The good, the bad and the ugly

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The last ten days have been a bit of all of the above.  Mainly good and inconvenient rather than ‘bad’ or ‘ugly’, although the incident with my toe comes under the ugly category.

In the last ten days…

…I watched the eclipse from my classroom window at work…it was a pretty cloudy day but I got a few good shots on my school iPad…

Eclipse

…I have broken my toe…resulting in minimal running over the past week and a half (just a seven mile trail run immediately after the incident occurred and a ten mile trail run at the weekend, with a little jaunt out to test how it was doing this evening)…

Broken toe
…the breakage of my toe resulted in a weird hobbling shuffle for the days immediately following…a weird hobbling shuffle which doesn’t count steps towards my daily step count on the Vivofit… :(
…Dan was kicked in the head during a football game, resulting in a lot of blood, a lot of swelling and all fluids to be consumed through a straw…
…he didn’t take a photo of it though…he’d make a rubbish blogger!…
…Dan was sent home with suspected concussion, resulting in a five hour journey home for me one evening whilst I juggled lifts, walking, a train and buses to make it back from work.
…the For Sale sign outside our house was replaced with a Sold sign…

House sold sign
…and we had our offer on a house (the house belonging to the person buying our house) accepted…
…although the garden at the new house is much smaller than our current garden, the current owners have done a great job with looking after it and I love that we will have a ready made pond at our new house!

New house garden
…we were refused a mortgage with the Post Office…apparently they are very quick to refuse and Dan has had overdrafts on his account in the past which they weren’t favourable towards…
…but then we had a mortgage accepted with Leeds Building Society.
…I had the bright idea of sorting out all my clothes in the lounge on the floor so that I could keep an eye on Dan one evening…
…but then I got fed up and I left them there for days.
…eventually Dan and I both sorted out all of our clothes and we now have two bin bags of clothes for the bin, two for charity shops and two of (mainly) dresses and shirts to ebay.
…as Dan ended up off work for most of the week I ended up driving into school on most of the days…I headed out to my car on Thursday morning to see one of my tyres was pretty low…I have an air pump for the car so pumped it up and got to work and back fine with no problems…

Flat tyre
…and then on the drive to work this morning I got 15 miles into the journey to have the car suddenly feel incredibly weird and a guy from the van infront of me on the A14 leap out of his vehicle and come rushing round to check out my tyre which by this point smelt rather burny…

Split tyre - puncture…turns out that despite pumping it up the day before it was weak and I must have driven over some debris which burst it…that mahoosive rip was on the inside of the tyre – shielded from eyes.
…I received a phone call whilst waiting for a replacement tyre at the garage this evening from the spa I had booked myself and Bride-to-be friend Vicki in at for a day on Monday…somebody from the spa had died and they were having to cancel our treatments and visit for next week…
…this then became a mad rush to book in somewhere before close this evening so that I could still treat Vicki during the week of her wedding!…Luckily a replacement was found, although as the first spa day had been paid for with a Groupon, the replacement was a fair bit more expensive unfortunately…But, can’t be helped.

Spa day details

…I’ve had some proper comfort meals in the evenings this week, such as this mushrooms, cheese and beans on toast…
Beans on toast with cheese and mushrooms…and after five reluctant non-running days I’m planning on a parkrun tomorrow followed by the Oakley 20 on Sunday.  Although, thanks to my fantastic toe stub last week I shall be attempting this much slower than originally planned.

What are your good, bad and ugly from the past week?…

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Pay it Forward

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In my old teaching post I taught a variety of subjects; ICT, Computer Science, Maths, Business Studies and PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic education) to a variety of year groups.

The scheme of work as part of one of my year nine PSHE classes called for us to watch the film Pay It Forward.

Teaching six classes of year 9s, I got to watching this film quite a few times and I think the concept behind it is a lovely one;  Students in a class are given an assignment to make the world a better place.  One of the students (Haley Joel Osment of The Sixth Sense as he will forever be known!) comes up with the idea of helping three people who really needed his help.  Each of those people should then help another three people – paying forward the gesture that had been paid to them.  In the film you learn of the troubled upbringing that Haley’s character has had and delve a little into the lives of his teacher and Mother as they all come together.

The film is a great one to prompt thoughts from students – culminating of course in asking them how they would make the world a better place.

