Feeling guilty

The past fortnight has been a busy one…I feel like I spend my life saying that. It seems that every time I meet up with friends, the conversation always goes the same.
“Hey, how have you been? I’ve not seen you forever!”
“I’ve been OK.  Super busy though.”
…Is it just me?!
Work - I keep hitting the escape key but I still seem to be here!

(One of my birthday cards from last week!)

It doesn’t help that it is so dark now the clocks have changed either.  I leave for work in the dark and get home from work in the dark.  What does the outside world look like again?…!

Last week was the half term holiday and a week off from school. Unfortunately, with more than 220 GCSE / A-level students this year, including 170 year 11s, this meant that my week remained rather busy. Although I might not have been in school last week, I brought a large number of folders home from school for marking.  As a Computing teacher I only see students once each week, meaning that during each five day working week I see more than 500 students coming through my classroom doors. I’m afraid this means I don’t know all of my students’ names yet, and until last week it definitely meant that I hadn’t marked all of their folders.
I needed to catch up with my marking though and so half term was when I had set aside some time to do just that.  It was convenient that over the holiday the year 11 reports were also due.  Therefore, along with marking folders of coursework, I also wrote out 170 reports for students. I do know the names of all the students in my GCSE classes at least, it’s just the lower year groups I haven’t quite mastered yet!

I wanted to give myself an enjoyable start to the half term break, even if the rest of the week ended up being rather work-heavy, so I headed to parkrun on the Saturday and ran the home cross-country on the Sunday morning before kicking off with my marking the following day.

On Monday I spent the day organising all of the folders; putting student work in order, naming work, and adding candidate numbers where they were missing. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent sorting through and marking each of the folders in the pile that had accumulated in my office back at home.  Then on Thursday I managed to get the majority of reports written.
Where did my week off go?!

I did slot in a break on Thursday evening though, where I joined five friends to make a team for a Friends (the TV show) themed quiz night.  Pub quizzes I regularly come last in, but a Friends-themed quiz?…I owned all Friends videos as a teenager and was looking forward to the quiz for a while!  The six of us headed to Peterborough, where the quiz was held and joined 39 other teams for the charity quiz.  There are a couple of ‘Monica’ characters within our friendship group, so we had been throwing questions out in a group Facebook chat for weeks in the build up to the event, determined to win on the day!
Friends pub quiz
Unfortunately we didn’t win.  Although we were one of the top scoring teams on the night, we were just pipped to the post when it came to prizes.  Each team donated a raffle prize and I came away with a bottle of wine from the raffle though.  Winner!

Although I did complete a little work on Friday morning, my birthday was the following day and so just before lunchtime last Friday, Dan and I headed to a little village in the Peak District, where we met my parents and their dog, Blue, at a little cottage that they had booked out for the week. It was my birthday on the Saturday and my third attempt at running the Dusk ‘til Dawn 50m race. I’ll review this in a separate post when I get a chance as regular readers will know just how long my race recaps can become!  😛

On Sunday afternoon when Dan and I returned home following the race we spent some time removing the final wall of wallpaper in the last upstairs bedroom, throwing loads of washing into the machine and giving the house a tidy, ready for another full working week back at school.

Currently, I feel guilty for not marking each of my student folders every week. I feel guilty for not knowing all of the student names, I feel guilty for not volunteering my name forward for any extra responsibility tasks within my department, and for not spending as much time with the non-naughty children, the kids that actually need or deserve my time each lesson.

Despite struggling to fit everything into each day just lately I am really enjoying my job at the moment.  It is so satisfying teaching students how to complete tasks using the computers, especially so when it is something they are really interested in (creating mobile phone apps or video editing), or when they are working towards qualifications in the higher years.  I have an optional class of year 10, who are mainly lower ability students.  Because they are a class of students who have chosen ICT as an optional subject I have just 17 students in the group, who I see three times each week.  This has helped me to build up a really positive relationship with the class, and and I love overhearing them telling teachers or other students in the corridor about the high grades they have worked hard for in my subject.

I also do a lot of the IT based work behind the scenes for my running club – updating the website, adding race results, creating graphics for upcoming events and setting up and resetting user accounts amongst other things.  I try not to spend more than 5-6 hours a week on club admin stuff, although some weeks it can get a little out of hand.  Having so many members is great, targeting certain races as ‘club races’ is great in theory – until it comes to entering all of their results each Monday evening!  This week I spent three hours on Monday evening alone catching up with club admin stuff.  Coming up later this month I shall be creating the club ‘Runner of the Year’ videos.  A task which usually takes me in the region of 30 hours.  I absolutely love creating the videos, and whilst I’ve considered giving up my committee role before, I wouldn’t want to pass over my video making role!

