HOW many?!

Yesterday morning our estate agent popped round to take some photos of our house between rain showers.  So hopefully, all being well, we should finally see our house with a For Sale board up by the end of the week.  Our estate agent is actually a keen runner and spotted me when I marshaled at parkrun a few weeks back.  Cue lots of race tactics talk between photos and chat about the Great North Run, which we both have a place in this year.

Dan and I had got the bulk of the tidying done over the weekend, so I just had the finishing touches (mainly hiding stuff!) to sort out yesterday morning.  Bella was not helpful in the slightest during this process as it involved emptying and filling lots of bags.  She loves a good bag!

Bella in a bag

After the estate agent visit, I caught up on some school work and emails before grabbing some soup and making plans to meet up with an old uni friend for dinner.  His Mum now lives not far from mine in Norfolk and last time we met at The Swan Inn in Horning.  Recently we realised that this was two years ago and knew we had to meet up again for a catchup before my wedding day!  Initially I planned on staying at my Mum’s for a couple of days and tying meeting Rich in with a family visit, but with the amount of work I have on at the minute, it ended up being more practical just driving over for the evening – despite it turning out to be a two hour trip due to roadworks!  Rich treated me to dinner though, so the evening ended up costing less than I thought.

As we hadn’t seen each other in so long we had a lot of catching up to do, so picked at some bread and oil on the table before ordering our meals probably an hour after sitting down!

I decided to go for the Ricotta, spinach and tomato tart, served with Mediterranean vegetables and baby potatoes.Ricotta, spinach and tomato tart - The Swan Inn

It looked rather plain on the dish, with all of the colourful vegetables hidden underneath the tart.  I would have hidden the potatoes and brought the veg out on show!  It was delicious though and I ate every bite!

Over dinner my friend was telling me that he had been trying to bulk up for an upcoming holiday and had hired a personal trainer for a couple of sessions each week.  He had been gym bound 5-6 days every week for the past month.  At uni I think he joined me at the gym once – more for the social side than anything and then he followed it up with a trip to McDonalds!  He’s proud to be eating a lot cleaner now though with oats, egg and chicken being the main elements of his meals.  But he’s struggling to fit in the 5000 calories a day that his trainer wants him to eat.  5000 calories a day?!  That’s a huge amount to ask someone to eat when they’re used to eating less than half of that!  200g oats in the morning and six eggs with two tins of tuna for lunch.  I like my food but I’m sure I would be struggling with that amount as well!  He’s doing something right though clearly, as his body fat has reduced to 8% over the past month.

Have you ever seen a personal trainer before?…  I’ve never seen a personal trainer, although have been tempted in the past to get another person’s professional opinion on areas I could improve on.

Advice for first time London Marathoners

I can’t believe it was already two weeks ago that I ran the London Marathon!  I’ve already written my race recap but before too much more time passes I wanted to put together a list of more general things I wanted to remember about the race itself in the hope that I will get a chance to run it again, or if not, it might help someone else.  I read lots of blogs and spoke to lots of people about the race beforehand to try and get a good idea of what to expect and I don’t want to forget the advice for future years!

1st time london marathoners

1) If possible head down to the expo before the Saturday to collect your number.  I went down with a friend on the Thursday and we didn’t queue for anything yet still had achy legs by the end.  I can only imagine how many people must leave it until the Saturday and how crowded it must get.

VLM marathon number collection

2) Pick up two pace bands at the expo.  One for you and one for your supporters so they know roughly when to be looking out for you.  If they aren’t regular race supporters they might be better off stood by a mile marker and then they can check this alongside their pace band to work out when you should be coming through.

Pace band 5hr

3) Book where to eat the night before the race.  I picked up this tip from Marathon Talk.  I knew I needed to eat pizza the night before the race so when we reached our hotel we hunted out a local Italian restaurant to go to that evening.  When we rang, we booked the last table for that night.  It was vital for me that I ate around 7:30-8pm and a vegetable pizza.  Otherwise panic would have set in!  😛

4) Allow extra time to get to the start of the race.  Dan is normally King of organisation but he would have had me aiming to arrive at 9:30 for a 10am start.  I put my foot down and planned on getting there for 8am.  A closed station, missed train and crowded platforms meant I made it by 8:20 – giving me enough time to Vaseline up, take two toilet trips, add suncream and place my bag onto the baggage lorries before casually strolling down to the start and chatting away with the other guys in my pacing group.

