Warriors – join me!

You are invited….to join me at a charity screening of Warriors, a stunning documentary.

Last weekend I ran the Brighton Marathon (have I mentioned this yet? I’ve hardly told a soul ūüėČ ) and was touched by the support from so many in the form of sponsorship. ¬†Well, I’ve done that now. ¬†I’ve been to an aerobics class and for two runs since the marathon, so I’m well and truly recovered and ready to take on my next challenge. ¬†This includes raising funds for the Divinity Foundation and spreading the word about how ending FGM is a reality.

The Maasai. Cricket. FGM.

Three topics you¬†never thought would combine into a stunning documentary; but it exists and it is coming to a screen near you (if you live near¬†Sevenoaks). ¬†And if you don’t, can you move house in the next month?

Synopsis:

Under the shadow of Mount Kenya, a change is coming. The young Maasai Warriors want equal rights and education for girls, an end to FGM, and a change of attitude to HIV/Aids. The way they are going do it ‚Äď by forming a cricket team.

The Warriors believe sport can inspire the youth and educate the old. They relate the sport to old hunting techniques – the ball is their spear, the bat is their shield – and they have found confidence and a voice through the game.

Whilst the elders are sceptical, the team set out on a journey to play a cricket tournament in the UK, ending with them stepping on to the manicured grass of the world famous Lord’s Cricket Ground.

Maasai wisdom dictates that “the eye that leaves, sees further.” So, upon their return can the team find the courage to challenge their elders .Can cricket really bring change to the region?

Details:

When:  7.30pm, 28 May 2017

Where:  Pajoma Hall, Sevenoaks School, TN13 1HU

Tickets cost £10, and the film is a certificate 12.  There will be a cash bar from 7pm.

Buy your tickets here or from www.thespacesevenoaks.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on/

 

For all the same details please download this flyer Рsend it to your parents, your family, your WhatsApp groups, your Mums-group, your WI, your church group, your allotment friends, your Dungeons and Dragons buddies, your pet dog, your work colleagues, your music group, your tortoise-care network, your WeightWatchers group, your Formula One insomniac friends, your taxidermy support group. Send it to ANYONE who can get to Sevenoaks that night, because this film is STUNNING!

Flyer

I’ve been blogging about my running and interspersing it with FGM for weeks now, and every time I’ve wittered on, I wanted to tell you about this film. ¬†When I first saw it,¬†I came out and was speechless – and if you’ve picked up anything from my blog, it’s that speechless is not a normal state for me.

I don’t know the first thing about cricket, but I’m told by those who do that this element of the film alone is brilliant, with James Anderson as an executive producer. ¬†But I do know a bit about FGM now, and this is a fantastic portrayal of the journey the Warriors go on. ¬†Ending FGM is not just about telling groups and communities what to do, what not to do – that doesn’t change attitudes or tackle millennia old traditions. ¬†If you want to learn more about how to really try and make a difference, join me on 28 May 17.

I am so looking forward to seeing you all!! Be there!

I’m out of words; I did it!

I should’ve written this on Sunday evening, but I’ve been out of words since about 2pm on Sunday afternoon in the baking beautiful sunny afternoon. I ran the Brighton Marathon ladies and gentlemen, I really ran it!

I thought I had this blog all written in my head. From about mile 18 to the end I knew what it was going to say ‘NEVER AGAIN’. Whilst that is succinct and utterly conveys my thoughts, I didn’t want to let you off that lightly. 

Firstly the update. I completed the course in 5hrs, 14mins and 32secs and I’ve since heard from the organisers that the temperature was 21C at noon. I have no idea how much water I drank or how many gels I took, but a lot and it was all absolutely essential. I know you can acclimatise to pretty much anything, but it was the sudden arrival of the sun on race day which turned out to be a bit of a shock to the system. It was hard.

And the support around the course, it was so emotional! No-one ever told me to account for how to smile constantly for so long! I felt my mouth drying just from grinning every time I got cheered on, isn’t that the most wonderful conundrum you’ve ever come across?!

When I started this marathon lark, if I’m honest I was a bit sceptical, doubting that the crowd would carry me through, questioning if the training plan would work, wondering if I’d really be pleased no matter what happens. I worried about asking for sponsorship more than you would believe. 

