Stop exporting the issue, Ireland

Today I flew from Cork to the UK. How many women have made that journey, Ireland having slammed its door in their face? The raped, the victims of incest, the children carrying children, the parents whose babies won’t survive, the domestic abuse victims, the women who can barely afford the flight to England not to mind another child, the cancer sufferers who know their life-saving treatment will be stopped…

Enough.

The cycle of shame, repression and control has to end.

This is the generation to do it.

For too long Ireland and the Catholic Church have controlled women, under the guise of concern for the unborn. It’s another story when they arrive: when watching a documentary on the Tuam babies last night – over 700 babies dead, thrown into a septic tank – emaciation was a regular reason given for their death. Starved by nuns. One mentioned was 3 months. Abused, sold, killed… Sorry, Church, if I don’t take your lead here, and instead focus on biology and basic human/maternity rights.

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to claw back women’s rights.

I no longer have a vote in Ireland but am crossing everything – for my relatives, my friends… our daughters – that those who can will vote yes for the people here now: women, and the adults and children around them who need them.

#repealthe8th

Next challenge: the London Moonwalk 2018!

Just in case I missed the challenge of getting through 26.2 miles, I’ve got my sights set on the same distance again in 11 days: the London Moonwalk!

It’s a marathon-distance walk, which begins at midnight in Clapham and spans across London, taking in many sights. Oh, and we all wear bras – eek!! *googles how to hide wobbly bits*

Free to use

I’m doing it with my friends, Mark and Heather, as part of team “We Are Mammary”! This year marks ten years of Heather living with stage IV cancer, which makes the walk feel especially momentous as we mark the journey Heather has had to date – a warrior and absolute inspiration all the way!

Walk the Walk is a grant-making breast cancer charity that gives funds to charities big and small that are involved with breast cancer in order to make a difference to the lives of as many people as possible affected by the disease. This is where you come in! If my story has made you smile or stop and think for a moment, please consider sponsoring me and the team just a few quid so that everyone affected by breast cancer can be given the support they need and are offered treatments that give them the chance to live their lives. If this is a cause close to your heart, and you’re like to donate towards it, you can find our page here.

Now, just to bling up this bad boy!!

“Asking for it…”

This is a great article by Irish author Louise O’Neill, which sums up so many of my own emotions about the Ulster Rugby rape trial verdict, having followed the trial closely.

It’s been a divisive trial, but one thing can be certain: seeing what that girl went through – shamed, and shamed, over and over – to prove she was essentially “asking for it”, was appalling, and for sure will not be an encouragement for other victims of rape to come forward.

These guys weren’t cleared or exonerated. The view was there was insufficient evidence to find them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But my question is: what does it take?! In our current legal system, if all the evidence presented in this case wasn’t enough, what evidence CAN prove rape, short of CCTV/the guy admitting it, especially in a situation where the girl already knows the guy (or guys, as in this case…)? Or are women just always presumed to be lying?

Here we had their texts talking about the hysterical state they’d left her off in (let’s not even start on their other texts…); the taxi driver confirming how upset she was; her texting one of the guys the following morning to say “what happened last night was not consensual”; her texting her friends to say what happened; a doctor’s report saying she had an “internal tear”, which is why she was bleeding (she was still bleeding from this the night AFTER the incident), and on and on. Even the fact that she went to trial, KNOWING how much the odds were stacked against her, counts.

She was in the witness box for 8 days. She was the one on trial here, not those guys. The defence’s line of questioning was degrading and insulting, and designed to shame, humiliate and sully her, and drag her reputation to the gutter. We look back in horror at our dark Magdalen Laundries past – have we really moved on at all?

A big concern I’m left with is the message to men: “it’s almost impossible to prove, lads. Your word against hers. Just call her a liar; the system will do the rest.” Well, it worked for the now POTUS, on camera admitting to sexual assault, and still elected.

Those guys may have walked free, but anyone who read their text exchange knows what they think of women. At least they can never escape the facts of those exchanges, laid out in black and white. And no, that’s not just “banter”; I refuse to normalise that behaviour by calling it that. It’s toxic, and it’s dangerous.

As for that girl, broken all over again… I hope that the knowledge that so many believe her (and I am one of those) helps to give her strength moving forwards.

Really informative article:

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/inside-court-12-the-complete-story-of-the-belfast-rape-trial-1.3443620?mode=amp

One month down! 5 to go…

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Crazily, one month of my marathon training has passed, in what seems like the blink of an eye!

