Monday, 6 August 2012

Finishing with some runs and a jump!

I realised this morning that I haven't updated about the end of my challenge. My last 4 events were athletics based. I had the Worcester Parkrun (5k) and I went to an open athletics meeting to take part in the long jump, 200 metres and the 800 metres.

I started off going down the Worcester Parkrun on a sunny Saturday morning. Parkruns are fab, they are 5k training runs that happen all over the country that are free for everyone (whatever standard) to go along and run. There is a brilliant community spirit, they're kept going by volunteers and the support is amazing. I was a little nervous about running 5k, I had only done 3 training runs for it so I just wanted to get around. I did manage to get around in 33.42. Not too bad considering it was really quite hilly and I hadn't really trained. It was tougher then I thought, but was an amazing feeling to finish. I even managed a sprint at the end. I am definitely going back, determined to get under 30 minutes. 30 minutes is my goal, when I get that I am going to join a local running club.

Three days before the opening ceremony (the Gold Challenge deadline) I went over the the Prince of Wales stadium in Cheltenham to do my last events. It was a beautifully sunny evening so the turnout was amazing. I started off with my 800 metres. I don't know my times but I managed to complete my 2 laps of the track. Luckily there were 4 heats sorted in ability order so I wasn't too far behind. I had forgotten how hard those two laps are but felt great to have done it. My long jump clashed with both my track events but managed to get one jump in. It was a bit more of a long stride then a jump, but it was legal so counted!! I finished off my Gold Challenge with a 200 metres. As with the 800 I had forgotten how tough it is. I got to the finish and I wasn't too far behind. I am hoping that after joining a club and having a winter of training I can come back next year and do much better!

That is all my 20 sports completed. Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me for my Gold Challenge. There is still time to sponsor me for Dementia UK if you're able. You can do here.

I will do another post in the next few days about the whole challenge- and what sports I have decided to take up. Thank you all again.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Just call me Beth Tweddle.....

The last couple of Wednesdays I went over to Gloucester to join in with the Cheltenham School of Gymnastics (yes I know, I don't know why it wasn't in Cheltenham). This was my second most nerve wracking sport (behind diving) as I have never done any gymnastics in my life and I was unsure how much I could actual do in my not so fit state.

I got a bit of a shock when I first turned up as it looked like I was going to be training with a load of under 10s, but when I found my group there were some older teenagers there too which made me feel better (especially as I don't quite look my grand old age of 29). I joined in with the recreational group, this group had the girls who didn't want to compete or who had started late (you know, after the age of 7 or so). We started both sessions with an hour (YES AN HOUR) of conditioning. This was hard core conditioning, we're talking about circuits that were much harder then anything I did in athletics training as a child. As the girls are 'late' starters to gymnastics they need to build up their strength to do the fun stuff.

On the second half of the sessions we got to have some fun on the apparatus. On the uneven bars with some (lots) of help from the coaches I was able to mount by some form of spin and spin again. This was with lots of support but still managed it. I did some handsprings into the foamy pit. I was very happy to be able to do this. What I was most proud of was the beam. It is a job in itself walking on the beam, but I managed to do a forward roll on the beam unaided and with a bit of help I also rolled onto the beam from jumping on the trampette (does that make sense?). I also was able to do a few other skills, lots of cartwheels, round offs, with support I did a flick (go back into a crab and flick legs over) and handstands.

I really enjoyed gymnastics, it really felt like I had done something completely new and achieved something. I have a lot of new respect for gymnasts, it is a majorly hard sport. I am very glad I did it, and when I see the gymnasts on the beam at the Olympics I can pretend I was as good as them!

Here is my usual plea for sponsorship, every penny helps so if you are able please sponsor me here. I would once again like to thank everyone who has sponsored me so far, it is greatly appreciated!

Row row row your boat......

My sixteenth Gold Challenge sport was rowing, well to be strictly correct I did 3 hours of sculling. I went along to the local rowing club at the Cotswold Water Park. Luckily for me when I went the weather was lovely and had a lovely morning sculling around one of the lakes. I spent the first hour or so learning the very basics attached to a rope near the shore. How to move, use and hold the oars, how to turn and what to do if I fall out. After I had mastered the basics I was send out in the lake to scull. It was very nice going around the lake, tricky to turn at times, I did get stuck in some weeds and near a jetty at some point.

I really enjoyed rowing, it was really relaxing to be out on the lake and was a really good workout for my arms. I can imagine serious training would be incredibly hardcore though- very good for getting and keeping fit.

I am so close to the end of my Gold Challenge now. There is still time for sponsorship- you can do that here! I want to say a big thank you for all the sponsorship so far- really means a lot.

