A look back at 2018

2018 has been another year with not as much blogging as I would have really liked.  (Just 35 posts in 2018!)  But it has been a year filled with action packed fun and adventure when I looked back through my calendar and in my blog posts this weekend.  (When is my life ever not filled with fun and adventure?!)

Once again, I’ve loved putting together this post and reminiscing over the past year of fun.  Here goes…

My 2018bestnine from Instagram:2018bestnine on Instagram - A Healthier MooObviously lots and lots of running in there!

* Super tasty meal out with Dan on our first date day since having Oscar.
* At the finish of the Robin Hood 100 in September. I finally ran 100 miles! My face says it all.
* At the end of the Milton Keynes Marathon in May. Such a ridiculously hot day. The support from the locals was incredible though.
* Headed up the first big hill of the South Downs Way 50 in April. I had such an epic race that day. Everything fell into place for me out on the trails.
* My Shires and Spires 35m medal from May. I ran my second fastest time on the course despite only using the race as a training run for my first 100 event.
* Volunteering as 30 minute pacer for the first time at Northampton parkrun at the start of the year.
* High fiving Oscar at the 85 mile point of my 100.
* Playing rounders on the roof of the Decathlon building in London.
* Comparing this year’s SDW50 medal with last year’s. A few seconds shy of an hour PB!

My 2018bestnine from my fromteachertomum account on Instagram:

2018bestnine on Instagram - From Teacher to Mum* Oscar playing at Wickstead Park.
* Enjoying his first time paddling in the sea at Wells in Norfolk.
* Our family holiday to the Isle of Wight and one of my favourite pictures of the three of us from the year.
* Just a sunny Saturday afternoon at the park across the road from us.
* Helping to collect potatoes for dinner at Grandad’s house.
* Oscar’s first ice skating trip at Beckworth Emporium.
* Watching the ducks with Grandad in Norfolk.
* My little mini me!
* Enjoying shoulder rides with Daddy at Irchester Country Park.

January:

Obviously a parkrun double was on the cards at the start of the year and I chose to run the Linford Wood/Milton Keynes double again with Laura.

Unfortunately it seems I never got round to blogging about the double event.  (Damn being a busy working Mum and having no time!!!)

The following day Dan, Oscar and I traveled to Wolverhampton for a funeral.  Dan’s Nan had died at the end of November and her funeral was held on the 2nd January.

I marshaled at checkpoint 3 of the Country to Capital ultra.  (I was there again this morning, but working registration and checkpoint 1 this time.)

Checkpoint three of Country to Capital

In January I was frequently working three night shifts a week, managing the occasional parkrun on a Saturday morning and then trying to blog, train for my 100, keep on top of housework and Mum the rest of the time.  Somehow I managed a few parkruns straight on the back of a night shift before heading home to bed, and one weekend after having already worked a back to back night I drove to Biggleswade, slept (if you can call it that!) for an hour in the front of my car, changed into my cross-country kit and ran the final cross-country race of the season!

Biggleswade cross-country

It was also around this time that I had a health scare and was taken into hospital for a few scans.  Although hopefully nothing to worry about I am still being monitored following that first hospital trip.

2018 was the first year of the National Running Show and I was so excited to visit in January.  I was looking to meet new people and spend lots of money on fun running things!  There were some great guest speakers and I bumped into a couple of people I knew through blogging at the show which was fun.  I also managed to pick up some pace bands, which I’m hoping are going to come in handy for when I run London Marathon in April later this year.
I’m an ambassador for the event this year and although I’m poor and can’t really afford to spend any money at the show this time round, I can’t wait to see and hear all of the fantastic guest speakers they have lined up for next weekend!

The National Running Show

I volunteered for first time as pacer for 30 minutes at Northampton parkrun, coming in at 29:58 – I couldn’t have gotten much closer to target than that!

Northampton parkrun pacer

At the end of the month we had a second funeral to attend for my Dad’s cousin.  Another cancer victim in our family

February:

Dan was taken all over the country with work during 2018, often away for days at a time.  I put a shoutout on our club Facebook page to see if anybody would be able to loan me a treadmill in the build up to the South Downs Way 100 and I was lucky enough to be able to borrow a treadmill!

Testing out the treadmill

After 17 months, Oscar finally started walking on his own on Valentine’s Day!

I also worked on the registration desk of our club trail race, the Welly Trail Half.

Welly Trail Race medals

March:

I ran the Milton Keynes Half on Mother’s Day.  The first Mother’s Day without my own Mum.  Initially hoping for a shiny new half marathon PB, my dreams turned to dust when I had to pull over and limp the final eight miles after getting a sharp pain in my calf at mile 5.  I was absolutely gutted and there were a few tears that morning.

MK half marathon finish

The following day though, Dan, Oscar and I hopped into a very full car and headed off to York for our first family holiday.  It was very much needed and I really enjoyed taking some time off from work, running and actually getting to spend some precious time with my boys.

Dan, Me and Oscar on holiday in York

Following my calf injury I booked in to see Fred at StrongLines.  He taped up my calf and gave me a number of exercises to complete over the coming months to strengthen my weaker areas and ensure I made it to the start line of my 100 in June.

Physio taped up calf

nearly collapsed as I stood scanning barcodes at Northampton parkrun in the freezing cold one Saturday, luckily feeling much better after a trip to Magee’s and with a hot chocolate in hand to increase my sugar levels.

Laura and I volunteering at Northampton parkrun

April:

Laura and I ran our traditional pre-Stanwick 10k run.  It tipped it down this year and the usual route was flooded so they had to divert the course.  (Laura and I still made it across the ford, but barely!)

Flooding at Stanwick 10k

I stepped down as website editor from my running club committee, and received a lovely bunch of flowers and thanks at the AGM.

