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).