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!).

Friday, 28 September 2012


I feel like it's been ages since I posted.  It has been a long week!  I left for Decorex early on Sunday morning - too early (7:30am, but seriously, on a SUNDAY!) and we were on the stand for 10am.  I've probably mentioned before that the company I work for make mirrors and furniture - it's all quite high end stuff and we supply interior designers in London.  Decorex is a trade show in Chelsea where manufacturers, such as ourselves, and other interior design suppliers, exhibit their new products. Even though it's rough standing on your feet for 10 hours a day, I love it.  This year our new Belmont collection was inspired by the 1920's and 30's - so our designer had the idea that myself and my boss should dress as "flapper girls" - well we loved the idea!  We each had two dresses and headdresses made and in all of the stress of getting ready for the show, going for fittings were our only moments of light relief!

On Sunday night we were fortunate enough to be invited to the House & Garden party - this is THE party to go to at Decorex and it was our very first invitation!  I was incredibly excited because basically anyone who is anyone in interior design would be at this party!  I'm afraid that my goal of not drinking too much kind of flew out the window on Sunday night - so much for determination, huh?  I didn't have too much to drink, certainly, but I didn't have too little either!  The food was amazing - they served these delicious canapes, they had mushroom risotto served in little copper dishes and the best part - a sushi bar!  We had a fabulous time and near the end of the evening the editor of House & Garden actually complimented us on our outfits!

Monday night was another, less exclusive, party - which I was planning on skipping, but I decided to go just for a short while.  I ended up meeting a girl who works for one of our leather suppliers and is originally from Chicago - we chatted for ages about mid-West life.  Every night when I got back to the hotel, I soaked my feet in a nice hot bath.  I bought these cute little black heels (see picture above) - very 1930's, however after standing in them for 10-12 hours per day, my poor little tootsies were swollen and aching.

The whole exhibition was a great success and our new collections seemed to be very popular.  Our "neighbours" at the exhibition were Andrew Martin - who always, always, have an outrageous stand!  Last year they had ice sculptures, this year they had the actual set from the film Prometheus!  Included in that were various props, so in a moment of madness our designer Peter took one of the guns and did his best "Charlie's Angels" pose!

I got back late Wednesday evening and have been trying to catch up ever since!  My running schedule has been all screwed up for this week, so I did my first run of the week last night (Thursday).  It was 2.5 miles, in the rain, and I was sluggish and just generally poor.  My pace sucked and I just wasn't feeling it.  Not running for five days will do that to you!  I decided to go ahead and do my second run of the week tonight and do cross training (which will be my Jillian Michaels DVD) tomorrow.  Tonight was a short, sweet 2 miles and my speed was rockin :-D

Yep - that's the fastest yet!  My run on Sunday will be my longest yet - 3.5 miles - eeek!

To end my rather fabulous, but tiring, week, my husband and I are going to a ball tomorrow night!  My company has bought a table at a charity ball to raise money for St Francis Hospice and my boss kindly invited myself and husband to attend.  It's a 1940's theme, but we are going to wear our flapper girl outfits.  I've also been putting together my husband's outfit, including a fab Humphrey Bogart style hat!

I'm trying to catch up with all your posts in my reader, but it's going to take me sometime.  I've been missing Twitter too!  Can't wait for next week when life will be relatively back to normal.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Another plateau

My weight seems to be stuck again.  I'm still 182 pounds despite tracking all my calories (and staying under my calorie goal) and exercising practically every day.  I'm now very nervous about going away for four days because when I'm working at this exhibition, healthy food is not exactly readily available. In addition to food, there is also copious amounts of wine and I'm just hoping that I will have the willpower to resist!  I really don't want to gain weight while I'm away.

Quite what I'm going to do about this plateau will have to wait until I get back late on Wednesday night.  There are two things that I did this week which could have contributed to the plateau - I did have a few glasses of red wine, I had a pasta dish twice for lunch and a different pasta twice for dinner (probably too much in one week), and I missed two cross training sessions - so basically I've had two unscheduled rest days.  If I change these things next week I'm hoping it will make a difference.

Despite being stuck with my weight, my running progress continues to be good.  Today I did my long run in the 8k training - 3 miles.  I was toying with the idea of going to the park to run those three miles on the trail - but there was lots of things to do at home to make sure the husband and kids were organised for the week, so I just did a three mile loop at home.  I ran 3 miles in my fastest time ever - 36 minutes!

