Catchup

I’m having an epic fail to concentrate on work: Dad’s having a pacemaker fitted more or less right now (following fainting and falling over a couple of times before Easter: not something you want to be doing while on blood thinners, as it can get very messy), and I’m quite simply disinclined to pay attention to what I should be doing.  It’s all done under local anaesthetic, but one still worries a little bit. Daddies are important! I reckon the pacemaker’s long overdue, so this should improve his quality of life a bit. He’s just looked exhausted a lot of the time.

So. What’s occurrin’?

Nick STORMED Boston Marathon in 3:44:32, on a ridiculously warm day. I positioned myself right at the top of Heartbreak Hill for a sweaty kiss, but didn’t manage to catch up with him before the finish line. I’m very proud. He didn’t overheat. He didn’t collapse. It wasn’t his fastest marathon (3:22:25 at Berlin) nor his slowest. Boy did well. He’s having a bit of time off from running so hard – it’s been 2 years since he started the Boston Adventure, by training for Berlin, and he’s keen to get back to cycling. I believe a fourth bicycle is being eyed up. I got to see Emerson College. Way way back, as a teenager I entered a short story competition hosted by it. And I got a commendation! You wouldn’t believe it, given my haphazard writing style now.

We went to the Blessing of Athletes. It was brilliantly bonkers. Queuing round the block to get in. White ribbons to wave every time the word Alleluia was said (or sung – and we rounded off the service with the Hallelujah Chorus…), a full brass band and a bagpiper. Very welcoming: I have no idea which stream of Christianity we were in, but I heartily approve and I wish more churches were like that. Even N, who is atheistic, enjoyed the proceedings.

Yarn to make Boston Marathon Socks

 

It was a lovely viewing spot…

Yes. That’s Bobbi Gibb. First woman to ever run Boston.


The Amtrak to New York from Boston is lovely. Ditto from NY to Montreal. So much more civilised than cramming into a plane. And more environmentally friendly. I did have an awful Clomid-related meltdown on the second Amtrak. I really do hate the stuff (even if I am now, apparently, ovulating! Woo hoo!). The depths of despair which I end up plummeting into on day 3 or 4 of taking the things really makes me question if I’ve got the mental fortitude for IVF. On the plus side: I’ve had a CBT appointment, so hopefully we can get me slightly more sorted out and calmer, trying to do less, and trying to be less wound up. My MiL has done some woo-foot reflexology on me, and I am supplementing, and eating oily fish, and avocado, and egg, and proper dairy, which should help with progesterone levels in the second half of the cycle. TMI?

Ate the burger. Polished off the milkshake. Wandered round for about an hour saying ‘that was AWESOME!’ on a total sugar high. Probably won’t repeat the experience, but man, did it make up for the time I turned down a super-duper ice-cream sundae on the grounds of having cleaned my teeth (my parents had fused the lights in the hotel room by making tea. Or, rather, failing to make tea. Mum and I were reading in the corridor, the concierge turned up, said ‘oh’, disappeared, reappeared with said ice cream. Mum ate it… Such a typical 7 year old move).


Montreal’s lovely. Really really excellent food. And a bonus 5km race, which I stormed in 25:29 chip, a full two minutes faster than the previous parkrun, and one minute off my PB. It was cold, wet, and a nice flat course with lots of space. Even went onto the F1 Grand Prix track (briefly). We’d visited that the day before, and stood in pole position. Can’t imagine just being able to wander round the Grand Prix track at Silverstone, but here it was open for all to use, and had a couple of damp looking cyclists doing laps.

I like local yarn as a souvenir


Since then, I’ve been running in a jetlagged fug. It always takes me a good two weeks to recover back from a trip over the Atlantic. It’s a lovely problem, but frustrating.  I’ve also had a lot of early nights, particularly this week, being on call and wanting to be at my desk by 8am. Which doesn’t sound fearful until you take into account the fact that I need to be on the 6:46am train in order to achieve that.

And, the Science Day I’m organising for 200 Guides seems to be coming together nicely in the last week – I was panicking. Now I’m energised.  There is still a LOT to do this weekend.

