Category Archives: family

The GREAT South Run, 2016

Back in 2000 I had my first daughter in New Zealand. We came back to live in the UK in the summer of 2001. My brother-in-law Phil was turning 40 and thought it would be a good idea for my big brother Paul and I to run the Great South Run with him. Did they notice that having a baby had turned me into a different person; sleep-deprived, chore-driven, in need of a goal? I think my brother-in-law Phil couldn’t stop laughing at me, and my new-found role, and took me out for a run as ‘there-there’ therapy to help me. It worked. So there we were the three of us, a little crew, for a while. The big issue was both of them were way, way faster than I could ever be. It was so annoying. Being blokes they had a distinct physical advantage. Being one foot taller than me (well one was) meant their stride length was so massive that even during our warm-ups I would be sprinting to keep up. Phil laughed at me a lot. I laughed at me a lot.

Me, Paul and the lovely Phil, 2001. What was I wearing? Not much!

Me, Paul and the lovely Phil, 2001. What was I wearing?

Back then running was slightly different. Primarily, it was fuelled off red wine fumes. I hadn’t quite progressed to whisky. When I came back from NZ I lived with my brother. He had no choice; I was his little sister and if he didn’t give my family a place to stay I guess I would have tried to throw a punch northwards to make him do exactly as I wanted. Having two sisters must be horrible, especially when one is extra feisty even though she is extra small. (Isn’t this usually the way?).

I had to sneak this pic from my mum’s house without my brother knowing. I think this was the year of the chest infection…

We would often have a mid-week glass of wine, but never two days in a row. I don’t think. Or maybe we did a few times. I can’t believe it now, but I think we even had a few drinks on the night before some of our early Great South Runs. The thought makes my stomach churn today. What were we thinking? Well we weren’t thinking as we were able to get away with it. I can definitely remember dragging my body round the streets of Portsmouth with a hangover on a few occasions. I wasn’t really a real runner back then.

Big bro and me, I loved those Ron Hill socks

Laughing all the way to the finish line through the alcohol fumes. I loved those Ron Hill socks

The three of us would hang on for the whole 10 miles, get our medals, then usually head off to a local pub to have another glass of celebratory wine. These were the good years. There are memories on those streets, especially in Eastney, the backwater before you finally come round into the long road back to the finish. We set up a tradition – every time I had a baby I ran the GSR that same year, in some crazy bloody-minded belief it was really important to show my girls that just because you have a baby doesn’t mean you can’t still have personal goals. Even after #numbers 1 and 2 were born, and I had had blood transfusions, I was trying to run around my nearest park 6 weeks later.

Don't you love how cool Paul from Men's Running looks in this?

Paul from Men’s Running always looks this cool

I’ve had some truly shocking GSRs. But I did what I aimed for and always managed the next GSR after each birth. The three post-birth races were really awful. But the worst one was when I’d had a chest infection but forced myself to run (raising money for Alzheimer’s Society, couldn’t let them down), coughed so much all the way round that I had to stop each time. I was in constant danger of wetting myself. For the first six miles I did that run where you cough and try to not stop but pull your legs together, trying to control your bladder so you look like your running off red wine fumes…

Some of my GSR bling

Some of my GSR bling

Phil died in his 40s, losing his battle with diabetes, just before #3 was born. I ran the GSR after her birth for him. It was awful. I know he would still be laughing at me and my running, the way it goes up and down, just like the support of the American people of Donald Trump. I know he would say: ‘Tina, just enjoy yourself, don’t worry,’ and then laugh his massive donkey laugh at me all the way round. I loved that man.

I snuck in at the front - imposter anxiety!

I snuck in at the front – imposter anxiety!

Plenty of times my brother’s beaten me, too. Goddamn it, I hate that. Thing is I figured out years ago how to beat him. All I have to do is train. Because he doesn’t. He’s so laid back he eased himself out of our mother’s womb making the peace sign. I’ve been doing reverse psychology on him for years, and he has no idea. It’s OK, don’t worry, he doesn’t read my blog – none of my family do – so he won’t find out. Every week I ask him the same question: Are you coming to my running group? Every week he says: I’m too busy. So. He thinks I really want him to come. Whereas I know the more I ask him the more he won’t come. We have this weird-psychic-crazy-brain connection where I know exactly what to do to make him not do something. You only have it with the souls who were there the day you came home from the hospital, wrapped up warm and tiny, who look at your bundle of life and instantly, with their 18-month-old brain deduce ‘I know exactly what that crazy piece of life is all about.’ That’s what he’s got with me. That’s called being truly blessed.

Sorry Paul, are you still running at this stage?

Sorry Paul, are you still running at this stage?

