Rainbow Run 5km for Tŷ Hafan

My first medal!! Sort of. I’m excluding the Race For Life 2013 one because that was a disaster and I didn’t run much of it. This is my first medal as the new me. 

I had no idea what to expect. I had an inkling that some of the run was on the actual beach, and was pretty nervous about running on sand. It’s not easy to walk on! Turns out, the whole 5km is on the beach. All of it. In a kind of zig zag down to the sea and back up again, twice. It’s a boring route. It’s basically round and around the same area over and over. If it wasn’t for the paint throwing and the general atmosphere of so many people running at once, you would never choose to run that route. It was bloody hard work. Really hard. The first part was really soft, and my ankles turned over several times. One of the times was quite painful and slowed me down for a while. Then there were hard bits that weren’t too bad. But there were really wet splashy bits too! Despite being quite hard going, it was a lot of fun. There were colour stations dotted along the route, and each station had a bunch of volunteers throwing a different colour of powder paint over you. Some of them even had big paint blowing machines. It goes in your eyes and nose and mouth, and I found myself holding my breath quite a bit to avoid inhaling it!

I caught up with a couple of my friends right at the end, who usually run much faster than me but had struggled with an injury, and they started sprinting so I did too! I crossed the finish line completely exhausted and totally out of breath. The paint all over my face hid the fact that I was bright red though. I was actually mostly orange with yellow hair! 

I’d do the run again in a heartbeat. I had such a good time! We raised quite a bit for Tŷ Hafan too, which makes it all feel even better. I finished in 41:19, which is between my two Park Run times. I’m pretty pleased with it considering the sand was so hard to run on! 

We finished off our day trip with chips and a go on the waltzers! 
PS: check out this video of the run! 

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The first 5km 

It’s the morning of the 5km rainbow run in Barry Island for Ty Hafan, and I’m nervous as hell. I keep having to run to the loo, and I’m putting off slipping into my running gear. Instead I’m procrastinating by putting laundry on and writing this. 

I’m still quite a long way off running 5km in one go without stopping to walk, but I’m not going to let it stop me trying. I’ve done Park Run twice now and walked a lot less the second time. I can see and feel improvements with every run, and there have been many runs thanks to #OutRunMay for Macmillan Cancer Care. I set out to see how far I can run in just one month, and to be honest I didn’t think it’d be far. I’ve surprised even myself with how often I can run, even if I’m not running far each time. I’ve gone out before 7am almost every morning this month so far, and I’m actually really enjoying it. Ok, so I don’t actually enjoy the actual running at the time. It’s the afterglow that I love. I crawl through my front door as Trev and the kids are just getting up, and the smug feeling of doing over half of my FitBit step goal before most people wake up stays with me all day. To top it all off, I’ve raised quite a bit of cash for the charity too (you can click here to sponsor me if you want to!).

I find being a beginner hard. I know that seems a bit silly, but it’s the truth. When I’m on my second lap at Park Run and I see the fastest runners leaving the park because they’ve already finished, I find it disheartening. I should find it inspiring, because if I keep going I can be one of them one day. But I don’t. It puts me off. Talk of 10km races and half marathons don’t make me want to keep going. They make me want to hide. I’ve spent a lot of my evenings recently reading stories of overweight exercise-haters (just like me) starting off unable to run up the stairs and going on to run marathons. I like stories that start where I am. Right at the very very beginning. They remind me that we all start somewhere, and that being a beginner is ok. That’s the lesson I need to learn. It’s absolutely fine to be a beginner. It’s more than fine. It’s great! It’s way better than sitting in the sofa eating biscuits. I’ve been reading ‘No Run Intended’ and ‘Run Intended’ by Hannah Phillips (Hannah the Runner) and she’s really inspired me. She’s just down the road too, so the locations of some of her runs are familiar. Somehow this helps me relate to her. She replied to my tweet about today’s run on Twitter, and I feel like I’ve been encouraged by an actual running hero! 

