Final goodbye

I had to say goodbye for the final time to a very much loved family member recently. Last Thursday evening I had to say goodbye to my oldest dog Oscar, who was a blue roan cocker spaniel and had reached a mighty age of 15 years last month.

I thought that I’d mention about the loss of Oscar on my blog as I have referred to him a few times before, as well as my other dog Barney who seems to be coping ok at the moment. I picked up Oscar with my father on my 10th birthday, so it was heartbreaking when I had him on my lap to take him to the vets last week. Oscar had lost all of his strength in his legs and couldn’t stand up, and the vet said that it’s probable that he had kidney failure as well.

I grew up with Oscar who was my first dog, and it certainly helped to make me more active. I would take Oscar out for walks with my father after school and work, and also at the weekends. There are so many lovely walks near where I live, as well as some places further afield including the British coast where Oscar loved to run around on the beach and swim in the sea. Oscar was even a traveler and went on holiday with my father and I when we used to go camping around France, Spain and Portugal during the summer holidays.

Oscar didn’t just help to make my family and I more active; he made us realise just how much a dog becomes a part of your family. Dogs have their own unique characteristics and personalities, just like we humans do. Oscar brought a lot of laughter for my family and friends, as well as plenty of love and fond memories.

I made the collage of Oscar below to remember him by, which I might even print off and frame in the house somewhere. Thank you for the good times Oscar, you will be greatly missed. RIP ❤

Oscar ❤

Clare Bear

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Finally figured it out…

This is a little embarrassing to admit but after being a member of my local gym for just over two years, I’ve only just figured out what one of the readings on a cardio machine stands for. Each time I’ve been on the cross trainer for an intense cardio workout I’ve tried to figure out the reading which shows the intensity level you are at. I’ll explain with the photo bel0w of my result at the gym this morning:

So I completed a 3km workout on the cross trainer, which is shown on the goal setting, in 48 minutes and 59 seconds.  I understand that the graph like reading below the goal indicates the effort/intensity level, so the bar moves up or down accordingly when I increase or lower the intensity.

What’s been puzzling me for a long time now is when the bar moves onto the next column in the graph like reading. I wasn’t sure when the bar would move onto the next column and thought it was to do with the time, but that didn’t seem to correlate with the workout. It seems glaringly obvious now, but the bar moves onto the next column once I have completed 0.25km. There are 12 columns in total on the reading, so 0.25km x 12= 3km.

Now that I know how the reading works, I focused on an intensity level for each 1/4km, aiming to complete each 1/4km in 4 minutes. This works out at 1km in 16 minutes, which is hard to do when I varied the intensity levels and tried to keep up the same speed as well. Of course this made an excellent intense workout as I was trying to aim for 48 minutes.

As you can see I didn’t quite make it to 48 minutes, but I very nearly completed 3km in 49 minutes. This was due to the fact that I attempted my highest intensity level so far, which is level 16. I tried to keep up the speed to between 126-134 spins per minute, but it took some getting used to at first. There are 25 intensity levels on the cross trainer I like to use at the gym, so maybe I could work my way up. I have more muscles in my thighs than ever due to training for my first half marathon, so this cardio intense exercise is great for working out my legs and higher intensity levels will push me to see how far I can go on the cross trainer.

Now that I’ve figured out how the reading works for 3km, I can work it out for other distances. For example, if I was to complete 2km on the cross trainer, the bar would move to the next column after 0.16 recurring, so probably rounded up to 0.17km. And if I was to go even further and complete 4km, it would be 0.33 recurring, so the bar would probably move onto the next column on the graph after each 0.33km. With these sorts of awkward figures that aren’t as clean cut as 0.25km, I don’t know how it would work on the cross trainer, so I could give it a try to see what happens.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Update #21

As with my previous update, I mostly focused on fitness on my blog since I was preparing myself for my first half marathon, which I successfully ran on Sunday 15th October at the Leicester Marathon.

After finishing my first half marathon

It has almost been three weeks since I completed my toughest physical challenge so far, and I’m still buzzing about it now! The atmosphere was electric and it was amazing to see so many people running for different causes and charities. I enjoyed the experience so much that I am tempted to sign up for another half marathon on Sunday 11th February 2018. Starting at Prestwold Hall in Loughborough, this will be the first ever Leicestershire Half Marathon, so it would be exciting to run at a new event.

After reflecting on my first half marathon, I have decided not to opt for the full 26 miles. I consider myself to be fit enough to run a half marathon but I would need to be much fitter to run the distance of a full marathon. I found 13 miles hard enough to do and the Leicester Marathon was certainly my hardest challenge yet. For the meantime I would like to focus on improving my time of 2 hours and 47 minutes, which is what it took me to run 13 miles almost three weeks ago.

I am also considering participating in shorter runs, such as the Charity Santa Fun Run in a village called Broughton Astley. Taking place on Sunday 3rd December, there is the option to run 3km or 5km dressed up as Santa Claus! I am very tempted to have a go at this for fun, as well as getting in the Christmas spirit (even though it’s before my birthday, which is on the 7th December!). I would opt for the 5km option, and it would be nice to have a run somewhere new.

