A guide to socially distanced racing

Do you remember the times when we used to race at will? Then Covid happened and we couldn’t race at all. Now, just as everyone is getting fed up with all the virtual racing nonsense, we can participate in real races again. But things are not what they used to be…

Last Saturday, I took part in my first ever socially distanced race, organised by F3 Events. Finally, their race results now count towards PO10. Essentially, it is a guarantee that the course length is measured accurately….which in this instance it was not! Us 10K competitors had the pleasure of running 10.3ish kilometers, and the lucky 20mile runners were gifted a bonus half mile! Yay….not. For some (like me) it meant a loss of what otherwise would have been a PB (although, in my case the PB was so miserable that I am not even sad about it). But let’s cut the F3 guys some slack as this was one of the first real-life races in the country so most of us were just happy to run and get a pretty medal.

So how is it to race in a Covid-compliant setting? Let me sum it up for you:

  • No spectators

That’s right. It is a race, not a family day out. No supporters allowed. No crowds. No loud music. No terrible commentators. No ice cream vans and coffee stalls. If you need the above elements to get pumped and run fast, you are not in luck. If, on the other hand, you just want to be left alone to run, this a perfect crowd-free environment.

  • No bag drop

Ok, this might be F3 specific, but before your race, check carefully comms from your organiser. No bag drop essentially means you have to arrive by car and use your vehicle as your belongings’ storage. If you are a public transport kind of person – too bad.

  • Staggered starts

Instead of a set start time, we were given a half-hour window which made the whole experience way more chilled because the usual fear of missing the start was eliminated. F3 warned us that it might feel like being on a conveyor belt. The reality was that it was simply relaxing. A mate of mine rocked up to the start four minutes after the last window and the staff (who were nearly packed up) let him go for it. I doubt this would happen during a traditional race.

On the other hand, starting alone had a bit of time trial feeling about it. And if you need someone to compete against in order to perform, you might find this kind of racing much harder.

  • Medals and rewards

Don’t expect anyone to hang a medal on your sweaty neck. You have to collect it wrapped in a bag from a table. Also, no cups at water stations – all bottles are sealed and unscrewing them costs you precious seconds. And finally – no podium! You don’t even know if you won until the official results get published, so if you really like recognition, you will be disappointed…

  • Portaloos

I saved the best for last. Do you remember the horrendous pre-race loo queues? The terrible dilemma whether to go once or twice? The fear of missing the race start while standing in a mega long queue? The complex calculations to determine when the best time to start queueing is? All of that horror is now gone!! The toilet experience was simply delightful! Zero queue. Toilets dedicated to specific race distances. Cleanliness. Plenty of hand sanitiser. Couldn’t be better!

So my overall verdict is: Yes, I love Covid-compliant racing! I appreciate it is different to what we were used to, and if you need crowds and supporters and direct competition to enjoy/perform, it might not be your cup of tea. The bottom line is – we want to race and if this is the only way to do it, then we shall be there, at a socially distanced start line, ready to kick some bottom!

#13x13challenge with buggy: Day 7

Date: 07 June 2020

Miles today: 13.1

Total miles: 93.3! I am now finally the boss of our club’s weekly leaderboard (for the first and most likely also the last time ever). Over the moon!

Hanging in there 🙂

Highlight of the run: Discovering there is a double espresso caffeine gel (thanks Steve!). Can I just have that each morning instead of my coffee?

Another run with a fellow Datchet Dasher today, yay! And because we are sad sad people, we wore our club vests while talking about Strava segments and VO2 max. I felt it was appropriate to “dress up” (yeah, in lockdown times, wearing club kit is considered dressing up). After all, it is Sunday and on Sunday you should wear your best outfit when going to the church. Running and going to a church are activities that suprisingly have more in common than you’d think. You know the feeling when you step into a cathedral and just go “wow”. It’s the combination of high ceilings and gold plated ornaments and statues and paintings and the smell, that leave you in awe and feeling humble and small. Isn’t it just the same when running outside in nature? It’s just “wow”. The sun and sky and fresh air and water surfaces and greenery… I always feel humble surrounded by all the beauty, but I don’t feel small. I feel powerful, strong, on the top of the world, and most importantly eternally grateful for everything I can experience ❤

