Category: General


After London I wanted an autumn challenge to keep me running. First thought had been the Winter marathon which goes in November, but after a few recommendations I decided on Sörmland Ultra – a 50km terrain ultra that runs mostly on the first part of the Sörmlandsleden (Stockholm’s version of the Pennine Way if you will).

I’ll be honest in that my training prior had been my usual 3-4 runs a week including a few trail runs where I found far too many mushrooms for them to be effective (though good for my mood), and a couple of runs around 25km, with the Stockholm half marathon a month prior.  I didn’t really have any goal other than taking myself to the finish line, though I thought it would take 6-7 hours to get there (haha).  I was therefore rightly quite nervous in the leadup and on the morning of the race.

My usual race breakfast is seedy filled museli and yoghurt with plenty of coffee on the side (for getting my insides moving reasons ;-)), but this time I went for peanut butter on toast and lashings of coffee – it didn’t quite have the same effect, though my stomach held for the entire day (including drive home) so I honestly can’t complain. After breakfast it was time to go for the bus, which left Huddinge at 8:18. I’d cut catching it pretty fine, and ended up jogging down to Huddinge (more km, go me!). The bus and the tunnelbanana journey was pretty uneventful aside from the fog meaning I got a bit lost in Skarpnäck  or whatever that place was called – thanks to googlemaps for setting me straight.

When I got off the tunnelbanana in Bjorkhägen I saw a couple behind me, the girl dressed similarly to me – which made me wonder if they also were going to be running – on the way out of the station I managed to pluck up the courage to ask them whether they were running the ultra, and which way it was to the start – and yes, she was running and there were signs and people directing us to the start – woohoo. We got chatting as we walked along to collect our numbers, and it turned out that we had similar goals in mind (finishing, and smiling!) so at some point along the way of collecting numbers and getting changed we decided to stick together.  We met Elin (of pink-haired runstreak fame) and Kajsa Berg (Huddinge AIS of awesome running ability and 10 month old twins fame!) in the changing rooms, and then on the way to the start I bumped into another lady I’d met through instagram.

Everyone at the start line was trying to stay warm in the sun (it was quite cold!), but also seemed really cheery and friendly – which was nice. The start was delayed 15minutes, but it seemed like seconds passed till it was time to run!  At that point I definitely was trying not to think about how long we were about to set out for- I was mostly amazed at the number of people in shorts.

The first bit was a loop around the woods, as we got settled into running we chatted a bit about what we did, what an environmental engineer (I think that was it anyway!) did and random things, the first part of the race was a bit confusing as there was another race in the area the same day – but aside from a couple of bloopers we found our way, and met another lady – who had helped remove the markers the year previously – which was definitely a bonus in knowing the route! And so we were three.

The company definitely kept me going, especially the first 17?km before we reached the first checkpoint – the going was quite slow on the trails, but time was flying somehow.  At the first checkpoint we met a few more runners (most were I guess way ahead of us), and were offered fine delights such as peanuts, gherkins and cinamon buns – with coffee or energy drink (plus firemen!) after a brief pause we continued on our way.

Sörmlandsleden is really beautiful I have to say. At around 20km we climbed a steep rock face and were met with the most beautiful views over a lake, there was another bit (not sure how far in!) where there were really pretty waterfalls, and another where there was a bridge over a lake – simply stunning views.

After the first checkpoint, they came more frequently – every 8-9km if I remember correctly, with the last two checkpoints pretty close to each other (and the end) – this made it a little easier to fathom and split up, though the part around 30km where we were mostly on ass-phalt or tracks was pretty boring. Luckily the company more than made up for it, and while my feet and body were getting tired, my head was (aside from a headache that I think was due to brain-freeze) in a good place, that I’m certain it wouldn’t have been in if I had been alone.

Just prior to 40km we came to the energy station we had been dreaming of – the one that had CRISPS! That was amazing, we’d been talking about crisps quite a bit by that point (I think we were probably getting sick of sweet energy drinks etc) and while the gherkins and peanuts were awesome, we were ready for some new deliciousness to take us further.

It was awesome to reach 42km and know that every step I took beyond that was a record for me, by that point we’d been on our feet for over 6 hours – so even that was a record! Though other than meeting more ASS-phalt and also a mosquito down my throat the bit to Rudan, where we did our final few km was a bit of a walk-run-ouch blur!

