The London Marathon Expo 2019

Child care arranged, train tickets booked (not by me – I would have messed that up!), passport tucked safely into my bag, along with purse for essential pre-marathon purchases and an extra battery pack for my phone (to ensure my phone lasted long enough to take plenty of running related selfies).

Marathon expo time!!!

London Marathon expo

I picked Anne-Marie up at 9am and we made our way to Bedford train station.  Anne-Marie and I met sometime last year through the Run Mummy Run Facebook group.  Another Mum had asked for route inspiration around the town I lived in.  At the time I was struggling to make run club nights and was really missing what had been regular running out with friends so thought it would be nice to get to know some more people I could potentially head out on a run with in the area.  I offered to lead a few runs from that initial post, and before long, a group chat had been created between 8 of us and we headed out on a number of 3-4 mile evening chatty runs.  Anne-Marie also had a place for London this year and only lived up the road from me so we’ve met up for runs a few more times and decided to head down to the expo together today.  Between the two of us we figured we should be able to work out the train connections and arrive at the expo without too much hassle!

Good job we left at 9am for a 10:20 train leaving 20 miles away though…it took us about 40 minutes to find somewhere to park before a mad rush across to the station!

Three train changes later and a number of people who looked like runners stalked in order to find the correct platforms on our way to the Excel, we finally made it, making our way through the entrance as THE London Marathon theme tune was played.

Next hurdle – ensuring we lined up in the correct lines for our race numbers.  I was also collecting for another runner at my running club who couldn’t make it down to London before the race, so was hoping he had left me with everything required to entrust me with his race pack (and then praying I wouldn’t do something stupid like leave it on the train seat on the way home!  (I didn’t!)

Run LDN sign at the London Marathon expo

Numbers and chips collected – time to roam the expo!  I was hoping to listen to Mo’s talk on stage and also the Barbara’s Revolutionaries later on in the day, but unfortunately due to train timetables and having a curfew to be back for (childcare issues!) it wasn’t to be.  However, I did bump into Adam Woodyatt (Ian from EastEnders) whilst queuing to pay for a tube of Body Glide.  I asked him if I could be that annoying person who asked for a selfie, to which he told me that when he last ran the London Marathon he took over 1000 selfies with other runners during the 26.2 miles!

At the London Marathon Expo with Adam Woodyatt

After an unfortunate incident whereby I picked up a really old (pre-pregnancy days) Gu gel to take out on my 16 miler a couple of weeks back, I also made sure to stock up on enough tasty (in date) Salted Caramel gels ready for Sunday.  I won’t be making that mistake again.  I’m sure I can still taste that foul gone-off gel even now!

High on the priority list for the day was also to exchange my Cancer Research UK running vest for something which fitted a little better.  Initially CRUK had sent me out a Large women’s vest.  However, it dug in under my arms and looked ridiculous.  There was no way I would have been able to wear it without a lot of bleeding during the race and then swearing in the post-marathon shower.  A few weeks back I rang and asked if there were any other sizes available.  Apparently there was…if I was willing to wear a men’s Large vest.  I was.  Leaving everything to the last minute (as ever!) I decided to pop on my new male running vest to head out for 8 sunny miles last Saturday morning.  It felt great.  Rather baggy (particularly under the arms) but the vest seemed OK to run in, and I was assured by my friend Steph that it didn’t look particularly out of place.  I had planned to run 8-9 miles with Steph first thing in the morning, followed by a quick drive over to Kettering with Dan and Oscar for parkrun to top up my mileage for the day.  The second I climbed into the car after my run though my body started to cool and I could feel the beads of sweat dripping onto the areas rubbed raw under my left arm where the too-large vest had rubbed.

Kettering parkrun with Dan, Oscar and the buggy(Photo taken by Jon Woods at Kettering parkrun.)

Five days later and the marks are still visible!  The guys on the Cancer Research stand were great.  Really helpful, and I am now the owner of a Women’s XL t-shirt.  I’ll test it out in the morning, so that I have plenty of time to run, sweat and wash before Sunday!  The guys on the stand also filled my bag with temporary tattoos, foam boards, badges and signs to hold up.

