Saturday, 25 January 2014

January so far...organising, training, soft juice and friends who may also have lost the plot

Although it might appear to have been a quiet month on the challenge front, as I haven't done anything as physical as I'm aiming for in the coming months, January has nonetheless been a busy and exciting month for me.

Firstly, my challenge for January was to abstain from alcohol for one month which has recently come to be known as 'Dry January'. I  do have a small confession to make about this challenge...this isn't something that I have never done before. In fact a few years ago I gave up alcohol in January and lasted for about 5 months, prompted by a few embarrassing experiences which probably best remain untold. This January's abstinence was prompted in a somewhat similar way (must be something about December that just tips me over the edge!) when I was scraped off the bathroom floor in a pub, bundled into my boyfriend's car and escorted home at 9pm after my Christmas night out. I've only worked at my new job for about 4 months so safe to say that it was an introduction and a half for them!!

But I digress, whatever the reasons behind it, I gave up alcohol for January this year and as I write this on the 25th of January (a day made for a wee dram if ever there was), I've made it through the whole month* without a drink and I'm not even really bothered about it, although to be fair I haven't been at any events where there has been free wine on offer to test my resolve. I have had a couple of nights out though and managed to stay firmly on the wagon. I do love a cup of tea and so I might start making my cuppas a little bit more extravagant like this one...

Image found on pinterest
(*erm...I drank on the 1st of January. Quite a lot in fact. There were forward rolls and dancing to R. Kelly involved whilst simultaneously convincing myself that I might actually be Beyonce. But this was all before I properly started on the challenges and also it's almost illegal in Scotland not to have a drink on the 1st of January and so I consider Dry January to be achieved. )

Whilst I've been making it through January without any alcohol, I've also been busy booking and training for some of the upcoming events. As it stands the updated list of challenges for the year is as follows;

All January - Dry January (almost complete)

23rd February - Bowhill series Duathlon (booked)

9th of March - Abseil at Ratho climbing centre (booked)

April - Birthday event (yet to be organised)

May - Midlothian Triathlon (although not yet confirmed that it's going ahead)

14th of June - Tough Mudder (booked - F***K!!)

19th of July - Ben Nevis (Hostel booked and 5 friends rounded up to join in)

August - still need a plan

September - perhaps brave runner

October - still need a plan

November - still need a plan

December - still need a plan

So you can see that January has indeed been a busy, if expensive, month for me as I've started to get the wheels in motion and organise a number of the events throughout the year.

It's also been a month where I've been surprised by the support of a number of friends who have offered up their own time (and perhaps sanity) to join in a number of the challenges. There are some who will be completing the Tough Mudder with me and I'm counting on them to physically push me over the obstacles and drag me the final 6 miles. Hopefully they'll also motivate me throughout the training a bit like this...

Image found here

Then there are others who have offered to join me in my climb up Ben Nevis, which will make my journey all the more fun as it will be shared with people whose company I enjoy most and whom I don't spend enough time with and now I've managed to trap them into spending 6 hours climbing up a mountain with me! I should probably make it known to them now that hill walking is not my forte and there are likely to be tears. My other half will be there though, and he is well accustomed to dealing with those so all should be fine.

Image found on pinterest

Oh yes, I also said I did some training didn't I? Well I've kind of started training by going to the gym 3 mornings a week, although I have skipped a couple of sessions and some of the distances I've been doing are pretty piddly in comparison to the actual challenges. Next month I will definitely need to step it up a gear, but the looming duathlon should hopefully give me a good hard push in that direction! 

image from

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Lessons from Bilbo Baggins

Image found here 

Alongside my aim of raising money for charity through completing challenges throughout 2014, I also set myself a goal of working through a lot of the classic books that (for shame) I've never read. Such books include any by John Steinbeck, Catch 22, Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird and the Great Gatsby (What was my English teacher doing!!??). I've also never read 1984, which given that my Dad is a huge Orwell fan and made me read Animal Farm when I was seven, is a little hard for him to understand. So I thought that enough is enough and I just better get my head down and read them, because it's not like I have much to do after I've finished working, training for and organising a year's worth of challenges and raising money for charity.

So I began with The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien. Despite adoring the Lord of the Rings trilogy of films, I have never read any Tolkien which as I'm discovering, has been a huge loss on my part. I'll imagine that most people have either read the book, seen the film or like me, have done neither but have some vague idea of what the book is about, so I won't go into too much depth about the story other than to say that it's about a little Hobbit called Bilbo Baggins who goes on an adventure with a lot of dwarves and a wizard named Gandalf.

