Can females get man flu?

…If so I definitely had it this week.

It started last Friday afternoon with a really annoying cough.  No matter how much I coughed, I could still feel something in my throat, like there was something permanently lodged in there.  I headed out on a seven mile trail run with a friend in the evening, returning to a slow cooker casserole I’d popped in earlier in the day.  The run was fine, but I couldn’t finish my meal at the table and had to keep taking breaks in between mouthfuls whilst lying down on the sofa.  Not the best of signs for a good weekend ahead, and we were due to head up North to Huddersfield to visit our friends Stew and Julie the following morning.

Upon waking on Saturday morning, the cough seemed to have worsened, so I forwent the easy run I had planned before leaving for our trip.  Dan offered to drive the three hour journey, and I took a couple of little snoozes in the passenger seat on the way up there.  (Life is great as passenger!)

The boys had planned to head off to watch the footy (Wolves were playing in Huddersfield last Saturday – the real reason we took our long-overdue trip last weekend!) and so Julie and I headed in to town to paint some pottery, a recent addiction Julie confessed to having!

Initially we had planned to head outdoors to a local nature walk place with our cameras, but as the weather was so poor (it literally rained for our entire visit!) an inside plan was made instead.  I wasn’t prepared with an idea for painting, but luckily I could get some signal on my phone in the pottery shop, and turned to Pinterest for some inspiration, settling on painting a watermelon bowl for my breakfasts.

Painted watermelon pottery bowlAs Julie pointed out, I was all set then for future visits with an orange, kiwi, and every other type of fruit bowl still to be painted!

Painted watermelon pottery bowl

We headed out for dinner to a Mediterranean restaurant in the evening.  It’s the first time I’ve been able to eat three courses in a very long while.  We all left feeling absolutely stuffed though, and I took no photos of the delicious food.  :(  Bad blogger!

When I woke up on Sunday I was no longer able to talk.  I’d lost my voice completely.  :(  It came back in patches throughout the day though.  Julie already had plans for the day, so Stew had planned a surprise activity for Dan and I, the only clue being that he ‘hoped we weren’t claustrophobic’!  Luckily, neither of us were, and we were perfectly comfortable travelling down into one of the local mines in the area.  I’m not sure I would have felt quite so comfortable had the activity been crawling through caves though!

Dan and I didn’t arrive back to Northamptonshire until late so arranged for a takeaway to be delivered upon our arrival just after 7pm.  Once again though, I had to take small breaks between mouthfuls whilst lying on the sofa.  My energy was wiped and my cough was getting worse.  I dipped in and out of schoolwork whilst lying on the sofa, finally waking at 6am on Monday morning (still on the sofa!) once again with no voice, and feeling absolutely awful.  I didn’t go into work and the day was spent dozing in-between episodes of Dexter on Netflix.  I was in a vicious cycle of not having enough energy to head to the kitchen and prepare any food, but food might have given me the energy boost which I needed to get by.

I was feeling marginally better by Tuesday, so made the decision to head back into school on Wednesday.  I was incredibly weak though, and could not stand for very long at all.  I only went back purely to try and build some strength up for parent’s evening the following night, where I was in school from 7am until nearly 8pm!

I was very lucky as Bella has looked after me during the days this week, and Dan the nights.  Bella didn’t leave my side and kept me entertained with a variety of random positions!

Bella asleep on Dan's lapBella asleep on Dan's lap

I didn’t get any runs in though and eating was a selection of oven-food which Dan threw together for us after work each evening.  I managed to knock back quite a few cartons of orange juice for a Vitamin C hit though.  I’m still not 100%, but I did manage to slot in a parkrun yesterday and a very short, easy run this afternoon.  Being ill all week had really taken it out of me though and even though both runs were incredibly short, I was ready for them to be over by the time I arrived back home again.

My running just isn’t going to plan so far this year!

When was the last time you had ‘man flu’?!
What do you do to try and aid recovery when you are sick?

