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?!

Training week 7

Well done on everyone who smashed PBs at Brighton half earlier today.  My Twitter feed has been full of photos, race reports and race chat.  I did feel rather envious of you all.  We are thick in half marathon season right now and I am desperate to test my legs out on a road half to see how much I have improved.  My current half marathon PB stands at 2h 09m 16s, set at Bedford half marathon back in 2012.  I’ve only run three half marathons since that time – Bristol half 2013 (2:30:58 – during the midst of ultra training where I had been told by my coach to run the race at marathon pace AFTER having already run for 90 minutes), St. Neots half 2013 (where I DNFd due to a foot injury) and Royston half 2014 (2:35:51 – a tough trail half).  I’ve not been able to race a road half since December 2012 and want to see where I’m at.  Nothing seems to fit into my schedule at the moment though – on the 8th March there are half marathons both in Cambridge and Milton Keynes but I am away on a hen weekend.  Other than the Silverstone half (run it once, doesn’t appeal to me to run it again.  Plus it’s really expensive!) there doesn’t seem to be any half marathons that slot in before Milton Keynes marathon day at the start of May.

Maybe I’ll just have to wait until the Autumn as long as my legs last that long!  So, onto training for week 7…

My targets for Jantastic this week were five runs with a long run of twelve miles.

I got a few longer runs in this week with it being half term (although without including any really long runs) and clocked up my highest mileage week of 2015 to date with more than 46 miles for the week (Garmin struggled to start on three of the runs so Garmin Connect is showing about half a mile short for each of the three).

Monday: Rest day.
Tuesday: 6.08 easy road miles with a friend (plus about a half mile before the Garmin kicked in)
Wednesday: 10.55 tough trail miles involving lots of mud!
Thursday: 5.68 road miles in Group 5 at running club (plus an extra half mile).  I usually run with Group 4 but for a change this week I ran with a lower group and noticed how much easier I found the group compared to when I had been running with them before Christmas.  Big confidence boost!
Friday: 10.27 tough trail miles with a friend (the same route as Wednesday although Garmin was late starting)
Saturday: Rest day (rushing around viewing potential new houses)
Sunday: 10.72 easy trail run with friends followed by 1.48m of road running on my own to make the total up to the required long run of 12 for the week.

Week 7 of marathon trainingAs well as running, Dan and I managed to fit in a bit of eating this week.  We’ve been trying to cut down on our spending ready for the house move but we had an envelope from a couple of relatives at Christmas with a bit of money in that had been given to us to use for an evening meal out when times got stressful.  Friday night was that time so we headed out to The World’s End in Earls Barton.  We had been there once before for my birthday in October and both said we would like to go again.  Booking was easy, as we were able to make reservations online and the service was spot on.  Within minutes of us ordering our drinks, a large rowdy group were shown to their pre-reserved seats.  The waitress offered to move us further into the restaurant, away from the table and we took her up on that offer.

Dan as always was very predictable with his order of a steak with peppercorn sauce (and then passing over his onion rings, tomato and mushroom to me!)

Steak at The World's End, Earls BartonAnd I guess I was equally as predictable in ordering the vegetable mezze platter.  I love being able to choose from lots of items and this certainly didn’t disappoint (although I really struggled towards the end to finish it all!)  The platter contained balsamic vinegar, spicy hummus, coleslaw, two hunks of bread, some grilled aubergine, pepper and mushrooms, green salad and an onion and courgette frittata.Steak at The World's End, Earls BartonWe did manage to split a dessert, although only because we’d seen several pass us that looked amazing.  We decided to share a chocolate mousse with shortbread and this was absolutely delicious.  I’d be happy to go again just for the dessert!Dessert at The World's End, Earls Barton

If you are taking part in Jantastic, how did your week 7 go?
Are you predictable when it comes to ordering out? – Dan could have told the waitress my order and I could have told her his!

