Week In Review – Lots Of Yoga!

I know, I know. Things are slipping on the blog a bit right now as the rest of my life is just so busy and my time for writing posts seems to have disappeared. Thank goodness I will soon have some time off to sort myself out! Thankfully I am still managing to fit in a bit of training, but am listening carefully to my body so I don’t overdo things. This past week actually ended up being pretty heavy on the yoga. Here’s how it worked out:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – SUP yoga
Wednesday – short run
Thursday – Astanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun then SUP yoga
Sunday – 10k

For a variety of reasons, Monday was a pretty challenging day for me and despite REALLY needing my yoga time, I found it really hard to focus my mind and kept noticing my thoughts drifting. It was a great class as ever, but my head just wasn’t in the right place throughout and that irritated me.

Thankfully, I was a bit more focused on Tuesday and a session of SUP yoga was exactly what I needed. My friend Ella came along and there were some others new to SUP yoga so it was good to have a range of experiences out on the water. Having made great progress with the yoga postures across the classes I have done so far, I was keen to try standing up to paddle back afterwards, however right at the end of the class the wind suddenly whipped up as if from nowhere and we actually had to do a “self rescue” – lying on our stomachs on the board and paddling back with our arms. Kind of like swimming front crawl but with a paddle board under us.

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IMG_7260On Wednesday things were really busy and once more I felt a little unfocused. Steve suggested a run to clear my head, but I was wary of piling physical stress on top of mental stress so stuck to a short route and easy pace. I definitely felt much better when I got home again!

iHwMM0G3S4mtiSsZZbibMgThursday saw me at another yoga class, this time Ashtanga. My focus was back and I felt like I moved well through the postures. Still working on that headstand but I like having something that I want to improve on and am waiting for that “a-ha” moment that helps me to finally realise what to do.

On Friday I had an appointment to get my nails done but not until a bit later than usual so squeezed in a personal training session with Steve first. We did some work with the TRX and Core Momentum Trainer as well as some mobility work to really test me out. It’s been a few weeks since I went down to the studio and I really enjoyed it.

r0EnpOIlR%CmvcAF+nXzrgThe weekend, whilst much needed, was also really busy. I began on Saturday with parkrun. I really wasn’t sure how I was feeling after a tiring week so decided just to see what happened. And what happened was I ran a sub-24 minute time for the first time since the marathon at the end of April! I said recently that I really wanted to be back in that sort of form before going away on holiday so I guess I’ve achieved that now. It will be interesting to see if my time improves any further in the next couple of weeks.

t4SMTI0eTlKa7ue8637OlgPost-parkrun I was back on the paddleboard for another SUP yoga session. It was raining but with a wetsuit on that didn’t really matter. It was, however, still rather windy so that affected the postures we were able to do. All that yoga, especially the SUP sessions, really worked my core this week!

I had to get myself organised fairly quickly afterwards as we were picking my sister up and heading over to Glasgow for the evening as she had got us tickets to see comedian Michael McIntyre at the SSE Hydro. There aren’t too many food options in that area (and I’m not a fan of the food in the venue) so we grabbed some food at a nearby hotel. I had a pizza which was fine but pretty average compared to the ones Steve makes.

gjqqWgB8S0mtRcPHpJ+PBQThe show, however, was brilliant. I wasn’t a massive fan of the support act, but Michael McIntyre was hilarious so I’m glad we were able to see him, even if it did mean a late night!

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bIp%I7dDRzi7vxNIjP%1kgAs a result, I was pretty tired on Sunday morning so decided to head out for 10k rather than trying to increase my mileage any further. I was pretty tired and sluggish for the first mile but then my body woke up and remembered what it had to do and the rest of the run felt great.

IMG_7302The rest of Sunday involved a number of errands followed by a visit to my parents since it was Fathers’ Day.

How much longer until the summer holidays???

Other than running, how do you combat the stresses of life?
Are you going away this summer?

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Week In Review – Nose To The Grindstone!

I always find this a rather odd time of year in school. On the one hand, it feels like we should be winding down towards the summer holidays, but on the other hand we’re beginning our new timetable so teaching brand new classes and with my additional duties surrounding the recent national exams, it tends to feel like there is an awful lot to do in June! I’m trying to find a balance between continuing to train (since I know it makes me feel so much better) and avoiding completely overdoing things as the last thing I want is to reach the end of this month with a niggle or injury. This week, that required a little bit of creativity:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – early run 3.8 miles
Wednesday – evening run 10k
Thursday – rest
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 8 miles

Monday’s yoga class came at the end of a very timely day off. The authority I work for always takes this Monday holiday at the start of June and I actually used it to catch up on a few chores around the house that had been neglected lately. As a result I felt much fresher than usual when I rolled out my mat, but it was good to have the mental focus and time for myself ahead of what I knew was going to be a really busy week.

PJ4AbEn3QWeNjtNCIG%6BQOn Tuesday we had an inservice day so no pupils but lots of things to do. I had realised that since I had an appointment after work to get my hair cut and a commitment on Thursday evening, fitting in much training was going to be a challenge. So I decided to get up on Tuesday morning and go for a short run. Ordinarily I don’t tend to run on a Tuesday as I like to give my body a bit more time to recover from a Sunday long run, but with my Sunday run having been short, I knew I would be ok. The early alarm was a bit of a shock to the system again and I definitely felt sluggish in the first mile (why did I pick a route that begins with a slight incline???) but once my body woke up it felt good and gave me some happy endorphins to see me into a difficult day.

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fullsizeoutput_25e0Wednesday was the first teaching day of our new timetable (most Scottish schools change early as the pupils who have just sat exams are returning for the last month of the school year and we need to get the new courses started). This meant a whole day of largely unfamiliar pupils in front of me which is pretty draining! I was really glad to get out for a run that evening, even if it was rather warm. Fortunately I found a running top with plenty of “air conditioning” lol!

1Ec%3fhqTRy1BzDmkoF0nAI had thought that I was going to miss out on Ashtanga yoga on Thursday thanks to having plans with my mum and my sister, but as it turned out the class was cancelled this week anyway. I compensated by doing some home practice before getting my lift into town. We were going to see Strictly Come Dancing favourites Ian Waite and Oti Mabuse in their touring show and, as ever, booked in for dinner beforehand. I think I opted for the same starter and main as the last time (chicken strips and a gourmet burger) but this time there was enough time for dessert. Good thing too since I had clocked king of all desserts sticky toffee pudding on the menu!

6aVO%mEpS1GawO3c19dobAThe show itself was brilliant and brought a little sparkle to my week. It was good to get away from the exam duties for a bit since this involves a lot of screen time.

Pzt%8fQzS4mBIzmsK3clngBy Friday, however, I was exhausted. My Friday timetable is pretty full for the year ahead and at this point in the year it’s hard work. I actually needed a nap when I got home (not something I’m in the habit of unless I really need it!) before catching up with some exam stuff. Steve and I went out for some food as usual, and when we got back home I realised I was still pretty tired so opted for an early night. Such a party animal!

But after a good, long sleep I was refreshed and ready to go on Saturday morning. My parkun 100 milestone Tshirt arrived along with my volunteer Tshirt that I wore last week so it was time to give it a whirl.

lsFuwSXnRcyZocfle%EV%gThis was to be just the 3rd parkrun I had run since the marathon and since one of those was pacing, I was curious to see if I could run a bit quicker than the 24:32 I ran on my first post-marathon run. I tried to keep the pace fairly steady and somehow ended up locked in a bit of a battle with two other women who were alongside me for most of the run – we actually all finished within a second of each other! Although they outkicked me at the end, I know I ran the best I could for this point in time and was really pleased with a 24:11. Getting back into the sort of form I like and I would really love to be back in sub-24 form again before my summer holiday (I need all the fitness I can get before running in that humidity!).

