Chilling by the water

I haven’t been away on very many holidays as an adult.  Since being old enough to book my own holidays I have been abroad on holiday a grand total of three times.  I travelled to Spain with Dan for his 21st birthday, travelled to New York for New Year with Dan and another couple and then we visited Italy for our honeymoon last year.

On the years that we have not managed to get away on a break for whatever reason I like to have a week in the middle of the Summer where we approach things with a more holiday-feel.  Meaning that we might eat out slightly more often, or visit tourist attractions near to us that we perhaps haven’t visited before.  I think it helps keep me sane during the Summer months and makes it feel more like a break!

This past week has been our fake-it Summer holiday and on Thursday Dan and I headed over to Canoe2 at Ditchford to rent out a two man canoe for a couple of hours, although we could have rented one out for up to 5 days if we desired!

Dan and Me getting ready to jump in the canoe at Canoe2

We arrived at 8:15am to go through a safety briefing, be handed life jackets and shown the best way to handle the canoe.  Both in the water, and out.

Dan carrying a canoe on landWe actually made it into the water by 8:45am and then headed North along the river towards Stanwick Lakes.Dan and Me in the canoe at Canoe2We had been told that the person sat at the back was the one that had all the power in the canoe so that’s where I sat myself(!) 😛

Dan and Me in the canoe at Canoe2The wheels you can see in the canoe are for transporting the canoe on land at each of the locks on the river and by using these we could easily move the canoe from one side of the lock to the other via the land.  We were also given a small barrel for our phones and cameras (my camera didn’t fit so I just used my now-fixed phone for taking photos) and a larger barrel if we wanted it to place our coats and other belongings in.  This way if we did capsize the items we had chosen to take on board with us wouldn’t get wet.  Luckily, there was no capsizing on Thursday!  Although the morning was rather grey-looking it did get quite warm and we didn’t keep our coats on for long.

We managed to see lots of wildlife, including swans, plenty of fish and even a kingfisher.  We powered down to Higham Ferrers where the first lock was located, but on our return journey we were a little more sedate – taking time to chat and look around, zigzagging across the river to look at the fish or dragonflies at the side of the water. My arms got a very good workout!

On the way home, we stopped off at the garden centre to pick up a bagful of water snails for our pond.

Our garden fish pondAll of the sun that we have been enjoying just lately has meant that our pond has turned more and more green in during the previous few weeks and we needed to recruit a few little helpers to keep it clean!

On Friday morning Dan and I set off for Norfolk.  It is my Dad’s 70th birthday today and as is tradition we wanted to pay him a surprise visit.  (I’m not sure we can really count any of our surprise visits as surprises anymore as I’m sure both of my parents just presume that I will be making my way back there for birthdays!)

My Dad is a big fan of attending auctions.  I always tell people that my Dad and his brother are a little like DelBoy and Rodney.  Over the years they have amassed quite a collection of random bits and pieces because they were sold at ‘bargain prices’.  When I was younger, the holiday cottage that my Aunt owned was once filled with hundreds of computers from a company that had gone bust and a few years afterwards, my Uncle had his entire shed taken over with videos after buying out a rental shop that was closing down.  My brother and I were allowed to borrow a selection to watch every time we visited, which was very exciting aged nine.

We decided to meet my Dad, Mum and brother at the auctionhouse in Snetterton without Dad’s knowledge, where we ‘accidentally’ bumped into him.  Dan had never been to an auction before, whereas I have been to plenty and the excitement of finding a bargain soon took over for him.  I think my Dad liked explaining to Dan just how it all worked and between them they bid on a few items up for sale.

Sitting in the auction house at SnettertonOne of the best things about having the morning at the auction house is that there are plenty of sofas to ‘test out’ whilst you stop for a break, KitKat and a drink!

Despite bidding on an outside dining set and bedside tables, all we came away with was a skybox which means that we can hopefully set it up to watch terrestrial TV at home.  I discovered that there are lots of items you can bid on when you have just up-sized from a two-bed to a four-bed property!

That afternoon after some lunch, we drove to Cley Visitor Centre, where we had a look at the photography exhibition and out onto the marshes through binoculars…

Dad and Dan looking through the binoculars at Cley Visitor CentreI was surprised to discover that I could even take photographs with my phone through the binoculars, albeit not amazing quality ones.Through the binoculars at Cley Visitor CentreAfterwards, we decided to go for a walk along the sea at Salthouse to finish the day off.  Dad got caught talking to somebody he knew and knowing how long my Dad can talk for, my Mum and I started out along the seafront without him.

Mum and I walking along the coast at Salthouse…whilst Dan decided to skim stones down at the water’s edge.

