Welwyn Garden City half marathon 2017

So my main aims were 1- Beat my time from last year (2.18 something) and not fall over. I also really wanted a t-shirt that fit better as last year I went straight from the finish line to the back of the paramedic car, and one of my friends grabbed me a t-shirt but it turned out to be unisex M which was too big for running in.

So in the morning I had some toast (two bits- one with jam and one with honey) and took my time getting ready. Even though it is not far to the start (2 miles) I drove in and parked about half a mile away as I thought I would struggle running 15. Some of our club runners were doing the hilly 8 mile route, then running to the start line, and then running the half for their super long marathon training run- hardcore! It was great though as it meant loads of our club were out either running, marshaling or supporting – some ran the first bit and then watched during the race.

First success- I remembered my timing chip (last year I left it in the envelope and threw it in the bin, and only when I saw other people putting theirs on did I realise and had to scrabble around and find it).

It was very windy- I considered a buff to keep my skin warm, but I knew I would just get sweaty and annoyed with it so I had to suck it up and be cold before the start. Luckily it starts in the ground of a sports centre so we stayed inside until about 8.45am. They had kids races going around the track and a few of our club’s kids had run them, so admiring their medals kept my mind off the cold. At the start it was very busy (as always) and we ran around the track, out of the sports centre complex and along to a pavement- suddenly the runner in front headed right and I headed straight into a huge bollard- luckily I saw it a split second before I hit it and managed to put both hands out to cushion the impact- it really hurt my wrist but I could have been much worse- they had marshals at the side and some bollards had coloured tape, but this one had none. I told Louise (who I was running with) at that point that maybe next year I should marshal to be on the safe side.

I was aiming for around 10 minute miles but I knew that it wasn’t flat, and of course the wind would be a factor. I didn’t set off too fast, and it’s always good at the beginning as lots of people you know are passing around you so you can have little chats here and there. I ran with Louise for the first 3 miles, and we even saw Andy as the route goes very close to where we live, so he’d walked down to cheer us on.

At the first water stop Louise had a drink and I carried on- I thought she was just behind me but I didn’t see her again. I saw a girl in a bright orange top and her friend in grey, and they seemed to be going a similar pace to me, so I stuck behind them for a fair bit. The course is sort of an out and back with a loop at the end- we ran out along the old railway line (with a great OH lady cheering station partway along), and here we were sheltered from the wind, so I felt like I was doing OK. At each mile marker I was just shy of 10 minute miles- all good. I had been doing (unintentionally) long runs along the route- either along the old railway line (the way out) or more recently, along the country roads (the way back). The last time I ran along the old railway line it was super muddy, but it had really dried out so it’s good to know I can head back there again when I fancy it.

At the half way point you come out of the path and along some roads (the way I can run back from Panshanger parkrun)- this is not sheltered as it goes between fields, and the wind here was awful- really tough. The girls ahead of me slowed too, so I kept them in my sights. When I looked on Strava I could tell exactly where the wind hit us- my times crept over 10 minutes (not by much- 10.03/ 10.14) but it felt harder. I actually surprised myself that I mainly felt OK, although I did start to dread the next half (in two weeks time). I stopped to walk up a hill for a few paces, and the girls ahead had walked too. As I ran past them they commented that we were sort of pacing each other! Anyway- at the final water station I stopped to have a drink (just before 10 miles)- they had cups (which I prefer) and only a little bit of water, so I stopped to have a few sips before carrying on. At this point I lost the girls ahead of me, but as we ran along the streets I could see them ahead and gradually caught up. I think if they hadn’t mentioned anything I think I would have slowed down a lot more.

I felt like I was being so careful along the pavements as last year I had tripped and really hurt myself (a lot of blood, cuts on my hands and a massive bruise on my hip). The final part felt long- as we came out of the pathway section and re-joined the road, I was just around the corner from home but still had 3 miles to go and I had already used my “just a parkrun to go” at mile 9 (where I told myself that I had a warm up and a parkrun to go).

