25 before Christmas

So a while ago I mentioned that I wanted to do 25 parkruns before Christmas. When I told Andy, he thought I meant run a sub 25 minute parkrun (although he did think that was possible)- but no, I meant run a total of 25.

But, for the last few weeks I have done no running at all. I had a cough, it cleared up, I did the Hatfield 5 mile race, and a run on the Tuesday and Wednesday of that week, and then the cough was back with a vengeance. One Thursday I could barely speak (made for amusing times at work asking the children with the loudest voices to say things like “tidy up time” ), and from there it got worse. I even went to the doctors last week but depressingly was told that I could have it for 6 or 7 weeks and not to worry, just do the steam inhalations to help get things out.

Anyway, by the end of last week I was feeling loads better- I actually had energy again, and after seeing my dad on Friday night we agreed to go to parkrun in the morning.

I felt fine, and I wrapped up warm as I knew I would be doing a gentle jog at the back, no chance of warming up. But as soon as we started running, I didn’t feel so good. Every step was hurting the back of my ribs- I think they are a bit bruised from all the coughing, and because of that I was then not being able to take really deep breaths. The parkrun course is beautiful, and again it was lovely weather- sunny for the most part but cool. I felt like I was right at the back, but I kept telling myself that it didn’t matter where I finished- the lovely volunteers would wait. I was trying to take longer strides to minimise the pain (it only happened when my foot hit the ground) but that didn’t really work. I did feel a bit fed up when I got to the 4k point at the same time as when I usually finish, but quickly talked myself out of that negative thinking.

When I got to the finish line my dad was waiting for me- I think a bit worried as I was so much slower than usual. But once I stopped I felt OK, and we had a good chat on the walk back to the car and the drive home. I still can’t decide if it was a good thing or not, but it did help me decide about what to pack. (Andy and I are off to Spain for Christmas, and I was considering taking running things just in case, but after that I decided that enforced rest would only be a good thing).

Anyway, I do love getting the text results through, and when I got mine this week I felt pretty pleased. My time was 35.35 (I do like repeating numbers) and I was 125th out of 133 runners. When I first started running, I did a 5K race for life, and my finish time then was 35 mins- it was the first time I had run without a walk break, and the furthest I had ever run, and I was so proud of myself for doing something that I didn’t think I could do.

I think what I realised this weekend is that finally my mindset has changed. Even though I have now been running for years, I still felt like someone just starting out, and a bit of an imposter at races. But this weekend I felt like, even though I had not run for a few weeks, in fact I am a runner, I have just been out with a bad cough, and once I am back to full health I will be running regularly again.

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And here, for fun, are candy cane cupcakes that I made last week. They are chocolate cupcakes (the Hummingbird recipe) and then butter icing with some peppermint extract and pink colouring. I saw on TV how to do swirls, and thought I would give it a go. Inside the piping bag you paint strips of colouring (which got very messy indeed) and then put the pink icing into the bag. Then, as you pipe, the swirls appear.

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I am not the best at piping, but I thought they looked quite pretty. I added some crushed candy canes to the topping, and then sprinkled with edible glitter (or non-toxic glitter as I think it is officially called).

Wow, look at that, a post about running and cupcakes! Who would have thought it?

Avoiding the shops and visiting the spa

Hey peeps, long time no blogging here. Pretty much I have still been coughing all over the place, and then last week got a cold on top of the cough, so I have been in a bit of a grump over that still (still no running either).

Sadly last Friday we had to go to my Nan’s funeral, as she passed away last month. But we had already booked a night in Bath (for the Christmas markets etc) so decided to till go there after, for something to look forward to.

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We didn’t head into Bath until nearly lunch time, and had a quick look around the shops. The weather was beautiful (so clear and bright) so we bought sandwiches and hot drinks and sat outside with this view.

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We walked down to the river too.

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Such a lovely place to visit.

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It was the final weekend of the Christmas markets and it was heaving, so after a bit more of a walk around we went to the spa. We had only been there once before (after the Bath half in March) and although that was amazing, being able to walk properly was even better!

2014-12-13 14.18.42This time we hired robes too- last time we only hired a towel and because you wrap the towel around you when walking around, it was very wet by the time I actually needed to try. The robe was the way to go. We didn’t go in the rooftop pool, but we went in a few steam rooms which helped my chest and cold no end- I could actually breathe!

