All over the UK

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

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

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

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

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

Dinosaur cake for Charles' birthday at the Dinosaur Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A slight change of marathon plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

This time I want more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After parkrun, it was Go Ape.

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

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

Afternoon tea for Steph's hen do

I’m a jam then cream kinda person.

Afternoon tea for Steph's hen do

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

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

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

A parkrun catchup

It’s been a while since I posted any details from the parkruns I’ve run.  Over the past few months I’ve gradually ticking off more parkruns, getting ever closer to that magic number 100.  I have just 16 left to go now before I can apply for my 100 runs t-shirt.  I haven’t made much of a dent in achieving the parkrun tourist status this year though.  In total I have run 12 different events, so still have another 8 to go before I can buy my cow cowl.

I did just find an amazing parkrun tourism tool which has whet my appetite for more tourism.  It allows you to enter your parkrun ID and postcode and then shows you the nearest 10/20/30 parkruns to where you are based.  You can also choose to not include those parkruns which you have already run so you can see where your best options are to head to next.

parkrun tourism toolI’ve already run the nine closest parkruns to me so it looks like Rutland Water will be featuring on my results list next!  Wimpole Estate is another one I need to tick off in the near future as well.  I’ve had lots of good feedback about the event just lately.

Here is where I’ve been on my six most recent parkruns…

parkrun #79 – Northampton
6th May

Northampton parkrun is a great course for running with the buggy.  The paths are wide and although it is a super crowded course at the start, the numbers toward the back soon start to thin out.  There are wide grass verges for most of the distance, so even if I feel rather uneasy about pushing the buggy along the path at the start of the run for fear of clipping somebody’s heels, I can always stick to the safer option of running on the sidelines until the crowds start to thin.

Northampton parkrun with the buggyI use my parkruns with Oscar to catch up on all the gossip(!)Northampton parkrun with the buggy(Photos by Martyn Haworth posted on the Northampton parkrun Facebook page)
Official time: 32:55
Position: 459/609
Gender position: 148/256
Age category position: 21/36

Magic Mile #4 – Northampton
6th May

I completely ran out of time to write about this event back in May but for the first time ever I WAS FIRST LADY across the finish line!  Something which I am sure will never happen again and was purely down to the luck of no fast ladies being around to run the mile that day.
I am counting it though.  I didn’t even realise until the results were published the following day that I had been the first female through the finish!  Granted, there weren’t a huge number of runners.  But first lady = first lady…right?!

Official time: 8:09
Position: 18/29
Gender position: 1/7

I finished in the exact same time I had during my previous Magic Mile back in March, which was much better than I thought I would do.  My legs had a marathon and a 50 mile ultra in them from recent weeks, and I had completed very little work at any speed since the previous event.  I would like to think I could beat this time now though.

parkrun #80 – Corby
13th May

So, when I said that Oscar-parkruns are used to catch up on gossip, I haven’t actually stuck solely to this lately.  Most of my parkruns have been gossip runs!  An easy run at chatty pace to keep the legs ticking over and to keep my social side happy on a Saturday morning.
Official time: 29:40
Position: 64/131
Gender position: 16/58
Age category position: 5/8

parkrun #81 – Sheringham
3rd June

I woke up to this on the Saturday morning…

Bruised knee

My knee had been a little sore to kneel on for the past few days, but had not been sore when walking or running and there was no evidence of any bruising or damage at all.
…until the Saturday morning.  The day before I was due to run the Shires and Spires 35 mile ultra.
I quickly snapped this shot and posted it on my Facebook wall alongside a brief paragraph detailing the above information.  Immediately afterwards I switched off my phone and chose to ignore any advice given until after I’d tested out my knee at Sheringham parkrun.  (True runner stubbornness right there!)

The Sheringham parkrun is tough – there’s ‘Heartbreak Hill’ at mile 3 and the course is run through woodland, over lots of lumps and bumps!