Knitting is occurring too. Right now, I have a Color Affection on the needles for F, some socks for L (no link, I want to surprise her), a sweater for me (not going well, I have gauge issues) and a little cardigan for J, which I’m going to Swiss darn the flowers onto.  I think this will look better than intarsia. And the number of ends to sew in will be the same.

xxx

 

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Handy Cross Runners Grant and Stone Wycombe Half Marathon

The only, only thing wrong with this race was my epic lack of preparation. 10 weeks post op, I have gained about 2kg, and utterly failed to do any meaningful running since, well, the referendum (and the only thing that I did do was the Vitality London 10K). I’ve been too busy trying to keep units running, getting over jet lag, and losing weekends to guiding. I really am not on form: there have been two “long” runs in the run up to this. 10 miles last Thursday, and 8 miles while in Indianapolis. Neither of which involved hills. Mid week runs have been 2 miles at best and speed work has not happened. I cannot wait for term to end so I can get to running club sessions.

Oh wow. The hills (N tells me a total of 1000 ft climbed. And, looking at the race profile on Strava, I can well believe it). I walked most of them. A muggy July day, and I was most determined to keep moving. This I achieved. N ran with me, and we got round in 2:16:59. The last couple of miles were mostly downhill and flat (we’d run up those hills on the way out), other than something described as Hell Hill. Nothing like as steep as the one at the end of the Leith Hill Half, but it went on rather longer. There was motivational music half way up it. I didn’t feel very Rocky at that point, but it actually helped.

And I loved this race. It’s got a really friendly atmosphere. It’s very hilly: the pressure is off. It was trails in places (could have done with my trail shoes, really), and road. It went through West Wycombe Park: one of the landscape Gardens of the 18th and 19th centuries, purportedly designed around the female form. Not quite Stowe, you know. Bit more base. Moving on from the Italianate terraces that Pope adored, but still full of symbolism.

“What’s that?” Asks N, as we jog through some sheep and past a sort of temple thing.

“I think it’s supposed to be a representation of a clitoris…fairly abstract.” Not exactly what you expect to discuss mid race. I wrote an essay about English Landscape Gardening at uni. Unsurprisingly, given my occasionally gutter mind, that bit stuck.

So. Aside from lack of preparation, it was great. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I got to spend 2 hours with my husband without having anything to worry about. We got nifty medals, and bananas, and a Mars Bar, and masses of water, and nothing really peculiar in the goody bag. The last mile lacked the beauty of the rest of it, but given the difficulties of finding anywhere to host the race (and the football stadium had way more loos than Wycombe Rye, so there was no need to queue, which was a massive improvement on last year), I’m not sure that really matters.

So. Back next year but with more training. Because it was all down to me that I didn’t do better.

I did well enough.

Xxx

The Liebster Award

The-Liebster-Award-2

Lovely Anna has nominated me for a Liebster – she thinks I’m someone to read! So, since both running and knitting have taken something of a back seat this week (I’ve run a whole 11 miles…which doesn’t feel like much at all, and most of it was a struggle. We’re at that time of year where humidity and heat combine to make it hard for this asthmatic. Add in recovery and, yeah. Slowly but surely is the motto), I’m taking the easy way out and Liebstering at you. Because it’s more interesting than contemplating the wear patterns on my shoes…


Or sharing my current James Herriot obsession. I’m in the midst of a re-read, and have bought a copy of his biography. The lovely story books he wrote are just those – stories. Very loosely autobiographical. But so nicely told. I went to The World of James Herriot with Dad when I left uni in York. I got so emotional, I actually started crying when we went  into Skeldale House and the theme music from the TV Series started playing. I am wet.  Fountains Abbey didn’t have quite the same effect, despite being vastly more beautiful.

I’m to answer 11 questions, then pose 11 more questions for some friends…

 

1. If you could have only one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?

Mmm. Food. I’d start with an avocado and egg salad, with lots of greens, and balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing. Main would be spaghetti bolognese, made to Jamie’s recipe, because it’s glorious. And pudding? Phish food ice cream with raspberries.  I think that would suit both my sweet tooth, and be reasonably healthy. And allow me cheese and avocado as I go through.

