57 days to go

The date is looming nearer and it’s starting to feel pretty surreal. In 57 days’ time I will be running a half marathon at the Leicester Marathon (on Sunday 15th October). I try to think to myself that just under two months’ time sounds better than 57 days, but whatever way I phrase the amount of time I have left, it’s making me feel pretty nervous now! How about eight weekends to go until the half marathon? That sounds even more frightening!

I haven’t ran the distance of a half marathon yet. I’ve made it to 18km so far, which is 3km shy of a half marathon. Ideally I’d like to run the distance of a half marathon at least once before the big day.

Rather than going out for a long run I went to the gym this morning, after taking the dogs for a walk, and completed an intense 3km workout on the cross trainer. I felt pretty good afterwards, as I was varying the intensity levels while maintaining an average speed of 130 spins per minute. I completed 3km in just over 48 minutes, which is just over 16 minutes per kilometre. I always like to see the amount of calories burnt, even if it is just an estimate based on your age and weight, as well as your heart rate which is measured by sensors on the cross trainer which you place your hands on.

Result on the cross trainer

Even though I’ve not been getting down to the gym or running as often as I’d like to, I still keep myself active during the working week. Since my parents have been away I’ve been taking the dogs for an early morning 20-30 minute walk and then I walk to work, which is just shy of 2 1/2 miles and takes me about 45 minutes. A few nights after work I’ve took the dogs out for another walk, especially when the weather has been nice.

After the gym this morning- what’s happened to my hair?!

Ideally next Saturday is my next opportunity to go out for a long distance run. I’d like to run 18km again since my attempt last week didn’t go as according to plan. I have a half marathon route planned, which I actually did last year when I was supposed to run one.

My half marathon route for training

While I do feel nervous, I’m also in a position where I believe that I can complete this challenge. I am not aiming for a time, but I’d like to complete the half marathon in no more more 2 and 1/2 hours. I think that’s a reasonable target, since this will be the first time that I have ever ran this far, which I never had previously imagined before!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

 

The Wall

With just over two months to go until the half marathon, I was aiming to run 18km for the second time this morning. After taking the dogs out for a walk I geared myself up with my running shoes, headphones and water, and felt ready to complete this long distance run.

Unfortunately my run didn’t go quite as I had planned today. I felt fine at first, going along the same route I did recently when running 18km for the first time. Just as I was reaching the half way point I was feeling tired. My legs were aching slightly, and upper back started to as well, which is a first for me. I walked for a bit then started running again at a gentle pace and then gradually speeding up. However, I couldn’t keep running for very long before I had to stop and walk again.

I was struggling to keep on running and when I reached the 10km mark, I was tempted to call it a day as this point is very close to home. I decided to carry on though, maintaining a steady pace. Part of me wished that I did stop at 10km, as my right calf was starting to twinge after about the 12km point.

I persevered for a while, gently running along but then I finally decided to do some brisk walking instead.  I didn’t want to cause any damage to my calf, such as pulling a muscle. In the end I reached the 15km point of my planned 18km route, and finished in about 1 hour and 50 minutes.

Part of me wonders if I experienced today what runners call the Wall. In the comedy film Run Fatboy Run, there is a scene where the main character (played by Simon Pegg) reaches a point while running a marathon where he feels that he can’t continue running. He’s exhausted and just wants to give up (although he does have an injury at this point as well, but in real life he wouldn’t have been able to finish the marathon). Despite this he manages to ‘break the wall’ and he finishes the marathon!

 

The Wall scene in Run Fatboy Run

It is explained in the film that runners training for a long distance race can hit the Wall at any point. I must admit, I did feel like giving up when I reached the 10km point. My legs were hurting and I felt tired, but I carried on until realising that it was for the best that I stopped running any further before causing damage to myself.

I guess that this was the first time that I hit the Wall today. Even though I didn’t want to give up after I carried on when I could’ve stopped, I was struggling to carry on. I will take this experience today as a part of my training, and that with more running planned for the next few months, I am sure that I will be able to ‘beat the wall’ and complete the challenge of running my first half marathon in October!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Un séjour en france

It was 10 years ago last month when I went camping abroad for the first time with my father. We went away to France for three weeks, travelling down to southern Brittany and then to a resort called Saint-Hilaire-De-Riez, further down on the west coast. The following years saw delightful summers away in France, exploring more of the beautiful French coast and eventually venturing further afield into Spain, and even making it to the west coast of Portugal.

While I don’t have the time off during the summer that I used to, I join my father for a week or two while he is away (he works as a teacher, hence why he goes away during the summer holidays). This year he is staying in a house with my mother for a month in a French town called Cancale in northern Brittany, which is renowned for oysters. I went out with them on a ferry to Calais and we drove down to Cancale. I had been to Cancale and all of the other nearby towns before on previous holidays, so it was nice to be back in one of my favourite parts of France for a 12 day break.

