A look back at 2016

2016 has been such a different year to any other.  Mainly because I spent nine months of the year growing a baby!  I love writing my look-back posts at the end of each year and rediscovering what I got up to throughout the previous twelve months, although this year has been made all the harder as I didn’t write many posts at all during the first trimester when I just felt so ill and tired at the time.

I shall do my best to sum the year up though, – starting with my 2016bestnine from Instagram:2016bestnineLast year my bestnine from Instagram were all running related, so it’s nice to see a ‘slight’ bit of variety in there with food and baby for this year too!

January:

The year kicked off with a super muddy cross-country course at Sharnbrook.

Bedford Harriers XC at Sharnbrook

I volunteered twice at Northampton parkrun as photographer whilst I was unable to run with a broken toe and also marshaled at the Country to Capital ultra. [Side note: I completely forgot I broke my toe again at the start of the year!]

Marshaling at CP2 of the Country to Capital

February:

I tackled the Thames Trot 50, choosing to pull after 20 miles due to my then unannounced pregnancy, before going on to run my first fell race the following day.

Me jumping at Charnwood hills race

March:

I didn’t seem to really write about much of anything in March it seems.  I guess morning sickness and tiredness was in full force this month!  Dan and I chose to tell both sets of parents this month about our pregnancy by giving each of them Mothers Day cards addressed to ‘Nanny’.

April:

One year I will enter the Stanwick 10k, but this year, once again I ran the route before the race, then cheered my clubmates home as has become tradition over the past few years.

Supporting WDAC on the Stanwick 10k

Along with many others I really enjoyed getting sucked in with all the parkrun April Fools statuses!

The two week break over Easter was really welcomed, and I did get out a little with a trip to MK Dons and Bletchley Park.  Although with six classes of year 11s, I spent one of the weeks of my holiday solidly marking.  Boo!

It was April before I finally announced my pregnancy on the blog following our first scan, and I was able to write about how I had found the first trimester.

Baby scan at 13w 3d

I also finally made it to 50 parkruns:)

parkrun traybake cake…and headed to London to support our runners at the London Marathon for the second year in a row.

May:

After several weeks where I wasn’t sure I would be able to continue running through my pregnancy, things started to get much easier this month and I even ran a 5k race followed by a half marathon the following day.

MK medalsI persuaded Dan to walk 25k for the Waendal Walk.  (He was sold at ‘pub stop’!)

Dan and I on the Waendel Walk

With a baby now very much on the way, this was the month we really started to get serious about working on our house and began adding our new kitchen and bathroom (amongst the million other things that needed doing!)

Dan and I were adamant that we did not want to find out the gender of our baby at our 20 week scan this month, so instead we decided to test out all of the old wives’ tales to try and predict the gender.  (Turns out most of them were correct!)

We also used the half term holiday as a chance to grab a babymoon to Prague.

Dan and me at the Rudolfinum, Prague

June:

In June I marshaled at both the Shires and Spires 35m (my first year of not running the event since 2012. :(  ) and the South Downs Way 100m.  I also missed out on the muddy Colworth Marathon Challenge weekend this year, choosing to photograph it instead.

Mud at Colworth 5(I do hope 2017 is just as muddy!)

A lot of this month seems to have been spent marking coursework and eating fine foods…no harm in that! 😉Beckworth Emporium afternoon teaJuly:

I got in a little parkrun tourism during July, with a trip to Bedford, and also a visit to the new Linford Wood course.

Linford Wood parkrunI completed the Houghton Hall Race for Life with my Mum for a second time on what was possibly the hottest day of the year and also marshaled at Pitsford Triathlon.

Houghton Hall Race4Life 2016 with MumJuly is the month of our club race, which I marshaled and photographed at.  I also helped with the timing at the club recce run of the event the Thursday beforehand.

Pre Welly 5 BBQ runAt the end of the month I went to the Grim 40/70/100 mile event to support runners from my club who were attempting the 40 and 70 mile distances.  Although disappointed I wasn’t able to run and retain my title of Ultra Queen for the club, it was lovely to be able to help support and provide supplies for those out running the event this year, just as I had relied on support from others for the previous two years when I had run the 70 miles.

