Month: August 2015

The IKEA trap…

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Some things in life are inevitable. Life. Death. Taxes. A trip to IKEA. There were dark clouds overhead as we pulled into the car park. Vehicles lurking in every corner, desperate to bag that elusive space. The hoards huffing and puffing their way back to safety, carrying everything, including the kitchen sink. As the sky swelled and pulsated, so did the dread inside me. 

Don’t get me wrong, I think IKEA is a fantastic store. When it’s devoid of people. Try going along before the end of the school holidays and this Swedish homeware fairytale quickly becomes a Nordic nightmare. 

We had a list with us. You need a list. Excellent start. Now we just had to figure out how to navigate the labyrinth before us. Let’s just wing it. Escalator to the first floor. So far so good. Where do we get a trolley? Ground floor. Hmmm… ok, so lift back to the ground floor it is.

Twenty minutes later, we’re armed with our weapon of mass destruction. Now for the front line: The Shop Floor. Too. many. people. Too. many. items. Not. enough. space. I have to sport some serious Formula One moves in order to negotiate the sheer number of humans. It’s when I find myself standing staring at a wall of 20 different styles of toilet brushes that it all becomes too much.

The curtains department is interesting. People with measuring tapes abound. Mass confusion with the metrics, as my mobile phone goes into overdrive trying to work out the correct dimendions. Finally, we’ve got what we need. Hurrah! Now there’s just the small matter of the lengthy walk to the tills. When we get there, the man in front of me appears to be buying half the shop. I should point out that this all happened on a Thursday. Weekends?? *shudder*

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Say my name, say my name

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I am now a Mrs. It’s weird. It’s what grown ups do. Older people. Oh yes, that’s right. I am a grown up. And in my “late thirties” as my  husband gleefully informs me. “IT’S STILL MY MID-THIRTIES” *shuffles for divorce papers*…..Husband. That’s another strange one. Whenever I say “my husband” I giggle a little bit. Like a child being asked by angry parent what swear word they’ve just used. Then there’s the name change. Do I change my name? What about one of those double-barrelled jobs? Could make me sound like a solicitor’s firm. Or a British bake off judge or X Factor host. Which is cool. For a second. But it would take a lot longer to write. So I’ll keep my maiden name for work thank you very much, and use my married name for everything else.

Simple enough, right? 1. Get hitched. 2. Phone the bank. The first part happened. The second part is proving more complicated, thanks to the intervention of my friend, bureaucracy. Bureaucracy. Bloody bureaucracy. I need to change my passport. So I can change my bank details, driving licence and everything else in between. I changed my Facebook details to my married name, as it was easy compared to the red tape slapped around everything else. However, I’m still tweeting using my maiden name. Which is confusing people. Gives the term “I don’t know who I am any more” a whole new meaning. It’s also put me in a schizophrenic-like state of identity, exacerbated by the many online outlets I suddenly realise I’ve signed up to. I wonder if Cheryl Fernandez-Versini had these problems. Perhaps I should just incorporate all the names I’ve ever had, including nicknames That could be fun. Or really shake things up and have my surname as my first name. Followed by my maiden name,  then my married name. It was certainly the preferred option of our honeymoon hotel in their welcome note….I like it.

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Winter Skies

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A simple blog today. After a tough week, I decided to take some time out and go for a walk near my flat. Ethereal winter skies, mottled cotton wool cloud and the low, surprisingly balmy sun, streaming, squinting and glinting through the branches. Multi-coloured leaves squelching under my feet, the ducks squabbling over the scraps. Earlier, I’d gone to my favourite coffee shop, sipped a “festive latte” and devoured a good book. Christmas, for me, will be spent in New York with family and close friends. It will be great to get a break in a few weeks, and experience festivities in the Big Apple. A crazy, whirlwind adventure in the city that never sleeps. My first Christmas Day away from home. But for the moment it’s been worth taking some time out to enjoy these lazy, lucid, lingering days.