He can still rock up to this annual 10-miler with no training and run close to 80 minutes. It’s so annoying I want to slap him every year. I have to keep up my training just to beat him. What a motivation. And the best bit is he has no idea that he’s not running because I want him to, so I can beat him. Crazy life magic right there.

We found this one waiting for his prize after we finished

We found this one waiting for his 2nd place prize after we finished

Some people write such sweet things about their brothers….

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Isn’t it so cute? Oh sorry, I was looking for a lovely poem about how great a brother he is and this one kept popping up… Is it about me?

So, so pleased I spotted this one on the ferry. I'm the proudest coach... she's my superstar

So, so pleased I spotted this one on the ferry. I’m the proudest coach… she’s my superstar

Then when the race is over I say: ‘Oh, did I beat you? Ah, I didn’t realise…!’ Knowing full well I did as the moment I get over the finish line I pull out my mobile and go on to the GSR results page, punch in his name, see his time and run round that whole lower field in a glory lap, singing ‘R.E.S.P.E.C.T, all I’m asking is a litt’l respect!’ Even though something like 10,000 people finished in front of me. It doesn’t matter as I beat my brother. That’s what true victory is.

This year the GSR magic weaved its way through the streets of Portsmouth. The elites were out, the supporters were out, the sun was out. There was a bit of wind, but racing conditions were set for thousands of glorious PBs. The whole of the south coast was there, nearly every runner I know – either skipping over the cobblestones in the historic dockyard or shouting on their club mates. The support is priceless and makes the quite hefty price tag of the race (expect to pay over £40) melt into a big gooey mess of happiness and love.

I set myself quite a big target this year, 72.5 minutes and I didn’t quite make it. A duathlon last weekend finished me off. I finished with a chip time of 74.42… I ran 10.11, my watch time for 10 miles dead on was 74.03. But it was a GSR PB; on that first one in 2001, aged 30,  I did 84 minutes. So I was 10 minutes quicker even though I am 15 years older. Can’t complain about that.

I have one, and only one tiny gripe – the t-shirts are always so massive. Please, Great Run, please, can we have an XS?

Did I beat my brother this year? Stupid question…

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You can enter next year’s race here

I’ll see you there.

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Freejumping fun!

Oxygen Freejumping (Southampton)

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Three humanoids, the girl variety. Can be tetchy, moody, irritable… explosive. Six weeks of a loooong, hot summer (well, OK not always hot but sometimes), where the days stretched forever and an hour could pass as slowly as the UK leaving the European Union.

Taking action
What do you do with the young creatures… you’ve done the beach, the shops, the library, the pool, dropping off with relatives, the forest, the beach again, and again… There comes a time in every mother’s summer holidays that you need… something else. Something more. When your children have so much natural energy that 16 hours of gymnastics, and five nights of dancing doesn’t reduce them to sleepy, passive snuggle-bugs that you can look at and think: “Awwwww, they’re just so cute…”

Amelie on the jumping wall

Amelie on the jumping wall

That despite of their activities they still rampage through your day/week/month as if they are trolls on 24-an-hour-day energy drinks. That’s when it’s time to stop. Think. Drive… drive as far as you have to… and take them to a trampoline park. We have these dotted all over the south, and there are now four, yes FOUR beautiful destinations in our locale where you can simply hand over your hard-earned dosh and let your children bounce until they can bounce no more. Though now it’s called freejumping.

Oxygen in Southampton reached out to me – yes, they knew. They knew my children’s natural birth defect is hyperactivity. Who told them? I don’t know. But there’s an uncanny way that people and places come into your life. It’s a supernatural divination… you find them, they find you. You like them and they like you. Destiny’s child am I, and if more than one person recommends something to me (a book, a Netflix orgininal, a country) I hear fate knocking at my door and I let it in. So we found ourselves on our way to Oxygen.

Let’s go back a year to the first exposure we had to the full-grown trampoline temples that we were to visit. As a family we were never going to be by-passed by this latest craze. Two dancers and one gymnast meant that as soon as any random child at one of the clubs/dance schools had tested out a trampoline park it wouldn’t take long for one of my girls to be nagging me to give it a go. We drove for nearly an hour to get to one the first time… yep, if energy has to be burnt sometimes you have to go a long way to do it. It was fun, exciting – sweaty – and really worthwhile, but, hey, can we have one of these places built a lot closer to home please trampoline business entrepreneurs?

And then about six months later another one appeared in the next city due east. Yes! Forget about the girls, I was so excited… a new place to take them and their need to burn energy every single day. Would they have coffee and wifi? We didn’t go on the opening day, we waited until the next day so that there wouldn’t be any queues. “What did you think?” I asked #2 and #3 on that day. Would it be good enough to pass their high level of expectation? “Pretty good,” #3 replied.