Once at Rudan, there was the last energy station before the finish line, and there was homebrew IPA, which definitely dulled the pain of the final few hills round Rudan – which one of my co-runners accurately described as ‘kinda like those half-pipe things they have at tough viking’ geez – I’m not sure I could have ran up them if I wasn’t tired out.  The light by this point was also dull – Memories of running around there have an almost dream like quality (including singing ‘we are the champions’ and ‘like a virgin’). At some point we realised we didn’t have that much time till max time (8 hours), but I’m not sure how much we sped up – I think those I was running with could have gone faster, but I was pretty much empty.

We crossed the line 7hours 53minutes after we started – exhausted but happy. It still feels pretty surreal, but it also feels good – the event itself was very well organised – everyone was super friendly and helpful.  I definitely want to run it again and see if I can improve my time (there are people who must seriously fly).

 

 

So the day came around, much faster than I ever anticipated.

Training had gone well, I’d given up on the initial (very optimistic) goal of 4:00 and decided to focus on getting the mileage in. The last few weeks of training were slightly more hectic than usual. I was on both placement with university, and Mr T had started a new job – the taper came at what felt like the best possible time, I was definitely getting run down. In the future I think I’d like to get another 30km run in rather than just the one, but it was enough on the day.

I arrived in London on the friday, the coach went via the expo- so got my number then. I was staying 10 minutes walk from Marble Arch, took the opportunity to go look around Oxford Street and meet up with a lovely friend from my birthing group (only briefly on friday, sorry! but we got to talk a bit more on the monday lunch – which was awesome), then finally managed to find J, F and I – we went and played catch and catch up in the park before walking to Soho for dinner. Might probably have walked a bit more than I should have.

Saturday, up bright and early to run in Hyde Park with the running group, then after breakfast I went along to the expo again, and managed to meet a few lovely ladies from a facebook running group while wandering around – tried on some trainers (Brooks trail shoes, omnomnom want!) and talked to a few booths, including the Loch Ness Marathon (2016’s adventure?) before heading back to enjoy the last supper with the running club. Lamb hotpot in a lovely little pub – kind of a shame that I didn’t have a half of beer to go with it, then it was back tot he hotel and attempt some form of sleep-like activity before the 6am breakfast wake-up call.

I slept, well badly – though I did sleep – 6am came and after a quick chat with the kids and the Mr I headed down to breakfast. I loaded up pretty well (think I went for full english, then a bit more), then went up to get dressed. I was pretty impressed with myself for not forgetting anything to wear – my packing was scatterbrained to say the very least! I also managed to iron part of my number, which melted it slightly – luckily I noticed before hole-formation!

Do I look terrified yet?

 

Then it was onto a coach to get to the start line, while listening to my spotify playlist to get worked up! I managed to eventually find the Miscarriage Association for a quick hug (though was looking at the wrong place for long enough!)

Some of the running team. 🙂

Nicky and Kate (lovely ladies  to the left and right of me) were the two ladies that the virtual run was arranged with (Nicky was the mastermind behind that one), Nicky had covered her skirt with little stars symbolising the many angel babies that are so sadly not with us. Coralie had her little angels written on the seam of her running vest – it was so hard to not get super emotional at that point of finally meeting some of the M.A. team and hearing a little bit of their stories. I also met Louisa (apologies if I failed to spell your name there!) who was aiming for a sort of similar time to Kate and I – so we decided to start out together. After a few more photos it was time to make it to the red start (and photobomb poor Kate on the way!)

photobomb deluxe

A fair bit of our time was then spent waiting to spend a penny after (wisely) deciding that female urinals in running tights were maybe not the cleverest idea ever (and hearing other reports about the urinals, we made the right choice there) and then it was a quick bag drop before getting into our pen to start.  The number of people was incredible, and we slowly slowly started inching towards the start, trying to avoid the mario-kart characters and other hilarious outfits. It took about 20 minutes to actually reach the start, including another run for the loo, but it seemed to pass incredibly fast anyway – before we knew it we were going over the start line – the marathon had begun!