I feel like the best thing I can say is this. If you have a niggling desire to run a marathon, just once, then do it.  But really do it:

  • Train properly for at least three months; suspend your normality for most of that period. 
  • Find something you really care about, and say it out loud, and hold on to that in the bad bits. If there’s nothing that makes you feel like that, talk to me more about FGM and I’ll keep on at you until you want to raise funds for the Divinity Foundation!
  • Run, run your heart out, carry on through the agony in your back, or feeling sick for hours, or whatever it is that happens to you. Because as you’re doing it, that pain goes every so often, and you’re running and you have been for 4 hours, but it’s still ok, for a few paces every so often, you’re flying! 

What has left me speechless since Sunday is an overwhelming feeling that it actually was all worth it. I can’t quite believe it, but I wouldn’t change a thing. 

Well, the scorching sunshine maybe…

You’ve all helped me raise over ¬£1000 for a remarkable charity in Kenya who are going to use this to help many girls escape from being cut as children, and those girls will grow up into mothers themselves. And the Divinity Foundation will teach them along the way that FGM isn’t needed, and they will stop the cycle in their families. When one generation stops cutting their children, it’s almost always gone from the family, so saving one girl means protecting future generations from her onwards. Why not run a few miles if that’s the goal, it’s amazingly positive. 

In case anyone wants to donate still: www.goldengiving.com/fundraising/astrids-marathon

Thank you so much 

I have some thank yous to put out there, and my mum isn’t even going to get a look in this time. Thank you to:

  • My amazing cousin and partner-in-daft-schemes Lizzie (and her Chris) for giving me the biggest boost half way round – our next idea has to be easier than this! You made me so happy, I couldn’t even feel any pain for a few seconds!!
  • My besties for little pressies before and after, thank you ladies!
  • All the incredible messages, too many and lovely to imagine – I was particularly driven by the lovely  message from my Aunt that Fairclough genes would get me round – they did! But there are so many more messages, I will reply in the end!
  • On Fairclough matters, to my dad not least for collecting me in the middle of January about 9am on a Sunday morning in the most snow we had all winter, when one of my training runs went a little ‘off-piste’ shall we say. I’ve not told you this story have I. ūüėČ
  • And Julian, he found me on Sunday in the family reunion area, and delayed his lunch for hours just to get me back to a shower. And he didn’t even tell me I smelt. 
  • The inventors of running underwear. Genius. And running lights, so much fun in evening dark runs!
  • The anonymous generous donor!! You’ve puzzled me no end. 
  • The generous non-anonymous sponsors; you’ve confounded me in your support in the very best way, thank you. 
  • The inventors of medals. I adore my most prized medal. 



Next up! SAVE THE DATE

Did you think I’d cleared off, given up, decided to be quiet?? Not my style. 

Coming very soon to a blog near you…it’s bold, it’s beautiful, it combines CRICKET, the MAASAI, and FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION. 

For Kentish and London folk, a special evening on 28 May 2017, tickets on sale very soon indeed. You won’t want to miss out. 

You will hear more about this soon!!

What have I learnt

I’ve gotten a bit soft already but I want to leave you with some advice, musings, thoughts for your own marathon attempts:

  • Don’t send any important emails/try to correspond with too many people in the 24/48 hours beforehand – you either won’t make sense or will come across as a grumpy whatsit. Sorry….
  • If you visit the Portaloos half way around, don’t do what I did…..clatter clunk….oh my tin of Vaseline has gone somewhere I am NOT going to follow…
  • Do NOT in any circumstances let your family see you try and walk downstairs for at least 36 hours after finishing. They will only laugh at you. Apparently it’s hilarious. Hmm. 
  • Book massages. Believe in the magical healing properties of Epsom salts. And love Jelly Babies and carry an emergency stash of fruit pastilles. 
  • Enjoy it. It’s worth it. 

You don’t have to admit that a fresh faced photo like this was taken within the first mile or so.

A nice photo before you leave for the day gives the air of cheeriness, even if never seen again.

Obviously good to get a photo showing how seriously I took my warm up and mindfulness pre-race.

On the cusp of 25 miles, one can still just about look ok!

Past the 25th mile, things start to look a bit rough.

Still makes me smile.

TWO DAYS TO GO!

Are you up to much this weekend?  

There’s a really interesting concert on at the Southbank, with Stravinksy’s Rite of Spring and Colin Currie (my favourite percussionist; it’s good to have one) this evening if you’d like to start the week with a gentle bit of culture. I’m on my way there now. 