Yesterday I was touched by several members of staff at my school.
On Sunday morning Dan was kicked in the head during a football game.  The boot studs drew blood and his face quickly swelled up, becoming a mess and forcing him to drink through a straw for the rest of the day.  The swelling had subsided slightly by Monday morning so off he went to work, although with a throbbing headache and after a day where concentration just wasn’t happening, Dan called to say that he would be picking me up at the end of my school day (3pm) rather than at the end of his (two hours later) so that he may head home and get some rest.  (Or at least, it was something along those lines – his face and lip were so swollen, it was hard to have a conversation with him!)

Yesterday, the swelling had substantially gone down before school so off we went again.  I checked my emails at lunchtime to find that Dan had been sent home due to suspected concussion.  He was deemed OK by the doctor although sent home to rest.  Thus leaving me without a method of transport home.

Having previously discovered that the 25 mile journey from school to mine via public transport is nearly 7 hours long and involves several miles of walking, one train and four buses I wasn’t too keen on that option so sent out a bulk email to all staff informing them of my situation and asking that if anyone lived vaguely in my direction I would be forever grateful if they could potentially give me a ride some of the way home.

One lady was quick to respond and said that she didn’t live in my direction but would happily drive me to the station in Huntingdon six miles away.  One of the guys in my department offered to drive me home, but being a 45 minute journey in the wrong direction for him, and then having to head home again I declined his offer, although thanked him profusely for making it.

When school finished at 3pm I hadn’t heard from any other staff,  The majority of staff live towards Cambridge, whereas I live on the Northamptonshire border – completely the other direction from school.  I accepted the very kind offer of the lift to the station and as I sat chatting to the lady in the car that I had met for the very first time that afternoon I discovered that even the train station was not in her direction home from school.  She mentioned that plenty of people had done nice things for her in the past and she was only too happy to help somebody else in the same way.  When she discovered I had friends in Peterborough she offered to drive me all the way over there, but obviously I could not accept this.

I waited thirty minutes for a train to Peterborough, waited an hour at the bus station there and then caught a two hour bus to Isham, where I managed to get a lift home, arriving just after 8pm.  A long day, but Dan was OK and my faith was restored in the loveliness of others.  Especially as, walking through the door back at home, my school iPad started to ping like crazy as several members of staff had emailed to check I had gotten home OK and one had even offered to come back to school and pick me up to take me home.

Unfortunately it seems that too often people are wrapped up in their own little bubbles and barely interact with others.  Lots of people really are very thoughtful and lovely though and every so often something like this happens and it reminds me just how much good there is in people.

What is the nicest/most thoughtful thing anyone has ever done for you?

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I am an Asics girl

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When I first started running I pulled out some old trainers from the back of my cupboard that had been kicking around for several years.  They didn’t have a lot of support and were the same size as my feet which I soon realised was a size and a half too small for running long distance.  Several toenails were lost in the lead up to my first marathon in 2012!

In 2013 I was lucky enough to win a place on Operation Ultra as part of Women’s Running magazine, and as part of my prize I received two pairs of Asics trainers.  I fell in love.  I rotated and looked after those beauties (well, Dan did the cleaning of them!) and they saw me right through to Christmas just gone.  But by that point I knew I was desperate for another pair.  The trainers I had received as part of my winnings were trail shoes, but also competing in a lot of road events I saw the benefits of having a pair of road shoes as well.  I’d just never spent so much on a pair of trainers before.  I was used to previous pairs costing me £19.99.

Luckily Dan recognised my fear of spending and knew how much better for me the proper running shoes had been, as well as how much longer they had lasted and on Christmas day I received a shoebox containing a brand new pair of Asics Gel Fuji Trabuco 3 GTX trails in a size 10.5. (Ahem, yes, I have rather big feet and wear a size 9 shoe normally.  No comment please!)

A few people had given me money for Christmas and put together I worked out that I could afford a new pair of road shoes.  I tried a few on in store and fell in love with the red Asics Nimbus 16s.  Two days later, they arrived on my doorstep and my feet were super happy.

Asics collection! Nimbus 16s and Gel Fuji-Trabuco 3 GTXs

Imagine how excited I was to receive an email from SportsShoes last month asking if I would review a pair of their Asics trainers in return for getting to keep the pair.  What does every runner always need?  A supply of beautiful trainers!  So erm, yes please!

