Friday, May 31, 2013

Runners just run

A real quick post, just to log my gym-ery this morning. I talked about my thoughts on returning to running at the beginning of the week - see here.

Today Lucy and I met at the gym super early and I did my 'normal' gym set, whilst Lucy did hers and then I hopped on the treadmill.

Brisk walking (for me on the treadmill) starts at a speed of 4.5 (K an hour) and goes to 6. Between 6 and 7 I am half walking half jogging, but its an annoying speed inbetween anything comfortable. 7.5 is the beginning of a jog for me. 8 is a definite jog and in the old days running 5k at 9/9.5 was comfortable. My fastest 5k on a treadmill was done in 32 minutes.

Today I brisk walked between 4.5 and 6 for twenty minutes. I nudged up to a jog at 7.5 (K an hour) for 30 secs - 8 times. Coming down to a brisk walk in between to assess how my back felt. But I guess I ran for 4 minutes. Cardio is not an issue. I am fit in terms of lung capacity and energy levels. Even my back felt stronger at the beginning of the treadmill session.

Its my birthday tomorrow and we have ordered me a pair of barefoot trainers (Vivo's - see here). I don't think I am going to need to go back to the C25K, I just think I need to listen to myself and wait for my new trainers to arrive and re-learn my technique. I honestly think that going barefoot will help my posture and keep me injury free. A couple of good articles, one here and another here.
Learning the Skill of Barefoot Running with VIVOBAREFOOT from Terra Plana on Vimeo.

I think I proved today that runners just run. I just need to ease myself Back into it and take it steady.
And just run - in your face spinal fusion!

Monday, May 27, 2013


9 weeks (today!) post spinal fusion
(At what point do I stop counting how long post fusion I am?!)

I have had a lovely lovely lovely weekend, I've had a lovely week actually. Nothing extraordinary happened, but everything is deliciously, fabulously 'normal'. It humbled me to realise as we went swimming as a family on Saturday, that the weekend was our first 'normal' weekend of 2013.. We waited until May to get some 'normality' back.

That's a bit mind blowing actually. Perhaps melodramatic. But definitely the truth.

Saturday started bright and early. We had family breakfast together, before I was dropped at the gym to meet Lucy at 8.15am. Paul took Niamh with him, to drop the Bigs at Karate/Ballet. Lucy and I totally killed it in the gym (more on this in a mo), and as she is working on a sewing project, we had it out to assess its progress whilst on the exercise bikes (bikes and sewing! my fave things!) (I took a pic (of course!) of the sewing and the exercising, but I need to save it until Lucy has given the gift). Lucy then dropped me at my house, and as no one else was back yet, I had a peaceful shower and coffee. Once everyone was home, Niamh went for a nap, whilst Paul and the Bigs mowed the front and cleared up outside. Then we had lunch before going for family swimming. The Bigs are AMAZING at swimming now, they are a joy to see in the water - Niamh is fearless and jumps in at every opportunity which is a little scary! After swimming we came home, had family tea, kidlets went to bed and then Lucy returned for the evening and we shared in the Worldwide Womb Blessing (This was my post about our last blessing, a life time ago now!)whilst Paul went to the gym.

What a glorious, normal, happy day! NORMAL!! N O R M A L!!! Pre-fusion I wouldn't have been able to gym AND swim, I might not have even be able to manage one of them... Paul and I both remarked on it as we got out of the swimming pool. The things you don't know you miss til you miss them!

Going back to my gym session, I posted this to a running group I belong to -
"Any thoughts anyone..? Physio was double booked on Friday, so I wasn't seen and couldn't get advice.. My next appointment is in another week.. I am impatient.. I had thought I wouldn't be able to run now because I would have lost my running fitness (fitness is fine actually), I didn't consider that fusion would be the block.. So I did a little test on the treadmill on Saturday, only 10 mins brisk walking, only nudging it up to jog 3 times just for a few seconds and on the third go I was really aware that I probably wasn't physically ready. Back felt REALLY weird. Anyway. When I swam 3 weeks ago it felt really weird.. when I first got back on the cross trainer it felt really weird.. Both of these now feel good and 'normal'.. So my question is this! Because the treadmill is impacting where other machines aren't, should I push myself or hang on a bit longer..? Thanks for reading, yours, frustrated in Southampton :-)"

Basically, what has become my 'normal' (love that word!) set in the gym, is 15 min warm up on the exercise bike, 30 mins crazy sweating on the cross trainer, 10 mins cool down on the bike/or the treadmill, followed by physio stretches with the exercise ball. An hour in total. This is all well and good, but I want and need to run! I don't feel ready to go out on the road on my bike yet. The fact that I don't feel ready suggests I'm not. But I DO feel ready to get back to running, however awkwardly and slowly, so I need to make moves in that direction.. But what to do??