Thanks again.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Going out with a bang! Sport Number 14- Air Rifles.

My 14th (out of 20) Gold Challenge event was air rifle shooting. I was looking forward to this sport as it was one of the few sports where Steve came along to play too. We went over to Gloucester to Glevum Target and Sports Club. We went for a couple of two hour sessions (even though we tried to go about 4 times but it was quite hard to find). On our first session we had a tour around the range. They have an indoor shooting range and on the grounds is the Gloucestershire County outside range so they have very good facilities. We had the safety briefing and were shown how to use the guns and were left to shoot. I was actually surprised at how easy it was to shoot on target, but it doesn't half make your arm ache. In hindsight I would have probably done the air rifle shooting before we did the clay pigeon as it may have made the clay pigeon shooting a little easier.

Steve and I went back yesterday for our final session. We did another couple of hours of shooting and I do feel I was gradually getting better. Glevum club seems a really good local club, it has about 150 members and everyone was really friendly. Steve is definitely considering joining and I am going to wait until after the challenge to see what time I have on what days. There are loads of sports I want to take up!!

I am less then 2 weeks until the end of the challenge. I have my final gymnastics session tomorrow, rowing on Thursday, a 5k parkrun on Saturday and an open athletics meeting where I will do 200metres, 800metres and long jump on Wednesday 25th. That'll be it- 20 sports completed. I am still raising money for Dementia UK. Please click on the link to see the amazing work they do.

If you would like to sponsor me please do here. Even a very small amount will make a difference to the charity. Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me so far.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Sport number 13. Kayaking.

For the last 2 Thursday evenings I have gone down to the beautiful Sandford Lido in Cheltenham to have a go at Kayaking with the Cheltenham Canoe Club. They do weekly sessions in the lido (and an indoor pool in the winter) and many trips on the rivers around the South West.

The first session I went to was in the glorious sun. There must have been over 30 people there, some were playing a game of canoe polo, others were having formal teaching, and the rest (like me) were having fun kayaking around. I learnt how to tip the kayak over and get out, how to go forwards and backwards and how to turn around. We spent the last half an hour playing polo without our oars (using our hands to paddle). I managed to get stuck in and nearly scored a goal!!

On the second week the weather wasn't quite as good (it was bucketing it down). I was actually going to go rowing and finish my kayaking next week, but after a long drive through rush hour traffic in the pouring rain we found that rowing was called off (we think it was as there was no one there) so we drove back to Cheltenham to go kayaking. Honestly, kayaking in the rain is not so much fun as it is in the sun. It did get a bit chilly but still managed to improve my skills and didn't fall in. Even in the rain about 20 people showed up- and there were some very dedicated playing a serious game of canoe polo.

Cheltenham canoe club seems to be really thriving and has an active kayaking and social calender. I can imagine it is very easy to get hooked! I haven't yet decided whether kayaking is something I am going to pursue in the future, will have to see when I have completed all my sports. I have a busy week coming up, rifle shooting, gymnastics (I still ache from my first session) and rowing. I am also doing a 5k park run next Saturday so I need to squeeze a few training runs in so I can get round in one piece.

I am almost at the end of my Gold Challenge- less than 2 weeks to go. Thank you so much for your sponsorship so far- but there is still time to raise more so if you can sponsor me you can here. I am raining money for Dementia UK who do such an amazing job helping improving the quality of life of people affected by dementia.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The next (female, older, fatter) Tom Daley.

When planning what sports I was going to do for my Gold Challenge I ignored diving on the list for a long time, I mean- I could never dive as a child and it's such a specialist sport I'll surely never be able to do it? I am scared of heights and cannot remember even standing on a diving board.  I remember doing my Bronze Medallian as a 15 year old and telling the teacher I will do it if I don't have to dive. So, I then saw Dan Thompson's (CEO of Gold Challenge) blog. I loved the video and thought maybe......

So, I emailed a couple of local clubs and got a really positive response from Pheonix Diving Club in Highworth near Swindon. I'll be honest, I was the most nervous about diving than anything else. Was very nervous that I just wouldn't be able to do it and end up doing some lovely belly flops! I turned up to the first session- the first hour was gymnastic based, I didn't do much of that due to my knee (even though I am due to do gymnastics next week but 3 weeks has passed since then so hoping it'll be a bit stronger now) but then the second hour we got into the pool.

In the pool I started out diving off the side of the pool- I was surprised at how easy it was to go in head first without belly flopping. I also managed a few dives off the springboard too on the first session. The second week I managed to jump off the 3 metre board!! I will need more than 3 hours of training to dive off it but I jumped and was very happy to have done that. I also passed my level 1 diving certificate- that involved back dives, pike jumps (I think that's what they're called) and other dives off the side of the pool. It was very nice to have actually acheived something. In the third week I concentrated on diving off the spring board and keeping my legs straight. I think I pretty much managed it by the end!

