Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Christmas Pudding Dash

Thanks to everyone for the kind comments about Barney. I have shed plenty of tears I can tell you. Anyway, at the start of the week I couldn't face the thought of running a race this weekend but, as the days passed by, I realised that life does have to go on and the race was in aid of The Martha Trust who provide care for people with severe disabilities, so I had to do it.

This was the second running of the event and if you check back to the beginning of my blog you'll see a very similar photo of me standing next to Pete, both looking pretty silly in our costumes (except last year I was Mrs Santa!). Btw, don't Pete's shorts look like an adult nappy?!!!!! I met several other Runner's World forumites - JohnnyJ, Fat Buddha & Petal, Liam. It was organised by Martin and Cathy from Nice Work and they always do a really good job.

Mike came along to give me some moral support which was nice. I love it when he comes with me as it's great to know he's in the crowd cheering me on. He took loads of photos too which I'll upload in the next few days.

There was a 2k 'dash' for the children before the main race started and it was wonderful to see them racing along. Some of them were so tiny and we clapped and cheered them on and they all put on a little spurt for the finish line when we encouraged them. I applaud their parents for getting them exercising so young and I hope the joy stays with them for ever.

The course is quite tough and undulating (that usually means hilly!) and is run mostly on tracks of either shingle or grass/mud. It had been very frosty all week but then had melted the day before and it was quite slippy underfoot. Amazingly I didn't fall over and managed to trot round the 5 mile course in 50 minutes. I was pleased with that anyway but have decided I'd like to run it quicker next year so that's one goal set.

On the knitting front I just haven't been able to face it this week. Barney always sat on my knee whenever I knit or did any form of craft so my projects have remained in their bags. I know I'll feel better about it soon enough.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bye-Bye Beloved Barney

At the beginning of the week Barney started picking at his food, leaving half his meal to be polished off by Tinker. This was most unusual. I thought he just needed a change but even special treats didn't seem to interest him. On Wednesday he refused all attempts to eat anything and became very subdued, spending the day just sitting dozing rather than chasing mice or helping me outside. On Thursday he was just the same and I became vigilant. He was still drinking water but not as much as usual. On Friday he still wasn't eating and was very quiet so I took him to the Vet. She listened to his heart and lungs but couldn't find anything obviously wrong so gave him a vitamin injection and suggested I try mushing his food with water and syringe it into the corner of this mouth. This worked OK so I felt a bit better, even though he didn't enjoy the experience much.

Yesterday evening however he wouldn't take any food and started choking violently when he attempted to swallow. We took him to the Vet straight away and he gave him a steroid and antibiotics and took blood samples which he later confirmed were all OK. He suggested we see how he went over the next 24 hours and if he was no better then he'd move onto xrays etc to try and find the problem. By this time both Mike and I knew in our hearts that there probably wasn't going to be a happy ending even though he was only 8 years old and should still have had many happy years ahead of him.

This morning he refused food and water and was visibly fading away so we took him the Vet who did Xrays which confirmed our worst fears. He had a large tumour in his chest. An operation to remove it would most likely kill him and no medication could make it go away. With heavy hearts we had to make the decision to put him to sleep.

So we have said goodbye to a very special cat. He has been my constant companion for the past 8 years, who came to live with us when I was feeling very sad and helped me realise that life is precious and must be treasured. We will miss him terribly.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Poor neglected blog!

I can't believe it's been a month since I updated my blog. Where does the time go? It's just been such a busy time - we're frantically trying to get the decorating done in 2 rooms prior to carpet being fitted in 2 weeks. It's nearly done but there have also been curtains and blinds to attend to. This has left very little time for anything else. I've still managed to run of course and have knitted for at least an hour each day just so my hands don't forget how!

Barney's been helping in his own special way. He can't resist a ladder and we always have to watch out if we're in the loft as it's difficult to get him out of there once he's scaled the ladder. Here he's checking that the basecoat of paint is even.

Progress on the shawl has been slow but it's looking rather pretty. I love all the different colours and the beauty of it is you can just switch off whilst doing it because it's only garter stitch. Ha!, who am I kidding. Pride came before a fall the other evening as I miscounted my rows (goodness knows where my row counter has disappeared to), joined a new colour on the wrong side early in the square and didn't notice until I'd fastened off. I had to rip back to the first colour change and that isn't much fun in mohair. Good job the squares are small.