August:

I volunteered to act as tailrunner at Bedford parkrun.  Why do I always get so nervous about volunteering?!  I went on to run the Huntingdon parkrun course a couple of times and also headed out on the trails round Castle Ashby to take some photos of the course for an upcoming club trail race.

Wellingborough trail race at Castle AshbyThe 9th August was my second wedding anniversary.  How have we already been married for two years?!

Anniversary cardI logged the 14 things you should know about running during pregnancy and marshaled at another triathlon – the Go Tri event.

On the bank holiday weekend I was given this amazing piece of bling from the guys at Saxons, Vikings and Normans for completing 17.6 miles at the Cakeathon event.  I was 35 weeks pregnant at the time.

Medal at the Cakeathon race

I managed to crank my parkrun course total up to 10 different events when I headed over to Market Harborough for a run.

September:

September ended up being ridiculously busy once I returned to work – madly attempting to complete my workload and handover to my replacement before heading off on maternity leave at the end of the month.

Somehow I managed to fit in crewing at the Round Norfolk Relay.

Timekeeper marshal vest for the Round Norfolk Relay

Dan and I headed to Stanwick to get our annual scarecrow fix

Stanwick scarecrows

…and I managed to make it to the inaugural Kettering parkrun

Running Kettering parkrun at 39 weeks pregnant…before returning to Kettering just three days later on the 27th.  This time to the hospital, where I was booked in for a Caesarean section to have Oscar.

Oscar's legs

October:

October was pretty much just spent attempting to recover from the C-section surgery.  You can read all about how horrific recovery was in part one or part two.

Me with Bella and Oscar

Oscar did make it out to his first parkrun at four weeks old though!

Dan, Me and Oscar at his first parkrun at 4 weeks old

November:

I was finally given permission to run again by the doctor (and Dan!)

Wendy, of Running Buggies came to Stanwick Lakes so I made the most of heading down to test out a few models one Friday morning.

Thule Glide and the Out n About Nipper Sport V4It was a sad end to the month when one of my coaches passed away.  Our running club honoured him in true WDAC style.

The Hilly Hollis

December:

I ran my first Magic Mile in December, and hope to make many more in 2017 as I believe it would be an excellent way to track progress across the year.

As always, I put in several hours creating Runner of the Year videos for my club awards evening.

WDAC Christmas do party table

And I made it out for my first cross-country race post-baby.

Christmas Eve wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without the standard club muddy Christmas Eve run…

Christmas Eve club run

…which took place before traveling back to Norfolk to spend Christmas Day with my parents.

Oscar and Me in front of the Christmas tree

Another super busy year!  Now I’m looking forward to seeing what 2017 brings!

2014 round-up  *  2015 round-up

How would you sum up your year?

Christmas gifts

Last weekend Dan and I sat down and bought the majority of our Christmas shopping online through Amazon. I had visions of me having lots of time to stroll around the shops to find the perfect Christmas presents for everyone this year. However, the reality is that getting Oscar in and out of the car seat for frequent stops and dragging him around heaving stores in the run-up to Christmas isn’t really ideal, so Amazon it was. To be honest, we didn’t end up spending a huge amount more than we would have if we had been in town, and it came without the time and stress of having to trawl all of the shops. Bonus!

However, my Amazon suggestions list now strongly features Peppa the Pig and Frozen thanks to my nieces and as the postman has now realised I’m currently a stay at home Mum, I have tended to collect a pile of parcels for the other houses on my street each day!  At least I’m getting to know the neighbours!

Dan is rubbish at shopping for others online because he ends up spotting a million things to buy for himself instead.  In fact, last year he bought a jacket for his brother’s birthday and ended up keeping it!

I like to think I’m much better, and I must be dead easy to buy gifts for, as I’m forever saying “Wow, I really like that!” but rarely do I actually buy anything for myself.

This is me going for the less subtle tact today…I’m loving all of these items and they would definitely be appreciated if they were  wrapped up and under the tree on Christmas morning!  😉

Christmas wish list 2016

Nike long sleeved top – Because you can never have too many long sleeved running tops at this time of year, and if they have thumb holes, that’s a bonus!

This Mum Runs – I’ve still not gotten round to reading any further than a few snatched paragraphs in Waterstones of Jo Pavey’s book.  The ‘Supermum’ who won the 10,000m at the European Championships just months after having a baby.  I’m hoping to pick up a few tips when it comes to juggling children and running though!

