Thursday, 23 December 2010

Christmas tags

All of a sudden I have been tagged with a set of questions by not one, but two fellow bloggers! The questions are slightly different, so I've decided to put them all together in one Christmassy post. So thanks to Alma and akjenniekt for tagging me, and here goes...

1. What is your favourite time of day to run?
Like many runners, I prefer first thing in the morning. If it's a short run, around 3 miles or so, I'll get out of bed and go before breakfast, but for anything further than about 4-5 miles, I need to eat first and go about an hour later. I am a person who can do very little on an empty stomach. I love being outside when the world is just starting to wake up, and I also find it a great way to start the day. If I don't run in the morning, I might struggle to fit it in, and end up not finding time.

2. If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
Well, I really enjoy teaching English as a foreign language, so I wouldn't particularly want to change that. I like the idea of becoming a personal trainer though - I'm just not keen on the cost and time commitment of retraining...

3. Do you have a guilty food pleasure?
Oh yes, many. I absolutely love chocolate, and rarely go a day without it. I'm also very fond of biscuits and cake in general. The main meals I cook and eat are fairly healthy, but it's the puddings that let me down. (I don't feel very guilty about it though).

4. How and why did you start running?
I was always useless at running at school, and had no stamina at all. But one day a few years ago, I read in a book about a running programme where you started by interspersing 1 or 2 minutes of running with walking, and built up gradually to 20 mins of running. I'd always liked the idea of running, so I decided to try it, and after about 10 weeks or so, to my astonishment and delight, I was able to run for 20 mins! I enjoyed it so much, I started doing it regularly and kept increasing the distance.

5. Do you have any special Christmas time traditions?
Pete and I are just starting to create our own family traditions with the children. We usually stay at home for Christmas Day. The kids will open their stockings from Santa in the morning, and then we'll play a couple of games and go for a short walk while lunch is cooking. We have roast chicken, as none of us are very keen on turkey. Then, (if I have my way), the main presents under the tree are finally opened and savoured after lunch has been cleared away and washed up. After Christmas we tend to drive down south to visit as many relatives and friends as we can fit in over New Year.

6. What race/event are you most looking forward to in 2011?
Well after the last few months, I'll just be thrilled if I can run at all! I'd love to do some local half marathons, and 10ks, but I haven't planned anything specific yet.

7. What are you most proud of accomplishing in 2010?
This is easy - my first marathon! I really enjoyed the training and most of the race itself, and I'm still amazed that I managed to complete all 26.2 miles. I never thought I'd be able to run as much as 3 miles when I first started running, and I must admit, those last 6 miles were pretty tough. Unfortunately, I didn't do much else after that, and I've spent more time on the physiotherapist's table than pounding the streets in my trainers...

8. What are your goals for 2011?
I just want to get back to running regularly. If that goes well, I'd love to beat 2 hours in a half marathon race.

So I need to tag a couple of other runner bloggers - step forward Amy, Char and Fudgey.

I've wrapped all my presents now, and bought all the food we need (I hope), so I'm feeling pretty Christmassy. I'm really looking forward to the kids opening all their presents in a couple of days' time. I wish anyone who reads this blog a very merry and peaceful Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

At a Christmas market last week

Monday, 20 December 2010

One wedding and a birthday

Last Tuesday (14th) was my birthday, and my thoughtful husband did his best to make it a good one. On the day itself, I had to go to work, and I was going out for dinner with a group of ex-colleagues for Christmas, so he gave me my presents on birthday eve. I got one of these!

It's an i-touch, (not a phone), and it is fabby! It means I can keep a load more music than on my previous little i-pod mini; as well as photos, videos, games, and it also has a camera and video camera, and can connect to the internet! It was an unexpected and over the top gift, so I was really excited.

Working on my birthday wasn't the best, and with busy weekends before and after, we didn't celebrate in any special way. But on Wednesday evening, Pete came home early, and brought a chocolate cake to share with the kids - yum.

On Wednesday morning, I finally managed to attend a snow-free physio appointment, and got the go-ahead to try a run again. I'm not getting carried away with excitement though, as this will be my second attempt to run again since this started. So on Weds evening (just before the chocolate cake), I wrapped up warm and stumbled out on the snowy pavement for a little run! It was quite odd, as I've been wearing my orthotics almost constantly for a while now, and I've got used to them when walking. But when I started running, they felt really different. They will change the way I run, so Ms Physio said I should expect a few aches and pains, and to start slowly.

Anyway, I managed a whole mile in a speedy 11 minutes. I ran on the road as I didn't want to add ice and snow into the mix. It would be just my luck to slip and get a new injury. But it was lovely to be out running again, and the best birthday present I could have wished for (apart from the i-touch of course...).

I'm going to take it as slowly and carefully as I can, as I'm not convinced that my heel is much better. I still get the same pain occasionally, and I'm pretty sure that if I start running a lot it'll come straight back. But I can't bear the thought of not running for another few weeks or months. I'm not too bothered about getting back to the speed and endurance level I was at before, not yet anyway. I just want to be able to go for a run, a few times a week. Otherwise I am going to balloon, what with all the Christmas food coming up - mmmmmm.

I also had the opportunity to stuff my face this weekend, as it was Pete's sister's wedding. Despite heavy snow all over Britain and some horrendous travel disruption, we were lucky enough to fly to the South of England and back without too many problems.

It was a white snowy wedding, and unfortunately the evening party was cancelled due to the weather, but there should be some beautiful photos taken outside. There was red wine, goulash, lasagne, a mincemeat tart, fruit cake, cup cakes, chocolate mints (all of which I sampled), and on Sunday morning, stomach ache.

