Category Archives: Running

Saxelby News!

I’ve decided it’s about time that I started blogging again, having been “meaning to” for far too long! Since last time I blogged my life has moved on in many ways, although it is probably just as hectic. The kids are older: –  Rosie (16), Clyde (15), Daisy (13), Violet (9) and Troll (7)…all right, she’s really called Marigold – but  she still answers to “Troll” – that’s one thing that hasn’t changed!

They now spend less time watching Peppa Pig from the inside of cardboard boxes while covertly smearing themselves with Sudocrem or coating the carpets in a two-inch-deep layer of Littlest Petshop paraphernalia. In fact, they have actually become quite exceptional in the art of entertaining themselves. Their interests have moved on and they now spend their time trampolining, cheerleading, dancing, running, cycling, fishing, (in Clyde’s case), playing in the river, looking for bird nests, making dens, pony riding, guitar playing (Rosie), singing and playing with makeup (not in Clyde’s case obviously – although the girls do sometimes try to apply some when he is asleep).

Other less welcome activities from a parents’ perspective include arguing over the tv remote; watching Hollyoaks and other horrifically mundane tv shows, including strange cartoons where the characters all seem to be from some weird cat-bird-rabbit-like species and partaking in shooting mean and unexpected video “Boomerangs” of one another using their mobile phones or tablets and then threatening to upload the result to social media.

I have been purposely scaling down my horse breeding business (I’m now down to seven horses, of which two are the kids’ ponies). Seven probably sounds like loads to most people but I once had 25.

I never really ever intended to have as many as 25 but when you are breeding horses they can quickly multiply! Having so many was great for my mucking out muscles and core strength but not for my haylage bill, spare time or husband’s sanity.

My horses are soon to become just a hobby business – once I have backed, schooled and sold the youngsters that I still have. If the children continue to show enthusiasm (and stop answering me back when I am giving them lessons) then we will keep two or three. They make good lawnmowers anyway.

Our new business venture is called “Saxelby News” and my role in it will running the digital side of Jon’s public relations and journalism business. He’ll still be doing the traditional press releases and newspaper stuff – I will be providing content marketing, social media marketing, social media assistance and digital communications packages to businesses. I am initially concentrating on business-types that I already have a large digital following from (I have 17,000 online followers who are a mixture of triathletes, cyclists, swimmers, runners and horse lovers – although I do also seem to collect quite a few crazy Scottish gin-loving ladies too…mentioning no names, obviously 😉 ).

I have already taken on a couple of cycling-based clients and will be working with my totally mad Amercian friend, Kem,  publicising her very funny new life-help and nutritional-themed book and documentary, Eat Meat and Be Happy!

(Can’t wait Kem – playing on Instagram, Facetiming and drinking coffee is far more fun than mucking out 25 horses a day!)

I’ll keep this one shortish as it was mainly a test to see if I could remember the log in details to this account (winner!).  I am still very much obsessed with triathlon and running (I’ve somehow qualified again for the Zofingen long distance duathlon World championships later this year). My future blog posts will be a mixture of family, sport, cycling, triathlon, running, swimming, training, digital marketing and horses…with a bit of hen balancing, dogs in barrows and escapee tortoises thrown in!).

I am running a 36 mile Ultra run called The Longhorn on Sunday, so I predict my next blog entry will be on Monday or Tuesday when I cannot get off the sofa and do not have the lure of running or cycling to distract me!

Please share this on Facebook and your other social media sites with any sporty, triathletely, horsey friends that you have..or with anyone you think might find my future posts entertaining – thank you, Lucy

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Filed under Breeding, children, cyclists, digital marketing, dressage, Equine, Family, fitness, Horses, kids, large families, marketing, news, nutrition, Running, running a business, social media, social media marketing, Sport, ultra running, Uncategorized

Lovely family day out?! aka Very late race report (found unpublished in draft folder!)

