Half Marathon Report

So today was the St Albans Half Marathon. It was only my second half marathon, my previous one (Berkhamstead which has evil hills!) I did in 2.32. So I was hoping for 2.30 to beat my time. I got there about half an hour before, and went to the schools’ bit to see all the children getting ready for their fun run. Then off to left luggage before going to the start line. No time for a toilet trip as the queue was massive and by that point I had ten minutes left. The line of people at the start was so long, I think the limit was 3000 people and they had no on the day entries so I am guessing they sold out. I know people who signed up on Monday and got numbers in the 2500’s. Anyway I set off and was keeping a pretty good pace- I reached the first mile marker in just under ten minutes (which is fast for me) so I was not sure I would be able to keep it up. There was a very steep hill after mile 3 (not as bad as Berkhamstead though) and a few other shorter steep hills. The 6 mile mark passed at 61 minutes so again I was a little fast for my final estimate. The day was overcast, it even spat with rain when we were parking the car, and there was a bit of a breeze so that definitely helped. I was doing ok; each time there was a hill I did some good old fashioned positive thinking (yes you will get out of breath but you will get it back on the flat). I had my cherry raisins (thanks Nak’d) after mile 8, as I was beginning to struggle a little. By mile 10 I was feeling tired and getting a bit stiff. My water in my bottle had basically run out (save a dribble which I kept for emergencies!) so I had to stop at the remaining few water stations. I really find it hard to drink from a cup, so I had to slow down and walk at the last 3 stops to get some drink. That is when it got really hard- I almost get a head-rush to my legs once I start running again- I much prefer to keep on going. But anyway the last mile was thankfully downhill, then the last little bit was along the flat. I crossed the finish line and my chip time is 2.19.17- so I beat my time by 13 minutes! One minute per mile quicker! So I am super pleased! I walked around for a bit before giving my chip back, getting an ice lolly (I do like a banana but it was quite warm so the lolly was nice), some lucozade light- summer berries stuff (which was weird and odd tasting), a t-shirt and the all important medal! The race was really good- it has been going for 29 years now so they learn from the past. There were so many marshals all around the course, they were cheering everyone on, there were water points every 1.5 miles for the start, then more than every mile by the end. The left luggage was good too (I have only ever seen unattended ones before)- you got a tag with your race number on and left your bag, then when you collected it someone matched up your race number to your tag and went to get it.

I have not done much for the rest of the day! By the time I finished I was covered in salt, so I made sure I drank all the lucozade to help re-hydrate me. Once home (and after a shower) I had some Vita Coco coconut water (do you know apparently this can be used in emergency blood transfusions as it is so similar in makeup to human blood?), as well as a quesadilla which I made with 2 mini wholemeal wraps, red pesto, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella. Plus a nectarine and some yoghurt. Boy I was hungry!

Later on we visited some family and I am now planning on having a bath this evening in the hope of stopping me being quite so stiff!

It is weird now though as I have no more races that I am signed up to. There are a few 10k’s in the autumn which I have my eye on, but for the moment I am looking forward to running the distance that I fancy, instead of knowing that I have to run, say, 11 miles at the weekend as it is in my training plan. I have enjoyed it but sometimes I have felt under pressure to do a certain distance. I have really enjoyed 8/9 mile runs, so I think when I have the time I will aim for them, and then other times a 5/6 mile run after breakfast is perfect because I still have loads of energy left for the rest of the day. But for now I am having a few days off!

Eat a rainbow!

Ok so today I will do a longer post- I have been a bit brief lately! At work today we were handing out all the race numbers to the children. On Sunday’s half marathon there is also a 5k and a children’s race (1.5 miles I think) so loads have signed up. They are so excited about it, which is good, although I also found out that we are having pictures taken, luckily before my run and not after as I would look a right state!

I had an apple and a cocoa orange Nak’d bar (these are sooooo good, seriously, much more moist than the bars with oats, almost gooey with a brownie-like texture. Mmm. ) and then headed home for a run before the rain. Massive black clouds were blowing across the sky when I got home but I decided to chance it and headed out. I think it will be my last run before Sunday; I have body pump tomorrow and I think I will do lots of walking on Friday and Saturday. I couldn’t decide how far to go, but I was feeling good so I went a little further than planned, around one of the lakes (saw loads of baby rabbits eeee!) and back again. By then the sun had come out and it was boiling! I hadn’t taken any water with me so I was so hot and thirsty when I got home. In the end I went about 4.5 miles in 47 minutes so not a bad pace either. It tipped it down about ten minutes after I got home so I timed it pretty well!

After a shower I had a massive colourful dinner (I really should have taken a photo but don’t normally photo my meals as it takes me ages to get around to putting the photos on the website). Anyway it was the quinoa and lentil bake I made a few weeks ago (red onions, peppers, courgettes, tomatoes, spinach, lentils, quinoa, basil…), along with green beans, butternut squash and baby beetroot! I think I had every possible colour somewhere on that plate! So tasty and filling, just what I fancied after my run.

