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 – Getting Back To Normal

With the cold firmly behind me (aside from a bit of a runny nose) it was time to get right back to some consistent training again. Here’s how my week looked:

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

Monday’s Hatha class was the last in the current block as my teacher was due to go off on a fabulous trip for her wedding anniversary. As always, I enjoyed the Monday evening head space and although there would be a week without a class, that’s ok.

I made sure to keep the pace nice and easy for my Tuesday run after missing a couple of runs the previous week. To be honest, it just felt good to be back out there again and back in my routine.

I also went to the studio for a workout later in the day bandit was press-up variations again. Tough stuff!

The Wednesday automatically became a rest day for me as I was late at work for a meeting. On this occasion quite a nice one though as it was the parents’ meeting for the French trip I go on. One of my friends from the trip staff lives near to the school so she hosted us for some food at the end of the day then we headed back in for the meeting. It’s always good to go over some of the details that will help make things run smoother when we’re in France and it helps to alleviate any anxieties parents may have. But by the time I got home it was really just time for a cup of tea in front of the telly before heading to bed.

Having missed a couple of morning runs when I had the cold, this Thursday was the first one when I really noticed how dark it was. I remember being so excited earlier in the year when it was light by the end of my run, but now we’re definitely heading in the other direction as I no longer seem to be running into much daylight, it’s darkness all the way. I guess that means winter is coming!

I missed my yoga class that evening as I got caught up with some things at work and just didn’t get away in time. Frustrating as I hate missing the class, but unavoidable on this occasion. I did some yoga at home to make up so at least I still had something.

Then another rest day on Friday, this time because I was out of my normal routine. Regular readers know I have some involvement with the exam process here and thanks to a new role I successfully applied for around that, I had to travel to Glasgow for a meeting. I have to say, when commuting by train is not your norm it feels pretty novel, but I do know from past experience how wearing that can get.

It was a really productive meeting and we finished in good time for me to have a bit of a poke about some of the shops and, of course, treat myself to a little something in Hotel Chocolat before my train home. This was their Hallowe’en offering: Blood Orange Hot Chocolate. Yummy!

Since I didn’t have time for a Friday workout, I was back on it on Saturday morning with the parkrun sandwich. It was pretty windy and I felt like I was working hard so was thrilled to finish in 24:34 as though nowhere near my PB, it’s faster than I’ve had in ages thanks to various factors such as being ill at the start of the summer, not running much in July and the fact that we are still on an alternative course which is slightly longer. That’s another marker of progress and makes me happy.

And in a further cat update, here are the wee monkeys looking like they are plotting mischief. Definitely the best of friends again!

I finished the week with another 10 mile Sunday run. The pace was comfortable and just another chance to enjoy being out there. I guess we’re heading into the time of year when I really enjoy my weekend runs as I get to see some daylight and the temperature tends to be good for running in the autumn too. I do love the summer, but autumn runs really are lovely.

What’s your favourite season to run in?
How do you judge if you’re making progress in your running?

Week In Review – Half Crazy!

This was an unusual week for me as my exam marking duties took me away from my normal routine, however I was still able to prepare for my half marathon on Sunday (and enjoyed having a break from the norm!).

Monday – rest
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – half marathon

The week began with me on the train to Glasgow to begin preparations for the exam marking process. It was a day of fairly intense discussion mixed with quite a lot of walking about as I walked from the station to the venue, the venue to my hotel and then out for a look around the shops since I had a bit of time. Since we were based in hotels I was pretty well fed:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I was excited to find that my hotel gave you a warm cookie as a welcome. So warm it actually fell apart in my hadn’t, hence the lack of photo!

I saw this really cool street art when I was out for a walk:

And after dinner at my hotel I enjoyed a nice relaxing bath before heading to bed. Bliss!

On Tuesday morning I stuck to my usual routine of a 4 mile run, however this time I was leaving from my hotel and obviously was running somewhere different. I opted to run down to the river and head along the riverside path until my watch read 2 miles then turn and retrace my steps. I do know the centre of Glasgow fairly well, however this approach meant there was no need to map out a route in advance as I knew I wouldn’t have time. It greatly amused me that rather than my usual turning point of a lamppost, on this occasion I turned back here:

And saw this classic Glasgow sight on my return!

Once back and showered, it was time to make the most of the hotel breakfast. It was a buffet and since I take these things seriously, I made it a 3 course breakfast (because, you know, I needed the fuel after my 4 mile run haha!) and grabbed an “emergency apple” for later. Apparently I was concerned they might not feed us again lol!

The remainder of the day was back in the room discussing the exam paper… with a bit more food along the way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we were finished, I grabbed a drink at Hotel Chocolat with a friend before getting the train home again. In case you were wondering, the kittens were perfectly fine with Steve, however my wee fluffy mummy’s boy was definitely being a bit pathetic and was glad to have me back!

I was back in school on Wednesday, but with a lot of catching up to do and things going on outside of school, I made it a rest day.

Thursday had me back to my normal morning run. I was happy to take it easy as a kind of “mini taper” for my race, but I was also feeling a bit sluggish thanks to all the food at the beginning of the week and probably not having as much rest as I needed.

