In April 2011 I ran the London Marathon and raised £2600 for Asthma UK. It was a 'once in a lifetime' experience...or so I thought. Bravely (or stupidly) I'm doing it again, and this blog will chart my progress while I train for my second London Marathon. Come with me on my journey towards the big day. Here I go...again!

Saturday, 31 December 2011

A week of two halves

This week has been really good and really hard at the same time. Good because there have been more days off than normal because of Bank holidays. Good because it was my birthday, and I was spoilt for a day. Hard because I was really not well on Wednesday but had to work from 8.30am-7pm, and all I really wanted to do was curl up and sleep. Hard because yesterday was my first run since Sunday, and it was like running through treacle.
I like to run in the mornings because my exercise is done for the day, but this week I've been out of my routine and not feeling well, and the combination of the two has left me out of sorts.

I was dreading going out this morning simply because yesterdays run was so unenjoyable, but up and out I went, and I'm really glad I did. There was a light drizzle in the air which kept me cool, and I ran hard for three and a half miles and came home feeling so much better.

I can't afford to ease off now - the marathon is only sixteen weeks away, and I need to focus my energy, forget the bad training sessions, take motivation from the good training sessions and carry on.

Oh, and there's the small matter of fundraising, which is, after all why I'm doing all this.

Please, please, take a moment now and donate by text. Text Jass73 followed by £1/£2/£3 or £5 to 70070

All the money you donate goes directly to the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign to help them continue their good work supporting families, and their research into this awful disease.

Thank you - your support really does mean a lot to me xx

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Tis the season to eat too much and go for a long run

All the family descended on us yesterday, and we enjoyed a scrummy meal cooked by hubby and a lovely afternoon together.
I was still full by the evening but couldn't quite resist the call of cream crackers and cheddar with cranberries, so today's long run was even more necessary than usual!
We went to Bournville this morning and had been invited to Mum-in-laws for lunch, so a rough calculation told me I could do my planned 10 mile run from Bournville to the outskirts of Bromsgrove and still arrive in time for lunch.
I set off along the A38 just after midday and expected to be running in the rain - it had gone very overcast - but other than a bit of drizzle early on it was a dry run, and an unseasonably warm 11 degrees. The biggest challenge was running into a strong wind for nearly the entire route.
About three miles into the run a fellow runner caught up with me, and we ran for about ten minutes together until a quick glance at my watch told me I was running at 9min/mile pace...too fast for me on a long run. He raced on ahead, and I dropped back down to a more leisurely 11min/mile pace.
Hubby kindly brought me water at the 5 mile mark which was very welcome. I waved him goodbye just the other side of Rubery and ran on to the M5 island, then left (past Catshill) towards the M42 island. Another mile on and I hit the steep hill that leads up to my in-laws.
In the end I only did 8 1/2 miles - I'd underestimated the distance - but at least I got my timing right; lunch was just being served.
So...two big meals in two days, a long run and lots of good company. And I get to have another lie in tomorrow. And Tuesday.

Friday, 23 December 2011

I know...I don't look old enough

Training seems to have gone a bit awry this week, as this morning was the first time I'd run since Tuesday. I think it was a combination of busy days at work, an ill cat, youngest daughter's birthday and a little bit of laziness.

I can't quite believe that I now have two teenagers in the house. It really doesn't seem long since they were little babies, but at least they sleep these days. Come to think of it, it's difficult to get them out of bed...

As for the ill cat, he's been fighting which has resulted in an abscess over his eye. Fortunately we have a brave vet who was prepared to take her life in her hands and lance it. He's not a cuddly cat at the best of times, so tending to his wound involves full protective clothing and the ability to dodge razor-sharp claws and a lot of teeth. Fun all round, really.

Anyway - back to this morning's run. I was up and out for half past six, and did a quick 2 miles. I went down to the village, out to Whettylane Bridge then back through the village and home.

It was really mild so I was overheating by the time I got home and felt like I'd had a really good workout. One of those 'good run' days when it just feels right.

I've got a ten mile run to fit in somewhere this weekend, but at least I'm not back to work until Wednesday so I've got some flexibility if the weather is as wet as predicted. Hoorah for a couple of days off and a bit of a sleep in tomorrow :o)

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Don't go shopping in lycra

Day off today, but no time for rest.

After Sunday's battery error and shorter-than-planned run, I decided I should make up for the lost mile and go further today.

I've got used to heading out onto a sparkly carpet of ice and the early morning felt slightly less magical with only muddy puddles to reflect the moonlight.
I took a route that I've often taken before, but in the opposite direction. What is usually a nice downhill towards the end of the run became a serious uphill slog minutes after setting out.

As I passed a bus stop I was hailed with a shout of 'No need to run, love, the bus will be along in a minute.' Thumbs up to him for making me laugh on a cold dark morning.

I headed back through the village and could see the butchers getting ready for the day. Without stopping to think, I popped my head round the door and asked if they could bone and roll some lamb for me to pick up at lunch time. It's funny how my green woolly hat/pink jacket/lycra leggings combination that I convince myself no-one can see in the dark mornings was suddenly in the spotlight in the butchers doorway. I mumbled my thanks to them and made a hasty exit.

Note to self - buy a new running hat and don't combine shopping with running.