Charnwood Hills – my first fell race

Last weekend (not the one just gone, but the one before that) I set out to run the Thames Trot 50m on the Saturday and then the Charnwood Hills fell race on the Sunday morning.  I had initially planned to run the Country to Capital ultra a month earlier, until friends persuaded me to enter the Thames Trot last minute instead.  In the mad booking process I completely forgot about Charnwood falling the following day.  I had just three races booked for 2016 and two of them fell a day after each other.  Whoops!

I didn’t end up completing the Thames Trot, pulling after 20 miles at checkpoint 2, but I’ll talk about that another day.  This did mean that my legs were still fairly fresh for 14.5 miles of fell running on the Sunday thankfully.  There were several obstacles to get over before ever crossing the start line at Charnwood though…

1. I’d offered to pick Steph up on the way.  I hadn’t bothered to check out the route beforehand as it had been such a full on long day down for the Thames Trot the day before.  Instead, I threw my trusty(!) sat nav into the car with the hope that Steph had at least got the postcode ready for when I reached her.  She did, but the sat nav showed us nothing of the new A1-A14-M6 junction, sending us three times in the wrong direction and losing half an hour of pre-race time before we gave up on the loud voice completely.  Eventually we trusted our own navigational voices in our head and got there with a half hour before the gun was due to go off.  Enough time to pee and attach race numbers!

2. As we had arrived perhaps a little later than we had initially planned there were no safety pins left remaining on the front desk.  Steph rummaged around in her kit bag to discover four, which we split between us, but my number was never going to stay put…Charnwood Hills race number

(Also, I never realised quite how wonky it had been at this point!)

Luckily, as we headed through the race HQ a second time, we spotted that the safety pin box had been replenished and we were no longer left to wonder whether our numbers would stay put with just a safety pin top and bottom!

3. Advertised as being just fourteen miles, I knew I wouldn’t need my running vest with water and food supplies.  In fact, after arriving home somewhere in the region of 9:30pm the previous evening and being barely able to keep my eyes open, I had never cleared out my vest from the day before so instead, planned on topping up my water levels at each of the water stations and running vest free.  Having not read the race details since months earlier I didn’t realise until Steph pointed out that there would be no water on the course at all!  Luckily I had taken on a fair bit of water before leaving that morning.

It was both mine and Steph’s first crack at a fell race, having been persuaded to enter by Laura several months earlier.  Laura, unfortunately, was still injured.

The race was a fairly low key event, with just 307 runners in total.  All looked super speedy and serious at the start though.  I never worry about being last at races, but I did consider the fact that I would be coming in within the final few that day.

We kicked off with a lap of the school field before heading down a sharp bank and along a narrow muddy track.  The first few miles were fairly easy.  The course felt fairly flat, and I’m used to running offroad on my weekly runs anyway.

The first looooong drag hill began just after 2.5 miles into the race and lasted for the best part of a mile.

Charnwood hills fell raceThis picture doesn’t really do the steepness of the hill justice, as it was very much an out-of-breath-walking climb!

We ran for a fair way up the hill before switching to a power walk, overtaking a couple of slightly slower walkers along the way.

Charnwood hills fell race

It was a tough climb at the very top, but no tougher than anything I have run before.  We enjoyed the downhill that followed and soon got back into a rhythm again.

Both Steph and I were very much in the mindset of enjoying the race, walking the steepest sections, running the flats and downhills and staying upright through the mud.  Some sections were much muddier than others, and as we were towards the back of the pack were probably much muddier for us by the time we got there than when the front runners had done so.

The final challenge was to leap back up the slippery, muddy bank onto the school playing field again and to run the final 200 metres down through the finish.

Steph jumping at Charnwood hills raceMe jumping at Charnwood hills raceWe made it up in one piece!Me at the Charnwood hills race finish

Mile splits: 11:35, 11:31, 13:11, 13:58, 12:03, 15:33, 12:47, 10:49, 11:39, 11:19, 17:52, 12:28, 13:37, 15:02, 8:34 (nubbin)
Position: 297/307
Official time: 3:12:03

In total, the race elevation gain was 1,388ft.