2. On a similar note, what would be your last meal on Earth?

Starter: one of those all you can eat salads from the Harvester, with bacon bits. My Mum’s pasta carbonara recipe, which involves a lot of butter, bacon, and cheddar cheese. It is very un-Italian. We allow ourselves one dinner a year of this particular dish, as it involves about three days worth of fat, and two days worth of calories. It really is awesomely yummy. And a superbly rich chocolate ice cream sundae. Accompanied by a very good red wine, and then a dessert wine to go with the pudding. No. Dessert champagne. Utterly sweet that stuff, and perfect with pudding.

3. If you could have a superpower what would it be?

To do the Brownies and Guides accounts simply by thinking about doing them.

4. What annoys you the most in life that other people do/don’t do?

Oooooh. Not answering my texts, and emails, and phone calls, to my timetable….and then needing reminding/chasing up.

5. What’s your favourite movie?

Withnail & I. I walked up the aisle to Withnail’s Theme. The organist arranged it especially, based on a recording on the CD which came with the 25th Anniversary Special Edition. We also have the 30th Anniversary Special Edition. And I have a bog standard copy should anyone wish to borrow it.

6. If you had to dress up in fancy dress, who/what would you be?

Oh. Let me show you….

[008052]

7. What’s your biggest weakness?

Chocolate ice cream. Or gin. I have a lot of gin – people seem to think I drink it more speedily than one a week (tops), and give me gin as a present. I do love me a small batch distillery.

8. Favourite exercise and why?

Trail running. I’m inherently lazy, so I feel like I’m really stretching myself while going slowly, and, because it’s hilly, I can go slowly on occasion, and still push myself. I’m weird.

9. If you could go back in time and tell yourself something when you were at school, what would it be?

Play in the lacrosse match you were offered a spot in. It’s the last one of the year, and you will never get the opportunity to represent your school on a sports team again.

10. If you could only RACE one distance ever again, what distance would it be?

Half Marathon. It’s my favourite (note, I still get to run more than 13.1 miles if I want to. Clever question). I think I’ve done 22 half marathons now. And my next will be High Wycombe.

So. Whom to tag? Well, there’s several people who’ve been very quiet on their blogs…. some for several years, so I’m not sure it’s fair to tag them.  Anyhow, the idea being to get to know more bloggers…

Lovely Mrs Spit.  Knitlet,  Frogspawn21 (whose newer blog I’ve misplaced…so I’m sure she’ll comment), TrexesAndTiaras, HotChocolateJuju.

And The Questions

  1. What is your favourite book?
  2. How long is your commute?
  3. Tea or coffee? Why?
  4. Who is the first person from the internet that you met in real life?
  5. How long have you been blogging?
  6. What is your favourite thing in the world to do?
  7. Where is your favourite travel destination?
  8. What is your favourite Disney film?
  9. If you can knit, what are you most proud of finishing? If you can’t, what would you like to knit?
  10. When was the last time you changed your email password?
  11. Fruit cake or sponge cake? Why?

 

xxx

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.

xxx

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!)

20160227

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.

Xxx

Rock Tape and Hip Adductors

Well, hello there Rock Tape. Hello there niggly calf. Nice to see you again, after a three month interval! It almost feels like normality has returned.

Once again, my left leg is held together with Rock Tape. This has been a pretty permanent state of affairs for the past couple of years. Heck. I was wearing Rock Tape on my wedding day (cow print). Today’s Rock Tape is black, with white winged skulls. We appear to be out of the pink version. If I’m going to wear the stuff, it’s going to be excitingly patterned, even though it’s more expensive. It makes for far more interesting conversations, as I’ve not yet found thick enough tights to obliterate the presence of the tape, and I’m not keen on wearing trousers (I had a particularly good conversation at a funeral…).

My calf, particularly my soleus muscle, tends to tighten up owing to a wonky pelvis (I’m built that way – along with hips that point inwards rather than forwards, which means I run in a very knock-kneed manner. Trainers which lack stability make the problem worse). At some point, just as the mileage is getting interesting, and if I don’t replace my trainers at the crucial moment, it will tighten very enthusiastically…which it did last week after my 14 miles. My muscles are always going to tend to tighten – too much ballet as a child apparently leads to beautifully strong muscles, and very flexible tendons…

I’ve replaced my trail shoes now (I have a pair of Navy Brooks Ghost 8s for trail – not entirely sure about the tread, but the support is wonderful, and I’m not sliding massively). Most of my weekend runs are on a muddy, uneven, towpath. This is excellent for my core strength, but challenging, difficult to pace, slippery, messy and, goodness, do I notice the difference when I get back onto firmer territory for the last mile. The trail shoes that I’ve retired had done 373 miles – too many. Particularly given that trail shoes get a real pounding, with the mud and the cold and the wet and the puddles. While some people can manage to get shoes to run to 400 miles, or more (I have one friend who has shoes that are on 1000 miles – he rotates several pairs), I simply get injured. I get niggles. I get my calf tightening. Or my piriformis tightening. Or both.

