Week In Review – All Good Things Must Come To An End

IMG_0519Where have the last 6 weeks gone? I can’t believe how fast 6 weeks of holiday disappear compared to the slog of 6 working weeks, but I know I’ll soon be back in the swing of things (and I have next summer to look forward to – flights to Florida and holiday accommodations for the kittens are already booked!). I’ve tried to make the most of my last week of freedom with plenty of relaxing, some running and a bit of yoga, so I do feel refreshed and ready to get started on the new school year (or as ready as I’ll ever be).

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike @ gym
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – run + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun, SUP yoga, Tattie Run(!)
Sunday – run

Monday was a really chilled out day. I caught up on some bits and pieces at home, read and played with the kittens.

dX59%MF1Ro2R45FnUzXylwThen in the early evening I had my Hatha yoga class. It was the last class in the holiday block, but the next block begins next week so I wont be missing out. It was a nice conclusion to my day and meant I got a good sleep that night.

Oh, and my new toy arrived:

hWJnsQzCQYGOarlwFO%nCwOn Tuesday I walked down to the gym and pedalled it out on the bike for about 45 minutes. I knew that I had reached a stage with my ankle that it seemed to be getting better through movement so was keen to try a run, but wanted to wait another day or two first. In the meantime, the bike was fine and gave me a chance to do a little more reading on my Kindle.

I had toyed with trying a run on Wednesday but I wasn’t able to go in the morning because of an appointment then later on I had some errands. By the time I had done all of that I just didn’t feel like heading out again so took some time to myself instead. Probably the best thing I could do and no need to cram in loads of activity when I still had the luxury of time. I did do some yoga though, and it did become kitten yoga this time!

3OsEKhqRSEmQRbQQJE4OaAI did, however, head out first thing on Thursday for a short run to see how my ankle felt. I can still feel a little tightness, but it actually eases off as I run and feels a lot better afterwards for the movement, so I think I’ll tentatively build in some running again, but carefully monitoring how things feel. If I think it’s getting worse then I’ll stop, but otherwise I’m hoping to now “run it out”. Sometimes that’s just the way these things seem to work.

ca5k3CJLQO6gM5211F7b7AThat evening I had my Ashtanga class and it was really busy again. I’ve no idea where all these people are coming from, but it’s great for my teacher. My biggest news from the class is that I moved much closer to doing a headstand unsupported. I began to move into the posture on my own and had both feet off the ground with my legs bent, holding the pose. I was wondering if I would be able to straighten my legs and wondered if my teacher was there to spot me, and that moment of doubt was just enough for me to lose confidence and come out of it. Turns out she was there so I had another go with her to support. Definite progress and hopefully that will continue to boost my confidence with this posture as I really want to be able to do it by myself as testament to my improved balance and core strength.

I took Friday as a total rest day as I had appointments to get both my hair and nails done ready for going back to work – priorities lol! I even managed to organise myself to fill my car up so there’s no Monday morning groaning at the empty fuel tank. All of that somehow took up quite a lot of my day, but I still found some time to read my book and chill out for the last “official” day of the holidays (because I always have my weekends).

fullsizeoutput_272bSaturday was a really busy and active day. It began with parkrun. I took it easy to see how my ankle was and it felt fine, but I could definitely feel the impact of the time out of running over the last few weeks as it felt much harder than usual – I don’t think my CV system could keep up with my legs!

7tCFJyRNRHi5QgOLVRgNlAAfter parkun I got changed and headed over to my SUP yoga class. Since my new GoPro is waterproof, I took it with me (on a grip that floats, just in case) so I could play about with it and start learning how it works. I’m really loving it so far and cant wait to use it in Disneyland Paris 🙂

GPTempDownloadWhen the session was finished (still standing up to paddle – I think I’m feeling quite confident on the board now) I got changed really quickly and drove back into town to meet Steve so we could take part in a novelty event. I’ll write a separate post on The Great Perthshire Tattie Run, but the short version is that it was a fun challenge and I’ll be signing up again next year.

AHfz1jKLRmKMaDeXX+6%tABy the time I’d done all that I was STARVING so headed home for something to eat then just hung out at home. I didn’t have a nap but did feel sleepy from all the fresh air and rushing about.

On Sunday morning it was raining but I still headed out for a slightly longer run of 4.5 miles – that’s the furthest I’ve run since the end of June (I ran 4.5 miles one morning in Florida, but nothing longer). Again, my ankle felt ok and I was aware of the tight feeling easing off the longer I was out there. Hopefully one day soon I’ll go for a run and realise the tightness has disappeared completely thanks to the moving and stretching I’m doing. I have to say, it wasn’t the easiest of runs as I know I’ve lost some of my fitness and conditioning, but it should come back fairly quickly and I still have 6 weeks until I need to be able to run half marathon distance – plenty of time, especially since I’m not planning on running it hard.

UpUQ%vqmQtmLZUPEAC%NQwAll that remained of Sunday was the usual errands accompanied by a general sense of doom about going back to work. I certainly wasn’t dreading it, but it’s a long enough time to get out of the way of things and fall into different routines so it’s always a bit of a shock! This time next week it will seem like I was never away…

Ever taken part in any novelty events?
What’s your favourite thing about summer?

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Week In Review – Yoga, Yoga And More Yoga!

Confession: my name is Allison and it has been a week since my last run.

Having decided last weekend to take a time out to allow the tightness around my ankle to resolve, I reached this past weekend feeling like a could run, but with the Disneyland Paris half marathon next month I’m taking no risks, so decided to give it a few more days to feel 100% right rather than risking an injury. Just call me Captain Sensible lol!