I've just cast-on this lovely headband to match my FairIsle gloves. Karen has very kindly released the pattern as a thank you to everyone who took part in her glove KAL. It's just the thing to keep my unruly locks off my face!

Linda, if you read this and you do decide to come to London I thought I'd let you know that there's a Tutankhamun exhibition on from November until next August. It's on our 'to do' list.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Last Marathon of the Year!

Yesterday was my final marathon of the year (I think) - the Beachy Head Marathon. It is a tough fell race across the South Downs around Eastbourne in East Sussex and takes in the Seven Sisters, a group of hills including Beachy Head the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain. You can see the course profile here where you will see just how hilly it is!

The weather had been quite variable this week and the Downs can be tough work on a cold, wet and windy day. However, we were blessed and although it was overcast at the start, the wind was light and later in the day the sun shone and the views from the cliff tops were spectacular.

There were loads of forumites from Runner's World there that I saw at the start or en-route; including Snowwy, Plodding Hippo, Tracey, DianaD, TS, Birdypie, Pit Stop Crew, Lurker, Bobbis, Mrs Pig, Mike Frog and Womble. There were also 5 more doing the course twice Caz, Smithy, M1, Hairier Half & Paddy (the mad fools completed it too and in an amazing time!).

Here we have Ruth (Plodding Hippo who you may recognise from some of my other marathons as she does loads of them!) & Diana with pit Stop Crew in the background sporting his Pirate top which is worn by a group of Triathletes/Ironmen from the forum.

There was a jazz band to entertain us whilst we waited to start. The position they chose to set up in was not the most pleasant as they were right next to the portaloos (and believe me they get very, very smelly!).

Another cluster of forumites from right to left; Snowwy (who I met for the first time whilst walking to the start area), Diana, Tracey (whose husband Bernard was cycling around the course taking photos and shouting encouragement to everyone), Ruth & Birdypie (whose head is just poking out at the back!).

The start area with the first hill in the background. It's hard to describe just how tough that hill is and you really have to scramble up it. Trouble is, you have to come back down it right at the end and I am not good at coming down hills as I'm always scared of losing my footing and rolling down to the bottom (which apparently has happened to other runners in the past). The little figures you can make out up on the ridge are some of the walkers who start earlier then the mass of runners and joggers. Normally I object when people refer to me as a 'jogger' as it is often used as a derogatory term but in this event it signifies a runner who expects to complete the course in more than 5 hours. Last year I managed 6:04 and I expected I'd be slower this year.

At 9am a maroon (a firework that makes a loud bang) flashed into the sky signifying the start and we were off up that hill. I started near the back as usual and it was amazing to watch the elite front-runners nimbly scaling that hill like mountain goats. Around me and immediately in front of me everyone walked.

At the top of the hill I started running, although not quickly as we were still climbing, albeit a gentler gradient. Just after the first mile a piper was playing the bagpipes. It's such an evocative sight and sound up there on a hilltop and I couldn't resist taking a shot of him. The shape of the tree in the background gives an indication of how windy it gets up there.

This path sums up what many of them were like - rutted tracks with grass inbetween and lots of loose flints underfoot (they really hurt sometimes and you have to be very careful not to turn an ankle. Sometimes the tracks were just flint and chalk which were very dusty, sometimes the route was across grassland, grazed by sheep or cattle. So the scene was set, lots of ups, lots of downs with some flat (NOT!) ridges inbetween. Around mile 7 we were running down a flinty path that was cut into the hillside and along the top of the ridge were lots of cows just walking along slowly on a track. A couple of runners in front of me went up onto the ridge and as I was stumblling a bit on the path I decided to go up onto the ridge too.

