Where was I?

Oh yes. Cakeathon tomorrow! There are two in May, and I bet everyone else is doing the late May event when I’m purportedly down to do the Vitality London 10K (we are a bit sad that BUPA no longer sponsors it, as it means yet another pink themed medal to go with Bath, Reading, Hackney, North London etc). Purportedly, as I have no idea how Tuesday’s surgery will go. Most friends’ experiences have been good, but one did have a nasty reaction to the anaesthetic and had to stay in. And I am worried about losing fitness while everything heals up. I’m going to ask for super fast healing stitches. If they exist. This is the first time I’ve needed surgery: the worst I’ve done is lacerate my thumb on a baked bean tin. That involved steroid trips and not washing it for a week. Thumbs get surprisingly stinky. 

Anyhow. This weekend, like last, has been Morris heavy. It’s that time of year. St George’s day, then May Day. 

Today involved less dancing than last week. Last week I got up the next morning and my calves were insistent that stairs were not their thing, and as for running? Nah. Forget it. I tried, I bailed early and left N to run on his own, I pootled home slowly, I had 3 days off.  This week has been very thunderstormy: so when I got back it to it yesterday, I promptly had short sharp asthma attack. Rather than stop, I decided to run to heart rate (160-165, chosen at random) I can control my heart rate by controlling my speed, and that takes the edge off. N said he was struggling a bit, so it was hardly surprising my lungs objected. I get so annoyed and frustrated when my legs are going fine and my lungs aren’t (and this happens every year, round about early May, and it is falling when I know I’m perfectly fit!). Running to heart rate is now on the list of things to research. I ought to work out how to do it properly rather than guessing. I should actually run to the correct rate! 

So, now I am sitting in Carluccio’s, having concluded that delaying getting on a train for a two hour journey in order to eat is a Good Idea. I’ve had my usual pre race menu: a chicken liver pate and then pasta luganica with a small glass of red wine.

I know. Wine the night before a race! Shock! Horror! Jane, you are not doing it properly! I have run various PBs on wine the night before. It makes no difference. Gin, however, has a detrimental effect and leaves me very heavy legged. I love the stuff, which is why I have several bottles (mostly gifts) at home. The effect on my running is also why I have several bottles at home..

Otherwise, I’ve been finishing up at work. I was still doing something reasonably technical 10 minutes before my leaving presentation. Five minutes before the presentation I was trying to hide…I did actually ask that everyone stop looking at me. I’m just a DBA. They’ve employed a new one who starts in a fortnight.

Me? I just started the temporary unemployment by arranging all my hand knitted socks on the bed (forgetting about two pairs). 27 pairs in total. I’ve made 7 pairs for N, about a dozen for other people (no. More. Probably 20 or so, now I count up quickly!). I’ve got two pairs made for me: both part of sockapalooza exchanges. And the practical upshot of this photo? Going to knit a pair for a former young leader…


Catching up

The big news round here: we have carpet! No more teetering down our (somewhat steep) stairs of a morning attempting to avoid being bitten by the carpet grippers. Naturally, I had a nightmare last night that, somehow, a second flight of stairs had appeared and we’d managed to fail to carpet those as part of the process. I’ve hoovered the entire lot – it’s very fluffy, and I had to empty the Dyson three times. There is still fluff. Just less of it.

Carpet means the spare room is beginning to take shape. In that we’ve assembled the bed, and put it in a corner of the room. Still no curtains, so we can’t actually put anyone up for the night, but we have a bed. Actually, still no bedding (that appears to be in storage), so even if we did have curtains, we’d still be a little stuck for people staying. But, there is a bed. It has a mattress. This is progress of sorts.

This afternoon, I’m going to sort out my loose knitting patterns, and put them into some sort of order. I am fed up with not being able to find a pattern. I think it would make slightly more sense to have all the hats in one folder, baby stuff in another, socks in another, shawls in another etc. Rather than four folders containing everything in something that approaches chronological order of acquisition, but only in the loosest sense of the word. I’ve also got intentions about getting photographs into a frame, and finding a couple of frames online for the other photos I want to display. I have a John Lewis voucher and I’m not afraid to use it.