I’m doing the exercises in the most recent Runner’s World: how to strengthen your hips. I swear they’re helping. Standing round with a theraband, lifting my leg to the side, then to the front. 10 reps on each leg, 3 sets of each exercise. I could *feel* my glutes firing today. On both sides. This I think is a wonderful thing – I’d like to avoid the ghastliness of overly-tired quads after Manchester. I hate having to hold onto the lav seat in order to lower myself safely….and the days after Berlin were made horrible by having to hold on!

But, today I have Rock Tape. Tuesday I’m visiting my Lovely Chiropractor, who will wallop my pelvis back into some sort of order (there will never be perfect order – the scoliosis has gone on for too long now), who may stick an acupuncture needle into the offending muscle to persuade it to ease off a little, who will doubtless prod somewhere really painful, and who will essentially make sure I’m in reasonable shape before we go on holiday for a week and a bit.

There’s something comforting about having Rock Tape on my leg. It feels like a gentle hug. I took an extra day off yesterday – made easier by a trip up to Derbyshire to retrieve our glorious, splendiloquent, kitchen table (I get all emotional looking at it – it was made by a friend), and I only did 9 miles today. All feels OK. All feels better than it did mid-week, even. I think I’m going to prevail.

Onwards, to Manchester Marathon.

xxx

Muddy, muddy….

Yesterday’s feet, after 4 miles…

 And today’s were a repeat performance, but I honestly can’t see the point in taking another picture of them!

Capture20160110

You can see where I paused to tie my shoelaces (both shoes came undone at different points), where I had a little stop in the middle for a gel and to just gaze around a bit, and where I decided to push for PBs on the the segments I know about near the end (nowhere close…I was off by about 20 seconds on one, and 7 on the other).

But, it was much better than 10 miles on the same route last week:

Capture20150110

I’m still a bit erratic – but I’m much better when it’s not raining, and hailing, and windy at the same time. And, I think erratic comes slightly with the territory – two railways to cross, a road, and lots of dog walkers and puddles. Still. I think I could try to get better at running more smoothly.

Tomorrow, I shall have my first interval training session with an actual real live coach. I joined Serpentine Runners just before New Year (about as close as I got to a new year’s resolution. The other vague resolutions I have involve going to bed at 10pm on a school night and remembering to do exercises to strengthen core and glutes). I am a bit nervous. But, I’ve been to enough new things of this ilk to know that, generally speaking, they are fine. I’ve only had one really bad experience when joining something new – and that was more due to lack of communications than anything else (it was 15 years ago. No sense in going into it now).

I do still have an epic to-do list

  • budget for Brownie Holiday
  • Sort out Leaders in Training
  • Sort out New Leaders
  • Put Christmas Cards into Spreadsheet (I like to make sure I actually send cards where I’ve received. If I don’t keep track, I will forget someone)
  • Thank you letter to Japanese Mummy
  • Letter Guide Captain
  • Weigh parcels so I can do postage online
  • Check that Ikea do, indeed, make spare shelves for Billy Bookcases. Order these and the CD shelf to be delivered (by the time we’ve driven there, had lunch there, and bought stuff we didn’t need, I reckon it works out the same).
  • Assemble and print photos for photo frame to go into Dining Room
  • Measure up chair pads for the gorgeous chairs my cousins gave us, which used to belong to a Great Uncle and Aunt.
  • Knit maternal birthday present
  • Pack bag for tomorrow. Assemble supper.
  • Pack bag for Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday.
  • Hem study curtains

Actually, by my standards, that is not epic. What have I forgotten? Ideas?

Here. Have a pair of pairs of socks.


 xxx