Challenge 14 – The Santa Run

I’ve started this post about five times and deleted and restarted again. It seems like there needs to be some trumpets playing and ticker tape floating down from confetti cannons somewhere as I write! A final post!

Yesterday was the last challenge of our #12challengesin12months. 2017. Our year of madness, fundraising, 40th birthdays and friendship. Not for one minute when we started this  little project did we think it would snowball into such a momentous thing for us both. And I mean momentous for many reasons….

Lets start with yesterday! The Chandlers Ford Community Running Group Santa run! I volunteered earlier in the year to organise the inaugural CFCRG Christmas run! Mainly because we’ve taken so much from this amazing group over the course of the last 6 months and feel like we haven’t given as much back to the group as we would have liked. We’ve led a run once and needed to put ourselves forward to contribute more.

We’re an extremely social bunch of runners and the general consensus was that a fancy dress pub crawl would be the order of the day. The date was set and I planned the route between the pubs in the area – dropping them an emails and coinciding it with a Michael Buble tribute Christmas carols singer at the last pub we would end up. I emailed the press and put the word out that there would be running Santas on the loose!!

So yesterday – a grotty, damp Sunday morning (after a nightshift!) we met at one of the pubs in the centre of Chandlers Ford. Last count, I think there were 32 runners in various stages of Christmas fancy dress – santas, elves, hats, beards, Christmas onesies, jumpers and of course trainers! Off we went! The drizzle cleared up, people cheered and cars beeped.

Now, I’m not an emotional person. Not one of the sort of heart on the sleeve types but I must admit, to see several dozen of our running friends, comrades and buddies pounding the local streets all in fancy dress was a sight to behold and I had a lump in my throat. One of our injured runners was pushed around in a wheelchair while another of our crocked team followed on her bike. Each pub we stopped at, 6 in total, welcomed us with a smile and we had a drink or two before moving on.

In the Hiltonbury farmhouse, it was so wonderful to meet the ladies behind the Murray Parish trust. These are ladies with whom I have corresponded all year and never actually met. Of course, they got sweaty, smelly Santa and elf hugs from us and we had a chat and we were able to thank them in person for all their support. I know Steve and I will continue to promote The Murray Parish trust and will support them where we can over the coming months until their dream is realised and their target is reached.

Ending up at the last pub where partners, husbands, wives and kids all joined CFCRG to celebrate. At one point in the evening, I sat and looked at everyone enjoying themselves, drinks in hands with Christmas decorations, merriment and festivity all round and I pinched myself to remind me how lucky we were to be here. The culmination of our journey.

At the beginning of the year, we ran on our own. We weren’t part of a group and had only ever run with others at organised and paid for events. We had very few running friends or buddies so we ran just with each other and mostly at night. Joining a local group has given us so much more than people to simply run with. At the risk of being soppy, we have benefitted from support, encouragement, friendship, gossip and endless amounts of joy and fun. It was an absolute pleasure to complete our year of events with the awesome friends we have made – who we have supported during runs and who have supported us throughout. Last night, at the end of the run and without a drop of alcohol in my body, I can truly say I loved them all! #CFCRG17

And what made it all a little bit more emotional was the fact that this was the last event we had lined up for our year of challenges. At the beginning of the year, this hairbrained idea took shape and we never could have imagined how it would have turned out. We travelled all over the world. We ran in Winchester, Southampton, Coventry, Warwick, Kenilworth, Exeter, Bath, Stoke on Trent, The New Forest, Devon, Las Vegas and New York (and me in Krakow). We ran in temperatures between -4 and 34c and all between. We ran up hills, on roads, beaches, through forests, rivers, ice, mud and deserts. Through cities, towns, down lanes and along highways. We have walked, jogged, ran, sprinted, cycled, swam and kayaked. For a birthday that most people want to forget, my 40th year has actually been one of the most memorable of my life.

