Monthly Archives: December 2012

Favourite Posts of 2012

Like many people, I’m going to have a look back at the year that was, however I’m going to do it in blog format and pick my favourite posts of the year.

– By far my favourite has to be this one – I’ve only gone and bloody done it – posted soon after completing my Windermere swim.
– I then followed it up with a full report of the swim – Windermere report.

Finished

Finished

– This post about needing a canoe turned out to be a very important one too as it helped me to find Jon, who canoed for me at Bala, and also helped to persuade my friend Lucy to canoe for me at Coniston (read her summary here).

– Outside of the training though a few other posts made the grade – this one about me falling in love again has a lot of personal resonance as you would expect, while this post about a Caitlin Moran piece in the paper was the first wider post I wrote.

However, it’s not all about me. Part of the process of creating this blog has been getting into the community of bloggers out there writing about similar stuff, so here’s some of my favourites from their posts.

– Firstly Chatter, who has used the training and the blog to make a massive difference to his life and lifestyle. He may well have replaced previous addictions for these new fitness ones, but read this to see the impact it has made – First 5k.

– Another person that has used training and blogging to change their life is triingtosurvive. Read this post about her accepting a blogging award (that I nominated her for) to get a feel for her.

– Another person I enjoy reading is Sligowarriorqueen and her laid-back view on life – this is a great post that sums her up well.

– While if you want to read about a real swimmer visit Ellathemermaid’s blog, this is a great post about the dedication required for her to achieve her goal of swimming the English Channel.

– While another blog I like to read is Tri Fatherhood and this post dedicated to his kids remembering their premature birth is simply amazing.

Finally, a couple of other places I’d love you to visit are the new websites for the companies I run (which I’m very proud of – the companies and the websites) – this one for Joshua PR and this one for BoothChat.

See you in 2013!

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First run in… Forever

I know the title makes me seem like a twelve year old girl, but it has been ages since I went out for a run… until today.

It certainly wasn’t far and it very certainly wasn’t fast, but it was!

I just did about 25 minutes, which included a walk and a stretch, but at the moment it’s all about re-teaching my body what it feels like to be running. And I was lucky enough to be running in a very beautiful area near my mother-in-law’s house in Germany. It’s a little loop that’s about a mile round and it an area of meadow, just near the river. But at this time of year the council flood it and when it freezes it is used to ice skate on. At the moment it’s been too warm, but it is probably about -2 today, so you can just see the water starting to freeze. Lovely.

As for the run, well it was more like a stroll or an amble, but I enjoyed it. One of my biggest problems is thinking that I can run, then setting of and doing a 10km run after months of nothing. I usually get to the furthest point of the run, pull a muscle and then have to hobble all the way home. And of course, give up running for just as long as it takes me to forget this mistake and therefore repeat it.

Well, it’s going to be different this time. I’m going to take my time, ease my body in gently, retrain my muscles in how to carry this lumbering fool around… then go for it and tweak a hamstring! My plan is to do a gentle 20-30 minute run every day for the next week or so and then slowly start to build up from there. I’ll let you know how I get on.

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And the award goes to… me!

So it turns out that people do actually read this blog, and not only that, but one of them – the very, very lovely Smelling the Honeysuckle – has nominated me for the Liebster Award.

While I accept that this is not a “real” award, it is still very nice to receive and I’m not going to be disingenuous and ignore it. I’m going to accept it for what it is – a genuine and heartfelt gesture to let me know that my blog is valued by somebody – and I’m going to embrace it and take part.

The name for the award comes from the German word “Liebster” meaning sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.

So, what I need to do:

1. Add the award icon to your blog
2. Link to your nominator to say thank you
3. Each blogger should post 11 facts about themselves
4. Answer the questions the tagger has set for you and create 11 questions for your nominations to answer
5. Choose 11 up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers, go to their blog, and tell them about the award

So here goes.

liebster-blog-award

11 Facts about me

– I hate listing things about me
– I once won the “worst dancer in the club” competition and won my weight in beer
– I read quite a lot and John Irving is my favourite author (A Prayer for Owen Meaney is one of my favourite books)
– I run a PR agency and also a Social Media company
– The Kindle is my favourite piece of tech in the last five years – I hate people that pretentiously declare that they love books too much to use a Kindle, I love reading!
– I actually started at university by studying for a social work degree, but changed after a year
– My Grandad was a founder member of the BLDSA (but then you’d know that if you read this blog)
– I used to play centre-half at football and used to love marking the centre-forward out of the game. I didn’t care if we won or lost as long I won that personal battle.
– I love mince pies.
– My wife and I were engaged for just 5 weeks before we got married (in fact we only lived together for 6 weeks before our son was born).
– I LOVE Vancouver and would move there in an instant if it was possible.

