Mumaleary's Blog

Cheaper than therapy

30 years on. Lessons I’ve learnt about grief.

I wanted to write something articulate and beautifully moving to mark the 30th anniversary of my dad’s death but, it just isn’t coming to me.

The verses are disjointed and fractured and just don’t fit properly together. They’re ok-some bits are really good (yes- that is the sound of me blowing my own trumpet!) but it’s not the way I imagined it would…a bit like life really.

The truth is you can’t always make something so sad sound romantic and poetic.

Sometimes things just are what they are and all you can do is survive and remake a different life from the wreckage of what was left behind.

I am 37 still mourn the life we could have had. I see Adam with our girls and my heart swells and breaks in equal measure. I want to have more of my own memories with my daddy, as a fsmily of 4. I want my children to have a grandpa and my mum to have a mate.

But- if we had that, maybe we wouldn’t have this- our super tight, absolutely unbreakable three muscateer mentality. And yet, knowing how amazingly fortunate I am doesn’t undo how cheated I feel. Such is life.

I love my life. I love the fact that I know absolutely unequivocally how loved I was and am by my family. I love my daughter’s and my husband and my friends and I share my opinions and emotions with anyone who shows a passing interest. That is who I am.

I am who I am because of the experiences I have had- we all are. I’m nothing special!

Was this the path I would have chosen- no way.

Do I wish my daddy was here? Daily.

Am I making the best life I can with the hand I was dealt? Damn right.

Our loss is no one else’s lesson.

There’s no way of forcing people to truly appreciate their lives and their loves through someone else’s unrelated experience;

It’s the grief equivalent of saying finish your dinner, other people are starving. It doesn’t work!

But…what if you could learn a weeny lesson…what if you could really truly imagine that today was your last day… would you walk a little slower, squeeze a little tighter, linger a little longer, laugh a little louder and love a little harder?

Course you would! I’d recommend it.

(PS- here is the verse…work in progress!)

30 years ago today,
My darling daddy passed away.
He went without fanfare or fuss,
And broke the hearts of all of us.

He left 2 girls without a dad.
And even now it makes me sad.
He left our mum without a mate
This was just our hand of fate.

I miss the things I never had.
I miss just being with my dad.
I missed him walk me down the aisle.
He missed cuddles with his new grandchild.

He missed growing old with my mum.
They thought the best was yet to come.
We miss him every single day.
We wish it hadn’t been this way.

I would have grown up anyway
But in a very different way.
And so it is and will always be.
The death of him is what makes me me.

With lots of love.

Muma. X

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End of an era (or…are you ready Red Class!)

So, this is it…this is the moment we have all been working towards- 2 bona fide children in actual school. Not nursery (with the awesome 52 weeks a year provision!). Not pre-school (with the option to bring your cuddlies and skip the odd day) but actual, get fined if you bunk off, big school.

I appreciate that, having been through this whole rigmarole just a year ago I should be double hard and ready to toss the baby into the class with barely a backwards glance but- having actually cried in a coffee shop today I can sense that it’s not going to be quite that simple. šŸ˜‚

I have spent most of my days over the last 4 years and 9 months with my littlie and I am not quite ready for this part of our lives to be over. Admittedly when she was 2 1/2 she was a bloody nightmare for much of the time but- we weathered that particular storm and now she is my shadow, my constant companion and I am going to miss her like crazy!

So- some words of advice that I wrote for her naming day are getting a second airing tonight- for 2 reasons;

1) they are still true

2) my creative juices are exhausted!

Advice for Life.

Good grief!
What advice people can give.
Going round telling others how they think they should live.

So Hannah, these snippets were written just for you.
Take them or leave them, itā€™s all up to you.

Be kind.
Be polite.
Try to sleep through the night.
If you think somethingā€™s wrong try putting it right.

Dream big dreams Han,
as big as you dare,
For if you should stumble weā€™ll always be there.

Work hard at school.
Never, ever be cruel.
But donā€™t be afraid of bending some rules.

If you see someone struggle,
Donā€™t walk on by,
Give a hand, give a smile
Please donā€™t be shy.

Donā€™t try to conform,
Just be yourself.
You are at least the equal of anyone else.

Donā€™t think life is easy,
Sometimes it is tough.
But thatā€™s no excuse to treat others rough.

Donā€™t get confused by money or fame,
At the end of your life all you have is your name.
My sweetheart, you are bound to make some mistakes.
No worries, that happens to all of lifeā€™s greats.