I’ve been for two short runs along the canal. Very ploddy and slow. I’m still recovering from last weekend. I’m utterly shattered. I’m stressed by leaving work – everyone seems to want a piece of me and to tell me how sad they are that I’m leaving (really? I’m just a DBA. You can get plenty of competent DBAs. I’m not even convinced I’m that competent!). Add in some awful, awful news about a friend which completely derailed me on Thursday, a distinct lack of sleep until Friday night, and I’ve just not got it in me right now.  The last two years have seen practically every single major life change going on – bereavement, marriage, moving house, changing job…. Frankly, just getting out and having a pootle seemed like enough for the weekend. Anything more energetic is just going to have to wait.

I need to get it in me. I’ve got one weekend before Cakeathon! Then I’m heading into surgery for endometriosis, and a fortnight after that, the new job begins. I’ve spent well over an hour on the phone to my colleague who got me the job – I feel vastly more reassured about that, and I’m hopeful that I’ll start sleeping through the night again. And get enough sleep generally. I’ll have much more opportunity to work from home – a global team – so I can take advantage of the lack of commute and run more.

It’s not so much the painful periods that are prompting me to surgery – I’ve dealt with those for so many years (and they’ve become vastly less painful since I’ve been running. Still tough enough to knock me out for a bit, still tough enough to need codeine on occasion, but, generally, shorter lived pain which responds better to pain killers). It’s wanting to make this little family a bit bigger.  Endometriosis is getting in the way of this. We’re pretty sure I’m fairly good at conceiving. Keeping pregnant, nah, not so much. And it’s exhausting, physically and mentally.  I’m no spring chicken, and nor is N. Mum may have had me when she was 42 – but the root cause of my issues isn’t going to get better on its own. It’s just going to get worse. Heck. I’ve had scans for this issue twice in the last 10 years, but it was only the last one, back in October last year, which actually pinpointed the root cause of, I suspect, all my symptoms. Not just the pain, but, as I discovered while researching, the issues I have with wheat in particular and digestion in general.

So. I feel fairly positive about it all. And, while I’ve been feeling positive, I’ve been casting on.  Call it spring startitis. Call it the natural result of not knitting for a fortnight.


Socks (I needed emergency yarn and needles on Thursday night. iKnit London obliged. It’s beautiful stuff – a combination of Wisteria and Laburnum).

A Hug for Diana (this is the second of the Hitchhiker shawlettes I’ve started on. The third I might actually manage to make for me…)



Manchester, we have unfinished business

In short: my slowest marathon at 4:11:55 (with a 24 second loo break). I apparently hit that wall thingy. And then I cried. And then someone walloped me in the eye with their elbow while I was phoning N, and broke my sunglasses, and then N ran with me for a bit, and then I overtook the great galluphing oaf with the elbow (honestly, he was head and shoulders taller than the rest of the pack) in the final 20 yards and yelled that he may have broken my sunglasses, but I was going to beat him.

The problem was – it was warm. And sunny. There was no shade on the course, and, somewhere around 15 miles in, I overheated. In retrospect, I should have paused, removed layers (despite the faff that would have involved, what with the camelbak) and picked up again. I should have dressed for 15 degrees, not the predicted 11. I really, really should get some disposable sleeves, as I think that would have made the difference in my clothing choices. I could have dropped those en route.

I knew I was struggling at 16/17 miles – there’d been no shade for about 3 miles solid, and very little for the previous two miles, and I was getting water from the water stations just to pour over my head.  Round about 17 miles, I was starting to cry, realising that I just couldn’t manage it, but determined to keep going. Used the inhaler, pulled myself together a bit. Felt very warm.

And, at 22 miles, as I dropped behind the 4 hour pacemaker, I couldn’t manage to maintain my pace any longer, and burst into messy tears. Then phoned N. Who was wonderful, and I got going again, a bit, and gradually pulled myself back together, and he found me, and ran alongside me until he had to peel off, ‘cos he’s an unofficial race angel. And I finished. In style. Naturally.

