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

 

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

Dr Who.

On Friday, I went to the Dr Who Festival, and had a gorgeously lovely time. It was, I will not deny, expensive for a day out. Or so I thought before I spent about two hours at the London Aquarium. We were nine hours at the Festival, saw everything, didn’t feel pressurised to buy anything. The Aquarium, by contrast, was full of efforts to make us spend, and felt dingy and old and crowded, and, essentially hell on earth. And I would have felt that without the pressure of trying to keep track of 6 Guides. It was rather lovely seeing B make her promise as a Guide, having also witnessed her make her promise as a Brownie, but, oh! Never again to the Aquarium (or, possibly, any Merlin attraction). Overpriced, overcrowded, overheating…

Have some photos of the festival (when I’ve uploaded them from the phone). That was far more fun. We saw special effects, we saw Peter Capaldi, we saw Missy and Osgood. There were some terrific cosplays (isn’t the teeny tiny 12 CUTE with his electric guitar and sonic sunglasses?!). We got a sneak preview of Saturday’s episode, we heard Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat explain STUFF (the sonic screwdriver should be back, too, according to PC). We chatted to the SFX guys, and we think we may have wangled some work experience for Morris N (she came with me because N had to work), and it was all Brilliant!

   
5th Doctor Wins

 
Odin

   
 
I love Ood

   
    
    
    
    
 
An overexcited chipmunk wants to take out a Dalek. 

   
It’s a Lego TARDIS!!!!

    
 

Also Brilliant was the Guides sleepover on H.M.S. Belfast on Friday night. Frankly, given the events in Paris, we couldn’t have felt safer at that point. Warships have a comforting bulk to them. The chap who was looking after us was ex-navy, had the shiniest shoes known to civilian life, was extremely posh (reminded me of The Boy), and would broker No Nonsense whatsoever from the girls. We are going to adopt some of his strategies. “There is no cake for being the first in the queue.” “Do not interrupt, I will answer all questions at the end.” “I want to see the colour of your eyes…”. He also had a nice line in the withering put down, but did not over-use it.  No pictures. I failed at pictures. I generally do when away with the girls nowadays. Mostly because I don’t take a camera anymore, and don’t want to fiddle with the phone in front of them.

Sunday I recovered, ran (speed is improving, very slowly), and we started packing. We’re going to need more boxes. And some of those immensely strong bags from Sainsbury for all the books (a tip from K). I have finally written out the notice for the cleaner, and put out some extra cash in lieu of actual notice. I feel utterly dreadful – she’s been cleaning for Em and me since about 2005, and I have given No Warning At All. We move Wednesday week, for crying out loud (and I can’t type that without beginning to panic a bit, so we shall move swiftly onwards). During the brief packing session we had on Sunday night, N & I discovered that between us, we own 5 copies of Withnail & I on DVD. I have the basic version, the 20th anniversary edition with CD and the 25th anniversary edition. We may need to retrieve the 20th anniversary edition from the charity shop – I have a feeling that’s the only one with the soundtrack, and that N doesn’t have a copy of it. Yes, we only really need two (one to watch, one to loan). Five is a tad excessive. We also appear to have duplicates of classic Dr Who. I’ve definitely married the man of my dreams.

I’ve cast on for a new hat. The yarn is Jamieson and Smith, part of their Winter Accessory Knitalong. I could not have curated such a lovely set of colours. My main colour is the deep blue, and I think that Saudade is going to look a bit swish in the shades of blue and neutral I’ve chosen. I was going to knit mitteny things. But I decided I wanted a hat more. I am being an extremely selfish knitter this season. I’ve done so much knitting for other people/events, that, frankly, I wanted some more woolly loveliness for me. Despite having a ridiculous quantity already.