So, here goes. My lift will be here soon. At 1:30 this afternoon I’ll be doing my first (not including Race For Life in 2013 because that was a disaster) race while being covered in powder paint. It’s also on the beach which means running in sand. Oh wow. I’m so nervous. Wish me luck! 

Running, not running away 

So this is new! Well, not new new. Remember when I tried to take up running when Iris was a baby? Remember when I completely failed to even start my local ParkRun? 

That wasn’t actually the start of my running journey. I used to do a little bit here and there back in Bristol. I even did Race For Life (very slowly) one year. I preferred the gym though, and spin classes. Running in the centre of Bristol made me feel self conscious. 

This time, I’m going to do it. I have no gym. There isn’t one for miles, and I’d have to get two buses and find childcare. 

Running is the ideal exercise if you live in the arse end of nowhere, have limited cash, limited time, and two small children who act like the world might end if you leave the room for a second or two. It requires some clothes, and a pair of comfy running trainers. I know trainers can be pricey, and really you would get your gait analysed in a running shop, but there are pretty decent cheapo ones out there. My old ones, in the picture above, are expensive Nike ones that I bought in Barcelona when I didn’t have kids and I went on holidays and bought shoes on a whim. They’re actually crappy. And they don’t fit anymore anyway because I went up a shoe size having babies (WTF is that all about?). 

I’ve got about 3 stone I want to lose, but it’s not coming off. I’ve improved the way I eat times a million since new year. Vegan is the way to live for me, I’ve discovered. I can cook now, and I think about the nutritional value of every single thing I eat. Roller Derby training is going so well and I love it so much. I’m working really hard and learning every single session. Yet the weight creeps on. Not off. It feels so unfair, and it’s had me in hysterical tears so many times. I hate my useless body. It’s so tired and achey and sore, and sometimes just being awake all day and keeping the kids alive is too much. I have yet to figure out what is up with me, but I have finally convinced my GP to run a blood test to check my thyroid function. It’s a start. She doesn’t believe a word I say though, and keeps pushing anti depressants on me. I’m old friends with depression. I’ve lived with it for about 14 years on and off. I am not currently depressed. My drive to get out and do something is higher than it has been in years. I want to do stuff, and learn stuff, and get on with life, and apart from the physical stuff I feel GOOD. 

Running is hard. Really hard. 

I set off one day, running as much as I could but actually mostly walking, and an hour later I was back at my house and I’d covered 4km. I set out again and did the same route, several times, slowly getting better. Running more and walking less. Still walking most of it though. 

Then a Roller Derby buddy invited me to Park Run, so I dragged my terrified self to the park early on a Saturday morning and somehow completed it in under 40 minutes. I had THE BEST time. Park Run is fabulous. The volunteers are encouraging and friendly, the other runners cheer you on too. It’s a bit disheartening when you’re on your second lap and you can see people leaving because they’ve finished already, but you just have to remember that you’re not sitting on your sofa eating toast with your kids so you are already a runner. The high I felt at the end (ignoring the fact that my legs felt like jelly) made it totally worth the lower leg pain that almost made me cry on the 3rd lap. 

I’ve done another Park Run since then, and I ran almost all of it. I added a few minutes on to my time because I walk faster than I run (ha!). 

Unfortunately a photographer took pictures of my second Park Run and I had a huge wobble when I saw them. I don’t look how I was feeling. I look pretty ropey. I have about 50 chins and I’m bright red. My legs felt strong and unstoppable. They looked like wobbly sausages. I’m wondering if it’s acceptable to shout at the photographers to just piss off? I might try it next time. 

A new trainers purchase and signing up for some challenges has helped me to restore my motaivation. With people handing over hard earned cash to charity because of my running, I’m kind of forced to keep it up. 

Today, the first day of May, I began the Out Run May challenge to raise money for Macmillan  Cancer Support. I lost my wonderful Nan to cancer in 2014, just weeks before Iris was born. She told her doctors she was hanging on to meet her new great granddaughter but she didn’t make it. It broke my heart and it still hurts. Everybody thinks of the research charities when they think of cancer, which is obviously a great thing, but the people who actually do the caring get forgotten. Can you imagine being a cancer nurse? I can’t. I’m too emotionally fragile. They are just incredible wonderful people. I’d love to raise £100, and I promise to run as far as I possibly can this month. 