Anyhow - back home for just after 7am and on with the, cleaning, washing and more work on my 'Shareholders' assignment. Any offers of help gratefully appreciated - especially with the assignment!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Batteries not included

I fully intended to do my weekend run yesterday morning, but it was a very thick frost and I chickened out.
We were out for most of the day, and by the time we got home we only just had enough energy to put the kettle on for a cuppa...a run was just out of the question.
This morning there could be no excuses, and up and out I went. The frost was just as thick and it was below freezing, but the moon was bright in the sky and the streetlights on the pavements made for a beautiful scene.
Unfortunately I'd only got to the end of the road when my watch pancaked. I must have left it turned on after my last run, and there was no battery left at all.
I now realise just how much I rely on it. It's been a long time since I've planned a route - I just head out of the door and see where I end up, but this morning I was very conscious of how far I thought I'd gone, what pace I might be doing and when I should turn back for home.
I estimate that I did somewhere between 3 and 4 miles, but if I'm honest it was probably nearer 3 than 4. I'm telling myself to be pleased that I hauled myself out of bed on a cold morning to run, but I'm also a bit disappointed that I should have done more.
Hopefully 'jumping for joy is good exercise' as it's certainly been a happy weekend, and maybe that will make up for any shortfall out on the road.
Now...where did I put that docking cradle...?

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Calorie free cake (almost)

I went out for a meal with my work team last night. We had a lot of laughs, and a lot of very tasty food.
During the evening one of my team was telling me that she reads all my blog posts to her Dad. He used to live locally, so recognises the descriptions of the routes I run. So, hello to Mr Williams! Thank you for keeping up with my blog, and thank you for appreciating just how big some of the hills are round here!
I digress. Back to the meal. I'd like to say my willpower was such that I declined pudding, but alas no. I promised I'd go for an extra long run this morning to make up for it, but immediately regretted it when we left the restaurant to find a thick layer of ice on the cars, and very slippery pavements.
Fortunately the rain during the night lifted the temperature enough to melt the ice, so although it was a cold run there was no slipping and sliding around.
In the end I didn't go further than planned (just under 2 miles), but kept a good pace and must surely have burned off at least half of the calories in the cake. (The other half of the calories in the cake and those in the fudge sauce will have to wait until my long run on Saturday.)
And finally today I can't go without sharing a chicken update: I think while I've been out someone has swapped one of the chickens for an ostrich. Their eggs usually weigh 60-68g (not that I'm a bit obsessive about these things) but one of the eggs I collected today weighed in at an impressive 82g. There'll be fighting over who gets that one, but I stick by the very adult method of deciding; finders keepers!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Stay away from the fridge

I'm pleased and relieved that the twinges I felt on Saturday's long run have turned out to be nothing, and I've been training as normal this week. I have got a very achy back - not sure what I've done to get that - but ibuprofen seems to be keeping it at bay.
Yesterday I did a mile and a half run and this morning I did two miles. I've been heading out at 6.30am, and seem to have picked the best part of the day weather-wise. Yesterday it got windier as the day went on and rained quite heavily at times, and it started raining almost as soon as I got home today. It's been cold while I've been out, but at least I haven't got wet.
I'd like to say I've spent my days warming up, but we're having more work done in the front room - yesterday was new skirting boards and today is a new window, so I'm shivering away while trying to write my second CMI assignment.
The colder I feel, the more I'm eating (or is the cold just an excuse?!). I edged onto the scales this morning and jumped off again quickly. Maybe they need new batteries? The reading certainly doesn't seem as low as it should! So...I'll try to be good.
Except I'm going out for a meal with my team tonight, and customers have been bringing us boxes of biscuits and chocolates at work, and I'm on my course tomorrow and might need to have a bacon sandwich at lunch time...
Maybe being good can wait until January!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

A cold long run with a suprise at the end

There was already a heavy frost when we went to bed last night, so I knew this mornings run would be a cold one.
I laid out all my running gear on the radiator in preparation (warm shoes, gloves and hat are a must for heading out on a day like today!) but I put off leaving home until 9am in the hope that the sun would have melted some of the ice.
It hadn't.
The pavements were incredibly slippery, but the skies were clear and it was a lovely morning to be out.
Two miles in and I was feeling quite a tightness in my ankle/lower calf area on my right leg. The nerves kicked in as this was where I had an injury last year, so I spent much of the next two miles stopping to stretch and I dropped my pace right down.
More than once I was tempted to cut the run short, but I persevered and by mile five I was feeling much more comfortable and I completed my planned 8 miles.
The route (in the picture - uploaded from my Garmin) shows what a winding route I took as I kept doubling back to stay close to home.
I did a lot of stretching when I got back and will keep icing my calf, but I'm hopeful that it was just a bit of cramp and won't cause a hiccup in my training.
For anyone who would like a chicken update, I'm happy to report that Kiev is laying an egg every day now, as is either Korma or Nugget. (Korma and Nugget are a bit like Ant and Dec...always together, quite amusing, but no one really knows which is which.)
While I was cleaning out the nesting boxes - mid-ponder over which chicken isn't pulling her weight - I stumbled across an egg half hidden in the top of the compost bin. How exciting! What I now need to find out is if this is day one of all three chickens laying eggs, or if the dog has also been having egg for breakfast every day for the last week.
I think my route back from the hen house will be via the compost bin for the next few days, and we'll be keeping a close eye on where the dog is foraging while he's in the garden.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