It makes me really glad I’ve put a training schedule in place, as, without it, I genuinely know that I wouldn’t have fit in even half of the runs I’ve done. Having them mapped out in the diary is making it much more likely I’ll map work/kids around them, and try to get out – though sometimes I really have to drag myself out, especially on the wrecked/low-energy days.

I’m pleased with how it’s going: I’ve managed every long Sunday run so far, as well as the majority of the planned weekday runs.

Sometimes it’s just been too hectic and I’ve not been able to fit one in, but I’m not worrying about it too much. There’s so much going on, with us living in a temporary apartment a few miles away from the kids’ nursery, which means there’s a lot more commuting than there would be ordinarily, and we’re having to make what seems like a hundred refurb-related decisions a week, so I have to be realistic about what’s manageable.

It’s so busy at the moment that I’m glad I have something like this to focus on, for me – any working parent reading this, who’s the one who most has to juggle the kids/house stuff around work, will relate to how easy it is to put your own goals on the long finger while you try to manage all the other goals. Well, there’s no putting training for a marathon on the long finger, if you want to run it in one piece, so that’s some forced personal time right there!!

I’ve enjoyed listening to Robert Webb’s How Not to be a Boy over the past few weeks, on and off, and I finished that today on my long 10-mile run. It was such a funny, moving and honest book – Webb is self-deprecating, and self-critial, and always hilarious, even in the sad moments (it made me shed more than a tear or two, which must have made me an interesting sight when running around London!). It offered an interesting insight into the confines of gender role from a male’s point of view, something which, as a mum to boy/girl twins, I’m ever conscious of.

Next up: Hillary Clinton’s What Happened. I’m so appalled by what’s happening in the US, at the hands of a person who got 3 million fewer votes than Clinton, that it will make for a heartbreaking read – to think of what could have been (and try not to dwell on the horror of what is) – but it’s important to hear what did happen, if we’re ever going to learn from it. It’s nearly 17 hours, read by Clinton herself, so that will keep me going for the next couple of weeks at least, with a break here and there for a podcast.

Back to running… this week coming I plan to run a 4-mile, 2-mile, 3-mile, with an 11-mile run on Sunday. The weather has been holding out so far; it’s getting a bit chillier but not too much rain. You can wrap up from the cold, but escaping the wet is a lot harder!!

I’m definitely noticing my fitness starting to improve, and I’m already miles away from where I was 4 months ago, when I started my 0-to-half-marathon training. Weighed myself today for the first time in a few weeks, and I’m just a couple of pounds off 3 stone lost in that amount of time! It’s motivating seeing clothes start to fit better etc, and hopefully that will keep me away from all the warm, carby grub my body is craving as the cold and dark nights creep in!

UPDATE: END OF WEEK 2 … 24 TO GO!

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Another week down, somehow – it feels like 5 minutes since I posted the last update!

This week life cranked up MASSIVELY in the form of the kick-off of a big refurb we’re having done on our house.

I’m sure there’s never an optimum time to train for a marathon when you’re a mum getting back into fitness, have twins, work, are managing a child’s chronic illness… but I know the least optimum is probably trying to do it, with all that, whilst also in the middle of a massive renovation that’s expected to take almost as long as the time between now and the London Marathon!! EEK!! But I figure, if you’re already super-busy, why not throw another coal on the fire!

Of my husband and I, I’m the one around locally during the day, with freelancing/having the twins every afternoon after nursery, so I’m heading up the project management, i.e. here’s a few more balls for the juggling loop, missus!

Excited about seeing our ideas take shape, and know that the extra space this project will give our family will transform the house for us. Twill ALL be worth it! And repeat, and repeat times a hundred …

We had hoped to stay in the house to help the budget (a word that already makes me want to wail…!), but we’ve had to move out one week in due to floor pipes unexpectedly needing to be sunk, cutting off the water supply (only discovered Friday, and told to be out by today!).

So in addition this week to all the other ball juggling, I’ve also had to find somewhere local for us to stay, which doesn’t break the bank, and is close enough to mean our son can still access all the healthcare support he needs, and he and his twin sister can still attend nursery, so I can work …

Long story short, I found somewhere (*cheers*), and we have already packed everything we’ll need until our return in January, and moved in! *faints*

Getting runs in this week was a push, especially as I had quite a tight work project deadline in the mix too, and I lost a lot of time dealing back and forth with builders, but I managed a short one during the week, and an 8-mile long run yesterday. If I didn’t have this marathon goal there is NO way I would have done it, to be honest!!