In the end, we smashed our £1000 fundraising target and as of this second, our total is…. (drum roll please…)….£1244.64!! With gift aid this equates to £1459.39. I’m so proud of us and everyone who sponsored us as it was not something we were expecting in a million years. Steve’s work have given us the forms for matched giving, so after Christmas I shall fill these in and send them off and hopefully they will donate another £1244.64 making our total £2489.28 for the specular Murray Parish trust – who are a few quid off their first million!! 

There are people who I feel need some acknowledgement, or as Strava would say – kudos –  throughout the process. Everyone who sponsored us and listened to us harp on and on (and on) about what we were up to and endured the endless running photos we have exhibited (much to their boredom). To all our CFCRG buddies who have been epic and stuck to the support ethos of the group in cheering us on and sponsoring us . To all the guys from the Murray Parish trust for all their support, particularly Dominique who has become one of the people I emailed most this year! And last but not least, to my amazing, wonderful husband who agreed to go along with this mad idea last Christmas and has stuck by my side in every challenge – even when he wanted to go faster. Even when the lads ribbed him because he came in last due to sticking with me! For shouting encouragement at me up hills where I wanted to stop. For dragging me out running on nights I wanted to sit and watch TV and eat chocolate. For buying me new trainers when my old ones bottomed out. For grabbing my hand and pulling me towards the finish line when I couldn’t run any more and I swore (repeatedly) at him. #TeamHolfords. Until running wears out our joints and we can only get round with zimmer frames and incontinence pants.  Love you x







So a couple of weekends ago, in events totally unrelated to our #12challengesin12months, we spent the weekend in Bath (late present for Steve’s birthday!!)

Steve’s not been running much as he’s had a poorly calf, so Saturday morning’s Bath Parkrun was a bit of a test and his first in a week. It was cold and wet and foggy (a bit like the remembrance run) but the Parkrun was set round the Bath Skyline walk and it was beautiful. We are, of course, fiercely loyal to our home Eastleigh Parkrun but I must say the route at Bath was beautiful – almost a shame to run round it as there were times I felt the view warranted stopping to look and admire it!! We did go back round the route at the end of the Parkrun to take some photos.

We stopped and had a great breakfast and went on to have a wonderful weekend in Bath, visiting the Spa and eating and drinking far too much!

Now, we are into December. The nights have truly drawn in and the temperature has dropped and our year of challenges has come to an end. The final challenge is a bit of a fun one and it seems fitting that the last event is a Santa run! Most of the already organised Santa runs are organised by and for specific local charities and so it seemed unfair to book onto the challenge and then not fundraise for the charity that were organising the event.

It just so happens that our wonderful local running buddies, Chandlers Ford Community Running Group, also were interested in a Christmas run. So, I have offered to organise the Christmas run…sort of finish the year of challenges with all the running peeps who have been such a source of support this year.

So, Chandlers Ford Community Running Group’s inaugural Santa run is on the 17th December 2017!! By popular demand, the route is 6.4km and is a pub based route with a number of stops for liquid refreshment!!

Watch this space for the last update to this blog. I very much doubt it will carry on past December – the point of the blog was to have a lasting reminder of our very special year and to be able to look back on everything we achieved. I hope there will be a way of printing this off into a book and in the future we will be able to remember with fondness our wonderful 2017!



Challenge 13 – Remembrance Day Run

Yesterday we got ourselves over to Portsmouth for challenge 13 of #12challengesin12months! As you know, what was meant to be a challenge a month turned into a couple of challenges a month for a couple of the months, so grand total of challenges is now 14! Yesterday was our penultimate challenge.

The last few weeks, I’ve started to lose my running mojo a bit (this also happened in the summer of 2016 when I had the whole of the summer off and not one single run). Now the weather’s colder and nights are darker, to be honest it’s  much more appealing to have a cup of tea in front of the telly than pull on my gear and go running in the freezing drizzle.

So it was a complete surprise that yesterday morning, in the fog, cold and rain, I was up for a 10km run! It also happens it was my son’s birthday and so we dragged the kids with us for a bit of support!