So Sunday, yesterday, I worked (2nd day on the job) and Paul brought the kidlets in for face painting, and took a sneaky snap of me.
Work is good, and I am enjoying how 'normal' (ha ha!) it is to go to work. It seems to have given me focus too. Because I have 'lost' a day, I am slightly more organised.. Maybe? Maybe not! Ha, anyway. I am enjoying being out, with a different routine, learning new things and meeting new people.

Physically I have plateaued. But I think that's ok. I am in amazing shape all things considered. To look at me walking about now, I don't think you would know I have had surgery, I have lost my odd gait. I have strange niggles. I still don't know what is normal sensation. I get tired - I took super strong pain killers to get through work yesterday and I was in bed ridiculously early. But I think that's ok. Its ok right?

Its half term this week and we are off to stay with my parents for a few days - then back at the weekend for my birthday (33 years young!), Paul's half iron man, and work.. How gloriously normal :-)

Thanks for reading x x

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fareham Triathlon

Paul completed the fareham sprint distance (750 metres (0.47 mi) swim, 20 kilometres (12 mi) bike, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) run) triathlon for the second time on Sunday, his first annual event! He beat last years time and was quite rightly, very pleased with himself.. It was great to stand at the finish line and cheer people in - I definitely want to get back into competing, both on my bike and triathlon. There is something about the pride and well earned sweat and tears in physical exertion that is exciting - and hard to replicate!

Anyway, a few shots for you. Paul competed for the Neuroblastoma charity heroes, with his friend Adam, and another heroine, Manuella.

Niamh and Rae Rae poolside
I was sat with Lochie and Bebe
Paul is stood (blue arm tattoos ans silver swim cap) waiting to get into the pool
In the pool - the charity filmed it!
How handy that he was allocated our near side lane!
Posing with medals with Manuella - her first tri and she did amazing!
Paul and Adam coming in together
Post race posing. Well done Daddy!

Paul has big triathlon plans this year. A half Iron Man (also known as a 'middle distance' triathlon) race (1.93 km (1.2 mi) swim, 90 km (56 mi) bike, 21.09 km (13.1 mi) run) in August, then a full Iron man ('long' distance) race (2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run) in September... Only then the jammy triathlete WON a competition and gained entry to a half Iron on the 2nd of June!! 8 weeks earlier than training had planned.. He is nervous, and I think he is right to be so, but if there is one thing I can say about my husband - he can go the distance! You can totally do it Paul, we all believe it you. Love you xxx

Saturday, May 18, 2013

I bloody did it!!

It is eight weeks on monday, since my spinal fusion. Eight weeks since I was in intensive care. Eight weeks since I couldn't walk. Eight weeks where I have been emotionally up and down like a roller  coaster, one minute pleased with my progress, the next minute angry and the third minute despairing of ever being normal again.

Today was D-day. Today was the day I have had as my goal and my lifeline since I got the job and then had to tell them I needed eight weeks off. Today I blew it out of the water, exceeding all of my hopes (and fears!). Today I had my first day at work in store and I went without walking sticks and without baggage and for 9 hours I was just average shop assistant Sarah and it was AMAZING!!

I feel euphoric tonight! On top of the world! Yes, I had to take strong pain killers, and I am very tired, but I am so so triumphant! Empowered! Ecstatic! Even the ugly boy shoes won through and kept me on my feet.

So yeah, go me! I rule the world! I made it, I got there!! Gushiest post ever! WAY TO GO SARAH!!


Tee hee xxx

Thank you for my card Paul. Thank you for believing in me today xx

Friday, May 17, 2013

My fitness pal

I really struggle to keep my food intake in check without help, I LOVE FOOD! I have been using myfitnesspal on and off since Jan 2012 when I started this whole concerted effort to lose weight/train for a triathlon shenanigans. The myfitnesspal website allows you to calorie count, keep in touch with friends and there is a nifty little phone app that can scan barcodes and build recipes etc, FOR FREE!

Even though I've been doing it for 18 months, and I obviously understand that to lose weight (or at least maintain weight!) what goes in my mouth must be equal to my outgoing actions, I still don't really know what is a good intake for me.

