Finally Getting A New 10k Personal Best!

Finally Getting A New 10k Personal Best! The May Run Down (pic : pre race - Wesham Summer 10k)


Well folks, it's been a quiet but progressive two months.  Ironically, after being awarded "Runner of the Month" by my fellow running club members for March, I didn't do much pounding of the streets in April because we went on holiday to Tenerife.  I tried a couple of early morning runs there but it was just way too hot, even at 8am.  I found a lovely 2.5 mile route from the hotel to the town centre and back along the seafront. The scenery was gorgeous with mountains on one side, the sea on the other and a deceivingly steep hill to connect the two!

The May Run Down - Finally Getting A 10k Personal Best -  running in Tenerife

The May Run Down - Finally Getting A 10k Personal Best - I tried a couple of early morning runs there but it was just way too hot, even at 8am.  I found a lovely 2.5 mile route from the hotel to the town centre and back along the seafront and the scenery was gorgeous though with mountains on one side, the sea on the other and a deceivingly steep hill to connect the two!


Whilst on holiday I read the book, "Your Pace Or Mine" by Lisa Jackson.  It was bought for me as a present after completing the Darwen Half Marathon but gifted on the proviso that I lend it back after I'd finished it (this conditional gift giving could go far, trust me).  So I devoured it from cover to cover and highlighted inspirational passages and quotes that really hit home for when I gave it back to Lesley. I have to say that it's one of the best running books I've read and has provided me with even more positive ways of looking at my own running with a view to enjoying it better.  I'll be surprised if you've not already read it but, if you haven't then GO... NOW!! 

Also in April we had the Manchester Marathon and the London Marathon as the main focus races.  Our running club was well represented at both with thousands of pounds raised for various charities along the way and an enormous amount of personal achievements.  I am always in awe at the amount of time (and mileage) that goes into training for an event like this. It's a HUGE and selfish commitment with everyone around you having to be on board to support the amount of time you'd be spending away from the house in the final weeks of preparation. 

Apart from my close running buddies and fellow club members, of who I am immensely proud, one other runner stood out from the crowd for me and that was my blogging friend, Kirsty.  She's an inexperienced runner and trained, on her own, from couch to marathon for the London event, battling personal health issues along the way.  She's written about her journey here [Part 1 | Part 2] which, if you're a new runner with a big goal or if you're a slow runner who celebrates finish lines rather than finish times then you definitely should read both blog posts.

Next, local lad, Ben Fish's account on achieving 2:26:55 at the London Marathon is just jaw dropping when you consider the pace he was running at in the heat. Read the full blog post here but here's a mini-spoiler... 

My finishing position was 27th (including elite) and the eighth British man, which in fairness would usually require a sub 2hr 20 to manage in good conditions, so on reflection, my performance was better than I initially thought.

And finally, this forum thread about London Marathon cheaters is compelling reading.  I just don't understand the psyche behind cheating, especially when there are multiple timing mats but moreso after following the training and efforts of people like Kirsty and Ben mentioned above.

Something a bit different... do you remember Ben Smith? He was the guy that ran 401 marathons in 401 days to raise awareness of bullying and also to raise funds for two anti-bullying charities.  Have a watch of the video below: 


 Inspirational, yes?!  And I really love the ethos behind The 401 Foundation...

"We will support small grass root projects and individuals who build confidence and self esteem, tackle mental health and self development issues in local communities"

It's something very similar to a local, Big Lottery funded project I worked on about five years back so it's great to see someone carrying on that idea with the ability to be more prolific and hopefully create a national foundation to support communities far and wide.  Find out more at the 401 Foundation website.

To finish, I want to mention why I feel my change in attitude and the conscious effort to lose weight is a huge part of why my running is getting better.  I read an article on The Pool by Amy Jones which was about how fat people can run (IT'S TRUE - WE CAN!) but there's a lot less "inspo" posted on the usual social media channels.

When I looked online for fitness inspiration or running tips [..] all that were getting served to me was images of thin, strong (usually white and blonde) women, bodybuilders or “before and after” pics demonstrating the huge amounts of weight people had lost since they started training. These bodies seemed so far removed from my reality that there was no point even trying to aim for them – I’m like a different species and I feel simultaneously enormous and very, very small when I look at them.