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We went in at about 2, and you have a 2 hour time slot plus time for changing and hair drying, and by the time we left it was dark (the reindeer was in the window- so pretty) and it was queued out of the door. I think we went at the right time.

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We were both pretty thirsty, so headed to a cafe for tea and cake (mine was an orange polenta cake- delicious), before doing some shopping. Then we had dinner (lovely Bill’s, oh how I love Bill’s) and then finally time for the markets- they are way too busy in the day, and open until 9pm so it is much better to go back when it is a bit quieter.

2014-12-13 17.41.31Yup, not sure how to turn the flash off!

I had a proper hot chocolate, and we bought ourselves some tree decorations, before driving back home.

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We saw strings of these dried oranges and cinnamon sticks in Vienna, but we weren’t sure how easy they would be to get back on the plane. They make our whole living room smell like Christmas.

I think that this is our third year in a row of visiting the Bath Christmas markets, and I think we have perfected our weekend now- we will be back!



Not quite s’mores!

So, I mentioned the other week that I bought some vegetarian marshmallows, and that I should try making s’mores with them. More on that in a minute! A few weeks ago I had a cough, but it had pretty much gone when I did the 5 mile race the other weekend.

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After that, I headed into London to meet Andy, and we had a wander, saw the lights, had some dinner and then watched Aziz Ansari (a comedian).

Anyway, that week I ran with my new club, and also on Wednesday with Sweatshop, and felt OK. But on the Thursday morning I woke up, was coughing loads, and my voice has pretty much gone too. So, I didn’t go to pump, and have been trying to rest ever since. I was a bit grumpy at the weekend- I was looking forward to parkrun- it as going to be my 25th so I would be half way to 50 (and that was my target for the end of this year).

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I did have a festive afternoon tea with some friends, which was great for a catch up, but when I got home I felt so awful I just had to lie down. 2014-12-06 15.59.27

I also was going to do a long run on Sunday, but no, I could not really walk very far without an awful coughing fit.

So, onto the s’mores. I got home today completely exhausted, and decided to attempt them. I had no biscuits or chocolate (or open fire…), so I put some nutella on some raisin ryvita, broke a marshmallow in half and put it on the top, and then microwaved for 20 seconds. Well, the marshmallow sort of exploded- I thought it would just melt!

2014-12-09 17.12.22So, lesson learnt!

Right, I am off to feel sorry for myself with all this coughing, and taunt myself by reading about all the running that others are doing that I can’t!

Although, silver linings- we may decorate our Christmas tree this evening- look on the bright side eh?

Any microwave disasters?


Keeping cosy

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Wow it has got chilly over the last few days! A while back I bought some chai hot chocolate, and then put it in the cupboard and forgot about it. I have been having some this week- it is pretty good, but I think Montezuma’s hot chocolate (especially the peppermint one) is the best.

Way back in September (I think) I ordered some vegetarian marshmallows from the marshmallow deli (they are all free from gelatin and they do vegan ones too). I am not a hige marshmallow fan, but I think the novelty of being able to have them, plus their amazing array of flavours (gingerbread man, peanut butter…) swayed me. Anyway, the order was a bit delayed, but finally arrived the other week- again perfect timing with this cold snap.

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I bought vanilla chai ones (which are more vanilla like and less chai like) and hazelnut caramel ones (I have yet to try them)- I think I need to try and make a s’mores at some point.

They are worth a look for gifts if you were looking for something a little different- they have gift boxes and also some amazing looking dairy free caramel or butterscotch sauce.

I have also been keeping cosy with tea. On our last trip to Brighton I bought some tea from the Bluebird tea company.

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Including vanilla earl grey, Candy cane, Christmas cake, mulled wine and gingerbread rooibos- they even included a little card to show how to make a gingerbread latte.

2014-11-25 15.18.58The Christmas cake tea even has little sprinkles in it!

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So pretty, and so festive.

I have also been running- I was really sore on Monday after the 5 miles on Sunday, but by Tuesday I was OK. We did 3 miles with the running club, in the wind and cold. In fact I nearly didn’t go as I had been coughing a lot and had such a headache, I think from the pressure of coughing, but I had missed last week due to being ill, and the week before because of work, so I felt I had to go. I was so glad I did- the headache was still there half way into the run, but by the end it had gone- I think the fresh air really helped.