Currently I am lightly active (getting more so!) at the gym, this week I have been 4 times and tried an Aquafit class (yay me!), and if I know I have an 'expensive' cal fest ahead of me (wine!), I will make sure I have been and burned a few cals so that I have them in the bank. My motto is generally 'if I burnt them, I earned them!'
Thanks to Weightwars over on facebook for sharing the motivation
Given that I am attempting to lose the last 07lbs I gained over the last few weeks of recuperation, I am eating 1850 calories a day. That sounds like a lot of cals whilst on a 'diet', but I am 6ft tall and my ideal weight is 13st07lbs.. so I am not going to be eating an A-typical ladies portion.

When I am at my ideal weight and in full on tri training mode, cycling stupid distances, I eat, merely as my base line, 2200 cals a day and maintain my weight effortlessly.

So, my point is. How do you know when enough is enough? NHS guidelines suggest an average of 2000 cals a day for a woman.. I buy light versions of my specific favourite foods, we cook nearly everything from scratch and I often eat less of a portion than my 6yr old.. But still I can't seem to spread my cals far enough!

How does it work? I love myself, I respect myself and I understand that I don't enjoy being 4st heavier - I have a hideous pic of me at my heaviest in my loo, great motivation first thing in the morning (and during the day!) - but sometimes I just want to eat the damn cake! Surely I can have my cake and eat it?
 I don't have the answers, but I am intrigued to see if any of you have an opinion? You can 'friend' me on myfitnesspal - my username is 'anamcarra'.

Go on, tell me how YOU do it.
Thanks for reading x x

Thursday, May 16, 2013


I was so excited to be well enough to make a set of bunting this week. A 26 flag, 4 metre alphabet set to be precise. I didn't know how the sewing would go when I started it, because I couldn't use the foot pedal on my machine pre-surgery. I was also aware that 26 flags was no mean feat.. when I wasn't sure if I would be able to stitch them.

But stitch them I did! I was so delighted with the end result that it was hard to part with, but the best gifts to give are the gifts that you want to keep for yourself! And to celebrate here are a plethora of pictures - from upcycling an old pair of trousers, to them being hung by the recipient.

And the recipient was Mia. Elle's daughter turned 1 this week and we were very happy to go to her birthday party.
I'm sorry I only got one, very blurry shot of you Mia! Be assured you looked beautiful though x x
My girls wore their matching Christmas party dresses. Matchy matchy, so this season!
Niamh's friend Bethan, looking super cool in shades.
Niamh in said shades, also rocking the look.

And last but by no means least, a very grainy self portrait taken by Lochie.

The new normal..

This week has felt 'normal'. I haven't taken a single pain killer for at least 3 or 4 days - I didn't even notice when I stopped needing to take them! Things still feel 'weird', but there is no internal structural pain and I didn't notice when that became normal either!

I have been to the gym 3 times this week and I'm going to Aquafit tonight. I have been for a swim too, and managed 14 lengths, over the initial 6, before it became 'uncomfortable'. I am doing more and more at the gym, yesterday I warmed up 15 mins on the exercise bike, 15 mins elliptical trainer, 15 mins stepper, then a cool down on the hand bike and exercise bike. Some stretching and done. I properly got my sweat on and IT FELT GREAT!! I feel great! I put 12lbs on during the course of everything (8lbs of that must be the screws right?! 1lb a screw!), and I've already lost 5 of them.. I love going to the gym, I love feeling high on effort and I love not having to watch what I eat.
Whilst at the gym yesterday, I decided I feel a bit like a fledgling bird when it comes to running.. An adolescent eagle maybe, a big bird anyway. I am big enough to be able to fly, I know I should be able to fly, but I haven't tested it yet and it is scary. No one 'official' or 'professional' has told me I can't or shouldn't run, but there is something inside me that has so far stopped me from having a go.. but I can feel the hesitation leaving me and I hope it won't be long until I'm brave enough to start on the C25K again.
Being pain free and feeling good is quite timely really - Work starts on Saturday!! How quickly did that time fly! I am feeling mixed emotions about it, equally excited and terrified. I'll let you know how I get on - keep your fingers crossed for me at 10am on Saturday.

Last night Vikki and Elle spontaneously came round in the evening, and we made some button jewellery. What really pleased me, besides their company, was that it was so NORMAL! I love normal! The last crafting session I hosted I couldn't move by the end of the evening and clearing up was hideous. (Ironically, when you look at the post, I didn't mention my back at all!)

Anyway, I made a little necklace - thanks for the picture Vikki!