I think later I am going to have some alpro with some bear granola- such a tasty snack.

Race for Life report

Well today was the day of my Race for Life. Yesterday I had a walk up to the shops in the afternoon, but mostly pottered around, made some caramel shortcake (for someone who sponsored me) and also fudge.

I didn’t sleep that well (I never do before a race, always worry about missing the start or forgetting something) but I was glad to see the weather when I got up; overcast, cool but not raining (thunderstorms had been predicted). I had put my water bottle in the fridge overnight, and this morning I added some ice cubes. I got together my kit (mp3 player, Nike+ band, water bottle, number and safety pins, tissue) and after my cornflakes headed out.

I met my friend there (we did it together last year too) and we did the warm up. I ended up leaving my water with my boyfriend so I didn’t have to carry it around. Normally on training runs I would only take water if my run was over 45 mins, or if it was super hot outside. Then I joined the runners section! So exciting! Normally I join the joggers bit, but I wanted to get round in 30 minutes (previous times are 34 mins for 5K) and seeing as this year I have already done a half marathon and a 10K race I figure I am a serious enough runner to go in that section. My friend hadn’t done much training this year (she has just bought a house so her time has been taken up by that) so I left her at the joggers. Normally it’s me who gets left in the slower race pens and my boyfriend heading up to the front! How novel!

It still surprised me that within 50 yards of the start line people were already stopping and walking- I know it’s all for charity but can’t they go in the joggers section?

Anyway, I didn’t see the 1 or 2km markers; it was so busy and congested at the start as it is quite narrow in places. I was overtaking people a few at a time, but also got stuck in a few places behind people holding hands and so on. At one point by one of the lakes I was worried about being knocked in as I was overtaking people on the lake side and a lot of people seem to veer from one side to the other without warning. Thankfully I stayed dry!

I got to the 3km mark in just over 17 minutes, so I was pleased to know that being stuck at the start hadn’t got me off track at all. There was a steep uphill bit, and I made sure I concentrated on breathing (last year I had a bit of trouble at that point- I can start almost hyperventilating and my chest/ throat gets all tight) and managed a good steady speed. After that it was generally flat so I started to push a bit harder (got a stitch then but I kept telling myself “only a mile to go, not far). When I could see the finish line I was so amazed- I started proper sprinting only for 3 kids to run out in front of me (from one side of spectators to the other)- one girl saw me and dogged out the way but I was so close to taking the other two out! Honestly what were they thinking??

Anyway I crossed the line- my time was 28.10 which I am super pleased with! That is way faster than any of my previous times! Yay!

My friend managed it in 33 minutes which was amazing as she was aiming for 45 minutes! I got to see her run over the finish line and cheered her in!

I do love these races; seeing everyone dressed up and the range of ages is amazing and inspiring. There were 2 girls running along handcuffed together (fluffy pink ones of course), so many people with fluffy bunny ears, fairy wings and tutus (kind of like a massive active hen do). I even had a pink top (normally I run in black tops but recently treated myself to a couple of brightly coloured vest tops) so I didn’t feel left out!

I have my medal now, and have had a lovely lunch  (wholemeal toast + almond butter + cherry spread, apple, cherries and also more banana “ice cream”- this time (served 2) chopped 1 frozen banana, about 150g low fat custard, 1tsp peanut butter and 1tsp agave nectar= mmmmm so creamy).

Now we are off for dinner at my boyfriends parents, so a lovely relaxing evening ahead is planned (plus the finale of 24).

Friendly running

To wave or not to wave? Or to smile or not to smile? Those are the questions I am pondering today. More on that story later.

Yesterday I went to Bletchley Park for the day (where all the code-breaking for WW2 took place- like the film Enigma). It was really interesting; the buildings are in lovely grounds and there is a lot to see. We went on a guided tour (along with 30 or 40 others- it was busy) which went all around and lasted nearly 1.5 hours. It was super hot there though, as none of the buildings had air conditioning, or even big windows, and lots of them had the machines running which added to the heat. It was so interesting to see though, and the volunteer who did the tour had a lot of interesting points to make.

When we got home I decided on a short run. I have my race for life on Sunday so didn’t want to go out Saturday as I want to give my legs a rest. It was so hot, and although most of my run was in the shade the last part was in the sun so cue a red face for me when I got home. We were seeing friends later so as a last push for sponsorship I made them some peanut chocolate cookies (I added cocoa powder instead of some of the flour to make them super chocolaty).

But on my run there is a bit where I run out for a mile, turn around and come back. On my way out I passed a man running in the other direction, so I smiled at him (I like to be friendly and so normally smile or nod or something) but he gave me a funny look. Oh well I thought, never mind. But then on my way back I passed him again (he was doing the opposite of me and had turned around at the other end) and again I smiled at him and again he gave me a weird look as if to say “what are you smiling at?”. Honestly. It’s not like I run along with a manic grin on my face, but I do like to be friendly. I do find that I get more smiles during rubbish weather (more of a “what are we doing running in weather like this eh?”), and normally girls smile more at me (maybe us girls are a friendly bunch). Anyway, I will continue to smile at people I pass in the street.

