Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Challenge - Complete 1 Step Class!!

Monday 16th April 2012.

Jane Sturdy (Sturdster) had been challenged by one of her Mums, to complete one of her step classes in Burstwick.  Just to clarify that our lovely Sturdster is the local midwife,  and lovingly calls all her 'patients', her Mums.  Whilst trying to obtain sponsors for our upcoming Moonwalk, Lynda, who runs the Step class, told Jane that she would donate £25 if she completed one of her classes.   Then Lynda's husband said that he would match the donation.  So with a potential £50 at stake,  Jane rallied around the rest of the Follies to see who was up for it.  Lynda had also wavered the class fee of £4 per person but we agreed we should all put our fee into the sponsor pot. So the challenge was now worth a fantastic £70!!!! 

The date was set for Monday 16th April 2012, 7pm at Burstwick Village Hall.  Unfortunately some of the Follies already had other commitments but Sturdster, Benno, Tina and myself were up for it, along with our wonderful Fringe Follie, Christine (Bennos Mum).  I have to say I was very excited as I had done Step before....about 24 years ago!! I loved it then, but knew it would be hard, oh gawd and would the knee hold up?????

We arrived at Burstwick Village Hall, dressed in our matching training gear.... we looked so good.  Lynda was there with a smile and a lovely welcome which was almost ignored by our eagerness to secure steps at the back of the hall!!!   The hall was full, it's obviously a very popular class.  

Smile... :0) x

The other ladies were inquisitive as to who we were, and what we were doing.  Some even said that they had read about us in the local paper - fame at last!.

The steps were all set out for us on the lowest height as we were beginners.  Apart from me, I don't believe the others had done step before,  and I was a tad nervous and very rusty, so gawd help us all. 

Lynda gave us some basic tips.....make sure you put your full foot on the step and keep your head up but also try and keep a slight eye on where your step is. Forget about the arm movements until you were OK with the footwork.  Blimey this was going to be fun.  Fortunately Lynda was starting a new routine for the class and had kept it a little easier due to our lack of experience.    Prior to the class starting,  Lynda explained to her regular ladies, who we were and why we were there.  She also said that she and her husband had challenged Sturdster, as she was the only one of us she knew....  So basically we could have just watched from the sidelines.  No we wouldn't leave Sturdster to face this alone....would we!?!?

The music starts, the challenge begins - first we needed to warm up.   It soon became apparent that despite us being adults, we actually didn't know our left from our right, or manage to step onto the bloody step correctly... (well some of us anyway).   I had to really concentrate but soon got back into the rhythm of it...sort of...maybe...a little bit.  A couple of comments from the Follies at the back.. "that's never just the warm up"; "I'm knackered already"; "We done now, can I go home?".... afraid not girls there is £70 to earn...Go Follies!

Warm up complete and we're already very sweaty and panting.....this can't be a good sign.  Between us, I think we had more trips and going wrong than the rest of the class put together.  At least we were at the back, out of sight.

So, onwards and upwards...  new routine to learn.  Lynda went through it step by step very slowly, but sorry to say,  not really slow enough.  The giggling started as we started the new routine.... step left, tap, no right, then left...OMG!  Christine was on the step next to mine,  with Benno, Tina and Sturdster on the row behind.

Really trying to keep in time and ultimately to go the correct way,  we at last got into the groove along with  lots of puffing and panting, a few OMGs, giggling and the odd swear word.

Steady there Sturdster!

By this time,   I have to say I was beginning to get with it a bit more....names of steps and directions were coming back to me.....oh but I had to concentrate.  Another water break and we were looking even sweatier, hotter and turning lovely shades of red blotch and paleness.

V-step, step tap, rocking horse, around the world ....yep started to just about remember them.  Feeling very warm at this point,  I was lucky that Tina behind me,  was kind enough to give me a shower by throwing water from her water bottle all over me.  Howls of laughter from Benno erupted with 1000 apologies form Tina.."I'm so sorry Jayne,  I didn't mean water bottle is broken".  Just remember Tina,  revenge is sweet and now mine!!!  Mwhahahahahaha!

Another water break!  Then back to it.  At this point I noticed that Christine had moved to the step behind...Did I smell that bad?????  The clock seemed to be on a go-slow.  Sturdster was still doing her best to get her left and rights correct,  Tina had given up for a tad and decided to take some photos,  with Benno, Christine and I doing our best.     So,  the next routine involved step, squat x4 then knee lift,  then 3x squat then leg lifts oh gawd what came next????? No time to work it out,  back to the beginning; step, squat x4.......