Life is for living,
You get just one go.
So live it my darling and never let go.

Right-thats that! Let’s get out the big girl pants and help our super second into the next phase…

Good Luck Hannah- you’re going to be amazing.

Muma.

XxxX

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And then poof- just like that, it was gone

I can’t believe that this is it!

After all of the build up and anticipation we have come to the end of our first proper School Summer Holidays- where did they even go? At the risk of becoming a total cliche mum I feel like they flew by in a whirl of picnics, park trips and Peter Pan Party Prep!

I am sad that I stopped regularly blogging but there never seems to be enough hours in the day for me to fit it all in- perhaps now you will both be in school it might be different…. I know others do- plus much more but there it is- no one but no one is doing it all- whatever it looks like.

Every so often though, I want to write to you, my beautiful babies no more babes, just so one day you can look back in a teenage tantrum and catch a glimpse of how special you are and how loved you have always been…

3 people in the last two days have commented that ‘I bet you can’t wait until they’re back at school?!’

Maybe I look knackered (axe the maybe) maybe it’s just a conversation piece, maybe I am thinking on it too long but do you know what?

I can wait.

I honestly really can (and not only because I haven’t got my finger out of my ass for long enough to finish your school bags and name tags and PE Kits). It is because I love you.

I love being around you.

I love hearing your little conversations with each other, I love having chilled out breakfast times and PJ days and doing almost anything with you. You two amazing little humans- and your daddy rock my world. You always have.

I’m not saying you’re perfect or that I am either; let’s not pretend there haven’t been tears and tests and tantrums.

I’m not saying that this whole six weeks has been an unadulterated dream- there have been plenty of challenges- recall the dark day I swiped all of your craft clutter into a binbag because seriously why does glitter have to go EVERYWHERE and why in God’s name do I have to repeat myself 17 times in order for 1 pen to be picked up and yet you can hear me rustle a packet of buttons from the bottom of the bloody garden.

But, those memories are already distant specks in comparison to me watching you swim 5 metres on your own and sharing the sea with you whilst we body boarded in Cornwall.

Visiting Polperro and climbing to the highest possible beer garden!

Careering down the slide at the Crocky Trail with your cousin and friends.

The day our picnic blew away.

Reading just one more chapter of The Far Away Tree.

Reciting all the words to SING!

Our day in Bristol with Daddy when you paddled in your pants.

The bus tour of Liverpool.

Chester Zoo.

Your on going musical education in the shape of The Beatles and Deacon Blue as well as breakfast discos with Uptown Funk and Happy!

The fabulous family party

The photoshoot on the hill.

All of these and a million more.

Every day has given us time to be together, to do something and nothing and it has been a privilege and I know that not having to juggle too much work has made this possible and I am so fortunate and grateful to be in that position.

So, when you pull on your shiny new shoes and button up your cardigans and skip off for your first day back and, for you Hannah- your first day of big school, know this- I would have done this Summer with you a hundred times over.

Someone else said to me yesterday that you are wonderful girls and I should be extremely proud. I am. Now and always.

Daddy and I will love you until the seas run dry and my loves, that will never happen.

Muma.

XxxX

Image credit to the amaxing Frith Photography.

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Supporting our Sporting Sisters… (or why physical activity is so important for us girls)

Over the last couple of months, probably since I ran my first race of the year, The Wirral Way half marathon on 8th January, I have been thinking more about what sport means to me…by sport- I principally mean running, yoga and the odd few lengths whilst the kids are swimming.

At school I wasn’t a natural sports woman- my hand eye coordination is aabsolutely awful and I was forever trapped between the option of pitting everything into swinging my rounders bat and hitting fresh air anyway or ‘styling it out’ and barely raising my wrist before slinking off to ‘sit off’ with the cool girls.

No- my early experience of team sport taught me that I prefer the stuff where I can only embarrass myself as opposed to letting a whole team down. The memories of missing an all important and ‘easy’ catch in netball, numerous air shots in tennis and totally spooning it in front of a wide open goal still make my cheeks flush almost 3 decades on and yet running with friends, a serious session of hot yoga or a silent swim are things that I absolutely LOVE and make my cheeks flush in a totally different amd all together more welcome way.

