Sunday, 24 June 2012

20 minutes

I completed W5D3 on Friday evening.  I'm not someone who is creative or good with words, I'm more the type of person to get to the point.  The point is this time is that I can't even put into words how I felt when I finished W5D3 of the C25k programme on Friday.

The nice digital coach told me that 'today, you will run only once.  This is the first continuous run, 20 minutes.  If you are finding it difficult you may slow down, but do not stop.  I'll let you know each time you have completed 5 minutes.  Remember, do not stop'.  Ha, I thought, we'll see.  And I did.  I managed it and without stopping once.  I've found that I run better when I don't think about it too much.  I started getting my old friend, the Stitch only after about a minute of running and instead of worrying about it, I tried to tune out.  I can manage the stitch more or less now (although I would love to run without one!!) and I was delighted when the coach told m i'd been running for 5 minutes, 10 minutes.....ok, now I'm in unknown waters.  At this point I really zoned out.  I concentrated on my ipod. (I've recently found and if you don't know it, go look now.  You can get free running playlists which are excellent and can be 100% free if you don't need many playlists.  You get a free one every month or you can buy extra ones if you need to.)  Anyway, I was concentrating on my ipod.  The last 5 minutes, I felt a lot more, but I kept going.  When the coach told me I only had one minute left my first thought was 'oh thank god' swiftly followed by 'frigging hell, I'm going to do it!!!'

I didn't stop once and I ran the whole 20 minutes. I'm not ashamed to say that I teared up during that last minute.  The feeling was incredible.  I never in a million years thought 6 weeks ago I'd be able to run for 20 minutes without stopping!  Even when I did a 5k race 8 years ago, I don't remember being able to run for 20 minutes without stopping.  I know I definitely wasn't nearly as motivated as I am today.  I need this.  I need this for me.  Me time, Me conquering the unthinkable, Me pushing my limits.  And it feels incredible.


I know I'm taking baby steps, but this running thing is addictive.  I'm already looking forward to going out tomorrow to start W6 on the programme and I've started to look for a race to sign up to in France or the UK.

I was told by a neighbour who I only met for the first time this weekend that I was 'une grande sportive' (really sporty).  I thought to myself, if only she knew.  Everyone in my (relatively) new neighbourhood knows me as the girl that runs.  Today, that just suits me fine.

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Big Week 5 with or without nike+ sensor

One thing I've done until now is not look ahead of the couch-to-5km programme and see how far I would be expected to run in the coming weeks.  At the weekend though my curiosity got the better of me and now I wish I hadn't looked!!  At the end of this week I'll (attempt to) do a 20 minutes run straight.  For an idea, last week I was on run 5 minutes, walk 1.5, run 3, walk 2.5 repeat.  How can I be expected to make the leap to running 20 minutes straight?  I spent a long time on the C25k FB page this weekend and a lot of people say it's their best day of the programme and just to trust the programme.  Well see.  I'm still struggling with side stitches, I know, I'm starting to bore myself with this too, but it's still sooooo annoying.  How will I cope for 20 minutes on Friday when I get them only after 4 minutes of jogging??  I can now pretty much control the pain so I guess I improving but running in discomfort, is well, difficult.  As a last ditch attempt to improve things (before I go to the Drs!!), I've started doing ab workouts daily (since Friday ha) to try to improve my core stability.  We'll see if it helps, today it didn't really but it has only been 3 days and my abs are sooo sore at the moment.


Talking of today's run, 3 x 5 minute runs with 3 minute walking breaks in between.  The helpful digital coach told me my endurance was improving!  hehe!  I was so disappointed to find out when I got home that my nike+ sensor hadn't worked so I couldn't see how I'd done with speed or distance.  It said I'd run for 34minutes but only covered 0.01km.  I was very disappointed by this but I know in my own mind that I did well and didn't have to stop once during my runs!  I would have liked the techie info though.  Fingers crossed it was a one off.  I run in heavy rain last Friday (I never thought that would be a sentence I would write, ever in my life!!) and my ipod has been playing up too since then.  I hope the rain didn't kill the ,ike+ sensor off as well as my ipod touch!

Have you ever been let down by your nike+ sensor?  How did you cope?  Did it reoccur?  Please tell me that there's still life left in it!  Oh and my poor ipod touch.  I think I'd need counselling if that went to techie heaven in the sky......

