December 5k Virtual Run series

Went like this!

Week 1- parkrun.

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I can’t edit the image to flip it- no idea why as it normally works but it keeps freezing. 

28.25. 4th in my age category. 20th female out of 78. 113th place/201 overall.

Love the tree medal!

Week 2:

Out and back on my own (no parkrun that week due to being in Bath).

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I had a headache and I had to wait at the one set of traffic lights for ages! But anyway, medal still earned. No fun stats like you get from parkrun though.

Week 3:

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A Santa medal! The medals were all labelled, but I feel like it should be for week 4, as the weeks run from Tuesday, so Christmas day will be in week 4. Anyway. Another parkrun.

28.50 (which I felt was further off week 1 than it actually was-25 seconds slower isn’t too bad). Felt fine but had been ill in the week so the end felt tough.

3rd in my age category! 23rd female/ 80, and 137/226 overall.

Week 4:

Christmas day parkrun!

Ran with my brother, and he managed to get himself a Christmas day pb!

My time- 29.10. 165/270 runners, 4th in my age category again! 37/98 women.

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I ran with my antlers held in place with a buff, jingling all the way.

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Here are all the medals. The reindeer is my favourite.

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So all in all, fairly consistent. I was tempted by the other parkrun on boxing day, as it had a 9.30 start ( I woke up too late for my one) but its laps and I don’t like some of the really fast runners, so just went out on my own for fun. I will try that one in the new year at some point to see if I have sped up, as strava tells me I am trending faster with my course but I don’t believe it, but it will be good to test myself on a flat and mud-free course. I’m glad I joined the challenge, even if I didn’t finish with amazing times.

Winter walks and festive bakes

Although it has not been that cold recently, so more like walks in the winter.

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Since discovering the new route through the fields close to my house, I have been there for both runs and walks. I love walking but when I am at work might only squeeze in a short walk a couple of evenings, so I have been making the most of time off this week.

I have also been trying to keep my step count up, as I tend to walk around a lot at work, but our house is tiny so I don’t clock up that many steps. After a weekend of parkrun, walking around the shops, then a 10K run on the Sunday, my step goal for Monday was fairly high (it increases if you meet your goal). I had been out early on Monday to visit a friend and pop to the shops to collect a few bits, and later in the afternoon realised I needed to post something. I set off (in the rain), but as I got there the rain eased off, so I walked up to the supermarket, a mile from the post office (as Andy needed some bananas), and then decided to walk the long route home, through the fields.

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Thankfully the rain stopped, and although it was muddy, it was great.

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Very muddy in places!

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I had a Starbucks offer for a free bakery item, so I had my bit of the cinnamon roll when I got home.

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In the evening I made some of Laura’s peanut butter chocolate dipped dates (while listening to episode 2 of Serial). They are delicious!

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Instead of using the microwave, I used my school trick of using a bowl of warm water, with the chocolate in sealable sandwich bags, to melt them.

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On Tuesday I walked up to the local shopping centre (got some tracksuit bottoms to wear for PE lessons), and then made some gingerbread in the afternoon. Then we had our regular Tuesday evening club run, although by then the rain and wind had set in and, despite us singing Jingle Bells (helping our breathing as well as making it festive) it was not the most festive of runs. We did an out and back route, and as we turned the wind hit us and the rain was fogging up my glasses. I was glad of the company, but I was soaked through by the time I got home. I then decorated the gingerbread.

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They puffed up a bit in the oven so they are rather chubby!

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And look at my gingerbread house! I was very pleased with it.

Today I was visiting friends, and then after lunch had a walk with Andy, but as I had no run planned and the weather was good, I had a walk on my own across the fields again.

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This time I listened to some podcasts as I walked.

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So relaxing.

Now I just need to finish decorating the Christmas cakes- I can’t decide on a design for our cake. I have made some little gingerbread men and trees (using icing) for our parents cakes, but I have seen reindeer ones, and little Christmas owls, but they all seem a bit complicated so we shall see what I manage!

Tomorrow I plan on making some Christmas pudding fudge to take around on Christmas day too, and maybe some maple roasted nuts- I love how the house smells when all these foods are cooking.