So, I'm getting together the last few bits and pieces for our design exhibition starting tomorrow.  My boss and I collected our special "flapper girl" dresses yesterday and I can't wait to wear my dress!  Yesterday I tried hot rollers for my hair along with one of my headdresses:

I'll put up some more photos next week of the complete outfit - this is just a preview!  The whole theme of our stand is 1930's - so hopefully we will look the part!  I hope you all have a fab rest of the weekend and a good week next week.  Please cross your fingers that I manage to keep to my plan of eating as healthy as possible and foregoing the wine!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Running Faster and Lizi's Granola Giveaway WINNER!

As I get closer and closer to this design exhibition, work just gets crazier and crazier.  Without giving away too much, we are basically working with a theme which includes my boss and I having two vintage style dresses made - this has been our only light relief in an otherwise chaotic environment.  Today, I went to try on one of my headdresses (I will post loads of photos - promise!) and was literally blown away, I cannot wait for Sunday!

In addition to working full time, I have also sold some of my "fat clothes" on Ebay and it was getting to the point where I'm sure I would get emails from people saying "hey where's my stuff?!", so when I got home from work tonight it was a case of throwing together the ingredients for braised meatballs - shoving it in the oven, packaging up the remainder of the clothes I had to send, literally ran over to the post office (thankfully just around the corner from my house), post those, come back home, check the final proof of our new pricelist for work - email it back, put the linguine on - and then serve the food (keeping mine aside for post-run) before getting changed into my running clothes.  My daughter has Girl Guides on Thursdays (that's the British version of Girl Scouts), so after I dropped her off I did my 2 mile run.

Frankly, I was happy to be running to try to melt some of the stress of the day away.  I honestly think I just switched off during tonight's run and that's exactly what my brain needed - some downtime!  Now the past two runs I have had an annoying side stitch just after the first mile - on Tuesday it was quite painful, so much so that I had to walk briefly twice (which I hate!).  Tonight, thankfully, I just kept the pace steady and slow (when needed) - but when I finished the two miles I was TOTALLY thrilled to see that for the first time since I started running on 17th June, I have busted the 5mph average speed barrier!  OK - this may sound slow to some of you more seasoned runners, but when I started running my average pace was 3.95mph - yep, that's barely faster than walkin!  So to see my speed improve like that is really encouraging!

My next run is actually scheduled for Sunday, but of course I will be at this design exhibition, so I'm going to do this week's long run on Saturday.  Next week will require a bit of juggling too and I'm toying with the idea of taking a Jillian Michael's DVD with me to the hotel in London - I may not have any energy but at least if I have it with me, I will have the option of doing it.  I have a feeling that my running next week might have to be three days on the trot, which isn't ideal, but needs must.


So - thank you to everyone who entered my very first GIVEAWAY!  Thanks again to Lizi for giving me the opportunity to share her wonderful granola with one lucky reader!  Without further ado, the Random Number Generator picked comment number 14:

Which was:

Congratulations!  Please can you email your name and address to me: within 24 hours and I will make sure that lovely granola is on it's way to you by Saturday!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Lizi's Granola GIVEAWAY!

I am THRILLED to be hosting my first ever GIVEAWAY and even more excited that it is the FABULOUS Lizi's Granola!  I have blogged previously about my love for this granola (you can read about that here) and Lizi has generously agreed to give one lucky reader 3 boxes of her yummy granola (that's 36 individual servings!)!  Thank you, Lizi!  If it is possible - I love your granola even more now!

So - what is so fabulous about Lizi's granola?  Where do I start?!  Not only is it literally the most delicious granola I've ever tasted, but it is low-GL (that's Glycaemic Load), which means that it releases its energy slowly making sure you stay filled up until lunch.  In addition to that, the ingredients are all natural - there's no rubbish (or anything unpronounceable!) in this granola!   And my favourite part?  It's packed neatly in individual serving sachets of 40 grams each - which means that you can confidently open a fresh pack every morning knowing that all that weighing and measuring of portion sizes has been done for you!  I am utterly convinced that a large part of my weight loss success is due to Lizi's granola and this ingenious packaging solution (for greedy little piggies like me!).

Lizi's Granola is available in five utterly delectable flavours: Treacle and Pecan, Pink Apple & Cinnamon, Belgian Chocolate, Original and Organic.  I have tried every single flavour (apart from the Organic) and love each one!  My personal favourite is the Treacle and Pecan.  I have this every morning with a big dollop of natural organic yogurt (or organic strawberry yogurt, whatever I've got in the fridge) and it honestly fills me up until 1pm when I have my lunch.

