A married life Saturday

This Saturday was rather typical of how I expected weekends of married life to be when I was younger.  More chilled and less like the mad rush that I’ve come to expect from a weekend lately!

I rose at an acceptable 7am before getting a little cleaning done and dressing for parkrun and then I headed over to Northampton for parkrun number 21.  I’d taken almost a week off from running – not having run since 10 miles of trail the Sunday before (other than a testing slow 1 mile on the Friday night).  It had been ten days since I’d broken my toe and I was ready to test it out on a run before deciding whether or not to pull out of the Oakley 20 race on the Sunday.

Our club has recently discovered that we are third in the Northampton club parkrun league so have put a real push on getting members to parkrun on the last Saturday of each month.

That, combined with one of our members running his 50th parkrun this weekend meant that we had a great turn out for a club photo and a total of 22 members running the event.Alan's 50th parkrunThere’s me at the back on the left in blue.

I took it fairly steady, aiming to stick to around 160bpm on my heart rate monitor, although as I felt strong and my foot wasn’t really uncomfortable I gradually increased this to 170bpm.  It was so incredibly windy on Saturday morning and it felt like the wind was very unfairly pushing us all back down the slight (but long!) hill along the back of the course.

I was rather happy with how consistent my running was and despite not putting full effort in (I would have been silly to do so with the possibility of running 20 miles the following day and in the tail end of recovering from a broken toe) I realised just how much I have improved at being able to pace myself.  I think I can put most of that down to training by heart rate over the past four months.

parkrun number 21 dataNot far from the end of the course another Wellingborough runner came past me and as we came close to the finish line I put in a kick for my usual sprint finish.  Meters from the finish line I realised that I would overtake her if I continued to kick.  Thinking that it wouldn’t actually be very nice to not really race and then sprint finish to pip someone on the line I slowed right down and stayed behind before coming through the line.

Position: 203/320
Gender position: 52/135
Time: 28:58

After parkrun I headed to a new coffee shop in town with another parkrun friend.  If you find yourself close to Northampton, this little hole is definitely worth dropping in to.Magee street bakery, Northampton - hot chocolateMagee Street Bakery is right up the street from The Racecourse (location of Northampton parkrun) so perfect for stopping in afterwards for a hot chocolate.  That homemade marshmallow was beautiful and really made me want to have a go at making my own.  I also had a salted caramel tart.

Magee street bakery, Northampton - salted caramel tartYep, I can already tell that this is going to be a regular post-parkrun trip!  Despite being a tiny little space inside the shop itself with minimal seats, everyone that wanted to sit/perch somewhere was able to and there was a constant stream of people coming in through the door.

Saturday was actually Dan and my eight years ‘dating anniversary’.  We ‘celebrated’ by taking advantage of the Nectar points double up weekend and picking out items for our new house with our £70 worth of vouchers.  Although this ended up being very complicated with Sainsbury’s system of only allowing one voucher for each department in their store.

Anyway, we ended up buying a new set of towels and bath mats for our downstairs toilet as we will have two toilets to decorate and clean now!

Sainsbury's towelsWe also picked up some DVDs for Dan’s brother’s upcoming birthday, some toy cars for our Nephew’s upcoming birthday and a double duvet set as we will be going from a two-bed house to a four-bed house so in need of more bedding for when people stay.  Not bad for spending only 73p!

After this we had a little browse through B&Q to look at style ideas for our new rooms.  The house we are buying is essentially livable in straight away, although the rooms will be in general need of updating and personalising to make our own.  We got rather carried away with paint cards…

Paint colour cards(What a fun job it must be to come up with the colour names!)

…and fell in love with a couple of ideas for our new kitchen.

Kitchen ideasThe kitchen in our new house is much larger than our current one, but doesn’t really have a lot of storage so will need altering at some stage.

Saturday afternoon was then spent coming up with ideas from Pinterest and the catalogues we brought home from B&Q deciding on how we wanted the house to look.  I have a board on Pinterest now with House Ideas if anyone is interested.  I absolutely love the idea of putting a nook under the stairs.

stairs nook(Pinned from here.)

A good weekend day!  I got a little of everything in – running, cleaning, hot chocolate with friends, house planning and time with the husband.  Everyone’s happy!  :)

What is your favourite part of your house?
Do you think it’s appropriate to sprint for the finish line and pip someone you know?  Or is that just rude?!

The good, the bad and the ugly

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…


…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?…

Pay it Forward

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?

I am an Asics girl

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?!