Aimee’s 10k for April Lodge!

At the finish lineAs some of you may remember, the amazing Aimee Lovejoy ran the London Marathon last year for April Lodge and was able to raise a fantastic amount for April Lodge Guinea Pig Rescue.

She has set a new challenge: running the 2016 Brighton 10k! Aimee says: “now we both want to raise even more for this little fantastic charity that does brilliant work for unwanted piggies, a subject close to both our hearts as we own a rescue pig and Beany is the best little piggy going!”

“This year, the distance is a little less but we both have personal goals that we’d like to beat in this  10k. Most of all we would just like your support to help us raise even more funds for April Lodge!”

You can find out more, and support Aimee at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/teamlovejoy.

 

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Freddy’s story

What a start in life…..

October 2015

We can only guess at the first few hours of Freddy’s life but, either way, at only a day old poor little Freddy found himself in the jaws of a cat, being marched down a residential road on a dark October night. Luckily a lady managed to remove him from the mouth of the cat and called us. We scrambled the April Lodge Guinea Pig Rescue van and rushed to his aid.

Freddy1

Goodness knows how the cat got him. Did he escape on his own? Did he have brothers and sisters who also escaped but weren’t so lucky? We will never know. The lady who found him asked up and down the neighbouring streets but no-one kept guinea pigs so we’re none the wiser.

He was immediately taken to Jo (one of our long standing volunteers and owner of nine guinea pigs already). But as a newborn, he needed his mum’s milk. Thanks to our Facebook page, a local lady whose sow had recently lost her babies kindly loaned her girl to us as a wet nurse. It started well but after a while the sow started kicking Freddy off and nipping him. Jo had to take over and began syringe feeding him.

Freddy head tiltFast forward a few weeks and despite his traumatic start in life, Freddy is well and thriving and has become quite a star with regular updates provided on our Facebook page and twitter.  He’s well on his way to being our new mascot! The trauma of being galloped through the dark streets in the jaws of death has left him with a permanent head tilt. Nothing to worry about our vet says but it has given him a very cute inquisitive look. He’s also developing the most fabulous and noisy personality – an all round survivor obviously. Because he’s being hand reared, Jo has fallen completely in love with him (of course) so he will stay with her forever.

Freddy teaspoon

beside a teaspoon, that’s how little he is!

Freddy has become such a star and has so many fans that he has consulted his diary and agreed to make a visit to the April Lodge Shelter on Friday 11 December between 10 – 12 to greet anyone who’d like to meet him.

Freddy in mug

Freddy – our new mascot

 

Colin the champ!

Champion Colin, owned by Carol JohnsonColin was one of four young boars that came to April Lodge approximately two years ago  as unwanted pets.  The four were split into pairs and Carol Johnson, who had already adopted two boys from us, adopted Colin along with his friend Russell.

Carole put a huge amount of effort into their care and handling, returning for regular health-checks in our on site clinic. Carol had not been to any of our previous annual Open Days as her mobility is limited, but she was overjoyed at winning ‘Best Longhair’ with one of her other guinea pigs and finally ‘Best In Show’ with Colin!

 

Aimee’s marathon update: she did it!

At the finish lineHi everyone,

After a week of tapering (less running to conserve energy for the big day) and carb loading (definitely my favourite part of the marathon training process!), the alarm went off at 5am on Sunday 26th April and boy, did I feel sick with nerves! We got up, showered and, after feeding Beany (who was very disgruntled at such an early alarm call) we practically shoved porridge and banana down our throats before the taxi arrived to take us to the station.

All the trains were free for runners, which was great – no need to worry about tickets and money! We met another runner at the station and got chatting to him and then my pilates teacher turned up; she was marshalling at mile 19 and a half, so it was nice to see a friendly face and this took the nerves away a bit on the train ride.

Charing Cross was rammed with marathon runners and the train out to Blackheath was packed: a lady commented that I looked terrified, probably because I was! Getting off the train and following the mass of people was quite astounding, it was like going to a concert but a lot less fun!

