There’s a bee in my house. #LondonMarathon

On Thursday, October 1st I came home to a startling revelation:

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That’s right.  I got myself back into the London Marathon.

I’m fairly sure this was some sort of freak result, likely an error in the ballot system because surely this could not be mine.  Flabbergasted, I took a photo of a woman dressed as a bee, posted it to Facebook, and then immediately went to bed.  My assumption was I would awake and there would be a rejection magazine and some rejection article of clothing (I was looking forward to adding a rejection shirt, water bottle, or bum bag to my collection).  But no, the bee was still there.  She was looking at me with her eyes as if to say, “Yes, you know this is true.” That or, “I’m at mile 18 here and pretty much hallucinating!  Yay!  I’m a bee!  London Marathon!  Yay!”

And I had to accept it.

Okay, so I had to still process it for a few days.

Primarily the acceptance came from my husband, who would giggle at me whenever I looked at him.  The rest from my colleagues, who looked at me like I was crazy… except for one of them who ran it last year.  Upon my announcement he said, and I quote, “Congratulations!  And my condolences.”  Following this he patted me sympathetically on the back and pointed out he was wearing last year’s finisher shirt.  “I wear this every Friday to remind me I’m awesome.”

And so, after day four of the bee still being in my house I’m saying it to the world, “I’m running London in 2016.  I’m running it again.  For a second time.  Willingly.”

And yes, of course I’m going to fundraise.  Guilt is what makes me train.  I’ve got a half marathon next weekend and I’m going to run it on the wings of stupidity because by not signing up to fundraise I didn’t properly train.

You’re going to love that blog, I just know it.

Dearest Readers of the Orange Squeaky


Guest blog by Natassia, cat and Reigning Monarch of the Orange Squeaky Household.

Greetings to my loyal subjects both here and outside these four walls and five windowsills which encompass my realm.

I wished to thank you for your support of my chambermaid’s efforts to run to, I assume, fetch me some tuna or perhaps a better spot of sunlight in which to bathe my black fur.

I must admit when I first allowed the human to serve and house me I did not quite understand her decision to leave my realm only to return in a stinky state one or more hours later.  However, as I do enjoy a good smelly shirt or perhaps a tool bag or large and unwieldy quantity of catnip now and again I thought it was simply to please me.

Turns out that she, like myself, cares for all creatures.  For instance, she raises money for the PDSA.  I allow a dog to live in my presence.  It’s these types of incredible acts which show that I am truly a compassionate monarch and have merely inspired my on demand lap to look to similar activities.

So, feel free to carry on supporting her.  She’s nice most of the time though should consider upping the quantity of chin scratches she could dispense.

Not that I’m complaining, I’m merely suggesting.  I have claws.  I just wanted to make her aware of this fact.

With loving and warm regards,


The Orange Squeaky is demands making


hullo humans.  i is finley doggie.  i is orange squeaky.

where is ball?  go get ball?  go outside play?

i be distracted. i pologise.

human lady who love me win spot in running.  i like running.  i like orange ball.

where ball?  go get ball?  outside play?  chase outside kitty?

oh no, i be distracted gain.

human lady tell me she wants to get monies for doggies and kitties.

mostly doggies.  i like kitties.  kitty bing my best friend.  but mostly doggies.

human lady say she loves me.  i am good dog.  i think she wants to give me bath.

no like bath.

human lady shows me pdsa.  human lady say they help doggies and kitties.

human lady say they give good tummy rubs and make sad doggies and kitties happy.

mostly doggies.

please give for my human.  she go running outside.  maybe she take ball.

where ball?  i get ball go outside?

oh dear, i distracted.

please give human lady. she nice.  except when i take bath.  no like bath.

like ball.

go get ball?

Dear Messrs Scott, Cumberbatch, and Ms Stubbs


I’m sure you recall me.  I was located in the middle-back of the auditorium where you gave your speech.  I was the one pretty much writing out your Q&A verbatim to my friends and family on Facebook.

I was photo call number 3,476,128.  You know, the point of the day where you were kept standing through the power of the love of your fans… or will power… or because your legs had locked… any way I was really impressed you were still standing.  And that you were so kind in a situation which would have overwhelmed me.

I was the one who sat across from you.  Well, more like floated.  I could tell instantaneously why you have had such a long and fruitful career.  Thank you for making me feel special.