I still managed to keep myself busy though – plenty of time playing with the kittens (and watching them sleep since they’re so gosh darned cute!), reading, working out in the gym and yoga, lots and lots of yoga:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 30 mins bike, brief swim and SUP yoga
Wednesday – 30 mins bike
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – Vinyasa flow yoga
Saturdayparkrun SUP yoga
Sunday – 1 hour bike

I’ve reached that point in the holidays when I’m gloriously relaxed and all the days kind of merge into each other (in a good way) so I actually just had to check my diary to try and remember what I did with myself on Monday. The answer was that I had some errands in town in the morning then a good friend from work visited in the afternoon. She said it was so we could have a catch-up (and we do normally try to meet in the holidays) but realistically she wanted to meet the kittens. True to form, the kittens put on their best display of cuteness, including purring, grooming each other and sleeping all curled up together, so she got the full effect!

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Their latest hidey-hole!

In the evening I had my Hatha yoga class, the first of several yoga sessions in the week, and I enjoyed continuing to build strength and stability. I’m definitely seeing how this is improving my yoga when I’m on the paddleboard and I’m still convinced this benefits my running too.

On Tuesday I decided it was time to get my butt in gear and do something that would work my cv system a bit more, so I walked down to the gym and spent half an hour on the bike. Steve had suggested that the movement would likely help my ankle and it was good to get my heart rate up a bit. I used the time to read some of my book on my Kindle (multi-tasking for the win!) which helps the time pass quite pleasantly even when I’m working reasonably hard.

Since I had some time, I headed down to the pool and swam a few lengths to see where I was. Surprisingly it was ok given that I haven’t had a swim in some time, and I remembered once again that I probably should swim a bit more often if I can.

In the evening I was booked into a SUP yoga session. The weather was a bit cooler and I suspected some rain in the air (nothing like last Saturday’s monsoon, thank goodness!) so I wore Steve’s full length wetsuit so I would be warm enough. It was a great class and with the conditions a bit better I was able to stand up on my board to paddle back in after the class again. I really want to keep building my confidence with this as I’m definitely feeling much more confident on the board in general these days (famous last words, right!).

Since I wasn’t running on Wednesday, I walked back down to the gym for another half hour bike session. This week was the first time I’d really been on the bike for a while and my poor rear felt a bit tender after two sessions in a row! I skipped the swim this time since I couldn’t be bothered with washing my hair, but did treat myself to a sauna before getting changed to head home. The remainder of the day was spent between time with the kittens, a bit of reading and some catching up on tv.

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4vzgY4IuTkWK886SH46YsAThursday was really chilled again. Steve suggested a trip out the farm shop to get some eggs and have a coffee, so I met him there and watched the ducks while I was waiting.

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U5RuRAFmQzOTyOKAXXhS+AI also decided that I need ALL of these!

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The rest of the day was spent mainly at home until it was time to head out to Ashtanga yoga. It was quite a busy class but since we are now including headstand in the session on a regular basis, I had a chance to keep working on it. I’m still working with my teacher on hand to spot me, but am just about able to move into it by myself now, and might actually be able to do more than I realise if I just had the confidence to try. I’ll keep working on it.

I was back in the yoga studio on Friday morning as there was a taster session of a new Vinyasa Flow class happening. The teacher was a guy we knew from when he worked at the gym I go to (Steve was based there before he had his own studio) and we both fancied giving it a go. The style of yoga was new to me, but the basics were very much what I knew, so although it was a challenging workout, I really enjoyed it and will likely go again at some point when it’s the school holidays.

Again, the rest of the day was pretty chilled – I even got a little time reading in the garden before a big cloud blocked the sun – and the kittens continued to work their cuteness!

IMG_8464I was originally to be a pacer at parkrun on Saturday, but my gut was telling me not to run just yet so I withdrew (where did all this common sense come from?!). That gave me a bit more time to myself in the morning before heading over to the activity centre for SUP yoga. It was another fantastic class and everyone there had been to the majority of the sessions so we were able to move into standing warriors (a little wobbly as there was some wind). I actually came the closest I ever have to falling in whilst moving into warrior, but I somehow managed to regain my balance and continue into the posture. I don’t think I would have been able to do that before so either my balance is improving or my core is getting stronger. Or both.

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Happy paddle board yogis getting ready to head out on the water.

I was able to stand on the board to paddle back, although the wind did mean I overshot the jetty and had to manoeuvre my way back! We also needed to help each other to take the boards out of the water as the wind was catching them like kites. It made me realise how used to it we’ve become – when we first started that would have been really intimidating, but now we happily work with the equipment and pitch in as we have a better idea of what we’re doing.

After the session we went for a lovely lunch in the cafe by the centre. They do really nice sandwiches and the weather was good enough to sit outside – although there were quite a lot of wasps around!

qpycGD0zSOuRkNHSsoM0JASince I was still not running on Sunday (the ankle had continued to make significant improvements but I was still playing it safe) I headed back down to the gym to have a longer cycle. This time I was on the bike for an hour (with my Kindle, of course) then headed home so we could get on with the rest of our Sunday chores. I’m rather hoping to be running again next weekend, so keep your fingers crossed. In the meantime, KITTENS!

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What’s your next event?
Have you tried Vinyasa Flow yoga?

Week In Review – Bonding

Well I hope you like kitten photos because I’ve taken approximately eleventy million this week 😂. I have, however, been out and about running and going to yoga classes so my fitness shouldn’t have suffered too much while I’ve bonded with the kittens and watched them racing about the parts of the house they have had access to. No need for tv with kittens about!

