A Wee Purple Patch!

This is what 100kg looks like

It’s just been one of those weeks, the kind where the stars are all in the right place ๐Ÿ™‚ .

Last night I went to CrossFit in a buoyant mood, the buzz of the recent 5K race still in my body. I was looking forward to the session because it included deadlifts.ย  This lift is one of the three that’ll be included in my powerlifting adventure in July and my training schedule has just upped a notch. (To be honest, when I looked at the new schedule I was nearly sick! Fortunately, the algorithm on the training spreadsheet hadn’t been tweaked to my personal settings. Once I had tweaked it, I didn’t feel soooooo sick, but the numbers still looked challenging!)

During last night’s session I had to lift 100kg (15 3/4 stone) – that’s just shy of twice my own body weight! I’ve never lifted 100kg before, but last night I did it and established a new 1RM (one rep max). Unfortunately, I don’t have a video or picture of me doing it, but I can tell you that as soon as that rep was done I was shouting ‘one hundred!’ and leaping around (and ringing the bell, which is what happens when you establish a new personal record).

If you don’t know what a deadlift is, here’s how it’s done:

This morning I was back in ‘the box’ practising split jerks. The focus was on working out which our lead leg was by experimenting with both legs (mine turned out to be my left). We also worked on dropping lower below the bar and on speed. You can see from the video below that I could probably drop a bit lower! Videoing practice sessions can help see where tweaks can be made:

Right, I think I’ve earned a wee rest. I am just going outside and may be some time. (ย (By the way, if youโ€™re new to my blog, you can find more out about my #OldDogNewTricks projectย here.)

JT ๐Ÿ™‚

Back in the (Human) Race

At the Purple Ladies 5K on 24 April 2019

I’m about 6 weeks away from my first track meet (for my 400m/800m sprinting adventures) and training is going well: I’m injury-free and still enjoying it – and I’ve no problems motivating myself to get out of the door and onto the road.

To spice up my training, I decided to enter a local 5K race. I’ve never raced at this distance before (the shortest I’ve raced is 10K – and the last time I raced at that distance was 1995 in Coventry). One of my current weekly runs is a speed-endurance session and I thought I’d hop along to this local 5K event and run a pacey 2K and jog the rest (which is all I needed to do to keep on track with my schedule).

Just before starting the Mourne Way Ultra in 2010

The last time I raced was in 2010: the Mourne Way Ultra in County Down, Northern Ireland. After that I went rogue and did all of my running on my own (or, when I was working towards a very tight writing deadline, not at all!). Turning up at the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre in Ballymoney to pick up my race number for the Purple Ladies 5Kย  this Wednesday evening was a bit of a shock to the system after such a long time ‘off the circuit’.

The registration hall was a sea of club colours and I felt a bit intimidated and out of place. My nerves were calmed by the brilliant organisation of the host running club (Springwell). All competitors were given a very warm welcome and a lovely pep talk at the start line.

The man with the starter gun encouraged those aiming for a 20-minute finish time to move to the front. I thought I’d shadow the front runners as best I could for the first 2K and then ease off the pedal. I didn’t think I had a hope in hell of keeping up, but I knew that even if I could only see those front runners as specks on the horizon, just having them in my sights would keep me pushing on.

I don’t run with a wrist watch (I’m allergic to most straps and buckles), so I usually carry a stopwatch. Unfortunately, I’d left my stopwatch in the car, so I’d just have to rely on the faster runners to keep me going at a demanding pace for 2K and not worry too much about the time.

I stood back and let a layer of runners move up to the start line. The gun went and we were off! I’d warmed up really well and couldn’t believe how much I was enjoying the pace. During the first kilometre I was actually worried that something was terribly wrong. I kept asking myself ‘Why aren’t they running faster?’ and ‘Why isn’t anyone overtaking me?’ and ‘Was there actually a false start?’

After the first kilometre I thought I’d try having a wee chat with the runners next to me. (Having BIG chats is the norm in marathons and ultras, by the way.) The chatting didn’t work (as in, no one seemed that keen to chat back) so, in the end, I settled into (relatively) quiet running. (Okay. Okay. I did randomly chat every now and again. I’m a chatter, okay ? ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s what I do: chat.)

Shelagh (in the top picture) and I ran together for about the first 3K. In the absence of chatting, I focused on the rhythm of my own breathing – and I realised that Shelagh and I were breathing synchronously. In the moment of recognising how our breathing was harmonised, I felt a lovely connection with my fellow runner. The synchronous breathing was the equivalent of chatting. We were telling each other how hard we were working, how we were doing, that we were ‘fully in the game’, that we were in this together. And in that moment I suddenly felt ‘back in the race’.

