May you live in interesting times (or not)

So that was an “interesting” Summer.

We survived moving my daughter out of her student house and back home for a month, and then moving her and all of her stuff back into her next house. We then managed to rearrange furniture so that her room could be described as “cosy” rather than tiny (it is very small).

We survived my son receiving his excellent A level grades, confirming his place at Exeter and then panicking to get ready to move out. (We’ve seen a LOT of Ikea this summer -2 different Ikeas in 2 days was a new high. I feel partly Swedish).

We survived moving my son and his mountains of stuff down to Exeter. Helpfully, his room is huge, with plenty of space for everything . (That’s the difference between what the same amount of money buys you in Oxford and in Exeter!)

I then survived a week of coming home to an empty house (well, the cats were there and hungry so they were pleased to see me) and life was settling down as myself and Mr B&T embraced our newfound empty-nest freedom. All was going well. Right up until the moment on Tuesday afternoon when I was called down to the Finance Director’s office and abruptly told that due to cost savings my job was now redundant, and I would have a meeting with my manager in the morning to discuss the situation.

Oh – and I could go home for the rest of the afternoon if I wanted.

Redundant?

Now?

ME?

Shocked doesn’t cover how I felt. Shocked, shaking, unable to speak, slightly teary is probably closer, but still doesn’t cover quite how stunned I was. Imagine being unexpectedly slapped hard in the face – that was basically how it felt.

When I stopped shaking long enough to drive safely I collected my belongings and drove home. Walking into the house mid-afternoon didn’t stop the ever-hungry cats from greeting me expectantly, but I just felt empty and unable to breathe. Instinctively I changed into running gear, found running shoes in the garage and left the house. Because I hadn’t run for nearly 3 months my Garmin took ages to find any satellites. I wore my oldest, saggiest leggings so I didn’t look too keen, and I set off walking. I chose my most runned-route because it heads out towards the woods on lanes, byways and footpaths but is still fairly even, hard packed trail. I might need a run, but I didn’t need to twist my foot again. I walked for 5 minutes or so as a warmup and then tentatively started running. I continued tentatively running for 10 minutes, then walked again. Each step was a mindful monologue of “is my ankle okay? Yes, it’s okay. Is it okay now? Yes – still okay”. At the furthest point from the village I did indulge myself with a short but heartfelt face-screwed-up-proper-ugly-crying-wail. Thank God I didn’t meet any dog walkers at this point. My husband called at the precise moment I hit the hill so chatting to him gave me the perfect excuse to walk back up the hill.

I did manage another 10 minutes of running and then another 5 of walking, and I had just enough road left for a short trot to finish. I was actually pretty pleased with 40 minutes for 3 miles – and my head felt so much clearer (although my face and eyes were much puffier). My foot felt fine afterwards but a little tender the next day, but to be honest the entirety of both my legs felt pretty stiff by then. I felt a little guilty for running, and did call my run on Strava “Don’t tell the physio!” Hopefully no long term damage done, but immense short term therapy achieved.

I had another meeting on Friday, another trot out, and then a day of tentatively poking my foot and ankle. I’ve just had my final ‘consultation’ meeting and am officially redundant with 4 weeks notice which thankfully I don’t have to work. Just a short handover meeting on Monday to come and I’m done.

What a strange feeling. Might go for a run this afternoon…

2019 – the Year of the Second Comeback

Apparently comebacks are the in-thing at the moment. From the Spice Girls to Spitting Image, everyone who was ever anyone is coming back. Not being one to shy away from jumping on a bandwagon, but always wanting to go one better, I’m about to launch my second comeback of the year.

First comeback was getting back into running again after letting things slide after starting my new job. This was pretty successful peaking in running the Invader Half marathon. After this I ran a couple of recces of a stage of the Cotswold Way Relay with Liz, and I was happily running several times a week. My strength and stamina were increasing and I was envisioning having a great off-road season this winter.

Unfortunately the saying “pride comes before a fall” was demonstrated quite literally at parkrun at the end of June. On the second lap that goes through a field I landed awkwardly, my ankle twisted under me and I went down like the proverbial sack of spuds. Long story short is that I badly sprained my ankle, which swelled up so much it looked like an elephant’s leg, with no running for nearly 3 months.

Now? Well after waiting patiently for my ankle to heal, doing the exercises the nurse gave me every day, I finally gave up waiting and booked a physio appointment. And then another appointment. And another. My ankle is now back to normal size, I can hop on it, and even balance on it (briefly) with my eyes closed – I love my physio exercises! Lovely as my physio is, I’m really hoping that my appointment next Friday will be the last time I see him for a while.

Fingers crossed for me!

May the Fourth parkrun

May the Fourth (Star Wars day, of course) fell on a Saturday this year. Saturday is also parkrun day, and the first Saturday of the month is pacing week, so of course our parkrun had a Star Wars parkrun. I’d signed up as a pacer again (first Saturday of the month), so naturally I had to appear as a Star Wars themed pacer.

