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I want to tell you about this great little thing called parkrun.

12 Apr

parkrun – the reason I get up earlier on a Saturday, than any other day of the week.

I was first introduced to the wonderful world of parkrun by my cousin, Nic, when I arrived in Brisbane last April. I had heard about it in Scotland a few years before, and knew about one in Glasgow, but I never ran a parkrun until I arrived in Australia.

It’s a free, weekly, timed, 5k event. Brilliant.

The finish line at Southbank parkrun, Brisbane

How did it start?
It started in a park (Bushy Park) in London in 2004, and it’s since spread to 10 countries including: Ireland, Denmark, Poland, Russia, USA, South Africa, Singapore, New Zealand, and Australis – where there are now over 100 parkrun locations in Australia.

I now proudly call Southbank parkrun in Brisbane my ‘home parkrun’.

How does it work?
Simply visit parkrun.com to find your nearest one, register and print off your barcode, and take it with you on the day. It really is that simple.

Once you pass the finish line, you get handed a token (numbered according to the position you crossed the finish line and corresponds with the number on the stopwatch). You take that to a barcode scanner who scans the token then your barcode. The results are then uploaded onto the database and you get the all important email later that morning with your time and other great statistics such as: how many parkruns you’ve ran, your finish place i.e 165th, your all time parkrun personal best. You can also view the full set of results for that event and see how you stacked up against your mates.

Southbank parkrun meets at the parklands on Southbank

What makes it so great?
It’s run by volunteers – both a dedicated events team for each parkrun location, and members who volunteer on a one-off basis on race day for the likes of time keeper, barcode scanner, tokens, marshals, tail end charlie, photographer etc.

It’s open to everyone – no matter your age or fitness level. It encourages all sorts of people (dad’s with prams, grans with their dogs, children, athletes, walkers, super skinny, carrying a little bit of extra junk) to come along each week and bust out their best 5k against a clock.

What’s really great to see is when you introduce parkrun to other people and you watch them catch the parkrun bug. I’ve recently introduced some friends from work, and my cousin, Fiona, and her 2 year old son, Murray – who arguably isn’t a convert yet – the boy likes his sleep!

Parkrun tourism is also a thing. You can literally rock up to any parkrun, anywhere and run! (Yes, even when you’re on holiday!). It’s a great way to see different areas and run in different environments – beaches, footpaths, trails, parks etc. To date, I’ve visited parkruns in Mitchelton, Golden Beach, Stones Corner and Minnippi (all in SE Queensland) and I’ve even managed to persuade (read: force) my boyfriend to come with me to Pollock parkrun in Glasgow (Scotland) next month when visit home!

White girls can’t jump!

What next?
Since I started a year ago, I’ve ran 24 parkruns and got a new PB just last week: 27.51. Which I’m absolutely delighted with, as my goal this year was to run 5k under 28 mins… so now that I’ve already smashed that, I suppose I better set a new goal… I’m also hoping to reach 50 runs by the end of the year, and with comes the prized 50 t-shirt!

Watch this space, and remember – #DFYB (Don’t forget your barcode!)

“You Don’t Always Win Your Battles, But It’s Good To Know You Fought”

19 Oct

The title is a quote by Lauren Bacall, and from one inspiring woman to another, I’m extremely proud to have not one, but two accomplished authors in my family. My Great Aunt moved to Canada, from Scotland, in 1963, and there her life in Canada begun.

Being one of my gran’s younger sisters, she travelled back and forth to Scotland often to visit family, and although I have never spent a great amount of time with her, she always has a smile for you, she is warm, chatty and is full of life!

She met her second husband in the late 1980’s and after being married for 9 years, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. This is where her story begins. She tells her story about caring for him or 17 years, the benefits and challenges she faced in choosing to care for him at home, in the hope that it will help others who find themselves in a similar situation.

‘Martin and Me: My Life on Hold’, under her alias, Anne Louise Larpnel, is available on Amazon now, both in paperback and Kindle: Martin and Me: My Life on Hold

'Martin and Me: My Life on Hold' by Anne Louise Larpnel

‘Martin and Me: My Life on Hold’ by Anne Louise Larpnel


It’s a very touching story, easy to read, full of practical advice, and fond memories of their time together. As another reviewer noted, it’s like listening to a friend share their experience over a coffee. One particular tale that made me laugh out loud was when Martin was in the later stages of Alzheimer’s and he could no longer go to the toilet by himself. One day he was constipated, and having no luck they decided to give up for the time being and try again later. Upon pulling up his pants from behind, my Aunt felt a thump on her head, gave it a shake, and low and behold, a number 2 fell onto the floor!