Tomorrow 8 April brings:

  • The Grand National for those who want to lose a little money to no end (see below for alternative methods of parting with your hard-earned cash)
  • A Southern rail strike planned for any train non-spotters out there.
  • Andover Water Division will be conduction a Fire Flow Test – watch out for discolouration through your taps. 
  • A super-wonderful-excellent lady, goes by the name Sophie, and some incredible ladies will be celebrating impending nuptials – I do wish I were joining you, have all an absolutely wonderful time and so much fun!!! The one on the left, at a previous poultry-related event 

Sunday 9 April has a couple of things going for it:

  • Sounds like a stonkingly beautiful sunny day in the UK, why not pop to the seaside or the park.  Better still, get yourself an allotment!
  • Palm Sunday often brings a donkey or two out of retirement for a trip to church in the morning
  • Oh, one other idea, the BRIGHTON MARATHON!!


TWO DAYS TO GO!

I’ve got two days left to go, so basically, training is over.   I’ve got to keep my head in order (easier said than done).  I’ve got to keep eating and drinking, but not gin apparently. Nor wine.  Nor prosecco.  I think they should include that in the website when you’re signing up to do a marathon.  I knew I’d have to eat carbs, I knew I’d have to run lots…

Now I thought I’d show you how I’ve been kept on track for the last few months. A dear friend of many years popped round to my house a couple of weeks ago and walked in and saw this:

And the lovely Jess said when she came in the living room: ‘my mum said you’d have a big chart on the wall’!

Well it turns out I might not have changed much in the last 20 years. 

But I’ve not really managed to forget what’s coming up. There’ve been one or two reminders. 


So if you feel the neee to rid yourself of your cash but don’t want to give it to the bookies on a failed Grand National runner, you know another runner getting hot bothered and sweaty, and she’s just as happy to take your hard earned dosh. I’d be immensely grateful for any sponsorship. Everything goes directly to Divinity Foundation and they will use it for their work ending FGM in Kenya. 

Www.goldengiving.com/fundraising/astrids-marathon

Watch out, you might get a bit more from me over the weekend!

One week of nerves left!

Hello!

With a week to go, this feels like a very different stage of the training.

I’ve been focused on the important things in training so I’m as race-ready as possible next Sunday:

  • I’ve sorted and counted the various pots of coins around the house. Very much looking forward to getting my first new ¬£1!
  • I’ve caught up on my paperwork for something in September (date for the diary – 2 Sept –  Sevenoaks Allotments Autumn Show – 2 Sept – be there or be a cauliflower).
  • I’ve caught up on my washing, pondered a bit of furniture re-arranging, researched and considered investing in a water softener.

I’m certainly not falling prey to distractions around the house.

Back to the running…

Anyway, putting my focus to one side, the big news of this week is running underwear.  Yes!  I surprised myself and have purchased the MOST EXPENSIVE PAIR OF PANTS I’VE EVER BOUGHT! And they’re not even in the slightest bit pretty. They’re very plain and feel sort of spongey.  And called ‘Runderwear’.

And in the last few weeks I’ve noticed some other funny habits develop.

  • It’s not unusual for me to go to bed with an ice-pack between my knees.
  • The idea of running a half marathon is fairly attractive, dare I suggest, I think I’d quite enjoy it.
  • On a run with an absolutely lovely friend, she said I was running too fast!

I’m not sure quite what to make of these latest developments.  I think perhaps I’ve transitioned into a runner.  Argh, how did this happen!

Fundraising

I’ve been so touched by the many generous donations so far, thank you. This is an important part of why I’m doing this.  At the start I said it was a one-off effort, and I can confirm that this is absolutely the case.  I’m not going to be fundraising again like this, so I think I should include the request a little bit more openly in my blogs.  I’m extremely grateful if you are able to sponsor my efforts, and please do so here at www.goldengiving.com/fundraising/astrids-marathon 

But why for Divinity Foundation, a charity working to end FGM?  Recently, you might not be surprised, I’ve spent hours and hours listening to podcasts.  Sometimes when I’m reluctant to go on a run, starting a good podcast somehow lures me out of the house and up the hill.  I like to think I’ve become a connoisseur of podcasts.

I heard this one last year, and it has stuck with me – that means it’s good.  There isn’t just one story which encapsulates why we need to end FGM, but this for me, is a really interesting take on how growing up in the west can bring different aspects into a survivor’s story – Mariya lives in the US.  It’s pretty up-front, and she really doesn’t shy away from what she goes through in relation to family and romantic relationships many years after she’s been cut – it’s probably not great dinner-time listening material.  But it’s powerful, and I think, worth half an hour to listen – FGM isn’t just an issue in small parts of Africa – 5% of women in the world live with FGM. 

https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/586/who-do-we-think-we-are?act=1#play 

Or if you don’t want to listen, you can just sponsor me anyway – because ending FGM is so achievable – it’s one of the most unnecessary and harmful practice, and even better, we’re making progress!  So I want to help, just a little, and I’d be so grateful if you could be part of that.  Once more…

www.goldengiving.com/fundraising/astrids-marathon

Update on Marathon Training with Mummy.