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Battling Bridezilla: Reproducing lists, Prosecco and plimsolls

My wedding lists are reproducing. I’m now the proud parent of so many of them I feel like the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. (Google it). They’re on my phone. On the iPad. Scattered around the flat. I’m going to wake up one morning and see one carved into the ceiling. And the problem is they don’t seem to be getting any smaller. Indeed, they’re multiplying faster than the spiders in Arachnophobia. (YouTube it.)

With four weeks to go until The Big Day, wedding planning is now part of my daily routine. It’s like having a second job. My brain is full of table plans and ribbons and music and spreadsheets. And flowers and pipers and what shoes I will wear on the day of the rehearsal (cos that’s just so important…) Yeah, ok, it’s getting ridiculous. On the plus side iI’ve been *forced* to drink more Prosecco than normal – it’s all part of the wedding process, right?  Hic. There is also the opportunity to justify copious amounts of shopping with the excuse they are “honeymoon clothes”. Still doesn’t stop the “HOW MUCH????” text from the other half of course.

Sadly, whilst my mind has been consumed by wedding craziness, it is a truth universally acknowledged that my general upkeep has suffered somewhat.

“Do you think I should get a fake  tan?

“NO, for *enter swear word*’s sake!”

“Why not?”

“Because the last time Louise you actually turned orange. Let me repeat: You were ORANGE.”

He has a point.

In my eagerness to plan my beauty regime, I fear I may have done it too early. I got my nails painted last week, but they now appear to have broken off. Of course the fact I bite them has nothing to do with it. Then there’s the colour. Initially a “shimmery pearl”, it now resembles a new shade I have decided to call “Dirty Water”.

In other news, I have my second hen do coming up next weekend. I’m still recovering from the first one in Scotland. And, as usual, I’m having a shoe dilemma.

Heels and I are not the best of friends. I have been known to stumble – admittedly after a glass or two of the aforementioned Prosecco – whilst wearing ridiculous shoes. At my first hen do I was fortunate that my bridesmaids decided to dress me up as a runner (another story) so I spent the day in plimsolls.

They’re bloody comfy. Perhaps I could wear them as I walk down the aisle. Whilst biting my nails, sipping Prosecco and checking off yet another list.

Battling Bridezilla: A darker shade of orangutan

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Spray tans terrify me. However, after realising parts of me resembled a whiter shade of pale, I decided it was time to give it a go…

I turn up the salon in a pair of skinny jeans (big mistake), wedge shoes that are way too high for me and an unhealthy dose of excitement about what’s in store. Maybe I’ll emerge from this shop as a bronzed goddess, Stars in Their Eyes style. Like someone plucked from the streets of St Tropez, hair shaking in Farrah Fawcett fashion, emanating a radiant glow…

Ten minutes later and I’m in a very small room, wearing very little. A woman’s standing in front of me holding something resembling my mum’s plant sprayer that my brother and I used to have water fights with. It also looks like a fumigator device used by bee-hunters. That would be an interesting role on a CV, eh? Louise the Bee-Hunter. But I digress.

For the next twenty minutes I assume a number of rather unnatural and potentially unfortunate positions. Hands in air. Hands behind back. Foot out. Foot in. All part of the spraying experience I guess. The woman does seem to be putting on an awful lot though.

“And you’ve brought some loose clothes to change into, yes?”

Er, no.

“Oh well, never mind, the streakage shouldn’t be too bad.”

Streakage? Oh god. Remain calm.

I’m now left to dry myself off with what looks like a vacuum cleaner. I dress quickly, and step outside. My hands look a wee bit brown, but that’s the point, right?

When I get home the full effect is shockingly obvious. I’m the lovechild of an orangutan and Jordan. Especially on my hands, which now have a garishly carrot hue.

“I warned you about getting this done,” fiancé says, struggling to contain his evil glee.

Next morning, I wake up feeling refreshed. Surely it will have dyed down by now? Nope. It’s worse. I can almost feel myself changing colour by the second. Drastic times call for drastic measures, and I turn to my old pal Google for some advice. Washing up powder. “That’s ridiculous,” murmers half-asleep fiancé. But I hardly hear him as I’m already on my way to the kitchen sink.