Saturday, 16 June 2012


You've probably noticed that I don't like posting up photos of myself.  It's a conscious decision to protect myself from my past but it is difficult to maintain especially when I'd like to share things with you.

I've broke this rule for today so that I can share the photograph that was taken of me by the official 'paparazzi' at our recent concert.  I'm so pleased this was taken.  I didn't know at the time and all the photos that my FIL took turned out blurry!  ha.  So, this is a special photo for me.  It represents lots of things.  The amazing experience it was to participate in the Gospel Challenge, the fun and laughter that we shared as a group and most importantly what doing a solo meant to me.

I'm really not an amazing singer.  It's my passion to sing in choirs.  I love how it makes me feel, the teamwork, the 'all for one and one for all' attitude that overrides but I'm not one to want to stand out in the crowd in any circumstance at all.  I was pleased when I was asked to do a solo.  Thrilled in fact, but also terrified!  It's never been on my 'to do' list but I thought it was THE opportunity to push myself and jump out of my comfort zone.  This year is all about that for me.  Getting out there, doing new things for me.

So, here it is, proof that I did it.  That we managed to learn 12 songs in 10 weeks of rehearsals and put on a concert that got a standing ovation.  That I put myself out there and got a hell of a lot out of it.  

Sunday, 10 June 2012

One month C25k recap

I've been doing the Couch-to-5k training for a month now so I thought I'd note down a few of my observations.  I've actually only completed 3 weeks of the course and not 4 as I should have because in the 3rd week I had my concert and missed a day's run so decided to do week 3 again.

1.  I've lost 3 kgs!  Not bad going for someone who isn't really overweight!  I'm a pear shape - my top half is a UK size 10 whilst my bottom half is a size 12 and I was edging toward a 14...  I'm hoping I may lose some of my saddle bags on my thighs but no luck yet.  I seem to have lost weight on my face, my upper arms (my ipod armband is now a bit loose even on it's tightest) and my bum.

2.  My cellulite has improved a lot!  I've always had loads of the stuff, but running three times a week for 30 minutes seems to be shifting it.

3.  My skin is so much softer than before.  I'm trying to drink 1,5 litres of water a day and whilst it as easy at the beginning, my intake has decreased a lot last week - must try to keep it up.

4.  I'm not getting headaches like I used to.  I'm very prone to them, I often wake up with them and they're there ALL day, even when I'm dosed up on paracetamol AND ibuprofen.  I still get them, but less often.

5.  My mood on the days I run are so much better than on the days that I don't run.  Even J has started to ask 'uurm, are you running tonight?' in the hope that my grumpiness on said day will disappear once I've gone out.  It's true, I feel invincible when I get back in!  Full of energy, vitalised, wide awake and ready for anything.  Running does improve my mood.  Fact.

6.  The next day though it is so hard to get out of bed!!  I'm exhausted the morning after. haha

7.  I'm still getting my side stitches with greater or lesser effect.  There have been a couple of times that I didn't get one at all and flew through the workout.  Other times I have to stop, bend over, breathe deeply, exhale on left footstep, stretch to the side.....and off I go again.  I manage them much better than before but it's still so annoying.  I'm physically coping with the runs - my legs are ok, not too out of breathe, but when the stitch comes, I'm crippled.   I went through the stage where I was scared to start running in fear of the pain of the stitch.  I'm over that now and when I feel it coming on, i try to concentrate on breathing and footstriking Sometimes it helps, sometimes not. 

8.  Although I still get stitches, I realised (only on Friday!!) that my pace has increased somewhat too over the last month.  I have found the nike+ sensor to be really useful and motivating.  Nike has just changed their site this week and the information on your runs is even better than before. During my first runs, I was maxing at 9,30minutes/km and now I'm up to (down to) 7,30minutes/km.  This is still really slow, but I'm improving each run and without even realising it!  *nike+ graph geek*  This may also have something to do with why I am still getting stitches.  Maybe my body is getting used to my pace, and then I go and speed up again.  If anyone has any ideas, please share.