There’s been a bit of interest this week in my mother’s superb efforts after last week’s blog.  Yesterday at coffee, I asked how she’s doing on the 13, 4 and 6 step runs that she promised, as this week I’ve done my 13, 4 and 6 mile runs.  Completely deadpan, without so much as the blink of the eye, I get my reply:

‘I’m saving them up’ says Mummy-F.

Brilliant.  I’ve no idea for what, but she’s saving them up.

7 days left to go. ……… Seven. One week. 7. ……….

Training tracked on Strava this year: 288 miles

Long-term weather forecast for 9 April: 15 degs, partly cloudy. Wouldn’t mind it cooler.

Brighton Marathon, 9 April 2017.

Marathon Training with Mummy

Just before the end of Mothering Sunday, and as I spent most of it out running rather than being a good daughter, it seems the right time to¬†share a bit about my mum’s role in this whole effort, and her own superbly¬†unique contributions which have kept me smiling throughout!

She’s no idea I’m doing this blog. ¬†I’ve been wondering if I should offer the ‘right to reply’ …depending on how much I dare include! ūüôā

But thank you Mummy, couldn’t have got this far without you. (And please keep going to the end!)

My emergency contact

The tracking app that I use (Strava) has a safety mechanism that someone can see where you are¬†when you’re out running. ¬†I’ve been going off to some places I’m not familiar with so¬†Mummy has been getting random texts sometimes fairly early in the morning. ¬†And I’ve so enjoyed the ‘Well done’ text when she saw me finish.

Today, she saw I stopped for about 10 mins and Strava just had me go around and around, practically on the spot, something weird. ¬†So I got a text from her checking I was OK. Ahh, that’s nice, I hear you say. ¬†That’s what I thought! So the safety¬†system is working – so I reply along the lines of ‘thank you but I stopped to spend a penny and get a drink’. (And a sneaky sit down, don’t tell anyone).

The reply came and included the following excerpts ‘I wasn’t really worried. …. It’d take more than that for me to come and look for you!‘. ¬†Thank you Mummy! ¬†ūüôā

Advice to listen to the best radio programmes

She told me to listen to a BBC R4 programme about marathon running earlier.

I took away one comment from this. ¬†A lady spoke about how she ran the Brighton Marathon a couple of years ago (MY MARATHON in 2 weeks time), and at mile 19 she BROKE HER HIP!!!! Just running along, broke her hip. ¬†I feel like I’ve got a pretty good worry list already about the day, but now I’ve got to consider adding this to the list. ¬†Thanks Mummy!

My new training partner

She’s also come up with the most excellent motivational idea. ¬†I’m sure you’ve heard of¬†having a training partner.

My mummy text me earlier in the week:

From Mummy: I’ve just had a good idea. ¬†You run your 6 miles and I’ll run six steps.

 

This idea is for all my training runs. At this very moment, she owes me a 13-step run; I ran 13 miles earlier.

I have to say, I’m not sure the motivation is quite balanced right yet. ¬†But then again, half way around today, the idea of her being my new training partner did cheer me up no end. ¬†So perhaps it does actually work a treat!

She’s worried about her 26-step run already.

But actually….

She’s been the one who has listened to me go on endlessly about the yucky side effects of the training,¬†gone on about hills, training routes, how I felt this mile, how I stopped and started. ¬†What I can drink and eat, what I can’t drink or eat. ¬†It’s not been fascinating.

She’s even offered to wash my training kit – and I think she has a bit! ¬†That really is dedicated, it’s stinky! ¬†I woke her up early going training throughout our holiday in December.

She’s always sent me a well done text whenever she knew I got there, and she’s coming to stay in Brighton the night before even! ¬†She’s a brave woman – I’m clearly going to be hugely nervous AKA grumpy and unreasonable.

This is just a taste, but there’s been more.

I think she’s¬†part of the FGM Prevention team really¬†– in February she made these fabulous cupcakes for some work we were doing, spreading the word.

IMG_1421

She’s really very expert in some of our work and recent legislation!¬†¬†I remember at the start of this blog and on my fundraising page I tried to explain that in my opinion everyone can be part of this work to end FGM –¬†if ever you doubted me on this, she’s the perfect example.