Mum watching Dan skim stones at SalthouseTo finish up our watery few days, Dan and Dad decided to attempt to catch a few of the many fish from my parents’ pond this morning before we returned home, with the idea that we could transport them back to our pond to keep our solitary fish company.  They were unsuccessful in their mission, but it was quite entertaining to watch!

Dad trying to catch fish from the pond

Dan trying to catch fish from the pond

How often do you visit the beach?
Do you have a pond in your garden?
Have you ever picked up any bargains at an auction before?

A less Grim recovery

Last year when I ran the Grim Reaper 70 mile event it took me a long while to recover.  I had planned to run several easy 5k distances the week following the race.  The reality was rather different though, and I ended up taking a break from running for three weeks; the week following the race and the two weeks of my honeymoon following it as well.  My legs and head were just not ready to return and my body appreciated the extended break.

This year I have felt differently.  I knew that I wanted to attempt a more ‘active’ recovery and had a complete day of rest on the Saturday afternoon once I had awoken from my slumber.
I walked to and from the pub with Dan to watch the football on the Sunday.  (About a 20 minute walk in each direction.)
On Monday I repeated the walk, but this time in to town.  Forty minutes of walking is nothing usually, but I wanted to make sure that I did not overdo things.

On the Friday (first 53 miles or so of the race) I had actually run/walked 109,531 steps according to my Garmin Vivofit.  My highest daily step count yet!

Vivofit - a lot of stepsFor anyone wondering what happens to the display screen on the Garmin when you reach the 99,999-100,000 step point it is a bit of an anti-climax.  The screen display just returned to a zero.  I’m not sure what I was expecting exactly, perhaps a moving image of congratulations or streamers to spring out of my watch would have been nice?!  Haha!

I just realised I never posted a comparison between the two years I ran the Grim Reaper race, so here is a little table to show how my improvement was over each lap…

2014 2015
Miles 0-10 2:14:09 2:02:51
Between laps 1-2 0:03:37 0:02:47
Miles 10-20 2:25:17 2:12:55
Between laps 2-3 0:14:26 0:06:48
Miles 20-30 2:31:57 2:24:28
Between laps 3-4 0:19:41 0:10:31
Miles 30-40 2:45:13 2:34:21
Between laps 4-5 0:26:18 0:17:10
Miles 40-50 3:00:50 2:30:55
Between laps 5-6 0:17:41 0:20:38
Miles 50-60 3:07:24 2:56:16
Between laps 6-7 0:39:14 0:13:40
Miles 60-70 3:50:44 2:55:55
Total time: 21:56:31 18:49:15

Every single lap time and between laps time was quicker this year apart from the stop between laps 5 and 6 which was when I chose to go to the toilet and add some extra layers.  My laps were much more consistent this year as well and it was really only the last two that were noticeably slower.

Tuesday this week and I was off to London for a blogging event where I met up with Anna, Helen and Emma and we were put through a few moves in the gym.  ( Proper post about this event to follow. )  I showed how poorly I could execute these moves as shown in the picture Anna sent over below!…

Me lifting weights

Check out those rounded shoulders and that face that isn’t facing forwards.  Gah!  Oh well, the weights weren’t heavy at all.  Instead we were concentrating on focus and co-ordination here (I am very lacking in the co-ordination department.  Let’s just say my sport of choice is running for a reason! 😛 Although I used to love team games like netball and rounders when I was at school.)

Although the weights weren’t heavy, we did participate in a lot of squats and I thought afterwards that squatting on semi-tired legs probably hadn’t been the best of ideas.  I also upped the walking from 40 minutes the day before to several hours as I negotiated the journey to Cambridge train station then London itself.  Anna and I discovered we weren’t the best at following either map or phone directions to get to the gym and our journey ended up much longer than the estimated 5 minutes to get from station to Fitness First, where the event was held.  My legs were rather achy by the end of Tuesday and I kept my evening very laid back and lazy to compensate.

They felt fresher by Wednesday and I was itching to head out for a chatty run, so joined the trail group for 6 easy miles later that evening.  I made sure to keep things nice and steady and it was good to catch up with others that had also run the event at the weekend and discuss recovery. heart rate and all those other things us runners chat about after a race!

Yesterday involved a mad rush around town trying to pick up a few items for my upcoming anniversary.  (I can’t believe Dan and I will have been married for a year already this coming Sunday!)  As it was the first Thursday of the month, this meant it was also the committee meeting that night at running club, which is held immediately after training.  I sit on the committee as website editor and thought I might as well head out for a little run if I was going to be at the club anyway.