Mary Pearson on the Cancer Research UK stand at the London Marathon Expo

We did manage to catch the end of Martin Yelling on the Main Stage before heading back home again.  I’ve been binge listening to the Marathon Talk podcast on my nightshifts just lately.  I’m pretty sure I hear his voice in my sleep right now!

Martin Yelling at the London Marathon 2019

This is the medal I’ll be making my way to the finish for on Sunday…

London Marathon medal 2019

Fundraising progress – I’m a smidge under £2000 now (the minimum target I was asked to raise by CRUK in exchange for my marathon place).  All being well I should hit this target by Friday as I’m spending the day at ASDA in Rushden, rattling my charity bucket and raffling off a £50 photoshoot voucher for a local photographer.  The target I set myself to raise for CRUK by the end of the year is £3000, and I will continue working towards this target until I reach it.
{Shameless plug for my donation page here}  (Thank you so much to all who have already donated.)
I’m also offering anybody who donates before the marathon on Sunday the chance to win a pass for two to West Lodge Farm Park.  (Just add ‘West Lodge Raffle Tickets’ in the comment section of your donation and for every £1 you donate you will have an extra chance in the raffle!)

I say that I should hit the target ‘all being well’ because Oscar currently has what we believe to be Slapped Cheek.  He is covered in a nasty red rash – lumps and bumps all over his little body!  The nursery he goes to have asked me to get the doctor to confirm Slapped Cheek before dropping him off for his regular nursery session on Friday, as it could also be a number of other things which might be contagious, or harmful to the member of staff working at the nursery who is currently pregnant.  He seems OK in himself, he just has this awful rash all over his body, which (if it is SC) could take 3-4 weeks to fade!  Hopefully it’s nothing serious.  He’s still adamant that he’ll be the one pinning my number on at the weekend anyway!

Oscar wearing my London Marathon number

For anybody who fancies tracking me on Sunday, my number is 51911.  I have no idea how I’ll do.  My speedwork sessions began with 8mm pace at the start of the year with the intention of dipping under 4h 30m at London.  I’ve still regularly ran 5-6 days each week but the sessions haven’t been as quality as I would have liked over the past couple of months.  After getting attacked back in February, I really struggled to get out for runs on my own again for a long while and although I tried to run on the treadmill to begin with, I really struggled with the speedwork sessions and long runs as I find I change my stride too much when restricted to the movement of the treadmill.  I also took a hit with flu for a couple of weeks, am undergoing tests at hospital right now and was diagnosed with anaemia a few weeks back, so my training cycle definitely hasn’t been as planned.  But when does a training cycle go to plan?!!!  What will be will be on the day.  I’d still like to think I can achieve a marathon PB (4h 54m 08s).  But, with the marathon, anything can happen on the day!  Watch this space!!!

My race number for London Marathon 2019

A long blogging hiatus as it’s been an incredibly busy few months.  But I’m hopefully back again now and on it.  Although I’ve possibly regained my momentum a little too late for the London I wanted to enjoy this year, I am finally coming out of the funk I’ve been in and ready to fill my days with lots of long Summer runs again!

Countdown to London Marathon

Are you heading to the London Marathon expo this year?
Have you ever had/heard of Slapped Cheek?
Are you as navigationally challenged as me?!

Raising money for Cancer Research UK

This year I will be running the London Marathon for charity.  Something I had always planned on doing one day but was never quite sure if I had the energy to fundraise alongside marathon training.  (So obviously the best year to give it a go was the year I also had a potty-training toddler, five part-time jobs and builders in working on the house, right?!)

London Marathon on the computer

My Mum died from cancer at the end of 2017 so I felt it was really important that I run the marathon this year in her memory, with the aim of raising £3000 for Cancer Research UK in the process.

If you follow me on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, you will probably have already seen the events I am planning on holding as part of my fundraising.But, to cover all bases, I’m going to list them both here as well.

On the 29th March I am holding An Evening with Ronnie Staton. 7pm at Diana’s in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire.

An Evening with Ronnie StatonRonnie Staton is a Race Director, ultrarunner, coach and has recently recovered from a stroke. This amazing guy is kindly giving up his time to provide a talk based around his experiences.  Anybody that has ever attended a HoboPace event knows that Ronnie has a way with words – he offers heaps of wisdom and isn’t short of stories to share!  Extremely inspirational and incredibly engaging – I’m really looking forward to hearing him talk! Tickets are just £10 and available online.