Last weekend I took part in an extremely painful duathlon in Cambridgeshire. Actually, as far as duathlons go it wasn’t any more painful than the next… it just helped me reaffirm my conclusion that ALL duathlons are painful, fullstop.

Our morning started at 5am, when I dragged my thirteen year old daughter out of bed and told her to dress in VERY warm clothes. She muttered something that I was clearly supposed to not quite hear under her breath which contained the phrases “middle of the night”….”standing next to a freezing lake”….. “lovely family day out….huh”

I then finished packing the car, forced down a bowl of porridge and bravely woke up Jon, who rather strangely  muttered something along the same lines as Rosie.

Troll was happy to get up at 5am, she likes a good adventure (declaring daily that she is going to be “an explorer and adventurer” when she’s bigger) and was smart enough to recognise that a 1.5 hour car journey in both directions would almost certainly at some point equate to sweets to shut her up.

Racing can be stressful enough without five children to entertain at the same time, so the remaining children, Violet (6), Daisy (10) and Clyde (12) had been split between two sets of grandparents the day before. This pleased Jon, who would be left entertaining the children by a freezing lake whilst I was two miles into a hilly run, wishing that i’d stuck to triathlon racing.

Google maps for once produced a shockingly accurate route for us, which only involved one very minor discrepancy at the end of the journey – when we pulled in to the wrong carpark at Grafham water and had a 20 second we’ve-got- the-wrong-day panic, with no runners or bikes to be seen!

The one good thing I can say about duathlons, is that at least you don’t have to climb into a freezing lake to kickstart your race. No, but you do have to either opt to strip down to your lycra racing clothes and freeze for the first ten minutes or, do what I did (which is ultimately more painful) and decide not to take off the layers you had put on as a keeping-warm measure over your tri-suit, race in them and boil.

This was only one of a handful of duathlons that I had ever done (being more familiar with triathlons) and the first race ever that had an “open” transition. This meant that you could rack your bike/collect your running shoes from anywhere you liked, rather than a specifically numbered place in the rack. I quite liked this idea, as I have a bad reputation for running up and down the racks like a head-less chicken and completely missing my bike. Despite this bonus, I still managed to run past my bike and almost steal another competitor’s cycling shoes (which were the same brand as mine)…

The start to the initial 5k run was fast, painful and made me feel like a baby elephant trying to keep up with herd of antelope. That’s duathletes for you. Mainly thin, mainly fast, mainly men, mainly sewn into tight black 2XU compressing lycra. I raced in my Aldi bike top.

I enjoyed the bike ride and final run because by then most of the mega-fast people had disappeared and the surrounding competitiors were more in my league and somehow (because 25 year old men’s results made no difference to my agegroup’s results) my overall performance managed to secure me a roll-down place for the GB age group team for the European sprint duathlon champs in the Netherlands in April 2014.

This blog has been sitting in my draft folder since 2013, April is now only a few weeks away and my nightly dreams mainly encompass baby elephants wearing lycra GB tri-suits…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under age-group, children, comedy, duathlon, family, fitness, funny, funny things kids say, grumpy husbands, health, humour, ironman, Running, Sport, thirties, Triathlon

Lucy’s Observations of the Day

I am a born optimist and always like to make the best out of a bad situation. With so many children, horses and sporting interests, something invariably goes wrong in my week. Rather than dwell on it, I try to just get on with things and report it to Facebook in the form of a status update beginning with the words “Lucy’s Observation of the day…”. Today’s blog entry includes some of the most popular/idiotic Saxely Observations that have occurred in the last 18 months, I hope you like them (and that reading them may help you avoid similar errors!).

If you really want to irritate your husband,  I have found that picking up a dead mole to show to the kids and then forgetting about it and leaving it on your mother-in-law’s kitchen window-sill for ten days works wonders….”Lucy, why is there a rotten dead mole on mum’s window ledge? This is just the sort of thing that annoys me about you”

1) If you under-cook sugar mice, they don’t set and form an alien gloop that is impossible to remove from anything. (2) If you over-cook sugar mice they taste worse than poo. (3) If you cook sugar mice to perfection, you get immediately hassled by at least six people to test one. (4) Basset hounds like burnt sugar mice. (5) Feeding burnt sugar mice to basset hounds equals a nasty crumbly residue on the carpet and a dog with a sticky nose.

