Saturday, May 27, 2006

Running on Empty update

So, this week I have finally got a copy of the book in my sticky paw - yay! Of course there were a few errors - mainly minor, but I did spot one typo, so I corrected them and had to upload the file on Tuesday. I erroneously thought this would generate a new proof by today, and I would then be able to press the green for go button.

However, nothing is ever straightforward and I discovered yesterday that though a new proof has been generated, till the people in the US pass it, I can do nowt. This in itself wouldn't be problematic, I have ten days to go till my official launch date. The only trouble is I'm off to Germany in the morning (Two grannies, four children, one husband, a hire truck - no dog - you couldn't make it up. I feel another book coming on...) and am going to find it tricky to sort out. As a failsafe I have ordered 200 copies to go to my friend's house, but I'm also taking my laptop with me and hoping I can sort out an internet connection in the hotel we're staying in. If not, I'm in big trouble. As we're staying out in the Deusch equivalent of Hicksville, and I have fond memories (not) of having to sterilise baby's bottles with camping sterilising tablets and buying Baby Wasser (sterilised water) because a) we forgot the adaptor for the steriliser and b) the hotel room lacked a kettle, I don't hold out much hope for this enterprise. Presumably even Hicksville has internet cafes, though...

So fingers crossed I will be able to pass the proof next week, and then the book will be ready to order from Amazon. But if you can bear to wait, join me for my online launch party which takes place from 8-15 June at: - and if you buy a copy I'll sign it and give you a discount....

So anyone out there in cyberspace, pass the word on and tell all your running buddies...

Hope to see some of you there!

PS Was going to blog about the sad demise of our hamster (alas Georgie is no more), but have run out of time. Suffice to say sprogs distinctly unsaddened by his departure (I was slightly less saddened then I would have been, given that his latter days were punctuated by a tendency to bite Spouse and I when we tried to give him antibiotics), and we buried him in the garden in the pouring rain. Spouse donned a top hat and tails for the occasion, the children all drew him pictures and made him a coffin out of a shoe box, and we stood solemnly (or not in my case as I had to repress a severe fit of giggles) as the children all threw earth on his grave, and then stamped on it. So now we are petless - at least till the autumn, Spouse wisely suggesting we wait for a new pet till after the summer holidays - and I get let of cage duties for a bit. And no, we're still not getting a dog....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Here Come the Clowns...

On Sunday we went to the circus. Not any old circus you understand, but one ambitiously arranged by the PTA at the kids' school. Given that Spouse has been moaning for years about how annoying summer fairs and their ilk are, and I have been moaning for the same length of time about how I have MUG written on my forehead and end up volunteering for things, we both greeted this new development with relish. At last a fundraiser that sounded like fun...

We've only been to the circus once before - and despite our initial reservations, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, so had high hopes for this one. And the kids were besides themselves with excitement.

Our first indication that the circus we were about to see might not be quite of the same calibre was when (having gone to help set up) I discovered that the fee for the circus was £1200. Not bad money for two hours work - until you factor in that they set up the night before (and were there till midnight) and had to hang around all day till 2.30pm for just one show and then pack up to go away.

Another factor of course was the weather. It rained all day Saturday, and the whole thing nearly got cancelled when the truck got stuck in the mud. Sunday dawned, grey and windy, and then the rain set in....

Most people chose to shelter in the school before the show started, but as we dashed across the field the heavens opened and 400 odd people got very very wet.

The show was meant to start at 2.30, but in the best showbiz tradition things were running late. Isn't it ever going to start, moaned no 2. Soon, I must have said a dozen times while promising lots of women in spangly costumes, as I felt sure she would like that.

As it turned out there was one woman in a spanglyish costume who far from being the svelte nimble waif I had imagined had the chunkiest legs imaginable.Her first trick was to do acrobatics on a spinning half crescent in the shape of a moon - or as this was a French circus, Madame Legs was on her lune... First off, something was apparently stuck and she was hissing at the crew to help her out. Once that was fixed, Madame L duly did her bit, climbing up and down la lune, sticking legs and arms out at various points and ending up spinning around on her neck. Apart from that bit, it was scarcely impressive, but no 2 who is a keen gymnast was suitably awed.