So whilst I might have been a bit cheeky throughout this blog, it’s only because I couldn’t have got here without her support. ¬†Perhaps I could persuade you dear reader to think about sponsoring her efforts (via my page…), as my poor mum has still got two weeks (and the recovery) to get through too.

Happy Mothering Sunday, Mummy and thank you for being my Team-Chief (alongside rest of wonderful family). LoFi (this is Mother-Daughter lingo¬†which I shan’t explain but translates to¬†Love from Astrid)

Run today:

https://www.strava.com/activities/915613457/embed/883fe170d3ebb48af390c7485e96e135310b07c3

I nearly put a photo of us up but I think I’d probably get into even more trouble. ¬†If you just imagine, we’re nearly always laughing and all the photos I have of the two of us in the last 6 months include either champagne or cocktails.

Strava year-to-date miles: 273

Days left to go: 14!!

Brighton Marathon, 9 April 2017

www.goldengiving.com/fundraising/astrids-marathon

Surely there’s a deep chasm between International Day of Happiness and …. MARATHON training?!

Today was the longest run I’m going to do before the marathon itself¬†– and I did it, 22.5 miles in the grey cold, rain and wind.¬† Golly gosh!

On my way around I realised that this is how I’m spending the International Day of Happiness.¬† Am I mad?!¬† I’m sure there must be less painful ways to enjoy the happiness I’ve lucky enough to have.¬† (As I’ve written the full day-name twice now, I’m switching to IDoH now – you’re bright enough to keep up, I know).

But are there links between happiness and today? Yes, of course.¬†¬†For one, I can officially say I am ‘tapering’.¬† A mystical status of which I’d only dreamt and which felt as far away as Narnia a few weeks back.¬† Today was my longest run, and next weekend I can chuckle as I attack a mere 14 miles.¬† What has happened to me?! So that achievement felt like it belonged in the IDoH.

Then mid-run, I got what I thought was a delightful little story.¬† As soon as it happened, I thought ooh, blog material!¬† But before I wrote it up, I thought I’d just test it with my mum.¬† You see, she and I are very good at laughing and enjoying stories, so if she liked it, you’d like it.¬† So on the phone I got, telling her what I thought was just the best story.¬† Turns out my story-telling judgement is seems to be directly but negatively correlated to my energy levels!

Basically¬†a tourist asked me for directions at 4miles.¬†Then at 21 miles, I saw her again and she was flabbergasted to see I was still running.¬† That’s it really.

As I write it now, I can understand, this is sweet and quite a coincidence, but not really that good a story.¬† But I’d just run 21 miles, and I¬†still had a bridge and two corners to go, I LOVED it!¬† I grinned like a Cheshire cat, I chuckled to myself, and I found I had a cloud to carry me the last bit!¬† After a shower and some¬†food and a sit down, I’m back with my mum on this one, it’s a bit dull.¬† But, with this going on, I think I should warn my family that if a total stranger interrupting me can get that kind of frankly¬†over-the-top reaction , I’d steer clear of me on the marathon day itself, I’ll be blubbing and wailing if I see any of you lot! IDoH scores again, I was so happy to see her.

Picking up on an earlier blog, I have to say, those two SUPERB foot tunnels, the Thames Barrier, the airport and this time the added joy of Tower Bridge all played their part in making me happy again. IDoH hit three.

 

Then I’m going to mention again what’s helping me get around these training runs, the sponsorship going to the Divinity Foundation.¬† I have, as expected, had quite a few comments and chuckles about the ‘Jogging for Genitals’ tagline.¬† And in the last few years, lots of people have said to me how difficult my job must be.¬† Well, sometimes yes, because it can be very hard because FGM is absolutely rubbish, nothing good from it, no need for it, so yes it can be hard.¬† But we’re doing stuff to end FGM!¬† That’s good news!! Many days the bureaucracy and paperwork¬†are what can make me extremely grumpy – apologies to my wonderful colleagues who put up with this.¬† But this is something the world is making good progress on, rates are dropping in many countries (though overall numbers continue to rise in part due to overall population increase and newly understood populations).¬† So we can smile, we can let ourselves talk about¬†tackling FGM and smile¬†all at the same time, and jog for genitals even if that sounds a little cheeky.¬† For me, I’m honoured to be¬†part of a global movement helping my fellow women stop something so unnecessary, and¬†that hope for the future is another thing that makes me happy.¬†¬†So that’s a bit more behind the title of this blog, and my final thought for IDoH; it might be hard running that far (it is, it really really is….) but it’s worth it.¬† And it makes me happy to be able to, and it makes me even happier to think that the end of FGM is in sight.

