A belated Christmas trip to London

Last Saturday we were off to London. Andy had told me to keep the day free for a day trip, so I got up early and did a 3 mile run before heading out (gotta keep the Jantastic score going on). (On a side note, I told my dad the previous week that I couldn’t make parkrun because of our day out, and my dad said to me “parkrun and then breakfast at The Waffle House would be what I would arrange for you”- he knows me so well!). We got the train into London, and then shared a chai latte to warm up before wandering over to the Thames, and finally going to see this:

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It turned out we had tickets to go up to the Sky Garden. It was such a lovely day- cold but pretty clear skies.

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Good views of The Shard.

2015-01-24 13.07.21And of the Tower of London- you got such a good idea of how the building was set out. There was an outdoor bit, but it isn’t opening for a few weeks or something.

After having a wander, we went back down and got the train into somewhere more central. A bit more walking, and then we went to Mildred’s for lunch. Andy had looked into good veggie restaurants in London, and it was only when we got there that I realised I had been with a friend a few years ago. It was lovely- I had the burger special which was beetroot, smoked tofu and something, and of course sweet potato fries. Mmmmmm.

After that we walked around a bit more, before going to The British Museum for some culture.

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And some cake. We would usually share cake, but we decided that we had done so much walking we could stretch to a slice each.

By the time we got home we were both pretty shattered. We were so lucky with the weather though- this Saturday has been rubbish in comparison. A great day out and a fab Christmas present.

Also, thanks for everyone who entered the eggs competition. The winner is Claire @ Flake and Cake, so if you would send me an email then I can sort out your prize.

Why I hated PE at school

So on my runs I have been slowly catching up on marathon talk episodes. I used to always run listening to either music or podcasts, but I have gradually transitioned and now most of my runs are without anything- parkruns, sweatshop and OH club runs are all earphone-less, and so of course are races. So I had a huge backlog (combined with pretty much no running in December) and so am in December at the moment. I was very surprised on my long run last weekend to hear an interview with a PE teacher from the secondary school I went to (although he is younger than me so didn’t teach me). It was a really good show (here) also including a chat with a guy from Strava.

But it got me thinking. Why did I hate PE so much? I really enjoyed school, I was well behaved, did my homework without any pressure from my parents. I always took part in PE (I did not have the cheek to pretend to have cramps to get out of it!), and tried my hardest. I liked being active- as a family we would walk or go on bike rides, on holidays we would swim, hire kayaks or play tennis. When I was younger I had gymnastic lessons, joined the country dancing club ( we had very fetching bright orange skirts), and even a modern dance club – sort of like aerobics with routines to music (like Blue Suede Shoes).

But, I dreaded PE. Why?

  • I was not gifted in any area of sport. I would try, but I could not catch very well, could not hit a ball (rounders I’m looking at you), could not run very fast or jump very high. I was always Goal Defence in netball which is ridiculous as the shooters often had nearly a foot on me! The only sport I liked was hockey because I didn’t have to worry about catching or striking.
  • It was mostly very cold. I remember one netball game where it started sleeting, and we had to try and catch the ball with frozen fingers- very painful. Plus, netball- what is the point? You hardly move, just stand about in the section of the court. Cold. Again, I liked hockey because I could actually run around a bit and warm up. In my middle school I loved it, but moving to secondary school there was a bit of competition to get onto the hockey team, and because I didn’t make that it seemed that I should not be bothered with in PE.
  • It was boring. Games like rounders seemed to involve a lot of waiting about-waiting for your turn to try and hit the ball, or waiting near a base in some vague attempt to try and look like you could catch it if it came near.
  • Swimming made my hair wet, and then I was cold for the rest of the day. Why we swam in the winter was a mystery to me.
  • I hated changing- we hardly had any time between lessons so it was always stressful. We had showers but no-one used them- the thing to do was to walk in, get wet feet and then make wet footprints on the changing room floor so that if the teachers came in they would think we had showered. Even after swimming we would not shower- we were told we had to, but when you have 5 minutes before your next lesson, and there are only a few showers anyway, is it possible? Plus your body is changing and it gets very uncomfortable to be at various stages of undress with friends and of course “the cool girls” who are all tall and thin and good at sports.
  • I was scared of two of the teachers. They used to shout if I couldn’t catch a ball- not very encouraging. (We had two nice PE teachers too, but it was a bit of a rotation I think).
  • The PE kit was horrible. Anyone remember those awful gym knickers? And I don’t think I found out about sports bras until my twenties.