Koly Womens Sports Running Headband – It’s 79p.  You can’t go wrong with 79p and I really need something to keep my hair out of my face during training.

Parenthood Listography (Journal) – Another snatched glance in Waterstones but as a self-confessed obsessive list writer I love the Listography books.  So much so in fact, that there are quite a few heading out to friends in their Christmas parcels this year.

Hungry Healthy Happy – Fellow blogger and new Mum, Dannii had her first recipe book published earlier this year.  I’ve loved Dannii’s no-nonsense, easy-to-follow recipes on her blog but there is something about a loved cookbook on the kitchen shelf.

Runner undies – When I was younger I used to have two pairs of day-of-the-week knickers.  Thursday and Saturday I believe.  I have no idea why I didn’t have a full set though?!  I love the idea of laying out underwear in order at the start of the week relating to my training.  Never again forget what training is supposed to be that day!

Bluetooth Selfie Remote Keyring – Selfieme – I never took to the idea of the selfie stick, but as I’ve mentioned in the past, I have been rather frustrated at just how hard it is to get decent pictures which include me in for AHM.  This selfie keyring is a bluetooth operator for the camera shutter on your phone.  Awesome!  It also comes with a stand so that you don’t have to balance your phone against a tree with four rocks held up against it…:S

Cozy Toes fluffy socks – We’re still waiting for a plasterer to board our ceilings, and until the ceilings are done it makes no sense to lay down new carpet.  No/bare carpet = cold toes!

Runner’s wine glass – Also available in beer mugs, champagne flutes and lots of other designs!

Thule Glide Sports Stroller Pushchair – Undoubtedly a little too much money to receive as a Christmas gift, but I can dream…!

Don’t Stop Me Now: 26.2 Tales of a Runner’s Obsession – Vassos Alexander has run several ultramarathons, including the SDW100 which I marshaled at earlier in the year.

Tasty Book – I’ve followed the Tasty Facebook page for a while, but it was only the other day I saw that they had now also released a cookbook.  Another super easy to follow, throw all the ingredients in a big pan set of recipes.  When ordering the book, you order your seven favourite categories of recipes, so if you’re not a big dessert fan, no need to include them in your copy of the book!  (Although lets be honest, who isn’t a fan of dessert?!)

Moving Comfort Womens Ladies Juno Sports Bra – I am in desperate need of some new sports bras at the moment.  As I am breastfeeding my boobs are so much bigger and need so much more support!  I haven’t tried these bras before but they were recommended to me on Twitter and I like the idea that the straps can be adjusted accordingly from the front.

*Some affiliate links included.

What’s on your Christmas wish list this year?

The scarecrows of Stanwick

Over the past few years, it has become a bit of a tradition that at the end of September Dan and I head down to Stanwick to discover all of the scarecrows on display for the Stanwick Scarecrow Festival.

Click on the years to see the entrants we photographed in 2014 and 2015.

This year was no different, and having had a mad week of rushing around with hospital appointments, trying to finish off bits on the house before baby arrived and my final few days at school it was nice to pootle down to the next village and mooch around looking at all of the hard work that had gone into the entries.

Here are some of our favourites from this year…

Stanwick scarecrowsStanwick scarecrowsStanwick scarecrowsStanwick scarecrowsStanwick scarecrowsStanwick scarecrowsStanwick scarecrowsIs there anything similar which takes place near to you?
Which is your favourite from the selection above?

14 things you should know about running whilst pregnant

Although I’m sure you’re already aware, let me start by saying that every pregnancy is different and every runner is also different.  So, just because something happened or worked for me during my pregnancy, does not mean that it will necessarily work for somebody else in the same way.  I am incredibly lucky to still be able to run at almost 34 weeks pregnant.  A fact I am so grateful for every time I lace up my trainers.  Not every runner will be as lucky to still be able to continue for this length of time.

14 things you should know about running whilst pregnant

#1 Your midwife probably won’t be able to answer your running questions.