I ended up hanging around for my Dad in the morning as he was going to take Oscar for a walk in the buggy so that I could run child-free for a change.  He made us late though and the engine was barely off in the car before I was yanking the running buggy out of the back of the car, giving Dad the fastest lesson in how to steer and brake with Oscar strapped safely inside and then legging it down to the start line.  I wasn’t the only one and despite several minutes of flat-out running I still managed to turn the final corner just in time to hear ‘3-2-1′ and see the runners shooting off into the distance.  The woman who had been a few metres in front of me slumped into a defeated walk at this point.  I eventually caught the back runners and began picking runners off along the way.

When I ran through the finish, Dad was there eagerly telling me that he must have run at least three miles with Oscar as he had walked so fast during the last half hour.  I did point out to him that parkrun is only 3.1 miles, of which I had run all the way and that he had been there at the finish waiting for me to cross the line, so I doubted that he had walked as far as 3 miles, but I don’t think I got through to him!

Official time: 31:20
Position: 108/201
Gender position: 25/73
Age category position: 3/6

I had several responses to my Facebook knee query by the time I turned my phone back on again, including a message from a physio associated with the club who informed me that it was very easy to catch the structures in the knee without really noticing at the time.  Even though it was most likely only a very small catch in the knee, because I kneel on the floor so much as a new Mum it ends up looking much worse as the bleeding inside the knee spreads over much greater knee surface from repeated kneeling with Oscar.  Because Dan had been away during the week I had bathed Oscar alone every evening, likely putting the extra pressure on my kneecap, distributing the blood further across my knee surface.  (I went on to run 35 miles the next day without issue.)

parkrun #82 – Corby
10th June

Corby parkrun with Laura Laura was volunteering at the track in Corby again, so I decided to head over and join her for a social chatty run before her shift began.Corby parkrun with LauraOfficial time: 30:27
Position: 95/182
Gender position: 20/81
Age category position: 3/13

parkrun #83 – Kettering
17th June

Several runners from my club were planning on running over to Kettering for the parkrun and then back again to make up their long run for the weekend.  Since having Oscar I can’t really commit to running long runs at the weekend with others so I said I would meet them over there for the parkrun part of the run.  Running the group long runs isn’t fair on Dan, or Oscar whilst he is in nursery all week (since I’ve been back at work).  I want to see some of them both at the weekend!

Kettering parkrun with OscarOfficial time: 32:25
Position: 230/367
Gender position: 83/176
Age category position: 9/14

A lady from Oscar’s ‘Stay and Play’ group was there running without her baby and I chatted to her briefly at the start, and again as I passed her out on the course.  She muttered at me as I ran past her pushing O in the final mile, but I hope us running past helped her to achieve the course PB she achieved a few minutes later. :)

parkrun #84 – Huntingdon
24th June

I still hadn’t fully made up my mind as to which parkrun I was headed to by Saturday morning last week.  I had put a shoutout on Facebook for parkrun recommendations but despite several suggestions, none really took my fancy.  I set out intending to run Kettering parkrun but when it came to it, my body went into work-mode when I got into my car and I found myself heading in the direction of the school I work at, so Huntingdon became the new plan.  I hadn’t run the course in a while anyway, and I knew there would be some new, pretty trails for me to run the extra three miles I needed to tack onto my parkrun that morning in order to make up the six miles on my training plan for the day.

I ran the parkrun much harder than intended in the end.  I should really be running parkruns at 10:50-11:40mm pace, as Saturdays are one of my ‘easy run’ days.  I’m finding it so hard not to push myself around others when I’m running solo though.  I really must make an effort to run slowly this coming weekend.  It’s much more important to make it to the start line of the marathon in October at the moment than to cut a few seconds from my parkrun time.

At the end I got my barcode scanned and was about to start jogging back to the car when a familiar face looked up from the grass and waved hi.  I automatically smiled in response and returned the greeting, whilst racking my brains as to who this person was!  Lately I’ve chatted to several people at events who I follow/follow me on Instagram/Twitter, but I couldn’t place this lady at all.  Later that day I eventually worked out that she was one of the TAs from my school.  I just hadn’t connected her with running, as I have always seen her in a school environment before!

Official time: 28:53
Position: 157/297
Gender position: 37/118
Age category position: 3/14

Have you seen people you know from outside of running at events before?
What is your parkrun tourism total?