Mucking out a 10-day-old foal, who has yet to go out into the field due to the wet weather, is comparable to being in a charity shop changing room with a stunt rider on a Kawasaki with a nitrous kit.

Howling basset hounds following you around the school when you are cantering do nothing to improve the concentration levels of a young horse.

It is wise, when letting the dog finish off food directly from a dinner plate, to remember to pick up the plate prior to your husband coming in and seeing it.

Two year old girls and bright red Clinique lipsticks can never exist harmoniously together in the same house.

Loft insulation is one of the worst things on earth.

Elderly people’s incontinence pads do not stay securely in place when used as stand-in nappies for toddlers, even with half a roll of your husband’s electrical tape.

You know that your three-year-old child is a genetic upgrade on her father when she learns to turn on the child-lock on the washing machine after you have loaded it so that “Daddy won’t walk past and turn it off before it is clean”.  (Jon has form for seeing the light on, thinking it has finished, wanting to save electricity and turning it off mid-cycle. I have form for complaining about him doing this).

Law school does not improve common sense. One of my friends (with a law degree) came round today in a panic over her laptop which was “broken”.  After a 12- second assessment I was able to diagnose that it had the NUMBER LOCK on…

If you steal a pair of your husband’s light-coloured smart socks and then wear them with leaky wellies whilst emptying barrows on to a muckheap in the middle of a muddy field, it is probably wise to take the socks off and hide them before he comes in.

You know when your children are approaching teenagerdom, when you overhear them “Blasting” each other with the Harry Potter-style spells: “Fat-i-fy” and “Gay-i-fy”.

Although the “pushing and running as hard as you can” method is a highly effective way of getting a loaded wheelbarrow through deep mud, it vastly increases the probability of a welly coming off in a speed-mud-vacuum.

If you are loading a reluctant horse and are out of horse food, Morrison’s own-brand crunchy nut corn flakes make a suitable substitute.

Next time I remove a two-year-old filly’s ripped rug in the morning and think to myself “I’ll put another one on later” and if “later” actually translates into “when it is pitch black, cold, muddy and I am dressed in lycra with jelly legs after a 50-mile bike ride because I was too damn lazy to do it earlier” then I should remember next time that this is a false economy and it takes six times  longer in the dark and is at least ten times as unpleasant.

Troll (3) is not shy. I have just watched her fetch her red singing potty, park it in the middle of the living room, drop her tights and sit on it. This was in front of her friends and mine at her birthday party and let’s just says she made full use of the potty…

Rugging up a herd of breeding mares and youngstock has definite parallels to competing in a triathlon. This morning I have spent ages sorting out equipment of various shapes and sizes, carried heaped piles of equipment to various locations, got soaked to the skin,  had to take on and off several pieces of equipment as quickly as possible and run four times around a large field whilst gasping for breath. I think I prefer triathlon…

Maximum heart rate tests hurt… a lot.

Wind-up torches in “dens” sound like a good method of toddler amusement but require at least 20 minutes of mummy’s best den-building and torch-finding time. In reality they keep toddlers entertained for approximately 45 seconds.

The opposite of burning tea is called “turning on the oven then forgetting to put the food in”.  This is probably more annoying than burning it.

Taking hound-child pictures of the day to upload to Facebook is all good fun but makes your morning harder, delays mucking out and generally adds to the child-hound-horse chaos in your home, especially when, as a consequence, your eight-year-old misses her school bus and you end up having to drive her to school in your mucking out clothes.

Small children can ski black runs without panicking if they are told that they are “dark blue”.

