Saturday, 25 June 2011

Packing Sucks ....

.... I should know, I've been trying to force myself into doing it all damn day!!!

Enough excuses already ... time to get on with it now, Sue!

Friday, 24 June 2011

School's Nearly Out

Afternoon all, and happy Friday!!!

Now, wouldn't you know it, but I didn't have the best weigh in this morning - a lb up on last week - but I'm ok with that because I had a massive craving for pizza and ice-cream last night (actually, longer version, I had a massive craving for fish and chips and then ice-cream, but wouldn't you know it that I couldn't find a chip shop anywhere near me, so defaulted to a thin-crust ham and pineapple supermarket pizza, which was probably slightly better than the original choice), and I know if I hadn't been a bit of a pig last night, I would have been slightly down this week.  It's fine, because this is all about the long-haul though, and I'm back on it today, and expect I'll be back down to normal tomorrow.

But the real reason I'm so perky today is I've got next week off work - woooohooooooo.  Just another 5 hours or so and I'm free for 9 whole days - yesssssss!

And next week is full of fun.  Oh yes.  Tonight, after work, I'm heading to my local bike shop for a women's only evening - some bike maintenance workshops, Q & A sessions on whatever we want to ask (hi, help me on the cleats and pedals issue, Mr Bike Man!) and some drinks, nibbles and a goody-bag!  Nice.

Then sometime tomorrow afternoon / evening or Sunday morning I'm heading down to Exmoor for the week.  A week with my Daddy just chilling out, catching up and doing our own thing - he'll probably be out painting and photographing loads, and I have plans for (deep breath) surfing and mountain-biking and walking and running and horse-riding and pootling round the villages on my bike.  And definitely cream teas!  Ooooh, and several trashy novels.  Hoorah.

What I'm not looking forward to is having to pack that much kit (anyone who's been around here a while might remember my complete aversion to packing and organising) and trying to shoehorn it all in to my little car.  On the upside though, the weather's looking pretty damn good for next week, so I might even get a little colour in my cheeks whilst I'm out enjoying The Great Outdoors.

I also scored an ace deal on Groupon last night, when the wakeboarding intro session at a local lake I've been debating doing for a month or so popped up on yesterday's offers - £18 instead of £45.  Absolute bargain!!  So that's something for me to look forward when I emerge from the far end of the work insanity that will be July (bloody financial half-year!!).

In the meantime, and before all the fun can start later, I have to scrape my extremely reluctant butt of my chair and take it to Circuits in about 10 mins.  I have a total love / hate affair with that class - it never fails to make me feel like passing out is the easier option to either spewing my guts or hacking up a lung, but there is a kind of smug feeling to surviving it each week.  And I have a nasty feeling it's the only reason that I'm not suffering the same hip problems that half my running group get, because my glutes etc already take a regular hammering each week.  Joy on a stick. 

Ah well - needs must, I suppose ....

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Because I'm Stupid

I've just applied for a free place to do the Cycletta bike race that's in September (go see what it's all about here).  I really enjoyed the cycling phase of the Everywoman Duathlon a couple of weeks ago, and have been trying to figure out how a rank amateur finds more rides to go on, and well, it seems kind of fun.  I've no doubt that I won't get my free place, but if I did it would mean I'd have to go and wouldn't be allowed to cop out :o)

In other news - surprise, surprise - but this just in:  strides hurt.  Yes folks, that's right - I've made the epic discovery that running training can be rather painful.  Typically though, I decide to have different pain to everyone else.  Firstly, my incredibly annoying sports bra decided to ping a strap off, about 10 mins in to the run.  Not amused. (More on that in a sec).  And secondly, our running group's trainer is apparently away at Glastonbury this week (bastard), as was one of the other group's, so they lumped all 3 of the top running groups together this evening to train.

Now - I'm not quick.  This we know.  And I'm also in the middle running group of 5 at our little club - which means if the top 3 groups train together, I'm in the slowest group that gets included.  Oh goodie.  I've spent most of the evening's session trailing behind like a panting little hobbit, skipping along behind the others whilst trying not to hack up a lung.  Interestingly, whilst about 20 people in my (combined) group were struggling with hip pain as a result of the training session, my muscles were all coping admirably and I got stitch instead.  Fabulous.

I think it's because I had eaten before I came out, even though it was over an hour before.  I guess that now the pace of the sessions has picked up a bit, I need to figure out a better system for eating something before training, but not anything that will cause thoughts of puking.

The sports bra on the other hand is a complete loss.  That thing is driving me nuts!!!!!  When I started running more, sometime earlier in the year, I upped the anti and moved along from my trusty M & S High Intensity sports bras, to a top of the line Shock Absorber Run bra.  Worst.  Mistake.  Ever.

Admittedly, I don't have the smallest boobs for a would-be runner (34DD thank you very much), but this bra is atrocious.  Firstly, the chest band is phenomenally tight .... which should be a good thing, as all the reports say this is where you get all the support from.  Except Shock Absorber have managed to build a bra that is both tight, and not terribly giving, so the hooks all get ripped out of their fastenings in fairly short order.  Genius.  One of the loosest hooks has literally disappeared, the tightest hooks are all completely skew-iff and look as if they might depart any second, and the middle row isn't exactly straight anymore. 

As for the bloody straps.  They've designed the bra to be racer-back, with a clip to hold the straps together in the middle of your upper back.  So far, so good.  Then to prevent straps from slipping and become looser whilst you run, they've replaced the usual sliding mechanism with a hook like the ones you see on removable bra straps, and a series of little "pockets" at the back of the strap - you slide the hook through which ever one gives the best fit for length, and that should be the end of it.  Except the "pockets" evidently start to pull apart after a while, so instead of the little curved lip at the end of the strap hook holding it secure, they start to work their way loose as you run, and then PING!!!!!  you're a strap down.  This isn't as bad as it could be, as the rest of the racer back construction means that you don't lose too much support - basically the front part of the strap stays firmly anchored to the straps on the other shoulder and there's not much more movement, but the fact remains that you're still running, conscious that you're missing a strap which is now dangling down youur back, and short of either taking the bra off, or hoisting up your shirt and getting a near-stranger to fix it, there ain't no way to sort it out yourself.

Back to trusty M & S for me, I think!

So that's me - entering a bike race (foolisj), and thinking that just because it's got a posh name and it's more expensive, it might be a better bra (stupid).

90% There? 85%?

I think that's roughly how well I'm sticking to plan at the moment. It's not 100%, that's for sure, but the real question is: is it enough that sticking consistently at this level will allow me to lose weight?

I don't care if it's very slow, I just need to find that magic tipping point where I can grind out slow, steady losses without intermittent crash and burn.

I've been at this 2.5 years now; long enough that I have no timetable to reach that final elusive goal; long enough that I really just care about maintaining what I've lost, and gradually, bit by bit, trying to make small improvements to myself.

Yeah, some of that will be small moderations to my eating behaviours - finally getting to grips with portion sizes and moderation with the ol' alcohol. Others will be continuing my quest to find new delicious, healthy foods to add to my repertoire, and maybe learning some new recipes. A big thing for me has been finding balance - balance between the healthy stuff and the decadent, balance between the food and the activity.

A big chunk of the improvements I aspire to relate to my fitness. Very slowly, here and there, challenging myself to achieve something new. Running. Doing the 10k's and then the duathlon. I still aspire to a sub 30:00 minute 5k. And I swear to God, one day I'll do 10 proper push-ups. Man-style. I want to improve my mountain-biking some, and I'd like to be able to ski a black run confidently. I'd still like to learn to snowboard, surf, wind-surf and kite-surf. Competently. I wouldn't mind trying climbing again and kayaking.