“I still want to try Oxygen in Southampton,” #2 said. What, another one? I rushed home, googled it and knew we had a purpose in life – another trampoline park to try, and this one even closer to our house. Only 20 minutes in the car. Bonus. Then everything else got in the way and it didn’t quite happen as soon as I thought it would, and then the summer holidays started. It was on my mental list of things to do. Like every summer holiday we’ve had together, I never quite managed to fit in everything I planned, so we headed over to Oxygen in the last week. It was our summer finale.

Amelie trying the back jumping wall… it was harder than it looked.


Do any children not like bouncing? I’m sure somewhere in the world there is a child who doesn’t but I don’t think we should take one out of billions as proof that your little bundle of love isn’t going to have a good time at Oxygen, or any other trampoline park near you.

I didn’t see anyone stropping, grizzling, whining or crying – and there were quite a few adults also having fun. I was offered the choice of bouncing too, but just giggled… the manager on duty had no idea how inflexible my back is, or how niggly my knees are. The last time I tried ice-skating my knees ached for weeks. No I had the pleasure of taking myself off for a lovely coffee and reading my book in the café while my girls burnt zillions of energy atoms to a crisp.
The only criticism the girls had at the end was not being allowed to do backflicks. There were signs on every wall saying this was not allowed. For them this was a shame as the other trampoline parks don’t enforce this rule. As they are gymnasts doing backflicks is second nature, so being on long strips of bouncy material and not being able to do them was annoying for them. You can explain it’s a safety issue, but at their age they just want to flip out (front flips are OK).

But I’ll let them speak for themselves…


It’s really easy to book your session online at Oxygen, they host birthday parties, there’s wifi if you want it, and if you’re little ones are under 5 there’s a Little O’s session just for them. Families with both under and over 5s can jump together during Family Bounce. And if your kids want more there’s a freerunning academy and school of trampolining to help them progress their skills. If it’s your fist time it’s a good idea to get your kids to wear shorts and t-shirts, too, as it doesn’t take long for them to overheat!

Freejumping makes children happy!

Freejumping makes children happy!

Will we be going back? I’m sure we will be making many, many trips to this uber-modern temple of fun.

Oxygenfreejumping.co.uk

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Why you should try a tri… Fareham Triathlon

Due to an injury I couldn’t do Fareham Triathlon… well, that’s what I thought after I ran London Marathon three weeks before. Then I thought, why not just do the swim and bike. The run part of this triathlon is about 3.3 miles (just over the standard 5K of your average sprint triathlon), which in itself isn’t too long to run, even when recovering from an injury.

David and Simon abstained from a drink before the triathlon, why oh why oh why didn't I?

David and Simon abstained from drink before the triathlon, why oh why oh why didn’t I?

I did this race last year and loved it. Partly because it’s just about as local as you can possibly get for me – I cycle up to, and swim at, the leisure centre it’s held at most weeks. So why wouldn’t I want to do it? Most races we go to involve getting up early and travelling. There’s only a few that are usually close enough to just stroll up to. This is one for me.

The open nature and fun aspect of the event also appeals, especially last year when it was my first ‘proper’ triathlon (I had done a few events before, but the distance of 400m swim, 20K bike and 5K run was my official first). Anything goes in this race – not just any level of participant, but you can rock up with whatever bike you have and do the race at whatever level you like. All you need is a swimsuit, bike and pair of trainers.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t some extremely competitive athletes who do the race every year – there are, and some of the times in the three disciplines are amazing! And check out some of the equipment. It’s stunning too! If you love triathlon you are probably going to invest in better equipment each year, and some of the bikes racked up at the start were expensive. Phew! Some weren’t though; there were plenty of mountain bikes and other, more standard bikes.

That's me in the pink hat, with my hand dangerously cutting across my midline

That’s me in the pink hat, with my hand dangerously cutting across my midline (Pic: Soul Perception)

This year the registration time was much less civilised – 6.30-8am. What’s that all about! Well, it’s about the event maturing each year and becoming more streamlined. Established triathlons have earlier start times. And this year there was a kids’ triathlon after the adult event.

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I was still horrified (I don’t think I’ve had a lie in for over four weeks). I couldn’t just breeze in at 7.45 either, as I had a clash with my parental responsibilities and had to drop my middle girl, Amelie, to another mum in the opposite direction before 8am for a dance competition she was going to in Worthing. Life is never easy! It’s never ideal preparation, is it, when you are racing around before an event getting children ready and to another location before you can head to your own. It felt a bit stressful, but I turned up with at least two minutes to spare before the race. I’ve left it later!