And what are you grateful for? 🙂

The man I fancy

Oh Valentine’s Day! Everyone is suddenly all lovely dovey and emotional as if there were not other 365 (leap year!) days to do this crap. All those compulsory flowers and chocolates and nonsense made me reflect on the topic of love and attraction. So let’s talk about it. How it normally works – you meet someone you are attracted to, start dating, until you realise he is a pain in your bottom and you end up complaining you “picked the wrong man again”.Or did you?Girl, think of your “wishlist” and imagine the perfect man turning up tomorrow. He will be gentle and caring and considerate, will listen to you and take you shopping and do the chores on a regular basis…. You’ll be over the moon – but how long will this last? Ladies, we think we want this “perfect” man, and the moron we end up with is not right for us, but we might just be fooling ourselves.Reflecting on my life I always liked two types of men:

  1. The king of the party. He’s the best, the loudest, the most outrageous, everyone gravitates towards him, girls are all over him, men want to be him. He’s 100% confident, gives no crap and takes no bs.
  2. The nerd. He’s not at the party because he’s at home reading a book or watching a movie. He’s not at the party because he just does not want to be there. He’s 100% confident, gives no crap and takes no bs.

In my younger years I used to go for type no1, as I grew older I started preferring no2 because strangely no1 sucks my energy out while no2 charges me up. Either way, both types used to make me frustrated, until I met Mr Perfect. He was so perfect that he bore the hell out of me and I had no other choice than to dump his arse.After a huge amount of self-reflection I came to a conclusion that my wishlist has to be changed from “gentle, kind, considerate” to “independent, secure, weird”. Why? Because I don’t want to sit on a sofa with someone who can be my brother. I am attracted to someone who amuses me, who makes me chuckle, who surprises me (whether pleasantly or not – I don’t care), who does not drop everything to be with me, who makes me little unsure and unsettled, who challenges me, who looks into my eyes as if the world was going to end and he had one last kiss left, who does not need me nor he needs my approval. I am old enough to know that my happiness does not lie in simply being happy; it stems from being challenged and pushed to better myself. I don’t care for small talk; I want to talk about real, meaningful and perhaps embarrassing things. I don’t want a man who needs me; the man I fancy is the man who is a rock regardless of my presence. I don’t want a man who makes me feel secure; I want a man who frustrates me a little. Because that is the only man who really turns me on and who can get and keep my attention.So girl, next time you pick the “wrong” guy again, just consider the fact that the wrong guy might be exactly the perfect man for you. Happy Valentine’s Day 🙂

Travelling with a toddler survival guide

I’m writing this while I am on a “tour de Czech” kind of holiday. Me and 14 months old @Derrys_Diary, 11 days, 6 different locations, 4 hotels, 2 planes, 7 trains, multiple buses… It’s loads of fun but hard work. I could write a few hundred pages on the topic of travelling with a toddler (or a baby) but will try to squeeze my top tips to this blog post:

  • Plan

The disorganised ones are doomed. You have to plan. Research. Is there a playground close to your hotel? A kids section on the train? A kids area at the airport? Can your hotel store your buggy? What time does the nearest grocery shop shut/open? You need to know. Screenshot it, write it down and thank me later.

  • Snacks

Obviously it’s all about the snacks. When you think you have enough snacks packed, add the same amount again. You don’t want to risk anything. You think you know your toddler, but I guarantee you you’ll be surprised by the amount of rice crackers he can chew and spit out before asking for some more, by all the cheerios he will manage to throw onto fellow passengers on the plane and by his clumsiness when he “accidentally” drops his breadsticks onto the filthiest floor, demanding some more. Do not risk it! Stock up!

  • Entertainment

How do you keep a hyperactive creature sitting still for at least 15 minutes at a time? Entertain, entertain, entertain! Do whatever it takes. Learn that magic trick, bribe the passenger next to you to make funny faces, bring a clown nose, download a shedload of Teletubbies and twenty different versions of Baby Shark… I personally hide a couple of Derry’s favourite toys (how cruel) a week before planned trip and then produce them (one by one) in crisis situations during the journey. I also get a new toy and wrap it up (you can use multiple layers of different wrapping papers) which usually keeps him occupied from the aircraft pushback to take-off even at Heathrow where taxiing may take longer than the actual flight.

  • Back up

Always have a back up plan and a spare one of everything. Your little angel hasn’t had an explosive poop for the past three months? I promise you it’ll happen just as you board your plane. One pair of shoes? Not enough! One dummy? Don’t be a dummy! You need spare everything. For instance, Derry lost his hat as soon as we got through the airport security. Be prepared!