The book is filled with many other funny little stories like that, which makes it all the more heart-warming. And if you happen to be in London, Ontario today, she is doing a book signing at Chapters/Indigo from 1pm – 4pm. Please go along and say hello, and tell her, her great niece in Australia sends her love.

Junk in my Trunk

17 Feb

When I started the Cambridge plan last March I said I would post updates. I haven’t. So here is a rundown of my weight loss journey over the past 11 months:

I was off to a flying start – losing one and a half stone in my first month and another stone by June (2 ½ stones in 3 months) Wow. This diet really works.  Then I reached a plateau during the summer months – I was in Ibiza, Prague, the north of Scotland, and had several hen weekends and weddings in Montrose, Exeter, St Andrews, plus several BBQs… You get the idea. I then got back into a routine in September and lost another stone and a half by November – making it a 4 stone loss in total.

Then my consultant went AWOL in November (it turns out she was in hospital and I haven’t seen or heard from her since). Then the festivities happened. So in January (last month) I decided to go it alone. I have thrown myself into the gym, reduced my calorie intake and have been clean eating (mostly), and delighted to say I’m on my way to reaching the 5 stone loss mark.

I’m now 11 months into my diet/transformation/ lifestyle change (call it what you will) and feeling blooming brilliant! Don’t get me wrong – I still have ‘off’ days when I can’t resist the large tub of Ben & Jerry’s or when I really, really, really want two thick slices of bread rather than a wholemeal pitta – but I don’t let myself dwell on it. That’s life, I’m human.

My original goal was to lose 6 stone, and as a rough guide, be within the ‘overweight’ section of the BMI index (I know this isn’t the be all and end all, but it’s a good marker). I still have some way to go, and was hoping to reach my goal come a year since I started – which will be the 25th March 2014, but this doesn’t look likely. So I’ll press on and set another deadline – maybe by the end of May. Watch this space!

A crucial thing for me was to set specific goals at the beginning, to have tangible things to aim for, and to keep me going when I hit (several) bumps in the road. My goals were the following:

  • Being able to walk into Topshop, Warehouse etc and not have to worry if the biggest size will fit me. (I now bound on into said shops KNOWING that everything will fit me!)

  • Being able to run 10km in under 60 minutes – which I’m working hard to achieve (currently running in 66 minutes!)

  • Being under the weight restrictions to do a sky dive in Oz (more on that coming soon!)

Now for the bit you’ve all been waiting for…. The before and after photos!

I started as a size 18/20 and I’m currently a size 14. A size 12 would be ideal! It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to address and change my eating habits – kicking the takeaways, reducing portion size, planning and preparing meals days in advance. I’ve been pinning motivational quotes on Pinterest like a mad woman, and I’ve had more words with myself than I care to remember – but it’s been worth it!

Before and After

Before and After

On top of striving to reach my goals, compliments have come in abundance – which is always nice! And none more so than a friend asking to feature my journey in her own healthy living website – read the interview here for a more in-depth perspective:

http://deerediary.co.uk/fitness/deere-diarys-inspirational-journeys-lauren-duffy
So that’s my weight loss journey in a nutshell! I hope you have found it useful, informative and maybe even inspiring. If you have any questions – please get in touch.
Now where did I put my running shoes?

‘Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same’

26 Mar

“Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same” – this is will be my mantra going forward as I start the Cambridge diet today.

It’s going to be hard – complete meal replacement in the form of milkshakes, soups and porridge for the foreseeable future – but I’m ready!

It’s took me a while to get to this point. I know losing weight isn’t rocket science, it’s simply a case of eat less/ exercise more, but I’ve been kidding myself on for too long now and I like to think I’ve got more will power than I actually do! I’m generally a healthy and active person and I’m educated on the foods I SHOULD be eating (easier said than done) but my attempts to lose weight and get fitter over the past five years haven’t  got the desired results, so it’s time to get a helping hand. Plus my friend from Uni has been doing it for 6/7 months now, lost over 5 stone  and has completely transformed her life and how she views food – she’s my inspiration!

