Week In Review – A Very Merry Christmastime!

And just like that, the festivities are done. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t leave me feeling a bit sad as Christmas really is the highlight of my winter. I LOVE all the build up, Christmas movies, delicious food and opportunity to spend copious amounts of time in my PJs, but I know it can’t last forever. Yet even though I enjoy the celebrations, I do keep up my running and other training as I just wouldn’t feel like myself without them, so today I’m sharing how I spent Christmas week (and how I fitted some training around the festive fun!).

Monday – PT session with Steve
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – Christmas turkey parkrun sandwich
Thursday – rest
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 8 miles

My usual routine when it’s the school holidays is to switch to three PT sessions in a week, but with Christmas falling on a Wednesday this wasn’t going to work out so I just stuck with two, switching my Tuesday session to Monday as this suited Steve better in terms of the hours he was working. As a Christmas “treat” he mixed things up again so I had forearm rollouts on the gym ball (my poor abs!), those bear crawls with the press up, the bar bell and a finisher which involved something a bit like boat pose on the Bosu. Given that this is a posture I do reasonably easily on my yoga mat, whilst on the Bosu I did a fantastic job of making it look like I’d never tried it before in my life, and when Steve asked me to move my legs and arms, I inevitably fell off the back. Oh well! 😂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the afternoon we had to go out to the farm shop for a couple of things and since one of Steve’s clients had given him a gift card for there, we treated ourselves to a salted caramel hot chocolate and warm mince pie in the cafe there. They were both delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then spent the remainder of the day snuggled in at home watching Christmas movies.

Tuesday was Christmas Eve and after a leisurely start to the day (a cup of tea in bed whilst reading a bit of my book) I headed out for a run. It was so nice to be out in daylight after all those dark runs during the school term!

My sister was coming to us that evening for our usual Christmas Eve party food and board game fun, so I finished getting the house tidied up then had a nice bath to relax for a bit. As well as switching on my Christmas lights, I popped a fireplace app on my tv screen and was amused to then have one cat position himself in front of the “fire” while the other opted for a spot under the tree!

Our board game of choice was Frozen 2 Monopoly (well of course I was going to buy that!) and I jumped at the chance to dip into my collection of Minnie Mouse ears for an appropriately themed pair to wear. Well, it was Christmas after all!

Wednesday began with Christmas Day parkrun. As is now our habit, we ran there and back so we would get a decent length of run. And in case you haven’t seen it on social media, I was dressed like this:

We were on the lap course again but this time some of the path was pretty icy so I took it easy so as not to fall over. Then at the finish there were flasks of hot chocolate and a dish of marshmallows to add to it. With one of our bigger turnouts (338 Christmas Day parkrunners!) there was only a little left by the time I was ready for mine, but I still enjoyed having a hot drink before running back up the road again.

While I grabbed a shower to warm up, Steve organised our Christmas Day brunch – bacon rolls made with Christmas spiced bacon and a glass of clementine and cranberry Buck’s Fizz. Yum!

By which time the kitties were making it very clear that they wanted to start opening presents so there ensued a rather entertaining stretch of time while they pounced on wrapping appear, attempted to wrestle their new toys out of their packaging, jumped in empty boxes and ran around like a couple of utter lunatics! They were hilarious and, between mum and I, totally spoiled with toys, food, treats, a new bed and a play tunnel. Not to mention the wrapping paper and cardboard boxes which they saw as a bonus 😹

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since it was just the two of us for dinner, we opted once again for steaks rather than turkey as it’s so hard to get an appropriately sized bit of turkey, of decent quality, for two people (or two people plus two kitties!). I think we both prefer steak anyway and tracked down a couple of really nice ones. So to start we had a bowl of my French Onion soup (which I had made the day before so the flavours would be nicely matured), followed by beautifully tender steaks with peppercorn sauce, homemade chips, tenderstem broccoli and asparagus. To finish, it was Steve’s infamous sherry trifle – when you hit a sherry well in that stuff, you definitely know about it!

That evening there was one last window being lit as part of the advent window walk and this one was being hosted by our friends who had been organising it all. Walking over there seemed like a nice idea to help digest our dinner so we got changed into “proper” clothes (we’d basically been in our pyjamas since parkrun) and set off.

There were a few people there when we arrived, but by the time the window was revealed there were about 80 people squeezed into the front garden! We enjoyed a hot drink, some festive cakes and nibbles and, once most of the people had drifted away, we toasted Christmas with our friends and gathered around the fire pit to sing some Christmas songs, accompanied by the guitar. It wasn’t how I expected to spend my evening, yet it just felt like the perfect thing to do. So Christmassy and so lovely to see a different group of people who, like at parkrun in the morning, had come together to share part of their Christmas Day in a different way.

After all that excitement, Thursday became a rest day, at least from exercise! We both enjoyed a lazy morning – tea and a book in bed then I had a nice bubble bath whilst watching the Strictly Christmas special. We had some soup for lunch then set off to walk over to Steve’s brother’s house. They had invited us over for drinks, party food and, of course, we ended up playing games, including the maddest came of charades I’ve ever known! It was a great way to spend the afternoon/evening and so nice to catch up with Steve’s nephew. He’s undertaking postgraduate study at the Guildhall in London and is often away performing as well so I suspect I probably haven’t seen him since last Christmas!

Steve was back at work on Friday morning as he had a few clients lined up, but he managed to fit me in later in the morning for another go at the circuit he had set up on Monday. The only difference was that this time he added what he calls “star crumps”. A kind of press up type thing where you jump your hands and feet out and in. All I know is that they are exhausting when added onto the rest of that circuit!

