Monday 28 November 2011

Our Christmas Trio Challenge

Well not content with entering the Leeds half marathon next year, we have decided to test ourselves a bit sooner with a “Christmas Trio” of events in aid of Jersey Hospice Care, Headway Jersey and Motor Neurone Disease.
Our 3 challenges kick off with an 18 mile walk on Saturday 10th December. Ok not much compared to the 48.1 mile walk earlier this year but a. it’s winter so probably cold/wet/snowing and b. it’s the day after Ben’s Christmas party so he will have his own issues to deal with!
Next up is Jersey’s first Santa Dash. Included in our registration fee is a full Santa outfit ( hat, boots, coat, trousers and even the belt!) so on the 16th December we will be ‘dashing’ through the Jersey's capital St Helier dressed as Santa, having a laugh and raising money for the very worthy cause,  Jersey Hospice.
Finally, while most people on Christmas morning will be opening presents around a fire drinking bucks fizz, we’ll be taking a chilly dip in the Atlantic Ocean at Ouaisne Bay on Jersey’s south west coast, yes we have lost all leave of our senses, but it’s a Jersey tradition and seeing as this is our first Christmas in Jersey it seems rude not to partake.
So there we are 3 challenges in 3 weeks. The Charities we are raising money for are very worthy causes; find out a bit more about each below:
Jersey Hospice does an amazing amount of work on the Island and receives no funding from the States. It costs £6000 per day to run the hospice and they rely on fundraising and donations to keep the hospice running. Although, thankfully, neither of us have had to use the facilities or services the Hospice, both myself and Ben’s families have been touched by cancer in the UK and South Africa so know the devastating effect it has and how much support can help get both the patient and the families through such a tough time.
Headway Jersey supports those who have suffered brain injury through accident or illness and their families by providing a day centre to drop in and have a coffee or a chat as well as organised activities- golf days, aerobics and yoga classes and craft sessions. This is all designed not only for an opportunity to socialise, but also to stimulate the brain. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to visit the day centre a few months ago and met a few of their members including one gentleman who had recently completed the Jersey Triathlon only 18 months after his life support machine was nearly switched off following a head injury. 
The Jersey branch of the Motor Neurone Disease Association was formed in the spring of 1991 during the illness of Miss Rosemary A'Court of Motorneurone Disease. Their role is not only to provide equipment and advice but also to provide qualified volunteer visitors who will call on a regular basis and give support both practical and emotional to people with MND and their families. With this in mind, they support local nurses who are likely to come into contact with people with MND by financing their attendance at Study Courses on the Mainland.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

First Training Session

Well our training has started for next years half marathon. It may be 6 months to go but I’m keen (even if Ben is less so!) to get out running as early as possible as I would like the event next year to be more enjoyable than painful.
So Saturday morning we donned our running shoes for the first time in over a year and headed to Queens Valley Reservoir in St Martins.
There seems to be a common misconception that paths around a reservoir are flat and whilst we didn’t have any mountains to run around it certainly wasn’t flat- in fact it started with quite a nasty hill that I opted as our warm up- walk up hill J
Quite impressed with our first lap though, managed to keep jogging all the way around and felt ok for a second lap which to start with was more of a walk-jog but soon got into a rhythmic pace.
Two things I learnt from Saturday.
1.       I need to take my iPod- ideas of jogging around chatting to Ben were dismissed within the first half a lap when trying to answer a question all that came out was a wheezy grunt.

2.       I need new running trainers- as I set off for the 2nd lap I could feel the instep starting to blister and by the end of the lap I couldn’t wait to get my trainers off and inspect the damage… of which there were some nasty hot spots and a blister.  

So 3.8 miles and 47 minutes isn’t going to break any records and there is still a long way to go (thankfully also 6 months!) but it’s put my mind to rest I am still reasonably fit and should be able to get back in shape ok, shame it’s got to be over the cold winter months though!

As a footnote- well done to Sarah's Mum and Dad- Julie and Phil Kelly- for completing the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k last Sunday in 1 hour 6- whilst feeling under the weather with a cold!

Wednesday 16 November 2011

What a Fabulous Weekend!

Like public transport, you wait ages for one to come along then you get two at the same time, just like our blog at the moment!
This weekend was fantastic though, I couldn’t help blogging about the beautiful autumn walks we had. Saturday was a blue sky sunny day and we chose to walk the ‘Beaumont Circular’ and an 8 kilometre walk, starting on the south coast of Jersey and walking through St Peters Valley and round past the Jersey War Tunnels. We set off in fleeces as it is the middle of November so it’s going to be cold of course… but we were soon down to t-shirts and zipped off trousers to ¾ length.
Autumn and spring are my favourite times of year for walking, I love the changing colours of the leaves and the crisp sound they make when walking though them. I also can’t help but kick them like a child which Ben finds highly amusing/ irritating, not sure which. J

It felt good to be out on a proper walk again, I was wearing my heart rate monitor to see how my fitness levels are going and I was pleased to see my average heart rate stayed fairly low.