I LOVED diving. The club were really friendly and made me feel very welcome and I would like to thank them for the time in coaching me and also donating the training fees to the charity. Before I started I had no intention at all in diving again and went in with the attitude of 'it can be something I can say I have done but never have to do again', but a local pool in Cheltenham do an 8 week diving course in October time and I am going to go along and if I still love it after that I may even join a club.

I know I say this after every post but I would like to thank everyone who has sponsored me so far. The amount raised will really make a difference to Dementia UK, and there is still time to raise more. If you are able to sponsor me you can do here (and if you haven't already check out what I got from Alan (Jonathan Creek, QI) Davies, and if you ask nicely I will tell you how I managed it!!

Thanks again :-)

Friday, 6 July 2012

Sport Number 11 Wheelchair Rugby

The last couple of Sunday mornings we had a drive down to Swindon so I can have a go at wheelchair rugby. It is a team that was set up by the council but is supported by Swindon St George rugby league club. The rugby I was playing was touch rugby league wheelchair rugby- not 100% strictly a paralympic sport as the Olympics do union- but in my book it's close enough!! The club has a good mix of players of different abilites and welcomes able bodied people as well as people with disabilities. I found the training really good fun, I'm not a natural rugby player but found the drills and exercises a good laugh and some decent exercise. On our second week we played a little game at the end, unfortunately our team lost miserably but we did our best. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed playing. If it wasn't all the way in Swindon I would consider going down to play regularly, you never know, I might still do!

Thanks to everyone who has sponsored me so far, and who took part in my sweep stake. Your money has made a massive difference. I am getting so close to my goal now, so if you can sponsor me any amount please do. You can sponsor me here.

I did my final diving session on Wednesday- definately one of my favourite sports so far, will upload blog on the weekend. I have also started rowing, rifle shooting and kayaking. Supposed to have my final rowing session tomorrow- we will see how the weather (and the traffic for the Royal international air tattoo affects that).

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Halfway through!!!

I am pleased to report that I am now over halfway through my challenge. On Tuesday I did my second two hours of table tennis at Cheltenham Premier Table Tennis club, which was my tenth sport ticked off the list! I feel quite happy with my table tennis escapades, I am now able to spin the ball and do a decent rally. I even beat someone in a little mini match too so had a small victory.

I am a one woman sports machine at the moment- I have started wheelchair rugby and have my final session on Saturday, I went diving yesterday and have 2 more sessions left (await a blog post with pics and maybe even a video in 2 weeks). I loved my first diving session and can't wait for next week. I should be doing sitting volleyball as we speak but it helps if you take kit to work if going straight from there...... (so will be doing it next week). I have also had contact from a local rowing club today too so from next Saturday I will be doing that too.

Just a quick update about what's going on with my Gold Challenge. Here's the usual bit, if you are able to sponsor me, even if it's just a pound as every penny helps. I am raising money for Dementia UK who support all affected by dementia and help fund Admiral Nurses (like me!!!) If you can sponsor me, you can do here. Thank you.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

My Big Athletics Comeback!!

On bank holiday Monday I made my big return to the athletics track! Well, big return may be stretching it but I was definitely there! For the Gold Challenge you have to take part in 3 hours of training or a competitive event, so thought I would do a couple of athletics events. I haven't starting running yet so entered a couple of field events- shot put and javelin.

If you remember me from my athletics days (I hung up my spikes about 10 years ago) you may remember that I was rubbish at throwing, I have always had the upper body strength of a gnat and when it comes to chucking things I just have no oomph, but, I always enjoyed doing it.

Steve and I turned up to the Prince of Wales Stadium in Cheltenham for the Brewer Games and entered on the day. I was surprised how quiet the meeting was, events were multi age group, but still people were entered in every event. I have memories of the Spartan Open etc. where all the 100metres events had 4-5 heats with semis and finals and that definitely wasn't happening here! I'm not sure whether that's the sign of the times, the fact it was slap bang in the middle of the Jubilee weekend or because it was more of a 'fun' meeting with non championship events (1k etc.) and no medals. Saying that, the same old atmosphere was there with lots of support and cheering for every event.

My first event was the Shot Put. When I was young Shot was probably my least favourite of the field events. I don't think I had picked up a Shot since at least the under 17 age group- and that is many years ago now! All I needed to remember was to push the shot (not throw it away from my neck) and to walk out the back. My first two throws were legal and I got the very long distance of 3.92. My last 2 throws were no throws for throwing it away from my neck. I was happy with that- it's not long but it was a mark and that's what I came for!

