The Great British Challenge

It was my friends birthday and as it was school holiday we thought it would be a great idea to spend the at an event.

We chose the Great British Challenge run by Saxons, Vikings and Normans (SVN), you know I love these events, Ranscombe was my last one and I was really looking forward to this.

It was an early start (aren’t they all?). We made our way into Kent for the 8am start.  IMG_7212

The start was in a wooded area called Kings Wood, beautiful but hiding a secret.

IMG_7217

The hills!  I knew there would be some hills but I was not expecting to step elevations and quick drops.

IMG_7213

The theme was British and therefore we were all encouraged to dress up in red white and blue.  The sun came out in full force and I met up with friends I had met via SVN events and local clubs before the start.

The event started and my friend and I went off.  Due to the steep hills I recorded my quickest mile, I was chuffed.

In my mind I wanted to complete between 1 lap and a half marathon, my friend said she wanted to do a lap and as she had fairly recent knee surgery I was not going to push her to do anything she didn’t want to do.

After the first lap I felt good, I restocked at the aid station and waited for my friend to come in.  She came in and said she wanted to go out again, cool I was happy for her.  I went off, this time running the downhills and flats and walking the very steep uphills.  The elevation map below will see how the elevation differed.

After the second lap I was ready to go again, the third lap meant this would be a half marathon.  I waited for my mate to see if she is ok.  She came in and said now she had completed 2 laps it would be foolish to give up before the half.  I decided to support her and not go off.  The sun was out in full force and we set off.  Some gentle running to start with but the hills soon become too much for her and we walked and chatted, it was lovely.  We came to the finish and rang the bell to indicate that was it for us, collected our medals and goody bags and sat waiting in the sunshine for the rest of our party to come on in.

The next event for us will be the SVN cakeathon at the end of August, looking forward to it already but my legs need a rest first!

2A2EDF28-78F0-40F7-89EC-DE9009222ACE

Prudential Ride London

Myself and hubby were asked if we would be available to help with baggage for the Prudential Ride London.  You know me, I love helping and volunteering so we jumped at the chance, especially so when I wanted to see up close what Ride London was all about.

IMG_7165
Welcome to Green Park
The biggest bike I have seen

It was an early start, having to be at Green Park for 7am but we were able to catch a glimpse of those early riders going past the Ritz, amazing to see these riders cruse past me outside an ionic part of London.

Iconic Ritz
London Street filled with bikes

We walked down to Buckingham Palace, collected our volunteer packs and awaited the baggage lorries to roll in.  Our group have 4 trucks to clear and sort into order before the riders came in to collect their belongings, the stopwatch was primed and ready.

A quiet moment
Ready to rock and roll

The lorries pulled in and then it was all hands on deck.  This task needed a logical and methodical approach and rushing it without a thought was not the right way.  I grouped with 3 other ladies, we looked like we had a clue and bit did we show the others, clearing our part of the lorry and sorting into number order in super quick time.  It was hard work, bags were heavy and I was on a harness on the back of the lorry climbing about getting the right bag and sorting as I went.

Due to our speed we were asked to help clear the next section of the truck.  We jumped to it and set about sorting just as we did before, team work at its best.

Sorted

No change for a break as the first of the riders were coming in, wanting their bags so they could get on with their day.  Handing out bags where we sorted was easy, they were in order after all they were in order.

More to sort

Chatting to the participants always makes my day, understanding why they did the 100 miles, what went well and their reflections on the event.  Suddenly I was called away, there were issues further down the truck they needed the dream team back.

Inspirational riders and a great crew.

We gathered and looked at the sight before us, there were still bags on the lorry.  We snapped to it and started to unload, sort and hand out bags all at the same time, great communication and camaraderie.  It was hard work, legs and back certainly getting a good work out.  I saw a few people I know and congratulated them, some had completed the full 100 miles and some the smaller even of 46 miles.