With a mile to go we headed along a grassy path by the side of the road, and of course I managed to trip here- I just managed to catch myself so I didn’t hit the ground. So I suppose I can count it as a success. I felt a bit sick at that point and the two girls (who kindly checked I was OK after my stumble) gave me some motivation for the final push- by this point I was counting to 100 in my head to try and distract myself. I think maybe knowing the route and running it in training runs doesn’t help me because although we feel near, seeing the signs means you know you have another mile left or whatever. It’s also gently uphill which is really mean for the finish of a half! The final few metres is downhill into the track area and onto the track.

I was very happy to see the finish line! I got a hug from Donna, my run leader (she loves a sweaty finish line hug!), collected my medal, a bottle of water and a banana. I also got a t-shirt (a better size this year too) and then joined the queue to get the print out of my chip time- 2.11.18. I’m very pleased with that- it’s not a flat course and the wind made it very tough today, and I suppose with the half being 0.1 over, I probably averaged 10 minute miles. Some of the super long runners had already finished, and some were just behind me so I hung around for a bit to chat to them, but my jumper was in my car, and we had brunch booked, so I didn’t stay for all of the runners. I put the t-shirt on and was very glad of an extra layer.

I jogged slowly back to my car, put a nuun tab in my water, put on my jumper and wiped my face before walking into town to meet Andy.

Ah, Bill’s pancakes and a huge pot of tea- this was what I did the run for!

So I feel I can call it a success- I beat my time from last year, and I didn’t fall over (well not properly). And my t-shirt is a much better fit- I do love a technical t-shirt.

 

Recovering or tapering? Upcoming races and a peanut butter cheesecake.

On Saturday afternoon, after a walk into town, I made a cheesecake. I bought the Pip and Nut cookbook a while back, and it had caught my eye (peanut butter and raspberry cheesecake- basically a pb&j dessert) and as we were going to Andy’s parents for tea on Sunday it seemed perfect for that.

You made the base first (not by crushing biscuits, but by making a sort of biscuit mixture from scratch and baking it), and then came the filling- loads of cream cheese, eggs, a bit of vanilla and sugar all whipped up. Then a few tbs peanut butter was swirled in.

Finally raspberries were mixed in before it was poured onto the base and then baked.

It went a beautiful pink colour from the raspberries. At this point, as I poured it over the base, I realised that there was so much cheesecake mixture that it would overflow, so I had to get out another tin and cook just the filling in that. We ended up with two cheesecakes but one had no base (as I did not have the time to make another base and let it cool).  I didn’t take a photo of the finished cheesecake (poor show I know, but I am sure you have all seen a cheesecake before..), but there wasn’t much left after Sunday tea anyway! It was a good recipe but next time I would make less topping because of the size of my pan.

On Sunday morning I had a lie in (I didn’t set my alarm) and then headed out on a long run at around 9am. It was meant to rain, but thankfully it stayed fairly dry, with a few bits of drizzle every now and then. I couldn’t decide how far to go or which route to go, so in the end I did an out and back in the direction of Panshanger parkrun, although I didn’t quite get all the way there. I wanted to do 8-10 miles, as next weekend I have another half marathon. It is confusing- am I recovering from the half marathon, training for the next one or tapering for it? I’m not sure how many miles I would usually do the week before- it depends on the goal for the race really. The one next week is the Welwyn one, where I fell over last year and really cut up my hands, bruised my hip and hurt my back, so my main aim is to finish without needing to see the paramedics after! On Sunday after a couple of miles I was just feeling tired, but I think it was a bit more psychological, and so I took a few photos and distracted myself, and before I knew it I was at the half way point and could turn around. (I had another break then where I messaged Andy so he knew my ETA). As I got home my watch said 8.92 miles, so I went up and down the road to make it up to the full 9- I am not normally bothered by this apart from when it is really close to the next full mile.

A few weeks ago we had picked up some chocolate twists (basically like pain au chocolat) in Waitrose, as they were reduced, so before I had left I had got them out of the freezer. I had a shower while Andy heated up the oven, and then we had a lovely breakfast- I had a bit of granola with berries too. By that point it was raining quite hard, so our original plans of walking into town vanished, so I did some baking for work (more of those almond/jam things from the Hygge cookbook).

Our decorating / finishing touches are still going on- I bought this print (from Etsy) in the Christmas holidays, but we only just got some masonry nails so it is finally up and I love it!