As it was 11th November, the run was a Remembrance Day run on Armistice Day to remember the members of the armed forces who lost their lives in the line of duty.

The run started and finished at Fort Nelson in Portsmouth, a defensive Fort built into Portsdown hill. It was abadondoned in the 1950s and is now a museum of royal armouries.


We all wore poppies as a mark of respect and at 11am a cannon fired to mark the start of 2 minutes silence in respect of our fallen soldiers. I think The 2 minute silence is always quite emotional and yesterday was even more so with 500 runners absolutely quiet and then all running in respect. The second cannon fired at 11.02am to mark the end of the silence and off we went.

It was a hilly route, rarely flat with a big down hill at the off but that same hill on the way up at the end. Miraculously, the rain stopped and the fog cleaned before the run. It was beautiful through the closed off countryside roads, towards and round Southwick and back to the Fort. Steve got chatting to a bare foot runner (see BarefootBlonde Strava) and I chatted to our fellow Chandlers Ford Community Running Grouper Anne.

I normally struggle with hills, but the company, scenery, roads (rather than off road) and return of the mojo made it a pleasure to take part in. I even ran the last (massive) hill. It wasn’t fast but I didn’t stop! 10k in 1:03:02 and as usual we crossed the line holding hands and (for the second time only) with the kids cheering us on! A lovely poppy medal followed and a walk back to the car just as the heavens opened.


This year we have been fortunate enough to be involved with a wonderful running group from our local community. We were there from its inception and inaugural run in June, and we have made some wonderful friends and running buddies. Over the year we have grown and gelled as a group and it’s made a massive difference to have folks that support and understand your running efforts and sentiments. Each run, each kudos, each challenge, each strava segment and achievement has been shared with this uber supportive group, Chandlers Ford Community Running Group (#CFCRG17). Our last run will be the group’s first Santa run, December 17th.  It’s a Christmas fancy dress daytime run, between pubs! Bottoms up and watch out for our last chapter!



Hitting the £1000 target!!!!!!

The clocks have now gone back, the nights are drawing in and there’s a chill in the air…winter is coming and November is here.

Our Saturday Parkrun was a Halloween themed event, in fancy dress! It was a good old turn out with over 300 runners rocking up with more than a few in Halloween get up.

Now, it’s fair to say I’m not at my best at 8am on a Saturday morning. I’m even worse after a few glasses of wine the night before. So, I slapped on the face paint and wig and off we went.

It just so happens that the local paper was there and so was the founder of Parkrun,(parkrun royalty really) Paul Sinton Hewitt with letters after his name. Race director Louise was leaving and so Paul SH gave her an award. There were photos taken and put in the paper and lo and behold, there was me in all my hungover glory! Blooming awful! Photo is attached!! Its also fair to say at this point, they did not get my best side!

Last week, I asked my workplace if we could do a dress down day in order to try and raise our fundraising effort over the £1000 mark. The big boss kindly agreed and on Halloween, my work colleagues all came in ‘mufty’ clothes instead of uniform for a little donation. My wonderful colleagues raised a fantastic total of £98.14. Well done guys – you bunch of bloomin’ superstars.

Just prior to the dress down day, my friend Karen (see last post, Karen of running-over-the-line-at-great-south-run-holding-hands fame) posted on Facebook ask if anyone could donate to get us from £961 to the £1000. Her friend Suzanne – and her Mum Linda – came to the rescue with a very kind £20 each to get us over the magical £1000 mark!! EXCITED MUCH!!!!!

So, now we are up to £1100. Unbelievable!! All a bit mad that all this has stemmed from a batty idea last Christmas to get us out and about over the year! The other big thing is that Steve’s work have given him the paperwork in order for them to match our fundraising. They will donate exactly the amount we raise via their Matched Giving scheme.  Pretty awesome or what?

This Saturday is our second last event of this whole shebang. Its our 13th event and is a remembrance day run on 11/11. Incidentally, its also my son’s birthday so lots of understanding from him to let us run on his birthday and moving his party to the day after instead (I know, I know rubbish parent!!)

