Saturday, 30 July 2011

The ever elusive PB...

I set off for parkrun this morning with a bit of a spring in my step and hope in my heart. Maybe this week would be the week, the one where I smashed through my previous PB, or even shaved a second off the time. I didn't run yesterday so that my legs would feel rested today, had an early night, woke up early enough to have a leisurely breakfast so that I wouldn't arrive at the start line stressed and still trying to digest my porridge! I was feeling inspired by the amazing Mo Farah (*) who recently set a new British record for 5k of 12:53:11 - surely thinking about that would get me round in super quick time?

The weather was lovely this morning, number one son was up early enough to come with me and I felt pretty good. I set off quite fast, probably too fast, but I was enjoying the feeling of speed. I couldn't maintain it though and soon settled back into a more comfortable pace. I was aware that I was being overtaken by people I normally overtake, and those of you who know me will know that I have a nasty competitive streak that doesn't like that happening! I couldn't do much about it though! My watch told me that I was still running along at a goodish (for me!) pace and I was still hopeful that even if my position slipped I might squeak a PB. As I passed the finish line for the second time I made fun of Race Director Richard in his luminous jacket with his clipboard, and my maternal instincts meant that I did slow down to ask a young boy if his ankle was OK (I'd seen him trip earlier and he was running strangely on it) so maybe I lost a few seconds there - that's what I'll say when the results come in and say that I have just missed out again! I did apologise to the lady handing out the chips, for swearing as I crossed the line, looked at my watch and realised that I was about 2 seconds too slow!

But, parkrun is about more than just getting a PB (honest it is!) It is about being part of a community and connecting with other runners, so I am not too upset. As fellow parkrunner Ian commented my running is consistent - so that is something I suppose! My son will have a new PB this week - I think he cut at least 3 minutes off his previous time and finishing with a really strong sprint.

After taking the boy home, I drove the car down to husbando's shop as he is off to an auction this afternoon. I took advantage of the lovely weather and ran the 2 miles home. An afternoon of taxi-ing children around and continuing the gargantuan task of clearing out the cupboard under the stairs beckons!

* Mo Farah and his wife took part in the Bushy parkrun today. You can see a snap of him here.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Still here!

It has been a while since I've blogged, and it is not because I have nothing to say that I have been silent, I've just been a bit down in the dumps and didn't really want to share the gloom with you all!

Running is going reasonably well, I've clocked up a fair few miles this week and am starting to up the distances of my long run in the build up to the half marathons I have planned in the autumn and spring. On Saturday I ran 3 miles at Parkrun and another 3 miles with husbando in the evening. Was odd running twice in one day and, because I seem to have misplaced a pair of running shorts, relies on efficient washing and drying of running kit!

Today I decided against running, much as I would like to go out, because I want to be rested for parkrun. I am getting cross with my inability to set a new PB! Number one son has stated his intention to come with me.... we shall see whether he makes it or not! He's not done any running since last time he came with me.

I entered the Royal Parks Half Marathon today. Despite all my promises to myself not to to enter races on a charity ticket and therefore commit to raising money, that is exactly what I have just done! I'd been unsuccessful in the public ballot and really wanted to run this race. So now I just need to raise £550 for UNICEF. It is a great charity, so if you feel you can please spare a few bob please click here ! Thanks to my mum and sister for getting the ball rolling! I'm hoping to run this race in around 2hrs, my last 10 mile race took me just under 1hr 30 (1hr 27 I think from memory) on a hilly route, so this should be an achievable target.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

No PB this week!

Despite assuring me that he would be running Parkrun, I failed to rouse my 14 year old from his bed this morning, so set out alone. This did mean that I could catch up on last night's episode of 'The Archers' on the way over to Basingstoke.

The weather, for once, was lovely! Bright sunshine and a gentle breeze augured well for good run and, looking at the results, there were many personal bests recorded today. I thought I was on for a PB too, but I'd misremembered my previous best time and may just have slacked off a little towards the end when I thought I had it 'in the bag!' As it happened I was 9 seconds too slow. I did finish in my highest ever position in both the gender and overall rankings - so not too bad a show. I don't know whether to be glad not to have set a new PB to beat or not!