Me and hubby were at the Blue Start so after queuing for the loo, we sorted ourselves out with everything we needed for the run, put our trendy bin bags on to keep warm and handed our bags over to the guys on the trucks. It really is amazing that these guys look after 35,000 bags and each runner gets their possessions back safe and sound at the end – such a fantastic system!

We had a bit of an emotional goodbye; hubby was in a zone 3 up from me as he was faster but neither of us wanted to leave the other! However we went to our respective zones to wait for the mass start. I was a little disappointed actually, as I imagined we would be lining up in a tree lined avenue like you see on the TV but that was the red start where all the charity runners go – ours was just lining up on a path in a field! I had decided I was going to follow the 5 hour pacers that Runners World magazine provide, so I waited for them to come close by and then started following them towards the start.

We were off! I was actually running the London Marathon and there was loads of supporters all along the route quite early. I don’t think it did any harm starting from the same line as Paula Radcliffe but she was a tiny bit faster than me though 🙂

The first 8-10 miles shot by, I kept up with the 5 hour pacers quite well and was fairly comfortable. I had bought an iPod shuffle to listen to but really didn’t need it, everyone around was chatting away and the crowd support was immense. I just kept quietly behind the guys trying to keep my pace and my breathing steady. I managed not to get too caught up in the whole atmosphere and remembered to take my energy gels at miles 5 and 10, and was sipping water and Lucozade Sport throughout. I had four points that I was looking forward to: The Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf & the Embankment. The Cutty Sark at mile 6 didn’t disappoint although I’ll admit I got quite excited when I saw a Nando’s next to it!

They always say on the TV that Tower Bridge is halfway but it’s not; halfway is about 0.5 miles further on and it passed without much reaction really. I tried not to think about the fact that I had to do it all over again. At this point I was still with the 5 hour pacers and feeling pretty good about that at least. Miles 13 and 14 passed without incident but then on mile 15 I really started feeling it. I was struggling and had to make a choice: try and keep up, or sacrifice my 5 hour dream time and slow down to conserve energy for the last 10 miles. The latter won and I slowed down and watched the pacers run off. I was feeling a bit upset as I had to accept I wasn’t gong to get my dream time and these guys had been my company for the last 3 hours, now I really was alone and hadn’t seen anyone I knew along the route either!

At about mile 16 and a half I had to walk; I was a bit teary and I think a few supporters could see it as a few people called my name. I thanked each one; they didn’t know how much that meant after 16 miles of nothing. I made a deal with myself to walk a mile then run a mile, but trying to start running again after seizing up was blommin’ hard! I must have looked quite special at first as my knees didn’t want to work but once I got going I felt okay so that’s what I did from mile 16 to 19: walk, run, walk, run. Seeing the people dressed in rhino suits pass me was quite demoralising but I knew I had to conserve some sort of energy as there was still a way to go.

I was running through mile 19 when I saw my Pilates teacher and I leapt on her! To see someone I knew felt so immense at that point and we hugged so hard which really gave me a boost. I got to mile 20 before starting to walk again and then the pain set in; my hips were so sore that they felt like they were on fire. I stomped through miles 20 and 21 and then saw my parents in law and my best friend in quick succession. That helped but, inside my head, I was starting to think about giving up. I really didn’t think that I could carry on as my hips were causing me so much pain and I was doubtful at that point that I could even walk the last six miles.

Then I got a tap on the shoulder and a lovely lady in a Guide Dogs vest said hello and explained that she had been trying to catch up with me for the last couple of miles. She asked if I was okay (I was looking pretty miserable) and I had a bit of a wobble saying that my hips were hurting and I didn’t know if I could do this. She was my saviour and offered me ibuprofen, admittedly I popped one out and it fell on the road but I took one and within 20 mins I felt a lot better. We introduced ourselves to each other (her name was Anna) and agreed to run the last four miles together. So from mile 22 we set off at a jog and those last four miles were the best of the entire race for me. We chatted the whole way, encouraged each other and saw more friends and family who I took the time to go and hug along the way. Running down Embankment was everything  I hoped it would be: the support was immense and when we ran down Birdcage Walk and saw the ‘385 yards to go’ sign just before turning into the Mall and seeing Buckingham Palace we were euphoric! We ran the last few yards hand in hand and crossed the finish line together.

