No more nights!

I am no longer a night-shift worker!  Yay!

No more night shifts

The last few months have been tough – working full time night-shifts, trying to parent Oscar successfully during the days whilst Dan has been working (albeit from home), trying to be there for family who were struggling during difficult times and also attempting to train for the Autumn 100.

My last night shift was Saturday and this week is all change.  Dan is back in the office today (although just two days a week now going forward) and Oscar has picked up an extra morning at nursery from this term onwards to prepare him for school next year.
I’ve woken this morning feeling motivated and energised – ready to tackle the world again knowing that I haven’t got to try and fit everything into just two days before juggling fitting sleep around work and life.

I slept for maybe twenty minutes on my return from work Sunday morning and then woke up feeling dreadful – sore throat, headache, feeling sick.  Just generally run down from a lack of sleep over the previous months I think.  It’s always the way – reach a holiday or some time out and my body decides to fall apart!  But the difference is, this time I won’t be returning to night shifts so my body will hopefully be able to completely recover.

Due to the pandemic I lost a big freelance contract and there was no coursework moderation role for me over the Summer this year, as exam boards did not ask for any to be submitted for the season.  But, by working full time hours in a well paid job and being savvy with our spending Dan and I have still managed to put away the money we would have saved across the year in just six months, so I have a bit of leeway now for a little while with the time to investigate further a few projects which I currently have in the pipeline.

I’m not sure what my options would be to return to full time work anyway – basically impossible with a child I imagine?  How do full time working parents work around school?  When Oscar starts next year I will need to be able to take him to school for 9 am and pick him up at 3:15 – 37 weeks of the year.  We don’t have family in the area to help with school runs so the responsibility of school drop-off and pick-up will fall solely on me.  I don’t want to put him into before and after-school clubs for hours on end if I don’t have to (although I know this works for many) and so working for myself is the only real option I have unless I want to return to working nights again (I don’t!)

The things I’m looking forward to being able to do now that my shifts have finished include; catching up on life admin, not having to struggle to fit all of my runs in across just four consecutive days, being able to raise my sleep average above 5 hours each night, feeling alive enough to enjoy Oscar during the day, my knees no longer getting a battering from kneeling for hours on end each night, not having to break my sleep up into three naps of 1-2 hours each day, removing the duvet that has lived in my car since March, there no longer being deep cuts in my fingertips from opening boxes 8 hours every night…

I will however miss; the extra money making its way into our bank account every four weeks, the discount on my food shop, the guaranteed 15,000 steps every night and the strength work I get from lugging cages of heavy cheese off the lorries and onto the shop floor, watching the beautiful sunrises from the car park roof at leaving off time and the feeling of being able to provide for my family.

Weston Favell sunrise from the roof

I did make epic use of my last day of discounted shopping yesterday – two full trolleys filled with enough store cupboard items to last another three month lockdown!  Good job we have a big kitchen!  I was super organised, – armed with a long list Dan, Oscar and I managed to get the whole shop done and to the car within seventy minutes!  (I still need to pack most of it away in the cupboards though – a task I saved for today!)

It’s just under five weeks now until the Autumn 100 and my training is well underway.  I’m happy with how my running has been going over the past few months – I even managed a new 5k PB time of 25:46 back in July!  My running club has begun meeting for training sessions again and I am lead coach for one of the groups from this term – something I’m really looking forward to.  I have lots of ideas for the runners of Group 4.

30 minute time trial

The year is looking up!

Has your life begun to return to some kind of normality again yet following the pandemic?
Ever worked through the night before?
If you’re a working parent, how do you juggle the school run around work?

A running update

Running at the moment is hard. I’m sure I’m not the only person who is struggling to fit runs into their new weekly schedule. I’ve got friends who have lost their running mojo completely – without races to train for and with no idea of when the lockdown will be lifted they’re struggling to know what runs to add to their plan.

Some friends however are actually running more often and more consistently because they’ve either lost their jobs or have gained a lot of extra free time.

Somehow I’ve wound up with a lot less time. I’m back working four nights a week at the moment. Thursday-Sunday. But I still have Oscar to look after on Fridays and Mondays following my shift, and odd bits of freelance work to complete at the weekends too. So the amount of sleep I’m currently able to get is incredibly limited. Dan remains working full time hours. Although he is now working from home he often has to work past 5:30pm. He didn’t finish until 8pm last night! As soon as he finishes work I head up to bed for a quick nap to catch up on some sleep before I head off to work myself just after 9, returning back home a little after 6:30am. On the nights I’m not working, Oscar insists I put him to bed (and I want to). He also wakes at least once a night now to call out for me, I think because he’s worried I’m not at home so much at night time.