9.  On Friday, I had my first experience of *needing* to run.  Believe me, even I was shocked!!  me, feeling a need to get out there and pound the road?!  definitely a first for me.  I'd had an awful day at work, really an awful day.  I got home, threw my running gear on, notched up the volume on my week 3 running playlist on my ipod and went out.  Unfortunately the stitch came on strongly and I was so annoyed and didn't want to stop at all so I screamed out loud and started shouting at myself in drench and English to keep going.  Luckily no 'beautiful people' were overtaking me at this time but I don't think it would have made a difference - I still would have screamed out.  I got through the day's course just about, I had to stop for my stitch once but only briefly.  Mind over matter won on Friday.  I got home, exhausted and promptly fell asleep on the couch for 20 mins.  I can't say that it was a great run, or a great running experience.  It was raw, and I needed it to be raw after the week I'd just had at work.  It taught me a lot about my perseverance and most importantly, how much I want this.  My motivation to get fit is quite incredible.  I can't say it will always be like this, but hell, I'm loving the here and now.


Sunday, 3 June 2012

One to remember, for a very long time

This week has been enormous for me, in all aspects.  Work has been crazy busy recently and this week was the apex of the workload that I was not looking forward to.  In parallel, this week has seen the end of the greatest thing I have been apart of in France, and quite possibly, ever.  This week was the last week of the Gospel Challenge and our concert.

Wednesday we went into the town centre to sing in the street to drum up some interest in the concert.  It was a mixed bag - we sang well in front of the bar terraces and absolutely terribly outside the restaurant terraces.  We left on a low note, and I was pretty disappointed.  How were we going to pull off a concert in front of 400 people if 3 day before we were terrible?

Thursday night was our last rehearsal and it was like night and day.  There was a moment where we were going through a song that was so strong in emotion that I honestly don't think I'll forget that moment.  It was just so special.  Everyone was so happy, singing brilliantly and 'in the moment' and the choir master knew it.

I was called on Tuesday to say that I had been picked to do a solo!  I was really happy but as I had never ever done one, I was obviously quite intimidated.  I've already been in a gospel choir at uni, so I've got some experience but the Challenge really is open to everyone, with no experience required and the organiser said that she felt I really 'got' the idea of the Challenge - how could I refuse?  It's not everyday you get to sing a solo in a Church, and singing a Kirk Franklin song too.  Here's the great man singing 'my' song.

I only found out which song I was going to sing on Thursday at half past midnight, Friday morning.  ha!  What a challenge!  Work was so busy on Friday but I managed to find the solo lyrics and I practised just enough to feel ok with it.  I've learnt through this challenge that you shouldn't practice too much as spontaneity is a big pat of gospel.

Saturday, we were at the Church at 4pm.  The concert started at 8.30pm.  Bizarrely, I was not nervous at all.  In fact, I think most of the choir was quite relaxed.  I think the biggest stress was with the choir master and whether or not we'd follow his directions and be concentrated enough at all times.  I've been in choirs before but for others it was their first time.  If the choir isn't watching the director at all times, the performance can really go to pieces

As often is the case, we pulled it out the bag on the night, everyone was watching him like a hawk.  There was just my solo to contend with.  I'd written the first two words of my solo on my hand in case I got stage fright.  We didn't know what the song order would be so I was listening out for the song cue to be played by the musicians.....and when it arrived, I knew it was my turn to step forward.  I started singing and thought that the microphone was turned off, I looked at the director in panic but he just smiled!!  So, I thought it must be ok, I just really tried to sing right out...I did the same solo twice throughout the song and I was much more prepared for the second time round, dare I say it, I almost enjoyed myself!  It was the first time we'd had the musicians - we'd always practised acapella and it was weird realising that I had to listen to the music in order to get the timing right!

My solo over, I rejoined the choir and felt instantly euphoric!  I did it!  I've come such a long way these past 3 months, in all aspects of my life and this just shows it.  The rest of the concert was just as amazing as the first part, but I got to enjoy even more, my moment in the spotlight now in the past.

At the end of the concert, we left the stage singing and got a standing ovation.  It was just incredible.  The whole 10 week challenge was just incredible.

I met J, a colleague and J's parents who had come to see the concert and we went home.  I was buzzing and I definitely wasn't going to sleep any time soon.

J and I drank champagne and then when that was finished, we drank beer.  I texted a friend who I met a mere 10 weeks ago at the choir, who I didn't get to see at the end and we both agreed, sleeping was going to be difficult.

Last night, J dreamed of my favourite song from the concert, and I woke up humming another.  I think the concert's going to be there for a very long time to come.

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