Glamping it up!

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Because I have the best bridesmaids ever, they organised not one, but two pre-wedding celebration weekends for me in the lead up to the wedding.  I had my official hen do with all my female friends back in May, but this weekend my bridesmaids had another surprise planned for me.

On Friday evening I packed up a mixed bag containing items from my to-bring-list I had been given the day before; wellies, warm clothes, a towel…  I then picked up one of my bridesmaids, Vicki and headed in the general direction of Norwich.  As we got closer, Vicki directed me towards Whitlingham and the campsite.  We were going GLAMPING!

Glamping in Whitlingham

The tent was fantastic and allegedly held up to six people.  But there was plenty of room for the five of us.  There were raised beds inside and it was decorated both inside and out with fairy lights and pretty bunting.

Glamping in WhitlinghamMy other three bridesmaids, Amanda, Hollie and Zoë were already there and we headed straight to Morrisons for some food to BBQ.  I’ve been seeing so much watermelon out just lately though, and was desperate to buy watermelon whilst I was with people I could share it with!

Watermelon time!

 

When you camp (or glamp!) it is a requirement that you cook burgers and eat smores.   We did both these things on Friday night.

Glamping in Whitlingham Glamping in WhitlinghamOn Friday morning I had been woken at 3:30am by the storms we had in Northamptonshire.  I love watching a good thunderstorm and although the weather was pretty warm and muggy whilst we were away for the weekend, the storms were thoughtful enough to just be at night.  Both nights we snuggled under the provided blankets and looked out as the sheet, fork and ribbon lightning tore down around us.

Glamping in Whitlingham

 

On the Saturday morning it was a little damp and warm but still fresh enough for a morning walk before breakfast so we tootled along the 2.5 mile loop around the water.  There were lots of people out swimming, biking and running – I’m guessing trying to get their miles in before the heat got too much again.

Camping at Whitlingham

 

(Notice the Garmin?…picking up some new Conquersize zones!)

As busy as my last hen do had been, this one was relaxed.  It was lovely just to chill out and have laughs with my bridesmaids over the weekend and we decided on our plans on impulse rather than having to be in a certain place at a certain time and rushing around madly.  Just what I needed this weekend!  They were desperate for me to head out on a run so that they could organise their speech for my wedding day but it was way too hot in the afternoon by the time they wanted me to head out, and I’d scheduled Saturday as a rest day anyway.

Instead, we headed into the city and picked up some bargains in Primark, where I was dressed in all things ‘hippy’ to match my wavy hair.

Primark glasses and hair flowers

 

I also managed to pick up a veil after stumbling upon a Cancer research charity shop specialising in second hand wedding items.  If only I had found this sooner!

It was quite upsetting having to leave on the Sunday but Hollie had bought us all some magic bubble wands to distract us from the upcoming departure.  Best way to keep a group of 29 year olds quiet!

Blowing bubbles whilst glamping at Whitlingham Blowing bubbles whilst glamping at Whitlingham Blowing bubbles whilst glamping at Whitlingham

Ever been glamping before?

Do you enjoy watching thunderstorms?

 

 

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Draw my life

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On Wednesday night I headed out with the trail group and we ran 7.5miles through and round the outskirts of a beautiful wood.  Dan came out with us again.  I think he’s hooked!

Trail run in Northamptonshire with clubHe had had a bad day at work, and within ten minutes of starting the run he announced that his mood had improved.  One of the very many great reasons everyone should take up trail running!

I was actually going to blog about this yesterday but spent most of my day working on the project below.

I’ve seen several Draw My Life videos on YouTube recently and was desperate to make my own.  After pretty much a full day of storyline writing, doodling, filming and editing you can check out my Draw My Life below!  Let me know what you think in the comments.  :)
(As an afterthought i should have filmed indoors, rather than out as the sun got rather bright towards the end and there are a couple of places I knock the whiteboard slightly out of shot.  The perfectionist in me is telling me to redo it, but this time I’m not giving in!)

I’m now off for a weekend with my bridesmaids.  Just like at my hen do I don’t know what they have planned but if the hen do is anything to go by I’m sure it’ll be great!

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My first tri (as a marshal!)

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Just because I’m not ready to leap into the lake and swim 1500m, follow it up with a 40k bike ride and then run a 10k straight afterwards doesn’t mean I’m not ready to learn more about triathlon as a sport.

