Monkeying Around

I have just been for my second bouldering session with Sally from Moir Adventure Fitness, Sally specialises in fitness for climbers!  I love getting my teeth into a new activity, it really challenges the mind and the body in equal amounts, there is nothing I like more than being challenged to the point where its not too far out of my reach, just tantilisingly there .  .  .  .  you know just beyond your reach!

Climber dangling from a rope.

As I was walking to Avertical World, I was worried I had forgotten everything Sally had taught me at my previous session, I mean, I know she had taught me, ehhhh ‘stuff’ but do you think I could remember it?

We started off with the traverse that I had attempted the previous time, oh my god, I managed to get waaaay further than the previous session, this was exciting.  My movements flowed better and I definitely felt more confident putting weight into my feet.  At the first session, I had found it really difficult to get my head around putting all my weight onto what seemed like the smallest area possible on my foot, I mean we are practically talking about my big toe – how the hell is that meant to hold all of me?!  I kept trying to put more of my foot onto the holds but I just kept slipping off and Sally patiently and repeatedly explained I would just keep slipping off, that it was about using the correct areas of the shoe and using your toes.

We tried a few new routes, which I often had to get Sally to show me so that I could get an idea of what I was doing, as a newbie, I was finding it real hard to actually ‘see’ the path of movement.  But when Sally completed the problems she made it seem effortless, moving in such an effortless way, as we see in people who are incredibly confident in their abilities and movements.  She was able to twist and manoeuver next to the wall in a way that made it seem that she had loads of space, she had exactly the same as myself and I swear I was trying to constantly move in the tinest box EVER!

We returned to the problem I had gotten my teeth into last time and I really found it far easier, it wasn’t such a challenge exciteddogmentally and most of all I got my foot onto that tiny little foot hold that seemed to escape me.  Damn I conquered it, I managed to hold in my excitement just, it was ready to burst out of my chest!

There is alot to be said for going away from a new activity, allowing your mind and body to take on board the lessons learnt in a non-pressurised way, I came today and really noticed a difference in my movement, my confidence and simply the amount of energy required to do exactly the same as the week before.  Sally was fantastically patient, explaining whenever necessary in a way that was easy to understand, not only that but she was able to re-inforce what she was saying in a practical way.  This made it real easy to connect what she was saying.

This made my day Sally, thank you!

      

                        

Muddyrace Scottish Training Day – Dundee

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I was priviledged to run a muddyrace training day up here in bonny Scotland, we ran our event at the Scottish Assault Courses at the Errol Airfield, Dundee.  I was nervous and excited, despite having run my own OCR (Obstacle Race Training) training sessions with great feedback, the thought of having to run them for muddyrace, a very respected company in the OCR world and would be representing them.

The guys and gals began to appear and we had an amazing 22 folks taking part of all levels, beginners, intermediate through to those who have taken part in races, for example Tough Mudder and The Beast.  The warm-up, I believe set the tone for our sessions, based on dynamic movements and games.

The first period was used to cover key technique points for monkey bars, spear throws – those who have run a spartan race will know that feeling of having missed and subjected to the horrific burpee – press-ups, tyre flips/ throws and the first 2 walls.

Everyone did an amazing job of attacking the obstacles, trying to put in place the technique points covered, overcoming personal challenges and obstacles.  Each of the groups, despite not knowing everyone in their group came together to support, encourage and motivate to try to the best of their abilities.  There was definitely a buzz around the assault course!  We also found out that several of the group had soft hands which were affected by the monkey bars and the walls.  Key point:  ensure you practice leading up to an obstacle race, this will help harden your hands and prepare them for the activities approaching, alternatively, you may choose to wear gloves.  This is a personal choice and I have found that from one person to the next in races that each person needs to find what works for them.

