Event 50 – Bruggenloop Rotterdam 15k


It’s here.  Event Fifty.  Twelve months after starting my challenge to celebrate my 50th year the final event is done.

It’s a relief.  I need a rest 🙂 my body is finally saying no more and my mind doesn’t want to think about preparing for yet another event.  All week, since the Santa run I have been suffering with my knee – in fact the aching has made my whole leg hurt.    But it’s been the best year and I’m so glad I chose to spend it this way.  I’ve shared my events with friends and family and it’s been good to have you along for the ride.

I’ll do a wrap up blog to reflect on my year in the New Year.

But for now – here’s event 50 a 15km run over the bridges in Rotterdam.

Tessa and Andrea

I’ve done this event before, two years ago with my friends Tessa and Irene from my running forum.  This time Tessa would be supporting – she came down with a nasty chesty cold a few days before so had to drop out, and my lovely friend Andrea who drove the two hours from Germany to be there.  Both the girls were with me in Maastricht too and it was lovely to see them again.

The event starts outside a football Stadium on the outskirts of Rotterdam.  We would need to get the subway and a tram to reach it.  Thank goodness for some local knowledge (thanks Tessa) I would not like to attempt this on my own.  Tessa got our tickets and guided us all the way.  The tram was packed with runners.  Really packed!  Like the London Underground on a bad day.  I was practically sitting in some guy’s lap and another man had his hand stuck to my backside the whole journey – he was young and good looking so there was an upside lol!


We arrived at the stadium at 3.15pm, the first wave was due to leave at 3.30pm.  We were in wave three which went at 3.50pm so plenty of time to get Andrea’s bib, I already had mine (thanks Tessa).  Then we collected our lights for the race – flashing green armbands – it’s quite a sight seeing them snake along the roads and over the bridges.

As we walked to our pen Tessa saw a gap in the crowd and persuaded us to jump over the barrier.  Andrea being German wanted to stick to the rules and me being British felt too polite lol!  But we did it – even though a marshal tried to stop us – we waited until he turned his head and were in wave two – rebels!  Last time I did this race we were at the very back of wave three and had to wait ages in the cold to start – it also meant running with fewer people.  Being further up would be a better experience – and it was (thanks Tessa)


The day before, Aldo, Tessa’s hubby had given us all flashing earrings as  gift.  The were totally fabulous and during the whole race many women pointed them out with smiles on their faces.  I felt very cool 🙂   So rather than chide us for jumping in the queue we were getting comments about our earrings.

We crossed the start line and I promptly lost Andrea – apparently she had stopped to adjust her belt bag.  We hadn’t really planned to run together – neither  of us sure of our current state of fitness so I wasn’t worried – I would see her at the end.

Amazingly my knee didn’t hurt at all – a good combo of adrenaline and painkillers.  What a relief – no pain.  Now it was just a case of seeing if my lack of running and failing fitness would get me round….spoiler, it did 🙂

Up over the last bridge

I haven’t run 15km for  while, so the plan was to run 5km which I know I can do (recent parkruns) then hold on as much as possible to 10km and then…well, I didn’t really have a plan for the final 5km, it would be what it would be.

It worked well.  Rotterdam, apart from the bridges, is very flat so the running seemed easier than usual.  5k whizzed by, there was also a drinks station at this point which I walked through.  5km – 10km were a bit more up and down and at around 9km you start the long climb over the biggest bridge.  There is a small climb before you even get onto the bridge and then up up up.  I was right by the barrier and as we climbed it seemed to be a long way down to the water.  There were also a lot of people on the bridge jostling around.  I tried to not look over the edge.  It was a bit windy up there too, it was reminding me of crossing the Severn Bridge into Wales on my bike – something I hated.

It was a relief to get to the top and the views were very good.  Over the top and then down down down for quite some time.  Before I knew it we were at the 12km point, just over 3km to go.  I was walking a little at this point. Not much, just 20 seconds here and there – my lack of recent long runs showing.  But I felt pretty good and every time I slowed to a walk someone would pat me on the back and say something encouraging…at least I think they were…it was all in Dutch 🙂

It was very dark now and as we headed along the finally road we could see the stadium all lit up.  The end was in sight.  I started to get quite emotional at this point.  It was not just the end of the race for me, it was the end of my events.  The last one, number 50!!!!


I took the time to think back over the last year, a year of doing an event nearly every weekend.  All the travelling, all the organising, all the racing.  What a year!

The end was lit up with bright lights, I put on a little sprint and crossed the line.

The year was over.

50 Events DONE!

Thanks for being there with me.  Your support has being amazing, I couldn’t have done it without you.





Event 49 – Santa Run Plymouth


It’s getting near the end now and I’m getting a little weary, so I decided it would be good to do something fun.

A Santa Run, where everyone is dressed in identical Santa suits, sounded just the ticket.  Added bonus of being held in Plymouth where Zoe is at Uni.  This also meant she had no choice but to join in.  I also dragged my sister Adi and hubby Antony along too.  My poor family – I think they will all be glad when this year is over.