One lucky reader will receive one box each (that's 12 individual sachets per box) of Treacle & Pecan, Pink Apple & Cinnamon and Belgian Chocolate.  You're basically going to be set up for breakfast for over a month - you lucky duck!  All you have to do for your chance to win is:-

  1. Be a follower of my blog.  If you're not already a follower, it's easy to join, just click on the 'Join this site' button up in the right hand corner.
  2. "Like" Lizi's Granola page on Facebook.  That way you'll be kept up to date with granola news!
  3. Finally, leave a comment below telling me how you enjoy eating granola (with milk, with yogurt, standing on your head, etc!).
I will choose a winner from the comments below using a random number generator on Thursday, 20th September 2012 at 20:00hours (British Standard Time) and the winner will be announced that evening.  The winner will then have 24 hours to email me with their postal address.  Good Luck!

Here's the facts: I am a loyal Lizi's Granola customer, so much so that I contacted Lizi and asked if she would agree to donate some of her wonderful granola for a giveaway on my blog.  Lizi kindly sent me the three boxes of granola to post to one lucky reader.  I have not received any payment or free granola for hosting this giveaway, all opinions expressed are purely my own.  I simply want to share the granola love!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

A run in the woods (and crazy animal escapades!)

I just want to start this by saying a huge thank you to everyone who has commented on my last post, both here and on Facebook.  I truly appreciate your encouragement.  I know helping my daughter to be the healthiest person she can be will be a very challenging journey.  But I also know, having nearly reached goal myself, that it can be done!  I will keep the blog updated regularly with our progress, so watch this space!

Today my 8k training programme called for a 2.5 mile run and this was also going to be my trail run for the week.  The temperatures have dropped here over the past week, so I was really looking forward to a crisp, cool run this afternoon.  We had our usual roast lunch today (today was roast chicken, with potatoes, carrots, broccoli and stuffing, followed by raspberry trifle - yum!), so I had to wait until later in the afternoon to do the run.

I got my iPhone, armband, headphones and water bottle together at just after 5pm and drove to the start of the school trail.  As soon as I arrived, I had to go to the toilet (again!) - so walked up to the sports hall.  This was my own fault - I'm so paranoid about getting a dehydration headache after my run, that I drink like a fish before my run - but need to remember to leave a wee bit of time (pun intended) before I actually head out the door to make sure it's all out of my system!  Having given birth to two kids, my bladder is not what it used to be (apologies - TMI) - so I'm not wanting to get caught short on a trail!

The start of the trail
The sun was shining just above the tree line when I started running and the wind seriously kicked up!  Why is it when I am running and there is wind it is most always a headwind?  Just once, I'd love a really strong tailwind!  I got about 1/3 of the way down the trail when I encountered the "Essex Lion" - ha!  No, seriously, it was a big ginger tomcat and he was creeping in the grass right by that hill I've nicknamed "The Bastard" - as if the Bastard wasn't bad enough, now I have cats stalking me there?!  I was worried he was going to jump and pounce on me because he was crouched down like he was stalking his prey!  He was there for the whole run - glaring at me every time I ran past!  Thankfully he never pounced!

When I got round the trail once I thought it seemed pretty quick, but when I had completed the 2.5 miles and checked my stopwatch I couldn't believe my speed!  On Friday, I ran 2.0 miles on the road with an average speed of 4.79 mph - today my average speed was 4.96 mph!!  Now to you seasoned runners, 4.96 mph probably sounds like a snail's pace - but I'm thrilled with it!  More to the point, I am thrilled that my speed is getting faster!  That means I'm getting fitter :-)

I never expected it, but I'm starting to think that trail running really suits me!  If I can make that big of an improvement in my pace simply by changing the running surface, I think that's pretty amazing!  Next week my long run will have to be on Saturday because Sunday I'm working at this design exhibition in London.  I'm thinking about doing the trail run at our local country park.  This will be a true test of my fitness as there are lots (and lots) of hills... We'll see - I haven't made up my mind yet!

Me after the run - you can't see how RED my face is in this pic!
On the drive home, there was a small squirrel trying to cross the road up to the school.  I stopped and waited for him - but he just kept running in front of my car!  When I started driving again slowly - he just kept running in front instead of going off to the side!  Eventually he discovered the grass at the side of the road and ran off (or at least I didn't feel a lump under my wheel as I drove past, sorry animal lovers!).  What a crazy animal day today!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

For my kids

Autumn is just around the corner - the days are still warm, but there's definitely a chill in the air.  The blackberries and elderberries have started ripening and some of the leaves have started to turn.  I love this time of year.  I'm looking forward to my autumnal weekend runs where I can take in the beautiful scenery.