Flowers from the AGM

One of my goals for the year was to complete the South Downs Way 50 in a faster time than I had the previous year as I’d still been breastfeeding back in 2017 and had stopped to express along the way!  I’d have been pretty gutted if I had not been able to run the 2018 event faster!
Luckily, I achieved my goal, and finished nearly an hour faster than I had ran the event the previous year, smashing all of my goals for the race and building my confidence ready for the 100 miles along the same piece of course later on in the year.

South Downs Way 50 medal

I started working for OCR (the exam board) and as my training day meant spending a Saturday morning in Coventry, I obviously tied it in with some parkrun tourism!  😉

Coventry parkrun

I then spectacularly managed to mess up some parkrun tourism when I arranged to meet Laura at Luton parkrun.  Turns out there are two parkruns in Luton!  Luckily we each turned up at an event we hadn’t run before so still increased our tourism count even though we didn’t see each other that morning!  Not my finest moment though!  To think I was so chuffed to have arrived before Laura that day, when I always leave everything to the last minute!

Wearing my cow cowl at Luton Wardown parkrun

May:

This year we attended four weddings and two Christenings, the first Christening fell on the first weekend in May for my friend Zoë’s little boy Oliver.

Olivers Christening with Oscar

The following day was the Milton Keynes Marathon.  Probably the hottest weather I have ever run in!  I had decided by mile 11 to just enjoy the run rather than to run hard, and I had such a fun race!

Milton Keynes Marathon - spotting Oscar

A few weeks later I offered to pace another runner to a PB at the Shires and Spires ultra.  The runner I was pacing achieved more than she had hoped for, taking over an hour off from her previous best, and crossing the lady as third in her age category, winning a trophy along the way!

Shires and Spires 35m

June:

I didn’t blog much in June.  (Once, about the Shires and Spires race.)  All of my time was spent marking for OCR, working shifts at Tesco and preparing to run 100 miles at the South Downs Way.

I ran my first attempt at the 100 mile distance on the 2nd weekend in June, managing to get to 78 miles.  Possibly the busy lead up to the event was what caused my downfall in not completing the race.

SDW100

July:

As an ambassador for Decathlon I was invited to go and take part in filming for their Summer campaign – Sport for Every Body.  I had so much fun down in London with a bunch of like-minded fitness bloggers and was sad when the day came to an end, even though I had the most stressful trip down and my interview answers on camera were so poorly constructed!

Decathlon blogger meetup

We started to make a massive dent in our garden this Summer, but due to the heatwave, could only get so far so that’s another mission to add to our 2019 to do list!

Our back gardenOscar ran his first toddler dash at our club race at the end of July.  Although I had visions of him happily toddling the whole length of the race, arms in air as he crossed the finish line, in reality it rained heavily for the duration of the race and Oscar sulked as soon as he realised the other toddlers were much older and bigger, therefore faster than him.  He ducked under the barrier at the first opportunity and it took a lot of convincing from Dan and Me to keep him going until the end!

Oscar at his first Toddler dash at the Welly 5

August:

I went to support Guy at the Grim Reaper race at the start of August.  He was attempting the 70 mile distance, which had been where I ran my first 70.  He had horrific heat for his attempt though, so I went along armed with ice lollies for him and the rest of his support crew.  Sadly the heat got to him and the blisters which grew on his feet prevented him from getting past 40 miles on the day.

Guy at the Grim Reaper

We met up with friends and their toddler at Clumber Park later in the week, not realising at the time that I would actually be running part of my 100 miler around the park later in the year.

Me and Oscar with Julie and Alfie at Clumber Park

It was also our fourth wedding anniversary on the 9th August.  (That time has gone by so quickly!)  A fourth anniversary is represented by flowers and fruit.  I bought Dan a plant for our lounge and he treated me to a delivery of roses then we headed out for a date night dinner with Oscar in the evening after Dan had finished work.

Fourth anniversary rosesDan, Oscar and I on our fourth wedding anniversary

August was also Dan’s 30th birthday, which we celebrated by having some of his closest friends over for the day.  It was a fairly quiet celebration, as we were due to head off for a holiday to the Isle of Wight the next day.

Dans 30th birthdayWe made a break for four days to the Isle of Wight to stay in a static caravan owned by Dan’s parents.  It was the first time I had ever been to the Isle of Wight (or stayed in a caravan!), and we had a fantastic time away.

Oscar, Dan and I at the Isle of Wight

We headed back home ready for the weekend so that I may work and then we continued our Summer adventures by visiting my Dad in Norfolk the following week.  So much lovely family time together, although we did have to attend the third family funeral of the year whilst we were back – for my Aunt/Godmother.  Another cancer victim.

Dan, Oscar and I at Sheringham railway

September:

I booked to run the Dunstable Downs marathon at the start of September rather last minute.  The race fell a fortnight before my second 100 mile attempt, but I didn’t feel well going into the event and made the decision to pull before even getting to halfway, resulting in a massive knock to my confidence before goal race day.

Dunstable Downs Marathon

I gained a new niece – my brother had a baby girl, Evie.  Our second niece by that name.  (Obviously the first by my brother!)

Me and Baby Evie

September was all about the completing my first 100 miler – the Robin Hood 100.  I was so, so happy to cross that finish line and know that I had completed the distance I had set out to complete as one of my main goals at the start of the year!

100 mile finisher face! (Robin Hood 100)

We also celebrated Oscar’s 2nd birthday with friends at West Lodge Farm this month.

Oscars birthday cupcakes

I followed my 100 up with the Squeaky Bone relay race a few weeks later, running with three good friends as part of a relay team.

Squeaky Bone relay raceAt the end of the month I was chosen as an Ambassador for The National Running Show, which is something I’m really looking forward to attending again this year.

The National Running Show ambassador

October:

In October I offered to show other local members of the Run Mummy Run community some local running routes, and have regularly run out with a little group that live nearby since.  I also got involved with the RMR takeover at Kettering parkrun, volunteering to set up and take down the equipment after the run.