Reappearance of the Princess Leia outfit

I was pacing 32 minutes again, but I was finding it difficult to run to a steady pace this week. I pressed on, and with about a kilometre to go I apologised as I passed a runner in front of me. “I was hoping to stay in front of you!!!” she wailed, so I told her to stick with me and we’d get her in under 32 minutes. Coming up to the line I told her to sprint ahead, and seeing as I came in in 31:15 means she was definitely under 32 minutes. This is the first time I’ve actually had someone running with me and relying on my timing, and I was delighted we did it (even if I was too fast!)

As I waited to get my barcode scanned, another runner told me that he’d had me in his sight all the way around, and was really pleased with his time as a result. Two satisfied customers- the force was strong with this one today!

Note – in case you missed the first appearance of the Princess Leia costume, it was here. And yes – I was impressed I still fitted into it as well!

Dorset Invader Half Marathon 2019

White Star Running events are legendary in this part of the world. Off road trail races, in beautiful countryside, organised with a light touch of madness, and notoriously hard. Distances are in “country miles” with one last-minute-rerouted half marathon coming in last year at 16 miles!* The Dorset Invader races took place in the last weekend of May, based on a farm in the deepest darkest part of Dorset. A weekend of camping and running (and eating if you were in my party!).

On Sunday morning, I got up to see the marathoners set off. They were to do 2 laps of the course, whilst the half-ers were only doing 1. I scared myself doing this, because these runners all looked super organised and extremely well prepared (and incredible fit) with running poles, hydration vests and muscles. When I turned up for our start, two hours later, I felt reassured- here were my people! Still looking prepared but also looking like they were prepared for a fun trip through the countryside.

The Start

I was running with my running buddy Liz, who had been signed up for the marathon but was still feeling very tired after her previous marathon so had decided to drop down to the half. We squeezed in towards the back and with very little ceremony were off.

See how happy we look before the start?!

Hills

Dorset is hilly. Dorset is REALLY hilly. I don’t think we had any level ground at all – it was all either up or (you guessed it) down. We were sent up the second highest hill in the county and then – yes you guessed it again – up the highest. Fortunately it was so pretty, and the views spectacular from the top, that I’ve almost forgiven them.

View from the top of the second highest hill in Dorset
and Liz on top of the highest hill in Dorset

Cows

As well as the hills and the views of course we encountered cows. As a line of runners carefully trouped through a field, the bullocks were all gather in one corner at the top of the field watching us. We made our way past them without incident (no bogs to fall in) and climbed over a massive gate into a farmyard. We breathed a sigh of relief at braving the bovines, then a runner behind us pointed out that the cows had been hiding the sign showing us a different stile and the correct route out of the field. Sneaky!

Slowworm

Whilst leading the way through a wood, Liz suddenly shouted out. On the path in front of us was a slowworm. It’s very rare to see one of these, so I quickly took a photo before we encouraged it off the path into the safety of the undergrowth.

Slowworm. Not an insult

Official Photos

Apparently some people can run past the official photographer without acting up for the camera. Apparently I’m not one of those people

Fake running up the hill whilst elbowing Liz our of the photo

The Bling

Of course we finished this tough course – we’re tough (if rather tired) women. It was definitely a PW for me, but that wasn’t really the point of this race. The bling at the end – that’s what it’s about. A medal, a pint glass and a drink to put in it – what’s not to like!

Now *that’s* a medal!

Oh – it was also about exploring an amazing part of the world, and about running with a friend both encouraging and in turn being encouraged. Liz told me that she was so glad she wasn’t doing the marathon approximately every 10 minutes or so, and being a good running buddy I didn’t tell her to shut up. (Truthfully, I really enjoyed running with Liz – although we both love our running and take it seriously, we don’t take ourselves too seriously). She’s a perfect running partner!

Sprint finish
See – we did run some of it!
Propping each other up at the end

It was brilliant, and as soon as I can feel my legs again I’ll be back out in our Wiltshire countryside.

* There was a last minute problem with the course that meant it had to be so much longer – but basically you have to be prepared for anything

Corsham 10K 2019

On a whim, I entered Corsham 10K hoping the fear of an upcoming race would force me out of the door to run. It worked, I reached the start line feeling ready to run, particularly after running an impromptu half marathon, on my own, just to see if I could. (I could).

Back to shorter distances, Corsham 10K has always been a great race and one of my favourites. The route has some lovely parts out on the lanes, and the entire way around has people out supporting, clapping and handing out sweets. It’s been so long since I ran any kind of race, I was really unsure of how I would find it. Turns out, I loved it. I enjoyed the entire thing, I ran up ‘the’ hill with no problem, I chatted to all sorts of people on my way round and I even managed a strong finish.

Happy running face
Happy!

It helped that I knew I was running for an awesome medal, a beer, AND a t-shirt!

Medal photo
What a medal!