As a child mum used to run in the mornings before our dad left for work (obviously after he died this was off the agenda) but she played badminton every Friday which meant Film nights for my sister and our two bessies, Sarah-Jane and Rachel. At almost 74 she still plays at least twice a week and regularly goes walking with a group; Being active was normal in our house. Our dad played squash and went windsurfing every Sunday and we were forever being ferried to swimming and gyming and the rest of it. Gymnastics was my absolute favourite thing and going on a Friday with H it is all I can manage not to get up on the beam or crack out a cartwheel- it felt like magic Ā and I wasn’t even that good!

I know that this isn’t the experience for everyone and, since running the London marathon in April, I am realising just how many women feel that exercise is an unreachable goal… When I crossed the finish line at London this year I had 131 messages! 131- WOW. Lots of congratulations from men and women but many more from women- mainly mum’s, saying that they could not imagine being able to run 10km, let alone a marathon. Many went on to say that they can’t remember the last time they did anything more physical than running after a scooting toddler (and I am not for a second saying that’s not physical but it’s not a 100% reliable or safe form of exercise is it!)

I have written before about how, when I was at one of my lowest points- signed off work and living back at home with my mum- we swam. Every single day, come rain or shine we got up (or to put it more accurately, my mum got me up), we drove to the pool and both swam. Slowly, slowly; stroke by stroke, I got better. Don’t get me wrong- I was also speaking to a counsellor and taking medication but, I know categorically that the swimming helped significantly- me and my mum. The incredible documentary Mind over Marathon and the strength of the Heads Together campaign is making it more and more normal to talk about mental health and, a part of the discussion is happily focusing on the part physical health and being active play on being mentally well. If exercise wasn’t a part of my life, I know that I would be in a very different place and not a good one.

Now, as a mum of 2 wonderful daughters I want to be at my best for them. Exercise keeps my head out of the shed and they see that it is something that I do. Something that I prioritise and make time for. I love taking them swimming and gyming and now B is trying her hand at tennis (thanks to the free LTA initiative) and is already better than me but, the main thing is they enjoy it and, I hope that in laying these foundations early they will foster a love of sport or, at the very least not fake period pains every PE class…

It is important for me that our girls grow up knowing that they have access to any job any sport, any hobby that they want to pursue. That there isn’t such a thing as a boy’s game and yet sadly, at the moment that simply isn’t the case. At the school sports day this week I was absolutely gobsmacked when the father’s race was longer by a good 10 metres than the mum’s race. WHAT?! Why?! Women run the same distance as men in athletics meets, the kids all ran the same distance in their races- what message does that send out? Mum’s can’t go as far? aren’t as fast? Aren’t as strong? I totally do not get it. I am going to pluck up the courage to be the pain in the ass parent that asks those questions…

and, on that note-

Today, whilst having a long over due hair cut I was reading “Eat Sweat Play by @Anna_Kessel . Initially I was photographing paragraphs that resonated with me but I pretty quickly realised that could amount to around 70% of the book. It is amazing and horrifying in equal measure. Nodding enthusiastically whilst getting a new do isn’t recommend and crying in a packed hair salon ain’t the best either but it is an brilliant and really important book which highlights how women are still marginalised in sport- ok to be the pit girls and the ones giving out the teddies at the Tour de France but not good enough for the big roles…. I would urge you to read it. It goes through a whole host of life experiences- pregnancy and being a mum are just two that can mean we as women drop sport and, once we’ve ‘thrown in the towel’ what will prompt us to pick it up again? Pressure about the way we look or a positive desire to feel fit and strong?

Wow- that turned into a bit of a rant- apologies for the ramble, there you have it- another blog post…perhaps I am getting my mojo back. šŸ˜Š

I would love to hear your experience of sport and exercise and any book recommendations are always welcome.

Lots of love,

Muma.

XxxX

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Love beats Hate.

It’s been a long time since I last felt the urge to log on and blog but today, today I felt that, in order for me to try and make some sense of the indefensible, in order to show my respects and to mark this god awful day I should write.

My darling, darling girls,

I hope that this morning you didn’t notice that the radio was on super softly so you couldn’t hear the words ‘murder’, ‘suicide bomber’, ‘terror attack’, ’22 confirmed dead, some of them children’.

I hope you didn’t spot how wet my eyes were and how reluctant I was to let you go when I dropped you off at school.

I am so grateful that you were so wrapped up in your Lego cards you didn’t pick up on me almost choking when I said that I will love you until the seas run dry.