(Don't) let it snow

There had been a fair bit of rain on Sunday night which froze as the temperature dropped, meaning that by Monday morning the pavements were treacherous. This made my run more like an ice skating session as I slid all over the place.
At one point - where the path went down hill and turned a corner - it was only a well place lamp post that kept me upright. It's saw.
What should have been a tempo run turned into a take-it-easy-and-don't-lose-your-balance run, but I still managed my 2 miles.
It was considerably warmer this morning when I went out - a tropical 2 degrees! - and there wasn't any ice around. This meant that I could get on with my tempo run - and it went really well. I just did 2 miles again, but was pleased with my times.
There's a lot of talk in the media about snow on the way, and I'm really hopeful that the forecasters have got their sums wrong. I hate snow. I hate going out in snow. I've never even tried running in snow. A very kind friend has let me borrow her treadmill for the winter months, so at least I have a plan B if the dreaded white stuff does arrive.
There is some great news today...Muscular Dystrophy sent it's marathon team details of 'The Big Give', where money donated to charities is matched, and these matched donations can count towards our fundraising total. A couple of donations today have really helped boost my total. It's only running until Friday, and the doubled donations are limited so you need to get online around 10am when the website opens, but is a fantastic initiative.
The direct link to the Muscular Dystrophy page is
You get a reference number when you donate...just let me know what it is and the donation can be linked to my fundraising.
Go know you want to...and it's all in a good cause :o)

Saturday, 3 December 2011

No excuses

Motivation can be hard to find sometimes, especially when there's so much else competing for my time, but I promised myself this year that I would just get out and run. I allowed myself to make an exception if I was ill - when running can be counterproductive - but otherwise it was 'no excuses'.
I was reading a fellow runners blog yesterday, and she said she tags on the words '...but it doesn't matter' to any excuses she might make, so 'It's raining this morning but it doesn't matter', I'm tired this morning but it doesn't matter' get the idea.
I like that, and I've decided to adopt that for my running sessions, and more generally in life, too.
So this morning, when I was really snug in bed, and I could hear the wind whistling outside, and I didn't want to get up I thought 'it doesn't matter' and went out and did my planned 4 mile run. And I really enjoyed it.
I timed it well - as I was huffing and puffing up the hill towards home I got a cheer from hubby and oldest daughter who were on their way out in the car.'s run is done, and another four week block of runs have been ticked off on my training schedule. It's a good milestone to reach, especially as I promised myself a reward each time I completed a block of training - and what a reward it will be today. Two of our chickens started laying eggs this week, so we've saved enough eggs to have with a bacon sandwich at lunch time.
After all the chocolate I've eaten this week I should be watching what I'm eating, but in keeping with my new doesn't matter!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

I say, I say, I say

Have you ever found that armchair critics are the most prolific at offering advice?
Hubby has helpfully pointed out that, while my blogs are informative, they could do with a few extra jokes inserted in them. (I'm guessing he was coming to this conclusion while snug and warm in bed when I was out running alone in the cold, dark mornings.)
Anyway, not one to shirk advice, here goes with a little light humour...

How do crazy runners get through a forest?
They take the psycho-path

Two hikers on a trail come around a bend to find an enormous brown bear about 50 metres up the trail. The bear spies them and begins running toward them at a full gallop. One hiker drops his backpack, sits down, throws off his boots, and starts lacing up a pair of running shoes. The other hiker says: “What are you doing? You will never outrun that bear!”. The first hiker replies: “I don’t have to outrun the bear …”

And finally, this one's for oldest daughter...

A blonde goes out for a run. She comes to a river and cannot see a bridge anywhere nearby. She spots another blonde on the opposite bank. "Yoohoo!" she shouts, "How can I get to the other side?" The second blonde looks up the river then down the river then shouts back, "You're already on the other side!"

So, hopefully that's fulfilled my joke quota for a while.

For those of you who read my blog to keep up with my training, I ran two miles this morning at a pace of 5mph.

Normal blog entries will resume tomorrow.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Two's company

I had a new training partner with me on my run this morning.

He didn't complain about running in the wind and rain and set a good pace. On the downside, he tried to stop and sniff every lamp post.

Yes...I took the dog out with me.

He's a lovely dog, and a faithful friend, but he never has quite got the hang of walking nicely on a lead. I found out this morning that his running etiquette isn't much better.

He was very excited at the prospect of coming out with me, and was jumping up and down so much it took three tries to get his lead on. I wish I could bottle his enthusiasm!

We set out just after 9am (it was my day off), and I began a slow run which he took as his cue to weave from left to right in front of me, with an occasional jump up for good measure.

It took about half a mile for him to calm down, but we did then settle into a reasonable pace, and the rest of the run passed relatively smoothly.

This morning was quite a short run (just under 2 miles). I'm planning on doing the same distance tomorrow at a slightly faster pace so I might give Codey another chance. It was certainly nice to have some company and he appreciated the outing.

I wonder if I can find a route tomorrow that doesn't have any lamp posts...?

