100 miles in July, the final countdown

Last Monday was a rest day (after the 9 miles the day before), and then if anyone can think back that long, the Tuesday was an absolute scorcher. Being at work all day in the heat was not fun (the classrooms get way above 30C) and I was not particularly looking forward to a run. Any other week I would put it back a day, but I had a race on the Thursday and wanted a rest the day before, so I had to suck it up.

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I’d been out for lunch as I knew Starbucks had air conditioning- I needed to cool down in the middle of the day to help me get through the afternoon.

Thankfully a few of my OH buddies were just as crazy as me, and there were four of us that ended up going out. We chose to run along the old railway line as it is mainly shaded, and we could do an out and back route (so keep it to a short 3 miles). I felt totally boiling the whole time, with heavy legs. We stopped fairly frequently to catch our breath, and before turning back we sheltered in an underpass for a little bit to cool down. I didn’t actually look at my Garmin at all, but I was guessing we were running around 11 minute miles as I didn’t expect much in the heat. Imagine my surprise when I got home and looked on Strava- the mile splits were 9.24, 9.03, 8.58, and 8.31 for the 0.3 at the end. Royal flush negative split here we come! No wonder it felt hard! I even managed a segment PR!

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Andy had put a nuun tab in some water, added ice and left it in the fridge for me, so I had it in the garden in an attempt to cool down.

Wednesday was a rest day, and I was very glad of that as it was another hot one (not quite as bad as Tuesday, but once was enough for me!).

Then on Thursday I was off to Panshanger park for the final 5 mile midsummer race (which I shall do in a separate post), and so I had Friday as a rest day (and the first of the holidays, hooray!).

I went to sleep with wet hair on Thursday as I was so tired, and I woke up with a really stiff neck (and it is still bothering me a week later). Running is fine, but I have to turn my whole body around to look when crossing roads as my neck won’t turn.

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On Saturday I was marshalling at Panshanger parkrun (alas my purple t-shirt didn’t arrive in time) so I got there early for a run before it started- it was strange being in the car park at 7.45am with no cars at all- normally it is full of volunteer cars and runners milling about. I ran a bit of the parkrun route, and a bit of the race route, and so had run 4 miles before I got back to the car park, picked up my vest and found out where I would be stationed.

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This is the start of the route (I walked a bit as my Garmin was taking ages to pick up the signal and every step counts in the 100 mile challenge!)- it is narrow so can be a bit congested, but I love running through the woods in the shade. I heard lots of birds, and saw these mushrooms that looked like coconuts.

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No flash, they were just a bright white colour.

Along the top of the park there were lovely wildflowers growing at the edge of the field.

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I then ran along a field towards the old oak (part of the 5 mile race route)- I kept passing the same dog walker but no-one else was around. I felt so lucky to be able to run somewhere so pretty.

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It struck me how brown the grass is looking now- it only takes a couple of weeks of hot weather and suddenly everywhere looks so bare. Although it will only take a few rain showers for the green to come back.

I was told I was marshalling near the end, so I collected my water from my car and set off, but when I got there the big gate was still locked (with a combination lock). I waited a bit, but it was nearly five to nine, and I thought they would be starting their briefing soon. Luckily each marshal is given a laminated lanyard with all the RD numbers, so I rang him and he told me the code over the phone. Just as I was fiddling with the padlock, the lady who was doing the pre-event set up turned up. I explained I had just phoned, so she knew what I was doing. I did feel a bit bad, but I didn’t want to leave phoning any later and we have some very speedy runners.

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Ready to cheer! (Note the purple ribbon for the lanyard- will match the purple t-shirt perfectly).

I had great fun (as usual) cheering on all the runners- I was just past the 4km mark so I could tell them all “less than a kilometre to go”, plus they were coming up to a lovely bit of shade, so I could vary my cheers a bit. My dad and brother ran past me and I managed to get a photo of them this time (at Ellenbrook last week I was too slow!).

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There’s my dad in the red top (I did get a few of them both). They shouted that they would wait for me at the end, so once the tail runner came through I ran up through a different field (I thought it would be a bit off putting to run along the same path and overtake the tail runner) and we had a catch up in the car park. 5 miles done for the morning too!