I have no time-scales for doing any of the above. As you may have noticed, I'm not the most driven person to go and get on with stuff. Hell, it took me 3 months to get round to joining the surf club, and I haven't actually surfed with them yet (although my lesson is now rescheduled for next Wednesday - whooop!). And maybe, eventually, I'll decide I don't even like the sports I think I want to do. But at least I'll have tried.

And that's all we can really do. Try. As much as we can, on any given day. We'll make mistakes, of course we will, and we'll file them in things learned and move on. And keep trying.

- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Back Down

Good news:  my bites are starting to look much better.  The swelling's gone down mostly, although it's left a lot of bruising in it's place. The itching's gone.  The centre of the bite looks less like imminent infection and more liek something healing.  Hoorah.  It's still unsightly and ugly, but it's mending.

Good news:  the scales have backed down a bit, and look a bit more sensible.

Bad news:  I was really hungry yesterday, and ended up eating much more than I needed last night.  Hello - two Rice Krispies Square bars after pasta and dessert???  Uh, yeah, think that was overkill.  But I stopped after that, so at least I didn't eat the third and fourth bars in the multi-pack! lol

Body Balance yesterday, and spinning today, and when they needed someone to walk across town yesterday and hand-deliver some docs, I volunteered and picked up a bit of extra fresh air and exercise.

I also finally made it to lending library in Bristol yesterday and joined - hoooraaah!  I love lending librarise ... all those wonderful books for free!!  Saves me money, saves me space (I have too many books in my flat as it is!), and broadens my horizons as I'll try different books even if I'm not sure I'll like them, because it's not costing me any money - marvellous.

And finally, I noticed last night that my new interest-free credit card has been set up, which is fab, as it's the next little step on helping to minimise my debt and get it paid back as soon as poss.  Baby steps!

Monday, 20 June 2011


I have now come to the conclusion that my uber-bites are the result of an encounter with something called the Blandford Fly.  They're not supposed to be found outside of Dorset, Oxfordshire and East Anglia (I know - pretty random selection of places), but then I noticed a load of BBC articles about them being prevalent in Herefordshire over the last couple of weeks, and afterall - that's not far up the road from me.

I got curious as to what had caused my bad reaction, thinking maybe it had got infected, so did a little internet research , and found the Blandford Fly on a list of commonly reported bites on the NHS website, and both the symptoms and the pictures of the insect match my experiences.  Trust me to find the one fly that's got lost and ended up on the Bristol Downs instead!

I was also a bit shocked at the scales this morning.  I've used all of my Flex Allowance points over the weekend, plus a few exercise points that I've earned, so obviously I've eaten a bit more / richer food than I usually do during the week, but all tracked, and the scales were a mighty 5lbs up this morning!!  5lbs!!  That's a new high I'd have rather not seen!!  That had bloody better disappear this week, or I'll be very grumpy ....

Sunday, 19 June 2011


I've been enjoying a supremely lazy weekend.  I tend to find these quite hard, because I'm so used to running round all the time, and feeling like I'm not living my life unless it's filled to the gunnels with stuff to do, that it takes a really conscious effort to sit back and say "I'm doing nothing and that's fine.  In fact, it's good for me".

I've been making more of an effort to do these recently, as you may have noticed.  It's not because I don't have things I could be doing, and people I could be seeing, but because I came to the conclusion that being on the move all the time wasn't necessarily the healthiest choice for me.  I never got enough sleep.  I never just stopped and relaxed.  I forgot how to - how to spend time with myself, just chilling out.  The constant social whirl also leads to spending too much money, drinking too much and eating too much.  Not good.

A lot of the need to keep myself occupied comes from the need to distract myself, I think.  It's like another form of emotional eating - something I do to mask whatever I don't want to be feeling.  So what am I so scared of?  Loneliness?  Feelings of inadequacy?  Feeling less of a person because I'm not doing something "cool" with friends.  I need to learn to recognise the difference between choosing to time out for a while, and it happening because I have no-one else around.  This is me choosing it, and it's ok to take time for me - watch a bit of tv, tidy the flat (it needs it).  And finding free stuff to do locally - exploring where I live.

My ankle's looking a little better today - it doesn't look or feel quite as tight and swollen as yesterday.  There's so shape re-emerging in it, rather than the skin looking like it's stretched so tight it might burst.  I still don't want to run on it, or even walk too much though.  I do however quite fancy leaving the flat today, so I'm wondering whether a gentle bike ride won't aggravate it too much.  I thought maybe I could just pootle along exploring one of the National Cycle Network routes that radiate out from Bristol.  Just a couple of hours - maybe bike out for an hour or so, see how far I get, then head back.

I enjoyed a very tasty takeaway last night, which used up the last of my weekly flex points.  It felt thoroughly decadent to be eating Chinese and not feeling guilty about it - I probably ate far more than I needed but it was all accounted for on my tracker, so it's looking all set to be another pretty good week on plan.

I'm going to finish the last couple of chapters of my book now, then re-assess the weather and biking possibilities. 

Enjoy yoour Sundays!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Once Bitten, Twice As Painful!

I'm going to be having a lovely quiet weekend, which is just as well, as I seem to have suffered a slight misadventure!!

It's been some time since my last random injury, so really, I totally should have seen this one coming, as I swear I have a quote of some sort to fill each year!

Whilst we were up running on the downs on Wednesday night, I noticed that there were quite a lot of insects around, and I had to dislodge one from my right shin that had got it's proverbial teeth into me.  It left behind a little spot of blood, but I didn't think too much of it, nor did I get too stressed when I discovered another little one on the back of my left calf. 

Thursday they were a little itchy, but just looked like a normal mozzie-type bite or something similar with their little red target with a tiny bulls-eye in the middle - I never react particularly well to insect bites, so I tried not to scratch and left well alone.  Except they got itchier, and hotter, and by Thursday night I dug out some bite-relief cream to put on them. 

Well by yesterday, they were looking extremely angry.  Swollen lumps and piping hot to the touch, like frazzled sun-burnt skin.  And despite deliberately not scratching them, the site of the bite had gone a weird purply colour, like a mozzie-bite that's had the head scratched off it.  Worse still, the one on the back of left calf was feeling so tight that it was starting to get painful to flex my ankle and by last night I realised that despite regular applications of hydro-cortizone cream, the redness had spread the couple of inches down the back of my calf to my ankle, which had now puffed up like it was sprained, and was painful to walk on.

What the hell had bitten me???  It looked like a mini black flying beetle, but whatever it was packed a punch!

I started taking some anti-histamine tablets last night, and some 400mg Ibuprofen to try and take some of the swelling and heat down, and it's helped a bit, but it's still swollen today, albeit less painful to walk on.  The bites are really sore though, so I can't put any pressure directly on them, like sitting with my legs out straight.  I think if the swelling's not showing any signs of improvement by tomorrow evening, I'll consult NHS Direct, or go see a doctor, as I'm wondering if the one bite has got infected somehow. 

Oh hoorah - nothing like a bit of drama to liven up the weekend!!

Other than that, I'm feeling very relaxed at the moment.  We had Hannah's leaving drinks last night as she's off on her travels, and I stuck to Diet Coke at the bar, as I'm still wanting to cut the alcohol down a bit, and just a glass and a bit of wine at dinner.  We went to a fantastic little Italian tucked away 10 mins from my house, called Europa.  Lovely atmosphere and staff and good food too!  I had a king prawn starter in tasty white wine and garlic sauce with fresh bread, and a pizza - proper thin stretched with an amazingly sweet tomato sauce and whole plum tomatoes on top, not too much of everything else - always a pleasure to have pizza the way it's meant to be, not smothererd in cheese and meat.  Amazingly, I was able to stop when i was full and not eat too much, which was a really good feeling - I left a piece of my bread, and probably about a 1/3 of my giant pizza.