Perhaps that chasm between IDoH and my marathon training isn’t so deep after all.

Link to sponsorship (nice and clearly stated) www.goldengiving.com/fundraising/astrids-marathon

To make you happy today or tomorrow or whenever you’re reading this, have a look at this adorable video of our wonderful dog, Ruby.¬†She’s a Border Terrier and singing along with a lovely bit of jazz saxophone.¬† It makes all of us happy, I hope you enjoy it too. www.familysuperpowers.com/videos/1197/ruby-jazz-singer

Miles today: 22.5
Strava miles this year: 256!

Days to go: 20 – I’ve dropped down to just a day-countdown!

Brighton Marathon, 9 April 2017

IMG_1842

A sideways picture of what I got up to today. ūüôā

Jogging and coping. Whatever gets you through. 

I’m going to hazard a guess that you didn’t think you’d read a blog about jogging and rude words and genitals today. Well I didn’t think I’d write one either, but you never know when the wind will turn and your path is set.

Last September, I ran (against all expectations) in the Purbeck 16, a very hilly and truly stunning race. This Churchillian task was a really achievement for me, not least because my darling Brother very kindly offered to help with pace-setting, and both he and I successfully made it through alive.

As my first foray into long distance, I felt cast adrift, panicked, unprepared. He however had just been on 8 weeks intense military training, so one could say he was over-prepared. Just the kind of pace setter one wants for one’s first long distance attempt. He DID NOT BREAK A SWEAT. (And I’ve completely got over that. *Harrumph*)

See, he looks fresh as a daisy. I, on the other hand and on the left, do not.

This story needs one thing about Family-F. When I was mid-childhood, we had a points based system. ¬†Profanity would reduce ones’ daily score. I’m going to simply desiccate my today’s score by explaining that the likes of ‘ratbag‘, ‘dipstick‘ and and ‘plug it’ (thanks indeed to Dearest Mummy’s time inside)¬†were unforgivable. 9,8,7,6…The boys considered scores of 1 or 2, or even negative to be a badge of honour. Goody-two-shoes here did her very best to stay at 10.

Post-blog-note: point of clarification. All time spent ‘inside’ was indeed voluntary and she could come and go however she liked, even with her own keys. Does this get me out of trouble, Mummy…?
So can you imagine how far sideways Darling Brother jumped when at Mile 14ish around the Purbeck 16, I told both him and the truly innocent tourists ahead (who were blocking my way but still 100m ahead!!) to ‘P*SS OFF’. Out loud, apparently with quite a bit of feeling even.

Can you imagine what will happen past mile 14 on the marathon????

But I’ve been thinking. I’m going to use my motivation to help me drive forward. So I’ve been thinking up theme-appropriate exclamations. Oh-Lordy-Ladybits, the Profanitised-Privates, the Jolly-Old-Genitals. ¬†I’ve a few others, but rhyming is important.

The need to help protect and maintain female genitals intact and as intended truly runs deep if it’s getting into my post-mile-14 vocabulary. Thankfully, the Divinity Foundation will take anything you can sponsor and turn it into amazing projects, as they help girls who are running away from FGM. ¬†That’s why I’m jogging myself around the 26.2 miles, and that’s why I’m expecting to have a negative profanity point score on 9 April 2017.
I apologise in advance to anyone running close by from that mile 14 onwards. I shan’t carry a beeper; cover your ears.
Turning slightly more serious for a moment, I was honoured to take part in a World Health Organisation conference about FGM. I solemnly promise I did not use any of the above terminology and (if it weren’t for this blog) my score would still be ten. And I fitted in a 5 mile jaunt around Sheffield this morning pre-breakfast, with a carefully considered route avoiding some dreadfully steep hills. With thanks to Simon for the route tips!

There were many really interesting slides today, include this which maps the UN history in relation to FGM

Strava Miles this week (partial week, not including a long run): 14.2

Strava Miles to date this year: 226

Time to big day: a truly terrifying 3 weeks, 3 days!

Brighton Marathon, 9 April 2017

What could possibly make a 21-mile run fun?

I never thought this was a question I could answer.

  1. TWO very cool VICTORIAN FOOT TUNNELS under the THAMES!!!
  2. The Thames Barrier!
  3. An AIRPORT right next to your run, VROOM!
  4. NHS proportions of annual leave. ūüôā

Wow.¬† (I hope you know that I’m definitely not¬†joking about the top three.)

