June running and missing things by a minute (or more)

How is it nearly the end of June?

Since getting back from holiday the month seems to have flown by. My running has been a bit erratic, with no particular training plan to follow.

Week 1: 3 mile run with OH ladies, 3.1 mile run on my own, Body Pump, 3.1 mile parkrun with my brother, and then the fun Whipsnade 10k.

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We bought some Strawberry Lemonade tea from The Bluebird tea co, and have been enjoying it iced. 

Week 2: 8 mile run (I ran to and from the OH club run), that pretty much tired me out so I didn’t run the next day. (I also missed Body Pump that week to go to see Ash in London- I love seeing them live, and it was a trip down memory lane for the two of us as we went to see them when we first started going out, all those 16+ years ago!). I did parkrun on the Saturday as a lot of the OH ladies were going, and seeing as I go on about how great it is so much, I felt I should be there! Then I did the St Albans half on the Sunday, which was fairly tough due to the heat, middle hilly section and just generally half marathons are hard!

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Blurry Blur

Week 3: 4.2 mile OH run, 3.8 mile run on my own (this didn’t go too well- I went to the fields, and at one point I was running along a track with deep grass on either side. I caught up to a man who was walking- he said hello to me as I overtook him- I said hi back- but then as I ran past, he started running too. I tried to run a bit faster, and when I looked back he was walking again. At that point I chose to go through the cow fields, where I probably should have gone back the other way to the roads. Anyway as I stopped to open the cow gates I could see him running again, and so I basically did a bit of interval training where I sprinted as hard as I could, considered hiding in the woods, kept looking back to see where he was, hid behind big piles of sand, and then got the door key out of my pocket to hold. It sounds silly now, but I really got panicked- normally there are lots of dog walkers about, but I didn’t see anyone else and it really seems fairly isolated. Anyway I made it home in one piece but have avoided that part of the fields since). Back to the recap. I went to Body Pump, but not parkrun because we were meeting friends for breakfast, early because then I was helping out at the summer fete, and then heading into London to see Blur at Hyde Park. Did an 8 mile run on Sunday. Saw a huge mushroom.

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Then I went into London for afternoon tea.

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The bonus of being veggie is that I get a stand all to myself!

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Such a lovely way to spend several hours- I don’t think I got home until nearly 9pm!

Week 4: 5.6 mile OH run, 3.1 mile on my own (which was really tough- I kept getting a stitch and having to stop), Body Pump (new release- argh so tough!), parkrun in the heat, and then no long run because we were off to London.

So, onto the missing out. On Friday I had a training day, which finished earlier than the normal school day. I had booked a haircut (if you saw the photos from the parkrun the other week you would understand why it is driving me so mad!) but a lorry had broken down, blocking 3 lanes of the dual carriageway exit, meaning that a 5 minute section of my journey took over 45 minutes- I was too late so have had to re-book.

Then, on Friday evening the club were launching their website. (It is here if you fancy having a look). I hadn’t officially said I would go, as a while back we thought we might go away for the weekend to take advantage of my early finish, but in the end we didn’t. Anyway it was only when I looked at facebook later on that I saw the launch photos- I had forgotten to go- missing out number 2.

Then, on Sunday, we went into London to see Dave Gorman’s TV show being filmed. The tickets said 5pm, so we got there just after 4, waited about 20 minutes in the queue, and were then told it was full. It was disappointing. Although at least we were not the first to not get in- that would be worse to get so near to it. Never mind, we still had a wander around Westfields (which reminded me why I don’t so much like shopping!), and I did buy a new shower cap. So, silver linings and all that.

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I also had lovely pancakes on Saturday, so the weekend wasn’t a total disaster!

How are you coping running in the heat? I had a 3 mile run today, and all was fine until about 2.5 miles in, when I suddenly felt like I had massively overheated and just could not cool down for ages after I had got home. I switched my runs over so this Wednesday (which will be the hottest apparently) is now a rest day because I just can’t face it.

Tropical fruity flapjacks

So a while ago the lovely folks at Urban Fruit sent me a parcel of their goodies.

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I love Urban fruit, especially the cherries and mango. If you don’t already know, Urban fruit gently bake all different types of fruit to make dried fruit. They don’t add sugar, or sulphites, which is why I love them so much (sulphites give me stomach ache and most dried fruit contains it as a preservative). They are brilliant as portable snacks, and unlike fresh fruit, they survive a week being squashed in the bottom of a handbag.

They also have a fantastic range including strawberries (I always used to love these on long runs instead of jelly beans), cherries (amazing in brownies or porridge), mango (amazing dipped in melted dark chocolate) and seasonal ones such as apples.

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I have saved the cherries to add to porridge, but after seeing the packet of new “Tremendously tropical” with mango, coconut, banana and pineapple (and having a very overripe banana on hand) I decided that tropical flapjacks would be the way to go.

