My ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots look the wrong way round as I started the race soaking wet and finished it dry. As we set off for Bath city centre, there was a cool breeze, the sun was shining and the sky was clear blue. I kept calling out to the family how it was the perfect day for running… no sooner had I uttered these words than the sky went dark and there was the most almighty downpour!
Stupidly, I hadn’t packed a waterproof coat or an umbrella, so I ended up soaked to the skin and freezing cold. Instead of heading to the runners village, I popped in Cafe Nero’s to try and warm up. At least I managed to stop shivering! Luckily, the rain stopped just before the race began and the sun started to peep out.
With thirty minutes to go until ‘the off’, I headed up Great Pultney Street to the ‘starting pens’. It felt surreal to be part of the running crowd. I couldn’t quite believe I was there! Suddenly the race started, and the only sound I could hear was the ‘pitter patter’ of thousands of feet. It was such a unique sound. I found it mesmerizing.
The first four miles went really fast, then it started getting tougher. I tried to keep up with ‘Pound Coin guy’ for a while. I did manage to say hi to him, but even his pace was too much for me. To ignore the fact my feet were screaming, I focused on the crowds and ‘hi fiveing’ all the kids I passed. Seeing their smiley faces definitely kept my spirits lifted.
Another highlight for me was being lapped by the winner, Paul Martelletti and runner up, Dean Lacey. I can’t believe how fast those guys can run! If I’d blinked I would have missed them! Paul was the first British guy to win the Bath Half in twelve years, finishing in 1 hr 5 minutes.
That’s a whole hour faster than me! I ended up finishing in 2 hours 5 minutes, which is quicker than expected. I even managed a kind of hobbled sprint finish 🙂
Once over the finish line, my body pretty much refused to move. I could barely bend over to reach the time chip on my shoe. I hobbled my way through the exit pens and collected my medal, finishers t shirt and ‘goodie’ bag.
I loved the t shirt but the ‘goodie’ bag was pretty dismal. I was kind of expecting a protein bar or energy drink. Something to rejuvenate me after the big run. But no, here’s what was inside…
Dairy milk bars and a Dairyfine Titan. Glad to see they catered for the plant-based runners 😉
But joking aside, I’m so glad that I took the plunge and signed up for the Bath Half. It was a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience for me, and one that I’ll never forget.
The fact I got to run for such a worthwhile cause was the icing on the cake. Thanks to you guys, I’ve raised £436 for Mercy In Action. I have been so touched these past few weeks by your kindness and generosity. I can’t thank you enough. As promised in this post, I’ll be picking three sponsors at random to win some of my home-made chocolates. Since donations are still coming in, I’ve extended the deadline until this Friday, March 6th March. I’ll notify the winners by email.
Thank you once again, to everyone that’s donated and offered words of advice and encouragement. I couldn’t have done it without you ♥ xx
On Sunday 1st March, one of the UK’s most popular city running events is taking place – the Bath Half Marathon. With thousands of runners taking part, and thousands more spectators lining the streets and cheering them on, the city is literally buzzing with atmosphere and excitement on ‘BathHalf Day’.
Every year, I stand by the barrier near the Holburne Museum soaking up the atmosphere and cheering on the runners. Come rain or shine (and especially when it’s freezing cold and rainy like last year!) me & Lil’ L are determined to stay right until the last of the runners finish their epic journey. I especially feel for those that have been on the course of hours. I can see in their faces how much they’re hurting when they turn that final corner and head onto Great Pultney Street. Hurting, but totally euphoric. We encourage them onwards by shouting that they’ve only got a few more metres to go. What an incredible sense of achievement they must feel!
In all the years I’ve supported the Bath Half runners, not once have I wished to be running with them. If anything, I feel a sense of relief when I see their faces on the final corner, glad that I’m not going through the agony with them.