I also devoted a bit of time to tidying out my chest of drawers. To entertain me whilst re-folding running tops, I popped a Disney Christmas parade video on and then this happened:

That’s right, a cat sitting in an open drawer, transfixed by the moving colours on the screen 😹

After a lunch of leftover onion soup I headed into town to spend my Christmas money from my parents (the Pandora shop was calling my name!) then I treated Steve to a coffee before we settled ourselves down for the evening. We still had some party food left in the freezer, which makes for the perfect Twixtmas dinner!

Unsurprisingly, party food left me feeling a little sluggish on Saturday morning, but parkrun was an ideal way to blow the cobwebs away. To mix things up whilst on the lap course, this time we went in the opposite direction. At one point I thought it felt quite hard work, despite the warm up of running down, but then realised that on the most exposed section of the course we were running into a headwind and as soon as we turned the corner it was much easier again. Despite feeling a bit tired and sluggish (I had been awake for a bit in the night for no real reason) I was pleased to finish in 24:11. It may be slower than the previous week, but was faster than I thought I would be on that occasion.

And mild enough for shorts!

Fortunately, the cafe we have been going to was open so after our run home to change we were still able to meet Steve’s brother for our Saturday morning bacon roll.

Sunday was the last longer run of the year and it was still really mild. I had my shorts on and a super-thin long-sleeved top but soon ended up with the sleeves rolled up, wishing I had chosen a T-shirt instead! With plans afoot for our usual New Year’s Day running challenge, it seemed sensible to stick to an 8 mile run so that my legs will feel reasonably fresh come Wednesday. This gave me an ideal opportunity to run out to the woodland park and back (once I’d had a lazy morning, drinking 2 cups of tea in bed and finishing my book – I do love holidays!).

And when I got back I had a bit of time so generated my Instagram top nine for the year. Obviously running features quite prominently (and that time I met Sir Ian McKellen) but what happened to all my Disney pictures and photos of the cats? Sometimes algorithms bamboozle me!

So that wraps up the final full week of 2019. All being well I’ll manage to post something a bit more reflective in the next few days, but the next time I publish a Week in Review post it will be 2020 – how weird does that sound?!?

Did you run/parkrun on Christmas Day?
What was the highlight of your Christmas week?

Week In Review – Winding Down??

Ah the last week of term before the Christmas break. The one where well-meaning folk from outside of education imagine we are somehow “winding down”. Winding down? All I can say to that is, “ha!” To be honest, it’s quite the opposite as we frantically try to finish assignments, set assessments, seek the bottom of the marking pile, attend Christmas dances, go to Christmas assemblies and organise activities for the last day of term – all whilst trying to peel over-excited young people who are acting like they’ve had 10,000 espressos off the ceiling for long enough to explain the lesson, amid moans of, “are we still doing this?” (Answer: yes we are. We will be doing it until you actually GET IT DONE so stop asking!) and, “can we do something fun?” (Answer: my job is to TEACH not entertain. Plenty of time for fun in the holidays!). It can all feel a bit full-on so it was important that I still fit in a bit of training to keep me in balance. Here’s what I managed:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – 4 miles + PT session with Steve
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – form drills
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun open sandwich
Sunday – 8 miles

With no yoga class to get to on Monday, I used the time to get some work stuff up to date. After school I worked with a pupil who had asked for a bit of extra help then got on with a bit of admin to help clear the decks for the holidays. I had thought I might try to squeeze in some home yoga but there wasn’t time as I wanted to fit in a little festive activity – the lighting of an advent window. A nearby part of town organised 25 windows to form a different kind of advent calendar, with a new one being lit each evening. The “host” for each lighting provides drinks/snacks for everyone gathered to see it and while I might feel a little uncomfortable showing up to something like that at the home of a total stranger, this one was at a friend’s house and I was keen to go down and support it. I actually spotted a couple of the other windows on our way over there and I’m hatching a plan to run around them all once they’re all lit (there’s a map of the houses and they will all be lit each evening until the 1st of January). I think it’s about a 5k-ish run in total and will be a nice alternative run during the Christmas break – I just need to figure out when to go!

I did, however, stick to my Tuesday routine of an early run. It was my usual 4 mile easy run and after having a mileage cutback on Sunday, I definitely felt my legs much fresher than they have been a in a couple of weeks, which is always a good feeling!

Then after school (and giving that extra study support again) I headed to the studio for my workout. This time the exercises Steve gave me included hand weights, the bar bell, something I can only describe as bear crawls with a press up, and the Bosu. He’s definitely making these more challenging again!

I did a little more marking when I got home, but was completely distracted by this pair sitting in a box together and looking unbelievably cute!

I made Wednesday a rest day and not only took some extra time after school to catch up on work, but managed a few errands before getting my nails done for Christmas. Priorities lol!

I also had to wrap my Secret Santa gift for the following day and, unsurprisingly, it was a bit of a challenge with two young and inquisitive cats around!

Thursday was actually fairly mild (for context, I had to scrape ice from my car on Tuesday morning and was in winter kit for my run) which meant I could run in my SHORTS! I leapt at the chance to run a set of form drills again since you never know at this time of year if the underfoot conditions will allow it. I did the 8 reps of 600m drills I had intended to do last Thursday and felt good heading into the day.