I am relieved that there was the distraction of sunshine and ballet and playing outside at Grandma’s rendering TV redundant but, I am also so, so deeply sad that tonight and for every night to come there are other families that are not as lucky as us. Families that are broken, lives shattered. Parents that will never breathe in the scent of their children again. I can not get my head around that at all.

Terrorism isn’t something new, there have always been and, will always be some cruel and dangerous people in the world. Last night, terrorism came (again to Manchester) and, I am sad to say, I don’t think this is the last we will see of this in your life times.

I can not profess to know the motives of the man who detonated a bomb after a pop concert last night or the person who drove a car into a crowded street but, I do know their minds are not wired the same way as ours. Their minds work on the idea that they can frighten people into doing or being what they want us to be. By committing these horrible, vicious attacks they hope to frighten us into living half lives, into shuffling about avoiding other people’s eyes. Not smiling at the sunshine and stopping to smell the roses.

As a mummy, it is my job to protect you and care for you as best I can and, I have never, ever felt more grateful to be able to have the time to be around as much as I am to do that. As a mummy though, it is also my job to be honest with you and so, with a heavy heart I must tell you both this.

Daddy and I can not protect you against this. I want nothing more on this earth than to wrap you up in cotton wool, stop all the clocks and stay in doors together forever; kind of like Branch from Trolls in his underground bunker but, drinking your own sweat is existing, not living.

Living my loves is about experiencing all that this beautiful, painful, screwed up world has to offer. It is about love and friendship and music and reading and travelling and tasting and EVERYTHING.

To attempt to live life avoiding danger or avoiding risk is to miss the point entirely.

So, instead, I will lead by example. I intend to redouble my efforts to show you all the wonders that this glorious planet has to offer. I want to remind you that, generally, life IS good and that love will always win over hate.

When we are frightened, we aren’t alone, and, just like Ella’s mummy says- “We must simply have courage and be kind.”

It isn’t simple. It is sometimes hard, it is brave and it can be scary but without that, without love, kindness and courage, what have we got?

Love and compassion, conversation and compromise, friendship and community are the most important tools that we have for overcoming fear. Manchester is full of all of these qualities. Our country is full of all of these qualities. The world, the world my darling is full of these amazing qualities and eventually they will prevail.

Muma.

XxxX

 

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For my baby…now your no longer a baby. (Or Happy Birthday Bethan #5!)

IMG_20160726_215107

To my darling Girl.

This time 5 whole years ago I was laid up in Slough hospital bed feeling much as I do now. Tired, emotional and a little anxious about what the future held.

Over the last half decade I have had the honour and pleasure of being your Muma. I have been your first port of call for everything you’ve needed and it has been so very precious.

Daddy and I are so proud of the loving, clever, sensitive, gym loving, map reading, funny little artist you are becoming. You make me beam when I see you with your baby cousin or your sister.
Your concern for others is so gentle and genuine and it is a beautiful thing. Don’t ever lose that.
Your desire to become a doctor is growing by the day it seems and I love to read the body book with you and learn new things along side you.
I love your confidence with animals and your willingness to try new foods. You are sometimes so quiet and thoughtful seeming so nervous and unsure and then KAZAM- you hit me with something so grown up.

Today you loved your gym party and it was awesome to see you surrounded by your friends and family having a ball. You played and shared and enjoyed showing everyone what to do without being a show off; no mean feat!

Big school is looming large on the horizon and with that comes big changes for Leary Life.
I will miss our Fridays together with your sister. I will miss chatting together over lunch watching I can Cook and I will miss your quiet little ways around the house.

But- there is so much for you to look forward to. So many new friends to make and things to do and learn.
You are ready for school. You don’t need me to tell you what to do but, because I am your Muma it is sort of in the job description so here goes:
Do your best, be kind, be confident and most of all, BE YOU.
I’ll be here waiting to hear all about it!

You are perfect and you are loved more than words can say.

Always.

Muma.

XxxxxxxX

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The times they are a changing…

Hi, long time no see and all that- apologies for the radio silence but I’ve been pretty busy.

Anyway, here we are, September, my favourite month of the year by far…usually.
This time around however it seems to have both crept up on me and been hanging over my head for months.
A new school year, a new season, another birthday both for me and my big little- there is much to celebrate and look forward to but somehow, I just don’t feel quite ready.

