Monthly Archives: May 2010

How to experience a completely legal high…

OMG (and I never say that!) but somehow, I managed to run 5k all in one go!

It was only on Friday just gone, that I had celebrated achieving a private milestone of running for 28 minutes without stopping. As it was outside, I had no idea how far it was in distance but, the voice prompts of the Get Running app spurred me on to reach my brand new time goal. After a couple of rest days, I started the new 5k programme Nick the Trainer had given me and, he wanted me to run 4k all in one go. “But how?” was my question when he presented the challenge, I had never run more than 3.2k in one go before and, was always ready to die by the end. He advised me to run at a slower pace than usual and walk some of it if needed, just to get to the end of the distance. So with this in mind, instead of my usual 7.6km per hour treadmill speed, I went down to 6.6km per hour and plugged my headphones into an old episode of Friends…

As I approached 28 minutes, I couldn’t believe I still felt comfortable compared to that same time on Friday’s run (and believe me, I run even more slowly outside!) I sensed a bubble of excitement inside me that I could run 4k in one go. Although looking red and sweaty on the outside, my breathing was steady and the DREADED STITCH had still not arrived at this point. I got to 4k and adrenaline kicked in, I still felt great and started to hallucinate that I had super running powers; it ticked over in my mind that mildly boasting about running 6 or 7k would be even more impressive. Luckily, the running fairy heard my crazy thoughts and brought me stright back into reality – the DREADED STITCH kicked in, I was breathing much heavier and, continually looked at the distance as I willed that 5k to greet me.

At 48 minutes, I had completed my first non-stop running 5k. I was so happy that I couldn’t stop grinning! I rushed over to tell Nick the Trainer and, he was able to confirm in his official trainer capacity, that the daft look on my face and, inability to stop hopping around on the spot meant I was experiencing a true runner’s high…

New trainers make you run faster…

… or at least that’s what I always thought when I was a kid! Since faithfully training for my 5k run over the past few months, I felt I could justify a new pair as I’ve managed to break through the ‘just a running phase’ barrier. Nick the Trainer recommended Sweatshop, so Other Half and I drove over to the Hatfield branch to see what was available. We were welcomed by Sue the Manager who has the most incredible trainer knowledge ever! We both had our running gate assessed (for free), by jogging on the instore treadmill with a video camera at our feet, recording our every step. The results showed that Other Half had a normal to mild over-pronation which meant he required overall support in his shoe. I, on the other hand, have low arches and this caused me to show up as a massive over-pronator – this means I roll my feet in as I run. Now, before you start thinking I’m a bit of a weirdo, most people are also over-pronators to some degree, so this actually makes me ‘normal’!  

As a pair, we presented quite a challenge when it came to sizes – Other Half is a 7 (most men’s start at an 8), I’m an 8 1/2 (most girl’s stop at an 8), so we expected choice to be limited, however, Sue the Manager was more than happy to order in multiple pairs in our specified sizes. We both tried on many pairs (even if the size wasn’t quite right) to gauge the difference between gel support (like Asics) and air support (like Nike). Both work well, it simply came down to preference once you have the shoe on (gel supports can sometimes feel more prominent inside of the shoe). We ran on the treadmill to see which styles gave the best support and, corrected my over- pronation. It is amazing how much difference a pair of well supported trainers makes to your running style! Other Half settled on a pair of Nike+ that were in his size, and I was stuck between a pair of Mizuna and Nike+, both of which made me run properly and were top in my style stakes. Sue the Manager said she would order them in for me and give me a call when they arrived.  

10 days later, I went back to the shop and tried each pair on, mentally
comparing the two and crossing off a checklist in my head;  

Most comfortable – both
Most stylish – both
Most supportive – both  

Hmm, I am rubbish at making decisions and missed the wise words of Other Half, who always thinks of something that makes me sway one way or the other! I walked round and round the shop with 1 of each shoe on, trying to decide and failing miserably. Sue the Manager came to my rescue by suggesting I run on the treadmill to directly compare which felt more comfortable. It was a genius solution as after 10 seconds, I could tell that the Mizuna’s fit me like a glove. 

