A look back at 2013

I only really started this blog in March so some of the main events of the year are based on memory alone.  It’s so nice to be able to look back and remember what happened when and in more detail though and I’m glad I’ve kept track of my year.

Dan and I saw New Year in with our friends Vick and Alex by watching the fireworks in Central Park.  Going to New York for New Year was something we had both really wanted to do for the longest time and towards the end of 2012 we decided we just had to go ahead and do it!

New Years 2013

On New Year’s Day we went for a boat trip around the Statue of Liberty followed by a walk across Brooklyn Bridge where Dan and I attempted to act out the scene with Miranda and Steve from Sex and The City.  (We couldn’t remember how it went so made it up!)

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The weekend after we returned from New York my Mum and Dad made the trip up to Northamptonshire to let us know that Mum had been diagnosed with cancer in several areas of her body and would soon be beginning chemo in an attempt to fight the illness.

In February I ran my first parkrun and got a new PB for my speed over a 5k course.  (26m 55s)  I was extremely happy with the race as it was consistent despite not having had high hopes for it before beginning.

I also celebrated one of my best friend’s, Vicki’s 29th birthday.  Well, kind of birthday.  Her actual birthday is on the 29th of February, so she doesn’t have very many real ones!

Vicki's cake balls

In March Dan and I attended our first wedding of the year, with my friends Helen and Sam and also celebrated our six year anniversary of being together the same weekend.

April meant the second wedding of the year and this time I was a witness for my friend Amy’s wedding as she married her husband Brett in Birmingham.

Me as witnessIn May I ran Milton Keynes marathon for the second year running.  I completed it in a time I was deeply unhappy with after hours and hours of hard training over the Winter and vowed to fit in another marathon before the end of the year.

MK Marathon 2013 time

The following week I attended the first Write This Run conference down South.

I also got engaged on a boat in the middle of Lake Windermere!

Engagement ring

June saw me running the 35 mile Shires and Spires race and LOVING IT!

Shires and Spires 35

I also finally asked my bridesmaids and witness to be a part of my wedding.

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And attended my friend Jenny’s wedding (where she arrived on horseback!)IMG_7806

On 2nd July I attended the training day as one of three ladies having won a place in Women’s Running: Operation Ultra.

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And later that month I left my job of three years from a large state school after several months of no longer really enjoying my job.

I had planned to spend most of the Summer running but unfortunately I got injured and supported my clubmates at the Grim Reaper ultra race not long before heading to London to have an MRI scan taken of my hip.  Luckily it turned out to just be tendonitis, although that was agonising enough!

At the end of the Summer a long overdue Uni reunion was had and it was great to be able to head out with more than 20 friends and partners from Uni days – just like old times again.EVERYONE

I started my new job in a small independent school at the start of September and I’m still coming across differences between the two posts every single day.

I had a place for the GNR but deferred so that I could run Bristol half marathon with the other Operation Ultra winners instead. Bristol was the first half marathon where I’ve run for 90 minutes BEFORE the race!

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The first weekend in October ended up being incredibly hot, and also the weekend I ran Mablethorpe marathon. Although it wasn’t as hot as the bank holiday weekend when I had run Milton Keynes it was still much hotter than I had been expecting and again I was unhappy with my time.

The week before my 50 mile ultra I put on a cake stall in Holt, North Norfolk to raise money for McMillan Cancer Care, raising £255 by the end of the week!

MacMillan Cake stall - Me and MumI also won a club place for the London marathon 2014.  (Cannot WAIT!)  Just a few days later and I attempted the Dusk ’til Dawn race I was entered in as part of Operation Ultra.  Unfortunately I did not complete it, running approximately 40 miles and ending up going round in circles in the fog but I shall be back in 2014, and in force as several members of my club have already agreed to run it with me.  :)

wereoffI also celebrated my last birthday as a twenty-something.  2014 will be the year I turn 30…

I ran my first cross-country race of the year in November, followed by a week off running due to a foot injury which resulted in me pulling out of St. Neot’s half marathon.  During my non-running time I did get to head to the Running Show which I attended as part of the second Write this Run conference.

December has gone by in a blur, and last Sunday we celebrated the fifth wedding of this year in Yorkshire as our friends Stew and Julie got married.

