Improve your reality or lower your expectations…

‘Habits like blogging often and regularly, writing down the way you think, being clear about what you think are effective tactics, ignoring the burbling crowd and not eating bacon. All of these are useful habits’ – Seth Godin

I’m not normally a fan of reflective summary posts. Actually, I’ll rephrase that, I love reading other people’s (Chloe from New Girl in Toon does a regular round up of her adventures which I eagerly await every month). That’s mostly because other people have way more exciting lives than I do and your average monthly round up for me would be; pub, pub, running, x-factor, pub, running, pub, which would get very tedious very quickly.

Recently however has been a little different in the crazy world of Newman and I wanted to take a moment to talk about some of the life changing events that have cropped up over the last couple of months. And before I go on I want to make clear that this isn’t a ‘look at how amazing and successful my life is kind of post’ most of the things that have happened have been a product of a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and literal tears. This is more of a reminder that it’s really easy to get bogged down in the negative and the mundane but actually, cool things do happen from time to time if you keep your head down and keep plugging away. And they should be celebrated; even by an eternal pessimist like me.

New Job

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In the back end of August I was interviewed and offered my dream job. Still within the NHS bur moving away from PA work, which I’ve done since  I left school at 18, and into a more engagement role which will also involve lots of report writing and content creation.  As someone who has found their passion in writing and creating this blog only a few years ago, being offered this opportunity to get paid for what I love to do is an absolute dream come true. It’s a total career change and it will be a challenge stepping out from the support staff role I’ve grown so used to (expect a post on my imposter syndrome coming very soon) but it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down and I’m so excited about a brand new challenge.

Great North Run

You can read a more detailed review of my GNR experience here, but needless to say this is something I never thought I’d be able to achieve. Running does not come naturally to me and the constant training, particularly towards the end, really started to get me down.  I was really pleased with the time I completed it in and all the support I got on the day and through sponsorship was absolutely overwhelming. Now that it’s over though I have a massive sense of achievement and I’m even considering doing it again next year with my bestie Angela.

Fitness

If the post so far hasn’t ventured unto the self-indulgent then strap in because it’s about to! One of the happy side effects of training for the Great North Run is that I’ve managed to lose quite a nice amount of weight and toned up where I’ve never been toned before; namely, my legs.  Thankfully running 25 miles a week has gotten them into a shape and for the first time in my life I’ve been able to wear skinny jeans and jeggings without looking like an overstuffed sausage. And that’s a massive victory for me. On a slightly more serious note it also means I’ve managed to build up a level of fitness I never had before and I’m determined not to lose that now GNR is over.

Meeting my hero

To top off my 6 weeks of life changing events, in the middle of September me and my friend Emma won a competition on Instagram to meet Jaret Reddick the lead songer of one of my favourite bands; Bowling for Soup. Despite some slight ‘rock n roll admin’ issues which meant we almost missed him for the meet & greet, we were able to get some pictures, get some stuff signed and have a quick 5 minute chat with him and he was a really lovely guy. He probably the most famous (in fact the only famous) person i’ve ever met and it was really great that he was so normal! I never win anything either so the whole thing was so surreal, especially with all the other mad stuff that seems to have been happening recently!

So suffice to say 2017 has turned out to be a year when loads of stuff has changed, can’t wait to see what happens next!

Road to the Great North Run 2017

Only when you are challenged, and only when you challenge yourself, do you discover what truly matters’ – David Levithan

Running. Where do i beginning with my running story? Well it’s less of a story and more of an anthology these days considering. To cut a very long story short, I started running in 2013 because it was a more favourable option than doing Insanity and Dave was training for ultra marathons so I didn’t want to be the fat wife sitting on the sofa eating cake while he was out running 50 miles a weekend.

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I started off really small, running half a mile, then a mile, then building up to 5K then 5 miles etc etc. It was always on my bucket list to one day, once in my life, do one half marathon (note the emphasis on one there as I have no intention of doing it again) and seeing as the start line for GNR is practically on my door step it seemed the obvious one to choose.

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Training wise I was lucky that I already had a bit of a head start in that I could run a 10K if i really had to which would bring on only a mild case of COPD and the loss of movement in my right knee for 2 days. So when I started my training plan I was feeling strong. The longer runs did become a challenge at weekends, not such down to physical ability but more the crappy British summer weather – running for an hour and a quarter on a treadmill is. not. fun. The biggest obstacle in training came at the end of July which saw my Birthday, my cousins wedding and a week long holiday in Cornwall 3 weekends on the trot during which I did no training whatsoever. Whilst I was glad of the rest, it set me further back in my training plan than I had anticipated so come the second week in August desperate times called for desperate measures. If i were to have any chance to hauling my blubber butt over that finish line in less than 3 hours I needed to pull out the big guns. So i stopped drinking. I know, I know. Drastic.

Race Day

I slept surprisingly well the night before the race considering how nervous I was and was lucky to have Ang come over to do my hair and help Dave cart my stuff across the North East. We made our way to the start line on the metro, which was busy but there was a good atmosphere. The time that took the longest really was waiting in line for the portaloos before the race for that last minute wee wee. It’s alright for blokes who can (and did) just stand against a tree but us ladies need a little more privacy!

Once I was in my pen it seemed to take ages to get over the start line. When you watch on the telly it looks like everyone piles through at lightning speed but it was a good 40 minutes from then gun going off to me stepping foot over the line. As suspected I started off way too fast as I just felt I was being carried along with the crowd but I had my Runkeeper App on which triggered every 15 minutes so about the 3 mile mark I had slowed right down into a more comfortable pace as the field spread out a little bit and I didn’t feel I was in peoples way as much.

I had my 90s hip hop cranked up full volumes and the mile markers seemed to be coming round relatively quickly. Around the 6 miles mark my maths skills once again proved to be my downfall when I congratulated myself that I made it half way, until i remembered that 6 is half of 12, and I was running 13.

It’s cheesy to say but the crowd really do carry you through and thanks to them I only walked twice for no more than a few minutes each time. My the 10/11 mile mark I was really starting to feel tired and was pretty ready for it all to be over. So it was pretty opportune that at the 11.5 mark i saw my friends Carrie, Emma and Jayne. As i was running alone I felt surrounded by people who were with other people or part of a big team so seeing some friendly faces was just what I needed and they gave me the big cheer and positive words that I was in so need of at that moment.

Once I left them it felt like pretty plain sailing to the finish to be honest, It’s still a good mile when you hit the South Shields seafront but the crowd is 10 people deep and it really spurs you on to keep going. I kept forgetting that my name was on my bib so was extra lovely that people cheer you on by name.

I finally got over the line in 2hrs 38mins 17secs which I’m over the moon with considering anything under 3 hours would have been a massive achievement! I had my awesome support crew waiting for me armed with prosecco and mars bars at the end and mum and Ang assisted me in getting out of my sweaty gear so we could position ourselves in the pub and wait for the metro queues to die down. Which turned out to the be the best idea really as by the time we were fully hydrated again at about 6pm there were no queues at all so it was plain sailing to McDonalds back home!

Here’s a few fun facts from the day:

Final time: 2hrs 38mins 17secs
Things i was overtaken by: 2 unicorns, a minion, Woody from Toy Story and a two person pantomine horse
Most random thing I saw: A full packet of contraceptive pills on the ground
Things taken from the crowd: Some jelly babies and a strawberry ice pop
Glasses of wine consumed post race: 5