Having hit circuits yesterday lunchtime too, I feel like I'm off to a balanced start to the week.  A little of what i fancy, mixed with a bit of restraint and sense.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Weekly Verdict

Half a lb off this week, which might not sound a lot, but is clear proof that it's possible to lose even when you're not being 100% perfect and it's that week in the month. It all comes back to that key word again: "persistence".

I've tried to make better choices, be a bit more consistent and I've hit pretty much all my exercise targets, minus Thursday's short run. Generally this week hasn't contained too many heinous mistakes (although Pic'n'mix at the cinema on Tuesday, I'm looking at you!), and it shows.

I'm allowing myself a few of things that make life pleasant, whilst trying to keep a sensible overview of how those add up and not overstepping my limits.

So that's losses 2 weeks in a row - let's see if I can make it 3!

- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Making Your Own Luck

After I finished the Comparisons post yesterday, I decided to try and make a little of my own luck.  After all, just because it doesn't feel like anything much has gone my way recently, doesn't mean I a) can stop trying, or b) it won't change.

So I MTFU (which is Manned the Fuck Up for anyone not speaking shorthand), and took my rather self-pitying self down to speak to the bank branch at work one more time.  Sure, I spoke to them a couple of weeks ago, and they said they'd get back to me, but they hadn't yet.  And either that means they'd forgotten about me, and I wasn't doing myself any favours by allowing them too, or my credit risk really has crashed, in which case, isn't it better to know for sure? (noooooooo, clearly I want the answer to this to be no.  If I bury my head in the sand and make like an ostrich it's more comforting than knowing it's all going down the swanny!!!!).

Bollocks - friendly girl I've dealth with before was on the phone, so I had to talk to the slightly scary looking man.  Ok, it doesn't change my problem - talk, Sue, talk!!!  Turns out that scary, serious-looking man is actually very smily and nice and non-judgmental (yes, yes, yes - I should be the first person to know that first impressions can be highly misleading), and, more-to-the-point, is very helpful.  Anyhoo, the system isn't offering me a loan at the moment, but Richard (Mr. Friendly Bank Man) says that he'll speak to lending and see what they can do, because they're able to over-ride the system when it comes to staff sometimes.

I have to admit, that given all the recent disappointment and set-backs when it comes to money, I wasn't overly hopefuly that they'd be able to help me, but I felt better just asking.  Certainly, his answer-phone message, which I picked up after a tedious 3 hour long technical update this morning, wasn't giving anything away.  I fully expected him to say they wouldn't be able to help.

But here's the thing about trying, and keeping trying, to make your own luck:  sometimes, something goes your way.  No, they can't give me a loan for the full amount straight away.  But it's not because my credit's shot, it's just because they have a quota of lending they're allowed to apportion each month, and they've hit it already for this period, so aren't really approving much right now.  In fact, my internal credit rating is in the highest bracket possible.  PHEW!!!  Since they can't offer me the loan, they are offering me an interest-free staff credit card in the meantime, and as soon as it's activated, they're going to set the limit as high as lending will let them, so I can have a balance transfer and buy myself a bit of breathing space from the disgustingly high interest rates on my current credit cards.  Then they'll review the loan situation when the next "period" rolls round.

They even had all the paperwork for the card there for me, so all I had to do was sign.  And they'll do the rest for me. 

So it's not a quick fix, but it is a tiny step on the road to trying to make things better for myself.  Maybe my luck is starting to turn around a little?  In the meantime, I shall try and be as sensible as possible.  The last couple of months haven't been great with my spending, as either extra bills or 30th birthdays have caused expenditure I wasn't really budgeting for.  But starting from now, it all gets a little quieter over the summer.  Friends are away on holiday, and my closest friend in Bristol is off travelling for 3 months from the weekend.  July is another quarter-end, so another month of no social life whatsoever as work goes nuts again.  And the week after next I'm away from Bristol anyway, as I head off for a quiet week in Exmoor with my Dad.

There are opportunities to try and claw back some of the over-indulgence of the last few months.  Not so many weekends away (in fact very few), and not so much eating out or drinking on a regular basis.  Time to learn to live within my means.  And if the weather will co-operate a little, then there's also time to use a bit of my weekends and holiday to get outdoors, on foot or on my bike, and enjoy a little local scenery.  Maybe even a bit of surfing (although I need to be careful with that, because obviously that's not quite cost-free).  Also time to tackle some of the things I've been meaning to do for a while, like trying to declutter my belongings a bit, ahead of maybe moving flat again in the Autumn.

Even when I have all the worries and anxieties I mentioned last post, I can still see the sunshine between them - which is the difference I guess between real, crippling anxiety or depression, and still having the fighting spirit to try and improve my situation.

Other things to make me smile today:  a dinner that was both healthy and amazingly tasty - so simple: grilled Cajun spiced chicken, roasted butternut squash and a veg ratatouille that made my mouth sing!!  And leaving work at the same time as a cute guy you work with, but have never spoken to, and somehow starting random conversation (ahhh - the weather - that most English of all conversations); we walked out the door at the same time, it started raining, and bless him, he offered me his umbrella (he had a waterproof on, I had no coat) - how sweet!

I don't expect much from my Friday weigh in tomorrow, as it's that time, so I'll be happy if I can stay somewhere in the ball-park I was in last week and just keep working on slowly improving my eating still.  This weekend should be a relatively quiet one, as the only thing on the agenda are Hannah's leaving drinks tomorrow night.  I'm debating trying to be uber-good though and skipping dinner out and just joining them afterwards - we'll see.

Laters, makers of our own luck!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


I wanted to expand a bit on last night's post, and try and explain why these things seem to affect me in such an out of proportion manner.  Your comments touched me, and made me smile, and I felt the need to explain my weakness to you.

I have always been someone that compares herself to others.  I don't know why, but I judge myself, my successes and failures, by external standards.  I judge my intelligence against my friends' and colleagues' exam results, my fashion and appearance against the magazines and the people I see around me every day, my family, travel experiences, my possessions, my finances are all judged against my friends (and let's face it, probably the shows on tv).  And unfortunately I judge my attractiveness against my peers too ..... they have successful relationships, people flirting with them and chasing them ... and yes, proposing to them ... so they must be attractive.  By definition then, I'm not.

I know that there's no logic to this.  It's something that we went over in the counselling sessions last Summer, in fact, we touched on it again and again and again.  It seems to be a root cause problem with me, but right now I don't know how to change it.

The real problem I have though, maybe, is that I don't compare my happiness with others, and I think that's mostly because I don't know how to.  You see, I don't really know how happy I am.  As you rightly pointed out, for all the external appearances of someone else's life, you never really know how happy and fulfilled they are.

In fact, I'm probably a good example of that myself:  I do have wonderful friends, and I do go on fun adventures - I have all the appearances of a fulfilled life.  And I have much to be grateful for: my health, my remaining family, my friends, my career, a steady job, a (nice) roof over my head.  Oh my goodness, am I grateful for them.

But I'm also frustratingly riddled with (self)-doubts and enough insecurities to undermine the whole lot.  I'm  blessed with an extremely active imagination - great because I have the capacity to think outside the box and visualise how something could be.  I think this is one of the reasons, I get bored so quickly and constantly need fresh stimulation - if I've done something once I want to do something bigger and better next time.  More exotic, more amazing, and yes, sometimes, more frightening. 

