Monday, May 31, 2010

Rest Week

Every now and then I take a break from training. Just lately my run schedule has been like this :

Monday - tempo run in Hyde Park at lunchtime with Biscuit Boy (3.5 miles in 32-37 mins depending on heat and how we're feeling after Sunday's run.)
Tuesday  - Oaks Park run - 4 miles cross country on a footpath through woods, some roads.
Wednesday- see Above
Thursday Still in Oaks Park, but 'super-sprints' day. Find a hill, sprint up it, jog down it. Repeat until pretty much exhausted. I usually get some time for some stretches and lunges after this session, which is a nice change.
Friday - rest
Saturday - rest
Sunday - slow, long run. I like to run for at least 2 hours, some off road and some on road.

After running like this for a couple of weeks, averaging about 20 miles a week, I will feel a level of fatigue begin to build up. It's not just the training, it's the 2 hour daily commute, it's working, it's being a mom to an active child and everything else we cram into the day. In addition to the fatigue, all of the exercise magazine and training guides do say it is important to take a rest week now and then to refresh yourself. I usually time mine to coincide with Cupcake's half term. I would normally run between 2 and 3pm whilst Cupcake is at school, but this week I can collect her at 2pm and we can go and do something fun together like swimming or the cinema.

The rest week refreshes my tired muscles and body, to me it feels like a treat because my body does not feel so tired, it's a recuperation.. Having said all that, by the end of my rest week I am itching to get my trainers back on, which means I then approach my running with a renewed enthusiasm.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The seeds are in-Finally !

Often I run out of time to get things done, so I will construct a mental list that keeps the momentum going until I manage to get the task done. This keeps said task at the front of my mind until completed. The problem with this, is that if the task does not get done for a while then basically, it starts to get me down. I start to question why I cannot fit more into my day and therefore whether my priorities are set correctly.

Already life feels like it is flying by and the weeks disappear. .It's June almost.. and half a year has gone already. I do question whether I try to fit too much in, indeed the other day I asked why someone hadn't done a certain thing.. 'Well, she does 'x' on a Monday night' was the satisified response. And ? I thought... I might also do 'x' on a Monday night, but then also manage to go on and do 'y' and 'z'. Why is it that someone will just do 'x' and be Ok with that, and yet I would feel bad if I didn't do 'y' and 'z'. I suppose it is a different set of values, styles, behaviours that make us all our own unique self. Then I think to myself, if I acted like other people then I would not be myself, I would not be true to myself and I would be giving other people an unrealistic view of me. I don't want that. So, I carry on being like an octopus. I make my mental lists whose non-completion gnaws at my brain like a nagging wife, and I try and do all of the things that are expected of me. And I suppose there's the rub, I need to do more of the things that please me sooner and more often, and less of those things that I think, on my personal priority list are 'expected' but are not necessarily 'appreciated', whilst also remaining true to myself.  Here's to that !

Oh, and yes, the seeds are in - Finally !

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Banstead Park Run

I thought I had written a post about this race before, but I can no longer see the post on my blog -  I don't know what happened there, so here it is again as the Park Run races are too important a race to miss out on.

Park Run is a weekly 5K race. It is free to race and all you have to do is find your local race, register before the race (on this site: ) and then turn up on the day. Job done. This is my kind of running .. the race is always in the same location, your results are recorded and also available to check online. The beauty of this is that you are able to track your progress, or lack of and also compare your results with your fellow runners. Whilst 5K is classed as a relatively short distance in race terms it provides a good benchmark for other races distances, particualrly the 10K distance.

This is also a race for all the family. For us, this means either myself or Biscuit Boy will race and try and better our best time, whilst the other will slow-jog the race with Cupcake. Cupcake has been able to do the 3 miles in 37 minutes before now - not bad for an eight year old. It really is a family affair and there are many runners whose children also run.

I last raced the run on May 8th the run felt pretty hard on the lungs and legs, and I went through my usual long sleeves or short sleeves, long joggers or short joggers thing... My arms were cold but not too bad overall and the ground was dry which is always a bonus - this is a run through the woods after all. Incidentally, the woods were carpeted with bluebells it looked absolutely stunning. It was worth going for that alone - for me at least..

Best of all was that I did beat my last time and managed a respectable 25:44, I was also surprised to see that I was the 9th woman to finish, so finally I am in the top ten. A most amazing feeling that maybe my running is getting better or faster at least, after all .. It would appear that the training is working.

Exercise: Oaks Park run-3 miles
Walk to work - 2 miles

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Free Your Mind

There's a lot of chat out there lately about 'mindfulness' .. well, what is this ?? From what I have read it is about 'being in the moment' as you carry out your daily activities. So, when you eat, concentrate on eating and nothing else, when you run or exercise think about the fact that you are running or taking exercise, and so on. This to me then means concentrating on one thing at a time..