Thought I'd fiddle with my peddles for a bit before I got going

Thought I’d fiddle with my pedals for a bit before I got going

Everyone Active is quite relaxed with registration, and I knew Luke, the organiser, so I already had my pleading head on in case I missed the 8am deadline. I ran my bike over to the racking zone, ran into the registration hall to have my numbers written on my arm and leg (all good warm up), ran back to get my kit then, as the slower swimmers started their race, I had at least 15 minutes to de-stress before my turn. I had forgotten to get out a protein bar before I left my car so by the time it was my turn to enter the pool I was famished.

Pic: Soul Perception

Tiny Chantrey on her tiny bike (Pic: Soul Perception)

I knew my swim wouldn’t be better than last year as I haven’t done much. I worked out I hadn’t swum since before my taper for the marathon about six weeks before. Oh dear. The same went for my bike; I did quite a bit over the winter, but again, in the last seven weeks I only got out twice. It’s been a bit soul-destroying feeling all my fitness just ebbing away, but the first few weeks after my marathon I’ve had to rest, as my left leg is injured in several places.

Not going off too fast in the swim is essential when you’re not a good swimmer, and so I didn’t race off, but my breathing isn’t great and I tend to snatch at my in-breath. So pretty much all the way through the swim it felt as if I wasn’t getting enough air in. And I was starving! I find swimming so incredibly hard, as my asthmatic lungs don’t like the different type of breathing required for swimming – but I love doing it. And I want to get better. I’m not a relaxed or efficient swimmer, so I just do my best. My swim time was the same as last year, to the second.

What has happened to my gait - no wonder I had backache the next day, I'm all over the place!

What has happened to my gait – no wonder I had backache the next day, I’m all over the place! (Pic: Soul Perception)

Transition is where you can lose time, and I fiddled with my cycling shoes, didn’t get them on tight and squelched around the bike in them, but overall I really enjoyed the bike. There’s a steep hill where I always keep my brakes on as I’m petrified when I go fast, but on the second descent I didn’t use them and, just for a second, almost enjoyed myself (while at the same time imagining how horrific it would be if I came off). I didn’t have a spectacular bike but it went OK. I stuffed down two gels, but felt like I was lacking in energy (breakfast seemed so long ago) and there was no power in my left leg.

Into transition again, and this is where I planned to either not run, or try one mile then walk back if my foot was too painful. I made a big fluff of getting my trainers on as my feet were still wet, which scrunched up my insoles, and somehow my arch supports underneath these moved forwards so it felt like I had a few cocktail sausages rolling around in my trainers. There was no way I was going to stop and sort them out though. Luckily the first part of the run is slightly uphill (though it feels like a mountain after the bike), which seemed to help the insoles reverse back down my shoes a bit.

David came 2nd, Simon 5th, me, er...89th

David came 2nd, Simon 5th, me, er…89th

I was trying out my new adidas ultra boosts for the first time and I loved them. The knitted upper fits brilliantly, and these are a great trainer for triathlons as the design means you don’t need to tighten your laces. I already had mine double knotted before I put them on, which was incredibly easy, even with soggy feet. I loved running in them.

I wasn’t expecting much from my legs due to the marathon and lack of training for three weeks, plus the pain I’ve had in my leg and foot. So I was chuffed that I finished the whole run and wasn’t too uncomfortable. My feet felt quite numb from being cold and wet for so long, which I think really helped. The 5K run is lovely as you eventually head away from paths and into a forest route. I love running off the bike, and if I could spend some time practicing (that means doing something, anything, before next year’s event!) this is the place where I can make up time. As it was I did a bit faster than last year’s run, which I was chuffed with considering I can’t actually train or run at the moment.

I was so chuffed to participate and not spectate

I was so chuffed to participate and not spectate and got first in my age group

There was no need to walk, even though after the race and this week I’ve had a little pain in the problem areas. I think running anything further than three miles would have been foolish – it was just lovely to actually be able to use my legs!

Overall I beat last year’s time by a few minutes, which was a surprise as I didn’t think I was in the right physical shape to do this, and I enjoyed rather than raced round the three disciplines – it shows us all that it’s better to turn up and participate, and see what happens, rather than write ourselves off just because not everything is going to plan. I was certainly pleased I did the race, rather than sit at home feeling miserable.

Amelie came home with a couple of trophies so she was chuffed

Amelie came home with a couple of trophies so she was chuffed

There were lots of friends and fellow club mates also taking part, and most of them aren’t triathletes either. We’re all trying to learn something new, and trying to do our best at something that doesn’t come naturally to us, and I think everyone I spoke to improved on last year, or exceeded their expectations. Few train seriously, most just don’t have the time to fit in three disciplines, so the results overall were so impressive. I thought every one of these guys was amazing.

