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Friday, 27 January 2012

To Cla-rify the matter.

After having the idea to start a blog... and having the idea for interview-style introductory questions... I haven't blogged at all! These are my "getting to know you" answers, and it turns out my blogging style is rather slow and rambly (a bit like my running style).

1. Give us a short history of your running or fitness experience. Are you a typically sporty person?

I never thought of myself as a "sporty" person, but thinking about it - I've been doing regular sport since the age of 6. Saturday morning football as a real littl'un evokes a memory of frosty pitches and glorious winter sunshine, my lush yellow football socks and the ultimate in protection - shin pads!

I don't tell many people that I spent a couple of years going to football, because don't want them to think badly of me... luckily at the tender age of 8 I discovered the wonder of Guildford and Godalming Mini Rugby Club, and never looked back. For years I took pride in telling people I did ballet on Fridays and played rugby on Sundays. That was until I went to secondary school, and school rugby was on Friday nights. I waved goodbye to ballet forever.

Rugby was my life - as I outgrew Mini Rugby (you can't play mixed rugby after the age of 12) I joined Camberley Youth WRFC, spent summers at RugbyClass holidays, and progressed through the player pathway I got to represent my county and my region, and captain my club side too. I trained with the youth and the adult sides at Camberley on the same night, training for County or Region on Saturdays and playing at club level on Sundays.
Combined with joining Guildford Hash House Harriers (to see what my dad was doing running around in the dark on Mondays) and doing PE GCSE and A level, my activity levels were through the roof.

Rugby progressed through to uni, and I was lucky enough to represent my country playing for the England Students Women's rugby team four times - really really exciting times!

I continued doing Uni and Region rugby in 2006-7 season when disaster struck. At the highest attended match I'd ever played in (including the England matches) - our Bristol v UWE varsity match, someone fell on my lower right leg at the back of a ruck.
A small popping sound was heard and then suddenly I didn't give the tiniest shit about the match. All I knew was that something was very, VERY wrong with my knee.

I was bound up on the pitch and subbed off - refusing a stretcher (being stretchered off in front of 3000+ people, no thanks)! I spent the rest of the day iced up, compressed, and managed to hobble out for a post match beer.

I found out a few weeks later that I'd snapped my Anterior Cruciate Ligament. I was treated privately by former England fullback Jonathan Webb but my recovery progress was slow due to other factors in my life (clinical depression being the main one).

Since then I've come back to rugby, playing with the mighty Guildford Gazelles who are top girls, a talented team and all-round ace people, but had a meniscal tear in 2011 which was treated by an arthroscopy - I have some cartilage in a small vial in my desk, if anyone wants to see it?

The most attractive rugby team you'll ever meet. Guaranteed.

I'm off rugby for now because I do college on Wednesday nights (training night), but fully intend to re-start my career when I get the time! I'm sure I've got another decade or so of bashing bitches left in me...

Re-starting hashing in Autumn 2011 was a great idea and has got me out and about running again.
Before I started running with Lee, I was doing 3 mile circuits of my neighbourhood, running on pavements because I knew where I was. Now it's become patently clear there's a HUGE world out there of scenery and footpaths waiting to be discovered!

2. All of you have lost a good chunk of weight. What was your top weight, and how much do you weigh now?

After my injury, during a time when I couldn't exercise (couldn't run) but was still drinking like a rugby player, I put on a lot of weight. I moved back home from Bristol and was still putting weight on. Sometimes I don't believe it, but I have a piece of paper that says I weighed 100kg which is over 15 and a half stone (this was probably round about my 21st birthday).

Put down the cake, fatty.

At 5'10", that, my friends, is obese.

I've been losing bits and bobs since then, but now I'm down from a size 18 to a size 12, and comfortably into the four stone club at 11.5 stone. My happy weight before uni was 10.5 stone, so I'd quite like to get down to that - but now I'm more focussed on increasing fitness and decreasing my body fat %.

A bit leaner, a lot meaner.

3. What kind of mileage do you run per week currently?

I don't really know. I'm trying to up my miles a lot, and have started running to/from work when I can. I'll blog about this in the future.
Miles per week stands at around 20-30 currently.