Then on the 14th April I will be holding Eggsplore Wellingborough. This event will be held at Whitworths Football Club, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. The cost is just £20 per team of up to 4 people to include a free hot/soft drink and chocolate at the finish.

Eggsplore Wellingborough

On arriving at registration, the team leader for each team will be given an envelope containing a tick-list of 20 items to find around Wellingborough. Their envelope will also contain scrap paper and pen for planning out a route and raffle tickets for each member in the team (which may be exchanged for a drink and chocolate on return).
Runners can use the time between collecting their race pack and the race starting to plan out the route they want to take. The earlier a team arrives, the more time they have to plan their adventure!
Teams will be set off from 9:30am. They then have two hours to return back to the Football Club, having taken photographs of as many items on their list as they can find.  Be the first team back having completed the challenge to win a prize.  Book online now.

If you’re not able to attend either of my events, or they’re not your thing I would really appreciate if you could share them with anybody you think might be interested. Friends, on your social media, at your place of work, anywhere you visit frequently.  Please help spread the word!

I’m also hoping to be popping up at a few supermarkets over the coming weeks with my charity bucket and I do have a Virgin Money giving page which I’ll pop the link in for here…
Donations page.

In all honesty, if I’d swapped the amount of time I’ve put into planning both events so far into overtime at my actual job then I would have generated more money so far, but I guess that wouldn’t have been in the spirit of things!  I’ve really struggled with the fundraising challenge despite all the hard work I’ve put into it.  Asking for donations is really out of my comfort zone and I’ve been turned down again and again by companies for prizes.  I’ve got a lovely bunch of friends who have helped me round up a nice bunch of prizes for a raffle at my first event now though.

Thank you so much to everybody who has already helped me out on my fundraising journey. I really, really appreciate all of the help I’ve received so far.

Attacked on a run

I still have a couple of posts to share; marshaling at the Country to Capital, The National Running Show, Dan’s impressive improvement from a 30 minute parkrun time to smashing a sub 24 minute time…
But I just nipped on this morning to write a post about what happened whilst I was out on my run last night, – when I was attacked by a guy on a bike.

Last night I should have been at running club. Dan goes into work a little early on a Thursday morning in order to finish at an earlier time and make it back so that I can hand over Oscar and rush off to run with my club in Wellingborough. There isn’t much turnaround time in-between and with him arriving back a few minutes late last night and us waking Oscar from a sneaky nap, Oscar then became very tearful and only wanted me. I couldn’t leave him.

I had arranged to drop off some old running kit to a friend in Wellingborough who was collecting for a disadvantaged school project and also to collect a memory stick from another friend in town, so once I had settled Oscar down I drove through to town anyway. By the time I got back home again it was a little past 8pm. I laced up my trainers, started my Garmin and headed out on my run.
I live in a nice area, in a quiet little close in the far corner of the town. The roads around my house are not really a direct route to anywhere other than the other houses on the estate so we don’t get a whole load of traffic or unwanted noise out our way. Our neighbours are lovely and we’ve made great friends since we moved back in 2015.

Despite this, if I find myself having to run alone at night or early morning in the dark I stick to a one mile loop around my house so that I am never more than a half mile from home. The entire route is street-lit and on wide roads and I’ve never felt unsafe running along there. Repeats of the same mile loop doesn’t make for a very exciting run but Dan always knows where I am and especially when it comes to hitting paces on a speed session or tempo run I don’t have to think about road crossings or rough terrain, so I can remain consistent without too much thought.

Last night my plan dictated that I was to run 7 miles at marathon pace. Although I am hoping for a sub 4:30 marathon at London in April I decided when writing the plan into my calendar to use the paces for a 4:15 marathon to train, in order to give myself a little leeway on the day. 7 miles at 9:45mm pace. I set my watch up for the session. (I find it so motivating and encouraging when my watch beeps if I am running too fast or slow for the pace I’m meant to be running at.)
I was actually running really well last night and struggled to keep my pace slow enough for the first few miles. It was one of those runs where everything is going right and you feel on top of the world as you realise another mile has gone by at goal pace.