I’d say I’ve been ‘out of the race’ for the last couple of years. The human race, that is. As a writer, it’s easy to feel ‘cut off’. It’s easy to move into a different world and stay there until the job is done. It’s easy to get so used to being by yourself, that being with others feels odd. Running this 5K race, alongside Shelagh, I suddenly felt part of things again. Part of something bigger. Part of something more joyful. Part of something wildly alive.

Unfortunately, Shelagh dropped behind a little. I decided to push on and get the job done (with a sprinkling of light chat ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). I missed the 2K sign and just kept at a comfortable pace, crossing the finish line without knowing how long the 5K had taken. Shelagh came in just behind me and reckoned we’d done it in 22-something, which I was quite pleased with.

While there was very little in the way of in-race chatting, there was plenty of post-race chatting. It was lovely to talk to other runners and share congratulations. It was lovely to clap other runners across the line. I was really enjoying the whole experience! (I now realise the absence of chatting was due to the hard work being done!)

I decided to stay for the refreshments (the spread was AMAZING) and prize giving (something I’d usually avoid in my running past). I was enjoying the feeling of connection and of community – and I really wanted to stay and clap the prize winners too.

You can imagine my surprise when my name was called out as the second lady finisher in the 50+ category! I’d actually managed to clock a time of 22:26 – I was delighted ๐Ÿ™‚ . And I’d managed to finish 17th in a field of 258 runners ๐Ÿ™‚ .

I’ll tell you something for free: that old dog was wagging her tail rightly ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

I’m sure something changed for me as I crossed that finish line on Wednesday. I’m not exactly sure what it is yet. I feel more open to connecting with other people, that’s for sure. I feel there is less of a gap between me and the outside world. I feel closer to the surface of myself, while still being deeply rooted somewhere inside. And there’s something else … an urge to reach out, I think (I even thought about joining the local running club … and I haven’t been a club runner for about 15 years!). Something big is on the move, anyway. I’ll let you know what it is when it shows itself ๐Ÿ™‚ .

In the meantime, I’m just going outside and may be some time. (By the way, if youโ€™re new to my blog, you can find more out about my #OldDogNewTricks projectย here.)

JT ๐Ÿ™‚

Rhythm is a Dancer!

I’m really excited to announce that I’ll be doing a fifth adventure this year! This autumn I’ll be learning to dance the tango with my non-dancing husband, coached by the brilliant Paula and Peter McAuley of Tango Northern Ireland.

I’ve always been a very enthusiastic dancer and had at one time (when I was 6) wanted to be a ballerina. I went along to ballet lessons but soon decided the gig was not for me. Here’s what stopped my dancing career in its tracks: we’d been doing this brilliant thing with skipping ropes (straight-forward-no-frills-actual-skipping), which I could actually do (unlike all the other things we were asked to do in the class), when the teacher announced that our ropes were tired and needed a rest. I looked at the other kids, my palms raised skywards and my head shaking in disbelief (well, I might not have actually done this bit). I knew there was no way that rope was an animate object, and ,therefore, there was no way it needed a rest. I then made the fatal error of pointing out the rope was not actually alive. That, dear reader, was the end of my dancing career ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

In my early 30s the urge to dance re-emerged when I trained to be a fitness instructor.ย  Every Monday evening, after I’d run a hardcore circuit class (think Superstars), I’d channel my inner Christina Aguilera and segway into a (relatively clean) dirty dancing class. The classes were surprisingly popular, in spite of the very cheesy choreography, and everyone completely ‘went for it’.

I miss those classes and I miss the joy and freedom of dancing. When I was thinking about my #OldDogNewTricks adventures for 2019 tango came straight to mind (I’ve always wanted to have a go at it), but it took me until now to find a teacher! Big thanks to Sarah Jane Abbot (Johnston), choreographer for The Faerie Thorn stage production, who put me in contact with Peter McAuley ๐Ÿ™‚ .

I’m completely thrilled to have found Paula and Peter. They’re going to help us develop choreography that works for both me (I’m definitely into all the leaping about ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and for my husband (who, at this stage, would prefer to just stand still and look very moody, which is a skill he has honed over the years ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). We’ll be travelling down to Belfast in the autumn to join as many of the Friday night classes as we can, and we’ll have some intensive 1-1 sessions too. I think we should be ready for a final performance by the end of November/beginning of December.

To help me get into the dance mood, I’m going to undertake a mini dance adventure on 19 May. I’ve booked myself onto a ‘rock goddess burlesque’ dance workshop at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast with Soup DuJour,ย  one of the top performers in Ireland and a well respected producer throughout Europe.