Things that two year olds who are just getting the hang of sentences should refrain from saying to their mothers when they require carrying:- “Up, up, up – stupid”.

The next time I give my husband the simple task of “turning on the vegetables on the hob whilst I’m outside haying the horses”, I will be sure to leave printed instructions explaining how to “turn the oven on at the wall”.

When getting your husband and big sister to spend ten minutes trying their hardest to fasten you into your Woof-wear metal “cage” body protector, it is probably advisable to make sufficient prior checks to ensure that it is not on backwards. If you do not do this and they suceed in their task you will be 1) very uncomfortable 2) subjected to serious derision.

Littlest Petshop figures bloody hurt when you stand on them in bare feet.

Trifle the cat does not like granny’s turkey gravy even when the dog has stolen her food for the last 24 hours and she is starving.

Slugs are very difficult to remove from tissue paper and slug-slime is very difficult to remove from fingers that have been attempting to remove slugs from tissue paper.

There is a positive correlation between the number of cups of coffee and kisses given to husband and the amount of loaded barrows of horse-poo husband empties onto the (distant) muckheap.

Once dried, Stella Artois makes a very substitute for hair gel.

Nasty Asti gets progressively less nasty after each glass and, providing the first glass is consumed after several none-Asti alcoholic drinks, is almost drinkable.

Using the fail-barrow because you are too lazy to go and find the good barrow is a false economy when mucking out nine stables. Failure to act on this obvious truth is likely to result in a minimum of six accidental mid-yard poo-tips.

It takes an average of seven large bounces to propel one prone toddler from one side of the trampoline to the other whilst you are on all fours in your pyjamas with a four-year-old riding on your back. Doing this at 2pm scores about eight out of ten on the embarrassment scale when  you look up to see the postman watching you with a signature-required parcel in his hand.

There is a positive correlation between the amount of hoof trimmings consumed by a basset hound and the amount of methane expelled into the living room that evening.

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Filed under Basset hounds, Breeding, children, comedy, disorder, dogs, Equine, Family, family, fitness, Foals, funny, grumpy husbands, health, Horses, humour, kids, large families, married life, mother in laws, Running, self-help, Sport, Tips, toddlers, Triathlon

Couch Potato Versus Runner Bean…

When I am not mucking out, social networking or wiping up child spillages, I can usually be found running round the local villages, cycling round rural Nottinghamshire or at the swimming pool.

I know some people think it’s mad but this is what I choose to do for my “me time” rather than, for instance, watching TV (unless either the Grand National or triathlon highlights are on, in which case you’ll find me under a duvet in front of the fire snacking on Quality Street).

I often read people saying on Facebook or Twitter that they would like to get fit, lose weight or get back into a hobby and, in so far as any of my blogs have a purpose beyond the fact that I just feel like writing them, the point of this one is to say: “if I can do it, anyone can”.

(All right, it is also because it is extremely cold outside and I need a good excuse to avoid having to clean the bathroom in which the sink, in particular, would not look out of place in a Glastonbury portable toilet cubicle).

The thing is that, while you might often hear me banging on about how much I love running, cycling, swimming, skiing and, of course, horse riding, I am far from a “natural athlete”.

Except for netball (which I seemed to be quite good at), I was more often than not picked in the last handful of people in school PE lessons. Admittedly, this might have been down to my bad haircut, very untrendy Puffa horse riding school coat and resolute refusal to wear makeup but it must also have said something about my sporting talent…

Apart from riding, I am relatively new to most of my sports and not necessarily very good at them yet.

Take skiing. I have spent a couple of my happiest weeks on the slopes but I am no expert. In fact, I have been told by various experienced skiers that my gung-ho, jumpy style would be far more suited to being on a snowboard. My husband, however, would never let me on a snowboard as snowboards are apparently not for respectable 36-year-old mothers of five. Besides, he says, I look grungy enough in my mucking out gear all year round without having to dress that way on our family ski holiday.