It was very cold when we left my house, -1C but it was a beautiful drive and once Adi had warmed up and her teeth had stopped chattering we had a lovely chat all the way to Plymouth.

Giant Santa pants

We arrived at Zoe’s house at 10am and got into our Santa Suits.  Zoe had picked them up the day before.  They were huge – one size fits all and were obviously modelled on a 6ft, 20 stone man – hmmm maybe a bit like Santa.

Our kit consisted of a jacket, some trousers and belt, a jacket, a hat and a beard – Ho Ho Ho – instant transformation.


We wore as much as we could underneath, did I mention how cold it was… and headed off on the 20 minute walk to the start.

Walk to the start

The start was at the shopping centre in the middle of Plymouth and it was quite a sight arriving and seeing 750 Santas all hanging around in the city centre. There were lots of kids too and they looked so cute in their small Santa suits.  Even saw a few dogs all dressed up.

Little Santas


There was a local film crew too and it was all very jolly. At 11am a lady who told us she was from the BBC counted us down 3 2 1 GO!!!  Within minutes we had gone from freezing cold to boiling hot.  Zoe pointed out how hard it must be to run a long race in fancy dress – and she was right, we were already struggling.  I had to keep adjusting my jacket, tug up my trousers and my beard was super scratchy.  My head was too hot with my hat on…Oh and my knee hurt!!  It’s been so good recently, maybe it was the cold.

It looked amazing seeing the crowd of Santas running down the high street – shoppers cheering us on.  It was three loops of the shopping area and even looped through the indoor shopping centre.



The distance was only 4km and I’m glad it was.  With my hurty knee and uncomfortable gear it was far enough. Zoe and I walked a few times just to cool down a bit but it was great fun running with her and Adi and Antony.

At the end of the 3rd lap we saw the finish line.  We were greeted with a medal and a mince pie.  Within minutes of stopping we were all cold again.   So we wandered back to Zoe’s in our Santa suits which were now looking slightly worse for wear.  They were definitely designed for one outing only.

49 done!!

Next stop Rotterdam for Event 50.


Event 48 – Cotswold Sportive 85km


Storm Angus woke me up at 1am, it sounded like someone pushing a wheelbarrow of concrete across my roof. My first thought was I hope the power stays on… the second was, I hope this stops before the morning and my ride!

The alarm went off at 5.30am and I could still hear the rain battering against the window and the wind howling through the trees.  I got up anyway, figured I could start the journey and if it was too bad turn around and come home.

I was hoping to do this event with my Brother-in-Law Antony but he came down with nasty chest cold in the week – we hoped he would recover by the weekend but he didn’t.  I was really missing him as I drove on my own in the dark along the M5 the wind and rain battering the car. It’s two hours to the Cotswolds and the weather was predicted to calm down a little by the 9am start time.  I carried on.


The roads were quiet and as daylight broke at 7am it didn’t seem quite so bad.  My satnav took me to an empty lay-by somewhere in the Cotswolds…Hmmm… fortunately it had taken another man to the same spot.  Between us we worked out where we should really be (just round the corner) and by 8.30am I was parked up and registered.


This was a very small event – part of a series of rides that were cheap to enter and with no frills – no timing chips, no feed stations and best of all no stickers plastered all over your bike and helmet 🙂  Just a well signed route and help if needed.

It was very cold, around 3C so I threw on lots of extra layers including two pairs of socks and my ski mittens with hand warmers inside.  Just as I started to wheel my bike to the start I noticed that I didn’t have my little saddle bag on my bike with all my spares in….shit! Oh well… I’d not driven for two hows in stormy weather to go home now, my bike has slime in the inner tubes to reseal punctures… I’ll take a chance.  I must have taken it off my bike when I cleaned it and forgot to replace it.  It was to pray on my mind for the whole ride,funny thing is, it was so cold I don’t think I could have changed an inner tube anyway. But it reminded me of a book I once owned about mountain rescues in the Lake District.  It was a record of all rescues and had columns for where people were found, what the weather was like and in the final column what they were wearing.  Basically …were they well prepared?  Obviously it looked bad if they were found up a mountain in January wearing an anorak and tennis shoes (it was an old book – I don’t think we called them trainers then lol!) I felt like the bike rider equivalent…if I was rescued it would look bad not have the basics with me.  Anyhoo… my trusty winter bike made it.  Drama over.


The start was at 9am. We gathered in a muddy patch of ground by a lake for a quick event briefing.  While I stood there shivering I looked out to the lake and couldn’t believe my eyes – there were people swimming!  Some without wetsuits…it was 3C.  Maybe I wasn’t the crazy one after all!

By this point the rain had calmed to a light drizzle and would eventually stop but the road were covered in wet leaves, tree debris and partial flooding.  The wind made it seem even colder than it was.  My mittens did their job but my feet were frozen.