  • Support

Even if you are travelling alone with your toddler, there are always allies to be found wherever you go. You guessed it – the allies are other mums with kids. Firstly, your little treasures will likely entertain each other – whether it’s by shy but curious looks, a “conversation” in baby language, or an attempt to steal each other’s toys. Speaking of toys, any child enjoys getting their hands on “new” exciting stuff so whenever I meet a fellow mum on a public transport I suggest a temporary swap (of toys, not kids). Also, other mums (just like you) will be happy to share snacks, baby wipes or anything you are in a shortage of. And most importantly, if your child screams his head off, you won’t feel embarrassed because you’ll be in the company of someone who understands your pain and chances are the other kid will have a meltdown too, sooner or later.

I know there is a hundred million other points to cover but the ones I just described are essential to bare survival. Overall, travelling (alone) with a toddler is a military operation and a bit of rocket science: for instance, I have been trying to come up with an equation to determine my baby’s nap requirement and ideal timing, based on the amount of REM sleep the previous night, his wake-up time, steps taken, the number of times he bumped his head, ounces of milk consumed, the annoyance factor etc. So far no luck at calculating and predicting his nap; he always decides to fall asleep in the least convenient situation, for example just as we need to transfer from a train onto a bus… I mean travelling with a toddler is a bloody nightmare. Having said that, showing the world to a being who hasn’t got the foggiest and gets excited about the most ordinary and random things is exceptionally rewarding.

The struggle of a working mum

I never thought I’d be one of the people who six days into a new job already consider quitting, yet here I am writing about it. I feel like I can’t do it. Luckily I am stubborn enough so “I don’t think I can do it” is not good enough reason to quit.

I am used to doing everything 100% and that’s where my problem lies. You can’t fully dedicate yourself to a new job and carry out duties of a single parent at the same time. It’s impossible. Actually physically impossible. Even when you are willing to give up all of your free time (including lunchbreaks at work), you still can’t fulfil the role of a driven professional and a dedicated parent both at the same time.

When it comes to a new job, I am used to showing them how it’s done. I want to come into the office so early that the security guard questions my presence, work my bottom off through the day and leave only after the boss does, while still answering work emails through the evening. Well, that is impossible when you are a single parent of a one year old. Within my first week on the job, there were already three days when I had to rush home early as my little one had a high temperature. The stress of receiving another phone call from the nursery, trying to secretly sneak out of the office and spending a small fortune on uber, while learning a new job, has been exhausting. I feel incredibly guilty, not about leaving my little one in a nursery, but about not giving my new job 100% of my effort. How can I ever be really successful at work when I don’t give it my all? I don’t know. For me the only consolation is that my moderate effort probably equals an average person’s best effort, so I might just about manage to fit in. Although, this will be a torture for someone like me who is used to excel… But the bottom line is that I am not quitting because that’s just not my style!

Surprisingly random benefits of having a baby

Happy Mother’s Day mums of the world! Let’s admit that being a mum is not what you imagined it would be. I’m not going to go on about how tough it is and how people should appreciate you more. Instead, I will tell you about a few random and unexpected benefits I started experiencing as a direct result of becoming a parent:

  • Muscles!

Yeah that’s right mama – think of all the times when you carry your little one around, push the buggy, or do all the housework one-handed with your child clinging onto whatever part of your body they get hold of. This all is a huge workout without having to enter the gym! Go on, check out your biceps (and check out mine in the photo below :))

  • The Candy Crush master

Sometimes it takes ages (or longer) to send your little one to dreamland. I use that time wisely and work on becoming a real pro at Candy Crush. Please note there are other games available so if killing zombies is your thing, then perhaps you’d want to give Plants vs Zombies a go. One of my special skills is singing a lullaby while secretly gaming on my discretely hidden phone.

  • The art of not caring

You suddenly find yourself not giving a toss about things that used to be seemingly important, such as whether the new hot guy at work is married, or when the next Take That tour takes place. You just don’t care any more because these kind of issues are now simply beyond your caring capacity.

  • Jedi

The force is strong with you. You can catch a falling spoon before it hits the ground. You manage to move away a hot beverage half a millisecond before a tiny little hand reaches for it. As if by magic, you are able to insert your hand (or any other body part) between a dangerous object (usually a corner) and the head of your falling child.

