Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas present

At this time of year, many running blogs are reflecting on the year just gone. Not here! I won't bore you with a list of resolutions for 2012 either; this is no time for naval gazing, it's Christmas!

As Oogway, the wise tortoise in Kung Fu Panda, says,


Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the 'present'."



There's no need to wait until January. If you're not already up to your Christmas crackers in bread sauce then it isn't too late to give yourself a little Christmas present today and this is what the gift tag says:

gift tag

Don't bother to keep the receipt. No refunds or exchanges necessary. Give yourself this gift and you'll be much nicer to everyone today (you'll also really enjoy your dinner and the first tipple will go straight to your knees). What could be more festive than that?

I hope you have a happy Christmas! Love from me x



*substitute other activities (e.g. bike ride/Twister/wheelbarrow racing) as you see fit.




Tuesday, 20 December 2011

All bottled up


If Santa is still looking for stocking fillers, he'd do well to check out my exclusive new range of aromatherapy oils:


End of Term Euphoria:

Use regularly to restore natural levels of optimism, creativity and sleep. The uplifting properties of this blend can be used to disperse the cumulative tension associated with long-term neglect of partners, friends and family. Can also be massaged into the eye area to reduce dark circles and puffiness.





Christmas Countdown:

This warming blend can be used to excite even the most miserly of beings. The comforting aromas of pine tree and mulled wine help stimulate an urgent need to drink, eat and shop festively. Use sparingly to avoid peaking too soon.

Caution: May cause hangovers.

Runner's High:

Apply liberally for unrivaled sensations of happiness, invincibility and appetite stimulation.

Tip: Blends well with Christmas Countdown.






I ran for the first time in a month today and contemplated the fortune I'd make with the last one. Then I realised the last thing I need is another excuse not to go training.

Still, I plan to make millions with the first bottle come January.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

A spiral of self-distraction

Today, I have discovered 5 reasons why it would be a terrible idea for me to work from home on a regular basis:

1. Snacks*
peanut butter

2. Doorstep Chuggers
chugging

3. Twitter
tweeting

4. Cold calls
coldcalls

5. My withering will power
will power

The only really justifiable distraction hasn't actually seemed that tempting:

intervals

Tomorrow, I shall run to work.


Friday, 30 September 2011

Periodical disappointment

You may not know this but I'm a subscriber to a very popular glossy mag. Despite its massive following, it's only published once a year. Once a year, every year, except last year, when there appeared to be some kind of administrative error and it wasn't delivered. Obviously, I wrote a strongly worded letter of disgust. Fancy waiting 12 months for my magazine, only to be left so disappointed. Thankfully, the publisher rectified the error and sent this year's digest even earlier than expected. What a relief.

magazinesubscription

Congratulations to those who have a place in London 2012; I'll look forward to following your progress and cheering on April 22nd. Don't be too disappointed if you didn't though; as Lazy Girl Running says, London's not the only marathon. Personally, I'm looking forward to Stockholm Jubilee Marathon next July.

Will I enter the London ballot again? Of course I will.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Community spirit

What a week.

As the nation deals with the dreadful scenes across the country, it feels like anyone with a political axe to grind has been only to keen to offer their grievance as a reason for this sad and terrifying behaviour (having nearly ended up with dog turd in my flip flop this morning, I'm half expecting a call to appear on Newsnight later postulating my view that the youth of today are rioting against the pooper-scooping refuseniks of the world. Sounds ridiculous? Watch Newsnight later); for now, we wait for the varied and complicated reasons to unravel (sadly, I fear many of the participants don't know themselves why they joined in) and offer our thoughts to those affected.

Lucky enough to live away from the main trouble, I felt helpless but heartened to seen the @riotcleanup efforts unfold on Twitter on Tuesday and Wednesday. My favourite image of the week (below) circulated the social networks and reassured us that this endearing side of Britain still exists and that most people care enormously for their communities.