It was probably a good thing since my interval apple was “sacrificed” for a mince pie while we did our Secret Santa (a colleague who works part time was able to come in at that point in the day, hence the interval gift exchange rather than lunchtime). It was another great Secret Santa year for me with some Disney-themed gifts – thanks Santa!

Then at lunchtime was had our festive pot luck lunch which was lovely, but a real thought to go back into the classroom for the afternoon!

With the bottom of my marking pile in sight, I took the last of it home to finish off and by the time I was done I realised it had been a pretty exhausting day and was in my bed just after 9pm. Rock and roll haha! On the plus side, I had a great sleep and felt refreshed on Friday morning ready to face the madness of the last day of term (we had a full day this year rather than a half day). It was our Christmas jumper day and I debuted a new jumper I bought. As far as I’m concerned, this one wins Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was also wearing my third and final pair of Elf socks:

Thanks to my efforts throughout the week I had nothing that I really needed to get done so was able to enjoy some of the activities we had laid on for the pupils, although by the afternoon the hysteria was definitely setting in and the pupils REALLY needed to be on their way home, such were the excitement levels among many. On the plus side, as a school we collected over 2000 items for the local food bank. I’m heartened by the generosity but sad that we live in a world where we need to do this. It’s heartbreaking to think that there will be pupils in our school whose families will rely on those donations this Christmas. It’s just not right.

At the end of the day I was out the door pretty sharpish to go for my workout. It was a mini circuit with the bar bell, bear crawl things, a kind of plank position/step up (with hands, not feet) on the step and those press ups with my hands close together than I find pretty challenging. Apparently Steve doesn’t go easy at Christmas time!

And since it was the Friday before Christmas, I went with my tradition of recent years and picked Christmas dinner when we went out for our usual meal booking. Turkey and all the trimmings followed by Christmas pudding and a delicious candy cane gin cocktail to finish. Yum!

Steve was RD at parkrun on Saturday morning and I persuaded him that a Santa suit was necessary. Of course that meant I was “forced” to match him in my Mrs Claus outfit and new candy cane leggings!

Yes, I did run to parkrun in that outfit. Yes it did attract a bit of attention 😂

We have been running on an alternative course for a while now since the work the council was doing on our regular route isn’t finished yet. No idea why not, it was originally scheduled to be finished in the summer, but I suppose they didn’t specify which year 🤣. But as a result, the grass on the alternative route is now getting quite churned up and squelchy. We often “rest” the grass on our main route for a bit in the winter and use the route that comprises 2 laps of the park and it was decided that we should start doing that now. The conditions were cool, but not cold enough for ice, pretty still and our route was all paved, offering the chance to run a bit harder. So despite my crazy get-up I ran fairly hard and was thrilled to come in at 23:37 – a winter sub-24 and my fastest time of the year! I wonder if it was my dinner on Friday night that powered me to a fast time? The only irritation is that I need 38 for my parkrun bingo so I ran a second too fast – d’oh!

I didn’t run home as we were going straight to the cafe so Steve could process the results. He had a change of clothes in the car for me, but we both stuck with our Santa suits while we had our bacon rolls and I just changed from the Mrs Claus dress to a hoody before heading off to grab some food shopping.

The rest of the day was nice and relaxing. So relaxing that a certain little mummy’s boy made himself comfortable 😻

I took my time getting out the door again on Sunday morning so that it would be properly light (although a bit grey – one of those days where it isn’t actually raining but the air feels damp) and figured 8 miles would be plenty, so I donned a pair of festive leggings and a Santa hat and headed off. It was a lovely run and I felt great afterwards – good thing too since we were braving the shops to get the Christmas food in 😫.

Fortunately we survived, and after a quick FaceTime call with my parents and an early dinner, we headed out again to see our second advent window lighting. This time we didn’t know whose house it was, but as well as the window and snacks they were hosting a donation point for the local food bank so I felt by contributing it would be ok to turn up. Besides, the clue to this window suggested it would be Elf themed so of course we wanted to go!

Some of the details will be easier to see in daylight. The skyline along the bottom is our city’s skyline!

Even better, the snacks were all from the elves’ major food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn (ok, we don’t have candy corn in the UK so it was popcorn instead) and syrup.  I enjoyed a candy cane and a chat with some people I knew before heading home for a cup of tea followed by a nice bath. The perfect end to the week.

Do you get much time off over Christmas?
Do you have anything like the advent windows or some kind of festive walk/trail where you live?

Week In Review – The Best Way To Spread Christmas Cheer…

Hello! I hope you’ve had a great week. My week, for various reasons, felt really festive and I’m getting so excited for the Christmas holidays now and a chance to chill out at home with a bit of festive telly (when I’m not out running, that is!). Here’s what I got up to this past week:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles + PT session with Steve
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 6.5 miles

For our last Hatha class before Christmas, our teacher encouraged us all to wear something Christmassy. Knowing that both she and another of my friends would embrace this wholeheartedly, I was happy to throw myself into the idea with enthusiasm and ended up dressed like this:

Christmas from head to toe!

And just to prove it wasn’t just me, here’s a photo of the Christmas dafties after the class 😂

It was a really nice class to end not just the term, but the year. Our teacher brought along glittery LED candles for us to place by our mats and we were told we could take these home at the end of the class to maybe use for our home practice over the festive season. It was such a nice touch – simple but thoughtful. I’m already booked in for the first block of 2020 and can’t wait to get back to this class again.