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – SUP yoga
Wednesday – run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun + SUP yoga
Sundayrun rest

I began the week with a nice, gentle Hatha class on Monday evening (after a day mainly playing with the kittens and helping them to settle into some kind of routine). Since there had been no class for the previous 3 weeks it was all about easing us back in and stretching out our bodies. So relaxing and I was definitely dozing off in savasana at the end!

jG%7c79qRNSz3M+NUOgT2ATuesday was another day with the kittens, then in the evening I had a SUP yoga class. I was sooooo excited to be back on the board and in the water – I actually have really missed doing this. It was a lovely warm evening, but a bit windy which added to the challenge. My new shorty wetsuit that I got from Aldi before going away was ideal for the conditions and I felt much more able to move than in Steve’s full length one I had been wearing before. Best of all, I FINALLY braved standing up to paddle back rather than staying on my knees. I had really wanted to do this back in June but the conditions were pretty blustery for the last couple of classes so it wasn’t possible. This was probably the last thing I was really wanting to do on the board at this stage so I was really pleased.

IMG_8276On Wednesday I wanted to try a run after giving my tight ankle a bit of time to resolve. It was feeling much much better and I knew the only way to really find out how it was feeling was to run. I set off on a route that could easily be shortened but ended up on the full loop which is about 3.7 miles. Ankle was fine and actually improved as I went so I suspect this is something I should be able to fully resolve quickly.

IMG_8261Later in the day I did some yoga in the living room, hopeful that it might become kitten yoga, but sadly they were too sleepy to join me. Maybe next time…

Thursday was a really warm day and since I knew there was some rain forecast for the weekend I decided to take advantage of the kittens’ afternoon siesta to head out into the garden and soak up some rays. This heatwave may have been going on for a while, but this is Scotland so I’m convinced that “normal service” will resume at any time!

TPEtF7bkRA2gl0QNivd22ASince it was so nice my Ashtanga class headed outside again and it was lovely. A little breezy but I love practicing in the outdoors and feeling the sun on me as I move through the postures. At one point I was conscious of someone standing nearby so turned for a look. It was an older couple watching the demonstration of a sequence and waiting to see us do it. As I moved into my shoulder stand I could hear them saying to each other how impressive it all looked and how lovely to see the class out in the park. I think one or two people in the class are a little hesitant about heading outside, but I figure just about everyone I know thinks I’m mad anyway so wouldn’t bat an eyelid at me doing yoga in public!

Prqg7UDQSIK1E3W+Ug35egI took Friday as a rest day as I had a few errands (ok, I had to go out for kitten food and kitty litter but ended up spending a long and rather fascinating time examining the cat/kitten food aisle in the pet shop – so many interesting options since I was last doing this kind of thing!). I also had an appointment with my doctor to get my medical certificate signed for the Disneyland Paris half marathon so I did manage something productive with my day.

Sw9zsuiGRD+Rts3xapONwgWith my ankle so much better it was time to head back to parkrun on Saturday. I was actually ready really early…and then was almost late due to fishing the kittens out from behind the tv as I didn’t want them playing among the cables (we’ve now bought some trunking to sort that out!). Fortunately I made it in time and was even able to have a quick chat before we got underway. Not having pushed myself much recently I wasn’t sure how it would go, but I felt ok and was happy with 24:17.

IMG_8392Post-parkrun I headed straight home to get changed, have a snack and drive over to the activity centre for SUP yoga. After some storms on Friday night we hadn’t been too sure if it would go ahead but all was fine when we arrived. It was pretty windy though – I didn’t have to paddle to get up to where the line was set up across the water, just point myself in the right direction and let the wind take me haha!

Towards the end of the class we were hit with a monsoon-esque downpour and for a good few minutes all you could hear was the bouncing rain and us laughing at how ridiculous we must look doing yoga on a paddle board in the middle of the pouring rain! It was pretty funny and, predictably, the rain went off just in time for us to paddle back in at the end of the class. I tried to stand up to paddle but the wind just kept pushing me back every time I did so it was easier to stay on my knees this time.

Although my ankle had felt fine, it was a little tight again on Saturday evening so I decided not to push my luck with a Sunday run and instead do some mobility work to help finally resolve the issue. That gave me some time to tidy up the house a bit (while the kittens were napping) as Steve’s brother and his wife were visiting in the afternoon (funny how many visitors we’ve had since the kittens arrive!) and tackle the ironing – such glamour!

We all headed into town together in the evening as this was the weekend of the Southern Fried music festival and that meant one of our favourite things…Soul Food!

yF3shf0yRriL+D3Zf%FrVQI ordered Mexican corn coup with cornbread followed by 3 pieces of fried chicken (and got 4 – bonus!) with cajun fries and red beans & rice. All washed down with a beer. We were going to order salted caramel beignets from the food stand outside, but didn’t get our acts together in time so managed to miss out. Again. Next year…!

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YhAH92IPTmCz4dVBGkpESASteve and I then walked home and got caught in such an almighty downpour that we were drenched even with a rain jacket and basically had to peel our clothes off at the front door and grab towels to dry off before we could do anything else. Needless to say those clothes went straight in the washing machine on the basis that they would be drier when they came out!

And with that the first full week at home with the kittens came to an end. Now that they have a bit more of a routine I think I’ll probably be out of the house a little more in the week ahead so they get used to the idea that they will have parts of the day by themselves. I might even go to the gym!

Did you have any rain/storms this week?
What would you have ordered at Southern Fried?