A year of running club

On my facebook feed the other day a photo from my memories from a year popped up (because, you know, they care about my memories). Anyway, it was my UKA card arriving as I had finally joined a running club!

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It’s funny looking back. When I started running, I really enjoyed the “me time” and the chance to clear my head. I also loved the flexibility- whatever time I woke up on Sunday, I could head out after getting dressed. If I was stuck in traffic on the way home, it wouldn’t matter because I could go on my own once I got home. But when I started running with the Sweatshop gang I realised that I also enjoyed running with other people.

Through Sweatshop I got to know one girl, and she stopped coming as had recently joined a running club that had just started up. She persuaded me to go along to a group session as a taster, and I am so glad that I did.

I get quite nervous when meeting new people, but the club is still fairly small (I think they have around 60 members?) and as I have tended to stick to the Tuesday evening run, it’s been the same bunch of people for a lot of the year so I have got to know them fairly well.

They also do a Sunday morning run, but when I was marathon training I went out on my own as I wanted to do certain distances and they never matched what the club would be doing. But in the autumn I started to go along to those some weeks, and really enjoyed those. We ran new routes, and I met a few more people from the club.

Our Tuesday evening runs vary a lot, and they are tailored to upcoming races which is always good. We sometimes do interval training (walk/jog/sprint between lamp posts), sometimes we do a fast 5K, other times we do a hilly route, or run up to 7 miles. We stop at certain points and re-group, which is especially good when it’s so dark. We are also made to stretch at the end, which is something I don’t always do when I run on my own. I know I should, but I don’t! It works well with my timetable too, as I usually have a late meeting on a Tuesday- I tend to get home just before 6 so by the time I have changed it is time for me to leave. I have stopped going to Sweatshop, which is a shame, but I tend to have a gentler run on a Wednesday now, to recover from the Tuesday session, plus because I get home a bit earlier, and it starts later, it would just be another evening of having a late shower and dinner.

The Sunday morning runs have been good too. They use their facebook page a lot to decide on routes, so if you want to run 5 miles and others are doing 8, people will comment and usually there are a few groups heading off in different directions. There is one hilly route we do and I think I would get lost on my own, but it’s great as it is down country roads and through fields. Sometimes I have given it a miss as I want to not set the alarm, and have ended up going out on my own soon after 8am, but of course there is no expectation to go every week.

I love the support at races- now when I am doing a race I will get all sorts of “good luck” messages via the club page, and one of the club secretaries keeps a spreadsheet of race times, parkrun times and pb’s, so racers even get a mention in the weekly newsletters! I love seeing photos from races pop up as well- a few weekends ago was a local 5 mile race- we were away but loads of the club were there, either marshalling or running, and it was great to see how everyone got on.

I love bumping into people at parkrun too- yesterday I was overtaken by an OH lady who said “hi”- we had a quick chat before she sped off. At the finish line I met another one, and although I am perfectly happy to head to parkrun on my own, it is nice to see people you know.

The social side is one aspect that has surprised me, as I am not the most sociable person. This morning we had a brilliant Christmas party.


Photo from our facebook page!

We met in Hatfield at 8am for the Sunday run- this was the 10K group. We ran to various points around town, picking up runners along the way- some people did 4 miles, some 3 miles. We were meant to be wearing Santa hats, and I wore my reindeer headband and flashing nose (on my forehead as it was hard to breath with it on my nose!), but the adult Santa hats were too small so I was nearly the only one! We did try to play a game where if we got beeped, the person at the back of the group would run to the front, but surprisingly there were not many cars about. We did wave like lunatics to the lorries, but only managed one beep! Slim pickings!

Just after 9am a huge group of us arrived in Bill’s (in Welwyn- the next town along), where we had booked to have breakfast. It was brilliant!


Another one from the facebook page.

We had pass the parcel with running goodies, a raffle with some running related prizes, and it was great to relax after the run. I had the pancakes, and of course a big pot of tea. Perfect.


And I realised at the end, I had kept my antlers on the whole time, despite most people not wearing hats of any sort!

The idea was to get the train back (not run after eating!) but another runner offered me a lift which was fab. I loved how much high-viz was on display!