4. What's the longest or craziest run you've done so far?

Fortunately Lee has blogged all about the long or crazy runs we've done already!
The longest was last weekend's Saturday ShitheadDay Hambledon-Gibbet Hill and back.
GH3 runs are always great, often crazy, and regularly punctuated with things like beer, banter, and eye-opening conversations. And getting lost.

5. Why on earth are you doing the Greensand Way 2012?!

Because I don't say no to things any more. Start saying yes to stuff! It's awesome. It's how I got myself into loads of fine messes, all of which have led me to this point.

6. Who are you raising money for?

I'm off to Tanzania in August with a mad lot of scouts, guides and leaders. We're raising money and sending it out to a project in a village called Itete, in the Ulanga district. When we get there, we'll be working on it for just under two weeks, meeting the builders and the locals, and finishing off the whole thing before a big opening ceremony.

The project is a medical centre, which is being built currently next to the old dispensary which has about four rooms and not many more beds. This dispensary serves over 9000 people living in the village and on subsistence farms surrounding. The sisters at the local church work in the dispensary, caring for the locals while learning to become nuns.

The nearest big hospital is a few hours drive and a (slightly rickety) ferry across a river away - and the ferry doesn't run at night. In medical emergencies, the people from Itete and nearby need a centre that can house and care for them.

There's 39 of us going and we've got expedition fees (all the costs in the UK and abroad of moving, staying places, eating etc) as well as a central project fund to raise money for. There's been some fantastic work done by the group to raise money - but still we need to raise more!

Our Greensand way 2012 fundraising URL is HERE:
So if you fancy giving us something to smile about on the run...this is where you go :)

The T12 team doing a sponsored 20 Bridges of London walk.

7. What's your most embarrassing running or sport story?

I'm sure there's plenty. I've been a Tumbling Tosser at the hash loads of times, I got stuck in a gate last weekend with a backpack on (Thanks for taking photos Lee).... Off the top of my head, the one embarrassing thing I can think of which is quite sports related - I was back in Bristol, visiting for an Alumni match (but not playing due to injury), and doing a bit of forward coaching for some oldies and some newies who were playing a bit out of position. As a fatty I was wearing some cheap jeans that I'd found for a tenner somewhere, which turned out to be quite thin and had NO stretch.

While demonstrating the correct position for a second row to prepare for a scrum, I knelt on one knee and when I put the other foot flat on the ground...RRRIIIIIPPPPPP.

Massive rip in arse of jeans. Well done Claire. I had a pair of leggings with me too, which I had to hastily put on underneath the jeans!

I still have those jeans somewhere, and can do the hilarious "I used to wear THESE trousers!" pose!

8. Which do you prefer?
A. Lee Evans (comedian) or Lee Latchford Evans?

Not sure. Lee Evans is quite sweaty but still successful, which I like.

B. Craig David or PJ Harvey?

PJ Harvey. At a push. On musical credentials. Although Craig David writes more earworms.

C. Claire from Steps or Tina Turner?

Er. Tina. For championing the surname.

9. You're all billed as musicians as well as insane running type people. What are your rockstar credentials?

ABRSM Grade 5 Music Theory, Grade 6 Violin and Saxophone (Alto) BOOYEAH!
Toured Austria with SWSYO in 2003.
I also own two ocarinas.

I can play a few chords on guitar.

Somehow with the magic of a little pink bouncing ukulele I joined my first band last year (The InnTouchables), as well as the magical UkeJam - with whom we've played in pubs, at bandstands, outside supermarkets... oh yeah, and supporting Charley Farley Sunday Four, Hayseed Dixie, Josh Kumra.... UkeJam is the ukulele sensation and we're going places! Viva la 4 string revolution!

Sometimes I indulge in a bit of Mandolin Pickle too.

10. You're all going to be spending a long weekend together at the end of this. Who do you think would win in a fight between the other two runners?

I'm not sure yet. I'm waiting for this weekend to see who would come out winning. I've got a feeling Dave could hold Lee out at arm's length for quite a while, while Lee tires himself out swinging wild punches (If this ever happens, I promise to film it).

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