I have become a Go Beyond marshal regular now and recently was sent a list of upcoming races so that I could let the team know which events I could help marshal.  When I first spotted it I thought twice about putting my name down to help with the Pitsford Triathlon on Sunday morning.  I don’t know anything about triathlons!

I decided it was time to learn.

Go Beyond logo

Unfortunately, with a 7:30am starting wave and a lot more setup required than a running race it did mean a 4:30 alarm call.  Made worse when I woke up at 3:30am and got up anyway, for fear of then sleeping through my alarm.

I was getting a lift down to Pitsford with a couple of others and I was grateful for not having to drive that early in the morning!  As soon as we arrived we all headed down to the transition area where we were given the job of checking all entrants had cycle helmets and that all items belonging to the competitor displayed the race numbers correctly, showing the same number each time.

Go Beyond Pitsford tri transition area

It was a lovely warm morning, without the sticky heat from the day before and although leaping into the ice cold reservoir would be the worst part of a triathlon for me – if I could do it on any morning, I would choose a morning like the one on Sunday.  The water seemed pretty still from where we were standing.  Having never marshaled at or even attended or followed a triathlon before I wasn’t aware of all of the marshaling positions available.  One of the guys was marshaled in a kayak out on the reservoir to keep up with the lead swimmers!  How much of a cool position is that?!Go Beyond Pitsford tri reservoir

There were also some guys out in boats checking the swim course for any potential problems.

Just after 7am I was herded up to the main carpark where we were debriefed by John, the Cycle Director.  There were six bike marshal points on the 40k course and I was at the fifth one, along with John and two other guys from my running club.  After a 5 minute trip bundled in the van we arrived at our junction.  Apparently bike routes are marshaled much less than road running races and it is expected that you only really marshal areas where there could be a potential safety issue such as dangerous junctions.  Here’s a diagram of our dangerous junction…

pitsfordTri

We actually ended up arriving quite early and after I had been given my red flag (actually a red pillowcase on a stick), marshal jacket and whistle and whilst I was stuck in position waiting for the call that the front bikers had gone through the previous checkpoint I stood and took a couple of marshal selfies.  (Mandatory, but all rubbish.)
Go Beyond Pitsford tri marshalIt was Colin and Stu’s jobs to keep traffic moving slowly on the main road by waving their red flags (theirs were red towels) as bikes were approaching the junction.  My job was to whistle and wave my flag to alert approaching cyclists that they were nearing a busy junction and also to alert John to check for traffic.  Our junction was deemed a ‘foot-down’ junction and John would shout either “CLEAR!” if cyclists could get straight out onto the road or “CAR!” if they had to put their foot down on their bikes and stop until safe to cross the road.  I believe from John’s shouts that there was only one cyclist that had to wait for cars.

Things were relatively uneventful on our junction and it ran pretty much like clockwork, with just one person asking which way to go (despite clear signs) and one person telling us tales of how another cyclist had fallen on a sharper bend and then continued on.  (Hardcore.)

Once the last of the cyclists had been through our junction, we removed all signs from our checkpoint and I hopped in the van with John to collect a cyclist from a little further up the road whose chain had snapped.  I wasn’t even sure how a chain could snap on a bike, but apparently it’s when his legs moved faster than the bike could handle.  He was rather cold by the time we got to him so we threw a blanket over the guy and turned the heating on in the van full blast.  I’ve been in the situation of pulling out of a race before and shivering on the sidelines whilst waiting to get taken back to HQ and it’s not fun at all.

We unloaded back at HQ, cheering some of the triathletes through the finish of the 1ok run before demolishing bacon butties and coffees.  No coffee for me.  I’d thought ahead and popped a bottle of smoothie in the freezer the night before to create a lovely fruity ice-lolly in a bottle to suck on throughout the day.

I did check out the trophies quickly for the winners.  Loving these trophies.  One day, I will become good enough at something to add trophies to my collection of medals.  (Maybe in my age category as a 90 year old?…!)