Looking back it makes me a bit sad, because I think I was willing to try, but never found something I was good at, so never really had that drive to work at and improve. I was pretty happy when I got to the sixth form and didn’t have to do PE any more. I often had a little bike ride when I got home from school instead, so I was active in a way I was comfortable with. But I think that had I had the chance to do some other things, for example join a cross country club (but for fun- all the ones at school were just for the ones who competed) then I would have enjoyed it. I liked running around in a hockey game after all, and the mud didn’t bother me.

Now, I know that it was a while ago (about 20 years!) and I am sure things have changed a lot.

How were your PE lessons at school? What would you change about them if you could?

How do you like your eggs? (Giveaway)

Recently I was contacted on behalf of British Lion Eggs. To one lucky reader they are offering a copy of Michel Roux’s Eggs (more than just boiled egg recipes), as well as a selection of egg cooking goodies.

Eggs image

As you may well know, I am not a fan of eggs on their own, but I do love a post-run breakfast of pancakes or French Toast.

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This weekend I made French toast using a mini pannetone, and it was gorgeous. I sliced the pannetone and left it out overnight so it would firm up a bit (as stale bread is meant to be better). Then when I got back from my run, I cracked an egg into a bowl, added a little almond extract and a splash of milk, and then dipped the slices of bread in the mixture.

I heated some coconut oil in a pan (just a tsp), and cooked the slices two at a time. Sometimes I have it with fresh fruit, or a cooked apple, but this week I picked up some cheap blueberries, so I cooked them in a pan with a few tbs of water, plus a sprinkling of coconut sugar, until they went all jammy.

Once the French toast was cooked I topped each slice with a little maple butter (my last) and the poured on the sauce.

I only wish that there were more mini pannetones still in the shops as they are the perfect size!

So, to be in with a chance, please comment telling me how you like your eggs. Entries close on Saturday 31st January at midday, and are for UK residents only. Then I will draw a name at random and let you know.

Good luck!

Jantastic weeks 2 and 3 (scraping by)

Whoops! I totally forgot about this last week, but I suppose last Sunday I was recapping the 10 mile race.

So, how have these last two weeks gone?

Week 2:

Monday-Rest day.

Tuesday– 4 miles of down and up underpasses and steps with the OH girls.

Wednesday– 5.1 miles- I had to run a longer route to Sweatshop, then we ran loops of a depot in some horrible sleeting rain and a very strong wind, and then I ran home.

Thursday– Body pump. I really hurt my hand or wrist- I could not work out what it was, but it was from those stacked clean and presses- I think the final weight was too heavy for me.

Friday– Rest.

Saturday– Panshanger parkrun- one of my favourite times of the week.. My Dad and brother came too, the weather was beautiful (frosty) and it snowed when we were getting our barcodes scanned.

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This is the alternative ending- long and slow hill.

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This is the normal ending- doesn’t look that steep but it really is!

Sunday– 10 mile race.

4/4 runs completed, 22.3 miles run.

Week 3. This turned out to be a bit of a challenge. For this year and last year I chose 4 runs as my target, as I knew that I could easily do 3 runs per week, but 4 was more of a challenge during busy weeks. They said on the show that if you achieve all of your targets, then they are probably too easy, and I wanted a challenge. Anyway, Andy had arranged a day out on Saturday as a belated Christmas present, and had told me I would not have time for parkrun that day. Fine, I can switch it to another day. But then something else came up.

Monday- Rest day. I had a sports massage booked- so many horrible knots in my shoulders.

Tuesday– We were going to go to the cinema (to see The Imitation Game which I thought was excellent). Originally we thought the film was at 6, so my plan was to leave work asap (my normal 2 hour evening meeting was cancelled), go on a short run, then walk up to the cinema. But then during the day Andy texted to say we had the time wrong, and it was actually 5pm! So anyway I rushed home from work but only had time to walk up there before it started. By the time we got home I could have gone out (it was about half 7 I think) but it was cold, I wanted  dinner. At least we had walked to and from the cinema.

Wednesday– Plan said 7 miles. So I went out earlier before Sweatshop and went an even longer way there, then we did 3 miles together, and then I ran home. In total it was 6.7 miles, which was close enough for me in the freezing cold!