Run Mummy Run takeover at Kettering parkrun

Dan, Oscar and I took a trip to Wolverhampton to meet a friend’s baby.

Dan and Oscar meeting baby Grayson

Oscar got sick the following week and ended up hospitalised with pneumonia which was a rather scary time.  The day after he left hospital I headed up to the Peak District to run the Dusk ’til Dawn marathon through the night with friends.  I had so much fun, even though it was freezing out there!

Dusk 'til Dawn sunsetMy birthday is the 31st October and I celebrated(!) by hosting a Halloween party for four of Oscar’s friends and their Mums, and then did my paper-round in the evening!  Oh how glamorous it is being a stay-at-home Mum in my 30s(!)  We had so much fun at the party though!

Mini pizzas at our Halloween party

November:

Dan had treated me to a spa day for my birthday, so on the first Friday in November we headed to a spa in Kettering for the day.  It was lovely actually being able to spend time with just Dan again after so long.

Birthday spa day with Dan

I ran the first cross-country race of the season at Dunstable.  It was ridiculously hard!

Dunstable 3CXC course

trip to Gower with friends for the marathon came the following weekend and it was nice to have some time completely away from being Mum for a couple of days and escape the madness of working five jobs!

Gower marathon start beach

The following weekend was the second cross-country event in the series.  Our home race and again, ridiculously hard.  Made even harder by the fact that a friend and fellow runner from the club had died the morning before following a cardiac arrest whilst out on a run.  (Guy, who I had supported at Grim earlier in the year, and who had paced me at the Robin Hood 100.)

Wellingborough 3CXC race

December:

December was a brighter month.  With Christmas on the way, Dan, Oscar and I were invited down to London to film for the Decathlon campaign ‘Bikes are for Christmas’.

As Oscar was of an age where he understood the magic of Christmas a little better this year we made sure to fit as much of that Christmas magic into the month as possible.

We took him Ice Skating at Beckworth Emporium…

Ice skating at Beckworth Emporium

…to have our photo taken in a giant snow globe at Bosworths Garden Centre…

Oscar, Dan and I having our photo taken inside a snow globe

…and to West Lodge Farm Park to meet Santa.

Oscar meeting Santa at West Lodge Farm Park

We spent Christmas with my Dad, Aunt and Great Aunt in Norfolk and then just enjoyed having some time off as a family for the remaining few days that Dan had off before needing to return to work.

Oscar and Me in front of the Christmas tree

And then, just like that, we’re already two weeks into 2019!

What were the highlights of your 2019?

Gift ideas for running Mums in their 30s!

Christmas seems to be arriving at a super quick speed this year!

Luckily, I managed to get organised fairly early on this year.  In fact the bulk of my Christmas shopping was done by the end of October!  (Who even am I?!)  I need to be so organised now though; we have six nieces, three nephews and buy for seven children of friends.  The cost of Christmas absolutely needs to be spread out over a number of months in this household!

Christmas presents

Oscar isn’t old enough to know that we haven’t bought him anything, so we will get away with not buying him anything again this year, but will probably start the Santa stocking next year when he’s three and a bit more aware of what is going on.  We painted an advent train for him though, and last month Dan and I chose a large dragon alphabet puzzle to split up and put into each of the drawers on the train carriages.

Wooden dragon puzzle

Along with the puzzle pieces, each drawer contains something Christmassy to do that day.  The idea being that as he gets older we can adapt some of the activities to better suit his age.

Advent train with puzzle pieces

Some of the things we’ve done so far include;

Going ice skating…

Oscar on the ice

Oscar absolutely loved it!  He zoomed round the rink on the penguin with Dan, and found it hilarious when he got off the penguin and his feet were slipping everywhere!

…making Christmas cookies….

Oscar making Christmas cookies

…and heading out to see the Christmas lights in town.

This weekend we’re off out to pick our Christmas tree and Oscar has a felt tree from Hobbycraft for his room to decorate too.

For the past two years, we have managed to convince my brother and his partner and Dan’s brother, sister and their partners that we do not need to buy presents for each other, just for the kids, so that has helped to keep the costs down, but Dan and I are very much feeling the pinch at the moment, meaning that I have taken on some extra night shifts at work over the past couple of months and also some extra freelance work to pay for the most expensive month of the year!  We don’t treat ourselves often at all and if anybody ever does give me money for birthday or Christmas presents I put it straight into the joint money pot for things we can do as a family/bills anyway.

However, if I was to create a little wish list of things I might like for Christmas this year, it would go a little like this…

Fellibay food forks – £5.98 for 20.

Christmas food forks

How cute are these?! Oscar loves spending time outside and so we often take picnics along with us on days out, along with cutlery.  He would adore forks in the shape of animals in his lunchbox (as would I!)

Asics Gel FujiTrabuco 6 – £66.00

Asics Gel FujiTrabuco

My current trail shoes are falling apart!  They’ve seen numerous ultras, marathons and wet night muddy puddle runs now and I really do need a new set.  I got a new pair last year for my birthday and somehow managed to lose them after just a few runs?!  I have no idea where to even start looking for them, and it’s been nearly a year now so I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that they’re lost forever!

Animal World Map – £8.28

World map for playroomAnother reason we are so strapped for cash at the moment is that we are booked to have our garage converted into another room at the start of next year.  At the moment we have a downstairs lounge/dining room which ends up filled with Oscar’s toys during the day.  It’s the first room you come into from outside and the stairs also open out into our lounge so there is no escaping things when it gets messy!  We really need that extra family room to help accommodate our family as it grows and we never use our garage at the moment (does anyone?!), so converting that into another lounge/playroom seemed like the logical solution to us.
Oscar’s bedroom is very neutral – greys and whites, but I would like the playroom to be filled with bold and colourful items and prints and I absolutely fell in love with this print when I was looking for inspiration the other day!