For the rest of Saturday we finished the wallpaper stripping (we had a little bit left in my office, behind the heated towel rail and around the window) and then did some vigorous pruning in the garden.

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On Sunday we were meeting friends for breakfast, and as I didn’t want to get up stupidly early, I postponed my run until the Monday morning (the luxury of the holidays).

For the 100 mile challenge, I worked it out roughly as 4 runs a week, 3 being 5 miles in length, and one being 10 miles, which seemed manageable, and as July is longer than 28 days, I could have some shorter runs in there too. So I thought I would do 10 miles, but then when I was thinking about routes, I realised that I had signed up to a Strava half marathon challenge (you can do these each month, all you do is click on the challenge- race a 10K/ see how far you can run in a month…- and once completed you get a badge on your profile). Now of course I know that I could have signed up and not done it- nothing bad will happen I am sure. But once I have got the idea in my mind, it’s hard to let it go.  I think my original thinking was that we are doing the Disneyland Paris half in September, and I won’t have a great deal of opportunities to run on holiday, so if I did a long run in July, perhaps working back up to that distance in September won’t be so hard.

So I mapped out a longer route and ran 13.1 miles. I took my time as it was warm, but I had a lovely time listening to podcasts. I ran through the fields near our old house, and that was good to go back to where I used to run.

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This was about 11 miles in I think- still smiling! That distance took me up to 97 miles for the month, and still with 6 days to go!

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Then I enjoyed my French toast in the garden before heading into work. Afterwards I went to the shopping centre in Watford as I had a voucher to spend there. Annoyingly the pain in my neck had moved to the back of my shoulder blade, so carrying a blind (for my office) back to my car was not the most comfortable thing ever.

On Tuesday I was in work again, and didn’t really think the day through- I was not sure how long I would be there, and didn’t take anything in for lunch with me. My classroom is out of bounds for the next week due to some electrical work, so at around 2.30 I packed up my car with things I can do at home, and stopped off at the shops. I realised it was getting late in the day, and I had a run with the club later, so I went into Starbucks. None  of the sandwiches appealed (there was only one veggie one and it sounded too spicy to have before a run) so I went for the fruit toast and a black iced tea (although it was not that warm and immediately wished I had bought a hot tea).

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After getting some bits in the supermarket, and browsing the furniture, it was time to head home and change for our club run. Once a month we meet at a different place, and I had basically forgotten that it takes longer for me to get there now we have moved, so I ended up having to run very fast from where I had parked to where we meet (and at that point I remembered why I normally have a rest day after a long run). We ended up running 6 miles, so at the end myself and another one of my club mates had completed our 100 miles (two of them finished it several days before us) so we took some celebratory photos. Now we did walk back to the car as a cool down, and we stretched for a bit as we waited for everyone to come back, and I was fine in the car, but as I got out of the car my lower back was really sore. I did (half) joke to Andy that perhaps I had a worm, as the pain and stiffness was moving around from my neck, to my shoulders and then to my back. At least Wednesday was a rest day.

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And this was my photo to celebrate my 100 miles in July! Hooray!

I’ve really enjoyed the challenge. I have run some 100+ mile months before (104 in February 2015, and 132 in March 2015) when I was training for the Brighton marathon, but more typically I do maybe 70-80 miles. My furthest month this year was 87 miles in February (half marathon training). I did the Poppy challenge last October for the virtual runner website, and that was similar as you just tried to do as many miles as possible. I much prefer this sort of challenge to a streak, as I know I am no good without rest days. Plus those sorts of challenges are a bit more “all of nothing”, as if you miss one day you have mucked it up, whereas with a mileage challenge at least if you are short on one day, you can make it up another day. It has also been good as usually if I was marshalling or tail running at parkrun, that is all I would do, but because of this I have been getting there early to do a run beforehand, so that is something I could carry on with in the autumn.

I’ve emailed my screenshot off, so I just have to wait for the medal now. And if I wasn’t going on holiday I would be very tempted to sign up for the August 100 mile challenge as the medal is Olympic themed and pretty awesome.

What sort of challenges do you like to do? Have you ever tried to run every day for a certain length of time?

Holiday baking!

So the holidays are finally here! (And we shall ignore the fact that I worked all day Friday and then went into work on Monday late morning and Tuesday all day…)- one thing that the holidays mean is more time for baking!

