Flamingos | Wingham Wildlife Park

Animals, Photography

Flamingos are amazing creatures native to  the Americas. Their name comes from the Portuguese or Spanish – flamengo meaning ‘flame coloured”.  Usually, they’re seen standing on one leg. We don’t really know why this is, but one of the most common theories is it’s to conserve body heat as they spend a lot of their day wading through cold water.

Pictures above were taken at Wingham Wildlife Park on a Nikon D3200

Tigers | Practical Photography Magazine

Photography

I am super excited to announce that this months edition of the Practical Photography magazine contains another of my photos! This picture features in a special edition of their regular ’10 Clicks’ section on young photographers. I took this one at Wingham Wildlife Park in Kent. I love getting images like this which have, literally, captured the action! As regular readers might know I have a huge love affair for Wingham Wildlife Park and I’m so so happy that it’s these pictures which have been featured!

I was lucky enough to get another of my shots in a previous edition of the magazine. This was one of Wingham’s Chimpanzee’s which you can see here.

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Week 8 – Inner Power and Serious Hunger! | VMLM 2019

London Marathon, Running, Sport

Woahhh, where do I start? Somehow, the kid who never, ever, ever got picked for anything remotely physical is now running a solid 3 miles before 9am lectures and is pretty much running over 20 miles a week. “Running” is the slight flexible term in that sentence, but hey, I define “running” as the art of moving forward at a pace quicker than walking, right?? 🙂

So apart from a tonne of determination, I have no idea how I’ve ended up on week 8 of the 17 week training plan, having followed each day to the letter! It’s been completely crazy so far – but I love crazy! Strangely as time has progressed, I’ve become more motivated for the rest of it, despite the sore legs!

I’ve now just gone over the 100 mile mark for 2019, last year I didn’t manage that one until October/November last year! I’m nearly at 100 km run for February and yesterday I ran 16.6 miles. That was through running from Canterbury to Whitstable and back! Even just typing that sentence sounds completely crazy! One thing which really amazed me was the fact (and this sentence is about to sound even more crazy), I was alive the day after too! I also felt more alive than I did after half marathons before too!

I think that simple fact is a mark itself of my progress, I couldn’t really even contemplate a distance longer than a half marathon before this began. It pretty much felt like a void of darkness that no human (and least of all me!) could go beyond, now I only have 10 miles (gulp!) to add onto yesterday’s distance!

Now the serious miles start with rapidly increasing figures, that in itself is a tad scary but one thing I know I have is endurance! Strangely, the hardest thing with the training so far has been navigating the routes! I have an incredibly bad sense of direction, coupled with the desire to not end up in a random field or down the A2 – so longer routes need meticulous planning!

Another one of these marathon challenges I’ve found has to be in the nutrition. I’m a total foodie at heart and a lot of the time I’ve found myself with almost unbearable hunger. So this week and onwards I’m planning on massively increasing my protein intake in an effort to banish the hunger!

So the plan for next week is to continue on with the plan, as the miles increase I’m going to try an experiment! I’m planning on swapping my long run day to a Thursday or Friday to help manage uni work and the weekends – we’ll see how that one pans out!

Bring on April!

Would you like to support my fundraising for the London Marathon? I’m raising money for the Youth Sports Trust and Make a Wish UK. Donate here. I really appreciate any donations of whatever size! If you’re unable to donate, then please share my donation link – thank you so much for your support!

Potatoes against problem plastics

Climate Talk

The battle to reduce single use plastic continues – and will probably continue for many years to come. Could potato starch hold keys to reducing single use plastics?

Recently you might have noticed things like your newspaper supplements coming wrapped in a compostable material made from potato starch instead of the usual polythene covers. The advice on the wrapper is to add it to your usual compostable waste, but why the change?

Well plastics are great, IF they are reused. If they aren’t, then they end up in landfill with the final destination possibly being the oceans.

The Guardian were one of the first to put this change into place. Not put off by higher production costs, they first introduced this to London, Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk with the aim of rolling this out to the whole of the UK soon.

With it’s silky feel it may not feel like plastic but this new area of bio-plastics may go some way to conquering the problem of single-use plastics and overall – improving ocean health!