Indoor watering can – £3.69

Indoor watering canI’ve really wanted an indoor watering can for a while now.  We’ve got several indoor plants and herbs in the kitchen at home which I currently water from a pint glass.  The water goes everywhere, all over my windowsill EVERY-SINGLE-TIME!

Garmin Forerunner 235 – £164.99

Garmin Forerunner 235

There’s nothing wrong with my current Garmin (The 310XT)  In fact, I quite like it despite it’s size and that it comes from way back!  But, Dan is running more regularly so could really do with a Garmin (my current one!) and my Vivofit fitness tracker broke a couple of weeks back, – I really miss that.  I’m told the Forerunner 235 will not only track my runs (with heart rate) but will also do the job of a fitness tracker as well.

Cat socks – £6.99

cat socks

I go to quite a few groups with Oscar where we need to take our shoes off before going in.  I like to have fun socks on my feet for these groups, rather than the plain black Tesco own brand socks I wear the other 90% of the time!

Dunlop insulated wellies – £33.97

Green Dunlop wellies

One of Oscar’s favourite things to do at the moment is to jump in muddy puddles.  I often meet up with friends and their children and then all the children can jump together (whilst the adults stand well back!) but when we’re out and about together just us he wants me to join in too!  I’ve got nothing against jumping in muddy puddles, but I only have one pair of day boots which I wear for everything at the moment.  The rest of my footwear is made up of running shoes and one pair of black smart boots for work.  Or I have a few pairs of heels.  Probably not the most appropriate to go jumping in a muddy puddle with!  I love the fun designs on female wellies, but NONE seem to go above a size 8 that I can find!  I have size 9 feet, but they’re annoyingly also super wide, so I tend to go for size 10 in things like wellies or skates so end up with pretty plain wellies annoyingly.  They do look like they are going to be an essential must-have for my wardrobe this Winter though.

Life is better when you’re running plaque – £10

Life is better when you're running plaque

How nice is this plaque?!  It would go really nicely in our office (which is quickly becoming ‘my’ office!)

The Healthy Slow Cooker – £12.50

The Healthy Slow Cooker

I’ve been following Dannii online for several years now.  (Hungry Healthy Happy)  Dannii makes the tastiest food, often recreating really unhealthy recipes in a much healthier fashion.  I already have her first cookbook, but I am all about a slow cooker recipe during the cold Winter months, so I’m really glad she brought out a new book for just this earlier this year!

So there are few material items sitting on my wish list for this Christmas.  It’s unlikely I’ll get anything above as we’ve stopped gifting to a large number of adults in our lives now that everyone has children of their own and Dan and I have set a £20 limit for each other this year.  Once you have a child you really see Christmas in totally different eyes.

What would I really like for Christmas?…The things that can’t go onto a gift list.
…for Dan to be able to take more time off from work and to be able to spend more time with family, to be able to relax, to be able to treat ourselves occasionally without having to work out where the money is going to come from for having done so…

But I don’t need anything.  I’ll just appreciate the few days off we do get to spend together this year and hope that we can make lots of lovely memories together with all that we have planned.  I absolutely intend to embrace all the seasonal cheer possible with Oscar.  We have crafting days planned, a trip to meet Santa and his reindeer, a Christmas eve fancy dress run, the Christmas day parkrun, late night Christmas movie nights and lots of fun to come on the cards.  We don’t need things, we just want memories and time together this year.

What is on your wish list this year?
Do you have many people to buy for?

How do you keep costs down at Christmas time?

(*Some affiliate links included above, meaning that if you purchase the items then the seller also tosses a few pennies in my direction.)

End of year round up

One of the things I love most about blogging is the ability to look back at the end of the year and reminisce over everything I’ve done across the past twelve months.  This year has been a bit of a tough one for several reasons, and so not everything has made it to the blog, but I still managed to scrape together 45 posts during 2017.  I’m hoping to have a number a little higher than that for the coming year though as things hopefully start to settle down a little once more.

My 2017bestnine from Instagram:

2017bestnine - A Healthier Moo

Medals, races and mud…that’s what we like to see! 😉

I actually started posting a few images up on a separate Instagram account this year (fromteachertomum) so that I would be able to share a few select images of Oscar’s adventures and Mum life without drowning my AHM fitness account with baby.  Just for fun, here’s my 2017bestnine from that account as well:

2017bestnine - From Teacher to MumHe has been a lovely little addition to our family.

January:

For the second year in a row I kicked off the New Year with a double parkrun, along with several other members from my running club.  In 2016 I had run Huntingdon parkrun followed by Peterborough which was one of only a few options of double day parkruns near to us at the time.  Word obviously got around though, because at the start of this year we had more to choose from and so I made the decision to head over to Milton Keynes to run the Linford Wood parkrun course, followed by a jog over for the Milton Keynes route a little later, and then a jog back to my car back at the first course again.

Milton Keynes parkrun on New Year's Day

In the New Year Oscar started attending swimming lessons at a local pool in Wellingborough.  He was an avid hater of bath time up until this point but he absolutely adores his swimming lessons.  Other than the 8 weeks where I returned to work in the Summer term, he has been going weekly for a swimming lesson and can now get in and out of the pool safely and easily, kicks and moves his arms to swim and blows bubbles in the water.  He usually gets really excited when he realises we’ve arrived at the swimming pool and one of my favourite times at the pool was when the instructor got us all to lay the babies on a tilted hand float so that their legs were dangling in the water and then whoosh them around the pool alongside us like they were paddling on a surf board.  Oscar thought this was amazing and shrieked so loudly and for so long as he was so excited!  He absolutely loves being in the pool.  A proper little water baby!

Dan made the jump from working in IT development within schools during January to managing IT systems within a Nationwide Solicitor firm.  With a new baby and a three month job probation to pass we debated for quite a while before Dan eventually made the leap, but it was a great decision and not only is he very happy in his new role but he is now working much closer to home, leaving much later in the morning for work and bringing home more money.  Much better all round!