After a couple of hours of spectating it was time for the javelin. I used to love javelin when I was younger, as I said above I was not 'naturally talented' at it, but really enjoyed it. Our competition consisted of under 15s up so were about 15 people competing so I didn't get a chance for a practice throw (but doubt that would have made a difference anyway). When throwing the javelin it has to land point downwards. I was very pleased that all 4 of my throws were legal. My throws weren't long- I got the grand distance of 7.93 but baring in mind my PB was on 10.28 when younger I don't think it was that bad (for me!)

I had loads of fun at the athletics track and I really got the bug to get into it again. I am going to start slowly jogging at the start of June to see if my knee tolerates it and Cheltenham Harriers have a series of open meetings in July that I am hoping to do a couple more events. I am also hoping to do a 5k park run before the end of my challenge too. There are also a couple of local clubs that look welcoming so I am determined to join and properly get back into it (it's got to help with operation size 8 wedding dress too!)

Next week I am doing my first rifle shooting session on Monday and have my final table tennis session on Thursday. I am waiting for lots of clubs to get back to me but I am hoping to squeeze another sport in next week- I am thinking it will be wheelchair rugby on Saturday but I am waiting for confirmation. Will let you know.

As usual- here is my usual plea! I am doing all these sports to raise money for Dementia UK. I am getting closer to my goal of £2012 but still have a little way to go. If you can help at all- even if it is only a pound please do. You can sponsor me here.  Dementia UK do amazing work helping people who are affected by dementia and improving quality of life. They support Admiral Nurses (like me) and help carers nationwide. Dementia UK is an awesome cause and every penny helps them.

Friday, 1 June 2012

More fencing and table tennis.

For my Gold Challenge this week I did another 2 sports sessions. On Wednesday I did another session of fencing. Don't you think I look rather fetching in all my gear? During this week's session it did take it's toll a little bit on my knee and I had to sit out of the free fencing at the end, but managed to do most of it and am learning more and
more. We have been learning different attacking and defensive moves and I am slowly getting used to all the parrying, blocking etc. The fencing beginner's course is really good, Cotswold Fencing Club run them a few times a year and they are a great taster to the sport. They are trying to make fencing more accessable as most people only get the oppertunity to do fencing at public school or university and they're doing a great job. The club is doing really well. It's my last week doing fencing next week (there is another week of the course but I am away with work so can't make the last week) so will have to make a big effort next week (and make sure that knee is strapped up well!)
On Thursday I went along to Cheltenham Premier Table Tennis Club (yes, I found it this time). The Club play in the sports halls of Cheltenham (was ladies) College, this one was in the junior school. I arrived exactly at 7pm and was a little concerned that there was only me and the coach there but within 10 minutes the hall was full. We had about 10 tables and they all had at least 2 people playing. There were a few seniors playing in a mini league and about 20 children playing too. I was surprised by the numbers there. I started off playing with the club secretary, even though I knew he was going very easy on me I was happy I was able to keep the rallies going and wasn't making a complete arse of myself. When he went off to play his league match I was left with the coach and got about an hour of 1-1 training. My earlier confidence was quickly gone when I realised how tough table tennis is. I managed to adequately do forehand and backhand serves and managed a few spins. He did try and help me do a return shot I can only call the 'swish' as that's what you do with your hips. I failed quite miserably. That's my aim for my next session, to master the swish. They're shut for half term next week so I'll be back for my final session the week after.

I have a few more sports planned for next week. Going to an athletics open meeting on Monday to do some throws (not up for running yet). Any athletes got any hints? It has been many years since I picked up a shot put, then on Wednesday I have my final fencing session. That will take me to 10 events- half way there! The next Monday Steve and I are going to do a session of rifle shooting, am quite excited about that. Over the last few days I have been emailing local sports clubs. I have contacted the kayaking, gymnastics and (gulp) diving. I am scared about doing diving but it will be a real achievment if I can do a proper dive by the end of it (from of course a lower board). Luckily 5metre is their highest as I wouldn't go near a 10metre!

As usual I have my little beg for sponsorship at the bottom. I am aiming to raise £2012 by the opening ceremony for Dementia UK, even if you can only sponsor me a pound it all helps.You can sponsor me here. If you don't want to sponsor me online you can tweet, FB me or email me at and I can give you the details.

Thank you :-)

Friday, 18 May 2012

Badminton, boccia and failing to get to other sports.

I had planned for this week to be a very busy Gold Challenge week but it didn't quite go to plan so it ended up being a bit of a busy Gold Challenge week instead. I planned to go to table tennis on Tuesday evening with a local club, was quite excited as it is held in Cheltenham College in all of it's public school glory, but I got lost so didn't make it- but know where I'm going, so will be there next week.

