27 February 2016

Fundraising: Vintage-Style Country Tea Party

Last weekend I hosted my first fundraising event, a vintage-style country tea party in Gloucestershire. A lot of organising went into it, over half of which was done by my mum. I created the somewhat embarrassingly bad invitations and gave her a rough list of family and friends to invite but she really took it to the next level. Before I had even had a chance to think past triangle sandwiches and a Victoria sponge, she'd already made five different types of cake, asked her friends to bring brownies and cakes, and bought the ingredients for even more. Initially I was a bit put out by this - I wanted to do some baking and organising as well! - but it actually turned out that with running 14 miles that weekend and revision for an exam on the day after the tea party, I would have been pretty stressed out. (The exam went okay, in case you wanted to know.)

She also did a great job of filling the house with friends and family. Having moved out of Gloucestershire five years ago, I haven't kept in touch with many people in the area. Luckily my mum is like one of the people you read about in a chick-lit novel - she's retired and spends most of her time playing golf, walking dogs, gardening or doing charity work. This is great because it means she has loads of friends to invite and although we only gave people two weeks notice and it was the half term weekend (time with the grand kids!) we still had lots of people who were available to come.

All homemade (except the cherry pie which was a gift)
I tried to decorate the house with a vintage-style theme: a family friend lent us the most beautiful bunting she had made for her daughter's wedding last year; another let us borrow a pretty tea set with saucers and side plates; I finally got a chance to use the cake stands I'd been given for Christmas a couple of years before; I placed some pink roses in glasses around the room and we bought some matching table cloths and serviettes.

It was really nice to meet some of my mum's friends, see family that I don't get the opportunity to see very often and talk to people who were genuinely really interested about my running and how it was going. The key question everyone asks you is, 'how's the training going?' With some people they just ask it because they know that's what's expected but others you can really tell actually care. Everyone at the tea party, whether I had met them before or not genuinely cared. Some couldn't believe I was going to run all 26.2 miles and others offered running tips.
A huge thank you to everyone for your kind donations! It got slightly confusing with the mix of cash and card donations on the website, but in total we raised over £400 which is just amazing! I'm now nearly half way to my target, and with a bake sale at work coming up in 10 days time I'm feeling more confident about making it!

On a side note, I'm running 16 miles tomorrow - wish me luck!!

14 February 2016

More Running, a Cold and Fundraising Plans...

This is a short update on how my training is going. It's going to cover January and most of February. I'll try to do another post at the end of February to make up for my lack of communication.

January was quite difficult with a 12 day break (a couple of days either side of 7 day skiing holiday) meaning I had a considerable amount of catching up to do. 12 days might not sound that much to some people but at the moment I'm running three times a week and hockey twice a week. I managed to get back on track reasonably quickly, starting back at lower distances and building up each week. I'm now running 4, 6 and 12 miles a week, next week I'll step up to 4, 7 and 14.

A view from my room of the sunrise at the end of my run in Sicily
In general the running is going well. I had a work conference in Sicily at the end of January but I still managed to run once whilst there (5 miles) and at the weekend. People have asked if it's getting easier now but I think the runs are just as hard as they always have been because I'm continually trying to run each distance faster. I can't recommend RunKeeper (the app I use) enough. I don't think I'd be doing half as well without it and I'd have to concentrate so much more on my timings too. Now I can just put it on, relax into the run and think about anything I want to.

I've had a cold the last two weeks which has made training really difficult. I've only actually missed one run but I've been running slower than I wanted to be. Last Sunday I was very weak for the whole day after running 12 miles (I ran the same route 7 minutes faster this week which is a big increase and shows how unwell I was). I'm starting to feel much better and I'm really hoping not to catch any other illnesses before the race.

I can't believe it's only 10 weeks until the marathon. I feel quite anxious about it if I'm honest. There are a lot of things that could go wrong. I might get an injury running (so far I've been very lucky) or I might get an injury skiing (I'm going again for four days in March). I might not manage to fit in all my training runs planned (I can't see this happening but you never know). I might find the really long runs (14+ miles - more thank 2 hours) mentally and physically really stressful. Anything could happen. And that's what makes me nervous. But I can't control most of those things, all I can do is take precautions.

My fundraising is going quite slowly. I haven't done any of the events or ideas I had planned yet but I am starting to put some of the plans into place, and next week I am hosting a Tea Party at my family home in Gloucestershire. It's going to be quintessentially British with little sandwiches, cakes, lots of tea and homemade lemonade. I'm also hoping to do a raffle there as well.

My invitations for the Tea Party (don't judge, I made it in 10 minutes in Powerpoint)

I'm trying to organise a bake sale at work also. The main challenge with that is making and transporting enough cakes for people to buy. I'm going to have to come up with a clever plan. Luckily I only live a 10 minute walk from the office so I can also do three trips if I need to. All solutions welcome!

In my next post I'll give you an update on how the Tea Party went with lots of pictures of the food and decorations (I'm hoping to have bunting up and I'm praying for sunshine...).

If you'd like to donate, you can click on the link in the left sidebar or here.

Shelter is an extremely worthy cause and your money makes a big difference to the work they can to help the homeless and change housing conditions in the UK.