The first 10km went without too much of a hitch (plenty of HUMP!’s, quite residential area). We were a little slower than Kate and Louisa had planned, though probably about dead on for what I should be going for – when Kate said to me they were aiming for a second 10k at 55minutes I wisely realised that it was time to say bye and head off on my own, bearing in mind my current PB for 10km is 54minutes…..

The second 10km also went off without a hitch, though again was very crowded in sections – I found it hard to keep a pace based purely on the number of people, though I was pleasantly suprised to find that I wasn’t absolutely terrified in the sea of people. I’d decided to run with my rucksack (water and snacks) and that safety belt really helped me – it also helped that the water stations served bottles, so while a bit hairy underfoot around the stations, it meant that I could sip as and when I felt like it, and kept water in my hands for quite a while rather than trying to drink from a cup and getting a free shower.

Around 17km the grump kicked in, and I took absolutely no pleasure in running over Tower Bridge (the halfway point), though looking at the pictures I still had a grin on. I was running in vibram five fingers, and the asphalt had gravel sticking out of it at the exact size that I try to avoid when running. 21km passed – and then it got heavy going – I managed to keep running till 27,5km when another runner hit the back of my foot and knocked my shoe half off. Not wanting a repeat of Sands (where I ended up running in just socks) I hobbled to the side of the road to put said shoe back on, but from that point on I was cursed by the walk/run mindset. I started walk-running (Docklandsish I think) and met up with a lovely fellow runner called Holly who was also having a bit of a sucky time and feeling ill. We talked and talked each other into running bits, but after a while decided we’d set our music on and get serious – I later heard she’d been sick and then got going again – YEY Holly!  I also somewhere here just before meeting Holly saw the miscarriage association cheer team, who had ORANGES (oh my goodness the most delicious thing ever) and jelly beans. I had a quick hug and got going again.

This song got me going, I was singing it (badly) and just so happy… haha! (Good job you didn’t see me at this point F!)

My music got me going again, but meant I missed out on seeing my lovely lovely friends F, J and I who were cheering. I did actually hear them, but at that point I was pretty zoned out – as the video they have of me shows (attempting to upload it, but computer says nope).

Before too long we were back at Tower Bridge for the final 6km, and again around 5km it started getting tough going – at that point I rang up the hubby and the kids for a pep-talk – which worked really well – I’m not sure exactly why I lost it again at that point as really there was so little to go, but I do know that my legs started cramping running along the Thames, so run walk/smash thigh with fist, as the way forwards.

Coming up the the Houses of Parliment was a majestic sight, and the last 4km were so full of people (after the Tunnel of Piss/Penis, which fellow runners will understand the name of) that I didn’t need music on anymore – the cheers of ‘Run Gem Run!’ were simply amazing and kept me going (plus I found a smooth bit of road to stick to – which was bliss) rounding the corner I saw a bright yellow top (of a girl who I think had passed me earlier) with the logo of the online running group (Run Mummy Run) and so I said Hello, and asked if she wanted to cross the line with me – running up towards Buckingham Palace was utterly incredible, and passed in an absolute blur if I’m totally honest, then it was around the corner (WHUT!) and FINISH LINE!

Tasty Tasty Medal!

We crossed the line hand in hand (the first male winners of the marathon had done the same in 1981, and as the 35th anniversary the organisers suggested doing the same) and very very gladly stopped running. I crossed the line exactly at 4 hours and 40 minutes, my garmin telling me I’d ran 42.8km (so an extra 600 metres for free – it’s an ultra right?).

Just casually eating an apple in a tutu with a medal on /asyoudo

Then it was finishers photos, collecting bags, and heading out towards the meeting point (where I utterly missed F, J and I, but then found them outside).  Met up with the Miscarriage Association and some of the runners then in the Cafe in the Crypt (which hilariously had an out of order lift), before heading off for curry.

I had an absolutely incredible experience, and can’t wait to run another marathon or ultra in the future. The training is a bit hard work with a family once you get into the longer distances/3hour long runs, but running the marathon itself is such a wonderful/terrible enlightening experience that you simply don’t get at the shorter distances.  I’m pondering looking into the run/walk method in the future, as I don’t seem to have a problem to walk/run/walk/run, and doing it from the begining might actually speed me up overall – that or I need to not walk at all – hard to really know. I might play with it over summer.