What strikes me is that the book is a pretty apt one for me to read just now because at it's heart the book is about a plain little hobbit who breaks out of his comfort zone and begins to see the wider world, discovering that there is more to him than he perhaps ever realised. Now, I'm not dissimilar to the hobbit in that I'm smaller than the average (and may or may not have the same ugly feet) but of course the adventures Bilbo went on far surpass what I hope to do this year and it's unlikely that I'll encounter any Goblins or Dragons whilst walking up Ben Nevis! Nevertheless, the lessons in The Hobbit have encouraged me to stop being so inward looking and scared of my limitations and instead just go out and bloody do something!

Image found here 

One example of my channeling of Bilbo Baggins is that I've entered Tough Mudder which is something I've always shied away from it in the past because I wasn't sure that I would manage the distance or indeed the crawling through mud or the electrocution that seems to form a core part of the course. This year however, I just signed up and paid my entry fee without a second of doubt creeping into my mind. Whilst trying to complete the Tough Mudder, I'll be chanting this quote..

Image found here

Another thing that I've put off doing for a while is writing on a regular basis. I've always entertained the thought that I could write vaguely well, but I've always been scared of putting anything out there for fear that people would disagree, would think that I was deluded or that nobody would be interested in what I write. Well, with a little inspiration from Bilbo, I'm just bloody doing it. I'm sure some people won't like it, or think that it's any good but I enjoy doing it, it's a challenge for me and at the end of it all, I can say that I've tried it.

One of my favourite things about Tolkien is the power of so much of the text and it's ability to remain a powerful sentiment 77 years after the publication of the Hobbit. It's also quite handy that there are so many perfect quotes that can be found on Pinterest in order to illustrate silly, navel gazing posts like this one. And so I'll leave you with this one and encourage you all to seek a little inspiration from Tolkien.

Image found here (I've not finished reading the Hobbit but I think this might be from another Tolkien book. Good quote though!)

Thursday, 2 January 2014

...made a real New Year's Resolution

Happy New Year to everyone reading and a huge thank you for taking the time to click through to the blog. I think that it would make sense if for the first post in this blog, I explained a little about how this idea came to be and how I hope it will pan out.

Image found here

Probably the main reason that this idea has managed to take root in my mind is the fact that I've had two weeks off for the first time since I started working. You should know that I get bored easily and I love nothing more than making plans so with two weeks off I've managed to come up with a pretty ridiculous plan which is the type that I love best.

Secondly, I was keen to make sure that 2014 was a year of experiences for me. I achieved a lot in 2013 and I felt like 2014 was panning out to be a little bit meh...At the same time, I wanted to do something substantial to help others and I thought that I could combine the two to fundraise for charity by completing a personal challenge each month throughout 2014. I've set my target for the year at £3000 split between two charities (The Sick Kids Friends Foundation and Stroke Association), although I would love to be able to raise even more than this but I suppose that depends on how much people buy into what I'm doing and whether you all share it to a wider audience.

I've chosen to split the money between two charities because each is important to me but for different reasons. The Sick Kids Friends Foundation supports the work for the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh which receives over 100,000 sick children every year. My childhood was a wonderful, carefree time and my heart breaks when I think about the many children whose opportunity to have such a childhood is stolen from them by a cruel illness. The projects  carried out by this charity are of great importance and I would be very happy if I could contribute towards any of these. You can make a donation here 

Image found on pinterest

For much more personal reasons, which I won't discuss in great depth, Stroke Association is a charity close to my heart. I have a strong family history of this disease and have experienced first hand the horror of watching someone I love dearly have, what we believed at the time to be, a stroke. During the research phase of my Masters dissertation I also conducted interviews with patients who had suffered from a stroke and found myself to be deeply moved by their stories, perhaps more so because of my own personal experience. Stroke Association campaign on behalf of stroke victims, fund research and provide life after stroke support services. All of this is valuable work which I would like to contribute towards and you can make a donation here

To raise funds, I've decided to commit myself to completing one new challenge each month throughout 2014. I'm trying to make sure that these are things I've never done before in order to make it a little more interesting (and hence the name of the blog). I've some initial ideas but there are still a few gaps so ideas are more than welcome!! The first two months are the most difficult because the weather is still a bit cold for trekking up mountains so I need to think outside of the box and I don't have much time to come up with an idea.

January -

February -

March - I have quite a good idea for March but it depends on whether I can get certain companies to agree and that probably depends on how well January and February go!

April - As it's my birthday in April I thought that I should throw some kind of event although I've still to think about the details.

May - The Edinburgh Kiltwalk

June - Tough Mudder

July - Climb Ben Nevis. Given my extreme hatred for walking up hills (I once cried walking up Arthur's Seat) I think this is the biggest challenge that I've set myself.

August - Walk the West Highland Way

September - Complete the Great North Run in less than 50 Mins (the closest I've come before is 53).

October - ??

November - ??

December - ??

Image found here

I'll be blogging as regularly as possible about the challenges and I will also be annoying the life out of everyone on twitter so please follow me and share on to others who might be interested in following the adventures. Also, if anyone wants to accompany me in doing any of the challenges then just let me know.

Kylie xxxxx