I made my own muesli!

I love the holidays!! This morning after some cornflakes I headed out on a run. I went up to the lakes and around both lakes. When I was near to the first one I was relieved to see one lot of geese and goslings on the river and not on the path, so I went past them no problems (I did almost get a massive stick thrown in my face as a man walking his dog didn’t see me coming! I am a blur when I run!!). Further around the other lot of geese were sat right by the lake so I gave them a wide berth and they did look at me but no hissing or anything. Phew. It was such a lovely sunny day, and I did get hot but as it is quite shaded by the lakes it was really nice. I also saw a rabbit very close to the path. I do love rabbits!

The run was just under 6 miles and it took me 61 minutes, so not the speediest (not my slowest either) and I did have aerobics last night so didn’t want to go crazy.

Once I got home I had a lovely carrot and apple muffin and then got on with work. But good news; I have finished all my work so I actually have the rest of the week off hooray! Lunch was the other part of the orange cranberry bread (reaping the benefits of my baking the other day) along with pear and yoghurt.

This afternoon I have tried my hand at making my own muesli. All the recipes I looked at were more like granolas, where the oats are coated in a mixture of oil and syrup and then baked. So I went freestyle!

I could have used them raw, but I decided that lightly toasted flakes are the way to go.

So on a baking tray I put 150g oats, 100g millet flakes and 100g quinoa flakes (I either got them from ethical superstore or planet organic, can’t remember) and sprinkled with cinnamon. I toasted them for about 15 minutes on a low heat (I kept on checking as I didn’t want them to catch).

Meanwhile I mixed together 50g cranberries, 60g raisins, 30g desiccated coconut, 25g almonds and 25g hazelnuts (I kept them whole as I prefer that).

Once the flakes were toasted I mixed them all together in a jar- I added the dried fruit mix slowly and mixed loads so the raisins didn’t form big clumps- and put the lid on ready for tomorrow morning!

The whole mix made 510g- probably the grains lost water when being toasted so they weigh less, plus I did manage to spill some on the work surface! But still that’s a good amount to make (nearly the size of a pack of Dorset muesli) and should last me a while as usually I have 30-40g along with an apple and yoghurt.

Tee hee making my own muesli I am a “proper” veggie now!!!!

Oh I tried Rachel’s pouring yoghurt with honey this week and I will not be buying it again. I love the natural pouring yoghurt, and the strawberry stuff was delish too. But the honey flavour is so sweet, not good for breakfast. I will finish it but will be looking out for the other flavours from now on.

I was thinking today about exercising inside or outside, and what I prefer. A few years ago I used to go swimming a lot, and so I joined the local gym as swimming was included so it worked out cheaper for me to join. I then had to had the gym induction, and had “phase” where I went to the gym after work and at the weekends. It was ok; you could watch TV while on the machines, but each machine had a 15 minute time limit so would be no good for running or anything. Then the gym built a studio and classes were included- result! So I began aerobics and loved it (down to the instructor, as when she has been off it has not been anywhere near as good). Later on I tried body pump and loved that too. I had also taken up running, and so was running out of time to go to the gym, and had found that running outside was so much better than plodding away on the machines. The fresh air (even strong winds!), sunlight, rain, everything made me feel awake and invigorated. The convenience of being able to come home, change and head out the door within ten minutes also won be over. Having to drive to the gym, find a parking space, change and then hope that the machines I wanted were free was losing it’s appeal. So I cancelled my membership and go to the classes each week, and supplement that with running outside. Usually it has been fine. Normally at the weekend I do one long run so I tend to watch the weather and choose the best day (unless I am busy one day and then it’s tough on me!). I have 2 classes a week indoor so I know that whatever the weather I will get some exercise done. Unless the rain is torrential I don’t really mind it- it is cooling, plus when I get home I’ll have a shower so I will get wet then anyway. The only time I fancied running on a treadmill was during all the snow this year. I did try to go on a couple of runs, but by me the pavements were not cleared of the snow; it just melted and re-froze all lumpy- just waiting to break someone’s ankle. I tried running on the grass verges but there were so many patches where there was pavement (no verge) and I slipped quite a lot so I decided that I didn’t want to break a bone and would wait the weather out. The thing is my local gym had the 15 minute time limit on all cardio machines (although some people conveniently “forget” this and hog them for an hour) so I wouldn’t have managed much anyway. Plus the treadmills are always the busiest so you always have to wait for a bit to get one.

So really I am happy running outside and am glad I am not a member of the gym any more. I think it is good for some people but I love the freedom of running, of trying new routes and of getting straight home and into my shower!

Now I have finished all my work I am going to pop over to see my Mum and Dad, before dinner. Enjoy this fab weather while it lasts!