My award for best blog arrived, thank you if you voted for me!

My award for (second) best blog arrived, thank you if you voted for me!

Just giving an event like this a go, and getting the first one out of the way, allows you to go away for a year and prepare the next one. Everyone Active at Fareham organise my local triathlon brilliantly – the stress is on fun and participation by all. So go on, look on the British Triathlon website for an event near you. It will be a fun and amazing experience!

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#Week 17: The Road to London

Is next week really race day? How can that be? It seems so long ago I started training for London, the week before Christmas. Then I couldn’t project forward to April 24th, and now it’s just over a week away. Overall my training has gone much better than I would have thought it would back then, despite the hiccup of three weeks out with an injury.

Finally it's light - and we can see each other again

Finally it’s light – and we can see each other again

I didn’t want to do much running as it was a really busy week. I went up to the London Book Fair on Wednesday, to meet the publishers of my book (out in the autumn). That was exciting! Also Sienna had a competition on Sunday and my other two girls, Amelie and Lola, had extra rehearsals for a show they are doing in the Albert Hall next month. I was a taxi supremo!

Checking out the competition

Checking out the competition

Monday I made club and it was a tough session of long hill reps, with fartlek through the first section of each rep. I worked hard knowing it would be my last effort session before marathon day. There’s no slacking in Coach Penny’s sessions!

Testing my new Bliz glasses - it rained!

Testing my new Bliz glasses – it rained!

Tuesday I had a long overdue leg massage, which I knew would hurt as I don’t think I’ve had a massage since last year. Oops. Wednesday flew by and Thursday it was our first club time trial of the year. I didn’t want to overdo the effort so ran comfortably, then jogged home after. Friday was my group and we did 6 x 2 mins along the promenade at the beach. It was raining and miserable but we kept smiling.

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Saturday and Sunday were rest days, and the weekend ended on a high when Professor Pog came second in the southern region National Grade 4 competition, which means she will be representing Team South in the national finals! Whoop whoop! We’re going on a road trip… to Stoke!

Pre-competition meal to help Sienna carb load

Pre-competition meal to help Sienna carb load

Oh, and I haven’t stopped eating all week! There’s just one more week to get through. I’m taking a wide berth around anyone who has a cold or other germs, and won’t run much next week.

All three girls are going to the nationals (plus Niamh!)

All three girls are going to the nationals (plus Niamh!)

Whatever happens on race day, there’s nothing I can do about it now!

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#Week 15: The Road to London

Week 15 was the first week of the Easter school holidays so I knew I wouldn’t achieve much! This didn’t all happen during in Week 15, but in a seven-day stretch from the Friday before until this Thursday I did  a 20 mile run, parkrun at about marathon pace (less than 12 hours later), 6 x 800m, and a 7 mile tempo run. This probably amounts to the best quality week I’ve done for literally years!

Not only this, I managed a plank PB of 5 mins! I was as chuffed with this as with my 20-mile run!

Sunday and Monday I rested my legs after my long run – I need at least two days off to feel human again, though I made sure I did 30 minutes of strength and conditioning on Sunday.

Tuesday I think I was a little crazy. Three weeks of un-running meant no burn out or speed, so I went into my 6 x 800m session with loads of gusto and did the first one in 5:30 pace. The next five were therefore a bit tough, but my legs seemed to have a mind of their own. I averaged a really good pace for all, so even though I’ve stretched my distance I’ve also got a bit of speed coming back into my legs, too.

Entertaining the girls

Entertaining the girls

This is so exciting, I almost want to bin the marathon and focus on training for 5K (which is the plan after my legs have had a rest once race day is over). It kind of stops you in your tracks mentally, when you do something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time but wondered if you would be able to do again. Hello speed!

Reviewing Salomon kit for a new feature in Women's Running

Reviewing Salomon kit for a new feature in Women’s Running

Wednesday was time to rest my legs and sort out my head. With juggling work, the girls, training and life I am already getting overtired and I struggle with thoughts of ‘How am I supposed to do all this’! I think I can sometimes err towards the negative when it comes to my own strengths and abilities, even though I would be so cross if anyone I know gave themselves a hard a time as I do. It’s called being a woman.

Another plank PB, what more can you wish for in life?

Another plank PB, what more can you wish for in life?

So I go to see an emotional wellness coach, Janet Smith, who helps me, how shall I say it… clear out the crap in my head to let in the possibility of what I want to happen become reality. Sometimes I don’t know what the hell I’m doing and my head is so cluttered I can’t think straight. That’s my ‘children clutter’. Them and their busy lives! Then there’s the rubbish we all carry around from our pasts, and I am guilty of doing this as much as anyone. Janet does a great ‘clearing’ session where you go, spill all the issues that are troubling you, and then she works with you to find the route of these problems so you can let them go. Every time I go it’s a transformational experience.