The second batch of obstacles included the 8 foot wall, ditch jumps, the ‘slatted’ wall and the ‘mime wall’.  The 8 foot wall was overcome for the first time EVER for some of the guys – amazing achievement to do on your own.  Incredibly empowering feeling for women particularly, mainly from a perspective of this is commonly looked upon and ‘Ill never get over that’!  I heard many a shreek from across the field.  We also covered alot of the obstacle racing etiquette, I am proud to say I would stop and help anyone, I will always check on someone if it looks like they have stopped, just to ensure that there isn’t a problem.

We finished the day with a full run through, simply to make sure my guests were muddy, wet and smiling come the end!  All the things you would expect to be at the end of a day of obstacle racing!  🙂  A massive thank you must also be extended to Fraser for his assistance and Carole for her excellent photography skills.

Looking forward to my next training session at Scottish Assault Courses in Kilmarnock!  Hope to see you all there!1509865_1384399018549876_7589586864218194459_n (1) 1524384_1384397798549998_9007702273473012902_o 10172687_1384397675216677_3817941035020361720_n 10172711_1384391458550632_6530714138849097328_n 10271400_1384391375217307_5625974136790644671_o 10271447_1384399201883191_577918294043982959_o 10308945_1384394771883634_3524783658851714000_n 10314751_1384397008550077_5725759706640440806_n 10325671_1384397145216730_6204478393279184997_n 10329227_1384396548550123_1454698073852389843_n 10370955_1384392385217206_7250953629860696430_n (1) 10403148_1384391215217323_1310610769726397894_n 10407413_1384394375217007_1186268524915523334_n 10407618_1384399641883147_7801087697228283181_n 10407988_1384396878550090_8203872372641410795_n 10408962_1384399325216512_5172547136574807768_n 10418395_1384397991883312_968002868617794511_n 10428494_1384392621883849_1810011397830428860_n 10429260_1384392245217220_6213888960953107066_n  10499446_1384392528550525_339165829148016283_o 10501966_1384400045216440_6289017121103650528_n 10559858_1384394828550295_2273064334621295474_n 10686663_1384391441883967_7953875303994885308_n 10688261_1384398121883299_6993441544375815281_o 10881477_1384394615216983_6412669246488200556_n 10881525_1384391288550649_3611939091824522686_n 10906054_1384394185217026_149627501436396455_n (1) 10914842_1384391611883950_2086041529052707566_o 11013510_1384391678550610_8452671593504278084_o 11031135_1384391838550594_8647950454678265091_n

Presenting Cheque to Local Charity 

Super proud of myself for this, stepping outside of my comfort zone to help others, thank you to Lesley (my lovely ex-client) for prompting me to raise money for charity.  DAMH (Dundee Association for Mental Health)  have been fantastic and will be using the monies raised to help continue their physical activity initiatives. 

Finally, but do not give it any less thought. Each and every single person who encouraged me with text or words, who sponsored me, helped me every step of the way!

Thank you also to the Evening Telegraph for giving this some coverage. DAMH are a fantastic local charity working hard to support those within the Dundee Community with mental health difficulties. 

   

Mighty Deerstalker 2015

The Mighty Deerstalker arrived on my doorstep far too quickly . . .  I seem to be saying this alot of late!  I had signed up to both races, this I had decided was going to be the start of my evaluation of what I needed to be doing now that I had qualified and signed up for the OCRWC – eeeeek! Excited and bloody bricking it at the same time.

I hadn’t done enough training for this race, exceptionally busy with work and the being ill the week leading up to the event so felt ill-equipped for what I knew was going to be a tortourous couple of events, but amazing!  OBVIOUSLY , D’uh!

I’m not sure why but managed to hold onto a significant amount of clarity this year related to both events, while last year I still struggle to make clear recollections between the 2 races.

5km – ish – understatement of the century!

Heading out to the event location, Traquair House, I was given some indication of what we were in for when I saw the ducks enjoying a swim in the water-logged fields.  Amazing, we all know how much I love water.

For Rat Races first event of the year, the registration was as smooth as I always experience at their events.  The guys on the mics were brilliant, you could literally listen wherever you were and giggle away at the comments.  I heard 12th/ 13th and 10th years of this event being mentioned but we’ll go with 10 as it seemed to be mentioned the most.  Great to see Mike and Sarah welcoming me, nice surprise.