Next on came the clowns who were sadly distinctly unfunny. They did a routine based around famous Moroccan acrobats, which I assumed was a warm up for said famous Moroccan acrobats, but was simply a precursor to them pulling four kids out of the audience into the ring. All my children were vainly holding their hands up, but sadly (for them) and luckily (for us) we were too far from the front.

Then there was a fanfare and Mr Spinning Plate Man was announced. His helpers came and stuck up two wobbly looking stands each holidng for sticks. He loaded a plate, and started to spin it, then went on to the next one. By the time he'd got to no3 , no1 had stopped spinning. He span it again and carried on. Then in his enthusiasm to load a plate it went spinning off to the ground. He picked up and spotted that no 1 plate had stopped spinning. He went to spin it again and carried on. He lost another plate, and nos2 and 3 plates had by now stopped spinning altogether. By this time Mr SPM was getting quite cross, particularly as the audience were roaring with laughter. Eventually he got all eight plates up there, but didn't manage to achieve complete spinning harmony before disappearing off in a grump.

He was replaced by a young lad who was chucking a stick about with a bit of string. He seemed reasonably skilful and all was going well till he pulled a dad out of the audience and got him to hold the stick. The dad didn't understand what was expected of him and kept lifting the stick higher and higher, until he was practically standing on his chair, before it dawned on him that Mr Stick Man wanted him to chuck the stick to him.

After that the clowns returned and did a funnyish routine involving a gun that bent sideways and a bursting balloon. Which would have been great if the balloon hadn't gone off pop before he'd fired a shot....

Then it was back to Mr SPM and Mr SM who did a routine with bits of string and a sort of yoyo kind of thing that they kept chucking to each other. Well, they tried to... Mr SPM demonstrated that this too wasn't his thing, because he kept dropping his. In the end you could tell a sense of desperation had set in and the first half came to a rather hasty close with all the grown ups on the floor with laughter.

In the interval we concluded that they were probably all hungover - after all what else are you going to do at midnight in the pouring rain when you've only just got your tent up, but drown your sorrows?

We went back for the second half with a degree of nervous anticipation, wondering what more tortures would be on offer.

First up it was the clowns again, offering a semi-funny routine about pulling out a tooth. Should have sent Spouse up there... Kids most cross because once again when audience participation asked for they were overlooked as they were too far back. They're only picking people at the front, said no 3 crossly. Right. That's why we're not sitting there...

Once the tooth was pulled, it was time forMadame Legs to reappear and lie on her back kicking a variety of objects about, which was rather clever but a little pointless and then Mr SM returned in a new guise as a magician. His first effort was to juggle some balls. His next two tricks progressed a little more smoothly, although in one of the boxes he used, it was possible to see the two way mirrors. He was evidently trying quite hard, but didn't seem to know where any of his props were, or more worryingly, quite what he was supposed to be doing with them. The piece de resistance came when he was pulling some handkerchiefs out of a box, which promptly came over, along with the table it was standing on. Somehow I don't think that was part of the act. Net result was collapse of all the adults in the audience, though luckily for our magician friend, children are slightly less discerning...

The finale was Madame Legs doing things on a rope - and here I have to say I was impressed. She shinned up a rope and swung around and off it, at times only hanging on by an arm or a leg. Sadly though, it wasn't quite enough to lift the performance above am dram levels. Still, as I said, children aren't terribly discerning, and at least they enjoyed it. And as we trudged back through the rain we thought, well at least we've had a laugh, the school made some money, and what else would we have done with ourselves on a wet Sunday in May? Actually, I can think of quite a lot, but OTOH Mr SPM is going to go down in school folklore, and it was worth it to see him alone....

Monday, May 22, 2006

It's not fair!

