Homesickness after a decade abroad?

This time when I got back home to Malta after a summer in UK and France, I found it tricky to settle.  More than at any other time before.  The feeling of being happy to be coming back to home abroad, had been lasting for shorter periods each time I returned to my life here.

The taxi driver was 1 hour late leaving with us from the airport, so we left at 1am instead of midnight and I was just immediately tired of Malta.  I’m not going to Malta bash, why would I?  There’s so many awesome things about this country.  The other day I got back from the beach with friends and kids (awesome in itself) and hungry and tired grabbed the kids and bags, ate dinner and about 2 hours later was looking for their water bottles.  I realised I was missing my handbag with the bottles in, and my purse, money, all the important stuff.

I knew instantly I had left it somewhere ‘bad’.  I went down to the car and the passenger side door was wide open, my bag on the passenger seat! It had been that way for some hours.  Quite a lot of people pass there on Saturday night, and I thought of all the times we had been lucky in similar situations here.

I also love running here. The weather is almost always perfect. The smells and feel of the countryside at night is something I’ve never experienced in the UK. (more…)

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Training and motherhood: pregnancy, breastfeeding and beyond.

IMG_0897
Pic taken by ‘Her Majesty’

A pregnant friend recently sent me a message:

Hi Hannah, I have a question for you. How do you manage to train & run, when you are sleep-deprived from looking after your twins? I am just wondering cos I always feel so lousy from lack of sleep and I imagine it’s only going to get worse once the baby arrives! xx

My answer I told her, was extensive, so I thought I would post it here, to maybe help any other preggos or new mums thinking the same things.

My answer is primarily based on my experience of being pregnant with and breastfeeding twins.  I’ve gleaned some other information from here and there.

I’ve heard of mother’s running marathons and ultra marathons, stopping to breastfeed their babies along the way.  I’m pretty sure these mothers didn’t jump into that idea after giving birth.  They must have been in a pretty good physical state before hand.  The first mother I heard about doing this, stepped into a 24-hour timed race (you run as many time round a track loop as you can in 24 hours) after her husband couldn’t take part.  She ran more than an ultra, without planning to. An ultra is anything over a marathon distance.  The second was a professional runner who was back training 6 weeks post-birth and back competing in the first year.

I was not an athlete before I gave birth.  I was training for Malta marathon when I found I was pregnant, before that I was an on-off runner, much like now ;)  I did a 19km run in September 2009 and felt a bit weird.  I discovered I was 6 weeks pregnant and on the next run I tried to do, I felt all kinds of cramping and pulling in my abdomen.  I was not comfortable.  (more…)

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On taking ‘me’ time and not feeling guilty about it…

Between the time they were born and time they were 5, I took one night away from my twins.  This was a night in hospital when they were 2, to recover from a c-section repair operation.  I found the experience really difficult, and missed them so much that I had no desire for time off from them again.

Their father, Adam had had a total of 6 months away from them in their first 3 years, as I took the twins to stay with my mother in the UK for long periods of time.  On top of this, he had had work weekends away.  I had no jealousy or desire to do the same.  I loved being with my kids, and missed them after just a few hours apart, however, from about 4.5 years I had started to feel a bit energetically ‘ground down’ and ‘running on empty’, in terms of what I had to offer them.  Having two first babies at 27 was a full on life-changer, I wasn’t the same Hannah as before they were around.

I booked 16 days away in France for in 6 months time. I started to feel panicky.  I hadn’t planned it to be so long, but a combination of factors meant it ended up being 21 days. I envisioned missing them like I did after a few hours for the entire duration, but on the other hand, the idea of getting up whenever I felt like it, making a cup of tea and seeing to myself first for the first time in 5 years, felt exciting and attractive.  I planned to take long baths, long runs and go out for dinner without worrying what time I would be home.

The fact that every day (except the time of that operation) they had been the first thought on my mind in the morning.  What were they going to eat that day, do, what other things did I need to do for them, etc.  I felt bound-down structuring my day around their routine, everyday.  Oh course this probably sounds selfish, I felt selfish to the point I wouldn’t admit these feelings to myself.  There was slight resentment when Adam went on his latest work trip to Sicily.  Although I didn’t admit it, it was time for me to take a break.  Of course, many mothers with many more children than me don’t have the opportunity for such a break (I was lucky that this chance came about through a combination of factors) but many parents don’t have access to many things, such as nutritious food, it doesn’t mean it is not desirable for the welfare of everyone involved.  Many people have to be involuntarily apart from their children, like I was for the operation, and that’s a different matter and feeling altogether, but ‘mummy burnout’ is now something I recognise, which I didn’t before this break. (more…)

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Malta’s toughest race: Gozo Hellfire 55k.