Today, I took my daughter out for a walk.  We walked just over three miles and though I had to bribe her with a new magazine, she didn't complain and kept pace the whole time.  We even broke into a jog three times.  It didn't burn as many calories as my Jillian Michaels DVD, but it was totally worth it.  I've mentioned before that my kids are like chalk and cheese.  Josh is crazy about sports, always active and he loves it.  Verity generally doesn't like sports, she would happily sit and watch TV all day and not be active at all - plus she loves food.  All of this put together means that I have an overweight child.

Verity has always had a bit of a tummy since she was quite young, but in the last couple of years the "little tummy" has expanded.  In addition to not being very active, she does overeat and this is something that I really struggle with trying to control.  She's 10 years old now and much more independent.  She will regularly go into the kitchen and help herself to food.  It's got to the point now where I don't buy anything that she can snack on.  However, she will still find something - a piece of bread, a piece of fruit, yogurt, etc.

I guess because I feel like now I've got control over my own overeating and my own lack of doing any physical activity that my next priority should be to make sure my kids are as healthy as possible. I know how it feels to be overweight and to just have no energy.  Verity is 10 years old and should have bags of energy - yet today when we went on our walk she was struggling to keep pace.  She should be running circles around me, but instead I was holding her hand in order for her to keep up with me (and I wasn't going particularly fast).

Although I was never overweight, I was teased and bullied as a child (and a teenager!).  We moved to a small town when I was 9 years old and I just never fit in - I guess everyone's way of dealing with me was to tease me.  My nickname in high school was "the freak".  It hurts a lot being different and there were times when I was in high school when I thought about taking my own life.  I don't want my kids to go through anything even remotely similar.  We are blessed in that our kids go to a private Christian school with small class sizes and thankfully Verity hasn't yet been teased about her weight.  But I'm very aware that as the kids get older and start to go through puberty that things could change.  Not only that, but Verity will be more aware of how she looks and I want her to be a confident young lady!

So - this is my mission.  Having discovered for myself how to lose weight and get fit, I'm now focusing my attention on my daughter.  This explains one of my autumn goals - making breakfast for my kids everyday.  I want to teach her healthy habits - breakfast is not a time to have a big bowl of cereal, then a piece of bread, then a pot of yogurt - it's about having a wholesome, healthy start to the day in a right portion size.  In addition to a healthy breakfast, I'm stopping the needless snacking.  This one is going to take some discipline (and hearing like a bat! sometimes she will sneak into the kitchen and eat something while she's in there - I can hear rattling of packaging, so I know she's eating something!).  

I also want her to find an activity that she enjoys.  At her age, she needs to have fun - heck we all need to have fun with whatever exercise we do!  I don't want to force her to do an activity that she doesn't enjoy - but she must get some regular exercise.  And this is where some good family time can come into it - if we find an exercise that we can all do as a family.

This is going to be a learning curve.  It's one thing getting yourself motivated to lose weight - but it's a whole different story motivating a child.  I haven't shared this before because I've been working through in my own mind about how I can tackle it.  I would be really grateful if anyone reading this has any constructive suggestions on how to help.  I love my kids so much and want them to be happy, healthy people.  

Thursday, 13 September 2012

I'm sweating pink!

This morning I got a fantastic email.  I went through my usual morning routine - checking facebook (seriously - I read it like the morning paper), twitter, blog stats and then email... I had to do a double take because the subject said "Sweat Pink Ambassador - welcome to the team!"!  Yes, I am officially a Sweat Pink Ambassador and I just want to thank the lovely ladies over at Fit Approach for the opportunity!

I've been hearing more and more recently about Fit Approach and the Ambassador programme, so I'm really looking forward to seeing what this new chapter brings.  Fit Approach promotes all round healthy living and that's certainly what I'm all about.  Losing weight is not just about seeing the number on the scales go down, and it's not about deprivation - it's about getting healthy and most importantly staying healthy!

Fit Approach Sweat Pink Ambassador Badge

So - I've made a little progress with my Autumn goals today.  I was planning on making the kids wholewheat pancakes this morning for breakfast - but when I got up my son had already made the pancake batter (albeit NOT wholewheat!) and was asking me to turn on the stove so he could cook them!  He's 12 and is doing food and nutrition at school and of course what did they make this week - pancakes!  He can even flip them in the frying pan (none on the ceiling - woohoo!) - so my kids had a kind of healthy home cooked breakfast courtesy of my son!

Verity started Girl Guides again tonight and the scout hut where they meet is precisely a 7 minute walk from our house - so she and I walked there and walked home.  Walking home wasn't so much fun because we live in a village without street lights and it was very nearly pitch black on the way back!  Verity said something to the effect of "this is what you see in horror movies just before somebody gets killed" - uh yeah, thanks kid - walk quicker!!!  And, how does my kid know about horror movies?!  Thankfully, we made it home without incident!