I had timed it so that I could get registered, changed and have enough time to do a wee warm-up.  I walked out the course alittle, same as last year, passed one of the locals who was doing some work, in a nice way, he let me know we were, ‘f*****g idiots’ hahahahaha, love it, I hear this alot but he was laughing and joking so nae harm.  Speaking with a steward I was also told that if it had been Thursday, he wasn’t sure what they would have done given the conditions created by the good ole Scottish weather.

Aim for this race – push as best I could, enjoy it!  These were my favourite races last year.

We lined up on the start line for an awful warm-up, the guys taking these really need to start taking into consideration the space we all have packed in the start area, star-jumps are clearly for doing some damage to the fellow competitors a well placed eye poke, lateral jumping exercises are naturally aimed at getting at fellow competitors toes, feet or ankles 😉

Joda from Tartan Warrior, a top Scottish OCR runner from muddyrace, who is running incredibly well, was lined up and got a wee interview by the ITV!  OCR is getting more and more coverage its really outstanding!  Joda achieved a brilliant 2nd place!  Then the countdown to kick us off, a short run upwards to the hay bales, another indicator of how it was going to go, then back around on the tarmac to feed us round to the off-road sections,  I often complain about tarmac’d sections BUT they lead us to incredible trails and more to come, they serve a connection purpose and they tend to be short in nature. #purpose

We were immediately lulled into a false sense of security going through a field that was easy, dare I say nice underfoot, because the connecting filed was a marsh, potential for lost shoes if they weren’t tied tight enough, lots of squeals followed behind me.  Into our first water feaure, not too deep and not bad underfoot.  Here we met the first of a remarkably enthusiastic set of marshalls, full of clear instructions and encouragement.  They were without doubt – brilliant!

Then there was the hill, oh the hill!  Following the winding, weaving path, up and up we went.  It wasn’t long before the trail of walkers kicked in.  I think I actually ran the furthest up this hill I have compared to last year, was really pleased with myself but ohhhhh it burrrrrrnnnnnned!  The first section is fairly trail based as it winds uphill and then you hit the side of the hill, cross-country style, clasping at the mounds and trees to help you move further up the hill.

Here comes the best bit, downhill, ‘Hell Yeah’, this is the bit I enjoy, I love just letting going and following the curve of the route downhill OR creating my own as I call, ‘Coming Through on your right/ left!’  The 5km, due to the lower numbers really lets you weave around folks as there is the space.  Folks were great, listening out, always important to let folks know you are coming, as it stops them making sudden movements that may affect you or lead to you getting hurt and not least more respectful of their space and of course reduces the risk of them getting hurt also.  This is the first of the downs and the shorter of the 2 downhill sections, we then transverse the mountain,  I mean hill before re-ascending.  It was on these sections that another lass and I went back and forth in terms of placing, she was faster than me, I was simply quick on the downhills.  I need to work more on my weaknesses but in a more positive light I definitely felt I climbed better than the previous year.

Thank you to the gentleman who gave me a shout out at the end of the second downhill, much appreciated – he knew me but I didnt know him.  We crossed over to the other side of the river, I swear even the smallest pebble, which would be easily overlooked in a scan, was enough to make the weary legs quiver. But a lapse in concentration resulted in me rolling my ankle, that was a sair ane!

It wasn’t long before I hit the event village, a short crawl under the cargo net, run up the incline, I admit I did pause for what seemed an eternity before jumping down, ‘here, it was high and yes I’m an offical short ass!’  but I did jump down in style and finished it off with a shoulder roll before sprinting (cruising) over the finish line.

Now to get changed and relax before the second race . . . . .

10km (Aye Right)

Okay, so again I found myself on the starting line-up albeit definitely more tired, definitely bursting for the toilet – AGAIN! I had caught up with some of the group I was signed up with and there were some scared faces 😉  Fear is good – respect for the course.