Tuesday, of course, began with a run and with the forecast being for a wet morning, I was back in my jacket and cap to try and ward off the worst of it so it would be a bit quicker to then get ready for work. It actually was a bit drier than I expected, but still some rain so I was glad of the cap!

And after work I headed down to the studio for my workout. Steve set up a session using the gym ball again, but with a finisher using the Bosu. The sessions now are targeting arms and abs, but that feels right and I’m happy with the progress I am making – I certainly don’t think I would have been able to do some of the things I’m doing now when I began this focus back in the the summer.

When I got home I was thrilled to find that my new Christmas tree topper had arrived. The decorations on the tree might be scaled back a bit this year for cat-related reasons (the wee monkeys have now worked out how to knock the decorations off the treee to play with, thankfully without the tree itself toppling over!) but at least the topper can firmly stamp my personality!

On Wednesday Steve was at a Christmas do and I had initially thought I might watch a Christmas movie, but in the end brought a few essays home that I needed to mark. I really want to clear the decks marking-wise before the holidays so taking a little time in the evening to mark a few pieces will make a big difference.

And then another early run on Thursday. I had thought I might do some form drills but the weather forecast hadn’t been too encouraging so I had kept my options open. In the end I would probably have been ok for the drills so long as I was careful where there was the odd slippery patch, but having woken up feeling a bit sluggish a nice easy run was far more appealing and helped set me up for the day ahead.

That evening I made it to Ashtanga for the first time in a couple of weeks (thanks to work stuff I missed the previous two weeks) and I’m glad I did since this was also the last class of the year. I had gone in fully expecting to be stiff and and less flexible, and found that initially I couldn’t move into postures as much as before since I hadn’t been doing as much yoga, but as the class went on I felt that flexibility unlocking again and I felt strong. When we got to the headstand I decided to see where I was without getting my teacher to support me and was able to balance in the posture for 5 breaths with my legs still bent (basically a headstand but without extending my legs up). That’s definitely good progress towards being able to do that particular posture again and is likely due to the additional core work in my sessions with Steve, which in turn is giving me the confidence that I CAN hold that posture (I really do believe part of the issue here is mental rather than physical, hence going right back to the beginning and trying to focus on taking my time rather than rushing into it – good advice in general anyway!). A focus over the festive break will be to get back to more regular home yoga again and I really want to sort out my routine a bit again since I’ve let that slip recently.

Friday was a great day at work. It was super busy as I had extra classes to cover, but at lunchtime the staff book group met and we also had the lucky dip book exchange that I had organised (inspired by our former librarian having done something similar last year – she has been greatly missed since moving to another post). Interested staff wrapped up a book they had enjoyed reading and then we all picked out a book with no knowledge of what we would unwrap. I think everyone actually got something they hadn’t read before and it’s a great way to read something you maybe wouldn’t have read otherwise. I got a book by an author I’ve never read, but I’m looking forward to giving it a go some time soon.

I then finished my day with another session in the studio with Steve. This time he mixed things up a bit with a resistance band/weights warm up before moving to a circuit of barbell, TRX and press-ups with my hands quite close together – much tougher than with a wider stance!

Conditions weren’t too bad on Saturday morning and after my run down to parkrun I was feeling pretty good and planned to run quite hard. I always find it hard to get faster times over the winter as conditions just aren’t as conducive to running fast thanks to wind/rain/snow/mud etc, so I was really pleased with my 24:13. That’s the fastest I’ve had since my sub-24 runs in early November as conditions have been pretty hard since then. I think that suggests my fitness is still decent and I know that if I keep working hard over the winter I’ll see the benefit in faster times come the spring.

For this week’s run I chose my most “elfy” leggings and my Christmas pudding hat – one of my running friends commented that I “never disappoint” when it comes to my running attire 🤣 – the reason being that I was really excited for the evening ahead. No, not the Strictly final (although I was excited about that) but a trip to the SSE Hydro in Glasgow to see the arena tour of Elf: The Musical!

I saw a recording of this on TV 2 or 3 years ago and have kept it in my TiVo box to watch each year, so when I spotted an advert for this touring arena spectacular I knew we would have to go. It was only in Glasgow for this one weekend and when I booked the tickets back in August I realised that I would miss Strictly, I just didn’t realise it would be the final. It’s not like me to voluntarily go out on a Strictly nigh – especially the final – but there was no way I was going to miss Elf!

Me all day on Saturday!

We had considered going through to Glasgow earlier in the day, but the thought of trying to park and get about on a Saturday in December didn’t appeal so we ate an early dinner then headed through some pretty awful weather to get there in time for the show. This time we decided to park at the venue (it can be slow to get out afterwards, but it would have been miserable to walk back to the car somewhere else at this time of year) but when we arrived the traffic was queuing up to get into the car park and as the minutes ticked by I was getting anxious about making it inside in time. In the end Steve said I should go on in so I left him his ticket and braved the wind and rain to run round into the venue. Thankfully Steve was able to get in before the start, but the show was actually delayed to allow those trying to park to get sorted out and I think after I got out of the car the parking marshals started managing the car park in a different way to speed things along. Phew!

The show itself was amazing. I knew it was slightly different to the movie since I had seen it on tv before, but for the arena tour there were also acrobats and other entertainments between the scenes so there was always something going on. I loved it! And since I had rushed inside at the start of the evening I hadn’t been to the merchandise stand so made sure to stop on the way out for a programme and a couple of amusing hats for Steve and I!