So. I guess you could say my week is upbeat this week. I am loving normal, I am loving being pain free and I am loving the endless possibilities. Long may it last!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Brenna's 5th Brithday

Bebe is 5 today. I didn't feel able to plan and host a big party for her this year, and as she wanted an expensive touchscreen Android Tablet, similar to what Lochie got last year, we felt that lots more than that was too much for such a little girl - I'm sure some would argue just that is too much!

Anyway, she had some pressies and cake before school. Then took her cake and balloons into school to share with her friends, the most important bit being the worlds largest badge announcing her birthday from a mile off! After school we are going out for tea - she has chosen Pizza Hut.

Slipping back 5years.. Here is the account of Bebe's birth as I wrote it at the time.

Brenna Broc Christie
Tuesday 13th May 2008

Bebe was due on Friday 09th May, and as her brother had been 10 days late, I didn’t actually expect her to be on time.  My parents came to visit for the day, we had lunch out and we had a walk on the beach.  That weekend saw us pootle about, going to the Princess Anne maternity hospital on the Sunday, as my friend had been invited to tea with the mayor as she had won a breastfeeding art comp. sponsored by the NCT. We joked that I would go into labour on Monday, so scared would the baby have been by a trip to hospital.
Over night into Mon 12th May, I had some D&V, but sent Paul off to work assuring him I was fine.  At 8.30am I had a show, and continued losing bits and pieces all day.  My frienda rrived to take Lochs to his Monday morning swimming class and as they left at10am, I had my first cramp.
As they arrived home, I confided to my friend that I thought things were happening and would she mind sorting Lochies lunch, so I could take a bath and see if the cramps eased off. When they didn’t, I sent Jill, my midwife, a casual text to tell her ‘things were slowly happening’, then I rang Paul.  He arranged to work from home for the afternoon and left work.
By 2pm I was getting medium strength cramps every 10 mins,so we rang my parents to collect Lochs as previously arranged, Paul pumped upthe pool and we then went to Tesco to kill some time.
Lochie left with my parents at 4.20pm and I had a good cry, I was heart broken for him.  He’d gone off in such a lovely mood and nothing would be the same when he returned.
5pm I spoke to Jill and declared I was in labour, but it wouldn’t be happening quickly!  We agreed I’d keep her posted.  Paul and I watched ‘Deal or No Deal’, went for a walk round the block, back at home he bid andlost on ebay and then at 7.15pm we went to B&Q to kill some more time.  We bought weed killer, looked at sheds and I was having strong contractions every 10 mins. Then we went to McDonalds and joked that we go to all the best places.
By 9pm I was in bed, although I only dosed as I couldn’tsleep through the pains. Paul half filled the pool, so it was ready and came to bed at 11pm.  By 12.30am, Tues 13thMay, I was struggling and desperate to kill time as I didn’t want to ring Jill or get in the pool too early.  At 1am I spoke to my Mum on the phone, she didn’t sleep she was so excited.  Then I woke Paul up for support and we attempted a walk round the block, only I couldn’t actually walk through a contraction, which by now were coming every 5 mins.
At 2am I rang Jill and told her I couldn’t walk or talk through a contraction and she said she’d be right over.  She arrived with a colleague and a student at 2.40am and at 3am I got in the pool.  It was beautiful, such relief!
With Lochlan, I still had 6 hours to go after Jill arrived,so in my head I still thought I had long way to go and I kept repeating to myself ‘Don’t peak too early, be an open vessel’ ‘Don’t peak too early, be an open vessel’ ‘Don’t peak too early, be an open vessel’.  Paul was wonderful, taking my hands at each contraction and talking me through them, assuring and encouraging me.
My waters broke at 04.35am and she arrived just 10 mins later at 04.45am straight into the pool. I caught her myself and brought her to the surface where Paul and I cried, nearly making more noise than she did! We stayed in the pool cuddling, til the placenta stopped pulsing, I then cut the cord myself and passed her to Paul. My pool has a seat in it, and I had a lovely cup of tea, wrapped in a warm towel, sitting on that seat, listening to Paul coo at his daughter, whilst the sun came up.  That’s my favourite memory.  Then I got out, went to the loo and promptly delivered the placenta into the toilet bowl, where Jill had to fish it out.
The rest is a blur of being checked over myself, her being weighed, talking to my Mum and Dad on the phone, showering and going to bed.  Very very happy! 
Howling tears of love, joy and amazement! We started our relationship trying to out noise each other, and that is how we have continued, I love you to the moon and back Bebe x x
(If you look at Niamhs birth photo at the end of this post here, these could be the same set of shots, so similar were the end experiences!)
When Lochie met Bebe.. After Bebe was born, we went to bed for a couple of hours but I was soon anxious to drive to my parents house and see Lochie - and introduce him to his sister.
Cake on her Naming Day.