And - no bugs were eaten or harmed during my walk this evening!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Autumn Goals

I'm pretty sure I ate a bug during my run tonight.  I wonder how many calories "small fly" clocks up on My Fitness Pal?  Ha - thankfully I'm not easily grossed out!  I suppose eating the occasional bug comes with the territory of running outside (other such luxuries are "stepping in dog poo", "running through patch of stinging nettles", etc).

The past few days have been increasingly stressful at work (we are getting close to a big design exhibition in London where we are launching two new furniture collections).  Yesterday we had scheduled a photoshoot and had "borrowed" the house of a former client of ours in Thorpe Bay to stage the shoot.  Well, the client was meticulously clean and hadn't even moved into the house (it was a HUGE beachfront house) - they said they lived in another house 10 minutes away and this one was their "Beach hut"!!!  Long story short - they were there ALL day, watching all of us like a hawk.  It was SO stressful that I felt as if I couldn't even go to the toilet without them wondering what I was up to!  So - I got home late last night, didn't have a chance to do my scheduled run and even had trouble getting to sleep because my brain was still whirring with everything that had happened.  I'll be a much better blogger in October once this exhibition is finished, our new catalogue is launched and things at work have generally calmed down :-).

My kids have been back at school for nearly two weeks and I have mentioned in earlier posts about desperately wanting to be a more organised mother this year.  So, it occurred to me that I should put in writing some goals for this autumn.  I was going to confine this to September - but given the fact that September is nearly half over and my hectic schedule at work, I thought actually it would be wiser to make them the whole of autumn goals!

  1. Make a healthy breakfast for the kids every school morning (I've pinned some great recipes on my Pinterest board "Yummy yummy in my tummy" if anyone wants to have a look!)
  2. Make a conscious effort to do more creative packed lunches for the kids on Friday's (they only have to take a packed lunch on a Friday).  To date, it has been ham/cheese sandwiches or variations thereon!  Get's pretty boring, I imagine!
  3. To eat as healthily as possible whilst away at this design exhibition - log all my calories and not get carried away with the wine!  In fact to just eat as healthily as possible before and after the exhibition!
  4. Try Yoga.  My Hal Higdon 8k training calls for "Stretch/Strength" training on a Monday evening and I've always wanted to try yoga - but worried because I'm not the most flexible person in the world!  I can only try and if it doesn't suit me - see if I can find a stretching activity that does!
  5. Try Badminton.  I mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to try playing this - I've not been able to find a club yet - but my hubby has offered to teach me to play properly.
  6. Do more active things with my daughter.  My kids are like chalk and cheese - Josh is running around playing tennis, football, etc all the time; Verity struggles with being active - there aren't many sports or activities that she enjoys.  Unfortunately this has contributed to her weight.  I desperately want to get this under control now and to help her enjoy being active.
I hope to give regular updates on how I'm getting on with these goals.  Obviously, I will continue with my 8k training and losing pounds.  I think my scales need a new battery because they are giving quite different readings within 30 seconds of each other - so I'm keen to get this asap so I can see if there's a big loss hiding there!

What are your goals for the autumn?

Sunday, 9 September 2012

First Trail Run

My first week of 8k training is complete!  I must admit to being slightly apprehensive regarding today's run - it wasn't the distance (2 miles), but the surface that had me worried.  When I signed up for the Poppy Run a couple of weeks ago I knew I would have to up my training because this was a 5k race on a trail, not road (which, to date, has been my only running surface!).  So, I decided I would utilise my kids school's cycle trail on a Sunday afternoon and do my week's long run there.

I had run on this cycle track previously, but got as far (probably) as 1/4 mile before having to stop and walk.  My distance never increased because my training at that time (about 4-5 years ago) was very sporadic and had literally no planning involved!  Now - I'm organising my life around running!  My apprehension today came from this memory - would I be able to make it all the way around the trail without stopping?  The trail is approx 3/4 mile long circuit consisting of two loops - a small upper loop and a large lower loop.  There is one decent incline ('the bastard'!) and a couple nice, swift downhill sections.  The nice thing is that none of it is particularly secluded (where you would worry that safety is an issue) and of course it's all on the school's private estate, so the likelihood of me encountering another runner is virtually nil.