The holidays have been jam packed with weekends away, fun times with friends and the usual blend of chaos and ‘high spirits’ (by which I mean totally ignoring my reasonable requests and doing whatever the hell they like) but somewhere inside me I’ve had a niggle…I’ve felt a bit discombobulated.

On Monday our baby girl, my angel, turns 5. Tomorrow she’s having a fantabulous cookies and milk gym party. Soon, she’ll be at school full time and our life together will never be quite the same again.
I’ll still have the brilliance that is my baby baby at home with me on a Friday but she too is beginning at pre-school and, if I’m to prevent them turning into ‘those weird kids’ I need to accept that I can no longer refer to them as babies (no matter how I think it helps explain away the new mum muffin top).

My heart is hurting. Big time. I want to bottle the smell of their hair, the sound of them sleeping and the warmth of their after sleep skin. I can’t. You can’t hold back time and frankly, you’re a fool for trying but seriously, who hasn’t.

So, rather than stay here wollowing in the bath (lovely image for you all there!) today I’m going to pull on my big girl knickers, sew on the name tags, sort out the school shoes and finish our packing because, before I have to face full on reality, we have a week in Greece to enjoy. No phones (well, not too much) no school and no one to stop me holding on to my babies for a tiny bit longer.

I hope you are holding on and letting go more successfully than me….send tips if you are!

Strength and Love

Muma. X

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The only way is Honest.

Sometimes, something gets me so wound up and riled that rather than just Ā taking some deep breaths and counting to ten I have got to get it out of my system. I have got to share my ranty thoughts with the nation. Apologies.

So…I might as well just launch into it…I’m talking about the story of Natasha Argent cheating in last week’s London Marathon.

Last Sunday, as thousands of people were celebrating their own personal victories having run the Virgin London Marathon, Natasha posted pictures of herself with her medal as if she were a part of that club. People congratulated her and she accepted their praise and compliments. How could she accept those words when she knew it was all a lie and how on earth did she expect to get away with it?

Natasha, James Argents sister from The Only Way is Essex, has now had her results removed from the VLM site and has apparently returned her medal. That must feel pretty bloody awful but hopefully a lesson learnt.

My husband has just asked me whether I’ve ever made a mistake. Clearly I have. Loads of times and I am sure I will continue to do so. He said it isn’t fair to chastise someone when none of us are perfect and I totally agree. I am not writing to be cruel. I am simply offering my take on the situation.

Times have changed. Today people can become famous instantly for no good reason. You can be an internet sensation on the cover of a million magazines without having a skill or any talent to your name. The public seem to crave ‘news’ about who’s fat, thin, gay, straight in, out and anything in between and there is a seemingly endless stream of Kardashian wannabes that are willing to feed this addiction. Don’t get me wrong, this Big Brother generation has also given rise to incredibly ambitious and talented individuals who have used the boom in social media to market their businesses and get to where they want to be but perhaps they are the exception rather than the norm?

 

In the good old days you had to really graft for stuff. Most ‘Famous People’ were famous FOR something, a skill or talent that they had practised over a long period.

There was no instant gratification.

And there’s the problem. Real life can be tough. Running a marathon is tough. It takes work, it takes dedication and above all, it takes TIME.

If you are used to getting things on demand, without putting in any work or time or real effort, that’s a foreign concept. Training for 16 weeks over the freezing winter months isn’t going to happen.

 

I honestly believe that Nataha (and Jade Goodie when she gave up part way through the marathon and joked beforehand about her lack of preparation) thought that you could turn up, have a jog and collect a medal. Job done. Well, thankfully, feats like running a marathon will never stop taking time, effort and dedication. That is why not everyone does them.

If I’m honest, I know myself that I should have put in more time. I should have got out of my comfort zone more with my training and diet. If I had given it my all, whatever my finish time, I would have been able to look myself in the eye afterwards and feel a genuine sense of pride. As it is, I’m pleased to say I have completed the London marathon 3 times and in doing so have raised over Ā£10,000 for charity (don’t even get me started on how let down the charity she was running for have been) but, Ā should I get a place in 2017 I want to do the event and myself justice.

I want to be able to say I did my best and really, truly mean it because, but, if I Ā don’t, at least I’ll only be cheating myself.

The only way is honest, with yourself and with the outside world too and I think that a lot of people would do well to remember that.

Have a lovely bank holiday!

Much Love,

Muma.

XxxX

 

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A body shaming babygro…ENOUGH!

