Week In Review – Beaten!

I think this might be my briefest Week in Review yet! Thanks to being ill I really haven’t done anything all week, but I’ve written a weekly roundup every week this year and don’t want to stop now. As ever, linking up with Jessie and Jess to share the details.

If you read my post last week then you’ll maybe remember that by the end of the week I was really struggling with a chesty cough, and it was getting worse. After giving in on Sunday and staying at home resting, Steve insisted that I wasn’t well enough to go to work on Monday (and my protests were rather feeble!) so I called in sick. As it turned out, that was going to be the case for a few days.

I spent Monday in bed trying to rest and catching up on some TV programmes I was a bit behind with (in case you’re interested, Once Upon a Time, Nashville and Will & Grace). I had coughed so much the night before that poor Steve had gone to sleep in the spare room and he did the same on Monday night which meant that if I wasn’t sleeping I could read or use my laptop without disturbing him. Not a very exciting day and when I eventually fell asleep that night it was through sheer exhaustion from coughing.

IMG_4867

Ridiculous cat checking to see if she liked tomato soup!

Tuesday followed a rather similar pattern, however after lunch I felt well enough to get up and head downstairs to my comfy armchair instead…just in time for Steve to head to bed having picked up the bug from me. I felt bad as it was his birthday and rather than celebrating he was heading to bed with hot drinks and a bit of a fever. My turn for the spare room!

I stayed off work again on Wednesday as I knew it would be too much for me to spend all day teaching at that stage. I did, however, manage to spend the whole day out of bed. I did a little work, watched some more TV, read and tried to eat a bit more to get my strength back. Meanwhile Steve stayed in bed and I did my best to take him the things he needed. We were quite a pair!

On Thursday I went back to work. I knew I was too “well” to be at home but a day at work is a whole other story and by the afternoon I was really tired. The school has really been hit with this bug so loads of pupils (and staff) were off and I got through the day with the help of my lozenges and the good will of my pupils who were pleased to have their teacher back rather than a cover teacher. I decided not to go to yoga at night as I was not only tired, but still coughing and all the muscles in my upper body were really aching from the force of the cough. A quiet night in front of the TV beckoned for us both as Steve was getting himself up and about when I arrived home.

I felt a bit better on Friday and had a relatively light teaching commitment so survived another day. Steve went back to work too so both of us were feeling the impact of following a “normal” routine. We did still go out to eat as we usually do, but were both conscious that we didn’t need as much to eat as normal – highly unusual for these two runners!

The weekend plan was to relax. Without parkrun to go to (no running until I’m sure the cough has settled and I’m no longer sore) I was able to sleep until I awoke naturally and take my time getting ready. Steve went to meet his brother for a coffee and I walked into town to meet them as I thought the fresh air would be good for me. This meant we could get some food shopping done then relax at home for the afternoon.

After an earlier meal than usual, Steve drove me back into town as I was going to the pantomime with my sister. She works for the theatre and concert hall, so gets comp tickets for shows and I usually go with her. This year the panto is Aladdin and it was the opening night in the newly refurbished theatre. I still find it really strange as I worked there for a few years as a student so knew the old building really well and now it feels like all the doors lead to different places as there is basically a whole new building around the auditorium! Since I’ve been ill I’ve not been feeling too festive so it was nice to do something tradionally Christmassy and make me feel a bit better.

Sunday was another lazy morning (I feel so much better but this bug has left me really tired) and some chores before heading out for a coffee. Once home I spent some time putting up our Christmas tree, something that fell by the wayside last weekend!

IMG_4873So overall not the best of weeks for me. I am feeling a lot better now, but am incredibly sore from coughing and I can feel myself getting grumpy and irritable because I’m not getting the endorphins  from workouts. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to some training soon as heading into Christmas without any training does not sound appealing! On a more interesting note, this week my photo has been used in some of the emails and social media posts for the Edinburgh Marathon Festival. This was taken during my 2nd of 4 events that weekend (10k, 5k, half marathon and final relay leg in 2015) and remains one of my greatest running memories. If you’re a newer reader or somehow missed it, you can read al about that particular adventure here and here.

fullsizeoutput_2308

Fame at last lol!

Have you put your Christmas decorations up yet?
What’s your favourite running memory?

Advertisements

Week In Review – A Bad Cough Means Time Off!

Sorry for the terrible rhyming title, but I needed something to liven up my post this week. Sadly the illness well and truly caught up with me and I had to take a complete week of rest. The only thing I did was one yoga class so I’m afraid there’s not much to include workout-wise this week, but my week in review should be there to share the good weeks and the bad weeks, so I’m still taking part in the weekly linkup with Jessie and Jess.

I’m really not kidding when I say it was a week of rest:

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

I’ll not take you through the details of every day as let’s face it, you can probably already see the pattern! Basically I went to work, came home and got comfortable to read or watch TV. Despite feeling better at the end of last week. on Monday I was treated to the beginnings of a chesty cough that stayed with me through the week.

On Thursday I thought a yoga class would be worth a try. As it turned out my teacher was absent and the teacher who was filling in taught in a rather different way, so the same sequence of asanas actually felt a bit more restful. Probably just what I needed. Thankfully I made it to the end of savasana before needing to cough so thought I was on the mend, but ended up having an awful coughing fit in the night and not sleeping very well.

As a result, I felt tired on Friday but knew I had to keep going as I was going to a colleague’s retiral dinner that night and it was important to me to be there. Although tired, I felt otherwise fine, but the cough sounded awful and people kept asking if I was ok. I could have done with an earlier night, but it was a lovely evening and the food was delicious. We had two courses plus a canapé and palate cleanse.

IMG_4852
IMG_4853
IMG_4854
IMG_4855I had already decided to give parkrun a miss (I was supposed to be pacing) as I knew I shouldn’t be running, so had a more leisurely start to the day. Steve and I had cinema tickets for later in the morning as our local cinema was showing our favourite Christmas film, Elf!

IMG_9132The remainder of the day was really restful then we were out again in the evening as I had booked a meal to celebrate Steve’s birthday. I felt much better than the night before, despite still coughing, and really enjoyed the food – a 5 course tasting menu.

