Year 3 week 25

18th – 24th June 2018

This week has been very uninteresting really. Nothing amazing has happened, nothing is coming up in the near future I need to prepare for and there is nothing I really need to train for anymore either. In fact after my time away in Kenya I feel this week is a bit of an anticlimax.

I have spent all of this year and part of last year training to do that half marathon in Kenya. It has been what I have focused on for months and now I don’t need to do it anymore. In someways I am a bit sad but it also has its benefits.

One thing I have realised is how much I have neglected my kids in that time. It means I am spending more time with them and concentrating on their needs more which is definitely a bonus. The kids have been great and very understanding and incredible supportive throughout that time.

Another thing I have neglected is my nutrition. With all that exercise came extra eating to give me more energy to complete my challenges. Since increasing the exercise you would think I would lose weight but no, I haven’t lost any at all. In fact I have probably put it on rather than lose it.

So I have decided to use this time to concentrate on what I am eating. Over the last 2 half years I have learnt a lot especially about nutrition. I have learnt the best way to lose weight, what food does to your body, what kind of food I should and shouldn’t be eating and if I don’t remember any of it Jenny, my nutritionist, would soon remind me.

I feel now that I have all the tools I need and they are stacked neatly on the wall not being used. I might look at them from time to time debating whether to use them or not.

I am not in denial – I know if I started to use those tools that it wouldn’t be easy. However this week I have come to the realisation that there is no point having them if they are not going to be used. An unused tool is totally useless and has no benefit to anyone.

So I have decided that from tomorrow I am actually going to start using them. I have decided that for 2 weeks I am going to cut out artificial sugars and basically go back to the beginning again.

I know this is going to be really difficult for me but I feel, as I am confessing it, it will hopefully keep me accountable and in some ways make it easier.

So for once I actually have the right tools and I know how to use them. The challenge now is whether I can use them efficiently.

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Year 3 week 24

11th – 17th June 2018

It has been one amazing week. My time in Kenya has been very busy and very eye opening.

We got to go to see some of the Compassion projects while we were there. They made us feel very welcome. Those kids are the happiest children I have ever met – they always had a smile on their face and when I gave them a simple gift like a balloon their faces lit up even more.

They live in poverty and yet they are full of joy. I am not sure I would have been so happy with a balloon for a gift!

I got to see my sponsor child, Elvin, while I was there and he took me to his house. There are 5 of them who live in a room about the size of my downstairs toilet, which is incredibly small I can tell you. It was quite a special moment for me.

There were many other projects we visited throughout the week and everywhere we went the welcome was the same. Those happy joyful faces can keep you going for a long time.

At the end of the week I was to do my half marathon. I think all the things I had witnessed that week made my feet go faster because I felt like I was flying. I was still slow in the whole scheme of things but to me it felt fast. I had my music playing and I think I must have annoyed everyone near me as I was singing really loud and I can’t sing!

By the time I got to 13.1 miles I had smashed my personal best time. However on this half marathon I had just under another mile to go until I got to the finish line.

At that point the heat had hit me and I couldn’t go any further. I had to rest and cool myself off. I sat there for 20 minutes and then carried on very slowly. That last part took me an hour in total.

All I wanted to see was the finish line but it just didn’t seem to be anywhere. Then in the distance I saw this red banner with ‘finish’ written on it. It was the best thing I had seen all day. Running across that finish line was the best feeling.

It made it even more special with the people cheering and clapping as I arrived.

A cup of water was tipped over my head for me to cool down which was lovely. I later found out that it got to over 40 degrees that day. No wonder I over heating. I couldn’t believe I had done it for the second time and in that heat.

I will never forget my week in Kenya and all the things I achieved but most of all I will never forget the happy faces of all those children.

Year 3 week 23

4th- 10th June 2018

So I have arrived in Kenya and already I have met some amazing people and done some amazing things.

It has been great going around the projects and seeing the work compassion do and the difference that it makes in people’s lives.