IMG_7215After all the usual Saturday errands, I settled in the garden for a while with my laptop to do some exam marking before the sun disappeared and I had to retreat inside.

On a more positive note, Saturday was World Gin Day so Steve and I made sure to mark the occasion with a gin and tonic that evening. We bought this gin when we were getting our food shop and it was actually really nice.

2tt40AtSSNiTNmfV1upBvgSince I had been so tired, I decided not to set an alarm for Sunday morning and just wake up naturally. I woke a bit before 8am (I must have really needed the sleep!) and realised I had been dreaming about cats. Not sure if this is because the exam paper I’m marking happens to be about cats or if I just have cats on the brain generally!

Since I had run 10k midweek, I wanted to stretch things for my Sunday run and go for 8 miles at an easy pace. This meant I could run out to, and through, my favourite woodland path, so after a bit of hydration I got changed and headed out the door. It was actually a bit stickier than it seemed when I left so I was glad to be in shorts and Tshirt, but it was also good to run at an easy pace with no pressure to hit a certain time.

IMG_7246When I got back, Steve had gone out on some errands so I spent some time stretching in the garden and enjoying a bit of warmth on my skin before heading inside to get showered and changed.

It was a tiring week overall, even with a Monday holiday, but then this time of year is always tiring! Roll on the summer holidays…!

Do you get up early to run?
What are you looking forward to this summer?

Week In Review – Fun! Fun! Fun!

It’s been an unusual week – another day out of school for exam marking duties, a couple of more unusual days in school and a full-on weekend of fun events to round it all off. Plenty of training in there too (including a massive leap out of my comfort zone!) so here’s what I got up to:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike @ the gym + swim
Wednesday – sports massage
Thursday – run + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun + SUP yoga
Sunday – beach race

The week began pretty much as normal, but with the weather still beautiful I spent some time marking in the garden before going to my yoga class – got to make the most of the sunshine when it puts in an appearance in Scotland! It was the first yoga class in a block that will see us right up to the summer holidays and due to it being a UK bank holiday (not a holiday for me) and the weather being so nice, it was a quiet class but I don’t mind that at all. We worked on a new posture and it was fun to try something different and see how far my body could progress into it right now. It will give a great measure as I continue to work on it.

Tuesday was also pretty straightforward. Work then right to the gym. With my exam marking duties I wanted to be fairly swift so went with a steady cycle for about half an hour then headed down to the pool for a few lengths. Already my swimming felt so much better than last week and I enjoyed being in the water to cool off a bit.

cIUb%3rGQQ2xPg+vPKmIMQIt was from Wednesday that things were a bit more out of the ordinary. First of all, I was out of school for an exam meeting. I was back on the early train to Glasgow and heading to a different hotel for the day (no overnight stay needed this time). It was a beautiful morning and Glasgow is always lovely in the sunshine so I opted to walk to the hotel. A few people had raised their eyebrows at this, but with the logic of a runner, I knew it wasn’t that far since the venue was at the far point of the Santa Run course which is a 5k loop from right by the station I was arriving at. I therefore knew it would be a little over 1.5 miles away and probably only a 30 minute walk. I had plenty of time and really enjoyed the walk.

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H5+roKLuT5+I+BM+7d9rigSince it was so nice I headed out with a friend from the marking team for a walk at lunchtime and everything looked amazing.

8vKvDuouRb2H3GvTSZlVGAThen after the meeting I walked back to the station for my journey home. By the time I got back I had walked a fair distance but still had a run on my schedule. However I also had a sports massage booked and realised I wouldnt be able to squeeze a decent run in before heading along there (it was 6pm and the massage was at 7pm) so began to wonder if I could possibly get up early and run in the morning. I actually laid out my running kit and mentioned to a couple of people that I might do this as that would keep me accountable…

…and I did it! Out the door just before 5:30am for a 4.5 mile run. Waaaaay out of my comfort zone to be running so early but I felt so energised afterwards that I began to wonder if I could do it more often, but as a natural night owl it’s not really best for my rhythms. Still, I know it’s there as a possibility if I need to fit a run in again in future.

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DRnwc0c2TQa+T9UnpLfPQgI rounded off my Thursday with Ashtanga yoga. I was feeling good and surprised myself by managing TWO full rounds of Wheel for the first time. Now I can tick that off as something I have progressed to in the sequence, next up is to keep working on my headstand as I’d love to be able to do this unsupported.

By Friday I was exhausted from 2 early starts and a tiring work day on Thursday and Friday as the pupils were off timetable for our health/activity days. I took a rest day and caught up on myself a bit ahead of a busy weekend.

Saturday was pacer day at parkrun and I had picked the 28 minute slot this month. It was a pretty humid morning so I was pleased not to have to slog it out for a faster time. I also got my first opportunity to wear my new 25 volunteer T-shirt which had finally arrived.

2GUQXPpNTCqdMajUjZRblQI had a group running with me, some of whom were looking to run a faster time than they had been of late, and at least one who was hoping for a PB. I always find it so strange to run along with a group bunched around me – like having an entourage! Despite the heat and the group working hard, we managed to smile for the photographer so it looked like we were all having fun!

34201958_1794687760625242_8411694200835276800_nI came in at 27:52 so everyone wanting sub-28 was fine and there was definitely a PB in there for someone. It’s always so nice when this happens. The runner has put in the work to get that time, but it’s nice to feel like setting a steady pace has helped them to reach that goal and seeing how pleased someone is to run a new PB is fantastic.

Y98W47jTRS2KUjcaIDe3SwPost-parkrun I got myself organised for another session of SUP yoga. It was feeling warm and I was in two minds about the wetsuit but just couldn’t face the idea of going in the water without it so decided to sweat it out in the wetsuit. It was a fantastic session and I was able to stand not just in Mountain pose but in Warrior this time (I only managed this for about a millisecond last time!) so I know I have made progress on the board. Towards the end of the class there were a couple of people in the water so I decided to slide in off the side of my board as I was conscious that I needed to get in the water to overcome my fear of falling in. It felt really nice and I loved just bobbing about with my floatation device on. Now I’ve been in, I’m less scared of the thought of a fall. I’m, also considering buying a “shorty” wetsuit for warmer days as I know I can borrow Steve’s full length one if I need it.

On Sunday I headed to St Andrew for the Chariots of Fire beach race. I’ll write a separate post on this one, but it was a great event and although they suffered a couple of hiccups on the day, I would happily go back again as I really enjoyed it. I mean, dressed in all white, running on the beach to the strains of Vangelis, what’s not to like? A great day out!

g0lx95HSTS+THhuBgfhcvQI do love this time of year when I don’t have anything imminent to train for and can keep my training up but without too much pressure so there’s room for a bit of fun. With all that exam marking to fit in, it’s a welcome distraction!

Do you like early morning runs?
Ever run on a beach?

Week In Review – Signs Of Summer

It’s the end of May and we’ve had a decent spell of weather here in Scotland – hard to believe that it was only last month that I was still running in snow! My week has been a little different as the exam marking period has kicked in, but that is always one of the last hurdles to overcome in the school year before the summer break comes into view. It can’t be long now!

