.

Juggling work and being a mum

I’m not even back at work properly yet. Having gone back to work full-time after having Dylan, I was so pleased that I could finally reduce my hours to 4 days a week this time around. Since August I’ve been doing a couple of days a week, mainly because it is our busiest time. From this week I am working 3 days. So I’m having it easy really. I’ve slowly been getting better and better at getting the boys up and ready and dressed and into work on time. Ok I’ve not quite nailed it, but I’ve definitely improved compared to a month ago!

Adam started a new job in July which means he is away for 27 hours at a time, 2-3 times a week. Although it seems a long time to be away, we’ve quickly got used to it. In the long run it’s definitely better as he’ll get to spend more quality time with the boys. And tonight when I came home from work, my tea was ready and on the table. Happy days!

Mobile baby

My mobile baby!

 

Jude loves to explore, and now he is mobile, it’s going to get harder to keep him occupied in the morning (without worrying he isn’t tearing the place apart!). At the moment he is quite happy playing with toys on the bathroom floor whilst I’m in the shower, but I bet that won’t last for long! Adam put the stairgates up today so at least I won’t worry about him toppling down them.

 

I’ve learnt not to put the telly on for Dylan. At first I thought it would help and keep him quiet. But actually all it does is distract him and make him more reluctant to get dressed/have breakfast/brush teeth. So I don’t mention the ‘O’ word (Octonauts) and he seems quite happy to potter around and play with whatever toys are lying about.

Fundraising and quizzing

I feel like one of the things that this blog has done is to reinvigorate my passion for fundraising for Sands. In the two years after Ewan died, we set up a Justgiving Page, organised two quizzes and ran a 10k race raising nearly £8,000. Recently we haven’t done a lot and by writing about stillbirth awareness I am back in ‘that place’ where I want to get involved and help again. At the beginning of the month I went to the Sands AGM and conference, which I am hoping to write about (when I have the time!). Hearing about all the research that is needed to help reduce the stillbirth rate has really spurred me on.

So last Thursday night, which happened to coincide with Baby Loss Awareness day (15th October), 45 of my family and friends gathered together for a night of me on the mic asking questions about anything from Shakespeare quotes to celebrity couples. Typically I was up until about 12 on Wednesday night still writing the questions. Disorganised as usual! The venue for the quiz was at my local college (which also happens to be where I work!). Because we teach Catering, there is a restaurant for the public to dine so that students can practice cooking and front of house skills. The students made huge vats of meat and veggie chilli for us and kept everyone well fed.

RaffleIt was a great night. Although I was hoping for more people (Thursday nights aren’t the best I discovered for other people to get babysitters), we raised almost £600 from the ticket price and raffle. A friend of mine donated a huge chocolate bouquet which definitely led to more raffle tickets being sold. However what really boosted the total was the fact that college only charged me cost price for the food. This added £125 to the total. I was delighted. I think it helped that my friends made good use of the bar!

Wave of Light

I even managed to light my candle at 7pm before the quiz started as part of the international Wave of Light and kept it on all night.

 

Life isn’t going to calm down any time soon. Especially now I’ve got to start fitting in all the training to get ready for the Great North Run. Seeing as I published it here a few weeks ago, there’s no going back! But I can’t complain. It’s all for a great cause. I’m just learning to embrace the chaos and go with the flow!

Mummuddlingthrough