Playing a joker and a long journey home

Weeks five and six of Jantastic (the first two in the month of February) and I am still spot on target, although I admit, one of the two available jokers has been played…

Jantastic weeks 5 and 6Week 1:  The aim was for five runs and a long run of 27 miles.
Monday – Easy run out with Dan including fartleks between lamposts – 3.44m
Tuesday –
Rest day
Wednesday – Easy run out with Hayley – 6.31m
Thursday – Group 4 club tempo run.  The aim was for 1m at tempo pace, then 1m steady – repeat x3.  In reality it was pretty icy on the paths towards the end though, so the pace slowed somewhat in the second half to ensure we all stayed on our feet, and not our faces.
Friday – Rest day, as traveling down to South Devon for the marathon
SaturdaySouth Devon marathon – 27.57m
Sunday – Rest day.  I had intended on running an easy couple of miles when we returned home but with a longer than planned trip back followed by a mad rush to Peterborough to sort out some hen do planning for one of my friends getting married over Easter, it had gone 10:30pm by the time I returned home and with a 5:15am start for work Monday morning, that run never happened.
So, with one run short for the week, a joker was played!

The drive home last Sunday was a bit of a drama.  In the morning, as we were packing away our things from the cottage to the car we all left a drawstring bag in the side of the room until someone asked “Whose is that?!”  We each thought it had belonged to someone else.  When the guys had finished the marathon the day before, one of the guys had been on the phone so the other had collected their bags from the drop-tent.  It was a genuine mistake, but we had come home with a bag that didn’t belong to any of us.  All we could do was pack it away in the car with our things in the hope that when we messaged the race organisers on returning to Northants someone would have let them know that their bag had gone missing.
The very long drive home begun.  We were looking at around 5.5hours to get back to Wellingborough so after a while we sat back, got comfortable and began to catch up on the weekend through Facebook.  As I did this, I noticed a plee on the Endurancelife Facebook page from the evening before…

We took his bag


We gave Gareth a call to let him know that we had picked his bag up by mistake and so that he was not worrying over where it was.  It turned out though that the bag had contained his car keys and his wallet.  He had been unable to drive home the night before, and with no money on him had had to travel by taxi for several hours back to London so that he could pick up his spare set of car keys before returning via train/taxi to the race start line in South Devon that morning.  He was still en route.  Even though it had been a genuine mistake, we felt awful.  We rerouted our journey to go via part of the way he would then return home after picking up his car and persuaded the manager at a service station Travelodge to look after his bag until he could arrive (he was still several hours behind us).  There wasn’t a lot more that we could do unfortunately.  A perfect example of why car keys and cash (along with phones) should always be carried on you during a run though.

Since the race I’ve also spotted a couple of videos that have appeared on the Endurancelife Facebook page.

You can really see at about 3:20 on that video just how tough some of the terrain was and how close we were to the edge of the cliff at points!  Now you know why my marathon time begins with a 6:xx:xx!

Link to a video on Dropbox

I’m not in either of the videos that I’ve noticed, but it was interesting to watch the course again through less-tired eyes!

Week 2:  The aim was for five runs and a long run of 14 miles.
Monday – Rest day following the marathon over the weekend.
Tuesday – Fartlek session with Group 6 at club.  I had intended on running in the group below mine for the speed session at club but when I couldn’t spot them on the night, ran with the group two below the one I normally run with.  It was nice to have a change and my legs appreciated not having to sprint full pelt across Wellingborough for the session.  3.32m
Wednesday – Trail run with friends from club.  The mud wasn’t too bad this week as we haven’t had a huge amount of rain just lately.  5.42m
Thursday – Easy run out with Dan.  3.08m
Friday – 10 mile mix of road and trail running with friends after work in the evening.  The group was quicker than I would normally run it but one of the other runners struggled with the distance towards the end so we pulled back the pace a little.  I felt very strong though.
Saturday – I had intended on going to Peterborough parkrun to help pace Dan round a sub 30m 5k but a pain in my hip meant we spent an extra 30m sleeping in instead.
Sunday – Good old Jantastic.  I’m sure I would have been too lazy to head out on a 14 mile run after returning from my parents’ at lunchtime otherwise, but I headed out and really enjoyed an easy zone 2 run.  The furthest I’ve been on the road for a very long time, so it gave me a lot of confidence in the lead up to the marathon.  I’m not worrying about speed at the moment, but instead concentrating on getting my running consistent over long distances (this doesn’t happen over trail!)  I am certain with all the speedwork and quicker running I have been doing just lately that I will be able to pick my speed up once I’m back consistently running 20m+ on the roads again.  I picked up the last couple of miles on the way back during this run as I still felt strong.  It’s always better to finish with quicker miles than to start with them.