Stew and Julie cake topper

Vizify kindly made me a video of my 2013 on Twitter.  Click here to see it.  Not sure how I managed to talk about fingers so much!!!

Tonight we are planning on spending with friends in Birmingham – a quiet night in with a few bottles of wine, some dodgy music and some board games!

Happy New Year everyone!  :)

Christmas week

Christmas week always turns into a manic one for us.  Dan is originally from Wolverhampton and I’m from Norfolk so right from the very beginning of our relationship we decided to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with one family and Boxing Day and the 27th December with the other.  We alternate each year.  Because of the distance it’s just too hectic to try and visit both sets of parents on the 25th, and we wouldn’t have enough time to drop in on Aunts/Uncles/Cousins etc.

This does however mean a lot of driving for us.  More so this year as on the Saturday before Christmas we drove to Lincolnshire to visit Dan’s sister and her kids, on the Sunday we drove to Yorkshire for a wedding, Tuesday and Wednesday was spent at Dan’s parent’s in Wolverhampton and Thursday and Friday at my parent’s in Norfolk.

Yesterday and today has been spent doing some much required slobbing in Christmas jumpers…

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And spending time with the other important member of our family – Bella…

Family PearsonWhen she sleeps on us in front of the TV, she has to be touching us both somehow…even if it’s only by a paw!

Dave piggy back

Dan’s parents have dogs (two crazy dogs!) and Dave spent a lot of Christmas Day jumping on Dan’s back for a ride!

I managed to get a 4 mile run in on Christmas morning.  I got up super early so that I wouldn’t miss out on any Christmas day fun, but once I returned to the house, I had had my shower and sat around downstairs for an hour before either Dan or his Dad got up out of bed!

One of my favourite running club social traditions is the Christmas Eve run.  Up to 100 runners from our club head to the local country park wearing various santa hats/reindeer ears, etc. and spend up to an hour running around in groups of mixed abilities before returning to the cafe for a free sausage bap and hot chocolate.Christmas Eve runKids, partners and dogs are all invited to join in on the run and people run anything from 1 mile to 7 before the temptation of the hot sausage bap calls them into the cafe!  I think I ran just over 6 miles before heading in for my roll.  (Forgot my Garmin!)  It’s so lovely to be able to chat to people from different groups within the club though and find out what their running goals for the year ahead are.  I ran with the hardcore mud crew and ended up covered…

muddy legs muddy socks

The run turned into a massive see-who-can-splash-the-most-mud / see-who-is-bravest-enough-to-run-through-the-deepest-puddles hour and I spent a lot of the time giving my stomach muscles a great workout from laughing so hard!

A yorkshire wedding and a new house?

I’ve never been to a wedding before where they served yorkshire puddings as the starter!

Yorkshire pudding

Yesterday Dan and I headed to West Yorkshire for our friends Stew and Julie’s wedding.

Julie weddingStew wedding

Stew also went to the same University as us although he had finished his course before I ever met him but continued to visit some of his uni friends, which included my friends Vick and Al.  So I got to know him through them.

Us at Stew's wedding

They had a fantastic cake topper made…

Stew and Julie cake topper

…and then Dan had his pre-arranged dance with Julie as they had agreed months ago that Stew couldn’t actually dance so Dan would step in!

Dan and Julie dancing

Unfortunately I did manage to slide over and rip my tights when we left.  (And I’d only had one glass of wine!)  It was super icy and cold outside last night.  Check out how frosted over my car was!

Iced car

A stranger actually picked me up off the ground and got me over to the car as Dan was carrying armfuls of Christmas presents and the stranger got to me first.

Of course when I fell it was onto my right knee and landed back onto my right bum cheek.  I thought I couldn’t damage my right side anymore, but I got that wrong!  Luckily my knee was only scraped, not pouring with blood and today my bum has just been a little tender on that side.

This morning my parents drove down to look at a house Dan and I are hoping to put an offer on.  It is only a few miles up the road from our current house but needs a lot of work doing to it, with the opportunity to make it into something much more than it currently is.  Hence a low asking price and the attraction to us!  When we bought our current house at the end of 2010 it was a repossession, and using my Dad’s knowledge from days of working as a self-employed builder and electrician between the two of us we knocked through walls, extended and for a while I lived in a house that looked something like this…!Work on house

The not so fun part of doing a house up!