If you’re wondering, of course I had something suitable to wear:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I even had an Elf T-shirt under my Elf sweatshirt and a pair of Elf socks on my feet. I do love that movie!

With the Strictly final still to watch I was on a total media blackout to make sure I didn’t find out the winner. That meant no news or social media and it was actually quite refreshing not to be sucked in to scrolling through nonsense on my phone. Instead, I began Sunday with a lie in (we were much later to bed on Saturday than usual) and enjoyed a cup of tea in bed whilst reading a bit of my book. This was also a ploy to see if some of the ice and frost outside might melt a bit before I went out for my run, but it was still looking pretty slippery when I wanted to head out. However I remained conscious that I should have an easier week – I’ve been really consistent with 10 mile runs on a Sunday for a few weeks now which is fine for maintaining my fitness, but it won’t make me fitter or faster. With no race in the diary right now that’s not really a problem, but I would like to have a bit more variety and start to push my Sunday mileage on a little in the new year, so I knew I should have a cutback week to let my body reap the benefits of all my recent work. After all, it’s not when we run long that we get fitter, it’s when we ease off to let our bodies recover. With it looking pretty slippery outside, this seemed like the ideal time so I set off thinking anything over 5 miles, ideally about 10k, would be good. The route I picked ended up being 6.5 so that was perfect, and the pace was slow thanks to part of the route being untreated so I had to go easy to make sure I didn’t slip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll be glad to know that I did manage to avoid finding out the Strictly result and spent a happy afternoon catching up with the final.

All-in-all a pretty fun week which left me feeling really festive. Now just one more week of work before the big Ho Ho Ho!!

Are you feeling Christmassy yet?
What fun festive things have you been up to?

Week In Review – A Busy Week!

There’s something about this time of year. Even before the festivities truly kick in, it’s really busy at work as there are parents’ evenings to attend, assessments to mark and the beginnings of other events to opt into. This past week was a fine example of one where I might have been better just sleeping under my desk For a couple of nights, but at least I knew it was going to be like that so just buckled up and went along for the ride. I even managed some training along the way!

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles + PT session with Steve
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – form drills
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 10 miles. Again!

After a couple of fairly rocky weeks recently, Monday this week was really good. It was one of those days when everything just ticked along nicely and I felt calm and in control – more of those please! It meant that I was in a great mood when I left that evening. I even managed to leave fairly sharp (in the knowledge that I would have plenty of time to spend at work later in the week!) and did a little more festive decorating. I wrapped new lights around my wreath which I bought at a school event a few years ago and added lights to our still upright, but largely empty, Christmas tree.

I also added an LED candle that projects Christmas pictures onto the ceiling (Smokey was captivated by this one!)

And after all that I headed to yoga in a great mood. It still felt nice to take that time for myself, especially given that the remainder of the week was set to be pretty busy.

I was up early on Tuesday for my run. It was my standard 4 mile recovery run and a mild day so I was still in my shorts! I’m quite enjoying being able to wear my shorts in December!

I managed to leave work sharp again as I had evening plans (more on that in a moment) and Steve was able to fit me in quite early for a session. We used the TRX for a variety of press-up based exercises, including the pike. Ooft!

After that it was a quick dinner and change of clothes before my parents picked me up to head into town to join my sister in seeing the pantomime. It was quite early in its run, but that’s when my sister gets her comp tickets, and with my parents heading off to sunnier climes imminently, it was an evening that suited us all. This year’s offering is Sinbad the Sailor, and while that’s not normally one of the first stories we think of for a pantomime, I enjoyed it and felt it was a good example of traditional pantomime in Scotland (and I worked in that theatre for a number of years so have seen a fair few!).

Thankfully it finished at a reasonable time so not a late night. And a good thing too since Wednesday and Thursday were going to be the busiest days of the week. Wednesday may be my rest day from training, but after leaving for work before 8am, it was over 12 hours before I arrived home again so a pretty long shift!

The reason for the late night was that I had (stupidly?) agreed to be part of a staff act in the now annual school talent show. That’s right, I succumbed to the pleas of the nice group of senior girls who were organising the event as a fundraiser for their yearbook. Of course the staff act is not there to compete, more to find new ways to embarrass ourselves publicly and hopefully help the seniors to raise some money. This year we were to be embarrassing ourselves through the medium of dance and some other girls had put together a “straightforward” dance routine for us to perform to “We’re all in this together” from High School Musical. I put “straightforward” in inverted commas since there was little to no dance experience between us and our one and only rehearsal just over a week prior was unlikely to see us through! We did manage to run it a couple of times right before going on stage and thankfully a couple of the girls stood in the wings to call the moves out to us so we could get through it without incident. Our aim was to look like we weren’t taking ourselves seriously whilst still avoiding looking like total idiots. I think we managed to pull that off, and the fact that the stage lights meant we couldn’t actually see the audience made it all much easier. Mind you, there is inevitably a recording of it doing the rounds but so far the feedback has been positive. Phew!

Unsurprisingly I was pretty tired when I got home so simply had some food and headed for my bed fairly sharp. I think I fell asleep before I had even read a page of my book!

I still managed to get up on Thursday morning for my run and decided it was high time to change up my intervals so this week increased the distance of my form drills to 600m and cut the number back to 6. It was definitely an invigorating way to start the day (and yes, still in shorts).

But that was it for Thursday as a parents’ evening meant another late stay at school. Actually, I was away earlier than the previous evening as we began at 5pm and I managed to stick pretty well to my 5 minute slots, thus getting away before 7pm. I was still tired but thought I would have slightly longer to myself that evening before bed.