On Wednesday I went along to Pitville Badminton Club and had an amazing time (even though my arm still aches). We basically spent the whole evening playing doubles matches. I lost every match but one of them went to a tie break. I still don't understand the rules of who serves when, something to do with left to right odd and even numbers..... maybe one day I'll get it. I had a great time playing with them and it is definately on the list to want to do when I have finished the challenge (only 70 days left eeeeekkkk).

On Thursday tea time I hopped on the train up to Bromsgrove to play boccia with the Bromsgrove Boccia Bears. I was really looking forward to doing boccia (and I know I have been blogging about it for a while). Boccia is similar to French Boules and was created for people with cerebral palsy and now anyone with a disability can play. There was a very big turn out and we split into 3 games and started playing. The basic idea of the game is that you're either on the red or blue team and you're given 2 balls in the colour of your team. The balls are hard or soft depending on ability/ skill (I had a soft balls because they're the easiest to play with) and someone throws the jack and the teams try and get their balls closest. My team ended up winning about 7-1 (would love to say it is something to do with my skill, but I was rubbish!) I had great fun at boccia, the whole group were really friendly and welcomed me (and didn't laugh at my terrible efforts). I am going to try and go back before the end of my Gold Challenge because I would love to have another go.

After Boccia on Thursday I rushed home to go straight out to fencing with Steve. We turned up only to find out that fencing is on a Wednesday (we went last Wednesday but for some reason thought it was on Thursday nights). FAIL. We'll to fencing after we see the Olympic Torch next Wednesday (will someone make sure we get the right day next week??).

Next week I will be doing table tennis Tuesday and Thursday (I will not get lost this time), fencing on WEDNESDAY (I will remember), and of course I am going to be inspired by the torch relay next week. I am also going to book a couple of rifle shooting sessions in the next few weeks to get another sport done.

As you know I am doing my Gold Challenge to raise money for Dementia UK, if you are able to sponsor me you can here. Thank you.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Foiled with fencing.

After a quiet few months while my knee recovered I am back on the challenge with fencing. On Thursday Steve and I walked round to a local secondary school to start our beginners course. Now, Steve was the captain of his school fencing club so he is not strictly a beginner so he took to it like a duck to water but I have a feeling I'm not going to be a natural fencer. I was a little concerned about all the lunging with my knee- my physio assured me that I'd be fine and with a few adjustments to my stance it held up really well.

It is a six week course and on the first session we learnt the basic stances, moving forwards and backwards, basic attacking and defending and we did a bit of sparring at the end. It was great fun and a really good workout- especially doing it in the armour and helmet.

I am in the last few months of my challenge now. I have to get cracking to get all the sports done by the Olympics but I will complete the challenge. Typically, lots of the sports clubs I have found seem to be on a Thursday evening so I think I'll be busy on a Thursday until my challenge ends. I have lots of sports in the pipeline and will keep you updated as I go along.

I have done so well with my fundraising so far, but as it's the 2012 Olympics I am determined to raise £2012 for Dementia UK. Please have a look at their page to see the amazing work that they do. If you are able to sponsor me, you can here. Even if it is only £1, it will be greatly appreciated.

I will post more about my fencing course as it goes on as well as my other sports (with pictures when I get a new Dementia UK T Shirt as my other one had a washing machine incident with a pair of red jeans!)

Monday, 2 April 2012

The day I ran at the Olympics.

Yesterday was my big day- I got to do my 100 metres in the Olympic Stadium. I got the opportunity to take part in the Gold Challenge Olympic Stadium Event for being a top fundraiser and getting over the £1500 sponsorship mark.

I had my knee operation almost 2 months ago now, and I was hoping 2 months post op I would be able to at least jog the 100 metres but unfortunately my 'recovery' isn't exactly going according to plan and when I saw the consultant 2 weeks ago he gave me the great news that I can chuck the splint in the bin and the bad news that I need to go back on crutches- so that's that's how I 'ran' my 100 metres, walking on my crutches.

Back to The Olympics. Steve and I got on a coach down to London yesterday morning and hopped (literally) on the tube to Stratford. It was great to get a first look at the Olympic Park, it is dominated by the stadium and has the swimming, water polo and basketball arenas near and also the Olympic Village. They are still doing work on it- but it looks amazing. When we got to the stadium my we got directed through the disabled access so we didn't have to queue (benefit of crutches #1) and Steve made his way up to the stadium and I made my way to prepare for my race. While waiting for my race I got to watch all the participants of the parade, and didn't freak out too much when the mascots came past (think Whitley Bay). I was in the top fundraising group and within our group the participants ranged from serious athletes, a man dressed as a rhino and a 5 year old girl. Each group was split into 2 (one race on back straight and one on front straight) and found that my race was me and the serious athletes. We got led into the stadium- into the warm up track first. The warm up track is inside and was massive! I hope that after the Olympics it holds some junior sports hall athletics competitions because it would be amazing for that. There were some very motivating helpers in the warm up area getting us warmed up- I had to politely decline the star jumps and lunges! We were then led out on to the track- there were about 20,000 people there so the atmosphere was amazing! We were led out to the back straight and the other group went first. After watching the rhino sprint I am relieved he wasn't in my heat.

