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.



All hail the long weekend

So far, I have found my knitting (in a bag, in a box, in the study) and my guiding neckerchiefs (in a bag, on a hook, in the wardrobe, behind a dress). If my pjs could just show up?

St Anthony’s working overtime for me this weekend.



It’s been another erratic week. Poor N went down with a horrible chest infection on Tuesday, and has been either sleeping, or coughing, since then. We both had a dreadful night on Wednesday – he was tossing and turning, and I was unable to settle. Last night he was still struggling to sleep and, bless, wandered downstairs to watch TV instead of disturbing me. I never noticed. We do have the most awesome sofa for TV watching when ill – it’s a corner chaise thing, with heaps of blankets and cushions. So you can be quite cosy at 4am, watching Castle on Alibi.

Meanwhile, I’ve been interrupted so many times with things at work for the past few weeks (all, apparently, disgustingly urgent, although it turns out that different people have different ideas about what that actually means. Folks, April isn’t urgent!) that I don’t quite know whether I’m coming or going. Running has happened, but interval sessions have been entirely thrown over in favour of the Coach Jeff Lunchtime Quickie Half Hour Interval Session Podcast (no longer available on iTunes, I found it in 2009 or 2010). This involves a warm up, stretches, some tempo running (2×3 minutes), then 30 seconds (with 30 seconds recovery) at full-speed-Linford-Christie pace three times over, then the same, but for a minute with 30 seconds recovery, and twice over. Then a meander back to the office. It is Brutal. It is also remarkably effective – rather like Tabata.

So. Bath Half. I was not feeling the love. I was not wanting to take the train down simply because it involved two and a half hours on the train (this was actually quite easy. We went to the mini-station round the corner from the house, changed once and lounged). I wanted to be at home. We had a room in a hotel that’s practically on top of the race village – but had a shared shower-and-loo, which was like being in halls. Warm enough, though, unlike the place we used to stay in, which had the coldest bathrooms known to humankind. A former colleague bumped into us while we were waiting for the start: my face, apparently, said I was not looking forward to it. Even with the promise of a Creme Egg in the five minutes before the gun.

Last year, Bath was 1:55:40, or thereabouts. It was half marathon #2 of Molto March Mezzo Marathon Madness (aka run five half marathons five weekends running, all in the name of charity). This year, it marked the third racing weekend on the trot…and my 21st half marathon. I was rather wanting to do the 20 miles that the marathon plan told me about, feeling the love for the longer distance and the slower speed. I was doubtful at my abilities to get round in anything faster, and felt that a PB (1:53:33 would have done it – remember Reading last year? 1:53:36?) was not going to happen. Jealous of a friend who’d achieved sub 1:50 at Brighton while I was chocathoning, I’d had a complete fall-to-bits on the subject of running last Monday and ended up spending the evening eating chocolate ice cream rather than doing intervals (I did intervals on Tuesday).

This year? I had N running with me. We started way back – the queue for the loos at the start was immense and, it turns out, slow moving because two of the cubicles were empty and no-one had realised. It was six minutes before we crossed the line, and our first two miles were 8:49 with a lot of weaving. And then something happened. We broke free, and N decided that I was perfectly capable of pushing myself a bit. In fact, pushing myself to something in the vicinity of an 8:20 min/mile. I knew things were going nicely when we hit 10Km at about 53 minutes – a fairly respectable time for me on that distance. I didn’t quite expect that it would keep going so well (was it love? adrenaline? both?).

People, I finished that half marathon in 1:50:24, N in 1:50:22. And it *would* have been sub 1:50 had it not been for the error in loo timing. On the other hand – it wouldn’t have been 1:50:24 had I needed the loo all the way round, so, really, I’m pretty happy.

OK. Very happy.

Couldn’t have done it without N, though. It wouldn’t have been half as fun, either. I think this chest infection has wrecked his chances of a sub 3:22 marathon in Manchester in 3 weeks time, but I’m optimistic that he might be able to run, and that he might run with me, and that I might crack sub 4 hours.  He’s sounding a lot better today than yesterday, but it’s a nasty bug this one, and he refuses antibiotics (and who’s to say it’s not viral anyhow?). We shall see. He wanted to be better by now – but chest infections take time, vitamins, chicken soup, liquid, and, in our case, curry and chilli.