It was such a fun day, hard work but filled with huge laughs and joy with new friends being made too.  I was asked about the “This Girl Can” campaign as one of my friends mentioned I was an ambassador and through chatting about it one of my lorry buddies will be coming with me to run this week, I look forward to sharing my role even more going forward.

As for Ride London, I am seriously tempted to try this one day, seeing riders of all shapes sizes and ages with bikes that cost thousands to bikes that were borrowed was all the inspiration I needed.

End Of Year Celebrations

I have been working in education for many years.  I have ups and downs with it, working in some fabulous establishments and not so great places.  Every end of year forces me to review how I feel about a place and also where I see myself the next academic year.

I started my current job in November 2016.  It was a change of direction for me from the previous roles I have had but it was a direction I wanted to go in.  It has not always been plain sailing, there were some incredibly hard days and some amazing days.  Days where I question what I am doing and then what others (parents, government, colleagues) may be doing.

I realised that where I worked was pretty special with the end of term celebrations at Christmas, I was well out of my comfort zone but I was having fun whilst helping others. Easter was much the same, with a massive end of term celebration to send us off for the two week break. I knew the end of term/year celebrations would be amazing.

The celebration assembly was two weeks before the end of the school year, prizes were given out and we celebrated diversity and pride.

The last day of the year is known as Wow Day.  There is a theme and this year it was the Wild West.  I had heard a lot about Wow day but I needed to see it for myself.

We collaborated with another college, them as cowboys and us as native Americans and we decorated our college areas accordingly.  My outfit was purchased and I dressed as a native American along with the rest of our college.  Days were spent preparing the sets, with tutor groups doing their thing with tasks I set for them, such as making dream catchers, mini totem poles, masks and animal pictures. The days leading up to the last day was filled with painting, cutting, costume making, planning and replanning. I made a huge totem pole, wooden signs a pretend fire from tissue paper and fairy lights.  I had students make things to hang from their teepees, tumble weed and native drawings.  Colleagues made cactus from cardboard and other things to compliment the whole set up.

Finally it was Wow Day, I pulled into the car park and saw fairground rides being set up in one place, bouncy castles in another, a bucking bronco and a bungee run in another.

I could not believe my eyes.

All hands on deck for the morning whilst the kids competed in events outside.  We set up our set, the corridors were buzzing with a great atmosphere, the end of the year was close and we were putting on a show.

Students were called in and we had a short amount of time to get them ready and the rest of the rooms set up.

The idea was that the head and executive head (wearing headdresses) would be pulled along by a trolley made up to look like a canoe, the students would be banging drums to a beat, the canoe/trolley would then stop outside the college office where silence descends and a native American prayer would be read and a drink served in a wooden bowl.  Then one of our tribe would be kidnapped by the cowboys from the other colleges and a mini bow and arrow/gun fight would take place before the head and executive head move onto the next college. Once done it was all hands on deck to clear away and get the after party started.

And oh what a party, looking back I still cannot believe I was part of it.

I was given a large water blaster and as I walked out into the open I could see students and staff alike with similar contraptions.

Never have I had the opportunity to chase down staff members and my students and soak them.  I was soaked in return and I recall chasing members of the PE department at one point to get them back for an earlier attack.  My mate and I tagged teamed and got the English department and various other kids.  The foam cannons went off so the foam party took off, I danced to the DJ music under the foam with students and staff around me.  There was fun and laughter everywhere, for me it was like a release after a strange week and a full on year.

After a while of chaotic activity the music changed a countdown started and the gallons and gallons of paint came out.  There was electric in the air as the kids realised what was about to happen. I grabbed a paint gun and loaded up bright fluorescent orange into it.  The music changed again and just at the right moment we unleashed the paint onto the waiting students and then staff around us.  I was covered in pink, orange, green, blue, yellow, I looked like a rainbow. My hair was like dreadlocks, my war paint added earlier was now different hues and I had not laughed as much in such a while.