IMG_4858
IMG_4859
IMG_4860
IMG_4861
IMG_4862On Sunday I knew I was going to rest again and had grand plans to maybe walk to the gym to sit in the steam room for a bit. As it turns out, things worked out a little differently…

I awoke quite early as I was coughing and lay in bed for a bit catching up on some vlogs I wanted to watch…until I fell asleep again. Steve had been out and when he got home called out to me. When I didn’t answer he assumed I was out until he found me fast asleep in bed. At noon! I got up about an hour later but to be honest I felt awful and spend all my time in my comfy chair watching TV. My 500+ step streak came to an end 😦 I knew I was only going to give up the streak if I was incapacitated by injury or too ill to go out for a walk, so that maybe gives you an idea of how I was feeling. It was still disappointing to end the streak though.

fullsizeoutput_2304I guess after working all week my body finally gave up and succumbed to whatever bug this is. I’m not a great patient as I’m rarely ill and hate feeling like this. As someone who is generally healthy and fit, it’s hard to find that climbing the stairs is such a drain, but I’m listening carefully to my body and making sure I recover properly. Fingers crossed it’s soon…!

Any remedies for a chesty cough?
What’s your favourite Christmas film?

Week In Review – Stop The World!

What a week! Sometimes the world just feels a little too much and with lots to do and a cold doing its work on my immune system, much of this week outside of work was a real “time out” to give me a chance to recover. I may not have worked out much, but I’m still linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL to share how I spent my time and remind us all to listen to our bodies and take a rest when we need it!

Just to prove how little I did, here’s how my week turned out:

Monday – rest (parents’ evening)
Tuesday – bike @ the gym rest
Wednesday – short run rest
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 5 miles

Monday was always going to be a “rest” day as I had another parents’ evening. Unfortunately, by the time I was finished the demands of teaching all day and speaking all night had left me wiped out. Although I started the day feeling perfectly well, by the time I arrived home I was feeling stuffed up and rather hoarse. A cold had arrived and from that point on it was quite clear the cold was going to stay!

On Tuesday I had thought I might have a gentle cycle then sit in the steam room to clear my head – I even took my kit with me so I could go straight to the gym after work! – but by the time I was driving home this was the absolute last thing I wanted to do. The cold was making me feel exhausted as all my energy was going on teaching my classes during the day, so I decided to call it quits and head home for a relaxing evening catching up on some tv. Definitely the right decision.

I carried on in a similar vein on Wednesday as I knew I was just too congested to run. While my symptoms were technically “above the neck” and a gentle run would have been ok, with nothing specific on the horizon to train for, I knew I would benefit far more from the rest. No run, no orchestra, just another night cuddled in with the cat and watching tv. A little frustrating, but for the best.

By Thursday I felt a little more like getting on with things so went to yoga as usual. Theoretically fine, but as it turns out breathing through a congested nose whilst in downward dog is a bit of a challenge! I took it easy and didn’t push things so by the end of the class I did feel a bit better.

And by Friday I knew it was time to do a bit more again. Yes there was still a bit of congestion, but this was more the residual effects of the cold rather than me still feeling ill, so I headed over to the studio for a PT session with Steve as I knew this wouldn’t need much exertion and I could stop to blow my nose any time I needed to. Since I want to build a pre-marathon training base, we did some work with the TRX.

IMG_4750
IMG_4753After a good sleep on Friday night I was feeling pretty good on Saturday morning so there was no way I was going to miss parkrun. It was Perth parkrun’s 4th birthday and lots of runners were going in fancy dress (sadly I had no time to turn my attention to that this year, but sine the theme was “wacky runners” I decided this was a good day to break out some of my more “interesting” running tights). Due to the effects of some work going on around our usual route, this time we were on the alternate course which is 2 laps of the park on the tarmac path – no mud splashed on my nice running tights 🙂 It was also freezing cold so I picked thermal tights and cold weather gear to keep me as warm as possible.

IMG_4821

With a guest appearance by the cat!

Given I’d not run for a week I had no idea how I would feel so my plan was to start out easy then push on if I felt ok. This resulted in a huge Royal Flush Negative Split (8:38, 8:13, 7:56 and 7:10 for the last nubbin). It was never going to be my speediest day, but it was good to know that I was ok to run and could up the pace a bit without pushing hard.

I have to say, I never really felt like I got properly warm and was aware of the chill in the air the whole time. I had been worried that I might have overdone the warm clothing, but in the end I was glad of it all!

IMG_4755Run done and barcode scanned there was the much more important business of cake. All the runners had been asked to contribute something for the table so there was lots of home baking (ours was shop bought thanks to time limitations) but to offset the gluttony we were also donating to the local foodbank. Having listened to a talk from the manager of the nearest foodbank to where I work earlier in the week, I was utterly horrified at the numbers of people who were needing to turn to such facilities and how this compared to the donations they received. I duly went straight out to stock up on suitable items to donate. In the grand scheme of things I spent an amount that I barely notice as I’m fortunate enough to be in a position to not have to think about food bills, but everything that was donated by parkrunners this weekend should make a huge difference to local people at this time of year.

Back at the cake table, I chose something that bore a passing resemblance to the cake version of sticky toffee pudding and I was NOT disappointed (no photo as I was too cold to try and fish my phone out and was scared I might drop my cake which would have been a DISASTER!). I followed that up with a piece of mint traybake which was a bit like a minty brownie. Since I tend to run parkrun fasted, I basically had cake for breakfast. No complaints about that from me!

IMG_4836After a few errands the rest of the day was pretty chilled, although I did hear that Santa’s furry friends were back in town so went for a look while we were there and was pleased to find that unlike last week the reindeer were in attendance (I think they might be tapering for the Big Night since they were just lying around eating!) along with alpacas, donkeys and pygmy goats (so cute!).

IMG_4829
IMG_4824
IMG_4828I had another great sleep that night and awoke feeling great (if still a little phlegmy) on Sunday. I was keen to get back to normal and have a run but wasn’t sure how far to go. In the end I chose a route which would allow me to make a decision that would either result in 3.5ish miles or extend in a variety of ways to add a little more.

It was cold again so I layered up and through the first part of the run the ground alternated between covered in leaves and covered in frost. It looked beautiful.

IMG_4837In the end I chose to extend the run as I was feeling good and enjoying being out catching up with the Marathon Talk podcast (it wouldn’t be a Sunday run without Martin and Tom!) so ended up with 5 miles. I certainly could have gone on, but that felt right for this point in time.

IMG_4839Later in the afternoon we ventured out again to to enjoy the St Andrew’s Day celebrations in town. We were really just interested in seeing a bit of “bagrock” from the Red Hot Chilli Pipers who never disappoint.
IMG_4840Rather than some shaky phone footage, here’s a taster of their usual material. Performed live there’s also a singer, dancers and, of course, they wear kilts.

Overall a pretty quiet week, but I made up for it a bit at the weekend!

Would you run or rest with a cold?
Any exciting festive events where you live?

Week In Review – New Wheels!

Hello! I hope you’re well. This week was another busy one for me and not overly exciting on the running/fitness front, but still a lot of fun. Join me as I link up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL for their weekly linkup.

