4 at 40

It’s my birthday today. When I woke up this morning I had slept myself happily into my next decade. It was still early. Kath was even still in bed next to me and the cats had only just started pestering. Kath got up and I enjoyed a cup of tea in bed and a lazy start reading and cuddling cats – until they had enough. I think Shackleton’s face says it all!

After another cuppa and a West Wing re-run I had birthday pancakes and opened my presents. All very exciting and lovely. After a while spent looking at today’s and yesterday’s goodies I wanted to go and get some air and move a bit. I was looking forward to a run. We toddled off nice and gently starting with the first part of what we call our sheep loop. It’s called that because it goes past the fields where we used to have our sheep. The name has stuck even though we no longer have the flock.

We plodded through the wood and down the golf course and just as we turned onto the canal towpath Kath saw the kingfisher cut across the canal. I missed it. Never mind, there were plenty of ducks, geese, pheasants, sheep and dogs with their humans to see. We headed towards Silsden a bit and then turned round. Running felt normal, just something I do. Not hard or laboured, not really easy either, it just was. It felt good.

At 4 miles I wanted to stop – somehow it seemed right to do 4 miles today. 1 for each of my decades. I felt like I could have kept running for a long time but I didn’t want to. I wanted to have a leisurely walk along the canal and up home for the rest of the loop and I wanted to maintain the symmetry of 4 at 40 – so that’s what we did.

The rest of the day will be taken up with setting up my new camera (thank you Dad!), having a bath (there is something so luxurious and indulgent about having a bath in the middle of the afternoon) and then tucking into lots of yummy picnic food when the mothers arrive later. It’s been a lovely birthday already!

If you’d like to help me celebrate, seeing the fundraising total for mine and Kath’s London Marathon for Mind creep up a bit more today would really make me smile so if you can, please do send a couple of quid their way.

Happy Boxing Day everyone!

Running for Mind in 2019

I don’t know about you but I have, for at least the second year running, not really managed a Christmas wind down. The first semester has once again been brutal, I finished work on Friday with a mountain of stuff still left on the to-do list and I feel like I have dragged myself to the end of the term just sort of hanging on. Running has been lovely for headspace and to give me some time to not think and let my brain do its thing and it has been good to work physically somewhere near as hard as I’ve been working mentally. But I can’t say I’ve managed to unwind yet. The second Dopey Challenge Simulation which we finished yesterday shows, I think, just how wiped out I am. I went to bed just after 9pm last night and slept until 8am and then had another 2 hour kip at lunch time. I could go back to bed now (it’s not even 6pm).

But slowly I am beginning to feel Christmass-y. The silly music is on, I’ve had a mince pie or two, the fridge is full of Christmas (and birthday) food, the tree looks lovely and I’ve just lit some candles. Dad is here, arrangements are made for Christmas Day and I have a plan for my birthday (read – do nothing). I’m starting to feel calmer and a little more settled and a little more like I might be able to ignore the work list. I realise that I am one of the lucky ones though. Overall the Christmas break is a good time, a time I like and a time for reflection, cuddles, being together and a good measure of silliness. It’s a time to help my mental health re-balance.

I am pleased to see more recognition on social media that Christmas can be really tough for people for all sorts of reasons so this post has two purposes (yes I know I’ve taken while to get to this point):

  • To remind you that it is absolutely ok not to be ok. You don’t have to be jolly and loud and extrovert and festive. You do whatever you need and remember that there are people you can reach out to. Mind has some links/numbers for us on their website.
  • To let you know that Kath and I will be running the London Marathon for Mind and to ask for your support. We’ve had some really lovely and generous sponsorship already and we really appreciate it.