I wonder how many knitted socks I possess? I may have to get them out and photograph them before packing them.

xxx

Getting back to it

Last night I went to my first morris dancing practice in weeks. I was late – I’d been meeting a potential new leader for Guides, and we gabbled for about an hour and a half (always a good start, talking your heads off, but a new record for gabbling time, and it put me very behind schedule!). So I was late. I managed a half hour of dancing time, and it was glorious. Grin-making glorious. And I didn’t get overcome by the cough, and my peak flow is nearly back to normal. All is well with the world. Our new bag is also extremely efficient, and is cajoling us to reply to polls, and confirm whether we can do events. It is so nice to be organised in advance. I don’t want to overdo the exercise though. I’m still recovering. Itchy to run, but still recovering.

So I’ll go for a run on Friday morning before work. N went this morning, and I slept through him departing. This is unusual – I’m generally awake and unable to get back to sleep when he gets up early.

I’m then going to do the local 10km on Sunday morning, as a longer run test. Not pushing too hard – just to get some miles in my legs and have a medal for the effort. And a banana. Love me a post-run banana, as I may have mentioned before now. I’m useless at buying the things.

Then, next weekend, we’re booked to do the Thames Meander Half Marathon. It’s a lovely route. Very flat. Scenic, along the Thames, and I reckon if I take it slowly, I can probably manage it. It won’t be a PB. It will be enjoyable. Plus, the vicar-wot-married us will probably be running it, as it’s on a Saturday, and he wants to be faster than me, so he’ll probably achieve that, and he’ll be happy. I may have mentioned this before now.

xxx

I stood on a rat this morning

N saw a tiger. Somehow, I think he got the better deal with the running route today. Five miles, one mile jog warm up (bit fast), three miles at half marathon pace (variable, but got better as I warmed up), one mile jog cool down (far too fast, plus rat incident. I was trying to avoid a bicycle at the time. You wouldn’t think that the canal towpath would be quite so obstacle ridden, would you?).

On the plus side, the Guidemin is now more controlled. And yesterday’s six miles (the last time I’m running that particular six mile route, I suspect, ever) was lovely. Speedier than it needed to be because N also had a six mile easy on his plan, so we went out together for the THIRD time since we started marathon training 16 weeks ago. I have been running with my husband three times in the past four months. Usually, I’m only running solo because it’s parkrun – he’s not really a parkrun sort of guy. I quite like running on my own – but I find that I push myself more with N. I’m a competitive person (no? you’d not realised?). But within limits.

I’ve got an appointment with the lovelyChiro today. I have a plantar fascia that’s a bit tight, a hamstring that’s a bit iffy, and a marathon in 10 days time.

I seriously need to do some knitting. Perhaps while the Mega-Bolognese is cooking tonight.

xxx

Guidemin

It’s taking over. Between running the Friday night Brownies (only one more week) and running the Division, I’ve only got one free evening this week that isn’t Guiding related. Obviously, I’ll go morris dancing…because that’s a totally sensible use of a free evening! Besides, it’s good aerobic exercise, and an excuse to gossip with friends.

But oh! The Guidemin! Brownie holiday is looming (so all the paperwork for that), it’s the beginning of term (lots of paperwork and settling back in) and then the meeting of people moving down to London and trying to assign them to units. It feels like herding kittens a lot of the time. I’m never quite on top of it. I have So. Many. Lists.

On the plus side, we’ve measured up for curtains in the new place. Chosen a colour for the main bedroom: I discovered that the (non-functional) fireplace in the corner still has the original tiles in front of it. Moreover, these tiles had been painted over in iron grey, to match the fireplace paint. Underneath, they are a GLORIOUS enamel blue, similar to Delft pottery. I’m thoroughly excited, and planning to clean off the paint, and have the “feature” wall of the bedroom in a similar shade of blue. This will match our current mis-matched bedside tables, and gives me something to work with curtain-wise, and blind-wise. I’m also thrilled that most of the curtain rails were left behind. I can skip pelmets. Mum made most of our curtains and pelmets as I was growing up, and the pelmets always appeared to be vastly more stressful, despite involving less material.

Running is lovely. I wish this morning (5 miles, mizzly weather) had been a tad faster – my legs felt heavy after the weekend and not *quite* enough sleep. I also think that the calf compression thingies slow me down: has anyone else felt this? Should I have gone for the slightly larger size? I was on the cusp, measurement-wise, and they do feel if you know what I mean.

Tomorrow: six miles. Gently. Hurrah!

xxx

Slow morning

In fact, I think I recorded my slowest parkrun ever. 29 minutes! It was damp and mizzly, and, on the jog up to the start, I needed the inhaler, and, I decided “this is not worth having an asthma attack over” – damp and mizzly being a trigger “I’m just going to run gently, and enjoy it, and test out my calf-compression-skins”. So I did. They are wonderful compression things. The calf was most happy for the whole run (all those hills). I shall wear them tomorrow too.

Tomorrow I may push a bit more enthusiastically for “the last long run before the marathon”. I’m of two minds how far to go. I’m erring towards 18 miles at the moment, rather than 20 (i.e. not going to visit Prince Albert in his memorial). We shall see. If I sleep properly tonight, I’ll go for 20. Last night was a bit abysmal, sleep-wise. I was so incredibly wired after Brownies and Guides (and a pre-Brownies caffeine hit) that I did not settle effectively, and my fitbit informs me that it was one of the more restless nights I’ve had recently. Brownies and Guides were lovely. We did good planning. We made stuff. We played games. They were (mostly, aside from a spot of out-and-out lying) well behaved. They are a nice bunch, and I’ve missed them. I’m at Brownies most Fridays in September. Usual leadership crisis being somewhat worse than normal. BUT, I am meeting new people who can help, so I’m hoping to sort it out by the time the students are back in London.

I’ve nearly finished a pair of socks. And I will post a photo of the broken sock when I’ve mended it.

I have also bought a book purely on the basis that the person reviewing it in Slightly Foxed was very enthusiastic. And we have a guidebook for Berlin. I am determined to get up that Reichstag.

xxx

I’m in legs…

Long legs. Long sleeves. A week ago I was still in shorts and a singlet. This is such a shock to the system. I also realised just how uncomfortable, compared to the long legs, and the shorts, most of my capri-length pants are. I think I need to upgrade from the el-cheapo Karrimors. The trick is going to be finding something with a large enough back pocket to hold my inhaler. Any suggestions?

On the plus side, I was nicely cosy. No chilly arms. No chilly legs. A much happier calf muscle (it’s still going to the Lovely Chiropractor to have a needle pushed into it. Then I’m detouring home via Run and Become for some calf-warmers – I have a voucher after buying my most recent trainers!). I may also acquire some longer socks, depending on cost and aesthetics. I rejected the ones in Nike Town last night, on grounds of both cost and aesthetics. I was in the centre of town to meet a potential new Guide Leader (she’s lovely) before morris practice, so I had a little detour. I was underwhelmed.

Anyhow. The early morning, a trip along the canal punctuated by random squirrels collecting nuts, rather than going round the park yet again perked me up nicely and I think I achieved a 1 mile PB of 7:39min. I’m not sure simply because Strava believes my mile PB is 6:47, but that’s based on the BUPA 10K from last year when the GPS went squiffy and added on about 1/4 mile in the middle of The City. I got the bit between my teeth somewhere around mile 5.5, and this, combined with a nice flat bit of canal, a lack of cyclists and dog walkers, and the knowledge that I’d started out far too late and needed to get a wiggle on meant that I kept going at that pace for over a mile. I’m partly proud of myself. And partly worrying that I’m going to feel a need to maintain this sort of thing on a regular basis, rather than once in a blue moon. I’m not supposed to be going for speed. I’m supposed to be going for stamina! There is one more long run (20 miles) before Berlin, and then I taper. I’m getting quite excited about tapering. I’m hoping to stop losing weight (I must buy an avocado to go with my lunch).

Smashing the Mile

Meanwhile, should you require an all female morris dancing side, it looks like I’ll be bookings secretary for the next year.

xxx

Spinning around

While we were up in Scafell (April. It seems so long ago!), N and I did some proper woolgathering. We picked up some rather manky looking bits of Herdwick fleece which had been abandoned by various sheep on their travels. Full of moss, grass, sticks and goodness knows what else. A particularly large bit came out of a gorse bush. That was prickly.

  
I brought it home, washed it, enjoyed the feeling of lanolin, washed it some more, and washed it some more. The water went a horrible shade. Ew.

Then I carded it, and, come July, and the eponymous Tour De Fleece, I got the drop spindle out, and had at it. By the end of the fortnight, all of it was single spun, and one ball had been plied.

   
 It’s now all plied. And I’m mighty proud, despite the fact that I’ve over-plied it (it’s a learning process). And it’s still a bit uneven (Herdy fleece is curly. It’s not the easiest thing to manage).  It’s been bathed and it’s twisting in on itself. However, it looks like wool. Somewhere between laceweight and sportsweight, with a few thicker bits.

  
Next stop: a spinning wheel.

Meanwhile, a new chapter for “Jane goes running in the Park and sees celebrities, or, possibly, really needs to get her eyes tested.” Either Michael Palin, clad in a fetching running vest and blue shorts combo, waved at me, or, alternatively, some old block with Michael Palin’s hair waved at me. Wildlife spotted: one meerkat, one camel, one monkey, no tapir, no tiger, and a handful of poodles and whippets (one of which had a very smart red fleecey jumper). Seven miles, average at MARATHON PACE! Which is nice, as only the middle 5 miles were supposed to be at pace. I did get the whole “I’m nearly home, there is energy here” speed up…

I am now in serious need of caffeine, having had about five hours decent sleep (and an hour or so of restless sleep).

xxx

Hallelujah!

We have exchanged contracts, and, finally, after 12 years, I’ll be moving out of London! Having been very against the idea for an awfully long time, I’m ready. I’m fed up with the noise, the pollution, the noise, the mess, the people. I’m OK to move on. Even if the commute is going to more-or-less double in length.  Which is going to make any future marathon training somewhat interesting. I can see we’re going to be cycling to the station.

(Have you any idea how expensive removal firms are?! I am fainting at the quotes. But we are still van-free, and the idea of getting it all done in one day is vastly preferable to trying to do it ourselves over several trips once we’ve finally achieved a van again).

Apart from that, and some very sweaty running (Parkrun on Saturday, 20 miles on Sunday), not an awful lot has been achieved. Well. I finally finished N’s 1st Wedding Anniversary Present. I’ve done some book folding, in a cheap copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales: no-one is going to say that that particular book needs preserving for posterity. It was very time consuming – it took about six hours all told. I got better with practice, as with many things, and I found a really good audio book was the key to getting it done. I spent most of Sunday, after I’d finished the 20 miles run, lazing it up in bed, stretching my tight calf, and folding pages. N kept me supplied with tea and food (baked beans on toast!) and carefully kept his eyes shut so as not to spoil the eventual surprise. Mind you, halfway through folding a book, it looks like nothing on earth. I bought the pattern from an etsy shop, and have a second to make one for Dad. I’m not convinced I’ve got the stamina for it. I’d rather run 20 miles.

My toes, incidentally, are totally trashed from the running. You’d have thought, after completing the better part of 350 miles in a pair of trainers (including a 20 mile run), they wouldn’t surprise you with new blood blisters? You’d be wrong. I have now given up on ever having nice toes again. I’m wearing trainers one and a half sizes larger than my normal shoes, and still my toes bang about the toe box and bruise and blister. Maybe I need to try new socks? Perhaps the towelling-y ones are the problem? I know N’s been happier since he shifted brands. I’m apparently about due to change shoes (somewhere between 300-500 miles – but that aforementioned tight calf suggests that I need to change them at the lower end of the spectrum). With luck the new pair (a totally vile looking pair of Brooks) will be better… Still. I need to run the new pair in, so that means wearing the old pair for a few more miles, and I suspect I’ll hit 400 miles in them by the time I’m done.

xxx