Thanks to lots of things going on, I had to be pretty efficient with my time this week. Unfortunately by the end of the week my body was screaming at me to take a break so I listened (I know, who am I?!?) and made some changes. Here’s how things ended up:

Monday – swim
Tuesday – 5 miles
Wednesday – rest (parents’ evening)
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 10k rest

I suppose the general tone for the week was set on Monday. I had it in mind to go for a swim after work since there were no meetings. I also had to nip to the supermarket for a few bits and pieces. As things turned out, I went a little “off piste” with my shopping list!

In brief, I lease my car and my current agreement is coming to an end in March, however the garage had contacted me with an offer they thought I might be interested in which would mean changing earlier to get a better price. I agreed to go in and take a look at the car/run some numbers and the upshot was that in addition to porridge oats, honey and teabags, I also ended up buying a car on Monday! All that and I still managed to squeeze in a swim before heading home – efficiency at its best!

And to cap it all off, Monday was also day 500 of my step goal streak. That’s a lot of steps!

fullsizeoutput_22eaOn Tuesday I had a decision to make. I knew that thanks to a parents’ evening on Wednesday I could only manage one of my midweek sessions – either the bike or a run. I decided that a run would be of greater benefit and took advantage of our slightly earlier finish on Tuesdays to get out and run 5 miles. It was dark, of course, but I was nice and visible thanks to my flashing shoe light!

IMG_4718
IMG_4722No workout at all on Wednesday. Frankly it was just long as I left at 7:45am and didn’t get home again until about 8:45pm!!! All I had time for was a cup of tea in front of the tv then straight to bed.

As a result of an intense Wednesday, Thursday felt like it was just a continuation of the same day. I was knackered and couldn’t wait to get to my yoga class. For some reason our teacher wasn’t there and there was another teacher covering, but I’ve done a few classes with her before. I like her but her approach is slightly different so the class is never quite the same. Not a problem through as I still get my yoga fix and it can be interesting to get some different tips for progressing through postures.

On Friday we had an inservice day, which means the pupils were off and we had a day of meetings and planning. It’s not my favourite kind of day, but things improved dramatically at morning interval when one of the office staff brought her puppy in for a visit. Of course I was straight in for puppy cuddles (and lots of puppy kisses!) and headed into the next part of the day with a smile on my face.

Unfortunately, by the end of the day I was starting to feel the effects of the busy week. When I get really tired I tend to experience similar symptoms to the start of a cold – sore throat and aches – but listening to my body and resting quickly resolves it. In this instance, I cancelled my planned session with Steve and headed home to relax. I had a few things I wanted to get done but wanted a nap first so got settled in my favourite chair and closed my eyes, thinking I would nap for about 30-40 minutes. But when I opened my eyes it had been almost 2 hours!!! I DEFINITELY needed that sleep!

I was feeling better so Steve and I headed out to eat. I had thought it might be “steak week” (my favourite) but instead the special was a mixed grill. I wasn’t sure if I would manage it all with a lower training volume, but also knew that if Steve ordered it and I didn’t then I would regret it!

fullsizeoutput_22e9I didn’t quite finish the chips, but ate all the rest and it was awesome!

After a good sleep I felt much better on Saturday morning so saw no reason not to go to parkrun, but rather than push for a time I decided to run to feel and plan to be a bit slower. This meant finishing closer to 25 minutes than sub-24, but it was what my body needed that day. I also broke out the Salomon Speedcross shoes for the first time this winter – a definite seasonal marker!

IMG_4724
IMG_4725Post-parkrun Steve went into town to meet his brother but I decided to take some time for myself and meet him later on to get the food shopping. But first, I wanted to explore some of the events happening in town as part of the Christmas lights being switched on.

First, it was open house at the theatre. It has been closed for two (maybe three, I can’t remember properly) years for a major refurbishment/extension and since I worked in there as a student I was keen to look around the newly re-opened building. It really felt like the beautiful, refurbished auditorium I’m so familiar with had been put into a whole new building, but the updates are fantastic and offer so much scope for future events.

IMG_4729
IMG_4731After that I set off in search of reindeer but only found camels(!), ponies and donkeys.

IMG_4733
IMG_4737
IMG_4738I also went to watch a giant ice sculpture being created.

IMG_4739
IMG_4740My last port of call was less exciting as I went to the chemist to get my winter flu jab (amusingly, the pharmacist recognised me from parkrun and told me I had helped her on a pacer week. Apparently I had “gently encouraged” her!). After having the flu in 2013 I make sure to get this injection every year as I really don’t want to repeat that experience. I’ve never had a problem with the jab beyond a slightly achy arm, but this time I didn’t feel too great for the rest of the day (a known side effect), perhaps because I had been feeling a little run down.

But later in the afternoon I had an important appointment so had to pull myself together for that. Can you guess? Yup, I went to collect my car…

The garage is family run and always provides nice little touches to make you feel appreciated. I was given a glass of fizz (non-alcoholic as I had to drive home!), had my name on the big screen and my car was waiting for me in the handover bay all under wraps – exciting!

IMG_4741
IMG_4742
IMG_4743
IMG_4745I also got a lovely bunch of flowers to thank me for my custom.

IMG_4746It’s basically a newer model of the car I already had, and a different colour, but that’s ideal for me and it’s quite nice to have something to brighten up these cold winter days. I just have to work out all the entertainment system as that’s had an upgrade since my last car so is really the only thing that is different for me to get to grips with.

Once home I had really had enough so got my pyjamas on and got comfy in front of the tv, not really feeling my best.

On Sunday morning Steve headed off to run in a club event and I took advantage of the chance to have a lie in and a pretty lazy morning. I was feeling pretty much back to normal but had made the decision not to run and give my body a chance to reset. Instead, I put all my things back in my car then headed off for a walk in the crisp November air as I wanted to get a bit of fresh air and exercise. I maybe didn’t achieve lots with my day, but sometimes you need to take a step back and relax. I’ll catch up on everything else now I feel more refreshed.

IMG_4748
IMG_4747My week ended, as ever, with a nice bubble bath to set me up for the week ahead. It’s going to be another busy one!

How do you know when you need to slow things down or take a break?
Ever had the flu?

Week In Review – Winter Begins…

With the clocks going back last weekend and the calendar turning over to November, I guess I have to accept that winter has officially arrived. I don’t enjoy colder weather, but I do enjoy snuggling up under a cosy blanket and looking forward to the festivities of December. In the meantime, I’m continuing to get back into the swing of regular training, but without any pressure. There needs to be some downtime after two marathon training cycles this year, so while it’s important to train, if something else comes up then I’m not going to stress about it. Join me now as I link up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL  (they’re both ran the NYC marathon this weekend so I hope they had an awesome race!) to share more about my week.