But this year, things are going to be a little different as I’m hopping over the spectator barrier to join the 15,000 runners. Even as I type this I can’t quite believe this is happening! The longest I’ve ever run before is 10K so running double the distance seems unimaginable right now. It’s going to be tough. It’s going to hurt a lot. BUT, it’s all going to be worth it as I’m running to raise money for an amazing charity ♥
The Bath-based charity, Mercy in Action, was founded in 1995 by John and Allison Todd, following an unexpected encounter with five street boys during a trip to the Philippines. The boys hadn’t eaten for three days and were begging on the streets. Moved by the plight of children the same age as their son, John and Allison took them for a meal.
“Within the 30 minutes it took us to order the food and the boys to eat it, we both knew we couldn’t walk away from them, and so the seeds were sown for what has grown into a charity which to date has helped thousands of children and their families.” John Todd
Mercy in Action is involved in numerous projects to help the poorest of the poor in the Philippines, and street children are at the very heart of what they do. The following are just a few examples of the valuable work that the charity does to support these vulnerable children:
Street LIFE Projects
Mercy in Action runs a ‘Drop in’ where street children are able to shower, wash their clothes, and have a hot lunch every day. Social workers support the children and ensure they get medical attention if needed; a teacher provides lessons tailored to the children’s various abilities; and global volunteers assist with the lessons and plan fun activities for the children including crafts, sports and a weekly outing.
“The drop-in was challenging to see; children from about the age of 7 living on the streets. We were struck by the size of the children. 14 year olds looked like 7 year olds, as a result of stunted growth due to poor, or at times non-existent, diets before Mercy in Action started working in that area […] The children were still amazingly positive, despite living on the street or in slums. They loved doing arts and craft activities and would try hard in the hours of teaching each day. Perhaps what sticks out most was that despite their conditions, despite they were standing in a ripped t-shirt often with nothing else on, when they got some food they would share it around and even offer it to us before themselves – such amazing, heartbreaking kindness, happiness, hope and generosity”. Volunteers’ Reflections on the Drop In
Mercy in Action also runs a community centre with a range of after school clubs and organised activities. Many of the children that attend the centre live in slum houses with only one room and no electricity, which makes studying very difficult. A new library and study area has been set up in the centre to help support the children and enable them to excel in their studies.
Through Mercy in Action, over 400 children are currently sponsored to attend school. Click here to find out more about sponsoring a child.
Spring Village The first of three family houses and a community centre housing a canteen, meeting place and volunteer accommodation have been constructed on a purpose built site. A routine of school, play, good nutritious food and loving carers brings about radical and lasting changes in the majority of youngsters – even the most damaged and vulnerable. The remaining houses will be built as soon as finances allow.
The Boys Home
In September 2012, Mercy in Action was able to rent an additional house near Spring Village and moved four street boys that they had been working with for five years into the new house. They were aged between 8-17, and all had drug addictions. The boys are all thriving in the home, and have been joined by four more. They are all off drugs, in regular education and flourishing with the help of loving house parents and counselling. The older boys volunteer on Mercy in Action projects, and are great role models to boys who are still on the streets.
Through a partnership between International Justice Mission (IJM) and Mercy in Action, the first rescue home solely for male victims of trafficking in the whole of the Philippines has been set up called Chelo’s House.
The key to seeing lasting change in the lives of the children they work with is to support the communities in which they live. Recognising this, Mercy in Action sets up tailor-made programmes to meet the needs of individual communities. In the mountain village of Tapul where absolute poverty was preventing many children from attending school, Mercy in Action replanted an area of previously logged forest and gave ten fruit trees to each family to care for. When mature, the fruit will provide a much needed income. Until then the children on the programme receive a hot, nutritious meal each day, as well as having all their schooling needs met. The parents have taken responsibility for maintaining this innovative project.
Mercy in Action recently received a grant for a small business fund. With this money they bought a fridge and other supplies to start an ice candy business. Some of the mums from a weekly support group called ‘Source’ get together once a week and make batches of ice candy. They then sell it in their local communities and give half of the money to Mercy in Action to continue the business and the rest they use to feed their families.