The Daily Post – Animal

I really wanted this month’s blog prompt response to be something cat-related (since the wee floofs are very much on my mind right now) so when I found the prompt Animal it seemed ideal. Ok, so I often think about cats (actually, I think I might be becoming one 😹) but this year as a whole has been very cat-centric: I said good bye to Morven, I ran the Stirling marathon for Cats Protection, and now I have welcomed two new furry friends into my life.

Recently I was asked to write a piece for the local Cats Protection “Newslitter” (see what they did there?) and having received my copy this week, I wanted to share it here as well…

Bk3K8MwbT3C6+WBAqsnOdgMiles for Morven
It all began back in the summer of 2000. Fresh from university and embarking on the adventure of an independent adult life, I knew I wanted a cat to complete my cosy little world. Enter Morven, a tiny bundle of fluff and love I adopted from Cats Protection. Right from the start she was a mummy’s girl and she brought joy to my life every single day, staying firmly by my side through the very worst that life could throw at me.

Fast forward to 2016 when it became clear that something wasn’t quite right with my beautiful little girl. She was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, a condition that affects many older cats, but with a prescription diet and daily medications we were able to manage the condition and Morven continued to enjoy a good quality of life with plenty of love, comfortable places to sleep and a clear preference for curling up on my lap – even when I went to bed!

Morven’s condition was further complicated by the discovery of a mass in her small intestine midway through 2017. Again, medication helped her to sustain her quality of life. She was happy and fought bravely through every health issue until, in January of this year, her journey came to an end quite suddenly.

IMG_6660As it turns out, there is no preparing for the loss of a pet, even when you know in your heart of hearts that the end is near. As I came to terms with the loss of my best friend and companion, I knew that I wanted to do something positive in her name, to honour all those years of loyal, loving friendship she gave me. And what better to do than to support the charity that gave me that loving friendship all those years ago – Cats Protection.

I have been told many times that Morven was a lucky cat: she was loved, she had everything a (spoiled) cat could want and when she became ill I made sure that she received all the treatment she needed without question. I was her dedicated nurse administering daily medications, giving her subcutaneous fluids at home and becoming a bit of a “frequent flyer” at the vet!

But I know that not every cat is as lucky as Morven and the thought of a cat without a fur-ever home breaks my heart. If I could, I would adopt them all, but that isn’t possible. What is possible is raising funds for cats in need in this area. Cats who need food, litter, toys and veterinary care. Cats who deserve to be loved.

And so a plan began to take shape. I already had a place in the 2018 Stirling marathon and, at the point when I said goodbye to Morven, was beginning to train. The day after I lost her I went for a run. I no doubt looked a state with tears running down my face as I snivelled my way around the streets, but when I returned I contacted Fiona at Cats Protection Perth to tell her I would like to be a Cat Champion, to do what I could to raise money for the Perth branch though my running in 2018. #milesformorven had been born.

Becoming a Cat Champion was probably the best thing I could have done. At a time of year that was dark and gloomy, a time when I was grieving for Morven (how could such a small creature leave such a huge gap in my life?) I had a focus. Every mile I ran in training was another mile for Morven. Every penny I raised was going directly to Cats Protection to help them make a difference to the cats in their care and the thought of this was soothing. On race day, remembering how brave she was helped me to dig in when things got hard and I used the rhythm of my mantra – “Morven’s tough, I’m tough” – to keep my legs moving steadily. Crossing the finish line I knew I had done my best and done Morven proud.

YDBkbIBmRMW9SVArj30AGARunning the Stirling marathon provided the closure I needed to let me remember those years with Morven fondly rather than with sadness. More importantly, all the wonderful people who donated to my cause helped me to raise over £680 for Cats Protection Perth, funds which I know will help boost the “kitty”.

In October I will run the Aviemore Half Marathon as a Cat Champion and hope to increase that total further. In the meantime, I’m thinking it’s time to bring another furry friend (or two!) into my life and I know exactly where I’ll turn…

IMG_5348Of course, as my mum pointed out, the story will now have to continue with Sooty and Smokey…

EZnNyD9uReyRGYVBOdH1BQWant to help? You can donate here:JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Week In Review – Fairy Tales and Furry Tails

Aloha! I am back home in sunny Scotland. Missing the Florida lifestyle but still plenty of training and life moments to fill you in on (get ready for lots of photos again!). Here’s how last week worked out training-wise:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – run
Wednesday – run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – rest
Sunday – rest

Having aborted my run last Sunday, I decided a day off on Monday would be a good idea. Most of the day was spent reading in the sunshine, interrupted only by a light lunch of soup and sandwich thins.

bmsfEwKDTuu4DQi4Y5IQ4QThen it was time to get changed ready for an evening excursion to Disney’s Grand Floridian. Months ago dad booked a meal for us all at 1900 Park Fayre (a character dining location) within the hotel for us all to celebrate my Big Birthday, so for the second time on this trip, I was required to wear a badge and pretend it was my actual birthday 😂

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c15w3ZioRkiLjwQvqcZFgQIt was a fully buffet meal and throughout it we were visited by Prince Charming, Cinderella, the Ugly Sisters (Anastasia and Drizella) and their mother, Lady Tremaine. Great fun!

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I always knew that some day my prince would come! 😂

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2+Ofxb+FTe2Hqe1aVVSJrgI made a decent go of the buffet, taking several plates with small portions of various things I wanted to try. The desserts were AMAZING!

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8avHkL%CRYy+0JY0783ZBwWhen I returned from collecting my desserts I found that I had been brought a Mickey Mouse birthday cupcake, which I asked to have put in a box to take home as there was no way I was fitting it in after everything else!