I rang to try and make my ‘booking in’ appointment at the doctors when I was four weeks pregnant and was told to ring back in a month.  At the time, I was scheduled to run a 50 mile ultra just a few weeks later.  I wasn’t yet ready to tell people that I was pregnant, but at the same time I knew that it would be unwise to just assume that it would be OK to carry on as normal with everything that I did.  The doctor’s surgery remained non-committal and told me that they couldn’t really advise so in the end I rang up the local maternity unit and although they stressed that asking for advice on running a 50 mile race wasn’t something they came across every day, they were happy for me to continue running events as long as I was fit, healthy, had trained properly, was running a distance/pace I had achieved before and that there was no bleeding.
At the antenatal classes I also asked a series of questions about running while breastfeeding and despite there being two midwives at the class, neither was able to answer my queries.  I’ve since received advice from other runners at my club, through reading magazines and blogs/online articles.

#2 You will be super aware of the life inside of you.  Even during the early days.

Even though I had been given the go-ahead to run the Thames Trot 50, ultimately the reason I ended up pulling twenty miles into the race was because I couldn’t get the thought out of my head that if something went wrong, I would worry that it had been my fault for continuing to push at a race that hadn’t been my goal race or wasn’t particularly vital that I run.  At that point I was still weeks away from feeling the baby move or even from having my first scan, but having the knowledge that it was there was enough weight on my mind for me to pull before completing the race.

Baby scan at 13w 3d

#3 You thought you and your body understood each other.

As a runner, I like to think I’m pretty in tune with my body.  I know what paces/heart rate I can run to over certain distances, I know what I need to eat before a run to ensure I have enough energy for what I am asking my body to do, I know the distances my body is capable of running…
…at least I did know all of those things before I became pregnant!  Everything is tipped up on it’s head when you become pregnant and tiredness/hunger starts to kick in unexpectedly!

Huntingdon parkrun at 29w 4 days pregnant

#4 When you have no energy, running will give you energy.

Although I never suffered from any actual sickness, the morning sickness was real – sluggish, feeling nauseous and wanting to nap all of the time.  I made myself eat little and often during those first thirteen weeks and tried to continue running a handful of times each week.  Other than when I picked up a bad cold and chesty cough, I continued to run throughout and noticed that when I ran out with friends during the week, things always looked brighter and I was rewarded with more energy and felt much happier and (sounds cheesy but) more alive following my run.
Sometimes you need to look after your mental wellbeing as much as you do your physical one.

#5 You may need to plan routes around public toilets.

Mainly during the first and second trimester the need to pee is real.  No lie, there was one parkrun where I went to the toilet before the run began, and then when we ran past the toilet block less than five minutes later I was tempted to pull in and go again!  (I didn’t, but I was very tempted!)  Towards the end of tri two and start of tri three the need to pee seems to have lessened somewhat, although I hear it comes back with a vengeance in the final few weeks.  (Something to look forward to!  :P)

#6 Eating and drinking before/during a run will become a major issue.

If you eat too close to the run you will be able to feel the food moving around alongside baby and pressing on your stomach.  If you drink too close to your run then see problem #5!  Because I’ve stuck to mainly shorter distance runs throughout my pregnancy, I’ve been skipping my pre-workout snack and then topping up my fluid levels after a run, rather than during which has seemed to work for me.

#7 There will be times when you feel like you should just hold your boobs in place!

…or your belly.  I’ve done both when I thought no-one was watching, just to hold them in place and stop the constant jiggling!
The worst time was about 7-8 weeks in as my boobs seemed to grow an enormous amount at this stage and began to really ache when I ran.  I have no idea why they increase so much in size so early on, but by the start of tri two, I had several bras which no longer fit me and my pull-on bras were becoming a real struggle once I’d got them over my head!
As you get bigger, the jiggling lessens.  My boobs grew into my bra to the point that there was no longer any wiggle-room and once my bump was more ‘bump-like’, rather than just a thickened waistline, it tended to stay more in place and out front, rather than spend time uncomfortably moving around.
I now know for definite that I absolutely do not want to put on an extra stone and a half at any time in my life though!  Uncomfortable times!

#8 Choice of kit has never been so vital!