It was miserable.  I saw other riders now and then but being such a small event I was on my own most of the time.  I found the cycling hard too. My last long ride was back in August and most rides since have been short and flat. I didn’t do any cycling on my holidays.  There weren’t lots of hills but they seemed hard – most were long drags which I hate at the best of times. There was one section of three or fours short steep hills and these felt good as I passed a few people.  A little joy in a tough day.

An easy decision

It wasn’t just me having a tough one, at the split point where there was a choice between the long (110km) and short route most people decided on the short route, saying it was just too cold.  I had planned on doing the long route but just couldn’t face it on the day.

I usually chunk rides into 20km sections, and then into 10km sections.  Sometimes when it’s hard I do 5kms…but this ride I was pretty much counting every kilometre.  Playing games with myself, counting in my head what I thought was 1k and then checking my Garmin.  It was a long day.

With no official feed stations and the cold weather I barely stopped.  I did stop for a quick photo and a little snack but generally tried to keep moving.  Fortunately the last 20km was flat as I didn’t have much in me at that point and was thrilled when the finish was in sight.

Cold muddy feet

The finish was great, although I only paid £9.50 for the entry we were greeted  with hot bacon rolls and cakes at the end.  Oh My a bacon roll has never tasted so good – almost (but not quite) worth cycling 50 miles for. I chatted to a few other riders, who all thought it was a tough day and then head back to my car for the long drive home.

My feet finally defrosted about an hour later 🙂

As it happens the weather got much worse the next day – amber weather warning across the South West and epic rain….looks like I was actually quite lucky after all.

Two to go!



Event 47 Yeovil parkrun

Montacute House

After three weeks away from home and only two runs done I was a little nervous about getting round this parkrun.  Would all my superpowers have left me….all those meals out and celebratory drinks with friends….

Short answer.  Yes!!!

Sunrise at Myrtle Beach

Normally when I don’t run much I’m still swimming and biking and  gyming (not a word, it turns out) but these activities were not easy to fit into my trip and if I’m honest I planned my year around this being a chillax (also not a word) time.  So apart from my Melbourne parkrun my only recent run was a near the end of my trip at Myrtle Beach – which was pretty special with the sun coming up but at only 6km and at a slow pace, not special enough to maintain my fitness!

Back home the temperature had dropped somewhat….Autumn was in full swing and the fire was lit.  On parkrun day it was raining and this meant one thing….mud!   From the sandy beach in South Carolina I was back to what I know best, mud and rain and sliding down grassy hills.


Sister Adi, brother-in-law Antony and Adi’s work friend Emma were also along for the run.  This is their local parkrun and they’ve all done done it quite a few times.  It’s held at the stunning Montacute House on the outskirts of Yeovil, I have done it once before but well over a year ago.

After the race briefing we set off and Adi, Ant and Emma disappeared into the distance.  I remembered then how hilly it was….and all off road.  Last time I did it the start was delayed due to cows being moved off the course.    This time we started on time but only after a mad panic from Adi whose watch couldn’t find a satalite signal….turns out on closer inspection that the signal was fine she just didn’t have a heartbeat lol!  Phew 🙂

Car yoga from Antony

My legs hurt from the very start.  The day before had been my first day back with my trainer at the gym, jumping around, slamming medicine balls, pushing the prowler (it’s a thing, trust me) all designed to work every bit of my body.  I was really feeling it.  Also my breathing was not too great not helped by having to move around an extra half a stone of holiday weight…..I’ve actually I’ve been too scared to get on the scale, but that’s what it feels like.


But it was good to be back doing events, back to running over wet muddy grass, slipping on leaves and trying not to fall over.  Hanging out with my family, and other crazy runners on a Saturday morning – I’ve missed it.

The course was two laps which felt mostly uphill, although I guess it must have had some downhill, it just didn’t feel like it.  On the second lap I saw Antony who was now walking, not feeling too great (a day later he came down with a horrid cold).  I checked that he was OK and then carried on, my running only slightly faster than his walking.


The second lap also has a big steep hill, I remember running up this last time, but not today…I power walked up it.   Ha ha who am I kidding, I limped up it, at times it felt like I wasn’t  moving forward at all.  But at the top it was only 400m to the finish line.  I made a big effort and ran to the line.  Adi and Emma cheered me in and a minute or so later Antony joined me.

35.44, one of my slowest times for parkrun but still great fun 🙂

47 done.


Event 46 – Melbourne parkrun

Albert Park

Another parkrun but this time in Australia – parkruns are everywhere!

I’m in Australia visiting friends.  My dear friend Natalie who I have known for 25 years, my old neighbours Mark and Annette who live in Perth now and my running friends from my running forum who had travelled to Melbourne to see me.

Me and Natalie

I met Natalie when she was in London travelling and working, we worked at the same software company for a short while (I met Ian there too – a good place to work!).  We hit it off straight away and have been friends ever since.  Even though she is Australian and lives in Melbourne with her family I have managed to see her every two years 🙂 Though we won’t be doing any of my 50 events together we have plenty of other “events” planned – swimming with the dolphins and a day at the races amongst  other things and of course we have last two years of our lives to catch up on.

