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Kickin’ it in the Caribbean…….Preston style

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Hundreds of people lined the streets as the Caribbean Carnival parade brought an explosion of vibrant colour and a thump of drums to Preston city centre earlier today.

Brightly coloured-dressed dancers, musicians and DJs took part in a joyful parade through Deepdale, the City Centre and finally ending in Avenham Park.

After a delayed start the convoy left Moor Park to begin their journey down Deepdale Road. They were met by a crowd of keen Prestonians, waving flags, blowing whistles and vuvuzelas to the sound of the steel drums.

Around ten floats blasted out Caribbean beats as dance troupes followed behind.

There were plenty of street vendors selling carnival merchandise to the public – which added to the festival noise of steel drums, African music, freestyling MCs and the trumpets of the vuvuzelas.

Sunday afternoon’s parade kicked off the carnival, which concluded at Avenham Park later in the afternoon.

One member of the public said: “I thought it would be a washout as the rain was so heavy this morning. We were really lucky that it stopped just in time and didn’t spoil the carnival.”

The scene down Church Street before the arrival of the carnival saw an amalgamation of crowds wanting to join in the anticipated celebrations.

The diverse mix of the public shows how Prestonhas become a multi-cultural community that joins together in celebration.

The Caribbean Carnival is now the largest and longest running cultural festivity inPrestonoutside of the Preston Guild. It is well organised, creates a sense of community spirit and has now become a local institution.

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Training update

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10k number one was over 5 weeks ago, and although I was feeling slightly more relaxed about number two, I couldn’t help but feel that I had let my training schedule slip.

The Trafford 10k really took its fury out on my knees, which although are feeling better than they have been in years, they did swell up and feel rather sore after Trafford.

Instead of running down the three humps during the Trafford 10k in the road with caution – I forgot all the things I had read about running with composure and caution on the downhill and instead thought it would be a good way to gain speed. So, I paid the price in the two weeks following the race.

This affected my training as I was unable to run the distances that I would have liked to. The lack of exercise then impacted on my back which became stiff, so it felt like a vicious circle. I got to a real low point as I had not run for six consecutive days and started worrying that I would quickly lose the fitness levels that I had worked so hard to achieve.

The final two weeks before my second 10k race proved really good. I managed to record my longest distance 10 days ago of nine and half miles which I was so pleased about. Who’d have thought it – six months ago that the fat girl would be able to run that distance.

I also broke the 2 stone barrier in terms of my weight loss last week which I was ecstatic about. I am hoping that the pounds loss will turn into more speed during my races.

And I keep checking out dates for half-marathons. Is it possible at this early stage of my running career to reach so high? Who knows!

The road to fat fighters

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Anybody embarking on a weight loss journey should photograph their body during the process and record their journey.

I really regret not doing this. I was too ashamed, embarrassed and in denial about how large I had let myself get since having children. The children were 14 and 9 so I had run out of excuses.

It was easier to not look in the mirror, buy bigger clothes and I was convinced that if I got too large I had a lovely husband who would tell me so. In reality my husband loves me whether I am 13 stone or 10 stone. Everybody else thought I was healthy and physically fit as I was able to run around the netball court for 40 minutes – twice a week.

As with everything people can’t make you do something – you need to do it for yourself.

D-day for me was seeing a photograph taken at the back of me at the buffet table during a work colleagues leaving lunch. As soon as I saw it, I saw a fat, frumpy council worker who shouldn’t be helping herself to buffet as she looked like she had ate too much over the years.

I felt so ashamed of how I looked.

I went home that night and looked at my husband who is so physically fit, has a muscley body which he works so hard to maintain – all the things that I love about a male and why I was attracted to him in the first place. If anything he has improved physically with age.

I then looked at myself and how I had really let myself go over the years following having children and felt about as low as I have ever felt for years.

I had turned into one of those frumpy looking mums who have let their appearances fade. There are plenty of them in the playgrounds – you know the type, they wear tight jeans and have an overspill of flab in their midriff. I had become that and it didn’t matter how many netball matches I could play, or how many sessions I could do at the gym – without losing that fat I was a frumpy, fat middle-age mother.

So, I joined weightwatchers.

I had calculated that I was going on holiday to Menorca in exactly 14 weeks from my joining date so if I could lose a pound a week then at least I would be a stone lighter for my holiday.

That was the goal I had to focus on.