Lack of sleep

Not only am I exhausted but I also share my one outdoor exercise a day (Government guidelines) with Oscar as obviously at age three he can’t head out alone! He likes to head out for bike rides and nature walks and so I’m trying to fit in a couple still a week, as well as a couple of days of runs for me to help me stay sane. Before the lockdown, I would have taken Oscar out pretty much every day.

Oscar on a scavenger hunt

The races I had lined up for this year were the Shires and Spires 35m in May, Nene Valley 20 in June, Sandlings 55m in July, SVP50 in August, Norfolk Marathon in September and then my goal race, the Autumn 100 in October.

Shires is not going ahead, with no current plan to postpone, etc. Nene Valley and Sandlings – my entries have been transferred across to 2021, SVP is currently still going ahead, as are the Norfolk Marathon and Autumn 100. Although I’m doubtful that all three will continue to stay in the 2020 calendar, even if they do, I’m not sure I’ll be able to maintain enough fitness to rock up to the start line for my 100 in the Autumn if the lockdown continues.

I know in the grand scheme of things when so many people are dying or risking their lives my problems are so small and insignificant, but I’ve allowed myself to feel a little sad this week. 2019 was such a rubbish year for me and I had such high hopes for 2020. I don’t want to run those races next year. I had different life plans for 2021. Training for a 55 miler that’s still 14 months away is not how I roll. I’ve laid out a lot of money for these events this year, and worked hard to consistently train since the start of the year, building up my strength and adding distance to my long runs each week. I’m left feeling like I’ve not achieved anything.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. Nobody does at the moment I guess. The world is in such a funny way right now. I find it so scary. Despite being so tired for working nights I’m incredibly grateful for my boss letting me have my old job back and for the feeling of normality heading out to work several times a week gives me. It makes me feel like I still have a bit of purpose for the year.

Obviously Oscar remains my main focus. Ensuring he is happy and healthy and learning and continuing to develop. I come up with a new idea for us to try each day and he knows that when we head outside there are a lot of very poorly people so we need to stay on the other side of the path if we see anybody. But I know he misses his friends and our usual adventures.

Oscar throwing balls at his shark

Here’s hoping we start to see a decline in Coronavirus cases soon and the world can catch a bit of a break.

My planned races for the first half of 2018

This year I’m going to have to be rather careful about the races I choose, looking closely at which days races fall on and ensure that I check out my work shifts in advance of that week.

Currently, I’m contracted to work just Saturday nights in the supermarket where I work (10pm-7am).  If I manage to get a fair amount of sleep on the Saturday (often not possible if Dan is away at a Wolves’ game) then I can power straight through on the Sunday and complete a shorter race before falling into bed and catching up on my sleep.
However, the supermarket I work at operates using ‘flexi-hours’, meaning alongside my one shift a week, I also have to be available for two others if required – potentially being added on to the rota for Friday and/or Sunday nights if staff numbers are looking short when the rota is drawn up the previous month.

Although I can ‘power through’ for a little while following one night at work, I struggle with two or three in a row, especially if Dan is not around during the daytime to have Oscar so that I am able to have some much needed sleep.  I found myself arriving a little early to Oscar’s 9:30am swimming lesson this Monday morning.  I had worked all three nights over the weekend so I pulled Oscar’s spare blanket over my legs and set my alarm for three minutes.  I enjoyed every one of those three minutes of nap time.  They were very much required!

My work schedule has also meant that I’ve had to change my marathon/ultra training plans around slightly, and the majority of my longer runs during this training cycle will probably take place on a Friday morning when Oscar is in nursery.  If I’ve only worked a couple of shifts over the weekend then I might be able to fit in a mid-length run late on a Sunday afternoon, but once I’ve had a nap first!



Therefore the races I currently have pencilled into the calendar for the first half of 2018 are as follows:

Biggleswade XC – this weekend.
I really hope that I can make this race.  I will have only worked the Saturday and Sunday nights of this week in the supermarket, but I am also working all day down in Wendover, marshaling at Checkpoint 3 of the Country to Capital ultra on Saturday, which always leaves me exhausted as it usually ends up being rather a full on day!
love cross-country and this is the final race of the season for our club.  I missed the last event before Christmas as it coincided with my first three-night weekend of work and I just didn’t have the energy to make it to the start line.  I’ll be sensible, and if my body tells me I need to go home rather than to the race then I will.  But, if you see a green vest poking out from underneath a child’s blanket in the front seat of a red Ibiza on race morning, please just knock on the window and make sure I’m up in time for the race warm up!