The first part of the race was exactly the same as the 5km earlier, did it feel different – oh yeah.  My balance was taking more work, my quads kicked in earlier but I was focused on my goal for this race – consistency.  Again, I drove up the first part of the first hill and it really, really hurt but I kept pushing on and managed to get back to running around folks to keep pushing on, to not let myself down.  I was getting frustrated at points, when it is steep and you are working hard to keep going, those who take over you but then start walking right in front of you can really make it difficult for you to maintain that momentum you are generating.  Its hard to re-start once you start walking, particularly on a veeeery steep hill.

I always believe its important to have some awareness of those around you.  Understandably, for those new to this type of activity it is difficult and leaves too many for things for you to focus on, just keep moving and as you begin to become more experienced your awareness will hopefully increase with your confidence,  these things do take time to develop.

Where it differs is in the route going through the town, brilliantly worked here and last year, not an easy task to organise logistically but it works as you wade through the river for what seems like forever, bigger guys rushing past you, the local children and adults cheering you on.  It really does bring a smile to your face, the bigger guys rushing through the water, well, I wasn’t impressed (Scaredy cat, but I had already tripped and fell to the full length of my arms, not great) but they had the strength, I felt like I was 50% submerged.  Cold legs bring you out of the river and I think this cold really affects the legs as you head toward the 3rd ascent.  You head up and up, winding along, more space and far less overtaking is going on in general by this point.  You come up and go between a circular monument, would be great to see in the daylight, before descending again.  My quads by this point were doing some weird quivering, partial cramping – something I have never experienced before so it felt like my legs were going to lock out and cramp up on this part of the descent.

I knew the scree hill was coming and I wasn’t sure in what way, shape or form as we had been told the route was different, did it include this part?

Im not sure, it seemed much steeper but Zoe thought that may have been due to moving quicker, therefore more tired.  This was the section that really could take you a cropper, ankles galore, lots of rocks mossed over and merged with the undergrowth.  The gentleman in front of me was super kind and kept grabbing at bushes and trees to stabilise himself but would then just release them . . . . slap in the face . . . all the appropriate height for me.  So I swiftly utilised a passing point and moved past him ,proceeding to communicate any issues to the guys behind me, OCR manners 😉

Each step/ slip back downhill was just brutal, the scree just retreated back downhill as we tried to claw our way uphill.  By this point my headache was kicking in but I knew it was coming from my neck.  It got to the point where I could only keep my neck in alignment as each crane to look up the ever increasing slope, which meant looking straight at the slope.  I was bear-crawling my way upward with lots of side-tracking into the gorse bushes.

On the descent of this hill, rat race had come through, they had listened to the feedback from last year and sorted the rope descent out, multiple rope options, all connected, brilliant.  I managed to find my focus in this final stage and really just dig in and keep pushing through despite the tiredness.  The locals and the kids after some high fives along the route was incredibly uplifting at this point.  Onwards to the events village and the finish line, I was so pleased to finish!

The marshalls were phenomenal, the directional markers and their frequency were bang on, the course route was outstanding and what can you say about the surroundings?  No words could do it justice!

Mighty Deerstalker you have done it again!





Uncomfortable with Mental Health?

Evening Y’All!

I’m sitting here trying to work out the best way to write this blog, its a challenging one to write I think cartoon-confused-face-300x297

I could tell you all about the stats that are out there:

‘1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental health condition in any given year’,

‘9 out of 10 people who suffer from mental health difficulties will be the subject of stigma and discrimination’,

and ‘nearly 3 in 4 young people fear the reaction of friends when they talk about their mental health difficulties’

( http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/mental-health-statistics-facts ).

Being Brave . . . .

On some level we are aware of these facts, we know people who suffer from mental health difficulties, these people are our friends, family, work colleagues.  I would add myself to this list of people, I am not identified by this, nor does it define me.  I have been told at different times to ‘Get a grip’, ‘dont be dramatic’, ‘why do you think you are any more important than anyone else’ and many more.  I have had health professionals see me only as my mental illness, some can not see past it, family and people I thought were friends,  be dismissive of it.  I really believe it is important to never judge the road you have never travelled, and in all honesty, will not travel, because you are never fully in that person’s shoes.  You can sympathise and empathise but you can not walk in their shoes.