My main goal this week was to keep some consistency in my training despite a few unavoidable changes, so here’s how it ended up:

Monday – yoga at home
Tuesday – bike at the gym + swim
Wednesday – run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – swim at hotel
Saturday – rest
Sunday – run

I mentioned last week that I wouldn’t have my usual Hatha yoga class this week as my teacher was taking a well-deserved holiday, so I made sure to do an at-home practice instead. I started a new Yoga with Adriene 30 day journey (I don’t do these in 30 days as I work around my other classes and don’t necessarily practice every single day, but there is no expectation of consecutive days – it’s all about showing up and taking time on your mat regularly). It’s always exciting starting these and getting into the flow of postures that will be the focus throughout the videos.

On Tuesday I was back at the gym for a cycle. This time I stretched the duration a bit then carried on for a few seconds more to hit a round distance. I probably eased off on the pace a little compared to last week’s shorter effort, but I also knew that I was going to follow this with a swim so that was ideal. It struck me recently that I haven’t really swum much this year so am intending to get in the pool a bit more in the last few weeks of term. In actual fact my swimming was ok, but I did feel like I was kind of congested from the pool chemicals which definitely affects my breathing. If anyone has any advice on this then I’d love to hear it. Once home, I did some more yoga since the videos tend to be an ideal length for me.

Wednesday, of course, is a running day for me and I knew I needed to make the most of it as I wouldn’t get another run until Sunday. It was a pretty warm evening so it was great to be outside, even if I was rather red-faced afterwards. I’m not going to complain though – after the winter we’ve just had I’m looking forward to some warmer runs so fingers crossed the good weather is here to stay!

FGYyd4MbRQ6Zw05pNsByFQThe run itself was a slight stretching of the route I did last Wednesday, coming in at around 4.33 miles. It wasn’t planned to be spot on 4 and 1/3, I just chose a loop to run, but it’s fun to see the result.

It was so good to be back at Ashtanga yoga after missing it last week. I was feeling good and was particularly pleased with how strong I felt in Wheel after working so hard on it. I also managed another supported headstand but really want to make more progress on this one. I will be patient though as I know it will come in time.

After yoga I went to get my nails done as the friend I go to for this is going on holiday and I had to squeeze an appointment in before she left. She was running a bit late which was fine, but it did mean I was home a bit later than I thought and didn’t really have much to eat. Thank goodness I’m not marathon training!

FpDeRpTLRJaT+0c3A670XAFriday was an early start as I had to get a train to Glasgow for the first part of my exam marking duties. We were meeting in one of the city centre hotels and I had a booking to stay over that night rather than go back and forth. I quite like getting the train as it gives me some time to read/listen to a podcast/blog and feels quite relaxed when the train is quiet.

Wzvyz%dAQZexzZqcF1nqKQWe always eat really well at these events so I soon made up for the light eating the night before! Lunch was awesome as it was all the various bits and bobs to build your own fajitas, plus a salad bar and selection of desserts. That evening I ate in the hotel bar with one of my friends from the team and had a pretty amazing burger followed by a double chocolate brownie with hot chocolate sauce and ice cream. Yum!

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fullsizeoutput_2576Fortunately, I did have the foresight to get a bit of activity into my day as well. I knew we would finish around mid-afternoon and since it was a glorious day (the west coast of Scotland gets the best weather) I took a walk into town with my friend and we treated ourselves to a drink at Hotel Chocolat. I picked the salted caramel chilled chocolate.

DGiY+wQaTRmNVRJuZW2CGAOnce back, we located the hotel pool and I had a bit of a swim before we headed into the steam room for a bit of a blether. It was good to have a bit of chill out time around all the work (and forthcoming marking!).

GDqIYao3TpmU2LljyGGqnwSaturday was more of the same and sadly no chance of fitting in a parkrun, so I consoled myself with a selection of food from the breakfast buffet (it’s a hard life!). I started with a selection from the cooked breakfast foods, then saw someone with a pancake and chocolate sauce. I investigated and realised that there was maple syrup so treated myself to a pancake with bacon and maple syrup. Not something I have often but oh so tasty!

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uB3DN4P3TwWYNzKJlvIO6AWe had another great lunch where there was a selection of foods and I just went for a mad selection of a little bit of everything. My plate seriously had rice, ratatouille, ham, veg, fries, spaghetti and salad all at once! I then “double-desserted” as there was mini key lime pie and profiteroles. How was I expected to choose!

When we finished work for the day I loaded up with some sweets from the selection in the hotel lobby (awesome idea!) and walked back into town to get the train home. There was a bit of time to fill and I was warm so I went back to Hotel Chocolat for one of their ice creams which they call ‘Ice Cream of the Gods’. It was yummy!

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3ouxwATxSz2FlnyhIXwhrgThe train journey flew by as I bumped into some others I had been working with and discovered that one of them is also a runner so we chatted about races all the way back. Steve had offered to pick me up but I was needing to move so opted to walk home. It was a nice surprise about half way up the road to find him walking down to meet me. I didn’t do much else the rest of the day as I was feeling tired and actually went to bed quite early. What a party animal!

My plan for Sunday was to not set an alarm and just wake naturally…so I woke up at 6:45am! It must have been how light it was and I had slept for a good long time. I got up, got organised and headed out to run 10k before it got too warm (for us poor Scots who aren’t used to it!).

a8n69qojQm6TeyYbA646YwPost-run and breakfast I took my work into the garden and got down to some exam marking while Steve was out for a long bike/run brick session.  We had a few errands but once that was done I headed back into the garden to make the most of the sunshine since there’s no guarantee of it lasting around here!

And now, the next three weeks will be dominated by exam marking, but I will be making sure to get my workouts in as well to keep me feeling fresh.

How are you making the most of the weather where you are?
What’s your favourite ice cream?

Week In Review – Wickedly Good!

Now that I’ve had a couple of weeks off running, this week it was time to re-introduce some easy running to my week. I would only ever start running again on the basis that everything felt good and there were no obvious tight/sore spots remaining. I also make sure to take things easy for a couple of weeks since I know it can take up to a month for the body to be fully recovered from a marathon. Here’s how things shaped up:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike @ the gym
Wednesday – short run
ThursdayAshtanga yoga rest
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun + SUP yoga
Sunday – 5ish miles

Monday’s class was the last in the current block of Hatha classes. Next week my teacher is on holiday but we’ll be back the following week for the final 5 week block up to the school holidays. When you say it like that, it makes it sound like there’s not too much longer to go this term, but I know there’s still plenty of hard work ahead too! The class itself was great. It’s always such a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and I love working through the various postures to stretch my body out.

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Trying out my new leggings which have cats on them!

On Tuesday I took myself back to the gym for a cycle. Still no intervals just yet, but I did want to work a bit harder than last week. In the end I was only on the bike for a few minutes longer but covered a greater “distance” in that time so will have a think about how I’m going to develop that next week. Once again, I followed it up with a visit to the hot tub and sauna. Well, my membership gives me access so why wouldn’t I?

All day Wednesday I was keen to get home and into my running kit as this was the day I was FINALLY going to head out for a run. It was a lovely evening and definitely time for the running shorts. The plan was to keep things easy, but for the first few minutes I didn’t pay enough attention so was going too fast for where I am right now, but soon reigned it in. It felt great to be out again, even though starting again always feels so hard. I chose a loop I like that’s around 3.7 miles, starting uphill but with a lovely long downhill later on. The only thing that sullied the experience was a slightly grumbly achilles on my left side towards the end of the run, so when Steve got home I had him check out my movement patterns and guide me on the exercises I needed to do to help it settle down again – no way I want to be on the injury bench if I can avoid it!

cN1hG%ESRs2ZZMSe+6JYrQOn the plus side, Steve came home with another pudding-based gift from a client. This time bread and butter pudding. Yum!