After thinking about the Welwyn half this week, I half remembered my plan to do slightly less races this year. I think I have managed to resist a few (lots from my club did the Fred Hughes 10, and an Essendon 10k), but I still have a few:

The Welwyn half marathon is next weekend- plan to finish in one piece. Two weeks later I am doing the Lee Valley half marathon with my dad. We are hoping for around 2.10 as long as it isn’t too hot.

I have then got the Wings for Life race in May- no idea how far I will manage to run for that (it’s where you all start, and then a bit later a catcher car starts to drive, and when it passes you, you drop out), but maybe around 8 miles I think.

This week I signed up to the London 10 Mile– It’s 10 miles on the 4th of June in Richmond park. There is also a family fun run and a picnic in the park after. Some of the profits go to parkrun, which is amazing. I have been given a place in the race which is great, so I am going to give some money to my local parkrun instead of paying for it.

Which races do you have coming up? Do you tend to do the same ones each year? Are you a cheesecake fan? It’s not my favourite dessert, but a really good one (hello Cheesecake Factory) can sway me.

Linford Wood parkrun (number 99!)

First up- after saying how tired I felt last week, I ended up with a bit of a sniffly cold earlier in the week so maybe that was it. I took the week very easily, with a gentle 3 miles after work on Monday, and yoga on Tuesday (it’s normally Wednesdays but the hall was booked). Actually, that wasn’t so gentle- we did some (well I attempted) handstands and headstands- normally we do the tripod headstand but we tried a different (and apparently easier) one, but my shoulders were not strong enough and I didn’t make it. At one point one of the other people asked “is it blanket time yet?”- it was enjoyable and relaxing in the end, but my shoulders ached a lot afterwards. I had a late meeting on Wednesday so we had a walk before dinner, and on Thursday I visited my sister and my niece. I was planning on running on Friday after work but my back had stiffened up so I opted for a walk instead. I certainly had fresh legs for parkun on Saturday.

We were up early- I picked my parents and brother up before 8am, as it was around 50 minutes to an hour to drive up to Milton Keynes. I decided to have a little bit of breakfast as I would normally be up a bit later, so I had a little bit of granola.

We were meeting my dad’s cousin at Linford Wood parkrun- he has done a lot of running in the past (the GNR something like 15 times) and we thought that he had done a parkrun in Milton Keynes before (which is why we had arranged to go up there) but it turned out that last week was his first one- he did a sort of recce to find out where the parking was and what the course was like. The description of where it was on the page was a little confusing (MK is confusing generally with a million roundabouts, road numbers instead of names, and it all looks the same) and the satnav postcode didn’t quite take us the right way at the end- luckily we had read the instructions that said to follow signs for Linford Wood West, which we did, and reached the car park at around 8.45, to see Brian and his wife Maureen (Maureen is my dad’s real cousin, but Brian has always been known as “cousin Brian” as he is a bit older than my dad so as he grew up Brian was already in the family).

We followed the other runners along the path to the start, and had a new runner’s briefing more or less straight away. The guy giving the talk asked where people had come from, as there was a big group of tourists from various places (including Cornwall and Brighton). I said we were from Ellenbrook in Hatfield, but then realised I was wearing my Panshanger apricot t-shirt (I have an Ellenbrook vest). Someone else commented that they had been to Panshanger and loved it- it is a very beautiful course.

The main briefing warned us to give way on the paths- apparently there is often a horse on the course. I was very impressed with how silent everyone was during the briefing- sometimes people at the back chat and you can’t hear what is being said (you just join in with the clapping and guess “that’s for the volunteers, that’s for a milestone run” etc.). I think having everyone penned in (we were behind tape so as not to obstruct the path for others) must have helped. We then walked the short distance to the start, heading to nearer the back. The start was the direction of the way we had just come, so at first (without realising) we were right at the front, but once we noticed we headed back.

