ALL the walkies

If you follow me on Instagram you will probably have already picked up on the fact that I am going out on a lot of walks just lately.


My family are going through rather a tough time at the moment so I am heading back to Norfolk as often as I realistically can at the moment to help out my Dad. Having Oscar with me when I travel back means that I am rather limited in ways that I can help out, although his cheeky grin usually brightens up everyone’s day when we are back.  He has started walking completely on his own this week and likes to run towards me full pelt, before dive bombing his face into my lap!

I am usually limited to nap times when I can actually be of much use around the house.  Oscar always seems to sleep in when we stay over, although I never can! He really enjoys playing peek-a-boo around the hospital bed in the lounge and loves the fact that there is a keyboard in the hallway for him to play.Oscar playing the piano Just lately I have been heading back to Norfolk four days each week, sometimes staying over between the days when I can’t face another two hours of traveling.  With Oscar’s weekly swimming lessons and nursery days, staying over isn’t always very practical as I’ve had to rush around quite a lot.  From next week I’ve decided to cut my visits back to 2-3 days a week.  The traveling and constant packing and unpacking of the car (it’s impossible to travel light with traveling with a baby!) was wearing me out and I was starting to feel the pressure to keep up with my own home and commitments back in Northamptonshire.

After all the recent rushing around, last weekend I very much appreciated the chance to get away and have a proper break in Gower with my friends. Dan spent much of the following week working over in Dublin, and my car spent a couple of days in the garage so this past week has been a little different from the norm, but it felt nice to have a brief change.Oscar and Blue out on a walk One of the easiest ways I can help out when I’m in Norfolk is by taking my Dad’s dog Blue out for a walk.  Around 2pm Oscar starts to get crabby and I know that he needs his nap.  I feel that it is important for him to spend some time outside every day and he adores dogs and dog-spotting as I push his buggy around the village I grew up in.  I usually aim for about an hour’s walk with Blue each afternoon, and sometimes, when Oscar sleeps in, I can also take Blue out on a short run with me in the morning too.  He’s a fairly good dog, so although I always start by juggling both the dog lead and the buggy in my hands, as long as I choose my route wisely I can let him off and then not worry about finding myself wound up in a dog lead which has also been wrapped around the buggy first! Oscar and Blue out on a walkI adore Autumn.  It is absolutely my favourite season.  Wrapped up all cosy and warm in scarves and gloves, rambling to pubs with log fires and enjoying hot chocolate to warm up your hands.  Nothing better.  And the leaves are so beautiful at this time of year too.Oscar and Blue out on a walkMy friend Amanda thought that I had actually arranged the leaves in this picture I took the other week… Autumn leavesBut that wasn’t the case.  They had arranged themselves!  Such a beautiful mix of colours and shapes. Good job the leaves have been photogenic, because I definitely haven’t been with the winds the way they have been just lately! Windy dog walk…My hair was rather knotty that night!

A little while into our walks, Oscar usually puts his feet up on the front bar of his buggy and begins his nap.  When I return after an hour or so, rather than wake him, I then try to get on and help out with any jobs I can do in the house, as I can keep an eye on him through the window in the kitchen.  Although now that it’s getting colder, I might have to drag the buggy up the step and inside the front door so that he doesn’t get too chilly during his nap.Oscar asleep in the buggyMy friend Amanda also has a little boy, Charles, who is just five weeks older than Oscar.  Oscar and I met up with Amanda and Charles at Holt Country Park a couple of weeks back to have a catch up and to take both boys out for an Autumnal spin in their buggies.

We took a leisurely stroll around the park and out into the town to visit Folly Tearoom for hot chocolate and cake. Hot chocolate at Folly tearoomChocolate cake at Folly tearoomThe boys shared a scone and enjoyed swinging their legs in their highchairs. Both Amanda and I agreed that however delicious the drink and cake had been, it was probably a mistake to go for a double whammy of chocolate and so we both downed glasses of water before heading back on our return journey.Oscar and Me at Pearson road in Holt, NorfolkAmanda even spotted a sign made for us on the way back, so we had to stop for a photo!