Thus follows half an hour of scrubbing and praying. It seems to work a bit. Although now my neck and face, devoid of attention, are much darker than the rest of me. “I’m never getting this done again,” I bellow. “My little oompa loompa,” comes the voice from afar. “Shut up.”

So I’ve decided that fake tanning is probably not for me. Had this been a day or two before the

wedding, as opposed to a trial run, it could have sent me into heart failure. Plus don’t get me started on the smell. Malty and meaty. Like a pint and a pie. Not attractive. Although I did consider bringing out some of my more interesting dance moves while getting it done. Or the Usain Bolt one. Now that makes me chuckle. Although if I had one iota of his running talent I should really have legged it out of there. At lightning speed.

Yours,

Louise Orangu-tan

Battling Bridezilla: A big, bridal bouncy ball of stuff

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Glinda, love, will you lend me your bubble?

Stuff. There’s stuff I need to do. Lots of stuff. I’ve given up making lists because there’s so much stuff. I only lose them anyway. The only difference now being I don’t know what I’m doing all the time, instead of just most of it. I’m encased in a fuzzy, muffled bubble of wedding planning, occasionally sliding off the pavement, and careering down the road, ricocheting off the ground like a bouncy ball, heading straight into the wedding planning abyss.

When people ask me how it’s all going, I honestly don’t know what to tell them. It’s not because I’m being rude, it’s because I genuinely can’t remember what stage it’s at (should have kept those lists)*. Definitely should have kept the lists.* “Lots of stuff to do”, I tell them, with nodded head, trying to look nonchalant and calm, not a panicking, blundering wreck.

And so I turn to my email correspondence – a tad haphazard at the best of times. I’m just hoping my trigger-happy propensity to email all and sundry in the wedding world won’t result in twenty make-up artists and a dozen pipers on the day.

Maybe this bubble I write about could function as a weapon of self-preservation, whisking me   away at lightning speed when it gets a bit too much and I start annoying people by being myself. It could float into the ether, returning to Scotland at the end of August, so I can step out of it and into my wedding gear. Like Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz. Please lend us your bubble, Glinda, love. Although the pink dress may have to go. Now let me just go and put that on my list.

*Me being myself

Battling Bridezilla: Enlisting the list

List: A number of connected items or names written or printed consecutively, typically one below the other – Oxford English Dictionary

It’s happened earlier than I thought it would. I’ve actually turned into my mother. The signs were all there: the tone of voice, the raised eyebrows, the way I walk and hold my handbag. And now I have the confirmation I need: I’ve started making lists.

There were always lists in our house when I was a child. Written on teeny-weeny square pieces of paper. At every corner. Next to the phone, on the kitchen table…Shopping lists, to do lists, lists about lists.

In recent weeks, I’ve become a walking wedding encyclopedia and a haphazard one at that. Questions and tasks vye for competition in my swollen head. I’m like a Jack in the Box, waiting for that moment of combustion. “Invitations!” “phone the hairdresser!” “whydon’tIhavemyshoesyet??” I could explode at any given time. People will stand and watch as the bridal detritus flutters to the ground like crumpled confetti.

Fearing possible collapse due to this confusing sanity bypass, it’s time to take action. And I’ve got just what the magician ordered. Ta-da! A LIST. Bingo. I’ll write down everything I need to do and tick it off.

First of all it looks ok. Everything’s in front of me, neatly laid out on crisp white paper. I haven’t even got any ink stains and it’s written in my best handwriting, not my usual undecipherable shorthand-inspired scribble. I’m Miss Super-organised. Like Monica from Friends with her colour-coded wedding folder. My list is my saviour. It will see me right…

Unfortunately, I fail to take into account that while a  list can be made with relative ease, my scatty gene is harder to destroy. And guess what? Lists can go missing. Or remain at home when they’re meant to be in a handbag. Or even be thrown in the bin with an empty iced coffee carton.

My flat starts filling up with many different lists. Some of them containing the same information. Others written on the back of un-crumpled receipts. Lists stuffed in my bulging wedding folder, already fit to burst with random ribbons, full-size books and possible hairstyles hastily ripped from magazines.