What happened next was surreal and had the runners behind laughing their heads off. I gave a shout to move the cows on whereupon the 3 cows up on the track in front of us started to run. They were joined by others from the field who ran alongside, joining in the fun. If they started to slow down I just shouted again and they picked up the pace. Then the track ended and veered down to the path whereupon the 3 leading cows left it and went back to their field but the remaining cow hadn't had enough so she lead me onto the track.........and then we ran alongside eachother. It was just for a few hundred yards and then we came to another junction and she stopped whereupon I raised my arms in the air and declared myself the winner! It was then I realised that there was a photographer standing in the middle of the path with his tripod and camera and he'd been taking photos of the whole proceedings. I had hoped that perhaps he was the husband of a forumite and would send me some photos as I'd love to have seen it. It turns out that it was a photographer from AntBliss who did catch some of it on film but sadly I'm not in any of them.

The fields up on the Downs have mostly been planted with winter wheat and so there wasn't much to see but I snapped this plantation of trees as it made me smile. Someone had obviously had fun planting the saplings out into this pattern and it looked really effective. Soon after this Mike phoned me to see how I was getting on. It was lovely to hear his voice and I felt strong and confident.

This spinney really stood out against the barren landscape and you can see the white chalk clearly. It's a tough terrain to farm.

This white horse chalk figure was carved in about 1925. The act of carving horses such as this one near Harting is known as Leucippotomy - now there's a word that roles off the tongue!

I reached the half way point in 2:30 which is faster than I expected but I knew I'd take longer on the second leg as the Seven Sisters can really sap your strength. There were cheery marshalls to chat to, including one I'd chatted to at the Steyning Stinger earlier in the year, a jazz band playing, a lady singing and it was all very jolly. All the aid stations had mini mars bars, biscuits and either water or cordial but this one was even better with tea and hot cross buns. YUM. I stayed there a lot longer than I'd intended! There's a tough climb just after this before we headed downwards again.

I'd remembered that there were lots of steps to climb at some stage after Alfriston but I couldn't quite remember where. In reality I think I must have blocked them out of my mind because they were so awful When I came across these little darlings my heart sank. I thought there we over 200 of them but as I heaved my weary legs up these I only counted 67. Was my memory really that bad? I reached the top, breathed a sigh of relief and carried on.

Then these steps appeared to delight me. I counted 215 of them but there may have been more. Oh boy was I glad to get to the top of them!

Throughout the race there were lots of people to chat to. I kept leap-frogging Pit Stop Crew who was doing his first ever marathon - when one of us took a walk break, the other ran past . I chatted to lots of walkers along the way too. Everyone was so friendly and supportive and there was a great camaraderie amongst the participants. It's exactly the sort of event I love where the back-of-packers get as much respect as the front runners.

After the dull start first thing the sun came out and it was really warm. The views from up on the cliffs were spectacular and the sea shimmered in the light. I couldn't help stopping to look. This is a view of Cuckmere Haven a beautiful nature reserve. It was a perfect day for being on top of the Downs.

This view is from just before the start of the Seven Sisters and shows where we were heading. The white chalk cliffs are very famous and feature on most photographs of the area. They certainly look magnificent with the sun shining on them.

So here it is, the first of the Seven Sisters (aka the seven bitches!). You can tell how steep it is from the angle at which the ladies ahead are leaning. The white blobs that look like mushrooms are pieces of chalk. The next one was even steeper but the memory card in my camera was full and I hadn't got the heart to delete anything so this is the last of my photos. Somewhere around then I reached the Birling Gap and there was another aid station. Mike tried to phone me a couple of times but there was no reception on my mobile.

Time for another chat with some spectators, a drink of water and a mini mars bar. This is a popular spot for walkers and other sight-seers and there were lots of people and cars around. There is also a hotel which is a popular destination for a meal. As I headed away from there I saw a woman at the side of the road and I heard her shout "Susie?!" As I got closer I realised that it was Val (aka Tiger from Runner's World) and she was shouting to someone else - Richard (Snoop Dog). I was so excited to see them both. I had the pleasure of their company when I ran the Rottingdean Windmill 15 miler last year and they really helped me along. It was Val's birthday and they'd been for lunch in the hotel and were just watching the runners go past before heading off.

