Thursday 10 July 2014

Alpha Papa

Like a lot of popular culture I was late being introduced to Alan Partridge. I found that after a few too many references that I just didn't get I bought my husband the original series on box set. He enjoyed revisiting them and I had a giggle watching them for the first time. It was not the funniest thing I had ever seen and it did not come close to Father Ted or Spaced. It was however clever, enjoyable and not too taxing.

When they announced the film I had some reservations, I was unsure if they could string out a long enough plot and if they could maintain and stay true to the characters. I was worried that it would all come down to Steve Coogan's ability to "BE" Alan Partridge and everybody else would get over shadowed. I think there is always a risk taking a small production and making it a film which you are trying to sell an idea to the world and not just the BBC.

I should not have worried at all. It was better than the series but it stayed very true to itself. Along with some very funny slapstick there was a good plot. It was filmed in a way that felt very old fashioned and "British". The cast were incredibly strong and funny and supported Coogan perfectly. The plot is based around a hostage situation at the radio station where he works. This has come about after the station is bought by a new company. I think one of the main strengths that comes from Alan Partridge as a character is that although he is over the top you recognise him. You cringe because you have met people like that and you can even identify traits in yourself. Or at least I can - Alan Partridge is what happens when you speak before you think. The scenario itself is also over the top but the responses of the characters are normal and awkward.

This is a comedy, and a silly comedy at that, but it is grounded in a decent plot with a strong cast. It is more than just slapstick and although Partridge grates on you as a character you can't help but like him a little. There is an element of 'feel good' about it without too much saccharine sweetness.

Pamper Pack

I think there is something lovely about sending a birthday present that is all about pampering and luxury. It has to be the kind of thing that you would not buy yourself but love receiving. I decided to make my Auntie a pamper pack for her birthday. I made a brown sugar and honey body scrub, bought some pretty candles and little candle holders and then I made an eye mask. The scrub recipe came from Beauty Scrubs and Masks by Elaine Stavert; it's a really easy recipe and uses everyday ingredients from the kitchen.

For the eye mask I used the template from a lovely blog full of really fun things to male. I found the instructions helpful and the quilting lifted the design and gave it a nicer finish. I used a soft brushed cotton on the inside so it felt better against the skin. The outside was a really pretty turquoise fabric with tiny roses on. I love the fabric as it has a vintage style but the bolder background colour gives it a modern feel. I added pretty ribbon ties and made a mirror card to match.

Eye mask made using the tutorial from "dog under my desk"

Body scrub and lovely candles

Co-coordinating mirror card

5x50 - Now it is Over

I am finally sitting down to write about my 5x50 challenge. I could not decide how often to blog and I didn't want to bombard people with blow by blow accounts throughout; in hindsight I should have written more along the way. It does however feel like a good time now to sit down and look back on it all. It is fair to say that it did not go as I had planned, but I did complete 5K a day for 50 days. I also kept a diary throughout along with distances completed, and the crazy messages I sent to friends, so it is nice to use that to reflect.

The Good

I got off to a really strong start. We had 10 days of clear dry weather and I started by beating my personal best. I managed quite a few jogs that had a timed mile in the middle. My best being a 10 minute 9 second mile. On Day 46 I beat my Personal Best time and dropped below 33 minutes with a 32:50.

I am lucky to have had some pretty routes and due to circumstances there were quite a few night walks. There is something quite soothing about wandering around a quiet village at night, and there were some stunning nights with really bright moons and shooting stars. There were also nights with cheesy music on my MP3 player when I pretty much danced down the street zig-zagging to add distance to my pedometer. I am still hoping that I was not spotted!

I also managed to get the weather to do some fantastic family walks. These were over 5K in distance and had the added bonus of  my daughter in the carrier on my back to add to the workout! The two of these that stood out were Eshaness and Hermaness.

A walk around Hermaness was the most Northerly UK 5x50 at that point in time.

The Bad

On Day 16 I woke up with a start and pulled a muscle in my neck and shoulder. This caused me a lot of pain and I felt rubbish having taken ibuprofen. I managed to alternate between gentle walks and slow jogs but felt awful if I did too much or didn't move it enough. It is amazing how much of your body you use when you jog. I thought I might be okay because my legs worked but I was very wrong!

I then managed to catch a really nasty cold which just would not leave my chest. It was the most frustrating thing as I would jog so far and then just end up coughing and unable to breathe. I felt like it was an excuse but I just could not do it. This is where I got really frustrated with a lot of the motivational posts by 5x50 as they often spoke about the biggest battle being in your mind, where as at that point in time my battle was most certainly with my lungs!

The Ugly

It is hard to write about the "ugly" bits without talking about the Shetland weather. I was incredibly lucky for the first week and a half to get calm dry jogs. There were days where the weather was far less kind, although this year I only got caught in one hail storm compared to four last year. I find really windy days the hardest. At times Shetland seems to have magical wind because if you are jogging and the wind is in your face you think 'Well at least it will be at my back soon'. Then you turn in the run and it is somehow still in your face - magic!

There were also days when we had really strong gales. There was one weekend when I decided it was too windy to jog and walking in the wind was so slow that I managed an average of 17.5 minutes a mile, which is slow by any standards. Although there were wet days, I didn't mind them as much as windy days. In some ways I prefer a rainy jog, it feels like a bigger achievement and there are less people about. The other thing is that if I am jogging on a bright calm day I think how lovely it would be to be walking. If  I am jogging on an awful rainy day then I am pleased to be going as fast as my little legs will carry me!

There were also days where it came down to factors beyond my control and they are frustrating especially if you have started strong. For me the worst of these was getting caught out by road works and having to cross the road and jog through dust. It is hard to keep going when you know that your time is slipping and there is nothing you can do about it.

The hardest part of it all was after being ill/injured knowing that I could not make my targets. I was feeling better but deflated and demotivated. One of the most difficult parts of this years challenge was to get back up and finish the way I started, but I managed the final push and I am really pleased that I did.

The Stats

330 Km in total
23 jogs
37 walks
Personal best 5K time
Most Northerly 5K in the UK done.

And now....

I am focusing on the fact that I did 5K every day for 50 days. I did not beat last year's number of jogs or total distance but I did beat times. There were days where I walked and I should have jogged but without the challenge that time would have been spent curled up in a ball feeling sorry for myself. I did it and I am glad that I did. Next year I will do it again and I will try again to beat targets. Since finishing I have made sure that I am active every day although some days the 5K has been replaced by other activities. I am also training for a 10K and time will tell how that goes. It would have been nice to write a blog ticking off all of my goals but life does not work that way. I am however, writing a blog as somebody who can run faster and is healthier than I was 4 months ago.