Go Benno and Christine...

Sturdster decided to let anyone who would listen know that she had never done step before.  This was important I feel, as I really think she hid it well and it wasn't at all obvious...hahaha...

More combinations of ridiculous steps and we were almost done.....or so we thought.   Lynda shouted to put the steps away and grab a mat... oh no abs and stuff!!  Taking our steps away,  other ladies were very encouraging and telling us all how fantastic we had done.  I think we were certainly entertaining,  even from the back of the hall!  We were certainly the most blotchy and panting ladies in the room!

So abs work.  Sit ups....3 up, 3 down, 3 up, 3 down...again and again....then 2 up, 2 down, 2 least there was no left or rights hahahah.  Then pulses...with tummies shouting and hurting so much, we completed the workout....or so we thought.

Then... that classic moment we get at every outing, came along (you know, the one where a Follie does or says something which has the rest of us in stitches)....Lynda announces The exercise Benno dreads so much....The Plank!  Her face was a picture, so funny, I had to quickly look away from her as I knew my tummy muscles and bladder muscles were so tired they would not hold if I cracked up with laughter!!!  She hates them!!  So Lynda says don't worry we're only doing them for a minute!  WHAT,  a whole minute....the pain...don't look Bennos'way!!!! Hahahah oh gawd, cross the legs Beckster!!!

After Benno calmed down and I had compose myself, off we go.  Sturdster, Tina and Christine hadn't done these before but tried so hard.  Sturdsters back really didn't like them at all,  but good on her she did her best.  I dare not face Benno,  so wasn't sure how she, her mum or Tina were doing,  but I reckon they too pushed it to their limit.  I tried my hardest but had to come down twice, finishing with a 25 second plank...Arms shaking, legs throbbing, backs sweating like a b***er, we all collapse onto the mats.  Next up - stretching.   Now this would be lovely.....well it certainly stretched us out,  not sure how far on the lovely scale it actually went.

Class done... we'd made it...yeehaaaaa!!!!   From my point of view I was hooked all over again,  a hard but fantastic workout....I am going back! Hoping that some more Follies will join me...:0) x

Lynda congratulated us and said how well we had done.   A fantastic class that I would recommend to everyone!

Thank you Sturdster for letting us join you on this challenge.  Thank you Lynda for challenging Sturdster and certainly putting us through our paces....thank you to the other ladies in the class for putting up with us... and a huge thank you to Lynda and her husband for the sponsor!  £70 in the bag...big smiles.  Go Follies...:0) x

Saturday, 14 April 2012

My first blog - ever!

Well it's only 4 weeks and 1 day until the London Moonwalk!

Excited, erm well you could say that! More surprisingly is the fact that everything is done and ready, bras made, packs received, transport booked, hotel booked . . . . all that's left for us to do now is get on with some more training and pack our bags!!!

Training has been going well, with the consensus that we are ahead of where we should be at this point.
And on that note I feel I must tell you about our last 20mile training walk. We've read the official blog from the fabulous Ellie Birch, now here is my take on it . . .

Saturday 31st March 2012 - 5.30am alarm and I drag myself out of bed. Cold, damp and dark outside, do I really want to do this today? Then I hear those blasted voices in my head, Birchy 1 & 2 plus Benno. So despite my knee being swollen and in pain, plus my stomach churning and cramping I get myself ready, really not feeling 100%. Jane Sturdy arrives at my gate, always smiling and chipper (was it wrong that I wanted to punch her at that precise moment!!) Only kidding Sturdster, love ya really. Collect Benno enroute to the Birchies and we are off to Katy's. It's still cold, damp, dark and we are past the point of no return. It's only the 6 Follies walking today but onwards and upwards.

Ray and I have a passing conversation about the weather; if it's going to rain or not . . . He says not, I say it is -  ever the optimist that's me :0)  Arrive at our starting point, where the lovely Katy was waiting for us. Katy being another one of those smiley, happy morning people!! After synchronising both Ellie's and Ray GPS thingies (well we don't want there to be any difference in distance at the end with Ray making us walk around the garden do we - it could lead to blood being spilled!!), and we're off - it's now 6.30 am.