Sadly Richard had to head off to meet a business contact but Val said she'd join me for a mile or so. She just had to head back to the hotel to change so she told me to carry on and she'd catch me up (she's a much faster runner than me!). It seemed as if she'd been gone for ages and I kept looking back in case I missed her when all of a sudden she came speeding along. She said she'd been getting some strange looks and comments from people as she sped past them! I was surprised to find I'd covered 3/4 mile before she caught me up. I took a welcome walking break and we chatted and caught up with what we'd each been up to. It really made my day to see her and it was lovely to have her company. After just over another mile we started up a hill and that was her cue to head for home as her children had some special birthday plans for her.

So it was on with the remaining siblings! Part way up one I spotted a photographer and he shouted "Hi Redhead!" It was Anthony from AntBliss I don't expect I looked my best but he snapped away. Last time I'd seen him was at the Steyning Stinger marathon way back in March. Mike managed to phone me then and it really helped to hear his voice as I trudged up yet another hill.

Around now I met up with 2 army men, one of whom was carrying a 55lb back pack with the other running to support him. They were raising money for Cancer Research UK and did amazingly well. I was in awe of his stamina as he carried that heavy weight up and down the hills. I stayed with them for a short while and then Bernard, Tracey's husband sped past on his bike and told me there were only 2 more miles to go. I always find it amazing that one can find the extra energy to put on a spurt at the end but I managed it. I ran cautiously down the final hill to claim my medal then phoned Mike to let him know I'd finished. I thought my time was 6:14 which would have been 10 minutes slower than last year but when I checked my Garmin the next day it read 6:10 so I was just 6 minutes slower (I think I must have become confused in the post-race euphoria!).

So that's it. My challenge is over and I survived and managed to raise over £3500 for the Alzheimer's Research Trust Now, what shall I do next year...................

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Making a start

I've made a start on the beautiful shawl. The colours really are gorgeous and this photo doesn't do them justice. The pattern is easy to follow and the mitred squares are much easier than I anticipated. The hardest part is dealing with the yarn as it's so fine and wispy. As there are so many colours, and hence lots of ends to weave in, I've started weaving them in as I go by using the 2 handed Fair Isle method. I always find it off-putting when I get to the end of a colourwork project and have to spend ages weaving in the ends.
This afternoon I began wallpapering the lounge and Barney helped in his own inimitable way.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Finished Scarf

This is the completed scarf for my friend Carol. I chose the colour of the yarn carefully as she is very depressed and I wanted something significant - blue because she's feeling low, yellow and mauve (the colour of primroses and violets in Springtime) and green because it's the lifeblood of plants and represents growth and renewal. I hope she will like it but it isn't her birthday until December so she'll have to wait!
Here's a close-up of the twist pattern. It's quite clever and you effectively knit it in 2 halves, twisting the 2 thinner strips together as you're going along. The yarn is alpaca so should be lovely and warm.

I couldn't resist taking a photo of the 3 horses having a break around mid-morning. I don't think I've ever seen them all lying down together like that before. Awwwwwh, bless them.

Tinker couldn't help himself either. I was just about to make the bed and I put my old cardigan down. As soon as it hit the duvet he appeared out of nowhere and made himself comfy on it! This cardy has a story to tell. It is knit in a mohair with multi-coloured flecks in that I bought in 1982 whilst working in Blackpool. The yarn lived in my stash for several years before I started the project. It was interesting to knit as the body and sleeves are knit as one, sideways, with the cuffs and collar added on later. When I got to the stage where I started the cuffs I realised that I didn't have enough yarn to complete it. It was then 1985 and the wool shop had closed down and I couldn't find anything like it so the nearly finished cardy was stuffed into a bag and left in storage. In 2002 when I started to use the internet I remembered the poor unloved cardy and tried searching for the yarn on-line. Of course it was no longer manufactured but I managed to find a supplier of the same yarn company, contacted them and they found me a plain colour that matched really well. The wool store was over in West Virginia and she posted the one ball of yarn to me immediately and so I was able to finish my cardy at long last! Sadly that yarn store is no more but I shall always be grateful to them for helping me finish my project after all those years.

For my next project for myself I'm going to make this beautiful wrap by Mags Kandis using Rowan kidsilk haze. Isn't it gorgeous? I just needed something for me before I embark upon the Christmas gifts for everyone.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Itsy Witsy Spider

I couldn't resist taking this photo as I went to feed the horses early this morning. Everywhere was covered in spiders webs glistening with dew and they looked beautiful. This one was really interesting as the spider had built a sort of platform which she was hiding underneath and then above was just an amazing tangle of gossamer. If you click on the photo to enlarge it you can just see the spider hiding underneath the platform on the left.