  • You love Mondays!

Because work is often less stressful than being at home and at times it can even appear to be therapeutic.

  • The little things…

You learn to appreciate the little things. Like peeing unattended. Or drinking tea while it’s still hot. Or watching a whole episode of Great British Bake Off at once which is what I’m going to attempt to do right now 🙂

So happy Mother’s Day! Have some prosecco and let me know about your own unexpected “superpowers”…

Why I am NOT a feminist

Happy International Women’s Day!

I’m a woman (clearly) and I love women (not sexually). Nonetheless, I am NOT a feminist. Men and women are not equal. But before you get all angry, let me explain:

Men and women are simply not the same, so how can they be equal? Look at for instance a lamb curry with pilau rice and a cookie dough ice cream sundae with caramel sauce. They are both food, but don’t you dare telling me they are equal. They are not equal because they are simply different! I’m not saying one dish is better than the other – no way. I’m simply suggesting that you can’t perceive them as the same.

Now back to men and women. I’m pro equal pay and equal vote and all that equal stuff… however, there are some areas men and women will never be equal in.

First of all, women give birth. Men don’t (although apparently men flu is close to that experience). When I was pregnant, I realised I could get away with almost anything (at work and outside of it too). At that time, would I want to be treated equally to a non-pregnant man? I don’t think so. And if we are really equal, who deserves the last seat on the bus – a pregnant female or an overweight male who has to carry around as much weight as she does? I know pregnancy is an extreme example but it perfectly demonstrates that we are not equal. Additionally, why would men and women compete in separate categories of sport if they were really equal?

Do you girls enjoy getting your drink paid for on a date, or having a man hold the door for you? You do? Well guess what – this wouldn’t be happening if we were equal! Now we are close to explaining why I am not and will never be a feminist. I actually don’t want to be equal to men because I believe us females have the upper hand in many many situations. So if guys want to have the upper hand in let’s say making more money in a job – sure go ahead! (At the end of the day, they will spend the extra cash buying us ladies drinks and flowers…)

I am not a feminist because I have used (and abused) the fact that I am a female in countless instances in personal and work life. I even dare to claim I wouldn’t get where I am today if it wasn’t for my feminine nature. On a daily basis, I used my femininity to make colleagues (especially pilots) comply and to keep customers in check. I also enjoy all the little favours men do for me simply because I’m a female. If I was to become a feminist, I would have to give up all this and my life would become considerably more difficult.

So next time you call yourself a feminist, think of all the occasions when a man paid for your drink, and reconsider… Anyway happy International Women’s Day to all my feminist friends who are fighting for equality of sexes. Oh, and speaking of equality: When exactly is the International Men’s Day? Don’t you know?? Even though men and women are meant to be equal?

When the International Men’s Day arrives on 19th November 2019, you better celebrate it and cause as much humbug as you do about the International Women’s Day, because after all – both sexes are equal, right?

Choosing a gift for a mum-to-be

It is easy to find a present for a pregnant lady, right?

Technically, pregnancy is nothing more than a necessary nine months long shopping spree. Imagine all the items a mum needs for her new baby, from tiny little clothes to all-singing all-dancing toys, to numerous bath and body products. If you give your pregnant friend / family member a baby gift “just because” she’ll love you for it. But beware when buying baby items as a birthday or Christmas gift for a mum-to-be.

Pregnancy steers all sorts of hormones and emotions. When I received a rubber bath duck from a friend as a way to say congrats I nearly cried since it was the first baby item I acquired. On the other hand, if I find newborn clothes with my name tag under the Christmas tree, I’ll politely smile and thank the giver but they will be on my naughty list. I am not a baby!

71821-Ribbon-Wrapped-Belly

Yes, of course, the baby is inside my body and as a mother I take the little one’s needs above my own. At the same time, I can’t stress enough that I am not the baby, neither a mere baby-carrying machine. I am still me, and surprisingly I still have my own needs. And by needs, I certainly don’t mean the need for a pair of elephant-sized maternity knickers.

Pregnant ladies want to feel human too, you know. You now have an excellent chance to make this happen by choosing a thoughtful gift. My favourite one so far was a home foot spa for my swollen ogre-looking feet. Bliss! If unsure, you can’t go wrong with a voucher for a facial, manicure, or a pregnancy massage. (Someone buy me a pregnancy massage voucher please!) Similarly, cosmetics, perfumes, flowers and heavenly fluffy socks will be a hit. Anything to make her feel pampered and feminine will do. And of course food, lots of it.