Dressed in our new training gear we all looked fantastic! 1 mile in and Benno and I have already dropped back a tad (we have the shortest legs - do not comment Ellie!!). Benno feeling ill and coughing and my knee throbbing, it was going to be a very long day. Katy, Ray, Ellie and Jane were upfront, setting their usual pace and looking back with those telling looks. We know we are going to get a kick up the bum sometime very soon. Ray checking his GPS to see what pace we are doing . . . oops!

 The next mile was very tough for me and but for the gang, I think I would have dropped out . . . Not like me at all! Anyway, the sun started to shine and my mood brightened up (In my defence I had prewarned the Follies of my bad mood prior to setting off). Heading out of Hessle towards Anlaby, our first toilet stop was imminent. Our main concern at this point was; Could Benno use Jeanette and Mels loo without spitting drink all over their freshly hung wallpaper . . .  Yes there is history here hahahaha. Jeanette and Mel were their normal happy, supportive and welcoming selves, if not a tad apprehensive of Benno using their loo. We took this opportunity for a photo shoot.

Training gear looking good guys.  Off we go again. Knee starting to feel a tad better now, warmed up and a few stretches in. Chatting and laughing we head off on our next leg, towards Hull. It's amazing what you see whilst walking, things which just fly past you when you are driving. Thankfully the huge M&S Food Hall was closed but who knew it was even there!!! With Hull ahead of us, Ray, ever the gentleman, was doing his rounds, making sure we were all ok. I think he actually walks about 2 miles more than the rest of us, with his tooing and froing,  Bless him. Then the giant chocolate buttons make an appearance - always a happy time! Ooooo and Ellie has orange chocolate Aero bubbles . . . Fantastic! Even Benno had sweets. Yeay!!!

Along the route a gentleman stopped us and asked what we were doing. See, wear proper matching training gear and we get noticed. After congratulating us and wishing us well we get on our way. Getting to almost halfway now but it's funny how those last couple of miles before halfway seem to go on for ever!

 Stop for a stretch and sort out the malfunction of the Sturdsters trainers, I'm starting to feel more like my normal self, with a song or a tune about to emerge. Oh how they will wish I was still a quiet moody bugger!  Katy does the rounds this time, making sure we are all fine and dandy - It's so great to walk with such fab people!

 Oh dear . . . rain! Never mind onwards we must go. By this time, we are being passed by inviting buses. Benno and I always have a joke about jumping on one and laugh - It's really not that funny now, but it still makes us laugh. What does that say about us? The leading pack look back at us laughing and start to worry and this makes us laugh even more. The next few miles, whilst tough, go fairly quickly. We are now in familiar waters and recognise where we are. A car horn toots and we all try and claim the gesture but accept it was probably for Ray, after all he does have the cutest tooshy of us all. Sun shining again and feet, knees, legs, coughing and all other complaints seem to be holding up . . . We are about 12 miles in now.

Along the next road we are joined by a Bobby on the beat, who is interested in what we are doing, how far we have walked and why we are walking. Wishing us well for the day and the Moonwalk, she has to turn off our route as she had a date with a cup of tea . . .  Buggar! Not far now until our next toilet stop! Grandad Ken's. The wonderful Ken opens his door to us and allows us the use of his facilities . . . He always does this, despite only actually knowing Ellie and Ray.  Such a lovely man.

At this point I realise, whilst sitting on the loo, that my knee is actually very swollen and rather painful. Combination of stopping and sitting obviously wasn't good for my mentality either as I'm actually thinking that if I keep quiet the others may forget about me and leave me . . . Ummm no such luck. Off we go again, pounding them there pavements, each of us trying to say the right things to keep us all going but not really getting the nice response hoped for.

It's at this point that the language starts to deteriorate . . . a lot! Katy is the first to notice this - It must be the reporter in her. Holderness High Road ahead . We can now visualise what's left to go. Smiles appear and a little more of a skip in our step . . . Then the Birch speaks!!! "GPS says if we aren't at 16.5 miles by the end of the road we have to go the long way round" . . .  Ppfffttttt! Benno and I look at each other and start grumping, which makes us laugh but the others seem fine with it. I think they dare not cross the Birchster. Haha. Love you Ellie xx.

We can now see the end of Holderness High Road.  Oh gawd what's those GPS's going to say . . . fingers crossed and praying we wait to hear the news - 15.5 miles OMG!!! Ellie and Ray 'discuss' what we should do while the rest of us keep quiet.  We know when to leave well alone . . . Long way round then! Heads drop a tad as we are reaching the black period of our walk.