On Sunday we took a walk through another of Jersey’s valley’s- Waterworks Valley, so called because there are reservoirs from top to bottom linked by streams and little aqueducts that run to the Jersey Water plant at the bottom. The valley is always quiet and peaceful with the foot path climbing from road level up into the woods.
Sometimes when I’m on my own thought the quietness can freak me out a bit after reading the story of the ghost bride. Jilted at the alter she committed suicide on her wedding night. There have been several ‘witnesses’ on a full moon night, of the sound of galloping horses coming down the valley, a horse drawn carriage comes round the corner with a bride in the back but when she turns around her face is a skeleton. It may only be folklore, but it still plays on my mind when walking alone!
Thankfully on Sunday I was walking with Ben and the ghost bride didn’t cross my mind. It was another blue sky sunny day warm enough to be out in t-shirts although a keen wind was picking up. We walked at a good pace but had to stop often to pick dandelion leaves as our pet house bunny is now on a ‘natural’ diet so we are regularly seen in the garden or hedgerows picking grass and dandelions, I think our neighbours think we are slightly mad! There were some enchanting patches of wild mushrooms, some were real fairy tale style...

 During our walks we decided it was time to focus on our next challenge. I blogged a while ago that I was setting myself the challenge of a marathon next year, which I am still keen to do and so far have decided that it has to be either the Edinburgh Marathon (flat-ish) on the 27th May 2012 or the Marathon du Medoc (wine and oysters- yum yum!) on the 8th September 2012 but we are going to be aiming to do the ITEX walk again in June- 48 miles around the Island of Jersey. This year we completed it in a painful 18 hours 45 minutes, next year we are setting ourselves a goal of sub 15 hours, so the marathon training will definitely be coming into play! Our final plan of 2012 or 2013 is to do the Rat Race Scotland Coast to Coast, 15th & 16th September 2012- 2 days of running/ walking, cycling and kayaking from the East to West coast down the Great Glen. Would love to do it next year… but we’ll just have to see for that one!

We have decided to start a little smaller than a marathon and will be taking part in the Leeds "Run for All" 1/2 Marathon on the 13th May 2012. Read more about the inspirational Jane Tomlinson charity here...

Sunday 13 November 2011

Why I love Hot Yoga

In May this year I came across a wonderful thing- Hot Yoga. I have enjoyed yoga on and off for a while, but whilst I enjoyed the stretch and the quiet that came from Hatha classes, I often felt that I should have spent that 90 minutes doing something to burn calories as weight has always been issue with me. 

So when I heard that a Bikram class can burn an average of 600 calories per session I was interested, but stories of instructors shouting ‘feel the pain’ and people passing out because of the heat scared me off. Then I came across Absolute Hot Yoga- kind of Bikram but without the shouting, you’re only expected to go as far as you can and they will open the windows when 40oC gets too much.
Turning up to my first class, I was nervous to see that a lot of the class were rather fit, slim, gym bunny looking people and the heat really hit you as you walked through the door- how was I going to cope with 90 minutes of this heat! Carefully positioned at the back under the watchful eye of the tutor- and near the windows- the 90 minutes passed quickly and I left feeling energised, and although sweaty, like I’d had a really good detox session. 

As part of the Absolute yoga offering you can get a 10 day pass for a set amount to try as many classes as possible in those 10 days to check you like it before signing up. 4 classes later and I was signed up to monthly membership. 

The yoga is 50 hatha asana’s (rather than Bikrams 26) with many being the same or a variation on the Ashtanga Primary Series and even though it’s the same sequence every session, the fact that I could feel and see the difference week on week stopped it being boring. My first class I could hardly reach my toes in Paschimottanasana, now my forehead is merely centimetres away from my knees, I no longer need a strap to connect my hands behind my back in The Sage Twist (Marichyasana) and l though I still can’t quite touch forehead to knee on the standing, at least I can stay stood on one leg (most of the time) 

If you are looking for a sedate class then Absolute Hot Yoga is not for you, there is plenty of relaxation at the end and the focus throughout the class is on the breath, but it is a fairly fast paced class, and with the heat expect your heart to be pounding by the end of the standing series, if not before! 

I am currently on a break from Hot Yoga, an office move to a different part of the Island has made it difficult to get to evening class, so I have been experimenting with other styles such as Vinyasa Flow and Dynamic Yoga which are just not for me. Although I have found I enjoy practicing the Ashtanga Primary Series almost as much and will definitely be continuing my practice, I am planning a way to get back to my regular Hot Yoga practice as well!

There are Hot Yoga studios springing up all over the world- I attend the Jersey Classes at Central Yoga, I know of one in Durban South Africa and there are several in Thailand, including the Absolute resort on Koh Samui where I hope one day I may get to spend a month doing my teacher training… Edinburgh has finally got it’s first Hot Yoga classes- not quite the same as the Absolute Yoga, but offering Barkan, not tried it yet, but going to try and get to a class in January when we are up there on holiday. 

So if you want a good stretch, workout and detox all in 90 minutes I recommend you find your nearest Hot Yoga studio. Have a look here at some of the Absolute Hot Yoga graduates and where they are now offering classes.