The flipside of that imagination, is that I can constantly imagine, and regularly do, the worst possible outcome.  I don't know if I'm alone in this, but if I see a homeless person, I imagine that was me and invent a whole scenario for how I'd cope and try and keep my pride and self-esteem.  I can cause myself to cry just by thinking too long upon my dad's morbid proclamations that he's not going to live much longer because people in his family don't, and have often been known to just start bawling because I imagine being all alone.

Maybe that's my biggest problem - in my worst case scenario's I quite often imagine my family gone (afterall I've only my Dad (71) and elderly Grandma (96)), my friend's all settled down with husbands / wives and kids, too busy to see me, and with my finances so fragile, I get scared that there's nothing to look forward to but a future of scraping by on a single salary.

I'm an equal-opportunity day-dreamer, so of course I have the detailed dreams about winning the lottery, dream opportunities presenting themselves to me in my career (really? you want to know what that is?  ummmm *slightly embarrassed* being a financial manager for an extreme sports company, looking after things like sponsorship and getting to go to some of the events and travelling - I have no idea if that job even exists, but in my head it does and it would be awesome!!), some gorgeous guy chasing after me, being gorgeous (and I mean properly gorgeous) myself.  So why don't I pay more attention to those day-dreams and make them happen?  Because I'm also a paranoid type. A pessimist.  So whilst everything is possible, Sod's Law is it will be the not-so-good stuff that actually does happen to me.

Sure, I buy my lotterly tickets each week (I can live in hope, can't I?), but it's the bad stuff I expect to happen.  Totally why I'm too scared to go and chase my bank manager about a loan - I'm scared to rock the boat and hear the bad stuff that I'm convinced they'll tell me.

I think I've wandered off-topic here, but perhaps it helps explain a little:  I'm terrified of ending up old, alone and poor.  Or even just alone and poor.  I compare myself constantly and relentlessly to others.  They get my dreams, and, right now, I seem to get my nightmares.  So yes, I feel a little sad.  Also a little panicky and scared that it's all coming true (engagement now, wedding soon, then kids and bye-bye).

When I think about it more calmly, I count my blessings and try and think of more ways to help myself.  I can drown out the niggling worries and be happy for my friends' successes.  Above all, I'm determined not to bring down their happiness with my worries.

But yeah, I have relapses:  it turns out it's a hard habit to give up.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


One of my best friends just texted me to say that she's got engaged. Her boyfriend, who I introduced her to about 4 years ago, got down on one knee on the beach at sunset in Cape Cod and proposed.

This should be wonderful news, but instead I just feel hollow. Another friend, younger than me too, getting on with a part of life that seems to pass me by.

To add insult, an even closer friend emailed me yesterday to ask advice because she's been offered yet another promotion with her work; another payrise and a possible move to London and an even more prestigious director's title than the one she has now. She's 30 and she's already a director with her company. But she's not sure what it means for the 4 bedroom detached property she was just about to buy, so she's trying to find out if work will pay for her pad in London so she can buy the place in the country anyway. This, while I'm contemplating cutting my social life back to nothing at all because I can barely afford to pay my bills at the moment.

Why do other people's fortunes always go up when mine seem to hit rock-bottom? Some people say "why me"? I feel more "why's it never me?".

But mostly I wish I was a nicer person who could at least feel joy at other people's successes and good news instead of just letting it reflect how much of a failure I feel; 30, flat broke and alone.

- Posted from my iPhone

Monday, 13 June 2011

Embarrassing Bodies

Have just started watching Embarrassing Bodies - the fat edition on Channel 4. 

I suddenly feel amazingly normal, but also thankful that I escaped this fate.  It's scary to think just how easily one of those people could have been me.  For someone who hit 17st at her highest, I think I was very lucky that I never had any significant health problems.

It does make me think that it's a bloody good motivation to keep going the right way though - i.e. eat better, move more and keep losing weight and gaining fitness.

Lean Times

And so ends another pretty-much-on-track day.  Don't these posts get boring quickly?

My day got thrown a little out of whack mid-morning, as I'd forgotten I was giving blood at 10am, until I was walking to work this morning.  So at 10.10am, I was lying on the couch at work, with a needle in my arm, squeezing out a charitable pint for others.  Oddly, my donation took longer than normal today, and stopped altogether at one point, which is really unusual for me.  Then when they took the needle out, I'm not quite sure what happened, but I very quickly heard the words "errrr, I need another swab", so apparently my body decided that now was the time to catch up with the bleeding.  Tsk!

Anyhoo - donation done, but post-donation biscuits aren't really an option in our bloodmobile - you will have them with 2 cups of squash or you're not allowed to leave!  In my case, I got given extra biscuits on top of that - I don't know if I was looking particularly pale or something, but extra Custard Creams it was!  So that threw my plans a little for today.

As did my lunchtime workout.  Normally, I wouldn't plan a workout after a donation (as per their advice), but Monday is my Body Balance class, which is something I can easily knock back and take at an easier pace as required, and my back was feeling a little crunchy after Friday's uber-Circuits class, so I planned to head along, but be careful.  Except that, when I got there, I'd handed my gym card over to be swiped before I noticed that little sign on the desk say "Monday's Body Balance class has been cancelled due to a shortage on instructors and will now be Fitball with Sian".  Not that I have anything again Sian and her Fitball class, but I've been before and it is death so I figured it probably wasn't the best thing to attempt in my blood-deprived state. 

So please be proud of me, dear readers, I grumped my way back to my desk, ditched my gym bag, switched my heels for my trusty Birkenstocks, and took my ass out for a much-needed walk in the fresh air for the remainder of my lunchbreak.  30 mins walking is better than nothing, n'est pas?

Other than that, I've stocked up on meals for the rest of the week on the way home from work, planned my proposed exercise for the rest of the week (spin, running club, lunchtime run with Liz and circuits respectively), and I look to be nicely on track for the kind of week I generally aim for (and often miss):  a week when I only use half my activity points that I've earnt.  Whoopla!!

Other than that, I spent a bit of time today looking at my budget and recent expenditure, which is usually a fairly depressing subject for me.  I have managed to make a bit of progress on this, this year, but nowhere near as much as the £5k I wanted to pay off my debt by the end of the year.  It's all a bit tiresome, as for various reasons, it proving very hard to make any significant headway. 

I always knew this first bit, getting started, would be the worst, but it's still somewhat demoralising, as it's all a bit 2 steps forward 1 step back.  No sooner do I manage to scrape together enough to make a lump-sum payment, than I get hit with the winter's electricity bill, which wipes it out.  I just get my budget looking in better shape, and make enough repayments that my minimum payments fall below the threshold at which I can start affording to make (tiny) extra payments here and there, and the credit card company ups one of my minimum payments by £100 a month.  I find a way to transfer a big chunk of balance to a lower interest card I have and the credit card company screws up the balance transfer, over-charges me interest and reduces my credit limit by £6k, only to tell me that although it's a mistake they can't undo it.

It's enough to make me scream.  Or sometimes cry.  Occasionally, sitting in the corner and rocking looks like a good option too.  But I know that, like any diet, it'll never be as tough again as it is now, if I just keep working at it.  My salary will only go up.  My balances will (eventually) go down.  At some point I may be able to get a loan through work and transfer the debt to a lower interest rate.  There should be a bonus early next year from work.  And in November, my lease is up on my current rather expensive, albeit gorgeous and highly convenient, flat, and I'll have to option to move somewhere cheaper or share.  It's just a matter of hanging in there and doing what I can.

