Everyone should chocathon. 

Oh my. Inspired by Anna’s tales of cakeathon, I went beetling over to the Saxons, Normans and Vikings website to see what was what. That was back in September. Now, September was a bit challenging, what with Berlin Marathon and, it turned out, some extra stuff that I’m still only just managing to talk about with closest friends, and I threw caution to the winds and entered or added myself to the waiting list for several races. I had to drop out of one in January as the logistics got beyond us, so chocathon was my aim.

The marathon plan said 20 miles at a 10 min/mile pace. Quite slow. I did 19.19 miles in 3:12:25 so about the correct pace overall (the loop of the race is 3.85 miles) and, oh my god, the wind for half of it was, shall we say, challenging. The forecast suggested up to 20mph, and it wasn’t too far off being correct. We think it was 15-18 mph, and it certainly got stronger as the morning went on.

The route is an out and back, run as many times as you fancy in 6 hours.

There’s a little hill at the start, then flat,up a bit, zigzag, down a bit, and totally flat along the sea wall. Then back the other way. It would have been delightful, but for the wind (I’m yet to upload the Strava stats, but N’s shows quite clearly how much the wind slowed him down). Into the wind for most of the sea wall for the outbound: but nicely behind you on the way back for a little boost. Until the hill just on the NW corner which pretty much everyone walked. Uphill into the wind? Yup. Walk it. Bits of that race were run at 12:30min/miles as it was impossible to push much harder, and I was focussed on distance and stamina over speed. It was tough, but much easier than that run a fortnight ago.

(ETA: Stats!)


This was, hands down, the loveliest, friendliest event I’ve ever done. So many people yelling encouragement on the way out and back: it was easy to join in! We encouraged one lady past the friendly cows that were in the hoe, and there were also sheep. I saw a husky! Everyone smiled, despite the wind. Two sets of couples were walking it hand in hand. And the race director, Traviss, is one of the best. Up there with Maurice Raynor from Regents Park 10ks.

For each loop, you got a towelling hairband to wear (so no need to count: at the half way point I had two cups of squash and some jelly babies. Also on offer were peanuts, crisps, chocolate buttons…). At the end, you ring a bell and they record your distance and time. Really well organised and low key.

The goody bag (less my Pepsi, which didn’t last five minutes. N had chocolate stout in his). The chocolate lasted cos there was a tonne of cake and fudge and chocolate and crisps and sausage rolls at the end.

And the medal. Huge and heavy!

We had fish and chips in Folkestone on the way home. I fell asleep not long after.

This was my birthday treat (we needed a hotel last night in order to avoid leaving home at 6am). And it was wonderful. My birthday isn’t for another month, but I declared early.



Ladies, talk to me of running knickers

Mine are in a parlous state. Greying  M&S brazilian style pants that used to be white, but which have been demoted to running after attempts to dye them pink, and purple, and navy failed in a fairly dramatic manner. The elastic appears to be giving up the ghost now. What with that, and the running tights which developed a fault on the zip on the pocket (I need to know that my passcard for work is secure, but not that it’s so secure that I cannot extract my inhaler without a prolonged fight!), it’s all going to hell in a handcart round my butt.

So. New running underwear is required. I’m fine on sports bras – but what does the amply-bottomed girl wear under her running tights? I think I’ll be buying black, and I want something comfy that I can throw in with the rest of the stinkay running gear on a 40 degree wash – anything lower, and there’s a risk of crotch rot. Bleagh. Do not wash your scanties at too low a temperature. Be hygienic.  Anyhow, I have a disproportionately large behind compared to my waist – not quite Kim Kardashian, but large enough to buy jeans in a “Bold Curve” cut. I get cold easily. I don’t do thongs or anything of that ilk. What to get?

ION – 12 miles over mud, hill and dale on Sunday, and I met some Jersey Cows who were listening to The Archers Omnibus on the farmer’s tractor’s radio.  A Coach Jeff Half Hour Lunchtime Quickie on Tuesday (brutal and short, and boy, could I feel it the next day), 7 miles along the canal yesterday (ploddy and muddy, but at the correct pace! Blimey!) and 5 miles to happen today (1 mile jog, 3 miles marathon pace, 1 mile jog).


Intervals were not a disaster area

We did an inverted pyramid, all at 10k pace, with 2 min recoveries. 8/6/4/6/8. And I bloody loved it. Big grin. Powering along, aiming to keep between 8min/mile and 8:20min/mile (I think I did – I wasn’t entirely sure, as I wasn’t watch gazing for the whole thing.