We were back in Norfolk yesterday for the football (My Mum is a big Norwich fan, and they were playing Wolves, who Dan is long time fan of) and I spotted snowdrops out everywhere in my Mum’s garden.  Spring really is on the way now!

SnowdropsIt is half term this week and I have been looking forward to having a week off to catch up since starting my new job full time in January.  It has been a lot to keep up with and the house admin and blog amongst other things have fallen to the side a little.  Today I have written out a busy, but hopefully satisfying to-do-list which, although it includes things like changing my name on the house deeds, viewing two properties, marking all year eight homework and paying the house insurance, it also includes things like getting my hair cut and catching up on a few blogs!

What do you get caught up with during a week off work?

A Janathon and Jantastic review

I’ll start with Janathon

I think I was a bit optimistic when it came to taking part in Janathon this year.  Yes, I did manage to exercise every day and I did mention it on the blog/some form of social media every day, but the aim in my head was to blog about it every day…it just didn’t happen.  Without making excuses (although I kind of am) it probably wasn’t the best plan to try and commit to blogging every day at the same time as starting full time in a new teaching position.  18/31 days of blogging isn’t too shabby though, all things considered, (doesn’t come close to my 30/31 days for Janathon last year) especially as I only blogged once last week (whoops!)

As well as starting a new job a few months after getting married, we also decided to put our house back on the market again this week, so are preparing ourselves for some serious upheaval, some of which has already begun.  I love our house and it was everything we needed when we moved in; two bedrooms and a huge garden in a quiet area of a small town.  We’ve outgrown it now and are looking for something a little bigger that we will be able to call home for a little longer.  We’ve been to see a few properties over the past fortnight and have found a couple that take our fancy, but it will all come down to how quickly we can get the price we are after for our current house.  Moving house is such a faff!

Onto Jantastic

Jantastic week 4I must say that Jantastic has kept me motivated when it has come to getting enough runs in each week.  My target is five runs each week, a number that has always worked well for me during training.  A few times I’ve not felt like heading out for a run but when I’ve thought about where I’m going to get that fifth run in later in the week it has changed my mind and I’ve headed out anyway.  Like that gif that has been around forever says…’“I really regret getting off the couch and going for a run” said no runner ever.’  I will struggle to fit my five in this week though as I took an unplanned rest day yesterday due to the icy roads round our way.

Runs for Jantastic Week 4:
MON – 3.5 miles easy run out with Dan.  The run back included fartleking between lampposts over half a mile.
5.8 easy miles with a friend around town.
6.5 mile trail run on a very hilly and muddy route.
Rest day
10.1 easy trail run with a friend.
parkrun with a non-running friend.
6.5 miles of exploring new trails.

Total: 35 miles

There wasn’t enough work at pace last week and too many of the runs were ‘easy’, although this has strengthened my body and been great for base-building.  I had initially planned to run at a 15k off-road race on the Sunday, although we didn’t make it back from Wolverhampton in time that morning.  :(  I took just the one rest day last week, but my legs and body still felt strong throughout.  My mileage still needs to come back up to the 50-60 miles per week I feel comfortable attempting ultras on but it is gradually getting there – I don’t want to overdo it by bringing it right back up too soon and getting injured.  I feel like I’m in a good place right now.  Hopefully at least – it is the South Devon marathon on Saturday!

I’m supposed to be packing for the marathon at the moment but it was cold when I returned home from a run around town so I retreated to the warmth of the duvet in the bedroom to snatch some blog reading time instead.  I had a good run this evening – it felt good to be out after getting cooped up due to the ice last night.

Snow on carThere were quite a few hills on the route I ran with a friend but I kept my heartrate pretty low, still getting round much faster than the first time I tried a 10k to heartrate.  I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again…training to heart rate is really making a difference to my running this year.  :)

What is the longest blogging streak you have ever achieved?
How is your Spring marathon training going?