And what I can do is maybe start to make a few more tough decisions.  I've allowed myself too many meals out, and expensive drinking sessions, along with weekends away, recently.  It's the usual story, you start vigilant, have some sucess and then start to get complacent, and before you know it, the budget is humped and you've still got two weeks of the month left.  And the credit card which you stopped resorting to months ago, has suddenly got £400 extra on it.  So it's back to basics again, and I need to be a little more ruthless (tangent - I've always wondered this ... why can't you be ruthful, if you can be ruthless???  Anyone?). 

Back to less drinking.  Being more organised taking food to work.  And questioning the big plans for weekends.

I'm off to debate my leaner life - money and food both!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Can't Win 'Em All.

Gaaaaaah - sometimes the weekend is sent to try us.  Or me?  I'm hoping it's not just me, and it tries you all too sometimes.  Not that I wish bad things on you, but am I the only person this kind of chaos happens to?

I have, however, dealt with the disappointments fairly admirably, I feel.  I have, in no particular order:

  • not drunk more than the 3 drink limit I set myself on Friday.  Hoorah for self-control.
  • not eaten out - saving both money and precious Weightwatchers points.  I enjoyed a tasty takeaway on Friday night with Hannah.  We had way more food than we needed, and it made a nice change to be trying to new dishes rather than sticking to the same old, same old.  And I did finally stop when I was full - probably a little after I should have, but I stopped none-the-less.
  • not made plans for the whole weekend.  I have a terrible habit of trying to ill every spare minute of downtime, less, god-for-bid, I get bored.  No wonder I'm constantly knackered and broke.  I didn't make plans up front for Friday evening, and after having a full duvet day last Sunday and it being so relaxing, I decided to do the same again today.  The weather out was foul today, so what better time to catch up on sleep and generally relax completely.
On the downside, another thing I didn't do this weekend was bloody well surf.     Grrrrrrrrrrrr.  After looking forward to do it all week, I set out on Saturday morning, all organised with my picnic lunch packed.  I'd not left myself quite as much extra time as I'd meant to, but I wasn't late or cutting it fine either.

So how was I to know that there would be a crash at J24 on the M5 which closed the southbound carriageway and meant everything had to go up and over the junction's roundabout.  Unfortunately, I hit the traffic somewhere before J23, so it was ages before I could even get off the motorway and try and find an alternative route.  Even more sadly, the alternative route was choked with everyone else from the M5 trying to find an alternative route too.

I had to sit in the car and watch the sat nav's arrival time ticking past my lesson start time, and then on to half an hour afterwards.  No way I could get there in time, even if all the traffic disappeared right there and then.

Eventually, I gave up and rang the surf school and explained, and they were nice enough to agree that I could reschedule my lesson for another day, but it was frustrating as it still felt like a day wasted.  Rather than go and head straight back home with my tail between my legs, I decided to make the most of my picnic lunch and drove myself to a random beach on the way home near Burnham, where I could at least sit at the seafront and read my book and eat my sandwiches.  I also amde the way home a bit of random car adventure by driving back through all the country lanes, picking villages or place names that sounded cool and going exploring.  Not the day I'd originally planned, but better than nothing.

Looks like Saturday just wasn't my day, as I decided to make a peach melba pavlova to take to the Hannah's house party in the evening, and then had to hit 3 different supermarkets to find the flipping meringues.  Just typical.  Never mind - in the end, I had chilled out evening with friends - you can't win 'em all.

And there'll still be surfing at some point.

Friday, 10 June 2011

That Friday Feeling

This morning was official Weigh In Day of Misery for me.  But not so miserable this week.  Since my last official weigh in (which was 2 weeks ago), I'm 0.6lbs down.  That glosses over the point that last Friday I think I was about 12st 10lb, so being back at 12st 8lb, via a high at 12st 11lb this week is absolutely fine by me.

Once again, it reinforces a point I'm well aware of by now, which is that you don't have to be perfect with your eating, as long as you're persistent and keep moving your ass.  I too often try for perfection, and then go for a spectacular fail after a few days on track.  Last weekend was horrendous - case in point.  I earnt 50 activity points this week, and I think I drank every single one of them in the form of booze last week.  It says something about you, when you enter "ham" into your tracker, and the auto-complete function suggests "champagne"!!

But since last weekend, I've tried to calm it down and just trudge along near the place where I'm meant to be, and I'm 3lbs down since Monday, so clearly it works.

Things we have remembered this week:

  • planning your week's exercise up front helps - if you've put it in your tracker, you kind of have to do it.  My weekly workouts are looking a bit like this at the moment - yoga on Monday, spin on Tuesday, running club on Wednesday, rest on Thursday, and circuits has moved to Friday.  Add in a duathlon over the weekend and I feel pretty active.
  • planning and tracking your day's food up front helps - if you know what you've already got allocated for the day, it's easier to decide what treats / extras fit around it.  And you're less likely to go nuts.  Fact.
  • if you're hungry - genuinely hungry - eat, damnit!  Bugger your daily points - it's more important to get something sensible down your neck before you hit the cupboards, cereal box, sugar canister in search of an emergency hit (and yes, I know, the sugar canister????  WTF?  Children - this is where a total sugar crash will take you - don't go there).  It's better to have a single toasted English muffin whilst you wait for your squash to roast, than start picking.
  • fun stuff outdoors on the weekend keeps you moving.  Fact.  Last weekend was the duathlon (ok, so maybe fun is overstating it a bit, sodding big challenge might be more like it), and this weekend I'm surfing.  And maybe biking.
  • eating out sucks all the will to be good from you, plus blows your weekly bank budget before Friday night is even done.
  • eating out leads to drinks - see above point.
  • booze is evil - see above points, plus drama from last weekend.
  • don't eat out and go drinking every weekend - see above points.
On that basis, I'm going home tonight for a nice lazy night in.  I might get a takeaway, or I might not, but I'm enjoying a night of me and my sofa.  I'm off the booze for a while, as it's just not sodding worth it on any count.  And tomorrow I'm heading down to Bude in Devon for a surfing lessons with the surf club.

Basically, I'm aiming for a weekend of outdoors and low-key fun, without the excess for a change.

I lvoe Fridays - best day of the week with it all ahead of you :o)

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Done and Dusty

4 miles(ish) knocked out at running club tonight. Relatively sensible eating all day. And an early night so I can get enough sleep for a change.

That's a bit more like it.

A very dry, blustery run tonight on the Downs - the kind of wind that seems to steal all the saliva from your mouth so you're constantly gasping for a drink. My running felt ok this evening, although I managed to be late to the meeting point (surprise, surprise - this is me we're talking about after all) so had to pelt across the grass to find out which way my group had gone, only to realise that they were in fact the group I'd just passed going the other way, so I had to hare back in the other direction after them, quick-smart. I therefore felt a bit blown to start with, but once I'd settled my breathing back down, I spent a bit of time concentrating on trying to loosen and lengthen my stride a bit.

Apparently, we're going to have another longish, steady run next week, before moving on to strides and other techniques the week after.

Interestingly, despite my weight being somewhat up at the moment, and back where it hasn't been since last year, I've clearly changed shape in the meantime. I put on a dress this morning, that I wore for my job interviews last September - a skin-tight fitted 40's style shift-dress - only to find that's it's still looser on me despite the additional pounds I'm currently packing. I think we'll have to put that down to my regular doses of Body Balance and torture, sorry, circuits, plus the running, for whittling a few bits that's weren't previously whittled.

In contrast to all that healthy well-behavedness above though, I've been looking into the existence of supper-clubs around Bristol. I've been hearing about them for a while and I'm intrigued by the concept of gourmet food at a stranger's house.