Our running club leader had recently come second place in an award for services to sport, which is amazing, and I just think it’s fantastic that so many women are out running together and setting a great example to their kids, and to other people. The club was started by a small group of ladies, and in a short space of time it has really grown. They are getting involved in a new parkrun, and hold running sessions for the university too. It’s the community spirit that makes it so great I think. This is partly why I love parkrun so much. Yes, I could just go out on my own and run a 5K and be home before parkrun even starts, but that is not what it is about for me.

So, my first year of being in a running club has been great- so much encouragement and support, finding new routes, meeting new people, hearing about new races. (And of course, you save money off each race entry too!) Onwards and upwards!

The decorations are up!

We had planned to put the decorations up on Sunday evening, after my afternoon tea, but then we booked cinema tickets (Sisters) and by the time that finished and we had walked home it was gone 9pm and we hadn’t even had dinner, so it was put back to another day.

On Monday I went for a massage after work (I am constantly told off about my awful stiff shoulders when running and after the sports therapist I used to use moved away, I really needed to start sorting them out again) which was “no pain no gain” according to the therapist! I was rather achy and ended up having a bath with epsom salts.

On Tuesday I felt awful- I didn’t sleep much and had a bit of a dodgy tummy which I hoped would be better later in the day, but it wasn’t, so I missed my running club and didn’t fancy decorating.

But, on Wednesday, after a gentle run outside, we had time!2015-12-16 22.20.43

Hooray! We have our his and hers Disney ornaments!

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And a windowsill full of candle holders.

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Despite an early-ish night on Wednesday, I woke up on Thursday with a headache (the day of the children’s Christmas party at work- not the best day for it!), and my stomach still felt a bit off, so I didn’t go to pump and just had a walk in the evening instead. I still managed 9,000 steps at work (before the walk)!

Friday, glorious Friday, was the last day of term. The children go home early, but the staff can’t leave until the normal children’s home time, but I made sure I was ready to leave at 3.20pm on the dot. When I got home it was not quite dark, so I headed out on a run across the fields (the new ones I have recently discovered, not the dog walker/ cow ones where  was freaked out by the weird man). It feels like such a treat. I love running, but all the roads near me are quite busy, so it gets noisy and also smoky, and isn’t always that relaxing. Running through fields and away from traffic is just so much better- that is the running that I really look forward to (another reason why I love parkrun so much), and even though it was getting dark, I decided to risk it.

The route was an out and back. I could have done a loop, but one part of that is by a very busy road which defeated the object really.

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The route runs through fields close to a motorway, so the street-lights were helping to light my way a tiny bit. I did end up in a few puddles though, as I could see the huge ones but not the smaller ones! This tree was close to where I turned around.

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As I turned around I could see the oncoming traffic, which meant that when a cyclist came the other way, I didn’t realise at first as I thought the light was coming from the road! It was such a lovely contrast to be outside running instead of stuck in a car, and apart from the cyclist I didn’t see anyone else. It was so mild I had on capris and a t-shirt and was absolutely fine. Crazy weather!

This morning I was off to parkrun. I chose festive colours (green capris and my red 50 top, and a green buff to keep my hair back), and packed my “Merry Christmas” headband (it even has lights that flash).

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But it was so windy on the walk there that I left it in my bag as it kept blowing off. I did wish that I had packed my trail shoes as it was so muddy. By the end my shoes felt so heavy with all the mud stuck to them. The trouble is, my new trail shoes are a teeny bit big, so they rub the skin on one of my toes, so I generally just wear my normal shoes. I felt like I had run quite hard, but my time was 28.50, which although still under 30 minutes (my normal aim) isn’t close to my fastest. But then I told myself off- I have been under the weather and so very tired, and I still enjoyed it which is the point.

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And it was week 3 of the Virtual Runner 5K December series, so this time I got to wear a Santa medal when I got home.

Also, in case you missed it, the second series of Serial has started! I am very excited about this, although I had to re-listen to the first episode as we listened to it on the drive back from Bath and I kept falling asleep!