It was so hard – the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life – but I don’t regret it one bit. On the day I said ‘never again!’ but I have already talked about what I would do differently next time 🙂 I finished in 5hrs 25min in the end so I only have to knock a minute off each mile and I would hit my 5hr target: watch this space!

To date I have raised £1600 with Gift Aid but I know that there is more to come and it will be split evenly between April Lodge and Guide Dogs. April Lodge will be getting an extra £250 from my work, who agreed to match what I raise up to that amount. I hope I did you all proud and I want to thank you all for your support and the donations, it’s been a brilliant journey from beginning to end.

 

Aimee’s training diary – part four

AimeeHi everyone, sorry for the late update but the weeks are flying by!

We made the decision in these last four weeks to cut our runs from four to three per week; after 10 weeks of 5am wake ups it was beginning to take its toll and we made the choice to cut out one morning a week. To be honest, the focus of these last three weeks has been the large runs on the Sundays: 2hrs 30, 2hrs 40 and 2hrs 50, and this weekend will be the longest at 3hr 25 mins.

The first one -2hrs 30 mins – went blindingly! I felt really strong, worked well with my gels and managed to run 14 miles. Admittedly I went over by two mins but there was no way I was going to stop at 13.97 miles! I had my first ever ice bath after this run as my legs were killing me and ice baths are supposedly good for recovery…as well as extremely cold!!!

So I thought to myself: with another 10 minutes I can do 15 miles next week! I headed out feeling confident – perhaps a little too confident! I was jogging along happily imagining what race day might be like, imagining perhaps seeing my family, the guide dog supporters and some April Lodge supporters (Is anyone coming to cheer me on? I need it!) and all of a sudden looked at my watch and realised I was doing 10min 30 sec miles, which is fast for me! I felt okay so I carried on as I was, then I hit mile 7 and everything started to hurt. I swear after that I no longer had legs but concrete bollards that I was dragging along! To make things even more awkward there had been an ‘incident’ in Southend and the police had closed the road so I had to change my route. I only managed 14.4 miles that day and I will admit I came home and had a good old crying tantrum about it, everything hurt and the thought of an ice bath had me sobbing too. Needless to say I spent the rest of the day curled up under a duvet feeling quite sorry for myself. Reflecting on things, I know what I did wrong: that first 7 miles was too fast and I used up all my energy reserves. I knew what I had to do the next week!

So, this Sunday I went out with steely determination that THIS would be a great run, despite it being windy and cold and raining. I set off at a much more relaxed pace of 11 mins 16 seconds per mile. My hubby and I didn’t want to go too far from home in case the weather took a horrific turn and we have a nice 5 mile loop that goes by our hometown so he went one way and I went the other! It meant we saw each other every loop and it was a nice little boost and extra support. I ran a very strong 10 miles keeping my pace level, and then I started to flag a little towards the end but that was okay; I am still new to these distances and I don’t expect to be able to keep up a pace all the way through. What was nice was that towards the last 15 mins of my run, hubby came the other way and he grabbed my hand and then ran with me until the end – that was the biggest boost! I managed to hit 15 miles at 2hrs 49mins and 25 secs and I may have done a little celebration! I did ask hubby if he can finish marathon day and then come back for me but I didn’t get a positive answer!

We are now officially in Marathon Month: 25 days to go! This Sunday is my longest run at 3hr 25 mins and I am hoping that I can keep my head and I will cover 18 miles at the very least. If I manage to do this, I might (depending how I feel) just push it a little further and try and cover 20 miles. I will see how it goes and then I am very much looking forward to tapering down, everything getting a bit easier and more relaxed before the big day.

I have now raised £662 (that’s £801.28 with Gift Aid), a brilliant total as both charities stand to receive £400 . I am still hoping to raise it a bit higher this month and do all that I can before April 26th.

Thanks everyone! Aimee x