Then it was time for my race. I obviously didn't do a crouch start as it takes me about 5 minutes to get up off the floor. The gun went and we were off. Well, from my view at the back it was a very good race with some good sprinters. Within about 20 seconds the rest of the race was finished (and I had covered about 20 metres) and all attention was on me! The crowd support was amazing and they got louder and louder the closer I got to the finish. I was on the big screen for the majority of my race so got loads of great support. The experience was amazing and I am so glad that I decided to do it. My aim was not to trip over and make it to the finish and that's exactly what I did.After my race we got our medals and Gold Challenge T Shirts and made our way up to the stand. I was able to watch the last few races and some of the entertainment before me made our way back home to Cirencester.

The whole day was an amazing experience and I am so glad to be given the opportunity. The stadium is awesome and the atmosphere was great. I have woken up today with aching arms from the crutches (hoping it's toning my arms up- benefit of crutches #2). I am exhausted but it was so worth it.The Olympic Stadium Event is over but I still have a way to go on my Gold Challenge.

Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me so far as you helped me raise enough to go to The Olympics! I have boccia (I have recently learnt it's pronounced botcha), shooting and maybe dinghy sailing in the next month or so and I am hoping to try sitting volleyball, goalball and wheelchair rugby when I have recovered a bit more. Of course there is still plenty of time to sponsor me if you haven't already. The challenge goes all the way to the Olympics. You can do that here.

It is for Dementia UK, an amazing cause.

Thank you again to everyone who has supported me- it is very very much appreciated

Friday, 2 March 2012

Sport Number 3. Archery

About 5 weeks I started ago beginner's archery course at Black and Gold Archers in Cheltenham. This was a 2 hour course weekly. Unfortunately due to my operation and my inability to get to Cheltenham on the bus I haven't been able to complete the whole course (6 weeks) but managed to do the first four sessions so did more than enough hours to complete what was needed for my Gold Challenge. I really enjoyed the sessions I did, and I was actually quite good** at it. We learnt how to score, the basics of shooting, how to string a bow and had lots of practice shooting. This is definitely my favourite sport I have done so far and would like to give it a go again. I am gutted I wasn't able to complete the beginner's course but I know there will be another in the autumn so if it's in my favourite couple of sports after I finish the Gold Challenge I will go back and do it. As you know, I am doing the Gold Challenge to raise money for Dementia UK who help improve the quality of life of people affected by Dementia. If you're able to sponsor me for my challenge you can do here. I'm going to book my next sport when my knee is feeling a little better (it's slowly improving) which will be rifle shooting and when it's even more improved I am thinking about doing wheelchair rugby. This scares me lots as it looks very hardcore, but looks fun too. Thank you. **wasn't horrendously bad.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Olympic Stadium beckons.

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has sponsored me so far for my Gold Challenge. I have won a place in the Olympic Stadium test event running 100 metres. I am very excited. It is going to be a great day. There's a parade (I think it's supposed to be like a pretend opening ceremony), the charity mascots race and us Gold Challengers running 100 metres. They are making an event of it with Spellbound from Britain's Got Talent and other guests. There is also talk of a 'special guest'. I am of course hoping that we're going to get the news that S Club 7 are reforming and are going to be that 'special guest'. Well, a girl can hope. If you did want to keep Steve company at the event you can buy tickets here. The event is on the 1st April so one month away. Secondly, my knee. Two weeks ago I had my knee surgery. My last blog post was full of optimism (work in 2 weeks and sport in 6 weeks). That didn't go quite to plan. Basically, we were expecting them to do a trim of my meniscus cartilage but they did a repair which means they stitched it up. This makes my recovery is much slower. I have to take 6 weeks off work (so another month to go....) and I am in a cricket splint when I mobilise. I see the physio tomorrow so will know how long I am in the splint for and to see how it is going. The first three days post operative were awful. I did not expect it to be quite as bad (they fill your knee with local anesthetic during the operation so they give you with a false sense of security) but it is gradually getting better. I still can't walk far and need my crutch if I am going further than around the house and I quite comically have one big leg and one little leg as my muscles are disappearing fast. Hopefully I'll get some exercises tomorrow to build them up. I can almost guarantee that I won't be sprinting 100metres in the Olympic Stadium event but my aim is to get from the start to the finish. That's what's keeping me going at the moment. Thirdly, Sports. That's what I am supposed to be doing. Obviously at the moment I am limited at what I can do. I can only do something that involves 'standing' and that doesn't involve much effort to get to and from. I am hoping to get back to archery this week as I haven't been able to get out the house for the last two weeks. I have two more sessions to do and then I have completed the beginners course. I am also going to book a couple of air rifle sessions in the weeks ahead too. Air rifles excite me as Steve is going to do it with me too. I have also been looking though the sports list and swapping and changing the sports to the most knee friendly sports. When I signed up for the challenge I was hoping to do a half marathon but now my big aim is to do a 5k park run in July. I am also going to book an open water swim in July too. If you haven't yet sponsored me and want to/ are able to, you can here. Once again, thank you everyone for your support. It is very much appreciated- and all the support and sponsorship is keeping me going to get better and get running as soon as possible.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Light at the end of the tunnel.....