So, a sign off from now and the next post will have details of our November run!


Challenge 12 – Great South Run

So here we are!! Having completed challenge 12 of the 12 challenges we had planned to do this year. #12challengesin12months The slight twist in the tale being that the 12 we planned have turned into 14, so this is not quite the end of our journey! It was only meant to be one challenge a month for 2017, but we slipped an extra event into April (The General OCR) and an extra event into July (Active warrior). This means we still have our November and December challenges to complete before we are done.

Anyway, back to today and our challenge for October. The Great South Run! 10 wonderful miles in Portsmouth, taking in all the great sights before finishing with a run along the seafront. we did this last year with a time of 1:42, so this was the target to beat. I must say, I cooked an amazing dinner last night – sirloin steak with all the trimmings just to get our protein and carbs up! Breakfast as always before the run was crunchy peanut butter and honey on wholemeal toast and a cup of tea.

Considering we had major weather warnings for the area the day before this race, we had been hoping for dry, clear skies with no wind. Well, two out of three ain’t bad – it was dry and clear this morning but windy as hell! 22,000 folks turned up for this epic event, which was in its 27th year. The wind does explain why I have scary hair in the photos!! We completed this event with our friend, Karen, who was also aiming for a 10 mile PB, her quickest earlier this year being 1:48:00.

The plan of action was 6 min per kilometre, which would bring us in at 1:36 and therefore beat last year’s time. We were late to start as the bag drop was horribly busy, but this was not a problem as it was chip timed and the clock only started as we crossed the start line. Start was quite congested – hard work weaving and dodging through all the slower runners and it was amazing how many were walking quite early on. There was also very unfortunately someone who had collapsed fairly near to the start and an ambulance crew were performing CPR at the side of the road. I do truly hope there was a good outcome for that person.

It was good to be passing the pacers – we started behind 2hrs 5mins and easily passed them all up to 1:40 while we were jogging along. It also felt fairly easy. There were no hills, no surprises. Apart from my feet hurting a bit, there were no major problems and it seemed to go smoother than last year. Maybe that’s because I’ve completed half marathons this year as well?

It was a lovely well supported event, with thousands of people lining the route. There was entertainment at regular intervals with a bagpiping troupe, some steel drums, a cheerleading team, choirs, drumming teams and tons of charities along the way. Oh, and of course plenty of jelly babies being handed out!! We had our names on our tops and it was good to hear the odd person shouting our names in encouragement.

The last couple of kilometres was along the seafront but the wind – which was forecast – reared its ugly head blowing directly at us, 20 miles an hour. It was a bit of a struggle but not impossible and we stuck to the 6 min a kilometre plan and ate more sweets to combat the wind. I think Karen felt a bit like she was struggling but she was doing fine, we encouraged her along and didn’t let her stop or slow….I have to say here, we didn’t bully her (I don’t think) and I knew this was a pace she was capable of or else we’d have slowed down with her.

So, we finished 16.3kms in 1:37:06. All three of us crossing the line together holding hands. Some 5 minutes quicker than last year and a year older! Collecting our medals and goody bags as we came through the finish funnel.

And so far having raised £866 for the amazing charity we have been supporting all year – the Murray Parish Trust. If you want to see what we have been up to this year or support the charity, you can do so by clicking here.

November is our 10km Remembrance day Poppy Run. 11/11/17, the event starts with a 2 minutes silence to remember those who fought and died in conflict, then after this is the run. This event is on my son’s birthday so that’s dedication for you – running on his birthday!! There will be a party to follow I’m sure!

As for next year, I think we’ll slow down a bit on the events. saying that, we’ve been looking at triathlons. Olympic distance! And a couple more half marathons, perhaps somewhere we haven’t visited before so we can make a weekend of it. There’s the race to The King (that’s two marathons in two days) and also the  Clarendon way (24 mile route) that’s nearby and just waiting for us to give it a go. Second thoughts, maybe we won’t slow down next year…..!!