Now, I'm not about to strip down to my bra and run through Witton Park *hears a collective sigh of relief from all Blackburn residents* but it really made me think about who I was six months ago compared to now.  I hardly ever share photos of me actually running but I saw these pictures from Hyndburn parkrun a couple of weeks ago and, whilst I could have chosen my outfit a little more carefully, the photos were a reminder of how far I've come in such a short space of time.


The May Run Down - Finally Getting A 10k Personal Best - Pictures from Hyndburn

I'm not the fastest runner - in fact, I regularly come last in my age category and I'm usually the last member of our club to cross the line at races - but I've learnt that this is OK.  I'm starting to see and feel the physical results of losing almost two stone (and counting) in weight as my stamina has improved massively and I'm looking forward to heading out of the door for each run. 

Personal bests for parkrun and 10k races - and maybe even another half marathon in the not too distant future - are already being worked on.  Last Wednesday I ran the Wesham Summer 10k organised by Wesham Road Runners as a trial for a summer mid-week event on their usual winter 10k course.  This was the fourth time I've run this course and it would be the first time I had run it completely alone so it was a test of my stamina and mettle more than anything else.  I'd already had excellent advice about not setting off too quickly and I'd fully prepared mentally to come last. What actually happened was nothing short of a miracle in the form of running almost 6k without having to have a little power walk and then achieving a 5k, a 10k and a course Personal Best in one fell swoop. That sub-1:10 feels very much within my reach now and that's my next goal but I'm definitely not going to put pressure on myself to achieve it. 

The May Run Down - Finally Getting A 10k Personal Best - Wesham Summer 10k with personal best times

So, for the time being, I've changed up the training sessions by putting in one mid distance run (5-6 mile), one trail run (3-4 mile) and one long distance run (10 miles) per week and I'm already seeing results.  

Whatever happens - I'm slowly learning to accept that I get out there, I try my best and I finish what I set out to do. It just takes me a little bit longer than everyone else!


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PS... I'm often asked about my running gear so this month I've been wearing ACAI Activewear Compression Leggings from UK Lingerie,  USA Pro capri leggings from Sports Direct (seen in the both the pictures in this blog post), a Shock Absorber Ultimate Run sports bra from UK Lingerie which is one of the comfiest I've ever worn, Adidas Duramo 55 trainers (alternating two pairs) with Shwings from Amazon laced into them for a bit of fun!

PPS... My Instagram is becoming more about running with snippets of regular daily life thrown in.  If you like that sort of thing you can follow me here : www.instagram.com/nickieoharaAlso, if you follow people on Strava you can find me here : www.strava.com/athletes/18841012

PPPS... Don't forget about my running podcast - The First 10 Minutes Are The Worst.  You can find it on iTunes, on Podbean or just search for it in your podcast app. You can also like the Facebook page for little nuggets of news and inspirational stories we find. 

Finally Getting A New 10k Personal Best! - The First 10 Minutes Are The Worst podcast

I think that's it now... happy running! 


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How Pendant Lighting Can Work for Every Room in the Home

How Pendant Lighting Can Work for Every Room in the Home - Pendant lighting hangs from the ceiling, making a statement and can work for every room in the home thanks to its versatility.


Lighting – it can be an afterthought when it comes to decorating your home, or perhaps you think that it can’t easily be changed. There’s a lot that you can do with lighting and we have witnessed a recent surge in interior designers focusing on it. One popular style in particular is pendant lighting. Pendant lighting hangs from the ceiling, making a statement and can work for every room in the home thanks to its versatility.

Living Room


Pendant lights are great for drawing the eye upwards so they are ideal if you have high ceilings in your living room. You could opt for one pendant light or a few to make a design statement. In terms of style – the choice is yours. You could choose a brushed or plated metal finish if you prefer a modern industrial style, or ceramics and glass for a more elegant feel.

Bedroom


In the bedroom, there are a couple of places to put pendant lights. You could swap your bedside table lamps for pendant lights which hang at either side of your bed. You could also use a pendant light over your bed – just make sure that it is high enough to avoid any accidents when you sit up! Some of the best pendant lighting styles for the bedroom are geometric shapes and chandeliers.

Kitchen


The best place for pendant lights in the kitchen is over your island or dining area. You may want to use a dimmer switch if you also use these areas to relax as pendant lights can provide a bright, focused task light. LED pendant lights are a good choice for the kitchen as they work well with dimmer switches. A popular interior design trick for pendant lights in kitchens is the rule of three – place three pendant lights over your island or eating area. Metal pendant lights look great in the kitchen as they will co-ordinate with cabinet handles.