+TKMXJEQQ9C65Mmfeh0vPAOn Thursday my achilles was still bothersome, especially on stairs, so I tried to do the exercises as often as I could. I had hoped to get to my Ashtanga class that night as I thought it might help, however a work commitment meant I just couldn’t get there in time – even with my mat and kit in the back of the car so I wouldn’t have to go home. It was disappointing, but not unexpected so I opted for a home practice instead. I didn’t have much opportunity to do the exercises for my achilles through part of the afternoon so made sure to work on it plenty in the evening and did notice the difference.

When I got up on Friday my achilles felt much better. Literally overnight I had gone from thinking I maybe wouldn’t be able to go to parkrun, to thinking it might still be a possibility. I kept up the exercises to give myself the best possible chance.

It was an exciting day because it was the day I was at long last getting my Christmas present. Steve had got us tickets to see the tour of Wicked in Edinburgh (yes, it involved a decent level of hinting again!) so as soon as we were both home and changed we set off and got the car parked near the venue. We weren’t sure where we were going to eat but knew there were plenty of quick and inexpensive options in the Omni centre next door. In the end we picked Tony Macaroni, a chain I had never visited before, and I was promptly faced with the dilemma of what to order from a menu where EVERYTHING sounded good. After some deliberation, we both opted for pizza. Mine had a bbq base and was topped with bbq sauce, bacon, spicy ‘nduja (I didn’t know this one, but Google tells me its’s a kind of spicy, spreadable pork salami), paprika, mozzarella, rocket and FRENCH FRIES! Ok, so I ordered this one because I was fascinated by the idea of french fries on a pizza. One or two people have said it sounds wrong, but having taken one for the team and tried it, I can confirm that it was delicious!

jnvES40+TBiO+qZLqhi2OAI was, however, a little confused by the couple next to us. They split a pizza between them (literally they were each brought a plate with half a pizza on it) and NEITHER OF THEM FINISHED IT!?! What on earth? That is just so strange to me (and a waste of good pizza!).

The show itself was incredible. Steve got us tickets the last time Wicked toured to Edinburgh as I had been desperate to see it for year, having been obsessed with the soundtrack for a while. I do love a musical and this certainly didn’t disappoint, particularly the finale to Act 1 which is Defying Gravity. There was a great audience too, cheering and clapping, which really added to the atmosphere. A later night, but totally worth it.

Oi8QnnJbR0KyKD5U7ZxN8AI was tired on Saturday morning but I also knew I could go to parkrun as my achilles was no longer bothering me (although I’ll keep going with the exercises for another few days to be sure). I had seen a suggestion earlier in the week that people might want to wear something to mark the royal wedding, so I decided this was the perfect time for this Running Princess to try out her tiara hairband (my sister picked it up for me at the Disney Princess Half Marathon expo at Disney World earlier this year and I really wanted to wear it but was never sure when I could without looking a bit odd!).

IMG_6630I actually love how it sits up like a tiara, and yes it did attract some attention!

zsDR8CorR4GzdeDP0C5ntQI had no expectations for this run as I knew running faster would feel hard. For the first couple of weeks when I start running again I know I need to let go of all expectations while my body gets used to the idea again, after which it will feel a lot better. I therefore expected to be somewhere around 25 minutes.

or1V4SH9R024SVp%MSrEEQObviously, I ended up running faster than was probably sensible, but although hard I still felt I could maintain my pace and with splits of 8:05, 7:59, 8:03 and a last nubbin of 7:00, I ran the the bulk of it pretty steadily for a 24:32 finish. I usually think of 24:30ish as being an indicator that I’m in reasonable form, so to return at that point is pretty pleasing and I know in a few weeks I’ll be able to start bringing that time down a bit again.

IMG_6682Post-parkrun I had my second session of SUP yoga. This time I borrowed Steve’s wetsuit and headed down to the activity centre in the glorious sunshine. This time my goal was to stand on the board (probably briefly before falling off!) and I did manage to stand in Mountain Pose feeling fairly steady (Warrior II was less graceful with only a millisecond in the posture before I wobbled too much, but I did stay on the board). Lying in savasana in the sunshine just felt lovely and I could have floated around out there for hours if I wasn’t melting in the wetsuit – probably should have let myself fall in to feel more refreshed!). Next time, I want to try and stand up to paddle, so still a decent chance of a dunking!

Q9pQRb8eT5GoCBIAOS45kg
IMG_6697One of my favourite moments was when my teacher’s husband took their dog onto the board with him. The dog is a rescue and he’s brilliant. When they first got him he was scared of his own shadow and they’ve done so well to get him settled and trained. He loves to swim in the water and run about with endless energy. He was a little unsure about the board, but did stick it out for a minute or two.

IMG_6700I really like everyone in our group so it was great to have lunch with them again afterwards. The cafe at the activity centre is really nice and since the weather was good we sat outside. I had the same type of sandwich as last time since it was so tasty and we all had a good natter until it was time to head home.

+91dE%NPQrue+RVlQyJFzgI rounded my day off by taking a blanket into the garden to sit and respond to some messages in the fresh air, then headed back in to finally watch the royal wedding which I had recorded. My first childhood memory is of watching Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding and I found myself thinking of that as I watched her son marrying the beautiful Meghan Markle. It looked like a lovely day.

I also got a bit carried away and entered a couple of races – a 5k at the start of June and an autumn half marathon. I’ll need to be half marathon fit for Disneyland Paris, but have no intention of racing so I thought I would enter another race a couple of weeks later to capitalise on that training.

Sunday meant a “longer” run and a chance to get back into my usual routine. I did sleep a bit later after a couple of tiring days then got myself ready and headed out. I thought somewhere between 5 and 6 miles would be ideal right now and settled upon a loop I knew would be somewhere in there. I’ll admit it did feel hard, even at a slower pace, after running faster at parkrun, but I also know this is part of the process of my body recovering from a marathon and getting used to running again. Generally I have a couple of weeks like this then I feel much more settled with my running so I’m happy to ignore my pace and just enjoy being out in the fresh air with my legs turning under me, especially now the weather is a bit nicer.

IMG_6708I’m now looking forward to getting the consistency back into my training and feeling that moment when things start to click into place and I feel strong and ready to build through the summer.

What events do you have coming up?
Do you like musicals?

Week In Review – Getting Restless

Experience has taught me that my “sweet spot” for effective post-marathon recovery is to take two full weeks off (well if it’s good enough for the elites, it’s good enough for me, right?) but I always find the second week tricky. By the time I’m a week on from the race my legs are feeling back to normal, with the difficulty of negotiating stairs just a few days previously now a dim and distant memory, but I know that there’s more to recovery than having my legs feel good. So in the second week I really am fighting the desire to get out there. I get restless and fidgety, even with adding a bit of light cross-training and activity into the week, and would compare it a little bit to that point in the taper where you feel like a coiled spring, ready to unleash your energies on the race (but without the maranoia and constant certainty that the world is determined to make you ill or injured!). Sounds good, but without a race to look forward to, its not always easy to remember WHY I’m not running and quickly get fed up of the time off I was quite keen to have when feeling tired from all the training. Some people are never happy!