Surprisingly I found the weight loss plan quite easy to stick to. I didn’t feel hungry and it was more of just watching what I ate and keeping a track of all the food I was consuming.

I could not believe it after my first week when I was weighed and I had lost 2 pounds. It was a great feeling to have achieved that, so that was the motivation I needed. My stone for my holiday was a definite achievable goal.

Some weeks I would stay the same, the weeks that I didn’t track every day I would gain – but I managed to lose a stone for my holiday.

I even wore a bikini for the first time on holiday.

So, if I could lose a stone slowly and just by watching what I was putting in my mouth, then surely I could lose another one?

It was much slower to lose the second stone but all the compliments I received from people who were noticing the weight loss gave me all the motivation I needed. I also dropped a dress size too, which felt like a milestone. I hadn’t been in size 12 clothes since I was 28 years old.

When I had lost 22 pounds in total my life would change forever. I signed up for 10k races and started running. Again, another thing I had tried a couple of times over the years but found it too physically challenging for me.

However, this time it felt easier and after running for a few weeks something clicked and I was able to just switch off and keep running with no thoughts. It felt a bit like meditating and the way I felt after each run was awesome. I felt happy, energetic and calm.

One thing about running is that even though a few times I feel like I can’t be bothered going out and running, especially when its really cold outside – I never feel downbeat and unhappy when I get home. I always have the runners high.

So, back to the present day. Unfortunately I never took those photos or wrote the logs of my weight loss journey. But, I can look in the mirror now, I feel at my peak in terms of my physical fitness and I am nearly at the weight I was when I first met my husband.

I think the husband finds me far more attractive at the weight I am now too.

But the greatest achievement ever was that I  bought my first pair of skinny jeans the other week and there was not an overhang of flab in sight.

Injury after injury after injury

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There are plenty of people in the world who abuse their bodies by smoking, taking drugs, being overweight and not exercising.

Apart from the odd blow-out at the weekend when I succumb to the devilish delights of vodka and dairy milk, I tend to look after myself. I stick to my weightwatchers eating air diet, I exercise regularly and have a mostly healthy mind.

Then why do I seem to be prone to injury at the moment. My knees flared up after my last 10k race which suspended my training for over a week. Then I had to do lots of short distances to not aggrevate them even further. I spent every evening stretching on the foam roller (which is a god send for my knee problems). So, I finally got them pain and swelling free last week and my back decided to start playing up (whilst sitting on a chair and eating my tea).

It is so unfair. I have been desperatly trying to keep it mobile, take lots of ibuprofen and do all the exercises (that I do anyway to keep my back supple) and then some more.

I have my next 10k race on Good Friday, and it’s not going to be good for me if I have to either:

a) walk it

b) crawl it

c) get pushed in a wheelchair

d) get carried round (mmmm actually depends on who is doing the carrying)

e) forfeit my place

I don’t like to be a moany old arse but aren’t injuries just the pits? I have felt so great since I started running. I feel physically and mentally a different person – so why is my shitty post 30 years body not catching up!

Beware of the windtakers

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Since turning 30 and actually growing to like the person that I have become, I set myself challenges each year that I strive to complete. I hate failure and not completing things that I have started, something I quite often did in my teens and twenties. Like a lot of people I know, I would talk the talk but couldn’t actually walk the walk. So, I spent most of my late teens and early to mid-twenties never being challenged or being brought out of my comfort zone.

I have done a great deal of things to conquer fear, learn skills etc which I am sure I will be sharing in this blog over the months. However, this year I decided to start running again.  I have tried this a few times but like a lot of people I found it very difficult and hated every second of it. I was also in physical pain as I was a good stone and a half heavier so when I say it hurt my knees like mad I wasn’t kidding. Those extra pounds certainly make a huge difference!

Anyway this time round I have got a fantastic trainer – an iPhone app which calculates my route, keeps a log of all runs, times and calories burned. At the end of the run there is either Lance Armstrong or Paula Radcliffe telling me at the end how great I have done in that session. It really helps with the motivation and after each run I can post it to Facebook and Twitter with any comments.

And boy do the comments start appearing on Facebook. A few positive ones, but I was surprised to receive negative ones.

“your mad! I would rather spend 6 miles in my car”

“I am just opening a box of Pringles and sitting on my arse”

“madness woman”

“it’s freezing outside…how can you be bothered”

So,why do people feel the need to try to put someone down who is trying to do something to make themselves feel better?

Ten years ago I would have listened to them, but now they just make me want to run harder and faster.