You and I are gonna live forever

We’re road trippin’ this weekend, visiting Nana (Gem’s Mum) in Lincolnshire, and today heading through to Derbyshire for a family picnic. The latter was supposed to include a marriage blessing, but with the bride stick in Argentina without visa or even passport (it’s with the visa people) that boy’s been understandably cancelled.

It’s yesterday I wanted to talk about though, when I had a near death experience. No, I didn’t have a run-in with a combine harvester when I was out running, this experience involved playing at being sunflowers and watching Marley and Me.

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I’ve often said I’d love to get inside the girls’ heads, and yesterday was one of those times, when Heather, with the aid of a saucer from her Peppa Pig tea set, was pretending to be a sunflower. It wasn’t long before I got roped in as well, although sadly I don’t have a picture of me! At one point Daddy Sunflower died, but Heather Sunflower told me it was okay, we could come back to life as roses. Just like in real life, obviously.

Later on, we were watching Marley and Me, and death came up a couple of times, first when Jennifer Aniston has a miscarriage (“did she not eat enough food Daddy? Is that why the baby died? If she eats more food she’ll get a big tummy for the baby”) and then at the end of the film when Marley the dog gets old and dies.

I thought that was going to be a big traumatic moment, but it turned out not to be, largely because Heather was flitting in and out of the movie and missed the scene where Marley went to doggy heaven. She did see the end of his funeral, but I don’t think she had any idea who was in that hole in the ground.

I did, of course, say that Marley had died, and that’s why everyone was sad, but I really don’t think she understands the concept. And why should she? She’s only 3!

It got me thinking though, at some point we are going to have to deal with a real death and in the real world we don’t come back as roses. Or any other kind of flower for that matter. And sooner or later we’re going to have to explain that to not one but two little girls, which is never going to be a nice thing to do.

If only we could all just run off to play with Teddy and miss that bit.

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Happy talk, keep talkin’ happy talk

Chillaxin'Somewhat unbelievably, Megan is now a week or so shy of 18 months old – how on earth did that happen? – and as such has reached a great stage in her development, as she begins to use the same words as the rest of us.

She’s been slowly building up a vocabulary for some time, but in the last week or so the words have been coming thick and fast, sometimes two or three new ones a day, and it’s really amazing to witness. Off the top of my head, these are the words and phrases she can say: coat, hair, teddy, shoes, all done, door, ta, ta ta, love you, night night, Mummy, Daddy, Grandma, Nana (as in Gem’s mum), nana (as in banana), key (which she knows goes in the lock to open the door), there.

I’m quite sure there are plenty more that she can say that I’ve forgotten right now, but it’s a good list nonetheless.

Eating spaghettiPerhaps more interesting is that over the past few months there have been words that have come and gone. Things that she can and does say for days on end, but which then mysteriously disappear, never to be heard again. One of those was Heather (or Heedah, as Megan put it) which was one of the first things she was able to say, which would be useful on a daily basis, and yet fell completely out of use before making a reappearance in the last few days.

Of course there are also a few mystery words and phrases which crop up a lot, and are recognisable, but we’re clueless as to what they mean. I’m thinking specifically of gummy which is by far the most common thing Megan says. It genuinely seems to mean everything and nothing. Maybe she just says it to mess with our heads?

Inevitably we find ourselves comparing Megan’s progress with Heather’s – how could you not, especially when we’ve got a very definite comparison point (we visited New York when H was 16 months). Megan has been a little slower to start using words herself, which I believe is common with second children, and nothing to be concerned about.

Especially since she appears to understand every word we say to her!

Honestly, it’s uncanny, and she’s been like it for months. It doesn’t seem to matter what we say to her, how complicated the sentence structure is, she understands. Amazing, and not how we remember Heather at all. Mind you, Heather never stood still long enough to talk to her in anything more than snatches and fragments, so it’s probably not a fair comparison!

Fun at Riverside MuseumOf course, the noise we hear from Megan most is the horrible, horrible screech that means Heather has upset her in some way – usually by sitting on her, or taking something away from her, or knocking her over, or… well, you get the idea. The noise reminds me of pterodactyls in Hollywood movies, or maybe some of the bigger birds of prey we’ve seen at zoos and wildlife parks. Truly a horrible noise.

I’ll be glad when she grows out of that one… IF she grows out of it!

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

We go the distance till there’s nowhere left to go

GSR 2012 start lineBack in 1993, I ran a half marathon – that’s 13.1 miles don’t you know. From memory (it was a long time ago!) I finished in about 2 hours and 8 minutes, not bad I thought, but I definitely remember being harangued at the finish line by folk handing out running magazines, who were busy telling everyone they should have been at least 10 minutes quicker, and that a subscription to their magazine would help us to shave that time off. Nothing like letting us bask in the glory, eh?

Pleased to have finished, and in a fairly respectable time (middle third, based on this year’s results) I said I’d be back to do it again.

Well, 19 years later, I’ve finally made my return to the Great Scottish Run, albeit running in the shorter 10k event. And about time too!

GSR 2012 finishSunday was the big day, and I’m pleased to say that not only did I finish the race, I did it in an official time of 51 minutes and 30 seconds, which was as good as I’d dared hope for, and better than the 55 minutes or so I was more realistically expecting. And the 60-65 minutes I’d guessed at when I filled in the entry form just a few short weeks before.

Woo! Hoo!

My whole family were at the finish line to cheer me on, which just made the great feeling even better. And later on there was beer and ice cream too – all in all it was pretty much a perfect day!

Family BlackSo… 19 years between races… distance halved each time… my next race will be a 5k in 2031, yes?

No chance – I’ve caught the bug now. What started back at Easter as a way to burn off some extra calories has now turned into a genuine hobby, something which I’ve grown to enjoy, and something I’ll keep doing for a long time to come. I’ve already started looking for the next race, in spring/early summer 2013, with early candidates being Edinburgh, Lincoln and Hull. I’ll also be back at the Great Scottish Run to hopefully smash this year’s time into little pieces. Or something like that.

There is, of course, a big part of me that’s keen to step things up, and go for the half marathon again – after all, I’ve done it once so why can’t I do it again? The sensible part of me knows, though, that I’m no longer 17, and my knees are DEFINITELY no longer 17, so I’m going to stick with 10k races for the time being.

A kiss for Daddy's medalBut longer term my sights are definitely on eclipsing my youthful self, and maybe 2014 is the year to do it. With the Commonwealth Games coming to town that year, I expect the Great Scottish Run will be an even bigger occasion than it already is, so what better time to step up to the next level?

Assuming my knees haven’t buckled by then, of course. :)

EDIT: It occurred to me last night that I didn’t explain this post’s title, and it probably won’t be recognisable to most. It’s the opening line to a song, A’s “The Distance“, which came blasting into my ears at about 7k into Sunday’s race, just when I wanted to pick up the pace. Perfect timing, because it was an ideal song to help me do just that. So thanks A!

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!