Charnwood Hills elevation

I would definitely run the race again.  It seems that the line between fell and trail running is rather blurry but if you want to give a fell race a try, I’d say this was a great beginner event to have a go at.  It filled up ridiculously quickly though.  As in, I’d forgotten that race entries were opening back in November and had nipped out for a post-work run.  I had lots of messages from both Laura and Steph on my return and rushed onto the website to see that all the places had been sold out.  I made it into first place on the reserve list though, and was offered a place earlier this year.

(All pictures taken from the Charnwood Hills race website.)

Have you ever tried any fell/trail races?

All my spare time has been spent sleeping

It has been nineteen days since I last posted, and probably about the same amount of time since I last properly sat down and read a blog.  Life has really been rushing by at 100mph lately and although I’ve really missed checking in and capturing moments of my life each week, I have so appreciated the extra time that not blogging and not reading blogs has given me to enable me to do nothing mark a million ten sets of coursework each for one hundred and seventy students over the past nineteen days.

Friday was coursework deadline day for my year 11 students, and it marks the end of a long period of 3:45-4:15am get ups for me.  It takes on average somewhere between 15-30 minutes to mark each student’s folder and as I joined the school halfway through last academic year I was gifted six sets of lovely year 10s, of varying ability.  Fine as year 10s, but when the pressure mounts and coursework deadline looms it turns out agreeing to take on those 170 students through to year 11 is the same as signing your life away, and almost every waking moment is spent marking, remarking, updating marks for parents and creating individual ticklists for students to ensure they know what is missing from their folder.

My life for the past three weeks has been a constant cycle of:

  • Set a ridiculously early alarm (usually about 4am)
  • Drag myself downstairs to try and wake up a little with some hot porridge
  • Let Bella have a drink from the bathroom tap (awful habit!) before allowing her to curl up on my lap in the office (and dry off a little!)
  • Bella in the sinkMark until 6am
  • Shower and rush around like a crazy person to make sure I have everything I need for the day
  • Get chauffeured to school (thanks Dan!) whilst catching up a little with emails and social media
  • Mark until kids start arriving (approx 8:15am)
  • Teach until breaktime
  • Have kids in for detention
  • Teach until lunchtime
  • Have coursework catch up kids in
  • Teach until 3pm
  • Mark until Dan picks me up at 5, or help any students that have stayed behind to work on their coursework.
  • Get chauffeured home from school (thanks Dan!) Too tired to do anything on the journey home though!
  • Cook and eat tea
  • Mark until bedtime (often quite late)

Dan’s 89 year old Nan was also rushed into hospital three weeks back, following a series of severe angina attacks.  It has meant that some evenings Dan and I have also slotted in the two hour journey over to Wolverhampton hospital where she is staying, visited her for an hour, before heading home again.  Luckily, Dan has done the driving so I have been able to catch up on a little sleep during this time.

One day I even somehow managed to sleep through my alarm going off every 5 minutes from 4:30am right through until nearly 6:20am!  I knew that I had been pretty tired the evening before so had allowed myself a later alarm time, but still managed to sleep through the alarm going off for nearly two hours!Missed phone alarm

As you can see, I haven’t had a lot of spare time just lately!

This weekend, I am not marking.  I am having the weekend off.  Other than a baby shower yesterday afternoon, I have no plans apart from catching up with some TV series, seeing a bit of Dan (we’re heading out for a nice meal this afternoon), probably catch up on a bit of very neglected housework, have a serious blog-reading-binge, write a few posts myself and get a couple of runs in.

Even the last few weekends have been fairly busy for Dan and I.  I’ve headed back to Norfolk to meet a friend’s new baby for the first time, I also ran at both the Thames Trot 50 and the Charnwood Hills fell race.  All posts to follow this week hopefully.

Thames Trot 50

Despite this coming week showing as a half term holiday in my calendar I have resigned myself to heading in to school from 7-5 each day as per my usual working week in order to mark all coursework on the official qualification submission sheets and catch up a little with the classes that I have neglected in the build up to the deadline on Friday.  On the plus side though, my alarm will be set for no earlier than 5:45am and I will not be bringing work home with me this week.

…Roll on the Easter holidays!

So tell me, what have I missed in the last three weeks?
What is the first thing to ‘go’ when things get a little busy for you?