As I reached mile four I was running along the pavement of a wide road. A guy in his late teens biked along the middle of the road in the other direction. I didn’t pay too much attention as I had seen a few people out either walking dogs or on bikes that night. There was nobody else around now though, and after he passed I became aware that he had turned the bike around and was now biking very fast back in the same direction as me. I had the feeling he had mounted the pavement with his bike although I didn’t want to turn around to appear on edge. As he biked past he grabbed my bum, squeezed it and then pushed me aside, so that I stumbled across the curb. As I loudly shouted at him he quickly biked off into the distance.

I was shaking and thought about turning in and cutting my run short at this point, but it had been going so well. I was determined to finish it and so continued on my path, assuming that he would be long gone in the distance, having seen his opportunity to harass and already taken it.
I was still nearly half a mile from home, and as I passed my house the shaking had subsided and turned to rage that somebody had the audacity to do something like that to me. I was not going to let him run my fabulous run that night!
So I continued.

I passed a few dog walkers in the next mile which helped to make me feel a little safer – there were other people still out that I could shout for if needed. I had relaxed by the time I reached mile five and then suddenly the wind slowed and I could hear every little noise and everything made me jumpy. A car slowed behind me and I was convinced that guy was inside ready to push me over again or throw things out at me or much worse. In actual fact, the car was slowing only to take a turning I had just passed. But then I heard the bike again. There was no mistaking it even though it was made barely any noise. The guy was back on the pavement behind me and speeding up. I jumped around and shouted at him as loudly as I could which put him off his path and he pulled back out onto the road, peddling away with his arms raised up in the air. This time I was really shaking and when I passed my house at 5.6 miles I stopped and rushed inside to escape, then worried that the guy had seen where I lived and would continue to harass me at my home.

tempo run splits

I did manage to establish that it was a white male in his late teens wearing a black hoodie.  He had the hood up and was wearing a white drawstring sports bag diagonally across his back. Although not a lot to go on, when reporting it to the police a little while later they assured me that it might help them build up a picture if other attacks had happened in the area or anybody else had reported malicious behaviour that night.

Initially I hadn’t intended on making a formal report to the police. When I had first reported being egged on a run in Norfolk a couple of years ago, the initial police officer that took the incident details told me they wouldn’t be able to do anything and dismissed the incident immediately. (He did later ring back and apologise but it didn’t leave me feeling very confident.) As soon as I had got inside and had locked the doors last night I posted details of the attack on my running club Facebook page so that other people who might be running alone in the same area were aware. A number of people convinced me to report what had happened.

I spoke to an operator using the 101 number who said that the incident would be listed as a sexual assault and they would be sending officers around later that evening to gather more details from me. Within an hour two officers had arrived at my door, and Dan invited them to sit in our very dusty and bare lounge (thanks to the current garage conversion!)

It was good to feel like my incident was being taken seriously. The officers took down details of the route I ran. When I had returned, Dan had headed out along my route (with the intention of finding the guy on a bike) but also made a note of the houses which had CCTV on them, which he then passed onto the police. The police gave me a crime number, and told me they would be knocking on any houses down that street with lights still on that evening after they had left mine and asking to see if anybody had seen a guy riding around on a bike earlier that night or had heard anything when I shouted out. The following morning they would be making enquires with the houses which had CCTV present and would be questioning more people. They will also be putting out a social media appeal in case he attacked anybody else who hasn’t come forward. They were concerned that the guy came back and tried to attack me a second time, and that he wasn’t with friends so it was with more intention than if he had been ‘just showing off in front of his mates’.

I was supposed to run a 7 mile easy run at 5:30am this morning before Dan left for work but as Oscar is in nursery today so that I can work from our home office I decided that I will get my run in during the daytime today instead, and just work a little later tonight if needs be.

It’s so hard to juggle running around a family. There’s a lot of talk about the #JogOn Avon and Somerset police campaign at the moment.  They are trying to encourage women to run in packs rather than alone so that they are safer.  A lot of female runners have hit back at the campaign though, rightly arguing that they shouldn’t have to change their behaviour – they’re not the ones in the wrong.  Surely it’s the behaviour of the attackers which should change?!  For lots of us with young families, it’s hard enough to fit in running on our own – running with friends is quite often an impossibility at times.

A few people have suggested rape alarms to me since mentioning my attack on social media, but these would just be something to use after/during an attack, not a prevention.  My shouting did the same job I feel.  Had anybody been nearby they would have heard either an alarm or my shout.