Now some cats like to chase and eat spiders but not my 2 boys. Oh no, they totally ignore them as they scuttle across the floor. I showed Tinker the photo and he wasn't impressed (possibly because I've chopped his tail off in this photo!).

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Maybe this time it will work............ success at last! It seems to sum up what this year has been about. Now I just need to hear back from eBay so I can get the auction underway. It's quite exciting as I've never sold anything on eBay before and I really have no idea what the response will be. I hope it goes well as I really want to raise more money for the Alzheimer's Research Trust

On the knitting front I'm romping away with the twisted scarf for my friend Carol (who really needs a bit of cheering up at the moment) and Mike's second fingerless mitt is plodding along in the background. I'm itching to start a wide scarf for myself but I can't as I'm still waiting for one ball of yarn. Grrr! Probably just as well as I do tend to have too many things on the go at once.

Tut Mutts, if you pop along I'll try and write out how I did the thumb shaping asap. I'm considering trying another pair soon but might choose a different pattern, just for a change.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rubbish Running!

The last couple of weeks have been quite a challenge as my heart really hasn't been in my running at all. My training has been OK, but lacklustre. Last weekend I ran a decent 10 miler on Saturday and a 20 miler on Sunday and I should have done it again this weekend. Did I? No, no, no! My head really was not in the zone, so much so that after 10 miles today I abandoned the idea and headed for home. Now, instead of tapering (that's cutting back on my mileage) ahead of the Beachy Head marathon at the end of October I shall have to do it next weekend. Hey ho.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Changing my photo!

Today sees the launch of the latest Guinness Book of World Records so I thought it would be a good time to change my profile photo to remind me of it! I haven't received my copy yet but as soon as I do I shall be organising an auction on eBay to sell the scarf, certificate and book to raise money for the Alzheimer's Research Trust which was why I did it in the first place.

I have tried and tried but I can't get this photo into my profile. Grrrrrr. Any suggestions most welcome!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A little bit of crochet, a fingerless mitten and an abandoned project

I've been busy playing with ideas this past week and having a rummage in my stash. I came across 2 balls of Rooster aran weight yarn that I got from Laughing Hens last year. They make a lively colour combination so I thought I'd just do a few granny squares to use them up together. Here's what I've done so far. I love doing them as a break from knitting as they work up so quickly and are easy to do whilst watching TV. Here are 3 I've completed so far and I've probably got enough yarn for a couple more. They aren't blocked yet but have quite a good shape.

I was using this book, 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws and Afghans for ideas. It really is a super book and I've had it for ages and not used it. If course, now I've started I want to keep on with them so I'll have to see if I've got any more aran yarn lurking.

Here's the first of Mike's fingerless mittens. The pattern is from the Rowan magazine 40 and is for the Ana Fingerless Mittens but I have altered it slightly as they were way too long. The yarn is Rowan Kid Classic and is lovely and soft to work with and will keep him toasty warm on winter walks. I like the longer length as you can wear them scrunched up around the wrist.

Barney is lying on a project I have abandoned because I just don't like it! It was a boxy cardigan full of pattern (cable, diamonds and textured bits) but it simply doesn't show up well enough in the dark chocolate colour to justify the work so I've cut my losses and undone the 2 front pieces and given the back to Barney as a blankie for my office. He doesn't seem to care that the pattern doesn't show up!

Friday, September 7, 2007

A New Project

When I got an email from The Woolly Workshop telling me there were new goodies in store it would have been rude not to go and look. Unfortunately I am unable to just look and I bought this scarf pattern and yummy yarn to knit a scarf for my friend's birthday. A couple of row markers seem to have jumped into my cart too!

I'm just about to re-visit a WIP from earlier this year - the second fingerless mitt I was knitting for Mike.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

At Last!

I've finally finished the second glove. Hallelujah! I have learnt so much doing these and the second one fits me much better than the first as I had the confidence to ignore the pattern instructions and amend them to fit my chunky little hands.