The course was lovely- one lap through woodland along the redways/ underpasses. At times it was close to traffic (we could hear the busy roads) but at other times we could hear birds singing and it didn’t feel like we were in the middle of a town.  The start was very busy as the paths were narrow, and they had put out cones to keep the runners to the left, away from other park users. If I was aiming for a pb I would start further forwards as I was stuck behind quite a few people- as I wasn’t bothered about time it was fine for me, and when it’s a new (to me) event it’s hard to know where to place yourself. They get a similar number of runners to Ellenbrook it seems (120+ ish) so I would need to picture whereabouts I start for that parkrun. There were lots of houses nearby, hidden in the woods, and at around the half way point we ran around some playing fields- here we could see runners across the road, but that was the only point on the course that you could see anyone else. Dad was going to run with Brian, but Brian was using a heart rate monitor and wanted to go at his own pace without feeling pressure, so Dad soon sped past me and Tony, who spent the run mainly chatting.

The course was undulating in the correct meaning, (not the way race directors call hilly courses “undulating”)- the first mile must have been gently uphill but it felt flat. There were some short down and then ups as you ran under roads, and there was a lovely long downhill bit just after 2 miles. We even joked that we were worried about having to run back up again, but it seemed fairly flat at the end. We saw a little “250m to go” sign and Tony sped up, but I was happy going along at normal speed (I was conscious of having eaten a few hours earlier…)- I managed 30.24 (with the congestion at the start making for a nice negative split), Tony was just ahead with 30.15 and my dad was super speedy finishing in 25.03! We were all there to cheer Brian over the finish line, and he got himself a new pb- he may be a parkrun convert!

We did some stretching and looked out for Mum and Maureen- we thought they had headed to the cafe so we walked there, but they weren’t inside. We then thought they had headed to the car, but as we were going we heard them coming up the path (where the runners finish)- they had gone for a wander in the woods and missed us all finish! We had joked about Mum meeting someone with a dog (she always seems to) and when we met her she had mud on her trousers from where a dog had jumped up on her.

We then had a quick photo to commemorate (this also is very funny as the battery on my mum’s camera was going, so she used my phone and was not 100% sure how to take one- the first picture was just me and Brian).

We then headed back to the car, and visited Brian and Maureen’s house for a well-earned breakfast of croissants and tea. (And although we didn’t see a horse on the parkrun course, we saw one as we were pulling into their road). It was such a great start to the weekend- a really enjoyable course (I really do like the one lap courses and there don’t seem to be that many) and a lovely time spent with family.

So that was my 16th UK parkrun, and my 99th time of running one (although in fact, the first time I was tail runner I didn’t take a finish token!). Next weekend I am marshaling – I was originally going to run, but then Dad and Tony are away (they are going to watch a match in London so have booked a hotel so they can parkrun in London first), plus I am running a half marathon on the Sunday, so I swapped over and will run my 100th all being well on the 25th March.

What did you get up to this weekend? Do you have family living close by to you?

Brighton half 2017- what no t-shirt??

So Sunday morning came, and despite the weather telling me it would be dry on Sunday morning, it most definitely wasn’t.

Despite having slight vest regret, I had my clif bar and some water, and then we walked down to the start together. The hotel was booked was only a 5 minute walk away, so that was very handy indeed. At the pier Andy took my jumper and then left me to find my start pen etc.

Now, I like the Brighton half, and I have completed it several times (this was my fourth time, and Andy did it once and I watched when I wasn’t well) but last year and again this year it was much more badly organised. Walking along to find the start pen, I could not actually find an entrance to the pens, and in the end someone else moved one of the metal fences so I went through the gap. In previous years they have had marshals manning the entrances, checking bib colours and so on.

FatBoy Slim (or should I call him Norman?) was starting the race off (I think I saw him warming up before the start), and I could hear his interview on the tannoy before they did the countdown. They also had their first wheelchair race, so they gave some instructions about letting them pass if they were behind you. As each wave went off, they let off cannons although they were filled with just smoke it seemed? Last year they were filled with coloured paper which all fluttered around- not sure because of the wind they could not have them filled? They played “Right here, Right now” at the start and so then of course I wondered for a while whether musicians listen to their own music or do they feel a bit weird when it’s playing?

I had no real plan for the race- I knew I would not beat my pb (set last year in Brighton), especially with the windy weather, but I was aiming for somewhere under 2.10- so long as I was under 10 minute miles I thought that would be tough but still enjoyable.