A friend shared a post with me earlier today from Facebook which showed details of a theft which happened two roads across from mine with a guy of similar description and wearing the same bag I detailed in my report to the police, so it sounds like the guy did the rounds yesterday evening.

Do you often run alone?
Do you feel safe?

My goals for 2019

So it’s that time of year when I try and look back over what I had hoped to achieve during the previous year and set myself some aims and goals for the year ahead.
I’ll start by reviewing the goals I had for 2018:

Volunteer at least six times at parkrun including in the role of pacer

Not quite.  This year I’ve volunteered in the role of pacer (30 minutes), barcode scanner, pre-event setup and post-event close down, so I’ve only managed to volunteer four of the six times I had hoped to volunteer during 2018.  (Parkrun suggest that volunteering three times a year is a good target to aim for.)  Although I haven’t met this target, I’m happy that I managed to volunteer four times.  Early in the year, getting to parkrun at all was rather difficult, as I was working through the night until 7am on a Saturday morning each week.  Now volunteering has become more challenging as I often have Oscar with me, but there are still plenty of roles I can help out in and intend to during 2019.  (See 2019 goals further down the page.)

Run Mummy Run takeover at Kettering parkrun

Complete at least six more distances of marathon and above

Done.  I actually didn’t think I had achieved this goal until I sat down and worked it all out the other night though.  But I ran the South Downs Way 50m in April, the Milton Keynes Marathon and Shires and Spires 35m back in May, Robin Hood 100m in September, Dusk ’til Dawn Marathon in October and then Gower Marathon in November.  My marathon total is now 16, and I’ve also run a further 11 ultras in distances up to 100 miles.  That’s 27 events on the list…I’ll soon be heading towards 100 Marathon Club entry…

Milton Keynes Marathon medal 2018

Complete a 100 mile race

I was so, so happy to have completed the Robin Hood 100 in the Autumn!  It meant so much for me to cross that finish line and I will forever be in debt to all the people who helped me get to the start and finish of the race that day.

Robin Hood 100 medal and t-shirt

PB at 5k, half and marathon distances

Fail, fail and mighty fail!  Haha!  2019 was definitely not the year of the PB (unlike 2015!)  My fastest 5k time in 2018 was 27:06 (compared to my PB set in 2017 of 26:35), I walked the majority of Milton Keynes Half in March following an injury (finishing in 2:50:42, when my PB from 2012 is 2:09:16) and the only road marathon I ran during the year was in 28 degree heat.  When I found myself dodging nothing but walkers out on the course by mile 11, I decided to just enjoy the race instead, making the most of the race atmosphere and finishing in 5:32:01, a long way short of the 4:54:08 PB I set for myself back at the end of 2015.

MK Marathon finish in the stadium with a giant rhino costume

Put aside £500 from side hussles each month towards the deposit for a second property

This has been a big success surprisingly.  Without including my standard wage from my supermarket job,-I’ve still managed to bring in a minimum of £500 each month on top of that, whilst still Mumming full time.  I’ve picked up a bit of social media work for a few companies, a couple of design jobs, the odd bit of overtime from my supermarket job, a monthly paper round, some work marking coursework for an exam board, filled in a number of quizzes on Prolific, sold some unused items in our house and have recently started my journey into matched betting.

Rather than go on a deposit for a second property the money has actually all been put aside to pay for our garage to be converted into a playroom for Oscar.  Work begins on the conversion this coming Monday and I can’t wait to be able to give Oscar a space of his own for his toys and games.  So, although the money hasn’t been put aside for a house deposit, it has been used wisely (I hope!), will add value to our house (we already have enough drive space for two cars, and who uses garages nowadays anyway?!).  Working hard to ensure I hit this target each month has shown me that I can side hussle enough money away on a regular basis to make a difference whilst still living reasonably comfortably.

I’ve had a few people ask me about Prolific just lately.  It’s a survey site used by academics.  You fill out a large number of screening questions when you first sign up for an account but then are only sent surveys you are able to answer and won’t be screened out of which is great.  When Oscar is in nursery on a Friday, I spend most of the day catching up with freelance work in our home office on the computer and have Prolific open in a tab in the background.  Most of the surveys are only a few minutes long so if one pops up whilst I’m working I usually switch tabs and complete it.  Fridays are the only day I get on the computer now really since having Oscar, but I have still managed to cash out several hundred pounds over the last year which has definitely helped with household bills!  If you are interested and would like to sign up and give it a go, please use my Prolific referral link(I will get a small reward from Prolific when you cash out for the first time for sending you in their direction.)