If you really love shopping for cute miniature socks, then go ahead. The most thoughtful thing will be wrapping presents for her and for her unborn little one separately. She will adore you for it because you think of her new role as a mother while acknowledging her as a human being.

Pregnancy Survival KitHappy last minute Christmas shopping! Your comments with gift ideas are welcomed…

 Pregnant, not disabled

Pregnancy is the best time in a woman’s life they say. Who the hell came up with that!? A bloke who has no clue at all? A terribly old woman who gave birth eighty years ago and her memory is distorted so she sees her past pregnancies through a pair of pink glasses? Or a female who lacked purpose in her life, so now finally she feels a sense of achievement?

I am neither. At 24 weeks pregnant I am over it, just like I was over my twenties at the age of 26. Someone please finally hand me the baby and I’ll get on with it. I genuinely dislike all this waiting around while growing a human being. Does it really have to take so annoyingly long? I feel like an elephant and each morning I step on a scale I want to cry. All mums-to-be love taking selfies of their growing bellies. Well, I used to love taking selfies of my abs that are now long gone. But the very worst thing about being with child is all the special attention you get from your friends, acquaintances and strangers alike. Maybe that’s where my problem lies. I don’t like special attention.

On my second birthday I apparently announced that now that I’m grown up, I shall be taking care of my business including hygiene and getting dressed. I always liked being left alone and never required a special treatment. I dislike being treated differently.

8e39f0027d7e75c718ecc2cdeb3d97bcThe other day I was in an overcrowded tube carriage and a lady offered me her seat. The worst thing was that she was roughly my age. I felt embarrassed and wished for the earth to swallow me. Similarly, I celebrate a little victory each time I bump (pardon the pun) into someone I know and they don’t notice my growing belly. Two weeks ago I went through my friend’s birthday dinner without raising any suspicion whatsoever. What an achievement!

Don’t get me wrong – I am in no way embarrassed about being pregnant. Rather the opposite! I am proud that soon I can call myself a mum. I just don’t feel the need to advertise it and don’t enjoy being bombarded by never-ending questions about my choice of a baby name, my well-being and the size of my uterus. I don’t want to be viewed differently because I am no different than I was before this whole sperm-egg event happened. I don’t need to be asked every fifteen minutes whether I’m okay. If I need your seat on a bus (hopefully I never will) I’ll ask you for it. I hate to be perceived as sort-of-disabled because I am not. I can still run 5K under 30 minutes. Can you?

Having said all that, next time you spot a pregnant woman on a public transport, go ahead and offer her your seat because the society dictates that it’s the right thing to do. It’s the society that I’d like to challenge. However modern, forward and pro equal opportunities we are, there is still this ancient belief that a woman’s sole life purpose is to have children. Hence, when pregnant she’s finally on her way to achieving her mission and everyone should treat her much better than they normally would. Great. But imagine all the women who can’t or choose not to have kids. For the former we feel terribly sorry, and the latter we secretly frown upon since they are wasting so many good eggs that the former would die for. Once a childless female approaches the age of 40, the pressure from the society increases. Chop chop, you need to have kids and if you don’t you are failing as a human being.

We take pride in calling ourselves a modern society, and as a species we are not lacking offspring in general, rather the opposite. So why all the worshiping of the pregnant and pressure on the childless? Women are free to make choices. Having a rewarding job one loves, volunteering for a charity, or creating something meaningful can be as purposeful and fulfilling as producing babies. Just like other women I have made a conscious choice to carry a child so I refuse any kind of special treatment for doing it. Besides, I am doing it for myself and for the little person, certainly not for the society.

Generally, I am quite result-oriented and that’s why I find the process of growing a human inside me slightly inconvenient, and any special treatment I receive only reminds me of the fact that I’ve gained twelve pounds and am not pleased about it. If you are lucky enough and absolutely love it, I’m happy for you. If you’re also enjoying all the attention and the stream of questions about the number of baby’s kicks per hour, tenderness of your breast and your special dietary requirements, then congratulations – you are in heaven! For me, I’ll just go lifting some weights to pass the time before my little man arrives. No special treatment needed here, thanks.

Actually, now when I’m thinking about it, if I find myself on a sinking ship, I will be taking a space in the first life boat. I am pregnant after all… 😉