Creaming up, for the third time
Pre-race. Creaming up, for the third time

“I don’t know if I can finish. But that’s the point. I don’t want to enter a race I know I can finish. I want a challenge and to see how I measure up. To try something I don’t know I can finish: that excites me.”

me race start carmel
Probo one of only times you’ll see me next to Carlos (white t-shirt) in a race scenario ;) He won, I did not

me finish
Happiest I’ve ever been (when not on morphine)

 

I wrote this the a few days after: “I have a feeling now like being in love, or having had a baby, without that anxiety and trepidation that I’m somehow going to mess it all up. No matter what happens now, I’ve completed an ultra and nothing can take that away.”

 

(more…)

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The course of true love never did run smooth: Minimalism to Maximalism: pt1

Sorry guys, a new post has been long overdue! I have had a wicked summer so far! Mainly packed with entertaining the little ones.  However, now I sit in France alone in a beautiful huge Chalet, I have three days to catch up on some writing before I head to Chamonix for the UTMB festivities, so here goes.

On to the title of this post; I love running.  I know many don’t, and I felt that way for 19 years.  I would miss a bus rather than run for one, honestly.  Then something clicked after that first half-marathon I hadn’t trained for.  Ali and Hannah, the unlikely athletesI knew I could push beyond discomfort, and actually find pleasure in doing so, and this forever changed me.  The comfort zone is a trap, and true happiness lies beyond this.  This is a valuable lesson which changes the way one lives, a lesson I hope my kids will grow to understand.

 

I never intended to be a minimalist purist in terms of running shoe.  I hadn’t read Born to Run (the book that started the minimalist trend) when I started running in sandals.  

 This is a story about how I ran in sandals for 3 and a bit years, how I found it and where my thoughts lie now.  (I hope this story is useful).

PS- those nike cortez ‘fashion’ trainers stood me well for running for years until someone told me I needed a ‘proper’ running shoe ->

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The course of love never did run smooth: Minimalism to Maximalism: pt2.

I waited patiently in Sportlink in Norwich, whilst a slurry of beat-up bodies sought out new shoes to fix their running woes.  Is running this bad? This addictive? I thought, as a man spoke of his recent back operation, a woman of her chronic knee pain, and veteran athlete Neil Featherby said if he had stopped running when a doctor had told him to… Well, Neil just laughed. Are we really that worse off than the general population, I wondered?  I see many broken down, beaten-up bodies in my Yoga classes, and rarely are these due to sporting injuries. Most often the body is rebelling in later life against a sedentary/ indoor lifestyle.

I don’t run to look better, I don’t run to make my body feel better.  I run, like with Yoga, primarily for my mind.  However, my body needs to be kept in tune to allow me to continue experiencing the benefits. There is no benefit in ignoring niggles that persist beyond a few months.  This is why I was here, hoping a change in footwear may help my back and prevent me further damaging my knee.  Maybe my back problems were exacerbated by running, maybe barefoot running caused my knee injury, maybe it was under-training, maybe barefoot running affected these injuries for the better, or for the worse.  Maybe it was pregnancy that damaged my back and the problem would have arisen anyway (as the back specialists said), maybe running presented the problem earlier than I would have otherwise become aware.  Maybe the accident was a coincidence and the problem was underlying.  This is all speculation, but I knew I needed some changes, regardless of the cause.

(more…)

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A sad weekend to be a human

Spring hunting for Easter eggsAs I sit here drinking some tea, I hear a bird singing.  And I feel sad.

Tomorrow that little guy can (and probably will) be shot at mercilessly, then if he’s not that special, just left by the roadside to die, rather than to be stuffed for about E50 and stuck in a showcase alongside many others like him.

Another historic referendum for the Maltese has sealed the thinnest of majorities of just 2,220 votes to retain a spring hunting season despite an EU ban.

The Times of Malta said that the “Yes” campaign successfully argued that a “No” victory could result in other pastimes, such as fireworks and motorsports, also being banned in referendums.

The paper says that hunting enthusiasts also succeeded in using the “pulling power” of Prime Minister Mr Muscat while simultaneously ensuring that their campaign was “characterised by an absence of images of shotguns and dead birds”.

A second hunting season in autumn was not included in the referendum.

Malta is the only EU country that allows recreational spring hunting. (more…)

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13 differences between the Good Friday Night 30k Run 2014/15

pic30 k in less than 3 hours.  I was happy, as it took 1 hr 17 to do the first 10k.  I was seriously deflated, why had it taken me so long?  I did my calculations and thought there was no chance of finishing sub-3hrs as I had planned.  Here I will sum up the main differenced between my ‘performance’ this and last year.