It had been a while since I wrote a feminist blog, but I managed to post one last month about the negative stigmas associated with women, including periods and body hair. The blog explores how the negative impact of these issues affect women, and how we are also starting to gradually talk more about it.

I’d like to get back into parkruns, as it has been almost five months since I last ran a parkrun! Training for the half marathon means that I have been focusing on running longer distances, but 5km is a nice distance to run. Plus there are people I haven’t seen for a long time who make up the friendly community of the Braunstone parkrun.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Let’s talk about…

You’ll be glad to know that I have fully recovered from running my first half marathon! I haven’t done any intense exercise or been to the gym since running the half marathon, but I will be aiming for a regular exercise routine soon and getting myself back down to the gym.

I haven’t written a feminist piece for a while, so I decided to write a piece about subjects which are traditionally taboo, after watching an advert for sanitary towels.

I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline and saw an advert from Bodyform, which is not unusual, although this advert was different from any I’ve ever seen for women’s menstrual products. Traditionally adverts demonstrate the absorbency of period pads and liners by using a blue liquid however, I saw a red liquid! The advert also shows a man buying a packet of Bodyform sanitary pads, and a woman in the shower with blood running down her thigh.

New Bodyform advert showing period blood

For an area which is a taboo and has a negative stigma, I think it’s a great step forward that Bodyform has produced the first ever advert to show the absorbency of its pads with a red liquid, rather than an unrealistic blue one. For something natural to happen which shows signs that a woman is fertile, society is just great at making women feel ashamed about it.

The notion of blood coming out of a woman’s vagina on a monthly occurrence seems to be uncomfortable for many people. I’ve seen men squirm when other people talk about periods, and yet we see blood on almost a daily basis, on the news, in TV series and films. We have become desensitized towards the presence of blood on screen, but some can’t stand the thought of a natural bodily function?

Another area which I myself have felt embarrassed to talk about is thigh chafing. I am thrilled that society is starting to become more accepting of different body shapes with less of a focus on women trying to be as thin as possible and have a thigh gap, but I feel that thigh chafing is not talked about much.

As a child I used to suffer from eczema quite badly between my legs, which made it difficult for me to walk comfortably. While I don’t suffer from this anymore, I do experience chafing between my thighs. I have large thighs which means no thigh gap, so if I wear dresses or skirts I always opt for tights or leggings. When I finally achieved the confidence to not wear tights or leggings (I used to feel ashamed if I had my legs on show), I would apply talcum powder between my legs but unfortunately the effects of this didn’t last for long, so I would end up with red raw thighs. The summer of course is the worst season for chafing.

However, I recently saw, also on Facebook, an advert for garter bands. These bands are worn around the upper thighs which help to prevent chafing. As soon as I saw them I thought to myself, that’s such a great idea! The advert shows women wearing them underneath their dresses and skirts. The bands are discrete and offer a comfortable solution for women who want to free their beautiful legs without the dreaded issue of chafing.

Cute garter bands to help prevent chafing

I became aware of gels and lotions earlier this year to help prevent chafing, but the garter bands look adorable and help to make women feel great! I don’t know how long they have been available for, but they will certainly open up the eyes of people who don’t talk about or avoid talking about thigh chafing.

While I’m on the subject of legs, another area which I feel is not talked about much, even though it’s advertised on a daily basis, is hair removal.

It has always irritated me that adverts for hair removal show women using a razor on a hairless leg or armpit… if you really want to show how effective a product is, have a woman shaving or waxing a leg with hair on. There are adverts of men removing facial hair which is actually on their faces; we don’t have adverts of men shaving a hairless face, so why don’t we have adverts of women removing leg hair? Is it because there are people who are disgusted at the thought of women having body hair in certain places, just like they are disgusted with periods, that they don’t want to see it on TV?

A classic meme about removing body hair

The issues I have focused on in this blog are associated with women’s bodies, since the female body has long been a controversy and subject to criticism, as well as denial. I know that there are issues men face which society doesn’t talk about, such as the issue of toxic masculinity and men’s mental health. Overall I believe that people are generally getting better at discussing issues related with both sexes, although I feel that the taboos are still ever looming. The more we talk about these issues, the more normal they will become and the more accepting people will be.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear

My first half marathon

I did it!!! I ran my first half marathon yesterday in 2 hours and 47 minutes!

After running 13 miles!

The whole experience from arriving at Victoria Park in Leicester where the race started, to crossing the finish line was incredible. I have to say that I felt a little overwhelmed by the end of the half marathon. I even cried a little when I went to give my sister a sweaty hug after crossing the finish line.

I arrived in plenty of time for a 9:15am start (I had to go to the toilet three times due to nervousness!). It was amazing to see so many people wearing different t-shirts showing the cause that they were running for, including Macmillan, Cancer Research, LOROS and Marie Curie. I saw a few people wearing local air ambulance t-shirts as well. I could’ve worn one, but I’m raising money for the Association of Air Ambulances so it’s for all air ambulance charities across the UK. In the end I borrowed one of my dad’s t-shirts, as I only have t-shirts from previous runs, including Race for Life, The Colour Run and The Resolution Run.