I know I have told you I am coming here to do a half marathon but really that has been a very small thing in comparison to the need that is out here.

The half marathon for me this year, I am calling my glory round. To me it’s not about how fast I go, it’s not about my time or even beating my personal best. In fact I am more than likely to be last.

I was reminded recently about the story of the tortoise and the hare. They were racing each other and the hare was so far ahead that he decided to rest. In the mean time the tortoise just kept on plodding on at his own pace – he never stopped once. The hare woke up just as the tortoise was about to cross the finishing line. He tried to catch up but it was to late – The tortoise won!

Matt calls me the plodder. The thing about a plodder is – yes they go slow but they also see all of the amazing things going on around them. So really I am happy to be a plodder.

I feel like I am that tortoise gradually making my way to the finish line. So while I am hear I am taking in all things that I am experiencing along the way. At the end of the day the tortoise was still a winner so that must make me one too.

So no matter what happens on race day, whether I cross that finish line or not I still feel I am a winner as I am helping some of these people here in Kenya – and that makes me happy!!!

Year 3 week 22

28th May – 3rd June 2018

It’s now less than a week until I go to Kenya and I have to say I am not prepared at all.

Last week, I feel, was probably my most important week. It should have been a time when I am training hard and putting in the miles. However I did nothing – no training at all. It was because I was so busy.

Everyday this week I have been traveling to different parts of the country. I live in the middle of England and my travels this week have taken me to a few coastal towns and a few towns in the opposite direction. It has meant that I have been traveling in the car for about 20 hours this week

It has left me slightly disoriented – I don’t know whether I am coming or going. I feel like I am being pulled every which way. I don’t even know what day it is anymore.

It has meant I haven’t had time to think about my diet either. I feel I have done ok, the second half of the week being better than the first. The worst thing is the lack of exercise.

I feel that the week off the exercise has set me back months. This half marathon is now only around the corner and I feel like I have lost all the ability to succeed.

I have a run scheduled soon so I am hoping that will make me feel better about things but I still have a lot to do with only a few days to do it in. I am just hoping I don’t turn up at the airport tired before I even start.

Year 3 week 21

21st – 27th May 2018

It’s now less than 2 weeks before I go to Kenya. My training is going ok and I am starting to think on what to pack.

Last year when I signed up I was a bag of nerves and it wasn’t just the fact I was doing a half marathon – it was also because I was going alone. Over the years I stopped doing things on my own and started getting anxieties about the thought of it.

So last year was quite a big step for me. I was so glad I overcame my nerves because I had the best week.

This year when I signed up I didn’t have any nerves at all – in fact I was more excited than nervous.

With less than 2 weeks before I go it is now becoming very real and I have to say those nerves have hit. I have even resorted to biting my finger nails.

I am quite surprised by these nerves because this year I know what to expect, I know how much fun I am going to have, I even feel like I am not going alone as I will be with some of the same people from last year. So I am wondering why the nerves.

I think it’s probably because of the challenge. Just because I did a half marathon before doesn’t mean I can do it again. I feel these nerves are good because it shows me I am taking it seriously.

One thing I have learnt is that challenges are nerve racking but the reward is so much greater once it’s all accomplished.

Year 3 Week 20

14th – 20th May 2018

It really isn’t long now until I go to Kenya. It’s hard to believe that a month from now it will all be over and I will be looking for something else to focus on.

For months now my main focus has been training for this half marathon. I know it will be the second time of doing it but the training is still important.

I think the fact that I know I have done it before makes me believe that I can do it again. Last year that was one of my biggest fears – not knowing if I could do it or not.

I have been training now for over 6 months and some months I have been training almost everyday. Since January I have set myself goals that have been going very well. Infact they have been going so much better than I expected.

That is until this month. For May I have set the goal to up my mileage every week and by the end of the month hopefully I would have reached 10 or 11 miles.