It was time to see the students off, us staff stood by the gates and clapped them out wishing them a safe summer break, they looked as colourful as us.

The drive home was interesting, still covered in foam, water and paint I was certainly getting some odd looks from other drivers.  A quick shower and I was back to normal but with some added happy memories.

 

A Little Local Event

After Hockley parkrun the other week my little group of running buddies, hubby and I decided to mix it up a bit.  The RAT runner in me liked the location, trails and not too far away from home.  A short distance event that means a quick shake up of the legs mid week in a new location.

Welcome to Skylarks, a 3k event in Wickford organised by a club I know really well so I know it was in good hands.

Stormy clouds over the park
Finish line ready to greet us

This event is a twice yearly event and uses Wick park for its location.  The terrain was a mix of gravel paths, grass and trails and there were runners and walkers of all ages ready to take part on a look Wednesday evening.

There was a lady there with her daughter, the daughter was running with her dad.  I was asked about “this girl can” as I was wearing my ambassador t-shirt, I explained the concept and encouraged mum to go out with her daughter next time, i indicated that exercise was for everyone, nobody should feel that they are no good enough, fast enough or whatever the concern was.  Exercise is personal and everyone is different.  I wanted to make sure I was back in to cheer the daughter on, it was a big deal for this young lady to take part and I wanted to be there to congratulate her at the end.

With my £2 entry fee paid I was ready to run, I felt good, it had been a cracking week at work and although tired with end of term preparations I was ready to get some fresh air into my lungs and get the legs moving.

I was near the back of the pack ready for the off. Go was shouted and I felt myself surging forward, I was overtaking people.  I became worried I had started off too quick but I pushed on, I wanted to see how long I could maintain the pace over the trails.

One of my running pals was up ahead so I pushed on again overtaking again and I came up beside her.  Breathing heavily I was concerned my breathing would put her off, we smiled at each other and a took my foot slightly off the pedal allowing her to surge forward.

At one point on the course the front runners are coming back on themselves so you get to see them.  I saw one of my faster mates, he looked and gave me the thumbs up.  I looked at my watch at this point and was surprised at my pace.  Sweat was dripping from me despite the cool evening.

All too soon I rounded a corner and could see the finish up ahead, I spotted hubby and some of my mates so I needed to finish strong.  I crossed that finish line excited and breathless I felt great. I ran up to my mate I had briefly caught up with earlier and congratulated her

I looked at my watch and could see that I had recorded my fastest mile yet, I was chuffed.

Soon the young lady and her dad approached the finish, I was please to be there to cheer them in, and also able to shout encouragement to others coming through.

A nice cup of tea and biscuit, prizes were given out for the first man, lady, boy and girl and it was time to go.

Details about Wick Park can be found here there is also a link on this page to Skylarks.

Disorganised Events

I had chosen a 10k event for part of the club GP series over in Gunnersbury Park for the last event before the summer break.  There were a few races to choose from but Gunnersbury appealed as I had heard good things about the park and the organisers seemed all above board running a number of events around London.  Gunnersbury appealed as it was also fairly easy to get to by public transport so those without access to a car could still take part and weather permitting it could be a nice day to take the family.

Late the day before I decided I would not go along to support, I was behind slightly on my training and I needed to get a long run in on the Sunday which I would not be able to do had I go along to the event.

I may have regretted this decision the next day.

So the Sunday dawned, weather was good for all doing their thing, whether racing, training or doing another sport.  Hubby and the rest of the club set off to Gunnersbury and I set off for my long run.

Everyone taking part int he GP arrived safely, always a good thing but the confusion started from there as reported back to me after.

Firstly the web site stated it was just two laps around the park, laps are not great and can be boring but two laps in a new area would be ok as a one off.  The organisers explained that due to recent hot weather there would be five laps not the two as it would be easier to deal with any issues.  The day was a lot cooler than recent times but I guess they didnt want to take chances.