Annette and Me – bad hair day!

Mark and Annette and their three boys moved out to Perth over ten years ago, They used to live round the corner from me when we lived in Cranleigh Surrey (where I did my parkrun the other day – oh my, this year is all linking up).   They have a wonderful lifestyle in sunny Perth, which seems from Facebook posts to mainly involve mucking around on the water and having fun although they do assure me that they work too.   No events in Perth either but lots of walking,catching up and fun on the boat.

Me, Anne and Jo at parkrun briefing

Back to Melbourne and my running pals.  Again, considering where they live I’ve met them all before and couple of them a few times.   The minute they turned up at the apartment we had rented it was like two years had melted away and it was only yesterday we were last chatting with wine and nibbles.

Our parkrun run group consisted of Anne from Adelaide, we ran Adelaide parkrun together a couple of years ago, Jo from Orange, we have done Adelaide and Sydney parkrun together. Angela from Newcastle – she came along to cheer us on in Adelaide and Sydney and would do the same again here in Melbourne – Ang also saw me in Edinburgh last year when I did the Half Marathon.  Georgia who lives in Melbourne and is currently injured was also there to cheer us on  with daughter Tilly and hubby Mike and last but not least was Alex – I’ve done Melbourne  parkrun with her before and she brought along her mother, Janice and her lovely daughter Katie who has done nearly 50 parkruns!!!!  she is only 7!

Wake up Katie – time to run!

Parkrun starts at 8am in Australia which seems very early, I guess it’s because of the heat although Melbourne was a chilly 8C when we left the apartment so 9am would have been better 🙂   We were all quite tired after a late night chatting and the long travel for the girls  – Jo had spent 3 hours on a bus and 7 hours on a train to get to our meet up!  My body still wanted to be on London time so my sleep had been all over the place and Ang and Anne had both had flights the day before.

We walked the 2km to Albert Park – the weather was very Melbourne.  Oh course it wouldn’t be a Paula Green event without the threat of some adverse weather conditions and Melbourne delivered – it was very cold and the wind was blowing hard – big black clouds loomed overhead.  Melbourne with its four seasons in a day was showing us all its options.  But by some miracle it stayed dry for the run and if I pointed my camera in the right direction it looked hot and sunny lol!

Anne, me and Jo – clouds looming
Georgia and Ang – big cheer!

It was nice to do this parkrun again – it’s one loop round a big lake.  The track around the outside is easy to run on and there is plenty of room, although a couple of times I got a bit close to the lake edge and one elbow nudge and I would have ended up with swans – now that would have been a good blog post 🙂   The swans had babies and I was torn between running for a good time and taking pictures – I kept running.  I also saw a flock of cockatoos – you don’t see those in Taunton and lots of rowers training on the water.  All very jolly.

I had my usual feelings at 1km – “I can’t go on” and at 2.5km when we were the furthest point from the start I looked back across the lake and it seemed a really long way away.  Around 3km Anne came whizzing past and disappeared into the distance.  I was running ok at this point but I couldn’t catch her – I tried!

From about 500m I could finally see the finish flags and put on a little spurt which got me another finish time under 30 minutes – 29.50.  Ten seconds slower than my last time there but nine seconds faster than Belfast the other week – yay!

Colder than it looks!

At the finish Anne and I waited for Jo to cross the line five minutes later and then Alex and her family, who walk the parkrun, a little while after.  Katie did a great sprint at the end to finish strong.

After staying dry for the run the rain had now started – so we left the park and headed to a cafe for a well earned breakfast of….Cruffins, a croissant and muffin combo – love Australia 🙂

Lunch at St Kilda with Up&Running girls





Event 45 Cary Canter 10k


I nearly didn’t go to this one – I’d had a rare bad nights sleep, a bit of a sore throat and woke up to heavy rain.  Add in the fact that I was flying to Australia the next day, a wet muddy event didn’t seem too appealing.

But I did go, and I course I loved it 🙂  Sore throat disappeared, coffee woke me up and hey it wouldn’t be the first event I’ve done in the rain.

Castle Cary is only 40 minutes away but not somewhere I know well.  In fact most of the time I just think of it as a train stop on the way to London.  Although a few years ago when Somerset was flooded for months we did get the train from Castle Cary a few times  – so I knew the way to the station and the event was close by.


It was a small event – around 150 people and is part of the 1610 Race Series – just realised as I wrote this that it was held on the 16th Oct!! Nice.  1610 are a group of gyms.  I’ve done their events before and they are good value and well organised.

The train line

I got there at 9.15 and collected my bib, it was number 51 – only one number out – Ian said I should save it for next year lol!  It was drizzling and overcast but I wandered around and checked out the start area.  I got chatting with the timing mat guy and he said that some racers had already started ??? Apparently they were walkers and wanted to get a head start – Walkers?  Yes!! What a good idea – the organisers were happy to let them start early and what a great way to encourage people to do their events – maybe next year they will try and run.