Last week I managed to reach 9 miles which I was extremely happy about. However afterwards I was ill. My neck was burning and swelling up I got incredibly tired and I put on 5lbs over night. I generally felt really rotten and my emotions were all over the place. So I booked an appointment with my doctor. He suspects that I might have a thyroid disease which he can only prove with further blood tests. He also said it’s brought on by stress.

Fortunately, this week I went to see Jenny and a month ago I had a DNA health test with her and this week my results had arrived. I told her my issues and she said the way I was feeling made sense. This stress the doctors said though is not mental stress – it’s physical stress.

She said that the Thyroid contains something called T3 and T4. One keeps you going helping you do the things you need to do and the other helps to heal repair and level out things afterwards. She said the one to repair is not working which is why I instantly put on weight and why my emotions are going haywire and why I am generally tired all the time.

She also said that what I have been doing is basically sticking a plaster on a stab wound.

I have had a thyroid issue for years and I have always kept up on test checking that all is ok. My main focus throughout my training though has all been about strengthening my legs and sorting out any little ailments I may have, which I feel I have done.

What Jenny said has totally made me think and I realised that has been exactly what I have been doing – I have been putting that plaster over a stab wound. I have been too busy trying to make sure my legs can get me across that finish line that I forgot to look deeper to see what the real problem was.

It isn’t all bad news though as there is something that can be done about it apparently. I have done another 9 miles since and I was a little better than before. So it means that I can still go to Kenya. But I am actually starting to doubt whether I can complete the challenge. Whatever happens, I will keep trying.

Year 3 week 19

7th – 13th May 2018

Sometimes in life you feel you can be doing things on your own. I very often think this.

It’s like I’m in my own personal little tug of war. A war against my emotions and I’m losing

my half marathon training has not been very easy for me and when I train on my own it is the hardest thing ever.

It’s so much easier when I have someone with me rather than being on my own.

The people I go with are all so much better runners than me. They go further distances and they can run nonstop. So, I am sure, when they are with me I am holding them back.

One of my friends ran the London marathon this year and this week she invited me to run with her. I said yes but when we turned up I realised that she had actually entered me into a 10k race.

I know I have done a half marathon before but I didn’t class it as a race because it was many different events not just a half marathon – I didn’t feel the pressure of finishing on time because I had marathon and ultra marathon runners coming in behind me.

So in my head what I did last week was my first race. It was no surprise to me that I came last. However my friend stayed with me the whole way. But we did it and I even got a medal!

Two days later I went with another friend and I wanted to do 8 miles. My challenge this month is to up my mileage by a mile every week gradually getting to 10 miles however we ended up doing 9 miles instead.

So that thought of me doing it alone is not true – I have so many people who are supporting me on this journey and without them I would never have got this far.

Doubling my fundraising target also shows me how much support I have.

So those times I feel like I am struggling and I am needing to try a bit harder, I am going to remember that I am not alone and there are people around me helping- helping pull that rope too

Year 3 week 18

30th April – 6th May 2018

This week has been an incredibly busy week for me. As you know next month I will be running a half marathon in Kenya which in itself is a really big challenge for me. One of the main reasons for doing it though is to raise money for charity.

The charity is called Compassion and they help children in over 25 different countries. Their main aim is to release children from poverty and they do this through sponsorship. You can sponsor a child for £25 a month and that child then is given an education, which hopefully means they can get a good job which means they have hope for a better future.

This week I put on a charity event at my house to raise money for this cause. Over the past 18 months our house has gone through a major refurb and we have been frantically trying to get it finished. There was also a lot of work to do for the event as well.

I called the event ‘Mad Hatters Charity Quiz Night’. I sent out invitations months before and of course it contained one of my drawings on it.

The event was a huge success and lots of fun. It was fun hearing all the banter around the questions. I got to say a small speech about my journey which is something I am definitely not used to. I also had a guy come and talk about the work of the charity and then we ended the evening with an auction with some really great items including a original acrylic painting that I did myself.

It took me about a month to do, but to me it summed up why I was going. I called her Bedisa which is an African name. It is often given to girls so they could grow up with hope and destiny.