Because I have been so busy with club stuff, marking and school work just lately, it has also meant that I haven’t had much time for blogging or reading blogs and my absence has made me realise just how much I really miss it.  I feel so behind with things!  Add to my guilty list the following; not responding to blog comments, being slow to blog about my ultra attempt last weekend, not keeping up with posts from other bloggers…

Healthy eating has also dropped down my priority list over the past few weeks.  There were a few days I forgot about breakfast and lunch completely before the holiday, and dinner has quickly gone from being carefully planned out a week in advance and organised in the mornings to being something I raid the cupboards for when I realise we haven’t eaten that night!  I feel guilty when I don’t home-cook our dinners and on days when I haven’t organised myself enough in advance to ensure we are eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.  I feel guilty when the washing is left until the weekend and the floor is left unhoovered, or I miss a night of watering the plants in the greenhouse.

Bella was very sulky last Friday morning – she knew that we were going away and sat very quietly up on the bedroom windowsill, refusing to move and silently watching us drive away from the house from her vantage point looking out onto the road.  I had arranged for a friend to drop in and feed her on the Saturday whilst we were away and worried that she would pine and be off her food.  I needn’t have worried though, as all of her food had been eaten when we returned home and she threw herself at the front room window – her little tail vibrating so fast – something she has always done when we return home after a day away.  Her little way of showing us just how excited she is to see us!
She promptly fell asleep on my lap and stayed flat out until I moved her!
Bella on my lap
I felt guilty for leaving her, and for all of the times I ignored her whilst trying to get my work caught up during the holiday.

One of my year 13 students today was telling me that I just didn’t understand how hard things were as a seventeen year old.  I’m sure I felt the same at seventeen, but the pressures of being a decade older are so much more!  One of my optional year 10 students earlier couldn’t believe I’d marked 500 folders over the holidays, and announced that he never intended on becoming a teacher if that is what you had to spend your holidays doing!

I’m hoping that things will start to calm down again until Christmas now that my batch marking session and largest set of reports are over.  I miss writing, and the blogging world in general…

Have you ever been to a themed quiz?
What do you find yourself feeling guilty for?

How do you manage to fit blogging in when times get busy?

What I plan to eat during a 70m race

Yesterday afternoon I headed over to the dentist surgery after work to get the two fillings I was told I required during my last visit.

I wasn’t looking forward to the visit (Just who does look forward to a trip to the dentist?!) and had been building myself up to discuss my current sugar intake with my dentist after his accusations of my chocolate and fizzy drink-fueled diet three weeks ago.

A copy of Runner’s World which I found on the waiting room table helped calm my nerves and take my mind off of events before going in.  Much better than the usual trashy chat magazines that haven’t been replaced in the last six years!
Runner's World magazine

I was asked to open my mouth immediately upon entering the chair and as the dentist looked into my mouth he asked ‘So have you sorted your poor diet out yet?

I wimped out.  I was embarrassed and pretty helpless laying in his chair.  As soon as he had removed his hand from my mouth I just shot back with ‘I’ve stopped eating fruit’.  It was a gut instinct reaction and I should have been more adult about it but I panicked.

I haven’t stopped eating fruit, although I have limited how much of it I eat each day now.  I was given no advice on how best to improve my ‘poor diet’ and the whole time my teeth were being worked on I was thinking about where there were other practicing dentists in my town.

This week I have also spent some time thinking about my fueling strategy during races.  When I first started running longer distances I was introduced to gels.  I never got on with the thick, gloopy gels but instead fueled my half marathons with Lucozade and Jelly Babies originally.  Once I upped my distance to the marathon I quickly realised just how sickly sweet the Lucozade drinks would become after a few hours and how there is nothing better than pure water to wash your mouth out after a sugar overload!  So I moved away from the super sickly sweet and started looking at more savoury items of food.  Eventually I came up with a nice mix of sweet and savoury, and although the list isn’t the healthiest, it’s what my body craves and runs well on.

Below is a picture of my kit list (and food!) for the Dusk ’til Dawn 50m ultra last year.
Kit for Dusk 'til Dawn 50mile ultramarathonThere are now just 21 days remaining until the Grim Reaper 70mile event on July 31st.  Last year I was running to complete the race.  I just wanted to tick off the 70m mark as a nice step towards completing my 100m (one day!) and focused purely on getting round the course within the time limit.  This year, I return…And this year I would like to beat my time.  Nutrition plays a massive part in performance and having tweaked mine over several events now I would like to say I have figured out what works for me.  I added the following foods to my MyFitnessPal account alongside a 21 hour running activity and these are the stats that popped back out at me.