Hallway


Pendant lights are brilliant for open spaces such as the hallway. They generally look quite artistic, so they are great to use as artwork. Think geometric style or even a large drum shape – don’t be afraid to make a statement. Your hallway isn’t always an area that you can decorate very easily, so make the most of the light!

How Pendant Lighting Can Work for Every Room in the Home - Pendant lighting hangs from the ceiling, making a statement and can work for every room in the home thanks to its versatility.

Why Choose Pendant Lights?


Pendant lighting is a great choice of lighting for the home as it comes in so many different shapes and styles. You can choose a lighting to suit your decor style whether that’s an exposed bulb for an industrial look or a drum-shaped pendant for a contemporary room. Pendant lights can assist in reducing clutter in your home as they reduce your need for lamps.

Pendant Lighting Ideas and Tips:


  • Choose a shade with cut-out pieces and it will cast beautiful shadows in the room.Use your pendant lights as a colour contrast – yellow in a monochrome room, for example.
  • If you want to hang pendant lights in your bedroom but you’re worried about bumping your head, hang it at the end of the bed.
  • If you’re hanging a pendant light over your staircase, make sure its high enough!
  • If you’re using pendant lights in the kitchen, choose a finish which is easy to clean – think about how greasy and steamy your kitchen can be!
  • Odd numbers of pendant lights look better than even numbers.
  • A pendant light should be hung around 28-32 inches above a table and 72 inches off the floor.

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How We Use Our Whiteboard

I used to have a whiteboard on the wall in my home office. That was, until the grandchildren discovered the joy of being able to draw on it, using my multi-coloured pens. Gone was the space I had for my scheduling and instead were cute little drawings and notes from the girls. A joy to read but not so great for my productivity.

Whiteboards have always fitted into the corporate world for me. I used them to display notes and prompts when delivering courses a few years ago, and with my new career in advertising, my professional life now revolves around the sales figures on the whiteboard. Back at home, it was fascinating to see how productive and interactive the girls where when given a dry erase whiteboard as oppose to the usual pens and paper. 
How We Use Our Whiteboard - Wedge Whiteboards are manufactured in the UK, come in a wide range of orientations / sizes and are available to buy on Amazon.  I would not hesitate to recommend Wedge Whiteboards and I would also love to hear your suggestions on how you would use a whiteboard in your home or office.


I needed a whiteboard at home for my scheduling, however I also needed a dry wipe whiteboard for my grandchildren to use when they came around to visit. The solution? The A2 Wedge Whiteboard from Wedge Whiteboards. This triangular prism sits perfectly on our table and the fact that it is double sided means that there are no arguments about who has more space to draw on. We have been able to revisit some ‘old-fashioned’ games such as battleships, nought and crosses and hangman. We also use the whiteboard for homework task without wasting reams of paper. It is also encouraging to see ‘analogue interaction’ from the grandchildren rather than them bent over a tablet or a mobile phone. 

There are four pens and two erasers provided with the board, but we have also been using our Chalkola markers on it too. As a huge bonus, Wedge Whiteboards are also magnetic, so my youngest grandchild who is only 19 months old can also play with some magnetic shapes and interact with his siblings.

When the grandchildren are not here, the A2 Wedge Whiteboard does not sit around unused and unloved. On the contrary, I use it every day to leave little notes for my husband, mainly reminders like ‘put the bins out’ or ‘please pick up a pint of milk’. When we went on holiday, it was the perfect way to leave a checklist of tasks and reminders for my sons who were house-and-dog-sitting.

Wedge Whiteboards are manufactured in the UK, come in a wide range of orientations / sizes and are available to buy on Amazon.

I would not hesitate to recommend Wedge Whiteboards and I would also love to hear your suggestions on how you would use a whiteboard in your home or office.

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REVIEW : Looking4Parking - Meet and Greet Airport Parking Service

REVIEW : Looking4Parking - Meet and Greet Airport Parking Service - We've used "park and ride" services on a number of occasions, both from Manchester Airport and from Leeds Bradford Airport and cannot fault them. There's always a shuttle bus just a couple of minutes away and the cars are stored in secure parking lots so I was interested to see what the extra £20-£30 would buy me.