How would people describe me? (comments I have had back)

‘determined, strong, active, successful, distant, arrogant’, amongst many other sayings.  Why is this important?

Those who suffer from mental health difficulties come from all walks of life, why am I talking about this, because I believe by being open I can help others see that those with mental health difficulties are not the stereotypical images that we have imagined, but can affect so many of us to a variety of levels and extents.  Does this mean your feelings are any less than anyone elses – NO!  Yes, there may be people in a worse position than yourself food wise, poverty wise but this does not detract from the feelings that you have.

To help me, cope with a bad day (or anyway you wish to describe such a day), I choose to exercise.  I choose to get out in the fresh air, there is nothing I find more exhilirating than getting out in the country, in the fresh air of Scotland, the surrounding area.  To see wildlife on my run, for me that in itself really does make a run or a cycle, to run in the hills, past the farmyards.  The occasional nod from a fellow runner/ cyclist, its that mutual understanding.  Don’t get me wrong, I have to work at it, this is by no means easy.  But there is some celebration in this achievement of simply sticking to the decision to look after myself.  Simple and silly to some but an important necessity to me.  I have managed to take what I enjoy and use it to benefit others.

Fundraising

On and off I have raised money for local mental health charities Insight Counselling (http://www.insightcanhelp.co.uk/).

Last year after being encouraged by a previous client, I decided to fundraise properly for a big challenge I was undertaking.  Now, I do a fair few challenges and races, I really enjoy pushing my own limits and fully seeing what I can do.  For me, at the time, this was a biggie!  So I met up with DAMH (Dundee Association for Mental Health – http://damh.org.uk/), Jenni was amazing and super keen for me to hear of the various activities that they do.  I wanted to ensure that the momey raised would go to a specific initiative and wouldn’t be swallowed up, into admin for example.  What excited me, ALOT, was that the money raised could go to a physical activity initiative, well this blew me away, this was completely in line with my own beliefs, what I do for a living at Louise’s PT 4 U (http://www.louisept4u.co.uk/) and fully in line with the research out there.

I was alittle worried that I wouldn’t be able to raise enough to really help the charity but I was committed to doing my best.  WOW!  I was blown away by the support I was given for my Cotswold Way 100 Mile Run (Equivalent of 4 marathons in 4 days! – there is a blog detailing the 4 days if you want to have a read).  It was incredibly tough, this was the furthest distance I had ever run back to back and I think, it was my furthest distance in one day also.  I ticked off alot over these 4 days.  Truly pushing  your limits, really is a great thing, your perception of yourself and the possibilities really does change.  Not only that, the fact so many people supported me and donated money, showed me they believed I could do it.  I couldn’t let them down.  So through those hazy, lightheaded moments – I pushed through with my donaters in mind at all times, helping me put one foot in front of the other to the finish line!  We had raised over £800 by this point.  Simply outstanding, I really can’t even begin to have the words to say thank you and express my gratitude!

Tough Guy The Original

This one deserves italics!! I decided it would be great to top the money off to £1000, I thought that would be great.  Next big challenge, ‘Holy S**t’ – you get the idea this was going to be mental.  It pushed my boundaries in a way I never thought possible.  Blog is upcoming for this folks – keep your eyes peeled! (Apologies for the profanity, but even now, I have butterflies in my belly thinking about it, so that is tame)

You guys, everyone who donated are simply AMAZING – we hit that £1000 and some.  Truly amazing.  Blown away!

Time to Change . . . 

MIND, the mental health charity based in England were running a campaign called ‘Time to Change’ on the 5th February 2015.  Now, I just happened to see it on facebook and decided this would a great wee initiative to encourage folks to get involved in, albeit, it was last minute as it had only just popped up on newsfeed.

