Monday, 9 April 2012

Happy 30s Progress Update

Back at the end of October I set myself some challenges for the year and I thought that now we are a quarter of the way through the year I would check in on my progress. I set myself a mission statement and five goals. You can see the original post here.
Mission Statement
I want to live life to the full every day and appreciate everything and everyone around me. I am determined to have more fun and success in my thirties than I had in my teens and twenties combined and to do this I need to continually challenge myself, even though it may be uncomfortable at times. Whilst I will learn from the past I will not dwell on it and will concentrate on moving forward and listen to advice that others are kind enough to give me. Rather than focusing on what I haven’t achieved, I will acknowledge what I have and will be proud but not cocky. I will learn how to build on and improve my achievements so that I can be the very best I can possibly be while being supportive and encouraging to those around me. Helping my friends and family to be happy will make me happy too.

Goal 1- Shape Up
I have been taking pictures of my body as it has changed over the last few months. I’m not quite brave enough to share them yet. However, what I have realised is that since I’ve shifted the focus from weight loss on the scales to increasing fitness I have seen more dramatic results. My clothes are most definitely looser and I feel fantastic! I’m no angel and I still have treats but I am doing more exercise than I have done before. I run with @rundemcrew, I train with @Chakabars #SpartanFamily and do my homework, I’ve been trying out the Sexy In The City Bootcamp Classes and I’ve even tried a pole dancing class. Variety is most definitely the spice of life! I think I can safely say that progress so far in goal number 1 is positive and I am hoping I continue to see some more changes. When I get a little braver I may even share some pictures.  I will be doing some separate posts on the other exercise I have tried in the last few months.

Spartan Family at work

Goal 2- Run Faster

Last weekend I had the most amazing time and completed my third half marathon with my @rundemcrew family in Berlin. I had set my sights on a sub-2 time and I had every intention of going for it. I even headed way out of my comfort zone and took part in a track session. However a month ago I was massively knocked off course with some news in my personal life. To say I was shocked was an understatement. I carried on with my training but my confidence took a bit of a knock and my healthy diet went out of the window. I didn’t start eating junk food but balance was not a word that could be used to describe the fuel I was providing my body with (or lack of).
In the lead up to Berlin I did move up a group into greyhounds. I’d been threatening to do it for a while and was glad I finally plucked up the courage. It wasn’t scary at all, I managed to keep up and I really enjoyed it. In fact, I always enjoy running on a Tuesday night. I put my target time to the back of my mind and when people asked if I had a time in mind I lied and said “not really”. In all honesty, it was still there hiding away but I wanted Berlin to be a positive experience and I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself.
The whole weekend was absolutely amazing. I enjoyed spending some time alone and I loved being with friends too, both old and new. The atmosphere before the run was electric. Nike had been kind enough to provide a pre and post-race location for us to meet. Alongside  70 @rundemcrew were running crews from all around the world, including the New York Bridge Runners.  Amongst the excitement it was easy to forget we had 13 miles to run but I just knew it was going to be a good day. Throughout my training there seemed to be a trend. On the days I saw a pug on my run I had a good run. Walking up the race start, I saw this little beauty.
The lucky pug

Race day
Me and Kaye

Me and Alski

The weather was perfect long run Sunday weather; crisp, blue skies and bright sunshine. I was going to go out there and do my absolute best for myself. Not to make anybody else proud but to make myself proud. I set off and I felt great. I started my stop watch and decided I wouldn’t look until I got to 10K.The crowds were fantastic and the long flat, straight roads were just what I needed to focus. I kept my head down and concentrated on the goal, looking up occasionally to admire the amazing landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, the remains of the wall or a glimpse of a fellow RDC runner which was a guaranteed boost. As I crossed the 10k marker I reached into my belt and grabbed my phone. I glanced down and I was over 57 minutes. If I had any chance at all I needed to seriously pick up my pace so I stuffed my mouth with some Haribo teddy bears and set off determined to not let anything get in my way.
 I’m not going to lie. It hurt, there were times I wanted to stop and give up but I stayed positive and thought about how hard I had worked. As I passed clocks I was continually trying to work out how I was doing and I could see the 2 hour mark slipping away. At times I wanted to slow down but even if there was only a small chance I wanted to give it to myself. I normally run with water but decided not to on this occasion because I thought it would be best to leave my hands free. As the sun beamed down I felt myself getting thirsty. Drinking out of the plastic cups was tricky and I didn’t take in enough fluid but I was conscious I didn’t want to waste time at the water stops. Most of the cups of water ended up over my head and my mouth got more gloopy with the sugary sweetness of teddy bears.
By 16k my whole body hurt. My neck and back were aching and the blisters on my feet were burning but I knew that my friend Gemma, who I ran my first half marathon with, was going to be at 17k. She is one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and she flew to Berlin for one day just to cheer us on. Amazing girl!  The thought of her at 17k kept me going and it gave me a real boost as I heard her calling out my name and smiling at me.
The gorgeous Gemma...look at that smile!