11 Questions from Smelling the Honeysuckle

– What sweet/chocolate can you not resist? – I can resist most if I have to (more of a crisps man), but I find it hardest to resist Chocolate Orange.
– Poirot or Marple? – Neither, I’ve never really seen much of either, so I can’t comment.
– Spring Flowers or Autumn leaves? – Autumn leaves every time, Autumn is my favourite season.
– Autobots or Decepticons? – I have genuinely no idea what this means, that probably answers the question.
– Favourite movie? – Not sure I can pick one, but in the list would be Dead Poet’s Society, Stand By Me, Babel, and I’m sure lots more that I can’t think of right now.
– Your happiest memory? – Not sure about a particular moment, but it will involve Vancouver (see above)
– Favourite alcoholic/faux alcoholic tipple? – Strongbow, red wine and Amaretto (not in the same glass!)
– What type of car do you drive? – Nissan Qashqai
– Which is better Christmas or Birthday presents? – I’m genuinely uncomfortable about receiving presents. To me a present should be something that has been give real care and thought, irrespective of price etc.
– Describe your favourite night out. – Good friends, a pub, a great meal with chat, laughter and red wine.
– City or countryside? – Countryside.

My questions

What’s your middle name?
Did you have a teddy as a child?
What’s your normal Tuesday routine?
If the moon’s not made of cream cheese, what is it made of?
If this is the question, what is the answer?
Do you like brussel sprouts?
Which is your favourite child?
Have you ever met a giraffe you haven’t fallen in love with?
Where were you happiest?
What’s your greatest personal achievement?
Why do you think you would be a good candidate for this job?

And I’m nominating…
I Swim (and now iTri too!)
Chatter Gets Fit
Sligowarrierqueen
Triing to Survive
Mikes Blog
Geekinthehills
Fit for a year
London Gurl in Vancouver
And I should probably list 11, but I’ll add to this as I go if I can.

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Merry Xmas

Now stop reading this and go and spend time with your family, or perhaps even better, eat a mince pie and have another glass of festive sherry!

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Coaches… Discuss

As I start to plan for next year’s events I’m trying to work out my training plan. Not only do I want to complete the challenges I’ve set for myself, but I want to do them as we’ll as I can. So I’m going to train and I’m going to ask for advice and tips. However, I’m not going to employ a coach.

In the lake I trained in this summer I would hear a lot of the triathletes talk about their coaches and every time I heard it it sounded strange.
“My coach thinks that…”
“I’ve entered this event because my coach…”
“The training plan my coach has me on…”

The reason it sounded so strange is because it felt like they were abdicating responsibility for their own training. Don’t get me wrong, nearly all of them were faster than me – and I’m sure the coaches had a hand in that. But it still felt wrong.

If I was a potential Olympian it would be different. But at my age (nearly 40) and ability (not very good) having a coach feels wrong.

One of the things that gives me the most satisfaction about my swims this year is that I did them and I did it all. I worked out a training programme. I motivated myself. I planned which events to enter. And I made the decisions.

Could I have done it all quicker – almost certainly. Could I have done it better – no way. It was because I was doing it all that it was so special.

Do any of you have a coach? Let me know if you think I’m wrong.

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And the winner is…

I was pleased that Bradley Wiggins won the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year (or #SPOTY) award on Sunday of this week.

Given that we’d had such an amazing year of sporting achievement it was hard to separate the finalists, but winning the 3 week long Tour de France and then being able to recover and pick up an Olympic gold just a week or so later was an incredible feat. But given that it is now a public vote it was also always likely that Wiggins would be the winner as cycling probably has the biggest base of participants (and therefore potential voters) of any of the sports represented.

Coincidentally earlier in the day there was another sporting trophy handed out.

My family had decided to have a pre-Xmas gathering as we won’t all be able to get together over the festive period, so we all gathered at my uncle’s house. As we were all chatting over a cuppa he got up to make an announcement. My first thought was that I’m pretty sure that him and my aunt are already married and at 70(ish) I think it’s unlikely that they’re announcing a pregnancy, so what could it be?