Parents coming to visit meant a mad rush round tidy-up session this morning.  It doesn’t matter how clean I get the house, my Dad always spots something to comment on.  This time it was the fact that I still needed to paint my porch door.  I did know this, but wasn’t prepared to get the paint pot out at 7am this morning!

I offered to take them out to lunch for coming over to give the house a once over for us and knew exactly where I wanted to go…Beckworth Emporium.  Normally in the Winter Dan and I head over to skate one evening on their outdoor icerink, but having both damaged legs/feet this Winter we decided to give it a miss this year.  The food is always lovely, and I have always looked on at the beautiful platters that are delivered to tables, knowing Dan wouldn’t touch them as they all contain too much fruit or vegetables.

Today was my chance to try one out though, and Dad and I split a Deli Platter.

Beckworth Emporium deli platter

It was AMAZING!  Smokey blacky ham, Wurst salad, Brixworth pâté, Stilton, Wensleydale Winter Warmer with cranberry cheese and Wookey Hole Cheddar, served with dressed mixed baby leaves, our own marinated olives, “Forest” Special Real Ale Chutney, fresh slices of Cox Apple & “L a Brea” bread.  I was nicely full by the end.  :)

A year of running – 2013

Spotted over on Jess’ blog was Miss Zippy’s Year of Running linkup which I decided to fill out.  Overall, I don’t think I’ve had the best year of running, but I have learnt a lot this year and tried lots of new things…ultra, trail, night running…

Best race experience?
My best race experience was my first ultra – Shires & Spires 35 in June.  Ultra running is so different to shorter distance running and it was nice to have a relatively relaxed (well, at least until mile 30!) run with friends from club (and others that we picked up along the way!), having a joke and a laugh as we ran.

We ‘rescued’ two runners that had all but given up around mile 26/27, and just needed some encouragement and a friendly face.  As always, the running community proved just how friendly it can be.  We helped and encouraged them along, and they held back to cross the finish line with us – despite being much quicker runners.

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It was nice not to have any particular time goals in mind, and I came in Sub 8 hours with several runners still behind me, or having dropped out due to the heat on the day.

At a time in the year when I had put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve PBs for certain distances, it was nice to remember why I loved running so much and how much fun racing could really be.

Best run?
I can’t decide!!!  Either the first time I went on one of Kev’s organised trail runs OR the day that I ran without any stops at all for 20 miles.20 miler

Both gave me an incredible runner’s high!  They helped me to realise that I WAS a runner, that I could achieve my goals and deserved to be bloody proud of them.

Best new piece of gear?
Without a doubt, the Ronhill shorts I received as part of winning a place on Women’s Running Operation Ultra.ronhillShortsI thought I would hate them when I pulled them out of the packet.  They looked massive and really long but oh they were so very comfy and lightweight…!  The majority of races I have run since receiving these you will be able to spot me wearing these shorts.  See below…!finish pic closeup bristolFinish

Best piece of running advice you received?
I love picking up tips and advice from other runners.  I read a lot of running books and running blogs, so much of the advice given to me I am already aware of or had probably vaguely had an idea of previously.  I tried to talk to as many people as possible on the Dusk ’til Dawn ultra and I think this was where I picked up my best pieces of advice.  The lady I shared a room with advised me to pin my checkpoint card to the inside of my running jacket, so that it won’t blow away when I pulled it out with cold hands to punch it at the various checkpoints.  The ‘Reaper’ advised me not to stop at checkpoints but to power through so that I didn’t get cold and seize up.  (I was amazed at how many runners were stopped for quite long periods of time at the checkpoints.)Kev, one of our club ultra runners who I often run with has also given me a lot of advice this year.  My favourite being – ‘The cut off time is 9 hours.  Therefore, we will aim for 8hours, 59minutes and 59 seconds.  Anything better than that is a bonus.  As long as you complete within the cut off time you have succeeded.’  (I’m famous for putting too much pressure on myself to do well and being so hard on myself if I do not.)

Most inspirational runner?
In the real world – very definitely Kev.  He has such a laid back fun way of running.  He has his own goals (aiming to complete a 100 mile ultra) but still finds time to introduce the fun side of running to so many others and help them achieve their goals.IMG_7676

In the blogging world – there are so very many!

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?
Frustrating but a learning curve and incredibly fun.