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X4FPq1kPQzOewY8X+LlN7QAs we left the restaurant there was a photo op by the glass slipper, so we got a few pictures taken.

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IMG_0021And then we headed outside and walked along to the jetty as you can actually see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from there and the soundtrack is played on speakers at the jetty too. We may not have been able to see the projections onto the castle, but it was still a really nice end to the evening and a fantastic (early) birthday celebration.

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IMG_8127The next morning Steve and I got up for a rather sluggish run to try and burn off some of the buffet. It wasn’t our speediest effort, but it was good to move and being up early meant I had time to get my suitcase packed before breakfast, freeing up the rest of the day to soak up the last of the sunshine.

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kwTnSn03RGSOJiLGHa70agOf course, mum made a nice lunch. This time, sausages.

x0O0+%jOTeaf7sV7a2mlPAWe had another meal out that evening as Steve and I always take my parents out on the last night of our holiday. Mum likes The Red Lobster so we headed over there so she could have a plate of snow crab legs. I’m not a massive seafood fan so opted for a New York strip steak instead.

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FyFx2fXyROmWmY4Y0myoAwAnd when we got home, my dessert was the cupcake I had saved from the previous evening. If you ever get one of those Mickey celebration cupcakes, I can tell you they’re delicious!

We began Wednesday with another run as we knew we would be cooped up on planes for the rest of the day. Our route took in another Strava segment and despite feeling tired, I scored a PR on that segment and propelled myself to second on the women’s all-time list. Not a bad effort!

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C3aQ2OUfQNSZJz3lpzUUBwSteve and I both had a free stack of pancakes to claim at IHOP so we got showered and dressed then walked around there for breakfast. We both chose double blueberry pancakes and they were delicious (although Steve had to take one for the team and eat my last one – I’m such a failure!).

yGcumllHTYmorNO527I3aQThere was a bit of time to double check and finalise our packing, then dad drove us up to the airport for our flight to Newark Liberty. During the trip we had watched the short 4-episode season of Dancing with the Stars (like a little Strictly Come Dancing taster for me!) which dad had recorded earlier in the year. All the competitors were athletes, one being figure skater Tonya Harding, so I was keen to watch the movie I, Tonya on the flight. If you’ve not seen it, it’s really good.

g49lA7OnTJaRqWT2IGJZ7gOnce at Newark Liberty we had a little time to find our new departure gate and have a snack before boarding for the transatlantic flight. This is my least favourite part of the entire process as you don’t really get a good sleep on this overnight flight. I dozed a bit but mostly read my book and relaxed (as much as I could) ahead of landing in Edinburgh on Thursday morning.

Since we arrived home first thing, we actually headed to bed to stretch out and sleep for a couple of hours before trying to spend the day as normally as possible. I was tired, but was doing ok so decided to go to my usual Ashtanga yoga class as the idea of stretching my body out after being folded up into an airline seat for hours just sounded so good – I even managed not to fall asleep in savasana! I enjoyed doing the Ashtanga sequence again as I although I did some yoga while I was away, it was always Hatha yoga using Yoga with Adriene videos.

I made it to about 9pm then went to bed and slept right through until the morning. Steve was at work on Friday morning so I got the house tidied up then got ready for the one thing that made returning from holiday worthwhile… KITTENS!

Yes, you read that right. Kittens!

You might remember me having to say goodbye to my beautiful (but elderly) cat at the beginning of the year. She was my best friend and had been with me through my entire adult life. For the past few months I’ve found it really strange not having a pet about the place (for a number of years I had two cats but the younger one went first). After the Stirling marathon, which gave me a bit of closure through my fundraising efforts, I began to feel ready for a new furry friend, but knew that I would have to wait until I got back from Florida. Still, I began a conversation with my local branch of Cats Protection and was told about a litter of kittens that would be ready to be re-homed at just the right time. We went to visit them in June and were greeted with this adorable sight – a pile of kittens!

aRrnZam3QSutneNkZuOqowWe chose two (yes, two!) who seemed to be good friends and played together a lot. We then visited them again the day I finished work for the summer so that we could see how they had grown as it seemed an awfully long wait until we got back. And finally, on Friday lunchtime, a lovely representative from CP brought them to us.

Allow me to introduce… Sooty (the wee girl on the left) and Smokey (her brother on the right). Two from a litter of four (the other two were re-homed together as well).

EZnNyD9uReyRGYVBOdH1BQBasically the rest of Friday was spent making sure the kittens were settled, playing with them and beginning to bond with them. So far Sooty has been very affectionate, with a VERY loud purr; Smokey is playing things cool but he enjoys attention and plays enthusiastically. I can’t wait to see how their little personalities develop, and just can’t get over how cute they are when they groom each other and sleep all curled up together ❤️. Apart from anything else, it’s just so good to have pets in the house again and having this time off work for the summer means I get to spend plenty of time with them before term begins.

s5g3m8%CRh2wdOC5fl+brQI should have been at parkrun on Saturday, but for the previous few days I had been aware of a niggling tightness on the outside of my left ankle so decided to skip parkrun so I could do a little work to help it to ease off rather than prolong it. And having the kittens to play with made skipping a week sooooo much easier to bear!

fullsizeoutput_2650For the same reason, I took Sunday off and stayed at home with the kittens while Steve went for his run. My ankle is already feeling much better so I should hopefully be able to try a run during the week ahead. And if I can’t? Well I have kittens so everything is ok!

fullsizeoutput_2658In many ways it’s been a funny week. It’s always strange to think that as the week began I was basically in Disney World then finished the week at home in Scotland. Stranger still (in a good way) to have new furry friends to think about, but it definitely took the edge off coming home from our holiday!