This was a great day that we ran at the gym I work from – Good Health and Fitness (City Quay, Dundee).  The members as well as my own clients and friends there were fantastic in supporting the day.  I did an early morning walk, a midday walk and we had a few guys do some baking, by the way, I believe I may have consumed my fair share of them.

All in the name of checking it was appropriate and tasty enough for you guys of course, hahaha.  During the day it was about simply taking that 5 minutes to talk about mental health.  This could be from a personal experience perspective, it could have been from the view of having supported someone, a work initaitive or simply your own perceptions.  We also looked at how physical activity played a vital role.  We then asked everyone to make a pledge, not in the typical sense, this was about maybe something that had been learnt or what you already did, maybe mental health and physical activity.  I was overjoyed to see we raised a brilliant £85, for a last minute day and not managing to get as much done for the day as I would have liked, I was super pleased!  Again, the people I have to thank are all of you out there who have sponsored, supported and shared anything I have been running.  It has been amazing!

Last words . . .  

Those who suffer from mental health illnesses are not by any stretch of the imagination weak.  They are strong beyond belief!  To get through every day can be the hardest thing in the world, our history makes us who we are today.  I would not be the person I am today had I not had to go through the difficulties and experiences that I have, this in no way intimates that I wanted these situations or would choose them.  Simply that I know I am stronger today than I was yesterday.

‘It is not the mountain we must conquer but ourselves’

Thank you folks for taking the time to read this blog folks.  Please remember these are my own opinions and not those of any organisation/ business or group.  Keep any comments positive, any negativity will be removed.

P.S Just heading off to hand over the cheque folks – picture will follow.

Recharging the Batteries

After what can only be described as a few crazy ass weeks at work, my training had fallen by the wayside as I tried ot keep on top of the ‘important stuff’.  This leads to the question, actually what is the important stuff?  Living to work or working to live.  I am incredibly fortunate to be able to do a job I love, helping others and now working to bring events to Scotland but like anyone I can spend too much time working and nt enough time having fun, investing in myself.

So today, was absolutely magical!  My mate and I headed over to the Lomond hills for what turned out to be one of THE most blustery days ever! We headed up East Lomond hill, struggling to stand for the warm-up even.  It was straight into the hill from the car park, fairly tough going, we came upon a family who stated they nearly lost the wee ones on the top of the hill . . . eeek!

We hit the top in a burst of hail stones/ snow showers, sare ane!  Of course we had time to do the current trend of a selfie pic hahaha.  The views were epic, looking around, truly a beautiful location on a day you could stand up straight.  We headed down the other side, much steeper than the car park side.  I took off with Karen screaming in the back ground about falling on her arse  We made it in one piece!

We headed toward Craigmeade car park which sits between the two hills, this was a much flatter run, undulating.  Naturally, as an OCR racer, looking into the forest exhilirated me – I just cannot look at woods and trees in the same light!

As we crossed the car park, we agreed we were heading toward the waterfalls as we didnt have enough time to do the other hill and the waterfalls.  What a choice this was to be . . .

I didn’t really take in the fact that we were on a predominantly downhill section, it was great, free-rolling down.  Giving Karen some tips as we went about how to take on the down sections.  We found the amazing waterfalls, being in these surroundings, this is what brings me alive – THIS is why I wanted to begin running.  Why?

Because this is freedom, this is not running, its energy, beauty, amazing, to be surrounded by something larger!

Climbing amongst the hills, designing future training runs and opportunities, sooo exciting.  We stopped and took some pictures because it would be rude not to.  Karen did some climbing, grannies should know better eh?!

Now, we had to go back uphill, it was a tough first run but the aim is always keep moving, put one foot in front of the other.  The climb back up the east Lomond hill was brutal if I am being honest as a first run back into the fol.  As soon as I hit the top I could barely move, the wind was vicious.

What a fantastic way to bring it all back and remember why I train!  For my sanity, to de-stress, to feel alive again.

Get out there folks!