Of course, I've also been looking at possible events to enter over the summer, even though I swore I'd take it easy and enjoy having nothing to train for, for a bit.

Yin and yang, I guess. It all balances out in the end.

- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Back on Track

A better day today, crawling back towards the healthy eating and exercise stuff that keeps this whole train on track.

I've resorted to an old school dinner - grilled chicken, runner beans and roasted squash ... and it was surprisingly lovely - the simple things can be great.  On the flip-side, my breakfast experiment went a bit wrong, but not totally.  We had nutrition guidance emailed through from our running PT's this week, and it had the now familiar words of wisdom about eating more whole foods, cutting back on processed and in particular wheat products, and avoiding low-fat foods.

Now - for most people not on diet, that last one probably wouldn't be an issue, but I'm reluctant to give up my low-fat stuff on the whole - it makes it a damn sight more difficult to keep in calorie deficit.  However, some of the others, I'm halfway prepared to try - but I do loves me bread and convenience foods so this is tricky.  On that basis, I decided to try and start with an easier meal: breakfast.

I'm not really a protein / savoury breakfast kind of girl - or at least not regularly and early in the morning.  And cereal's not supposed to be the best.  So I thought I'd try experimenting with proper porridge.  I've had rolled oats in the cupboard for ages, but never really tried doing properly from scratch.  A)  I was surprised how easy it was to do - for some reason I thought it would be more complicated, but it was just like doing ready-done out of the sachet.  B)  Their cooking instructions suck, as it completly boiled over during the supposed second cooking period - lucky I caught it in time.  C)  Their portion sizes suck.  They suggested a 50g portion of oats, which was massive, and when I compared to Weightwatchers they suggested a 30g portion which seems much more reasonable.

The over-sized 50g portion was ridiculously huge, and almost left me feeling too full this morning, for pretty much all the morning.  It also came to a staggering 11 Pro-points.  Ouch.  Like the good little trooper I was though, I pointed it properly.

Spin class at lunch, done, and I'm heading off for some drinks with a friend in a bit .... sans alcohol ... there's been quite enough of that this week already, thank you very much!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Normal Service Resumed

After all the trials and tribulations of the weekend, it has been something of a relief to get back to the normal day-to-day routine of my week. 

I've not been great with my food recently, but I've been taking baby steps over the last week or so to try and reverse that trend.  Bank holiday weekends and various events haven't helped, as they've interrupted not only my eating routines, but also my exercise ones, as well as providing far too many opportunities for booze.

This weekend's eating, as already mentioned, was actually pretty restrained on the whole; where I totally fell down was the ol' demon alcohol.  I pondered last week, the idea of giving up the booze for the next two weeks with the exception of Saturday, but really Saturday totally took the biscuit.  Over the course of 16 hours, I consumed a hugely irresponsible amount of drink (hi, Liver, I'm really sorry about that - it's honestly nothing personal against you), and it was a frankly a miracle that I was still standing by the end of the night and not spewing my guts or lying in a gutter somewhere.

That said, I now really need to cut back.  It's not big and it definitely doesn't make me clever.  So I'm thinking this weekend is either going to be completely dry, or I give myself a (modest) allowance up front and stick to the damn thing like glue!!!

That way I could try something novel like hanging the eating and drinking together at the same time!  Whaddaya know?  It might even help me!

I've also been racking my brains since the end of last week, as to what my old eating habits were when I was successfully losing.  I realise I've strayed off the beaten path a bit, and can't remember what I used to eat.  I think there was more soup involved.  And less starchy carbs.  And a lot more tomato based sauces on both my pasta and my lean meat / carbs and veg dinners.  So back to the drawing board we go.

I remembered eating butternut squash a lot more often, instead of potatoes, so I've picked one of those up.  And I replaced my new pasta with wholewheat today.  The next couple of days are roughly planned out, as I continue my slow crawl back to proper healthy eating. 

The other thing I've noticed is my craving for all things sugar recently.  Down to the point where I've been known to open the sugar jar and take one of the stuck clumps out and eat it like a sugar cube.

I am not a pony - I do not eat sugar cubes.

But I have got in the habit of expecting something seriously sugary after dinner.  I'm trying to put a stop to that by forcing myself to wait 20 mins after I finish my dinner, and then decide if I still need something.  They say you need 20 mins for your stomach to pass back the "I'm full" signals, and it's pretty much worked this evening. 

Little baby steps.

Duathlons and Dating Disasters - Pt 2

So I think I left you yesterday with Jo and myself sweaty but done at the finish line on the Downs, and me feeling an odd mix of triumphant at my finishing time and guilty that I'd lost Jo and selfishly not made more of an effort to relocate her.

We were a bit gutted to find that there were no medals for this race (what???  Don't judge me - I'm a novice at this - the finisher's bling is totally what it's all about!), but there were t-shirts and goody bags, and there would have been a free sports massage if I hadn't felt so seriously sweaty and gross.  We decided that the best reward was back in my car, where I'd left a cool bag with more Lucozade and a bar of Galaxy each - spoils of victory! :o)  These were consumed sat on the grass and stretching once the bikes were all packed away again.

Back at the flat, we cracked open a bottle of champagne once we'd showered off all the ming and dust (seriously - I had a crust of salt on my face because the wind had just blow-dried the sweat there - yuck!), and then headed out for a celebratory lunch in the sun with Pimms.  Feeling absolutely shattered after that, we headed back to the flat for an afternoon of on-the-sofa-with-a-film.

And here is where it all started to go wrong.  I didn't mention it on here, but a couple of weeks ago I met a guy.  He's a friend of a friend, and it all took me a bit by surprise at the time, as I hadn't really twigged we were flirting all evening, until we were kissing.  I know:  I'm incompetent at distinguishing between general banter and someone actually flirting with me.  He's lovely, and we click really pretty well - chatting endlessly and giggling - but it was all pretty doomed from the start, as he was moving to Perth (the one in Australia) in four weeks, and then there was the added complication that I knew my friend had a soft spot for him too.

The next day I found out it was worse than that - she full-blown really likes him, although he doesn't return that (she told him years ago and they were honest about it) and they are still good friends in spite of it.  It took me a couple of days to work up to 'fessing up to her that we'd kissed, but I did it, and it turned out she'd guessed as much.  It was bit awkward, but I think I won brownie points for being honest, and after a couple of days we were back to normal.  The guy didn't live in Bristol anyway, so it was unlikely I'd see him again before he left - no problems.

Until the Sunday of the 10k a couple of weeks ago.  That friend that we bumped into in the pub?  That was Dan.  And we ended up spending those next 2 days together - awesome fun days full of silly adventures and laughing together.  Nothing much happened those two days in a romantic sense, but we had a brilliant time and there was still chemistry there (I guess that's what being suddenly sober will do for you).  And it was also clear by the end of the 2nd day (given that he was meant to have left on Sunday and was still in Bristol on Tuesday) that my friend was really not amused.  He finally went home, life returned to normal, he was leaving in 3 weeks time, and that was that.

It turned out he was back this weekend, for leaving drinks.  Quiet drinks at the pub and I was invited - it sounded like just the laid-back evening Jo and I needed after our afternoon R & R - either that or we'd both be asleep by 8pm.  Since that entire group of people are so friendly, but I don't know a lot of them that well, we decided to go for a drink or two and see how it went.  We joined the group and just chatted to folks.  We weren't sat at Dan's end of the table initially, as we were happily gabbing away with other folks, but he came up to see us after a bit.  Which I suspect is about the time my friend turned up, when he'd squeezed onto the bench next to me.  Ok, so maybe that didn't look so good, but I'm hardly going to avoid him at his own leaving drinks.  The gins went down a little too easily after 2 hours of hard exercise in the morning, lunchtime drinking and no dinner, and soon enough everyone moved inside from the terrace - again I sat with my friend and Jo and didn't make any effort to crowd Dan - I spent most of the evening up to that point chatting to other people in fact.  My friend was quiet but seemed fine.