Food: Sugar: Carbohydrates: Protein: Calories:
Orange (x7) 119g 168g 21g 630
Bag of sour cream and chive pretzels (x2) 13g 251g 32g 1480
Cocoa orange nakd bar (x7) 98g 112g 28g 1015
Carton of chocolate milk (x2) 69g 73g 22g 500
Vegetarian pizza 11g 80g 31g 578
Electrolyte nuun lemonade tablet (x7) 0g 21g 0g 49
Total: 310g 1015g 134g 4252
Suggested required amount (based on 21hr completion time): 521g 2045g 818g 13899
Difference: 210g 1339g 683g 9646

I did write a post about what I ate at Grim last year and to be honest, a lot of the foods I will be eating will be the same.  They worked last year, no reason for them not to work this time round.  I pretty much winged it last year, following a few trials of various foods on shorter ‘long’ runs leading up to the event.  Just three months earlier at the Conti run, I had still thought I would be fine getting round a 12 hour event on Jelly Babies and Lucozade!  I managed 44 miles, but it wasn’t an enjoyable affair towards the end of the race and I regrettably pulled early with another 90 minutes left on the clock.

I entered the food details into MyFitnessPal first of all, and when I then logged the amount of running time as 21 hours, the suggested required amount section changed, increasing the suggested amounts I would require to fuel me.

Nakd bars in a box

Firstly, I could never eat 13,899 calories in a day.  I’ve mentioned it in the past but I’ve heard of runners getting mouth ulcers from consuming so much food in such a short space of time!  I personally find I really struggle to eat much at all during and after running and really need strong flavours (sour cream and chive pretzels/oranges) or easy to consume items (chocolate milk) to get the calories back in so that I can convert calories to energy.  After Grim last year I felt quite weak for a while afterwards.  Just very energyless.  I slept for several hours when I first returned home and (after I’d been through every little detail of the race with Dan!) then I spent a little while eating pretzels and building up some energy to get my leg over the edge of the bath tub to take a shower!  We actually have a corner bath so I was able to sit on the side whilst I showered, as I am certain that I would not have been able to stand for the full length of time that I was in there.  I am almost certain that I will lose weight during the course of the event as I will be in a huge calorie deficit, but will try my best to continue eating larger amounts over the following days, in the hope that I will quickly regain any weight lost and can continue with my training.  Before I was a runner, calories were the only stat on an ingredients list that I would ever take any notice of and now, the only reason I choose to take notice of them is to ensure I am getting enough in.

My dentist wouldn’t be impressed with the amount of sugar I plan on taking on board, although I seem to be within the target set for someone completing that amount of exercise.  Although my choices aren’t the healthiest, I feel that on this one occasion, it is more important that I get the energy on board by the way my body can cope best with – this just happens to be via chocolate milk and nakd bars(!)

I shall be carb loading before the event, and also increase my protein in the days immediately following the race to help aid recovery.  I might add some meat to my pizza but as I don’t consume huge quantities of meat anyway, and as it is not something I ever find myself ‘craving’ I don’t want to overdo it on this occasion and spoil my race.

I have thought about what strain goes on my body not only for competing in a 70 mile event.  But also, what strain goes on my body for taking on board such huge quantities of food over such a short course of time.  It is such a large task, – there must be some.

Do you think fueling for long races affects the body?
What snacks/food do you use to fuel your longer workouts?

The effects of a busy lifestyle

It has been a while. Way too long in fact. I can see by checking back through my blog that the last time I posted was way back on …..24th February. It’s not that nothing has happened since then. Quite the contrary infact and I’ve been non-stop busy with barely any time to eat, sleep and run. Let alone blog. I finally broke for the first time on Thursday night after a build up of several nights where I had gotten no more than 3-4 hours sleep. Sleep time on the VivofitI had woken that morning at 4am so that I could bake some brownies before work as it had been my turn to take treats to the running club committee meeting that evening and also for the department at break the following day. When I arrived home after work that night I began to peel the brownie off the non-stick paper. Except it had stuck. Brownie disaster I couldn’t peel it off and the bits I could peel off were falling apart in my hands. I don’t know what happened. Brownies are normally my speciality but all I was left with was a pile of squishy brownie pieces! Brownie disaster I rushed off to Tesco to pick up some cakes to take to the committee meeting, except there was nothing I deemed appropriate so jumped back into the car to head to Morrisons where I found a few packs of muffins. I arrived to the meeting all flustered and feeling rather inadequate for having not baked the goods myself.  Within seconds of arriving at the meeting I had received a list of things that I would need to do over the next couple of weeks.  Things I really didn’t have time to do.  The stress of that, along with the lack of sleep and my complete over-reaction over something that really didn’t matter (the brownies) meant that I burst into tears and had to leave the room. Several things have been building over the past couple of weeks to make me feel like I am purely existing at the moment…