I ran the final cross-country race of the season at Sharnbrook this month.

Sharnbrook cross-country trail

Dan ran the final Tough Mudder in Perton, Wolverhampton, which is the town his parents live in.

Dan at the end of Tough MudderIt’s not something that wildly appeals to me to be honest, but Dan really enjoyed it!

February:

I started to realise that fitting in runs around a new baby would be more difficult than I first thought(!)

I ran my first half marathon post baby at my club’s inaugural Welly Trail Races event.

Welly Trail races

March:

I had managed to enter the Hunny Bell Cross-country race held a couple of miles from my parents’ house in time to get a spot and so enjoyed a cross-country event outside of the Three Counties League I usually run with during the Winter months.  Both my parents were also able to see me finish a race, which was a first for my Mum.

Hunny Bell XC finish

I finally got round to ordering Oscar’s running buggy.  Something I had been avoiding until he was old enough to go in it, but something I knew I would order all along! 😉

Oscar in the running buggy

I had been lucky enough to win a Valentine’s Photoshoot on Facebook and so a couple of weeks into March we persuaded my friend Laura to push Oscar around Harlestone Firs in his buggy so that Dan and I could have some nice pictures taken.  There aren’t any photos of just Dan and I together from our wedding that I really like, but Maxine at Do You Realise? photography was an amazing photographer and she captured some lovely photographs for us to get printed.

Do You Realise photography couple shoot at Harlestone Firs

Dan and I sat down one weekend (after many many afternoons of talking about it) and worked out our living costs, realising that I would be able to leave my job as a teacher in order to bring Oscar up myself, rather than put him into a nursery full time, – and so I handed my notice in at school.

April:

I had entered The South Downs Way 50 before Oscar had even been born.  I wanted a big challenge to work towards as part of my return to running post-baby, and I definitely got that with running 50 miles!  Going into the race I definitely hadn’t completed enough training, but I was so, so ecstatic to finish well within the cut off times, and as strongly as I did despite having to stop on route to pump(!)

South Downs Way 50 medal

The following weekend, Dan, Oscar and I headed to Shropshire for a well-deserved weekend away in a lovely little cottage with friends.  We even managed to fit in some parkrun tourism at Ludlow parkrun whilst we were there!

Ludlow parkrun with Dan, John and Lynn

I made it down to London for my annual trip with friends to cheer runners along the marathon route.

Then I had my first weekend away from Oscar when I ran the Pembrokeshire marathon at the end of the month.

WDAC at Pembrokeshire marathon

May:

May was a good month running-wise.  I ran the Silverstone 10k in a quicker-than-hoped time, the Rugby 6 to a new PB and Corby 5 in a course PB, all as part of the East Midlands Grand Prix series.

Silverstone 10k

May was also the month where I returned to work full time (albeit only for one day before the start of the half term holiday).

June:

I ran Shires and Spires 35m for the fourth time at the start of this month, but as I returned to work the following day I never got round to writing a recap of the event.

Shires and Spires 35m medal

Oscar officially started nursery when I returned to school after the half term break.  Dan had my first week back booked as holiday from work in case there were any problems with Oscar in nursery during the day time, but all seemed to go well.  Dan spent most of the week making much-needed improvements on our house to ready it for guests we had staying in the Summer.

I had my name in print in Your Fitness magazine this month.

Your Fitness magazine

I ran the remaining races of the EMGP series.  The Harborough 5, Weedon 10k (to a course PB) and then Milton Keynes 10k to a full on new PB!

Milton Keynes 10k

I headed over with Oscar in his buggy to photograph our club runners at the Colworth Marathon Challenge on the Friday evening.  I’m hoping to be able to run the full three-day event again in 2018.

Sally and Jo at Colworth 5m

 

July:

I managed to type up (over several days!) a new Day-in-the-life post of a full-time-working-training-for-a-marathon-new-Mum.

Oscar tea

I had great fun swinging round the treetops for a friend’s hen do at Woburn, followed by some tasty afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea for Steph's hen do

I managed to gain a new 5 mile PB at our club annual pre-Welly 5 BBQ run, and then marshaled for the actual Welly 5 the following weekend.

Welly 5 winnersAt some point during the month of July, I was persuaded to stay on an extra month in September at school, due to lack of staff.  So luckily, I never had to give a leaving speech at the end of year assembly!  😉

August:

We attended our first wedding as a family of three, where Dan was also an usher.

Sarah and Treble's wedding - Oscar in bracesAnd I was outraged when somebody threw eggs at me from a car window whilst I was out on a run in Norfolk.  :(

We had a really busy August in fact.  I had been travelling back to Norfolk to spend time with my parents each week from February-time as neither of them were very well.  Somehow we managed to fit in a wedding in Birmingham, a first birthday party in Norwich and another first birthday party in Huddersfield over the Summer.  The two birthday parties even fell on the same weekend!

Dinosaur cake for Charles' birthday at the Dinosaur Park

We did manage to escape to Rutland Water for a few days for our third wedding anniversary though which was nice.

And we finally had carpet laid in all the upstairs rooms and on the stairs and landing.  I was so excited to finally see carpet down on the floor!

Oscar's nursery bedroom

September:

As I was looking back through my blog posts just now I realised that I didn’t blog at all during September!  It was a very busy time though.  Working as a teacher during the month of September is very different to the month of June, when half the students have already finished for the year and lots of kids are out on school trips.  Not only was I super busy with work this month but we had something planned in the calendar for every single weekend.

The first weekend was spent marshaling at Northampton half marathon where I was once again sector lead of the Great Houghton section.  For the fourth year I believe now?

The second weekend, I went to my friend Steph’s wedding.

Me and Laura at Steph's weddingShe had the best photo challenge, which Laura and I totally smashed and won!

Photo challenge at Steph's wedding

Our new sofas arrived!  The first time I have ever bought brand new sofas before and it was rather exciting!