At chucking out time, it was kind of inevitable that the crowd would want to go on out dancing.  Jo's hip was sore from earlier and she was tired, but she told me quite plainly that she was happy to head back to the flat and crash if I wanted to go out and, in my cheerfully inebriated state, dancing appealed so I walked Jo home, made sure she had everything and agreed a time for breakfast in the morning, before heading out again to catch the others up.

Clue number one that something was wrong - when I got to the club my friend said "what are you doing here?".  Not the normal response to seeing a close friend who's come back out.  I realised that for some reason she wasn't glad to see me, and since she was dancing with yet another group of her friends who they'd bumped into, I retreated to the rest of the guys at the bar.  Which in retrospect may have been a mistake.  I was in Happy Drunk mode, which entails lots of silly dancing and generally being friendly and confident, even with people I don't know that well.  Again, though, I didn't pester Dan, I stayed clear and let him come to me - I actually spent most of the evening with other people, partly mopping up a side-drama between a recently broken up couple who were out together for the first time since the split.  At some point, I noticed my friend chatting to Dan at lenght, and then she left without saying goodbye to me. And still in HD mode, I glossed over it and kept dancing.

At the end of the night, Dan and I were the last ones left, and only after everyone else had gone did we kiss and head on for a late night drink elsewhere.  But the thing is, it didn't go any further than that - he's leaving in a week, and besides Jo was waiting at home - two very good reasons for him to just walk me part-way home, and for us to say a slightly (drunk) emotional goodbye and go home.  No looking back (well, maybe I looked back once, but then no looking back).

I honestly felt pretty sad, as I didn't think it was possible to feel you know someone so well after only a couple of days spent together, and I guess I'd felt pretty strong chemistry, but we'd been wary from the start knowing it couldn't go anywhere.

You can therefore imagine what a slap in the face it felt on Sunday morning (after about 5 hours sleep and still feeling considerably drunk and now miserable), to get a text from my friend cancelling our day's plans because of me "turning up to sleep with Dan" the night before.  I was pretty gob-smacked.  If she'd irrationally thought that whilst she was drunk the night before (as we all were), I could have understood her confronting me about it, but this was 11am the morning after.

It made me feel like I'd forced my company on the group, when I was invited, and also surprised that she had a low enough opinion of me to think that I'd abandon my guest, Jo, completely in favour of a quick shag.  Wow. 

After sending a carefully considered reply apologising that I'd upset her but explaining the situation correctly, I have to admit that I retreated for the day.  I didn't want to talk to anyone, and I didn't want to think, so I spent all day curled up on the sofa in my PJ's watching trashy tv for distraction.

What really surprised me about the whole episode was my own response.  I didn't fill the upset with food.  I checked out for the day and found something else to distract me.  Food provides temporary comfort, but doesn't stop you thinking about what you're feeling.  The tv at least is total distraction, and can provide other emotions to cover the ones you're trying to avoid.  I felt pretty proud of myself for taking a more considered approach to dealing with my emotions.  I gave myself official permission to wallow for the day - to cosset myself and not do anything else, and although I did have a piece of cheesecake it was proper dessert after lunch, and I also ate fruit, veg, lean meat and plain carbs.  Very little junk.

Once I started feeling a little more sane towards the evening, I went one step further.  It's easier to feel good about yourself if you spoil yourself, so I took the time to re-colour my hair and make sure I had nice clothes clean for today.

Today I feel far better, although the scales are registering all that alcohol from Saturday.  I'm more frustrated than anything, that a guy has come between my friend and I, and that this whole thing has happened.  I think there's a little blame on both sides.  I willfully misread the signs, I guess, and allowed the alcohol to blur my judgment that I was walking straight into a minefield, and I think on the other side my friend has over-reacted a bit.  Just got to hope it all blows over now.

At least, this time, Dan's leaving sometime this week, and I won't be seeing him again.  Story end.

Men: coming between good friends since history began.


Sunday, 5 June 2011

Duathlons and Dating Distasters: Pt 1

I'm not sure I even know where to start.  This weekend has been a rollercoaster of emotions (and the odd accomplishment), and has left me feeing about as rung out as an old, grey dishcloth.

Along the way, I've discovered a few things about myself; some good, some bad and some surprising.

We had a lovely dinner at the flat on Friday night - Jo, Hannah and myself.  Lots of laughing, lots of smiles, and a bit too much food.  I mistakenly bought crisps and dips for us to eat whilst dinner was cooking - definitely an error bought on by frantic last minute shopping whilst I was hungry on Friday night before shooting home to find Jo already arrived and waiting.  This much I have now learned - there's no point doing a nice healthy dinner and staying off the booze the night before a sporting event, if you then chow down a shitload of crisps and dips - it will not give you energy in the morning.  Big surprise.

After some last minute tinkering with the bikes after Hannah had gone, we loaded them into the car and then headed for our respective beds.  Considering how nervous and unprepared I was feeling, I very surprised how well I slept on Friday night, and the alarm at 6.45 was all too soon.

We managed to get sorted on Saturday morning without too much faffage, and got up to the Downs pretty much on time.  We were quite surprised how small the event was though - coming straight from the giant RunBristol with its 12,000 strong field 3 weeks ago to this was a bit of a shock.   I would conservatively say there were about 100 or so women taking part, and pretty much all of them looked scarily fit.  And those that didn't look as fit were all doing the novice distance, rather than the challenge one we'd signed up for.  Gulp.

Oh well - Jo and I had agreed we'd take our time and enjoy it, so we weren't ready to back out yet - we plonked ourselves at the back of the field and when the horn went we let everyone else stream away from us.  They started the race in 2 waves - the challenge competitors starting 3 minutes ahead of the novice field.

This had a pretty depressing effect for us, because it meant that not only did most of our set shoot off and leave us in the dust, but after about 10 mins or so, the fastest of the novice runners started overtaking us, and we knew they were only going one lap of the running course.

We were actually really lucky with the weather as it was a clear, sunny day with a breeze to cool things down - the only problem was that because of where we were running on the Downs there was a section right by the cliffs that had a massive headwind just as you were slogging up the incline.  The first loop of the running felt awful.  Dinner from Friday night was sitting like lead, my legs felt much the same and I just generally felt like someone had drained my battery, which is possibly the worst feeling to start the longest race of your life to date with! 

Still, we plodded stubbornly round, and at least the running loop was quite pretty - once you got past the Death Section with all the wind, we circled the bottom part of the Downs on tree-lined roads and then across the centre on a path and back to the start.  They'd set the course so that we ran on trails and paths, and then cycled a longer loop on closed roads outside of the running circuit.  Heading back to the start to begin our second lap running, we saw we were on about 16 mins, so although it felt slow, I was actually running at my normal pace.

Now we had the added depression of the novice competitors starting to whizz past us on their bikes.  Do you know how slow you feel when you're plodding / running and other people are cycling??  It's very bloody slow!  There were a couple of fallers during the run from the only people going roughly our speed, so it meant that going into transition was quite demoralising because there were literally only 4 other bikes left besides ours.  On the upside, that made it pretty damn easy to find the bikes and get in and out!