Despite my lack of grace on a pair of skis, I can already kick my husband’s ass down a long bumpy black run because I’m fitter and his thigh muscles get tired. (strangely, Jon strongly disagrees with what he describes as this “outrageous” statement and claims that I don’t realize how much he “slows down” for my benefit. I feel a down-hill slalom race coming on …)

My favourite hobby – or, as Jon would say, obsession – at the moment is probably running but I am not a natural runner.

Just as with skiing, I have a rather unique and unnecessarily “twisty” running action – which cannot be very efficient and must certainly waste vital energy that I could be using to make me go faster.

I have been doing various exercises to try to improve my running technique and I think might have succeeded in toning down some of the oddities. Even so, I still look like I’m struggling through mile 25 of an off-road marathon even when I’m just jogging a mile down the road and feeling as fresh as a daisy.

While I have always enjoyed running, I have to admit that it is far more enjoyable once:

a)      You are fit;

b)      You are doing the correct type of training;

c)      You start to do quite well in races

d)      You can see an improvement in your results in line with all the effort.

If you have bothered to get this far down the page and have had even the teeniest “I wish I did some form of sport” thought, then read on and let me persuade you to log onto eBay and order yourself a pair of new trainers…

1)  Firstly, when I am at the end of a run or have finished one, although I am physically tired – I feel full of energy and I know it’s a cliché but I feel “alive”.

2)  Exercise has made me fitter, faster and stronger and I have been able to take part in some fabulous fun things, which I’d have never been able to do if I were a couch potato. Examples being “Survival of the fittest” obstacle race, Dambuster Olympic distance triathlon and the most recent addition to my weekend schedule – running for the Readyfield hunt and being chased over the countryside by a pack of bloodhounds…

3)  I have lost weight, whilst still eating pretty much what I want.

4)  I have toned up all over and only have a minimal patch of lumpy fat at the top of my thighs now, as opposed to loads of it before I started my fitness regime!

5)  Running and triathlon races not only give me a “goal” to work towards but I usually sign up to them with a friend and we have loads of fun both on the day and in training for them.

6)  I have completely replaced my horse-buying tendencies with a much cheaper lycra running outfit addiction.

7) I have a valid excuse for falling asleep on the sofa every night and leaving Jon to deal with the 5-child chaos, bedtime excuses and washing up.

8)Schadenfreude – As in when I bump into certain old classmates who were “too cool” to speak to me at school and discover that their thighs are bigger than my waist. I know it’s wrong but no one is perfect.

 

 

 

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Filed under comedy, fitness, funny, getting older, health, humour, Running, self-help, Sport, Swimming, thirties, Triathlon, weight-loss

“Are you on drugs?”

I know that I’m lucky that I don’t have to work a nine-to-five job or commute for two hours every day, or bus children around to a childminder’s house before 7am.

As both Jon and I work from home (or, in my case, work from the yard that is at the bottom of my garden) then we can and do spend a good deal of our time drinking coffee, having internet social networking breaks or, in my case “nipping out for a run”.

For the past couple of years before signing up to this blog account, I have been venting my frustrations, selling my foals and sharing general Saxelby chaos using Facebook, Twitter and web forums, with plenty of responses, interaction and feedback from people, many of whom I have never met. Probably the most frequently seen replies to some of my posts are “How do you cope?”, “Are you on drugs?” or “You should be on drugs!”.

For those who aren’t well acquainted with my Facebook page, here are some examples of the kind of status update I’m talking about:

This month’s stats:- During September I have fallen off my bike twice, fallen down the stairs once, been bitten by one horse, broken two plates, raced in one triathlon and one half marathon, hosted one child’s swimming party, drank roughly 180 cups of coffee, collected various children from running, rugby, bowls, netball and sleep-overs, burnt at least three dinners to a crisp, made two batches of biscuits, carried a three year old on my shoulders up “Steep Hill” in Lincoln, locked my husband out of the house once, drank virtually NO alcohol (amazing), sneaked the hound onto my bed once, shopped in Morrisons, Tesco and the Co-op at least three times each, re-wired an ancient wire fuse, delivered one horse to its new home. But the best and most memorable achievement of the month is I HAVE CHANGED NO NAPPIES. This is the first time I have been entirely nappy free for 12 years!