I set out on my first run of May this morning. It wasn’t as early as I hoped, despite being up with the kids at 6am. Trevor slept in and I decided to leave him. He’s tired too and he deserves a lie in. Astrid was up in the night with teeth or tummy ache or whatever (I never can understand when some parents say they instinctively know what their kid is crying about) so what I really wanted to do was drink several buckets of coffee, eat a whole loaf of bread and lie on the sofa watching CBeebies under a pile of small children. Instead, I headed out. 

My first mistake was to try a new route. Today wasn’t a day for change. I didn’t stretch properly because I’m lazy. I wasn’t hydrated. Still, I pushed myself and learnt plenty about who this running version of me is. I wanted to run the whole first kilometre without stopping, and I did. It bloody hurt though. The backs and fronts of my lower legs hurt. I was slower for the second kilometre, and slower again for the third. Then something in the shin area of my right leg began to really hurt, too much to run through. I was about 2km from home and I had to hobble back. It’s not an injury, because it was fine after a little rest and a protein shake. It must be the lack of stretching. 

I will try again tomorrow. 

If you want to sponsor me (please please please – I’m not too proud to beg) you can do it here: Mouse’s Just Giving Page. I need your donations to keep me going! 

I’ve also signed up for the Rainbow Run in Barry Island in a couple of weeks. From the looks of the pictures, I’m going to be attempting to run 5k through a cloud of powdered paint in an attempt to to raise money for Ty Hafan. They are a paediatric palliative care charity, and I can’t think of a better cause. I only have a paper sponsorship for that one,  but please let me know if you want to support the cause. 

It’s 11pm and I’m supposed to be up early for a run tomorrow. Oops. 

#Veganuary – the end is not the end 

I can’t believe January is over already. It’s usually a month that stretches far into the future and never seems to end. I think because I had focus and started new things it didn’t feel like that this year. 

I’m starting to become obsessed with my weight and body shape again, and it’s really hard to take my mind from that and onto the important stuff. Like eating for nutrition, and eating things that actually make my body feel good. I’ve lost weight in January, but not loads. That wasn’t my main aim. In fact it wasn’t one of my aims at all. 

Eating vegan food has been pretty life changing for me. I never really cooked before. When I had to I really didn’t enjoy it. Now I’m cooking all kinds of different meals from scratch, using ingredients I have never ever used. And what’s really stunned me is that I absolutely love it. I enjoy my time in the kitchen before dinner every night, even if Astrid hates me cooking and has to be nearby eating breadsticks or I won’t get away with it. 

I’ve made pasta sauces and curries and sweet potato fries and casseroles. I’ve loved eating without feeling any guilt, and I really love knowing exactly what is in my food. I know what’s there because I put it there. 

I tried to make a pros and cons to vegan eating list the other day and I just couldn’t. There are so many pros, and the only con I can think of is that lots of restaurants and cafes make it very difficult to eat out. I rarely eat out so it’s no biggie, and I think it’s something that is slowly changing anyway. There’s also the people who insist on commenting, but as most of their comments are either dumb (like “mmm, bacon” as if that’s going to upset me) or are from people concerned about my calcium or iron intake, I can handle it. With the amount of spinach I’ve been eating I’ve got no worries! 

I barely ate any dairy or eggs anyway. I’d been veggie for years and years and years with just the odd hiccup, and I didn’t like dairy and eggs. They just taste slimy to me. I only had them as ingredients in things, like cakes and biscuits, and I’ve discovered that I can find alternatives easily for all of those things. 

With so little left to actually give up, I wasn’t expecting to feel major benefits. So I’ve been surprised to find there are so many. It has had an impact on literallly everything. 