Go Beyond Pitsford tri trophy

John and I hopped back into the van and began another tour of the cycle course.  Almost all cyclists were back and running now and all of them would definitely be back by the time we had dismantled the signs and gotten back to the finish.  I quite enjoyed leaping in and out of the van and pulling signs down out on the course for the next hour.  It was quite therapeutic and I felt like I was doing a much more worthwhile job than hanging around as a spare part waiting to dismantle the run course.  It had begun to rain slightly by this point.  Luckily the rain was missed by most of the competitors and it was just the marshals left out to get soggy!

By the time John and I made it back to the finish line the other marshals were then folding the last of the marquees up and there was a large pile of items ready to be loaded in the van.  There were enough of us there that loading the van up took no time at all and we were soon headed back home for a very easy and relaxing Sunday afternoon.  I was shattered!

I can’t say entering a triathlon is top of my list of things to do and I must admit, the high cost of events and training is very off-putting but I am finding myself more keen after attending the race at the weekend.

Ever thought about trying a tri?

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A mid run dip in the lake

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Sometimes it’s important to deviate from a training plan.  When you’re in such a situation as sticking to your plan would mean running all your long runs alone but in actual fact another club runner posts that they are heading out for 25 miles of trail the next day, the obvious thing is to change your plans and join other runners on their run.  Or at least, that’s what I did yesterday!

There were ten of us that set off from Kev’s house in the end.  Five of us were planning on running the 25 miles, and the other five were going to run somewhere between 8-9.  The first three miles were the same for both routes and then we said our goodbyes to the other group and headed off in a different direction.

It was an incredibly hot day and I was at least two groups below the other four runners from the running club out for the 25 miles.  It shouldn’t bother me when we are out for a run as the other runners always run at the pace of the slowest person but I still feel like I am holding people back and the pressure makes me struggle to stay at my comfortable pace for the run.  Shooting off too fast always means I struggle later on though and I wish my brain would shut off and let me run at my own pace.

Because of the heat we were all getting through our water supplies much faster than normal and around 8-9 miles in we were on the lookout for houses we could ask to have our water bottles topped up at.  We passed several beautiful houses with massive grounds and perfect gardens where we didn’t even dare knock at the door!  Eventually though our footpath led through a farmyard where a hose had been left out and we enjoyed some cold water on our heads and refilled our supplies of water.

Mile 12 and I think we were all starting to flag.  Our eyes lit up though when our lead runner ran straight through the gates into a pub entrance.  It wasn’t quite opening time but they served us each a pint which we took out into the garden to enjoy in the shade.
Stop at the pub mid run

The barman literally filled my pintglass with ice.  BEST THING HE COULD HAVE DONE!

Kopparberg cider mid run

We felt very refreshed upon leaving the pub 30 mins later.  Almost a little tipsy infact!  But definitely refreshed and ready for the second half.

Pub stop on the run

Just a mile down the road and the guys had already started talk of going for a paddle later.  I assumed the paddle would be taking place in the very large paddling pool that had appeared in Kev’s garden since the last time I had started a run from his house.  But, the next thing I knew, the guys were ducking under the river barrier and removing the majority of their clothing ready for a dip in the river mid-run!  I recorded the footage on my phone.  I’m always after video footage for the Runner of the Year awards and I’m sure at least one of these two will make it into the nominations!  Two cyclists ended up stopping to watch their squeals in the water and remark how crazy we all were!

I must admit, I was tempted.  It was so hot out and the river looked quite inviting.  Had we not so recently had a break from the heat whilst sat at the pub I would have joined the boys in the river.  Next time, I’m there!

Once the boys were out and re-clothed we set off again.  The first few miles after our break felt relatively easy, but it soon got much tougher and I struggled with the humidity.  By mile 20 we were on the lookout for hoses again and knocked on what seemed like every house in the village to ask for top-ups of our water bottles.  Nobody was home but we didn’t give up and in the end spotted a hosepipe in someone’s back garden which filled us all back up for the final hour.  I truly believe there is nothing better than cold water on your head whilst out on a hot run.

The final hour seemed to be filled with stiles and gates and they broke the run up a little in the final miles, where I took part in more walking than running towards the end.

I was very happy to see my car at the finish and stopped only for a pint of nice, cold milk before driving home and spending the rest of the day indoors away from the sun.  The sun and I are not friends.  Look at my sock tan!

Sock tan line

Has anyone else got random tan lines from being outside in the sun this year?  I’ve worn shorts all year long and my short line is as obvious as my sock line!

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