Which is your favourite season?
Do you enjoy walking?
Do you have a dog?

All over the UK

When I first fell pregnant last year Dan and I agreed that it was time we stopped travelling around the country to see friends and family.  Instead we decided that it was time they came to see us, or that we met in a mutual location, we saw them less often or all of the above.

We do feel really settled in our little town in Northamptonshire, but when Dan and I took the leap of moving in together we made the unwise decision to move halfway between both Dan’s family and mine so that one of us would never be a four hour journey from their friends and family.  All it actually means though is that we end up traveling ALL THE TIME!  Every time one of our nieces or nephew has a birthday, it requires four hours of driving.  Each time we fancy going out for coffee or a beer (or in my case a hot chocolate or wine) with our best friends it becomes a proper long trek, normally tied in with an overnight stay at parents’ houses, fitting in visits to as many people as practically possible during the time that we are back.  The task is made much more difficult now that Oscar is on the scene too.

Of course we have both made fantastic friends in our new area, having lived here for nearly seven years, but that has added to our growing list of commitments!

Over the past two weeks we have attended a wedding in Birmingham, been to celebrate a friend’s son’s first birthday party in Norwich and then headed to Huddersfield for another friend’s son’s first birthday party…

Sarah and Treble's wedding - Oscar in braces(The Pearsons looking all smart for our first wedding of 2017)

Dinosaur cake for Charles' birthday at the Dinosaur Park

(Check out that cake for a first birthday bash held at the Dinosaur Park in Norwich!)

…In our house we’ve managed to touch up final coats of paint on ceilings, doors, architrave and walls, and move furniture to have the carpet laid upstairs.  (Finally.  No more floorboards!)… Oscar's nursery bedroom(Oscar’s nursery when we first moved in)Oscar's nursery bedroom(And Oscar’s nursery now!)

…We’ve bought a new sofa and armchair set for our lounge and we’re about to take up the carpet in our lounge/diner to reveal the parquet floor underneath.  (Please let there be nothing wrong with it.  I want this house to be DONE!)… Angelic sofa from Dfs(Angelic sofa from Dfs)

…Dan and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary on the 9th August.  I bought Dan a new leather wallet and he gave me a gorgeous leather-bound notebook for my writing.  We stayed at Rutland Water for a night the following week with Oscar, who we took on a walk to Bugtopia the following day.Leather bound notebook for our third anniversary(It’s so lovely I’m not sure I want to spoil it with my handwriting!)

…Oscar also managed to knock my phone off the bed a fortnight ago and I have been phoneless ever since.  It has been sent off for repair, but I’m not sure how much longer I will be without, especially as it has been away during the Bank Holiday weekend.

The first time my phone failed to turn on I shrugged it off and was like ‘Meh.  I’m due an upgrade in November.  I can last until then.’  But actually there’s been several times I’ve wanted to take pictures and not been able to, I’ve fallen madly behind with my emails again and I haven’t read any blogs for days.  I could really have done with my phone over the weekend when Dan and I spent eleven hours in a car over three days attending childrens’ birthday parties!
I hope I get it back soon.

Our home computer is all in pieces at the moment as well, as we moved everything out of our office so that the carpet could go down and I’m waiting for Dan to put up our new desk before constructing the computer again.  I’ve still been out running, but the computer isn’t there for me to sync the runs from my Garmin to Strava at the moment.  I’ll have to do a big batch of them all next week.  Then I can add stats to a post about my snail-killer run, my all-the-paths-with-streetlights run and the run where I ran the same one mile loop on repeat for an hour.

Can you tell I’m about done of lonesome night-time running?!

How long could you survive for without a phone?!
Have you had a busy Summer?
When was the last time you bought new furniture for your house?

A slight change of marathon plan

So my goal marathon for 2017 has always been Mablethorpe.  I’ve run the race three times now (2013, 2014, 2015), the route is pancake flat, the race always seems to attract other runners from our club and I know where to buy the best milkshake from after the race(!)

But, there were a few snags with my target marathon being Mablethorpe this year.