Work – I started at my current school in January, taking over 21 classes from a series of supply teachers and with piles and piles of unfiled and unmarked student work left in the corner of my classroom which I have been slowly marking in sets of two hours each night.  Last week we had a marking scrutiny at work. Three class boxes were chosen at random from each teacher and as a teacher who teaches 518 students, that was a lot of folder work to catch up on!  Obviously I had a good excuse if anything from Christmas had not been filed or marked but it would only be a good excuse to my Head of Department.  Ofsted would know no different and with an inspection imminent before Easter it’s best to get it done and dusted ready for when they turn up.  It’s also really is not fair on the kids that they never received feedback on their work. This week at school we have inspections from ‘mock’ Ofsted inspectors taking place on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  For readers not familiar with teaching protocol, when inspections are taking place every lesson taught has to be written out in full detail with timings and printed out alongside a seating plan which highlights gifted students, weak students, those on free school meals and those with learning difficulties. We need to provide scenarios for each class showing what students have already covered and where they are headed with their learning.  It’s a lot of extra work simply to prove that you know the students within your classes. Night after night of marking – this week sometimes up to six hours of marking after a full day of school has had it’s toll.  Especially with students like this…!

Student workNo, no it doesn’t…it shows you have FIVE pictures!  Simple things, but incredibly annoying!

House move – After a batch of viewings in quick succession just before half term we have now failed to have any viewings for a few weeks.  With a viewing potentially still just a phone call away I’ve tried my best to stay on top of the housework and cleaning but I must say I wouldn’t let anyone in further than our porch at the moment!  Up until this week Dan and I have been viewing several properties on the market as potentials that we might purchase but it has gotten rather disheartening – falling in love with property after property only to see them with a SOLD board up the following week.

Web work – Alongside my teaching job I also run a couple of websites for small businesses and keep the running club website up to date.  One of the websites I am responsible for is long overdue an upgrade to the WordPress platform which I reminded the owner of at the start of 2014.  I’ve finally had the ‘go ahead’ but with possibly the worst ever timing as I’ve struggled to fit it in around everything else in this list!

Hen do – This past weekend was the hen do of one of my best friends, Vicki. Although the Maid of Honour was in charge of the majority of the weekend I picked up several tasks such as producing the invites and putting together a video of clips of memories and good luck messages which each of the hens had recorded over the past six weeks. Being the perfectionist I am I wanted this video to be perfect and probably spent close to twenty hours completing it, as well as a couple of hours on the invites and cards with clues we gave Vicki throughout the weekend. Vick and Me at her hen do Hospital appointments – A fortnight ago I fitted an appointment at the doctors in to check up on my strange weight loss from the past few weeks.  I was sent for blood tests at the local blood drop-in clinic.  Typically at the clinic the opening hours were not outside of work hours and instead from 8am-3pm.  The teaching hours at my school (45 minute drive from the surgery) are 8:15am-3:15pm.  On Wednesday I had some planning time scheduled in for after my lunch break so decided to make a mad rush for the clinic at the start of lunch, figuring it wouldn’t be as busy over lunchtime…The surgery was more packed than I have ever seen it before and bursting with toddlers and babies – who each took up two nurses to hold them still.  Needless to say it was another mad rush back to the school to return in time for the after school meeting.

Running has taken a back seat purely due to lack of time, and yet running is something that helps me to relax and destress after a busy day.  I ran a total of once last week.  Just once, and a run of only 2.75 miles.  From someone who regularly runs 5-6 days a week and covers about 40 miles in each seven day period this makes me rather sad.  :(  Healthy eating, or even eating at all has been tough and sleep has been almost non-existent.  I work until midnight and my alarm goes again somewhere between 4-5am depending upon how much work I have to complete. Something that has helped me to organise my busy schedule is the Remember the Milk app on my school iPad. Remember the Milk app As an ICT teacher I am definitely not a fan of iPad.  I’m much more of an android girl myself, but the iPad I have in my classroom at school is a great tool for organising my day – both in school and for after school as well.  I’ve split my to-dos into lots of manageable sections and find it really easy to add items to each list along with the day that I want to complete that task.  It’s super easy to add names of students onto my catch up kids, demerits, detentions and merits lists as I’m walking around the classroom so that I remember to add these online when I get to the end of the day.