This week is the first week of a half marathon training plan that groups 4,5 and 6 are following at the club.  Running in group 4 last night we were all supposed to be running just 5 miles at 9:15-9:30mm pace.  I thought the short distance and not too speedy pace would be OK for my legs, although the group ended up moving much quicker than it was supposed to be.  So despite my legs feeling quite good I decided to keep pulling myself back to try and remain a little sensible and not get carried away.

I’m switching to a rest day today to compensate, and Dan and I shall be away tomorrow so I won’t be able to run anyway.  I’m feeling much more comfortable than I did last year after the Grim though.  Maybe it is down to spending less time out on the course this year?  Or having a better strategy to keep moving throughout?  Whatever it is, I am very grateful but shall not be taking it for granted.  The slightest twinge and I shall adjust my training to ensure that I do my best to remain injury free.

A couple of links:
Lauren has just written a great post about recovering from the Race to the Stones ultra
Stephen from also ran the GR70 at the weekend and made a great film of the race

How do you come back from a big event?

Free tennis

Sunday morning was a laid-back, easy morning.  It was nice waking up at a regular time and the weather being cool enough to allow me to get my run in over lunchtime.  10k was my ‘long’ run on Sunday to top off a nice easy 20 mile week following the ultra the weekend before.

I ran the first three miles easy, in heart rate Zone 2.  Stepped it up to heart rate Zone 3 for the next three and then had a little sprint finish at sub 8mm pace for the nubbin at the end before jogging a cool down and returning home feeling good!

After grabbing a quick shower and some lunch, Dan and I headed to our friend Vicki’s house where we met her and her husband Alex to go play some tennis.  I spotted a little while back that over the Summer there are several free tennis sessions going on across the region.  Vicki and Alex did join us for a little while at Peterborough parkruns in the build up to their wedding in April, but tennis is much more their thing, so we collected rackets and made our way over to the courts.

Vicki, Alex, Dan and I at tennisWe thought it best that the tennis stopped after each couple had won a set, rather than let it get too competitive and we all decided that more tennis needed to be played this Summer.

Juneathon – turns out I’m rubbish at blogging every day.  I just don’t have the time, but I did anticipate that.  My 10,000 steps a day goal equates to 70,000 steps a week.

June stepsI missed out on my target ever so slightly last week by 1,000 steps across the week which was rather annoying!  But, I did cut back on my running last week following the ultra and then obviously just didn’t pick up as much walking as I should have done to balance it out again.  I smashed my target the week before.

A short post today, just checking in, but I shall be posting a couple of longer ones this week with my training plan for the Grim Reaper 70 and how I might need to change my nutrition strategies following a trip to the dentist yesterday… :S

Have you ever played much tennis?
What active days out do you plan with friends?

A new cross-trainer game

Back at my wedding last year, my Maid of Honour presented me with a gift of velcro hats and some soft balls as part of her speech that told of items that would keep Dan and I strong and happy through marriage.  The gift represented having fun.

Ball game on the cross-trainerIn the evenings this month I have mainly been busy with school work and then usually attempt some sort of workout session on the cross-trainer.  Because we’ve also been doing our best not to spend any money lately so that every penny is available for our house move in May, Dan and I have been limited to watching box sets in the evenings.  I’m not really into any series at the moment so this gets dull rather quickly.

Introducing the new game Dan and I came up with last night when we pulled our velcro caps out of our pile of games in the spare room…

Step 1: Don a weird point-scoring cap.

Ball game on the cross-trainer

Step 2: Climb on board the cross-trainer and step away as quickly as you can.  (As an after throught, step 2 yesterday probably should have been to draw the lounge curtains!)

Ball game on the cross-trainer

Step 3: Be prepared to duck and dodge whilst on the cross-trainer as balls fly at you from all angles…!

Ball game on the cross-trainerBall game on the cross-trainer

What gym would ever let you play this game?!  I’m sure it would break all the health and safety rules!  It also probably wasn’t the best game for me to be playing a week before race day and a few days before I shall be trekking around London to watch the marathon…there were a couple of points where I really thought my balance was going to go!  But I wobbled myself back into place again.  Heart rate well and truly up for half an hour and fun most definitely had!

Is anyone else going to watch London on Sunday?  I’m really excited!  I’ve followed the coverage on the TV for several years now, and tracked runners online and then last year I was down in London running it myself.  This year I shall be there in person (probably at Tower Bridge, followed by 700m from finish), armed with my camera to take pictures and cheer on anyone I recognise, and probably everyone else inbetween.  Good luck runners!
Are you running London marathon?  If so, what number should I be looking out for?