  • It falls just one week after the half marathon I won a place at (Ealing half).
  • I will be returning to work full time in September for one month – finishing two days before Mablethorpe marathon.  I have been working full time since May whilst juggling raising Oscar, training, blogging and keeping on top of housework and family life, but a teaching workload in September will be much greater than one in July.
  • It will be just a few days after Oscar’s first birthday (27th September – added purely so Dan remembers when it is!) and we had wanted to hold a get-together on the Saturday for close family and friends.

Recently, after a long discussion with Dan we made the decision to have Oscar Christened.  Because both of our families are a two hour drive from where we live it made sense for us to combine Oscar’s Christening with his first birthday celebrations and the date suggested to us by the Vicar was October 1st – conveniently a date all three Godparents could make too.  Something we thought might be an issue, knowing how busy the weekends in all three calendars get!

So Mablethorpe is off the cards.  If I did rock up to the start line for 9:30am on September 1st, I doubt very much that I would be able to run 26.2 miles, shower, change and drive the 90 miles back for the ceremony at 10:30am.

No, the easiest thing to do would be change my target marathon so I’ve decided to run Chelmsford marathon again.  Which to be honest (don’t tell Dan) I’d already decided to do anyway.  Partly as a backup in case I fell short of my target at Mablethorpe, and partly to tick off another marathon from the list, getting ever closer to that magic 100 marathon number.  I used Chelmsford as my backup marathon in 2015 after my Mablethorpe sub 5 attempt didn’t go to plan.  (That year I literally returned home from Mablethorpe, searched for nearby marathons that were taking place a fortnight later and had booked Chelmsford within minutes of waking the following morning.)  In that scenario the plan worked, and I ducked under the sub 5 bracket by 6 minutes.

This time I want more.

Chelmsford marathon falls three weeks later than Mablethorpe did.  On the 22nd October.  Swapping my target race will allow me to run hard at Ealing half marathon towards the end of September and still recover enough in time to race hard at the marathon.  (That’s the plan anyway!)

I am kind of sad that I won’t be running Mablethorpe again this year (and also missing the opportunity to add another marathon to my tally), but I will be back.  It’s a lovely race with great marshals and a super flat course.  You run right alongside the beach twice on the route and last time I ran, there was somebody there handing out little bags of seaside pic ‘n’ mix.  Winner!

The last couple of weeks of marathon training have been a bit sporadic so having those extra three weeks now is reassuring.  The final week of term was a fairly busy one for me and I was working late or attending leaving dos most evenings.  The Saturday of that week I headed to Rushmere parkrun (new course for me!) before a friend’s hen do, and the following week saw Dan, Oscar and I all end up with food poisoning following some dodgy chicken during a meal out.  Rubbish!

Quick recap of the Rushmere parkrun, as I’ll kick myself if I don’t write about it and there were some pretty nice pictures on their Facebook page too.

Rushmere parkrunRushmere was my 86th parkrun and 13th different course.  I ran with Laura and as per most parkruns we just chatted our way round.

Rushmere parkrunDan has promised to take Oscar on a Saturday morning soon though so that I may run a parkrun hard once more!

Rushmere parkrunLaura and I had an afternoon at Go Ape planned as part of a friend’s hen do, and I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to heights so I needed to save a bit of energy to get round the high ropes course at Woburn!

Rushmere parkrunRushmere is a lovely off-road two-lap course, with friendly marshals providing banter rightthe beginning at the event briefing.  The absolute best thing about the Rushmere parkrun though is that it has a PB gong!

{Official time: 35:05   Position: 143/187   Gender position: 53/74   Age grade position: 11/13}

Technically it wasn’t a parkrun PB for me, but it was a course PB (having never run the course before, so I leapt at the chance to ring the gong!  I think the gong should be part of the mandatory kit when a new parkrun course starts up.  I’d want to run faster just to have the opportunity to ring it at the end  I wouldn’t have a clue where to start looking when it came to buying one of these though!

After parkrun, it was Go Ape.

Go Ape for Steph's hen do(I survived!)