Thankfully, I had a fairly busy week to keep me distracted, but by the time the weekend rolled around I was definitely champing at the bit to run which is always a positive sign of a good recovery.

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – easy cycle @ the gym
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – rest
Sunday – rest

It was good to get back to yoga again this week and catch up with some of my SUP yoga pals from the Saturday before. I felt back to “normal” so no need to be looking for adaptations or easier variations this time, although with the option to do so if I found I was wearier than I thought! As always a good class and I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially after my day off work for the UK bank holiday.

Qgl4+kFJTT6gcbqn2NC1VwOn Tuesday it was back to work and I packed my gym kit for a visit to the gym on my way home. Usually this is for intervals on the bike, but I knew better than to do something like that just yet. Instead, a gentle 30 minute bike “warm up” whilst reading my Kindle book, followed by a 10 minute hot tub session then an indefinite sauna recovery😂 . The basic idea was to get my legs turning again, without impact, and to get some endorphins. On days like that it’s always a bit of a disappointment to reach the end of the workout, but it felt good to be active.

Wednesday was a rest day out of necessity. Ordinarily I might have returned to the bike or gone for a swim, but this was the night Steve and I were going to see Skid Row Marathon. The cinema here wasn’t showing it so we had to go to Dundee, about 20 miles away. Not that big a deal but it meant that I was straight home from work for something to eat then away soon after (packing our own cinema snacks of course, because they cost HOW MUCH at the cinema?!?!)

CBerC1vOSXe1BhyaB6abegWe actually bumped into quite a lot of people we knew and I was amused by the conversations I could hear around me as we waited for the film to start as it was near-enough all running-related. You don’t get that on your average cinema trip! The film itself was incredible and a few words here really can’t do it justice, so I wrote a separate post which you can read here.

IMG_6565I don’t tweet much but did take to twitter to discuss this film and ACTUAL Dame Kelly Holmes liked my tweet! Yes I did squeal when I saw that!

Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 21.29.25On Thursday I had my favourite non-running session of the week, my Ashtanga yoga class. This week I was able to fully embrace it again, working more deeply into postures, moving into ‘Wheel’ for my back bend and choosing to work a little more on my headstand, supported by my lovely teacher. There were only 3 of us and all regulars, which I always like as it means we don’t have so many pauses to demonstrate postures and we can practice more of the Ashtanga sequence. I would love to be able to work in headstand unsupported, so my next goal is to add that into some of my home practice until I feel more confident.

I had another rest day on Friday as it was time to get my nails done. My lovely gold sparkly polish had seen me through my orchestral performance and my marathon, but it was starting to suffer a bit. I had no idea what polish I wanted, but opted for some more sparkle so it was a purple glitter over some black polish. I get my nails done by a friend who also runs so it’s always great to have a bit of time to catch up with her and have a good chat when I go round. Plus, fresh gel polish always makes me feel much more “together” as my nails grow really fast so slightly chipped and overgrown nails is never a good look!

8ExgqdioTlC%GoYil5v+0gSaturday was beautiful. The sun was out and it had a bit of warmth in it. Perfect running conditions and I was glad I had committed to volunteering at parkrun otherwise I might have ended up running (and going far too hard) before the end of my self-imposed break. I know it wouldn’t have been too big a deal, but I’m a stickler for sensibly following my plans!

mW0NfeWnSWm6Op4RSStXqwI was barcode scanning again so took up my same position at the end of the funnel and enjoyed chatting to the other volunteers, some park users I know and, of course, the runners. Parkrunners are generally encouraged to volunteer twice a year to keep things running smoothly, so I always sign up for my 2 in the weeks right after a marathon (plus I volunteer as a pacer as often as I can). So important to get involved and it helps create a balance between using the run as part of my training and helping with the smooth running of the event.

1vf2yjeWR5Cpy%CCRtyA%gI had toyed with the idea of walking to the gym on Sunday morning and having a cycle, but when I woke up it was pouring so I decided to take advantage of the fact that I had no training commitments to instead read a bit of my book in bed then have a leisurely morning getting showered and organised. Steve went out for a run (he has a triathlon and half Ironman to get ready for!) then when he got back we went out for our coffee before lunch as I wanted to visit my parents, mainly my mum, in the afternoon. By a weird quirk of dates, my mum is always away in the US when it’s Mothers’ Day here in the UK, then is here when it’s US Mothers’ Day. Gah! My sister and I have therefore fallen into the habit of presenting her with the requisite card and gift on the US date, but in the UK, since that’s when we’re all in one place! It’s a bit confusing but it works. As it turned out, we timed it perfectly for a refreshment – iced tea and a slice of cake (yes, that is a Disney plate!)

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Now I’m ready to get back into a more regular training routine, but will keep the sessions fairly easy for another week or two.

What’s your recovery strategy?
Did you get to see Skid Row Marathon?

PS Are you following me on Facebook? Blog updates, training updates and right now I’m sharing some archive posts on #ThrowbackThursday.

Week In Review – Recovery and Having Some Fun!

The first few days after a marathon are always pretty interesting, what with tricky considerations like negotiating stairs and rising from a chair without making the same kind of sounds you remember your grandparents making. For me, it’s generally a week of doing very little and eating lots and this week pretty much unfolded like that (but with a bit of fun planned at the end):

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – rest
Wednesday – sports massage
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – SUP yoga
Sunday – rest

As you can see, lots of yoga and lots of rest. The ideal recovery week!

On Monday I wasn’t feeling too bad and a number of people commented on how well I was walking (although this was invariably whilst walking on a flat surface as going down stairs was definitely interesting!). I still wanted to go to my Hatha yoga class as I knew a bit of movement and stretching would be good, but at the same time I left my ego at the door and chose all the easiest options for each posture as both my legs and my core were pretty weary. As ever it was a great class and I definitely felt better afterwards.

And there was one other important thing I did on Monday, because when you’re sore from one marathon the logical thing to do is enter the ballot for another one, right?

fullsizeoutput_252fOf course Tuesday brought with it Tuesday Legs. I got away from work in good time and headed to the gym to sit in the hot tub and sauna for a bit to unwind then when I got home I found a Yoga with Adriene video titled ‘Yoga for Tired Legs’. It was just what I needed!

Things were beginning to improve on Wednesday and there were hints of having my own legs back under me, but I was still very much looking forward to my sports massage that evening. I do this regularly which means my massage therapist can spot any knots or potential problems and she was surprised to find that my legs were in ok shape. Yes, there were some tight spots, but nothing unexpected for right after a marathon so that was good news and the massage made a difference to my recovery.

G%d9BXAiSrGZfr1z3hWt4wI also got home that evening to find the most lovely surprise from my charity:

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I love how they put my photo in it. Such a nice surprise.

By Thursday I was definitely feeling much more myself. I had been sleeping well and was much more mobile. Despite that, I knew I still wasn’t up to tackling Ashtanga yoga at the level I usually would so checked my ego at the door once more and stuck to easier variations and skipped the headstand as I didn’t feel ready for that yet. Again, yoga helped me to feel so much better so it was worth going.