Strava has yet again gone a bit woo on this – it is ONLY 21 miles, not the big number displayed.¬† (It is still 21 miles though…)

https://www.strava.com/activities/894674392/embed/cc2fb9b9f214aae7eabcdaead9396aee39bcc3b6

Now whilst I fall¬†asleep, here’s that little link I keep including: www.goldengiving.com/fundraising/astrids-marathon

And I completely forgot to take a pic of the top of the second tunnel.  I blame fatigue.  Or getting over the sheer excitement of TWO FOOT TUNNELS under the THAMES!

From Brussels to Taunton…

This week has been a good return to training with¬†a busy week of running. I class this¬†as jolly handy as I’ve got 4 weeks and 4 days left until the big event itself!
My title from Brussels to Taunton should first of all, for my generation¬†I hope, invoke the pop classic by the Danish group, Inferno,¬†‘From Paris to Berlin’. ¬†I think Brussels can take the place of Paris, but I am willing to concede that Taunton may not have the Euro-pop vibe evoked by the German capital. ¬†This mention comes entirely from an impish wish to leave you with an earworm I’ve had going for the whole week. ¬†I’ve included the link so you can easily pick it up…and set me free! ūüôā
When the Channel Tunnel opened in 1994, I went on holiday to France with my family in the first year or so. ¬†Being a terribly precious (or was that precocious) little 9ish year old, I walked from Dover to Calais. ¬†I got out of our car, and I walked up and down, and up and down, and up and down the carriage. ¬†Until we saw daylight again in France, I paced that carriage, to the slight perplexedness of our fellow passengers. ¬†But I was very proud, I’d walked the tunnel, don’t you know!
If I’m honest, this still makes me a tiny bit¬†proud to this day, though I try to not to tell too many people. ¬†At 30-something, I’m not sure I can quite pull it off anymore.¬† I’m really hoping a similar tenacity will kick in somewhere around 18 – 20 miles or so and drag me around the back-end of the Brighton Marathon. ¬†The Eurostar now travels at approximately 295km/hr. ¬†At that rate, the marathon would be a mere 8 minutes and 40 secs.¬†Oh.
Moving on swiftly, would a similar grammatical trick allow me to claim I’ve run from Brussels to Taunton this week? ¬†A quick 2-miler in Brussels with just a little bit of getting lost to a 3.5 mile jaunt along a tow-path in Taunton close to the salubrious industrial estate by Jct 5 of the M5.
I want to explain Brussels and Taunton just quickly, as both were trips for work.  In Brussels we were talking about the best ways to estimate how many women and girls are living in your country who have FGM.  It was an eye-opening conference, in so many ways,  and in part because I met colleagues from Malta, Finland, indeed all over the EU, all of whom wanted to understand how to really make a difference to end FGM.  Though the conference agenda at times wondered its way towards the risk of being called distant from real lives, the questions and discussions kept coming back to reality Рso what? Much as  X or Y sampling method might give different results, do either help us end FGM better, quicker, more?  It is heartening to see such a diverse group still manage to focus on what really matters.
And Taunton – FGM, FGM – Taunton, …Somerset and female genital mutilation? ¬†Really?? Well yes, really. ¬†Somerset has an estimated population of over 150 women and girls living with the consequences of FGM. ¬†I know, it isn’t the highest figure in England, but I bet it’s higher than you realised! ¬†Whilst we held¬†our workshop in Taunton, it was open to and attended by amazing mental health professionals from Cornwall to Dorset, so word is getting around that we really can make changes to help.

A little reminder for those of exactly where Somerset really is –¬†we’re simply not talking urban or metropolitan. ¬†Lovely and beautiful, yes, but not necessarily¬†bustling.

Bringing me to the ulterior motive, I’m very grateful indeed for any sponsorship of my marathon effort, with every penny you give going straight to the Divinity Foundation, a Kenyan charity supporting work against FGM including a refuge for girls who run away and need safety. ¬†I’ve been asked to make sure that the link to the sponsorship page is a little clearer, so it is also www.goldengiving.com/fundraising/astrids-marathon
Yesterday was a treat and a day off training and ¬†a break from even thinking about training, as my dad and I went for a day trip to Paris. ¬†Just for fun this time, no work popping up. ¬†Who thinks I’ve grown up enough to¬†manage not to ‘walk the channel’ once again?
IMG_1636

See, I really don’t wear running clothes all the time!