Thursday was also Steve’s birthday so when I got home his brother was there dropping off a gift and we chatted for a bit before he headed off. And then, disaster! Just as I thought I would sit down with some food to watch The Apprentice, one of our circuits tripped and we couldn’t get it to reset. There are actually a couple of electricians who live in our street but both were out so we couldn’t get any advice. The circuit was the one controlling pretty much everything downstairs plus the lights, heating and WiFi. So no cup of tea and no WiFi – Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was NOT being met! We ended up sitting upstairs where we had lamps plugged in, eating our dinner off trays (at least we got that organised before we lost power) and having a bit of birthday cake and glass of wine before deciding just to head to bed.

Despite my doom-laden expectations of no shower or breakfast in the morning (I had already made plans to head to the nearby Costa to grab something on my way to work) we awoke to find that giving the circuit switch “a little rest” had resolved the issue and we were able to reset the it. It’s actually been fine since and we still don’t know what caused the problem, probably an overload of some kind that caused the circuit to trip. Either way, a drama I could have done without!

Still, Friday ended up being another good day to end the week and this time I was away pretty sharp-ish after spending more than enough time there over the previous couple of days. My first port of call was the studio, where Steve gave me a press-up based workout again, but this time with the added peril of being balanced on a gym ball, a piece of kit around which I have even less grace than normal so I will be forever amazed that I managed to do the pike on it without killing myself 😂

As usual, we went out for some food at the pub down the road and since it had been Steve’s birthday I suggested that we have steak as a special treat. I’m actually quite fussy about where I will order steak from, but I really like this one so it was a great meal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once home, we FINALLY managed to watch The Apprentice whilst enjoying a slice of unicorn cake (yes, I did buy Steve the cake I like for his birthday. I promise he does actually like it too haha!).

It was still mild on Saturday but I kept the shorts in the drawer as I wanted to break out the Christmas leggings. I suspect it won’t surprise you to learn that I have more than one pair, so this week opted for my Mr Men ones.

It was pacer week but I hadn’t been able to get a time that would feel comfortable for me, so instead took advantage of the mild weather to run a bit harder. The grass was pretty squelchy and there was a bit of a headwind in places, but I’m happy with 24:36 as that’s a fairly average time for me and winter conditions do tend to slow things down.

Once freshened up we headed back down to meet Steve’s brother for breakfast. We’ve been going to one of the “parkrun cafes” which happens to be at a venue associated with the Black Watch, but this sign (and a chap in kilted WW1 attire!) still bamboozled me:

Post-breakfast I chilled out for a while getting my hair done before zipping round the weekly food shop as I wanted to spend my evening doing this:

Oh yes, high time we watched a Christmas movie and we ALWAYS start with this beauty as I think it’s our favourite -we have a tendency to quote the lines throughout the year!

The weather on Sunday, however, was pretty miserable. Steve headed out fairly sharp, whereas I had noted a likely break in the weather around 10am so opted instead for a lazy start to the day, drinking a cup of tea in bed and reading my book. I got up around 9, got dressed, tidied up and headed out at the back of 10. The weather was actually much better at this point but I knew there would be more rain and strong winds to come. This led to some debate around the distance I would run. I’ve been fairly stagnant at 10 miles recently, partly because there has been no real need to go further and partly because conditions have limited my desire to do so. With it so miserable outside I did wonder about cutting that back to 8, but figured I would decide while I was out. In the end, although I was pretty soaked, I didn’t actually feel wet or cold so just went for the 10 miles. I was definitely glad to hit the shower when I got home!

Once dry and warm we had some lunch, went out for our Sunday afternoon then rounded off the afternoon with another Christmas movie and the last of Steve’s birthday cake.

And the festive songs inspired me to finish off the tree decorating. Keeping it low-key and simple to avoid cat-astrophe!

Have you put your Christmas tree up yet?
What’s your favourite Christmas movie?

Week In Review – The One Where I Set A Personal Mileage Record

Another busy week for me, which ended with some super low temperatures, but I still managed to end the week having reached a new (and unexpected) personal goal. Here’s how my training looked:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles + PT session with Steve
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – form drills + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 10 miles

My week started so much better than last week. No doubt still under the influence of Disney magic and frozen fractals, I was feeling positive and in control of things. I had a good day at work and enjoyed my yoga class at the end of the day as it gave my legs a good stretch from my run on Sunday before settling me into my evening.

The mild weather continued into Tuesday so although early in the morning, I was still able to wear my shorts – yippee! This is strictly speaking my recovery run, but I was feeling good and the conditions matched so I just ran to feel and arrived home feeling pretty refreshed.

There was a “bonus” session in my day as I had a rehearsal at the end of the day for a school event next week. The yearbook team is organising a talent show as a fundraiser and I was asked to be part of a staff act – the kind that is more about giving the audience a laugh rather than showcasing any actual talent! Some of the senior girls had put together a reasonably straightforward (for them!) dance routine for us and we were having our first run through it. Dance really isn’t my thing, much as I wish it was, but the whole point is that it’s kind of tongue-in-cheek and I suspect the audience will be rather disappointed if any of us can actually do it, so I guess we’ll be looking to ham it up a bit in the event next week.

When we were done I headed right to the studio for a workout. This time Steve gave me press up variations (which he is DEFINITELY making tougher!), the resistance band and the TRX – including pikes and pike press ups. He really is working me hard right now!

