Another Successful Taster Day

Today was one of the taster days held by disability Sports Northern Ireland and the Blind Sports Network. I don’t blog about them all the time, because i have been on a few events, but today was a really, really good day.

I got the train down to Derry at 8 o’clock. I forgot it was the north west 200 race today so the trains were totally bunged.

We all met up at Saint Collumns house in Saint Collumns park, where we filled in a few forms and met a few of the guide runners that were going to be doing some guide running with some of the participants. We were then split in to groups. One group were doing the tandum cycling, while the other were doing guide walking/running. We then headed to the running track. I thought it was cool that the park had it’s own running track.

Everyone wanted to do running so a guy from the blind sports network and i headed off for our walk, after a warm up of course, which was meant for the runners, but we did it anyway. I had said to the guy that i wanted a decent walk, after all, i had missed my dose of weekly parkrun so wanted to get a good walk in. As i wasn’t doing the tandum cycling, we were going to be out for at least two and a half hours. Thankfully, he was up for a longer walk. We walked out of the park and along a sort of toepath thing that went by the sea and the train tracks behind the fence. There were a couple of trains that went by in the space of our walk and they sounded as if they were right there on the path beside us but they weren’t. Eventually, we had to turn back because we were getting near the peace bridge and didn’t know where else we would go. There were also houses too so we deffinetly turned back. Unfortunately, we got caught in a very heavy, blustery old shower on the way, but we didn’t let it dampen our spirrets as it soon dried up again. It was just that sort of a day where the showers popped up anywhere. We eventually made it back to the park and walked round it a few times before heading back to the house. Altogether, it was a 4 mile walk, which wasn’t bad at all.

By this time, it was lunch time and everyone started to come back to the house to eat.

After lunch, we headed over to the Foyl Areena, which has just newly opened. It is only open about a month and you could still smell the newness of the building. This was where the boxing and spin sessions were going to take place. We were again asked to fill in some forms before doing the activities.

The first activity of the afternoon was the boxing. There were 3 coaches who had come along to teach us and they had all asked for visual awareness training which i thought was fabulous. First of all, we had to warm up. Part of the warm up routine was skipping. Now, skipping is a disaster for me. I can’t get the coordination to jump and throw the rope over your head. Plus i think you are meant to jump back and forward and not half way down the hall. Oops. We also had to punch the air and stuff. After that, we were able to start boxing. The coaches had used goalposts to create a make shift ring. They later told me that they wanted us to come down to one of their clubs as it would be more realistic. Because they were in a hall, they had to make do with what they had. We were split in to pairs while we were in the ring. Each pair were at a corner of the ring. We were then given boxing gloves. These were in the shape of fists, but they had a whole for your thumb. You kind of had to put your hand in a fist when you were wearing them. We practiced how to protect our faces by having our hands in tight against our faces and how to do different punches. We also were taught how to block a persons punch, and how to move out of the way to miss the punches. We also learnt how to move in the ring. You kind of shuffle along sort of. I said that if a visually impaired person was boxing, their aponent would possibly need to have a word or something so the person could know when the next punch was going to happen.

After that, it was a cool down, which thankfully didn’t involve any skipping, before we headed over to the spin session.

For the spin class, the lady taking it was going to be starting a new spin class each week. We were first of all shown a bike and told what way to sit on it. You sort of have to be leaning forward to do it. It feels as if the seat is quite far back, but apparently it’s meant to be like that. Your feet are then strapped in to the pedals and you’re ready to go. First of all, you start off with some fast music to get the speed up on an easy resistance. Apparently, you need to be aiming for 80ish turns per minute of the wheel. If you are too fast, you don’t have enough resistance. We were shown how to increase the resistance and for some of the music, we had to stand up for a few beats. This felt very very strange. Kind of as if you were a on a horse trotting on a trampileen lol.

The whole session lasted about 45 minutes altogether. One thing about the spin is, you are roasting by the end of it. I mean the sweat is on every part of your body. I would deffinetly bring a drink next time. You certainly need it. I think if i had a choice, i’d do spin over tandum cycling. My legs may not be saying that in the morning though lol. I can already feel it working on me.

It was home time after that. I would like to thank everyone from the clubs who came, and for everyone from disability sports and the blind sports network for such a fabulous day. I thought the boxing and spin were such great craic.