New sofas in the lounge

I headed back to Norfolk to take part in the Round Norfolk Relay event.  Our club managed to find two teams of runners and crew and it was an awesome weekend that I can’t wait to take part in again next year!

Stage 5 of the Round Norfolk Relay

The evening after the RNR I had returned home to get some school work sorted out ready for work the following week.  The following day my Dad rang to say that my Mum had been admitted into hospital.  At this point (four years since being diagnosed with terminal cancer) this was no longer an uncommon occurrence and I asked Dad to keep me updated, saying that I would return the following weekend to visit her in hospital, or at home again, as she had so often ended up in hospital for just a couple of days at a time.

I finished school at 3pm on the Wednesday and it was only a matter of seconds after the final bell had gone when my Dad rang my mobile to say that I needed to get over to Norwich then.  That Mum was really bad this time and that doctors had given her just 48 hours.  After a call to Dan so that he could arrange to leave work early to pick up Oscar from nursery that evening I rushed off over to Norwich hospital and it wasn’t a very nice visit at all.  It was rather scary in fact.

I was supposed to be running Ealing half marathon the following weekend, but obviously this did not happen, and instead I spent the weekend at the Norfolk and Norwich hospital, as well as visiting several nights after work during the week.

It all ended up being a bit much and by the end of the month I had made myself very ill from the night feeds, school work, housework and constant travelling.  I spent the last two days of term laying in bed feeling pretty useless.  Made even more miserable due to the fact that I had really been looking forward to the Decathlon ambassador event I had been invited to but which now had to miss, and the fact that I was so poorly I couldn’t even hold Oscar on his first birthday.

Oscar's first birthday

October:

We held a birthday party for him the weekend after his birthday and had him Christened.  I was able to get up and about and put a face on, but I still wasn’t very well at all.

Mabel and MarthaMabel and Martha, checking out the Godmother gift their Mum was given!  (They have their own Instagram here if you want to check it out!)

As I had finished school by October I was then travelling back to Norfolk for four days a week.  After two weeks in hospital, at my Mum’s request, the doctors let her return home where she remained in a hospital bed in the lounge for the remaining weeks.  I usually headed back Monday afternoon-Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  A minimum of 12 extra hours in the car each week but often more than this due to roadworks and bad traffic.

Several of my visits were spent taking my parents’ dog Blue out for long walks and helping out with the shopping and cooking.

Oscar and Blue out on a walk

I was lucky enough to be chosen as an ambassador for Milton Keynes Marathon this month, which takes place in May 2018.  I can’t wait to run the marathon for the fourth time!

Milton Keynes Marathon ambassador

I had planned to target and run Chelmsford marathon in October for a sub 4h 30m, but this obviously went out of the window as I hadn’t been able to get enough miles in during the build up to race day and I had been suffering with a bad back for several weeks.  It was probably the toughest marathon I’ve run by the end of the race, and I’ve run several off-road events!

Chelmsford marathon mile 25

November:

November went by in a bit of a blur.  I headed to Gower with friends for the EnduranceLife Coastal Marathon as per usual, and the break was very much needed.

EnduranceLife Gower marathon 2017

The following week Dan was working away in Dublin, but I barely knew about it as I was hardly home anyway.

The last Wednesday of the month when I was visiting Mum Oscar bent down to kiss her for the first time and happily did his usual wave and “Bye bye” babble to her as we left.  She had been a little confused during our visit but we’d had several chats throughout the day.  That was the last time we spoke.

I visited the following Saturday for several hours but she was asleep the whole time, and when I rang Dan to say that I had finished running the Dunstable XC the following morning he told me that my Dad had been on the phone not long earlier to let him know that my Mum had just died.
Dan’s Nan had died hours earlier following a heart attack and we lost another family member to cancer later that week.  (A third to cancer in 2017 just yesterday.)

December:

After putting it off for the past few years I ran Bedford half marathon and was pleasantly surprised at my time considering how inconsistent my training had been in the build up to the race.

Bedford half marathon

Most of the week had been working with my Dad on preparations for my Mum’s funeral.  She had been very definite about what she wanted, but there was a lot we were unable to put into place until she died.

The day after the funeral I began a new job working nightshifts at a large Tesco supermarket.  It’s not a forever thing, but the extra money will be handy to restock savings.

My brother and Dad came up to mine for a visit one evening so that I could attend the annual Running Club Christmas awards ceremony.

Running club Christmas do 2017

I came home marginally cleaner following the annual Christmas Eve run this year.

Christmas Eve muddy run

And then spent Christmas day in Norfolk with my side of the family.

2013 round up * 2014 round up * 2015 round up * 2016 round up

How would you sum up your 2017?
What have you been up to this year?

A day in the life of a full time working, training for a marathon Mum

This is an updated ‘Day in the Life’ post, as my routine has changed so much since writing my last one.  These timings are from one day last week, and this day is actually a pretty standard weekday since I returned to full time work back in May.

2:45am – Oscar usually (but not always) wakes me up by calling out to me at about this time.  He wants a feed and so I go and collect him from his room before bringing him back to the comfort of my bed where I can feed and play a quick logic puzzle game on my phone whilst waiting for him to finish drinking.  If he doesn’t fall asleep on me during this feed he still tends to be very sleepy, and after about ten minutes or so I can usually transfer him back to the cot in his bedroom where he drifts off fairly quickly again.  I try to stay awake in my bed until I can no longer hear him rolling around or chatting and then I turn my bedside lamp off before instantly falling back to sleep.  On a good day I might only be up for 15 minutes in total.  On a bad day, it could be an hour in the middle of the night.  On this occasion Oscar was fairly quick and I was able to switch my bedside light off 20 minutes after having initially woken.