Some time ago, you may remember that I had a slight set to with no 2 about going to Holy Communion classes. Actually set to is putting it mildly. At the age of 7 she produced the biggest tantrum of her life and turned into spawn of the devil. In the end I persuaded her to carry on by bribing her with having a veil.

Now for those not familiar with the whole HC thing in the catholic church, what happens is that aged 7/8 children take communion for the first time, ie they eat the bread and drink the wine that represents Christ's body and blood, in memory of the Last Supper. It brings them in theory into communion with the rest of the church. Us Left Footers believe that the act of the Eucharist, when the priest actually says the words This is my Body etc turns the host into the Body whereas the protestant church preaches that is a representation of the event (ie we believe in transubstantiation, they believe in consubstantiation - and thereon hangs one of the reasons for the Reformation).

But I digress, you're not here for a theology lesson. Part of the big thing about it as far as little girls are concerned is they get to dress up for the day and wear a white dress and white veil. When I made my HC my ma eschewed this as missing the point - this is meant to be a spiritual and solemn occasion, she didn't want me worrying about my appearance. So I never got a veil. And last year when No1 did it, neither did she. My reasons were somewhat less religious, and more practical, namely I was too busy to organise it, so persuaded her to go for a white ribbon in her hair instead. Which was fine ... at the time.

Fast forward to this year, and my foolish bribe. As per usual I have been so busy I hadn't got round to sorting out the veil. Come the day before the HC I still hadn't... whoops. So we set off on our usual Sat morning mad scrabble of activities: tutorials, ballet, gym lessons etc and as no 3 and no4 now have a gap between their lessons I whisked them to Adams where I felt sure I had seen some veils some weeks earlier. There we encountered Spouse with no 2 (no1 still being at her class ) - who had had the same thought. Obviously we are in a phase of non-communication in our marriage...

Adams it turned out had neither veils nor pretty white shoes, the other required item, and Spouse had to dash off to pick up no1 and take no2 to gym. So I picked up the baton of the veil buying, and dashed over to Woolies, where I was hoping to find a bride's costume, but helas, to no avail... I did manage to pick up some shoes though, and some cheapo sandals for nos3&4. So that was a result. Going back to ballet for no4's lesson I met another HC mum who told me about a bridal shop in the next town, five minutes' drive away. Result.

No4 duly having finished ballet, we ran up the road to where no 2 does gym, met Spouse who was walking into town with no1, grabbed the car keys and dashed up the road. Bridal shop duly found, it transpired, that yes, they did have veils. Ok, I'll have one, I said. The choice was limited to two - both of which just looked like a bit of net curtain attached to a little white side comb. And they cost £22 - blimey I said, that's the most expensive bit of material I've ever bought, but needs must and all that. If I could sew at all I'd have done it myself, but really I know my limitations...

So veil duly bought, it was back to gym to pick up no2 then home for lunch, before taking no1 to her dance class, followed by her epic shopping trip.

At this point, no1 kicked up a fuss because no2 had a veil and she didn't get one. I didn't know you wanted one, I said. I only mentioned it a billion times, was the very cross response. To be fair she probably did. Oh I'm such a bad mother, I clearly wasn't listening.

When I went out shopping I was under strict instructions from no3 to get her a Mini Winnie - a miniature Winnie the Pooh in the mouth of a variety of different creatures, which are bizarrely all the rage at the moment. We've been looking for them for ages but managed to find some in the local cinema. In order to reduce tensions at home, I decided to buy no 4 one too - no 2 already has two so I didn't get her one. Then no 1, who only has one asked if she could spend her pocket money on one. I said yes. Big mistake....

I get home and all hell breaks loose. I didn't get a mini Winnie sobs no 2, it's not fair. (Life, as I frequently point out to her, isn't...). But you have two, I say. And no 1 has got one, she says. But you got a veil and I didn't, says no 1. Then nos 3 &4 chip in that it's not fair that they only have one each... In desperation to cheer a sobbing no 2 up I produce a pair of sandals I've brought that afternoon for her for her birthday, but that's no good either. No 3&4 have cottoned on that no 1 has lovely new clothes, no 2 is moaning that she has also got the Kelly Clarkson CD (bought with pocket money), But, I bought it to share with you, wailed no 1. And in a minute I am about to lose my rag and take everything everyone has back to the shops.