Saw this on the drive home from Janet's #blessed

Saw this on the drive home from Janet’s #blessed

So I told Janet how, at times, I feel so overstressed with everything that I worry I’m going to hold myself back through not being able to relax and just be. This doesn’t just relate to running, but to work (probably more so) and being creative. It’s that common situation where we are so busy that we end up with little time for the one thing we know we should be doing – for me this is fiction writing, and escaping into my imagination.

Can you see how calm the sea is?

Can you see how calm the sea is?

Holidays are busy when you work at home, and we also had a new bathroom fitted. My head definitely felt like it was ready to explode! The time with Janet is precious and I feel I walk away a different person, free of the stresses and worries that have built up. We also did a lot of work on visualising each and every mile of the marathon, and enjoying the race, and Janet set me up with a mental routine to tap into up until race day.

Thursday I had to do a seven mile tempo run, and my legs felt quite heavy. Friday I usually do my group but it was holiday rest mode so I just did 30 minutes of strength and conditioning and Saturday was too busy for any exercise – and I was doing an off-road half the next day.

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In theory I’m heading into my taper now, so not doing much mileage didn’t bother me too much (although the maranoia still creeps in doesn’t it?!).

Questions: Are you in taper time? Is paranoia preying on your mind?

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#Week 14: The Road to London

I run with a strange kind of inverted occasional carbon dioxide deselection, as my 9-year-old calls it. To you and me it’s called OCD. Sienna probably shows the greatest tendency towards OCD, and she knows it. We all laugh about her tendencies, and love them at the same time. And of course she would have her own interpretation of it. She renamed herself Pog Wolf aged 2, then got herself an imaginary friend (Marvin) and Gary Barlow (with a pink beard) used to live in her room. Lucky girl.

Good Friday trip to Oxygen trampoline park

Good Friday trip to Oxygen trampoline park

It’s lovely that Sienna will scrub out the woodburner and arrange the shoes on the shoe rack (in size order as well as colour), then pull everything out of the food cupboards and rearrange them in order, and that she can stack the dishwasher with a skill worthy of an Olympic medal. It’s even lovelier for me that, despite about 18 hours of gymnastics a week she wants to come home and do housework, I mean, for me, with my fear of cleaning and refusal of all things housewifely, she is a little angel.

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Sienna and Niamh

“Sienna, can you just do the dishwasher while I start on tea?” I will call out to her, knowing that in five minutes she will have done it, fed the guinea pig, tidied the laundry, will come and chop the veggies (precisely), tidy the kitchen and still ask for more.

If you can't find hills, make steps your friend

If you can’t find hills, make steps your friend

She has this kind of personality. My God she is thorough. I want to be thorough but I can’t; as I said, I have an inverse OCD personality. I know I’m on the spectrum; my place was booked and paid for when I was very young. Though I’ve never been completely sure where exactly it is I should call ‘home’. Apart from Cuckoo Lane (and isn’t that fate having a laugh on me?). Unless you have a perceptive parent who does some digging and wants to find out the strange currencies that flow through their child, you can spend half your life trying to work out exactly why you are different and how. I think I’ve journeyed a slightly strange, uneven and somewhat cobbly path from being a tiny little extrovert (emotionally demanding), to being an introverted extrovert (emotionally demanding), to being a HSP, or highly sensitive person (emotionally demanding). I’m still tiny and little.

Couldn't keep up with the lovely Phil with 20 in my legs

Couldn’t keep up with the lovely Phil with 20 in my legs

What has this got to do with my 14th week of training for a marathon? It’s about living with not being able to allow your OCD-ness to flow through you and train the way you want to due to being a grown up and having *responsibilities*. This is what makes it inverted. You have it but you can’t be it.

{ responsibility: n. (pl. responsibilities) 1 the state or fact of being responsible }

I sometimes struggle with that word. Responsible.

Interestingly, a further definition of responsibility is: the ability to act independently and take decisions without authorization, which I’ve always done through the stages mentioned above, and no one ever said I was emotionally demanding when I did that…

The lovely, lovely Friday group

The lovely, lovely Friday group

Well, we all have our weeks planned out, and when training for a marathon it’s important to try and stick to the plan as much as you can. But…we all have to take detours due to illnesses, family and work. I’m the same, but I worked out some time ago that if I do something exercise-related every day I cope so much better.