And After Go Ape it was time for a quick flick with the wet wipes and a dress thrown on before getting glammed up for Afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea for Steph's hen do

I’m a jam then cream kinda person.

Afternoon tea for Steph's hen do

This week I’m back on target with my training again.  I even made it out to a club training session on Thursday night which I haven’t been able to do in ages!  (Baby logistics as Dan doesn’t return home from work until 6:20pm and club starts at 6:30.)

I’ll sit down with my training plan on Sunday and tweak it slightly to reflect the extra weeks I have now gained before race day, and also the week of training I missed when I was ill.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to stick 100% to the Hanson’s Method when I started training, but the elements I’ve incorporated have definitely been doing me some good.  Not only have I PBd over three different distances just lately but I generally feel stronger and healthier.  I’m looking forward to seeing what else I can achieve during this training cycle!

Have you visited Go Ape?
Jam then cream or cream then jam?!

Ugh, a new PB and cake

dsfI’m pretty sure that the three of us came away with food poisoning last weekend. We’d taken Oscar out to a large indoor play area on Sunday afternoon. He was having so much fun, and we were having so much fun watching him enjoy himself that we completely didn’t realise how quickly the afternoon had flown by until Oscar started to whine that he was hungry, and we realised restaurant feeding options were minimal in the area.
It was a quick trip to the nearest one we could find, where Oscar sleepily, but thoroughly enjoyed chicken skewers with sweet potato fries and corn on the cob. Dan also went for chicken, and I demolished a mushroom burger.
Oscar with cornBecause Oscar was so tired he left quite a bit of his meal, which is unheard of for him, so we got it boxed up to take home for his lunch the following day.

The next morning, Dan groggily appeared downstairs for breakfast. By that point Oscar had already been through two nappies, and was about to fill his third. Dan managed to force some cereal down but Oscar just moved his breakfast around his tray looking rather sorry for himself.
Fast forward to lunch and, having not yet sussed out the link between the meal from the previous night and our poorly household, I pulled out the remainder of Oscar’s meal for him to have for lunch. When he once again, did not seem too fussed about eating any of it, I placed it onto my plate instead. Sweet potato fries are my favourite!

Ugh.

They are not my favourite any more. And neither is chicken.  :(

I spent the start of last week feeling rough, with a painful crampy stomach and zero energy. I sensibly decided to take a few days off from running until I fully recovered.  It was frustrating not getting out to run during the first week of the Summer holidays, but I knew that there was a good chance that I wouldn’t be able to hit any of my training paces, and would feel rubbish for attempting to do so in the first place.

The Thursday before had been our club’s annual Pre-Welly 5 BBQ run.  Always held 10 days before our club 5 mile road race, the idea is to check over the course, practice our marshaling and to give everybody a chance to run the event who might not be able to on the day if they were marshaling instead.

After a couple of rubbish BBQ runs in previous years I had a great run last year and set a new 5 mile PB of 45:55.  Although it’s not an official race – but instead more of a social event for our club, it is run on the race route, so I’m counting it as a PB!

Having run really strongly since starting my training using the Hanson’s Marathon Method, and having already achieved PBs in 6 mile and 10k events over recent weeks, I was hoping for another PB this year.

It didn’t start well when I arrived feeling knackered and hungry though.  I instantly had doubts for the run and began to talk myself out of it.

When we first set off I looked around and instantly felt like I had placed myself way too far forward, with runners usually much faster than me.  But my heart rate monitor told me that I could run faster, so I carried on.

Pre Welly 5 BBQ run

I chatted to a couple of people early on in the first mile.  Again, projecting my doubts about a decent time to them.  Kev came alongside me and commented on how well I had been running just lately.  I told him that I was hoping for a good time again that day – perhaps something around 9 minute mile pace.  I could see him trying to work out the math!  We spent several minutes talking before he nipped into a bush following the pre-run pint of Guinness he’d enjoyed in the bar before setting off!

I had sat behind the same people for the whole run until we hit the slight hill at mile 3.5.  Here, still feeling strong, I managed to gradually pull past other runners one by one.  I probably wouldn’t have been able to hold a full on conversation any more, and this ended up being my slowest mile at 9:07.  (So happy that I can say a mile at this pace was my slowest mile now!)