Luckily Dr Who is on and that proves a distraction...

By the day of the HC the fairnesses or otherwise of life seem to be forgotten, and we go to church to witness the great event. The older I get the more bizarre my religion seems to me. And I can't help escaping this feeling that communion is a weird form of cannibalism. The church is packed with people who clearly aren't regular churchgoers as they talk all the way through it (another reason my mother was so agin me having a big ceremony, I seem to remember) - even at the solemn moment when the children took their communion. There has been a reasonable amount of indoctrination in that all the children know all the right answers, but on the whole it passes off ok. And no one falls in the (rather deep) baptismal full size immersion font, which is a result.

We repair to a local hostelry to have a celebratory lunch. Two down two to go.

Mum, says, no1 as we leave, why didn't I get a veil on my Holy Communion. You know it's really not fair....

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Online launch party

I am going to be holding a launch party for Running on Empty on June 8 in my local Ottaker's, but for those of you who can't make it, watch this space as I will shortly be announcing details of an online launch party to be held in blogspace - either here or a new blog of my making.... Probably the latter, as I've cluttered up Maniac Mum quite enough with my marathon doings.
If anyone is interested in receiving an evite, just email me at: and you can go on my mailing list.

Monday, May 15, 2006

A Decade of Motherhood

Today is no 1's tenth birthday, which feels like a huge milestone, both to her and to us. Blimey. Where have the last ten years gone? In a blur of babies and nappies mainly, I think...

To celebrate this momentous occasion I took her shopping on Saturday with a good friend whose birthday is the day after no 1s. No 1 like all my offspring arrived very late, so my GF was demanding that I have the baby on her birthday, so it seemed only appropriate to take her on our trip.

It was quite strange thinking on Saturday that I had gone in that evening to be induced, and no 1 didn't actually arrive till two days later... we've packed in a lot in the last two days and it is quite mindblowing to think what a long time I was waiting around for (in a fair amount of pain, as well...) After ten years the hideousness of the experience remains undiminished. I can remember calling for an epidural at 7am on the 15th (this after 7 hours of excruciating racking labour pains, as a result of the three lots of prostin I had been given), and then having to wait until 10 am for the anaesthetist. The reason for the delay turned out to be that my roomie (who was being induced with me) was having an emergency caesarian. It was a weird experience - I shared two of the most harrowing nights of my life with a complete stranger, during which we told each other all sorts of intimate details about our lives, and we left hospital never to see one another again.

Once I finally got the epidural things got fairly boring for a while as I dilated ever so slowly. They started off saying the baby would come around midday, but by midday I was stuck at 9cms and appeared not to be going anywhere at all. By 3pm I had progressed no further, so the consultant was called. He immediately decided that it was forceps or a caesarian for me. The caesar I wasn't bothered about, apart from the fact that they had let me go on so long I was thinking why didn't you say that twelve hours ago you buggers. But the forceps for some reason really freaked me out, and Spouse had to pretty much slap me on the cheeks to get me calmed down again. The consultant did manage to do something to get me to 10cms and then I was allowed to have a go at pushing the baby out. But she was having none of it, at some point she had turned round the wrong way and in turning back again in the birth canal her head was at such an odd angle she wasn't going to come out without help. So, forceps it ended up being... Although by that time, quite frankly I was past caring. I just wanted this baby out of me.

I can still remember suddenly thinking, whoops this is going to get messy, and telling Spouse to come up my end of the bed. The consultant turned round and said, He's a dentist, he won't mind some blood.... I didn't see any of the aftermath, but Spouse assures me a little is putting rather a lot of spin on it.