It doesn’t have to be running and it doesn’t have to be much. So writing this at the end of two weeks of Easter holidays, and about three weeks behind on this blog, and I realise, yet again, the marathon training has almost ceased as life’s just too busy! Work, three girls at home, and training is a complicated mix for someone with inverted occasional carbon dioxide deselection! And don’t be fooling yourself that everything is easier when you’re kids are older. Wrong! It’s just a new type of stress.

Have you noticed I spend a lot of time in the car? Gym girls this time

Have you noticed I spend a lot of time in the car? Gym girls this time

So if, like me, you’ve been experiencing severe judders in your training, you are not alone. There’s not much you can do about it. I’ve always followed the school of ‘slightly unconventional training’ where you go to races with the philosophy of ‘turn up and hope for the best’.

Saying all that, week 14 was going to be pivotal. After three weeks of un-running I had to get back up to speed to see if I had a chance of taking on those 26.2 miles. I found the first few runs really tough; my body felt too heavy. Am I a wrestler or a runner, I wondered? After my 10-minute test last Friday I did a run on the treadmill…with no pain. I sure was happy. So I obviously wanted to follow this up with a run outside, which was OK except for my body feeling about 10-stone overweight. I guess that’s what you get after weeks of un-running. I had to build on this, so I had a day’s rest then did another steady run, then another day’s rest, then I thought, right, I’m just going to go for it. I took my group as usual on Friday morning, it was Good Friday so I took the girls out during the day, then in the evening I added on 14 miles and there it was, finally, a ‘long’ long run. My only one. 20 miles.

Yep, a plank PB :)

Yep, a plank PB :)

Other athletes split their long runs successfully. So would I. Foot was OK, so I got up the next morning and did a parkrun. Just because I could. And doing one when tired would be great preparation for the six miles of pain that are the last stages of a marathon.

Having inverted OCD it’s been really hard not being able to train how I knew I needed to, I felt all angsty and wrapped up like a ball of barbed wire inside. I look for a window everyday to fit in being me, but sometimes it isn’t there. However, I figured if I could do one long run I could get to the start line without complete fear ruining the race. Hallelujah for split long runs!

My most miles in a week for some time!

My most miles in a week for some time!

I was also 45 during the week. I’m going to need a bit of time to get used to that. I’m working on some self-rehab re the mundane stuff, too. I’m taking things slow, but am doing the washing up after a meal rather than looking at it all day with fear. Small steps.

QUESTIONS: Do you also suffer from occasional carbon dioxide deselection when training?

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The Road to London #Week 4

Monday night is the crucial pivotal point of each training week. It’s the balancing scales of whether I am still on track. I made club again, with Coach Penny setting a tricky session of long and short hills. This felt like a tough combination of a long hill, jog down about one third of the way, then back up to the top, before jogging down right to the beginning and repeating for 25 minutes. Some weeks the period of effort flies by; this week wasn’t one of those times!

We were in the grip of a mini cold spell, so were running in a minus temperature and again I had to use my wits. As soon as the session is finished (or even just before if my time has run out) I have to sprint back to the car at 5K race pace, giving me less than 10 minutes to drive to pick up my 12-year-old, Amelie, from ballet. We’ve struck a deal – I get to go to running if I’m no more than 10 minutes late picking her up. Both session and ballet finish at 7:30, approximately 4.5 miles apart.

All the gear no idea? Not me - no gear and no idea

All the gear no idea? Nope. No gear and no idea

As always evenings are a juggling act and I drive as quick as I can to get her. Then I drive her home, have about nine minutes to have a shower and tea before I have to drive out to pick up my third daughter from gymnastics. In that small window I spent approximately 1.5 minutes on the shower (no time for hairwash), 1.5 minutes on trying to convince Amelie on the importance of reading the question and proof-reading her answers in this week’s Year 8 exams, said hello to my eldest daughter for about one minute while she was doing her art homework in her bedroom (I decided it was best/had no time to discuss the blue paint on her carpet as her work was fantastic. Being creative and being tidy don’t go together) then reheated the congealed pasta I had cooked earlier, threw in some pesto, ate, jumped into the car and bombed it down the road four miles in the opposite direction to get daughter number three. Somehow I forgot my stretches.

It was all fine and the endorphins were buzzing through my veins as if they had just won a holiday to Mauritius. It was back home for tea for my youngest, get her up and into bed, say goodnight to number one and two, and then I went down… crashing just as I shut the last bedroom door and crept into my room. The important part is I made Monday’s club session, and now it’s four in a row. Normally I hide away in the winter, or my asthma is too bad to run. Surely this must mean I am a real runner again.

Tuesday’s are my rest day and I only do leg/core strengthening exercises, such as single leg squats, forward lunges, calf raises, glute activation. This helps me to recover from Monday night’s speed/hill session.