5) Don’t take supporters to the start line with you.  The trains are incredibly crowded and as soon as you reach the starting field you will have to show your number as a pass in.  Anyone without a number will have had a wasted journey.

entrance check VLM

6) Not everyone with a sign above their head is a pacer!  As I found when trying to hassle a poor guy about Sub 5 tactics!  He was in fact a guy wearing a charity flag!

7) There are nine speed humps about a mile into the blue start course.  I wasn’t aware of these before the race but the pacers briefed us about them, and there were volunteers with signs stood at either side of each hump intermittently bellowing out “HUMP!”

8) The number of people running the course is immense.  In the build up to my first marathon I ran a couple of ‘larger’ races, such as Silverstone half marathon to try and prepare for crowds of runners but Silverstone was nothing compared to the London Marathon and not being able to see the road I was running on for the first quarter of the course!  The first three miles it was easy to ‘go with the flow’ but then we started to hit water stations and bottles were tossed across the road everywhere.  My eyes went from the crowds to the floor to ensure my first VLM experience wasn’t cut short by tripping over a stray water bottle!  The pacers warned us that the first couple of miles would most likely be slightly slower due to the huge amount of starters getting over the line.

9) The crowds are amazing.  They do not stop.  Ever!  If you let them, they will carry you round the course.  Watching the London Marathon coverage on TV I felt rather sorry for the elites, as they appeared to have less than half the numbers of supporters that we had going round the course.  As a relatively slow marathon runner I expected the crowds to have died down a little towards the end but they were so strong and so very loud!  The signs were amazing, the chants were amazing.  The supporters are what make me want to run this course again.

Mo at London

10) If you do have supporters visiting agree on one spot where you will see them.  Any more is just a bonus but if you decide on a couple of places and then don’t see them you will be heartbroken!  If you have several supporters you can break them up into cheering squads. Dan and I agreed that he would be at about the halfway point beforehand and when he got in place he texted to say that he was just after the bridge, on the right hand side, with a load of other members of the running club.  Luckily I saw him and although I thought I would not see him again until after the race, he managed to catch the tube up to see me at mile 25 as well.  Bonus!  :)

11) Give spectators your race number so they can track you easily.  Other than one brief blip I was told the tracker worked fantastically for all those following me both out on the course and back home.  I had no problems with it when I followed our runners at home the year before either.

VLM number

12) Your watch may lose signal under the bridges towards the end.  Mine did briefly, although regained it quickly as I came out the other side.  Just be prepared for your watch to tell you you are no longer ticking off any miles!

13) Be prepared to run more than 26.2 miles!  My Garmin recorded 27.94 miles!  I think mainly due to weaving around walkers but often on the large roads I was a long way away from the blue line on the ground (the line the elites take which is the route that has been officially measured as 26.2miles).

14) Take food for the end of the race.  There was an apple in the goody bag and a bag of craisins…I think that was it.  The queues for the baggage lorries were non-existent and I collected my bag very quickly after the race.  I’d packed a Honey Stinger bar as my treat for finishing and as the queues leading out into the Horse Guards Parade forced us to stand still for a long amount of time despite not feeling like food, I knew my body needed it by this point!

15) Arrange somewhere to meet afterwards.  I wouldn’t have thought of this, but luckily our club mentioned that they always meet in the same spot after the race on the right hand side of the exit on the grass by a tree.  It didn’t take me long to spot them, and everybody seemed to find the area OK.  My phone had no reception due to the large amount of calls finishers were making so I was glad I was aware of the pre-arranged meeting spot.

16) Remember to look up and take in the race!  For a while I found myself glancing down at my feet and being super careful of where I placed them but after the race I realised that I never spotted Big Ben or The Cutty Sark.  In fact all I do remember spotting whilst out on the course was Tower Bridge (hard to miss when you’re running over it!) and a Jamie’s Italian restaurant!  Whoops!  Now I’ll just have to run again!  :)

5 things Friday…on a Saturday

I feel like there has been lot of randomness in my life just lately.  Therefore, here are five random snippets of information about my week.

#1. I spent several hours last night sorting through my old folder of letters from school/college/uni.  I’ve asked my Maid of Honour to make a speech at the wedding, before the Best Man stands up, and she has asked for a pile of our old letters to get some inspiration.  I had so much fun reading and sorting through them last night.  Some of them made me laugh so hard.  I can’t believe the things I used to stress about when I was at high school.  Boys?  Really?!  Here’s a postcard from Idaho I found from my best friend the year before we travelled to Idaho together.  (2000)  Not sure it was worth the stamp!