After being so busy in the week before, here’s how this past week worked out:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – bike @ gym
Wednesday – short run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – Edinburgh trip

I decided on Monday that rest was the most important thing as I was feeling tired. I was at work later due to a meeting then rather than go for a swim I headed straight home to get comfy. I was actually so tired that I went to bed before 9pm and was asleep shortly after. Wow!

As a result, I awoke on Tuesday morning after 8.5 hours of sleep. I was refreshed and ready to go! When I finished work I went to the gym and got set up on the bike with my Kindle again. I started a new book and pedalled fairly hard for half an hour. Often I like to go down to the sauna after this but this week preferred to head right home and spend some time with my cat as she was a little under the weather again. This also meant that I could be in bed at a reasonable time once more.

Wednesday is still a running day, even if the distance has been a little shorter of late. This week I had longer to fit in my run before orchestra so decided on a similar loop to the one I had done the previous Sunday (a bit under 4 miles). It felt good, but was the first run of the winter that was properly dark from start to finish. Time for a bit more high-vis!

IMG_4570By Thursday I was really looking forward to Ashtanga yoga, but found myself a bit behind schedule and was worried I might not make it. By some miracle (and spending less than 10 minutes in the house to get changed!) I got there in time. It was great to have some quiet time after rushing, and I was pleased to hold “Wheel” for the full 5 breaths again. Definitely improving at that one!

Friday was another rest day, this time because the cat had a check-up scheduled at the vet. She was much better than earlier in the week, but she hadn’t been in to see the vet for a month and I wanted to review her meds as well as make sure she had a check to see if there had been any change in her health conditions. We did make a small tweak to one of her meds, but other than that she was about the same which was good news. After that I enjoyed a relaxing evening of heading out for some food with Steve then relaxing in front of the TV with a glass of wine (and the cat!).

IMG_4573I awoke on Saturday to a crisp morning for parkrun. As the first Saturday of the month it was pacer day and I was the 28 minute pacer. I was also volunteering for the 25th time which means that I will shortly be able to claim my 25 volunteer T-shirt 🙂

IMG_4576
IMG_4577As usual I was a little bit quick, but by less than 20 seconds which is not too bad, and had a lovely run. It’s nice to run at an easier pace and I enjoyed chatting to several others as I made my way around the course. It was a bumper event with 336 runners (a new record for us) which was great to see.

IMG_4581
IMG_4620Post-run Steve and I got changed then headed into town to get some shopping (after a scone and cup of tea that is!).

IMG_4629

It was an early start on Sunday to drive through to Edinburgh as Steve had a place in the men’s 10k. It was a chilly morning but bright so we had great views as we drove over the new Queensferry Crossing.

IMG_4647
IMG_4648Safely parked, we made our way over to the Royal Mile via Starbucks for a caffeine hit and toilet stop.

IMG_4651The plan was for me to set off as soon as Steve was ready, but before the race began, in order to reach the finish line at Murrayfield Stadium before he finished. I set off with a podcast playing but wasn’t even past the castle before I got a call from Steve.

IMG_4653It turned out that as he warmed up he was getting a problem with his calf and had decided not to race. Probably a sensible decision. I returned to meet him and suggested that since it was just around the corner we (really I!) should pay a visit to the Harry Potter shop Diagon House which had opened in the summer. It’s on the street that is thought to be J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley and I’ve been desperate to visit, but back in the summer the queues were massive!

IMG_4654Inside, I was spellbound and passed some happy time taking photos and browsing the merchandise. I bought a cloth bag with a picture of Harry Potter in cat form, as well as a couple of postcards for my classroom.

IMG_4657
IMG_4658
IMG_4667
IMG_4660After that we went for a coffee (and the first mince pie of the season!) then had a look in the Apple Store before heading over to our favourite place – Hotel Chocolat. Their products are amazing and there’s a nice cafe. They also had festive drinks on and we had the most amazing salted caramel and clementine hot chocolate. Yum!

IMG_4682
IMG_4683Then with all that chocolate goodness inside us we headed back to the car for the drive home as we were both in need of a nap after the early start (and I hadn’t slept too well the right before).

All in all, a pretty good week rounded off with a brilliant weekend, at least for me!

Are you a Harry Potter fan?
Any exciting plans for the festive season?

7 For 2017 – Nearly There!

Well hello there October! Where did you sneak up from? It hardly seems like any time since I was setting my goals for 2017 and here we are three quarters of the way through the year. Time to check in and see how I’m doing (you can read my previous updates here and here).

1. Set some new race PBs
This one has been at a bit of a standstill since my success at the Inverness half marathon back in March, and with no race plans for the remainder of 2017, I suspect I’ve done all I can here. My main aim was to set a new marathon PB and beat that 4:05:07 that’s been hanging over me since Paris 2014. Unfortunately it was not to be, although I did make some positive progress. Back in April I was thwarted by the Paris heat, however did manage to run what was then my second fastest marathon time of 4:32:07 (yup, my PB is somewhat of an outlier!). I followed this up at the end of September with another try at the Loch Ness marathon, and while I still didn’t crack that elusive 4 hour mark, I did lower my 2017 performance to 4:18:10 (now my second-fastest). I’m not giving up though, and have already entered a spring marathon to have another try.
I had thought I might have a go at a new 10k PB (sub-50) but have not actually raced a 10k this year. I did, however, come tantalisingly close to my 5k parkrun PB of 23:14 when I ran a 23:19 a couple of weeks before Loch Ness. This was really pleasing as this was also a real outlier in my performance history so it was good to prove to myself that it had not been a fluke, even if the time is two years old! Now onwards into 2018!
Progress: 1/3 achieved; Improving picture

IMG_1397
IMG_39502. Run my 100th parkrun
This goal relies on consistency. I’ve missed very few parkruns this year, mainly planned misses due to post-marathon recovery, and still have enough of a cushion to achieve my 100th run before the end of the year. At present I’ve completed my 93rd, so just 7 more to go. Definitely achievable, perhaps by the start of December.
And my bonus parkrun goal is to achieve my 25 volunteer T-shirt. Thanks to my pacing duties this year I only have one more to go before I have that one all wrapped up.
Progress: On track

IMG_37133. Maintain my step goal streak
Back in July I achieved the first part of this goal – one full year of taking 10,000 steps per day. Now, I’m working on completing the second part of the goal – a calendar year of 10,000 steps per day. I’ve not yet broken my streak (currently at 472 days) so continuing the habit for now should be achievable.
Progress: On track

4. Read at least 30 books
This is now the goal that needs the most attention. I’m tracking my reading on Goodreads this year and, with 19 out of 30 books read, am 4 behind schedule to complete this one. This is an advance on the 25 books I read in 2016 and I did set this goal knowing it would push me. I had hoped the summer might bring me up to speed, but I now need to try and set aside a bit more time for reading. Watch this space!
Progress: Needs Attention