This really gets into your piriformis

This really gets into your piriformis

Wednesday was out into the bitter cold to bike to the pool then bike home. I’m loving mixing up my training, especially getting out on the bike, even though the air hitting your lungs is so icy.

Thursday is my speed session I do on my own and with the Stubbington 10K, held in my village, on Sunday I took it easy with a warm-up, 2 x 5mins at 5K-ish pace, which ended up being 7:04 and 7:03min/miling, so it was a little off. I’d been up during the night coughing, probably triggered by the cold. And it was -2 and my legs were frozen, so I was happy to do anything. I had to head to the physio after due to issues with my lower back and left glute/piriformis. Both are niggling, I’m not in pain with either but I wanted to get them checked out before I start doing my longer runs as my left hip seized in training for and during the Edinburgh Marathon. My pelvis can sometimes come out of alignment.

Friday I take out a group of runners from Stubbington Green Runners and we did 2 x 30-60-90-60-30 seconds of effort with about 90 seconds of recovery, with a brilliant work ethic from the whole group, and though it was below zero it was still and sunny, and everyone managed to finish smiling.

On Saturday the weekend was turned upside down as my partner David was rushed into hospital. He went on a bike ride in the cold, when he came home he couldn’t get warm, then fainted and had a seizure. We were both due to help in the prep for Sunday’s 10K, instead we were in hospital and had to return on Sunday so he could have further tests. He is OK, and the doctors felt it was a one-off episode, but it was a stressful experiences, and it flattened both David, then me. We couldn’t do the race on Sunday, but I managed to squeeze in some time between looking after him, the hospital and sorting out homework etc to dash out for a run at lunchtime. I was quite miserable as we were going to run the 10K together, which we rarely do, and even though the weather held out for the race in the morning, cold rain had descended by the time I got out. When I got home I was frozen.

So I banked the miles but not quite to plan. Strangely, though, my pace was OK and I almost felt like a long distance runner again. After four weeks of training I definitely felt like I clicked with running again for the first time since 2014 I think! This fits in perfectly with the science that says it takes four to six weeks to notice training benefits (Coach Jeff explains the science behind this here).

IMG_2132

Looking back it was a strange week, partly due to David being ill, but there may have also been other factors bubbling under the surface. I had my first full week of taking HRT and I couldn’t stop crying all week!

Even though I’m not sure if a return of oestrogen can affect your running, by the end of the week I was feeling more able to face training. I had really struggled with it mentally and physically for a few weeks. Can HRT affect your running? I don’t know. It usually takes a few weeks for you to feel the effects of HRT, so maybe it was a coincidence.

Note to self: if you are writing up your training weeks do so as you finish each one, whatever is going on. Otherwise, expect confusion!

How is your MT going?

Has anyone else noticed HRT has affected their running?

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I love you, forever and more

When little brown bear was a baby in arms
She’d fidget and toss and could never stay calm.

Mummy would hold her and whisper so gently
“I love you so much and will save you from harm.”

The months soon flew past, in a flash of the eye
And bear was now one. She began shouting “MINE!!”

If Mummy said “Share.” Or told her “no more!”
Little brown bear would strop. Grizzzzzzzzzzzzle. And wh-iiiiiiii-ne.  (Whaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!)

“No love me!” she cried, her lips all-a-quiver
“I love you,” said Mummy, “for now and for ever.”

When little brown bear grew again and was two
She’d stamp and she’d throw then she’d bang and be bruised.

If Mummy bear asked her to eat her tea nicely…
Little brown bear would simply RE-FUSE!

“No one loves me!” she screamed, so ever so loud.
“I love you,” said Mummy, “right up to the clouds.”

Then next came a shock, t’was the tiresome three’s!
Bear’d push and she’d kick and she’d pull and she’d tease.

When Mummy said: “SIT DOWN! Eat your tea pleeeeeeeaaaaaasee!”
Little bear huffed… then ranted… then wheezed.

“No one loves me!” she said, tears filling her eyes.
“I love you,” said Mummy, “right up to the skies.”

When little brown bear grew into her fours
She started at school and her spirit then soared.

She learnt how to share, to listen, to care
The shouting and stamping… they happened no more.

“I love you,” she said to Mummy Brown Bear.
“I love you so much, forever and more.”

*You may want to substitute ‘Little Brown Bear’ with ‘Amelie Eve’ – then you get the original format of this story….

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This little person is now 12 and bigger than me. She’s taught me so much, especially how precious her love is to me. I love you Amelie Eve, forever and more

It’s a work in progress…

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© This story is the original work of Tina Chantrey, and is subject to copyright.  This story may not be copied or otherwise exploited without my written permission.