Here’s a photo of me at my friend’s wedding last weekend – I’m big one in the orange dress. It’s by far not the worst photo of me, but come on it’s my blog, my rules! Tee hee!

My friend's wedding

My friend’s wedding

I’ll post more photos and continue to track my progress – watch this space to see how I get on!

So this is it – my own transformation starts today – wish me luck!

No More Blood To Give.

17 Jan

I went down to my local town hall last night to give blood and was told that because I’ve had cancer, I’ll never be able to donate blood again. This makes me very sad. So much so that I cried in front of the nurse – what a numpty!

On a serious note though, I really am gutted. The nurse said it’s because they don’t yet know how cancer spreads through the body (which is probably why I can’t have a massage for the next 5 years either), so until further research is done on this I can’t donate any more blood.

I have tried to donate blood regularly since I was eligible to do so when I turned 18, and knowing that it’s unlikely that I’ll ever be able to donate again (or get a free Tuc biscuit) is just shit.

Tuc biscuits were my favourite post blood donation snack

Tuc biscuits were my favourite post blood donation snack

Having got the all clear 4 months ago, I was indescribably relieved and ecstatic. So to find that there are still going to be limitations and implications on what I can do due to the fact that I had cancer in the past is hard to accept but something that I’m going to have to learn to deal with in the coming months and years. Just another wee hurdle to jump over.

I’ll just need to ramp up my 10k runs to marathons (choke) and raise more sponsor money instead of giving blood…

If anyone wants to find out more information on giving blood visit the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service website. The fact that only 5% of the Scottish population give blood, you really are  making a HUGE difference to someone’s life.

82 days of Cancer

1 Oct

I found out a few weeks ago, 25 days to be exact, that I got the ALL CLEAR from cervical cancer. I’m absolutely over the moon! I spent the first hour immediately after I found out in tears. I feel unbelievably lucky and relieved and delighted. All that’s left to remind me is a few tiny scars from my keyhole surgery.

It’s been 82 days from the day I was diagnosed to the day I got the all clear, not that long really. I feel so fortunate only to have skirted round the edges of cancer and not had to endure the devastation of some of the more severe treatments. I’m delighted that I can still have children and that the decision has not been taken away from me, I’ll never be able to thank the doctors enough.

I keep waiting for my new outlook on life to hit me, but it hasn’t, I’ve just carried on as before.

I think that’s why I feel a bit like a fraud. Because I haven’t had to go through the likes of chemotherapy or radiotherapy, I feel like I don’t deserve to be labelled a ‘survivor’ or that I ‘won the fight’, because in all honesty, I didn’t have to put up much of a fight. Sure it messed with my emotions BIG time, but all I did was try to think positive, as best I could, and hope for the best. And it worked.

If anything, thinking positively about my experience, is knowing that my diagnosis made a few women close to me go for a smear test they’ve been putting off. And if it stops one of them having to go on the cancer rollercoaster, then that’s good enough for  me.

With that being said, I’m still completely over the moon that I’m by with the whole mess. It’s an experience I never want to have to go through again. All the worrying and not knowing was mentally exhausting. But the sad fact is, if it’s not me, it’ll be someone very close to me who has to go through it and when that day comes I’ll be right beside them all the way just as everyone was there for me. There’s nothing else for it.

Flowers, flowers everywhere…

4 Sep

Flowers, my house is full of flowers. It’s nice. It’s a reminder of all the love my family and friends have been showering me with. I had my first surgery nearly two weeks ago at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, since being diagnosed with cancer. It was fertility conserving surgery, a combination of LLETZ and laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery to remove some lymph nodes in my pelvic area to test for spreading.

I’m now at home recovering and patiently waiting on the results. My surgeon said everything went well, and I was even discharged the day after my operation, but it still hasn’t stopped me thinking the worst. I’ve been more emotional these past few weeks than I have been and I think that’s because the severity of the disease is finally starting to sink in. It’s devastating to think I might need a hysterectomy and therefore unable to have children. However, there’s no point dwelling on the ‘what ifs’. Here’s to getting the all clear!

‘Flowers in a beer mug’ – one of my many bouquets of flowers