Saturday, 26 November 2011

A run that nearly wasn't a run

I didn't sleep too well last night and could so easily have stayed in bed all morning...or even all day!
I spent about an hour and a half weighing up if I should go for my long run or if I should postpone it until tomorrow.
I finally decided at half past eight that I should head out for a short run and see how I felt...if it seemed to be going ok I'd keep going, and if not I'd cut my losses and head home.
As is always the case, the 'thinking about it' was the hardest part, and as soon as I got going I was glad to be out.
The biggest downside of running this morning was the cold wind that I seemed to be running headlong into regardless of the direction that I took.
The biggest upside of running this morning was that I had plenty of time to mull some ideas over, and by the time I got home I'd not only clocked up a seven mile run but had also done some productive brainstorming.
As ever, a run in the morning sets me up well for the day, and I went on to tick off lots of grotty jobs that I know would have otherwise stayed on my 'to do' list.
Hoorah for productivity over procrastination today, and double hoorah for a guilt-free lie in tomorrow!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Hitting the right notes

It was a nice early start again today and I was out running by half past six.
I'd expected it to be quite chilly and had worn my very fetching woolly hat and gloves, but realised my error within a very short distance - it was actually rather mild and I was out in public looking needlessly ridiculous. At least it was still dark and there weren't many people around.
I headed out into the village, up the high street and then returned via the quieter back roads. The greengrocers was still in darkness when I ran past, but the tattoo parlour was fully lit and occupied. Quite why anyone would want a tattoo at that time in the morning I can only begin to imagine. Answers on a postcard...?
It was a quick and uneventful 2 mile run, and I was back and checking on the chickens before seven.
The chickens were a gift from friends a few weeks ago, and they are now at 'point of lay' which means we should be collecting eggs soon. Apparently their siblings have just started to lay, so ours are now on borrowed time...I've told them in no uncertain terms that if they don't start earning their keep soon they'll be in the pot. They didn't seem unduly bothered, so I may have to resort to waving oxo cubes at them tomorrow just to drive home the point.
To round off the day, we went to oldest daughter's school concert. There is some serious talent amongst the pupils, and the concerts are always a pleasure to attend and are well supported. I'm proud to say that oldest daughter played four flute pieces - two duets and two as part of a group ensemble. Marvelous.
Another good day, done.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Danger...rampaging germs

It's not been the best couple of days.
Oldest daughter was overcome by germs on Sunday night and spent all night up and very ill (I'll spare you the gory details) and had to take yesterday and today off school.
I wasn't too well yesterday, but am made of stern stuff and am glad to say that I felt much better by this morning.
Unfortunately I wasn't up to running yesterday, but headed out this afternoon instead. My plan is to still get my three weekly training sessions in before my long run on Saturday without having to run in the zero temperatures that have been predicted for tomorrow morning.
I took the same route that I went on last Friday when Kong came
with me, but at a much more genteel pace. The hills didn't seem quite as bad with my heart rate a little lower, and it was a very pleasant trip out.
The chickens had put themselves to bed by the time I got home so I locked them up for the night, then headed in to cook tea. Be impressed...I've perfected the art of peeling carrots while doing my post-run stretching. Now that's what I call multitasking!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Season of mists

Going running this morning made me think of Keats 'mists and mellow fruitfulness' poem.

The mist was thick in the air and I felt like I was the only person out, simply because I couldn't see more than two foot around me in any direction. The drops of moisture sat on every surface and decorated all the cobwebs making everything feel Narnia-ish and beautiful.

But enough of all that fanciful talk - the air was wet, and within minutes of going out I was wet through to the skin and the dampness really played havoc with my asthma!

I took an old route that I haven't done for a while; from home I headed out onto the main road, down to the island at Longbridge, up the hill to the sorting office and then back down to home. A quick 3 miles that got me back home in time to clean the chickens out while everyone else was just waking up.

Unfortunately the chickens took rather a liking to the fluorescent stripes on my running trousers and gave my legs a good pecking. At least their beaky attention helped me to work quickly, and a rotten job was done in lightening speed.

I can't go without giving a big cheer of encouragement to my cousin, who has signed up to do the 'Three Peaks Challenge' next summer. It sounds like taking on a challenge runs in the family, and I hope he enjoys his training as much as I do!

Friday, 18 November 2011

My new personal trainer

Standards have slipped during my week's holiday, and with the alarm turned off my early morning run turned into a mid-morning run.

Youngest daughter (aka Kong) has a day off school, so I convinced her that she wanted to keep me company on today's outing.

Trainers on and fully warmed up, we headed out and up through the local housing estate. Up is no exaggeration - it's hilly round here!

Kong is a real slave driver...and a fast runner. Despite all my attempts to slow her down we kept a 10min/mile pace and I was very grateful to reach a plateau, and even more grateful to hit the downhill stretch.

She looked fresh as a daisy by the end, while I was the colour of overcooked beetroot.

Her advice...? 'Not bad, but you need to work harder on the uphills, Mum.'

Thanks, Kong.

Maybe I'll recruit her to come out with me on my next long run and see what pace she keeps...or on second thoughts, maybe not - she'd probably beat me over long distances, too!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A 'More Hare than Tortoise' kind of day

For those of you who read my blog on Monday, you'll be pleased to know that I avoided the bacon sarnies at lunch time and stuck to the healthy option that I took with me. Two days running would have been a bit of a tall order (and we did work very hard on the course, so deserved a treat - honestly) so yesterday I opted for sausage and mushroom, and it was superb!