Asics Cumulus 16s

I deliberated for ages over which ones to choose.  I could go for some more Nimbus 16s, although I already had a pair of those.  I thought it made more sense to test out a different pair and after a few days of going backwards and forwards, checking out the spec of each trainer on the Sports Shoes pages I decided to go for the Cumulus 16s this time.  In green obviously, sticking to club colours.  They arrived quickly and I was super excited to tie them up and compare them to the other trainers.  Therefore, although my review is only required for the Cumulus, I intend on reviewing all three of my ‘new’-ish trainers.

Gel Fuji Trabuco 3 GTX:

I wore these for ten miles of trail the first time I took them out and they felt so comfy!  No blisters or rubbing although on the first two runs I could tell that they were new and hadn’t yet moulded to my feet.  They felt a little tight across the bridge of my foot but I have the fattest feet out of everyone I know.  By the time it came to my third run in them they fit like a glove.
Obviously to test the trainers thoroughly I had to take them through thick mud…

Muddy trail run…and they kept me surefooted during the cliff-climbing sections of South Devon marathon last month.All three of us at EnduranceLife South Devon marathonHaving run quite a lot of off-road over the past year I need shoes which I can comfortably throw myself down the hills with some degree of trust and these fit the bill.

Nimbus 16s:

The first time I put my Nimbus 16s on I felt like they went up a long way at the back of my foot towards my ankle.  Although, when I’ve seen pictures of myself running I can’t say I’ve ever noticed this is the case!  Again, there was no rubbing and I haven’t had any blisters.

Asics Nimbus 16s

I haven’t run any races since buying these shoes, but the first thing I noticed about them whilst on a run was how incredibly light they were.  After being weighed down in a pair of trails covered in thick mud all Winter my feet felt they were flying on the first (supposed-to-be-) easy four mile run I took.  It was so easy to pick my feet up high and the base of the shoes sprung powerfully and almost automatically across the tarmac.  I couldn’t resist throwing a bit of fast fartlek in along a flat stretch of the route and enjoying my legs really picking up the speed.  They do feel roomy inside.  Running long distances I need a shoe which lets my feet expand as I run over time to avoid the dreaded black toenail and I like that these shoes have a lot of space in the front as my feet get warmer over time.  P.S.  They look hot!  I like to imagine that the Asics symbol down the side is actually a lightning bolt as I speed past everything in sight.

Cumulus 16s:

My feet felt very cushioned and well supported in these and unlike the other two shoes I never felt the tightness across the bridge of my foot during the shoe’s first couple of outings so these are potentially slightly wider.  Even though the Cumulus feels a little more weighty than the Nimbus model, these have become my day-to-day running shoe that I use in all training runs as I find the support I gain during turns and mixed pace sessions is spot on.  As someone whose entire body seems to sweat up incredibly quickly when running, the mesh over the toes allows my feet to experience some fresh air and keeps my toes from overheating during a run.

Asics Cumulus 16sThese shoes are a little less pricey than the other two but equally as high in quality.

I do feel as though there is no moving away from Asics for me now as far as trainers are concerned.  I am very happy with the quality of the three pairs I currently own and I have a different use for each pair.  The Trabucos for trail runs and trail races, the Nimbus for road races and the Cumulus for everyday training.

I think I’m all set for the 2015 race season now!

Do you own any Asics items?
What trainers do you run in?
What trainer size are you?  
Is anyone as big-footed as me?!

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At least I could walk when on the hen do

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On Wednesday night this happened… :(

Broken toe

I had my doctor appointment at 6:30pm and a trail run due to start at 7. I was desperate to make the trail run and planned on arriving at the doctors early in case they could slip me in a bit sooner than my appointment time. I raced down the stairs and through the lounge door where I caught toes four and five on the doorframe. I bent over instantly in pain. It hurt so much more than a stubbed toe. Trying to keep the momentum I rushed around with a slight limp. The problem appeared when I put my trainers on and struggled to fit them over my tender toe. I made it to the doctors on time, and was seen early. I didn’t question the foot at the doctors as I was so conscious that I wanted to be out on time for the run. My foot was still throbbing at this point though so I removed my left shoe to drive to our meet point and just drove in my sock instead.

When I arrived at the meeting point I could no longer fit my trainer over my foot at all!