I took my water bottle of strawberry lemonade Nuun with me and parked it at the beginning of the trail waiting for me when I finished and started running.  I felt like I got off at a decent pace, but knew 'the bastard' would soon be around the corner (this is the point where I would always stop and walk!).  Running on the trail was different to what I remembered - I'm sure the trainers I had previously were just completely the wrong shoes for me - my feet were squished (I have quite wide feet) and there just didn't seem to be any bounce in them at all.  My current pink Asics make all the difference - these bad boys were made for my feet!  I'm convinced the geniuses at Asics had me in mind when creating them! Perfect bounce, even on the relatively absorbing surface of the trail.  I was a happy girl.

My badass Asics on the trail
I conquered 'the bastard' with confidence!  I was just about to type 'with ease' - but, hey, who am I kidding?!  I just kept going (slowly).  I thought that one complete loop was nearly a mile, but resisted temptation to check my Walkmeter until after my second lap when it read 1.88 miles.  I kept going until it beeped that I had reached 2 miles and then I walked back to my starting point.

The end of the trail
Some initial thoughts on trail running:-

  1. It's hard - yes I did have good support with my Asics, but I definitely felt my legs were working harder running on trail than running on the road.
  2. It requires more concentration on where you put your feet (sounds obvious, but it's true!).  Various obstacles such as loose gravel, twigs, deer droppings (!) could easily trip you up!
  3. Time went quicker - I had done two loops before I realised it.  That's great!
  4. It seems trail running suits me - my average pace was faster than road running!

All in all I'm quite happy that I managed just over two loops of the trail without stopping - the old me couldn't have managed half of one!  I know it will get more difficult because each week my mileage increases - but I'm hoping the more I do it, the easier it will get.

So, now a question to all of you - 
Have you tried trail running and what was your experience?

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Wardrobe Cleansing

I'm sorry I've been a bit absent this week - it wasn't intentional, but before I knew it, Friday had arrived and I hadn't posted anything since Sunday!  The kids went back to school on Monday, thank the Lord! The past couple of weeks they've really been fighting a lot - squabbling about the tiniest little things.  It's been driving me nuts and giving everyone headaches - so now they are back at school it's back to the same routine and hopefully the squabbling will subside!

On Monday I started my first official day of 8k training.  The programme assumed that I had run a long distance on Sunday (it was mid-length for me, I suppose - 2.5 miles), so I was to do strength and stretch.  I don't really have a strength routine at the moment, so I just did my Jillian Michaels Kettlebell workout.  Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday will now be my normal run days and this week has been a gentle introduction - 2 miles each.

Today I woke up insanely early for a Saturday - my one and only day to sleep in!  My body clock is cruel to me and woke me bright and early at 6:20am.  After checking my emails and reading some blog posts on my phone, I decided "sod it, I'm awake already" so I got up.  I knew I wanted to be uber-efficient this weekend because earlier in the week I had sorted through my wardrobe, weeding out all the larger sizes that I will never need again, and made a large pile to put up for sale on eBay.  Ever the sales woman - I was up ironing said clothes (so they would look better in photographs!) at 7:30am!

After I ironed the clothes I'm putting on eBay, I thought I may as well iron Josh's school shirts and Rob's work shirts too.  Three and a half hours later I finished!  My 8k training called for 30 minutes of cross training today - so I opted for another Jillian Michaels' DVD (Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism).  I hate this DVD for two reasons - it's 40 minutes long and it seriously makes me work my butt off.  Yes - both of those are GOOD things, and I think that's why I hate it, because it works!  I was pleased when it was finished because I was incredibly sweaty (my eyelids were sweating!!).  It's super-hot here this weekend, so I did the workout around 11am this morning just before the heat got too much.

Now onto my main subject of this post - wardrobe cleansing!  As mentioned above, I'm putting up for sale quite a lot of clothes that no longer fit me.

A small selection
Now, I'm a hoarder by nature - you only need look in our garage to see that I'm not the only one in the family.  However, when it comes to fat clothes, I'm more than happy to say "bye bye"!  There are two main reasons for this - a) there is no easy fallback for me weight back on ("I kept all the clothes from when I was bigger, so I can just pig out and dig those out"); and b) it's easy money for new slimmer clothes!  I'm pretty much a master at finding clothing bargains, in fact the lion's share of my current wardrobe has come from charity shops.

I stumbled across charity shopping about five years ago when, again, I didn't have a great deal of money for clothes.  I found fantastic brand names at ridiculous prices (£2 for a pair of trousers?!), soon I was hooked.  I sort of stopped shopping in charity shops when I gained the weight I originally lost back, because there wasn't a great deal of selection of larger sizes.  When I was bigger I hated shopping anyway because I always felt like people were staring at me.  Now - I can go in and browse with ease knowing that there will be any number of things that will fit me!