Any tricks for coping with long haul flights?
Are you a cat person or a dog person (or both, like me!)?

If you would like to help more cats like Sooty and Smokey to find a loving fur-ever home, my Just Giving page is still open here.

The Daily Post – Friend

Friend (noun): a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

These days “friend” means many different things. There are the friends we’ve known since childhood, the friends we make through our interests or work and the “friends” we make online. But what does true friendship look like?

For me, a true friend:

  • is there for you no matter what
  • listens without judgment
  • gives unconditional love
  • knows when you need comfort
  • shares mutual trust and respect
  • is loyal
  • is good fun
  • makes you happy
  • helps you to be your best self

True friendship is a beautiful thing indeed, and perhaps it doesn’t only come from our human friends but our furry/four-legged friends too.

Morven was my best friend. For over 17 years she was by my side. Many believe cats to be aloof, yet I knew she loved me unconditionally, trusted me to the extent that even while in pain at the end of her journey she let me handle her, and she always knew just how to make me feel better when I was sad or sleep when I was tired. I have so many wonderful memories of the games we played, the moments we shared and the “conversations” we had. It’s hard for me not having her around and I’m trying to adjust to the hole she has left in my life.

Not everyone can understand the bond we share with our pets, but those who do know that they are a big part of our lives, a member of the family. When we lose a pet we grieve in the same way we would if we lost a member of our family. That grief is hard, yet I wouldn’t trade in all the years of love and companionship for anything. No matter what other cats come into my life, Morven will always remain my special girl, my first cat, and nothing can ever change that.

Run free my special girl. I’ll meet you at the Rainbow Bridge when the time is right.

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Week In Review – Positive Action

I want to start with a thank you to everyone who has been in touch with kind thoughts since I shared that I had to say goodbye to my beautiful cat last weekend. I really appreciate all your messages.

As a result, this past week was strange but I found it helpful to have my training routine. It gave me a focus and helped me to make some decisions (more about that at the end of this post).

I have continued with regular yoga (most days that I didn’t have a class) and my week ended up like this:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps + a swim
Wednesday – short run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 10 miles

Monday was, quite frankly, awful. I was a bit of a tearful mess and while I did manage to keep it together to teach my classes (a welcome distraction) by the time I got to my yoga class I was definitely feeling emotional. I knew that yoga would soothe me and I always feel better afterwards. I did, but in a different way. People have said to me before that yoga can release emotions, that they have found themselves crying during their practice, but since it’s always made me feel relaxed and happy, I was convinced it wouldn’t have that effect on me. Turns out, it is possible to shed a few tears in downward dog without anyone realising! I suspect the release helped though.

I felt a little better on Tuesday – I even risked some mascara (although realised on my drive to work that it may have been a mistake!). After work I headed to the gym for my bike reps. There had been a little snow around but nothing as I drove back and headed towards the gym. By the time I had changed and emerged from the changing room, there was heavy snow falling outside! I added two reps to the set of intervals I completed last week and already felt stronger completing them. After that I went for my first swim in AGES. It was perhaps not my best effort, but by the end of my session I was feeling like I was getting my rhythm back again.

There had to be a bit of a change on Wednesday because of the snow. I was supposed to do some hill reps, but thanks to a bit more snow during the day, Steve told me the underfoot conditions just weren’t good enough for my planned workout but that a short run in the snow would be possible. I got myself all bundled up in winter kit and headed out. It was tough going as the snow seemed to sap all my energy, but I loved it. There’s something invigorating about running in fresh snow that can’t be beaten. It was only as I was running that it crossed my mind I could have gone to the gym and run on the treadmill instead, but I think the fact that I never even considered that as an option tells you how I feel about that!

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IMG_5354Orchestra was cancelled because of the weather so post-run Steve and I were able to eat together then watch a little tv. I’m still finding things like this a little difficult as I’m so used to the cat curling up on my lap as soon as I commit myself to a seat. That’s going to take a bit of getting used to!

Thursday was cold and there was still snow on the ground, but I was really looking forward to my Ashtanga class. I’ve been doing a little yoga most days this month and feel stronger and more focused because of it. It felt so good to work through the Ashtanga poses (the class I go to works through about half of the postures under the guidance of our teacher) and there were no tears so I was obviously feeling a bit more at peace with the events of last weekend.

On Friday I was back at the studio with Steve for a PT session. My focus is on exercises that will benefit my running, principally by improving my strength and mobility. For me this means working around my upper back, my hip mobility and knee drive so this week’s session included the TRX, bar bell and Core Momentum Trainer. Quite tough on my arms so I was feeling it afterwards!

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Guess who jumped in the shot again!

Still in need of cheer, I decided to break out one of the other pairs of leggings I ordered recently. These ones depict my favourite Disney movie (and favourite Disney princess!) so they did make me feel a little better. Clearly the key to cheering me up is new workout leggings – the crazier the better!

IMG_5355As we went to bed that night we were aware that a number of parkruns not too far from us had already been called off so we weren’t sure what the morning would bring. Ours was provisionally on, but it was 50/50 depending on how much the snow/ice froze overnight. Saturday morning was cold (below freezing again at -4C) but thanks to a light dusting of snow the course was runnable and we were able to go ahead on the usual route. Clearly not a day to run hard, so I decided to ditch my earphones, ran at a comfortable pace and enjoyed the experience. Running in the crunchy snow, I’m finding, is something I rather enjoy and it seems that 183 other people agreed with me!

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IMG_5373In the picture below, there are two paths hidden. Our route takes us initially to the right then returns from the left. No sign of any path right now!