In the boot of my car luckily I had a spare pair of old trainers that had a little more give in them. With much heaving over the edge of my foot I managed to get them on. It didn’t hurt to walk although the left side of my foot was still painful.  The run was OK, although I was aware that my foot wasn’t right and afterwards I returned home to put my feet up with some ice and hope for the best.

The next morning my foot had really bruised up.

Broken toeSix weeks out from race day no-one wants to see that!

The nurse at school splinted it for me yesterday morning and I’m hopeful the swelling will have gone down enough that I can run again end of the week/early next week.  One missed run in and I’m already very antsy!

Broken toe

To take my mind off it I thought I’d recap the hen do I went on two weekends ago for one of my best friends, Vicki…

The four of us she had chosen as bridesmaids had put together a weekend of girlie gossip, good food, scavenger hunts, alcohol, movies and dancing and it was superb.  :)

We began on the Friday evening with a calm evening in at a Bridesmaid’s house. Party food was provided and so were the party games.

Vicki's hen do - me in a wedding dressYep, that’s me in a wedding dress made of toilet roll paper.  I’m not quite so sure what’s on my head but the girls did a good job with the skirt of my dress.  I felt a bit guilty when our team beat Vicki’s team by a mile but thankfully I’ve seen Vick’s wedding dress for the real day and it’s beautiful and 100% not made out of toilet paper.

Saturday morning we regrouped for a breakfast at Frankie & Benny’s before setting off in convoy to Cambridge where we checked into our hotel and grabbed taxis into the city.

Vicki's hen do - cars in convoyAll of our cars were decorated with pink ribbons and Hen Do banners!

The first main activity for the day was a scavenger hunt through the city.  Vicki is incredibly competitive and loves working things out so this was perfect and thankfully, so was the weather!  We split into two teams and were given maps with points marked out and a list of questions to find answers to.  As well as questions there was a sheet of items we must bring back, such as a promotional pen and an inscribed gift to the engaged couple.  There was also a sheet with a list of photos/videos we had to take and this part was probably the most fun…

We had to fit all of us into a phone box…

Vicki's hen do - fitting in a phone box…We had to take a picture of us with a statue…

Vicki's hen do - photo with a statue…One of us in a punter’s bowler hat…

Vicki's hen do - photo in a bowler hat…and lots more including a video of a member of our group being serenaded by a stranger and a photo of a member in a wedding dress!  (Bad luck for anyone to see.)  We were knackered when we caught taxis back to the hotel to go through our answers at the end!

A quick change at the hotel and pre-dinner drinks and we were off to Jamie’s Italian for dinner.

Vicki's hen do

Vicki's hen doI have wanted to go to Jamie’s for the longest time and this was possibly the part of the weekend I was most excited about.  Although I was a little disappointed when the menu came out and there was nothing that really took my fancy.  :(  In the end I went for roasted carrots and a prosciutto, mozzarella and melon salad.

Jamie Oliver's saladWhat can I say?…I’m pretty predictable!  As someone who has eaten this dish on numerous occasions in a variety of different restaurants though, I can say that this dish was delicious!

From Jamie’s it was a short walk onto the next stop – Lola Lo where we began our cocktail making class and games.  I don’t get out to drink very much but I do enjoy a good cocktail, and we made several before heading into the club itself…

Vicki's hen do at Lola LosBeing pretty old now, one group of us (including a pregnant hen and a hen with a baby) caught a cab back around 2am and the other group stayed out late.  I was happy heading back early to catch up on sleep though after the manic stressful week I had had with work.

The next morning we grabbed a hotel breakfast and leisurely got ready before our convoy of cars headed back to Peterborough and Wildwood where we enjoyed platters of starters for picking at and then I chowed down on a goat’s cheese salad.  Again, predictable, but sooo good.

Goat's cheese saladWildwood has it’s own cinema room and so after lunch we shuffled Vicki through to the large lounge chairs with comfy cushions where candyfloss and pic ‘n’ mix sweets were waiting.

Vicki's hen do - Wildwood cinema roomDirty Dancing was played which was one of her favourite films and then after that we played a video of messages from us all on the big screen.  Mosty funny messages, some good luck messages and some sweet ones thrown in.  We succeeded in making her cry!  The hen do was the perfect mix of fun, alcohol, laughs, memory making and a little bit of lovely.  I’m pretty sad that this is the last of my close friends to get married now!

What have been your favourite weekends away with the girls?

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