So - in a therapeutic way, cleaning out my wardrobe is another step to a healthy lifestyle!  Ensuring that  there is no excuse for me to revert to my old ways!  And just another note on charity shopping - obviously it's for a good cause which is great, but because the clothes are so cheap it means you can shop "interim" sizes relatively painlessly.  Every time you drop a size, there's no need to go an buy a whole new wardrobe in that size.  What I do, is just find some "key" pieces - a couple pairs of trousers, a pair of jeans, maybe a dress or skirt and lots of tops to mix and match.  In fact the outfit I'm wearing now consists of navy linen trousers (£2.50) and aubergine cotton top (£2).  So - you can look great (come on - don't I look great?!) and feel great because you've just donated money to a good cause :-)

Me in a Charity Shop outfit costing less than £10!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

And so it begins again...

I just want to start this post with a massive THANK YOU to all of you who read my blog and who have been so encouraging both before the Clacton 5k race and after.  I honestly don't think I would have raced if it weren't for your wonderful words of support!

It has been a very hectic weekend, starting with the race on Friday night.  We didn't get home until about 10pm and then had an early start on Saturday.  Saturday my husband was taking my son to a tennis tournament in Middlesex and I was taking my daughter to her school to help clean/set-up ready for the start of term on Monday.  We were there for about three hours and then came home and I proceeded to bake a cake for dessert on Sunday when I got a text from my husband to say my son had won the tournament!  I was over the moon - what with my runner's high from Friday night and now my son had won his first LTA tournament!

Saturday night we went up to London to see a play called "A Progress" - it was based on John Bunyan's book "A Pilgrim's Progress" and was in a tiny theatre in the east end of London.  A friend of ours who just graduated from drama school was one of the main actors - so we went to support him and, wow, he was absolutely amazing!  The play itself was fantastic - taking a very deep subject matter and making it light-hearted with just the right amount of humour.  It was very "fringe" theatre, the audience became part of the production - with our friend handing out "lines" for audience members to read out (including my husband and kids!).   We had a fantastic time, but didn't get home until nearly 11pm - so that was two very late nights for my kids.

Today is my and my husband's wedding anniversary - 17 years!  Man, I feel old!  I was 19 when I got married and my husband was 26 - here we are, much younger, much slimmer!

17 years ago today!
We normally don't both much with anniversaries and as we had been out to the theatre last night that was sort of our celebration.  Today, though our anniversary, was back to the usual Sunday routine: church, lunch, ironing, more laundry, organise school things, run.  The same people who organised the 5k race on Friday are organising a 5 mile race at the beginning of December called the Rudolph Run.  This one is much closer to home, but again on the sea-front.  I asked my husband if he would like to run with me and to my surprise he said yes!

This ties in nicely with my next training programme.  Having "graduated" from the C25k programme, I was on the look-out for what to do next.  I had a look on Hal Higdon's website and found a Novice 8k training programme:

This will get me nicely prepared for the 5 mile Rudolph Run and gives me a new programme to focus on for the next 8 weeks.  After this I think I will try the 10k programme.  In the interim, however, I have signed up for another 5k at the end of October - the Poppy Run.  This will be my first trail run - so I plan to start incorporating some trail running into my training.  I'm very fortunate that my kids' school has a mile circuit trail that parents can use for running - so I think certainly my Sunday afternoon long runs I will do on the trail.  I have no illusions that trail running is harder than road running, so this will definitely be a challenge!

Today I knew I wanted to run, but wanted to make sure I try to keep to the days on the 8k programme, so I decided to just run my usual 2.5 mile loop.  My pace is gradually improving - and I have confidence that so long as I keep running this will continue to get faster and faster.  I'm trying to watch my breathing as well, because sometimes I feel like I get into a muddle.  I lose my rhythm or take too many breaths or something and end up feeling like I'm gasping - or I get a stitch which means I have to slow way down to recover.  This happened today - I had literally got to what I call the "home stretch" this is a downhill section where I know I can usually pick up speed - but today I had to stop and walk for a minute because of a really painful stitch.

So - my training begins again!  I hope you all have a fabulous week!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Clacton Summer 5k race report

I did it!  After all the nervousness and trepidations, I ran the whole thing and most importantly - DID NOT COME LAST!  But, I'm getting ahead of myself... let's start at the beginning!

I had such a stressful day at work yesterday - I was off with the kids on Thursday and there's always a backlog of things for me to sort out when I come back after a day off.  Plus, I'm still dealing with a bit of a backlog from when I was away in the Lake District.  We are getting ready for a huge exhibition at the end of September and some days, well, I just feel like I'm sinking... Friday was one of those days!  But thankfully, I've got a lot of support in the office and my boss is seriously great.  She let me leave a little bit early (I normally leave at 3:30pm on Fridays anyway), so I could get home and get organised for the race.