IMG_5434I felt invigorated after the run, as well as pleasantly surprised at my time. Once I was more sure of my footing I got progressively faster to finish with the revered Royal Flush Negative Split and, having expected to be around 27 minutes (a 9-ish minute mile feels good in these conditions) I did it a bit quicker.

IMG_5393As usual it was a quick freshen up at home then back out to meet Steve’s brother for our Saturday coffee. The place we like to go to always shuts for a couple of weeks at the start of the year but was open again so it was back to the bacon croissants. I really missed those!

IMG_5433The rest of the day was pretty relaxing. Steve and I headed out to the farm shop for some things in the afternoon and decided to stay for a mint hot chocolate and scone. Both were delicious!

IMG_5435 I also spent the whole day with a fairly persistent earworm…

I awoke fairly early on Sunday, had some breakfast (porridge with honey is my choice right now) and got organised to run. The snow was still there (not enough change in temperature for it to start melting) so rather than worry about my planned approach of every third mile faster, I simply decided to run. I knew that I wanted to re-visit the woodland path I ran on last week as part of my run so I could see it in the snow and getting there by a slightly different route meant that my run would total 10 miles.

IMG_5438I ran to feel and largely ignored my watch as pace was irrelevant. At this point in training a run is a run and I’m convinced that running in the snow is making me stronger as I’m working hard on changeable terrain. As a result, I thoroughly enjoyed my run and would have happily gone further. The woodland path was lovely (no heron this week though) and I passed so many dog walkers and families out enjoying the snow (quite a few with sledges). What a great way to start the day!

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IMG_5439It may have been a strange week, but these snowy runs have really made me feel a bit better as I’ve enjoyed the change of pace and scenery. The cold air has cleared my mind and while I’m still sad and missing my wee cat, the pain is easing.

Another reason for this is the decision I made about how to channel my energies in a positive way moving forward. I got my cat from Cats Protection, a charity which seeks to create a world where every cat is treated with kindness and an understanding of its needs, when she was just 6 weeks old. She had been found living under a shed, presumably abandoned, and I loved her from the start as we quickly formed a tight bond. It breaks my heart to think that there are so many cats who don’t get that opportunity, and while I will likely bring more cats into my life in future, I can’t give a home to all of them. What I can do is raise funds to help improve the lives of cats in the care of Cats Protection. CP will never put a healthy cat down and will do whatever they can to find the cats in their care a loving home. But this, of course, takes money. In 2018 I will be dedicating my miles to the memory of my cat and raising funds for my local Cats Protection branch. It just feels like the right thing to do and I know my cat would approve.

First up is the Stirling marathon, where I will run in a CP top. Having this motivation will help to get me out the door on the coldest days and work towards my next goal. I’d love it if you could support me by making a donation. The equivalent cost of just one cup of coffee could enrich the life of a cat who deserves some love. Thank you.

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Week In Review – The Hardest Goodbye

I hope your first full week back in a regular routine has gone well. For me, things were emotionally charged (more on that later) and I was glad of a bit of “normality” to help me deal with things.

Here’s how training looked:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps at the gym + sports massage
Wednesday – form drills
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 8 miles

The new school term began on Monday and it was a super cold day. I was out at my car early hacking away at the ice which seemed to have been well and truly welded on. It took me almost half an hour just to get it passable enough to drive!

IMG_5333The first day back is always tough, but I had the first class of a 5 week block of Hatha yoga to look forward to. There’s no Saturday morning class right now, but the teacher is still doing Mondays (in a new location) and I was keen to return. It was a lovely gentle class for the first one back and I felt much better afterwards.

On Tuesday it was time to get things moving again. While I’ve been on the bike at the gym since my training for Loch Ness, it’s only been for a straightforward cycle rather than a set of intervals. Steve gave me my workouts for the month and I got on with the business of bike reps. I had to play around a bit with the resistance in the first couple of reps and I could feel myself getting weary by the end, but it was a good kickstart.

I had hoped to squeeze in a quick swim afterwards but there was no time as I had my first sports massage of the year booked. As ever, I’ll be having these monthly to keep my legs shipshape.

It was all go again on Wednesday as I needed to fit in a run before my orchestra rehearsal. My Wednesday run alternates between form drills and hill reps, starting with the drills this week. Somehow I managed to complete my run (the cool down was a little curtailed), have some food and be ready for my sister picking me up for orchestra. Phew!

Thursday saw me back in the yoga studio for the first Ashtanga class of the year. It felt like so long since I did this class as I missed one when I was ill in early December and was still quite sore when I returned for the last class before the Christmas break. Despite all that, I still managed to hold Wheel for a few breaths so I’ve not lost all my yoga ability!

Steve was able to fit me in for a PT session on Friday so after popping home to get changed, I headed over to the studio. Having survived the first week of term, I decided to wear my awesome new “pants of perspective” leggings.

IMG_5334We worked on the usual things – upper back mobility, knee drive and hips – mainly using the Core Momentum trainer.

What I’ve not said is that throughout all of that I continued to worry about my cat. She wasn’t herself and was clearly missing having me around. Tests revealed a persistent infection so she was back on antibiotics but a little quiet on Friday. I’ll not get into the details, but when we went to find her on Saturday morning to give her medication, it was clear that something was very wrong and we rushed her to the vet. Sadly, she had reached the end of her journey and it was time to say goodbye. The kindest thing for her as I had promised myself she wouldn’t suffer, but the hardest thing for us as despite over a year of managing her health conditions, everything moved so very quickly at the end. We were both there with her, and all plans for the day were shelved as I needed time to begin processing what had happened (mainly by crying). It’s safe to say I felt devastated, and we did the only thing we could think of to “toast” her on Saturday night by raising a slice of Steve’s homemade pizza to her memory. She always did fancy the cured meat on the top and was known for trying to sneak some, as the evidence below attests!