Several of the ‘Source’ mums have been on jewellery making courses provided by Mercy in Action. They then make beautiful necklaces and bracelets that are sent to England and sold in the charity shops. The women receive a fair wage for their work and all other profits are put back into projects with street children.
Mercy in Action is committed to helping families realise their dream of living in a home of their own. Small native houses are quick to build and relatively cheap, yet offer stability and hope that can pave the way to a happy, healthy family unit. Over the years the charity has been able to provide more than 50 homes.
Fundraising for Mercy in Action So next Sunday I’ll be lacing up my running shoes, gritting my teeth, and heading out on that 13.1 mile run round Bath in order to raise as much money as I can for Mercy in Action. I’ve pledged to raise a minimum of £175.
If anyone would like to sponsor me, any donations, whatever the amount, will be so gratefully received. Just think, if everyone who read this post donated £2, I’d easily smash my target!
Prize Draw As a small token of my gratitude, I’m going to enter all the sponsors into a prize draw to win a gift box of 6 hand-made chocolates (or a gift box of my favourite non-melty goodies if you’re currently enjoying summer in the southern hemisphere!) Three winners will be selected on March 6th and notified by email.
Thank you SO much for your support. It means the world to me and Mercy in Action♥xx
I woke up this morning to the sound of heavy rain pounding on the windows. “Great!” I thought. I hadn’t factored in adverse weather conditions! Fortunately, the rain eased off by the time the race started.
My strategy was to plod round the track in my usual, casual running style. I’d never run 10k before so I didn’t want to burn out early on. My friend D gave me some great advice, which was not to be tempted to set off at the pace of the others. It was only last night I realised that I’d accidentally entered a serious race (part of the Wiltshire Championship series). When I entered online, I hadn’t read the blurb, but had just seen the words ‘suitable for beginners’. I now think this meant ‘beginner competitors’ rather than ‘beginner runners’. I tried not to panic though and kept reminding myself that I was doing it for Jodie and Macmillan, and it didn’t matter if I came last. In fact, I should expect to come last and any other place would be a bonus 🙂
So everyone sets off and I start my plod.
Everyone soon deserts me. It doesn’t matter though; the main thing is to enjoy it (this is what I keep telling myself!) I do pass a couple of people that did set off too fast 😉
Here I come for lap 2, cheered on by one of my greatest supporters. I’m starting to look like a beetroot now. Still no one else in sight!
Already I’m being lapped by the guys. I need to learn from their running stance because it’s far more effective than mine 🙁
By lap 3 I’ve got a humongous stitch. A guy who’s running past me asks if I’m alright. When I yelp that I’ve got a stitch, he tells me to “push it in”. I’m not sure exactly what he means so I try pushing my hand into my ribs where the pain is. It doesn’t seem to help much, so I decide to just get on with it and use it as an opportunity to practise a bit of Tonglen 🙂
I even tried to smile for the camera, although it was more of a grimace than a smile :/
I finished the race in 58.22 which is far, far quicker than I’ve ever run in my life. You wouldn’t be able to tell from the photos, but I didn’t come last either! I came 156th (out of 182) 🙂 It doesn’t really matter where I came though, because this is what it was all about…
A big thank you to everyone that sponsored me and offered words of support and encouragement. I am very, very grateful. At last count, the total raised was £295 which has far exceeded my expectations! Thank you so much for the very generous donations xx
In 2008, at the age of 31, my little sister Jodie was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This diagnosis came only a month or two after our Dad died of cancer. For 2 years, Jodie fought this cancer undergoing many rounds of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and, in the end, a stem-cell transplant.
Last month, Jodie reached the important milestone of 2 years in remission. To mark this important occasion I am planning to run a 10k race on July 17th at Castle Combe race track to raise money for Jodie’s favourite charity – Macmillan Cancer Support.