I’m not sure how to find the perfect work-life balance and my scales are wobbling rather wildly at the moment as I figure things out.  An analogy that is often used in my profession is that you live like a swan – graceful above the surface for all to see and madly paddling underneath the surface to keep afloat.
It’s been a long couple of weeks…

Do you ever feel as though you are just ‘existing’?  Getting by from day to day…
Any tips for making it through the busy times?

Five things Thursday

Yes I know this should probably be Three things Thursday or Thirteen things Thursday but that just didn’t work for me!  Instead here’s five random goings on from the madness that has been this week…

1) Bella has been a proper sweetie the past couple of weeks and spent lots of her time with Dan and I.  Either in the bedroom or sprawled across us both in the lounge.  (She prefers being able to touch both of us at the same time!)  On Monday night for a change Dan and I picked up a game of cards and played a couple of rounds of Go Fish before bed.  Bella playing cardsBella insisting on taking a good look at the cards we were using and then flopped herself over my arm so that it made it really difficult for me to play!

Bella playing cardsShe has a habit of getting in the way…getting in the bath when I’m trying to shower, lying on my laptop while I’m trying to blog…gotta love her though!

2) There is a spider invasion about to hit our bathroom any day now.  This time of year there always seems to be loads of the little spindly legged spiders everywhere.  I used to promote Bella as a spider catcher and she was great when she was younger.  However, whilst staying at my Aunt’s house when we were away on honeymoon, my Aunt repeatedly put her in the bath with a spider and Bella just freaked out and wouldn’t go near it.  Her spider catching days are over it seems!
When I returned from The Gladiator Games on Saturday and leapt in the shower I realised I’d missed a spider in the corner of the bathroom with the cobweb brush.  As I looked closer I realised that the spider was guarding hundreds of tiny unborn baby spiders by the ceiling.  As I got even closer with my phone to take a picture the spider lunged towards me so I stepped back.

Baby spider invasionI’d feel too guilty about sweeping them up in a cobweb brush and ditching them all outside, but at the same time I don’t want to be overrun with spiders so small I can barely see them!  I’m also pretty interested to see them grow and ‘hatch out’.

3) I’ve been loving creating some new exciting resources for the new term.  Last year it was all about The London Marathon, the year before everything was Hunger Games themed.  This year I’m working on creating some Simpsons resources.

Simpsons resources

4) I’ve really enjoyed running back at club twice a week lately.  Every year since I first began running I’ve looked forward to the long Summers so that I can head out and explore…perhaps go out on a trail run for a whole day with a picnic in my bag.  It’s never happened though.  The first Summer after I started running (2012) I was in Africa on a school trip, then in 2013 I was injured and finally this year I was on honeymoon!  Next year is my year!

After many weeks of struggling to regain fitness after my 70 miler I feel like I’m finally back where I was again which is great news.  I’m pushing it on runs and seeing results for doing so.  I’m still changing in the Tesco toilets on the way between work and running club though, often forgetting to take my trainers into the loos and reemerging in lycra and boots.  (Not a pretty or practical combo!)

Rocking the boots and lycra This week has also been the first week I’ve had to dig out my headtorch again.  Last night out on a 6 mile trail run we returned home in the pitch black at 8:20pm.  It’s not too much longer before every after run work will require a headtorch.First night out in a headtorch

This year’s Dusk ’til Dawn event is fast approaching as well.  I’ve persuaded three others from my running club to give it a go this year so between us we should hopefully have a better chance of getting round this time.  Headtorches with lots of batteries will be required there!

5) My food intake has been rubbish lately – I’ve been so exhausted with all of the new changes happening at the start of term that I’ve either forgotten or not had time to pack myself something for lunch on several days.  This week though I’ve bought a few microwavable soup pots.  Not the cheapest option, and probably not as healthy as packing in my own soups or salads, but definitely better than either starving through the day or eating half a bag of marshmallows and a couple of crackers which is what happened one day the week before when I had to rummage through my car for something to munch on!

Ainsley Harriott soup

Are your pets affectionate?
How do you get rid of spiders in your house?  Would you get rid of the unborn babies?!
Does your quality of food suffer when things get busy?