Realisation

The time has come. I refuse to claim people are right, because I fail to see what that would achieve other than to fuel the desire of those around me to interfere in my life. However, it looks like I will not be able to complete the Half Marathon in Warwick.

To the fantastic people who have sponsored me, I am sorry. But with a bad few months emotionally and a dose of flu over Christmas which left me with bad chest problems for the whole of January, my training just didn’t progress as well as I hoped and needed. 

I remain determined to beat this and to keep running but I have to be realistic. I am only capable of running 6 miles and that’s not good enough this close to the event. 

I am most disappointed that I allowed the doom mongers to affect me as much as they did. The constant remarks on how my training isn’t right, how I’m ‘not a runner’ and that I shouldn’t push myself have, sadly, taken their toll. Only so much I can ignore. I hope you’re all proud of your interference.

You won’t beat me though. I’m just cutting you lot out of my life. I’ve had enough negativity to last a lifetime. I will face more difficult challenges in my life than this and I want people around me who support and encourage me. By that, I don’t mean telling me your way is the best and I am stupid for doing anything different. Or the disapproving looks, shrug of a shoulder and ‘well, it’s up to you’ comments. Unless you happen to be my personal trainer, in which case… you’re exempt from this particular rant.

It’s been two years since I went down with a virus that I thought would end my chances of ever taking part in a training session again. I look at where I am now and realise that although I am letting people down in terms of not getting myself to the start line in Warwick, I haven’t let them down in terms of the work I have put in over the last few months to get to where I am now. And I will continue to work hard and harder. I have more goals. I have a 10 mile run in Maidenhead planned in just a couple of weeks (which I hope to make) and a 40 mile cycle ride in May.

To those who have sponsored and supported me, I will make you proud. I’m just sorry not to be able to do it on 17th March.

Training

I am little over 4 weeks away from taking part in one of the hardest challenges I have ever attempted.  The Warwick Half Marathon in aid of the British Heart Foundation (http://www.justgiving.com/JemmaPhillips-Warwick). It seemed like a good goal to have and has helped me really move on with my running, but I have hit a wall in my training. I have yet to run further than 5 miles and I am struggling to move past that.

I have been working with a PT (http://highdefinitiontraining.co.uk) who has been brilliant at not only focusing me on my training, but also helping me remain positive and even managing to make me laugh when I feel like I want to die! The most impressive thing is that I actually listen to him. Those who know me well, know I don’t take kindly to ‘advice’. Certainly not straight away. Unless those people have come recommended from a friend or I have seen what they can do, I ignore them. Yeh, I know… I’m working on changing that.

Anyway, my hope is that the sessions will help not only my running and general fitness but also pull my body out of the slump it’s been in since my virus two years ago. Despite the fact that I haven’t been going to regular sessions, it seems my body is happy with even a little bit of advice and my running feels easier. I have also noticed I no longer have the pain in my legs, which used to stop me running and render me useless for a day or two.

So what is the problem?

Well there are two. Firstly, my chest is still recovering from flu over Christmas/New Year, leaving me with a nasty cough and a bit of reliability on my inhaler. Getting into a rhythm with my breathing is taking a lot longer and I’m not breaking through my initial wall until well past mile 1.

The second? I’m getting bored. This is the most difficult one to fix. Music isn’t helping and even the information from Runkeeper about how I’m doing, annoys me.

I’m not sure if this isn’t just down to the fact that I am used to team sports. In particular, I’m used to being in a boat with at least 3 other people and all of us helping to keep the other going. The best bit? We were all stuck in the same place so one person couldn’t go off and leave the rest behind even if they wanted to! Well, not without getting wet.

A few people have suggested joining a running club, but this isn’t what I want. I don’t want to be running with other people where I realise just how slow I am and how much work I have to do! At this point, I will acknowledge that yes, most runners are supportive and would help me… blah blah blah… but I’m not into that kind of help. I’m a competitive person. I need to feel I’m competitive, not that I’m there for everyone to pour pity on. I know that getting help from a club works for a lot of people, but I’m just not that person.

Taking part in the running events this year is about raising money and awareness of my chosen charities not how fast I can complete them. I just want to get round the course (before they close it) and prove to myself and the doubters, that I can come back from that virus and be fit again.

Ten years have passed, but it’s still in my heart

It’s nearly ten years since I first stepped off the train and visited York. This beautiful City captured my heart straight away. My job, a Digital Audio Trainer for the BBC, took me to several cities around England, some of which I’ve never been back to, but this is one I have had the pleasure of revisiting many times.

I remember that first experience. From getting into the taxi at the train station and heading for BBC Radio York, to the late night walks back to the hotel, the restaurants and most of all the people. Not just those working at the Radio Station, but the locals I met while out shopping or eating in the evenings, were some of the friendliest I have met.