A view of Cancale from the top of a hill

 

There is a market on Sundays in Cancale, so on our first day we explored the market and walked down to the seafront where people were eating oysters fresh from the sea. I tried oysters for the first time last year when I went to Guernsey and I wasn’t a fan. I tried them again this year… I’m still not a fan.

Oysters fresh out of the sea

My mother hadn’t been to this part of France before, so while I was away my father and I took her to our favourite places, including some beautiful French towns called St-Malo, Dinard and Dinan. We also had some friends who stayed with us so they joined us as we explored around the local area.

While most of my holiday was spent travelling around I also had the chance to relax and recharge my batteries. We had one day at a nearby beach where we could take our dog Barney and the weather was beautiful. I had several swims in the sea and topped up my tan. We also saw a dolphin in the distance which was pretty cool!

A beautiful day at the beach

The day after relaxing at the beach my mother and I drove to Le Mont St-Michel, which you can see in the distance from Cancale. I had been to this fascinating place as well, but I was excited to go back as I got to show my mother around. It’s a bit manic as Le Mont St-Michel is very popular with tourists. It’s also a good workout because once you enter the citadel, you have to go up a steep hill and a lot of steps to reach the abbey at the top.

I hadn’t been in the abbey before, so it was exciting to look around an attraction that was new to me. The views from the top were stunning and I could just see Cancale in the distance. The tide is very strong in this part of France and the sea on the day I went was very far out. Quite a few people walked around the outside of the citadel on the sand, which I had done before when visiting Le Mont St-Michel in the past.

Le Mont St-Michel

I drank quite a bit of wine and ruby beer, which is fruit flavoured and red coloured beer. I also had a lot of treats including Breton sausage in a crepe, Breton tart (light custard tart with prunes) and the classic French custard tart which is my absolute favourite French treat. My father made a beef bourguignon which was delicious, and we had quite a few BBQs as well.

I don’t know where my 12 days away went- they’ve just flown by! I went to France by ferry and came back to England by plane on Thursday. I flew from the airport in Dinard, which is the smallest one I have ever been to. There is only one departure lounge and the runway is rather short. At least you can’t get lost in the airport!

My parents are in France for another two weeks and they have more friends joining them. I’m sure that they’ll enjoy the rest of their holiday. In the meantime I am house sitting, back at work and will soon resume my training for the half marathon on the 15th October!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Body image and health

I’ve always been a supporter of positive body image. Everyone should embrace their own body without having to feel that they must conform to the masses. Everyone should feel comfortable in their own skin.

It’s quite a common occurrence now to see ‘plus size’ models being portrayed as loving their own bodies, especially on Instagram. When I was growing up all I saw in the media was, what I used to call, ‘stick thin’ women which most girls wanted to be like. Dieting was an important issue for young girls while I was at secondary school, when we were just aged between 10-14 years old.

I consider myself plus size and I had the confidence for the first time in my life to wear a bikini last year when I went to Spain for a short break. I felt fabulous and I plan to wear it again soon when I head over to France on holiday this Saturday.

In Spain last year

 

What initiated me to write this blog is when I read an interesting article the other day while I was browsing my Facebook feed. While the article supported body image, it was very frank about how the UK is facing an obesity crisis, and that people are not looking after their health how they should be.

We all know how to eat healthily, but it can be very challenging. It can be a struggle for me, as I have a sweet tooth and probably eat more food than I really need to. I am also on a never ending journey of trying to lose body weight, which I’m finding difficult for various reasons, but it’s probably mostly due to lack of motivation in this area.

The article then went on to suggest that even though it is good that people are becoming more body positive, they are doing so at the expense of their own health, e.g. models who are very/extremely overweight but are not attempting to lose weight.

We also all know that being overweight carries a lot of health issues, including high blood pressure, an increased risk of heart attacks and diabetes. It’s also a big cost for the NHS in the UK; medication to help with diabetes is on the rise as well as the amount of people having heart attacks due to being overweight.

However, there is still this increase in positivity towards larger people who are models or those who have the confidence to wear clothing which was once deemed only suitable for ‘thinner’ people.

After reading the article I must admit I found it hard to comprehend and get my head around at first. I support people who have the confidence to wear what they want, especially larger people since I class myself as ‘large’, but I also support those who are working hard to lose body weight. I guess it’s because I support people in how they want to embrace themselves and if they want to change their body to make themselves happier, then I support that too.

I am also a big supporter of the NHS and I think that a lot of money could be saved if people did look after themselves more, such as taking up exercise and eating healthily, since these would decrease the risk of heart attacks and other diseases related to being overweight/obese.

Another interesting point raised from the article is what constitutes being healthy. We are all different shapes and sizes. For example, there are some larger people who eat healthily and exercise, while on the other hand there are some thinner people who do not eat healthy food and rarely exercise. Of course I’m generalising here, but they serve as examples that we are diverse and everyone’s bodies are different.

Not all larger people are unhealthy and unfit. I know that I’m overweight, but I consider myself fitter than I ever have been in my life. I ran 18km the other day and then stuffed my face with birthday cake later on to satisfy my sweet tooth.