Here’s another one from October: 

This fortnight’s stats:- I have mucked out 84 stables, hosted two children’s birthday parties, ran in a 5k race and a 12k obstacle race, had one flat tyre on my mountain bike, burnt two meals, broken one outdoor tap, dug one massive hole to enable mending of outside tap, bought seven things from eBay, been rude to one extremely persistent and annoying cold-calling loft insulation representative, read three books, one triathlon magazine, one dressage magazine, spent 10 minutes trying to work out what was wrong with the volume on my iPod – when I’d forgotten to put the earphones in, made Halloween bats and witches, swam 170 lengths, cycled 68 miles, drank two glasses of wine, approx. 70 cups of coffee and 14 cups of green tea.

A last one from July:

This fortnight’s stats: – In the last 14 days I have mucked out 48 stables, put up two tents and taken them down again, filled up one giant swimming pool, killed two large patches of grass (!) had two extra children over for sleep-overs in the tent, sent three of my children off on sleepovers for 4 days, had two foals born, chased one escapee yearling, Saxy youngsters have had two x 1st premiums at the BEF Futurity, ran 29 miles, biked seven miles, got hopelessly drunk once and marginally drunk twice, been to one charity fundraising party, eaten one Chinese, two packets of hay fever tablets, one packet of ibuprofen, read 1.5 novels, one running magazine, purchased a new pair of trail-running shoes and tested them around a 16 acre cow field, smashed one wine glass and two mugs, made roughly 20 cups of coffee for builders, changed approximately 14 nappies and emptied 2 potties down the toilet (progress), walked into a loaded-with-dead-flies fly-paper three times…

So you can see that, despite being self-employed and wasting far too much time on the internet, I do manage to fit in some activities that don’t involve children or horses and probably manage just as many disasters along the way!

As a keen runner I have learnt that, when a session starts to get tough and the voice in my head tells me to “slow down”, it helps loads if I start counting and focussing on only the next 10 strides at a time.

I got this idea from a running magazine and have found it really useful. I have since developed my own version, which is singing the alphabet song (inside my head may I add, I don’t need to encourage people to think I am deranged) and have used this technique so often that I’m now getting quite good at matching distances to the letters. For example, if I’m running along and spot something that is certain distance away, I often think “oh, that tree is a P” or “that cow is a J, second-time round”. This works because, while I am singing the alphabet song, my mind cannot also be shouting at me telling me to walk.

I also apply a similar method to other areas of my life by breaking tasks up into mini “playlists” lists in my head and only focusing and thinking about one list at a time. For example, if I had get the kids to school then muck out eight stables and then ride a horse before lunch, go to the supermarket, collect children from the bus-stop followed by a meal for seven to cook and then evening stables – the whole day starts to look and sound a bit daunting.

I get around this by absolutely and resolutely refusing to think about any playlist other than the one I’m currently working on. To start worrying about getting to a doctor’s appointment on time when I am mid-mucking out would stress me out, so I have learnt to not do this.

I also apply this method to triathlon competitions, which involve moving from swimming to cycling and cycling to running with timed transitions in between. When I am racing, I only think of swimming whilst I’m swimming, cycling whilst I’m cycling and running whilst I’m running.

A lot of practice at home is necessary to ensure I know what level of effort it is possible for me to maintain in each discipline without causing a decrease in performance in another discipline but, come race day, I only think about one thing at a time and this helps me put in my best effort and prevents the voice in my head from screaming “Stop – too much!!!!!”.

Anyway, that’s what works for me. I am interested to hear other people’s mental strategies.

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Filed under comedy, Equine, Family, funny, humour, large families, Running, Sport, Uncategorized