Pretty trails

The next good idea they had was starting the race a few minutes early.  We were all at the start line and the drizzle had turned to heavy rain.  The race briefing  had been done so the announcer just said “Let’s not hang around”  “Let’s get this thing started” GO.  Brilliant!

Snaking across the fields

We ran across a field to a country lane and promptly stopped.  There was a car coming the other way – probably shocked to see 150 people running straight at them.  Once passed the car we turned off the lane into some fields and down a very steep slippy wet grassy hill – this gave us a superb veiw of the very steep slippy wet grassy hill going UP the other side…..and then down again and then up again.  There were also around six styles to clamber over – all covered in mud – at this point I was very near the back so 130 muddy people had already climbed over.

One of many styles to cross

I was loving it already – it’s suits my style of running, basically running with stops and walking 🙂 The whole course was pretty much up or down and the flatter bits were on bumpy trails.  It was very pretty and the changing weather – the rain stopped and  started the whole way round – made the scenery seem more dramatic, as the clouds moved above creating shadows and the sun tried in vain to peep through.

6k marker at the top of another hill

I spent the whole race with a grin on my face as I jumped over puddles, squished through mud, hiked up hills and skipped down slopes.  I saw some poor woman fall into some nettles as she slipped on the grass, I managed to stay upright though.  I also loved doing the 10k distance – longer than most of my recent runs.

Everyone around me was very friendly and in good spirits.  We all laughed when the Marshals said things like, “it’s easier from here” – it wasn’t or “it flattens out a bit now” – it didn’t. But nobody cared and before long the finish line was in sight.  Despite being a very cheap race to enter – £8 we got a nice medal and a very useful water bottle with a handle.


Then home and back to my packing.  Next stop Australia.  Next Event Melbourne parkrun 🙂

Event 44 – Belfast parkrun

Me with Tara

Twenty years ago on Monday October 7th 1996 my friend Tara was blown up by a car bomb while serving in the army in North Ireland.  She sustained a terrible head injury and nearly died.  One of the soldiers hit that day did die.

On Friday October 7th 2016, she was back in Northern Ireland, remembering events from twenty years ago,  This time she was with me, her partner Michelle and my sister Adi.  Despite staying at the Europa Hotel – the most bombed hotel in Europe we were hoping for a slightly less eventful weekend!  This time it was to celebrate that Tara survived and was still with us.

Tara, Adi and Michelle

When Tara mentioned to me back in February that she was thinking of visiting Belfast to mark the 20 years  I said I would love to come along….then I cheekily asked if she would mind me doing an event 🙂 Being the good friend that she is she said yes and would join me.

Sister Adi and I flew out with Easyjet from Bristol on Friday afternoon, this time unlike our last attempted mini break to Edinburgh it all went to plan.  The flight was on time and there were no weather issues.  We arrived at Belfast International airport on time and after buying our bus ticket had two minutes to catch the bus….the exercise had begun, good warm up for parkrun, although if you had seen the state of me an Adi gasping at the closing bus doors you would have had your doubts about our chances of completing parkrun!


Tara and Michelle had arrived earlier in the day and were waiting for us in the bar of the Europa, after a quick bag drop in the room, a change of tops and a dash of lipstick we were ready.  We came back to the bar and to our first prosecco of the night…there may have been a few more.

Tara had booked a table at the hotel, in fact she had booked all the activities for the weekend, she is so organised.  Over dinner she told us a bit more about the events 20 years ago.  As a  young soldier she was based in Germany but was called up to do a six month tour of duty in North Ireland….this was the first time her troop had sent women to Northern Ireland.  She had only been there just over a month when it happened…a car bomb in the barracks.

Europa Hotel

She was rushed to Victoria hospital where surgeons operated to remove pieces of skull and shrapnel from her brain, she was not expected to last the night.  But she survived and spent five days in intensive care where she was protected 24 hours a day by armed guards outside her room.

She told us that the surgeons were some of the best in the world at this type of surgery, unfortunately because they got so much practise.  The other surgery they excelled at was knee repair, again, due to the number of knee capping incidents so popular during the troubles.


Tara recovered and even went back into the army for a while.  She was left with limited vision…meaning she still can’t drive (she was a driver in the army) and to this day suffers from extreme fatigue if she over does it.

Gates at Ormeau park

As those who know Tara, this doesn’t stop her doing amazing stuff – she has a half ironman under her belt and is signed up for another one next year.  She completed her first marathon this year in Edinburgh (yep, the trip I was supposed to be on) and completed the 1000 mile Land’s End to John O’Groats bike ride with me last year.  Despite her limited vision she navigated us both throughout the trip.  Her limited vision and sense of direction still much better than mine!  As well as her athletic feats she has a part time job as a carer and is a senior leader with the Samaritans ….she is also a very good and supportive friend  and I feel very lucky to know her.


The next morning we all woke a little bleary eyed and very grateful that parkrun starts at 9.30 in Ireland! Yay a lie in 🙂   It would be our first event together this year.  As usual Tara was super organised and guided us on the 40 minute walk to Ormeau Park.

