A training update

I haven’t been doing quite as good as I should have been recently, I have been getting up to go to the gym before work and started finding this hard going. Not going to the gym but the getting up part. I do enjoy getting to the gym in the morning a still feel the benefits. It is just that I have been feeling tired in the morning. Getting up and sitting down with breakfast before getting dressed I started to sit back and relax a bit too much feeling tired would go back to bed for another hour. Or I would wake up and turn over and go back to sleep. I have started to change my routine and that seems to be helping again. Instead of having breakfast before going to the gym, I have it prepared and take it to work with me to enjoy after a workout. I did make the mistake of putting the granola on top of my fruit and yogurt when I prepared it the night before, a wee tad soggy by the time I ate it so, as long as I remember just to add granola in the morning it is a yummy breakfast and getting up and going straight out, after getting dressed that is, I am getting back on track. There are a few mornings that I turn over and go back to sleep but I am much better at getting up and going again.

As Emma mentioned we have signed up for a 5k so now concentrating in meeting that 5km run haha, no not quite, working on the treadmill I am consistently walking at 5km/hr with a 10% incline. I am still scared to try jogging, I have spent so long not being able to run due to my knee problem that it is a difficult to take that leap and give it a go. I know that since the loose cartilage that was in my knee trapping the joint has been removed it shouldn’t lock up or give way but still I need to just try and give it a go. When out on a walk I did have a wee jog, and did manage to jog albeit with a limp and I felt a tad awkward but I know I can do it and will do it.

We have started including walking into our fitness routine and the walk round the loch at the Stirling Uni is about 2.5km so if we can make it round twice we will make the 5k. The 5k that we have entered is for all levels and if we don’t run that won’t be a problem however the challenge is now on to be able to at least run some of the way. The next training plan is to follow the couch to 5k training programme starting next week. Why not already and well no excuse really apart from the weather being so bad but yes, we are in Scotland so we just need to get on and regardless of the weather get out and try our best. I am looking forward to the 5k and would like to give the running a go. I don’t see me becoming a runner but I will be extremely happy if I manage to run so here’s to giving the running a shot and trying some jogging on the treadmill. Back at the uni today with Emma, she feels guilty about holding me back and I feel guilty about striding out ahead but today I pushed myself and left Emma at her pace. I didn’t run but power walked round twice making the 5km in 53 minutes. I feel good walking but still feel running even at the same pace as quite a challenge. The challenge of doing the 5k is for both Emma and myself and for us to work together so yep sometimes I will push myself but others I will stay with Emma and together we can try short jogs as we go.

We have another challenge before the 5k and something we can use as training for the 5k. we are two of the lucky 50,000 people that have been selected to walk over the 2.6km Queensferry crossing on the 2nd September before it opens to traffic. We had been thinking of walking over the Forth bridge so a real bonus to get to walk the new one especially as it doesn’t have pedestrian access.

My work at the gym has certainly increased since starting to work out, I haven’t continued with the stair climb as though as this is, at the moment is still too much for my knee but maybe once I have mastered some running I will get back to the stairs and master them. The intensity and duration has certainly increased as can be seen from the two graphs below showing an early workout compared to a recent work out, a difference of over 1000 moves in a workout with a much higher percentage in the high intensity band and even though my attendance has been down over the last few weeks I am really proud of my achievements at the gym and I am looking forward to increasing the number of moves again.

Onwards and upwards to 2000 moves and feeling extremely positive and proud of myself. Also lost a stone so no bad going on the weight loss too.

Continuing to live the dream,

Bren x


Looking back helps me move forward…


I always feel crazy when I achieve a milestone, in my world, like my 2.95k walk and feel this is mad, some of the Carnivals I walked were way longer and I would be drumming and walking backwards while leading the band, but Brenda always reminds me that 5 years ago I could barely walk 100m.

So occasionally I do look at how far I have come.