You will see that here and on other sites I have said that I am like 'an octopus' this means that I am constantly multi-tasking, so whilst I was on my run this morning I was firstly thinking about what 'mindfulness' means to me, then I was thinking about writing about it in this post, then I was thinking about cupcake's swimming gala, then I was thinking I was very hot and thirsty because it was a very hot day today, then I was thinking about going to a DIY store this afternoon to return a kitchen door. This is what I mean by being like an octopus, when I am not thinking about a gzillion things I am doing them. This is hardly 'mindfulness' and concentrating on each activity. If I was like this I would firstly forget things I am supposed to remember and secondly be spending so much time 'being in the moment' that I would get absolutely nothing done.

Of course, the end result of this is that I am quite stressed with all that rushing about and incessant mind babble. So how do I relax ? My answer, is quite simply  - yoga. During yoga I think about nothing but the stretches I am doing, the yoga teacher's voice, and during relaxation I manage to absolutely clear my mind. When I leave a class I feel a sense of relief and lightness and float through the rest of the day. From a fitness perspective those stretches strengthen your core muscles and give your body an overall thorough stretch. My body feels strong and relaxed after a yoga class.

Unfortunately, my gym membership just expired and so I am currently without a class. This week I am going to find a class and get back into my style of mindfullness.

Exercise: Easy jog and run round park: 6 miles

Friday, May 21, 2010


I have been trying to figure out where I gained my love of gardening.

At university I did none at all. Then in my first three London flats I did none- Chelsea, Fulham, Bromley...
Looking back this was not through laziness, but because I didn't have a garden.
It was only when I moved to Beckenham that for the first time ever I had my own gardening space. Actually the garden was bigger than the one I have now.. and I must admit I did tend the garden because I wanted it to look nice for me to enjoy, but oddly it was also because I wanted to impress the estate agent and prove that I was a good tenant.

Beckenham was also the first property where I threw a proper party, a Bonfire night party with fireworks out in the garden for a few of my work friends. Bonfire Night is my second favourite event of the year, (Christmas gets 1st place.).

Beckenham flat was the whole ground floor of a huge house, with an extremely large lounge with a high ceiling and huge bay windows, a huge bedroom with stained glass in the french doors leading directly to the garden, a dining room and a decent size kitchen, a large hall and a cellar that I neve went in. Of all the properties I rented before buying, this was my favourite. Of course within six months of taking on the Beckenham flat I had started dating Biscuit Boy and just 9 months after that we were married and had already bought this house here in Croydon where we are still, eleven years later.

So, I guess I have just told myself that all of my gardening has been done and learned in this house.. WOW !  I was sure I had gardened before that, but no it's only been eleven years of gardening experience.
Here are some of my favourite things that I have grown:

Blue sweetcorn - Tasted just like sweetcorn, being blue it just did not look nice.
Agapanthus - I love this flower, I bought this one year for Biscuit Boy every year it never fails to please. Our specimen is white and the flowers are really pretty too.
Sunflowers - Never was I more disappointed than the time we planted sunflower seeds,  we watched those plants grow inch-by-inch until they passed over our heads before even the flowers had fully come out. Then, one day when I got home from work, much to my shock, the sunflowers were strewn all over the garden, down the lawn, everywhere. It seems the squirrels took a liking to the seeds and figured out a complicated way of knocking them over so they could reach the seeds. This year is the first time I am trying these since then - with cupcake.
Cucumber - This seems to thrive in my garden. A botanist I know told me that they can grow in any soil with hardly any maintenance, so I guess that explains a lot. Funny. I love picking them, they taste so much sweeter than the shop bought watery specimens, with thicker skin too.
Sweet peas - I remember clearly that the day I went into labour with cupcake I was transplanting sweet peas that I had grown from seed into bigger pots to go on the patio. I love sweet peas I think they can look great with their pastel rainbow of billowy petals, just that mine don't look like that !

On a completely different subject, I am wishing Biscuit Boy good luck for tomorrow as he is competing in Leybourne Lakes triathlon. I will post a full report with photos tomorrow. It's an early start with a 4am get-up, even earlier than my usual 5.15 am get-up... yawn..

EXERCISE: None, a much deserved day off  !

Thursday, May 20, 2010


This is my herb box which sits just outside my back door. This is a photo taken of it last year when the parsley was in full bloom.  I have to say it's one of my favourite parts of the garden  -  and the most used. In there is mint, marjoram, chives, thyme and the parsley. Elsewhere in the garden I have a bay tree and a rosemary shrub. I use the chives and parsley in salads and the thyme and marjoram on pizzas and in stews as part of a bouquet garni. The mint I use in my special cheesy beans on toast made with goats cheese and broad beans, or I use it to make a fresh mint tea. On my windowsill I have shop-bought basil as I can never seem to grow it myself - I think the climate in the UK is too cold for the delicacy of the herb. 

Herbs add that something special to your food, particularly fresh herbs - you can see how small my little herb spot is, and this is even in a box (homemade - thank you Biscuit Boy), so you don't even need to find space in your flower bed. You can even grow them in pots on your windowsill - just keep them well watered. 


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Yum - Pancakes !