Secondly, there was a heck of a lot of confusion over the start time.  The web site said 10am but one of the marshals said it started at 10:30am.  This meant many felt they could not warm up and was hanging about then suddenly being told that actually the start time was in fact 10am causing last minute panic and rushing about.

Thirdly, I understand that they had started to pack up the course whilst the last runners were still out there.  This is one of my biggest pet peeves I hate that with a passion.  Being a slow runner myself I would have felt very unhappy seeing the packing away, what on earth is that all about?  If you are organising a race you wait until the last person is through the finish.  Had I been there I would have certainly had said something and kicked up a fuss.  Disgraceful behaviour.

Lastly, the communication with the organisers had been appalling.  I had contacted them leading up to the event and after to clarify some things and the responses were incredibly slow at best.  Others said non existent communication was what they got.

The bling wasn’t special the souvenir t-shirt cotton so can’t be worn for exercise but we did win the team prize, I guess we can share the trophy around everyones homes.

Organising a race is not hard, I have done it myself and I did it part time on top of my day job, this organisers job is organising events – no excuse.

I won’t name and shame the organisers here, they have been called out on the club Facebook page and I certainly will not be picking another of their races.

 

 

Schools out 2017

School is now out for the summer, at my place we break a week later than everyone else as we have 2 weeks at the October half term but it has been a huge slog to get here.  I love my job, there are days when it is mentally tough but I am there for the students and will continue to help students for as long as I have energy to do so.

I work in a strange place, we are focussed on progress and ensuring we are giving the students the best start in life but we have massive fun in doing so.  Our celebration assemblies are huge, we dress up, we make noise we celebrate and give away prizes that include playstations and TVs.  But, the school is in an area that has great deprivation that is mirrored in many places across the country.  We try to address the balance and show that even in that area each and every person has a choice on their future and we guide and show that there is ways out of their situation if they wish it.  I try to use my This Girl Can role to show my female students that they can do whatever they put their mind to not only in sport but in every aspect of their life, all too much young females in areas like where I work don’t often get the message that they have choices, that they can go to university, they can have a great well paid job that they are worthy of having the life they want.

The prom was exciting and was my first prom attendance and all the students looked amazing and the year 6 transition worked really well for the final 2 weeks of the term. September is still a way off but I will look forward to returning and taking on the next chapter.

Working in a school is challenging, tiring but so so rewarding and I am proud to be part of what we are all trying to do there.

So now the school break is here what are my plans?  Plenty of swimming, cycling, running and gym work if I can.  Spending time with friends if I can and recovering from this very long term.

A RAT runner

After hearing a not so nice comment one night at club that left me feeling quite negative I decided I needed to do some of my training either on my own or with people I could count on with similar goals to myself.

This has resulting in me becoming a little bit of a RAT runner (road and trail) as I discover little routes and trails near home or work.

I am really beginning to love trails especially when it is a warm day.  The trees and coolness of the ground can help keep focus which in turn takes your mind off anything else.  I am incredibly lucky living where I am with lots of green spaces nearby to use as part of my training.  The air may not be pollution free but it is cleaner than running by a main road.

As a result of mixing things up a bit I have felt stronger in myself mentally and physically and I have realised that as much as it is fun to run with others it is also quite a relief to have my own company and mash through what I need to do whilst reflecting on work and all the other things that get queued up in my head.

I will go back to club at one point but I need to steer clear of negativity and to be really honest the club have nearly 200 members and not all 200 turn up to club nights, at most 60 people so I am not alone in not always needing the club to run.  Being part of a club does benefit people but clubs also need to evolve and nurture the current members whilst still looking to increase numbers.  If they don’t numbers will decrease and there are many ways of joining EA without having to physically attend a club night.

Being a RAT runner has meant that I have revisited Hockley Woods parkrun recently and gained a PB on my more recent outing there. It is so pretty there it is always a joy to run around there.

If you have always been a road runner why not mix it up and look to run on trails especially whilst the evenings are still light.