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I also got this rather terrifying looking foam roller for my 30 Sweatshop runs. Running home carrying it was hard work- it’s heavy!

Thursday– Body pump. Went lighter on the stacked weights this time, and still at the end of the track I could feel my hand starting to get sore.

Friday– 3 miles after work- for the missed Tuesday run.

Saturday. We didn’t need to leave until 10am, so I got up early and did another 3 miles from home- I was back just as parkruns were starting. Then we went into London- more on that another day but we walked for miles!

Sunday– 12 miles scheduled. On Saturday night I mapped out a route and wrote myself a few notes (most of the route I had run before, but some of it was new). I was out at about 8.15am, and it was just wonderful. I had felt apprehensive about it- what with not having a rest day since Tuesday, and all the walking yesterday. But it wasn’t about time, it was about getting the miles done.

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The lake was still semi frozen- quite comical to see the gulls “walking” on the water. I am slowly catching up with the marathon talk podcasts anyway- I am into December now! In fact I was surprised to hear a PE teacher from my secondary school on there (although he is younger than me so didn’t teach me!). I did get a little lost so at one point had to get up maps on my phone to find out the way (surprisingly the directions “right, over, right, Woods Avenue” were not that easy to decipher) but in the end I got home having run 12.1 miles in 2.13 (although moving time was 2.06)- but anyway as I said it is not about the time.

So, week 3, 4/4 runs done (by the skin of my teeth) and 24.8 miles

I did hear that the third week in January is when people are most likely to fail at their resolutions, so I was quite pleased that I managed to keep it up this week despite some busy days. I am very much looking forward to a day off tomorrow though!

Sorting out my sports clothes

I have a drawer that I keep my sports things in, and recently it had got to the state where I could not even close it.

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It got very frustrating, and so annoying when I wanted to wear a certain top but could not find it. It was going to be one of my holiday jobs, but I didn’t quite get around to it.

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After Christmas I treated myself to a few more items, mainly because sometimes we have not done a wash in time for all my kit to be clean. I read a rather disgusting statistic in a magazine that said most people wear their gym kit 3 times before washing it! I might wear a jacket a few times if I have tops on underneath, but everything else goes in the wash right away!

Anyway, buying more things meant I had to make space! So a few weeks ago I sorted out a bag of clothes that I don’t wear any more, and sorted out the drawer.

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So much better than the shove-it-all-in approach that I was employing.

I also found out that I have more running tights than I realised, so I thought I would rank them:

  • Thoosa are my absolute favourites. The zipped pocket is big enough for my phone (which I use to listen to podcasts on solitary runs), the fabric is soft and warm, they have ankle zips so they fit well at the bottom, and they have a drawstring so they don’t slip down. The waistband is lovely and wide, although it is quite high one me. The only downside is their price, but I try to get them on sale, and also they last years so I feel they are worth it. I have tried their capris but wasn’t so keen, but the full length tights I love love love.
  • Karrimor ones are OK. The pocket is a good size, and again zipped. The long ones have zips on the ankles but the fit is not snug so I don’t use them. The fabric feels thin and is not good for icy days. They do have a drawstring but it isn’t very long on some of them. I love the colours of them. They were super cheap (£6 a pair) so who cares if they don’t last too long I suppose.
  • Nike ones are good (I have the filament ones), although I have capris and not tights. Again the zipped pocket is a good size, the fabric feels substantial, and the drawstring means they fit well. They are expensive and not as good as the Thoosa ones, but if they were in a sale I would probably get some full length ones too.
  • Sia ones are a good fabric, good length for me (so probably too short for some), but only have weird velcro side pockets so no good for anything apart from tissues really. No zipped pocket or ankle zips. The waist band is nice and wide. I keep them for body pump.
  • Fat Face ones- a disappointment. I got them in the sale (straight front leggings), but even then I don’t think they are worth it. For one, the fit is awful. I got a small size as Fat Face things tend to be quite large, and running tights should be snug. They were very very tight, but then there was no drawstring on the waist so had I got a larger size they would be falling down as I ran. They have one zipped pocket which is so tiny that my front door key barely fits in, and my car key doesn’t, so I can’t use them for most runs. They also don’t have zips at the ankles, although looking on the website now they have another pair now for running that do have zips.

How many times do you wear your gym stuff before washing it?