Meanwhile, good news of Run Geordie Run's incredible run across America filtered through the online running community (how have I missed this until now? Thanks, Maggie, for keeping me in the loop. Next you'll be telling me that they changed the name of Marathon bars). He ran an average of 31 miles a day for 100 days, arriving in New York on Tuesday, and has delighted followers with images of his ravaged feet since. As I type this, his fundraising total stands at over £78,000 for the challenge. Amazing stuff.

Sadly, we also learned the terrible news that a fellow Janathoner, Paula, passed away earlier this week. I never met Paula in person but she forms part of a community that has certainly helped rekindle my enjoyment of exercise this year; something I am very grateful for. FitArtist suggested we dedicate a run to Paula this week; if I may, I'd like to extend my dedication to Jan-/Juneathoners, whose community spirit goes a very long way toward keeping me from becoming a running reprobate.

Recreating my favourite Janathon run: I ran to the woods at the top of the hill and climbed a tree. I then ran back down the hill like Phoebe, with Queen's "We are the Champions" at full volume. Nicely done.

I'm escaping Britain tomorrow for a week and hope it remains relatively intact during this time. Don't think of looting my place while I'm away though, lovely boyfriend is staying behind to defend Cake HQ (besides, I seem to have packed pretty much everything I own).


Thursday, 28 July 2011

Complimentary coffee

How to fill the best-flippin-Tour-de-France-in-years-shaped hole in my afternoons this week?

Simple: cycle 40 mile round trip to meet lovely boyfriend at work for a coffee.

All the best bike rides involve a cafe.

Whilst soaking up the sun, enjoying my cappuccino, lovely boyfriend remarked,

"You look a bit like a pro..."

I blushed.

Then he finished,

... one who's let themselves go a bit."

Charming. Coffees are on him next time.

coffeebike

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

A runner's constitution

Lazy Girl Running posted her running manifesto earlier today. A great idea, courtesy of Run Dem Crew.

Here's mine:

Running is… just putting one foot in front of the other. Nothing more complicated than that.
Running is not… for fish.
I run… on roads, off roads, in races, in circles.
I run for… me: my sanity and my happiness.
I run because… I say I can.
I run when… I need to clear my head and when I want to fill it.
I run with… little grace but lots of optimism.

I have never run… without a good sports bra.
I have always run… and greeted other runners.
I run in spite of… it being the sport I have least aptitude for.
I don’t run… on a full stomach.
I should run… like Phoebe once in a while.
I might run… faster, one day.
I will run… if I want to.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Yoga matters

I'm on holiday now and it's bloomin' marvellous; however, with most normal people still fully occupied with proper jobs, I do need to be careful that I make the most of my time off and not fritter it away. Catching myself eating Wotsits for breakfast and contemplating watching an episode of Waybuloo the other morning, I realised I was very much on the verge of frittering. I thought about some worthwhile jobs that I could accomplish this summer. The list is long, ambitious, and mostly unrealistic but I've been making some progress on one of the assignments: find a yoga class I like. Hardly the most philanthropic of tasks but purposeful nonetheless (and a positive spin on the near-Waybuloo indiscretion).

I used to go regularly to a class at the council sports centre where you could hear techno music from the gym thudding through the wall. Then there was a brief fling with a class at the local village hall, where the bangin' choons were replaced with trombone practice next door. That was over 4 years ago and it would appear that my toes have got much further away since then.

Back to the task, I first tried a morning Hatha class at another local sports centre. With the daytime scheduling, there were some impressively supple pensioners there. One cheeky chap said he'd rifled through my handbag during the session. Thankfully, I don't think he had, but it's something to be wary of.

Keen for something a little more energetic, I found the details of an evening Ashtanga class at a yoga studio located behind an Italian restaurant (an encouraging sign, especially as my rusty conversational Italian meant I could understand the swearing coming from kitchen). I e-mailed the instructor to apologise in advance for my inelasticity and she replied to say I was very welcome to join; the look on her face suggested she may have reconsidered when I told her I'd run there. I dripped sweat steadily at the back and slid about on my mat, whilst it dawned on me that the class might be a little more advanced than ideal. The instructor was kind and patient; she reassured me not to look at what others could do (especially those balanced on their heads) as she helped push my unyielding limbs to somewhere near they were supposed to be. I imagine it looked rather like Rabbit trying to push Winnie the Pooh out of his front door. The class finished with some chanting; not normally my thing but the instructor said it was to wish everyone well in the world and I thought that sounded jolly sporting. Besides, she said we could just join in with the bits we knew, which reminded me a bit of hymn practice at school.