This is not good. How am I meant to remember all these things? Perhaps I need to make a list reminding me where all my lists are. Or enlist a team to help me with my lists. Do things in a measured and orderly manner, that’s what my fiancé says. I will listen to him tomorrow. For now it’s time to take my listless self off to bed.

Battling Bridezilla: Operation Glahmmm…

Appearances are everything…

With the marathon done and dusted, my mind turns to my forthcoming wedding.

Time seems to have flown by, and I’ve realised it’s time to assess my general upkeep.

Admittedly, up until this point, it’s not been great. I have a tendency to drag myself out of bed in the morning, jump in the shower, pull on some clothes and head out the door without a second thought.

However, in the slightly scary knowledge that some eyes will be on me come August, I’ve decided it’s time to take action. Last year was all good and well experimenting with (disastrous) make-up etc, but now there’s just four months to go. To coin a US phrase, this shit is getting real. (sorry mum)

The benefit of training for a marathon is that you can eat whatever you like and not put on too much weight. It’s brilliant. The downside is that when that training stops, you, er, can’t.

Monday morning starts well. I’m on a day off; the perfect time launch The Wedding Healthy Eating Plan.

“Skinny latte please.” It feels good saying it out loud, as I give myself a wee pat on the back. (figurative. FIGURATIVE).

Turns out skinny lattes are horrible. They taste like diluted mud with a consistency to match. It’s like having one of those teeny weeny overpriced sweet things they sell in coffee shops, when all you want is a huge slab of the cake next to it. But more of that later. Maybe I don’t have to have skinny lattes. I mean, how much more harm can a normal latte do? It’s only milk, right? Pah.

Lunch is at a trendy café where I have a number of things, including crackers and ryvita with lettuce and some salmon pate. It’s very nice, but there’s not enough of it. Stick in there, stick in…

Later, at the train station, I encounter a minor blip. In fact, what some might consider rather a large one. Deciding that I’ve done well enough to have a normal latte, I stop by a lovely wee French place.

I spot it. Straight away. Shining like a beacon, softly saying “eat me, eat me eat meeeeee”. It’s gateau. And not just any gateau. Black Forest gateau. My favourite dessert as a child. One of my favourite desserts as an adult. Although any dessert will do nowadays. I’m not fussy.

Before I know it I’ve ordered it. I admire it on my plate. So pretty. As I sit down, the waitress calls me back. “Would you like some pouring cream with that?”

Well, it would be rude not to…

A few days later and I’ve decided on a change of tack. Let’s focus on my face instead of my stomach. Time to get the old eyebrows done I think.

So it is I find myself sitting in a chair in a well-known London department store. My eyebrow hairs don’t like it. They don’t like it at all.

“My skin does go a bit red when I get the threading done,” I tell the beautician. “But I’m not allergic, so just do whatever.”

Mirror out. “You have hair loss in this bit, this bit and this bit.” “I will trim here, here and here, then dark powder on – yes?”

“Yes please. Thanks.” I have no idea what she means.

Five minutes later, the skin around my eyebrows looks like a plucked turkey. A shade best described as furious pink. I’ve also winced during most of the treatment. You know it’s never a good sign when the beautician has to hand you copious amount of tissues to quell your streaming eyes, while giving you a (literal. LITERAL) pat on the back and asking if you’re ok. I felt like I’d just come out of surgery.

But never mind, she’s putting some sort of powder on now, to fill in the gaping bits. I mean how bad can that look?

I don’t see it until I get home. Not so bridal. More Addams Family-esque.

I show my fiancé. He tries not to laugh as I narrow my (very) darkened brows.

Me: “Well it’s not permanent.”

“Are you sure?”

Suddenly I think I just lost the 5lbs I put on due to sexy gateau. Every cloud and all that…

Diary of a Slightly Stunned Marathon Runner

I hear the alarm in the distance. As I stir, I don’t know what day it is, who I am, or what I’m meant to be doing. Nothing unusual there, apart from a feeling in my stomach, telling my mind it needs to register what my body already knows. Marathon Day. Mar-a-thon Day. Instantly I’m wide awake. This is it! The day! The day I’ve been waiting for. The reason why I’ve only slept for four hours, tossing and turning in the depths of night. The source of my grumpiness and hypochondria for the last few months. The culmination of months of training, blisters and physio.