I have stacks and stacks of running tops and a large pile of shorts and tights to choose from when I run.  Yet, since falling pregnant the choice of what is now suitable to wear has become somewhat smaller.  Basically, the pink top I’m wearing in most of these pictures is one of the few tops that doesn’t make me look like a giant blob and the shorts are one of two pairs which hold my bump in place.  Tops which were tighter around the boob-area now ride up, and several larger tent-like tops now ‘float’ around my stomach without flattering my now-pregnant body.
I can no longer wear running tights around my waist – instead having to wear them underneath my bump and then they kind of hold the bump up in place during my run without cutting into my stomach.Pregnant running through trees

#9 Sometimes the baby just doesn’t want to co-operate.

There have been plenty of runs where I have gotten myself ready (Pee, no food, no drink, Garmin charged, trainers on…) only to take my first few steps out of the door and realise that the run isn’t going to work out because the baby is lying in an uncomfortable position.  This tended to happen in tri 1-2 when the baby was a little smaller and moved around a bit more, sticking out in various places.  It’s such a weird sensation to feel your belly moving and your weight shifting without being in control of it!

#10 Your running style changes.

It has to.  You’re carrying a lot of extra weight, your hips get wider, your limbs ache more…  I really don’t want to see any footage of my running right now, as I’m sure my style has diminished into a lumbering lope!

#11 Not everyone will realise you are pregnant.  Get over it.

Even now, at more than 8 months pregnant I find myself occasionally dropping into conversation that I am expecting if I happen to talk to strangers after a parkrun.  Most people I speak to haven’t realised I’m pregnant, despite my (what I think has now grown into a) rather pronounced bump.  I shouldn’t care if people think I am slow, or big or lazy, but every now and again I find myself chirping up that I’m actually not far from my due date, and that is why I was struggling with a run/slower than usual/etc.  I always feel a little silly for having said something afterwards, although never because of anything anybody has said.

#12 You will be judged.

Everybody will have an opinion on your choice to continue running.  There will be a lot of people who believe you are harming your baby by running and that you should in fact be sat at home with your feet up for the entire pregnancy.  (These people will also probably be the ones who are quick to judge if you gain too much weight during the nine months or you lose your baby weight post-birth quicker than they believe you should.)  Other people might judge you for pulling your training back too quickly or not considering the baby.  Ultimately though, as long as you listen to your body, every medical professional I have spoken to has agreed that remaining active is the best way to go throughout your pregnancy.  It helps with having a faster and less painful labour, and helps you to get up and about again following the birth much quicker too.
The only opinions of running during pregnancy that actually matter are those are you and your partner.  I was very lucky in that Dan has encouraged me to continue running from the very beginning.  (Probably because he knew how miserable and sulky I’d be if I didn’t get my running fixes in during the week!)  I discussed with him at great length about running the ultra so early on into the pregnancy, and made it clear that if he wasn’t comfortable with me attempting it that I would pull out before ever crossing the start line.  I also rang him several miles into the race to tell him I was worried that something might happen to the baby during the run, and he still encouraged me to continue, as we had received the advice that it was safe to do so.  I would not still be running if Dan had any concerns over me doing so and he has been a great support throughout.

#13 You have nothing to prove to anybody.  Times do not matter.

It is completely OK to take walking breaks, or cut your route in half from the one you had planned.  As a runner, it’s always important to listen to what your body tells you, but it becomes even more important now that there are two of you along for the ride!
This is something I have done much better at than I thought I would.  I’ve adjusted my pace accordingly on each and every run and although I’m still running with a watch, it is mainly so I can look back and see the mileage I covered during runs, rather than monitor how quickly I am running at the time.  I’ve found it interesting to see how my times and effort levels have changed as I’ve gone along but I haven’t once felt the need to run to the numbers displayed on my watch.

Huntingdon parkrun

#14 When you decide that it is time to stop running completely, that is OK.

And from talking to others, that time is completely different for everybody.  Some of the currently pregnant bloggers I follow who have already stopped running for various reasons are; Dannii, Leah and Naomi.  Sara is still going strong.

I’m told that your body and muscles will remember much better than you believe they will and that it won’t be like starting from scratch again when you return to running afterwards.  When my body says no, I will be sensible and pack away my running things until several weeks after the birth.  I have already made the decision to back away from club trail runs, and it won’t be long before I make the decision to no longer run with my running club on a club night as well.  Running will still be there when I return!Bella snuggled up on the bed with me

 

You can read all of my previous pregnancy posts here.

Anything else I should add to the list?…