I never would have thought I would be excited to have an operation. Ok, so I am not excited about the actual act, the anesthetic and the pain but I can't wait to finally be pain free. On Monday I am having keyhole surgery on my gammy knee. I have to say- I am very impressed with the service I have received from the NHS. The A&E department, fracture clinic and radiology departments in Worcester Royal Hospital, the physio department at Cirencester hospital and my lovely GP surgery who I have had to call many times in the morning, desperate because I have woken up hardly able to walk. I injured my knee at the end of November and by mid February I am getting it fixed. That is a great service and why I LOVE THE NHS. Anyway, even though I have been keeping my Gold Challenge ticking over with wheelchair basketball and archery (I have done my forth session this week and am loving it) I really can't wait to really get cracking. I have about 6 weeks recovery after the surgery but am hoping there will be some things I can do. I visited my family last weekend and brought my hockey stick back with me (last time I played was a decade ago) and I am tentatively planning what sports I can do when better. I am excited about doing equestrian, I have never ridden a horse so it will be an experience. I am also really looking forward to doing an open water swim, it is something I have wanted to do for a while. I cannot believe how generous everyone has been with sponsoring me. I am currently 9th in the Gold Challenge fundraising league. I am in with a chance of being the first to run 100 metres in the Olympic Stadium on April 1st. If you are able to sponsor me for my Gold Challenge you can do it here I will update you after my operation.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Swindon Shock. Wheelchair Basketball Session 2.

I went back to train with Swindon Shock wheelchair basketball team today to complete my three hours of training. Today's session was a 2 hour session starting with about an hour of drills. The drills included playing 'tig' with a partner, sprints, throwing/ catching practice and pulling a partner with your wheelchair. Well, I haven't been able to exercise much recently so I really felt it but they were great fun (and doing this training regularly would banish my bingo wings!!) We then split into small groups and had little mini games where we practiced passing. In the last half an hour of the session we split into 3 teams and played some matches. It is usually the 'big guy' on the team who tips off, but as I was a newcomer they let me do them. I was pleased to win one of them especially as I am so short! I felt a lot more involved during this session and felt like a got stuck in a lot more than last time. I have really enjoyed my training with Swindon Shock- the wheelchair squad are an upcoming team who have only been training for less than a year. They have recently joined a development league- it looks like the club has a bright future.
This is my second completed sport for my Gold Challenge. I have my third archery session on Thursday so really looking forward to that! I am completing the Gold Challenge to raise money for Dementia UK- if you are able to sponsor me, please do here- it will be really appreciated.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Why why why?