We seem to have had the best of the weather this morning - it has clouded over now, and looks to me as though it will rain soon. I reckon that I'll get wet when I go for a run with husbando later today. We're not going far, just a short run and not too fast. I need to try to do a long run tomorrow - but I'm not sure when I'll get the time.

In other news, my older daughter was 12 yesterday! I think she had a good day, with a trip to London, then a trip to the cinema with her friend followed by Nando's and a 'sleep' over. The girls went to see the latest Harry Potter, while we went to see 'Bad Bosses' which is one of the best films I have seen this year!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The first week of the holidays!

It is the first week where all the children have been on holiday and they are already on a TV and computer ban for appalling behaviour! I am hoping that being forced to find something more cerebral than the idiot box will help them to play nicely together. It isn't going terribly well at the moment. It could be a very long summer holiday and parenting involves a lot more input from me if they aren't transfixed by a screen.

Running seems to have taken second place this week with so much going on. I've only managed to get out 3 times so far, running 3.5, 4.2 and 6.1 miles. Husbando came with me on the last run. He hasn't run for over 6 weeks due to a knee injury so he came with me for the first mile and a half before turning back. I got to just before the 3 mile point and a new track came on my MP3 player, I considered not turning back until the end of the new track, but was thwarted by the pavement on a busy road ending. Just as well really as the track was really long and took me 0.92 of a mile to complete, so would have added almost 2 miles to my run!

Earlier this week I was surprised by a car! I always try to stay aware of the traffic, especially when running on roads without a pavement, but this one took me totally by surprise. It was a Lexus Hybrid thingy, and was obviously running in its electric mode. I've heard these cars referred to as 'cat killers' (as cats, snoozing under the cars don't hear the engine start) but never really realised how quiet they were! This one almost drove me off the road!

I've got no races planned now until September. I may have to see if I can find a race that will motivate me over the holidays, although getting a few minutes away from the children is often motivation enough!

Saturday, 16 July 2011


As I mentioned in yesterday's blog post, my oldest son recently announced his intention to do Basingstoke parkrun with me today. I asked him, last night, what time he would need waking up so that we could leave the house at 8.30am and was told to wake him at 7.30am. I did this and then went downstairs to make my breakfast, he wandered in to the kitchen and then vanished... back to bed! At 8am I went back upstairs and asked him if he was coming with me or not, he muttered under his breath, but got up and was ready to leave on time.

The weather was miserable! A typical British summer day! There was a constant drizzle interspersed with heavy showers and a bitingly cold wind. Waiting for the race to start was grim. I managed to persuade the boy to take off his track suit bottoms and sweat shirt and leave them in the car, and we headed off for the start.

He hasn't been running, or done any form of exercise really, for well over a year. This is not through choice, but due to a nasty bit of abdominal surgery that has left him in pain for a lot of the time. He is getting much better now - either that or we are getting the cocktail of painkillers right at last, and is wanting to do 'normal' things again now - and what could be more normal than wanting to get up early on a wet Saturday morning to go and run around a park with a load of strangers and your mum?

Thankfully Euan got us off and running fairly quickly. I messed up my Garmin again at the start, so set off while trying to work out what to do with wet fingers! The boy kept up with me for about the first 500m and then I lost him. The photos in this blog post have been grabbed from the parkrun site (thank you to whoever took them!) He looks just like his dad did in photos of him running at the same age! I remembered how much I hate running in glasses in the rain (and cursed the fact that I am running so low on contacts that I'm only wearing them for 'best'), I was fine on the straight bits in the open, but the curvy bits in the shade were a bit of a challenge. Still, I finished just 20 seconds slower than my PB.

My son finished less than 7 minutes later, in 30min 27sec - not bad at all for a first run after over a year of no exercise at all. I think I am going to have to watch out as he will be leaving me behind before too much longer! He has stated his intention to come again next week - hopefully we'll have some better weather by then!