My skin has been dry and flaky whilst also spotty for a while, and I was regularly getting great big horrible boils. Gross. My skin is clearing up rapidly, and while it’s still not brilliant it is getting there. My stomach doesn’t bloat and feel uncomfortable after eating anymore. I have totally over eaten a few times in January, but it hasn’t been as uncomfortable and horrible as it used to be. Once I’d got past the excess wind (soz -tmi!) of the first few days my digestive system seems to be working so much better. I’m not reaching for the peppermint tea to relieve tummy ache every evening. My energy levels have increased greatly. I still get very little sleep thanks to a combination of babies waking up and my own insomnia, but I’m coping with it so much better now. I think I’m less moody, although you’d have to ask Trevor to be totally sure on that one. I definitely feel less moody, and less anxious too. My mental health has definely improved and that was the biggest surprise. I guess there’s some doubt that it’s definitely eating well that has changed it, as it could also be because I quit my medication over Christmas. A friend told me today that she’d been quite concerned about me last year, and that I seem to be in a better place now. That’s good to hear. I’m glad I seem better on the outside too. 

There’s no way I’m going back. 

In fact, I think I’m going to take this further. I think my sugar addiction (I reckon most of us are addicted) is holding me back. Instead of feeling pretty good, I could be feeling amazing! I don’t think I’m ready to quit it all together, but I do plan to be more ‘sugar-aware’. When I eat sugary stuff I don’t notice when I’ve had enough and end up binging. I don’t want to do that anymore. I’ve had the odd bar of vegan chocolate recently, and I’ve been making myself eat it slowly and stop when I’m satisfied. I’ve found that I can leave a half eaten bar in a kitchen cupboard for days and days now. Previously I couldn’t know it was there and not eat it. 

I’m really proud of myself for completing Veganuary, and for sticking with it too. I’ve saved animals, contributed less to global warming, spent far less on food every week, learnt to cook, provided my family with healthier meals than before, lost some weight, improved my health, made big steps in improving my mental health, encouraged a friend to change her ways, and learnt to like myself a bit more. That’s not small stuff. 

A diary of #veganuary – part two 

Friday 27th January 

I’m scoffing down pasta as I type this, completely unable to remember why I ever ate any animal products. A lot of the books I’ve been reading and things I’ve been trying to change since new year are starting to become connected to each other. Before buying or preparing food I’ve been thinking about what ‘sparks joy’ thanks to Marie Kondo and what ‘adds value to my life’ thanks to The Minimalists. I’ve realised that even the foods that do spark joy often only do so for a little while. A huge cheesy pizza is the only non-vegan thing I really fancy (thanks to a table full of it at roller Derby party tonight!) but as much as I always enjoyed pizza, I felt bloated, stuffed, lethargic and guilty soon after eating it. There’s no joy in that. We’re going to make pizza from scratch tomorrow, as the kids love doing that, and I’m going to give it a go with some Violife vegan cheese Trevor picked up for me. However, I know that even if it tastes amazing I’ll feel rubbish after eating it. If it doesn’t work out it’s no biggie. I can live without pizza. I never thought I’d say that. 

Saturday 28th January 

I’ve barely eaten today and I’m not hungry at all. I’m not sure what that’s all about. I don’t mean to skip meals, but I noticed today that I don’t snack constantly anymore and that’s a great thing! 

We did make pizzas this evening. After helping the kids with the dough and toppings, it was about 2 hours into pizza making when I finally got to eat mine. I didn’t really want it. Didn’t fancy it at all. Then the Violife cheese wasn’t all I’d hoped it would be and I couldn’t eat it anyway. I reckon it would have been nicer with just the sauce and vegetable toppings. I didn’t need the cheese at all. Next time I don’t think I’ll bother with it. Whilst the real cheese pizzas were cooking I had no desire at all to give in and eat them. I think I’m over it.  

A diary of #Veganuary – part one 

Sunday 1st January

I’ve woken up today after no sleep at all with horrendous period pain! I think ‘shark week’ is probably going to be my biggest hurdle (hello chocolate!) so I guess it could be a good thing that I’m starting with it. I often lose my appetite when I feel this rough, so I’ve only managed a couple of slices of toast today (with dairy free spread!) and can’t even face having a coffee. Squash and paracetamol are my friends today. 

