Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Now What?

Eleven months and 13.1 miles after waking up on one of those birthdays requiring a towering inferno of candles on the cake and deciding to run a half marathon, I crossed the ‘finish’ line and stopped. Someone draped me in a space blanket, someone else gave me a medal, a third person handed me a goodie bag and then, in the middle of that noise and excitement, I was suddenly quite overcome. I thought of Dad, who hadn’t been there to see me, and Tom and Lily, somewhere in the crowd, who were and got a bit emotional. By the time Lily found me (they’d lost track of me once I was wrapped in foil and looked like a drumstick, like everyone else!) I was a gibbering heap which set Lily off too.
‘Never, ever let me do that ever again!’ I blubbed.
‘No, all right, Mum,’ said Lily, texting Tom to say where we were.
Once Lily had fished out my free sample of energy drink and got it down me I started to cheer up a bit. I felt even better once I’d had a soak in Lily’s bath with some of her Champney’s Orientale bath stuff, (highly recommended. And, yes, I know you’re not supposed to use heat on exhausted muscles but I was waaaaay past caring). But run a half marathon again? No, never! The trouble was I had time to think on the drive home. Okay, I managed a reasonable time, fifty-fourth out of ninety-nine women in my age group. But maybe I could improve? Oh, what the heck? I got in and signed up for the Llanelli half in March – well, I’ve got to have something to aim for. Here’s a few weird things about the race and then I will shut up about running.

• Out of the six thousand or so runners that day, I met two runners I knew in the crowd.
• I passed a bloke looking mighty uncomfortable in a mankini … tried not to think about where he might be sore.
• I ate three of my Jelly Babies but the last one disappeared without a trace… where did it go? I did see someone else’s dead one on the pavement and was quite tempted to pick it up but decided that would be a bit gross.

Hurray! One of Tom’s paintings was selected for the 6th Tenby Open Art Competition. My selection this week was rejected but it happens to be my favourite of the bunch so you’ve got it too. Anyway, judging takes place on Saturday and if Tom’s placed we’ll both keel over as his work tends to be big and bold and outside a lot of folk’s comfort zone but you never know…

And finally…
I’ve had a thoroughly lazy week doing lots of lolling around with good books. It’s been useful time for percolating writing ideas. FTT is flirting with a potential suitor but it’s time to stop worrying about that and get on with the next book. I’ve also thought of this week as time spent recharging my batteries… next week Mil and Dil descend on Hotel H!!

Paiting is 'Cranes - Port Talbot - Rain' by Tom Tomos

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Cardiff Half Marathon


I DID IT!!! 2:18:35 Official time.

Comments by Tom and Lily. Laughter by Lily.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Aber, Cardiff, Tenby, Aber

Friday 10 October
Tom’s reached the end of this year’s OU course which means he sitting in a church hall in Aberystwyth taking a music exam. I’m only on Week 3 of mine so I’ve found a quiet spot in the Arts Centre where I can alternate periods of quiet study with drinking coffee and people watching. The boundaries become a bit blurred however when my peaceful place becomes powerfully attractive to every noisy nuisance in the centre. A couple of school-girls flop beside me and do a running commentary of everyone they’re texting, a bearded man plonks his briefcase on the table the other side of me and shuffles all his paperwork self-importantly and, to cap it all, a class of pubescent dance class pupils turn up and start flinging themselves all over the floor in front of me. It’s like berludy Fame Academy here! I give up and meet Tom for a post exam debriefing. It all sounds fine to me so fingers crossed.

Saturday 11 October
Down to Cardiff for my first day school. Good to put faces to names but a long way to go for three hours. A beautiful sunny day in the city with folks out enjoying themselves. Only hope it isn’t this hot next week for the half marathon or it’ll be even tougher. Back home I find my race number’s arrived together with an envelope which warns ‘NO CHIP = NO TIME’. Inside there’s an electronic chip to tie on my running shoe. Immediately start having nightmares about not putting the chip on properly and getting struck off.

Sunday 12 October
My last long run before the half marathon and I’m armed with three Jelly Babies in a plastic bag tucked inside the waistband of my shorts hoping they don’t migrate anywhere. Halfway round I bite the head off one and my legs feel better instantly, then I get a mini sugar rush which makes me feel a bit shivery in a good way and quite revitalised. Amazing! Even better it doesn’t linger in my mouth to outstay its welcome or do anything unpleasant to my stomach. Phew!

Monday 13 October
Tom’s entering some paintings in the 6th Tenby Open Art Competition at Art Matters Gallery. I go with him (a) because I don’t want to miss a chance to talk to Margaret and John who run the gallery and (b) hey, it’s Tenby! Another lovely day so we catch the last rays of the sun on the beach. Sitting there with a rum and raisin 99 in my hand enjoying the view makes me very happy. Even happier when I think about the old days of working in an office.

Tuesday 14 October
A three mile run and it might as well be 30 – I’m getting to the end of a long haul now, both looking forwards to Sunday and completely dreading it! In the afternoon we pop round to some neighbours to celebrate her younger daughter’s first birthday. Never has one chocolate cake covered so many people. Thank goodness that’s another thing I don’t have to do anymore.

And finally…
Look out Aberystwyth! Purplecoo invasion taking place tomorrow. Well done, SBS!

I know you've seen Tom's painting of the beach at Aberystwyth before but it had to be done.

An Award from Debs

Look! Isn’t this nice? Lovely Debs gave it to me. Actually it’s half Tom’s because Debs likes his paintings so much. Thank you from both of us, Debs.

The winners of this award have to answer the following in one word per question. Tom’s on the phone arranging for Mil and Dil to come down (nooo, don’t say anything Chris) so I’ll do the answers myself. Okay…
1. Where is your cell phone? Handbag.
2. Where is your significant other? Negotiating.
3. Your hair color? Depends.
4. Your mother? Surrey.
5. Your father? Jewelry box (oops, that’s two words. Will explain another time.)
6. Your favorite thing? Family.
7. Your dream last night? Decorating.
8. Your dream/goal? Happiness.
9. The room you're in? Study.
10. Your hobby? Running.
11. Your fear? Illness.
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Bestselling.
13. Where were you last night? Bed.
14. What you're not? Teenager.
15. One of your wish-list items? Mac.
16. Where you grew up? Surrey.
17. The last thing you did? Breathe.
18. What are you wearing? Clothes.
19. Your TV? Off.
20. Your pets? None.
21. Your computer? Vintage.
22. Your mood? Happy.
23. Missing someone? Dad.
24. Your car? Poorly.
25. Something you're not wearing? Beret.
26. Favorite store? Book.
27. Your summer? Missing.
28. Love someone? Yep.
29. Your favorite color? Blue.
30. When is the last time you laughed? Today.
31. Last time you cried? Sunday.

Now I have to pass this award onto another 5 blogs that I love. Hmm, too many to choose from so these are going to SBS for arranging the Aberystwyth meet on Thursday (yay!),
Preseli Mags who’s driving us there (thank you!), Flowerpot to show she’s appreciated, Zinnia Cyclamen who writes so damn well and Rose’s friend Rich who is travelling and whose blog is very entertaining.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Haiku and Half Marathons

Haiku for Our Times
A Plumber

Composing a verse
in seventeen syllables
sends me round the bend.

Stock markets falling
faster than the Autumn leaves.
Call Robert Peston.

Friday 3 October
Yes, this week for the sake of freeing up our writing, we are mainly writing haiku. Again it’s a bit out my comfort zone, not a form I’d usually try and to be honest (and no disrespect to those highly respected writers of haiku who make such an art of it) it all feels a bit like being told to doodle when you’re hoping to learn how to paint like Michelangelo. Still, one of the aims of starting this course is to stretch myself and try new fields and I’m certainly doing that.

Sunday 5 October
There is a gale of epic proportions going on outside my window and it’s pouring down with rain. I’m planning to do a half marathon course today but with weather like that I might as well sit in comfort and draw inspiration from the ‘Great North Run’ instead. With in minutes I’m blubbing; Bill Bryson is saying how proud he is of his daughter and suddenly it hits me that my dad won’t ever see me achieve anything ever again and I miss him so much. It’s been three years now but sometimes it feels like yesterday. I pull myself together and watch the race, feeling desperately for Jo Pavey who after a magnificent effort and a personal best, is narrowly beaten into third place but, my goodness, what a great race.

Only two weeks to go before the Cardiff Half Marathon and today’s my last full run before then, just a couple of longish runs this week and next week I’m tapering down before the race. Despite the fact that the rain’s stopped and there’s even a glimpse of sunshine I’m not really ‘up for it’ today. Tom says he’ll give me half an hour to get going and then he’ll follow me on the bike. The first couple of miles feel a bit sticky but around four miles everything flows nicely and I feel okay and I’m keeping up a good steady pace.

Around ten miles I start to feel really hungry, really empty. Normally I get up, drink two cups of tea and run but today I’ve even had porridge although that was four hours ago. The trouble is it’s all a question of balance; sports drinks tend to make me feel queasy and I definitely, definitely do not want a case of Runners’ Trots but suddenly my legs are heavy, hills become like mountains and I’m really worried that I’ll have to stop.
‘Keep going!’ Tom bellows.
‘I can’t,’ I whimper.
‘Yes you can – it’s only pain!’
And, in the end, I do it and in a reasonable time.

Tuesday 7 October
Wretched weather. Go to the gym and do a speed session but my neck’s feeling sore, one of my toes doesn’t look very happy and I’m just hoping that everything will stay in place until I’ve finished the race. A few folks on the Runners World website seem to swear by Jelly Babies to keep up their energy levels. Tips include keeping your Jelly Babies in something waterproof to stop them getting sweaty (bleurgh!) and making sure you wash them down with water. Trouble is that I haven’t had this problem before and it’s a bit too late to experiment…

Painting is 'Black Squre, Red Square' by Tom Tomos

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Creaking, Cardiff, Cruising and Classes

Friday 26 September
Lalalaaa! After the hurly burly of the creaky bed in France I am enjoying the deep peace and a deep sleep in my own bed. Still fast asleep I have a lovely stretch and something in my neck goes bang and wakes me up. Aargh! Despite all the running my back is a bit dodgy and my neck still plays up from time to time after a whiplash injury. I reach for strong painkillers and wish I hadn’t broken myself

Saturday 17 September
Tom’s doing his last OU seminar before his exam so I get to play with my lovely Lily for a couple of hours. Her partner, Russ, gets millions of Brownie points for chauffeuring us around. What a star! Lily and I are very excited because we’re hoping Rose has won the Euro Millions since she has promised to share her winnings with us. Rose has told us that she’s going to buy Lily a pug and someone to do the unpleasant bits for her and I’m going to get my rescue greyhound and an annexe to keep it in since Tom is not a dog fan. Apparently I also have to sign a contract promising not to love the greyhound more than Tom. As if?

Sunday 28 September
No sign of my greyhound yet. It’s a little known fact that I am secretary of the West Wales Cruising Association and Tom is the sailing captain. Before anyone gets any funny ideas we’re talking cruising sailors here – and they’re all about to descend on Hotel H for the annual barbecue! Tom and I run round like headless chickens cooking the legs of bodiless chickens and a few sausages and burgers to keep them company. It all seems to go down very well and, even better, everyone does the decent thing and goes home before we’re fed up with each other.

Monday 29 September
Should have been doing a long run today but my neck is still giving me hell. Torment myself with thoughts of my training schedule going to pot. Very frustrating.

Tom's enjoyed his OU course (214 Understanding Music) so much that he’s encouraged me to sign up for one too. As his draws to a close mine begins and along with the lovely SBS (pity she’s not in the same class as me – we could do a bit of bra-twanging together. What? Oh, it’s a long story…) I’ve begun OU215 Creative Writing.

It’s only week one and already I’m finding it challenging. We’re practising techniques to loosen up our writing, such as freewriting. The main problem is that I’m such a control freak I find it really hard to let go and let the words flow. My self censor interrupts every time! Even worse, if I do manage to let go the train of thought triggered by the prompt seems to lead straight down the path of buried memories that I don’t especially want to uncover. What is this? Writing therapy or psychotherapy? Oh well, I suppose I will just have to let it flow and see where I end up.

Tuesday 30 September
Looking at Ma on holiday Tom and I were a bit concerned about her health and suggested she went to the doctor who rushed her off for urgent tests. The good news is that apart from a couple of running repairs Ma seems okay for now.

And finally…My daughter Rose moves into her new rented accommodation today. The downside is that, like many young people, she’s shelling out an eye-watering amount of money. The upside is that her landlord is a fireman. Seriously, my lovely Rose I know what a big step this is for you but I’m sure it’s the right one. Here’s wishing you every happiness in your new home and a very Hippo Birdie at the weekend.

Painting is 'Evening Sky' by Tom Tomos