The start through the town and past the pavilion flew by, and before I realised we were heading up the coast (up a slight incline). The clouds were so low that they covered the tops of the buildings. I knew that Donna (my lovely run leader) was marshaling for the BOSH people, so I was keeping an eye out. As I was heading up the steeper hill, around mile 3, I spotted her and gave her a big shout- I was just thinking about using my arms going up the hill as she always tells us to on our club runs.

At this point the faster runners were on the other side of the road, heading back down, so I spent this section of the race looking out for Norman Cook/ FatBoy Slim. He said he was aiming for under 1.50, but I knew he would be a bit further back as he started the runners off before joining in. I didn’t spot him anyway.

There was a great drumming band near the top, and I thought we were about to turn around (someone behind me even said “here’s where we turn”) but we went past them and carried on going. It was fine but as we were high up it was quite exposed, and when we finally did turn (just after 4 miles) it got very tough as then the wind was blowing into my face, and it started to rain, so I couldn’t see through my glasses and had to keep taking them off and wiping them. I got fairly cold at this point and briefly wished I had bought a new jacket on Saturday.  Heading back into town was good, but then slightly demoralising as I reached the half way point I passed the finish when the first racers were actually finishing.

The water stations were a bit of a pain- the first few were on the out and back section, but usually they are on one side so if you want to avoid it you can run into the middle of the road. This time they were handing them out in both directions so there were people running in both directions trying to avoid them. They were trialing these new pouches (which must be more environmentally friendly than bottles- I hate bottles they are such a waste of water and plastic) so all the volunteers were shouting “squeeze and suck” as people didn’t know how to use them. Of course the volunteers were brilliant- they must have been totally freezing out there.

I do love running in Brighton because there is always great support, and this run was no different. Despite the miserable weather there were loads of people lined up along the streets, and the crowds seemed to get busier further along the route too. There were children holding big pots of jelly babies and jelly beans, and people had brought their own musical instruments along so there was always lots to look at.

I was still feeling OK as I ran out towards Hove- there were a couple more drumming bands along the way which are always good. Each time I looked at my watch it was showing 9-something, so I knew I was OK for 2.10. The bit to the final turn around point seemed to go on a bit more, and I was starting to feel a bit thirsty. The water station was as we turned, but I was distracted by an ambulance reversing (the marshals were making people move over more) and by the time I looked back there was only Lucozade- I think the water was further back. I did consider running back but with only 3 miles to go it seemed easier to just carry on (I would only have had a few sips anyway).

Miles 11 and 12 were fine and I enjoyed watching the huge waves crash onto the beach, but mile 13 was so tough- I felt like I had started to fade, and I just had no energy left- someone stopped and walked and I was so tempted but the people watching were all cheering so I carried on.

The finish line seemed so far away and I had no energy for a final sprint- even though it was my fastest mile I was still overtaken by loads of people in the final funnel- I was very glad to stop.

I was given a foil blanket (hurrah) straight away, and then someone had some Lucozade so I took a bottle as I felt like I needed some energy and fast- I felt a bit like this (but way worse) after the Bath half, and that was in cold wet weather- not sure if that affected me more than I realised.

I was given a medal (from the mayor- decked out in all his bling) and then joined queue after queue to get some cereal bars and other bits.

I might eat the cereal bar, but nothing else appeals.

Last year there was a big fuss because lots of people missed out on the very nice technical t-shirts as they were being handed out further back- some people only realised when they saw photo of them on social media. I wandered on for a bit but could not see them anywhere, and could see loads of people with medals and no-one was wearing them so I gave up looking. I the had to battle along the seafront to meet with Andy- it took me 25 minutes from finishing to getting back to the pier- only a 5 min walk if that. I was glad I hadn’t looked any longer because the front was so crowded I would have missed the check out time.

He had brought me a cup of tea  (and a cinnamon swirl for later) and my jumper so I could swap out the foil blanket.  At least it had stopped raining, and the sun did briefly come out.

We then rushed back to the hotel so I could have a shower and half dry my hair before we had to check out at 12. After my shower my skin was so sore (I knew this would happen and had bought some cream the day before)- when my skin gets cold and then warm it just goes bright red and burns- ouch! After checking out we sat in the lobby for a bit while I had the cinnamon roll and basically enjoyed sitting down for a bit.