Tonight it was a quick 3 miles with the Sweatshop crew, and then home to a hot shower and warm tea.

And this:

My athlete card arrived! How exciting! Now I can get cheaper race entry, hmm, what to sign up for….


Can’t get more local than that (Hatfield 5 recap)

So this morning I was up again fairly early, ready for the Hatfield 5. This was the inaugural event, and a pretty small field of 400 runners. I was hoping it would be pretty low key, but it seemed that running clubs from all over had travelled to be there.

I decided to drive, even though the start was only about 2 miles away. I think had I been well all week I would have run, but I still have a bit of a cough and I thought that if I was struggling on the way around I would not want to have to run another 2 miles to get home. It did feel a bit lazy though!

Anyway, it started at the uni campus, and parking was fine (they have a multistorey car park) and then race HQ was inside one of the buildings which was great – I had left my jumper in the car so it would have been a bit cold to stand about in a t-shirt for 45 mins. The numbers were available to collect- no safety pins but I had brought my own!

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The timing tag was not very secure- it had nothing sticky on it, it just sort of looped around, but luckily one of my friends had some tape so I used that to tape it up. A well as my Sweatshop friends I also saw a lot of ladies from the running club I have just joined, so the 45 mins before the race flew by as I was chatting to them all.

I was feeling pretty nervous- there were so many people in club vests I really think that hardly anyone was not a club runner (and yes, I know now officially I am one, but I wasn’t a registered one as I had not joined when I signed up to the race)- it really felt like I would be right at the back which is silly because although I am not the fastest runner, I have sped up and I think I am sort of running average speeds now.

Anyway, just before 10 people began walking outside to the start- I tried to stand near the back, and then we were off! The route was quite nice actually- they had put a map of it online, but I wasn’t quite sure where all of it was. We ran along roads initially, then along the old railway line (now a path/ cycle way), through some country lanes, a bit alongside a dual carriageway (part of some of my longer running routes), then the final mile was repeating the first mile in reverse, through the country lanes and path again. I was not sure what to aim for, especially as since doing Brighton two weeks ago I have only run once- the first week I was just so busy with work, then we were away at the weekend, and then I had this bad cough, so on Friday I did a 2.5 mile run to check I would be OK, but that was all. I looked at my past 5 mile times- one was a 5 mile cross country mudbath in 2010 that took me 52 mins, and then the other was the Olympic Stadium 5 miles in 2013 which I did in 48.19, so really I wanted to beat that time, but if I had a massive coughing fit then I would have to adjust my expectations.

I decided to aim for 9 minute miles to aim for 45 minutes, as I managed that sort of pace at Brighton the other week, so I knew my legs could take it. At first when I was glancing at my watch I was a bit too slow, but later on when I looked I had managed to get 8’s at the start, which is always good!

The final mile was pretty tough as the sun had come out (a really gorgeous wintery pale sunlight) and even though I was just in a t-shirt I was really hot. My worries about the club runners were of course unfounded- I mean, there were lots, but everyone was very friendly (in fact when I had finished someone came up to me and said “great running”- I think I may have passed her towards the end but I don’t know). I caught up with one of the club girls with half a mile to go, and had a brief chat (more like gasps) before heading to the finish line. The rest of the Sweatshop crew had finished ahead of me and were right on the finish line waiting for me, so once I had put on my medal and had a drink (we all got given a water bottle with water in- you know, a memento bottle and not a throw away one) we had a group photo.

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It was so sunny by then too. My watch said 44.48 so I think I got in under 45- shall have to wait to see what the official time was. Looking at my Garmin my miles were 9.00, 9.06, 8.50, 8.54, 8.48- pretty pleased with that! (EDIT- chip time was 44.44- how cool!).

There was a Starbucks in the race HQ building, so I got myself a warm drink as I had left my jumper in the car and it was a bit chilly.

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The race organisers also do a local 10 mile race in January, so I signed up for that this afternoon.

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After a shower and some work I had pancakes for lunch- yummy buckwheat ones with Meridian mince pie filling and a cooked apple- delicious.

All in all, a great race, and one I would certainly do again. It was not costly, you got a medal and a water bottle (with water in it) at the finish, it was local, quite a nice route (apart from a small section by the dual carriageway but even that was OK), and 5 miles is a good distance too.