5. Make more time to relax and prioritise rest during the work week
The summer break allowed me to reset a bit on this one, and as soon as term began I made sure to prioritise rest right from the start. This meant trying not to allow my natural night-owl tendencies to take over and stay up too late on week nights, as well as scheduling an afternoon nap into my Saturday routine to help counter the busy week. It’s not always easy to fit in everything I want to do, but I am getting better at this one.
Progress: Much improved

IMG_38546. Commit to more yoga outside of my weekly classes
I’m really pleased with this one. Thanks to the Tough Girl 100 challenge I was able to make regular yoga much more of a habit for me, and enjoyed doing so. Things have faltered a bit of late thanks to the time pressures of being away on a trip, but now that I’m getting organised again I’m looking forward to adding some more yoga to my days. My favourite is some bedtime yoga to help me unwind and rest well, helping me with that goal too!
Progress: On track

IMG_41967. Blog more consistently
Another one that’s going well. I wanted to improve on my 2016 pattern by publishing at least one post per week IN ADDITION to Friday Finds. So far, so good. I think I’ve only had one late Friday Finds, but it has gone out every week. I’ve also published a Week in Review post every Monday, as well as many additional posts when I can. I’m trying to use school holidays to work through the ideas in my drafts and have posts scheduled in advance, but it definitely feels much more consistent than last year. Very pleasing.
Progress: On track

IMG_0815

A bit of a mixed bag right now, but then goals are there to be a challenge rather than a guarantee. I’ve definitely made positive progress towards each of these, and will do my best to achieve those I still can. Hard to believe that the next time I write about my goals will be a review at the end of the year! I wonder what I will achieve…?

How are you getting on with your goals for 2017?
What would you still like to achieve this year?

Week In Review – Vive La France!

Bonjour! I’m back home from France. It was a great trip, but definitely tiring!

As usual, I’m linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL, but since last week’s post didn’t cover the full week thanks to my travel commitments (and lack of wifi to update the weekend’s events) I thought I’d begin this week’s post by filling in the gaps. Unsurprisingly, I have plenty of photos to share – this might be one to enjoy over a cup of tea!

The trip began in Normandy then we headed to Paris. Once home, it was time to get back to my regular routine (whilst also making sure to rest from the demands of a full-on itinerary and 40 pupils to keep an eye on!). Here’s the itinerary:

Saturday – travel to France
Sunday – explore Normandy
Monday – explore Bayeux then travel to Paris
Tuesday – Paris
Wednesday – Paris
Thursday – travel home
Friday – rest(!)
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – easy run

Saturday was a travelling day. While France is not really that far away, we had an early start to ensure we were at the airport in plenty of time (45 people to get checked in and through security!), then once in France we had a coach journey north to Normandy. An early highlight for the pupils was the presence of the Scotland football team in the departure lounge (a few were able to get photos). For me, arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport felt really familiar – I’m losing count of how many times I’ve been there now! – and I was pleased to find we had a great coach driver who not only drove us north, but provided some commentary and information about various things we passed as we left Paris, including the Stade de France.

IMG_4015Once in Normandy we headed to our base for the first couple of nights which is a youth centre opposite the most beautiful church tower.

IMG_4024We were hustled right in to dinner as we were a little later arriving that usual. The teachers had a most welcome arrival drink awaiting them, but I found the food a little strange – edible, but an odd combination. Fortunately, the meal was rescued by dessert which was these delicious pastries:

IMG_4017Our knowledgeable coach driver, who had stayed for dinner, told us they are known as Paris-Brest. Shaped like a bicycle wheel, they were created to commemorate the cycle race of the same name which began in 1891. I can confirm that they are delicious!

By the time we’d finished eating and been shown to our rooms, there was really only time to unpack the things we would need then start getting ready for bed. Of course the pupils were excited, and many had slept on the coach so felt wide awake, but I know how busy and tiring the trip is so was keen to get everyone to bed at a reasonable time.

Sunday was all about Normandy. We began the day in the beautiful town of Caen exploring the Sunday market and the castle which was built for William the Conqueror. We had our packed lunch in the castle grounds then headed on to Arromanches, at the heart of the D-Day landing sites (Jour-J in French). We were there to visit the 360 cinema which has a powerful 20 minute film which gives a real flavour of events in June 1944. The cinema is above the town and from the elevated position we could see the remains of the Mulberry harbour which was created to bring cargo ashore during the D-Day landings. We then took the short walk down to the town and had a look around for a short time before heading on to our next port of call: the American cemetery at Colleville.

IMG_4036The cemetery sits above Omaha beach and was featured at the start of the movie Saving Private Ryan (two of the brothers whose story inspired the film are buried at this cemetery). We didn’t have much time there, but I found time to watch a short film in the museum which I had not previously seen, before having a look around the cemetery itself. It’s a very sombre place and the mood can be felt in the air. It always really brings home the scale of the sacrifice made by allied forces as over 10,000 crosses are in this location alone.

IMG_4038
IMG_4043We began Monday still in Normandy with a visit to Bayeux and the famous tapestry which depicts the events around the Norman conquest of England in 1066. It’s quite spectacular and intricate, 70 metres long and 50 cm high. I remember learning about the tapestry at primary school, and always remember the part where Harold is killed with an arrow through the eye. Ouch!

IMG_4065After the tapestry there was some time to explore Bayeux before our packed lunches. There’s a beautiful cathedral in Bayeux and overall it’s a very attractive town.

IMG_4070
IMG_4073
IMG_4079After lunch we were back on the road and heading to Paris for the remainder of the trip. Again, staying in a youth centre but more modern than the one in Normandy. We arrived in time to have a little time to relax before dinner, then it was time to head out.

Our first evening was spent in the Notre Dame area. We allowed the pupils some time to explore in their groups, so I opted to pay a visit to the nearby bookshop Shakespeare & Co. It’s a famous independent bookshop, traditionally English-language. Its location is close to Kilometer Zéro, the point from which all French road distances are measured. The shop is part of the rich history of ex-pat literary Paris in the 1920s and was a meeting place for the likes of Joyce, Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Eliot. Today it’s still full of nooks and crannies inviting visitors to get comfortable and read. There’s even a resident cat whose favourite sleeping place is well defined!

IMG_4113
IMG_4120
IMG_4155
IMG_4124I absolutely adore this place and could easily spend hours (days?) there, but contented myself with a couple of books. You can ask to have your purchases stamped with the store logo, which is a nice touch and something I recommend if you ever visit.