#2. I was invited to go on a 24 mile trail run this morning.  I really wanted to go but in the end I declined.  It was with runners a fair bit faster than me and despite them planning on running it ‘slow’, their slow would not feel as slow for me!  Next weekend I am running the 12 hour ContiRun as a solo competitor and I need a little energy left in my legs!  Parkrun for me this morning instead!contiRun
#3. I got more snide remarks about my eating habits.  I mentioned a while ago about the comments the Headteacher had made about my eating at school.  Yesterday I headed to the kitchen to use the microwave for a Graze popcorn pack.  The receptionist came over to see what I was making and exclaimed “Is that as part of your lunch?!  Well, it’s a good job you do all that running.  Think how many calories are in that bag!”  As I had the Graze book with me I could tell her that there were only 127 calories in the bag, to which she then pointed out “Well, think about the fat content.  That’s going to make you gain loads of weight!”  Why do people have to comment on what I eat?  This annoys me so much!

Graze popcorn

#4. It’s 105 days until I become Mrs Pearson (this still sounds so weird…that’s Dan’s Mum’s name!)  I feel like we haven’t really done a lot wedding wise for a while now.  When my parents came up last week we sent a couple of invitations back with them to distribute to family in Norfolk.  To save on postage costs (53p per second class stamp!) we’re planning on passing out invitations as and when we see people from now on.  We should have our first responses back this week and I’m excited to see what people are going to choose for their meals!  I’ve also got my hair trial appointment booked for June now and my make up trial for the same day.  The hairdresser is the same one that has done my hair for two friend’s weddings and she has always done a great job.  But I’m a little nervous about having my makeup done.  My Maid of Honour is paying for my makeup on the day as part of my Christmas present but I’m not a fan of people going near my eyes!  A professional will do a much better job than I ever would though!
Dan’s Mum has also made us a lot of bunting to decorate the hall for the reception.  The hall has been kept very plain – white walls and wooden features so it should be nice and easy to make it fit with our yellow and rustic colour scheme.

Wedding Bunting


We’ve also got our cake board this week.  Both Dan and I wanted an irregular rusticy tree stump style board and we have gone with this one which I love.  (Personally I like this style of cake too, but Dan wasn’t a fan.)

cake board

#5. All my current school resources revolve around London Marathon.  Thanks to the hype surrounding Mo, lots of the kids have been chatting about running lately.  The girls at our school are going to attend the Cancer Research Race for Life event in Northampton later on in the year and apparently this event is strongly supported each year by the school.  My database lesson yesterday did prompt some random questions such as “Do female runners wear nipple plasters?”  And “Did Paula Radcliffe really poo in the road?”  Gotta love how open kids are!

Running school resources

Do you keep old letters from friends?  I’m such a nostalgic person I kept pretty much everything that was ever passed round in high school!

Top tip to delay snacking

I’ve been in a work funk since returning on Wednesday.  The school I started at in September very much still lives in the dark ages (girls one side, boys another and no use of email in the school before I arrived!) and it has been a lot of work making changes in the school system, getting others to accept that the changes are for the better all whilst working in my first Head of Department role as well!

Work funks = sleepless nights = more snacking.

More snacking = problem when just two days earlier I decided that we need to cut back on our food bill.

Favourite tip I’ve picked up?  Never take your favourite chocolate bar to work – always take your second or third favourite…that way you’re much more likely to wait until you’re truly hungry before tucking in!

I don’t tend to keep chocolate in the house…Favourite, or least favourite I’m pretty sure it would all go relatively quickly!  However, I have been building up a large selection of freebie bars from races, Graze boxes I wasn’t as fond of and general small snacks that have been filling up my cupboard over the past couple of years.

On Wednesday I threw together a bag of odd snacks to keep under my desk at work.


But it still left a massive pile of gels and snacks in my kitchen cupboard…


…and also a spare fruit bowl full of odd bits!


My aim is to have gotten through this little(!) lot by the time we move!  No need to buy more snacks for a while yet!

Over the past few days several people have suggested shopping at Aldi to try and save some more money on groceries and after chatting with Dan we have decided to give it a go next week.  We’d been put off in the past as I’m not sure they take credit cards?  And we religiously use our Tesco credit card for all purchases; using the points we collect for a couple of free breaks each year. If you aren’t that frugal, may be an option for you.

Although there are many ways for us to save money within the house over the next few months, I think the food shop is the area where we can make the most adjustments and savings.

This post : On the cheap: Healthy eating Part 2 from Laura has loads of great ideas for keeping food costs down.

Do you stockpile the snacks that aren’t your favourites?!