It was a very pretty park and I wish I had taken more photos, but we arrived with just enough time to find the start location within the park – parks can be big – and dump all our stuff with Michelle, who we made get up early for just this job – Thanks Michelle 🙂   We also left the park in hurry to get back to our hotel breakfast which finished at 11am – so no photo chances then either.

Parkrun pose! – Adi realised a minute later that her top was inside out 🙂

So… two laps, the first was 2km and the second 3km.  It was nice and flat and had about 300 runners.  It was a cloudy autumnal day and a good temperature for running.  No rain – yay!

Ormeau parkrun startline

We all ran together for a while before Tara picked up the pace and got ahead.  I stayed with Adi – I don’t really have more than one pace and I was running it.  As usual at the 1km mark I was thinking “how am I going to run 5km” I heard Adi voice the same thing when she heard my watch buzz the 1km.  But of course we all got round.  Tara slowed a bit having not run since July due to injury and Adi and I plodded on.  I managed to just get under 30 minutes – 29.59!!! Adi and Tara were close behind.

Everyone was pleased with their run and it was a great way to start the day.  Michelle had a nice time chatting with some other spectators too and shouted out encouragement as we went by.  Apparently, she found out,  there was a 92 year old lady running that day – wow – that’s going to be me one day!  I checked the results later and there was a runner in the 85-89 category (I wonder if it doesn’t go higher) with a time of 43 minutes! I think we saw her at the end but like I say we were rushing back for breakfast lol!

Titanic Museum

The weekend continued with a visit to the Titanic museum in the afternoon, the Titanic was built at the shipping yard in Belfast  – definitely worth a visit.  By the end of the day we were all exhausted – my watch said we had walked 26000 steps !  A pub meal and a few drinks followed by an early night.  On Sunday we were back out sight seeing on the City Hop on Hop off bus.  We hopped on and stayed on for the full 90 minutes tour.  They made me sit upstairs in the open top  section…..we all froze lol!  But it was great to see the city and for Tara to visit areas she was not allowed to go  20 years ago.  We passed the hospital where her life was saved….it seemed very real then.

City tour

I wonderful weekend with special people….. we are already planning the next one!

Event 44 done!





Event 43 – Cranleigh parkrun

img_6865The rain was hammering on the window screen and bouncing off the ground in the car park.  Willow the dog was huddled up on my feet wanting to stay dry. My poor friend Sally was wondering what she had let herself in for.   We were in Cranleigh for parkrun and would be meeting up with our friends Pam and Moira, all of them new to parkrun and all of them here because they wanted to do an event with me.  Please let the rain stop…..please!!!

Willow wishing me luck

Pam, Moira and Sally are friends from my baby group – the NCT classes for first time mums and dads.  Our babies are now 21 – but we have stayed in touch all these years. Meeting every year for afternoon tea around Christmas time with our other friends Sarah and Sue who unfortunately couldn’t make this meet up 😦  and various meet ups though out the year usually when they are passing through the South West for holidays or Uni visits.

Cranleigh was where we all met.  I was the only one of our group (there were eight of us back then) that actually lived in Cranleigh – the others lived in the surrounding villages but the classes were held there.  I lived there for 12 years, got married there and the kids started school there.  It is a lovely “village” – well really a small town, very Surrey – good housing stock, local shops and lots of greenery.

Willow and Sally

It was fun coming back – it hadn’t changed much, a few more shops and of course no parkrun back then.

At 8.50 the rain calmed down and Sally and I made the five minute dash to the start of parkrun, past the football field and across a country lane into ….a field! Not a park at all – but very pretty and perfect for a 5k run.

Parkrun starts at 9am and at 9am the rain magically stopped and it stayed dry for the hour we were there – even saw a peep of sunshine.

The local MP was there for some reason and started us off.  3, 2, 1, GO. Unlike Coventry a few weeks ago this was all on grass.  The grass was wet, obviously, but actually not too bad to run on, a small trail having been made from weeks of parkruns.

Moira, Sally and Pam dressed for the rain

We had plans to catch up with a lunch afterwards so I felt happy running off and doing my own race.  Sally runs most mornings with her dog, Willow, who was also with us, but Moira and Pam do other activities and would probably need to walk  a bit.

I needed to walk a bit myself when at 1km as a  big long hill appeared.  I got a fair way up but it was hard going on the grass and I figured walking was just as quick, it also gave me time to take in the stunning views of the Surrey countryside. The other side was quite steep downhill and bit slippy as Moira found out, falling over and getting covered in mud – welcome to parkrun Moira 🙂


It was a  two lap course and weaved around the fields.  You could see the finish line from most places on the course but just when you thought you were getting near, the course would suddenly change direction away from the finish.  It did make it easy to spot the others though across the fields and every one was doing well.   Sally and Willow were on my heels through out, chatting away – Sally not the dog, in fact Willow would have run twice as fast given the chance.  It was very enjoyable and like all parkruns very friendly, other runners chatting to us and the marshals shouting encouragement.