MK half marathon – March 11th
I really want to run a half marathon at this point in my marathon training cycle to see where my fitness level is at.  Fingers crossed by that point I will be looking somewhere around a sub 2h 5m half time.  By typing numbers into calculators online, everything points towards a 2h 1m half marathon, but I have my doubts I will be running quite that quickly by March.  We shall see…

Oakley 20 – March 18th
I don’t intend on ‘racing’ this event, but I will use it as part of my long run training.  A long run alongside hundreds of other runners where I don’t have to carry my water bottles and can pick up a nice cozy hoodie at the finish!  I’ve run the event several times before and it’s a lovely course – two laps; one of twelve miles and then a lap of eight.  A few rolling hills, but I much prefer this type of elevation to the flat.

South Downs Way 50 – April 7th
I am loosely following Hanson’s Marathon Method for my marathon training again this training cycle as I started to see such success with it last time (and can already see success in the paces I am using from the book during this cycle).  However, Hanson’s long runs top out at 16 miles.  My training cycle will not only include Oakley 20 along with a couple of other 20s, but also the Centurion 50 miles at the South Downs Way.  Not quite what the plan reads with one month before marathon race day(!) but with my main goal race for the year being almost four times the distance of a marathon, a couple of longer runs needed to be slotted in.
I ran the South Downs Way 50 six months after Oscar was born and was so happy with my achievement.  I really want to go back and see what I can do when I don’t have to stop and express mid-way round though and when I have been able to slot in a few more training runs during the months leading up to the event.
I am a little nervous that there are seven runners from my club all running the event, all from the same running group as me.  I don’t want to feel pressured to run with anybody or to find myself ‘competing’ to place where I feel I should around others from my club as I very much need to run my own race over an event as far as 50 miles.
As the final 50 miles of my goal race, it will hopefully help me when it comes to running the 100 mile event, as I will be more likely to remember the path if it is fresh in my memory.

SDW50 route 2018

Milton Keynes Marathon – May 7th
It will be my fourth time running the MK marathon this year and I am determined for a sub 5 at the event this time round.  Hopefully achieving a sub 4:30 on race day if I’m honest.
Fingers crossed it’s not too hot on the day, as that is when I struggle most.  As a fairly local marathon, there is usually a great turn out of support from our running club and the end of the race is a lap of the MK Dons stadium.  Always a great finish!

Shires and Spires 35 – May 20th
Much like Oakley, I don’t intend on racing this event either, but instead simply using it as part of my long run training.  Held slightly earlier in the year than usual (it’s usually a June race), Shires and Spires falls just three weeks before my main goal race so should fit in nicely before starting to taper for race day.
I’m thinking about offering to navigate a beginner ultra runner round on race day, so they don’t have to worry about the self-navigating element of the event alongside the fuelling and running of 35 miles.  I’ve run the event four times now, and headed out to recce the course as part of training runs numerous times.  There are usually quite a few from our club who tackle this as their first ultra event, so I thought it might be nice to give something back and offer to run with them if they were interested, and it would also help me by getting the miles in without seeing me push myself too hard on the day.

South Downs Way 100 – June 9th
The main event!
There are two guys from my club also running the SDW100 this year, both experienced in ultra running, and much faster runners than me, but like me, not having run a 100 mile race before.
I’d like to think I can make it.  100 miles scarily doesn’t sound as far as it used to a few years back.  I’m feeling positive about achieving the distance at the moment and I’ve received such lovely comments from friends and other runners since announcing my (rather ambitious!) goal for the year.  I had offers of a pacer and crew immediately and so many people had wonderful things to say about my determination.  It was so nice to know people had faith in my ability to complete the event.
I will do it.

SDW100 start list

I will wait until after the 100 to see what races I want to schedule in for the second half of the year, but I hope to focus on some new-to-me races.  All of the races above I’ve already run in the past (with the exception of SDW100) and whilst it’s great that I loved them so much that I want to return and run them again, I really want to add some different events to my list.

What races do you have lined up for 2018?
Any race suggestions for the second half of the year?