Just out of interest, as I am sure you have noticed by now, our children have animal names for their middle names. Lochlan Behr, Brenna Broc and Niamh Hara. 
Bear, Badger and Hare.
The bear is very significant to me, deep rooted and ancient. Lochlan was our miracle, he was always going to be a bear - strong and gentle. Behr is the German spelling, and we liked how it looked.
The Badger, fierce and proud, is Pauls totem animal. Broc is old english for Badger. Bebe ('BB' her initals became her nick name) surprised us with her timely arrival, and is a badger through and through - fierce and beautiful. 
Niamh took her time to come to us, and is our much longed for 3rd and final child. Hara is old english for Hare. The hare represents the full moon, completion, and the Goddess when she takes on animal form. Niamh is our completion, very much a gift from the Goddess. She is full of life and laughter.

Paul and I are so very lucky.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Roller coaster

Hi Clanettes.

I have had a very emotional up and down week, and as ever I hate to write about my whinges. The ups have been so high, I have achieved lots of new things this week, but on the downside I wonder if it will ever be enough for me - I am frustrated and want to be better, normal and fit, so badly, that it clouds my judgment.

Lets celebrate my highs! This week I have:

* Taken over my role as home keeper, amongst other things I have cleaned the kitchen floor. This pleased me no end!

* Been on my beloved turbo in the sunshine - LOVELY! 
(Yes, Lochie sat next to me, pedalling whilst playing a game on his tablet.. He ignored me so I put my music on! Comraderie in looks only!)
* Walked to and from school twice a day, yesterday I was brave enough to do it without my stick. I feel vulnerable without it, the play ground is so busy, and I am still quite slow so my stick not only gives me support but other people a visual warning. It felt great to have two free hands though, and hold hands with the kidlets.

* Put my own socks on!! A huge milestone for me!! Ha ha!! By putting my foot on the fourth step on the stairs and leaning into the stretch, I can hold my foot til I have my sock on. It isn't easy right now, but it is better than not being able to do it.

* Been given a mention in a post over at Weightwars - see the post here. This humbled me, I don't feel very positive at the mo, despite all the postive achievements. Thank you Rebecca, I appreciate your support x x

  * Used my sewing machine without pain! It is raised up on the table, on a giant encyclopaedia, so I don't have to bend to it, but I launched myself back into sewing with a fairly large project (which I will share once the gift is given) and it was wonderful. How I have missed pottering with my machine!

* Been weaned off once a week physio to fortnightly physio with a strict work at home and gym programme. She complimented me on my cardio - 10 mins sweating on the stepper whilst having a convo with her. Apparently 95% of her clients cant do that. Win! On the downside, I am having issues with a really annoying clicky hip, which we think is taking up slack from my weak back and core, but I am managing it and hope to see it improve.
* Swimming last night was easier than the first session. I managed 8 whole lengths over the 6 I did before. There is a new Aquafit class starting and I am looking forward to trying that.

This next week Brenna turns 5 (How am I the mother of a nearly 7 yr old, a 5 yr old and 2 yr old with the attitutude of a 14 yr old!? Amazing!) and I start back at work. I have promised my physio to go to the gym/swim three times and I am looking at further osteopathy treatment to help my recovery and my hip.

I AM doing this. When I look back at those first couple of weeks post op, (see here and here) I would have given anything to be where I am now - and in a relatively short amount of time too. I need to pull my socks up and get my head in the game.

Thanks for reading, thanks for your support x x x

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Team work

My grand parents generously gifted Lochie a new bed, and because he has the tiny 'box room' we decided that a cabin bed with a wardrobe, desk and shelves underneath it was the way to go. The bed is a full size single and weight bearing to last him til he is a teenager. A great investment.

Paul put it all together yesterday, and with a little team work we made short work of it. (By 'short work' I mean 6 hours and by 'we' I mean Paul and Lochie. The girls floated about and I mostly sat in a chair on the landing offering advice.. Taking photos.. And occasionally making coffee.. Spinal fusion. You know.)

We took the opportunity to have a big clear out and sort long overdue outgrown clothes and toys.

A very cathartic day - and a very exciting day for Lochie ❤