But, looking at those splits – I was doing so well. I was bang on for the half (and, let’s not forget, I did a half at 8:20 min/mile not so long ago, and felt pretty fresh and good at the end of that!), if not a little ahead, to give a little leeway. Had it been cooler, I reckon I could have sustained. Sucks to be out of practice at warm weather running!

Apparently it’s my best estimated 30KM effort – Berlin marathon was 9 minutes faster overall (heck, Rome was 2 minutes faster…but I didn’t walk any of that).

So, I’m actually quite happy with what I achieved. I only paused for a pee break, I finished the damn thing despite the tears. But I’m doing it again for my 40th birthday in 3 years time. I need a little time out from marathon training first. Yes, it was supposed to be my last, but it was also supposed to go a bit better than that!

The best thing about the weekend was visiting the Blue Peter garden and having my photo taken next to Petra’s statue, and removing some rubbish from the fish pond, and standing in Simon Groom’s footprints saying “And what a beautiful pair of knockers they are.” Closely followed by the rather wonderful steak we had at Marco’s in the hotel (and seeing Virginia McKenna a few tables away).



Perfectly to plan

a.k.a. Reading Half Marathon.

Nine miles at an average of 8:57 min/mile (there was a hill at mile three, and I got a bit un-cautious after that)

3.5 miles at a brisk walk of 14 mins/mile (with jelly babies, and a gel round about mile 11, as I was flagging slightly, and a bit of texting N, who had finished well before me). People were very encouraging.

0.6 miles at an ever increasing pace, as I rather got my grrr on, meaning a sprint finish and leaping into mid air as I crossed the finish line. Yep. Grandstanding for the stadium. Realised that everyone else was giving me the evils in a sort of “how the hell has she got the energy for that?” manner. Tant pis. I was BORED by that point.


The only thing that didn’t go to plan was the start. Half an hour it took to walk from the loos to the starting pen, mostly because of bad crowd management. And then it started 20 minutes late, with no real explanation as to why (presumably said appalling crowd management?) Bit disappointing that. I know it’s a long way from loos to start, but, it’s not half an hour’s walk…

I feel vastly more positive about Manchester next weekend. Plug in the music, and meander along with the 4 hour pacer, I think.


Getting Things Done

Today, I failed on the parkrun front. It felt more important to just sleep. I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night for the past couple of weeks. Combined with the clock change, and getting up in time to leave at 7:10 am Monday-Thursday, I’ve been knackered all week. Most Fridays, working from home, I start at 8am. Yesterday: I was still asleep at 8:30am. With a marathon in just over a week’s time, it’s more important that I sleep than run. And, oh! The luxury. I must go to bed reasonably early tonight. I intend to be on the 8:10 train to Reading, so I can complete the Reading Half. Note: complete. 9 miles at marathon pace and then I am walking the rest of it. I’m supposed to be tapering. I’ve got the Sheila Hancock Just A Minute Episodes downloaded to the phone to keep me steady and occupied for the last bit. I always go slower with Just a Minute going. And much faster with N in tow. That’s inaccurate. Much faster when N is towing me.

We’ve been running together quite a bit – the only good thing about him not doing Manchester Marathon is that he’s not training intensely, so I get to run with him. This is doing grand things. I get more competitive when he’s about, and want to keep up, so I’ve sped up just a little. I’m putting more in where I might be sauntering. Superb.

So. This morning, I ate breakfast on the back door step. Watched the birdies.Contemplated a table. Contemplated clearing some more leaves.

Made a couple of phone calls – the important one was to The Quilt Room, as I’ve finally finished the quilt I bought material for in, oh, 2010, on a trip to Florida. There’s 625 2″ squares in the centre of it. Next time I quilt (I have material bought in 2012, when we went to Illinois), I’m doing something vastly less fiddly. The Quilt Room ladies have a long arm quilting machine, and will do a vastly better job than I will. I just want it done.