That evening I had my Ashtanga yoga class, however when I got there I found that we had someone else covering the class. That doesn’t bother me at all, however on this occasion we weren’t doing Ashtanga, it became a Hatha class. At first I wasn’t sure how I would feel about that, but as the class went on I realised that while it might not have been the class I was expecting, it was most definitely the class I needed at that particular moment and I left feeling mentally restored.

I was back on the Glasgow train the next morning as it was time for the big meeting with all the exam markers. Once again a mixed day of walking lots and thinking hard. And yes, the good food was back again (although not pictured this time – it was basically the same).

Steve was Run Director at parkrun on Saturday so I decided this was an ideal time for a parkrun “open sandwich” i.e. I ran there but not home again as I went with him to the café right afterwards. By some miracle I managed to take the run fairly easily and then enjoyed my post-run bacon roll very much.

The rest of the day was pretty busy: we got the food shopping, I went to the hairdresser and then devoted much of the rest of the day to my marking duties whilst also preparing for my race the following day. We had all been sent a not-very-encouraging email with an adverse weather warning as it was looking pretty miserable for Edinburgh on Sunday morning. To be honest, running in the rain didn’t really bother me, but I was very conscious of making sure I kept dry before and after.

With this in mind, I packed a fairly extensive selection of stuff and organised my race kit.

As forecast, the weather was pretty rotten on the drive through and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had questioned my life choices at that point, however I knew once I got going it would be fine.

It was an “emergency hat” kind of a day!

We parked in our normal spot in town and walked over to the start area at Edinburgh university. The start area changed last year so this was my first time taking part in one of the EMF events since that change was made. I’ll post a separate race report with all the details, however I will say that I quite liked the new start as the university buildings provided proper toilets as well as some shelter from the rain.

Once organised, I headed to my start area (Steve and I were at different points) and waited to get underway. It was a little congested at first so I didn’t spot some of the main landmarks (although to be fair, most I had seen before) but once we hit the coast around 5-ish miles  I knew the rest of the route pretty well.

Prior to the race I had thought that while I might not be in PB shape, I should be fit enough for a sub-2 finish so had my watch set so I could see my overall average pace. I was ahead of the pace I needed for most of the race, but found the last couple of miles tough as we turned into a fairly brutal headwind which made it rather a battle. Still, I was pleased to cross the line with a time of 1:59:09. Yes, perhaps I could have been a minute or so faster, but this wasn’t a big goal race for me and I was quite happy with the experience.

I gathered all the post-race goodies, met Steve and collected my bag. There then ensued a rather inelegant change of clothes in the portable toilets (it was raining and I wanted some shelter for this) before heading up to the event buses to get back into town. After a half or full marathon my body craves McDonald’s (something I just wouldn’t want to eat at any other time) and the bus seemed to take forever. As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one with an eye on the Golden Arches judging by the audible disappointment as we passed by a branch. I suspect if the driver had offered to hit the drive thru there would have been little objection!

We were eventually returned to the start area, where the race crew was busy dismantling everything. It was quite cool to see this part of the event.

Of course we made a bee-line for McDonald’s, pausing only to take photos of a couple of the points of interest we had earlier run by:

Greyfriars Bobby

As ever, I can confirm that my McDonald’s was just what I needed to replace the salts and carbs. Amusingly, we followed it with a quick visit to Hotel Chocolat (well it would be rude not to!) before heading home – the ridiculous to the sublime! I took this photo on the way back to the car: I may keep missing Andy Murray’s gold postbox in Dunblane, but I did spot Chris Hoy’s in Edinburgh!

All in all, a pretty good week. Busy, but a lot of things different to the norm and sometimes that’s just what we need.

What do you crave after a long run?
Do you notice landmarks when you race or are you so focused that you never spot them?

Week In Review – Fun, Sun and Holidays Done!

The second week of my spring break gave me a chance to get a bit more consistent training in as part of my inverse taper, as well have a bit more fun to set me up for the long term ahead. My training ended up as follows:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 10k + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday 17 miles

It was great to be off on Marathon Monday as it meant I was able to watch online coverage of the Boston marathon in the afternoon. If you haven’t caught it already, I suggest taking a look at the finish of the men’s race – so exciting! The timing worked out perfectly as not long after the elite races finished it was time for me to head out to my yoga class. It’s a term time class, but the new school term already started in the area where I live (they came off on holiday a week ahead of the school where I work, in a neighbouring area). I already felt pretty relaxed, but it was still good to get back on the mat and start a new block of classes.

Before heading out to the class my sister had sent me a message telling me about the fire at Notre Dame in Paris (I hadn’t seen any news since I had marathon coverage on) and when I arrived home I was shocked to see the extent of the fire and the impact on the cathedral’s infrastructure. Regular readers know that Paris is my favourite city and a very special place for me, so anything that affects Paris tends to touch my heart. I ended up watching rolling coverage of the terrible blaze for the rest of the evening as there seemed to be some doubts about whether or not the fire could be contained and the building saved, so as soon as they announced that it was under control I breathed a sigh of relief and headed off to bed.