Pancakes with a difference.
The other Sunday morning I decided to make pancakes.. something that I thought would take a few minutes turned into an hour !!!! You can see from the photo that it was well worth it..
I decided to make american-style pancakes instead of french-style crepes, so big spoonfuls of thick batter into the pan. Once the batter is in the pan, you put blackberries in the raw side and then when you flip the pancake the blackberries cook into the pancake and become lovely and juicy.
I served these with crispy bacon and maple syrup and orange juice.
The perfect breaky-brunchy Sunday nosh-up.

Exercise: cycle to school - 3 miles.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Seeds Glorious Seeds

Yesterday I went to the local garden center and bought:
- 4 purple sprouting broccoli plants
- 1 mange tout plant (just an experiment)
For my new veggie patch (thank you Biscuit Boy):
- Aubergine seeds
- carrot seeds
- beetroot seeds
- salad mix seeds
- sprouting salad mix
-radish seeds
-cucumber seeds
-courgette seeds
- yellow courgette seeds

For cupcake to plant:
- Sunflower seeds
- flower seeds (a gorgeous bright blue trailing plant).

When I got home I planted out a pot of broad bean seeds (another experiment as these are last year's seeds), a pot of aubergine seeds, several pots of sunflowers and flowers (with cupcake).
i am looking forward to planting out the rest and, quite literally, enjoying the fruits of my labour !!


Friday, May 14, 2010

My week

This week has been a relatively normal one full of the hum-drum of family life and work. One of the main events of the week has, of course, been the election of a new PM - David Cameron. Well, well done to him and his party, let's see if they can make less of a hash of it than the previous bunch - I won't hold my breath, but we shall see...

A good week, exercise-wise. Monday's lunch date was cancelled and then I had no running kit with me - always annoying so a day of training was wasted. Tuesday was a jog around my favourite woods, Wednesday I ran to school from home, Thursday was 'super sprints' in my local park. Today, I did no exercise -unless you count a jog around the local supermarket and an hour on the 'Ironing machine'.

In theory, I will be running tomorrow at Banstead Woods Park run event, will I get another PB, following last week's stellar efforts ... or will I be slower than ever before...?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

All about tri

Someone recently, quite rightly, pointed out that my blog entries so far seem to be all about food ... and not about triathlon - so let's put that right ... right now !

Also, from now on at the end of each blog I will put a little note about training completed on that day and the reason for it, if there is one.... ;o)

Here's a list of triathlons I have either participated in or watched (when Biscuit Boy competed) or watched as a spectator just for fun...

Stratford triathlon
I enjoyed this one so much I did it twice ! The main attraction of this race is that if you don't like open water swimming, the swim is pool-based so you don't need to worry. The bike route is a nice amble around the countryside with the odd A-road thrown in - and I must admit I don't remember the run. It all starts and ends at the local leisure centre which is a bit hairy with the traffic lights and cars.. but you get through eventually...

Brighton triathlon
This one I did NOT enjoy... not just an open-water swim, but a swim in the SEA and yes, it was that cold you got to wear a WETSUIT. I was wearing a wetsuit that was too big, for some reason my legs were super-buoyant and it felt like my legs were up in the air. Truly, the worst swim of my life ! Big gulps of sea water, legs in the air.... enough said. The bike as I recall was pretty non-descript, loops along the seafront, as was the run... I would do this one again because I love Brighton and there's a good turnout on the specatator front which makes for a nice atmosphere and therefore overall a good race.

Dorney Lake (aka 'Banaman triathlon)
This time a lake-based swim, not my finest hour, you had to complete one loop, get out the water, dive back in and then do another loop. I can't remember if I had the wetsuit on or not.. either way I was one of the last out of the water... This triathlon is based at Dorney Lake, so you swim in the lake, then cycle round the lake about a gzillion times, and then run up and down in a line 2.5km there, 2.5km back until you've done 10K. Interesting, if you like loops-I don't. Never again. Let me see some scenery I haven't seen before for goodness sake !!!

Thames Turbo
This is a good one too. A nice pool swim in the traditional outdoor lido at Hampton court. A lovely bike around the area, glorious leafy London suburbs (the nice bits..) and then a run around Bushey park (mind the deer !). A nice race, easy-going, bacon butties upstairs in the leisure center afterwards..

After reading this you may well think why is this girl doing triathlon she hates swimming... that may well be true, but the swim is the shortest leg of the race, and I adore the longer legs the cycling and the swimming and I'm quite good at those. So, whilst I have a very poor start I can usuallly pull my way back to end with a finish to be proud of.

I think that's it for my triathlons so far... I will write about all of the others on other days. Now I am the porkier side of 35 I am hoping to increase this list of triathlons completed. Oh.. and guess what I just got for my birthday, oh Yes ... a wetsuit and a pair of trainers. BRING IT ON !!!!

Training Completed 4 May 2010:
Walk to Work: 2 miles
Cross-Country run (Oaks Park): 4 miles.
Goal: Prep for cross-country 5K this Saturday in Banstead Woods (