It’s been a while since I last posted. Thinking back to those now distant days of lockdown when there were bigger spaces of time to sit and write compared to now, when there’s more happening to potentially write about but that means less time and with it the discipline to actually sit down and put words to page. Of course, it would help if I cut back on my streaming habit but it still feels like a novelty to be at home in the evenings instead of out doing the group fitness thing, even though it’s well over two years (!?!) since we first got locked down. Anyway, here we go…
In early September, technically still summer, I went off to Surrey for another Maverick Race X Series Ultra distance event. This one was the most enjoyable so far in terms of how the actual running felt. I chose the Surrey event this time partly as it included fundraising for the TRIBE Foundation (who I already support by subscribing to their snacks) and because the overall elevation was much lower and I wanted to see what the distance felt like without as much up and down. The first hour or so of the course ended up being more of a fast hike than a run as it was crowded (as the start always is) fairly narrow and not steep but enough of an uphill to make hiking the more sensible option for most. It felt like an extended warm up so by the time things evened out and opened up the everything was still fairly fresh which was good for momentum. A lot of the route was through woods and forests, relatively wide well kept track, trees towering overhead which gives a cosy feel that I love. The Peak District and Exmoor routes each had plenty of stunning landscape views but there was much less of that this time which probably helped with keeping up the pace. About two thirds of the way around I started getting a grumbly gut and had to slow right down to a walk for a while and starting seriously considering having to drop out at the next aid station. I think I might have over-carb-loaded and my body was struggling to digest it all. Thankfully it cleared (ahem) but by this point everything movement focused was in pain so picking up the pace was very gradual. But then a magical thing happened, by just keeping going bit by bit it started to not seem so bad. The final aid station appeared from which it then was mostly downhill and eventually I was actually racing back across the finish line. Very satisfied with the 7:51:57 finish time (goal was under eight hours) and somehow have not fallen into the post marathon blues this time. Instead feeling supremely fired up and sure that I could have trained harder than I did, if so, could I get round faster? At some point I really want to try and go even further than 50km but the thought of doing that at my current snails pace is not so exciting.
When I was young, way back in the days before endless streaming services and only a handful of VHS options it’s inevitable that you would end up watching the same things over and over again. Even so, had there been more choice I still think Bugsy Malone would have drifted to the top of pile. I’m not sure I could sing much of it off the top of my head nowadays but can still join in effortlessly with all the songs. Serendipity is one of the best things when it happens. My drive home from my Sunday evening BodyBalance class a few weeks ago was diverted through Oxford city centre as the usual faster route down the bypass had been closed (flooding I think it was). That diversion took my past the Oxford Playhouse where I saw a big billboard advertising a stage version of Bugsy Malone that I would otherwise have had no idea about. I bought tickets. A friend and I went together. Within the first five minutes the excitement was too much and I ended up in tears! But then settled in and enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining show. Although it is a musical it originated as a film and needed some adapting to fit on stage but they managed it really well including a very exciting car chase. The whole thing was utterly brilliant. Definitely a top highlight of this year.
Another unexpected surprise recently was Mum and Dad starting to do Parkrun on Saturday mornings. Mum had talked about it for a while, always with the intention of walking it but wanting to challenge herself with the distance. I had no idea Dad was even that aware of it let alone interested but apparently it’s part of his plan to keep fit while retired. At the moment, or rather before Parkrun (he’s now been about half a dozen times), he tends to be sedentary with a computer based job which, since the COVID lockdowns and still working from home, meant not even the half mile walk to the office. Having seen how frail my grandparents ended up I do worry a lot about my parents aging and as a fitness professional I know how important exercise is but also how hard it is to get people to actually do it unless they are already most of the way there so it’s been really exciting and a bit of a relief to see this happen.
At the other end of the life spectrum one of my friends from school and the first of our small group is about to have her first baby so a baby shower with afternoon tea was in order. As it was on the weekend of Halloween the themed treats were very much enjoyed. As an introvert I always struggle with this type of event and had been dreading it a little but am very glad to have gone. And exciting news.. I just found out that baby has arrived, a few days later than expected, but healthy and gorgeous!
The Les Mills Live filming event in London was another, er, introvert challenging event. Although in some ways it is easier, being a loner in a huge crowd than interacting with a chatty group of ten people, the noise and flashing lights massively drain the nervous system. It was totally worth it to be there though, and although I’m a little gutted to have missed out on tickets for the BodyPump & GRIT session, that would have meant two mornings there as it was separate to the BodyBalance & Core session, as Balance is my main program it was good to be there for that. Seeing a tiny bit behind the scenes of the filming process was interesting. The masterclass video that we get to learn from as instructors (and then goes up on their LM+ online workout portal) is straight through start to finish as it would be in a live class but for this we had to stop in between each track, the presenters on stage rearranged themselves, a couple of times we had to go back and redo a minute, an even more chilled out than usual Balance experience. In between the classes there wasn’t much there, no merchandise retail therapy opportunities sadly (to be fair I already have more than enough LM gear), but they did have headsets for the VR version of BodyCombat and I did get to have a go and it was way more fun that I’d expected. Having an actual target to hit (that doesn’t ‘hit’ back) was interesting, with my head in a headset I have no idea what difference that made to technique but it felt good, and I liked the brutalist architecture of the training room.
I think that’s all the big stuff that’s been happening. Well, 17 hours of the new Audible version of Dracula was pretty big and very, very good. A first time reading that book for me and I hadn’t realised how good some of the writing is. It was long, and at times, especially nearer the beginning of story while setting itself up, did seem slow but the dramatisation of it was captivating and I got quite obsessed. Perfect for these darker, colder days, with the stormy rainy weather we’ve been having, and while spending hours in the kitchen knocking together an early batch of home made mince pies.