We've recently been away to Tenerife, flying from Manchester Airport, and used the "Meet and Greet" service from Looking4Parking

We've used "park and ride" services on a number of occasions, both from Manchester Airport and from Leeds Bradford Airport and cannot fault them. There's always a shuttle bus just a couple of minutes away and the cars are stored in secure parking lots so I was interested to see what the extra £20-£30 would buy me.

Arriving At The Airport


We were provided with clear instructions on how to approach our terminal at the airport and we were asked to ring ahead 20 minutes before we arrived.  We were directed straight to the drop-off point at the front of the terminal, guided into designated parking bays for this service and met by our chauffeur.

The usual exterior checks were done for any existing external damage to the car (bumps, scratches, etc) and the mileage recorded. Then we were given a card with contact details and asked to ring a telephone number on our return after we'd cleared passport control, baggage collection and customs and then pointed in the direction of the check-in desks (literally across the road).

We checked in smoothly and headed off for our holiday.

Coming Home


Our flight out of Tenerife landed early but the baggage took over and hour and a half to arrive on the belt.  I rang the number provided to explain about the delay and was asked to ring back once we had cleared customs.  It was explained that the chauffeurs weren't allowed to hang around in the drop-off point if there were any further delays which is totally understandable. A short while later, we were clear so I rang back and we were directed to a specific meeting point outside the airport building - but in a designated pick-up area - for our chauffeur to bring our car back.

It was 1.00am and we waited around 10 minutes for our car to be returned. We were handed our car keys but we were stood in the middle of the collection area at Manchester Airport. There wasn't a real chance to check over the car, plus there was just street/car park lighting available. We were also informed that we were responsible for the (recently installed) £4 exit fee from the car park.  Luckily I had change available but we were totally unaware of this charge. Having looked back on my paperwork when the service was booked, it is mentioned on there but it's worth noting.  You will be given the exit token by your chauffeur and there is a payment meter just by the waiting area.

The above comments are all advisories and do not deter from the fact that the service was speedy and professional.  It's always a worry to hand over your car to someone else to drive away and store for a couple of weeks but it's such an easy and reasonably price service that I can't fault it. Our two drivers were pleasant and gave us ample instructions at drop-off and collection.  Not having to queue up for a shuttle bus and travel 5 miles or so to and from the airport was definitely a bonus.

FIND OUT MORE ON THE LOOKING4PARKING WEBSITE 


Frequently Asked Questions (prompted by friends who were interested in this review)


Is there an easy option for wheelchair users?

The "Meet and Greet" service is as close as you can get to the door of the terminal and check-in area. From my experience at Manchester Airport, the drop-off area is flat, there is a zebra crossing across to the terminal and then you are straight into the airport.  There will be other similar facilities in other Terminals and airports but it would be best to check before booking.

Where is the car stored for the duration of the holiday?

Again, in my experience storage areas are manned 24 hours a day.  The secure car parks are usually around 5 miles away from the airport and located on industrial estates.  When we flew from Leeds Bradford last year, the secure car park was literally across the road from the airport and the shuttle service took 2 minutes, door-to-door.

How is the car moved?

The chauffeur drives it. The company will be fully insured for this service.

What happens if the car is damaged?

You should be offered the opportunity to inspect your car fully before accepting it back.  As noted above, when our car was returned this proved very difficult in the dark car park. I would imagine that if there was any notable damage to your car, your chauffeur would be expected to point it out to you and offer you an option to rectify the situation

Are there any other options?

Looking4Parking offer a variety of parking options including off-site parking (the Meet and Greet service and Park & Ride), on-site parking and business parking.  On their website you fill in a short form to be offered the costings for each option.


What is the cost?

This varies throughout the year.  We travelled in April and the car was parked for two weeks. Our Meet and Greet service would have cost £70 compared to £45 for the shuttle Park and Ride service. In high season this cost is definitely elevated.  


Feedback


I understand the service providers need to know when you are turning up with your car however I'm not sure how I would have been able to phone ahead had I been a lone traveller as my phone is always safely stored away whilst driving.

I zeroed my milometer when we got to the airport.  Firstly, I've seen Ferris Bueller... but also I was interested in exactly how far away the storage car park was.  Just a few miles were clocked when the car was returned to us. 



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