It was when I lined up at the start along with thousands of runners that reality hit me. Waiting for the runners ahead to start moving made me think about how I had never imagined in my life that I would be running 13 miles. Being placed in low ability classes for physical education while I was at school purely based on my physique and experiencing bullying for being fat meant that I never thought I could participate in something physically challenging.

Waiting to start

 

The start of the Leicester Marathon saw runners making their way downhill on a road called London Road, where cars and buses normally drive. It felt incredible seeing a sea of runners making their way on the route. I found it strange running along an A road north of Leicester, where one lane was closed off for runners. It felt quite nice when you felt the breeze from a car or lorry as they drove past the runners.

I made sure to keep to my own pace for the entire route. I sped up when I felt comfortable and made sure to take steeper inclines steadily. I hadn’t practiced any parts of the route so I didn’t know when to expect slopes and steeper gradients.

I enjoyed the route, which took runners through the city centre, up the ‘Golden Mile’ (aka Melton Road), through Thurmaston, then around the lovely Watermead Park, through Birstall, then through Abbey Park, past the National Space Centre and Abbey Pumping Station, then back through the city centre and back up the New Walk to the finish line back at Victoria Park.

What made the route even more enjoyable was the amount of spectators and supporters who cheered all of the runners on. It really helped to keep my momentum going; it was adorable when young children gave runners high fives as they ran past. Some people even offered sweets and small snacks as runners went by. I felt a great sense of community spirit during the route, which made me feel proud to be running my first half marathon at the Leicester marathon, my hometown.

I ran for the entire 13 miles except for towards the end, probably the last 1/2 mile up the New Walk, when it was a gradual slope all the way back up. I  had to walk up but a spectator urged me to run as I reached the top of the hill, and so I sprinted the final bit towards the finish line. I heard my name being called out and I jumped across the finish line in victory!

The t-shirt and medal I got at the end

It felt great to receive a medal at the end, as well as a t-shirt, a banana, a bottle of water, a flapjack, a small bag of sweets and a bag of crisps. I had to catch my breath as I felt a bit breathless, which was probably due to sprinting across the finish line when I felt tired already. I also felt a bit funny and sick, so I found a bench to sit down with my sister. I felt much better after drinking a lot of water and eating my flapjack and sweets.

I couldn’t help but cry when I saw my sister. I think it was due to the fact that I couldn’t believe that I had just ran my first half marathon. I felt like that I had overcome some of the challenges that I’ve faced in my life so far, such as bullying, body image, self-belief and self-confidence. I was shattered for the rest of the day, so I had a lovely Radox bath as soon as I got back home, my sister and brother in law cooked a lamb roast dinner and then I had nearly 12 hours of sleep!

I’m a little achy today but I feel very accomplished, which is a fantastic feeling. At this stage I don’t think that I could run a full marathon just yet. I would need a lot more training, but I am tempted to run another half marathon to try and beat my current time.

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Final preparations

*drum roll*

At 9:15am tomorrow I will be running my first half marathon!!!

It was six months ago when I signed up to run at the Leicester Marathon, and now the day has finally come around. I’m feeling nervous and excited tonight, but I’m mostly trying to keep my cool. I ran the distance of a half marathon two weeks ago so I know that I can do this.

For dinner I made myself some pasta in a tomato sauce with chicken breast, white kidney beans, mushrooms and mixed herbs for extra flavour, topped with some grated cheese. My father recommended to have some chicken with dinner since it is a good source of protein. I also added the kidney beans for extra protein and fibre. The pasta is a good source of carbohydrates, just what I need for a 13 mile run.

Chicken and tomato pasta

Tomorrow morning I will either have an omelette or Belvita biscuits and a banana for breakfast. I will be leaving out quite early for the half marathon, so the food will have time to settle in my stomach before I start running. Apparently I get a banana at the finish line so that’ll be a nice treat at the end.

I am aiming to have an early night tonight so that I am well rested. I know that I’ve already said this many times, but I still can’t quite believe that this day has come round so quickly.

I will post either tomorrow evening or on Monday how I get on in my first ever half marathon!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

5 days to go!

It’s the final countdown to the big day, when I run my very first half marathon! This Sunday I will be running at the Leicester marathon along with thousands of other runners who are either doing the same route as me, or are going for the full marathon!

I’m feeling rather nervous now, but excited at the same time. I definitely feel a lot more prepared than last year, as I was planning on running a half marathon last year but I didn’t train enough, so I decided it was for the best not to run it.

Only 5 days to go!

I managed to run the distance of half marathon recently for my training, which went really well. I haven’t been for a run since, but I have been walking to work and made it to the gym last week. My plan for the next few days is to go to the gym and/or go out for a 10km run. I don’t want to work out too much in case of causing an injury, and I want to feel comfortable and ready for Sunday.

I’m very pleased with how fundraising is going so far for the Association of Air Ambulances. My mother walked a total of 83,650 steps last week, as she is walking 10,000 steps a day for the same charity. We’ve both raised over £500 so far and are aiming for £10,000. If you w0uld like to sponsor us, you can do so through our Just Giving page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/clare-abbott6.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