There are a couple of things I would change - the way the fingers are finished (I don't like the lumpiness of the 8 stitches drawn together and will look for another method for future use) and the severity of the thumb shaping. If you look at the right hand thumb you will see what it looked like when I followed the instructions and it looks quite pointed. On the left hand I changed the shaping and I think it looks much better. So much so that I am going to rip the right hand thumb and do it like the left. No sooner said than done I had chopped off the offending thumb ready for re-shaping. It's finished now but I won't bore you with another photo!

My tension also has changed between the 2 gloves. On the first one it was much looser whilst I got used to the 2 handed FairIsle technique. I haven't blocked them yet so they still look a bit lumpy but overall I am very pleased.

Barney was getting bored by all the typing.........

Whilst Tinker waited patiently. Bless!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Kent Coastal Marathon

Here I go again, another month, another marathon. I just don't seem able to help myself at the moment. It's only 6 weeks since I ran the 50 miler so I've still got a good level of fitness and it seemed a shame to waste it. Which is why when Sharon and Mark (who also ran the 50) from Runners World mentioned that there was a marathon over on the Isle of Thanet it seemed rude not to go along. So that's where I was today.

The event was organised by the Thanet Road Runners and was a coastal route going from Margate to Broadstairs and then back in a figure of eight loop. Mike and I haven't been to Margate for about 7 years - we used to go there each year with the Lady Taverners when we used to take disadvantaged children to Dreamland, a fun fair that was in the centre of Margate. It is also the place where Tracey Emin, the artist, grew up.

Although it is only about 55 miles from where we live, it is a slow route so I had to be up bright and early for the 9:30am start; 5:30am to be precise! I managed to park quite close to the finish line and arrived soon after 9am. The first person I saw was Mark who came over to say 'hi' then I went and said a quick hello to Sharon who was busy at the registration desk. I met Chestfield Bill briefly. It's always nice to put a face to a name that you see on-line.

I was just trying to get my camera out of my back pocket when I managed to detach the zip-pull. This meant that the contents of my pocket could fall out when I was running so I had to try to secure it with a safety pin. As the pocket was in the middle of the back of my shorts this was not easy and there wasn't time to go to the loo to sort it out so I had to contort myself to get the pin in. As I was twisting round in this rather undignified position someone tapped me on the shoulder - it was George, who I'd seen at the 50 miler. Although he had completed the full 50 miles he had never done a 26.2 mile marathon before. Moreover, he only started running last October in order to lose weight (which he most certainly has) so he has done amazingly well.

The upshot of the pocket debacle is that it was too awkward for me to take any photos en-route so the pictorial element is quite limited.

Next person I met was Cliff who was acting as the sweeper, making sure that all the runners at the back were OK. I had seen him at the 50 miler too and it was nice to meet him properly. Unfortunately he won't be able to do the 50 next year as the date has been moved to August and he will be on holiday then. The next time I saw him was towards the end of the race and he was running along with the last person, who was 4 behind me. I'm hoping to see him again at the Beachy Head marathon at the end of October.

The route for the half marathon and full marathon was the same for the first half so there were lots of people around. First of all we headed out along the coast towards Broadstairs. The sea looked amazing with the sun sparkling on the water and little boats bobbing around. The beaches are sandy and there were lots of families out there enjoying themselves. In the distance I could see large ships and there were several jet skis charging backwards and forwards. The coastline has several Bays which you can read about here. At one point someone shouted "Last time I saw you, you were wearing balloons!" and I looked round to see a man I'd seen at the South Downs marathon on my birthday when I'd been carrying my birthday balloon. Sadly, I don't know his name.

Overlooking Viking Bay, Bleak House was the home of Charles Dickens, who visited Broadstairs on many occasions. It was here that he wrote David Copperfield. Towards the 6 mile mark the route moved away from the coastline and went through a couple of the little streets in Broadstairs which was rather quaint. It actually reminded me of Rye and had a lovely feel to it and I'd like to go back and have a proper look. Here's some more information about Broadstairs.