Still reasonably convinced that Ashtanga was more my cup of tea, I booked into another morning class back at the sports centre today. I cycled there this time, having learned my lesson from the run, and arrived relatively composed. This time there was a nice smell of incense and a good mix of participants. It turned out to be the same instructor from the yoga studio and she was even more helpful than before. She remarked that my shoulders "resisted" relaxing as she tugged energetically at my neck (hardly surprising when I write such long, rambling blog posts) and made several more attempts to free Winnie the Pooh.

So far, I think the 3rd class has been my favourite. The morning timing means its a no-go in term time, but I will go again in the holidays. The search for an evening class continues, as do the efforts to avoid the temptation of Waybuloo.

I know there are a few blogging joggers who practice yoga: do you have any tips for finding a class that suited you?

Monday, 18 July 2011

How to make friends whilst racing people

I did my first Olympic distance triathlon yesterday. Given how little preparation had gone into it, I was quite pleased with my pedestrian time and actually rather enjoyed the extra distance. I even wondered if I should break recent form and consider some training in between these races.

It seems perhaps not everyone enjoys their racing though. At least 3 people mumbled that they weren't having any fun as they streaked past me on the run. Call me old fashioned, but it does seem a silly way of having a crap time on a Sunday morning.

One such character really caught my attention at yesterday's race. We shall call her Skinnylady (merely an observation, with a hint of envy).

It's not unusual for me to be overtaken by a lighter, leaner competitor going uphill on my bike and yesterday was no exception. On the other hand, it's always quite motivating to catch up with someone who clearly takes more care of their self than I do and I do my best to manage that on the descents; however, in the awkward moment as you draw level, I believe it's only good manners to acknowledge that person with a word of encouragement.

"Well done", I said as Skinnylady overtook me on the first climb.

Skinnylady said......... nothing. She didn't even flinch.

Moments later, I moved past Skinnylady on a flat, fast section of road, "Well done, keep it going!"

And Skinnylady said ............. nothing. Again.

On the long climb up to the half way turn, Skinnylady danced past me with some style, to which I offered, "Go on, great climbing!"

Skinnylady exclaimed ................. nothing. Foxtrot Alpha.

At this point, I considered the possibilities: perhaps English wasn't her first language; maybe she was crippled by pathological shyness; or maybe she was just plain rude. As I overtook her again on the next descent, my cheeks were flapping so much I couldn't really speak, so I decided to cease efforts to communicate there.

She finally snuck past me on the way into transition and I assumed that would be the end of our uncomfortable silences. I continued with my campaign of harassment/support and attempted to encourage those passing me on the second lap of their run, comforted by the fact that many of the racing snakes could manage a nod of recognition as they pelted past. Many even initiated their own support with a helpful comment and my faith in camaraderie was restored.

Finally hitting a steady shuffle after 3K or so, I saw a familiar silhouette in the distance... walking. With some curiosity, I drew level and asked if she was OK.

“I’ve got cramp!” Skinnylady barked. I made sympathetic noises and encouraged her to keep moving until it passed. I carried on running for fear of my own cramp or, even worse, another fiery rebuttal.

Some time later, a small voice behind me yelped,

"Thank you for keeping me going. Can I run with you?"

Hello Skinnylady.

I offered her one of my Shot Bloks and said she was welcome to join me. We continued on into the second lap, shoulder to shoulder. I wondered whether small talk would be a wise option but decided that the awkward silence we'd established earlier in the event would probably be more appropriate. Besides, conversation whilst running is not easy with my training base. This continued until a kind-looking man cheered us both on. Breaking all expectations, Skinnylady turned to me, smiled, and said,

"Isn't everyone here friendly?"

She then lengthened her stride and left me for dust.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

30) Raising the bar

So, the end of Juneathon is here and I'd like to congratulate those who hung on in there longer than I managed and, of course, thank Jogblog for organising us all again.