Today is the first day of my week off...yippee!
I've started doing some tempo runs to try to improve my speed and endurance, so after a good warm up this morning I embarked on 1 minute hard running followed by 1 minute gentle jogging.

The fast running was great for getting the blood pumping, but I soon got very wheezy - something that hasn't happened even on my long runs. It wasn't bad enough to make me change my plans, but by the end of the run (2 miles) I knew I'd worked hard.

Interestingly (well, it is if you like this kind of thing!) my average pace was 30 seconds a mile slower, so even though I was pushing harder during the fast stretches my recovery must have been much slower. At least over the next few months these tempo sessions should help my overall speed.

So - now I have a whole day stretching ahead of me with nothing to do. Well - I say nothing, but I've got to get the paint out of the dogs tail after he backed into the paint tray yesterday, do the washing, tidy up, read through my notes from my course and set myself some action points, do the shopping...

Time for a cuppa and some toast first!

Monday, 14 November 2011

A tale of two sandwiches

I didn't realise quite how hard I'd pushed myself on Saturday's run until yesterday - when I couldn't sit down very comfortably. It seems those hills gave my leg muscles a full workout.

This morning's run was a more sedate 'get the legs working again' run, and I was out and back within twenty minutes - not a bad thing, as there was quite a chill in the air that I wasn't prepared for.

Hubby has this week off, and will be spending today tackling the collapsed floor. The new joists are already in place, so just 30ish floor boards to be cut to size and screwed down.

Today and tomorrow I'm on my CMI course in Worcester. It's a great venue, and so far has been a brilliant course, so I'm looking forward to two days of intense learning in pleasant surroundings. The biggest challenge...the sandwich van within sniffing distance of where we work.

I've previously given in to the temptations of various combinations of bacon, egg, sausage and mushrooms on thick, soft, white bread. Unfortunately not even a two mile run this morning can counteract that kind of treat on a regular basis (especially when you factor in the odd trip to the chocolate vending machine) so today I'm leaving my purse at home and taking my own lunch.
Will my resolve last for both days of the course...? Hmm. Unlikely, methinks.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

A run in the park

I woke up feeling a little under the weather yesterday so didn't go out for my morning run. Fortunately we were busy at work which was a good distraction, but I was really glad to get home yesterday evening.
I had a six mile run scheduled for this weekend, and promised myself that if I felt better when I woke up this morning I would get up and go...and I'm pleased to say I did.
I headed out just after half past seven (no work today, so no need to get up too early), but had no route in mind. I fancied a change, so headed in the opposite direction to usual.
One uphill mile later I reached Cofton Park. It was a misty and damp morning, and the park had a very ghost-like feel. I skirted all the way round the edge of the park - which was quite wet underfoot after a night of heavy rain - and only came across one other jogger and two dogs out for a walk with their owner.
Although Cofton makes for a scenic run it's also hard work. The area is very hilly, and the climb back up to the main road was exhausting.
Fortunately the next mile was mostly downhill as I headed back towards home, but had only clocked up 5 miles as I reached my road.
I resisted the urge to sneak back home early and did another mile by heading out towards the village and then finally turning back towards home.
I was hoping to be greeted with a cuppa, but instead found the living room had been turned upside down and all the flooring in the bay window area had been removed. We knew the floor boards in that part of the room were a bit springy, but what we hadn't expected was to find that a combination of wet rot and woodworm had completely destroyed two joists.
Oh well. Time for a quick shower, make my own drink, and then on with the DIY.
At least I should sleep well tonight!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

A quick post about a quick run

Today is my day off, but I still got up at half past six to do my run. I knew if I didn't go out early I'd put it off all day, so the early start meant I was back in the warm by 7am.
It's really autumnal out there - misty, drizzly rain and a carpet of slippery leaves on the pavements and roads. That said, it wasn't cold, and it was a really pleasant run.
My left achilles has been a bit tight over the last few days so I've been doing lots of stretching, and I'm pleased to report that there were no problems while I was out.
So, run completed, three loads of washing done, vacuum put round, bathroom cleaned and downstairs tidied...and it's still only 10am.
Time to light a fire, make a cup of tea and settle down for an hour with my book. Lovely :o)

Saturday, 5 November 2011

It's been a long week

This week has been incredibly busy, both at work and at home.
Friday was the deadline for my CMI project, so I spent every spare minute finishing it off - all 40 pages of it! On top of that, I was in Evesham on Wednesday to deliver some training, then rushed back to my own library for the 'Summer Reading Challenge' ceremony, where all the children who had read six books through the summer were presented with a certificate and medal.
At home, we've had the builders in. They've ripped out the old fireplace and installed a new log burner. It looks fabulous, but we've now got the job of redecorating the room (including replacing a rotten joist, putting new skirting boards on and all the usual painting and decorating).
I guess what I'm trying to say is I've been a bit too busy to do all my runs in the week. I know...I shouldn't make excuses, but I am!
Anyway, the project was handed in yesterday and the builders have gone, so I promised myself that I'd be up and out early for a run before work today, so at 6.25am when the alarm went off I didn't dare press snooze.
Sadly it wasn't an easy run; my legs felt like concrete for the first couple of miles but I was determined to keep going.
I only ever take water with me if I'm going further than five miles, but really wished I'd taken some along today. I was so thirsty after three miles that even the puddles at the side of the road looked tempting (you'll be pleased to know that I resisted the urge and waited until I got home!)
Anyway - long run done for the weekend. I'm now sat at work on my lunch break, half way through the day, and am glad I made the effort to go out.
Best of all, a long run this morning means I get a lie in tomorrow. Hoorah!
Happy weekend, everyone x

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Who let the dogs out...?