2015-06-22 20.31.04I had seen a recipe in the Deliciously Ella book (the recipe is here if you are interested) so I made that, with added tropical fruit.

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When mixing the banana and nut butter, I added in the tropical mix (I chopped some of the larger pieces of pineapple so they were a bit smaller). Then baked the flapjacks as the recipe stated.

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It smelled really delicious as it was baking.

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I followed the instructions and waited until the next morning to cut them, as usually with flapjacks I get impatient, cut them before they have cooled, and end up with a sort of granola mess.

I took most of them into work (I didn’t even mention they were healthier versions in case it made people suspicious) and they were really popular.

I would definitely make these again, and explore using different types of dried fruits too.

Are you a fan of flapjacks? Which flavour would you choose?

*Urban fruit kindly sent me a selection of their products but did not ask for a review. I just posted the recipe because it worked very well, and I love their products.

Club parkrun outing!

On the Saturday before the St Albans half, our club had arranged a little outing to the local parkrun. One member had never been to a parkrun before, and after a few of us weighed up the pros and cons of the two closest ones, beautiful Panshanger was chosen.

It was drizzling quite a bit when we met up at 8.45am, but luckily it didn’t dampen spirits and everyone was keen to have a go at the course.

Some people had brought their children along, and a couple of those were very speedy! I didn’t run with anyone, although the lady who did her first sub 30 on my birthday was a bit ahead of me so it was good to try and keep her in my sights (but at the same time remind myself that I had a half tomorrow).

Credit to Carrie- thanks. Makes me realise I really need a haircut!

The leader of the club wasn’t running, so she looked after bags and took photos of us as we took on the final hill. I think this picture nearly shows how tough it is- the 3 mile point is at the bottom of this so you can see the finish at the top of the field and just have to try and keep going- a sprint finish is not easy!

We stayed and chatted and cheered everyone over the line- it was so lovely to see people that I knew, and also meet a few OH ladies. There are a few more parkruns popping up fairly near, so we might even go on tour!

After that I had to rush home as we were going to The Waffle House for brunch for Andy’s brothers birthday- very nice.

Then I picked up my new car- this is very exciting! I had had my old car for 12 1/2 years, and although it was still going fine, I had fancied a few more mod cons (height adjustable seat= I don’t need a cushion any more, air con= amazing, CD player is way better than the tape player I had). It was a bit nerve wracking driving it home, and putting it in the garage though.

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I was meant to be picking up my new top and hoodie, but they had been forgotten, so our lovely leader kindly dropped them off for me later- the top is a perfect fit but the hoodie is huge- perfect for around the house when the weather was chilly and rainy.

It’s funny because the idea of a running club did not particularly appeal to me. I like running on my own, with my own thoughts or with podcasts, and at a time convenient to me, but actually having a run for a different reason (time to catch up, or encourage others, or share race stories with) has been brilliant, and I really love it. After doing Brighton I got so many messages on facebook from people in the club that I had never met- it really is so supportive and welcoming.

Do you like the idea of a club?

How many parkruns have you been to? I have only been to the two local ones, but there are a few newer ones around so I might add to them at some point.


So, here is the next holiday recap. No running, but there are some cakes so I feel it fits the theme!

On Tuesday after going to the Kennedy Space Centre we drove to Orlando. We did a spot of shopping, and then went to Downtown Disney- basically a lot of shops, restaurants and entertainment things (like bowling, cinema etc). It was really busy, and we were very hungry as we hadn’t had lunch, just a banana and half a cereal bar each, so we headed straight for the Earl of Sandwich (I wish they would catch on over here- so much nicer than Subway) for dinner, before walking around, having a mooch around the shops, and then finally driving to our hotel to check in.

We stayed in the Art of Animations resort, a fairly new one, with different buildings based on Nemo, Cars, Lion King and Little Mermaid.

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Can you guess the theme of our room?

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Yup, the chair is a shell.

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Shower curtain!

The next day we were off to the Magic Kingdom. Because we wanted to do a few rides we got there for the park opening and went on a few (Philharmagic- I love it- a sort of 4D show with songs from different films, lovely smells- it sounds weird but it’s great), before having breakfast.

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The size of that cinnamon roll! Nearly as tall as the coffee cup! We shared that and some fruit to balance it out.

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The weather was fab- hot outside but not unbearable- we have been in August before where you almost can’t stand being outside in the middle of the day.

We went on plenty of rides (no rollercoasters though- that’s why I love Disney so much- they know they don’t need a thrill ride to make a great ride), had a lovely late lunch (an immense salad for me with spinach, apples, pecans, beetroot, smoked cheese, cranberries…), went on more rides…

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Gotta love the Enchanted Tiki room.

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Especially because it means a pineapple Dole whip is close by! It melted very fast!