Friday was when things started to get a bit more exciting. I took a complete rest day as I had plans with my mum and my sister. Another of the pro couples from Strictly Come Dancing (my favourite TV show) were coming to Perth with their show celebrating Fred Astaire. Since my sister works at the venue she managed to score us signed programmes which was a bonus.

wzK2FgYfRWa8x408AlO5xAWe booked in to have dinner before the show – chicken strips followed by the gourmet burger for me. I had fully intended to have the chocolate fudge cake as well but there wasn’t enough time before the show. Sad times 🙁

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qvwcS0kYRkORw9jO+5L0DgThe show itself was amazing with lots of incredible dancers, singers and costumes. I could have sat watching them all night – a great way to start the long weekend.

And then it was Saturday. Parkrunday. No running for me just yet so I had put my name down to volunteer and was on barcode scanning duties. Incidentally, someone has knitted little cases for our scanners since I last did this job! I can only assume the scanners were getting cold.

VgmT%l9uTKy5w2Sz%ZcJPg
fWFGtPjpRamnC0m0Z8j2YwI love barcode scanning because I get to talk to the runners right after they’ve finished, and as well as asking about their run I had lots of people asking me about Stirling, which was lovely.

After parkrun I headed off to try something new – SUP yoga. This is something I’ve been really keen to try for a while, but also something a bit out of my comfort zone. Yoga I love, but I’ve very little experience of any water-based activities. But the teacher was my friend who teaches the Monday night Hatha class and there was a group which included several people I already knew all heading down to the local activity centre for the class (the first of a block of 4 which I have booked) so this was the ideal opportunity.

Everything was provided for us – boards, paddles, wetsuits and buoyancy aids – so all we had to do was turn up with a towel and change of clothes for afterwards. We got sorted out with equipment and were given some instructions about how to position ourselves on the board and how to paddle. We then got set up on the water (an enclosed, shallow “pond”) and had a chance to get used to paddling (in a kneeling position) for a bit before making our way to the line which had been set up across the water for us to attach our boards to for the class.

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IMG_6550For this first week we stuck to postures in a kneeling, seated or lying position – child’s pose, cat/cow, kneeling lunge, kneeling warrior, seated forward fold, etc. It was really good and I surprised myself by not falling in the water having, fully expected to be the Bridget Jones of the group (yes, even wrestling myself into a wetsuit was a source of some concern, but this passed without incident). Before I knew it we were paddling back in and heading off to get changed.

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IMG_6555There’s a nice cafe at the activity centre so we all stayed for some food afterwards and a good chat about what we had just done. We were all buzzing and can’t wait for the next session in a couple of weeks.

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VhupV3RIRJCXOZIhoDs+zAI’ll admit to needing an afternoon nap after all that outdoors excitement! The rest of the day was restful after that.

Steve and I have made a tradition out of going out for breakfast on the first Sunday after a marathon as a kind of reward for all those weeks of hard work – after all, it’s now May and we’ve been out running every Sunday this year! We went to our favourite place for a cooked breakfast and polished off this delicious selection:

87yfmB1QT52YElkWKC9sagWe then claimed our free drink at Starbucks (thank you Fitness Rewards) and since it was a nice day it was time for the first frappuccino of the year. It tasted like summer!

TKTPt%pPQICYgs4PqDnyJwWe then had a nice relaxing afternoon. The day felt so long without a run to fit in and was a nice way to round off the week.

Have you/would you try SUP yoga?
What would be your ideal day “off” training?

Week In Review – Music And Excitement!

Oh what a week it’s been! It may have been the first week of a new school term, but from Thursday to Sunday everything was so exciting it was like Christmas for me! It was also the second week of my taper, the one when I tend to start noticing that sluggish feeling creeping in, but there was still a decent week of training (and some extra “rest” to combat a busy week). Here’s how it all looked:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – form drills
Thursday – rest
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – rest

A new term at school meant a new block of my Hatha yoga class. Although I have cultivated a decent home practice this year, I still enjoy going to my classes and miss it when it’s not on or I can’t go. It was so nice to be back on my mat in the lovely studio and I marked the occasion by giving my new leggings a whirl. I had a “whale” of a time! 🙄

ekUjbTiQQwqC5YKWYSe7tgTuesday had me back on the bike at the gym. Someone was on the bike I like (surely not just me that has preferences?) so I had to go on one I’m not so fond of. I know technically the bikes are all the same, but I’m sure the tilt of the seats differs a bit and the resistance doesn’t always feel the same even at the same setting. I’m still not sure if my workout felt tough because I was on a bike that feels “harder” or if I was just feeling a bit sluggish and tired. The important thing is that I got it done, event though my legs and my mind were telling me I couldn’t. Tenacious is my middle name!

Then on Wedensday I had a set of form drills to do. This time it was 10x 1km and I definitely felt sluggish. My calves were weary and my right hip was bothering me a little (it’s fine now, just a mobility thing I had been working through and a bit of phantom taper tension). At one point I thought I might bail out early but felt better as the run went on so completed the set.

3tRee26CTCeyXgtH1B4kSQIt was a super-quick turnaround as I got in the door at 6:30pm, showered, changed, ate and was ready for my sister to pick me up for an orchestra rehearsal that started at 7:30pm. Someone in my section had seen me out running and was most impressed that I had managed to juggle everything. To be honest, squeezing in a rehearsal at this point wasn’t ideal, but it was a one-off due to our concert from early March being postponed because of The Beast From The East. I figured I could manage one rehearsal plus I knew I had factored this into some extra rest and recovery at the end of the week to balance things up.

Thursday was probably the absolute highlight not just of the week but of my year so far. Back in October it was announced that GARY BARLOW would be performing in Perth as part of his solo tour and, since everyone knows he is my favourite, there was no way I was going to miss this. My sister sorted the tickets out and I was prepared to forego Ashtanga yoga for one night in order to see my beloved Gary (although I did some at home before I went). Oh boy was it worth it! I don’t think my sister really appreciated how good it was going to be, but there is just something so special about an artist who usually commands massive stadium audiences and huge venues to be in a far more intimate venue. We had seats but I was on my feet throughout and managed to notch up around 2000 “steps” just dancing and waving my arms about at my seat! I LOVED it!

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Yes, we bought the same T-shirt!

KmkFcREmRFu0oZGdEd3+Ow
RQkmvdw+SJyKHx+YPn1jYQ
fGA90h7vSwWCCFAfe7pTIwEven better, I appeared on Gary’s Instagram. Sort of😂:

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fullsizeoutput_24c1Of course this meant that I probably had the least amount of sleep I’d had all week, despite being home at a reasonably civilised hour, yet I felt amazing on Friday with songs going around my head and still on a high from the concert buzz. I took a rest day and went to get my nails done all ready for the race next weekend.

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All about the bling!

Originally my plan for the weekend had me doing parkrun on Saturday then 8 miles on Sunday, but since I was so excited about watching the London marathon, I knew I would need to move things around a bit. I contemplated getting up early to run my Sunday miles before the TV coverage started, but with the concert on Saturday night (and an afternoon of rehearsals beforehand) I knew I would want to rest so decided on getting some solid miles in on Saturday instead. I duly ran the scenic route to parkrun, took part in the run, then rook a different scenic route home. 10 miles total for the day.

Fb%Cfn5jQTGlNRBJB3giRAI definitely felt better than on Wednesday, but felt like “marathon pace” was about all I could manage on my run down. Perhaps because in my mind I was running much further, or because I was listening to Marathon Talk, my standard “long run” podcast, I just didn’t seem to have much more oomph. I really expected to run about 26-27 minutes for parkrun, but rallied a bit to get a 25:15, having been getting gradually faster throughout. I’ll take that!