On 8th February I took myself back up to York to meet a good friend of mine (V) who has settled there after spending a few years at University. Even the train journey makes me feel content. Particularly going through Sheffield. I have no idea why, but I always catch my breath when I see the brick work just before you get to the station, which signifies (to me anyway) that I am in the North.

My trip this time was due to be a couple of nights of chatting, drinking and eating while celebrating my Birthday with V, which had fallen in the week before.

I stayed in that same hotel which I was booked into for work in 2003. With views over the River and just a few minutes into the heart of the City, I felt the hotel (Park Inn) was a good choice. I wasn’t disappointed. The staff, friendly and welcoming as always and the room, with a view over the river and toward the Minster, was just what I needed to help me to relax.

York Minster at nightI met V in the shadow of the beautifully lit York Minster and we headed to the Three Legged Mare for a drink and catch up. As we walked in, I immediately fell in love with it. Filled with people relaxing, chatting, drinking ale courtesy of the York Brewery and soaking up the piano music being supplied by a well-known local Busker. Approaching the bar, V was hugged and welcomed by several people and not once was I made to feel like an outsider. The two gentlemen she knew at the bar, chatted away and included me in their conversations as if I had known them for months.

The evening progressed and we moved on to The Golden Fleece to take in the sounds of another local Busker and his band. Again, it was filled with people laughing and enjoying themselves. The band started up at 9pm and the music was brilliant. A great mixture of songs from the 60’s to the present day, which got everyone singing along, clapping and cheering for more when it was over. The skeleton at the bar was a surprise, but I’m reliably informed he Skeletonwas wearing a Santa hat at Christmas, so at least he likes to get involved.

The evening finished as it started, in the Three Legged Mare, where we planned our Saturday. Rather than my usual walk around the City, involving too much coffee, the Hog Roast and walking the walls, V suggested a road trip with another of her friends.

Saturday’s road trip was brilliant. After picking up K, we spent an hour heading East to Bridlington. The journey was worth it. Parking in the Harbour, we decided to go to South Beach. We walked toward the sea, with the harbour to our left, blue sky overhead and the warmth of the sun on our faces.

538080_10151243113800946_1868307437_nHaving decided to go down the gangway toward the seawall where the fishermen were, we noticed there was a lack of dry land between us and the beach. The three of us and another couple who had the same idea were stood staring at the water, approximately 4 feet across, which was covering the sand by about an inch. V made a dash for it and made it across, as did the man who had appeared. Minutes later the water was gathering momentum, so, sensing a break in the tide, K made a run across the water, only getting her trainers and bottom of her jeans wet. The man was trying to encourage both myself and his partner across, but she gave up and said she would walk up and along South Cliff Road (a good 10 minute walk). I waited a minute or two to see if the water (now 3-4 inches deep) would go out. It did, but as I stepped onto a slightly raised bit of sand, it came gushing back in. Shrieking, I got out the other side to laughter, soaked trainers, socks and jeans (halfway to my knees). I squelched my way down the beach for the rest of the afternoon.

We walked for an hour or so, the warmth of the sun was welcomed and somewhat surprising. Soon, realising just how far we had walked (and how hungry we were), we headed back to find somewhere to eat. Walking around the town, we found a little cafe for Fish and Chips. Red seating and numerous old style heaters propped up on the windowsill gave it a very old fashioned feel and smell. I opted for sausage rather than fish which turned out to be two jumbo sausages and a plate of chips! The food was fantastic, but I couldn’t finish it all.

IcecreamNo trip to the seaside would have been complete without an ice cream, even in a rather chilly 4 degrees, and so we set off in search of one. Eventually (5 or 6 places later) we found what we were after and headed for a short walk toward North Beach. This turned into a very short walk as the temperature plummeted. A brisk walk back to the car and we had decided that enough was enough. We were all frozen stiff.

Saturday night was spent with V and a couple of her friends from University. I could direct you to the places we visited by I’ve no idea on the names. Mainly because we spent a good 20 minutes trying to find somewhere ‘quiet’ so we could have a chat! However the quiet locations were soon traded in for louder, busier bars and we eventually finished the night off in a club.

Sunday was a relaxed affair. I headed for breakfast, which was packed. The staff quickly found me a table and soon I was happily tucking in to a large Full English Breakfast and coffee. Over the 10 years I’ve travelled for work (and pleasure) I’ve had some awful experiences of breakfast, but this was very well done. No congealed beans or rubber scrambled eggs, instead it was hot, fresh and very tasty. After breakfast, I had planned to take a walk out in York and soak up the atmosphere, but the weather had turned and the wind and rain put me off. Instead, I returned to my room to stared out of the window at the City.

What strikes me most of all is that my thoughts while there, are always my most creative. There’s something about that City, like Liverpool, which inspires me. I don’t know why and being able to tap into that inspiration when I return home, is something I’ve never managed.

Inspiration and creativity seems to be so muted in my everyday life. It’s there, I know it is. It’s just a case of finding it.