Respond to/clear notifications on my phone quickly

I’m so much better at this than I used to be!  I did have notifications set on my phone for lots of rubbish that I never really ever got time to check.  I had a big cull a few months back where I stopped notifications every time certain people tweeted or posted on Instagram and that made a big difference.  I find I really have to be in the mood to be actively engaged on Twitter and I was just letting the notifications all build up at the top of my screen until I had time to go through them, which was never!  Now that I’m not forever clicking through notifications I have a bit more genuine time for Twitter which is nice, as it does tend to be my preferred social media platform.

Eat less processed food and encourage my Dad to do the same

I’ve cut back a bit, although not yet as much as I would like, but more importantly my Dad has made a massive overhaul to his diet.  For somebody who wouldn’t think twice about eating several chocolates a day, (living near to a chocolate factory he was always stocking up on reduced chocolates!) he no longer buys in bags of chocolate for the house.  He has also stopped having rich foods in the evenings and doesn’t eat after a certain time each evening as he realised that his choice of food and drink was affecting his sleep and the way that he felt.  I am very proud of him.  He’s had such a hard year; losing my Mum, his dog, four cousins and going from living in a large bungalow with three adults and a dog to just him, having to learn simple but vital tasks like online banking, writing and sending out Christmas cards (on time!) and keeping on top of the cleaning.  All the jobs that my Mum used to take care of around the house.  He’s definitely picked himself back up and is taking more control again now which is good.

Move at least 10,000 steps each day

I was definitely on target for this.  It gave me a real motivation to get up and moving every day, even on the days I really didn’t feel like it.  Unfortunately my Garmin Vivofit died in the middle of November though and I don’t have the spare money to replace it right now.  Although I didn’t hit 10,000 steps every day, I managed several streaks of 50+ days across the year and easily maintained an average of 12,265 daily steps for 2018 despite the 6 missing weeks of data at the end of the year.  I’m hoping perhaps next year I can justify spending on another fitness tracker, but for now, my arm is fitness tracker free.
I know I’m hitting a minimum of 10,000 steps a day at the moment anyway.  I work overnight into Monday mornings, and I have always covered more than 10,000 steps during a shift.  I then run the remaining six days of the week, with no run (other than my Saturday parkrun) shorter than 6 miles in distance.

Garmin Vivofit steps

Raise money for a cancer charity

I’m only really releasing details of my fundraising plans this week, so the bulk of my fundraising money will be collected during 2019.

Ronnie Staton, Race Director of HoboPace has incredibly generously offered to come and put on a talk for me to help raise funds for Cancer Research on the evening of the 29th March in Wellingborough.  He intends to tell tales of extreme running adventures that he has encountered as a coach and as an athlete himself.  Although this event has been arranged for a while now, I haven’t announced it until this point as Ronnie sadly suffered a stroke shortly before Christmas.  His recovery has been going well though, and he has insisted he still wants to help make my fundraising evening happen.  I am so thankful for the time he intends to put in towards making this work.  I am just waiting for a couple of details to be confirmed on the tickets and then I will advertise tickets on the blog for anybody who would be interested in coming along.

Goals for 2019:

My Pro Planner

Become more confident talking to successful people

I once met Mimi Anderson (at a Write this Run event back in 2013?!)  I sat in the corner of the room quietly whilst other runners posed for selfies with her.  On meeting Will Mellor at a University club night I awkwardly just said “Can I have a photo?” when he tried to start up a conversation with me.  I’ve met quite a few famous people over the years.  (I had lunch with Katy Hill as a teenager and once sat and chatted to Frankie Dettori for a good twenty minutes. – I didn’t know who he was until afterwards, but that’s a whole other story!)