It turns out that they have sneakily arranged to have my Last Man Home trophy presented to me after my Windermere swim (it was being repaired on the day). But not only that, they have got something else – a silver plate first given to my Grandad in 1959 by the Huddersfield Swimming Club when he completed Windermere. They had it engraved with another inscription for me and presented it in front of everyone!

Like Grandfather like Grandson

Like Grandfather like Grandson

“Presented to G.T. Smith
For swimming lake Windermere
August 29th 1959”

And then added below is:

“Passed on by son
Graham & his wife Margaret
Who crewed for grandson Patrick Smith
on his first Windermere swim
On 1st September 2012”

I’m not a fan of suprises like this – but this is lovely, so thanks to you all.

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Lethargy

I was going to go to the gym this morning.

I was going to go on the bike and then on the treadmill.

It would have been great to blow away some of the cobwebs, work up a sweat and then head down to London feeling slightly smug.

I was going to… and then the alarm went off and I couldn’t be bothered!

I seem to be feeling like this quite regularly at the moment. I haven’t exercised yet in December and I’m starting to feel it / notice it. I can feel myself not being as sharp, I don’t sleep as well and I lose a little bit of motivation. However, when I get like that the first response is to get even lazier.

I feel lacking in energy so I eat chocolate… then I feel a bit bloated, but also lacking in energy, so…

I need to break the cycle and I need to break before the legitimate eating festival that is Xmas. I’ve promised myself a swim on Wednesday morning, so watch this space…

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1,000kms #fail

Unfortunately it’s time to give up on the 1,000kms target for the year.

I was already “behind the curve” as they say going into November, but I was determined to give it a really good go. By the 11th I’d already done over 65kms and was 13kms over my required “run-rate”, but then it went downhill from there. I had a week in London, a week being ill and then a week in New York. None of which were conducive to exercising.

In the end I managed just under 90kms for the month – but not the 140+ I needed to keep on track. And now I’ve left myself too much to do in December (just under 200kms to hit the 1,000kms target – when I haven’t passed 100kms in any other month).

So it’s time to be realistic and call it a day. I’ll still exercise in December, but I won’t care about the kms so much as the individual goal. And I won’t set this challenge for next year either. In the end I’ll need to do some different training to achieve my challenges for next year – not all of it will be distance related, I’ll also need to do strength and speed work.

So I hit one goal for this blog a year early, but missed out on the other one.

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New York, New York…

… so good they named it twice.

I was lucky enough to go to New York last week with work (BoothChat was supporting an event out there) and I have to admit that I surprised myself by having a great time.

The work bit went very well, which of course is a bonus, but the real surprise was that the city bit was just as good.

I’m not really a big city person and although I lived in London for eight years I can’t say that I was disappointed to leave. So when I knew that we had an extra day in New York I won’t say I was dreading it, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as great as it was. But it was great!

The first thing we did was walk along the High Line – we were only staying a few blocks away at Yotel (an uber cool hotel – check it out here). If you’ve not heard of it the High Line is a new park in New York that has been established on an old goods train line. It’s about three storeys off the ground and the train line was originally used to move goods around without clogging up the roads. However it’s been abandoned for a few decades and about ten years ago the work to reclaim it and turn it into a park started.

A selection of images from the High Line

A selection of images from the High Line

It’s wonderful.

Firstly, it’s amazing that it exists, that an idea like this was had and a project like this came to fruition. But also it gives you a great perspective on the city and allows you to see things that you wouldn’t or couldn’t normally.

New York Hotdogs

New York Hotdogs

Once we had walked to the end it was time for a hotdog from a street vendor. It had to be done!

Then we jumped on a subway and headed to the financial district. We didn’t spend a lot of time there, but we did wander among the skyscrapers. We were actually headed for the Statten Island ferry. The ferry’s free and takes commuters and tourists on the c. 25 minute trip between Manhattan and Statten Island. For tourists the main reason to go is that it goes right past the Statue of Liberty and then provides an amazing view of downtown Manhattan. So we got on, got off at the other end and came straight back again – a great way to see the statue and also to people watch.

Getting closer...

Getting closer…

That was the day, and it doesn’t sound like much written down, but I loved it. And I also loved New York and am now very keen to return.

I can see why they named it twice!

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