Now there's only a few days until Christmas, and I feel totally unprepared. The snow is back, although not as bad as before, and we need to get to a supermarket! I must think about what we're going to have for Christmas day lunch...mmm...

2 excited wedding guests in their party clothes

Monday, 13 December 2010

A small thaw

Due to my useless hurty foot's refusal to heal, it's been about 3 months since I went running with my JogScotland group. On Saturday night, it was our annual Christmas dinner, so I tottered down the road on the icy pavements to the restaurant to see everyone.

It was a really good evening, with friendly company, delicious food, plenty of wine, and our group awards. Each year, the group leader makes a short speech reviewing what has been achieved during the year - mainly involving races - and she gives out awards to those who have done something special, e.g. most improved runner, most dedicated runner, most spectacular fall etc. This was my second appearance at their Christmas dinner, and last year, I was a newbie to the group, and sat wondering what I might achieve in 2010.

However, the round-up of running was rather depressing for me this year. The high point was when we got to May and the Edinburgh marathon was mentioned: I got a round of applause from the group for my first marathon, which was sweet. But as we went over the rest of the year, there was a list of races which I had entered but not run; run last year and wanted to do again; or just planned to run for the first time.

It made me realise that the last few months of this year have been a total write-off as far as running is concerned. I'm glad I did the marathon, but I wonder if all those extra miles were responsible for the various injuries I've had. I was running really well in July and August, right up until I got the pain in my heel which I haven't recovered from yet.

Anyway, the snow and ice of the last few weeks has meant that I probably wouldn't have been running much even if I'd been fit. At the end of last week, we finally saw a rise in temperatures, and a lot of the snow melted away - hooray! Since then though, it's been freezing - literally - and the roads are very icy, and the rest of the snow is hanging around like a bad smell. We are forecast more cold weather, and more snow at the end of this week - nooooooooo! I hope the weathermen are wrong!

Icicles on our roof which have gone at last!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Still snowing, still shredding...

Having been snowed in last week and with all of us in our little flat instead of at school or work, we were really pleased on Sunday to be able to dig out the car and drive it to the supermarket! The roads weren't too bad, there was some definite melting and thawing going on, and there seemed to be sunlight at the end of the snow-tunnel.

Then we got up this morning. Unforecast and unwanted, there was a new, thick layer of snow. We battled through to school, but they had to close around lunchtime. We had heavy snowfall all morning, until about 2pm. By then, the paths and roads were covered again, the trains and buses were all cancelled, and I was thoroughly grumpy.

It is supposed to warm up a bit at the end of the week, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

Although Robbie was pretty bored with staying at home all last week, he did have fun joining in with me and Jillian. Emma often starts the first few exercises, but she gets bored very quickly. Robbie has been great though - he stayed for the whole routine (level 2 of the 30-day shred) for 6 days in a row! I was impressed. (Disclaimer - of course he didn't actually do any of it seriously - I'm not a maniac).

Strength training with homemade 'weights'

Every day he asked 'Is it the same one again?', and then he had a constant running commentary that was always the same : 'What is Julian doing now?' 'She talks too much' 'Julian's not doing all the exercises properly, is she..' 'What are those people in the back called?' 'I need to hold on to a piece of furniture for this one' etc etc. It was fun doing it together, if a little off-putting.

Princess Emma joins the party

This morning, while he was briefly at school, I did Level 3 for the first time. Blimey. That was HARD WORK. It was manageable, but only with me doing the suggested 'beginner modifications' in some parts. Having used some new muscles digging the snow off of our path on Saturday, I was already aching before I started, and I'm sure I'll wake up to a whole new set of aches tomorrow.

Stretching out in the cooldown

I've got my postponed Physio appointment on Wednesday, but if Emma's playgroup is still closed (and it is tomorrow), I'll have to postpone it again. So no progress on the foot for the moment. I must admit, I'm not particularly tempted to run in knee-deep snow and freezing temperatures, so perhaps it's good timing!

Needing to 'hold on to a piece of furniture'

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Snow joke...

Well, what a week it's been! The snow that arrived on Saturday was just a tiny taster of what was coming, and it has snowed every day since. We have been well and truly stuck for the last couple of days, with the car buried under a blanket of white. Robbie's school, Emma's playgroup and my college have all been closed all week, while Pete managed one hellish day of commuting. I have never seen snow like this.

Our 'road'

We are totally unprepared for such large amounts of snow. The kids don't have waterproof trousers or snowsuits, and neither do I, and we really wish we'd bought a sledge before they all sold out! It's crazy here.

Sunset this afternoon

We managed a walk to the local shop on Monday, but it was so cold, and it took so long that I told Pete to turn round and take the kids home before we got there, while I went on. On Tuesday we managed to post a letter (just) and on Wednesday, we stayed in all day.

The cycle path

Today we set off for the local shop again, in need of food supplies, but we met our neighbours on the way, and they told us that the shops are out of bread and milk, as the lorries have not been able to deliver. So we had a little stroll in the snow and came back.

Our village

Tomorrow we'll all be staying at home again, and then I'm hoping there'll be a little thawing over the weekend. It is forecast to stay very cold though. Meanwhile, I rescheduled today's physio appointment for next week, and I've been doing Level 2 of Jillian every day. In fact yesterday, I did that as well as 20 mins of Davina's Cardio-box! Must have been cabin fever...

An 'arty' shot!