Here’s Soup DuJour doing her thing ๐Ÿ™‚

Right. I suppose I’d better go and limber up then ๐Ÿ˜‰ . (Oh, and if you’re new to my blog, you can find more out about my #OldDogNewTricks project here.)

I am just going outside and may be some time.

JT ๐Ÿ™‚

Making the Connection

Before I started this project, all my best ‘big thoughts’ and light bulb moments arrived during my long Sunday runs. I think it was something to do with the repetitive, rhythmic and ‘mindless’ nature of the beast. The right hypnotic conditions were present for my unconscious mind to talk to me direct, mano a mano.

Since the long Sunday runs no longer exist, my unconscious mind has been finding new ways to get its foot in the door. My dreams are changing: there are new dreamscapes for me to explore. My twice-weekly recovery swims are full of whispers from ‘the other side’ (although, when the pool is busy, the whisper becomes inaudible as I have to focus so much on avoiding collisions!). Today while I was between hill reps (this is a very short recovery interval of about 45 seconds), my unconscious mind decided it would have to keep with the programme and use the short downtime to have a wee chat ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

‘Do you know what’s really in it for you?’ it asked. I was too busy catching my breath to answer, but I was keen to listen: it had my attention because it was a ‘surprise attack’ .ย  I’m now used to the ‘flow voice’, encouraging me to keep going or to push. I’m used to the ‘direct command’. What I’m not used to (during a sprint session) is the conversational approach that I usually associate with my long run.

‘Connection is in it for you. And you’re learning something, but you don’t know what it is yet,’ it said. I turned and ran another repetition, so hard that I could only hear my heart beating – everything else went quiet, including the chat-voice of my unconscious mind.

On my recovery jog I expected to hear the voice again, but I didn’t. Instead I began to think about in how many different ways #OldDogNewTricks is helping me to connect at a deep, joyful and honest level with all sorts of people from all walks of life. I’m really enjoying meeting (face to actual face, old skool style!) people who are passionate about what they do, who are inspiring to be around and from whom I can learn all sorts of things. I’m really enjoying honouring my own instinct to reach out and connect in my own way.

As for the learning? I love following the threads of enquiry that my reading is throwing up. Matt Fitzgerald’sย How Bad Do You Want It? had such an impact on me that I wrote to him to let him know. He wrote back! It was lovely to experience that moment of connection ๐Ÿ™‚ .

I’ve also joined an online community of active women who are exploring sports nutrition and performance – and, as a result, I’m experimenting with a whole new range of ideas and concepts to support my sprinting and powerlifting adventures. I’m learning from the CrossFit coaches and from other athletes at my box (gym). And I’m learning more about my own edges, beliefs and drivers: I feel I’m getting closer to the core of myself. I’m learning all this,and more, but I don’t think that’s THE learning. Even typing this blog, I can sense something really big … it’s close … but I can’t see it yet. The hairs are standing on end on my arms …

Whatever it is that’s driving the energy for my adventures, I’m getting closer to it – and I think it’s letting me get closer. I think that’s an important distinction: it’s letting me. I think it may have been waiting for me for a while now ๐Ÿ˜‰ . I’ll keep you posted as I discover more.

In the meantime, I’m just going outside and may be some time.

JT ๐Ÿ™‚

Upping my Game!

In today’s video-blog I share some of things I’m doing to improve my performance and optimise my adventure experiences! In the video I

  • Talk about my recent musical theatre exam and the notion of ‘faking it’.
  • Review 3 books: The Rise of Superman (Kotler), Over the Edge (Bane) andย How Bad Do You Want It? (Fitzgerald).
  • Talk about my current experiment with the sports supplement, creatine monohydrate.

Below the video you’ll find details of the books I mention (click on the cover image and it’ll take you straight to Amazon) and The Rise of Superman YouTube video. You can find out more about creatine monohydrate here and here.ย 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m just going outside and may be some time ๐Ÿ™‚ (Oh, and if you missed the beginning of my #OldDogNewTricks adventure series, you can read more about what I’m up to here. )

JT

Another Adventure Begins!

So, remember I went to Belfast last Friday to meet the editors at a publishing house? Well, yesterday I got the call, and it was a “Yes”! The aim will be for a collection of my stories to be published in October, so the next few months are going to be very exciting ๐Ÿ™‚ .

Today I applied to joined The Society Of Authorsย . The brilliant thing about this organisation is that it supports authors in a variety of ways (including offering help with reviewing contracts).