Easter fun

I have six boxes of year 11 coursework to finish marking by Friday, a house to tidy, emails to respond to, blogs to catch up on, posts of my own to write (I’ve run a marathon, Magic Mile, two parkruns AND a 10k race I’m yet to blog about) but the end is finally in sight!  My coursework deadline is this coming Friday and then my evenings and mornings will be mine once again!

For now, here is a long overdue post about our first holiday as a family of three (eight!)…

Dan and I somehow managed to squeeze in a four day holiday to Shropshire with friends over the Easter weekend.  I say ‘somehow’ but the fixture was firmly in the calendar minutes after it had been suggested and was talked about for months leading up to our stay away.

Dan, I, Oscar, two other couples from our friendship group and a dog all made our way over to a beautiful quirky little cottage in the middle of nowhere on Good Friday afternoon.

Holiday house in Shropshire

The plan was to fill our days with long walks, good food, pubs, late night drinking and board games.  The weekend did not disappoint.

The weekend away was Oscar’s first holiday and I filled the boot of Dan’s car with toys, spare baby bedding and clothes, the running buggy and somewhere I managed to fit in a bag full of clothes for Dan and me as well!

Oscar playing with stacking cups

One of our friends suggested some parkrun tourism at Ludlow parkrun on the Saturday and both Dan and I jumped at the chance to join in.

On the drive over, we appeared to be driving more and more into the depths of a valley.  I think all four of us questioned our eagerness to be up and out for a parkrun at this point!

The course appeared to be a giant figure of eight loop which we ran twice.

Ludlow parkrunIt was rather hilly.

Ludlow parkrun

We were warned about the hills as part of the briefing, but it wasn’t until we were about 3k into the event that all four of us realised just how much the hills were taking effect!

Ludlow parkrun

It was a really nice event though, and seemed to have a proper community feel to it.Ludlow parkrun with Dan, John and LynnGarmin time: 30:33
Official time: 30:34
Position: 72/129
Gender position: 17/53
Age category position: 4/7

There seemed to be quite a lot of tourists at Ludlow for the Easter weekend, and I even bumped into another runner wearing a St Neots half marathon t-shirt, which is a race local to us.

As we were staying away for three nights, each couple cooked dinner for one night and breakfast on one morning which was a lovely way of splitting up the responsibility of the meals.

Although I cook every night of the week for Dan and I back at home, my meals are nothing fancy, so I decided to let him take on the task of cooking the meal for the Saturday night.  He went for marinated chicken with tomatoes on the vine and sweet potato wedges.

Chicken with tomato on the vine

I followed up on Sunday morning with my signature dish – American pancakes with blueberries.

American pancakes with blueberriesAs my turn fell on Easter morning, I also added little chocolate Lindt bunnies to all the placemats for breakfast too.  We were all pretty full that morning!

Each of the days we all headed out on a long walk with the dog, whilst I wore Oscar out in the baby carrier.

Oscar, Dan and I in ShropshireFYI Shropshire: those walks are not buggy friendly!

Walking in Shropshire

(This was a stile, about 400m into our ‘buggy friendly’ walk on the Saturday afternoon!)

Castle in Shropshire

There was lots to see on our walks; a castle, bluebells, and we even saw a couple of deer out on our Sunday afternoon walk.

Bluebells in Shropshire

Oscar behaved perfectly and pretty much stuck to his down-to-bed-by-8pm-and-up-again-at-7am routine, with just a slight blip on the last night when we woke him at 2am by banging around too loudly in the kitchen.  Dan got the brunt of it, staying up with him until after 4am so that I could sleep ready for the early morning feed.  Not cool Oscar.  Not cool!

Hanging out on holiday in Shropshire

We all decided that the Easter weekend getaway should be pencilled in to our calendars for the rest of forever, with all future children and pets to join us!

Walking in Shropshire

(A couple of the above pictures were stolen from John and Lynn, and the Ludlow parkrun pictures were taken from their Facebook page.)
Did you go away over the Easter weekend?  (Feels like forever ago now!)
What have been your favourite holidays away with friends?