Friday, 15 July 2011

I don't know how they do it!

Yesterday, after a trip up to London, husbando and I went to the gym. His knee is still causing him lots of problems so he is not running on the road right now. As I've mentioned before, I am not a huge fan of treadmill running, but quite like using some of the kit at the gym. I decided to run to the gym, meet husbando there, do a bit of a workout and then get a lift home with him.

When I formulated this plan, from the cool interior of my house, I hadn't banked on the temperature still being about 25C and, to be honest, I didn't really realise how warm it was until I was halfway up a huge hill. (Running straight to the gym is too short a distance so I had to add in a diversion). I arrived at the gym, having covered two and a quarter miles in just over 18 minutes, dripping in sweat. But that doesn't matter, does it? Because the gym is a place that you go to to get hot and sweaty isn't it?

Well that's what I thought. But it seems I am wrong! As I fell through the doors and launched myself in the direction of the water cooler I was aware of disapproving stares from two twenty somethings who were on the cross trainers. I have to admit they looked pretty good. Matchy-matchy gym kits and pristine trainers coupled with perfect hair and beautifully applied make-up. There was not a bead of sweat to be seen! Husbando happened to be on the cross trainer next to them, and as such was able to overhear their comments! Apparently wearing 'any old' running vest which doesn't match ones running shorts is not the done thing... and how could I turn up at the gym looking such a mess?

I compounded my sins by choosing to use one of the two power plates. I didn't realise that they were reserved for the beautiful people. They came over to use the other about 10 minutes after I had started my routine and muttered about me 'hogging' the machine, and how it wasn't fair that they had to take it in turns when they wanted to 'work out' together!

I really don't know how people like this get/stay so slim. Maybe they work out in secret so that no one can see the sweat. Maybe they only go to the gym to see if they can pick up men - I can't see any other reason for wearing that much make up at the gym, but really girls, the picking around here are pretty slim!

Anyway - rant over! The school holidays are upon us! My oldest son finished school today, so no more school runs until September. I am so happy with his new school - he is a different child, the school couldn't be more helpful, if I send in a query it gets answered the same day, the head teacher wrote to me today saying how well he is settling in, and how she hopes he will be very happy in the school. Such a change from his previous school! Mind you, the entire senior school is smaller than his year group at the old school!

Tomorrow is Basingstoke parkrun again. Apparently my firstborn child will run it with me - given that I haven't seen him out of bed on a Saturday before noon for a couple of years I will wait with baited breath to see if this happens!

Monday, 11 July 2011

"Results coming soon"

Is there anything more disheartening than the above phrase? Well of course there is, but today I have been checking the Cranleigh Runners website at every opportunity to day, and the message is still the same!

I've been inside all day today, at my new school, teaching the odd class here and there to release the head of department so that he can get the timetable sorted. I am eager to know what classes I'll have so that I can start thinking about what to teach them. I came home, via my oldest son's bus stop, picking him up and stopping at Tizzy's for a quick coffee with husbando before heading home. We headed out to the garden and I noticed that my son nodded a greeting towards a group of people sitting at one of the tables. They totally ignored him. Turns out that they are the maths department from his old school. He only left last Tuesday - surely they haven't forgotten him already!

We quickly moved in from the garden, as there was a plague of flying ants. Normal ants are bad enough in my opinion, but flying ants are just vile! The entire maths department trooped past our table later, without even acknowledging us!

The flying ants put paid to my plans for a run. I do not fancy swallowing one of those! I still have my gym membership, so headed off there instead. The gym is supposed to be air conditioned, but walking in it was not noticeably cooler than the rest of the building. I ran 3.3 miles in 25 minutes of the mega boring treadmill. Physically I know I could have gone further, but mentally I was bored rigid! I spent a few minutes on the PowerPlates stretching out my calves before heading home. On leaving, I mentioned to the receptionist that it was rather warm in the gym, but was informed that I only felt warm because I'd been working so hard! I tend to think that, when I am paying a small fortune, the least that they could do is keep the room properly cool!