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I got a bit excited over the Starbucks in the park (sorry)- I don’t like fizzy drinks so unless we go to a restaurant and I can have some iced tea I just have water- sometimes it’s refreshing to have something else.

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Got the last boat ride at sunset, watched the Electrical parade, watched the fireworks, and then did a couple more rides before heading back to the hotel. We walked over 22,000 steps that day, not bad!

The Wednesday was our “day off”- we had a lie in, went shopping (I got a new pair of trail shoes for about £40!) and then it was time for my birthday present from Andy- Afternoon tea at The Grand Floridian (a very very fancy Disney hotel).

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They had a tea menu which is always a hit with me- I had an Earl grey blend with vanilla. They even had tea cosies! There were choices for the sandwiches but we both got the veggie ones- cucumber and dill sandwiches, roasted beet and goats cheese open sandwiches, crackers, cheese, and loads of fresh fruit.

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Later (no rush) they brought out a warm scone with lemon curd (weird but good choice), apricot jam and cream, plus a jam tart.

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Then later still (again, no rush- they just said to ask when you were ready) the dessert- chocolate dipped strawberry, some sort of chocolate thing, and a pastry with pomegranate mousse.

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(It was called The Garden View Tearoom).

While we were there someone was playing the grand piano in the lobby too.

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We had a walk around the hotel and some of the grounds afterwards.

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We had a wander around the grounds of our hotel to marvel at all the theming, before heading to Downtown Disney for the evening. 20,000 steps done- not bad considering we probably sat down at the tea for a couple of hours.

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On Wednesday we were off to Epcot- my favourite.

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As I have said, I am not a rollercoaster fan at all. But that doesn’t matter at Disney. The best ride ever is Soarin’. Hard to describe, but the idea is that you are paragliding over California- you are suspended (gently) in the air while on a huge IMAX screen it shows you flying over Yosemite, San Francisco, the pacific coast. As you fly over orange groves or through pine woods, you can smell it too. It really is just brilliant. A gentle thrill ride. Plus brilliant music.

Anyway, Disney have had a system of Fast Passes, where you can insert your park ticket and select (for free) a timed ticket, so you don’t have to queue. Normally you had to use the machines by the ride, but on this visit we got to use the magic bands.

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They worked as our room key, as a charge card (if you entered a pin number) and park tickets. There was an app which was great- it told you current queue times for all the rides, and you could edit dining or pre-book fast passes for each day. Anyway, because Epcot doesn’t have many “big” rides, they were tiered, and of course Soarin’ was in the top tier meaning we could only go on it once. Normally we can play the system and go twice! Ah well.

So anyway, as soon as we arrived we headed to Test Track- the other “big” ride (well I think the mission space one might also be a top one, but I wasn’t a big fan of it so we didn’t bother this time), and then got some breakfast before going on some other rides.

Spaceship earth is aways good for some laughs (and some annoyance as Judy Dench says “math” and not “maths”- argh!). This is my future apparently:

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We did the little boat ride through their gardens- that is a peanut butter tree. Where can I buy one????

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The best ride!

Then we had a walk around the world showcase in the sunshine, watched the film about Canada (makes me want to go back there asap), had a lunch/ dinner of proper Italian pizza.

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It’s always fun after holidays to play the game of Venice/ Disney/ Vegas.

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It’s like being in a fairytale.

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I think we walked around here at least twice.

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Then it was time for the best fireworks show in the world. Also a fact. The Magic Kingdom ones are good with all the Disney music, but the one at Epcot is just amazing- they have fire torches, they light up buildings, they have a spinning globe thing in the lake, amazing fireworks and brilliant music (not Disney music either).

24,000 steps that day.

Our last day was at Hollywood Studios- they have Star Wars weekends in June and July so Andy was very excited.

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Excuse the thumb! There was some sort of show on the stage, at one point with rather humorous storm troopers.

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The worlds most dangerous frog. Gotta love the Muppets 3D show.

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Of course there were characters dressed up as star wars characters. And loads of people visiting were also dressed up, some had gone to a lot of effort.

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LA or Disney? Add to the fun game.

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This is such a fun ride! You are moved around a sort of games hall in a little car, and you keep stopping at different screens- you wear 3D goggles and at each screen do different things- knock down plates, pop balloons (all virtually, not really).

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A big lego R2D2.

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We went to a show by Warwick Davis- a special Star Wars one (he was an Ewok).

We visited the Darth Mall (get it? Maul/ Mall).

And then, because we had reached Star Wars saturation point, we went to this:

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Yes. You have read that correctly. It was quite fun, and luckily they played the music loudly enough to drown out the noise of all the kids singing along!

They had some Star Wars fireworks so we watched those too, before heading back to pack.

19,000 steps that day.