I jump out of bed. Kit is laid out. Everything’s ready. Keep calm Louise, have a leisurely shower, plenty of time.

Two minutes later. I’m out of the shower. Hair dripping, mind racing, now where did I put that bottle of water? The “lucky” one that I’m taking with me? Right, let’s just get changed first and get sorted. Stay calm.

Four minutes later. My socks feel tight. Why do my socks feel tight? These are the ones I’ve trained in aren’t they? Or was it the thinner, white pair? No, definitely the first ones. Why is my bra rubbing me? And where is that bottle?

I pull my running vest over my head, taking extreme care not to rip the number precariously pinned to the front. It’s not cold but I can feel myself shaking.

Therein follows a general palaver with my mum, who’s here for the weekend to support me. Both of us are nervous, but pretending not to be. I need her to attach my running chip to my trainer. “Left or right foot?” “I don’t know, what do you think?” “I don’t know.” “Well I’m left-handed, so left foot.” “Ok, take your trainer off, so I can put it on.” Two minutes later: “That doesn’t work, put your trainer back on.”

Running gear and mother sorted, cereal consumed and lucky bottle located, we arrive at the tube. Only two other runners are on the tube. Why’s that? Have I got the right route? What’s going on?

Thirty minutes later. On the tube with loads of runners. The fear has started and the doubt is creeping in. What the bloody hell am I doing? This is madness. 26 miles, 385 yards. 26 MILES 385 YARDS. I don’t know if I can do it. What if I can’t? What then?

Nervous 

I walk up the hill to the start area, the smell of blossoms, bananas and apprehension in the air. When I get there it’s like I’ve entered a music festival. Queues for the portable toilets, people lying around in the sun and megaphones and screens blaring. I wander around for a couple of minutes carrying my plastic bag, like a disorientated old woman. At least the toilet queues aren’t too bad, I think, as I nip in early. On my exit from the loo, a photographer is there. He’s right in front of me. Taking snaps of runners. I feel caught in flagrante, but I manage a weak smile and a wave, while silently swearing at him.

I must not drink too much water before the run.  But must ensure I drink enough water before the run. Have I eaten enough? Maybe not. Frantic texting to my father ensues. “You’re fine, what you’ve done sounds ideal.” So I head to my assembly area and get a good spot in my “pen” right at the front. Excellent. But why isn’t anyone else here here? They’re leaving it a bit late. More fool them, I say, taking yet another swig from my lucky bottle.

Twenty minutes later, I’ve realised why. There were all at the toilet. Which is where I should have been. Instead, I’m back there now. Standing in the longest queue known to man, with just 20 minutes until the start. S**t

Eventually, the necessary is done and dusted. I shoot out of the toilet like Usain Bolt, sprinting back to my pen with two minutes to go. I’m definitely not at the front anymore. Too late to worry now. My music’s on, my heart’s racing, and we’re off.

The first few miles are a struggle. Everything feels a bit sore and stiff. Having been warned about running too quickly early on, I’m keeping a slow but steady pace. “No heroics”, I keep saying to myself. And yes, I’m aware I sound like the ultimate prat.

Four-ish miles in, and I’m bursting for the loo again. I can’t believe it. I consider squatting at the side of the road, but decide the chance of arrest and tasering by cops that Mr Blaring Megaphone Man warned about earlier is one I’d rather not take. So, once again I queue. I’m absolutely gutted that I’ve had to stop. Parts of my soul are being destroyed bit by bit as my fellow runners whizz by, while I’m stuck waiting for a German guy in a mankini to get out of the bog.

Toilet done (eventually), I whoosh out and slot back into the throngs. It’s thrown me slightly off-kilter, but before long I pick up and am feeling considerably better. The crowds are great, there are kids handing out sweets, people shouting my name. This is what it’s all about and I’m on top of the world.