Six years ago is when my troubles started.  Arthritis flared up in my knees which is obviously what affected my walking and then my heart problems started, well we thought it was my heart it was actually my Pituitary gland that had stopped working and that affects everything including the heart.

I had unstable angina and was taken into hospital to have a stent placed in my heart,  the surgeon said that because of where it was I would need to have a bypass operation in 5 years’ time.  This does still worry me but I just remind myself that my heart is not the problem.

After my heart operation my quality of life was zero, I struggled to do even the simplest of tasks.  I went to cardiac rehab and would be lapped by people twice my age, I was determined to beat them but it just wouldn’t happen, I was not getting my life back.

I had to stop working and it was heart-breaking for me, not only my livelihood but also my passion in life.

I found it really hard to look forward in my life. I tried to go out for walks and do things to keep active but it wasn’t easy and I would usually come home deflated because I couldn’t do anything.  With that my self-confidence and self-worth also went away.

Even at home things were hard, if I did a little bit of housework it would wipe me out for the rest of the day or I would save my energies so that I could cook dinner.  Brenda was and has been amazing during this time and so supportive, not once has she made me feel as useless as I feel myself, she has always been there for me.  I did used to feel what is the point, it is not like I am actually living a life.

Then during a routine blood test it was noticed that I had no cortisol in my blood and that was the beginning of my true diagnosis, Panhypopituitarism,  and the start of my road back to the living.

It wasn’t a straightforward take these and you will feel fine, it was coming to terms with living with a chronic illness that could potentially stop my body working at all.

It was a very slow process of getting the right combination of meds but 4 years later on I have a much better understanding of this ever changing condition.

I do like to be active and would do what I could but it always took it out of me.  I would have to plan activities so that I would have at least one or two days of rest before I had to do anything else, at least I was getting out and doing stuff.

Just over one year ago I started taking Human Growth Hormone ( HGH) and my life started to change again.  I started wanting to have a life again, I found a new drive to do things and with my fifty things it gave me a project to channel my energy in to.

Now my focus is on achieving my fitness goals, by setting myself challenges that even 1 year ago I could not have even contemplated.  I can’t believe we both  agreed to sign up for a Supernova 5k, are we mad! I am nervous about it but surprisingly do feel it is achievable and am keen to give it ago.  I am going to need to get a whole lot more training to get my distance and speed up.

When I think about this I can’t not think about where I have come from and marvel at the difference.  I don’t like to look back too often though because it does get me down when I think about everything that have I lost.

I am happy with my life now and am much more accepting of what each day brings, as each day is different and brings me new challenges.  My challenges now are different from the ones I was used to but that does not lessen my achievements and I will remain proud of my 2.95km walk, only 2.05km to go! Continuing to strive forward….

Here’s to living the dream,

Emms x



My Travels Abroad part 5 – Europe

My first trip to Europe was with the school at the end of P7 when we went to Belgium for a week a very exciting time of on holiday away from home and having to get a passport. Just the one year visitor’s passport though  as there wasn’t much travel abroad for me back then. I have a few memories of this trip but have been thinking it is strange what memories stick in mind. We had a visit to Luxembourg, we could spend Belgium Francs here but not Luxembourg Francs in Belgium, in the city centre there was a Maryland advert and the clock with a huge cigarette. The hotel that we stayed at was up a hill with a hair pin bend, by the end of the week the bus driver was spinning round with just a couple of manoeuvres.  We were obviously studying the 2nd world war in P7 as one of our trips was to the 101st Airborne museum and memorial really bringing to life the stories that I had heard. Another memorable place and somewhere I would like to return was the Grottes de Han, an impressive network of caves in the limestone hill by the river Lesse. I remember the vast size of the caves, waffles at the café in the centre and the boat trip out. I believe there is now a bridge to exit the caves now, I will need to do this one on my own as I don’t think Emma would be so keen to go into the caves.