It was very hot for the first half and I slowed my pace accordingly, reaching the halfway mark in 2:30. The route then went out past Margate, again along the coast, past multi-coloured beach huts and many tourists, along a concrete path which I found quite hard on my feet. The other thing I'd found difficult in the earlier section was running on pavements - as we live out in the sticks we don't have them and I found jumping on and off the kerb quite tiring! Then it happened, I lost my mental focus at mile 15 or thereabouts and I really didn't want to continue and I took a walk break. It's the first time I've ever seriously considered not carrying on in a marathon and I had a real struggle to keep going. I have no idea how it crept up on me but it took 3 miles before I regained control and settled back into it. Then it was just a case of keeping going until the end. The marshalls were all lovely and really encouraging. Sometimes we runners forget what an important role they play in our enjoyment of a race.

As the course was a loop I got to see all the faster runners heading for home which was nice. I called out 'well done' to everyone as they went past and most of them reiterated (with the exception of the sub 3 hour runners who made no acknowledgement whatsoever!). At one point I passed Scotty who I haven't seen at a race for several years and we shouted hello to eachother in passing.

Just to prove what a difference mental attitude makes, I'd been dragging my heels for several miles until I got to Mile 25 where there was a hill. I ran up it without hesitating! As I approached the finish line Sharon spotted me and came running over and the little crowd of die-hard supporters gave me lots of applause and cheers. Little things like that really make a difference when you're a slow runner like me and I was really grateful. I'd targetted 5:30 because of the heat and got home in 5:37 so wasn't disappointed. That was my 10th marathon and my 6th this year. Who says you should take it easy when you reach 50!!!!!!!

I really love the colour of this tee shirt. I thought this marathon was excellent value for money and was a fun event. I'm glad I did it as I usually go for off-road marathons, with the exception of London, so it made a pleasant change.

Here's the rather nice medal we received which will be joining my collection.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Peruvian Prize

Oooer missus, I've won first prize in a photo competition! It was run by Peruvian Connection and you had to send a photo of yourself wearing something from their collection, not necessarily from the current one, and just give some brief information about the occasion. We were going out to look at a new horse a while back and I wore a jacket I bought from them last year so Mike took a photo of me standing in the back garden and it won, beating off competition from all over the world. Here's a link to the winning photo and you can see the other winners too if you press the arrows. I really love their clothes and they have a good work ethic of fair trade with the South American artisans with whom they work.

I don't think I've ever won a competition before in my life and we could hardly believe it when they phoned to let us know. Guess what the prize is? £500 to spend on their lovely clothes. Just imagine if I had that amount to spend on knitting yarn.............stash heaven!

What? Mum's won a prize? But she's nowhere near as pretty as me!

Well, I hope she gets some more carrier bags, I just love this purple one.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Vogue Knitting International

I received my copy of the Fall, 25th Anniversary issue of Vogue Knitting International this morning and was delighted to see that there is a little article about my running and knitting exploits at the London Marathon on page 28. This all came about because the lovely Leslie Barber from VK heard about what I'd done and went to the trouble of tracking me down. She even gave details of my blog. Knitters are simply the best!

In case anyone new comes to read about my exploits, you can read all about it in the post from April entitled "London Marathon Day" to save you ploughing through all the other posts. I tried to do a link but couldn't get it to work.

It made me think about what I was knitting 25 years ago. I don't usually save things, tending to unpick them and rework them into something else when I've tried of them or passing them to a charity shop. Then I remembered seeing a really interesting sweater that I knit back in the 1980s when I was having a rummage around recently. I'll try to find it and take a photo as it's fascinating to see how fashions change.

So here it is. It was a kit from Georges Picaud that I purchased in a knitting shop (Johnsons, I think it was called) in Blackpool, Lancashire whilst I was working there in the mid 1980s. It was the the most wonderful yarn store, vast by today's standards, with a massive selection of unusual patterns and yarns. The kit was really expensive at the time as the yarns used were unusual. The main body is knit in something called 'feu d'artifice' which is a metallic sort of yarn (which is a bit scratchy, truth be told!) and there is some angora and a silky tape yarn too. It was really interesting to knit as it was done in strip sections then pieced together. The bits around the gold lace panels have scalloped edges. I used to love wearing it with black trousers for evening.

When I made it I was several stones lighter than now so I will not have my photo taken wearing it! Instead, here's a photo of a lovely slim model doing it justice.