Thank you Serpies Coaches. You rock. I think I *might* be able to do this marathon thing. Hurrah!


Some runs are not meant to be

Sunday was supposed to be all about distance, rather than speed, anyhow. It was supposed to be 17 miles. I managed a grand total of 16, split into 14.5 miles of ever slowing plod, a sit down at a canal lock for a massive meltdown involving tears and snot and sobbing and exhaustion and then another mile and a half of excessive plod.

Then I got myself rescued a mile or so from home. Seriously. N came out, in the van, with extra layers, and lots of hugs, and just made it all better, and made tea for me when I got back in, and found a nice warm towel for my freezing cold toes, and gave me crisps and chocolate.

From this we conclude:

Do not go on holiday part way through marathon training (or, if you do, do not go to altitude, go somewhere that will allow training to continue). Do not optimistically assume you will run 10 miles straight after getting off a 9 hour transatlantic flight (I spent the day prone on the sofa. Barely awake).

Adjust the training plan accordingly, and do not attempt to do 17 miles straight after not having run further than 5 miles in the intervening 3 weeks regardless of whether you’re jetlagged or not. Work up to it slightly more gently (I was struggling at 8.5 miles, and really not feeling the love after 12 miles, despite three gels having gone down my gullet by that point).

Do not run three days straight because you have mucked up the previous week’s training because people needed to be met.

Do not spend the day before the long run belting round London trying to sort out tenants and training Guide leaders in the database system. Instead, rest properly, and eat properly. Heading into London six days running is asking for trouble. Not getting back home before 10pm for four of those days doesn’t help matters either. Not when the departure time to get to work is 7.10am.

Do not accept any further commitments (Guiding or otherwise) other than those in the diary, or in the early planning process.

However, do get a really lovely new pair of trail shoes to muddy up enthusiastically. They were brilliant.

 I’m still aiming for a sub 4-hour marathon at Manchester (seriously. 3:59:59 would do it). This coming weekend I will run between 12 and 18 miles (haven’t established my route properly, as I need to faff with a map) cross-country (it’s got the odd hill…that counts as extra mileage?). The weekend after is The Chocathon Challenge (aiming for 5 laps). Then Leith Hill Half (6.5 miles up, 6.5 miles down – apart from a brief down on the way up, which turns into a killer up on the way down), Bath, another 20 miler, 12 miles and, although I’m supposed to do 9, I’ve got an entry for Reading Half and, crucially, can tumble out of bed, meander 5 minutes to our closest station, and be there in time if I’m on the 8:10 train without needing to rely on N for transport. I don’t like the Reading course much – but it seems such a waste of money to not do it. I hadn’t thought we’d entered, but the Race Packs have just shown up at my parents’ place. I think it will all depend on what the weather’s doing.

In other words, the training for this marathon is all over the bloody shop. It’s intervals tonight, which may be a total disaster area, but it’s not the end of the world if it is.

I am continuing to #ktf2016. I’m onto the sleeves of the current sweater (it would be done by now if I’d liked the original contrast yarn I used, rather than ripping back about 5 balls worth of Rowan 4 ply tweed), and have finished two pairs of socks over the weekend. Both the Sparkly Unicorn Fart Socks and the Spey Valley Socks. I cast on a new pair of Spey Valleys today.




I swear the jet lag has cancelled out the altitude training. The last two runs have been tough. I’m inclined to not go out today, but go out tomorrow instead – my legs are heavy as heck. I didn’t help myself by failing to drink enough water last night after a 5.6 mile effort (would have been more, but I had to meet a Rainbow Leader, and was lacking time. I also got interrupted by a phone call about a sofa about 2.5 miles in. Very Dirk Gently. I hope it makes it up the stairs OK today – the flat is finally let, after a month and a half, and the new tenant wanted a second sofa. As you do. Doesn’t want a table or chairs.). This morning, I woke up at 5am with what can only be described as a hangover-headache, but without the fun of alcohol… Staggered very quietly about the bedroom and bathroom, took both paracetamol and ibuprofen, drank about a pint of water, and dropped off again in less pain in half an hour. See the edifying sight of a sweaty me below. Your week is now complete? Goodo!

 Shame the alarm went off at 6am, isn’t it?