5:00am – I set my alarm for this time to give myself a chance to get ready without Oscar in the morning.  I never appreciated in the past just how easy it was to get round when there wasn’t a baby around to slow me down!  I get dressed and grab my own breakfast at this point.  My go-to breakfast at the moment is stodgy porridge topped with blueberries, as it only takes three minutes to prepare.  Anything which is quick and easy at the moment is a winner!

Porridge with blueberries and raspberriesI also nip outside to water the plants in the greenhouse.

5:25am – If Oscar hasn’t already woken by this point, I push his door ajar and then chat to him quietly from outside his room so that he wakes ‘naturally’.  He won’t eat breakfast immediately upon waking, so once I’ve changed his nappy I take him downstairs, place him onto his playmat and pull out a selection of toys for him to play with.  (Nothing too noisy, as Dan is still fast asleep, and I’m nice like that! 😉 )  I spend a little time playing with Oscar so that he is nice and settled before breakfast.  He is usually in the best mood in the mornings and I resent having limited time with him before I have to leave.

Oscar playing6:00am – After feeding Bella (our cat), I make breakfast for Oscar and then pack up lunches for both Dan and I.  I try and vary Oscar’s breakfast every day.  On this day I cut up some fresh strawberries and spread them along with some almond butter over a warm slice of toast which I cut into thin strips to make it easy for Oscar to pick up.

Toast with almond butter and strawberriesOscar is going through a phase of hating being put into his highchair, and unhelpfully tries to make himself as spread out as possible with both his arms and legs, whilst squawking loudly at me.  Eventually I manage to strap him in and he spies the toast, immediately falling into line and reaching out for it.  Whilst Oscar is eating his breakfast I organise his nursery bag and a backup set of clothes for the day, pulling a bag of breastmilk out of the freezer to defrost if required.  On this day there is enough already expressed in the fridge, so I don’t need to defrost any more.  I pile up my lunch, phone charger, Dan’s lunch and Oscar’s nursery bag, milk bottles and coat by the front door, before expressing and placing fresh milk in the fridge for the following day.

6:30am – Dan emerges from the staircase and takes my spot at the table whilst Oscar finishes up his breakfast.  I kiss both of them on the head, confirm the dates for the milk so that Dan can let nursery know when he drops Oscar off at a little before 8am and then drive into work.  When I first returned to work I aimed to leave home by 7am each morning, but leaving that half an hour later resulted in an extra hour or more of travel time, so I gave that up rather quickly!  My journey in is rather dull.  I tend to listen to Heart radio most days as the radio presenters are Blue Peter presenters from my childhood.  (I actually met Katy Hill once!)

7:15am – This is usually the time I arrive at work.  The first 5-10 minutes after I’ve arrived is spent switching on the classroom computers and, at this time of year, opening the windows and turning on the fans in the classroom, before checking my emails and prepping for my lessons that day.  If I don’t have a high volume of lessons, I might be able to sneak 5-10 minutes of Twitter/blog reading time in, but this is very rare nowadays.  I don’t manage any blog time on this particular day.

8:15am – Students from my form start arriving from this point, so I bring up the activity planned for form time onto my computer screen and then jot down a list of notices which I need to share with my form.  There are two teaching periods before morning break, and this morning I am only teaching one of them – a year 7 programming lesson to a lovely group of students.  I love teaching, but I especially love teaching programming, as I find it so satisfying when students ‘get’ how to write the code.  Programming is like one big puzzle which you have to solve!

10:45am – As all year 11 and 13 students have finished for the year, year 8s and 9s have exams and year 10s are off out on work experience placements for the next two weeks I don’t have any further lessons today.  The time is needed to prep for the next academic year within the department though as there are so many changes being introduced to the school in light of the new 9-1 GCSEs.  (Grades A*-G and levels 3+ will no longer be referred to, and instead all of our resources and worksheets must reference the new 9-1 system.)  It feels like a lot of changes in paperwork for the sake of it to be honest, especially when the first set of files (out of hundreds of the resources in our user area) all mention curriculum levels and final grades, requiring an hour of checking and changes just to themselves.  With three new courses in our department next year, there are also a whole load of new resources to be created and with only a few weeks before the end of term I briefly wonder how we are ever going to fit all of the required work in before the holiday.  I really hope I don’t have to work over the Summer.

1:05pm – A quick ten minute break for lunch, – although I’ve already picked at most of mine by now.  It’s rather nice to have some adult conversation.  I did miss that whilst I was off on maternity leave earlier in the year.
Lunch is standard since returning to work.  My lunch ‘requirements’ are that it has to be something which will keep me full and something I can pick at for long portions of the day.  I am all about the variety…and picking!

Healthy lunchbox with salad, fruit and nakd barWe have two ‘work experience’ students with us this week (students whose actual work experience placements fell through at the last minute).  Luckily, as well as being Core Computing students, they also both take ICT as an option, and so I use the rest of the afternoon to help them improve their coursework in the subject.

3:00pm – As students start to leave the site at the end of the day I fight my way back upstairs to my classroom, where I give it a quick tidy, shutting all windows, turning off the projector and wiping the board clean.  The worst part about being a Computing teacher is that other teachers always use your room and they never leave it how they found it!  I used to stay in school until 5:30pm before having Oscar so that I wouldn’t have to take work home with me, but now I try to leave no later than 3:10pm as otherwise there is a high risk of not arriving back to pick Oscar up from nursery in time.