My time was 2.03.23, so quite a bit faster than I had planned (and a clue as to why I was not feeling so great in the last half mile).

I saw later on their facebook page that lots of people were wondering about the t-shirts- they said it was a one- off last year, but it’s a shame as lots of the other Vitality events do t-shirts, and it makes it more value for money. Plus it’s such a great promotional tool- I wear my technical t-shirts a lot, and I like looking at them on other runners as I find out about other races that way too. It’s also a shame that it wasn’t clear because of the mess that happened last year.

We had just enough time to get some lunch to take on the train (and I got a lovely latte from Bluebird Tea co, plus some more tea- I didn’t like the sound of the peanut butter and banana one as I don’t generally like banana flavoured things, but this had little bits of dried banana in it and smelled pretty amazing so I treated myself) and then we had to get to the station. I had to re-wind my podcast to about 30 minutes in as it turned out I slept most of the way on the way down!

The peanut butter and banana rooibos tea was a lovely treat to have in the evening in front of the TV.

Another lovely weekend in Brighton, although I think next time I’ll do a parkrun on the Saturday and no race on the Sunday- much less stressful!

Do you like technical t-shirts from races? Do you look at technical t-shirts when you are out running? Do you wear them? I do if they are the right size (cough Oxford half not having enough small ones for the slower runners…).What sort of weather do you prefer to run in?  I know I struggle in the heat but perhaps being cold and wet affects me more than I had previously realised.

The end of half term, a parkrun sandwich, Garmin trouble and a spot of decorating

No, not an actual sandwich, but a sandwich of a run.

But first, the end of half term. I love being able to go for a run when I fancy it. On Wednesday I went for a short run in the morning.

If I run (or walk) into town, I pass this Mr Bagels factory, and it smelled amazing this week (cinnamon raisin day)!  Much better than the dog biscuit factory that I can sometimes smell. Anyway, later on the same day, I ended up driving behind a car with the reg B4GEL- Mr Bagel himself perhaps???

I enjoyed a lovely 8 mile run one morning this week (Thursday?). The sun even came out for a bit. I ran down to the lake which I haven’t done for ages, and it was great to see all the birds swimming about.

I had some friends over and in the afternoon we walked to the local park so their kids could play on the equipment- it was a bit colder and I wished I had worn my hat- the run in the morning filled me with false hope about the weather.

After a walk into town on Friday to buy new paintbrushes, and sanding it all down, I started to paint all the woodwork upstairs. Since decorating the bedroom and my office, the new whiter bits have really made the old paint look very yellow.

Annoyingly I ran out of blue tape (and I had even seen some in B&Q but decided not to buy any as I thought I had a whole roll). I managed to do most of it, but it needed a second coat.

Our driveway is still mainly blocked because of the waterworks, so after some deliberating I decided to switch my long run to Saturday, and try out running to Panshanger parkrun- it’s slightly closer at 4 miles versus the 5 miles to Ellenbrook, and when you are running there and back, plus the parkrun, those two miles make a difference.

Kit at the ready- making the most of my 50 top now as I am nearing my 100th parkrun.

Someone had posted a discussion about their long run plans on our running club facebook group, and I mentioned that it was my plan to run to parkrun, and one of my friends (Louise) messaged to say she would be at an exercise class near me in the morning, and would like to join me.

We met at the entrance to the old railway line, and from there it’s about 3.5 miles. I had not seen her for a while so it was great to catch up.

We got to the parkrun with about 10 minutes to spare, which was just about right (if we arrived a few minutes late they would let us go as we would catch the tail runner, but it would make us both feel a bit more stressed). We ran the parkrun starting near the back, so a lot of stop/starting at first as it is narrow, and finished at 33.09 for my 97th parkrun (and Louise’s 27th- she is aiming to get to 50 this year).

We then walked a bit (you have to cross the dual carriageway and then the path was very busy with runners walking back to their cars), and then ran more slowly on the way home, stopping at the top of a few of the hills. When I loaded it onto Strava I had seen another running friend had run to Luton parkrun and back, and called it a “parkrun sandwich”- I told him I was stealing that name as it described perfectly what the run was.