I was sent some liquid whole egg from Two Chicks (I have bought their egg whites before) so I have been very busy indeed!

Each carton contains 10 free range, pasteurised eggs, with no added preservatives.

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First up was a lemon cake, to take to work for someone’s leaving lunch. The cartons do make it easy as you can just pour the egg in to the batter (and they have amounts on the side to show how many ml= a small, medium or large egg)- normally I crack one egg, put the shell in the bin, rinse my hands, and then do the next one. This time I just had to pour i it into the bowl. Plus the yolk and white are mixed in- no beating required!

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This lemon cake is one of my favourites- it is from the cookery book by Jo Wheatley (she won the Bake Off one year)- like many lemon cake recipes, after baking you cover it in a mixture of lemon juice and sugar, so the lemon soaks in and the sugar makes a crunchy topping. It was a very popular addition to the lunch (thanks to the great recipe).

Last week our blackcurrant bush was rather heaving, so I decided that a blackcurrant cheesecake would be a good dessert to take over to Andy’s parent for our Sunday tea.

I found a recipe for a baked cheesecake (actually a blueberry one, in Rachel Allen’s Bake)- again the egg in the carton made it very easy to make a smooth batter, as it takes a while to mix the yolk and white together.

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The blackcurrants were baked into the cheesecake mixture, but I still had a lot left so I cooked them in a pan with a little sugar, to make a topping.

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It was a lovely summery dessert.

On Monday morning I had a long run (13.1 miles, more on that another time) and when I got back I really fancied French toast. I was in a bit of a rush as I was heading into work, so I mixed some egg (I didn’t measure it, just put some in the bottom of the bowl) with vanilla and cinnamon, and put in two slices of brioche loaf.

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When I came down after my shower, the bread had soaked it all up.

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I honestly think this is the best French toast I have ever made! The batter was so even (can you detect a theme here?) and the slices cooked perfectly. I cooked some cherries in a pan to serve alongside, and had it topped with the last of my maple butter.

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I enjoyed this breakfast in the garden (plus coconut water and tea)- perfect.

I think the only drawback I have found is that if a recipe calls for the egg to be separated, you can’t use the liquid egg for this. I think if you liked omelettes then this sort of product would be ideal as you can just pour in the exact amount that you would like. They also suggest that it is great for cooking with children, because the eggs are pasteurised, and there is no mess from cracking eggs yourself.

What are your favourite egg recipes?

*They were sent to me for free, but I was under no obligation to post about them. All opinions are my own.

More decorating, end of term cooking, a double breakfast and an online order mistake

Last week after parkrun and breakfast at my parents, I came home to carry on with the wallpaper steaming.

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I feel like we’ve been doing it forever, but actually I think this was only our second weekend of it.  The week before we managed two bedroom walls before having to get ready to go out, but this week we had no plans for Saturday so could take our time. I am not sure if this was a good thing or not! We finished the other two bedrooms walls relatively quickly and then had a quick break for a drink and some toast (the steamer had to be left to cool down for a bit before we could use it again).

Then we started on my office. The wallpaper just would not come off easily- argh!

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In the end we had to peel the top part of the paper off by hand, and then steam the stuff that was left over, and scrape it off.

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The walls underneath look like such a mess- all those white bits look like wallpaper but they are random bits of paint or poly filler, They obviously got rid of a radiator (there is now a heated towel rail on the opposite wall) and this dark green paint is in quite a few places still. We were hoping to be able to paint the walls, but I think we are going to have to use lining paper as the walls as not at all smooth.

Anyway, this was just not enjoyable. It was a boiling hot day, we had the one window open but of course we were making steam the while time. We were both pouring with sweat, and once we had started we didn’t want to stop so powered through until around 7pm. We had only a small bit left (behind the towel rail- which we finished off yesterday) – we could not face taking the rail away, plus the steamer needed to cool again so we would have been doing it at 8.30pm- a bit too late!.

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As it was coming up to the last week at school, I made some peanut butter fudge as end of term gifts for the people that I work with. I used to use an electric hand-whisk over the saucepan, but now I leave it in the mixer (once it’s got to the right temperature in the pan) and it is so much easier- just leave it to swirl away before pouring it into the tray to set.