I need coffee. But I’m trying to cut back on caffeine again. And to eat more avocado, oily fish, and nuts. The avocado bit is going really well: I accidentally added six to the Ocado order this week. Someone bought us an avocado-wrangler as a wedding present. It is brilliant. No more wrestling with avocado skin, or with avocado stones. I highly recommend it. Totes amazeballs. Other wedding present highlights are the three-hour-hot-pad (that got switched on when I’d finished my nocturnal perambulations this morning), the collander that sits in the sink rather than needing to be held mid-air and the vouchers that went towards our superb sofa. I love our sofa. I’ve not made it home before 9pm yet this week, so it’s underutilised. And well loved when I do make it there.

Sunday involves a 17 mile run. Between Friday and Sunday, I need to check the smoke detector in the flat, remove the “dressing” (In desperation after six weeks of no-one wanting to rent it, I went up and put pictures on the walls, and a bedspread and pillows on the bed, only to discover that the people who’d looked at it about an hour earlier, while I was at Rainbows, wanted it and want to move in on Saturday), ensure that the ceiling in the bathroom is painted – the waterproof light fitting is a different shape from the previous one, so there’s a gap in the paintwork, clean the place (electricians made a mess), give someone a training on the Guiding Database, run Parkrun, get some trail shoes, as opposed to the lovely road shoes I was missold (I do need new road shoes at some point soon anyhow, but it’s annoying that I’m going to have to spend yet more on trainers earlier than anticipated) and make N some Valentine Biscuits (I got heart shaped cutters. And a recipe in The Simple Things magazine for peanut butter and jam cookies. He likes his peanut butter).

Work is threatening to remove our toasters if someone sets off the fire alarm again. Given that we’re a 17 storey building with several different businesses therein, you can understand why. It takes about an hour to get us all out, hang about, and then all back in. There’s a dearth of local cafés to escape to. On the other hand, Ivan now make cake at work. The decadence. 

This is me and a very hand made tshirt quilt on the last day of holiday. 

And that’s some commuter knitting. It is the yarn equivalent of unicorn farts: rainbow and glittery. 


Next time I go skiing…

I shall do more strengthening exercises. My planned afternoon was kyboshed because my legs couldn’t take the pace! So, after a morning of blues (including one which was ungroomed, mogul-y and thus fairly similar to yesterday’s extremely short lived accidental black), I had an afternoon of greens until it got too cold to stay out any longer. 

I am now watching a pair of skiing boots with built in heaters on eBay. 

Last night I had edamame houmous. Very yum. And I also had a manicure (must leave a good review on Yelp). 



We’re at something silly like 9,600 feet, and, I tell you, altitude sickness is No Joke. It took me 36 hours to stop feeling utterly lousy. Headachey. Ridden with sinus pain. Breathless after walking for about 10 yards. It was like having a chest infection. I spent a whole day and a half on the sofa, and worried about pulmonary oedema: the coach of the rugby team had that in Peru and landed up in hospital. Not the way you want to spend a holiday. Tanked up with ibuprofen and decongestant. Drinking water like it was going out of fashion. And peeing a Lot (my kidneys are in fine fettle). 

By Friday afternoon I was feeling a bit perkier (and had had about four baths… But can you blame me with that whirlpool?) and decided to hit the gym. Oh. My. God. I really should have checked my peak flow and FEV-1 first, and based the workout round that. But no! 5 miles at a 9min/mile on the “varied” programme on the treadmill. This turned into 3 miles, on the flat (a 2% incline practically totalled me), with some walking and I think an average of 9:30 min/mile when I was actually running. And I was dripping with sweat. 

Things I learned:

  1. It’s impossible to drink water from a normal water bottle while at a run on the treadmill. It is much bouncier and you will nearly knock your teeth out. Either walk and drink, or take the camelbak. 
  2. Use the treadmill on the right as a. There’s no weird break in the mirror which will make one of your legs look twice the size of the other and b. It’s slightly further round the corner so you get perved at less. 
  3. Flat is perfectly fine at altitude. If boring. 
  4. Adjust expectations re distance and behave like you’re getting over a cold for the first couple of runs. 
  5. They aren’t joking when they say drink 3 times as much water as normal. 
  6. Keep a tissue handy in case of nose bleed. 
  7. If the weather forecast says it’s going to be minus 7 as the top temp, give up on the idea of running outside.  

It is very pretty here. And I have now made it out on the slopes. I had a lesson, which was mindbogglingly expensive compare with Europe, but worth every penny. I know what I should be doing, even if I can’t quite manage it yet. 

 Oh yes. I got cookies….  

And knitted the better part of a sock. Eagle eyed readers may recognise a similar sock from January 2009 and the good old days on Xanga.