Potatoes, Vegetables, Raw, Food, Potato, Vegetable

Week 4 – Anyone can do this! | #VMLM2019

London Marathon, Running, Sport

The more I progress through my training for the London Marathon, the more I realise – and I get the fact this sounds a bit cheesy but it’s basically an art of falling in love with the act of moving forward. One foot in front of the other and you’ll get their eventually!

This couldn’t have been more true during the longest of long runs so far on this training plan – the Canterbury 10 mile Road Race. Pace wise, I managed to beat my target time by quite a distance and didn’t get hypothermia despite the bitterly cold winds!

One of the charities I’m doing this for is the amazing Youth Sport Trust. They’re all about improving the lives of youngsters through the power of sport. Right now, I seem to be learning the very lesson they’re preaching. If you’ve been reading my weekly blogs before now, you’ll know that at times, I’m incredibly insecure about my pace. I’ve been trying to think about why that might be the case. The only thing I can really think of is that it’s a mixture between imposter syndrome and one particular instance at school. This came about 6 months after my back operation and we were on a limited place trip to Italy. One day’s excursion was to climb Mount Vesuvius, yet there was a couple of people who said I shouldn’t have gone on that trip just because I would have been slow and therefore the place would have been better suited to other people. As a total side note, I was last, but I climbed it 🙂

I’ve done 4 half marathons and during Sunday’s race, I learned a lesson I’ve never been taught in quite the same way before. Pace is irrelevant. I’ve said this before, that everyone is a runner if you run – and I might, just might, be starting to believe it!

During the race, I met some incredibly lovely people. People who, quite honestly, couldn’t give a monkeys about my pace. These were people who I ran with and we could each give each other mutual encouragement – it’s amazing what that did to my pace! A special shout out has to go to an older guy who’d previously run 5 marathons and was busy rescuing the earthworms of Canterbury in the process!

So overall, this week has been exhausting running wise – so exhausting in fact, Strava keeps telling me to slow down! I’ve done 50 miles so far in 2019! But there’s so much to celebrate this week. I’ve finished a full month of marathon training, I’m still here and still smiling!

Would you like to support my fundraising for the London Marathon? I’m raising money for the Youth Sports Trust and Make a Wish UK. Donate here. I really appreciate any donations of whatever size! If you’re unable to donate, then please share my donation link – thank you so much for your support!

 

 

 

 

If you run, you’re a runner

Uncategorized

Throughout my training so far, I’ve found myself saying the classic phrase of “I’m running the marathon”, then always clarifying it with “but I’m not a runner!”. Yet, I’m running at least 2.5 miles, three times a week. Therefore, I run! Just typing that sentence feels so weird but equally I don’t see why it should? For sure I’m not super quick, for sure, there are people who might even be able to walk quicker than I can run. But I run! I should also remember that this is the kid who had major spinal surgery at 13 and fell down the stairs in one of my only attempts at playing tennis – but now look at me!

If there’s something that you want to do but don’t know where to start or don’t think you’ll be able to – just start, you never know where it will take you!

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ClaireNicholson7. Follow my progress to the London Marathon 2019 on this website and on my Instagram account: @clairesproject26.2. If you’d like to sponsor me in aid of Make a Wish UK and the Youth Sports Trust then the link is here: deficient-995122_1280

Week 3 – Muscles, Research and Motivation | VMLM 2019

Uncategorized

You might think 26.2 miles is a long way – the last week has shown me just how long that distance is! Sometimes, it really baffles me why people voluntarily drag themselves around a 42.16 kilometre course -for fun! Training is hard but I’m getting through each run – one by one, minute by minute! I’ve had a cold/cough for most of the week – so when everything builds up overnight it can be a challenge to drag my heffalump of a body out into the wilderness in temperatures well below freezing! Having said that though, I’ve come out the other side of the week! I’ve brought my 2019 total to 29.6 miles and the weekly total is going up and up with each week! I’m currently following the London Marathon’s beginners training plan and so far I’ve followed it to the letter!

I’m still struggling a bit with the consistent running, although I think some of that is the mental element of running. Whether it’s a slight element of boredom during a run, or exhaustion, I haven’t quite worked that bit out yet! That side of it is a little frustrating but despite all that, I could walk/run for aggesssss without being just unable to continue!