Last week ended with the relief of still being able to get around a 16 mile run through London again, so I am well and truly over that nasty little bug.  With 30 miles clocked over the 7 days, perhaps I will make it round in April.
Strava miles this year: 186
Strava miles last week: 30
Until the big day: 4 weeks and 4 days
Brighton Marathon, 9 April 2017!


Mixed efforts…

I’m back again, still chatting about my marathon training but this week has been a bit mixed effort I’m afraid.

To recap:

  • Monday – blog 1, 18 miles. But I’ve already gone on about this.
  • Tuesday – Friday, mixed training, little run, aerobics, tap dancing (the first person who thinks that tap dancing doesn’t count I hope feels obliged to at least sponsor someone else running a marathon if not me!). All in all, OK.
  • Friday evening – chatter to my dear mum about how worried I am that with 6 weeks to go I cannot get ill or hurt, fully intend to avoid everyone who even looks the slightest bit poorly, and will be outrageously unfriendly to the world from now on as insurance policy. I can NOT get ill.
  • Saturday morning – Body Attack followed by a slightly smug feeling remembering how the same class used to be a lot more difficult. 
  • Saturday evening and more. A BUG. A nasty mean horrid bug which wiped me out for 24 hours and which utterly ruined my chances of a long run this week.  Harrumph. I’m most annoyed, still. And I’m not going to overshare about it. Harrumph and grapes.

I’ve even more annoyed as this is only week two of my chattering to you, and I hoped if catastrophe were to hit, it would be in a few weeks time once I’d proven my jogging credentials. I’m going to trust you to trust me readers, this is a mere blip!

In December I did lots of 7am runs on holiday. Whilst purporting to prove my credentials, evidencing the beach I ran on, this is more an excuse to enjoy a lovely photo again 3 months later.

So back to training ASAP for me, but donwtime meant a chance to review a fantastic flurry of TV programs featuring FGM. And so onto the other purpose of this blog, to share with you more about why FGM is going to get me back to jogging for genitals.

  • Call the Midwife, series 6, episode 6now I rather like many a CtM episode but the way they feature FGM is superb. I can’t imagine a better Sunday evening 9pm BBC drama frankly. 
  • Imagine…She Spoke the Unspeakable – from the BBC, this is a documentary by Alan Yentob as part of his imagine series about Nawal El Saadawi, an incredible Egyptian feminist who has fought throughout her life against injustice, and in particular has been a hugely influential writer and activist against FGM.
  • No Offence, series 2, episode 7 – this C4 crime drama is gritty, sweary, and tackles a whole host more child abuse than FGM alone, not for the faint hearted flowers amongst us. But they do justice to the storyline of FGM, with far more respect than we feared. Definitely post-watershed viewing (Mummy-F, not the best one for you… though I would never ever suggest you are faint hearted) (Readers, have I got away with this?).

©BBC Imagine and Call the Midwife, 2017, images from iPlayer


These programs cover documentary, period drama, police drama. Egypt / Somalia / Pakistan are portrayed. Young childhood through to adult pre-marriage cutting happens. I could go on, as these program have brought out even more of the ways FGM can be different across so many communities, because so much of the media portrayal recently has not picked up on these many differences.
And much as I put the responsibility (blame) on Radio 4 and/or my dear brother last week for this jolly old marathon lark, it’s the fact that over 200 million women in the world have FGM still that’s making me have the sheer nerve to ask for sponsorship for doing what I can to traipse and fallollop around the course. If you are able, I would be grateful for any donations to support the Divinity Foundation in their work to help girls fleeing FGM in Kenya. Watching one of these three programs may I hope explain more of what is making sure I actually get up and run many more times in the next 6 weeks in the cold and rain. Brr.

I’m going to carry on with the endless washing of black lycra this marathon seems to be causing, and continue with my quest for 20 flat paths within reasonable driving distance of home. I’m a huge fan of Roman roads as many of you will know, but I still can’t find one which fits my apparently demanding criteria. Straight, yes. But straight, flat, newsagent-ridden (aka snack / drink providers), whilst looping back to where I started (yes, one definition of infinity does allow for this, comments to my tutors at the Open University maths dept) and with a shower and my car/home at the end, apparently even the Romans couldn’t manage this. Thank you for reading!

Miles to date – I’ll tell you again next week! 

Time until the big run – 5 weeks and 6 days, Brighton Marathon 9 April 2017

Bugs or injuries I’m willing to entertain – zero