So what’s next?  Well I’m running the Göteborgvarvet at the end of May, and kind-of hoping for a ticket to the Stockholm Marathon to sneakily land on my doorstep (I’m trying to win competitions for tickets basically), but beyond that I’m not sure. I think I’d like to do a more trail-like marathon in the future, and definitely an Ultra-Marathon – might go for Loch Ness in 2016.  The fundraising experience has also been interesting/amazing. I’m suprised about how much people want you to shave your head for example.

I think it’s important to choose a charity that is close to your heart, that miscarriage awareness and support for all is something that I think is so needed both in the UK and Sweden – really made the process pain-free in some aspects. I’m so thankful and appreciative to everyone who has supported me on this crazy journey of mine – THANK YOU! <3

 

#pinksparklesforemily

As I type this, the dye is bought – and I’m just waiting for a quiet moment to try it out. I’m actually quite scared about it, as it’s been 15 years since I had bright hair.

There’s a woman who has inspired me a lot. I met her on a birthing board I joined when expecting Arthur.  As we shared our stories hers stood out – her baby was going to be through a surrogate, as she, Emily had a lung transplant a few years prior due to cystic fibrosis.  Emily always had something inspirational to share, a great positive outlook on life and we spoke several times through facebook about different things, and her advice was always spot on.

Sadly, last year Emilys’ health began to take a downturn, and though she recieved a second lung transplant she passed away last year.  My wonderful mayflower friends have since then donated and fundraised for the charity she co-founded (live life then give life), and some of them will be running the Leeds Half Marathon in may, in her memory.  I’d love to have been there with them, but unfortunately it’s in the middle of my term time, boo.

So my hair is for Emily, in her memory – an amazing star in the sky.

If you’d like to donate to live life then give life you can through:- This link to my wonderful friend Hilary Hall’s Just Giving page. Hils is running the half marathon in May – and it’s going AWESOME with her training!

As you already know, I’m running for The Miscarriage Association – if you’d like to support my London shenanigans then my link is right here!

Angel Run is now live!

A virtual 5km, 10km or half marathon, where you decide when/where/walk/run/whatever!

The only constraints are the distance, the time span (1st Jan – 31st March, entries must be in by the 28th Feb).

Enter now!

Medal

So saturday 26th April 2014 was race day. Fabulous spring weather of 13 degrees, bright sunshine and a light breeze. The race itself, Woman’s Health Halvmarathon was held on a small island in Stockholms centre – Djurgården, which also houses Skansen their outdoor museum (I would have ran faster if e bears had escaped maybe)’ and a few other things like that. There were suppsed to be 2500 participants, but of that only 1900 or something showed up, but 98% completed, which is awssome. they had a time limit of 2 hours 45 minutes, which I was a bit scared of in the begining, but wasnt really an issue, plus the last lady came in around 2:55 so they weren’t strict about it, which was nice.

The race itself was two laps around the island (Djurgården) with the first being around 9km, and the second slightly longer at 12km. It’s a very very flat route, pretty much at sea level, with one slight hill around 5km on the first ‘varv’, 15km on the second (we’ll get to why I mention that later). They had water/energy points nearly every other km, with the first around 2km just after Skansen. They served water, isostar lemon, banana at one point and some energi bar thing later on.

My friend came up to race with me, so we met at our house and travelled in on public transport, something to love about living in a big city like stockholm. We made it to the start area about an hour before it began, plenty of time to have a wee (important!) have a last minute shoe crisis (minimalistic nike free 5.0 or 5fingers, the 5fingers won), then hand in the bag and go warm up. With the race being small for swedish race standards, it felt lovely to warm up in a big happy group as the gym actic or something took the stage.

At 11:00 the starting gun went for the competion class, and the rest of us moved forwards to start at 11:05. As I was expecting a pace around 6:30min/km I went to find the 2:29 pace keeper, though ended up sticking with the 2:19 lady instead (As those on facebook might know I was struck with a cold 2 weeks prior to the race, which simply hasnt fully gone away -though I’m begining to suspect pollen may be to blame a little as it is terribad right now). We started, and the first km or so I was overtaking people as I tried to find ‘my speed’, also somehow around 2km overtaking the 2:29?!?! Pace keeper when I’d started with 2:19 (who came in perfectly to the second). At 2km, my first water point I took a cup and tried to run with it, but it was pretty bad. I can’t always hit my mouth when sat down stationary, so not exactly sure how I thought running was any better. I continued to try find my pace, but by 4km got stich, which took till around 7km to go away. Kept running and at some point realised my friend was just 10people ahead – at which point I thought “bugger I’ve really gone too fast” so stuck to the people around me and their tempo for the rest of the lap.