Here. Have some pictures of Bath – we had a bit of a wander on Monday, having taken the day off.


It’s been that sort of week

The weekend’s running was rather lovely. Leith Hill Half – 13.1 miles of lots of up and down on mixed tracks; sand, mud, gravel, road. Some of it was definitely walking territory (how do people manage to run this thing in 1hr 40 minutes?). It attempted to snow on the way down. I had a brilliant time – and ate two cooked breakfasts afterwards. Mine. And then N’s – he didn’t run the race because it didn’t fit the marathon training plan. I am now beyond caring about anything other than getting round, so decided that 13.1 miles of challenging territory was broadly equivalent to 16 miles flat on the road. It took me 2 hours 15 minutes – knocking about 13 minutes off last year’s time. Bonza.

Then I careered about the countryside in order to visit Mum on Mothering Sunday. Total travel time on Sunday? 4.5 hours. Train to Dorking (that was easy), then N collected me from Dorking, we met up with Dad at Ascot (Dad was late, he needed to get petrol, lost his phone at the petrol station – no-one has used it, and he’s got a new one now. £9.99 with £10 free credit and a credit transfer from the old phone, so he is well pleased – and then he turned off early and had to go through Sunninghill). Then over to my parents from which, because no-one could face hanging about in either Slough or Ascot for another half hour, N collected me.  Mum had this wonderful idea that it would be easiest for me to be transported round the countryside like a parcel. It didn’t pan out quite the way we intended. I have got to get my act together and learn to drive the van.

Thus, I was shattered by Monday. I dropped my phone down the loo (it did not survive, I’ve had to have an early upgrade, and I’ll be counting up all the £2 coins I’ve been saving over the past couple of years and putting that into the bank to pay for it). I did not react well to work stress. And I skipped intervals in favour of an evening pottering and slobbing with ice cream. Which meant I was much perkier on Tuesday and did the Coach Jeff Lunchtime Quickie Session again. This is a maddening session. Warm up. Tempo running for 2×3 minutes. Then three full gas efforts for 30 seconds with 30 seconds recovery. Then two full gas efforts for 1 minute with 30 seconds recovery. Then back to the office. It’s lovely. Brutal. And over in half an hour flat. Set me up for a lovely evening’s Scouts and Guides meeting. We talked about inspirational women, made purple flowers out of tissuepaper and pipecleaners, and worked out what, about us, might be inspirational.

Wednesday was 5 miles. Thursday, 7 (on the canal, after working from home. Because on Wednesday I discovered I’d lost my Season Ticket, and that made it a little interesting getting to and from work. I got lucky – open barrier at the station nearest work meant I could at least get in to work).

Wednesday I also told the Division that I want to end my role as Division Commissioner June next year at the latest, and, preferably, sooner than that. I can’t quite manage it and living outside London – I had hoped I could, but the early departures and the late returns are taking their toll somewhat, and I am living for Fridays when I work from home and can sleep in until 7ish. So, we are going to work out how to make it more of a team-led affair again, and how to have a good, sane, handover. I also decided that Manchester will be my last marathon for a while. I still want to do London – but I also want to enjoy running. And, what I really enjoy are quirky, small, half marathons. Leith Hill. Wycombe. Farnham Pilgrims. All have been highlights of the past year. Bath, Reading, North London, Hackney? Not so much to my taste. Too big. Too corporate. Too impersonal and, dare I say it? Too darn pink with all the Vitality Sponsorship. And I have a pink phone cover on my replacement phone!

I did have the odd photo from Leith Hill. But that’s now in a very soggy, somewhat unhygienic phone. So please, just imagine a cooked breakfast which I demolished in under three minutes. The second one I took my time over. Five minutes…! And I will be doing Leith Hill again.



I’ve lost some knitting


In order to hurry it home, I’ve cast on something else. It has to be somewhere in this house. Please send suggestions of places to look for it. I’ve not seen it since we came back from holiday, but I’m 99% sure I did get it out of the suitcase.

Also: who’s doing cakeathon in May, because I’m thinking I really ought to book an hotel…