3:50pm – Traffic has been awful along the A14 just lately and I can often be seen rushing madly from my car to the nursery doors hoping that I haven’t interrupted the babies in the baby room during teatime (4pm).  When I collect Oscar he grins excitedly and starts chatting away, lifting his arms up high above his head for me to pick him up.  Nursery fill me in on his day, telling me that he had adored playing in the water table that afternoon (taking his sunhat and filling it with water over and over again!) and had also been out in the buggy to see the farm animals earlier in the day.  They also give me a quick run down of the times they gave him his milk bottles, what he ate for lunch and the fact that he had given them an explodapoo at lunchtime, so they’ve popped his dirty clothes into a bag inside his nursery bag.  I thank them, collect his nursery bag and lift him into his old baby seat in my car.  Because Dan drops Oscar off in the mornings and then continues on his way to work, it doesn’t make sense for him to return home in order to leave the car seat for me to collect after I finish work for evening pick up.  I’d never make it on time then anyway.  So Dan keeps Oscar’s current car seat in his car and his old baby car seat is strapped into my little Ibiza.  I think we’re going to get away with this arrangement for the remainder of term but when I return in September for my final few weeks I fear I’m going to have to walk the 2.5 miles home with Oscar in the buggy each night before then running back out to collect my car later in the evening.  (Our initial plan.)

4:10pm – Depending on what activities Oscar was involved in at nursery that day he tends to be rather tired and irritable by this point.  A horrible whingey sound comes out of his mouth until I can get him into his sit-in walker in the kitchen.

Oscar in his walkerIt’s then a race against time to try and keep him amused whilst making tea as quickly as possible so that I can get him fed before he decides that he’s waited too long for his dinner!  He managed to make it until about 4:35pm today before the whinging begins.  I cut him a couple of small strips of cheese which seem to keep him occupied for a few moments whilst I quickly complete all tasks where I need both hands!  After that I pick him up and place him on my hip to finish the cooking.  It’s not ideal, but I can’t listen to him whinge all evening!

4:45pm – Tea time!  I have always had my dinner on the late-side since starting running.  Often it would be 9-10pm before I sat down to eat in an evening.  This obviously isn’t practical now that we have Oscar though, and I want to do my best to demonstrate good table manners when possible, so I now have my tea at this super early time with him.  I also get Bella her tea at this time.  Tonight Oscar has spaghetti with mushrooms, broccoli, sweetcorn, chicken and chopped tomatoes.  It all disappears rather quickly!

Oscar tea5:15pm – Once Oscar has finished his tea (usually indicated by sweeping his arm across his highchair through all the food) I get him out and roughly brush him down on the plastic mat we lay underneath the table.  He then walks holding onto my hands for support to the bottom of the stairs where I pick him up and carry him upstairs to the bathroom and place him into the bathtub.
Oscar loves bath time and any playing with water in general.  I always place a selection of plastic balls, a mini watering can and squirty animal toys into the bath with him and I am sure that he would literally stay in the bath all night long playing if I let him!

5:50pm – After drying Oscar down and getting him changed into a clean nappy, vest and sleepsuit it is time for a story on our bed.  At the weekends Dan reads to him and I love sneakily watching them from the doorway as Oscar is always so captivated by the book and the voices which Dan puts on.  My voices are never as good it seems!

7:00pm – After a little more playing it is time for Oscar’s last milk feed of the night.  If he’s had a busy day at nursery he often falls asleep during this feed and I can then transfer him to the cot in his bedroom.  Tonight it’s not so easy and it takes me half an hour to convince him to go to sleep.  Dan has the knack of always getting him to fall sleep within minutes.  I think I am often too impatient at this time of the evening as I know just how much I still have to fit in before bed!

7:30pm – Dan arrives home just in time to help me soothe Oscar to sleep and then I quickly whizz around the house trying to complete as many basic housework chores as possible.  During the week I stick to the necessities – mainly washing up and washing/drying clothes.  I also clear away Oscar’s toys from earlier in the day, clean down his high chair and mat, and sometimes hoover if it’s been a particularly messy meal!  Tonight I just quickly use a bristle brush to sweep the worst of the food away.

8:00pm – Anywhere between 8pm-9pm I head out on my run for the evening.  I aim to run 4 nights during the working week, but it’s much tougher to slot them all in than I first thought it would be, and I often end up running twice on a Saturday to make up for a run I missed out earlier in the week.  Tonight I get changed and am out of the front door by 8:30pm, but I only have a 6 mile easy run (10:50mm-11:40mm pace) on my training plan so this is more manageable than the days where I’m due to run 8 or more miles.  The run goes well, and although I’ve been finding it hard to keep my runs this slow and steady, these sessions have definitely been paying off and I can feel that my endurance has improved no end just lately.

10:00pm – I always grab a glass of milk on arriving back from my run, and take 5 minutes to upload my run to Strava and just chill for a brief moment before grabbing a shower.  I hate not showering in the mornings, but I just don’t have time at the moment, so I wash my hair and quickly plait it to sleep in so that it doesn’t look too wild in the morning!

11:15pm – I like to be in bed by this point and on this occasion, I manage it with ten minutes to spare.  Rather than an extra ten minutes of sleep (which is probably what I should have used the time for) I scroll through my social media channels quickly before turning my bedside lamp off and waiting to hear Oscar calling out for me a few hours later.

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So that’s what I get up to on weekdays just lately.  I do wish I had a little more ‘free time’, but I get the opportunity to head out for a run most nights, so I can’t really complain!  I know that I definitely would not be able to maintain this lifestyle permanently though and I’m very glad that the end of term is now in sight.  I have returned as a full time teacher until the end of August, although after handing in my notice and negotiating some pay, my contract has been extended slightly until the end of September, so that I may help the new Second in Department to settle into the school and department.  Had the four weeks I am returning for been immediately on the back of the seven weeks I initially returned for, I would have outright turned down the extra work, but with the Summer holidays off in the middle, I hope that I will be able to muster up enough enthusiasm and energy for my final four weeks in September.
Major kudos to anybody who does manage to work full time and parent successfully around that whilst maintaining hobbies, seeing their partner (notice the lack of any time I get to spend with Dan during the week!) and keeping on top of housework!  I am hoping that once the Summer is here, I will be able to complete a couple of my easy runs whilst pushing Oscar in the buggy during the morning, so running won’t take over every evening during the week.  It’s so hard juggling everything and maintaining a healthy balance in life.  Is a healthy balance even possible any more?

Do you have any tips for fitting everything in to each day?!