With Paris still on my mind, I pulled one of my Paris marathon tops out of the wardrobe to wear for my run on Tuesday morning. It was a very pleasant 4 mile run on a staple route, but what really struck me was how good my legs felt after my 16 mile run on Sunday. I had commented to Steve that my legs had felt fine afterwards and through the Monday, so a run was a real test of how well they had recovered. I’ve no idea why this is – maybe the additional running that is now part of my average week has conditioned them a bit better – but even with the time I had off, my legs are recovering well from my longer runs. Whatever it is, I hope it lasts!

On Tuesday evening I went to the concert hall with my parents and sister as she had got us tickets for the production of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw which was on. I know it’s a book I’ve read, however there is a degree of ambiguity around some of the action (and it’s kinda creepy in places – I believe it was an inspiration for The Woman in Black) and I couldn’t remember it very well as it’s been so long since I read it. It was a good production, but it does irritate me when the ending is a little too open to interpretation.

I took Wednesday as a rest day and spent the morning relaxing at home. I think I might even have watched a film! In the afternoon Steve and I headed into town since we had another code for a free coffee in Caffè Nero and I had a few errands to run. The sun was out so I walked into town and Steve joined me a little later for coffee. It’s nice to do things like that when I’m on holiday.

Thursday morning was a bit cooler again, perfect for a run. I decided on another 10k since I had the luxury of time. Nothing special, just a fairly standard run and more time on my feet to keep things consistent. That’s the most important thing right now.

I popped out again in the afternoon as I had a couple of errands that needed me to have the car (bags of cat litter are a bit hefty to carry home!) and I came back to find the kittens like this:

I then had my Ashtanga class in the early evening. Despite having all the time in the world, I was nearly late thanks to some heavy traffic but I made it in time to get set up right before class started. Yet again, I felt I was strong in Wheel but it wasn’t a good Headstand week for me (it happens!) and I only held it for a couple of breaths before I felt I was losing my balance. No big deal, I know I can keep improving it with consistent practice.

Friday was my most exciting day of the week. It began in a fairly nondescript fashion with a workout down at Steve’s studio. We’re mainly working on arms and core right now so he has been giving me lots of exercises using the TRX, hand weights and my own body weight. He varies things each week so I never know quite what I’m going to get.

After that I had a bit of time to myself, then around 3:30pm we were in the car and en route to Glasgow to see TAKE THAT!!! We got the tickets back in about September so I had been really looking forward to another opportunity to see my favourite band.

We learned the hard way that parking out at the SSE Hydro is not a good idea as it takes ages to get out of there afterwards, so now we park closer to town and walk in – it probably doesn’t take any longer than sitting in the queue to leave the venue car park and at least we are moving. This time we had a booking for a meal in town so parked in one of the city centre car parks. I hadn’t been to the restaurant we were booked at before, but the menu looked ideal for what we wanted that night and we had found a deal to save a little off the bill.

Loads of really American-style dishes on the menu – mainly burgers and ribs and things like that – so I opted for a classic burger and it was really delicious.

Appetites satisfied, we walked along the River Clyde out towards the Hydro as I was keen to get there in time for the support act: blast from the past Ricky Astley (yes, I am old enough to remember him from back in the day!). It’s only about a half hour walk (if that) and on arrival I headed straight for the merchandise stand to get my tour T-shirt and programme before finding our seats in the auditorium.

Rick Astley is, of course, best known for the song which gave rise to this meme:

And of course he saved it for last, at which point everyone in the place leapt to their feet to sing and dance along. It was brilliant!

Take That were, as ever, amazing. Their shows are always so theatrical and this was no exception.

They even had ACTUAL LULU for Relight My Fire!

I loved it!

Post-show we joined the throngs walking back into town, headed to the car and drove home. A late night but totally worth it. It was only when I woke up the following morning that I realised that’s 2 years in a row I’ve seen Gary Barlow on the exact same date: last year to was his solo tour which visited Perth and this year as part of Take That. I’m perfectly happy to set aside the same date next year for another evening with Captain Barlow 😂

Needless to say, I was not feeling at my freshest on Saturday morning but I knew a run would soon wake me up. I opted for another parkrun sandwich and was delighted to find that the forecast of good weather for the Easter weekend was true – I even got my shorts out for the first time this year! To put that in context, on Tuesday evening it was pretty cold as we were returning to the car after the play and on my Thursday run I wore leggings and a lightweight long-sleeved top to beat the chill, so this warm weather was a big increase in temperature for us.

Despite my tired body and the warmer conditions, I actually ran fairly well and ended up less than 20 seconds slower than last week. I expected to be much slower than that! As an added bonus, one of the local churches has a running group which is at parkrun most weeks and it being Easter, they had a little post-run treat for all the runners.

I was a little concerned about it melting on the way home, but also couldn’t face eating chocolate and then running a couple of miles, so stuck it in my Spibelt (I looked like I had a hernia haha!) and hoped for the best. I can confirm that when I ate it later in the afternoon it was perfectly fine, having been out in the fridge as soon as I got home.