The first lap felt long, but also fine – my playlist was on loudly – the surroundings were beautiful, and I could just lose myself in e moment. It felt good to be running beside people, with people. Water controls were a welcome pick up and I had no problems with the isostar lemon (risky,I know). By 10km I started ovetaking again. i’d already lost my friend again (turns out the daywas really against her and her stomach was not impressed) bohemian rhapsody came on around 12km, and I suspect ladies who were used to 10km races were losing pace. i went too far though, and at 15km and the only little hill in the whole darn race, I hit my wall.

I tried reciting arteries, how the pacemaker cell in the heart works, all of that, I was still running, but pace was down, I was being overtaken, my legs were tierd – my feet starting to hurt, I could tell there was a blister on my second toe forming (my feet arent really the right shape for 5finger running). Then a song came on my playlist – Less than Jake, a song that reminds me of my aunt who passed away a few years ago, and while everything still sucked – I knew I was going to get through it. The spotify playlist gods shone down on me and gave me two more calmer tracks (maybeshewill -he plays the stars pt2 and massive attack – teardrop) then kicked me back up the ass with some Aquabats! – The Legend is True!, 16-18km came and went, along with the final water stop.

The last 2km was a zig zag across a large openspace, where you could see the finish (and also a wee hill). That little tantalising moment made me realise that it was in the bag – up with the pace out with the frown, in with the shit eating grin and all of a sudden, boom. 21098m done. I thought I sprinted at the end, but looking at the footage I ran like a bloody gremlin. Once through the finish we were rewarded with a cool glass of cider, banana, water, and recieved our finishers bracelet – a pearl bracelet with silver plate with the marathon name and year.

When I got to the zig zag, I’d hoped to see my friend so we could maybe finish together, but couldnt see her. So after I was done I made my way to the finish line to cheer her (and peoeple on). I think the swedes may have thought I was potty though! Once she finished, we met my friends who had come to cheer me on, then went to the finishers tent for afternoon tea. Though swedes fail at scones, it was an awesome experience.

I’m still on a runners high, just hoping that I don’t do something silly and sign up for loads of races now!!!

Ey up!

It’s been a while, as much as I’d like to update all the time, it doesn’t seem to happen like it used to.  At the moment I’m on a crafting binge to try and do ALL THE CRAFTING before christmas, and give everyone lovely handmade treats instead of buying everything (yarn totally doesn’t count as something I buy, obviously).

So I’ve just completed a pair of fingerless mittens but I’ve realised though that posting pictures of this project might spoil it for the recipient, so I’m going to make another pair (plus I can test how it looks without a colour changing yarn) before posting the pattern – though it is really simple, so I don’t know if anyone even needs a pattern for it.

Hope everyone is well.

/gem

Caek

Photobucket

Cake?

I’ve made this, and some cupcake coffee cup holders in the recent past – must do some more crafting!

 

Another blog post from me across at My Living City.

Hoping to get some time on here at the weekend to do an actual real update, who knows maybe I’ll manage it.

In the meantime have a new-years picture of some costumes I made and me and my pregnant self (in genuine 1970’s duds from my auntie).

 

Here’s an article over at mylivingcity that I helped with.

Love being pregnant somewhere like Stockholm, so many things to do and enjoy!

I left pinterest not too long ago, and so I’m missing out on somewhere easy to keep my crafty ideas – but here’s some idea’s that I’ve saved in my favourites folder recently.

Patterns in crochet!

Editing photographs is something I’m still terrible at – though I try really hard still. Here’s some newborn editing tips.

Soft pretzels of deliciousness -recipe I followed while nesting in late pregnancy. Nom.
How to make a granny square – used this for my magpie blanket and a cushion I made not so long ago. Going to use it to make another cushion soon.

Blog of the runner up from masterchef a few years back. Interesting and quite funny.
Lemon Scented Pull-Apart Bread
Lemon Milk – An alternative when there’s no buttermilk