I’m currently trying out so many different methods of research to improve both my running style and technique. Since the start of the year, I’ve been reading Dame Kelly Holmes’ book “Running Life”, the Runner’s World, “Complete Guide to Race Training”, watching various videos – that kind of thing. It’s now a case of putting that all into practice! Bring on week 4!

Would you like to support my fundraising for the London Marathon? I’m raising money for the Youth Sports Trust and Make a Wish UK. Donate here. I really appreciate any donations of whatever size! If you’re unable to donate, then please share my donation link – thank you so much for your support!

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Today’s long run 

The Youth Sports Trust | VMLM 2019

London Marathon

As you might already know, I’m running the London Marathon for two charities, the Youth Sports Trust and Make a Wish. Over the next few weeks I’ll be telling you about some of the amazing work of each of these charities.  Let’s start off with The Youth Sports Trust.

They do some amazing work with people aged between 18 months and 18 years old – all to improve their lives with the power of sport. They create, develop and deliver programmes which do just that – whilst improving other aspects of young people’s lives such as attendance, health and general school performance. I’ve chosen to run for the Youth Sport Trust for a number of different reasons. The first being that at 20 – I personally believe I’ve only just discovered the benefits of sporting activity. As a kid, I was pretty much the worst ever at sport and I certainly don’t claim to be particularly different now, but I think during school I just believed sports to be almost unachievable, something that because I wasn’t very good at it initially, that was that and it just wasn’t going to be something I’d do. I then went to uni and suddenly the world of sport came up – I could get involved in sport and it wasn’t totally unachievable – that led me to do my first half marathon. I then began volunteering at different events, from the London Marathon to the Athletics World Championships. The event really inspired me and drove me to get more involved – I was surrounded by the incredible atmosphere created amongst the participants and spectators – the world of sport suddenly opened up! I’m still a million miles away from ever being even slightly athlete-like but with determination, perseverance – anything is possible! The Youth Sport Trust provides kids with these opportunities to find sports they love, giving them belief for the future, whether it’s simply unlocking a new hobby or maybe a future Team GB Star.

If you’d like to donate to my fundraising, then the link is here. Thank you for every penny, I really appreciate it!

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Andy Murray – a sporting legend.

Sport

Professional sport takes no prisoners, and Andy Murray is no exception. Andy Murray has hit the news headlines for all the reasons he probably didn’t want to. No, he’s not won a tournament, or a tennis slam – he’s retiring this year, Wimbledon at the latest due to a chronic hip injury.

He now sits outside the world’s top 200 tennis players – a far cry from the glory of Wimbledon 2013 where he finally banished Britain’s 77 year wait for a male champion. Now, the former world number one’s hip has deteriorated to such an extent that he even struggles with putting his socks on.

That’s the story, but I think this should focus on what he’s done for British sport and beyond – and above all, we can’t go back to what it was ‘pre- Andy Murray’. I’ve watched Andy on the court for as long as I can remember, lived and breathed every single point at times. Almost to the extent the neighbours could tell his score just from my reactions – oops! Last summer at the Eastbourne ATP tournament I was lucky enough to see Andy Murray in a practise with Kyle Edmund. I had no idea I would get that opportunity. Now, with this news, it feels somewhat more special knowing this news.

Andy’s glittering career may be drawing to a close but let’s look at what he’s done, and what we can do next to take it forward.  This has been just the start of a golden era for British sport. He’s won three grand slams and a wealth of titles. He was also the first person EVER to defend a tennis singles Olympic Gold. We can’t also forget Andy’s part in the GB Davis Cup win in 2015.

On top of his incredible successes he’s also come so close so many times – a five time runner-up at the Australian Open for example. Personally, I think we can take more from instances like these – the grit, resilience and above all how Andy has carried himself through the incredible highs and shattering lows.

Whether you’re a professional sports person trying to reach the lofty heights of Andy Murray or learning your craft in a different field, we can all learn take a bit of Andy Murray inspiration.

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Andy Murray at the ATP Eastbourne Tennis (2018)