At least I could walk when on the hen do

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?

Ashridge Boundary trail race

This race was probably one of the quickest ever.

And by that I don’t mean literal time-wise I mean metaphorical time-wise.  Looking back I would never have thought I had been out there for 3 hours, 14 minutes and 44 seconds as it seemed to be over in a flash, with no time to feel tired or bored whilst out on the Ashridge Boundary Run course.

Ashridge Boundary runWe grabbed as many runners from our club as we could for a group photo before hitting the start line just before 10am.  I was too busy talking to realise the race had actually begun and all of a sudden we were off and I hadn’t even stopped to think out any real game plan for the morning.

I had a rough idea in my head that I wanted to trial the race out running on heart rate.  Running to heart rate during training this time round has really worked for me but there is still a lot of things about it that I don’t know or understand and what heart rate to run a race at was one of those things.  As a rough guide I aimed to run at around the 160bpm mark – but was open to adapting this as the race went on.

The first two miles of the race were pretty swift.  Katie had warned me about the final three miles of steep hills, so I wasn’t too concerned about speeding slightly at the beginning when I saw an easy, slightly downhill track through the woods.  There was a good chance I would end up slowed to a walk later on in the race and I would need some of that gained time then.

Ashridge boundary elevation

I kept checking my Garmin – really surprised that the 160bpm target I’d set myself felt so easy.  (As a rough guide for comparison, my long run training has been completed in Zone 2 – 130-143bpm so this race rightfully involved much more effort)

I was still on target at 4.5 miles when Mandy, another runner from my club caught me up.  I explained to her my rough plan and we decided to run together.

The next nine miles flew.  I vaguely remember covering a couple of long stretches of grassland – running through it despite my head getting fed up of the lack of change and seeing no end in sight.  Had I not had Mandy with me here I have no doubt that I would have walked this section.  My head can be pretty stupid at times!

As well as having a few long sections of flat grass to run over, there was also lots and lots of woodland which made for interesting twists and turns and ensuring we were picking our feet up nice and high!  About half way into the race we passed a fallen runner that had tripped over a root.  She was OK so we continued on.

There were three water tables on the course and I stopped only to give me enough time to grab a few jelly babies from each.  I was carrying my trusty water bottle and a bag full of sour cream and chive pretzels to get me round.  (YUM!)

Three miles from the finish and we came out into the open along a stony track before heading up a steep incline to the top of a hill which overlooked all the villages around.  It wasn’t even that clear on Saturday morning as by this point mist had descended upon us, but still we could see a long way out.

The course was very well marked out with tape and large arrows.  I was rather concerned during the drive up when one of the other runners had spoken of the printed course map they had brought with them.  It had been weeks since I had seen that map…I hadn’t thought it was a self-navigation course!  Luckily, there was no need for a map and to my knowledge, no runners were lost during the race.

Towards the end I felt as though I could have picked the pace up in places but by this point was enjoying the casual run/chat as I was going along.
Ashridge Boundary run I think I actually look like some kind of giant next to Mandy in this next photo…Ashridge Boundary run And it looks like my water bottle is balancing in mid-air here…Ashridge Boundary run But I look super happy and you can tell no sprint finish took place!Ashridge Boundary runTotal distance: 16.42 miles
Position: 195/211
Category position: 14/17 (Female Senior)

Once over the line we were handed a bottle of water and a beanie hat (I love it when races give out something other than a race shirt.  My beanie has already been put to work!) and directed to a row of cakes and juice.  I grabbed some orange juice and a cookie to get some energy back post race.

Ashridge Boundary run beanieMandy and I were the last ones over the line for our club so it wasn’t long before the six of us that had arrived together were Wellingborough-bound once more and comparing races.

Twenty minutes into the journey though and I wasn’t feeling so great.  I felt rather sick and I’d started to get a headache.  Another twenty minutes and I was asking to pull the car over in a petrol station.  A quick five minute stop and a bottle of water and I was ready to get home.  All I wanted was bed now.

