Bowery Mural

It was a mud bath

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Two Saturday's ago I took part in a race, a 10K race, with obstacles, and plenty of mud! This was the Major Series Scotland 10K race. And I was roped into it at the last minute. If you consider 2 weeks to go the last minute.

A friend goes to a fit club with boot camps every few days and they were going as a group. Some people had dropped out and when she asked me if i wanted one of the spaces, I agreed. I'm not much of a runner these days but i do like to keep myself fit. It'll be a personal challenge to see where I'm at, i thought.

On the morning I met them and we all headed on the bus to the venue, a country estate just 20 minutes outside of Stirling. It was bright and sunny but not too warm. I was dressed in training tights, a long sleeved top and the very shoes I wore to trek some of the Himalayas. They're much more grippy than trainers and i thought water, mud...I need some grip. Turns out that was the best decision i made about that day.

We hung around for a little while then headed over to the start area. The bunch I was with were a lively lot with varying degrees of fitness. Our wave of people were due to set off at 10.15am and after a quick warm up and shouting at from some fake soldiers (this was a BMF fitness run event), we headed to the start line and were soon on our way.

Pretty soon we were running through some woods and downhill, then it was up and over a few dykes. Not too bad so far. I was fairly brisk over the walls. The next obstacle and my biggest challenge was a wade through the river. Not just a paddle, an actual chest height wade through the river. By this point I didn't know where some of the group were, mostly behind me. I did manage to see some of them in front of. This is without my glasses on. You see I'm short sighted so anything more than 2 feet away is a blur. If you're 10 feet away I've got no chance of knowing who you are. So I was in this water, without my glasses, I can't swim, what if i got swept under *dramatic much*. Luckily there was a big guy beside me who kindly offered to stay until we were near the edge and i got out. This wade wasn't just a 2 metre long wade either, it went on for what seemed like miles. It was probably more likely about 20 meters. The water was cold when I got in at first, taking my breath away slightly but I was surprised how much I got used to the feeling and the initial coldness soon faded away. When we got out of there it was a run up a hill which by now was very mucky since we were the last wave of 10K runners in the day. The first group having set off at 9.15am.

On the run i realised I was completely on my own, away from the group. I had a decision to make. Do I stop and wait on the people behind me (who let's face it I only know 3 out of about 15 of them) or do I try to catch up with the ones who'd sprinted off ahead? or do i see this as a right challenge to myself and head off on my own with the wind and some luck behind me? I opted for the latter. I made good ground up the mucky hillside and soon was ticking off obstacle after obstacle.

Took me ages to get this mud out from under my nails

There were 'stench trenches'. Ankle deep trenches of thick sticky mud and other brown coloured stinky substances! There was an 'electric field' obstacle. Basically thin electrical wire that you had to jump over or duck under. Standard. There were streams to cross and then double back on yourself, crawling under nets, fake soldiers with big pads running at you, a water slide, more stench trenches, chest height muddy water, getting sprayed on with water guns and more running. I have to admit though, having to jump in this mud and water was really quite liberating. Everyone was dirty so there was no point in being precious about not getting covered. It was inevitable so you just had to embrace the muck! At one point there was a girl on a gate directing us. I asked her where we were, in distance. 3K she shouted. THREE!! I thought I was at least halfway around the course.

The sun was out and wasn't too hot, which was nice. There was a welcome breeze when we were in the fields, walking. I'd given up running at this point due to my ever tight hips and quads giving me that dreaded knee pain again. That is why I don't run, or take part in crazy races like this! It was excruciating at times but i stopped a few times to stretch off and just gritted my teeth.

On one of the last parts we had to go through another dense wood and the route took us through a stream out the other side, back in the stream, up and down the muck banks, then climbing up a rope on a very steep bank. I was pretty quick up that one and i think that's due to the strength training I've been doing recently. Nice one, Ange.

Once out of there I was sure I could hear lots of people and hoped that the end was in sight just around the corner. But it's never that way is it. There was the water slide down a huge hill but we all know, when you go downhill there's an uphill around corner, and that's just what happened.

By now I was super tired, covered in muck, my knees were shot to pieces and it wasn't even funny any more. All of that and i badly needed to go to the loo. I mean I could have just wee'd myself in one of the many muddy waters but I just couldn't let it go then. Pretty soon I did see the finish line. I was never as glad to see it and I actually sped up my hobby walk towards it. I crosses that line in 3hrs and 16 seconds, and I've never been so happy to finish a thing.

I picked up my t-shirt and medal, scoffed down a fruity bar and drank about 5 cups of water. I was covered in mud from my chest down. Luckily I managed to get through the whole thing without falling or stumbling head first into a mud pit. From what I could see, others weren't so lucky. About 15 minutes later the rest of the group started to come through the finish line in varying states of dirtiness.

Pretty soon we were on our way to the bus to get changed and heading back home. I say 'get changed'. What I meant was standing by the side of the road next to the bus doing a weird juggling act of trying to remove the dirty clothes *and* keep my dignity. Once I changed my bottom half i whipped my top off and quickly put the clean shirt back on. I'd brought some shorts and a change of top with me, and baby wipes were used in abundance to get the worst of the mud off. However, it was pretty clear when I took my clothes off that this would need more than a baby wipe but that would have to way until I got home. The mud was plastered to me. I hope it was mud!

When I finally got home I took a few minutes to relax then jumped in the shower to give myself a thorough cleanse. Half a bottle of shower gel and a wash cloth later I was clean. And aching. I stretched out on the foam roller for a while and scoffed down my steak.