The event went really well and we raised nearly £3,000 and we got 11 children sponsored and an additional 9 the following day at church.

I was very overwhelmed by the support I got and how generous people can be for a worthy cause. But the best thing to me is how many lives have been changed and how many children do now have a hope and a destiny. It makes me want to run even faster!

Year 3 week 17

23rd – 29th April 2018

My post from last week has really helped me with my post for this week. Last week I told you how hard it is to stay motivated. A friend commented on it who I met when I was on my trip to Rwanda last year – he did the marathon while I did a half marathon. He simply reminded me of the reason I am doing it.

He said to remember the children, see their faces and see their joy. He also said that they need people like me to keep digging deep. All this week I have been reminded of the children and their smiley faces

Last year when training for the half marathon in Rwanda those children were my motivation. For some reason knowing that I was doing something good for someone else really drove me on. Knowing that in some small way I am helping children on the poverty line get a better future is why I did it.

About half way through the part I was struggling the most those children helped me along. They wanted to run with me holding my hand as we went. I counted I was holding the hands of about 10 children at one point. It was a very special moment for me. I don’t think I would have finished without them

Last year my run helped raise money for the children of Rwanda. This year its to help the children of Kenya. I know in the scheme of things what I am doing is relatively small as there is so much need in the world not just in Kenya but to me it’s huge. It’s a lot of effort and hard work but it’s totally worth it when you see those smiley faces.

My training this year has been really hard. I know now it’s because I lost my focus – I was too busy thinking about myself and how much hard work it is. I was forcing myself to train every week but I really couldn’t be bothered to do it. All of a sudden though, after I was told to remember the children, things changed. It was still tiring and hard work but all of a sudden I was starting to enjoy it (even in the rain). That can’t be bothered attitude disappeared and was replaced with a purpose and a reason to carry on.

If you feel you can help and donate to the children of Kenya push the link

https://challenges.compassionuk.org/profile/500/debbie-wattis

Year 3 week 13

26th March – 1st April 2018

This week I have struggled to complete this months challenge. It has meant that on some days I have had to double the amount of exercise just to catch up and complete my challenge.

I am at the moment doing an hours exercise at least every weekday and sometimes I extend it to the weekend too. I have never exercised so much in my life. This week though I have done about 2 hours almost everyday just so I can complete my challenge before the end of the month.

All this is for training for another half marathon I’m doing in June. Sometimes I wonder why I put myself through all this pain. If it wasn’t for the kids I am raising money for I think I would have quit long ago.

I have also really cut down on my food intake too. Upping the exercise and lowering my food intake has been one of the hardest things I have done so far.

You would think that this would mean that I would lose weight. I did lose a few pounds last week but nothing this week. I feel I am doing all this effort for no reward.

These challenges are something that I have set myself to do. No one is pressuring me to succeed. I am however pressuring myself to succeed and as the weeks go by that pressure gets stronger.

I saw a quote this week that says “a diamond is just a piece of charcoal that can handle pressure extremely well”

It got me googling how a diamond is formed. They come from deep under the ground, they start as carbon (like coal and charcoal) and they are a mineral of carbon in a concentrated form. They form because of the amount of pressure sitting on top compacting it tight.

After that deep sourced lava comes up through the earth pushing them to the surface heating them to incredible temperatures in the process.

Once the ground cools they just need to be dug up and shaped to the diamonds we all see today.

I have a few diamonds that are very special to me, not just because they look nice but because of what they represent and who bought them for me.

I have never once realised what it took to get that diamond on my finger or around my neck.

This whole process of how a diamond is formed is what makes it so strong and the reason why they can’t be broken.

This little lesson on diamonds has made me think that the pressure I am putting on myself is a good thing. Upping the heat on my training is making me stronger, hopefully it is shaping me into a much better person.

So I think I will continue on my current course and hopefully it will make me stronger

If you feel you could help support this cause go to:

https://challenges.compassionuk.org/profile/500/debbie-wattis