I managed to make it back to get dropped off where I’d parked my car up in Wellingborough…only to throw up twice on the side of the road.  Not nice.  Pretty embarrassing actually and it spoilt what had otherwise been a lovely day.  I had eaten and drunk properly during the race and hadn’t pushed myself too hard.  I guess I must have just picked up a bug.
I felt much better after being sick and then getting a quick nap in back at home though.  Ready for a lazy day on Sunday and catch up at work/life stuff that Sundays were made for.

What are your favourite race souvenirs?

Jantastic weeks 8 and 9

Firstly, thank you for the lovely comments I received on Wednesday’s post.  With a relatively free weekend (other than a 16 mile race) this weekend I’m looking forward to finally ticking off some items on my long-term to-do list and feeling a bit more on top of things once more.  I can feel the stress levels slowly going back down again and five days in I have already managed to fit in three runs this week so things are looking back up again!

I realised yesterday that I had never gotten round to doing a recap of my weeks 8 and 9 for Jantastic, so thought I’d better sum them up quick before I have to add week 10 onto that list as well.

Week 8: (32miles)
Monday – 3.6 mile easy run into the next village and back with Dan.  Average 11mm.
Tuesday – Rest day
Wednesday – I had an appointment after work with the doctor to try and work out what has been causing my sudden weight loss so kept Wednesday as a rest day.
Thursday – 4.01m very similar run location-wise to Monday’s run but much faster this time.  It had been a stressful day at work and an afterschool parent’s evening that had run on meant that I hadn’t returned home until gone 8pm – long after running club had finished.  As soon as I was changed I headed out and just ran.  To destress and because I could.  My splits were 9:34, 9:11, 10:38 (couple of road crossings, otherwise my run would have been a perfect Royal Flush), 8:47 and 6:00 for the tiny nubbin (not sure if it counts as a nubbin for 0.1m!)  I returned absolutely exhilarated and desperate to fit another great run in again soon.
Friday – 6.06m – After a long week at work and with the memory of my great run the night before still fresh in my mind I was desperate to have another feel good run.  I actually ended up calling my best friend on the way home from work and the conversation was still going strong when I was home and changed ready to run.  I ran the 6.06m a little slower than normal but whilst continuing the conversation with my friend.  Two feel good runs in two days.
Saturday – 1m x2 – Saturday was bridesmaid dress fitting time.  I am bridesmaid for my friend Vicki’s wedding in the Easter holidays and the plan was to meet the other three bridesmaids at the fitters in Peterborough so that our dresses could be altered.  Turns out the shop didn’t have a car park and it was permit only parking in all the surrounding roads.  I had been so chuffed about arriving 15 minutes early but it then took me 15 minutes to find a car parking space…which ended up being over a mile away!  This resulted in a mad run (definitely sub 9mm, potentially sub 8!) in converse and jeans to the bridal shop and after the fitting a mad rush back to make sure I’d moved my car on in time!
Luckily, I was last in line for alterations, so I’d time to cool down a little and become less sweaty to try on my dress.  I’d actually lost so much weight though that I asked my friend to do the zip up twice because I hadn’t realise it had been done up!  The seamstress has planned to take over 1 inch off from either side of the dress.  Better hope my body doesn’t decide to pile all of that weight back on again now otherwise I think Vicki may kill me!
Sunday – 15.88m – The plan was to try and stick to Zone 2 throughout my run using my heart rate monitor (130-143bpm).  Because I picked a hilly run and because the wind seemed pretty insistent that it was going to blow me over out there and push me all the way back down the hills each time I headed up them the pace was anything between 10:30-12:03.  And then I barely felt like I was moving before my watch was telling me to slow my heart rate back down again.  I have loved training by heart rate and can see so many benefits from doing so (post coming soon!) but on days when you even need to slow your walking down up tough hills it can get rather frustrating!  I had a couple of strops when the wind got too much but then it seemed to stop so I picked up the pace and finished in Sub 10mm.  Below is me mid-strop half-way up the hill with my hair blowing all over the place.  It was pretty sunny out too just to add to things.