In fact, I ran really consistently for the whole run.  My mile splits were 9:01, 9:06, 8:49, 9:07, 8:50 and then 7:20mm pace for the final 0.09 recorded on my Garmin.

I overtook a couple more runners who I never would have been able to overtake normally in the final mile and then opened up my stride to power through to the finish.  As I headed towards the finish line I struggled to remember my exact PB time, but knew I was in with a shot of hitting it, and so commented to the Group 4 running coach as I came alongside him, who then insisted we run through the finish holding hands.

Pre Welly 5 finish line pic

Watch stopped, 45:33.  A full 24 seconds faster than my previous best!

Despite not really looking it in this pic, I was completely comfortable and was barely breathing heavily at all, able to chat and laugh with other runners whilst heading down the finishing chute.  I guess this picture must have been taken literally as I pulled back from a run to a walk.  You can see the official finish line drawn on the floor just behind me.

Although initially disappointed that I didn’t come very close to 45 minutes, having set myself a rough target of 9 minute miling, I soon cheered up when I checked my watch to discover that with the slight over-distance run I had actually ran an average of 8:57 minute miling!  Hanson’s is definitely doing me some good!

For the first time since the BBQ run has been taking place, we didn’t actually have any BBQs.  Instead, a pizza van.  So I waited in line for my turn to demolish a hot, veggie pizza and sit nursing a drink at the bar.  Very satisfying mid-week and with just one day left of the school term.

So that was last week – poorly sick following a good 5 mile race.  This weekend was a little different again.

I started off this weekend by running Kettering parkrun with Laura whilst pushing Oscar in the buggy.

Kettering parkrun start(Picture taken as a still from a video which was shared with the Kettering Facebook page)

This was parkrun #87 for me and I completed it in 34:25.  I should really count the amount of parkruns Oscar has been to.  He must be coming up to 20 now?
{Position: 196/255 Gender position: 67/108 Age category position: 10/12 }

Kettering parkrun midrun

(Picture taken as a still from a video which was shared with the Kettering Facebook page)

Having come right from the very back of the run and Kettering being a very difficult course to overtake with a buggy, I’m fine with that.  Oscar stayed wide awake for the whole run, gripping onto his Sophie giraffe toy.  Good job, because I didn’t really want to have to keep stopping to pick her up along the way!

I’m hoping that at some point during August I will be able to run a parkrun hard and see what time I am currently capable of.  It’s been a while since I raced a parkrun and I’d like to think I’m a little quicker now.

In the afternoon I headed over to The Garden Deli with Laura and Steph for cake and a catch up.  The cake there is a good.  I went for this lemon and ginger sponge.  I don’t even really like lemon flavoured things.  I can’t stand it when bartenders add a lemon slice in your drink when you go out, but this looked too good not to try.

Lemon and ginger sponge cake

The drinks are also amazing!  I went for a strawberry and vanilla fruit crush and was not disappointed!

Strawberry and vanilla fruit crush

Then yesterday was the actual Wellingborough 5 race.

For the last few years my role at the race has been to direct cars down the driveway and onto the car park before the race begins.  I then take photos of the runners along the first 100 metres of the race, again in the final 200m as well as ensure runners turn safely into the final section along the field at the very end of the race.  There were a couple of other marshals with me at the end this year, which meant that I could take pictures without worrying about where runners were headed.

I love taking photos of the event.

Last year a runner suffered a cardiac arrest during the race and was air lifted to hospital, so it was a sigh of relief when all runners were back safe and sound this year.  The club invited Tom, the runner who had been hospitalised following the race last year to our BBQ run the other week, and he finished at a run/walk along with his wife and one of our members who happened to be a doctor who had stopped and helped him on the day.  He finally got the chance to finish the race route!

Wellingborough 5 trophies

This year I also took pictures of all of the prize winners.  Prize giving always seems to go on for ages.  I couldn’t even dream of ever being good enough to receive a prize at a race.

Welly 5 winnersHow did you spend your weekend?