I would have never placed myself at a “Con.”  Would have never thought in a thousand years I would sit rapt while listening to talks on “thinking”graphics, or wallpaper.  Never did I think I would find myself standing in line for a photo at a door while listening to a group of girls recalling all the hair colours a strangely named actor has dyed his hair over a five year period.

But, then again, I never thought I would live in England.  Or run two marathons (and 14 half marathons).  Or cycle 50 miles a week to and from work.  Or be a Mom.

Proves you can’t plot out life.

Sitting in the middle-back of the auditorium (Remember? I was wearing black.) I watched as a woman (There were a lot of women there, weren’t there?) tentatively take a microphone and say, “I’ve got a theatre exam in a few weeks and I have problems with nerves.  Do you have any advice?” to which you replied,

“Well, we’re all going to die any way.  So, just have fun with it.”

The room exploded in laughter.  You said a lot after, and most of it was wonderful and profound and passionate.  But the humour and the truth of those first two sentences rang out.

I was sitting at a convention for Sherlock, one of my most loved television shows.  Why?  Because, well, why not?  We’re all going to kick off this Earth so might as well do something we enjoy.

And I enjoyed listening to you.

And meeting you.

And sitting for a brief moment along side you.

You have each inspired me.  Thank you for being a part of one of the most surreal things I’ve done since boxing up my things and moving to this country.



In defence of the back of the pack

Netty Edwards, I hear you.

As a two-time marathoner and 14 time half marathoner who, on a really excellent day, cracks an 11:30/mile, I totally get your 12:00/mile pace.

Why the race director did what he did was really awful.

Now, before you go trolling me here is what I really think: The people who created the Spen 20 were insanely foolish not to communicate a cut-off time.  Their thought process was completely and utterly archaic.

And that is because for a long time, even today, lots of race runners assume to run you must be “fast.”  I’ve never joined a running club for this reason, as the last time I checked into one they stated you had to run a 10:00/mile.

There is some strange elitist notion within some organisations that a per minute time of 10:00/mile or greater somehow makes you worthy of the title of runner, and anything slower makes you, I don’t know, a leisure jogger?

It very much felt that way when I started running over ten years ago.  It very much felt defeatist that even though I crossed the exact same finish line as the faster runners I was somehow less worthy.  Even with stated cut-off times water would be lacking, goodie bags few (if at all), and the enthusiasm that the volunteers once had would be vacant, if at all present.

But, that has changed in spades.

I joined running when there was a new movement just starting.  In that, to run, you ran.  You didn’t have to be super fast, you just needed to finish, and races started to make provisions for this.  People of all shapes and sizes were beginning to be welcome on the course – and in places like Disney the entire movement turned into weekend-long celebrations.  (Oh, and it’s going to start going world wide soon!)

Once a lone finisher in the back of the pack I have friends now.  We’re not the most graceful thing on two legs, but we know we can achieve the end game and we make it there.  Plus, when you are slow and in a well managed race the finish is luxurious.  You aren’t fighting for a photo, standing in long lines for your race bag, or squeezing in at a changing area.

I’m hoping this whole Netty Edwards thing is a one-off.  I’m hoping that, with this event, communication improves and the elitist mindset dies off.  I even know that, in some cities, movements for “all inclusive” running groups are starting to take hold.

We, the back of the pack, have begun to surge forward.

Long may we walk/run.

8 Years Later: Silverstone Vanquished

Oh, what a difference 8 years makes.

On that Mother’s Day, all that time ago, I stood alone and freezing on a race track I knew so little about.  Fast forward and yesterday, also a Mother’s Day, I stood freezing with a dear friend who had never run beyond 7 miles and a fully grown male in a tyrannosaurus rex costume.

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8 years ago I was one of very few females to be seen.  Yesterday the full glory of the “loo queue” with my fellow women.  Shuddering and shaking as a team.  Girl power.






In the week leading up to the race I managed to get both a 24-hour stomach virus and a cough so terrible my husband seriously sat me down and asked if I should really go and run Silverstone.

Thing is, I had to.  I had to erase the miserable memory of that race.  I had to see what 8 years had brought to something that sat so negative in my mind.

When we started the race, I was in massive doubt.  I had hacked and wheezed in the car and the walk to the start line felt like a half marathon in itself.  I dutifully took my medicine and stayed out of the crowds, sticking with my nervous friend.  Seeing the men and women of St. John’s Ambulance Services standing at attention at mile two I seriously thought, “I should drop out.”