New York, New York!

So following on from the last post, we took our internal United Airlines flight onto New York after our 4 days in Vegas. This was my first time in New York and it didn’t disappoint! We arrived at Newark about midnight and so my first glimpse of the big Apple was as we were landing, I even spotted Lady Liberty far far in the distance! Then speeding through the streets in our taxi. I say ‘speeding’ but even at 1am, the Manhattan streets were chock-a-block. I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many car horns constantly used!

The uber dropped us at our hotel, pretty much on the junction of Broadway and Times square and we checked into out 48th floor room then headed straight out into the warm autumn night. Very bizarre walking through Times Square at 2am – it was mobbed! We ended up in McDonalds, just because we were starving and what a motley crew there was in there – gangsters, transvestites, drunk tourists, security guards, kids….

We stayed 5 days in New York and managed to run once in Central park at dusk, don’t think I’ve ever seen so many runners at that time of night! The roads were shut in the park and there were dedicated runners lanes on the road anyway. We did one lap in the park which gave us a good 10k, stopping at the huge lake for some photos with the NY skyline and sunset in the background. I wish we’d had more time to go back to the park and explore properly both inside and around the perimeter of the park. Weird but I would have liked to have seen the Dakota building where Lennon was shot!!

We walked the Highline, which was beautiful, and walked and walked round all the sights – Rockefeller centre, Empire state building, Grand Central Station, Central park, 5th avenue, Greenwich Village, Washington square park, Liberty and Ellis islands, Wall street, Battery park, 9/11 memorial… I think we had a pretty good shot at all the main attractions. We saw two shows – Chicago and Miss Saigon, which were both excellent. We went to Brooklyn and watched Ed Sheeran in concert – superb!! We didn’t get to fully explore Greenwich village, Chinatown or little Italy, which only means we will have to revisit and do it then!

On the Saturday morning we were there, Steve booked us onto an organised run at Fort Hamilton Army base. It was a ‘Run for the Fallen’ and was a choice of a 5 or 10k run. We left Manhattan super early to make it in time and still got horribly lost. The subway was impossible to fathom out, we got off too early (or late) and had to try and find our way from where we had got off. We ended up in the wrong entrance for the base and I had to beg to use the loo, sorry bathroom, at a Veterans hospital. We then had to find an alternative entrance several blocks down – finally getting to the base at 09.50 – for an 09.00 start. Whoops! The organisers were great in that they let us do the 5k race (we were too late for the 10k) and we got a fabulous t-shirt (and a bagel!) and pictures of us running next to the Verrazano bridge. We asked a lady who was volunteering with the run if she could give us directions back to the tube statio. She not only gave us a lift, but also gave us a guided tour of Fort Hamilton, Fort Washington, Staten Island, took us over the bridge and then dropped us at the Staten Island ferry to be able to get the boat back to Manhattan! Thank you Nikia for being such a fabulous, friendly  guide!

So our time in new York came to an end and we got the train to JFK and were very unexpectedly upgraded to upper class by Virgin Atlantic, which was a wonderful suprise for which we were very grateful!  I doubt we’ll ever get the chance to fly upper class again, so this finished off our holiday nicely! Very bizarre being in bed, under a duvet on a plane drinking champagne and eating a three course dinner!

So back to reality and back to training! Our next challenge (number 12) is The Great South run in Portsmouth on 22nd October, 10 miles of fairly flat and scenic running which is well supported! Although this is challenge 12 of #12challengesin12months, we actually have another 2 challenges planned….and we are up to £816 on the sponsorship. Not much more to go and we’ll be at £1000!!! So watch this space for the next instalment! Remember, you can still sponsor us at


The Secret holiday….

As mentioned in previous posts, Steve organised a super secret holiday for my 40th birthday. Knowing him as I do, I knew it would be organised with military prescision and I also knew he hadn’t told a soul, for fear of the secret being revealed!