New Mizuna trainers!

New Mizuna trainers!

I paid £85 which I thought was a reasonable price for the trainers, you also get a 30 day guarantee so if you have any problems with them, they will help you find and swap to a better fitting pair.  

Best of all, the great advice came free from Sue the Manager. I don’t know if this sort of knowledge is standard in all Sweatshops, but her customer service, attention to detail and, willingness to help us find the perfect footwear for our needs was second to none – I can’t imagine shopping anywhere else for all my future running requirements.  

Yesterday, I did the first outdoor run in my new trainers. Despite sporting a freshly burst blister (from work shoes) on each foot, they didn’t rub at all. Imagine if you could jog comfortably in slippers; that would describe the effortless, cloud-like feeling on my Mizuna shod feet!

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Dancing on Ice at The O2…

I have been lucky enough to experience the best (after the event) birthday present ever (so far!) My wonderful Other Half bought 2 tickets to the Dancing on Ice tour and, with much self-sacrifice, gifted one to me and one to his Mum (turns out the male equivalent to this fantastic night out is a bucket of KFC and night on the Xbox!) 

Outside of The O2

Outside of The O2

We had both looked forward to this night since February and arrived at The O2 with much excitement. A quick look round and a pizza at Zizzi’s started us off nicely and, after some confusion about what words to text, we gained entry into The O2 lounge for pre-show chill out and cocktails. If I was a drinker, then my chill out would have ended there and then as despite cocktails being 2-for-1, at £8 each, I would have expected a sandy beach and gentle massage thrown in at that price. (No matter how long I continue to live down South, it’s times (and prices) like these when my northern roots spring up and push my “How much?!? buttons). At least my alcohol intolerance came in handy when I was able to order 2 non-alcoholic cocktails at a mere £2.50 each – obviously not included in the 2-for-1 deal! After continuing the chilling for a while, I was warmed to hear the women next to me have a mini rant about the price of 2 glasses of wine and a coke – £18.50! 

View from our seats

View from our seats

We left the lounge and headed into the arena and, were delighted to find our seats were in a great spot, halfway up the row, just right of centre of the rink. We took some early photos which I uploaded to Facebook and whilst checking Twitter, I was excited to see that Hayley Tamadon had tweeted me directly! I had asked if there was any chance of a signing or pic with her and Dan Whiston (swoon!) after the show but she told me there were no signings at The O2.

The opening sequence

The opening sequence

The lights went down, the music started and the show burst into a colourful yet sinister array of circus folk, the dancers were all hidden behind masks and your eyes darted everywhere trying to spot your favourite skaters. The energy kept building along with the music and, the atmosphere was overwhelming as you try to take in all that is going on around you. Afterwards, as each of the pairs skate out to introduce themselves, huge cheers went up for everyone including Chris Fountain, Ray Quinn, Gary Lucy, Gaynor Faye and Mikey Graham, but I became one of those loud, annoying people who cheered liked crazy every time Hayley and Dan came onto the ice!

Hayley & Dan

Hayley & Dan

I have loved Dan ever since the first series for many reasons; he is an amazing skater, he bonds with and looks after every celebrity partner he gets on the show, he always comes across as a lovely person and he is sooooooooo cute! (I put that bit last in aid to not appear shallow and to appease Other Half when he reads this although it’s no secret in our house!) Many girls were screaming over the celebrity boys last night and, I know the manly charms of skaters Fred Palascak and Matt Evers do it for others, but the handsome, boyish charm of Dan gets me every time…

The most difficult part of watching the show was trying not to watch it through the lense of a camera. I wanted to capture the magic and amazing tricks to look back on in years to come, but I also wanted to immerse myself in the whole spectacle. Rather cunningly, I decided to focus the camera on one part of the rink and then every time it seemed like the skaters came into shot, I clicked away and hoped for the best. The result was over 200 photos although many were blurred due to the low lighting or the amazing speed people were being whizzed around!