The consultant clearly had a sense of humour, as I can remember him describing what to do to the registrar he was training (by this time there seemed to be dozens and dozens of people in the room - did I care? Not a bit) that what he was about to do was like sliding a knife between butter. Yeah, right. As he approached me with these whacking great metal things shaped like tennis rackets, part of me was fascinated, thinking how on earth do they fit? Whilst the other part of me was horrified - he was going to put those things INSIDE me????

But as it turned out he was top notch and no 1 was extracted with minimum fuss, and barely a forcep mark on her head. After several moments of extreme tension the room broke into spontaneous applause as she cried for the first time. Spouse and I of course were on cloud nine, but I was amazed at how thrilled the professionals all seemed. It was a magic moment. The first of many...

And so it was on Saturday I took my oldest baby on a girlie shopping trip for the first time. It felt like a rite of passage for both of us. There are probably no clothes now left in our local shopping centre, and part of me is mourning the loss of my little girl, who is on the cusp of leaving childhood behind. But I can't but celebrate for her really. Ten years ago I held her in my arms, and started on a journey of discovery. The journey continues, but each day it gets better and better.

For my special K with love

Friday, May 12, 2006

It's been a sporty week....

... In our house.

Not only did I manage to impress in the pool (ha!), but no 3 has also just learnt to swim, and no 1 managed to swim ten lengths on Tuesday, the furthest she's ever gone.

I also had a tennis lesson which was glorious - tennis being my sport of choice - and have been on two wonderful runs, where my back wasn't killing me for the first time in ages. Yay...

Spouse has been at the gym.

Everyone did tennis yesterday apart from no2 who refuses point blank, so all in all we're getting reasonably fit as a family.

And on top of that I have just signed no1 up to run the Race for Life with me in July.

She is very insistent she wants to do it, and we went running together on Sunday. She managed three-quarters of a mile before stopping with a stitch, which is more or less what I did the first time I went out running. I'm thrilled she's doing it with me, even if I end up walking her all the way.

So if anyone out there in cyberspace wants to sponsor us, you can do so by going to the following page:
I haven't set the target high as I asked alot of people when I was marathon training last year. But Race for Life goes to Cancer Research UK, which is one of the best causes I can think of, as nearly everyone knows someone...

I shall be running in memory of a very good friend, who died eight years ago, and was one of the bravest people I've ever met.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Triathlon Triumph?

Well, not exactly, but I went for my second swimming session last night, and it was somewhat better then my previous excursion.

I have to say here, hand on heart, actually I didn't want to go, as last time was so humiliating, I wasn't really sure I wanted a repeat performance. Plus the kids were all being fractious, nos 3&4 particularly so as they are knackered. This is a result of staying up too late to watch Dr Who, and then having nightmares. What to do? What to do? I could of course put them to bed early on Saturday night, so they miss it, but I'm not sure I can cope with the fall out. No 3 is so desperate to watch it, and then spends most of the time on my lap with her face pressed firmly towards my shoulder. But not watch Dr Who? Not on your nelly...

I have to say I can't blame her really. This series of Dr Who is turning out to be even better then the last, and I soooo love David Tennant. He does soulful and vulnerable turning into hard steel when required so very well. The ultimate TV hero methinks... I have a feeling one or two of my male leads might well end up modelled on him. Although I do have a slight problem with Dr Who turning into a bit of a love rat, even if he doesn't mean to be. Much as I liked Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker as a child, I don't think I saw them as romantic lead material...

But I digress. As a result of all this Dr Who watching nos3&4 have demanded their big sisters keep them company in bed on Saturday nights to stave of nightmares. All that happens is everyone stays up too late, so I have banned them doing this during the week. Net result, last night as I was leaving the house, no4 was wailing her head off, and no 3 was holding tight to her duvet staring grimly at the ceiling and saying in the pathetic tones she knows so well how to adopt, I'll try to be brave...

Spouse meanwhile was outside fixing screws to our trailer, so was oblivious to the chaos indoors. I toyed with calling it quits and not going at all. After all, as my beloved said to me, no one's making you do this... No one but me that is. And I am insanely competitive, and want to swim properly. And the only way to do that is to endure the humiliation.