I want to become more confident with talking to people I view as successful.  I find myself mumbling and without anything interesting to say, when I know that chances of a lifetime are slipping away!  This coming weekend I’m heading to The Running Show as an ambassador for the event.  I will be having photos taken alongside the other ambassadors and speakers on both days.  Having my photo taken alongside such inspiring people as Paula Radcliffe, Jo Pavey and Nell McAndrew, – heroes of mine.  I want to challenge myself to step outside of my comfort zone, ask for selfies, chat to those people and learn as much as I can from the experience.  With my VIP entry I also have access to the VIP room and the VIP meet and greet area.  I am so looking forward to the experience and really hope I can come out of my shell enough in order to make the most of the weekend.

Me with Will Mellor at Zanzibar in Stafford(Picture from 2008 – there’s a blast from the past!)

Run a sub 4h 30m marathon

This WILL happen.  It’s my main focus for the year.  At the moment I’m putting everything into my London marathon training.  No shiny ultras are going to distract me along the way this time!

Raise £3000+ for Cancer Research

Too many members of my family have died from cancer during the last 18 months.  It scares me to think that without research even more family members could go down the same horrible route as my Mum.  It scares me to think that Oscar’s family could slip away from him all due to the horrible illness.  I want to be a part in helping to raise money for research to a cure and prevention.

Volunteer at parkrun at least six times, including in a new volunteer role

At the back of my mind I still really want to get a parkrun set up in our area, closer to home.  I’ve had a couple of knock backs from local parks this past year but one day I’ll get there and I’ll be able to set something up I’m sure.  When that day comes I’d like to have enough experience in the different roles to be able to assess what is required at the new event.  I love the whole parkrun concept, and have known so many non-runners find the running bug after starting their running lives at the free 5k parkrun on a Saturday morning.

Declutter our house

This is a big thing for me.

My Dad is a hoarder.  Not the kind you see on Channel four shows where the occupants of a house can barely make their way to the chair in the corner of the room and the bed hasn’t been seen for weeks.  But, he’s always been a bit of a wheeler-dealer.  He’s brought ‘bargains’ back from auctionhouses with the intention of selling them on for profit, and rarely throws anything away, just in case it comes in useful one day.  His large five bed bungalow is very much full, and when my Nan (his Mum) died back in 2003 he built a large cabin-type shed in the garden to store her belongings.  It still contains china and furniture and hundreds of photographs which he has put off sorting through.

I take after my Dad.  An eye for a bargain and a hoarder of nostalgia.  I have boxes of items of belongings that are only meaningful to me.
Having grown up sharing a room with his brother, when I first met Dan he had very few personal belongings.  You could fit them all into one very small box.  He has a few more now, but still nothing in comparison to the items I have in our house.

This past year though, since my Mum died and since having Oscar I feel as though I’m finally ready to start letting go of some of those belongings.  I would much rather be spending quality time with my family than digging through boxes of paperwork to find a guarantee for something I never got round to filing, or having to spend time tidying away and cleaning under piles of things I don’t pick up for years at a time.

I’ve bought very few things into the house during 2018, as we have made huge cut-backs in order that I can remain a full time Mum to Oscar.  It has done wonders for the clutter and staying at home has also given me a chance to begin clearing out and organising the space we do have.  It also helps that I’ve become addicted to shows like Tidying Up and Consumed on Netflix since the start of the year!  I want to spend my time with people, not things.  This year I really want to clear out a good 30% of our items and become more minimalist about our belongings.  My Dad has also asked me on a number of occasions now if I will help clear his house, so it will be a good year for us both I hope.

Continue blogging each week and retain blogging friendships

This is probably the hardest item on the list.  To find a spare three hours or so to write a meaningful blog post each week is a really tough ask when I already cram so much else into my week, but I hate it when I don’t get time to write about a race, or leave it so long to write up my recap that I’ve forgotten half of the details.  I love the blogging life – it’s become a real outlet for me over the past few years.  I’ve gone from hiding away, hoping nobody I knew found out about my little corner on the internet, to sharing my blog address with runners from my running club and letting real life friends follow my AHM Instagram account.  I’ve been invited to some fantastic events over the years and met some lovely people through blogging that I’m proud to call friends now.  I hate that I don’t have the time to put into blogging and reading the blogs of friends that I once had, but hope to put more of a focus on this again during 2019.

How many hours do you spend writing blog posts?
Are you a hoarder?

Ever met anybody famous?  Do you go all shy or ask for a picture?