From previous walks we know that we all dip at different times over the next 5 or so mile distance.  Ellie's fab new walking shoes start to rub a tad but more worringly her thigh, which she tore a muscle in the week before, was starting to really hurt. A few more pain killers down her neck and away we go. What a star!
Hitting a 'dig deep' moment, Jane Sturdy says that she knows a slight detour we should take so that we are not walking on the busy main road - the old Ganstead Road. Due to fatigue, we thought she said short cut so off the planned route we go. Ellie, Annmarie and I make a pact at this point. From here on in, whatever is said and whatever language is used, no-one is to take offence!!! I then announce that I need to find myself some new ****** friends.  Oh how we laughed but I wasn't joking, was I? Ray spotted a bungalow he thinks they (Birchs') should move to -  Oy Ray we are training not bloody house hunting!!! Ellie replied with some expletives and Ray rolled his eyes and continued along his way, checking the pace on his GPS again. Then as always, that classic moment arrives. The moment when one of us says or does something which has the rest of us all falling about laughing and almost (although I think some actually do - Hornsea walk 1st Oct 2011) wet themselves. Ellie says -  "where does this road brings us out? Please tell me it's not at the traffic lights about 100 yards from where we turned off".  Benno replies, venomously, "it better not do, if it does I'm getting a ******* Taxi!!!"  With legs crossed and tears falling down our faces from laughing we try to compose ourselves with the Sturdster protesting " In my defence, I did say that this wasn't a shortcut guys but as usual you didn't listen to me!!! Nearing the end of the "shortcut", still laughing uncontrollably, realisation dawns and yes we have walked about 400yards and made about 100yards progress . . . Just what we wanted - more howls of laughter. Then to top it off, we still had to walk along the busy main road. Benno was not happy! Such a classic moment . . . We never fail to have one on our walks.

Jane needed to run at this point as Benno was on a mission . . . It was so funny, but I think you had to be there to appreciate it. Poor Jane got it in the neck all the way back. Jane still maintains that she didn't actually say it was a short cut. Still laughing and crying we get to the corner of Thirtleby Lane. The end is nigh - just 3 more short miles to go. At this point the delirium certainly has set it. Most of us were not making much sense, laughing at anything and everything. The conversation still going back to our "shortcut". Oh dear Jane you are never going to live this one down!!!

Time for the Frys chocolate creams - Oh how we needed them. Katy was starting to feel it in the back of one of her knees, but with all these niggles and things somehow we all kept each other going - It's just the Follie way. Our pace had slowed a little now, but our spirits were good - crazy but good. Our next milestone, Basil the bush, could be seen in the distance.

Yes Basil really is just a bush that we have adopted and woe betide any Follie passing him without the now obligatory pleasantries. As we pass we each greet Basil; Hello Basil, Hi Basil how are you doing? then look at each other . . . Yes we are bonkers! Onwards to the end. Every step I take now hurts, new trainers required for me I think. Every boulder, pebble, blade of grass can now be felt by my poor feet through the soles. Having said that my Adidas trainers certainly don't owe me anything at all.

The last mile or so saw us laugh, almost cry, go quiet - and it seemed to take an age. Nearing our village we hobbled home. At the 20 mile mark we all cheered and whoop whooped, then realised that we still had a little bit more to do to get home. I say home, we were all due back at the Birchies for wonderful homemade soup and sandwiches. They really do look after us.

Finished at last! 20.6 miles in the bag, the extra bit thanks mainly to Janes shortcut... :0). Soup and sandwiches inhaled, language and pleasantries restored, we disected the walk and decided that we had all done a fab job.With all the aches and pains, injuries and sickness, we completed in an amazing 7 hours and 10 minutes (Ray will give you the seconds too if you ask him). The conversation then turns to Katy, the youngest of our group, who was going out that evening, dancing and drinking. Oh we all remember the days we had the stamina to do that.... Go girl!!

I'm always just as elated after our longer training walks and the fact that I can actually complete them (although this wasn't my best due to my knee), as I am with our shorter, faster ones. This time last year, I hadn't even thought about the Moonwalk, training or anything, let alone start to walk.

 And look at me now . . . Part of the best group of people ever, getting fit, laughing, crying and making a difference!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

It's our longest one yet!

With the Moonwalk just over 5 weeks away and the lighter nights here once again, we are back to training hard. Some of the Follies have just completed our longest walk yet - 20.6 miles were covered on Saturday and I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am of everybody.