Clacton is a loooonng drive from where we live - about 1 and a half hours.  This may not seem like a lot in American terms, but here in England - that's a long way to drive just to run 3 miles!  Thankfully, I had laid out most of my race gear the night before so all I had to do was put it all in my backpack - load up my water bottle with my post-race Strawberry Lemonade Nuun (Nuun is seriously good stuff!), make sure I had my race number, safety pins, etc, etc.  I did some research online to see what the best pre-race snack would be and I decided on a peanut butter with banana and honey sandwich on wholemeal bread.  The website also recommended eating this about 2 hours before the race - so I waited as close to 5pm as I could and nervously ate it.

I haven't had peanut butter in ages because it's not usually something I can safely keep in the house.  But I opted for the organic version with no added sugar and bought the smallest jar available!  It was heavenly - and I'm sure I will find uses for it - if I can get any once the kids discover it!

We arrived in Clacton about half an hour before the race was due to start.  I did worry when we first arrived because I saw lots of very fit looking men, but not very many women - and the women I did see were also very professional looking!  I started to worry that I had bit off more than I could chew.  But as time drew near there were more people of all shapes and sizes with race numbers, so I calmed down slightly!  Before the main race, there was scheduled a children's one mile race.  I had entered both of my kids in the race, but decided to let only Josh run because we need to work on Verity's running (more on this in a later post).  There were just four kids - all around Josh's age (12) competing.  It was a super fast out and back mile and my little man came second!

Josh waiting for the Children's Race to start
He was so proud and got another medal to add to his growing collection!

As soon as the children finished, the adults started to line up and my heart started pumping with nerves. I made my way to the back of the pack and started chatting to the lady next to me (who was also running her first ever race).  We were joking about having a competition for who could come last (with me thinking the whole while that it was highly likely I would come last!) and then before we knew it, the race director blew the airhorn and we were off!

Everyone got away so quickly and I pretty much backed off straight away.  The race took place on the seafront promenade at Clacton - it was entirely flat (apart from a very tiny incline near the pier), so ideally suited for beginners.  I didn't want to push myself too much at the beginning, only to end up with a stitch midway through - so I just kept running, but kept my pace nice and slow.  It didn't take long before I was the caboose, but mentally I kept myself strong and kept telling myself that it was my race and to just run at my own pace.  It took about 2kms before my breathing settled into a comfortable rhythm.  I think this was because I probably started a bit too fast to keep up with the pack - but once I backed off, it settled down again.

Everyone along the race route was absolutely amazing - people clapped as we ran past, people were encouraging - telling us we were doing a great job - it was really a fantastic atmosphere.  There were just two unfortunate teenage boys who made some laughing comments about "being last" - but I just ignored them (In my mind, I was tempted to turn around and say "yeah, we'll I'm going faster than you d!ckheads" - but I held my tongue!).  For a good three-quarters of the race I was last.  I was behind an older woman who was definitely running her own race.  She had on headphones and was singing occasionally - she even did the occasional airplane motion with her arms (I thought she was a bit coo-coo for cocopops, if you know what I mean, but I thought - hey - she's running her own race and if she needs to fly like a plane to get to the finish line - so be it!).  She was doing a combination of walking and running - she would run at a faster pace and then walk a bit, and repeated this several times.  I overtook her a few times, but she would always come back around.

When I passed the 4km marker I could see the finish line.  The sea had washed up pebbles and sand onto the promenade, which made running slower and tricky - but I saw my opportunity to overtake for the final time.  Thankfully, I had saved up just enough steam to overtake and push myself to get a good distance ahead of her.  At about 4.5kms, I saw my son waiting for me - I kept thinking what he said to me before the race "please mum, don't come last" - I told him that I probably would come last and to not be disappointed if I did - I wasn't competing in the race to win, but just to prove that I could run 5km!

I was trying to see if I could hear the woman behind me - I thought I could hear footsteps!  My son ran down and told me I was doing a great job - I was nearly there!  He ran to the finish line with me and then I just gunned it - I was utterly determined to not come last!  OK - I came second to last, but it's not last!  And the best part?  I have a new PR!  My time was an utterly amazing 36.56!!!  When I ran 5k on Thursday afternoon, granted there were more inclines, my time was just over 41 minutes - so where 36.56 came from is beyond me - but I'll take it and I'm completely thrilled!  Afterwards, my boy told me he was proud of me - that is still choking me up thinking about it.  A year ago I couldn't run 30 seconds without feeling like I was going to die and now I'm a proud runnin momma!