This week the plan I’m following (currently week 9) outlines that I aim for:

  • Tue: 4 miles
  • Wed: 1-3 miles
  • Fri: 3 miles
  • Sun: 9 miles

A new challenge is me being in an area of London I’m not so familiar with, and it being suddenly very dark morning and early evening, and me losing a lot of time carting the twins around the place, so will have to figure out how to fit the runs in around all that. Today was spent in Great Ormond Street Hospital for another long day of consultations and blood tests, so hoping there’s enough in the tank tomorrow for getting those trainers on!

Where there’s a will there’s a way, though! Hopefully I’ll be reporting back next week having hit the majority of my mileage target!

 

 

 

Update: end of week 1 … 25 to go!

7 days down, and 175 left.

175 days sounds:

  • a) long; with me running at least every other day, and a long run every Sunday, that’s a LOT of runs …
  • b) not actually very long at all, when you think I’m going from just about being half-marathon distance to being able to go the whole hog!

I’m pleased with the first week, and my mission for next week, now that I feel over the half-marathon of last weekend, is to maybe step it up a tiny bit in terms of pace, or perhaps cut some the the mid-run walks! This week I’ve got two mid-week runs (a 4-mile and 3-mile) in the schedule, and then 8 miles on Sunday.

I’ve ran beside water a lot this week, exploring some of what my local area in London has to offer (photo here was taken near my house this afternoon), and I’m reminded how truly revitalizing it feels to be around open water. That, combined with the most beautiful colors at the moment as the leaves change, has made for a week that’s felt good for the soul. More of those please! However, today I could feel a bit of a bite when out there … as they say, winter’s coming. Eek. Hopefully not for a while though!

Next week adds an interesting dynamic to the training: we’re starting a house refurb tomorrow, across our ground and second floors, which will last around 5 months, and see us without a kitchen and washing machine (and, at various points, water/electricity/heating…), and three-year-old twins in the mix. *wails*

There will be quite a lot of juggling on the horizon, with the needs of the twins, and work, and running, but hey…. apparently I like a challenge! Looking ahead to the next few months, I think come April next year I might be all challenged out!

Wetlands Sunset

 

What I Listen to When Running

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I found something had really shifted when I went back to running after having my twins. The period from them arriving to reaching a point where I was able to carve out a regular slot for running (three years!) saw me change a great deal in terms of what I can listen to when running, in a way I hadn’t expected.

Pre-kids, when running, I always listened to music, usually pretty up-beat music with a good tempo, and I would happily pop on a whole album and listen to that when out.

However, I feel now that my brain has been re-wired. The constant state of perpetual juggling I’m in, between job, and house, and kids (and the millions of things that involves), hospitals, blood tests, medications…means than my brain constantly looks like this: *@!!!!@&*!!

When I got started back into running, I automatically went into Spotify to listen to a playlist, and found, instead of helping me switch off, it was stopping me from switching off. I found myself constantly skipping through songs, unable to attach to anything for very long, feeling ultimately more anxious than before the run began.

Having thought about it, I realized that my brain, as it is now, needs the opposite: one long-form version of entertainment.

I decided to try a podcast – something I never listened to prior, as certainly for the past 3 years my life with the twins/freelancing around them in any spare hour has not been compatible with disappearing off for 30 mins + to listen to something for my own entertainment and pleasure.

And that’s exactly what I needed! Something longer to attach to, which I can concentrate on in a way that my mind both needs and craves.

I signed up for an Audible audiobook subscription, and listen to one book a month, and in addition have been listening to Desert Island Discs, Russell Brand’s Under the Skin, the Guilty Feminist and An Irishman Abroad.

Training for a marathon provides the perfect opportunity to try new podcasts, and on my list are:

  • Running Commentary
  • Woman’s Hour
  • Giovanna Fletcher’s Happy Mum Happy Baby
  • Another Mother Runner
  • Serial
  • Dirty Mother Pukka
  • Robin and Josie’s Utter Shambles
  • Marathon Talk
  • Running Stories Radio
  • Radio 3’s Arts and Ideas
  • Dan Snow’s History Hit
  • Des Bishop
  • One Year No Beer

 

That should set me up for a while (!). I’m looking forward to all the listening ahead, and I’m sure it’ll provide a welcome distraction as I push my body beyond what it really wants to be doing (which, let’s face it, is not double-digit runs at barely-o-clock in the morning!). I’ll update on what I’m listening to as I go.

Any other podcast crackers I’ve not mentioned? Let me know!

 

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