I remember vividly when I set out on my journey how the training, eating well and living a 'healthier' life became a drug that some days I couldn't do without!

So how is everyone else doing? 

Annmarie may not be doing as much training as she'd like but she still has a PT once a week and gets some other form of training on at least two other occasions during the week.  She sometimes forgets that her journey started less than 8 months ago when she never did ANY exercise.  We even go out regularly now and do interval training in preparation for Hull 10K and GNR  (more about them later!)
She has suffered the most horrendous blisters whilst walking yet she carries on regardless, smiling and laughing until the finish and to me she is the epitome of a survivor and finisher. Credit where credit is due - she is a lady who is an inspiration to everyone who crosses her path!  She completed our walk on Saturday as one of the strongest and certainly helped to get me over the finish line.

Katy . . . .
I know we all work hard but all you have to do is ring the office and you can almost guarantee that Katy is still there working hard.  She never says no to anyone (a word that sometimes she really needs to learn!) and is always reliable and the best team player you could wish for.  Mine & Katy's  training regimes are very similar and it's a pleasure  to go in the gym or out for a run with her.  We seem to push each other along and work hard,  far surpassing what we think is our best.  Katy's knee was troubling her on Saturday but still she plodded on as one of the pace setters yet dropped back when she saw fit to encourage and  help us all through.

Jane Sturdy (or Sturdster as she is now affectionately known) was up in her usual pace setting mode with Katy on Saturday.  We often talk about the very first (fateful?) day when Jane and I went out for our walk. I mistakenly thought that because she had a dog (Willow), she was used to walking  . . . . (WHOOPS) how wrong was I!  6.5 miles later both her and Willow where absolutely shattered but she very quickly got the bug and certainly proved on Saturday that she can now literally walk for hours with relatively little effort.  Jane has probably surprised me more than any of the Follies because of the way she pushes her boundaries and  sets herself new challenges that I don't think even she expects to meet!  She has a very busy job as a community midwife yet always manages to fit in our walks between her work, her clients having babies at silly o'clock and her home life with Rachel.  How she does this is beyond me but she never misses a walk or a meeting  - she is so committed to changing her life and seems to thrive on it.

Jayne (Becks) is just a machine! Whatever you throw at her she will do.  Again we go out regularly doing what we now call GNR training and whether she is on full form, half full or even if she is running on empty she will drag herself out and do what has to be done.  Weighing less than she has done in years, Jayne can now count the inches she has lost as well - and I'm not talking about her height!! Hahaha!
Saturday was a tough tough day for her and she was ready to pull out after 2 miles but again true to form she soldiered on and completed the longest walk she has done.  Jayne astounds me how she fits everything in, with work, home, home accounts, school governor, school, PTA and the Follies. I wonder where she finds the time to sleep never mind train!

I have always said that Ray and I are 2 halves of one-being and fit together like a glove but I think it goes further than that when we are out training or walking.  Ray seems to be the pin that holds the Follies together.  We joke that he is everyone's surrogate husband and I think he really is when we are out.  We all seem to circle around changing 'company' on these walks but Ray seems to do the most circling and the talking.  I sometimes wonder if he tells us all the same thing or if the conversation changes per person?!  He puts everything he has into the Follies and that little bit more, God I love that man.

Me, well I have to admit I struggled on Saturday.  I've had a muscle strain in my thigh that has been giving me jip and although I knew I wouldn't damage it on the walk it had a dull ache that didn't seem to want to go away and leave me alone.  Along with that and the extremely dry skin on my feet that has been cracking and bleeding for the past week (no matter how much moisturiser I used) I was in pretty bad form.  Everyone carried me through on Saturday and I can't thank  them enough.

I think that with the laughing, talking and singing that we all did, we carried each other along through our bad times and it also aided to helping us float through the good times.

Saturday was obviously our biggest tester yet with the Moonwalk only 40 days away.  What I was pleased with more than anything was that at the finish, we all said we still had another 6 miles left in us and that was with Jane and me not on top form.  After speaking to everyone the next day, we all felt fantastic with very few aches and pains (if any).  It's proved that all the training we have done to date has paid off and the short fast walks we still have planned from now to the Moonwalk will simply add to our fitness and speed on the night and of course, help our recovery even more. . . . . .  Just think we may even end up going out "in heels" to celebrate - but not Ray of course!? heehee