Before heading home to discover that we seem to have an ant nest in the understairs cupboard... it is spewing forth a stream of ants, both winged and normal! I am going to have to clear out the cupboard when I next get a free day. For now I am going to spray noxious chemicals in the general area and home that it kills the ants rather than the humans!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

We like medals we do!

A wee while back a friend I met via Running4Women asked me if I had entered the Cranleigh 10k. Of course I hadn't at the time, but it was only the work of a few mouse clicks to rectify that! Today I woke up to torrential rain and wondered if I had lost my mind to be even considering driving all the way to Cranleigh just to run a race! Needless to say, drive to Cranleigh I did - I didn't feel I could drop out as I knew that Carol would be there expecting me to turn up. I stopped for petrol about 8 miles into my journey, and at this point I should have realised my day was not going to go entirely to plan when I could not remember my PIN. I changed all my numbers to be the same, but the girl on the checkout talked to me when I was 2 numbers into the sequence and my mind went blank. I walked away, had a think and tried again - nothing.... walked away, tried to think of anything but the blasted number and approached the machine with apparent confidence... and got the number wrong! I didn't have much cash on me, and didn't want to leave myself cash and cardless for the rest of the day, so had to fill in a form and promise to go back within 7 days!

Looking on the bright side, the weather improved as I got closer to Cranleigh. I found the venue, went to the loo, found Carol, had a chat, went to the loo and then we made our way to the start line. The start was organised into anticipated time zones, so at this point I said goodbye to Carol as we made our way to the relevant sections. I sorted out my Garmin, all ready for the off.

As I passed the start line I hit the button on my Garmin, and obviously messed it up, as I froze the damned thing! I spent the first 5 minutes running, in sunglasses, under shady trees, trying to remember how to reset it and then muster the degree of co-ordination necessary to carry that out while running along a narrow, and fairly crowded, track.

The field of runners thinned out pretty quickly, and for much of the race I felt as though I was running on my own. I have never taken my MP3 player to a race, as I like to engage in a bit of banter with other runners, but there was not much opportunity for that at this race, and at times I really would have welcomed some music. Support was thin on the ground too - although the marshalls were friendly and encouraging and two dogs barked like mad as we ran past their gate! The route was mainly flat, with the notable exception of a clamber up a railway siding and a reasonably steep, but mercifully short, hill which was over a fairly rough track. I am not a fan of off road running, I know that trails are better for you in that you get a more varied run, and the ground isn't quite as hard and unforgiving on your joints, but I don't like mud! As I'd left home in a downpour I hadn't remembered to take an antihistamine. This was a mistake! Even more of a mistake than normal as the farms we were running over were home to horses. Thankfully I had my water bottle with me so could pour it over my face to try to stop my eyes streaming.

I have no idea what my finish time was, I think I was the 13 woman to finish and about 81st overall - but have no idea how many runners there were in total! And I think I finished in under 52 minutes, but those details will have to wait until the official results are available! After the race the race organisers were dispensing orange squash as well as water - I haven't had orange squash for years and years and it was quite delicious!

Back home to children and housework! Scouting around under my desk I discovered that someone had, at some point, unplugged the chest freezer. After checking that the tip was open on a Sunday, I gingerly opened the freezer... and closed it again very quickly! We don't use the freezer very much at all, as our fridge-freezer has a large freezer, and it takes up a lot of space, so the decision to bin the whole thing was an easy one. I now have a space that is crying out for a smallish bookshelf so that I can fill it with yet more books!

Saturday, 9 July 2011


As we stumble towards the end of term I am just beginning to realise how stressful this last half term has been. We've moved my oldest son out of one school, where he was not receiving any of the support he needed and being bullied to a lovely new school. I didn't realise how much stress the whole 'find a school we like, with a place, that will accept him' thing was until after we had completed it! His new school is small and nurturing. There are only 40 pupils in each year group, making the entire senior school only marginally larger than the year group at his old school. He started there on Thursday and is loving it.

