Life

Week 1

And whoosh! A whole week of the year has gone in the blink of an eye!

Not quite; I did have my eyes open but, after all the festivities and anticipations of the new year, it does seem to have come to this point very fast.

I think it has something to do with the previous 10 day isolation. That long ago time of glorious relaxation. Nobody to see, nowhere to go, and, luckily, no real symptoms to manage. Plenty of nice food and wine. For an anti-social sod like me it was heaven!

Although, to be fair, we were completely and totally ready to leave the house on New Year’s Eve  to spend a delayed Christmas/New Year with Anne’s eldest in London. But, after a couple of days there, a night in Leicester at my big sister’s, two days babysitting of our grandson, who, despite my fitness, can run the legs off me, and a trek into the wilds of Sheffield today, to see our new nephew, I’m ready for a warm flannel and a lie down again.

There was one day at home in that list above, but it was spent getting a bit of running done and batch cooking a chili for my brother’s freezer, as they will be busy enough over the next few weeks without having to cook.

It was so lovely to see them all, but getting there was a tad hair-raising, given the snowfall en route in the Peak District. Anne tells me it was quite breath taking. I had no idea as I didn’t dare take my eyes off the road ahead!

Snowy hills on the way to Sheffield.
Travelling to Sheffield, or is it the Alps?!

I know that I hadn’t set any official resolutions this year, but I need to pull myself out of the December lard, so I thought the two challenges I completed in January last year feel like good place to start. Adriene, my personal YouTube yoga teacher, does a new 30 day challenge each year and very kindly she begins it on the 2nd of the month for those who may have imbibed too much. I’ve managed to get on the mat every day so far, and already my lower back twinges less and my calves feel less tight. The other challenge is running 100 miles. Currently, I’m quite behind where I’d like to be, but hopefully, I can build it up as the month continues. And what better motivation to get out early doors when I can see skies like this as dawn comes in.

Blue and purple skies in the morning during my run
Morning Glory

Happy New Year!

Life

A Time of Reckoning

Well! What a year that nearly has been.

I’m sitting in the liminal space between Christmas and 2022, eating chocolate. Not just any chocolate. Not even M&S Chocolate. But home-crafted orange chocolate fudge courtesy of my wife.

Dreaded double line

To be fair there’s not a lot else to do given that we’re in the back end of isolation. Having finally been caught by Covid a few days before Christmas after it has ebbed and flowed in this country all year, our festive plans had to be radically changed, and instead of taking a sizeable section of a pig down to London to carve with Anne’s eldest and his family, we had to plead mitigating circumstances with the butcher and stay put.

Luckily, with our boosters, we’ve had not much more than light colds and Christmas was not fully cancelled. The two of us were well-stocked and once we had broken the bad news and other peoples plans were re-made, we have settled ourselves to a bit of a chilled out ten days, with fine food and liberal libations. Our trip to London is only postponed as we’ll be allowed out by New Year’s Eve so all is good.

A scrummy Christmas lunch even if it is just the two of us.

But while I have this time I’ve been pondering on the roller-coaster that has been 2021.

It began with mighty fine intentions and a resolution list that actually got publicly declared, so we’ll see how I did on that below.

January also gave us the very sad and all too sudden news that one of Anne’s brothers had passed away. Mark had Motor Neurone Disease but none of us were expecting him to go so soon.

At the end of March and into April, there were the beginnings of an inkling that my dad was poorly, and then several crazy months as things developed unbelievably quickly, culminating in his death, at the beginning of July. Intense times, but in the midst of those months, I spent a lot of time with my siblings. We always knew we had each other’s backs but it was good to know we got on so well during the stressful times, able to laugh together and cry.

Plus somewhere along the way, while my dad was sick, that little nervous Pomeranian, Rocco, who was spending his retirement with us, got suddenly ill and had to shuffle off this mortal coil too!

On a happier and momentous note, my amazing grandma turned 100 this year in May. We managed to pop down to see her for lunch at the beginning of this month, and as I asked her about her youth, she told me, with a glint in her eye, that she did go to school but she didn’t learn anything!

At the back end of July, I managed to stay in the tail-wind of two of my brothers-in-law as we cycled, over four days, from Lincoln to Liverpool to raise money for an MND charity.

In September we had a family holiday, a smaller version of the one we’d all planned at the beginning of the year, where we released our dad’s ashes to the sea, and toasted his life.

I also began a part-time Post Graduate course in September with the Open University, on Creative Writing. It will be for one or, if I do well and carry it on to a Masters, two years, and I’m very excited by it so far. I’ve no idea what it will do to me, or what it will open up for me, if anything. For a long time, I’ve thought that I liked the idea of writing, but was too much of a lazy sod to do anything about it. My regular blogging this year gave me that opportunity to begin practising the craft, perhaps developing a bit of a voice, and this course is my reward to myself. It’s a little bit very scary, because I’ll be putting myself out there to be judged by other people and I don’t know if I will pass muster. I also don’t know if I’ll give up, because it’s really hard work, and I know I can be a shirker. But for the moment, despite it being tough, I’m enjoying it immensely, and that will do for now.

Finally, this year has ended with a birth, to balance out some of the deaths. My brother and his wife (but mainly his wife) have just had another little addition to their family, and when we’re fully better, we are hotfooting it to Sheffield, to meet the little tot! Cannot wait!

So how did I do with my list.

Yoga
Well, I’ve done pretty well on the Yoga front although it still comes and goes in waves of effort. I can say that there has hardly been a week where I’ve done nowt of it, and quite a few weeks where I’ve practised four times or more. It is still a habit I’m trying to form and with the extra sitting on my buttocks that I’m doing for my course, I will need to try and keep the attempt going. Adriene will be doing another 30 day bobbins in January, and I’ve signed up for it yet again!