1) I had less sleep than before last year’s, I got about an hour, the night of it, but less sleep in the previous week’s also.

2) Definitely felt a lot stronger than last year, especially on the hills , got a faster time. Probably the compression socks’ psychosomatic effect :)

3) Didn’t feel sore during or afterwards. Possible the compression socks’ psychosomatic effect ;)

4) Lunas were more comfy with socks for the night run, as was only about 17/18oC.  Will still wear them without for summer running.

5) I left Mellieha Church at 130am, so arrived about 420am in Senglea.  Then waited until 6am for a bus :’( I was wearing shorts and ran in a vest.  I had a long sleeved top and a foil blanket with me, but had to borrow a bin bag and push some arm and head holes in it.

6) NO TEA!!! NO TEA at the end!!! I drank a bit of hot water and squeezed a bit of orange in it (contemplated dropping a salted caramel gel in and giving it a stir, thought that might taste tea-like, then I thought better of it).  Then I burnt my tongue.  Disaster.  A very many people offered to bring me a coffee as I crouched by the church shivering, looking like a bedraggled Euroland Christmas fairy (white bin-bag dress and shimmery foil DHL blanket-skirt), wearing a hydration pack on top, and of course, long socks and sandals.  Nice.  I was just starring at everyone speaking in Maltese as I tried to work out whether I was even in the right place for buses.

Knowing that if I had had a coffee, rather than going to sleep I’d get home and write about a million far-too-intricate for a 4-yr old egg-hunt clues, I declined.

7) Just a bit not so greatly organised.  Did I mention no tea, and no buses? Here’s last year’s report (more…)

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Non-Yoga for back pain

Yoga for bad backWhen someone knows you have a legal qualification, conversations with friends and acquaintances sometimes start a bit like this, “So I have this parking ticket from Birmingham…” or “can I ask you about the Law as regards my neighbour’s cats…” 

As a Yoga teacher, conversations go, more often, exactly like this like this, “I have this pain in my back, can you recommend some stretches to help me?”.

And I love to help, but it is tricky to give what they are asking for. I’ve done short sequences for everyone from my boyfriend, to my brother, to my friends.

Ones they can roll out of bed and do, ones they can do at the desk at work, single-pose sequences…  But I’m pretty sure none of them really do them… And I understand completely why.  They are busy.  Everyone’s busy.  That is why their backs hurt. And truth be told,  5 mins of Yoga a day will help, but there’s some other stuff I believe will help more.  Such as: (more…)

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Stuff I’ve noticed about “having stuff”…

puzzle feet1) Kids don’t need stuff. In fact, it is overwhelming and stressful for them.  I’ve noticed it in my kids.  We spent an hour and a half last week, all three of us tidying away their toys, when we could’ve been out playing.  Enough is enough.  They are nearly 5, they don’t need so much stuff.   I’m clearing it out.  Each week my friends are getting gifted with a toy (so that we can move closer to my dream of living in a caravan).

My son can play for hours with vegetables of various shapes and sizes pretending they are the solar system, I want to create memories, not spend my days tidying.  http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2012/09/14/why-i-took-all-my-kids-toys-away-why-they-wont-get-them-back/

 

2) Big families don’t have spoilt children.  By big, I am talking about 5+, or 4+, or even 3+ when they are all close in age (probably triplets or twins with another close one).

An age gap of 5 years or more, means it is basically a new family from that point on.  The 5 + year old will have had the first 5 years + as basically an only child, and that makes a huge difference to the family dynamics.

I’m not saying that children who come in less than 5′s can’t be nice, and that families of more sometimes aren’t chaotically behaved, but that I am friends with a family of 6, and they are all absolutely lovely.  I’d call all 6 of them my friends, but mainly the ones closest to my age.  I think they are all good people.   I guess possibly because they all understood from an early age that the world isn’t all about them, to get by they needed to care for each other. That is an important lesson everyone has to learn at some point in life, and it comes easier when growing up being one amongst many (this may be worth keeping in mind, even when you’ve got, or are from, a smaller family).

http://www.modernmom.com/bc7d2082-3b35-11e3-be8a-bc764e04a41e.html

 

3) Being able to “afford” children is relative.  Being able to “afford” anything is relative.  Many people say they can’t afford another child, but they can afford another holiday, or a nice new car.  Some people can afford another kid, but not the car or luxury holiday. “Whatever turns your crank”. https://thishouseisourhome.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/kids-arent-expensive-but-that-other-thing-sure-is/ (more…)

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