I hadn’t run for a couple of weeks as my  knee, which plays up now and then had been a bit sore – not surprisingly giving what I’ve put it through this year.  It was a little ouchy at first but then seemed fine.  For a hilly off road course I was very happy with my 31.56 time 🙂

Surrey countryside

At the finish line while Sally and I waited for the others I head a “Hello” – it was my old neighbour Mary.  It was lovely to see her although I couldn’t remember her name straight away……certainly felt 50 then!  We had a nice chat and got a photo.

Me and Mary

We all had a great time and I’m sure I could persuade them all to do another parkrun again sometime.


We headed back to the car and the minute we got in the heavens opened and the rain came down.  The parkrun weather fairies had been on our side though and allowed us a dry run.

We finished off the day with a lovely lunch back at Sally’s house and a proper catch up.

Dry and ready for lunch

A quick shoutout too to sister Adi who did Dartford parkrun, after a 3 hour drive to Dartford from Somerset, getting there with eight minutes to spare!  Also to my friend Sarah with a great comeback parkrun in Scotland, after being injured for a while.  Well done – a good parkrun day all round!

Event 43 done!



Event 42 – Glow Swim

Adi swimming at Vobster Quay in the summer

As Autumn approaches the events are changing…fading light means evening events are now in the dark!  This event was a first for me – a night swim.

The swim took place at Vobster Quay near Radstock – I had been there once before in the summer with Adi, who would also be doing the night swim.  We loved it, although I think we were lucky with our experience on that particular day as we had the lake to ourselves – apparently it gets quite busy.  It’s quite a drive from where we live, just over an hour.  We spent the whole drive saying “it’s too far” “we won’t go again” – then we swam in the lake and decided the drive was totally worth it and when could we come back 🙂

Adi – Glow stick ready

I had got chatting to another swimmer who arrived as we were finishing and he said if we liked it so much we should come back for the night swim – book early as it sells out fast, only 150 spaces.   A few days later I saw the entries available on the website and we were in.

Vobstay Quay is mainly a diving centre, but with an area available for open water swimmers.  This is what the website says about the lake:

With 36-acres of fresh water diving in depths ranging from 6m to 36m, divers of all levels will find the heady mix of exciting underwater attractions and a full range of diving support services hard to resist.

Beneath the lake waters you’ll find a fabulous array of attractions just waiting to be discovered. Divers can explore the wreck of a large commercial aircraft, a 42ft motorcruiser, two metal wheelhouses, our famous Crushing Works – a towering structure the size of a 2-storey house – and even a spooky concrete-lined tunnel that’s not for the faint hearted!

I should point out that I knew none of this on the night of the swim – and I think I’m pleased – 36 METRES DEEP!!! SPOOKY TUNNEL!!!


Fortunately it was a fairly warm evening although cloud cover stopped us seeing the full moon properly – which was a shame… I had looked up lots of information to tell you about the Harvest Moon…another time.

There are two small car parks at the lake, one right by the lake and one up a steep hill a few hundred metres away.  Due to me getting everywhere super early we pinched a spot in the bottom car park.  This meant we could leave all our stuff in the car and go back for food, water, change of clothes as often as we liked.   It all felt very relaxed.

At registration we were given a swim hat, a glow stick and a travel mug (not sure why a travel mug, but it was very nice).  We also had a number marked on our hand and our cap  so we could be identified easily as we got in and out of the water.


Like the swim event at Eton the it was a great atmosphere.  Lots of different types of swimmers from Ironman triathletes – I saw a lot of IM T-shirts, to non wetsuit swimmers.  I even saw a lady in a wheelchair getting ready for her swim.  I did wonder for a moment if they were going to wheel her up to the edge and just tip her in.  Hopefully she used the ramp lol!

At 7.30 as the light was fading we had our safety briefing – everyone had to check that the person next to them had a working glow stick (unlike the glow run last week where most of them didn’t work) – this would be the only means of being seen.  I could see the safety kayaks getting ready in the  water, they had a little red glow sticks, we had green and yellow ones.  There were also a couple of divers under the water with torches.  It was all very exciting.

Safety kayakers

At 7.45 we entered the water – our numbers shouted out and written down as we did so – each swimmer would be checked back out of the water too.  The water on the ramp was shallow and warm, nice ….and then you jump into the deep dark water and OOOHHHH!! a little bit colder (much colder).   Everyone gasped as they jumped in and then laughed.  There was lots of nervous excitement, it really was an unusual thing to be doing.

The event was started with a red firework set off over the lake.  Very cool.  We had been told not to race.  If we were fast then go near the front and slower swimmers near the back.  It was an experience, racing would be dangerous.  Everyone stuck to this and before long there was a long line of glow sticks making their way round the lake.

Helping a swimmer out of the water

We were allowed to swim any distance we liked from one to four laps.  Adi and I had decided to stick to two laps as we didn’t know how we would feel.  As it happened I think we both would have liked one more lap but as we didn’t swim together we both got out when we said, not wanting to worry the other one.