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I had some chocolate chips in the cupboard so I sprinkled these on- as the fudge was warm they melted a bit and made the top go all swirly- very pretty.

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One of my work friends is leaving, and she shares a similar passion for tea- I have given her some of the Bluebird Christmas tea before, which she loved, so I decided to order some summery ones for her (strawberry lemonade is just amazing as an iced tea) and alongside it I thought I would get myself a tin of the gingerbread chai. When it arrived it turned out I had ordered one of the massive tins! I thought it would be like the one on the right. I suppose it did contain something like 40 teabags so I should have guessed! This shows my end of term tiredness and why you should not internet shop late at night! At least we have cupboard space for it now anyway!

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I have been perfecting my own iced chai latte using those gingerbread tea bags- one steeped in hot water with a bit of honey (I bought their rooibos matcha honey to get free delivery- so basically free honey, right?), then added to a glass of ice and milk.

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And I even get to enjoy it in the garden- it doesn’t get much better than that.

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On Sunday morning I was up early as I was meeting friends for breakfast later. I have made a rough plan for the miles to make 100 miles in July, and I thought I needed to do 10 on Sunday. I knew I had to leave my 11.15, and in the end I cut it slightly short to run 9 miles, as I wanted to have time to wash my hair. When I actually looked at my plan, it turned out I only needed to do 8 miles. Whoops!

I was very hot and hungry when I got home, so Andy made us a lovely acai bowl each which helped to cool me down (breakfast number 1!).

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I wasn’t meeting my friends until 11.45 (and in fact I was a little late as I forgot to factor in that I now live further away- duh) so although we ordered breakfast (my second of the day), it was actually lunch time, so I think it’s OK? We had a lovely time catching up over tea and croissants, while someone played a piano in the corner- very civilised indeed.

Have you had any online ordering mistakes? One of my friends ordered a table, thinking it would be dining room sized and it ended up being more like a side table.

Which meal would you double up on if you could?

A cinema trip, multipurpose cool downs and 100 mile update

Last week, after the 10 mile race on Sunday, Monday was a rest day for me. We decided to walk into town and try out our new local cinema (new because we have moved here, not because it is new) to see Ghostbusters.2016-07-11 19.13.21

I was very pleased to see this sign in the foyer- they are clearly fans of Wittertainment! The film itself was good fun- a few laughs and of course everyone was bobbing their heads along to the music. It was still so warm when we walked back afterwards too.

I am steadily getting my miles up for the 100 July total. Last week on Tuesday I had a lovely run with the club- we went into the grounds of Hatfield House, and all the time it looked like it would rain, but was fairly cool- lovely running weather. At one point some deer stood on the path in front of us, and later we saw more deer running through the woods. It was fantastic. When we left the grounds we were up to 5.8 miles, so we did some laps of the car park to make it up to 6!

On Wednesday I went out after work for 4.5 miles, and then on Thursday I tried to book on to pump but could not, so I went out for a shorter 3 mile run- I found quite a good route of one big loop, and then the first part of the loop again (there is a cut through after a mile to come to the back of my road).

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After my runs I have been going into our back garden (this is still novel to me- our old house had a garden but you had to go through the garage to get to it, so we didn’t use it as much) to have a cool down, and to water the plants at the same time. I can stretch while the watering can fills, and then move about while I water the pots so my legs don’t get too stiff. Perfect! And it saves us a job later in the evening. Although I didn’t run on Friday (I went to the Waffle House with a friend, and we had a walk when I got home) so we both forgot the water the plants that day!

On Saturday I was marshalling at Ellenbrook parkrun, so again I got there early (in fact earlier as the marshals are needed earlier than the new run briefing people), but again the car park was out of use! It meant I cut my run a bit short again as it took a little time to find a parking space. Also rather horrifically I saw a dead deer on the pavement- it made me jump as I just did not expect to see it. There was a huge puddle of blood coming out of it’s head- it must have been hit by a car. As I ran up to it, a man crossed the road, picked it up and threw it into the bushes. A bit later I turned and ran back and although I was glad I could not see it any more, the big puddle of blood was there. Poor thing.

I was given the marshal point in the cow field and told to call the RD if I saw any cows- my fingers were crossed the whole time!