Celebrations and Achievements

It’s taken a long time (like all my running does ) but I finally achieved it. My first parkrun milestone of 50 parkruns, in just over 5 years. parkrun wouldn’t run out of t-shirts if everyone took this long.

Anyway on Easter Saturday, a beautiful sunny morning, I popped on my apricot Chippenham parkrun vest and trotted around our local park having a lovely chat with a friend. parkrun done right. The only strange thing is how my hand has apparently turned into a claw?!

Okay – now to wait to be able to order my beautiful red milestone t-shirt …

Two pictures worth a thousand words

I was going to write a post about how pleased I was that I got out for a run. I was mentally drafting a paragraph where I described how chuffed I was that after 5 miles I chose an extra 3 miles rather than a 2 minute trot home. I was even thinking how best to describe the weather (four seasons in a day, sunshine, all accompanied by incredibly gusty wind).

However, I think two pictures I took sum this run up better than any words.

Photo of dark sky over lane
Dark clouds over a deserted lane

And as I squinted through the wind and hail, this was the amazing sight that greeted me:-

Complete Rainbow
Beautiful

It’s a “No” to Janathon, but “Yay!” to Veganuary

So after posting a very short activity for New Year’s Day, I also managed a swim on the 2nd (to test out one of my Christmas presents – more on this another time!). After a strong(?) start, I then returned to work on the 3rd and Janathon went awol. PAH.

On a more positive note, I volunteered to run as a 33 minute pacer at parkrun on Saturday 5th, and I am pretty pleased to say I managed to achieve a run time of … 33:00 minutes. I may have peaked at pacing just 5 days into the year.

Proof!

Another success so far this year has been my participation in Veganuary. My attempts at being vegan again, after a break of about 23 years, came a cropper in December when a work colleague gave me a milk chocolate advent calendar and I couldn’t hurt his feelings by not eating it. (I was also delighted to finally feel like part of the team. I’m so needy!) Veganuary was just the push I needed to start again, and with my daughter accompanying me, I think I’m doing pretty well this time. Well – apart from *those* crisps – who in hell puts milk in Thai Sweet Chilli Crisps? Walkers Sensations- that’s who. Double PAH!!

I’ve also decided that as well as trying to get more sleep, I need to start feeling generally “well” again. So many odd symptoms, including bad sleep, are really starting to get me down. I’m certain they’re all just menopausal “it’s my age” stuff, but I’ll likely punch anyone who says that to my face. (PMT-type rage is just another symptom). So – I’ve purchased a box of horse tablets for “women of a certain age” and I’ll try and remember to force one down every night. Worth a try I reckon.

I’ve found that when I’ve dragged myself out for a cold, dark run after work then I sleep much, much better that night. I’m using this as a successful prod to get myself out there after work. (I can do it as long as I don’t sit down when I get in. If I sit down, I’m done for). As an added bonus, I feel like superhero running in the dark on my own, wearing my extremely bright chest torch. Who doesn’t want that!

Does anyone have any top tips that might help with sleeping, or with coping increasing age? Please share if you do!

Janathon 2019

After a rubbish end to 2018 (seriously- who wants to be ill for 3 weeks including over Christmas and New Year? Nobody – that’s who) I decided I’d better kickstart 2019 with Janathon.

So January 1st – 0.4 mile walk around the block just before Doctor Who. It’s a real activity- it’s on Strava and everything! I also got to finally see the most decorated house in the village this year which cheered me up immensely:-http://www.blackandtabbyruns.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/img_4218.mov

Veganeuring 2018 #7

After wimping out of riding this morning because it was sleeting, once the sun peeped out very briefly I thought I’d better get on with it.

Back to Corsham via the Post Office, and then into Previous. This is a new shop, selling vintage stuff, cards, gifts and so on, with a small cafe upstairs.

Bike parking right by the Post Office
Photo of Previous in Corsham
Really cute little building

I headed straight for the cafe, keen to see if it had improved under its new owners. Last time I came here, I was with my family for a quick lunch. We order soup and sandwiches- nothing complicated- but waited about 30 minutes for it to finally appear. If you’ve ever seen the Victoria Wood sketch, featuring Julie Walters, as a very old, very slow waitress, you’ll appreciate our hilarity as our waitress finally brought the food saying “One soup… and … another … soup”. *

Today service was much quicker, and they even had my favourite Almond milk for my mocha. On enquiring about vegan cake I was told they always have 1 vegan option and 1 gluten free option which is great. We both searched all the labels and found the flapjack was marked as Vegan. Like the granola bar from Grounded this was pretty solid, but still pretty good. Photo of cafe

Small but perfectly formed cafe

It was still cold when I came out, but the warmth of knowing I’d finished this year’s Coffeeneuring challenge kept me going all the way home.

Just under 5 miles cycled, almond milk mocha and solid flapjack consumed, warm happy glow achieved.

Recap to come!

* If you haven’t seen it, go google it. It’s worth it!