I slept like a baby that night.

The next day I woke and wasn't too sore, thankfully, but my legs were covered in bruises - war wounds - ha! I gave myself a pat on the back for taking on a challenge at such short notice. If I were to do it again I'd certainly put more training in. But let's just say I won't be rushing to do anything like it anytime soon.


Juicy Brainwave

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The other week I had a brain wave. I get them now and again you know. I decided that to kick start my sugar detox and help my bodily functions I thought I'd try a juice cleanse.

Now, the back story is that I don't eat that much variety of vegetables or fruit. Shameful I know. I can't really eat apples or skinned fruit anymore due to them getting stuck in my brace and then I have to do a thorough brush of my teeth afterwards to get any apple skin out, and so it goes on... Lazy and really no excuse I know, but still.

Anyway, my brainwave.

I started looking at juice cleanses on the web and found a local company who delivered a one day sweet cleanse (a taster pack) for £45 plus delivery. That is expensive but it's almost half the price of other ones i found. A few emails back and forth and we'd arranged my delivery on Thursday of two weeks ago. I picked Thursday as it's the day I didn't really do any exercise and the information mentioned that you might want to take it easy on juice days.

The guy appeared at my office at a little after 9.30am as arranged. I got two brown papers bags with five 500ml glass bottles of varying colours, along with a lemon, a shot of ginger, two detox teabags and information leaflets. I read the leaflets and I was to start my juice cleanse with one nice fuchsia pink coloured liquid. Oh they also included straws. Very handy when you want to just slurp and swallow instead of taste this liquid. The pink liquid was watermelon, lime and mint. It was okay. It was drinkable. You aren't meant to gulp these drinks down. The information said to drink it like food. So, no sipping, but no gulping. It took me two hours to finish this bottle. Good start from me, high five.

The next one on the list was a green one. I was dreading the green ones. Green drinks aren't appetising really. This one had kale, apple, cucumber, ginger and something else that I can't recall. I want to purge this smell from my mind. For yes, when I opened each bottle I had a sniff. This one was a very strong cucumber smelling juice. Like, very strong. I popped in a straw, pinched my nose and took a long draw of liquid. Ugh. Disgusting. I couldn't do it. Bleurgh. I gave a colleague a taste too. She didn't mind it but agreed about the cucumber being overpowering. 

I decided to miss this green one out and go straight for the purple one. The beetroot one. Now, looking at the ingredients it didn't have the much beetroot in it but we all know that beetroot stains easily and the colour most certainly was of the beetroot hue. I lasted about three draws of drink throughout the straw and I gave up. I can't do juicing. I went and got a cup of tea and some water.

There ended my foray into juice cleanses.

Seriously, who would do juicing for the love of it? They aren't my taste at all. I can't think why anyone would do this for more than one day. That's totally nothing against the company i bought mine from, in fact they were very good. The juice came in lovely glass bottles, or you can opt for plastic ones. You do get a little money off your next order if you return the bottles to them so that's good. So yes, the company were good but juicing is just not for me. 

The last green one was a broccoli and kale affair. I can only imagine what that tasted like!

The juices that were left didn't go to waste. A colleague took them home. But I think I've had it with the idea of juice cleansing. It's not for me.

Now I'm left with some really nice glass bottle to up cycle into some nice table decorations/ornaments. So I suppose something good came out of my juice cleanse. If you think you can stomach the taste of juices, go ahead. I think from now on I'll stick to my fruit and chicken salads - not together!

Oh and granola. I am obsessed with Jordan's Super Nutty Granola, with some yoghurt and fresh strawberries. I'd eat that every day if could.


A Wander Around My Town

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

How often do you walk around your own town or village and just soak it all in? Do you see new things that you'd never noticed before? Discover a hidden gem? See how that old tree ages with each passing year? Is that tree even still there?

I don't do it that often and yet I live in a small village next to a small city of huge historical importance in Scotland - Stirling. Only the there night was there a programme on TV dedicated to finding the original battle of Bannockburn battleground. This might be a spoiler but the site is less than 2 miles from where I sit typing this very blog post and you wouldn't even know it! At least I wouldn't because I don't really go venturing close to home. Sure there are bike ride along the well trodden footpaths that circle the village but actually walking around my local city? nope.

One late Saturday afternoon as golden hour was approaching I decided to go out in the car for a little run. I wasn't sure where I was going to go so heading into town. (I still call it the town but it's officially a city). I drove around then went up to an area we call 'The top of the town'. All the locals know it as that. It leads up to Stirling Castle perched high and overlooks the whole of the Stirling area and on a clear day far north towards Callander and over east to Falkirk/Fife.

The top of the town, or Stirling Old Town as the guide books might say, is all cobbled streets and hundred year old buildings. There are some new builds but in the main I think they've tried to keep the appearance as old as possible. There's a couple of hotels, a cemetery, shops, coffee shops, scout halls, the Tolbooth Theatre, Old Town Jail visitor attraction and of course Stirling Castle itself. I parked the car near the top and wandered down Broad Street (once used in a Bank of Scotland advert).

It was quiet for a Saturday afternoon but I enjoyed the walk. I walked back up around Spittal Street then up towards and into the Castle Esplanade. A few tour buses and cars were dotted around so I couldn't really get a full on panorama of the castle in all of its glory but I tried. Here are few more shots I took that day. All on the iPhone.

I'll go back for another wander with my new camera to see what hidden gems I can capture.