Steve and I ran home together (he had left before me to go down as he wanted to do some drills) and at first my legs felt a bit heavy form the faster running, but I soon settled in and felt comfortable by the time I got to my front door (which I ran past twice to make sure I got my 10 miles – runner problems 😂)

I spent the afternoon rehearsing on the same stage Mr Barlow had been on two nights previously. Sadly no evidence remained of his presence, but it was still cool to think about it like that. Then after a short break to go home and eat, etc, it was back for the concert. We played a great programme including some movie music – The Magnificent Seven, The Jungle Book, Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter. Great fun!

Choosing a rest day on Sunday meant I got a decent sleep then transferred myself to the sofa in time for the coverage to begin. What an incredible morning of racing, despite less than ideal conditions for it. Now I’m feeling inspired to go out and do my best when it’s my turn next Sunday.

IMG_0496In case you weren’t aware, I’m running for the charity I got my cat Morven from back in 2000. I still miss her tremendously after saying goodbye back in January and decided to do something positive in her memory. When I find myself in a rough patch, I will be remembering Morven and using this to help me push on. If you would like to help, you can read more here. Every penny makes a different to the lives of cats without a fur-ever home.

Did you watch the London Marathon?
What was the last concert you went to?
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Week In Review – Here Comes The Taper!

Yes, taper time once more. It’s funny, but I never really mind the first week of the taper, in fact I’m usually pretty keen to have the cut back in my long run, but with the rest of my training throughout the week not particularly changing, I don’t really notice the taper until the second/third week. Given that this first taper week has coincided with the second half of my spring break, it’s been great to have the chance to continue with my relaxing routine. As a result I not only feel rested, but feel a bit mentally sharper and like my creative juices are flowing a bit more (which means I have loads of ideas for posts but probably not enough time to write them all while they’re still relevant. Oh well, c’est la vie!).

Monday – rest
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – hills
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 16 miles

I decided I quite liked last week’s strategy of starting the day with a cup of the and my book in bed. This week’s reading material proved to be absolutely fascinating and I highly recommend everyone reads this book.

zt2pHCUrQR6UaTv3f+VjowOnce I was organised on Monday I took a walk to the gym to sit in the hot tub for a bit. My legs definitely needed the movement after running 20 miles on Sunday, so walking for a bit and having the time to relax in the warm water definitely made them feel much better. By the time I got home I was feeling pretty good – in no hurry to run for a day or two, but good!

Then on Tuesday I had to coerce my legs into a bit more activity. I walked to the gym once more, but this time to conquer another set of intervals on the bike. I was a little worried that I was going to struggle this time with the cumulative fatigue setting in, but actually I was able to get it done and that gave me a real sense of accomplishment. Yes, my legs were a bit weary, but the real battle was a mental one to convince myself to do it and I did. Job done!

IMG_6261My Wednesday run this week was hills. Goody! The thing about hills is that the efforts are short, but oh so tough. I don’t know if it was the different time of day, being better rested or further improvements in my fitness, but I felt like I was performing better and a comparison of the stats from the 2 activities shows that I was quicker over the harder (i.e. longer) intervals, so that’s more good news.

3+uXazOlSaGCPX66Ubl2ugIn the afternoon I had an appointment in town so headed in a bit early so I could potter about the shops for a while. And then I got hungry and ended up with the most middle class snack ever! Thank goodness for M&S 😂

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Seriously! Quinoa waves? Who am I???

By Thursday I was looking forward to another Ashtanga yoga class. The hardest sessions of the week were done and it was time to do something a bit more relaxing. I felt like I was really strong in “wheel” this week, but not quite so amazing in my headstand work. I did manage a supported headstand though, and I know I’ll not get it every time so I’ll just go with what happens week on week.

On Friday I headed down to the studio for a personal training session. This time a bit of mobility work using my old friend the Core Momentum Trainer. Some of the exercises were a bit tricky as they involved both movement AND balance (not my strong suit!) but once I figured out the best way to fix my gaze point I found I was able to do them much more easily.

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It was a Disney leggings kind of a day.

That night on the way home from dinner I decided to work on my balance a bit more. There’s this strange brick thing in our development that I just can’t understand. It almost looks like a plinth for something, but it’s been left like this for ages so who knows! Our running joke is that there should be a statue on it, so I thought I would demonstrate what that would look like. Can’t take me anywhere haha!

zbp16UVqTyGhSj6FCjvdGgAnd then Saturday came around. Earlier in the week I had ordered some new leggings and was keen to debut them at parkrun.

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Unicorns for the win!

Having been a little frustrated a couple of weeks ago when I narrowly missed out on a sub-24 minute time, I wanted to have another go. Being in that kind of shape gives me confidence as I approach a marathon and I realised that this would likely be my last chance as I’ll be using the run slightly differently for the next couple of weeks.

We were running anti-clockwise this time. The grass still isn’t recovered enough for us to run over it en masse, or at least it would be for one run but then we’d be right back where we started! There was a poll on social media to decide on the direction and it was a draw so anti-clockwise was chosen for a variety of reasons. Having learned my lesson I made sure I was fairly near the front so I could get a bit of space and shot off and soon as the RD said go! The pace felt hard, but achievable, and I got a bit of a shock when the first mile clocked in at 7:33 – a bit spicy for me!

Somehow I held on and mile 2 came in at 7:28. Still going! By this time I was doing the sums and realised I could be well within my goal time, it was just a case of hanging on. My legs, which I was expecting to turn to jelly at any moment, felt strong so I knew this was going to be all about keeping my head in it and pushing on.

A slight dip in mile 3 at 7:40, then a burst of speed in to the finish line to clock a time of 23:26!! Having thought I might manage just inside 24, that was a big surprise and, for stats fans, my 3rd fastest parkrun EVER! A very pleasing place to be at this stage in my preparations for Stirling and probably the confidence boost I needed that all the parts of my training are coming together.

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He just can’t help himself!

The rest of the day was pretty chilled, and when Steve headed off to spend the afternoon with some friends I spent some quality time with my good friend Adriene.

5tP7pebsQ2mshYSEX9R%GQSunday was “just” 16 miles (you know you’re at the end of a marathon training cycle when you add “just” to ridiculous mileage that’s beyond many people’s commute!). While I have no specific time goal for this marathon, preferring to remove the pressure and simply perform my best under whatever circumstances there are on the day, I do still want to formulate a plan for how I’m going to approach the race. Do I want to aim for a specific “feel” or pace? Or do I want to do something like I’ve done in my longer training runs with a mixture of faster miles and recovery miles?

To help me decide, Steve suggested that I try running my 16 miles at a steady pace, somewhere around my dream finish time of 4 hours. That’s 9:09 per mile. I knew I would have some hills in my route, but thought I could maybe balance it out a bit as there would be both uphill and downhill sections.

It was a beautiful morning with the sun out once more so my shorts got another airing. I wore a super-light long sleeved top but soon wished I had gone for something else as the sleeves were quickly rolled up and I was quite sure it was much warmer than the forecast had suggested. While I was trying to focus on how I felt rather than hitting a specific pace, I was checking my watch for a bit of feedback as each mile ticked by and it was looking good. Hitting 10 miles on 1:30:XX meant I had averaged a 9 minute mile thus far and the biggest hill was out the way.