I’ve been lucky I guess. I’ve never needed Mind’s services as such. I’ve had one amazing doctor and a therapist who is incredible and ‘gets me’. I’m making progress and have far more good days than bad days. Sometimes I can even laugh at the bad days. I’m mostly in a good place and certainly feel like I understand my mental health and ill-health more now. Mind helps with this journey for so many people directly through support services and indirectly by providing information and education. I really want them to be able to keep doing what they do because one day that phone number, that online community or that information leaflet might be a lifeline for any of us. So when Kath was offered a place to run the London Marathon for Mind, I jumped at the chance to link my ballot place and also officially run for them.

Running will be my life-line over the next couple of weeks. I get irritated with the Christmas thing and people and the forced, fake cheerfulness all around and don’t even get me started on New Year and resolutions and the huge damage the fitness and diet industry will inflict in January. Running will be my me-time and headspace. It will make Christmas positive and fun because this is how I roll (sometimes literally) and as I run I often think back to the days when getting out of bed was impossible – running is a win, a huge one. So the Dopey Challenge which starts on 10th January and the London Marathon in April are for those of you who are currently facing your own impossible. If any of you can support mine and Kath’s efforts and sponsor us, you can do so here. I know it sounds cliched but it really does mean a lot to be able to do this!

Thank you!

The reason for my marathon madness

I am bored silly today. I thought I’d be back at work and I was looking forward to teaching but I had a really high temperature over night and my cough has got worse. I’ve felt exhausted today and have dozed on and off but now I am awake and bored. I’ve been thinking about all sorts of stuff and drifting in and out of sleep and it occured to me that I haven’t shared much of the reason we signed up for the marathon. Well I guess there were the personal reasons  – better fitness and health, shifting some weight, the challenge of doing something I was pretty sure I couldn’t do… but there is also the wanting to make  a bit of a difference to the world we live in and raise some money for our chosen charity Panthera.

I do get the irony of going to Disney for a race to raise money for Panthera. The trip is costing us more money than we will raise and there is an argument for saying we should perhaps just given Panthera that money and be done with it but I am sort of hoping that we will raise a good chunk of money for them and also raise awareness of their work. Maybe our running adventure won’t be the last time you support them (Thanks to those of you who have already sponsored me by the way. It really helps!).

So before I forget – you can donate on our justgiving page but you can also donate direct on the Panthera website from where you can also send stunning e-cards  – which are I admit a little expensive but, I think, worth it. They also have an online store but I see that is currently closed.

So what’s your favourite big cat? That question has occupied my flu addled brain today. Lots of people say Lion. Well it it is lions for you, there’s lots on the Panthera site. There are fewer than 30000 lions left. Their number has reduced dramatically and just don’t exisit anymore in 80% of the places they used to roam. Panthera are helping by engaging local communities to better manage their relationships with the lions and reduce conflict. Have a look at Project Leonardo on their website for more

I’m a cat person. I like all cats, including big ones. It’s hard to pick a favourite. I do think snow leopards are stunning and I like the fact that we don’t know that much about them, that they are still so mysterious. They are also under threat. Panthera says that it is thought that only 4000-7000 may remain in the wild. That’s heartbreaking. Panthera are helping through scientific studies that can inform and underpin policy and by working with governments in the snow leopard countries. Again check out the website for more.

I do think my favourite big cat though is the cougar. Why? Maybe because I have seen one. Years ago I went on a trip to Houston, Texas and stayed with friends. They took me on a weekend trip into the depths of southern Texas and I woke up early, looked out of the window of the static caravan thing and there she was – maybe 50-60 metres away just minding her own business. By the time I’d got my camera she was gone but we did later see her tracks. I’d hate to imagine a world where my memory is of a species that doesn’t exist anymore!

There are several projects explained on the panthera website and there are links to the scientific papers underpinning some of them and if that’s not your thing there are also lots of pictures of gorgeous cats! You don’t need youtube for your kitten fix!

So, I will drag my butt round a stupid amount of miles for the rest of this year and come January for the big event. If you can help support us in that running mission whether by donating or sharing our story and encouraging others to sponsor us or donate directly then please do. Donations made to Panthera are channelled straight into the programmes rather than the running of the charity so they really do make an enourmous difference! THANK YOU