Because of the heat, I'd really regretting leaving my running bottle in the bag and not having a drink during the first 5k, so I was super grateful for my still cool Lucozade on my bike and a small bag of Jelly Babies I'd also stashed.  My stomach was feeling a bit more settled by the end of the run, so the Jelly Babies gave me the final pick-me-up I needed, and getting on the bike felt great after trudging round the grass.  I was even starting to overtake a few people here and there.  The problem now became keeping in contact with Jo, and it was quite crowded and riding 2 abreast is forbidden.

Somewhere in the middle of the cycling, I clearly just zoned out and started enjoying churning the gears, as I suddenly realised that I'd pulled away from Jo.  Going round the far turnaround points on laps 3 and 4 I realised she was a good minute or so behind me, but figured she'd catch me up in transition and the 2nd run. 

Very rough calculations whilst on the bike made me guess I was lapping around 14 mins a 5km loop, which was a bit quicker than I'd hoped for, so I was pretty pleased with how the time was going, given I was expecting the 2nd run to be much slower.  And boy, was I right.  Getting off and running again was murder!  For a start, I stupidly forgot to take my helmet off, so had to run back into transition and just lobbed it by the fence.  And I had definitely forgotten how hard running after a bike ride is!  The idea of another two laps (not to mention that the first bit of the run was back in the headwind again) felt insurmountable. 

I could see a few folks in front of me walking, but I knew that if I could just run for the first 10 mins, my legs would start to feel more human and less cotton-wool again.  So I doggedly plodded on, over-taking another 2 people as I did.  I told myself I just needed to run as far as the water-station halfway round the lap, then I could walk for a bit.  At the water-station it waas the flat easy section back across the common, so I thought maybe just run to the end of the first lap, and then I could chill going back into the head wind again.  And oddly enough, by the end of the first lap, I was feeling a little better.  Tired but ok.  Just the final 2.5k lap to go.  Still running (-ish - more slow jogging), just telling myself to keep going, just get to the water station again, sneaking another look at my watch, think just another 10 mins of this and you're done.  Just keep going.  Come on, you can run to the end now - so close.

I went into the race with no expectations of time.  Just to finish would be great.  We reckoned that we'd be done in 2:30 tops, but I thought maybe closer to 2:15 would be the aim.  Now looking at my watch, I was thinking 2:10 was do-able.  Jo hadn't caught me up on the run which surprised me.  I'd seen her coming round the final corner on her bike as I'd started my run, so I knew she wasn't far behind, and everytime I heard footsteps I thought it might be her.  I even tried to look back on my second lap, but couldn't see her anywhere behind me.  In that situation, I felt bad, because we'd said we'd do it together, but short of stopping altogether and waiting I wasn't sure what to do apart from continue and do the best I could now.

I crossed the line in 2:08.  10k of running with a 20k bike ride in the middle.  And I ran the whole 10k, which was definitely more than I was expecting.  Even more surprising was I didn't feel terrible at the end - tired, but not sick like RunBristol.  Jo finally turned up at 2:15 - it turned out her new trainers had given her a bad blister on her right foot, and it had burst sometime on the second run, so she'd ended up having to walk a lot of it.

I felt bad for not having been with her, but also realised later that there would have been nothing I could have done to help apart from be there. 

No medals from this race, and no photos at the moment, although official ones go up tomorrow.  But a small sense of accomplishment at challenging myself and doing it.

Friday, 3 June 2011

New Challenges

Ok, so only a lb down this week from last, but I had a think about it and made my peace with it. It's taken time this week to drag my eating back closer to where it should be. And I was a bit lower on Thursday, so I jut need to keep making steady little baby steps to improve my eating and exercise.

I went to my second surf club meeting last night and officially joined up for the next year. And since I'm now a member, I also went ahead and booked myself onto the teaching session in Bude next weekend - yeehaaa!

So tomorrow is my first ever duathlon. Gulp!! BIG gulp!! I feel pretty much totally unprepared for this experience and Jo and I have to keep reassuring ourselves that we'll take it easy and just concentrate on enjoying ourselves and finishing.

I'm not really properly organised, although at least the bike has now made it into the car, complete with its shiny new bottle cage attached, and I've remembered to pick up Lucozade and Jelly Babies to portion out for tomorrow. I figured any event that's going to take longer than 2 hours is going to need more than just water.

We've probably eaten rather too much this evening - dinner would have been fine on its own but Jo, Hannah and myself tucked into the chips and dip before hand .... just going to have to burn it all off tomorrow!

I shall return later with a handy-dandy little "race" report to tell you how it all went!!

- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Creeping Back From The Edge

Ok - so another day of eating that was somewhere close(ish) to where it was meant to be; this is almost getting to be some kind of habit.  Oh no, wait, that's what it's meant to be!

I enjoyed my lunchbreak sat out in the sun today, which was glorious, but I did have a sodding big slice of banana flapjack with it.  The problem with being catastrophically broke, and attempting to stick to your budget with it, is there gets to be points in the week where the fridge is well and truly empty.  Right now, I have ... well, not a lot at all ... in the fridge.  Which meant no yoghurts to take to work.  So somehow I ended up with flapjack.  Anyway, it was pointed and it tasted pretty fricking good, so maybe I can make it all work for me.

The funny thing with today though, was that there have been a couple of instances of things that have made me think "whoah - I really want to get this whole thing back on track!".  Maybe it's the onset of summer when everyone's out playing and lounging in Queen's Square on the way home and the first signs of tops being removed are in evidence.  Maybe it was thinking about how it'll be nice not to feel self-conscious at the surfing club when I finally get to a teaching session.

Maybe it was just a result of that heady endorphin rush after running last night, which had be driving back across the downs and home with a big grin on my face in the evening sunshine.  No idea, but it's good to have.

So despite being super-hungry at dinner this evening, I forced myself to stop after I'd eaten my lovely poached eggs on English muffin, and go and sit on the sofa for 20 mins and digest, before I lobbed an extra muffin in the toaster .... I thought maybe I'd be revelationary and let my stomach work out whether it had had enough before I continued to feed it!  And whaddya know?  I had had enough.  I seriously need to work on this whole portion control thing.

I'm off now to go and officially join the surf club, and see if it's not too late to try and book myself on to next week's Bude trip.

Ta ta, lovelies!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

I Think They're Trying to Kill Me!

This is the logical conclusion that I have arrived at, following my first session at the running club I will be attending over the summer.  They are clearly implementing a "kill or cure" strategy, and I fear for my life.

Of course, I could have just run a little slower, or even stopped and walked for a bit as plenty of people in my group did, but I'm a stubborn mare and walking would be giving up.  And I daresay that taking two and a half weeks off running after my 10k didn't really help either.

So there we go - one quite nice running group, with possibly the potential to be quite friendly, several insanely good-looking instructors, one hour of training, with what I make to be 45 mins of running, and 2 calves that really, really want to tweak into cramp because they're not used to being asked to do sprints, hills and running through long grass (which I'm convinced is their way of making us pick our feet up).  More of the same to follow for the next 14 weeks.  But for the next 2 days there will be resting ahead of Saturday's duathlon, because I'd rather not do anything silly like circuits which would cripple me.

I've also managed to commit myself to hauling my eating pretty much back on track for the last 2 days, and am now doubly sure that continuing that commitment for the next 2 weeks will help me get my head back in the game. 

Aside from that, it's been quite a boring week - I've managed to lose my camera somewhere, so I need to turn the flat upside down to locate it again, and I'm probably going to pop along to the surf club again tomorrow night to officially join, after which I can go ahead and book my lesson for the weekend after next.  Oh yeah - and one of my friends at work has invited me along to the next training session of her softball team just in case I'd like to join them!