I collected hubby from the airport first thing yesterday, and while he headed to bed to sleep off his jet lag I should have gone straight out for a run...but instead I got comfy and read my book (Ken Follett's 'Fall of Giants').
I promised myself that I'd do my long weekend run later in the day, but never quite got round to it. Actually, I didn't really get round to doing very much at all yesterday. Lazy, but quite nice!
The clocks went back an hour last night so I used my 'extra hour' to get my run done early this morning, heading out just after half past six.
The weather forecast said that today would be dry and warm. Sadly it was neither that early in the day. The heavy drizzle soon turned into full-on rain, and within half a mile I was soaked through to the skin. Hey ho - nothing to do but keep going.
I'm still following a walk/run strategy but I've tweaked the ratio for the long runs; this morning I ran for two minutes and walked for one, then repeated for 4.2 miles.
The run/walk strategy means that even on longer runs I'm not too tired by the end, and looking at the breakdown of my timings when I got home I could see that my speed was picking up throughout and I ran a negative split (meaning that the second half of the run was quicker than the first). My pace is also not much slower than when I'm running all the time (averaging about 10 seconds a mile slower) so over the distance of the marathon I should feel fresher without losing out on time.
Half way round my run I went past a pub in the village. Two puppies came tumbling out of a side door and were pottering around on the car park...until they saw me. I suddenly gained two new best friends, and couldn't get away. Every time I started to run on, they followed me. I tried to ignore them. I tried to shoo them away. I tried to find their owner. In the end, to get away, I threw a stick for them and ran at top speed (7.7mph, according to my watch!) in the opposite direction.
The rest of the run continued without incident, and I got home just after quarter past seven. Another run - done.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Such a perfect day

I know a moan a bit (ok - a lot) about having to get up early to fit my training in before work, but today was one of those days when it all seemed effortless.
First of all, I was awake before the alarm, having had a wonderfully peaceful nights sleep. It's amazing what a difference earplugs make when there's ANOTHER party going on...not that I'm cross. Much.
Anyway, I digress.
I was awake before the alarm, my GPS watch found a signal straight away, and as I headed outside I was greeted by a clear sky full of twinkling stars. Truly beautiful.
I didn't go very far again - I'm saving myself for the long weekend run tomorrow - but every step seemed effortless and as I headed for home the sun was just starting to rise.
If only I could bottle that feeling and sell it I could solve all my fundraising dilemmas in one day.
On a personal note, today is my last full day in charge of the remote control, as hubby will be heading to the airport in the next four hours to begin his long journey home. All being well, I'll be meeting him at the airport early tomorrow morning.
Farewell remote, welcome back flicking between programmes, but best of all, welcome back hubby :o)

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Quiet, please!

Hubby is now half way through his week in America, and I can't believe how quickly the time has gone. His absence has brought some unexpected bonuses - I get unrestricted access to the remote control, I don't keep finding windows open and there's no-one to kick me in the middle of the night - but I'm definitely missing him, and am looking forward to Saturday.
Unfortunately the weather here isn't the thirty degree Dallas heat that hubby is enjoying, so my morning run has involved long sleeves and a woolly hat.
Monday was a great run - I seemed to find a comfortable rhythm from the off and was disappointed when it was time to head back home.
This morning was a short but fast run. It was all I could manage, and I would have loved to stay in bed. (A neighbour's teenagers decided to have a party last night, and I wasn't able to get any sleep before 4am, so a 6.30am alarm call was the last thing I wanted to hear!) Please be impressed that I stuck to my schedule and still got up and went out. Dedication indeed.
At least tomorrow I get a lie in until 7am...Thursday's are 'rest days', so no running, no cross training, and hopefully no loud music through the walls. Now that sounds like a plan :o)

Sunday, 23 October 2011

It's a small world

I was up even earlier than usual this morning to take hubby and a work colleague of his to the airport - they're off to America for a conference.
They tried to convince me on the way that it would be an intensive week of work, but both seemed very up to date with the latest weather forecast over there (30 degrees, but a little breezy, apparently). I'm also a little unsure of how a trip to the Dallas Cowboys Stadium will help achieve operational excellence, but it seems they're willing to include it in their itinerary just in case!
Having waved them off at the airport I drove home and went straight out for my long run. It was a lovely morning for it - bright, twelve degrees, with a light breeze to keep me cool. Half way round I received a text message from hubby - he'd bumped into friends of ours in the departure lounge and they're on the same flight as him to Newark. A small world indeed. From Newark they're heading to Florida while he flies to Dallas.
So - I've done the airport transport, two loads of washing, a long run and let the chickens out...all before quarter past eight.
Surely I deserve a cuppa?