So it was a nice surprise to discover that the humilation was somewhat less this time around. For a start I met a mum whose daughter is in the same year as no1. She's run the marathon four times and beat me hands down last year, so I know she's much fitter then I am. However, she told me that she is really rubbish at this swimming malarkey. And while she looked pretty good to me, I did discover that once I got going properly I was catching her up, so I might be rubbish too, but not as slow at swimming perhaps as at running. (Well a girl can dream.... the other woman in the pool looked majorly competent to me and she hasn't progressed out of the beginner's lane yet because she claims the second lane is too fast. Yikes... doubt I'll ever get there!)

Not only that, but in a schadenfreude kind of way I was pleased to discover that the only bloke in the beginner's lane was also much worse then I was. So I might be crap, but there is someone behind me. I suppose sport in that sense is like a metaphor for life. There will always be both better, and worse then you... And as we used to tell each other when I was at school. Aim for the stars and you might hit a tree. Aim for the tree and you'll hit the ground.

After my last bungled attempt at swimming crawl, I wasn't looking forward to ploughing up and down the pool on my side again. But luckily this time the instructor took pity on me and after two lengths of that, I was allowed to go for Superman, where I get to stick one arm out and have the other by my side. I did two wobbly lengths of this, then another two somewhat better, and then it was on to one arm stretched out like Superman, and bringing the other up to my ear and down into the water. This I found somewhat tricky at first. Having all the spatial awareness of a gnat, I kept getting muddled up. I was meant to start off, face out of the water, with one arm stretched out, and the other at my side. As I turned my face into the water, my elbow was meant to come up to my ear, and then I was supposed to sweep my arm downwards and back to my side, ready for one I lifted my head out of the water. For the first half a length I was lifting my elbow up, as my head was out of the water, and putting it down as I went into it, which resulted in me swallowing half the pool. But eventually I got the hang of it.

So then I progressed on to using both arms in half a stroke, which was miraculously much easier, and I powered my way up the pool in a triumphant style (especially as it was at this point that I realised I was faster then my friend). My triumph was shortlived, however when I completed my second length, only to be told that I was lifting my head up out of the water, instead of rolling it from one side to the other. Do it again, was the instruction (which I suspect I will come to dread), so I did. This time, I kept my head in the water, and managed to get it right. The main problem I was having now was the breathing. My instructor had told me earlier that I should let the breath out in the water before coming up for air. This worked okish when all I had to do was swim on one side, but factor in using both arms, and remembering which side I breathed on last, and I was all over the shop. As I said, spatial awareness isn't my thing.

However, I evidently managed well enough to get onto the next bit, which was called catch up, and involved starting with one arm out straight, bringing the other one down, touching it and lifting the first arm up and out of the water, before bringing it down to touch the first one again. This took me another four lengths to master, but I eventually go the hang of it, though every now and then I lost the rhythm, swallowed buckets of water and had to stop.

For our final torture, the instructor had the three women at the end of the pool, from where we had to kick off and float as far as we could. The first attempt for all of us was pretty pathetic. After a few seconds you start to list to one side, and then have to do an undignified scramble to the poolside before you drown. However, after being taught the trick of slightly widening your arms to balance you, this was much easier. And to my utter amazement I went further then the other two. I knew all those years of mucking about and practising floating in the pool as a child weren't wasted...

Then it was onto our last two lengths. This time I had to do a one two three motion with my arms, bringing them up from waist, to just below my shoulder and then over my arm. I managed two lengths of this, not stopping, but was absolutely knackered at the end.

Still. It was easier then last time, and I felt I had achieved something. If only to fill my sinuses with water (I spent a very uncomfortable night with a blocked nose as a result) - but you can't have everything.

As we got out of the pool the conversation turned to the other two parts of tri - biking and running. My instructor apparently running a run-bike-run session on Wednesdays, which sounds really scary. And judging by the way the conversation ran, my pathetic 8-speed bike which is already eight years old won't be up to the challenge. I would obviously like to have a go at that, but Wednesdays is Brownie night, so that's out for a few years yet. Hmm, maybe this triathlon thing will take a little longer to achieve then I thought....