Despite physically feeling rubbish, I’m excited for the month to come. We took the Christmas decorations down this morning, and it now feels like time to face the new year. I have been vegetarian most of my adult like with a few hiccups, so not eating meat isn’t going to be an issue at all. I don’t like milk, and switched to dairy free milk and butter substitutes quite a long time ago now. I can’t bring myself to eat eggs since having Astrid either. So my only hurdles really are going to be ingredients. Stuff that I eat and drink without worrying about it’s content, like cake and chocolate and alcoholic drinks, will need some thought. 

I want to use this as an opportunity to work on my dreadful eating habits, my health and nutrition, my organisation and my (in)ability to cook. So I’m meal planning. I’ve already planned evening meals for much of next week, and although Trevor and the kids aren’t going vegan with me they will be eating what I cook in the evenings. I think it’s going to have a positive affect on all of us. I’m a little bit worried about Iris who has become a real fussy eater lately and doesn’t have much of an appetite, but only time will tell. Maybe eating better will help her. 

My tummy is too unsettled for lunch today, and I’ll probably have something plain and light for dinner. I’ve just got to hide all of the Christmas chocolate that is lurking all around my house so that it doesn’t tempt me, and do some research into the best dairy free chocolates because I now it’s not something I can quit completely! 

I’m still reading the Mel Wells book, The a Goddess Revolution. It’s about having a healthy relationship with food and your body, and I’m really enjoying it. It very anti-diets, which I think is great. I do need to lose weight but counting calories just sucks all of the fun out of life and I end up rebelling and stuffing my face. 

Monday 2nd January 

It’s been such an easy and awesome second day! I’m not sure why I expected it to be hard really. We’re not shoppers in our house. We don’t do a big weekly shop and we don’t do meal planning. We quite often decide what’s for dinner as Trevor leaves work and he picks it up the way home. It’s disorganised and expensive, and I’m determined to change it. I wrote a big shopping list based on my meal plans for the week, and today while Trevor and the little ones hung out in the park I shopped. I know it’s such a stereotype, but it felt like such a break to go food shopping all by myself. Who needs a spa day, eh? About 90% of what I bought was fresh fruit and veg. I’m trying to minimise the amount of meat and dairy substitutes because they can get expensive, and frankly we could use a lot more fruit and veg in our diet. I did pick up some Oatly oat milk though, because it was on offer and I have wanted to try it for quite a while. I’ve never brought or cooked a fennel bulb before, but today I did both! I made a ‘super-veg’ pasta sauce from an online recipe, while Trevor played with the kids. I really enjoyed cooking (which was unexpected because I’ve always really bloody hated cooking) and the sauce was amazing. I love the lovely fennel flavour, and I feel really good tonight knowing I had more than my 5 a day today, and no animals suffered for a single thing I ate. Including the chocolate I’m currently munching on, guilt free. 

I have, however, discovered a downside! This is a bit tmi, but oh my goodness I am so windy. From reading the Veganuary Facebook group, it seems to be a common reaction to adding so much veg to your diet and thankfully it doesn’t last long. Phew. 

Thursday 5th January 

Wow, I’m really enjoying this! I’ve stuck to our meal plan every evening, and I’m really enjoying cooking. Iris has declared my food ‘disgusting’ a couple of times but she’s going through a phase of fussy eating and is the same with any food, so I’m not too offended. We’ve been eating a lot of pasta, and I’m a bit bored with it, so I need to have a think about alternatives. We’re not home from Breastfeeding Support Group in time to cook much on a Thursday, so tonight we had hoummous and salad wraps. So easy, and even Iris ate some. I’m still pretty windy (tmi, soz!) but I can’t quite believe how much better I feel already. I have so much energy and I’m managing to be pretty organised when normally I’m too tired to even keep up with the dishes. Go me! 