Running
I have run nearly 200 more miles this year than last year (842 miles), and actually, looking at my stats for all the years I’ve been running since 2013, it’s my second best mileage ever, so I’m fairly pleased. But given that’s included some busy off-months over the spring and summer, and a lazy arse December, I know I can do better. So I’m going to kick into the new year with another 100 miles attempt and work it from there.

WordPress
I still only know the basics, but that will suffice for now. I do need to try and push my ‘followers’ numbers up by remembering to advertise the fact that people can follow me.
Work in Progress.

Short Story Writing
That went out the window from dot, but I realised that I’m a bit pants at making stuff up. No. That’s not completely true. I find it really, really hard to do fiction and I’m much better at real life. This section of my course is fiction writing, and I have had a go at three first drafts just in this month alone. So I know it’s possible, if I give myself brain-ache.

Growing Vegetables
I grew nothing but Anne managed a pretty good crop in her first year. The Good Life beckons!

Learning Italian
I kept this up for three months. Which was quite good for me. Forgotten it all now.

Finally, as the small tips of muscles, I’d started to excavate, slide back into the folds of my skin while I demolish the chocolate, I won’t set up another list for next year as it feels like I’ve got a lot on my plate as it is. I’m pleased to have kept up the blogging though, as a mini record of this year, and that will definitely continue.

Fingers crossed it’s a calmer and more joyful year!



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Life, Running

Remember the Yoga?

We are well into the second half of 2021 and far enough away from January past, as to quite forget our (or should I hold my hands up and say ‘my’) intentions set at the beginning of the year!

This is one of the several resolutions I made at the time:

·  New 30 Day Yoga with Adriene – followed by more yoga (5 times a week – or at the very least 3)

Back in January I did do that 30 day programme while getting a 100 miles run for the month. I felt great and my calves did not feel like the hard tight blocks that they would normally be with that amount of running.

Some people say that it takes a month to create a habit. Sadly, for me, unless it’s a bad habit, it hasn’t stuck so well even with the extra wiggle room I gave myself. The yoga has been happening off and on, but increasingly more off and there has been many a week recently when I have done nothing at all. However, I am back to running a fair bit.

And as I found out during the long run this weekend, it’s all tightening up again.

On Sunday I managed to get just over 11 miles. That was after stopping my app at just under 10 miles with a strong sudden tightening in my leg, probably cramp. I thought I wouldn’t be able to run any more that day but after a 100 yards or so of walking it seemed to calm down and I managed to do another mile before I called it a day.

Moral of the story?

Get back on the Yoga train.

I know it’s not just a simple balancing equation as  –  running shortens : yoga lengthens.

But, what I’ve found with Yoga (when I’m doing it regularly) is that it really starts helping me with my core, and I’m strengthening myself as well as giving myself a little more flexibility. Those three-legged dogs and single leg poses will eventually (once I get past the wobbling and collapsing stage) build the strength up in my arms and legs. Plus I know, from experience, that my lower back pain niggles disappear with regular practice.

And the other thing I have to remind myself of, every now and then, is that if I don’t look like the instructor, it’s completely okay. As Adriene constantly reminds people, it’s the process not the outcome that you’re looking for. For example, I can barely touch my toes but the act of gently trying regularly, will increase what flexibility I have in that area.

So, I’ve reset my intention and, at least for the full month of September, I’ll get some Yoga done every day and see if I can’t nail that habit this time!


Running

Squatting at my Dad’s

Well that was more like it. A comfortable, steady 7+ miles at the weekend and another slightly faster 4, done yesterday.

My breathing seems fully back to normal, although, before yesterday’s run, I was walking around like John Wayne. Who knew that doing a few squats and lunges for the first time in an age would be so impactful on my body?!

Silhouette of a woman doing a squat
I like to think my squats look this poised!
Image by kropekk_pl from Pixabay

To be fair, that probably happened the last time I tried them, and the time before that, but I seem to have filed those memories in a dusty box in the corner of the attic of my mind, as the ache has come as a complete surprise!

My aim this week, at my dad’s, was to do more indoor stuff, like regular yoga, and strength training exercises. As he needs someone close by most of the time at the moment. However, on the drive down last Friday, I heard from my big sis, that the hospital had decided to admit my dad, in order to carry out a few more tests without him getting so exhausted from the to-ing and fro-ing.

He’s still in and it’s Tuesday. They’re supposed to have a big MDT (Multidisciplinary Team) meeting at some point today but I heard, this morning, that they still needed to do another MRI on him. This is, at least, his third. Frustrating, living in this limbo land.

So I’m here, at his house, on my own, with a bit of extra time on my hands and therefore I’m getting out for a few miles each day. Alongside which, I’m trying to do these squats and lunges every day as I obviously need to.

I found this handy little app called ‘Interval Timer’, where you can set your exercise time and your rest time and the number of iterations you want. I’m doing, roughly, 5 minutes of 30 seconds ON and 15 seconds OFF. I will build this up to 10 once the aching subsides.

I have, in the past, during previous attempts of getting my strength on, written down the order of exercises, splicing ideas from various articles and videos and I may do that again, at some point this time.

However, for now I start with squats and then use the 15 seconds rest to figure out my next exercise. The only proviso is that they need to alternate between legs, arms and torso. So, that will either keep it exciting, or I’ll realise that I’m following the same pattern every day.

I know I should be doing this strength stuff more often being a woman of a certain age but, with the gyms being closed for ages I’ve been a bit sporadic. I know they’re now opening up but I think it’ll be a while before I’ll be comfortable entering them.

So in the meantime, for this current drive and impetus, I will just keep squatting at home, or at my dad’s.