The Ice Panel

The Ice Panel

The celebrities and their partners came out and performed a favourite routine from the series and were then judged by the panel. The second part of their mark was made up by text voting once we got to the intermission and, although they all did very well (including an unplanned fall from Gary from which he recovered with a big grin), my vote was always going to go to Hayley and Dan for Jai Ho.

The start of Jai Ho...

The start of Jai Ho...

I got goose pimples as soon as the music started as this was always my favourite routine and they were every bit as brilliant as I remembered. The only downside was that it seemed to be over in no time at all, and I just wanted to press the rewind button to see it all over again! There were scores of 5.5 from all of the judges and then it was time for the break. We pondered whether we were brave enough to move seats a couple of rows closer, as they hadn’t been occupied for the first half, but the thought of people turning up and us having to make our way past people in our row once the show had started again was just a fear we couldn’t get over!

The flying Bolero

The flying Bolero

The second half saw Jayne and Chris perform their 2010 version of the flying Bolero which was even more mesmorising in person. The celebrities skated out in their Bolero outfits and waited to hear which two had received the most votes. Although I really wanted Hayley to be in the final, I felt really sorry for the celebrities standing there, you just know that every night, the same ones will never get to perform their routine.

Dan & Hayley's Bolero

Dan & Hayley's Bolero

It came down to Hayley and Chris for the final, so my wish was granted and I got to see her and Dan perform their version of this iconic dance. It was beautiful; they have an amazing knack of looking completely head over heels in love while gliding effortlessly over the ice. I could however, look totally gooey eyed (and probably a bit simple!) if I was ever to meet Dan face-to-face..! Chris and Brianne were also good and it came down to a 3-2 split amongst the judges – in Chris’ favour. Hayley and Dan were robbed (no bias from me at all!)

The professionals doing their thing!

The professionals doing their thing!

The professionals came out and did their thing in between routines and, it just took your breath away how death-defying they were with their moves and speed. Although the celebrities were fantastic, it reminded you how absolutely skilled the real skaters are, they have all somehow managed to lose (or at least control) the very real fear and potential danger that accompanies them every time they get onto the ice. All too soon, the show was over and it was time to go home but it made us both certain of one thing; tickets to next years show are the ultimate must-have birthday present!

Latest election update…

As I’m still no further forward with the ‘fake job’ offer, I’ve been temping for the last 3 weeks at the local council on the election hotline. It’s amazing how much information you can learn about one subject in such a short amount of time – for instance, did you know that if you can’t get to the polling station to vote, you just need to ring your local party and they will come and pick you up on the day? I also found out what goes on behind the scenes and it’s not pretty. Considering they have done this election stuff the same way for years, witnessing the disorganisation and last-minute decisions, aswell as being told to pass on mixed messages to the general public is scary when the outcome is so important.

The mood of the callers varies; some simply check to see if they are on the electoral roll, others want to know the difference between a postal and proxy vote, some are (understandably) upset because ballot papers, posted out first class, take a week to arrive or worse still, get lost in the post, others are steaming mad because they consider the whole electoral system a farce and shouting or swearing at us seems to make them feel better. Since starting this job, a range of people including cocky students and stressed out businessmen have accused me of disenfranchising them – I’d never even heard the word before but I quickly worked out that it means that I personally (no matter what the circumstances are), have denied them their vote. It’s my fault they missed various deadlines, the post hasn’t arrived, they had to go on holiday, the volcano ash cloud had delayed them etc etc.

Once the postal votes have been received, people refuse to read the instructions and tear off pieces that should stay attached, lose returning envelopes, sign their partners ballot papers and even vote for the wrong party! You wouldn’t believe the amount of people who don’t realise they are voting in both a local and general election, and many are honestly confused when the parliamentary papers don’t give Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg as candidates! And these people have a say in how the country is run..!  

It’s my last day tomorrow and although its been fun and I’ve met some great people, it’s time to move on to temping pastures new…