After our usual Saturday routine of breakfast with Steve’s brother and getting the food shopping, I decided the weather was too good to waste sitting inside (who knows when we’ll get this again – it is Scotland after all!) so slapped the sun cream on and spent the afternoon reading and dozing in the garden. It was lovely.

I also looked at the parkrun photos from the morning and discovered I had been upstaged by a gorilla. Not something you see every day!

Photo: Roy Mitchell for Perth parkrun Facebook page

Sunday was my last chance for an “inverse taper” run before the marathon next weekend and I had originally planned to run 18 miles, however the weather was still warm and this led to me making a mistake. I really should have set my alarm a bit earlier to be out quite sharp while it was still cool, but I’m just not in the habit of that right now and I ended up going out a bit too late. I also had this kit difficulty to contend with:

The temperature wasn’t too bad when I set off, but by the time I was coming to the later miles it was getting pretty warm and that was making the run harder than it needed to be. Conscious of the need for good recovery, I cut it short by a mile. Hopefully next Sunday is a bit cooler!

And after 17 miles, the rest of the day was pretty much devoted to eating all the food! We did go out to claim our free coffee from Fitness Rewards, but with the sun still shining it seemed like the perfect week for the first Frappuccino of the summer. Delicious!

The week ahead will mean a return to work, but I will have to be very conscious of getting plenty of rest to make sure I’m ready to run on Sunday. I fully expect it to be hard work and reckon I’ll be doing well if my time is in the 4:30s (I won’t be troubling my 4:05 of last year any time soon!!) but that’s ok, as sometimes it’s about completing rather than competing. This is one of those times.

How have you made the most of the weather this week?
What was the last concert you went to?

Week In Review – Shaking Things Up

With the new term beginning this seemed like a good time to shake up my training routine to try and make the most of the time available to me without being completely exhausted! With no race to train for in the near future, I’ve got a bit of room to try out something different. Here’s an idea of the routine I’m working to:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – rest
Sunday – 8 miles

From next week I will have yoga on Monday evenings again, but for this week I had a rest day as I was a bit shellshocked from the first day back at work (which was pretty busy) and I had an appointment once I got back to Perth so it was good to get home and totally switch off for the remainder of the evening.

Before bed I laid out some running kit as my new plan is to try and run twice through the week, but in the morning rather than the evening. It’s something I’ve played with occasionally in the second half of this year and I want to see if this creates a bit more space in my week by cutting down some rushing about. Now seems like a good time to try it out so that a routine can be established.

I was out the door by 5:30am and had originally planned to run a loop of a little over 3.5 miles, but within the first mile I realised that my light had come off my shoe. I’m quite fond of that light and toyed with turning back to locate it (I mean, it was obviously on the pavement somewhere flashing away!) but then decided simply to run 2 miles then turn around and retrace my steps to run another 2 miles home. Shortly after this I actually met Steve who was heading back from his run so mentioned it to him and when I got home empty-handed a while later I discovered that he had found my light and taken it home. What a guy!

That run made me feel pretty good for the rest of the day and I achieved a lot, arriving home a little after 5pm to unwind with a short yoga practice before settling down for the evening. So far so good!

By switching my training around I created space on Wednesday which meant I wasn’t rushing to squeeze in a workout before orchestra. It was really nice to have a bit of time to myself and a chance to enjoy my dinner without having to bolt it down, which made me feel much more relaxed for the rehearsal.

Wednesday was also notable for the homemade apple crumble we had. My dad was given a big bag of cooking apples by one of his friends and my parents passed some on to us. Steve had a bit of time on the afternoon so made a crumble. It was delicious!

I had another early run on Thursday morning, opting once more for 4 miles but running a loop this time. I’m actually surprised at how good I’ve felt running first thing, and knowing I have my workout done for the day is great! I think the endorphins keep me going for the rest of the day and where I had expected to feel really tired, I’m feeling ok. It will be interesting to see if that remains the same a few weeks into the term!

Thanks to some heavy traffic I was a bit pushed for time after work, but did make it to my Ashtanga class. For those who have been following, yes I did manage another headstand and my teacher noted how quickly I’m moving into the posture now compared to my hesitation before. Now to work on holding it for a bit longer.

On Friday I headed down to Steve’s studio after work for a session. This week it was the TRX for upper body/core and a little bit of mobility work around my left ankle. It’s no longer causing me any discomfort, but I have noticed that it doesn’t feel as stable as the right one, which is having an impact on my balance postures in yoga. By working on the range of motion we should be able to address this.

I listed Saturday as a rest day, but only in so far as I didn’t do any training. In a highly unusual move, I missed parkrun (gasp!) in order to attend what, for me, was a very important event and the logistics of fitting it in around a parkrun – even tourism – were just too complex. Steve dropped me off at the station on his way to parkrun and I hopped on a train to Glasgow, coffee in hand.

The reason for my trip this time was to take part in the march and rally organised as part of the teachers’ pay campaign in Scotland. I don’t want to get into all the reasoning behind the claim, etc here as I don’t think it’s the place for it, but I do believe very strongly that some things need to change as teachers are feeling overworked and underpaid. I’ve never taken part in anything like this before, so it was quite exciting and I had no idea what to expect (and the fact that I was prepared to miss my beloved parkrun says a lot about how I feel on this one).