Over the last week I have had some time on my hands due to being off sick with my knee. This has lead me to think about why I decided to take part in the Gold Challenge for Dementia UK. Lots of people do things for charity, in recent years my friends have ran half marathons, slept rough for the night, grown their hair for a year, etc etc etc. It has been on my mind for some time that I should do something for charity and I did not know what to do. I have a background in athletics and ran for many years until I was about 20 years old, it is something I have been trying and failing to get back into for many years so I had been considering doing a marathon or something and hoping it will give me the incentive to get fit- but never quite went through with it. At the end of August last year I was doing what I spend many hours doing- sitting, using Twitter when I saw Dementia UK tweet about The McIvor's challenge. It made me have a little look at the Gold Challenge and what challenges they offer. There are three challenges, the 2012km challenge, the sports challenge or the Gold Challenge in a gym. Well, I'm not a fan of gyms so that ruled that one out, and 2012kms seemed like a long way for me so I decided to give the Sports Challenge a go. The Sports Challenge consists of doing either 5 sports, 10 sports, 20 sports or 30 sports before the Olympic Opening Ceremony. I decided 20 was a good number- enough to be a challenge but still manageable. To complete a sport you have to do three hours of training or a competitive event. The Gold Challenge can be done for the charity of your choice. I chose Dementia UK as in August this year I took up post as an Admiral Nurse- supporting carers of people with Dementia. Dementia UK supports Admiral Nurses and works amazingly to improve the quality of life of people affected by dementia. The challenge so far has been great fun. I have completed Clay Pigeon Shooting, and started Wheelchair Basketball and Archery. I was recently upset as my bad knee (torn meniscus) stopped me from starting a fencing course Steve and I were booked on, but I am pleased to say they have booked me on another course in May. I am having knee surgery on the 13th February (Happy Valentines) and will a 6 week recovery before I can do knee intensive sport I hope to be fighting fit by April. What do I want to gain from the Gold Challenge? Of course I want to raise lots of money for Dementia UK. I have been very lucky to get some very good sponsorship so far, of course from friends and family but also from Alan Davies of Jonathan Creek fame!! I am hoping to raise lots more- so if you can sponsor me- please do. There are also personal reasons why I wanted to do the challenge. I have never been the most talented sports person, but I have always enjoyed giving it a go. I am hoping that a couple of the sports may grab me and I will be able to join a local club. There are also other sports such as weight lifting and boxing- I doubt I will be any good or have the inclination to carry them on, but will love to have a go! The Gold Challenge experience has been great so far. It has been tough, with the injured knee but I have been able to adapt the challenge so I can carry on. I really hope I am able to be one of the first to run 100 metres in the Olympic Stadium and need to do well in the fundraising league to do this- yet another reason for you to sponsor me! Anyway, after much nattering on, I will keep you updated as and when I do more sports (starting with my second Archery session tonight!)

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Robin Hood Robin Hood riding through the den.......

I am very happy to report that I am back on the Gold Challenge wagon! I started my archery course this evening. I am doing a six week archery course with Black and Gold Archers in Cheltenham. After a few worries before I got there that there would be some component of archery that would involve bending or twisting my knee I was very happy to find out that that was not the case and even the warm up and warm down involved standing still. I was very impressed that there were 14 of us beginners there, we were given bows and arrows according to our height (small ones for me) and after the safety briefing we started straight away. Because we're beginners we didn't have the targets with points, we were shooting towards what can only be described as big wicker doilies. We spend the next hour and a half learning the basics. I was pleased that I got a few near the centre- but it is going to get more difficult as we were close to the targets and we will be further away next week. I will keep you updated how the archery's going over the next few weeks. It ends on week 6 with a mini competition- I am already excited. My Gold Challenge is back in full swing. I am going to finish my wheelchair basketball on Sunday and then Boccia and my next archery session aare both next week. Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me already for Dementia UK- and if you haven't sponsored me yet and want to, you can here.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Admitted defeat on fencing, but all go for archery!

When I started the Gold Challenge last year I expected it to be challenging, but after tearing my meniscus in my right knee, it has become really challenging. Before Christmas I booked myself and Steve onto a fencing course in Cheltenham. Steve was captain of his school fencing club and it's a sport I was really looking forward to doing. The course was supposed to start yesterday. The plan was that my knee would be healed sufficiently to complete the course, but the fact that I am struggling to walk, drive (yes, if you missed it I HAVE PASSED MY DRIVING TEST- if you ask nicely I will tell you how many attempts it took) and generally use my knee, and the physio told me that the worst thing I can do is squat or lunge I feel it would be a really stupid thing to go. I cannot tell you how gutted I am and I really hope I will be able to do some kind of fencing for the challenge before July. On a more positive note I am booked on an archery course starting tonight. No amount of sore knee is going to stop me from doing it. I have done archery once before at Centre Parcs and thought it was great fun so I am very excited. I am also going to go to the local Boccia club next week as it is on a Wednesday and due to fencing not being an option I will have my Wednesday's free! I am currently waiting for an appointment for keyhole surgery on my knee to repair the tear. I got a phone call this morning, the operation is going to be on the 13th February. Sooner then I thought it would be so i'm chuffed. I have a feeling I am going to be busy in May, June and July! I have been really lucky to get all the sponsorship I have so far, and I WILL complete 20 Olympic Sports by the opening ceremony (must remember to Google exactly when that is!) Please remember why I am doing this Olympic challenge. I am raising money for Dementia UK and all the amazing work they do. If you haven't sponsored me already and you're able to, please do! I am currently 9th in the fundraising league and would love to finish in the Top 10 so I can be the first to run (or quite possibly hop) 100 metres in the Olympic Stadium.