Last night, when scrolling through Facebook pre bed (as you do) I saw something so screwed up and grotesque that I did a double take.

You might have seen it yourself by now, if not, check out the picture below.

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What the actual Fuck?! IĀ am sorry to swear but seriously, Seriously, WTAF.

What has happened within society to make putting this on a babygro even remotely acceptable? I DON’T GET IT.

As I said on my Facebook page, the worst thing is the number of people that that got past to physically be stocked in a shop.

1) The sad mind that has clearly heard or felt this way so many times they thought it was the norm

2) Their boss or whoever okay’s designs before they’re made up into a sample

3) A buyer for at least one store (I’m saying store because it was in America)

Did anyone stop and question what they were making? What message this would send out? Just to clarify quickly here, I’m talking about the thigh one…The one pretty clearly aimed at the female side of the market.

The owner of the Wry Baby brand that created the babygro in question has been quoted as saying that “they want to make the whole parenting journey as fun as is humanly possible”.

Well slap my thigh and call me Jessy, haven’t you just brightened my whole trek through motherhood by selling this absolute piece of crap.

Just for the record, that isn’t what I think of as fun.Ā I like a giggle- I can even retell my whole hideous birth story for comedic effect now.Ā I regularly make light of my non exisistant bladder contol, the fact that the bulk of my wardrobe is now from Tu at Sainsbury and all manner of crazy shit the kids get up to but (and call me crazy here) body shaming and being so blatantly gender stereotyping is sad, not funny.

 

It is sad because other kids will see that, they’ll ask what it says and then they’ll wonder what it means and who knows how deep that seed will be planted. I don’t want my gorgeous, sensitive, growing girls pondering who hates their thighs and whether they should too. It is hard enough to keep that rubbish out of my own head let alone theirs.

Being a girl, being a woman today is hard. It’s a damn sight easier than it was by all accounts but it’s still no walk in the park. So much gravitas is still placed on how you look as oposed to who you are, what you enjoy, what you’re interests are and what you stand for.

 

As I walked to the doctors the other day I absentmindedly looked down and thought woah, those legs could do with trimming down a bit- a thigh wobble ain’t a great look in a threadbare legging but actually, those very same legs ran a half marathon a few weeks back and they reguarly walk my girls to pre school as well as strutting their stuff down a catwalk last month if you please. And, they can still, on a good day and after a couple of shandys, get behind my head…Lucky old Mr L hey… (this is starting to sound a little weird- almost as if the legs do these little jobs independent of me- which they don’t!)

What I am saying is I am more than the sum of my parts. I am more than my thigh wobble. I am more than a pair of droopy boobs, described by our youngest recently as “very sad and empty” I am way, way more than an out of control pelvic floor.

I am an intelligent, loving, grafting mother who is raising her daughters to be all that and more and the mums that I know are doing the same with their girls AND BOYS. So I will carry on with my running and exercising- to keep my body and mind happy and healthy not narrow and thin which seems to be the way Wry Baby rolls.

Happily, through the day the number of people that have commented on this image makes me think that the pendulum might just be starting to swing the other way again with women appreciating their bodies for their strengths and treating themselves with more love and kindness. If we treat ourselves and talk to ourselves with the same compassion that we do to our children that can only be a good thing- for them and for us.

Night night all.

Sweet Dreams.

 

XxxX

 

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How to Run a Marathon (when you think you can’t run a bath).

Ironically I am writing this post from my sofa, with a delicious G&T (and an equally delicious husband) for company however, since the clocks sprang forward last week my social media feeds have been rammed with talk of lighter evenings, perfect for getting out and today it has been all about final long runs, tapering, ice bathsĀ and Paris…For runners, the arrival of April means MARATHON SEASON and I challenge any one of you to watch the coverage of the Marathon inĀ 3 weeks time and not:

  1. Cry your head off
  2. Want to sign up

Though I would never be so bold as to call myself a ‘serious runner’, I suppose I have a bit of experience having run the London Marathon 3 times. It is the only marathon I’ve ever run however but I do plan on ticking off some others before I hang up my trainers.

Here’s my take on making sure you get the best out of your marathon experience where ever and when ever that may be. Who knows, you might even feel inspired to sign up yourself…

OK- First things first, lets get the disclaimers out of the way- I am not a medical expert, in fact, I wouldn’t say I’m an expert in anything so take this advice in the spirit in which it is intended and, if you’re not sure about anything health related, check with an actual expert- not Google.