My next venture to Europe was to Gace, Kinross’s twin town in Normandy. This was a trip with the pipe band and as I was still just a youngster my mum accompanied me as did a few other mum’s, I think they also had a good time. We were staying in the college dorms, which seemed to end up being a feature on trips to north France in years to come. The visit was arranged by the twin town association and visits to Gace by Kinross and vice versa were arranged for alternate years with people from each town staying with people from the other town. The pipe band opted to stay together in the collage. This trip to France was a bit of an eye opener with a reception on arrival with Moulin Rouge dancers, yep topless! The trip coincided with Bastille Day and there was a big parade with floats that must have taken ages to dress, covered of crepe paper flowers. The parade went round the town, then round again and again eventually ending up at the Chateau with fireworks to end the celebrations. This was my first experience of a simple dish that I still love, beef tomatoes sliced and layered with red onions and drizzled with olive oil and some seasoning.

I have been back to France a few times both with pipe bands and work. A few trips to Lorient for the Interceltique festival, a huge Celtic festival with folk bands and dancers, pipe bands and bombards. About 5000 performers and 700,000 visitors for the ten day festival with about 200 events. The town is alive with the sounds of Celtic music and the smells of food stalls. There is no escaping the festivities, I remember playing in the local supermarket one year. The accommodation for the pipe bands was the college dormitories with the Scottish and Irish taking it year about to be in the blocks further away from the town centre. As a performer this is a superb festival with access to all concerts and free transport with in the town and to the beach, we would sometimes play in the morning, head to the beach then back and play in the evening. We did however have to work with many obscure places to play but here was also lots opportunity for a good time. Just along from Lorient is a port called Saint Nazaire where Germany had an impressive U-boat pen still standing today.  This provided the U-boat fleet access to the Atlantic via the Loire River estuary. Due to the German marine bases, Saint Nazaire was one of the most damaged towns from air raids in France and pictures show the town raised to the ground with the massive concrete pens undamaged, quite a structure and important base for the Nazis. I was working at a beside a refinery not far along the coast and passed the Airbus factory en route often seeing the gigantic Beluga cargo plans, I am still amazed at how they managed to get into the air and they would, it seemed, slowly bank round after take-off quite a sight to see.






My first visit to Spain was an overnight stop in Madrid en route to La Palma so I don’t think I can really count that, I have been to north Spain a couple of times once to festival in Gijon with a pipe band and once to Bilbao with samba band. Festival time in Gijon was a colourful affair where again the town is alive with music, not quite on the same scale as Lorient but vibrant all the same. It is a holiday down on the north coast of Spain where the Spanish go for holiday and being in Asturias don’t consider themselves as Spanish. I remember being in a bar one time and there was bull fighting on the telly, an old boy in the bar was keen to say that that was Spain and that they didn’t like bull fighting here. I have had had another encounter with a bull, not in Spain but Portugal. I was there with a samba band for a festival of the sea, there was a big parade in the evening with lots of fire and dance, the samba band was leading the parade but in front of us and the main leader of the parade was the local dignitaries including a bull, which was a bit much for some of the band members and a couple couldn’t bring themselves to play.

Most of my travel has been with one band or another getting to Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal and Belgium but I have also managed to get a trip to Amsterdam with Emma and a couple of other friends. Amsterdam is a wonderful city to wander round or jump on a canal cruise. We did the obligatory walk round the more touristy section of the red light district and ventured in to the sex museum, not for the prudish amongst us but a good laugh! We had hoped to go to the Anne Frank museum or rather the house that she hid out in but the queue was right round the block so gave it a miss and just enjoyed wandering along the canal sides and stopping for a wee coffee or two.

Just a wee taster of my travels in Europe and it is hard to say where my favourite place is that I have visited, I like different places for different reasons. I found Sainte Nazaire for example interesting with its war time history and industrial history. Amstardam was a very relaxed visit taking time to explore and enjoy what the city had to offer. Other trips were with bands and they were the whole experience of being with the group and playing at festivals not necessar8ily having the same time to explore the town. I would certainly like to explore more of Europe as a tourist getting to see and experience new places.


Continuing to live the dream.

Bren x