We've taken the decision to change all the children's surnames. It just makes name calling and bullying a little less easy if they don't have a name that, er, sticks out like a sore thumb! We're using my maiden name, and I've just ordered about a billion new name tapes. When I showed them to my younger daughter she was most disappointed that her new surname wasn't 'Princess!'

I've been spending a few days at my new school. I haven't been doing any teaching, just getting 'stuff' organised: email access, sorting out my room, completing health and safety questionnaires etc. I need to persuade a child to transfer the rough sketch of my lab into a Word document so that I can use it for seating plans.

In the last week I've also been to the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show Gala Evening and to see Take That (I don't think that one needs a hyperlink!) at Wembley. I love the gala evening - so nice to be able to see the gardens without having to sharpen one's elbows and battle through crowds. Take That were amazing. I am so grateful to my lovely friend who bought me the ticket (in a box no less) as a present. One huge advantage of a box at Wembley is that they all have their own loo - so you don't have to queue for ages to paddle in a filthy loo! We'd driven up, so had the usually interminable wait to get out of the car park. The marshalling around the stadium was non existent. I eventually got home at 3am and was up again at 6am to leave for school!

I've only managed about 15 miles running this week, it would have been more, but I am running the Cranleigh 10k tomorrow so have eased off towards the end of the week. However, Parkruns happen on a Saturday, and I couldn't not turn up without a very good excuse! Having done 6 parkruns, 5 at B'stoke and one in Frimley, I can honestly say I am addicted. Much better to get out of the house on a Saturday rather than lazing in bed (or refereeing the children). Today however I volunteered for the first time, and have to say that I am so glad I did. I'm not a 'joiner' - I don't do running clubs etc. so I'd been turning up, running then going home. I'd chat to a couple of people, but I didn't feel I was really a part of 'it.' I knew who a few people were - but no more than that. Volunteering meant I really got to meet people and chat for a while, about running, wine and cheese mainly! Next week I'll feel far more confident about talking to people, and feel much more a part of parkrun.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

I can see for miles and miles!

What a busy day! Off to Winchester Cathedral to see an old friend ordained as a Deacon this morning. I love Ecclesiastical music despite being a heathen at heart. The bit of church services that always catches me out, and which is a relatively modern introduction (certainly never happened when I was a youngster) is when the vicar (or in this case one of the newly ordained deacons) says 'Let us offer one another a sign of peace.' I am, by nature, not a joiner! I like to keep myself to myself until I have established what the group dynamics are, and if I want to be a part of that group. But, in this situation I feel I am forced to talk to strangers! I don't like that. It feels false - possibly because I find it such an unnatural thing to do. Usually I can mask this by just turning to the person I am with, but today I was on my own, so had no choice but to turn and shake hands with the lady next to me who had spent most of the service staring at my shoes, tutting (and commenting) to her husband that I wasn't joining in the prayers! Never mind - my friend looked very happy with her chosen vocation, it was lovely to see her and her family again, if only briefly, and I wish them all well in this new stage of their life.

We've known each other a long time, since our second children were a few weeks old. We've been through a lot of life experiences together. She announced her decision to become ordained at around the same time I announced that I was training to be a teacher, and we have both completed our training within weeks of each other. We are both starting something new and exciting (and a little bit daunting). Not bad considering we are both in our forties!

Yesterday saw me at Parkrun again. I equalled my PB, I am sure I'd have set a new one if I hadn't missed my footing as I approached the finish line, but never mind! I haven't been for a long run for ages, and knew that today would be my last chance for a week as I have to run 10k next Sunday. After a rich lunch of picnic food and champagne, I wasn't really in any fit state to run, but I managed 6.5 miles in a reasonable fashion. At one point, 'The Who' started playing 'I can see for miles and miles' on my iPhone and I looked around - I really could see for miles! And without seeing another human being either!

Tomorrow I am spending the day at my new school... Should be fun! Still slightly amazed that they offered me the job!