The article does raise some good points, I’m annoyed at myself that I can’t find it now as it was an interesting read. It certainly made me think about myself and my opinions on body image and health. I don’t really know how to conclude, but I do agree that while we all should be body positive, we need to look after our health as well.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear

18km round #1

In three months’ time I will be running the half marathon in Leicester! I can’t quite believe how fast the time is going by, but my training is in full swing and I ran 18km for the first time today.

I was going to have a lie in this morning but my body clock woke me up at 7am, so I decided to go out for a long distance run. While the weather was a bit muggy at first (it rained later on), it was quiet which was ideal for running. There were a few runners, some cyclists and dog walkers out and about, but it’s much easier to go for a run in the early morning rather than later when more people are about.

Before 18km

Before going out I planned my route and decided to go for 18km (my next step from 15km was originally 17.5km). Once I passed the 15km mark I was entering into unknown territory, as in I had never ran further than 15km before. It felt exciting when I passed the 15km mark, even though my legs were taking their toll at this stage.

Luckily I felt no pain in my shins today, although my right hip was hurting slightly. It seems that I experience mild pain in different areas of my body in long distance running, but I guess that my body is still getting accustomed to it. I carried on and slowed down when necessary. I had to walk a bit after the 16km mark as there were some steep inclines, but then I ran the rest of the distance to reach 18km.

I forgot to set the timer on my iPod, but I ran 18km in about 2 hours. I’m very pleased with this, as I was expecting the time to be a bit longer. I’ve averaged 15km in about 1 hour and 43 minutes, so I’m thrilled with my estimated time today. The first 10km of the route is what I’ve ran when practicing for the Race for Life, so I’m very accustomed to this route and this probably helped with my time.

After 18km 😛

I probably won’t get to run 18km again now until August as I’m off to France for 12 days next Saturday, but I am so glad that I’ve achieved the next step of my training. Once I’m back from France I will run 18km again, maybe even a few times so that I become accustomed to that distance. Then the final step of my training will be 21km, the distance of a half marathon!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Race reflection

Today the Race for Life took place in Leicester- I hope that everyone who participated had a great time and enjoyed the experience of walking, running or dancing alongside hundreds of women who all support a worthy cause, Cancer Research UK.

I decided not to do the Race for Life this year. You may remember that last year one of my aims was to run a half marathon, but I focused too much on training to run 10km as quickly as possible. I did manage to beat the time of my first 10km Race for Life, which was 1 hour 12 minutes. Last year I completed my second 10km Race of Life in 1 hour and 4 minutes, which I thought was a great improvement.

How I was after last year’s Race for Life

 

By the time I had got round to running further than 10km last year, I was struggling and I decided that three months of training wouldn’t be enough time to run 21km/13 miles.

One year on, and I am now accustomed to running 15km. I have just over three months left until the half marathon in Leicester and I feel more comfortable about achieving this than I was last year.

Ideally I’d like to run 21km at least once before the 15th October. The next stage of my training is to run 17.5km, although I am tempted to push this to 18km, maybe even 19km. When planning my route I’ll see how I can extend my 15km routes.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Update #18

My blog has been on the quiet side recently. In fact, I only wrote 3 blogs last month: my previous update, one about my current situation and the other about my third attempt at 15km.

While my blog has been a little inactive, I got up to some fun things in June, which I thought would be nice to mention about for a change.

On the 9th June I went to see a stage version of Willy Russell’s play Shirley Valentine in Coventry with my parents. We’re all big fans of the film version and we admire Russell’s works (Blood Brothers is my favourite musical!). The production was really good and it was fascinating that Russell wrote the play with only one character on stage: Shirley Valentine.

The following weekend I went on a small trip to the National Justice Museum in Nottingham. It was an educational day out where I learnt about the history of the judicial system in Nottingham. There was also some history about women’s campaigning for the right to vote during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. I liked the artwork that I saw below:

National Justice Museum, Nottingham

I also had a go at putting my head in the stocks, which was harder than I thought it would be (I have a big head!).

What crime did I commit?! 😛

The weekend after Nottingham I went to Skegness for the day with one of my best friends. It was my first time driving over 200 miles in one day, which I actually enjoyed as the route was nice with pleasant views. We got up to all sorts including shopping, walking on the beach, a game of pirate crazy golf, trying our luck on the 2p machines and eating ice cream and fish and chips, although the fish I had was more like a whale!

A huge portion of fish and chips!

The weekend just gone was a very social one- my parents held a surprise birthday party for two friends who have recently turned 65. My father cooked on the BBQ and we had lots of scrumptious food over the weekend. Yesterday I ended up going to an afternoon tea with my mother, which was delicious (and a sugar overload!).

Yet another afternoon tea

My blog will probably be similar to last month, but I will try to post some content for the next few weeks. I have some more exciting stuff coming up this month. I’m off to France for two weeks for a much needed break on the 22nd July, which I can’t wait for. I will definitely write a blog about my fortnight away in France.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