KP5ijD3kRuKULbUw9viorgThe longer I went on, the harder it felt as I was getting warm, there was a strong wind in places and I had a long, steady incline in the last mile or so home. To be honest, I thought I had lost it by then, but pushed on to give myself another “win” in the mental battle. I was therefore thrilled to see when I stopped my watch that I was bang on the average pace I wanted to see. I don’t think I’ll be running the marathon quite like that, but it is valuable information in helping me formulate a race plan (and backup plans – always have a backup!).

IMG_6361So now there are just 2 weeks to go. Next weekend I’m going to rearrange my running a bit so I can get my miles in but still work around some other commitments. This means I’ve managed to give myself a rare day “off” on Sunday, so if you want me I’ll be in front of the TV, still in my pyjamas and clutching a cup of tea while I watch coverage of the London marathon. I can’t wait!

IMG_0495If you’re running London, then I wish you all the very best. It’s an amazing race and a fantastic experience.

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Week In Review – Reaching the Peak!

It’s been a lovely, restful week off work (despite yet more snow!) and it’s been nice to have a chance to recharge the batteries while still maintaining my training. This week saw me take on my longest run in this cycle which seems ideal when I’m pretty well rested! Here’s how it all turned out:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – form drills
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 20 miles

I began my week the same way I ended the last one – reading my book in bed. It was such a lovely, relaxing start to my day that this quickly became my routine for the week: alarm at 7:30am, kettle on, then back to bed with a cup of tea to read until around 8:30am. Bliss, and so good to take the time for myself.

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I highly recommend this book

Since I knew I wouldn’t have my Hatha class in the evening (it’s term time only) I was happy to continue my home practice, however was saving that until the early evening. To get a bit of movement into my day I walked down to the gym to relax in the hot tub and sauna then spent the rest of the day chilling out at home. With term time always so busy, it’s important for me to have some quiet time and catch up on myself a bit. There was a bit of a spanner in the works later in the evening when we had a couple of power cuts, but thanks to some battery-operated lights and some candles, things were pretty cosy and I was able to read a bit thanks to my trusty head torch!

n5AhHhVATLmjWDLhA9xTDQTuesday began much the same, but this time I had an actual workout to do as there were more bike reps on the schedule. I got these done in the morning so I could enjoy the rest of my day (and take my time having a sauna afterwards!). It was quite chilly though and I spent a good part of my walk home wondering why I STILL needed to wear my hat and gloves! Definitely ready for some better weather.

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Working hard!

6AtKhEC2RZmGUm1i5B9H6QSadly that better weather seemed pretty far away on Wednesday as I awoke to MORE snow. Thankfully not too bad this time, but enough to disrupt my run. I had planned to warm up then run 10x 1km drills. I toyed with waiting until later in the day but there was no guarantee things would improve so in the end I bundled up and went for it.

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fullsizeoutput_2471For the first half of my run the roads and path were pretty slushy so each drill was more an exercise in not falling over, but some of the later drills were a bit more as they should be as I hit some paths that were much clearer. Typically things did clear up a bit later on but when I’m on holiday I always prefer to get my workout done in the morning. Oh well, yet another “character building” run in the snow!

GLldtfZcTfWYrRp7ILOvKgAnd Steve took me to the farm shop cafe for a malteser slice and hot chocolate in the afternoon. Yum!

1O1mLmOYSoeCS6h34iHHFwThursday saw me back at the gym for my morning hot tub/sauna then in the afternoon I took a walk about mile up the road to meet Steve for a coffee. A new branch of a coffee shop chain had opened in the business park there so we thought we would take a look and have a coffee. The interior was nice and they have a drive through, but I think they have a bit of work to do on staff training as it took several different people to work out how to put the correct order through and a queue quickly formed behind us – oops!

Later in the day I had my Ashtanga class which I always really enjoy. We worked on our headstands a bit again and this week I managed to briefly hold my balance (without my legs straightened just yet) before taking a tumble. Don’t worry, I was fine as I realised I was going over so was able to land safely and the teacher was there. I definitely felt more confident with moving into the posture thanks to having done it with support in previous weeks, so I guess I’ll have to expect a few tumbles while I work on perfecting this one. Definite progress through.

On Friday morning Steve was able to fit me in for a training session so I headed down to the studio with my boxing gloves again. It was a tough workout of punches, ducks, press ups, burpees and sit-ups, but I did notice that I was performing better in my boxing than before. Yet another marker of progress, but I knew I was going to feel it the next day!

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This was after, hence my tired face!

Thankfully it was pacer day at parkrun so I “only” had to run 28 minutes, a comfortable (for me) time. We had hoped to maybe be back on our main route but the grass is still sodden so it was another week of laps. Clockwise again. Hilariously, despite taking several photos of the pacers before the start, we didn’t get a single one where we were all facing the same direction 😂

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There’s always one 😂

It took me a while to settle into the pace as the trees on the first part of the route stop my watch getting a good signal, but soon I was on course and had plenty of energy to pose for the photographer.

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I had a great time chatting to people, giving advice and helping them to run a bit better, crossing the line in 28:04 – pretty close!

IMG_6203When I got home I was pleased to find some interesting post. I had been following the incredible story of a cat called Meatball and when a virtual run was organised in his name to raise funds for the same local Cats Protection branch that I am fundraising for this year (details in the link at the bottom of this post) then of course I jumped at the chance to do my bit. And the good news is that Meatball is now doing well.

UntitledThen Sunday was The Big One. My 20 mile run. I got a bit distracted over breakfast as I found a live stream of the Paris marathon coverage and got caught up in watching that – in French! I followed a good bit of the commentary and was amused to note that as I looked at the footage and distance markers, I knew EXACTLY where on the course the runners were and could picture the scene. An interesting thing they did was set the women’s race off first for the first time in this event. Then started the men’s race 16 or so minutes later. It seems an odd gap, but it was the difference between the winning male and female times last year. This meant that both the male and female races finished together – in fact the lead man passed the lead woman about half a kilometre from the end and there were only a few seconds between them reaching the finish line. Instead of one lonely male runner finishing, there were several athletes running in at the same time which made for great viewing. I really liked the way this was done and the coverage which had a lot of split screen so you could watch both races at once. It will be interesting to see if other big races follow suit.

Once the elite races in Paris were finished I was ready to head out the door for my own run – and I FINALLY got to run in my favourite skirt that I like to race in. Without gloves!!!

bfXpB4MzRX6WvRtmS9pwSQThe plan this time was a 2 mile warm up then 3 sets of 4 miles at marathon pace/effort with 2 miles recovery. It did feel harder than my 18 mile run last week, but then I ran that after a couple of “easier” weeks so taking on 20 just one week later (and with my Friday workout still in my weary muscles) it’s quite right that this felt harder. That’s no bad thing since I’ll need to be ready to run on tired legs come race day. There were actually only 2 “harder” mile splits that I missed and both of those featured an incline, so overall I’m pleased with how it went and am now hoping that with fresher legs in 3 weeks I’ll be able to perform well.

IMG_6253Post-run (and lunch!) Steve and I headed out to the farm shop for some eggs and figured we might as well have a scone in the cafe while we were there – it would be rude not to! I’d love to tell you how is tasted, but I gobbled it up pretty quickly…

G4hsWGTDTd+K+MkxKNkOSQThen as soon as we got home we had the oven on ready to replace all those calories burned with another fine plate of carbs and chips 😂 Got to love the marathon appetite!

v83oSWIKQ%K%%KPztTg3uQDefinitely a good week of training. A hard week, but a good one nonetheless as I was able to keep going even with the accumulation of fatigue in my muscles. Now let the taper commence…!

IMG_0492Have you had any more snow?
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