Arriving in Glasgow it was pretty clear that this was going to be a huge event. Organisers had been worried about low numbers and had thought maybe about 5000 would turn up…the lowest estimate made of the numbers is 20,000! Almost everyone leaving the station and heading into the underground was on their way to the march and the muster point in Kelvingrove Park was packed! I found my colleagues, donned a campaign beanie hat (it was a pretty chilly morning) and someone from my school who was involved in the organisation asked me to be a steward. I wasn’t particularly looking for a “job” to do, but she said all it involved was wearing a high vis top and walking on the outside of the march. High vis? No problem!

The march took us from Kelvingrove into George Square in the centre of Glasgow. I think it was 2ish miles and took us about an hour to cover as it wasn’t exactly a brisk pace! As we marched it was great to see the sort of support I tend to associate with racing in Glasgow – drivers tooting their horns and waving, shop owners cheering us on and residents hanging out of windows calling out and making noise by banging saucepans, etc. We ourselves were making plenty noise with whistles, horns and rattles so it was pretty cool.

When we got to George Square there was a rally so we gathered to listen to the speakers and make sure the numbers in the square remained high. It was only at this point that the real scale of things became apparent as we were told that an hour after we had begun marching, the last of the marchers were only just leaving Kelvingrove Park – that’s basically a 2 mile snake of marching teachers moving through Glasgow! Very powerful and hopefully it will help to make a difference.

As things came to an end I headed off to meet Steve who had completed his parkun business (shadowing the RD ahead of taking on the role himself next weekend) and jumped on a train to Glasgow. He couldn’t really join us as he had a small procedure on his foot during the week and has to be careful about spending too much time on his feet while the wound heals but fancied spending a bit of time in Glasgow. I was, unsurprisingly, pretty hungry by this point so we went to get some food at Bar Burrito. It’s one of those places with a similar setup to Subway, but with Mexican food. Reasonable prices and pretty tasty so we often go there when we’re in town.

After that we had a quick look in some shops then went for a hot drink at Hotel Chocolat (of course!) before our train. I do enjoy their seasonal specials so had their autumn hot chocolate. I can’t remember now what the autumn ingredients were – I have a feeling it was something like maple and pecan notes – but it was delicious.

I was pretty tired by then after being on my feet all day so we got the train home, ran a couple of quick errands and were home in front of the tv ready for the Strictly Hallowe’en special. Perfect!

I didn’t set an alarm for Sunday, instead allowing my body the chance to get whatever rest it wanted and enjoy a potential extra hour of rest. Of course, I was woken by the kittens who were full of beans thanks to the recent full moon. Anyone know how to set their clocks back an hour? 😂

The weather was cold again and I could see a layer of frost on the cars. Time to get the winter kit out! I got myself dressed in my winter finery (plus sunglasses since it was actually quite bright) and set off for 8 miles. It was a really enjoyable run and I got just what I wanted from it – to keep my mileage ticking over while I build a solid base to head into the new year. No need to bust a gut over the pace, just run comfortably and listen to my podcast. It was lovely.

The rest of the day was pretty chilled. We had to get some food shopping done since we hadn’t done it on Saturday, then a chance to relax and recharge before the new week. One down, eight to go…

Have you ever taken part in a march/rally?
What’s your favourite winter kit?

Week In Review – Lots Of Yoga!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

How much longer until the summer holidays???

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

Week In Review – Fun! Fun! Fun!

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

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

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

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

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


Since it was so nice I headed out with a friend from the marking team for a walk at lunchtime and everything looked amazing.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week In Review – Signs Of Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

‘Your Pace or Mine?’ Follow Up: A Running Record

In my recent review of Lisa Jackson’s Your Pace or Mine, I noted that the final section of the book is given over to the reader to use as a record of their running. I really liked this idea, but since I read the book on my Kindle rather than in paper format, I didn’t have the opportunity to fill my record in. Instead, I thought it might be fun to write up my record book (to date) as a blog post. It’s going to be a long one so put the kettle on!

Favourite Race Photo
I have a few photos that I like: some from mid-race, some post-race medal shots and some of me leaping around like a loony after a run. But when it comes to actual race photos, my all-time favourite is this one from the Paris Marathon in 2016. I was undertrained thanks to being stopped in my tracks by a stress fracture at the end of 2015, but on race day I was injury-free and determined to get out there and enjoy a self-conducted running tour of my favourite city. I ran it my own way, stopped to take photos and enjoyed a buffet of orange segments, sugar lumps and that pink sports drink they hand out that acts like rocket fuel! When the photographers snapped me in the finishing straight, I looked like I’d had an awesome time, even though I was completely exhausted and my legs were begging for mercy. Sometimes you just have to forget your race goals and go out there to have fun.

Name
Allison a.k.a The Running Princess

Date When Started Running
I don’t have the exact date for this one as my diaries from that part of my life are not all that detailed. That said, I can remember the day itself clearly. It was the beginning of term in August of 2005. We actually started on my birthday that year and it’s entirely possible that it was actually on my birthday that I went for my first run. My friend who is a PE teacher (and at the time we were car sharing for work as well) took me to the local park and told me to start running at the pace I thought was about right. Predictably, I set off far too fast and didn’t get very far at all. My friend then sorted out my pace and so began weeks of building up the length of time I could run before having a walk break (which had to be shorter then the running time). The first time I ran all the way round the park (about a mile and a  half) without stopping was my first big running milestone.