Out on a long run

Week 9: (2.67m – my lowest mileage in a very long while!)
Monday – 2.67m round town with Dan.  This week we decided to start out steady and gradually get quicker and quicker.  Mile splits as follows; 10:23, 8:52, 8:37.  Loved this run and was so proud of Dan for picking the pace right up as well.  He’s struggled to get out
Tuesday – Very busy day at work – worked late and was knackered with loads still to do on arriving home again, as well as finishing off and rendering a video I had made which I planned on playing at the hen do at the weekend.
Wednesday – I had to have a blood test at the doctors during the afternoon and still felt a little weak in the evening so gave the regular Wednesday trail run a miss.
Thursday – As Tuesday.
Friday – I headed straight from work to Peterborough so that I could check the DVD at Wildwood, the cinema/restaurant where the hen do would be heading to on Sunday.  Then the hen do began.
Saturday – Away all day on the hen do.
Sunday – Away all day on the hen do.

Week 9 was awful running wise, eating wise and sleep wise.  I really missed getting out there for my regular runs.  I also thought some of the weight that had mysteriously dropped off me over the past month would return after having a week of very little running and much more than normal eating whilst away on the hen do.  But, this was not to be and I actually lost a further 2lbs.  I did get some dancing in though, and we took part in a great scavenger hunt around Cambridge so despite not running, I probably burnt off a fair bit of excess energy on the hen do.

Dancing the night away on Vicki's hen do

In other news during weeks 8 and 9, life was busy…

I tried ribs for the first time…

Ribs meal

…and really enjoyed them.
Ribs are something I thought I would never try.  They really do not appeal to me…eating with my hands and getting messy just isn’t my thing!  Dan and I were recently given a freezer full of meat, including a few racks of ribs.  I’m not a massive fan of meat as I find it too chewy and flavourless. I expected ribs to be the same but these were delicious, – really juicy and full of flavour.  Dan slathered his ribs in BBQ sauce but that is too sweet for me so I picked at them alongside some cajun wedges and a side salad and we will be having them again.  At home though, where I feel as though I can wash immediately upon finishing!

Bella has found some new hiding spots….

Bella on top of the cupboard…including this one in the craft boxes on top of the filing cabinet in the spare room.
She was so high up I couldn’t even see her face!

Does running help you to destress?
Any odd pet hiding places?!

The effects of a busy lifestyle

It has been a while. Way too long in fact. I can see by checking back through my blog that the last time I posted was way back on …..24th February. It’s not that nothing has happened since then. Quite the contrary infact and I’ve been non-stop busy with barely any time to eat, sleep and run. Let alone blog. I finally broke for the first time on Thursday night after a build up of several nights where I had gotten no more than 3-4 hours sleep. Sleep time on the VivofitI had woken that morning at 4am so that I could bake some brownies before work as it had been my turn to take treats to the running club committee meeting that evening and also for the department at break the following day. When I arrived home after work that night I began to peel the brownie off the non-stick paper. Except it had stuck. Brownie disaster I couldn’t peel it off and the bits I could peel off were falling apart in my hands. I don’t know what happened. Brownies are normally my speciality but all I was left with was a pile of squishy brownie pieces! Brownie disaster I rushed off to Tesco to pick up some cakes to take to the committee meeting, except there was nothing I deemed appropriate so jumped back into the car to head to Morrisons where I found a few packs of muffins. I arrived to the meeting all flustered and feeling rather inadequate for having not baked the goods myself.  Within seconds of arriving at the meeting I had received a list of things that I would need to do over the next couple of weeks.  Things I really didn’t have time to do.  The stress of that, along with the lack of sleep and my complete over-reaction over something that really didn’t matter (the brownies) meant that I burst into tears and had to leave the room. Several things have been building over the past couple of weeks to make me feel like I am purely existing at the moment…