I kept Wednesday as a rest day as it gives me a bit of a breather in the week and allows me to catch up on myself a little. In reality, I always end up staying at work far longer than intended and don’t have time to catch up on much at all. Oh well, at least the theory is there!

It was still mild on Thursday morning so the shorts were back on for my run and I took advantage of the improved conditions to run a set of form drills. I missed out on these in the previous couple of weeks due to the underfoot conditions, so repeated my 10 sets of drills that I had completed prior to that. It was a really nice run and I just couldn’t believe that as the day went on the temperature was set to get much colder…which it did!

I had, of course, set off with my yoga things in the car “just in case” but had fully intended leaving work fairly sharp to nip home first. Unfortunately the reality was very different and even with my things in the car, I just couldn’t make it to class in time. I was a bit peeved to miss the class, but used the time sensibly to run a few errands that needed done and arrived home around when I would if I had been at the class. Sadly I’ll miss it next week due to a parents’ evening, so I will need to try and fit in some home yoga to make up for it.

Steve was able to see me for another session on Friday and he challenged me to a progressive TRX workout which built up to a manoeuvre involving press ups whilst in pike position as part of the exercise. Not only one for the arms but also the abs, which I definitely became aware of during the workout!

The cold weather that began during the course of Thursday continued into Saturday and I had to give careful thought to my parkrun attire. Our event was celebrating its 6th birthday, and since it was also St Andrew’s Day we were encouraged to wear tartan. I looked out my running kilt (yes, I have a kilt reserved just or running events – it’s had a surprising amount of use!) but shelved my plans from earlier in the week to wear it with shorts underneath and some knee length socks, opting instead for winter leggings, a very cosy top AND a gilet along with my hat, thick gloves and even some hand warmers to pop inside them. What a difference from Thursday! For the record, I did NOT overheat and yes, I did run to parkrun whilst wearing my kilt!

Because it was slippy I kept the pace down again and just enjoyed the run.

And the good news is I got my bacon roll this week. Phew!

But later in the day I was checking my monthly mileage and discovered that I had reached 991 miles for the year. That sealed the deal for a Sunday run of at least 9 miles, but I’ve been running 10 the last few weeks so ended up sticking with that distance as I quite like it.

It was another crisp, cold day so once more I had to bundle up in full winter kit and keep the pace down in places, but it was such a lovely run as I opted to head for the woodland park since I thought it would look so pretty with the frost and winter sun.

And once home, I confirmed my annual mileage: 1001 miles!

To put that in some perspective, my highest annual mileage previously was the 838 miles I ran in 2018, hence my target of 800 miles this year. I did think I might surpass 800 – or even 838 if I stayed healthy, but I truly never expected to hit 1000 miles. I guess 1000 now has to be my target for 2020 to get the new decade off to a positive start!

These leggies have carried me around 1000 miles this year!

The afternoon was spent with my parents as mum needed an audience with my cats before heading off to sunnier climes for the winter. I then got stuck into Operation: Christmas-ify the house. With the cats still young, I’m putting my tree up in stages to avoid disaster. So far I’ve assembled the tree and set it in position. Next I’ll add lights then gradually add some carefully selected (and shatterproof!) decorations to see how they get on. In the meantime, this is putting a smile on my face:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excited? Moi? Whatever makes you think that?

Do you have any themed events coming up?
What goals are you in track to achieve this year?

Week In Review – The Big Ho! Ho! Ho!

Christmas week! After our festive traditions over the weekend I was really ready to celebrate the season as well as enjoy a little downtime. It was a bit frustrating that my cough made a return late on Christmas day so I took the decision to have total rest in order to shift it, but I was still able to enjoy myself. Here’s how it looked:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – Christmas parkrun sandwich
Wednesday – rest
Thursday –  run rest
Friday – rest
Saturdayparkrun rest
Sundayrun rest

Although Monday (Christmas Eve) was a rest from training, it certainly wasn’t a restful day as I spent much of it doing various household chores to have everything tidy for Christmas. That evening we had my sister round for some party food and silly games – a bit of a tradition for us now that my parents are away at this time of year. My sister brought the cat treats my mum usually produces from her handbag so the kittens were pretty happy!

Tuesday was Christmas Day and we began with opening some presents. I already got a great mug (it’s my new favourite) in my work Secret Santa gift and this was supplemented by my gifts “from the kittens” of my Gary Barlow calendar (required annually!) and a festive Minnie Mouse hat that not only has ears but lights up too. I love it!

Since we hadn’t run on Sunday we decided to run down to parkrun and back so we could get a few more miles in. Of course I wore the new hat (and Steve had a matching Mickey one) as part of my festive running outfit.

It was a nice run, but I wasn’t looking for a spectacular time, just to enjoy being with my parkrun family on Christmas Day.

Once home I managed to get the kittens to wear their Santa hats long enough to take a photo (next year’s Christmas card?) as they were quite sleepy after enjoying a little turkey for their lunch.

We, on the other hand, had decided to have steak with veggies rather than the traditional turkey. We knew it would just be the two of us and had the revelation that as adults, we could eat whatever we wanted and it didn’t have to be turkey! Steve got delicious steaks from the farm shop and I made a pot of onion soup as a starter. We were pretty full after that so needed a bit of a time out before embarking on dessert of Steve’s famous sherry trifle (heavy on the sherry) and later some sweet treats we had made – chocolate/digestive biscuit bar, sherry truffles and peanut butter fudge. Yum!