I’d been given a large suitcase and told to pack it with clothes for ‘changeable weather’ and some swimming stuff, but no more than 23kg worth! And of course the first instruction was to ‘pack my trainers!’

Saturday 23rd Sept at 5:30am, a driver knocked on the door to take us to our first stop! He’d already been primed by steve not to give the game away! Anyway, north up the M3 (which was at a standstill thanks to some eejit chucking something ontomthr carriaway), divert to A31 to the M25, eastbound to M23 and it started to look suspiciously like Gatwick airport!

Sure enough, North terminal beckoned and the Virgin Atlantic check in desk loomed large! The secret stayed firm as Steve made me stand well back while he checked in for us both!

Into the lift and up to the fantastic Virgin lounge where we ate and drank our fill, and it was still only 09:30! Steve asked if I wanted to know where we we were going. I had noticed the Virgin departure board had four flights on it….Barbados, Antigua, Las Vegas and Orlando. Let’s face it, all pretty awesome destinations! He handed me a folder that he’d made and the destination was…VEGAS! The folder had a full itinerary for our trip day by day, starting in Las Vegas onThe Strip and ending in New York! With shows, concerts, helicopter trip, zip wires all packed in! Unbelievable! Starting with a 11 hour flight out in premium economy where we were treated like a King and Queen! We’d woken at 4:30, flown to Vegas and with the time change we arrived there at lunch time…very bizarre knowing we still had all day to go! The Department of Home Land security guy was very stern taking our fingerprints before we jumped in a cab toget to our hotel on the famous sunset strip!

We had 4 nights at the Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas where we were on the 11th floor overlooking the beautiful gardens and pools. The gardens to the hotel were amazing, fountains, waterfalls, a beach, wave pool and lazy river. The sun shone throughout although the locals said it was a quite cool 85c!! 😎

That night we watched Michael Jackson One cirque de Soleil which was breathtaking and awesome. We finished off our night in the Irish bar in the mall of the Mandalay Bay, having been awake for over twenty six hours!

Up at dawn for eight laps round the gardens of the hotel for just over five km run then showered and changed before we found Denny’s. We ordered three meals between us and got a round of applause from the table next to ours when we polished off every last scrap and several refillable coffees!

We walked down the strip and  saw the Bellagio fountains, Caesars palace, the Venetian canals. We wandered through New York New York, the Cosmopolitan, Luxor and Excalibur. We stood in awe at the massive casino in the MGM Grand and had photos taken with the Eiffel Tower at Paris.

Later that evening having been picked up by limo and taken to the helicopter base, we flew in our chopper over the Hoover Dam and into the Grand Canyon where we drank champagne and flew back at sunset! It was unbelievable, one of those things that I’m so glad a saw in my lifetime, a true wonder to see the Colorado river snaking its way through the canyon as it has been for thousands of years. Later that evening we had a wonderful meal at the Foundation Room in Mandalay Bay, where we drank cocktails on the room terrace looking down the neon blaze of the Strip.

Next day, more sightseeing, then in the evening we zipwired down the madness that is Fremont Street a hundred and fourteen feet up like superheroes! We ate burgers fries and very alcoholic cocktails at The Heart Attack Grill! What an exotic, eclectic  place that was…lots of near naked street performers and wonderful bands, street bars and vendors topped off by a massive LED lit canopy and a banging sound system.

Las Vegas felt like a big magical, sparkly fairytale of a place. Way more amazing than I’d ever imagined. We walked 26,000 steps a day and managed to fit a two runs in while we were there.

After a whirlwind of views, hotels and sightseeing, I was sad to leave Las Vegas but we were New York bound. Can’t believe that I loved it so much and will definitely return!


Challenge 11 – Hursley 10km trail run

Last Sunday was our challenge 11 of #12challengesin12months….the Hursley 10k trail run! Hursley is a local very small village to us – 2 pubs, a school, a post office, hairdressers and a butchers! (Oh, and the amazing Hursley Park Cricket Club). IBM has a huge facility there too.