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I used the cords to tie back both gates – one seemed more secure so I waited by the other as I was told I could choose which gate I stood by.

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I could hear a cow, but I could not see any so I thought I would be safe. According to my map, the 2 mile point was in the middle of the field (between the two gates) so I had a bit of time before the front runners came through. I amused myself by taking photos of the ever-changing clouds, the thunder bugs crawling all over me, and myself, and also doing some squats and lunges so I would not get too stiff.

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It was so overcast at the start.

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Then these cool swirly clouds came over and the blue sky came out!

I saw lots of OH ladies, and my dad, a friend from work and some runners I knew from tail running! It was good fun. One guy even high fived me on the way past! A few people were telling each other “you can do this” and they were very happy when I told them they only had a mile to go- the hardest bit was done! At one point I could see a cow in the distance, but it then went out of sight and thankfully didn’t wander any closer.

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Happy to cheer but worried about the cows!

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I tried to take a picture of the bugs but it wasn’t easy- there are hardly any in the picture but there was loads all over me and the vest!

After the tail runner came through, I shut the gates and ran back, and my Garmin said 4 miles, but in fact when I downloaded it later, the start point was wrong so I had actually only done 3.7- I would have added a bit on but I didn’t realise until later.

Then after a quick change I was off to my parents for pancakes- it turned out that was my brother’s 50th parkrun, and I got my official 25 club email too! A morning for celebrations!

I finished the week on 70 miles for the month, which was great as I still had a couple of weeks to go.

What sort of films do you like to see at the cinema? Do you like spending time outdoors/ in a garden?

Ware 10 miles 2016- still all about the cake

I love this race. Even though it is now held in July, right in the middle of summer (it used to be in the autumn which was much better), I still signed up for the 10 miles this year. Partly I did this because I am doing a half marathon in September, so need to keep my long runs at a fair distance during the summer- without a race I would be more likely to cut them a bit shorter. Mainly though I signed up because it is such a friendly event, the route is very pretty, plus at the finish you can buy tea and cake for £1. Bargain.

It didn’t start until 10am, so I didn’t have a particularly early start.I had some toast for breakfast, drove there and had my number by around 9.30. I knew a couple of other runners so we chatted for a bit before it started.

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There was a warm up but I didn’t join in, I wasn’t planning on going fast so the first mile would be my warm up. I left my bag in the drop (although the car park is close by) because I wanted to put my jumper on right after- it was a drizzling, and although it was humid, I thought I might get cold soon after stopping (plus I needed my money for the cake!).

There is a 10K event too, so those runners set off  a couple of minutes before the 10 milers. The 10 mile route is two laps, and the 10K seemed to do a little extra at the start before rejoining the 10 milers and doing one lap.

I set off steadily and made sure I looked at the scenery. It is very pretty, and I noticed a few changes to the route from previous years, which had cut out one of the tough hill sections. After a couple of miles I was glad of my vest- it was really muggy as well as raining gently, so the sun-cream, sweat and rain were all mixing on my face and skin. As in previous years, the first half of the loop was hilly, and the second half lovely and flat along a tow path. They had a photographer there this year but the ground was very uneven at that point so I was looking very closely at the ground as I didn’t want to fall in the canal! The marshals as always were brilliant, and on the second lap lots of them told me I looked comfortable or in control (and of course one said “think about the cake”!).

I kept an eye on my watch but I wasn’t aiming for a time- I thought under 1.40 would be good, and in the end I finished just a few seconds under, in 1.39.24. It’s all miles towards the 100 too.

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Of course after collecting my bag I went straight to the tent for some cake (lemon drizzle) and tea. I also bought a bottle of water and put a nuun tab in it from my bag- it was quite a sweaty day.

I hung around a bit as they were giving out awards to the winners of both races, and then drove home.

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After a shower I was getting hungry so I had some hummus on ryvita, an apple and a lovely smoothie.

Then I had an efficient (and tiring) afternoon with so many jobs- getting some bits at the shops, making a cake for work, ordering end of year presents for people, trimming one of our hedges, planting some seeds, filing paperwork, doing washing….

I suppose one year I should try to beat my course pb, but this year I was very happy to run it and enjoy it, without being so exhausted afterwards.

Do you normally run races for time or for fun?