IMG_4333
fullsizeoutput_229cTuesday was probably the most tiring day as we had no coach so were both walking and using the metro. It was also a day when there were public sector strikes, which ended up affecting our itinerary.

The first visit on the agenda was the Musée d’Orsay, a one-time railway station now home to a number of exhibits including Impressionist art. In the past we have visited the Louvre, so this was new. Unfortunately, just as we got there the museum was in the process of closing as the strikes meant they did not have enough staff. We gave our pupils some time to themselves to look around, take photos, buy food, etc while we made alternative plans and I drew on what turned out to be far more impressive knowledge of Paris than I realised I had as I was able to look at my map and come up with a plan almost immediately. All those Paris marathons were good for something!

IMG_4172We needed to do something that would not incur a cost (including additional metro tickets) so I created a tour of the area we were in. From the Musée d’Orsay we walked along the Rive Gauche past the bouquinistes to the Pont des Arts. This is the pedestrian bridge which attracted controversy due to the number of “love locks” attached to it. The locks have now been removed due to safety concerns, but it’s still a great bridge to cross as it’s quite spacious and there’s no traffic so you can take some time for photos.

IMG_4186
IMG_4187
IMG_4231The bridge leads into the Louvre courtyard so we spent some time there taking photos around the iconic pyramid (and I decided this would be the the ideal location for some yoga photos!). I had thought of maybe heading into the Tuileries gardens next, perhaps even along to the Place de la Concorde to see the obelisk, however we needed to start heading to our lunch at a quick service restaurant close to the Pompidou centre so we made our way along Rue de Rivoli to get there.

IMG_4188
IMG_4194
IMG_4196The afternoon was devoted to some shopping so we walked the group along to the Forum des Halles, a huge underground shopping mall. There has been a lot of work going on remodelling the area and it was fascinating to see how much it has changed. I didn’t really do much shopping, but did enjoy the chance to slow down a bit and spend some time in a nearby café.

Unfortunately, our evening was also affected by the strikes. We had been due to climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, but it was also closed. We had a bit longer to think about alternative activities and I suggested going along anyway to see the monument from ground level and spend some time on the Champs Elysées before walking along to the Trocadéro to see the Eiffel Tower all lit up. This turned out to be an ideal solution – another score for all that time I’ve spent exploring Paris on foot!

IMG_4208
IMG_4223
IMG_4219The pupils were pleased to see the coach again on Wednesday morning as they were so tired from the day before. Wednesday began with a visit to the Eiffel Tower. I ended up waiting at the bottom with a pupil who was unable to go up because of a fear of heights. I amused myself with a coffee and pain au chocolat for second breakfast!

IMG_4239
IMG_4240
IMG_4241Once the group was back on the ground we walked across the road to the Port de la Bourdonnais where we had a one hour cruise on the Seine. I’ve done this a few times so didn’t bother listening to the commentary and instead just enjoyed the Parisian scenery and chance to relax for a while.

Back at the coach we had a quick packed lunch (it was a little chilly) before heading off again. We asked our coach driver to go around the Arc de Triomphe, which he did, then took a fairly scenic route to our next port of call all the while keeping up his very knowledgeable and interesting commentary.

IMG_4247
IMG_4255Soon, we passed the Moulin Rouge and got off the coach to make our way up the 270 (I think) steps to the Sacré Cœur. I had to go up them fairly briskly as some of the boys raced up and a member of staff needed to be up there to keep everyone together as they arrived. After a pause at the view point, we walked around to the Place du Tertre to enjoy the artists, cafés and souvenir shops. The staff sat at a café by our meeting point and I ordered a delicious bowl of soupe à l’oignon gratinée.

IMG_4259
IMG_4280
IMG_4260
IMG_4262
IMG_4272
IMG_4397Our evening activity was a visit to the Montparnasse tower and its panoramic observation deck. We made our way there on foot, and it was well worth it for the stunning views of Paris by night.

IMG_4299
IMG_4297Thursday was, sadly, the day we had to go home. I was up early to take one of our pupils to the airport as a family funeral required her to be on an earlier flight than ours. It was actually quite nice to have a couple of hours to myself and not constantly hear my “teacher name” followed by Are we…? Can we…? When are we…? Where is…? etc.

IMG_4307Back in Scotland our journey home took us over the new Queensferry Crossing (my first time) which was exciting, but by the time I finally got home I was exhausted so Steve treated me to a Chinese takeaway for dinner before I went to bed.

IMG_4320Unsurprisingly, Friday was a very quiet day. I slept a little later then usual, got unpacked and paid a visit to my parents before going out to eat with Steve. Even better, my favourite special was on so I had a lovely steak dinner 🙂

IMG_4335By Saturday I was ready for business as usual. What with my recovery weeks and the trip, I hadn’t trained since the Loch Ness marathon and was keen to get started again with a parkrun.

IMG_4336It was a lovely autumnal day, perfect for running. I had no expectations of time, but enjoyed moving my legs and pushing my body again. I ended up running really evenly and was quite surprised to finish in 24:41. Not too shabby after three weeks off!

IMG_4343The rest of the day was pretty relaxing as Steve was away, so I chilled out with the cat and caught up on some TV.

IMG_4376
IMG_4409Sunday was another return to the usual routine as I headed out for my second run of the weekend. Nowhere near as long as my marathon training runs, but a nice 5.5 mile loop at an easy pace to start reminding my body of how to run again. I felt sluggish at first, but by the end I could feel everything clicking into place.

IMG_4406
IMG_4408What a week! So strange to think that I started the week in France and ended it on my usual running route. Life is so funny sometimes! It was great to have some time in Paris, but now I’m ready to re-focus and get back to some regular training again.

Have you been on any trips recently?
How is your training going?

Week In Review – Bon Voyage!

All of a sudden it’s October and the end of term. I’m not entirely sure what happened to the last 8 weeks (although I suspect it was all just focused on reaching that start line at Loch Ness!). As you read this, I will be escorting 40 teenagers around Normandy and Paris, so look out for next week’s update with more details. For now, I’m linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL to share my roundup of the last week.

Since this was the second of my usual two post-marathon recovery weeks, and I was getting ready to head off on a trip, things remained pretty gentle this week:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – rest
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – travel to France
Sunday – explore Normandy

I felt much better on this Monday than I had the previous one, thanks to a restful weekend. Since I knew I would miss my Hatha yoga class on Saturday (and had paid for it as part of the block) I decided to go to the Monday evening class instead. It meant I didn’t have a huge amount of time to do anything else, but to be honest the time out to calm my mind and focus on me was just what I needed. Interestingly, I felt a little residual weariness in my legs when we held one of the postures for a long time, but I suppose that shouldn’t really be a surprise so soon after a marathon!