Age When Started Running
I was just about clinging on to my twenties when I took those first tentative steps, however I was in my early thirties before meeting Steve and venturing beyond the odd slow 5k plod.

Reasons Why I Run
My first ever blog post was all about why I run, but I suppose that was really only about why I started, not why I run now. At first it was all about a personal challenge and wanting to raise funds for charity in memory of my gran; now, running is a habit. In many ways it continues to be a personal challenge as I look to improve my times or push myself in new ways, but even without that challenge I would still want to run and it only takes a spell of injury to remind me of how important running is for clearing my head, helping me to manage stress, releasing endorphins and giving my thoughts some clarity. I love how running makes me feel both mentally and physically as it helps me to keep sane as well as fit. Running makes my body lean and strong. And it also makes me hungry! I love the appetite running gives me and surprising people with exactly how much food I can put away!

Proudest Running Moments
Running has given me lots of opportunities to feel proud of myself, so narrowing it down to just a few was a bit challenging! Here are some of my highlights:

  1. Completing my first ever marathon in Paris in 2010
  2. Running my first ever sub-2 hour half marathon at Aviemore in 2012
  3. Topping the podium for the first time ever when I won my age group at the Cool Summer Mornings 5k in 2013
  4. Running my marathon PB in Paris in 2014
  5. That time I ran 4 races in one weekend at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2015
  6. Finishing as second female and ninth overall!) in the Caped Crusader 5k in 2016

‘Dreaming Big’ Goals (Races, Places, Times)
I love this heading. A chance for me to think about the things I would do if there was absolutely nothing to stop me. I would love to run all the marathon majors, something which isn’t an option for me right now as they don’t all fit in with my school holidays. I’ve run London, but would love to go back again with a Good For Age time. Right now that would be sub 3:45, a full 20 minutes faster than my current PB. We are dreaming big though! I would also love to do a Run Disney race. I know there’s a half marathon at Disneyland Paris now, but my ultimate dream would be the Walt Disney World marathon. My sister has done this, but again I’m held back by my school terms. Finally, there’s this year’s goal of some race PBs: if I’m dreaming big then it’s a sub-4 marathon, a sub-1:55 half marathon and a sub-50 10k. My other dream is to run in Central Park. It doesn’t have to be a race, I’d just love the experience of lacing up my trainers and heading off for a run in such a famous location.

Most Memorable Races
I’ve got a lot of wonderful memories from racing, but I think I’m going to pick my “firsts”:

  1. My first ever “proper” race – the Kinross 10k in 2009
  2. My first ever half marathon – Aviemore in 2009. Memorable because Steve proposed the night before so all I can remember of the race is running along lost in thoughts of wedding dresses, possible venues and the most fun way to tell my parents later that day!
  3. My first ever marathon – Paris in 2010
  4. My first ever experience of the Paris Breakfast Run in 2014

I’d also like to include running around the race circuit at Knockhill for the Graham Clark Memorial race, running over the Forth Road Bridge as part of a 10k race, and, of course, that time I ran a 10k PB (by one second!) at the Great Scottish Run then proudly announced my achievement to one of my running heroes, Paula Radcliffe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And although not technically a race, I’m including an honourable mention for parkrun during the I Am Team GB weekend when I got to meet a local Olympian and see a Rio medal up close.

Favourite Running Motto/Mantra/Race Sign/Motivational Quote
My favourite mantra is “I can, I am, I’m strong” which I came up with for my first marathon. I had picked up an injury and seemed to be surrounded by people telling me that running my marathon was impossible. My mantra was a way to fight back against all the people saying, “you can’t” and remind myself that anything is possible.
I don’t often remember race signs, but I do love seeing all the firemen out in force in Paris with signs slung from their ladders declaring “les pompiers sont avec vous” (the firemen are with you). As for a motivational quote, it has to be this one:

Funniest Running Moments/Favourite Stories Heard on Runs
Well, there was that time I got charged at by some scary looking cows whilst taking part in a trail race. Unfortunately the race route was such that I then had to run back through the same field on my return. Thankfully the cows had moved on to another part of the field by then!
There was also the time I did the Edinburgh Winter Run around Arthur’s Seat. It was freezing cold and as I came down off the hill it started snowing. I thought this was absolutely hilarious so the official photos showed me laughing like an idiot in the middle of a blizzard!

Favourite Medals/Race T-shirts
Funnily enough, I have a fair few of these! After a bit of thinking, I’ve decided on the medal and finisher’s T-shirt from Paris in 2010 (my first marathon), my London Marathon medal and, as a collection, my 4 Paris Marathon medals and the commemorative T-shirt I bought to mark the 40th edition last year. As a bonus, I’m also going to include a medal from a virtual race – the Platform 9 3/4k from the Hogwarts Running Club, an event I’ve participated in 3 times now.


