Lisa Says This

Lisa oval

With growing frustration, I watch how friends who are “experts by experience”* are increasingly being treated by the NHS and the various bodies tasked with inspecting and improving it. Such as being invited to be part of an inspection as an equal member of the team. But being paid many times less than anyone else, possibly even less than the living wage. Or being asked to join a group to produce guidelines or develop a new treatment or service change, bringing knowledge, skills and experiences that no-one else around the table can possibly have, for nothing or for a fee that is so close to nothing as to be insulting. Or being invited to speak at a conference but being told that “we have no budget for speakers” when clearly the conference is a commercial event AND the other speakers are being paid either by virtue of being in full time…

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Another countdown

We’ve been running a little over the last month – but to be honest I can feel my fitness failing. A 10k up to Ampfield Wood yesterday evening felt like I was dragging lead weights round after me – probably not helped by the drizzle and generally grey (leaden) skies.

To aid the motivation and training prep for the ABP Southampton Half we’ve signed up to a few more races in spring 2016 – I’ve found, in my relatively short running career, that having something to aim for does wonders for keeping the spark lit.

ABP Southampton Half

The ABP training plan is here for anyone who needs a bit of inspiration or doesn’t know where to find one. I searched for a variety on-line and this one seemed like a decent and achievable progression from our Bournemouth plan.

Good luck and happy training!

That’s all, folks!

I ran – and completed – the Bournemouth Half Marathon on Sunday. My running buddy Michelle (and now very good friend; after all we’ve spent MANY hours together over the past 4 months!) and I gave it our all, to cross the finish line together in 2:28:23.


This nicely brings to an end the series of challenges I set myself at the start of this year – to get fit, run a race, and raise a whole load of much-needed money for the wonderful No Limits counselling service.

Because I am an optimist, I like to think that I have achieved all of those things.

I have had the support of some wonderful and inspirational women to help me through the good – and bad – times:

Hilary, my most amazing best friend. We’ve known each other for 30 years and have been through life’s ups and downs together – thank you for kicking my butt and making me do something special. I love you very much x

Vicki – for being not only a brilliant and funny work colleague, but a late-in-life running convert and inspiration.

Liz, for being my social-media-at-a-distance-running companion – keep it up! Who’d have believed it?! One day we will run together.

Michelle – for just being such good fun, a real motivator, a great sport and the reason why I actually leave the house at 8pm in the dark when there are things to be watching on TV.

As part of this process I have managed to raise over £1200 for the counselling service at No Limits. Every penny will go towards funding the resources that the counselling team use in their work with vulnerable young people who need emotional support to move on with their lives.

An enormous thank you to everyone who has supported me – both with motivation and inspiration to get off my behind, and with the financial donations and sponsorship. You are all brilliant – I am so proud of our collective achievement.

With this I am signing off – and shutting down my fundraising page. This will happen on 16/10/2015 in case anyone is tempted to donate a little bit more…

The running continues – our next training run is on Monday – and Michelle and I have both signed up for the Southampton half in April 2016.

What fools, I hear you say…!

Ana x

Chuffed (and hungry)

A fortnight to go until the Bournemouth Half Marathon!

It’s been a difficult week, emotionally draining for personal reasons, and made doubly hard due to Michelle’s toenail spectacularly falling off after last weekend’s efforts, leading to her not running at all this last week (due to the blood!).

Naughty me, I used all those things as an excuse to be lazy… I ventured onto the treadmill several days ago (but left after a very brief stint, put off by the muscle men, rampaging like posing lions across the tiny gym).

As the days passed it was easier not to even think about running. So much of the crappy attitude is in my head; if I could only open it up, pick out my brain, and give it a good shake / talking to, I’d have no issues with this running lark.

Anyway, today we arranged to go out – our longest run before we begin the wind-down. The manky toenail was duly wrapped up and we set off on an 18.5k mapped route round Romsey.

We did it! In fact, it was the furthest either of us had ever run (me beating my Paris distance by a hundred metres or so). We were very chuffed! And very sore. And very tired.

Once I made it home I collapsed in a whingeing heap, hungry, in fact utterly starving. My cycling fanatic husband sternly lectured me on effective refuelling, all while I looked on forlornly, desperate for anything (hoping for cake).

Flourless chocolate cake

There’s no cake, but there’s a lovely autumnal stew just being served up. This definitely doesn’t figure as totally effective refuelling but we’ll let that go

So there we are. Almost ready for the big day. All I need to concentrate on now is what I eat after the exercise!

Because I know I can do the running thing. Whoever doubted me??

Runner hampered by poor bladder control!

The half marathon training is stepping up a gear each week. With it, though not quite following the same trajectory, is the confidence.

On Saturday we met just before 6:30 am (I know!) in the miserable drizzle, determined to see out our 16k training run – a boost, if achievable, with a mere 3 weeks to go.

We felt, dare I say it, quite good for the most part – as we made our way round the outskirts of a sleepy, rainy Romsey. A nice steady pace – race pace for us (seeing as we’re definitely lacking anything other than the one speed).

As we pushed past the 16k mark – with another 1k or so left to go until we reached Michelle’s front door – I was floored by an utterly overwhelming need to pee. I’d been very measured in my fluid and solid intake prior to coming out – a banana and a half pint of squash before I left the house; I had a bottle of isotonic drink for the run itself which I’d been sipping on a little. Why then? And why so intensely?

I fought the urge with all my might and finally had to let Michelle run into the distance while I stood by the road-side doubled with effort not to wet myself outside my children’s primary school. That would have been a sight. Luckily it was the weekend and there were only a handful of parents and children going in for football practice…

Long Run

Overall, stop or no stop, it was a cracking effort. I’m back to feeling like this half marathon is something I can probably finish, but I’m certainly not up for stopping for loo breaks on my way round.

This leaves me with less than 3 weeks to work out how to control my bladder!

Fearless? Nearly!

An email hit the inbox this afternoon. A mere 4 weeks to go until the Bournemouth Half Marathon…

I remember – back in March – feeling utterly sick at the prospect of my 18k being 5 weeks away – the fear and lack of confidence were overwhelming, and I felt so under-prepared.

Since finishing that challenge, I’ve not invested enough time nor energy in the longer runs. A few 10k races and regular 10k training runs, but that’s about it (10k isn’t much good when you’re aiming to complete 21k – even I know this much).

And now the training runs get longer, and more frequent. Missing one is not an option, even as the evenings get colder and darker.

With each passing week (all four of them) there are 14k runs, 16k runs and then… nothing! My running buddy has been struck down by the ‘what if I can’t produce more than 16k on the day?’ panic. Experienced as I am (!) I know that this isn’t the case – but to help boost confidence in our own stamina, we’ve agreed to make 18k our longest training run distance.

Run Fearless

This morning, while the rest of the world was asleep, we plodded out a comfortable race-pace 13k – many, many kilometres less than the target 21k – but symbolically, our longest run together, side by side, each facing our own running demons.

And whilst this of course doesn’t mean that the 14, 16 or even 18k will feel the same:

…the fear is slowly abating…

If you’re interested, I am running this race as part of the Xtreme Runners team, who are raising money for PHASE Worldwide. PHASE works towards improving the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the world. Their main projects support the inhabitants of remote Himalayan villages. These are communities with no access to basic services like healthcare and education. PHASE particularly aims to work with the most vulnerable within these communities: women, children, low castes, the very poor and people with disabilities.