IMG_1018I knew that I would feel better for a run, so decided to head out as planned on Sunday morning. It wasn’t important how far I ran or how fast, I simply needed the headspace and endorphins to reset. As I left I realised that I wanted to head to my favourite woodland path to enjoy the peace and solace of nature, so did end up running the 8 miles I had on my plan, but if I had only run 2 miles it would have been fine.

I no doubt looked a real sight as I blubbed my way across town. At one point I met a friend who was out running too. She ran towards me with her arms out for me to get a hug. Of course this resulted in both of us crying as she said goodbye to an even older cat in the last few years too. As I ran on it rained a bit but I didn’t care – the pathetic fallacy seemed fitting.

The run through the woodland path, however, was just the tonic I needed. I chatted to dog walkers, petted their dogs and a lovely man pointed out a huge heron that was sitting by the stream. It was watching everyone go by, not at all bothered by us talking and the man’s dog bounding around our feet. A woman I had already run by stopped to join in and told me she could remember the heron being there since it was quite small, probably a couple of years. Despite the weather, they were happy to have a conversation. It reminded me of how nice the world can be and lifted my spirits a little to then face heading out for some essential food shopping in the afternoon.

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IMG_5340Not the week I was expecting and I know I have a process of grief ahead of me as I adapt to a routine that doesn’t involve my special little girl. 17 years is a long time together so it’s going to take time to get used to how quiet it seems without her. It’s a good thing I have marathon training to distract me!

fullsizeoutput_22abHow was your week?
What pets do you share your life with?

The Daily Post – Shelf

This past Thursday was World Book Day, and while I would love to have posted this on Thursday, it just didn’t work out that way. Still, it’s given me a great opportunity to finally write this post based on a Daily Post prompt I saved about a year ago!

The prompt “shelf” really got me thinking. As an English teacher I have A LOT of books, in fact it was the main thing everyone commented on when we moved house last year as we roped in loads of friends to help us and the least popular job was lugging my boxes of books around! I’m one of those people who finds it hard to give books away, although I have had one or two clear outs whenever I’ve moved. Still, I just can’t help myself and permanently have a pile of books waiting to be read, a Kindle loaded with titles I’ve spotted on offer and some hefty wish lists on a well-known internet retailer! Safe to say that I’m a bit of a book worm…

For me, my passion for books goes right back to childhood. Bedtime stories were a real highlight for me and I ALWAYS knew if someone got it wrong despite not actually being able to read for myself yet! Visiting grandparents were regularly treated to a big pile of books I expected read to me and my reward for good behaviour during the weekly shop was a book, usually one of the Mr Men or Little Miss books. And I loved it!

Once I was able to read I was one of those children who would be constantly getting a telling off for staying awake too late to read, so sometimes I would read under the duvet with a torch instead (great for helping to feel safe during “scary” parts!). I loved mysteries, adventures and school stories, with a particular penchant for Enid Blyton. I still have my Enid Blyton collection and went as far as to buy a small bookcase to shelf them in my spare room (they’re double-stacked so there are more behind!).

IMG_0931My more “grown up” collection is a feature of our living room and still tends to draw comment, usually “have you really read all these?” Yes. Yes I have. There are a couple of shelves where I keep the books I’ve not read yet (behind my comfy chair), but all the rest have been read. When I moved into Steve’s flat there wasn’t room for all of my books so about half were put into storage and I really missed them. What can I say? I took an English degree and pretty much spent 4 years reading books in order to achieve it. And as an English teacher, I’m not going to stop any time soon! I read every single day and my favourite time to read is when I go to bed. It relaxes me and gets my mind ready for sleep. I’m often so tired that I only manage a couple of pages, but I would never even contemplate getting into bed without a book to read.

IMG_0904I have one more book shelf in my house and that is actually built in to the frame of our bed. Buying a new house we had to be quite clever with storage, so found this great bed frame that had shelves on the headboard. Genius! Mine, of course, has one shelf dedicated to books. This is where I keep all the books about running, cycling or people taking on awesome physical challenges that I’m still to read. Above that, one or two other books – usually ones I’ve just purchased or that people have lent to me – that I plan to read soon, with my current title on top so it’s easy to grab when I get into bed. I even keep a spare pair of my reading glasses on a shelf below that so I always have my specs to hand ready to read!

IMG_0903For me, my book shelves are really important. Each title represents a new world explored, an adventure experienced vicariously or an inspiration to try something new. Some books are an anchor to a moment in time that I can remember clearly and re-reading that book would evoke that moment for me once more – a bit like hearing a song that you associate with a particular experience. I long ago accepted that I’ll never read everything I want to, but I’m prepared to give it a damn good shot. I do my very best to transfer that enthusiasm to my pupils and hope that by discussing books, reading together and showing them what reading means to me, I might inspire them to further their reading journey.

Of course as a cat owner, there are also times when one of my shelves actually just looks like this:
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And true to the cat code, she sees it as her civic duty to regularly stuff herself into the empty shelf I’ve kept for my collection to expand into. Typical!

Reading over this post, it seems that “shelf” really was an interesting idea to consider. Somehow I’ve managed to encompass my love of books, my love of running and my love of cats into one post. That’s pretty good going!

But now that you know what “shelf” means to me, I’d love to hear about what it means to you in the comments below…