Charities Fundraised For and Amounts Raised
Since I began running to raise funds for charity, you’d think I would know exactly what my total is. But I don’t. Back then donations were made by sponsorship form, however I think across the 3 times I’ve run the 5k Race For Life I’ve probably raised around £150 for Cancer Research.

In 2011 I pledged my support to a local charity, PKAVS (Perth & Kinross Association of Voluntary Services). They provide support to a number of different groups, perhaps most especially known for supporting young carers. I was inspired to help as a friend works for the charity and listening to her describing the challenges some people faced made me feel I should do something about it. Working alongside the charity, we set up the idea of “going that extra mile”, with participants joining teams for the Edinburgh Marathon Relay. Most were new to running and Steve put on weekly training sessions (often aided by moi) to help everyone prepare. For me, it was actually an extra 26.2 miles as I committed to running both the London and Edinburgh marathons which were just a few weeks apart. It was my first really big challenge which I completed, with a PB (since beaten) in Edinburgh and a total of £800 raised for a good cause. It was a real family affair as Steve also ran the marathon while both my dad and my sister were in relay teams.

More recently, Steve and I took on an even bigger challenge when we decided to fundraise for Macmillan Cancer Support following our experiences of seeing family members and others close to us battling cancer. In 2014 I was supposed to run 3 marathons (Paris, Edinburgh and Loch Ness) however injury forced me to withdraw from Loch Ness and replace it with an all-new challenge: cycling! I took to two wheels and completed Cycletta Scotland which had Macmillan as the title sponsor. In 2015 I decided to take care of my unfinished business by running the Paris marathon for Macmillan in order to complete that triple marathon challenge I had set. But, being one who never does things by half, I also decided to go bigger with my cycling and take on the Etape Caledonia. I then rounded off what was basically a spring challenge by taking on the Edinburgh Marathon Festival – 5k and 10k on Saturday then half marathon and final leg of the relay on Sunday (logisitcs meant it wasn’t possible for me to go from the half to the full marathon). With over £5000 raised in 2014 (with massive thanks to my friend Ian and his clients for their support) and a further £1000 in 2015, that made a grand total of over £6000 raised for Macmillan. Phew!

Biggest Challenges Overcome in Races
Generally speaking, my biggest challenge is injury. I have completed marathons despite being in a great deal of the wrong kind of discomfort (I’m looking at you Lochaber Marathon of Pain!) and also when undertrained as a result of injury. This is why I believe I’ve never truly demonstrated what I’m capable of over 26.2 miles.  But the fact that I’ve completed those races demonstrates that I can overcome challenges, usually with an altered goal.

Races With Best Snacks/Entertainment/Crowd Support
Without a doubt the best snacks have been at US races, particularly the Cool Summer Mornings 5k which often has post-race hot dogs, pretzels, beer, etc despite the fact that these will be consumed around 8am! The Chocolate Sundae Run, while a bit of a boring route, did have the draw of ice cream at the finish line! I also enjoy the on course “buffet” at the Paris Marathon as they lay out raisins, sugar lumps, sliced banana and orange segments. I can say without a word of a lie that those oranges have been the greatest thing I’ve ever tasted and a sugar lump late on the in race provides a fantastic boost to get you moving.

When it comes to both entertainment and crowd support, the title needs to be shared by both London and Paris. I run with one earphone in so I can tune into my music if I need to without having to faff about, but I have absolutely no recollection at all of actually listening to my playlist in London thanks to all the various places blaring out music along the route, the wall of noise in Canary Wharf and the unwavering crowd support in the final stages along the Embankment when every fibre of your being is screaming to stop but every time you do, someone shouts at you to keep on going. In Paris there has always been phenomenal support from “Les Pompiers” but perhaps not as big a crowd as in London. That all changed in 2016 when, probably in an act of defiance at the atrocities that have taken place in the city in recent times, the streets were lined with supporters cheering the runners on and fighting back against those who commit such terrible acts. Paris also prides itself on the huge number of “animations” (entertainment) along the route. There are an assortment of bands in just about every genre you can think of from rock and pop to a bit of German oompahpah and the always fun samba bands. Many have dancers as well and the lift the entertainment gives the runners is visible.

Favourite Fancy-Dress Outfits
Running in fancy dress is not really my thing, but it has happened:

  1. Taking part in a Santa Run every year
  2. Wearing my kilt for both the Perth Kilt Run and the Paris Breakfast Run

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Celebrating our parkun’s birthday with fancy dress. So far a beach party theme (in November!) and a superhero theme. To be honest, I quite enjoyed running as Supergirl!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most Beautiful Places Run In
I live in Scotland so beautiful places to run are often just a few minutes away and I love nothing more in nice weather (it can be a bit miserable and lonely when the weather isn’t so good). Away from my standard training runs, the Lochaber Marathon was beautiful, even if I didn’t really enjoy the race thanks to an injury flaring up. And of course, there’s my beloved Paris. What a beautiful city to run in !

Countries I’ve Run In
Scotland (obviously), England (London Marathon), France (Paris Marathon), USA (training runs and events in Florida every July). I’m really going to have to work on adding to that list!