****NEWS FLASH****
Yesterday I sent the marathon book to press. I should I hope have a proof to check by next week. And then all being well, copies a week or so afterwards. I'll keep you posted...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

In the Swim

Not content with having done a marathon, I now have a hankering to have a go at a triathlon, swimming and cycling having been my exercises of choice before I took off on this crazy running thing. I had this rather naive notion it might be easier then running 26 miles.

I should say here, that though I am an enthusiastic swimmer, and usually manage 40-50 lengths at a time, I am more then somewhat lacking in technique. My crawl is non-existent, backstroke just about passable, butterfly (don't even go there) and my breaststroke is the best of a bad bunch. I recently went swimming with a friend who is pretty accomplished in the swimming department, and she laughingly observed that apparently I don't kick my legs at all during breaststroke.

Having spent more years then I care to remember poolside watching the sprogs learning to swim, it has occurred to me of late that once they get properly going (which after years and years of anguish no1 is finally about to do), they are all going to be miles better then their mum. Being of a somewhat competitive bent, I of course, Can't Have That, so had decided that I should learn how to do it properly.

Which is how I found myself the other week by the side of the pool enrolling for a triathlon class. Given that I am fairly fit, and can swim a reasonable distance, I didn't think I would be a complete no-hoper... at least I was in a better shape then I was when I was marathon training - or so I thought.

I knew I was in trouble when the chap asked me how far I could swim. I can do forty lengths, I said proudly. There was a pause. A significant pause, and I realised I was expected to say something else. That's breaststroke, I added. The significant pause led to a significant look, and my dreams of swimming glory disintegrated in front of me. We don't do breaststroke, he said.

And so it was, dear reader, that I was confined to the beginner's lane, doing drills which consisted of lying on my side, in the water, with my arms by my side, kicking my legs while I rolled my head back and forth in and out of the water in one fluid motion. As if. It is a wonder that I didn't drown. I am going to be soooo much more sympathetic to the children when I watch their pathetic efforts at crawl.

Luckily, my trainer appears to be a man of infinite patience,, and he put up with my feeble attempts to potter up and down the pool trying not to look like a drunk porpoise. I've had worse, he announced cheerfully at one point (though I suspect he's just saying that), and at another telling me that I'll be like the other two in my lane in a month. How long have you been coming, I asked one of them. Eight months, was the not very heartwarming reply. Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

How did it go? Spouse wanted to know when I got back. Knackering, dispiriting, humiliating.... how many more negatives can I get in a single response? However, I know now the title of my next book, should I purse this triathlon thing further... It'll be called Up the Hill Backwards: Diary of a Triathlon Mum. You heard it here first....

Monday, May 01, 2006

Running on Empty

I am very pleased to announce that I now have a fab cover for Running on Empty, thanks to my designer chum, Rob Walster. To view said lovely cover, you can go to my website

I am also pleased to announce the winner of my Top Tunes to Run to Competition. I don't know his/her name as I just had an email address, but the winner came up with the inspired Highway to Hell. Yup... I know that feeling. Honourable mentions go to Philip Buckingham for Keep on Running and Jan Waterfield for What A Feeling, because that probably just about sums it up...

I hereby launch another competition for people to tell me what they saw on marathon day that you don't see on the TV, or alternatively the funniest thing you've seen when out running. The winner will receive a bottle of bubbly and the two runners up a copy each of the book.

I am hoping to get the book off to the printers this week, so with a bit of luck I should have copies by the end of the month. I'll keep you posted. If you want more information you can email me at: and I'll put you on my mailing list.

And finally, I am delighted to announce that A November to Remember by Taryn Mckeiver is now available to buy, priced £9.99. You can either order it through your local bookshop, or online at Amazon. Alternatively you can buy it direct from Taryn by visiting her website: