Sunday, 14 October 2012

A Walk in the Woods is now a dot com!

Hi Everyone, my blog has now moved to:

Still a bit of a work in progress, but please visit AND FOLLOW (you can just update the address in your reader if you prefer) the new site!  This blogspot will remain live, but will now not be updated.

I hope you all like the new site :-)

Mary x

Friday, 12 October 2012

Forced rest days

I've been a bad blogger this week and for that I apologise.  I'm currently curled up on the sofa in my PJ's and an oversized cardigan, nursing a cold that suddenly appeared on Wednesday afternoon.  I hate being sick (seriously - who likes being sick?!), but what I hate even more is when being sick interferes with my training!  I went for a three mile run on Tuesday evening (which rocked, by the way) and Wednesday afternoon the nose started running, my throat felt itchy and scratchy.

I was due to go to X Fit on Wednesday evening and had every intention of going - but by the time I got home and cooked dinner, it was apparent that I couldn't leave the house without a tissue shoved up my nose, so I texted my friend to say I wasn't coming.  Last night was a similar story - I was due to run 2 miles, but again, knew that running with a cold would be counter productive.  Tonight is my normal scheduled rest day, but I'm still effectively two days behind.

Also, last night (before my run) was supposed to be my induction session at my new gym.  Yes - I have finally caved and joined a gym.  I reckoned that I needed to do something to ensure I could continue to run in the winter - whatever the daylight situation or weather - and the gym (or the treadmill) is the best place for me to do that.  After doing a bit of research I managed to find that the church I used to go to has their own gym with a couple of treadmills, rowing machine, bikes, and various weights.  It's quite basic, but to be honest all I really need to use is the treadmill (but I love rowing, so will doubtlessly use that too), so I thought it was a good solution.  Little did I know that I have found, quite possibly, the cheapest gym in the entire world!  It costs (wait for it) a whopping £25 - FOR A LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP!

Seeing as I plan to continue to run outside as much as possible, I plan to use the gym really only as a last resort - so the cost is seriously a bonus!  But, as I said, I had to postpone my induction until I'm feeling better.  On a positive note, I have 8 weeks until my 5 mile race and so I am actually ahead of schedule with my training.  When I'm well enough to continue with the 8k training, I will finish the programme (which has about 4 weeks left) and then just go straight into 10k training.


I opened a BIG can of pumpkin the other day.  I found this recipe on Pinterest for Pumpkin Spice waffles and wanted to try this for the kids breakfast - but literally the only can of pumpkin I had in the cupboard was the big 29oz one!  Unfortunately, pumpkin is not something that you can just nip out to the shops to buy here in England - I have to buy it from a special American food stockist on the internet, it's expensive, the shipping is expensive, so normally I just ask my mom to bring a supply over when she visits (about once every two years...).  This was my last can from my mom's last visit.  The waffle recipe called for 1/2 cup, so now, I have all this pumpkin that I'm desperately trying to use up!

I've got a pumpkin cupcake recipe that I'm going to try out tomorrow (with cream cheese frosting - yum!), and I was also toying with the idea of making pumpkin pancakes and freezing them in batches for the kids to just pop in the toaster for an easy breakfast.  The waffles I made were a bit disappointing - I only had a bite but they didn't taste very pumpkiny.  And the funny thing about my kids - neither of them like pumpkin, but neither of them realised that I've been secretly feeding them pumpkin all week (first the waffles, then pancakes - and tomorrow cupcakes!).  English people (well, the ones I know) aren't crazy about pumpkin, but my kids are half American so they will like pumpkin - even if they don't know it! :-)

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Organising my life...

Hi all, I'm blogging over at Run with Kate today - check out my post on how you CAN have it all!  In other words - how to be organised, by the un-organised!  Ha!  Hopefully I've given some good tips and I've certainly learned loads recently whilst trying to be a better mother and become a better runner!

I want to say a huge thank you to Kate for giving me the opportunity to share on her blog :-).

Hope you're all having a good week!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

The one where I ran 4 miles

I'm on cloud nine tonight - absolutely shattered, but on cloud nine.  Today was my scheduled long run of the week and it called for 4 miles.  I've been working myself into a frenzy all week over this.  Nerves have been getting to me, which is just utterly ridiculous because the only person I'm answerable to for running is me!

As regular readers of my blog will know, I've never run 4 miles before.  My furthest distance to date has been 3.5 miles and that was not a great run.  I decided to try out a new route today.  I wanted to give myself the best advantage to cover the distance, so I settled on an out and back route from near my kids' school.  It's practically flat and on road (sidewalk), and I regularly see runners going up and down it, so I thought I'd have a go.

A happy (sweaty) girl after a 4 mile run!
The weather today has been lovely - a typical crisp, cool, autumn day - perfect for running.  The family and I went to a restaurant for lunch (Toby Carvery), and I tried to restrain myself as much as possible because I didn't want a lump of food digesting while I ran later.  I had a modest portion of roast turkey, potatoes, leeks, carrots, cauliflower and stuffing and had an ice cream with chocolate sauce for dessert.  I opted NOT to have an alcoholic drink with it and went for the sparkling mineral water instead.  We finished eating just before 2pm and I decided that around 4pm - provided I felt alright - I would tackle the run.

Just after 4pm, I drove to my starting point, parked the car and got my Walkmeter sorted.  Today would be the first run where I took my water bottle on a belt - I bought this from Amazon ages ago and have been using the water bottle, but have never taken the belt on a run.  Today, I had no other option because I was on the open road, so didn't have the option to leave it somewhere if I needed it.  I planned to stop briefly when I reached two miles, have a drink, stretch and then run the next two miles.

I started running and even though the belt was tightened it still took a while to get used to the motion of it bouncing up and down. I had secured it tightly with the elastic strap, so I knew it wouldn't fall out, but I suppose it was just a weird sensation that I've never had before on a run.  It also added weight - 16 ounces to be precise!  I suppose about half a mile into it, I adjusted and it no longer bothered me.  I felt good during the first mile and my speed was quite good - about 5.37mph.  I tried to slow it down a bit during mile two (to avoid the stitch!) and thankfully it helped.  I was definitely surprised how much further I had to run to get to two miles - I kept thinking to myself "Come on, Walkmeter, beep! Surely it has been two miles!".  Finally, after 22 minutes, I reached halfway.

I stopped my Walkmeter and took a minute's break.  I took a few drinks of the Nuun from my water bottle and stretched my legs and then started running again.  I was so grateful that I had decided on this flat route - it really helped me keep my speed consistent and also I did not suffer with the dreaded side stitch at all!  I headed back to the car with a slightly slower speed, but when my Walkmeter beeped at three miles, I had the adrenaline rush - "I'm going to run 4 miles!  I'm going to run 4 miles!"!  When I got to the point where I could see my car, I picked up the pace.  I kept thinking of what Jillian Michaels often says on her DVD's about "finishing strong".

When my Walkmeter finally beeped at 4 miles, I was elated!  I suppose the thing that I was happiest about was the fact that I still had some fuel left in the tank - I could have happily probably gone on to run 5 miles!  I'm so pleased that I'm making consistent progress and especially after my disappointing 3.5 mile run last week.  I'm also loving my new running gear - having this Dry Fit stuff seriously makes all the difference to your run, especially when there's a chill in the air and you don't want wet cotton sticking to your skin.  All in all, I am thrilled with my overall performance today - I can't wait to blog about the time I run 14 miles (in the not too distant future!)!


So, this post is a bit backwards - I'm blogging about Sunday first and Saturday second!  Yesterday my son had a friend with us who had slept over on Friday night.  My husband took the boys swimming first thing, but after lunch (when hubby was playing football), I had the kids.  They had been playing various Nerf tournaments since Friday afternoon, and frankly it was doing my head in.  God bless the mothers who have the patience for little orange pellets whizzing past their heads at ridiculous speeds!  I located our hiking boots and loaded boots + kids into the car for an hour's walk at our local country park.

Me and my completely bonkers kid at the park
This walk would also count as my "cross-training" session for Saturday, so I was determined to keep a good pace.  I needn't have worried because my son's friend quite happily walked fast the whole way, which was really good because it helped my two speed up!  The leaves haven't quite started to change in the park yet, so it wasn't hugely picturesque, but it was still an excellent outing.  These poor boys had been given so much exercise - swimming in the morning, three mile walk in the afternoon, plus a very late night on Friday - they must have been knackered when we got home!

I was happy because I could tick off my exercise for the day, and was also happy that I had got my daughter out for some good exercise too.  I'm planning on reporting back on my Autumn Goals soon - I'm doing well so far, but have a couple of areas that I need to improve on!  Watch this space!

Well, I hope you all have a good week!  I've been roped into doing X-fit again on Wednesday night, Thursday's post should be interesting!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

A great day at the seaside (and a celebrity chef)!

I took the day off work today - my kids are on half term break at the moment (which doesn't coincide with most other schools in the area - this is a good thing and a bad thing), so I wanted to have a day to take them out somewhere.  My daughter pretty much decided that we would go to Southend-on-sea, though I think her only motivation for this was the little gift shop at the end of the pier!  I do like Southend though, because it's a seaside town, a little bit past its sell by date, but charming in a tacky sort of way.  The best part, for me, however is you do LOTS of walking!

The Southend pier, once the longest pleasure pier in the world (no idea if this is still the case) is just over one mile long.  There is a small train that goes very nearly to the end, or you can walk - we always do the latter.  We arrived just after 11:30am, so I decided to go straight to the pier and we would have lunch afterwards.  We park about half a mile from the pier and enjoy the short walk along the seafront before getting onto the pier itself.  When we paid our admission fee, the lady told us that there was a film crew at the end of the pier and we might be asked to wait, or we might not be able to get to the very end (where the gift shop was!), but we decided to go for it anyway - it's a good walk and it was a lovely (but windy) day.

The kids making faces at me on the seafront!

The start of the pier walk
As soon as we got onto the pier itself the wind started battering us!  But thankfully, it wasn't a cold wind - just the annoying type that blows your hair in your face so you can't see where you're going!  I must remember to bring a hat next time - it must occur to me every time we go to Southend - but I never actually bring one!  We enjoyed our leisurely walk - and passed about 50 pensioners (the only other folk out on a Thursday morning, evidently!).  When we got to the train station, there were two people from the film crew who asked us to stop and wait.  There was also an elderly man who was arguing with one of them profusely about how his tax money paid for the pier and he shouldn't be made to wait while the filming takes place.  It was so awkward I was tempted to leave - I asked my daughter if she was really bothered about going to the Lifeboats gift shop and she said she really wanted to go.  So I asked one of the film crew how long they thought it would be before we could get through, and as soon as she replied "it wouldn't be long" they were given the all clear to let us through.

We saw a gathering of people near a little cafe and when we walked by I noticed the sign said "Jamie and Jimmy's" - instantly I knew it was Jamie Oliver!  Low and behold - who was cooking in the restaurant - only Jamie Oliver himself!!  I so wanted to go up to him and chat, but he looked quite busy so I didn't want to disturb.  We went down to the Lifeboat shop and Verity got a few bits and pieces so she was a happy girl.  When we were walking back, who came walking towards us, but Jamie!  So, I ran up to him and asked if he'd shake my hand!  He chatted to us for a few seconds (asked if we were fishing), before we went on our way.  He was a thoroughly nice person and meeting him really made my day (I'm still smiling!).  I wish now that a) I would have asked if I could take a photo with him and b) ask him a bazillion questions about cooking - but hey, you never know when I might run into him again!

Me at the end of the pier (with wind battered hair!)
All total, our Southend walk came to 3.68 miles, which was good both for me and the kids (they both fell asleep in the car on the way home - something about that sea air that makes you sleepy!).  We did have a burger for lunch, but our pier walk earned me 303 calories, which was nearly the amount needed for my burger!


Last night I was due to do cross training for 40 minutes and was toying with the idea of going to our local leisure centre and doing a class called "Body Attack".  I texted an old friend of mine who I knew used to go to the class and asked if she still went.  She said she didn't, but was going to another gym to do something called "X-fit" - a HIIT workout and I was welcome to come along.  I said I would, but I was quite frankly terrified about what I'd got myself into!

A lot of the training is with weights, but we did a mixture last night.  We did 3 sets of 5 front squats (done with this bar bell machine that rests on your chest to add weight), followed by a high intensity rowing and push-up section.  We started with rowing 600m, followed by 30 push ups, then rowing 500 meters, 25 push ups, then rowing 400m, 20 pushups, 300m, 15 push ups and finally rowing 200m and 10 push ups.  All total that lasted about 15 minutes and by the end of it, I was exhausted and my legs felts like jello!  The last exercise we did was killer - we lay on the mat holding a bar bell (with I'm not sure how much weight on it) above our heads - then we proceeded to raise our straight legs and touch each weight at the side with our knees.  You touch right and touch left for one - we did 3 sets of 10 of these! Today my arms and shoulders (and abs) are seriously screaming - tomorrow no doubt they will be worse!  It was a great workout though and I'll definitely add this to my routine on Wednesdays.


Tonight my run was an "easy" 2 miles.  I was excited when I got home from Southend because I saw that my new winter Nike running gear had arrived and I was eager to try it out (even though it's not technically winter yet!).  I've got a jacket coming too, but it's arriving in a couple of weeks, so I just wore the leggings and the top - both fit perfectly, though I'm a bit self conscious about wearing the leggings!  I just need to remember that my ass is much smaller now than it once was!

Taken right after my 2 miler (which is why my face is beetroot red!)
The two miles went well (I managed to slow my pace down to 5.06mph this time!) and I'm loving the new running gear - it was very comfortable, warm enough for me to wear without a jacket and kept me nice and dry.  I may not get on very well with Nike shoes, but their running clothes are good!

Tomorrow is a well earned rest day!  My son is having a friend come round for a sleepover, so though I'm resting from running, I doubt I'll be resting in any other way!  Oh well - should be fun nonetheless!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

A better run

Be sure to check out my guest post on how to start running over at Live. Travel. Eat. Run and thanks very much to Amalia for the opportunity to share on her blog ;-)

The weather here today has been patchy - it started off relatively nice (but overcast) and at about 4pm the heavens opened.  I stared out of my office window in despair.  I don't mind running in the rain, but to date those runs have been in the summer.  Now the weather is cooler and I'm conscious that I don't want to get too wet and cold - I desperately need some colder weather outdoor running gear!

Work today was very frustrating.  Our printer had a malfunction that required an engineer visit and thankfully he came today.  Unfortunately, he was a complete knob and didn't know how to set up the scanner part of the printer properly - in the end I had to ring our IT support people to come out to help him.  He was there for three hours, during which time I could do little or no work (because he was using my desk).  Needless to say I am not at all impressed with OKI printers or their engineers!

The nights are starting to draw in and it's dark at 7pm - so I knew that I needed to cook dinner, serve it to the kids and my father in law, save mine and my husband's and then get out for my run.  Today was a moderate 2.5 miles.  I set off just after 6pm and thankfully it had stopped raining.  Due to my performance on Sunday, I made a conscious effort to try to run slower during the first mile, but when my Walkmeter beeped at the end of mile one it said my average speed was 5.25mph.  During mile two I really pulled it back - right on cue my side stitch reared its ugly head, but I was determined to just slow my run pace right down, rather than take a walk break.  In the end I walked crossing two roads and then just started running again very slowly.  My average speed for mile two was 5.07mph.

The last half mile was hard - there is a steady uphill climb for a few minutes before a nice, easy, flat quarter of a mile home.  It had started raining by this stage - quite heavy and right in my face!  The stitch was painful, but I could still run.  I was determined to just get home as quickly as possible - I must have looked like a real sight, squinting and grimacing my way home!  My average speed for the last half mile, according to Walkmeter, was a bit skewed - it said 7mph, but then it said my fastest speed was 5.77mph!  At any rate, I was home in 27 minutes, and that is officially the fastest I've ever run 2.5 miles!