We then had a breakfast of toasted hot cross buns- so good. After walking into town again to get more blue tape, Andy helped me with a second coat of pain (plus a first coat to the bits I had missed off on Friday). The preparation for decorating is what I don’t like- sanding it, hoovering, wiping down walls, putting down the tape- it all takes so long and is so fiddly. It only took us a couple of hours to paint it all for the second coat, although after a while I felt I was going “snow blind” and could not tell where I had painted and where needed doing. And of course now the banisters look yellow, so we will need to work our way downstairs next- one job leads to another….

My Garmin is getting on a bit now- I have had it since 2012, so it’s doing pretty well. Now it likes to do this- I plug it in to the computer, and it starts charging, but it won’t sync- the message on the screen tells me to plug it in, but I know it is plugged in because it begins to charge. I have to spend ages (sometimes 2 mins, sometimes 10) doing and un-doing the clip, sliding the little metal bits around a bit until another box pops up to tell me that the Garmin is then connected. It’s very annoying! I am sure there are some that connect via bluetooth, so I think when I need to replace it (which won’t be long as the strap is breaking a bit too, and it is on it’s second charger as the first one broke) I will look for one that has that as a feature.

Later on I had a message on Strava saying I had lost my course record on one of the Strava splits- it is a bit of a random one as it cuts through a housing estate instead of following a main road- it’s 0.7 miles uphill and my time was 7.43- it’s funny looking down the list of people as pretty much all the ladies are from my running cub- it must be a route that we do a lot. But the person who now owns (?) it is not a name I know, and she stormed ahead with a time of 7.26- way ahead of me! I hardly ever look at these things on Strava but I do like stats, although you can get lost clicking through from one thing to another.

I have to mention right now that we have started to re-watch the series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which if you need cheering up is just the perfect thing. We’ve been watching a lot of dark things recently (Case- an Icelandic crime drama, and then we are part way through Vis a Vis, a Spanish prison drama- another one of the Walter Presents series) and we just needed something lighthearted and happy. Even the theme tune is brilliant.

On Saturday evening we realised that our boiler had stopped working- we had a problem with it back in October, which turned out to be the fan jamming. Luckily back then we got the immersion heater hooked up again (as the previous people had disconnected it). On Sunday morning I had a short run (finishing in Morrison’s as I wanted some cornflour for a recipe) and then thankfully there was some hot water waiting for me. (Someone came out to look at the boiler and it is the fan again, so this time we are getting it replaced). I then had to walk to B&Q yet again (I feel like I have been partly living there this week) as we were putting up some pictures and needed masonry nails- and of course they were out of stock! Ah well, lots of fresh air which is always good.

To warm up I made myself a matcha latte using Bluebird tea rooibos matcha which I love a lot more than green matcha. I have the honey with rooibos matcha in it, and this powder tastes like that – sweet and earthy.

I did make a right mess though as you were meant to whizz up the powder with a little milk first, before adding the warmed milk- there was not quite enough milk with the powder so it went everywhere!

I made these little Swedish almond and strawberry bites on Sunday afternoon, from the Fika and Hygge baking book. There was a slight jam explosion in the oven, but once left to cool they seemed OK although I should have copied the photo and put the flaked almonds around the edge instead of all over the top.

Somehow I have run 42 miles this week (partly because I did my long Sunday run on Monday morning, so it’s into a new week), and with Brighton half next weekend I will be taking it slightly easier. I am not sure what our club run will be on Tuesday (they are getting longer as lots of people are marathon training) but I will be only going on a very short run on Thursday.

Which smells do you love walking/running past? One of my runs went past two different Simmons bakeries, and that smell first thing in the morning is pretty delicious. Where I used to live I ran past KFC quite a lot, and I am not a fan of the oily smell. Mr Bagels is pretty high on my list though!

Any Garmin recommendations? I like that mine is simple to use, so if I could just add Bluetooth it it then that would be fab.

Which TV series have you been watching lately? I have also been enjoying It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia- you need a certain sense of humour to enjoy it, but I just laugh the whole way through.

Do you like looking at number plates?  A weird one but I always like to look at the numbers and see patterns or add them up. I saw one today M15 1 SPY, and I did think if you were really in MI5 I don’t think they would let you have that as your number plate. Although it could be a double bluff…