There were some hilarious emails that came out from the organisers in the days leading up to the run, when the heavens opened and everything started to flood. The route description went from wet, to muddy to VERY MUDDY to omg! We’ve changed the route as its un runnable !

Chandlers Ford community Running Group (@CFCRG17) came out in force to all compete together as this was the first real ‘race’ we’d all done as a ‘proper’ running group! It was amazing to see loads of us in our group t-shirts lighting up  the crowd in a blaze of luminous yellow.

We did this race last year, it was Steve’s first EVER race and we finished in 58 mins, although that was a glorious sunny day and it was quite dry. Ho, ho, ho…what fun awaited us on this year’s course….not a 58 minute finish, that was for sure!

We donned our Murray Parish tshirts over our CFCRG yellow tshirts and off we set. Not a good omen when my feet got soaked through walking from the car park to the start point.

It was a huge loop round the woods around the village, with more mud and hills than you could shake a stick at. We ran on shingle paths, grass, mud, puddles, fields – hard but fabulous. My trusty trail shoes held fast in the ankle deep mud, although at times it would have been easier with skis on my feet than shoes.

I hit a bit of a wall at 7.5km and Steve  offered to push me round, which was met with a quite un polite refusal. We still finished in 1hr 1 min,  and I even managed a sprint finish at the end (God only knows how, cos at 7.5k there was no energy in my legs at all!).

So, my first race as a 40 year old! And the next challenge is the Great South Run 10 miles in October. Before that, we have my super surprise birthday holiday, leaving on Saturday. Of course, I have packed my running stuff – even though I haven’t a clue where we’re off to (Steve’s spent all year organising it!). Keep posted for holiday running updates!



Challenge 10 – The End Of August

The first post of September! September! Can’t believe How quickly the year has frittered away and now I am 40!! We’re three quarters of the way through our year of challenges.

When we dreamed this up last year, a year of challenges seemed like an unfeasibly long time, a huge amount of planning and mammoth task. Now, the end is in sight and (fingers crossed) nothing has gone horribly wrong, we remain uninjured (now I’ve jinxed it I bet) and we are soldiering on!

So, back to the challenge for August, which has required more organisation than all the others combined. As I mentioned before, in a way, this was one of our hardest challenges. It wasn’t a couple of hours in one day to get it done and dusted – it was a month long challenge during which I saw more of Strava than I did of my children. This feat was performed over the kids school leave with three holidays to incorporate and a 40th birthday. (And subsequent hangover).

I’m over the moon to announce – we smashed it! Our target was 100km over the month, I reached 135km and Steve did 148km! Im really proud of myself and it feels great knowing we significantly trumped our target rather than just hobbling over the line!

To give you an idea, the amount I run in a month varies (due to work mostly – I do tons of night shifts) but over the last few months, figures have been: January 66km, February 46km, March 92km, April 73km, May 48k, June 62km, July 88k….so you can see 135km is a big deal. Of 31 days, I got up and out on 24 of them, having 8 total days rest only during the month – including 6 of those days being 12 hour work days. Only one of those runs was on a treadmill, some were in Spain, some in the New Forest, some in Devon and the last week at home.  It worked out at 33.8km a week. I’m really happy with it and doubt I’ll manage that distance again, ever!

My 40th birthday was fabulous! With a 5km run on the morning of my birthday to celebrate my first run as a 40 year old. We had a lovely day with the family, a walk into Winchester, drinking pimms by the river and a family meal in the evening at The Dog and Crook. I got some funky new compression socks and a new pair of trainers as it was time to retire my old ones at 793km. I’ve stuck faithful with Saucony, going for omni’s this time.

Then, the following day, Parkrun in Eastleigh in the morning and then an all day garden party with a LOT of prosecco! The weather was glorious, the alcohol flowed freely, my garden looked beautiful and it was amazing to catch up with friends and family! Needless to say, the day after my birthday I was unable to run – I was barely able to get out of bed! I had a wonderful video message from the Murray Parish Trust, the charity we are supporting this year to say ‘Happy Birthday’ which was posted on my Facebook page!