I thought the most fitting way to end the month would be with yet more meticulous statistical analysis. I wanted to compare my Juneathon efforts with what I accomplished in Janathon. After carefully considering the variables, I realised that the data is as discontinuous as my running this month, and the best representation has to be a bar graph. A chocolate bar graph, to be precise. And what could provide better statistical robustness than the reliable Kit Kat Chunky.

Here, you can see my Janathon running efforts, represented by Kit Kat Chunky Original, compared directly with the Juneathon miles, Kit Kat Chunky Peanut Butter:

Slide1

A slightly sorry story I'm afraid; however, we must remember that Janathon was one whole day longer than Juneathon and, given the extra day, I am sure I would have made up the extra 90-odd miles.

Slightly more encouraging is the comparison of cycling miles (you'll notice I've taken tips from my local Tory candidate's election leaflet when choosing the scale for the y-axis):

Slide2

According to this graph, Juneathon blew Janathon's swimming efforts out of the water:

Slide3

And let's not forget the lakeland yomping:

Slide4

And the mighty press ups:

Slide5

I think we can conclude that Juneathon has been a roaring success. Go me! I hope you are feeling triumphant at the end of your month.

juneathonstats

Day 30 - Round-up run
Distance - 1.7 miles
Cake rating - 5/5 (well, it is the last day)
score5

Day 30 - Cycle commute

Distance - 7.8 miles

Cumulative Juneathising: 45.0 miles running + 5.3 miles swimming + 131.5 miles cycling + token amount of lakeland yomping + 13 mighty press ups

vs Cumulative Janathising: 140.5 miles running + 129.2 miles cycling + 2.9 miles swimming

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

29) Press on



What with Juneathon being such a roaring personal success, I wanted to capitalise on my extraordinary self-discipline and make sure I have another project ready to go on July 1st:




(Image source: Mother Fitness)

Cue one hundred push ups. In six weeks, I'm assured that these dinner lady arms will bewaving goodbye to the bingo wings and giving away two tickets to the gun show. Or maybe they'll look just as formless, but better able to support my cake-laden surplus in a prone position.

I did the initial test when I got home from work and managed a mighty 13 press ups. Unlucky for some? Yes, I think so... the plan says I have to do 45 on Friday.

juneathonstats

Day 29 - Run to work
Distance - 3.9 miles
Cake rating - 5/5 (my running needs as much encouragement as it can get at the moment)
score5

Day 29 - Cycle h
ome
Distance - 3.9 miles

+ 13 mighty press ups

Cumulative Juneathising: 43.3 miles running + 5.3 miles swimming + 123.6 miles cycling + token amount of lakeland yomping + 13 mighty press ups

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

28) Birthday cake

My little blog is 1 year old today.

As a first-time blogger, the first year has been a learning experience from the very beginning. Nothing can prepare you for the all-consuming nature of bloggerhood; at times, it has been an emotional rollercoaster and the blogger-blues can really get you down in the lonely early stages. There have been months where I've barely slept, but that has been balanced by periods of total dormancy. Even at 12 months old, when most blogs are beginning to discover their independence, it's still quite clingy and demands a lot of my attention. Meeting other bloggers with blogs of similar ages has been an invaluable source of support; however, I must be careful not to compare my blog to bigger, cleverer, more developed blogs. After all, each blog reaches it's milestones at its own pace. I am just happy that my blog is a good-natured sort; perfectly content babbling incoherently away to itself whilst it smiles and dribbles gratefully at any one who'll give it a little attention.

Happy birthday, little blog!


juneathonstats

Day 28 - Cycle commuting
Distance - 3.9 miles

Day 28 - What? A RUN? Is it your birthday or something?
Distance - 3.9 miles
Cake rating - 5/5 (long overdue)
score5

Cumulative Juneathising: 39.4 miles running + 5.3 miles swimming + 119.7 miles cycling + token amount of lakeland yomping

Monday, 27 June 2011

27) Balls...



... are something that have seemingly lacked from my recent Juneathon endeavours. Thank goodness travellinghopefully has sent me some in the post:



mintballs

Thank you, Cassie.