I kept going and as I glanced at the next clock I knew there was still a teeny tiny chance that I could beat my Paris time. I’m not really sure how I did it but I managed to cut 10 minutes off my Paris PB coming in at 2:01. Ok, I know it was 1 minute over my ultimate goal but I am still extremely proud. It seems to be a bit of a trend. The first time I ran a half marathon I was aiming for 2:10 and achieved 2:11. At the end of the day, it was one minute and I am still absolutely thrilled that I ran the race 10 minutes faster than my last. I have also managed to improve my Parkrun time by a total of seven minutes.  I consider Goal 2 to also be progressing well. I’m not done with this goal yet and will be frequenting the track this summer.
It feels right to mention @rundemcrew here too. Without the support of @daddydark the @rundemcrew founder and my amazing @rundemcrew friends there is no way I would have been able to achieve what I did so thank you for all of the kind words and encouragement. Just look how happy I was to cross the line.

Look what we 'spotted' at the Brandenburg Gate

Goal 3- Swim better and faster
The less said about this the better at the moment but it is the next thing on the agenda. For those that are wondering, yes, I am terrified at the prospect of a traiathlon!
Goal 4- Run longer
I decided that 2012 would be the year I run a marathon and I now have a place in the Amsterdam marathon. This scares me but I am willing to rise to the challenge. I researched a number of races and Amsterdam felt right. It is also flat which is a definite attractive feature for me. Even more excitingly, it seems that Amsterdam is going to be the next @rundemcrew destination. The rest if the crew will be doing the half that takes place on the same day but I know there are a couple taking part in the full. When I applied Amsterdam wasn’t even a thing but the thought of an RDC cheers squad is exciting me a lot!
Goal 5- Speak even more than I do already
The German practice didn’t start until late but I did get a chance to speak quite a bit when I was there last weekend and I loved it. I love Germany  but I have to say, when I arrived late Friday night on my own, I did feel a little like a woman out of a German text book as I asked for directions at the huge Hauptbahnhof train station. Being on my own all day on Saturday forced me to speak German and I loved it. I even indulged in German TV and watched Superstar, Undercover boss and some strange breakfast TV all without subtitles and generally understood what was going on. I guess being greeted in German wherever I went (because I do look quite Deutsch) was a good thing and encouraged me to respond in German. I’m going to try and keep it up and I’m also keen to visit more places in Germany. I’m also really keen to pick up my Spanish again. I love the freedom it gives you when you learn a foreign language and it’s also great to show that you are making an effort when talking to the locals. Goal 5 is also going well but there is definite room for improvement.

I can honestly say that I have stayed true to my words in my mission statement above. I have had some serious obstacles come my way in the last few months but I have learned a lot about myself and I am a stronger woman as a result. The biggest lesson I have learnt is that in life we have a choice.  Bad things happen but it is essential to stay positive and take control to turn things around. Sometimes it is scary to stray out of your comfort zone but it will always be worth it and doing scary things opens up so many opportunities. Life is there to be lived and I know I don’t want to look back with regrets because I have been afraid.
I’m pretty pleased with my progress so far and despite a number of obstacles that have come my way, I am actually in a really good place and feel content.  I think it is a really good idea to jot down your goals as it makes it harder to back out but is also a benchmark to demonstrate just how much you have achieved. People don’t always remember to tell you when you are doing something well but if other people aren’t going to, it is especially important to stop and take a moment to acknowledge you are doing a good job. And if you’re not then there is always time to make things right. My Happy 30s challenge is well on track!