My birthday also signalled a lovely boost in sponsorship with about another £85 donated on the day. We are well on our way to our £1000 target. I think with gift aid, we are up to just over £800. Remember, I am still sponsorable by clicking here!

The August challenge also gave me a new PB for a 10 km. during one of my runs as last week I did 10km in 55.13 (I was in the zone!) not bad for a 40 year old!

So, the next challenge, challenge 11, is the Hursley 10km, an off road, hilly trail run in the rural village next to ours. We did it last year and it was excellent, I have a time to beat as well as I want to beat it last years effort.

I have also just looked at Race To The King, a challenge for June 2018. This is a ultra race, 2 marathons in 2 days. I’m not mad enough to think I could possibly run this, however, plenty of people walk/hobble/crawl it. Its from Arundel to Winchester with a camp over on the first night. Its crazy and another massive challenge, but something to work towards!! Maybe some of our fabulous running group would be up for it too – the entries open in the morning, so if we’re going to enter we only have overnight to think about it!! Last week we collected our fabulous new running club tshirts – they are luminous yellow with our names on and Chandlers Ford Community Funning Group. It’s cool to see us all running about in them and folks wearing our club tshirts at Parkrun!

In three weeks, we go away on the surprise holiday that Steve has spent 6 months planning! He has kept extremely quiet about where we are going, joking throughout that we are going to ‘Bradford’, West Yorkshire. (I’ll be extremely disappointed if we actually DO end up in the north of England!) He’s not told me anything or given me any clues about where we are off to, except to say it will be 8/9 days. Yesterday was the first real clue he’s dropped – he came in with a large new suitcase and told me I have a 23kg weight allowance to fill the case for the holiday, and also a 10kg hand luggage allowance. This must mean a flight -right? There’s no weight allowance on trains, ships, buses or cars!! He’s told me to pack for changeable weather but not for cold weather. Trainers are a must and some smart clothes for going out!! I also think there may be a travel visa involved, he asked me my parents details and employment details!! Where could it be? Am so excited and only three weeks to wait. All will be revealed here when I know!!



Challenge 10 – update!

Finally back to the ‘real world’ after three weeks away on holiday!

Our third week of holiday was in beautiful Devon. We’ve had a very hot week in Spain, a very rainy week camping in the forest and then this last week in a caravan in Devon, near Exmouth.

The weather was fantastic, far more sunny summer days than miserable rainy ones! The view from the caravan was stunning and we woke up each morning with a view of the shimmering sea.

Steve took his bike and managed some pretty epic cycles round the Devon coast. We also get plenty of runs in while the kids were entertained with activities – swimming, Segway, football, crazy golf etc. Again, we seem to have very unwisely chosen to holiday – and therefore run – this August in the hilliest places! Spain; quite undulating! New Forest; far from flat. Devon, truly mountainous!! It was quite fun to check the tides before we ran each day to see what in time slot we would manage to get along the beach before we were stranded in the caves!

Anyway, 22nd of August now and I can safely say we’ll hit 100km for this month! I wonder if we can add another 25km in the last week to make a nice round 125km instead as 100km seems a bit too achievable?! 😂

Had a lovely run this evening with our running group buddies at Chandlers Ford Community Running Group. Such a lovely lot and a very social event. It was a lovely muddy, gloppy trail run through the woods…however, it did prove the nights are (very sadly) starting to draw in as we were rapidly losing light towards the end at 8:30pm.

So, as the decade of my thirties approaches it’s very end (three days till I’m 40! Eeeeeeekkkk!) it seems like a good time to reflect on my fitness, to know that I’m in the best shape of my life, fitter than I have ever been. My stamina and mindset is better and more focussed than it has ever been in my twenties and thirties. I’m approaching the fourth decade of my life and actually quite looking forward to it!