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The next day we flew to New York. Originally we were going to go in for the afternoon, but our flights were moved, and we only ended up with about 6 hours, and all the guidance said you needed 12 to allow enough time, so we used our air miles to stay in a hotel by the airport for the afternoon, as our flight home didn’t leave until 9pm.

A whistle stop tour, but a fab way to spend half term.

Are you a fan of rollercoasters? Or Disney? Or Star Wars? Or afternoon tea?

St Albans Half 2015- for the love of an ice lolly

They do love advertising this as “the lolly run” as you get an ice lolly at the end.

Now, I don’t want to sound like a sandbagger (and you will see from my time, I am not one) but I knew my training hadn’t been perfect. I was gradually building up my long runs after Brighton, and a month ago did 12 miles. But then I had a holiday, so missed two weekends of longer runs, and then last weekend did the 10K stampede, so no long run that weekend either. I did manage 8 miles on Tuesday, but I knew I was not in pb form.

I was aiming to meet my course best, of 2.10.09- set in 2013, so I looked up the pacing and tried to keep the number in my mind. It was 9 something miles- helpful.

Anyway, added to the usual pre race nerves, I had a new car to drive which I had picked up on Saturday. I had my last car for 12 1/2 years, and so getting used to the new gears and things was adding to my stress. Not perfect timing! Anyway, I drove to a town centre car park and the walked down the hill with all the other runners. Some other runners asked me for directions so I chatted to them as I walked down the hill, which helped to keep my mind off the miles ahead. The race is pretty well organised, but for some reason the bag drop queue was immense- I was in it for 25 minutes! I had 5 minutes after that to get to a starter pen, although they the announced they would delay the start by 10 minutes.

I was so cold! It was drizzling, and a bit windy, so although good conditions for running, not good for standing about and waiting. I’d only packed my long sleeved top for the finish, but wore it until I had to sort my bag for the drop.

The course goes through the park, up a hill to a golf course (at this point there was the first water station, with a Hawaiian theme- they all had flower leis and grass skirts!), before going back down, past the end of the park, and then up a long hill. In fact, up and down is the theme here. I never think it is too bad (I have run both Berkhamsted and Ashridge which are both way hillier) but it is not a flat course, and some of the hills are particularly steep.

I was doing OK, and got to the half way mat in 1.04, but then I just struggled a bit. I have had a bit of a cold, so I had to stop and get tissues out of my waist pack thing. The drizzle stopped and then it seemed to get so muggy- I felt like the sweat was just staying on my face and not coming off at all. I stopped at the final two water stations to have a proper drink- one of these was on a hill so I walked up that one instead of running. In the end I wanted to enjoy it, so I didn’t mind walking for a bit. I had a few jelly beans too, but they made my stomach ache right away, so only had about 4.

I never have any idea where I am in the lanes, so tried to enjoy the views of the countryside. I passed a few of the walkers (the walking half marathon set off at 8.30am so the speed walkers finished just after the runners started). Just after 11 miles (or maybe 12) we came out at the top of one of the biggest hills- I knew were we were! Just run down this hill (much more enjoyable than running up it at around mile 3), double back, run up a bit, into the park, and head for the finish.

Andy was waiting near the finish line and I managed a wave before heading under the archway to receive my medal and lemon ice lolly. My mouth was so hot that when I first tried to lick it, my tongue and lips kept sticking to the lolly and I had to peel them off with my hands! Not good. I had packed a nuun tab in my pocket, so added that to the water, collected my t-shirt (a gorgeous purple technical top) and then headed to the bag drop.

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I didn’t have high hopes, but while I was waiting in the line someone brought my bag out to be- much better! Then I changed, used a face wipe and met up with Andy, before walking up the hill (that was tough) into town.

My watch said 2.11, and Strava agrees, saying 2.11.03 (although moving time was 2.08 something- I am not sure why that is so different). Not quite what I was aiming for, but close. My chip time was 2:11.03, so only a minute slower than the last time (probably due to walking in the water stops near the end). I am pretty pleased with that.

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I love the t-shirt! I don’t normally wear purple but I would for running in.

After getting into town I fancied a warm drink, and while I was in the queue a lady behind me complimented my hair (I sort of french plait my fringe out of my eyes on one side), and then asked me if I had done a marathon (I was wearing the medal and top)- I told her I had run Brighton earlier in the year, and her first question was my favourite- how long is it? The same as London?

It’s funny, while I was running I did enjoy it, but the middle part is fairly hilly and I was thinking that I have run it 3 times now, and perhaps that is enough. But of course, as soon as I finished I was thinking about the good things- it’s so local, it is quite pretty, and now the t-shirt is technical it is better value (they introduced that last year, so the other times I ran I got a big old cotton one).

Will I sign up for it next year? I am not sure!

What are you favourite questions that non-runners ask you?

Would you be tempted to sign up for a walking half marathon?