Friday, 21 October 2011

Can you spot a pattern emerging...?

I spent all of yesterday in a tutorial for the finance module of my CMI course, and booked today off to finish my write up while it's all fresh in my mind. I say 'finish', but in reality I'll be glad to get 50% done - I think we've all underestimated just how much work there is to do before 4th November deadline. Gulp!
I got home yesterday to find that I've been sponsored by someone I met at the marathon last time round. I'd handed in my kit bag and was feeling a little lost and nervous when a voice said 'Hello Jas - I've been reading your blog!' She introduced herself as Lorraine - a fellow Asthma UK runner - and we chatted for a while before heading to the start. We've kept in touch via Facebook, and she's recently run a half marathon in a great time. I'm trying to convince her to run on a Gold Bond place again in 2012, but so far she's resisting my gentle nudges. Go on know you want to!
As it's a day off today I decided not to set my alarm, just to get up 'about half past 6'. I woke up at 6, thought I'd doze for a bit longer, and suddenly hubby's alarm was going off and it was five to seven. Oops, but never mind.
I headed out for a quick mile and a half, and made good time. It was much warmer this morning, but I'd gone out prepared for a cold start with woolly hat and gloves on, so half a mile in I was far too hot.
There was a beautiful sunrise this morning, and the sky was a stunning pinky-red - not a good sign if you believe the portents, but lovely to look at.
I'm glad to say I'm now tucked back up in bed with my netbook and coursework ready for a day of study.
Hmmm...maybe I should just finish stripping the wallpaper off the living room wall....

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A long day and a late run

Ok...I admit it...I pressed the snooze button this morning and stayed tucked up in bed when I should have been out running. If I'm allowed to present the case for the defence, I had a rotten night's sleep (or lack of) and woke up with a cracking headache.
Sadly I spent all day feeling guilty for my laziness and promised myself that I'd head out as soon as I got home from work.
Wednesday's are my long day - and late finish - at work, so I didn't get home until almost half past seven. I could feel my resolve was slipping, but youngest daughter (affectionately called Kong) offered to accompany me, so five minutes later we were heading through the door and into the cold night.
One minute from home we passed a group of teenage lads and were loudly cheered on our way - it's amazing how much you can up your pace when necessary!
We only did a quick, short run - just over a mile - but we were a lot warmer when we got home.
Best of all, Kong has promised to come out with me again soon, so I now have a choice of running partner this year. Marvelous!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Running and writing, and writing and procrastinating...

I usually run on a Monday morning, but I had to be in at work extra early for a server update yesterday so postponed my run until I got home...or at least that was the intention. I had 'one of those days' - if it could go wrong, it did...and then some - and by the time I got home it was dark and pouring with rain. I did the only sensible thing - kicked off my shoes, slumped in the chair and ordered pizza!
Today is my day off, and my plan was always to spend the day working on my finance assignment for my CMI course, so I got up early and went for a run with hubby in tow. It was decidedly chilly at half past six, but at least it was dry. We made good progress, picked up the speed a bit, and both felt a lot warmer and more awake on the return leg.
After stretching, feeding the dog and letting the chickens out (well - opening their door - they were still tucked up asleep on their perches!) I was back back in bed with a cup of tea by my side and my coursework open by 7.15am.
I've made reasonable progress through the morning, but seem to have hit a bit of a wall, so awarded myself a half hour break to make another cuppa and write my blog.
Now, what else needs doing...? Not that I'm procrastinating, of course...

Sunday, 16 October 2011

It's the thought that counts

I had the pleasure of hubby's company on my Friday morning run. It was still dark when we went out, and the streets were quiet, with just a few cars around. I stick close to home and on the main roads when I'm out on my own, so it was great to venture a bit further afield with him, and particularly pleasant to return through the park.
Hubby was a bit surprised when two collies charged past us out of the darkness, but they were only interested in returning to their owner.
Sadly our chocolate Labrador is a useless running companion - he spends all his time jumping up at me or wrapping himself round my ankles on the occasions I've tried to take him out with me - as I've often thought how nice it would be to have his company.
Oldest daughter promised she'd come out for a run with me this morning, but soon retracted her offer when she realised it would mean a) getting up earlier than she needed to, and b) running. Oh well...I guess it's the thought that counts.
The sun was up when I went out today, so despite the light frosting on the cars I was quickly warmed up. I ran through the village, past the shops (and past the balti restaurant where we had a rather delicious meal last night) and back towards home. Today was 'long slow run' day, but the route I took was shorter than I'd anticipated, so I added on another loop back towards the village before finally heading home.
I keep a record of how far I've run and my average speed and overall time on my training schedule, which is pinned to the notice board in the kitchen (so the family can moan at me if I haven't been out when I should). My GPS watch informed me that I'd burned 253 calories while I was out this morning...I make that just enough for a guilt-free piece of cake later.
I knew there was a reason I loved running!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Spot the deliberate mistake

I was up early again for this morning's run, although I'd have paid good money to stay in bed today. That said, it had warmed up again this morning and I came home suitably awake and refreshed.

For those of you who read my blog yesterday, did you spot the deliberate mistake on my card? First prize goes to Jenny who did notice it. She's now my official proof reader, and I'll be emailing my 120,000 word novel to her to check through later.