Ten miles in, and I’ve moved from the water on to the energy drinks, my mouth eagerly soaking in the sugar as I run next to someone in a rhino costume. I like to cut down my running into six-mile chunks, so by now I’m getting close to the end of the second one. Another six-mile chunk to go after that, two miles to get to twenty, then…well, I’ll think about that later.

One of my running pals. Pic: Getty Images

Tower Bridge is immense. I feel like an Olympic hero approaching it, and the roar of the crowd is overwhelming. I also spot supporters from my charity, which gives me a great boost. And there are some amusing banners on display. “Toenails are so last year.” “Blisters are in this season.” “Press here for power” (with circle below it).  “Shut up legs.”

A few miles later, and I’m struggling again. “Just get up to 20, get up to 20, and the crowd will carry you from there,” I’m telling myself. More energy drinks help, along with water, and a rendition of my name by some Cockney guys – “Lou, Lou, Lou-Lou, Lou, Lou, Lou-Lou, Lou, Lou, Lou-Lou Lou Lou LOU LOU”, to the tune of No Limit by 90s dance act 2 Unlimited. Eventually, mile 20 is upon me. I’ve reached the Holy Grail. So, what now?

Ok, so this was the really hard bit. Uncharted territory. To be honest, the next four miles were pretty horrific. I knew I had family and friends waiting for me at mile 23, so my thoughts and hopes were pinned on that. But having consumed a shedload of glucose-laden drinks I was feeling very sick, and started sporadically retching.

The crowd – up until then my faithful friends –  were starting to irritate me. “Only six miles to go!” Er, no! I don’t want to think about six miles mate! Plus, it isn’t even six miles, there’s only five-and-a-half left now! Why are you giving me this misinformation? Shame on you. I am so angry and fed up.

Shortly before this the battery on my phone decided to die, bringing my music to an abrupt end. So now, in between trying not to vomit, the only sound I can hear is the voice of a guy dressed as Freddie Mercury carrying a giant hoover, a la “I want to break free”. Unfortunately he only knows the first line of the song, which he keeps repeating. And repeating. It’s funny for about a minute. But after 10, the only thing I want to break free from is him. I also envisage walloping him with his household appliance.*

Mile 23 and I’m STILL not at the Embankment. Why not? Why?!! They’ve lied to me. Liars, all of them. I hate everyone.

Then I see I guy in front of me. He’s got a prosthetic leg and is clearly struggling. As I draw up alongside him he turns and smiles at me. “Bloody difficult, isn’t it? Don’t worry, you can do it.” Suddenly, nothing seems as bad.

I’m now in a tunnel with huge illuminated balloons at the side of the road. “Keep going”. “Not far now.” “Don’t give up.” For the first time in a while, I start to think I might just be able to do this. The road slopes upwards and finally I’m running along the Embankment. I spot my brother. I’ve got enough energy to give him a high-five, before briefly grabbing my fiancé’s hand and waving to my mum and brother’s girlfriend. For about a minute afterwards I’m elated. Then it dawns on me, I’ve still got about a mile and a half to go. I can’t do this. I might have to walk. Imagine how rubbish I would feel if I had to walk now? Don’t do it, don’t do it!

Caught on camera – Mile 24-ish.

Going past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament is a blur. All my efforts are focused on finding that finish line. As I get to Birdcage Walk I’m desperate for a glimpse of Buckingham Palace, but I can’t see it. It’s like a never-ending road to nowhere. Don’t stop. Just. Don’t. Stop.

I see the “800m to go” sign. My dad had warned me the end was still a little way from this, so I’m prepared. As I veer round onto The Mall, I realise the finish line is closer than I’d thought. Now I can hear the crowd, now I can embrace it. I can’t make out individual faces, but I can hear people shouting my name. Emotion kicks in. I’m going to finish. I’ve run 26.2 miles. The tears are running down my face before I’ve even crossed the line as I lift up my hand, punching the air. My feet hit the padded mats, clocking my time, and I’m hit with a wave of sheer relief and joy. I’ve done it.