Tuesday was busy so “rest” may not be quite accurate. I had to dash out of school at the end of the day to make it back in time for my hair appointment. I usually get this done at the weekend, but thanks to a number of obstacles in recent weeks (including, but not limited to, my trip to Inverness) there had just not been a way to fit it in and I really needed a trim before going away. At least sitting in the chair chatting and reading my book was nice and relaxing.

Tuesday was also the day my rejection from the London marathon arrived. Luckily, I had a Plan B and got my entry in for the Stirling marathon as soon as I got home!

fullsizeoutput_216c
fullsizeoutput_216d
Another rest day on Wednesday, but again not exactly resting on my laurels. This week I FINALLY made it back to orchestra (rehearsals began a few weeks ago) as I want to be part of the forthcoming concert. I was a little worried as I haven’t really played since the concert last November, but it was so nice to see my orchestra friends again, and I even made a decent job of sight-reading the symphony we were playing!

IMG_4010
Thursday was, of course, my Ashtanga yoga class. Definitely something I needed in the last week of term! There were only three of us this week, but I felt so much better in the postures than last week when my legs were still so weary – I even managed to work on Wheel a little more which is one of my goals.

By Friday I was probably running out of “oomph” but luckily it was the last day of term. It still ended up a rather busy day as I got everything sorted out for the two week break. Once home, I had scheduled a checkup at the vet for my cat (Steve’s in charge of making sure she has all her medicines while I’m away!), after which I had to get stuck into packing. I always feel like I take far too much on this trip, but the weather in France can be so changeable at this time of year, and with the regimented timetable of a school visit, going to buy new clothes (as I would if I was caught out on a holiday) just isn’t possible. Add to that all the additional bits and pieces I need with 40 teenagers in my charge and suddenly I need more than usual, but by some miracle I got it all done in time to head out to eat – starting with a celebratory end of term pint!

IMG_4011My other Friday news is that the medal for my Hogwarts Running Club virtual race arrived – year 4 of the Platform 9 3/4k. I’ve taken part in this every year and this year, the medal has a light so it looks like the front of the Hogwarts Express. Cool!

IMG_4012
Saturday was travelling day. We gathered in the school car park while it was still dark to head to the airport, and fly to Paris. From there, a coach transfer to our Normandy base for the first couple of days. However since all this took place AFTER I wrote and scheduled this post, I’ll need to fill you in on the details next week! For now, it’s au revoir from me…

How has your week been?
Are your training just now or enjoying some down time?

Week In Review – Eat, Sleep, Repeat

I consider the rest and recovery from a marathon to be just as important as the training prior to the race, and this week was ALL about recovery! Join me as I link up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL to share the details.

This week, my plan had very little variation:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – sports massage
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun volunteer
Sunday – rest

Spot the pattern lol!

The only word I have to describe Monday is “interesting”. I was sore, I was tired and I was hungry. I also had to go to work, but since everything that was going to make my day veeeeery long was my own fault, I just had to suck it up and get on with it! I consider it a win that I reached the end of the day without any irrational behaviour or tears (from me or my pupils!) and stayed reasonably alert through our after school meeting. I had a free lesson in the afternoon and was well and truly caught having a second lunch (to add to the assorted other things I had been clocked eating throughout the day!) to try and address the calorie deficit the marathon had given me. It was a pretty sedentary day though, and while the rest was good, sitting still for too long also leads to the body seizing up like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, so I knew I would have to move a bit more at the end of the day. Once home, I headed out for a walk which served the dual purpose of getting me moving and ensuring I reached my 10,000 steps for the day. Not so pleasing was the fact that it was getting rather dark by the time I got home and it wasn’t even that late. Winter is coming!

IMG_3961
IMG_3964
I felt a bit better on Tuesday, but realistically I knew I was going t feel tired all week until I could get a proper rest at the weekend. During the week after a marathon I limit myself to nothing more strenuous than a walk or some yoga, and try to rest as much as I can. I also make sure to schedule a massage to promote recovery in my legs and had this booked for Tuesday. In order to kill two birds with one stone, I walked down to my massage then Steve picked me up so we could go and sort out some food (we didn’t exactly find time for a proper food shop for the week!). Rather than wander around the supermarket feeling uninspired, I suggested a Chinese takeaway – after all, I didn’t run 26.2 miles to celebrate with a salad! Our nearest takeaway is run by someone Steve was at school with and he is known for his unique take on some dishes, including some fusing Scottish and Chinese ingredients. I had one of these dishes which is noodles with chicken and Stornaway black pudding (I request some broccoli in mine as well). I know not everyone fancies the idea of black pudding, but it really is delicious.

IMG_3968
IMG_3969
After surviving another work day on Wednesday, I headed home to take another walk. I was feeling the difference in my legs from having the massage and to help even further I decided to have a bath with Epsom salts. Steve was working fairly late so it was nice to relax in the warm water and catch up on the first episode of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing, my favourite TV show, which I had missed while we were in Inverness. The bath also made a big difference to my legs and I really wished I could have fitted it in a bit earlier in the week.

Thanks to the bath my legs really did feel much more like my own on Thursday, although I really couldn’t believe it was still only Thursday and became increasingly convinced that someone had sneaked an extra day into the week. I think it was called “Maraday”. Thursday is my Ashtanga yoga day and although I didn’t feel at my most flexible, I knew this was really going to help reset my body so went along. I took it easy through the first couple of sun salutations until I felt things loosen up a bit, and took easier options on the balance poses since my legs felt weary, but by the end of the class I felt renewed (another win = I managed not to fall asleep in savasana!)

When Friday rolled around at long last the only thing I was still feeling was tired. Friday is a short day in our timetable structure and I have some peaceful, chilled out reading periods in the afternoon which help to ease us all into the weekend. I had an appointment in town when I got back so parked a little out of town and walked there and back to get a bit of movement (and steps!). This also gave me the chance to sort out a couple of quick errands to save some time over the weekend. By the time I got home I was STARVING so was really happy to find that when we headed out to eat it was time for my favourite special of the month – steak. And since we were celebrating the completion of another marathon, we opted to have dessert this time. I didn’t need asking twice. Nor did I need to look at the menu as when I know a place has my favourite dessert on the menu there are no other options: sticky toffee pudding.

IMG_3971
I was awoken early on Saturday by the cat who, in direct contrast to last Saturday when she was ill enough to warrant an emergency visit to the vet, was in fine form and wished to alert me to the fact that she required some breakfast. I tried going back to bed (with her in tow now that her food needs had been met) but ended up just catching up with messages on my phone as I couldn’t get back to sleep. In a way this suited me as I was down to volunteer as timekeeper at parkrun and was considering walking down for a bit of exercise, so this gave me plenty of time.