Cities I’ve Run In
6/7 of the Scottish Cities: Perth, Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Inverness
London
Paris
Davenport, Florida
Winter Park, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Clermont, Florida

Marathon Majors Completed
Only London. One day…

Friends I’ve Made Through Running
Running has brought a lot of people into my life, from those I’ve trained for marathons with (connected for life!) to those I consider my “parkrun family”. Running also led me to blogging and there are several people I’ve come into contact with through blogging that I would probably never have met otherwise like Jaynie, Danielle and Kyla. It’s also what ultimately brought me to the Tough Girl Tribe and the fantastic women there. Running is such a fantastically inclusive community and provides a shared experience to base a friendship on or just start a conversation. Just one of the many reasons why I love it.

Personal Bests (Time/Date) 5k, 10k, 13.1, 26.2, Ultra, Tri
I’ve got these listed on my Race History tab, but here they are again:

5k – 23:14 @ Perth parkrun 2015
10k – 50:14 @ Great Scottish Run 10k 2015 (aka That Time I Met Paula!)
13.1 – 1:56:35 @ Aviemore Highland Half Marathon 2012
26.2 – 4:05:07 @ Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris 2014

Race Record
This is a list that could go on for a while! All my race reports since I started the blog are under the Race Reports tab, but to summarise (and account for those pre-blog years!):

5k x 33 (inc Christmas events)
Parkrun x 66
5 mile x 2
10k x 20
10 mile x 3
Half marathon x 13
Marathon x 8
Other distances (e.g. EMF Relay, CHAS Devil Dash) x 10

Total = 155 events (89 if you don’t count parkrun) – phew!

 

And now it’s your turn! Either write a post of your own to create your record book or share some memories in the comments below. I can’t wait to read them…!

The 2016 Glasgow Santa Dash

For me, this year’s Santa Dash had a lot to live up to. Taking part in at least one Santa run per year has been our habit for years now, but after the disaster that was being struck down with a stress fracture last December, I missed out on (or had to modify) all my festive fitness plans. I distinctly remember consoling myself with the reminder that the events would still be there in December 2016, so now that we’re here I’ve been determined to make the most of things!

With work being busy for us both, we’re making sure to enjoy our weekends in December, particularly since this will be our first Christmas in our house. I’ll write a separate post soon with all our other festive fun, but this one is all about our Santa Dash experience.

We first took part in the Glasgow Santa Dash in 2013 when there were around 3000 runners and returned in 2014 when it had grown to around 5500! This year, the event actually sold out in the week before (we were a little later than intended in entering so I’m pleased we were able to secure places!) and this time there were 7500 Santa signups for this 10th anniversary event. That’s a lot of Santas!

Despite the expanding numbers, logistics were much the same as ever. Online registration was easy and race packs were available for collection in one of the main shopping malls in the days prior to the event. We’re a bit too far away for that so instead we take our own Santa suits (we’ve done a few of these events now!) and get our numbers on the day. This year, the event began at 10am so we left Perth around 8am, giving us plenty of time to drive to Glasgow, park, go to the toilet and get ready to run.

One change this year was to the start. In the past this has begun in George Square and headed straight up St Vincent Street (also how the Great Scottish Run starts) but this year it started on the other side of George Square so we were funnelled around to St Vincent Street from there. I found this a bit narrow so finding space to run was tricky. We were also set off in waves, and while we hadn’t managed to make our way right to the front, we were in the first wave to set off.

The remainder of the route was just as it has been in previous events and once free of the congestion at the start, I was able to run well and enjoy the atmosphere. I do love races in Glasgow as the support is always fantastic. Often there are places where only one side of the road is closed so there are cars on the other side with drivers honking their horns and shouting encouragement. And for this event it’s great to see so many kids running and people taking part as families.

Having run parkrun the day before, I didn’t all out race, but I did run comfortably hard and felt pretty good. Coming onto the last stretch up Buchanan Street to make the turn to the finish line (in previous years also the start line) in George Square I still felt that I was speeding up and though there was no official timing, I was pleased to cross the line and stop my watch at 26:21, my fastest around this course so far despite the first mile taking me over 9 minutes as I weaved through the slower runners and made my way up the hill. Very pleasing.

Crossing the finish line we were directed to keep moving forwards to collect our medals (the usual snowflake but with a ribbon denoting the 10th anniversary) and a bottle of water. I then found Steve and we headed into the square to take some photos by the decorations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy with our photos, we headed off to get a coffee and I couldn’t resist giving my name as “Mrs Claus” when asked by the barista. To be honest, those NOT dressed as Santa were in the minority during our time in the coffee shop!

Finally, we headed off to have a look around the shops and the Christmas markets. A few years ago I recreated an iconic moment from Elf after the Santa Dash and having watched that festive favourite again the night before this year’s event, I couldn’t resist doing it again whilst in a department store (and yes, we did try out our “singing” whilst in the store!)

It was, once more, a great day out and a fantastic event which I highly recommend. There’s some video and a photo galley here, and if you’re in the mood for a festive game of Where’s Wally (or Waldo to my American friends) then check out this BBC article. I’m in the picture at the bottom. Have fun…!