Sadly it wasn't noticed until the cards had already been printed, so 250 will be dropping through my letterbox any day now, all with typo's on.

Scroll down to yesterday's post to see if you can spot the mistake...

If you find it, you have to text 'Jass73' £1 to 70070

If you can't find it, text 'Jass73' £1 to 70070 and I'll point it out to you!

100% of all contributions go towards my fundraising :o)

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Wheezy does it

I went for my annual asthma check-up today, and am pleased to say that it all went very well. I'm officially the right weight for my height at last (I'm usually told I could do with losing a bit of weight which only ever encourages me to eat more chocolate!) and my lung capacity is above the expected level - another big plus.
I know that the running I've done over the last couple of years has made a big difference to my breathing and I'm hoping I escape a chest infection again this winter.
The only problem was when the nurse came to print off my inhaler prescription - the new computer system said 'No', so I've had to 'leave it with her' and I can collect it tomorrow. Hopefully.
I've ordered some 'business cards' again, as I found them really useful last time round for giving out my fundraising details.
What do you think of the design...?
Hopefully I've got all the details right on there.
Sadly there wasn't a picture of jelly beans to match my blog's background, so I plumped for a running shoe instead. I'm not sure my running shoes have ever gone as fast as the one on the card, but I'm working on it.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Blown away - three times in one day!

I was up and out early again this morning for a training run, and the wind was blowing a gale. At times I felt like I was leaning 45 degrees into the wind just to make any headway, so although I only did a mile and a half I think it should actually count as 3!

I had a busy day at work and came home exhausted, so nearly didn't check my emails this evening...but am so glad that I did. There was a new email with 'Congratulations' in the title. It was from the Muscular Dystrophy Events team and the opening line read...

"Thank you for your application for the London Marathon. I am delighted to be able to offer you a place on our 2012 London Marathon team."

Much squealing followed! It's official - I'm in!
Not just in, but running for a charity that is very close to my heart, because my Dad had Muscular Dystrophy. If ever I need a reason to get up and out on cold winter mornings, this is it.

The rest of the evening has been taken up in setting up my Just Giving page (which you can visit at ...and while you're there, you could make a quick donation!)
I'm also rather excited to have set up a 'donation by text' facility. By texting Jass73 followed by the amount you want to donate to 70070 you can help me raise funds really quickly and easily...and it's quite good fun, too!
We've had to try it out to make sure it works. I'm glad to say it does. Isn't technology clever?!
I'm intending to get it printed on the back of my running tops in the hope that people will take pity on the red-faced-huffing-and-puffing woman on her training runs and make a donation!

The third thing that blew me away today was when my youngest daughter called me up to her room - she'd tidied it without being asked! It's the first time we've seen the carpet since 2007. Now that really does make today a special day!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Good company

Yesterday was a busy day, so I saved my weekend run for this morning.
Getting up and heading out early was made much easier because I had company...hubby volunteered to accompany me.
There had been a fair bit of rain overnight, so we were playing dodge the puddles - and dodge the slugs! Where do they come from? They are the size of house bricks, and double up as hurdles. It's a shame I didn't take a carrier bag out with me to collect them...they would have kept the chickens happy all week.
A good marker for effort is being able to hold a conversation while running. As I usually run alone, it's not a test I do often. (I get enough odd looks without talking to myself as well.) I'm glad to say that hubby and I managed to chat all the way round, and it really did make the time go quicker.
Now...what are the chances of him coming with me tomorrow morning? I'm going to say not good.
Anyone else free at 6.30am tomorrow?

Friday, 7 October 2011

Round the block

I should have had my annual asthma check up a month ago, but couldn't book the appointment because the doctors were installing a new computer system. Time went on, I didn't get round to making an appointment, and now I've run out of my preventer inhaler and my wheezing is increasing by the day. Not the best start to a training programme.
With this in mind, I've been doing circuits of our road so that I'm never too far from home.
I've got the day off work today because we've got tickets to 'Grand Designs Live' at the NEC, but instead of having a nice lie in I was up before 7am and out for my run.
This morning was decidedly colder than two days ago, but a couple of minutes into my run I'd warmed up nicely and was able to enjoy being out.
I found out yesterday about three more people that I know that have a place in the marathon, so there should be plenty of opportunities for training together. Very exciting, and much more fun than training alone...especially on the long runs.
So - the easy part of the day is out of the way - the run. Now comes the difficult bit - stopping hubby from spending our savings on things we don't need at the NEC!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Back to early mornings

I won't know for sure about my Gold Bond place for another couple of weeks (I'll tell you more about that when I can), but I've started my training programme anyway.
Those of you who know me will confirm that I'm not a morning person, and getting out of bed at silly o'clock to go for a run was by far the hardest part of training last time round. So, at silly o'clock this morning, it was with a heavy heart that I dragged myself out of my warm bed, donned my running kit and Garmin watch and tumbled out onto the pavement.
Having been dogged by injury during the run up to the 2011 marathon I'm determined to take it easy, so did just over a mile this morning followed by plenty of stretching.
I'd forgotten how lovely it is to be out in the quiet of the morning, but give me a couple of weeks when the mornings are darker, colder and wetter and I might reassess my opinion.
So, day one of week one's training - done. Just another 29 weeks to go!