Found Em’s sewing scissors. I’m on an embroidery jag, partly in an effort to encourage my left arm to just calm the heck down, and stop tensing up. Partly because – wow, it’s fun, and much easier than I thought it was. I’ve got embroidery in progress to travel with, and I’m finishing off Em’s sampler (I’ve only been working on that since 2009). I rather want to finish it before I change jobs in May.

Failed to get to the bank before it shut. Well. I managed N’s bank, but not mine. Paid in one cheque, discovered that N will have to get another reissued. However, at least cheque #1 is paid in. Went to the post office, meandered round Asda, bought some shampoo for the foodbank, and some FGS for us (they were on special). Amongst other things. OK. I have Bailey’s for alcoholic hot chocolate again.

Had coffee. And lunch out. Gluten-free falafel wraps are vastly more palatable when heated up a little.

Washed the front door step and the PVC of the front windows. I think a second attempt will be required, but they look vastly more sanitary now.

Hung some pictures up. Pulled myself together, and found 8 photographs to go in the family picture frame I want to put above the fireplace in the dining room. Ordered them. I’m not happy with one – but it’ll do as a placeholder (rather than just putting things off until I track down something suitable). The frame has only been sitting in the dining room since early December. In other exciting house news: there will be carpet by Mid-May. Which means we can have a housewarming without worrying about people injuring themselves on the stairs (currently a lovely combination of carpet grippers, underlay, and bare wood). I’ve put up my school photos, three pictures in the downstairs loo (I think one is too high up, and I think I might want to replace it with something larger), one in the hallway, one on the landing, and two in our bedroom.

Uploaded pictures of completed efforts to Ravelry. Caught up on guidemin, caught up on blogs. Still need to track down some curtains on eBay (N put the rail up in the spare room, so we can now have people to stay. If we can clear floorspace..)

And then some chickeny-pasta for supper. With a spot of red wine. And hoping for an unbroken night’s sleep.


That last post’s title was prescient…

It did hail. It thundered and lightning’d during Easter Sunday’s Service (the vicar name checked me during the Sermon, while talking about his experience at the Cardiff World Half Marathon Championships the day before. The vicar, incidentally, is still about 3/4 minute faster than me on a half marathon. Argh). I worried about the afternoon’s planned run, and concluded that if it did thunder, I’d head straight home by the shortest route.

I went out to attempt 12 miles. I ended up doing 10.5. Between the epic puddle, the hail, the glorious sunshine and the hills, I didn’t quite have it in me. The hail stung. And there were eggs at home. I do love the Pednor 10mile loop. It’s pretty. There were lambs (some of whom had some snazzy raincoats, fashioned from feed sacks), and bunnies, and horses, and nuthatches, and blackbirds, and sparrows, and tits of some type, and a couple of glorious kites who had me so distracted, I very nearly found myself running backwards. And decided to stop, so that I could just gape at them, open-mouthed. I got home, rather soggy and damp, shoes squelching, with my father saying “well, if it had got really bad, I’d have come to rescue you.” “It hailed.” “Oh. We didn’t have any of that here….” No. Just some belligerent ducks in the garden, wanting food.

 Mum made me scrambled eggs and tea. I made a perfect pig of myself. And then there was an immensely heavy fruitcake, and hot cross buns, and after that, turkey. Easter is an excuse to have Christmas Dinner but without the pudding. Yum.

I also found Pamela. I made her from scratch in our pottery lessons, with help, when I was 10.  

 Since then, I’ve been out once – and been hailed on again. I do hope it doesn’t turn into three runs straight with hail. Petit-pois sized hailstones are not fun.

Still no sign off the pyjamas, and I’m off knitting until my left arm has stopped feeling quite so tight and awful – I pulled it skiing, and it’s not quite right yet. Much better than it was, but not fantastic. I’m on an embroidery jag instead. Interspersed with paperwork, clearing leaves from the garden, and trying to finish Em’s cross stitch from 2009.