I stagger forward, as my running chip is cut from my trainer, and the medal placed round my neck. A woman pats me on the back and asks me if I’m ok. I just nod and smile.

Running the marathon has been a wonderful experience. Without a doubt it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But the crowds and the people you run with are incredible. It’s an exercise in humility and a masterclass in humanity. The pensioner running with a picture of his wife on his back – “I’m doing it for you.” Another runner, raising money for the same charity, patting him on the shoulder and asking if he’s ok during an uphill part of the course. “Yeah thanks mate, just the hills that are a bit of a bleedin’ killer”, and they both laugh.

The woman I overhear telling another runner her baby died last year, so she was raising money for a charity that helped her and her family. The guy that was able to smile and give me a boost, even though he was undoubtedly struggling himself. People who have never met chatting and spurring each other on. That’s what it’s really all about.

I am really sore today, moving is difficult, and stairs are tough! I ache everywhere and am shattered. But I’m so pleased I’ve done this marathon and raised money for a wonderful charity. In fact, I’m already thinking about another one. I’ll never be an amazing runner and will probably never get a great time. But I don’t care. Being lucky enough to experience a marathon is what counts.

“It was being a runner that mattered, not how fast or how far I could run. The joy was in the act of running and in the journey, not in the destination. We have a better chance of seeing where we are when we stop trying to get somewhere else. We can enjoy every moment of movement, as long as where we are is as good as where we’d like to be. That’s not to say that you need to be satisfied forever with where you are today. But you need to honor what you’ve accomplished, rather than thinking of what’s left to be done.” – John Bingham

*Sorry Freddie.

I ran the London Marathon for Prostate Cancer UK, in memory of my grandfather, Jim Hosie, and all others affected by prostate cancer.  All donations are very much appreciated. My sponsorship page is: http://www.justgiving.com/Louise-runs-London Or text OVGF67 & amount (£1, £5 etc) to 70070. Thank you so much.

Diary of a Slightly Scared Runner: The Final Countdown

26 miles, 385 yards.

It’s something I’d often thought about doing as I mingled with the crowds in the mid-April sun, eagerly waiting for a glimpse of friends and family. Every year I  thought, “that’ll be me next time.” But for one reason or another it wasn’t. Until now. One week today I’ll embark on my first marathon.

Up until now, my blogs have been on the comical side. I love writing them as it’s in my nature to take a whimsical spin on things. Plus it helps raise my spirits.  Today, however, I thought I’d change tact.

It’s only once you start tapering that there’s time to reflect on the scale of exactly what you’ve taken on. Running in the wind. Running in the rain. Running in the sun. Running in London. Running in Aberdeen. Running wherever and whenever I can.  Running up that hill. Running out of steam. Keep on running. I want to run away. Wondering if it’s all worth it. I must be mad. Other people tell you you’re mad.

26 miles, 385 yards.

Is it even possible? The cold that sets you back two weeks. The day nothing is right. The injuries that leave you lying in bed at night praying by the time you get up it will be better.

Ibuprofen and ankle supports. Deep Heat, energy gels, energy drinks. Bottles scattered around. The constant whirr of the washing machine. The ice bath (eek), the physio appointments, the specialist magazines.

There’s the highs. And what highs they have been. Crying with joy and relief as I rounded the corner towards my flat, knowing I’d run 20 miles. The way running makes me feel, the snapshots of daily life all around you that might otherwise go unnoticed. The changing of the seasons, the time to think through problems and worries. Just me and the road. The support from other runners. The wonderfully generous donations and messages of goodwill.

Sunday is daunting for me, as I’m sure it is for others. I’m a natural worrier and already have butterflies. But I’m determined to enjoy it too. I know it’s going to be an experience I’ll never forget, and I’ll give it my best shot. All 26 miles and 385 yards of it.

* I’m running the London Marathon for Prostate Cancer UK, in memory of my grandfather, Jim Hosie. All donations are very much appreciated. My sponsorship page is: http://www.justgiving.com/Louise-runs-London Or text OVGF67 & amount (£1, £5 etc) to 70070. Thank you so much.