Shine Half Marathon

Sometimes I wonder why I sign up to events, who wants to walk 13 miles around London on a Saturday night?

You’d have to be crazy right? Plus all the weeks of training, getting up early on a Saturday morning to walk 6+ miles, and signing up when you are recovering from a serious injury and struggling to walk a couple of miles or when you have never even attempted a 5k before, well you wouldn’t would you?..

Well actually that exactly what my friend Mandy & I did a few weeks ago

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I think it was May time Mandy & I decided to sign up to the walk, I was recovering from a calf rupture and it was suggested I find a challenge to help with my rehabilitation & Mandy was soon to be returning to work after having a baby and thought committing to a challenge like Shine would help her weight loss

When we signed the walk seemed months away but quickly those 3 training walks a week brought us around to 26th September and SHINE night, our walk was due to stat at 7.30pm so we decided to meet up a little early and head to Zizzi for a spot of carb loading, before we knew it we were in Southwark Park and heading for the start line

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The first mile felt very familar to me, we were in Bermondsey and walking along the route of the London Marathon, the next two miles were a little dull, passing industrial units around London Bridge until we reached Tower Bridge, there is something about Tower Bridge and the Tower of London that I find magical, they were both lit up beautifully, add to that the thousands of Shine Walkers & their flashing accessories & signs on their back saying why they were walking it was impossible to not have a tear in your eye, the pride at being part of something so amazing

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Soon after Tower Bridge we were at St Pauls & the 4 mile point, water and yogurt coated fruit snacks were being handed out, I had a quick look at my watch at this point and was shocked to discover we had been walking 2 minutes a mile quicker than we had trained at, it had felt quick but not that quick & we made a conscience effort to slow a little not wanting to burn ourselves out

Before we had set off we had agreed we would love to finish in around 4hrs that being said ultimately we just wanted to finish and had agreed any finish time would be something to be proud of

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Next we were walking through Holborn, Theatreland & along Whitehall before reaching the half way point

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The next few miles were a little boring, around Victoria and onto the Embankment passing Battersea and Albert Bridges & I was so grateful to the volunteers along this part of the route, they had already been standing around for 2+ hours and quite possibly had another 10+ hours ahead of them while waiting for the Full Marathon walkers who were setting off in two waves between 9.30 & 10.30pm, the volunteers were full of smiles, encouraging words and most importantly chocolates

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Next up was Westminster and the 10 mile point, for Mandy this was a huge mile stone as the furthest we had walked in training had been 9 miles.

I had done events like this a few years ago but even I was starting to feel the effects of those fast early miles and almost 3hrs on my feet, but knowing we were on the final straight gave me the energy to carry on, without having to indulge in any of the treats on offer at the pitstops

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Next was Big Ben & the London Eye, I am not sure what was going on in London that night but as we passed over Westminster Bridge fireworks were lighting up the sky, the next few miles were again very familiar to me, when I worked in the city I would often go for a walk at lunchtime and a circular route from Tower Bridge to Westminster was a regular walk, although even at night its an area heavily populated with tourists its a walk I find very peaceful

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Finally we were at London Bridge & the finish line at Billingsgate Market was in sight

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We had done it!! 13.1 miles in under 4hrs!!

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As well as feeling proud of myself, there were times this year when I would never have dreamt that completing a half marathon would be possible but more so I was proud of Mandy, to sign up to something like this is a huge commitment especially when you have to juggle training with work and a young baby & did I mention Mandy had never even taken part in a Race for Life before, as I said at the start, totally crazy & incredibly inspiring

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So whats next, well I think its safe to say we both have the bug & Mandy uttered those words that I know are addictive ‘I love the medal’ I predict at least the Half again next year maybe with a few of our members or possibly even the Full Marathon, who knows you will have to watch this space

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If you would like to know more about the Shine Walk or are interested in taking part next year please click HERE for further details

Fun, Family & Facing my Fears

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I must be one of the few people that have never been to Centre Parcs

I don’t know why, I have never been, I know so many people that love it, I guess there as always the pull of jumping on a plane to catch some sun and that pull won over the possibility of rain on a UK break

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But this year that all changed, for Christmas last year my mum offered to pay for us all to spend a weekend at Centre Parcs in Elvedon Forest, Suffolk, as its exactly half way from them in Norfolk and us in Essex

It was hard finding a date that 5 adults and 2 children could all agree on, but we eventually found one and we booked for a weekend in late September

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I was really looking forward to trying out some different activities, I liked the idea of the tree rope climbing and getting back on a bike for the first time in 25yrs (last time i was on one was May 1989, I came off and broke my arm weeks before doing my GCSE;s my parents weren’t impressed.

Unfortunately my sister hadn’t been keen to book activities, she was worried that the boys may change their mind or that they wouldn’t want to do things outdoors if the weather didn’t go our way, so we missed out on a few things but we still had a really good time, my mum and I walked loads, I managed a run 2 of the 3 mornings & got myself  lost both times & I tried a Hula Hoop class, I’d be lying if I said it was a success, I was rubbish, it took me over half the class to be able to keep the hoop up for more than 20 seconds but by the end of the class I was hula-ing with 2 hoops so I was happy even if some of the class were on 9!!

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But the highlight of my weekend was getting back on a bike, I was nervous first of all and tried my nephews before booking one for myself but I am so glad I did, I volunteered to do all the shop runs for groceries, & done 2 4 mile rides with my mum and my nephews, 2 10ks on my own, a 5k on my own and also a 4 mile night ride with my brother in law and nephew, I absolutely loved the nighttime cycling and it has really made me want a bike of my own, but after my accident I don’t think I will ever feel confident enough to ride on the road and I find the laws about cycling on pavement confusing, I also loved the fact that we got my mum out and on a bike, although she felt safe on her tricycle it was by far the hardest work of all our bikes

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I had really wanted to the tree climbing but because we left booking very late there were no spots left, however as we walked past one morning we heard one family trying to cancel 3 spots for the next day so the boys bought their places from the family and headed up into the skies

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They done so well, especially as there were time when they were literally hanging around up in the air due to others being unable to complete the course and having to be rescued (that wouldv’e been me) & the highlight for them all was the zipwire over the lake at the end

Even little Ernie had a fab time, at 16 I was a little bit worried how he would find all the walking, he is fine with short walks but everything here was either a walk or a cycle away but he loved it and when the others left a little early on the Sunday evening, after exploring every room of our villa to make sure they wasn’t hiding he decided it was time to take a nap and catch up on some much needed Zzzzz’s

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I loved our little villa and am definitely a Centre Parcs convert now & can’t wait for my next visit