But back to the swim…. I loved it!!  Really loved it.  I just spent the whole swim thinking how lucky I was to be doing it.  What an experience.  It really was very dark, but the little glow sticks around were comforting and I did get a glimpse a hazy Harvest Moon 🙂   The large buoys on the lake were lit from below so we could see where we were going and apart from swimming into a smaller buoy at one point it was very straightforward.  I did have one little shock as a non wetsuit swimmer came near me – it did just look like a body floating in the lake!

Each time I rounded a big buoy I could see the snaking line of glow stick, it was very special.  I saw one swimmer stop and asked if he was ok?  “yes, I’m just taking it all in” he said. I knew what he meant.  Towards the end of the last lap although feeling really strong I was starting to feel little cold so it was probably good that I was getting out.   I headed over to the ramp and my number was shouted out as I exited.  I was a bit wobbly but so happy.

Finished and time to go home

Adi had finished before me and was back at the car out of her wetsuit and wrapped in her toweling robe.  We had had decided not to shower with the masses (there are good facilities there) but to get dressed and get home.  It was getting quite late and we had a long drive.

We both loved it.  Event 42 done….only eight more.




Event 41 – Aquabike

Lake 62

With seven hours sleep after the Glow in the Park I was back out on the road at 6am and driving to the Cotswolds for Event 41, an Aquabike.  What’s an Aquabike?   It’s a swim and a bike, no pesky running 🙂   This Aquabike was also nice and short, 750m swim and a 20km bike.  I did wonder if it was worth the 2 hours of driving each way, but it was…most definitely.

The drive there was beautiful, a perfect morning – the sun rising and a little mist to make it look pretty.  It was bit nippy but looked like it would warm up.  Best of all the M5 was strangely empty 🙂

I’ve never been to the Cotswolds for a swim event and never done an Aquabike.  I  was keen to see what the lakes were like in case I want to do a longer event there one day and I was also keen to do a short race for a change – one I could actually race.


I arrived at Lake 62 just after 8am, parked my car and walked to the venue.  The grassy walk to registration was pretty muddy and I was glad that I would not be running on it later.  It was a low key event and all the registration and transition were on grass, there was also no cover.  Fortunately it was a beautiful morning and the sun was warming up nicely.

There was also an Olympic distance triathlon taking place the same morning so transition had to be cleared by 9am.  My start time was a 10.10 so a bit of waiting around.  But it was fun watching the Olympic waves do their swim and everyone I chatted to was very friendly.  I chatted to a lovely guy called Tony for a while who was using this event as experience towards longer events in the future.    He was also recovering from injury that stopped him running.  In fact everyone I spoke to seemed to have a good reason for not wanting to run.  The Aquabike was perfect, shame there are not more events like this.


At 9.30am we got in our wave race briefing.  There were not many of us and although the men and women had our briefing together we would set of separately in the water.  We were allowed in the water for a few minutes before setting off to acclimatise.  Most people said “ooh it’s warmer than I though”. My first thought was “it’s colder than I thought”  But really it was a nice temperature and after a few minutes chatting to my fellow swimmers we were off.

After my 5km swim last week if was lovely to be swimming just 750m, one lap of the lake.  The lake was lovely, a few weeds, but generally very clear and lots of space to swim.  The lap was over very quickly.

A quick dash out of the water, wetsuit down to waist, hat and goggles off and into transition.  It was easy to find my bike as most of the bikes had gone on the Olympic distance. Helmet and glasses on, shoes on…over the mat and onto the bike ride.


The bike was flat and fast and mostly left turns.  One 20km loop which we only had to do once.  I was loving this race.  I didn’t notice much scenery because for once I was actually concentrating on going fast lol! There were a couple of points where we had to slow down – a busy cross roads where everyone had to stop and put one foot down or risk being disqualified and in one village there was traffic calming – with traffic being giving right of way in other direction.  Fortunately both of these were traffic free for me but I did speak to a few people who had to wait for quite a while.  One guy stuck while a caravan and horse box slowly came the other way.  Very frustrating I’m sure.

The course was well signed but not many marshals, most of them were in the village with the traffic calming.  We were told that the village was not too happy about cycle events – I bet many go through there.  They needed to make sure everyone stuck to the rules.


At the end we racked our bikes and then had less than 100m to run to the finish line.  It was rather strange doing a 100m dash with my helmet and bike shoes on.  I watched the Olympic distance guys come and rack their bikes and the go off for their muddy 10km run…yet again grateful that for me the race was over.

At the end I chatted to my fellow Aquabikers.  Every person I has spoken to before hand came over to ask me how I got on, Natalie who had just had a baby, Susannah and her partner who swam without wetsuits and Tony, who had raced so hard he was sick at the end (possible one too many gels) and walked back to the car park with me.  Funny moment, when I wandered in the direction of the car park and realised I had forgotten my bike – whoops!

It was a great event and so friendly.  It makes me a little sad that my year is coming to an end…I’ve had such fun and met so many nice people.

Event 41 done.