For those of you that have read my blog posts, you’ll know that this race will be no picnic for me as I’m rubbish at running, but I just wanted to do something to pay my respects to Jodie and everyone else who has been affected by cancer, and the wonderful Macmillan nurses that provide such valuable support to individuals and families.
If any of my wonderful cyber friends would like to sponsor me, all donations will be very gratefully accepted. Here’s the link to my ‘Just Giving’ page:
This morning on the way to school, one of Lil’ L’s friends (who’s also 7) gave me some tips and a demonstration of how I could run faster. Thanks to ‘S’, I managed to run 4 miles tonight with an average pace of 10.5 minutes per mile (compared to my usual 11 minutes) 🙂
As I only have a week until the big race, I decided to pop out for a quick run this evening along the canal. As I emerged from a tunnel on the towpath, I saw a reflection of a rainbow in the canal water. I’ve never witnessed such a thing before. It was incredibly beautiful! As I ran home, the rainbow was reflected in every puddle I passed.
The rainbow reminded me of one of the girls in Lil’ L’s class who told me today that she wanted to be a “weather spirit”. She said that her favourite weathers are rain and cool summer breezes. I asked her whether she could possibly be a rainbow too as I love them so much. She said she would… and tonight I saw one of the most spectacular rainbows I’ve ever seen, stretching across the whole of Bathampton. Magical! 🙂
Lil’ L loves samosas so I thought I’d have a go at making a healthier, more nutrition-packed, lower fat version of the ones you tend to find in the supermarkets. I managed to cram six different veggies in the samosas, as well as sesame seeds and pine nuts for extra protein and minerals. They were really yummy and I’ll definitely be making them again. I served them nice and hot, with side dishes of roasted chickpeas and crispy kale. The recipe can be found here.
While Lil’ L was at cubs tonight I decided to go for a run up North End to St Catherine’s, just for a change. There were some killer hills but fortunately I didn’t have the Garmin watch with me to know how slow I was going. 😉
In total, I ran for 47 minutes and thoroughly enjoyed it, even when it started to pour with rain. By that point I was sweltering, so it was quite refreshing to be rained on 🙂
The views going up to St Catherine’s were incredible. I stopped at St Catherine’s Court, then ran back down home. I didn’t have my camera with me, but below are a couple of photos I found on the web. The house used to be owned by the actress Jane Seymour, but I’m not sure who owns it now. Rumour has it that Robbie Williams stayed there for a while and played pool in our local pub. Not sure whether it’s true or not!
North Staffordshire oatcakes are one of our favourite breakfast treats. I was introduced to them at university by a friend who was actually from North Staffs. I thought they were stunning when I first tried them, and I still love them now. We usually save them for the weekend, but I decided to surprise Lil’ L by making him some for breakfast today. He was really excited when he heard and managed to eat 2 oatcakes before school, and then asked if he could have another one as a snack after school! While you can put savoury fillings in them, we prefer a big dollop of strawberry fruit spread. I also sneak in a little hemp seed oil or walnut oil for an omega-3 boost. Here’s the recipe.
After school, Lil’ L and I had fun playing Twister (haven’t played that in ages!) and while dinner was cooking, we made some of our super ‘Omega Chocs’. I’m sure Lil’ L only likes helping with the baking so he can lick the bowl out 😉
At 7pm, Lil’ L went to a special cubs meeting where he was going to be ‘invested’ (?) While he was there with his Dad, I decided to go for a run. For the first time ever, I wore M’s Garmin Forerunner watch so I could find out how slow I run. I’m afraid to say that it’s now official…. I’m as slow as a tortoise 🙁 I managed to run 4.07 miles in 44.20 minutes. That means it takes me nearly 11 minutes to run a mile. That is soooo slow. I would use the excuse that it’s very hilly round here but, on the canal towpath, girls that were jogging in a much slower rhythm than me were actually speeding past me! My running action must be like a pogo stick – I go up and down rather than along. Tips on how I can stretch my pace whilst exerting the same amount of energy would be much appreciated. Thank you 🙂