Unfortunately, Ushi was not keen at all on the boxing. She was very focused on me and very very whiny and giving out little barks too. She was so bad that the guy from the blind sports network had to take her outside for a bit to calm her down. Thankfully when they returned, she was much better. When i came over to her she was so so pleased to see me. She went mad and ran round my legs and started to roll a bit on the floor. I wasn’t that bothered and just let her roll around and snort to herself to destress. Once she had done that, she was grand, and her whines weren’t like she needed a busy or anything. She was much more happier during the spin.

I would like to thank everyone again for such a great great day. My legs will deffinetly be stiff in the morning :(.

Belfast City Marathon 8 Mile Walk 2015

Today i took part in the 8 mile walk again as part of the Belfast city Marathon. For some reason, i didn’t really publish much about it on here. I noticed too this year that sponsorship was harder to come by. I think that was because it took me longer to put up a link because i wanted to make sure i had a guide first to walk with me and Ushi, before i set up a just giving page, in case i needed to pull out because of not having a guide. Thankfully that didn’t happen though.

So today, i was met by a lady from guide dogs as she was walking with me. We met at Central train station and headed down in to town that way. When we arrived, the runners were just setting off, so we would be setting off shortly after them. We waited for our friend to turn up with her guide, and off we went.

I braught Ushi along for the walk again, and we did a mixture of working and me being guided which she seemed to like. She didn’t mind working either. I made sure to offer her water at each water station too which she redily accepted.

I noticed this year there didn’t seem to be as much of a buzz about the event, but i think that was because last year when i did it, it was my first time, whereas this year i knew what to expect. We still got lots of support and encouragement, but it didn’t seem as busy as it was last year or something. I can’t quite place it.

We finished the walk in 2 hours and 38 minutes, which seemed faster than last year, but i can’t remember what that time was lol. I was quite surprised to be finished so early.

When we got to ormeau park, which was where the walk finished, we got our goody bag and our t shirts and stuff. We also got interviewed by U.TV for the news which was shown tonight. We finished at about 5 to 12, so i was able to get the 10 past one train home.

I can tell you now though, i’m starting to really flag, so i think an early night is deffinetly in order, since i’ve been up since half past 6 to make the 8 o’clock train. My legs are sore now, but i think that was because we ran for a few seconds to get to the finish line lol. My feet were roasting after the walk, but thankfully i don’t have any blisters which is good.

It was a brilliant day, and the craic and the company was good too. I don’t know if i will enter next years one though, especially because Ushi will be 7 and i like entering with her. I’ll have to see how she goes.

If anyone is wanting to sponsor me, my page is
And it’s open for another 3 months. I have reached my target, but every little helps, as they say.

I would like to thank everyone for making today such great craic. I think i shall head to bed shortly, and hope my legs aren’t too stiff in the morning lol. That’ll teach me for running at the end though.

A Humbling Experience

Sometimes you experience something or you meet someone that just makes you stop and think. Tonight was one of those ocasions.

So tonight, i was in the loo waiting on a train home. These two ladies were standing in the corner. They wanted to stroke Ushi so i let them as i washed my hands. When i came over to get Ushi again, they started to talk to me. They started to tell me that they were both losing their sight due to a genettic condition. They told me that they didn’t know if they could trust a dog to guide them, so i explained about the different services guide dogs offered if they ever felt they needed anything. One of the woman seemed to get quite cut up and explained that she had lost her sight in her left eye and that she had partial sight in her right. She told me that she did use a cane but got knocked down whilst using it, so that has completely knocked her confidence. She told me that her pet dog seemed to know she was losing her sight, as he would have crossed in front of her when she came toa kerb, for example.

We chatted for at least another 10 minutes, and i get the feeling they probably have never met another visually impaired person. I asked if they had received any help from the health trusts, and they said they didn’t. I found that very sad. They both told me they just were getting on with it. They were very fistey women who weren’t going to let it get them down. I told them that at the end of the day, we are the same as everyone else, and sometimes you just had to get on with things. I obviously wasn’t that preechy. That last sentence seemed preechy anyway lol.

I finished the conversation by telling them to take good care of themselves. I honestly felt very humbled or something after that conversation. I’m not even sure humbled is the right word, but i thought about those two ladies all the way home.

I hope the two women got something out of the conversation, even if it was just kisses from Ushi, and a chance to pet her. I really do hope they get help at some point if they need it. I felt that they really needed to talk though. It’s good to listen sometimes :).