But from that point on most of the days blur together as I had no specific activity to hang things on. We ventured out briefly on Wednesday (Boxing Day) and Thursday on some errands and I met a friend from work for a coffee on Friday, but most of the time I was resting and dosing myself with cough medicine/lozenges to shift the cough. You know it’s serious when I skip parkrun! Although, to be honest, I step until 10:30am on Saturday and Steve just left me alone so clearly there was something up. The fact that I then had an afternoon nap as well probably tells its own story, but it certainly did the trick and although I opted not to run on Sunday, I was feeling much better and coughing considerably less.

Somewhere in all of that I did take the time to get my top nine photos for the year from Instagram…and was not at all surprised to see they included running (in funky leggings mostly), the Stirling marathon, Disneyland Paris, yoga and the kittens. That seems to pretty much sum up my year!

So with that, I’ll wish you a happy new year and hope that 2019 brings you whatever you desire.

What did you eat on Christmas Day?
What sums up your year?

Week In Review – Feeling Festive

The last week before the Christmas holidays is an interesting combination of winding down work-wise whilst simultaneously cranking up the excitement festivities-wise. Fortunately, I was still able to fit in enough activity to maintain consistency (and stop my head from exploding with all the things I had to do!).

Monday – rest
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – rest

The week got off to a decent start when I found a lovely Christmas gift waiting on my desk – a tin filled with homemade Christmas biscuits from one of my colleagues. It felt like I had a reeeeeeeally long week ahead so this was a nice start. Other than that, it was a rest day as there was no yoga class and I took advantage of the chance to take it easy.

On Tuesday I stuck to my routine of an early run and got 4 miles in. But as I finished my stomach felt a little “off” and this didn’t lift all day. It was strange as it wasn’t sore, but I knew it wasn’t quite right. I still ate my meals with no adverse effects, I just didn’t quite feel like myself so an early night was in order to try and shake it off. But before that, a Christmas film to cheer me up.

Fortunately when I woke up on Wednesday morning I felt back to normal and ready to get on with my day. It was Christmas jumper day at work so I was able to wear my brand new one.

It was also our department Secret Santa and I got a haul of cat-themed gifts, including one that managed to combine the holy trinity of cats, Disney and Paris. Well done Santa!

And our faculty head gave us a little gift too. Perfect!

Once more there was no evening activity, so after a home yoga practice I settled down for another evening with a Christmas film. Gotta love the classics!

After feeling “off” on Tuesday I was a little wary about my Thursday morning run but actually I felt great. I even had a bonus sprint at the end as Steve had set off after me and was gaining rapidly. He was right behind me with 0.2 of a mile to go and we ended up racing up our street to see who could get to the front door first. It was an unexpected way to finish my run, but I just edged him out as he was “coaching” me.

And I wore my Christmas leggings to get into the spirit of the season.

That evening I had my Ashtanga class and it was the last one until the new year. It was so nice to be in class and I knew it marked the end of term as I just had one half day left.

That half day was an interesting one which seemed to mainly involve a lengthy game of Friends Monopoly going on in my classroom with a group of seniors. It’s been a while since I watched any episodes of Friends and it really put me in the mood to catch a couple of episodes during the holidays. I might even have to get that game myself!

I ran a couple of errands on the way home at lunchtime (so nice to drive in daylight!) then later in the afternoon I headed down to the studio for a workout with Steve. Once again he had a circuit for me using the TRX and Bosu and it worked my poor abs pretty hard.

That evening we began our festive celebrations with Christmas dinner at the pub down the road that we go to every Friday. We’d been eyeing up their Christmas menu for a couple of weeks but always wait until the Friday right before Christmas. There were a number of options, but of course we went for turkey and trimmings followed by Christmas pudding. Yum!

The celebrations continued on Saturday morning with the last parkrun before the big day. That gave me the perfect excuse to don some of my festive finery.

We were on our usual course and it looked stunning thanks to the cold air and some low-lying fog. The route had been in question in the days prior thanks to some significant flooding, but the waters had receded to reveal the path once more.

Photo by Matt Ross on the Perth parkrun Facebook page

Later on, we had breakfast with Steve’s brother then braved the pre-Christmas food shopping. I had to hum Christmas songs and plaster a smile to my face Kipchoge-style to try and keep my cool. I think I got away with it!

Sunday was the main event in our Christmas prep – the annual day out to Edinburgh. Despite a train cancellation, we got there on time for our booking at the ice rink and after 10 years Steve is beginning to show signs of figuring out how to skate.

Post-skate we enjoyed a hot gin and apple toddy in the bar to warm up.

And then, some food. We love going to the Chocolate Lounge at Harvey Nichols as a festive treat. We ordered Strawberry Bellinis and I had a dipping plate while Steve had a seasonal special – Christmas pudding ice cream sandwiched between sticky toffee pudding and served with cream, chocolate shards and melted chocolate. I have to say, it sounded amazing but I really wanted something savoury as it was basically my lunch and I knew I would have a sweet treat later.

That sweet treat was a Hotel Chocolat festive drink – salted caramel and clementine hot chocolate. It was delicious!

After all that we headed back to the station for our train home and Steve promptly fell asleep from all the sugar! I think the kittens missed us as they were sitting in the window watching for us getting back. Awww.

We spent the remainder of the day relaxing and watching a bit of Christmas TV. A lovely way to round off a festive weekend and I was feeling really ready for Christmas after that.

What are your pre-Christmas traditions?
Have you dressed up for any festive runs?