But I had something very magical with me that helped me through.  My first-time running, nervous-wreck but utter F1 enthusiast friend.  For the first 5k he kept me focused on parts of the track.  He taught me how to “run the race line” and noted portions of the track that were “notoriously difficult.” He recounted tales of where he stood when some event happened.  Where a photo of his was taken.  His joy, his utter joy of running down a track that he had more knowledge of then I thought possible got into me and carried me through.

After I let him trot on ahead after the 5k I stuck to his race line advice and literally ran “ahead of the cough.”  It was a cold, windy day and the threat of rain hung in the air, but I clutched to that magic.  I looked at the bends and curves, noted the spots where, in the past, cars struggled.  I smelled the whiffs of petrol and grease in the air and just kept putting one foot in front of the other.  I was seeing this race differently now, seeing it with all the beauty that it was meant to be seen in.  I was having a good time.

When I realised I was catching up to my friend, who had been struggling himself with a tricky knee, I slowed down a bit to watch him do something even more magical: I watched him push himself.  Watched him go to that level that so few reach in their lives.  Go that bit beyond, through pain and mental blocks and all the feelings of “I can’t.”

He proved he could in spades.

The thing I’ve picked up about F1 is just how tough it is.  That there are races where cars don’t even make it to the start line simply because the team is constantly attempting to go that ‘one step beyond.’  That there are a million risks and a billion innovations happening all at once.

Yesterday, I crossed the line of my 14th half marathon.  I did it in perfectly good time.  8 years ago I was one of the last to cross.  I was tossed a bag with a huge shirt in it and felt as if no one there cared.  Yesterday I crossed into screams and congratulations.  I was able to chat with race staff who were kind enough to guide me to my medal and my things.  I got to hug my first-time half marathoner friend and cry happy tears.

I got to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Silverstone is now officially behind me.  I no longer hold a grudge.  There will be other races ahead, some long, some short. And, thanks to my wonderful friend, I’m going to focus on that line on the ground, the magic of a tarmac, and look at the curves and bends and stop thinking about split times.

Silverstone.  You.  Are. Vanquished.

Oh, and cool medal shaped like a race tyre btw. ;)

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3 Things on Getting a Runner’s High

Tomorrow is the day.

I’ve ironed the letters on my jersey.

I’ve checked the weather, it’s going to be awful.

But that’s okay, it’s Silverstone.  We have issues with each other so I expected it.

My running partner, who has never ever run in a half marathon – let alone a distance race – is dutifully freaking out.

And that’s okay too, because it’s his first race and freaking out is completely normal. (Though it feels completely patronising to write that sentence.)

Last Sunday I ran 10 miles.  After much debate I decided to.  Primarily because I have issues past 9 miles in half marathons in the past and I wanted to test something that is called “The Runner’s High.”

Past 9 miles in a half marathon one of two things happen to me:

  1. I become super angry and miserable, often attempting to verbally or visually curse anyone within a 50 foot radius of me.
  2. I become super serene and peaceful and pretty much want to group hug finish line spectators or anyone holding lots of plastic bags that may or may not have bananas in them.

So you are aware, I prefer post-9 mile me at option 2, and need to replicate it. (I know, shocking.)

And, considering I have a first timer running (likely ahead of me but nonetheless we are carpooling) who is looking to me as example, I needed to test and see what brings out the Buddha version of me.

Stuff I learned that does:

  • Start slow.  Okay, the Oatmeal covered this off at point one in his very true comic on running, but when I committed to going at least 30 seconds slower per mile in the first few miles of running I did not start the slide into demonic-fire-breathing-lunatic that I know I have become in the past.
  • Water/food BEFORE I need water/food.  “Yep,” says the masses of 18 of you who subscribe, “that’s like, canon in running, isn’t it?”  But when engaged in the moment of feeling awesome at mile 5 I have been well known to skip water/food because I’m feeling awesome then.  When I followed my rules on fuelling (which, guess what, I remembered because I wasn’t trying to break the land speed record for sloth running) I didn’t have the onset of odd that starts the slide to crazy at mile 8.  Who knew, right?
  • Remember it’s just about finishing. I think one of the things that, besides illness, that plagued my last half was this promise I made to ‘run the whole time.’  And when I could not do that I started to kick myself, despite crossing the line well under some of my earlier races.  Tomorrow I will be on a closed course with a race time limit that is as generous.  If I follow the above rules and just focus on a solid finish I will likely equal my faster half marathon times.

And maybe, if I’m lucky, beat a Stig or two around on the course.  But lets not get ahead of ourselves.