They are rather delicious sweeties, which (along with the lovely sunny weather) have kept me all aglow today.


juneathonstats

Day 27 - Sticky cycle commuting
Distance - 7.8 miles

Day 27 - A swim to temper the glow
Distance - 1500 m

Cumulative Juneathising: 34.5 miles running + 5.3 miles swimming + 115.8 miles cycling + token amount of lakeland yomping

Sunday, 26 June 2011

26) Goggle-eyed


Exclusive to Juneathon readers today:

A new, state-of-the-art search engine for all your protective 4-eyed needs.
GOGGLESEARCH

As fetching as my new goggles are, I also needed matchsticks to get up at 2am and drive to the Henley Swim Classic this morning. I'm off for a kip before I go to find some more shuttlecocks for my xray specs.

(I could bore you with excuses about why I haven't blogged since Tuesday or I could do what the kids do when they're late to lessons: keep quiet and hope no-one's noticed. Thanks for the sweet messages though notmuchofarunner and kimivory - everything's fine).

juneathonstats

Day 22 - Cycle commuting
Distance - 7.8 miles

Day 23 - Cycle commuting
Distance - 7.8 miles

Day 24 - Cycle commuting
Distance - 7.8 miles

Day 25 - Cycle commuting
Distance - 7.8 miles

Day 26 - Henley Swim Classic
Distance - 2100 m upstream
Time - 43:34

Cumulative Juneathising: 34.5 miles running + 4.3 miles swimming + 107.6 miles cycling + token amount of lakeland yomping

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

21) Report time


FAO Mr and Mrs Cakeofgoodhope:

Cakeofgoodhope started the year well with all the best intentions and, for once, I'd hoped she'd sustain it; however, this month, her attendance has been more than sporadic and she has let her extra-curricular activities hinder her best efforts. It's time she decided where her priorities lie. There are some bloggers who can sustain this level of endurance and there's your daughter, who has delusions of adequacy. The past week is a case in point where she has set herself low standards of exercise and consistently failed to achieved them. Her behaviour has not been up to scratch and her attitude to the Juneathon rules has been disappointing. I'm afraid the evidence suggests that, at this point in time, Cakeofgoodhope has hit rock bottom and started to dig.

Grade: D -

Target: HTFU and go running


juneathonstats

Day 21 - Just a bit more cycle commuting and a lot of report writing
Distance - 7.8 miles

Cumulative Juneathising: 34.5 miles running + 3.0 miles swimming + 76.4 miles cycling + token amount of lakeland yomping

Monday, 20 June 2011

20) Suits me fine


Following my day of dessert-based interval training and race-prep of isotonic wine on Saturday, I thought that today might be a good day to avoid the custard creams in the staff room.

Then my friend Sadie send me this and I started to question my decision:


gill
AA Gill, The Times, Monday 20th June 2011

Something lovely about yesterday's swim was the impressive variety of shapes and sizes of those competing. It seems that good tailors exist in the wetsuit world too. Maybe it's time to stop struggling, ditch the mini-suit and embrace the clotted cream.

juneathonstats

Day 20 - Just a bit of cycle commuting in the rain
Distance - 7.8 miles

Cumulative Juneathising: 34.5 miles running + 3.0 miles swimming + 68.6 miles cycling + token amount of lakeland yomping

Sunday, 19 June 2011

19) In the drink


Ensure you drink plenty before and after your swim. Do not drink any alcohol the night before and on the day of the event as it can cause dehydration.

Great North Swim 2011 Event Information

SWIM

Oh well, we'll count a Saturday evening aboard a boat on Windemere with Team Badger and Fattipuff as a course recce for a Sunday morning in Windemere with 200 well-hydrated swimmers.

juneathonstats

Day 19 - Great North Swim
Distance: 1500 metres
Time: 31:48
Cake rating: 5/5 (For effort required to zip up the wetsuit)
score5

Cumulative Juneathising: 34.5 miles running + 3.0 miles swimming + 60.8 miles cycling + token amount of lakeland yomping
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