I feel at the start of something very auspicious. A whole new road lies ahead, and I’m itching to get my adventure boots on andย toย start walking.

I’ll keep you posted.

I am just going outside and may be some time.

JT

Adventure 365 ~ Offer A Hogmanay Gift To The Faeries

winter faerie thornWell, it’s here : it’s the final day of my 365 Days Of Adventure project, and I can hardly believe it!

There were so many adventure choices today, but I didn’t hesitate in making a decision to go to visit the faeries at the faerie thorn tree on the farm.

My faerie-hunting adventure in the summer opened up a series of adventures that I would never have imagined myself doing on January 1st this year. Thanks to that adventure, I’ve written two faerie stories … and those stories have brought me closer to the possibility of a publishing deal! (I should hear in mid-January whether the publisher intends to acquire the rights ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Since writing my second story, I’ve not slept very well at all. My dreams are full of new storylines – and I’m certain that the faeries have more than a little something to do with that ๐Ÿ˜› .

For today’s adventure, I went to the tree and left the faeries the gift of a small bottle of Bushmills whisky.

I’m going to let my experiences settle for a while before drawing out the key learnings and insights, but one thing is for sure : it’s been a life-changing experience.

Thanks so much for your company this last 365 days. I’ve really appreciated all of you who have been following my blog or watching my videos on YouTube : I’m sure our paths will cross again.

(Oh – it was REALLY windy today, so that sound quality isn’t that great. I’m sure you’ll get the gist though!)

In the meantime, I am going outside and may be some time.

JT

Adventure 364 ~ Get Stuff Done

For today’s adventure, I got stuff done : not just any stuff, but the stuff I’d normally avoid like the plague!

Today I paid bills. Today I started work on my tax return (shocker, right?). Today I did some housework ๐Ÿ™‚ .

My daily adventures seem to have conditioned action and momentum – and reduced resistance. I am so used to doing stuff on a daily basis, that ALL stuff – ANY stuff – gets done now. And I’m not resisting the stuff I usually don’t like doing. I’m just doing it.

Now, this is good. This is brilliant. This is going to take me places in 2015!

I am just going outside and may be some time.

JT

Adventure 363 ~ Read The First Edition Of The Folk And Fairy Tales Of The Brothers Grimm

For Christmas this year, I gifted myself a copy of the first edition Grimms’ย kinder- und Hausmรคrchen [1812-1815],ย and, for today’s adventure, I’ve spent some time reading it.

If you’re a fan of the Brothers Grimm, it’s likely that the version of the stories you know and love come from the seventh edition of this collection of folk and fairy tales – and not the first.

An American scholar by the name of Jack Zipes set about translating and editing the first edition – and it’s a fascinating read! In the first edition, the Brothers Grimm tried to remain as faithful as they could to the original stories. This means that there are often notable difference between the tales we know today and the originals.

Many of the tales in the first edition don’t shy away from reality. Some are gruesome and almost Kafkaesque. The baddy is not the stepmother – rather the mother. What our childhood memory insists are very long tales are often only ย paragraph or two long. Oh – and Rapunzel … well she had a “merry time” with the prince and got herself pregnant!

In the introduction, Jack Zipes does not shy away from giving credit to the Brothers Grimm for prettying up the stories. They are undoubtedly great craftsmen. However, it is also clear that the later tellings bow to the cultural and social pressures of the day.

I like the rawness of the first edition and I like the fact that there isn’t always a happy ending. For me – that is life – and that is how I like to write my stories too. Today’s adventure has helped me to add to the simmering pot of storylines I have on the cooker – and added to a sense of kinship with the people who told those original tales … not the sanitised ones.

You can find The Complete First Edition ~ The Original Folk And Fairy Tales Of The Brothers Grimm on Amazon here.

I am just going outside and may be some time.

JT

Adventure 362 ~ Create A Survey Using SurveyMonkey

After yesterday’s business planning adventure, I was feeling rather smug and organised until I realised that it was all very well having a delivery plan from a whole new range of products and services, but what if no-one wanted these new products and services?

This realisation (ie. that just because I think that my products and services are brilliant doesn’t mean that my customers do!) nudged me into today’s adventure : to create an on-line survey for my business.

I think this probably counts as the most sensible adventure of the year. It took a while to get the hang of SurveyMonkey, but it’s free and very professional looking. I’ve devised 10 questions (mostly multiple choice) to get some honest feedback about what I’m offering in 2015. I’m going to send this survey out in a newsletter to my mailing list on Friday.

I think this information is going to be vital!

I am just going outside and may be some time.

JT