Sunday 8th January

We’re a week in, and I am having the best time! My tummy has settled now, and my craving for sugary stuff have eased off. Cooking from scratch every day is still really enjoyable. I’m utterly amazed by how much better I feel already. I’ve completely banned myself from using the bathroom scales (because I get obsessive and I’ve vowed not to give a crap what the numbers say anymore) but I’d be willing to bet that I’m a few lbs down. My clothes just feel better on. I’m less bloated and have lots more energy. 

There’s a vegan sausage casserole bubbling away in my slow cooker that has been making my house smell incredible and my tummy rumble all day. I’m hoping it’ll get Iris eating because she usually likes stews and casseroles. Fingers crossed. The little ones and Trevor aren’t going vegan with me (they had KFC yesterday!) but they’re having a vegan evening meal every night because I’m doing the cooking. 

I’m not missing anything. An old version of me might have really struggled with cheese, but I went right off it when I was pregnant with Iris and my love of it has never really come back. I like an occasional pizza, so will have to look into vegan cheese for that at some point. Dairy free chocolate or Snowconut ice cream are easing the odd sweet craving, or if I’m out of those I’ll have a vegan hot chocolate made with almond milk. 

I can’t really remember what the point in eating dairy and eggs is. I feel a bit repulsed by the whole idea now. I kind of hope that feeling lasts. 

A diary of January’s happy things – part one 

Tuesday 3rd January 

Today, after owning her scooter for over a year but showing little interest in it, Iris asked to take it out and after a little lesson from me she mastered it! Then on the way home we smashed up an icy puddle which is one of the joys of winter when you’re wild and two! 

Thursday 5th January 

Last night both Iris and Astrid were asleep just after 6pm, and I was pretty convinced that they’d be up again at 10 and stay up half th night after such an early night. Nope. Trevor and I watched several episodes of Grey’s Anatomy (we’ve almost caught up!) and I did loads of my knitting. Astrid woke a couple of times but was back to sleep pretty quickly, and they both slept until 6am! I feel like a new person! Tonight they were both asleep by 7:30. Having some time in the evening is so nice! 

Saturday 7th January 

Today has been pretty good all round really. It began with the little ones waking up at 5:30, but Trevor took them downstairs and left me to go back to sleep. I slept until 9! Lovely! Then once he’d walked the dog, he took them both out for most of the day. I love those two little stinkers so very much, but it’s very rare that I’m not with them. Having a breather and some silence is really soothing, and I needed it badly. I started off the day by trying out the new Zumba DVD Trevor came home with a few weeks ago. It’s got a twenty minute quick workout on it, so I gave that a go. It’s fast and really great fun! I’m not the most coordinated person ever so I doubt I was doing exactly what the instructors were doing, but I gave it my best shot. After a shower and polishing of the leftovers from last night’s super healthy pasta I set to work on decluttering and tidying upstairs. Not the most relaxing way to spend a rare day off, I know, but I am so set in getting this house in order and I know I won’t relax until I do. Trying to do it with the kids around is a hundred times harder, and actually I quite enjoy it. There’s still quite a bit of junk hiding under the bed and in the tops of our wardrobes, but the bits you can see without really looking now look really great! I’m chuffed with my progress! 

When Trevor and the kiddos returned, I had just about finished off what I wanted to get done today. The little ones were both asleep pretty early and I even got some knitting done. I started a jumper for Trevor when I was pregnant with Iris, so over two and a half years ago! I didn’t anticipate knitting being really difficult to do once you have babies, so it sat untouched for a long time. I did have a moment of panic this evening, that almost turned into an outpouring of anxiety about everything and anything. It started with the realisation that I’ve got a hall booked for a party for Astrid next weekend, but I’ve done nothing else to get ready for it. Before I knew it, I was stressed about everything. I, including it here because I managed to successfully get a handle on it, and I’ve come up to bed without getting upset or angry and taking it out in Trevor. It’s a small win, but it’s still a win. I’m writing this in the dark in my lovely reading chair that was piled high with junk this morning, and listening to my girls snore. 

Monday 9th January

Oh. My. Word. Roller derby is just awesome. 

I’ve had a fab day. Roller derby was just the perfect finish to a day spent hanging out with my girls and my mum.