Thursday's run is an easy 2 miles which I will do after I drop my daughter off at Girl Guides.  I find it funny that I'm thinking of 2 miles as "easy" now!  Sunday's run will be a true challenge - 4 miles on the trail - I'm gonna need lots of encouragement for that one!


We've had a mouse in the house - discovered on Sunday afternoon as I was cooking the usual roast.  Well, I didn't discover the actual mouse - but rather his little brown presents!  Now,  I am not the cleanest person on earth, but I take exception with my kitchen and uninvited guests.  Normally, I love being in there, cooking, baking, etc - but the last few days I literally cannot wait to get out the door!  On Sunday night, we thought we had blocked up the hole where the mouse was coming in and I went to sleep thinking surely we'd outfoxed the little bugger - but 6am on Monday morning my son (who is the earliest riser!) came into our bedroom saying he saw a mouse in the kitchen!

The base cupboard where I found the brown presents was where I keep all my spices and so I removed all the spices from the cupboard - tossing anything that had been open and putting the remainder in a plastic tub.  Well, the little blighter was only climbing on top of the spices!  I happen to think he must be an Indian mouse, gathering up spices for a nice Korma!

Anyway, last night we put down the traps - and also blocked off yet another hole where we suspect he might have been coming in.  And tonight my husband checked and yep, we've caught one!  I'm not overly optimistic that he works alone - so we've put down another trap and will check that again tomorrow.  In the meantime, I'm still not enjoying cooking, or being in my lovely kitchen in general.  The plus side of this, however, is that I am less likely to snack!

I've just realised that I've not got a photo for this post - so I shall leave you with an image of my post-run treat tonight - a custard tart.... 232 calories of pure custard heaven!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

3.5 miles

I ran 3.5 miles today - which is the furthest I've ever run.  Whilst it was a good achievement, I can't help feeling slightly disappointed because my average speed was down from what it has been recently - and the nasty side stitch made an evil return today forcing me to walk briefly twice.  Looking back, I know I started too fast - my Walkmeter beeped at mile one telling me that my speed was 5.14mph.  Almost immediately after this I had to take a walk break because the stitch flared up.

On the one hand I think I'm being too hard on myself - I only started running in June and have come on leaps and bounds since that time.  However, looking back I could have easily slowed my pace during the first mile and thereafter to avoid both walk breaks and stitches.  It is a lesson learnt.  My expression in the photo below shows I'd just checked my stats and wasn't entirely pleased!

This was my first trail run in two weeks - last week I did my long run on the road because I was getting ready for Decorex.  I'm sorry for moaning, I am just a bit disappointed :(.  The bonus of this trail run was that there were no weird animal antics today (no feral cats stalking me!).  My next long run will be 4 miles!

I weighed myself on Saturday morning for the first time since coming back from Decorex and I was nearly exactly the same as I was before I left - 182.5 lbs - up 0.4 lbs.  I've been quite strict with myself these past few days, so now that the Marathon Weight Loss challenge has finished, I'm reverting to Wednesday as my weigh in day.  I'm hoping for a bit of a loss this week.  I have also reduced my calories to 1518 per day, because when I set my daily calorie allowance I weighed more than I do now and I think maybe those extra 100 or so calories may have been contributing to my plateau.


Last night my husband and I went to a ball!  I've never been to a ball before, but my boss bought a table (raising money for a local hospice) and invited us to go.  The theme was 1940's, but I wore my 1930's dress - and then dressed my husband up as best I could without spending a dime!  He looks a bit like Al Capone!

We had a great time, though we didn't do any dancing.  It might sound shocking, but I've never danced with my husband - not once.  Dancing is not Rob's greatest talent.  I've seen him dance once and, well, I'm still traumatised!  Actually I've seen him dance twice - he danced to "Take on me" on the Wii Just Dance at Christmas and I even took a video of it - but it mysteriously disappeared immediately!  Even without dancing, we really enjoyed the evening.  It's not often I we get a chance to dress up and go out for the evening!  Today was Rob's birthday - so I made his favourite roast dinner - Roast Lamb.  I also baked a Victoria Sponge cake for dessert (I think this is my best cake at the moment, and not too bad for the waistline as there's no icing!).