Work – I started at my current school in January, taking over 21 classes from a series of supply teachers and with piles and piles of unfiled and unmarked student work left in the corner of my classroom which I have been slowly marking in sets of two hours each night.  Last week we had a marking scrutiny at work. Three class boxes were chosen at random from each teacher and as a teacher who teaches 518 students, that was a lot of folder work to catch up on!  Obviously I had a good excuse if anything from Christmas had not been filed or marked but it would only be a good excuse to my Head of Department.  Ofsted would know no different and with an inspection imminent before Easter it’s best to get it done and dusted ready for when they turn up.  It’s also really is not fair on the kids that they never received feedback on their work. This week at school we have inspections from ‘mock’ Ofsted inspectors taking place on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  For readers not familiar with teaching protocol, when inspections are taking place every lesson taught has to be written out in full detail with timings and printed out alongside a seating plan which highlights gifted students, weak students, those on free school meals and those with learning difficulties. We need to provide scenarios for each class showing what students have already covered and where they are headed with their learning.  It’s a lot of extra work simply to prove that you know the students within your classes. Night after night of marking – this week sometimes up to six hours of marking after a full day of school has had it’s toll.  Especially with students like this…!

Student workNo, no it doesn’t…it shows you have FIVE pictures!  Simple things, but incredibly annoying!

House move – After a batch of viewings in quick succession just before half term we have now failed to have any viewings for a few weeks.  With a viewing potentially still just a phone call away I’ve tried my best to stay on top of the housework and cleaning but I must say I wouldn’t let anyone in further than our porch at the moment!  Up until this week Dan and I have been viewing several properties on the market as potentials that we might purchase but it has gotten rather disheartening – falling in love with property after property only to see them with a SOLD board up the following week.

Web work – Alongside my teaching job I also run a couple of websites for small businesses and keep the running club website up to date.  One of the websites I am responsible for is long overdue an upgrade to the WordPress platform which I reminded the owner of at the start of 2014.  I’ve finally had the ‘go ahead’ but with possibly the worst ever timing as I’ve struggled to fit it in around everything else in this list!

Hen do – This past weekend was the hen do of one of my best friends, Vicki. Although the Maid of Honour was in charge of the majority of the weekend I picked up several tasks such as producing the invites and putting together a video of clips of memories and good luck messages which each of the hens had recorded over the past six weeks. Being the perfectionist I am I wanted this video to be perfect and probably spent close to twenty hours completing it, as well as a couple of hours on the invites and cards with clues we gave Vicki throughout the weekend. Vick and Me at her hen do Hospital appointments – A fortnight ago I fitted an appointment at the doctors in to check up on my strange weight loss from the past few weeks.  I was sent for blood tests at the local blood drop-in clinic.  Typically at the clinic the opening hours were not outside of work hours and instead from 8am-3pm.  The teaching hours at my school (45 minute drive from the surgery) are 8:15am-3:15pm.  On Wednesday I had some planning time scheduled in for after my lunch break so decided to make a mad rush for the clinic at the start of lunch, figuring it wouldn’t be as busy over lunchtime…The surgery was more packed than I have ever seen it before and bursting with toddlers and babies – who each took up two nurses to hold them still.  Needless to say it was another mad rush back to the school to return in time for the after school meeting.

Running has taken a back seat purely due to lack of time, and yet running is something that helps me to relax and destress after a busy day.  I ran a total of once last week.  Just once, and a run of only 2.75 miles.  From someone who regularly runs 5-6 days a week and covers about 40 miles in each seven day period this makes me rather sad.  :(  Healthy eating, or even eating at all has been tough and sleep has been almost non-existent.  I work until midnight and my alarm goes again somewhere between 4-5am depending upon how much work I have to complete. Something that has helped me to organise my busy schedule is the Remember the Milk app on my school iPad. Remember the Milk app As an ICT teacher I am definitely not a fan of iPad.  I’m much more of an android girl myself, but the iPad I have in my classroom at school is a great tool for organising my day – both in school and for after school as well.  I’ve split my to-dos into lots of manageable sections and find it really easy to add items to each list along with the day that I want to complete that task.  It’s super easy to add names of students onto my catch up kids, demerits, detentions and merits lists as I’m walking around the classroom so that I remember to add these online when I get to the end of the day.

I’m not sure how to find the perfect work-life balance and my scales are wobbling rather wildly at the moment as I figure things out.  An analogy that is often used in my profession is that you live like a swan – graceful above the surface for all to see and madly paddling underneath the surface to keep afloat.
It’s been a long couple of weeks…

Do you ever feel as though you are just ‘existing’?  Getting by from day to day…
Any tips for making it through the busy times?