IMG_3973

Steve up to his usual tricks!

IMG_3972
It was the 200th event for our parkrun and there was a huge turnout of 300 people on a beautiful Saturday morning. Post-parkrun I headed off to do a bit of shopping for my imminent school trip to France (with the marathon done I felt a bit more able to turn my attention to this) then met Steve, my brother-in-law and his wife for coffee and a bacon croissant before we got some proper food shopping done. I then enjoyed a really relaxing afternoon catching up on some TV and blogging, which really made me feel like I had got my rest back on an even keel. I even FINALLY got round to tidying away all the kit and things that I hadn’t sorted out (with a little help from a now fully recovered cat!).

IMG_3980
Sunday is usually long run day, but not the Sunday after a marathon. Instead, we took advantage of what has become a rare Sunday “off” for our now-traditional post-marathon breakfast out. We headed into town for a delicious cooked breakfast then Steve dropped me off to get my nails done (I couldn’t go to France with my 3 week old manicure which was beginning to chip and peel!).

fullsizeoutput_216a
IMG_4007
Later in the afternoon we walked back into town for our Sunday coffee and enjoyed the last of what had become a relaxed and restful weekend. Exactly what we needed. I, of course, finished the weekend with my Sunday evening bath where I always enjoy a bit of reading and a glass of wine. Lovely!

IMG_1870
Now I have just one week of the school term to go before heading off to France with 40 teenagers. All of a sudden it feels like that has come around quickly, but I think with everything so focused on the marathon I just hadn’t thought about what was to come afterwards. At least I didn’t have to go with my post-marathon funny walk lol!

How has your week been?
Any trips or races coming up?

Week In Review – A Monster Calls

Eek! Where did race week suddenly appear from? Funny how quickly a goal event seems to come round! Let me tell you all about the week leading up to the Loch Ness marathon (and a little bit about the big day) as I link up with Jessie @ The RIght Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL for their weekly roundup.

My main focus this week was to maintain some training, but also to try to rest as much as possible. Here’s how things ended up:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym + massage
Wednesday – 1km form drills
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun rest + travel to Inverness
Sunday – Loch Ness Marathon!

Monday’s rest came about as a result of another commitment. I’ll be heading off on a school trip to France in a few weeks and we had a meeting with the parents of the pupils involved. It was pointless to head home first, so I busied myself with making a packing list for the weekend before walking to the shop for a snack (and some steps!). The meeting went well but it was almost 8pm before I got away, so once home it was a cup of tea, some relaxing yoga and a reasonably early night.

I got back on track on Tuesday with my usual set of bike reps. SInce it was early in the week I made no change to these, knowing that it was fine to have a hard-ish workout at this stage – basically the last one before the race. I felt strong through these and finished my sessions with a little stretching and mobility work before heading off to have my legs massaged (I have this done once a month, but like to schedule a session in race week so I’m in tip top shape).

Wednesday is always a run day and I wasn’t sure what would be best. After a chat with Steve I decided on a 10 minute warm up, then 3 reps of the 1km form drills I’ve been doing (with 90 secs recovery in between) then a cool down. This fitted beautifully into a route I like which is about 3.5 miles and was a nice leg stretch, without overdoing it, for my mid week run. I did my usual stretching/mobility routine then made sure to get to bed at a reasonable time.

IMG_3891

Yup. It rained AGAIN!

On Thursday I had my Ashtanga yoga class, and after missing it last week I was really looking forward to it. It felt great to stretch away the last bits of tension in my body, and my legs especially felt like they benefitted from this. It also made me feel nice and relaxed, so after some dinner I was able to head to bed and sleep well.

I decided to make Friday a rest day again, partly to make sure I’d had a bit of a break before the weekend, but mainly so I could pay another visit to my friend who is recovering from foot surgery. She’s been feeling a bit cut off from the world, so I stored up plenty of news for her and we had a lovely catch up over cups of tea (under the watchful eye of her dog who was hopeful of a biscuit!). I was home in time to head out to eat with Steve, then began laying out all the things I would need to pack so that Saturday morning would be a bit less frantic.

Unfortunately, there was a bit of a spanner in the works on Saturday. I had intended to go to parkrun and use it as a shakeout run, but my elderly cat, who has been doing brilliantly, had a bit of a turn so I skipped parkrun in order to pay an emergency visit to the vet and have her checked out to put my mind at rest before heading off. After a morning at the practice she wasn’t quite herself when I left, but was assured there was nothing in her tests to give cause for concern and the symptoms she was showing were down to her being exhausted and needing to sleep. After a bit of deliberation, I decided that being at home would make no difference one way or the other as there was nothing practical I could do, so got my things together and headed for the train north. Things ended up feeling a bit rushed, but at least I was able to relax for a couple of hours on the journey, safe in the knowledge that the cat would likely sleep (exactly what she needed) and that my mum would be checking on her and knew what to do if something was wrong.

Following our journey on the Marathon Express (honestly, it seemed like EVERYONE on the train was heading to the marathon!) we made our way to the hotel. Steve had managed to book somewhere near to the race HQ/finish which is along the last km of the race. Ideal! We checked in and dropped off our bags before going to get our race packs. I also bought a hoody (I have one from all my major marathons) and some new headbands after losing one at parkrun last Saturday! We then took some photos and meandered back to the hotel for a while.

IMG_3893
IMG_3894
IMG_3910
Rather conveniently there was an Italian restaurant next door, and although they were busy they said if you could get a table outside it was first come first served. We were really lucky as a couple were just leaving and gave us their table. It was lovely – pleasant enough weather to be outside and right across from the castle.

IMG_3921
IMG_3928
Even better, while we were eating my mum got in touch with good news about the cat who was bouncing back after a super long sleep. It was a huge relief and meant I could really focus on the marathon, so once back in the hotel I got all my things organised then relaxed for a while before bed.

Sunday was of course race day. I’ll write a separate post with all the details in the next few days, however it was a great course with some challenging hills and although I didn’t make my A goal of a sub-4 hour time, my time of 4:18:10 was inside of my B goal. You never know what might happen on race day and I already understand some of the factors which affected my performance. That said, my PB of 4:05:07 is actually the ONLY time in my previous 9 marathons that I’ve run sub-4:30, so to get sub-4:20 (my B goal) over a challenging course shows that my training is paying off, and despite what I may have sworn towards the end about never running another one, I’m already leaning towards some further training tweaks for another attempt to lower my time!

IMG_8858And so another marathon training cycle comes to an end. Maybe not quite the result I wanted, but still my second fastest time and the best I’ve managed for years. That’s something to be proud of. Now it’s time to relax, regroup and make some decisions about future races…

What big goal have you set for yourself?
Any suggestions for my next race?