I also have nearly managed to sort all my Christmas presents now. I had ordered a few “deliver to store” so picked those up this afternoon, but before I wrap them I am going to finally marzipan the Christmas cakes. I am feeling all festive now!

Did you listen to Serial? Are your decorations up? Do you have a work Christmas party?

More Christmas markets and a last minute race entry

Hey peeps!

This weekend I was totally in the festive mood. On Friday after dinner we drove to Bath (well, Frome) ready for heading to the park and ride on Saturday morning.

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After a wander around the shops (or, more accurately, a battle to get in and out…) and some lunch in the park, we headed to the spa to escape the crowds. We stayed there for a couple of hours, before heading back out to enjoy the markets in the dark.

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It was still pretty busy, but we managed to look at a few stalls and buy a few gifts.

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It was so pretty. We had booked dinner in Las Iguanas (they have a complete veggie and vegan menu- so much choice) so we headed there before a final wander. Then we headed back to the car and drove home (the traffic is much better on Saturday night than on a Sunday).

Earlier in the week I had seen someone mention a local race, the Festive Five. I remembered looking at it a few years ago, but either we were away, or last year I had an awful cough so didn’t run much in December. The entry was only £5, so I signed up.

When I saw the drizzle on Sunday morning, I was not so enthusiastic. I had decided to park at the Tescos which was just over a mile from the start, because I wasn’t sure about road closures, and also I needed to get petrol and a few bits. So after eating a Pulsin’ bar (could not decide on breakfast for ages) I drove there, got petrol, parked up and then delayed getting out of the car! Once I started running down there it wasn’t so bad, and when I got to the start and saw people in Santa outfits and pudding glasses, I felt more in the spirit.

The 5 mile race was just over 2 laps, but I didn’t really know the roads (apart from the first section). It turned out to be fairly flat- gently uphill on the out section, a nice long downhill section, a shortish uphill and then a very steep downhill to the start/finish area. I didn’t think I would manage a pb (44.44 is my 5 mile pb from last year) but I thought if I aimed for as close to 9 minute miles as possible I would be pleased with that.

I managed to keep it going, although the mile to the start had messed up the average pace a bit, so I wasn’t 100% sure of my pace. I felt OK, and for the first lap kept up with a couple of ladies from another club, although in the second lap they steamed ahead and I lost them. By then the rain was harder, and I kept having to take my glasses off to wipe them on my sleeve. I did try running holding them in my hand, but it makes me feel dizzy sometimes so I decided to cope with peering through them instead.

As I came around the bend to the finish, I could see 45-something on the clock, and as I ran into the finish area a lady shouted to me “you’ve won a spot prize” and handed me a bottle of wine. I was then given a chocolate Santa (everyone was given some sort of chocolate gift as they finished) and a very kind lady took the chip off my trainers as I had my hands full! My text came through almost instantly- 45.12 was my chip time so I was really pleased with that. After chatting to a running friend, I began the gentle jog back to the car, hoping I would not fall, drop the bottle, smash it and then cut myself on the broken glass. I had worn a long sleeved top, which I tied around my waist for the run, so I put that back on, but it was wet from being out in the rain (and it turned out there was a little baggage drop tent) so it didn’t help much, and my hands got so cold from holding the wine and chocolate, so by the time I got back to my car I was so cold. I had put a hoodie and coat in my car, so I put those on before going into Tescos for a quick shop.

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My prize!

It felt like ages before I was finally home- the race started at 9.30 and I think I got out of the shower at 11.30!

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Then I was off for a festive afternoon tea (yes, that was all mine- apparently that was two people’s cakes but because I was the only veggie it would look silly without the right number. And no, I didn’t manage them all!) which was lovely- a very long catch up with friends (and Wittertainment fans take note of the Battenberg slice!).

We had planned on putting up our Christmas tree, but then we booked cinema tickets to see Sisters (I do love Tina Fey and Amy Poehler) so that will be for another day.

I am so glad I signed up for the race in the end- even though it was a bit of a miserable day, I enjoyed it, and it was more enjoyable than just going out on my own.

Are you a last minute person or a planner? I normally plan things out way in advance (I think our festive afternoon tea was booked in September!) because I don’t want things to clash.