Right, now the ugly legal side of things is out of the way, here’s my marathon brain dump on…running a marathon.

  1. You can almost certainly run a marathon.

Even if you are reading this having not seen your toes since 1996, I reckon, with the right preparation you would be able to complete a marathon. I’m not saying it would be fast, I’m not even saying it would be in the next year or 2 but getting fit (or fitter) can be done with planning, perseverance and determination.

One of my favourite quotes is

the body achieves

So, if you want to complete a marathon you just need to tell your body you can (and then check with an expert, get fitted for a sports bra and a pair of trainersĀ and perhaps download the Couch to 5km app as a starting point.

 

2) Run for a cause

A cause needn’t be a charity- maybe the cause is yourself but whatever your reason, it needs to be a compelling one because sometimes, getting motivated to go out for a run is tough. You will need motivation to keep you going.

Point to note- If you’re applying for one of the ‘big’ marathons via theirĀ ballot and don’t get a place be wary of accepting a charity place for a cause you don’t truly care about. The first marathon I ran was for The British Heart Foundation. I lost my daddy unexpectedly to a heart attack when I was a little girl and I wanted to raise money and honour his memory. It worked. I raised over Ā£4,000 but these days fund raisingĀ can be reallyĀ hard. Every man and his dog is climbing mountains, giving up alcohol or bathing in beans for charity these days and if you aren’t genuinely passionate about what you are raising money for it will be harder. There are so, so many excellent charities out there and they are all worthy so have a good look and do your research. Equally, there are loads of brilliantly organised marathons that do have spaces so, if it’s more about the distance and proving yourself to yourself then they might be better options. Check what your options are here, I think Chester (2nd October) is excellent.

 

3) Find a community

Whether this is a group of mates, a local running club, your gym or an online community find others with a common passion and goal. They will be your cheer leaders, your support network and the ones you share PB’s with, injuries, fears and feelings in a way that non runners just won’t get. If there is a Park Run local to you GET. ON . IT. They are an excellent way to boost confidence, speed and meet people.

 

4) Take it as seriously as you want

When one of my best friends ran the marathon he stopped drinking on New Years Day, treated his training like a second job and got injured with 2 weeks to go falling off a curb. I on the other hand took it a little more with a pinch of salt- I trained a fair bit but no where near as much as the training plans recommend, didn’t really amend my diet and got round in a little over 5 hours. Looking back I don’t think either method was ideal. I am disappointed I didn’t put more in but I still had an absolutely incredible experience and raised a whole load of money for an incredible charity.

 

5) Prepare for an emotional Rollercoaster

I applied through the ballot for a place in this years VLM and was gutted when I didn’t get a spot. I applied through a couple of charities that are very close to my heart but didn’t get in with them either. I was shocked by how disappointed I was and I know I’ll be feeling it all over again when I watch the coverage on 24th April and hear the amazing opening score.

Those that did get a place however will have had months of

‘YES- I am nailing this’

to

‘What was I thinking- I can’t run a marathon, I can barely run a bath’

and every single emotion in between…often all experienced in the time it takes to do your long training run on a Sunday morning! These feelings (in my experience) are easily dealt with with a hot bath, a good cry, a glass of red, bar of chocolateĀ and aĀ bag of chips but that may have been my downfall!! Some days everything will go like a dream, you will feel as if you are running on air and could go on forever, other days it is like pushing water uphill with a rake and I for one have never been able to work out WHY.

The marathon week is something else all together- you’re stressing about a last minute injury, carb loading, getting enough rest but not over sleeping and missing the start. The weather, the water stations, the toilets and everything else in between and then, when you see the crowds, hear them shouting your name and willing you on, when you read peoples reasons for running and make your way around the course it is quite simply anĀ incredible and very humbling experience- I am getting emotional thinking about it now. At some point you’ll find yourself crossing the line, collecting your medal and wondering how on earth you got there. It is an amazing, amazing experience and one that I am so so pleased I took on.

So, there you have it- my take on marathon running. In short, it can be summed up as follows:

whether-you-think-you-can-or-think-you-cant-youre-right

and I am telling you now, this girl can AND WILL again (andĀ hopefullyĀ in under 4.30).

Go on; Just do it, GOOD LUCK.

With love,

Muma.

XxxX

love-your-body-and-be-healthy

 

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