Looking Back

Today is a rest day (it’s optional but my right knee was sore this morning so I welcomed the break). I have nothing running related to report but thought I’d share some New Year love anyway!

DP and I had a festive coffee date the other day. It was pouring with rain and we were umbrella-less and car-less so we ended up staying much longer than expected. This gave us a great opportunity to talk…really talk, not just chit chat, planning and the usual life stuff, but instead we reflected on where we were this time last year and how much has happened in 2012. I think it’s so important to look back, reflect and be grateful for what happened this year.

Here are some of our ‘best bits’ from 2012:

Dubai

We enjoyed a fantastic 4 day getaway to the UAE. We stayed at the Hilton on Jumeriah Beach and enjoyed relaxing in the sun, shopping and sightseeing. Highlights included champagne at the world’s first (only???) 7* hotel and watching the incredible fountain display outside the world’s tallest building, the Burj Kalifa. Go to Dubai…you will not regret it! Oh…but don’t break your camera (or rather, delete the pictures because you think it’s broken I AM SO STUPID).

One of only 2 surviving photos, DP enjoying the great views and canapés at the Burj Al Arab

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My best friend’s wedding

One of my very besties got married to a wonderful man who loves her and honours her. I know that he will always do his best to lead her, care for her and provide for her. He will make her laugh, challenge her, and ensure she always eats well because he is Greek and LOVES food!! Hehe. I could not be happier for both of them. Since they have been married I’ve watched their relationship grow and change in the best way. I LOVE LOVE!

I got to be a bridesmaid for the very first time. In fact I was Maid of Honour, and an honour it was. The bride looked beautiful AND she was nice enough to dress me in a stunning floor length Dessy gown. The colour was sage or kiwi…I forget which. She had a nightmare with the bridesmaid dresses…I’m so grateful that she stuck with it and didn’t dress me in a sack.

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Not once but twice!

When it rains, it pours! Having waited 28 years to be a bridesmaid, I was fortunate enough to do it twice this year. On a beautiful, bright day in October, my family and DP’s family were once again joined together by a marriage…this time, of my brother and DP’s sister. Having stayed with them in their beautiful new home this week, I am more certain than ever that they are the perfect match!

Three of my sister-in-law’s six bridesmaids

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Work

This time last year I had just accepted, but not started, a new job. We were also praying for a new job for Danny. We both started new jobs in the new year and we faced a number of challenges…but we are both happy and grateful for what we have. I really enjoy my job and I genuinely love the people I work with. No job is without complication, frustration and difficulty of course…so as much as I like to work…I love the holidays!!!!

New York

This was such a fantastic trip! So much fun. If you didn’t see my NYC posts you can check them out in the November archive.

And another wedding

This year, we got to spend more time with the beautiful, fun and smart new bride of Dan’s cousin. She spent the summer in London so us girls got to bond over pedicures and then we all went out for dinner and dancing…and more dinners. It’s great getting to meet and bond with the newest members of the ever-expanding family. I have to say, these boys have incredible taste in women which is great for me as I get to meet and befriend such great girls. Yay!

Dancing with Dan, Sam and Sarah

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We also got to attend their stunning wedding during our trip to Michigan. Here’s a little snap of me and Danny at the ceremony.

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Run, run, run

Getting back into running has been a real highlight for me. I’m sure it must be one for DP too and it prevents me from getting bored and shopping for designer shoes. You know you love running when your new pair of Asics get more love than your Jimmy’s!!! My half marathon PB made me soooo happy. I’m looking forward to many more running highlights in 2013!

The more I look back and remember large events and fleeting moments from our busy year, the more I realise that I have so many happy memories and so much to thank God for. This list is just a tiny snapshot, there is far too much to share on here.

I’m now letting my nail varnish dry and preparing the dining table for tonight’s murder mystery New Year’s Eve party. I hope you all have a great night whatever you have planned. See you in 2013!

Jx

Christmas Week

For the last week I have been totally absorbed in family, friends and Christmas. Whilst running featured throughout the week, blogging got squeezed out to make room for the turkey and champagne! It has been lovely seeing family, catching up on life stuff, playing board games together and laughing until late at night.

Danny and I by the tree at our friends’ on Christmas Day. Cracker hats are always compulsory!!

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The hubs and I decided to ditch the tradition this year and spend Christmas with friends in London instead of family. It was a fun day and made a nice change to the normal family Christmas. However, we really got to enjoy the best of both worlds as we headed to my parents on a Boxing Day and DP's parents on the 27th. Both days were great fun and really relaxed.

With my family on Boxing Day

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We stayed with our newly married siblings in their swanky city centre apartment, which gave me the opportunity to enjoy a run along the River Cam in the rain. My schedule called for 4 miles easy, but it’s hard to keep things slow when you resemble a drowned rat and desperately want to make it back to a warm, dry home.

Thursday’s Training: 4.51 miles @ 9:45 pace
Splits 9:35; 10:01; 9:47; 9:46; 4:50

I managed to stick to my running plans for Monday and Thursday, but the rest of the week has not gone as smoothly. We didn’t make it back to London until later than expected yesterday and we had dinner plans in the evening so I had to skip my run. I managed a half session (does that count??) on the treadmill today:

Saturday’s Training: 2.5 miles @ 9:49 pace

I always knew this week was going to be less than perfect due to all the distractions that Christmas has to offer, so I’m not too bothered about my training.

SANTA MADE ME VERY HAPPY

Actually, it was a combination of Danny and other generous gift givers!

I was THRILLED to open these babies on Christmas Day!!!!

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Hello Asics Gel Nimbus 14s!!!

I bought these a few weeks before Christmas and gave them to hubs to give to me. Some may think this is sad but I’m picky about my running shoes and wanted to make sure they fitted properly. I’m currently running in the 13s and I’m really enjoying them, having moved over from my previous Mizuno Waveriders. I suit the more cushioned Asics and find I’m not getting blisters and sore toes, both of which I really used to suffer with in the Mizunos. I’ve put around 350 miles on my 13s and would like to transition into the 14s in the next few months.

Also…I got these for a BARGAIN £30 from Sweatshop!!! When I bought my 13s at full price they gave me a voucher for any second pair for £25. Any pair!!!! The only conditions were that the second pair had to be for me and I only had 8 months in which to purchase them. If the second pair cost more than the first, I had to pay the difference (hence £30 instead of £25). As the 14s currently retail in Sweatshop at £130, this was a huge saving! I hope these gorgeous shoes will see me through the marathon.

We did a secret santa with Dan’s siblings and cousins this year which I thought was a great idea. My SS made me very happy with this long sleeved Nike running top:

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It kept me warm during the soggy river run. I was very grateful for its quick wicking properties!

Even little Bella had fun unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning:

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I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to the new year. I’m hosting a murder mystery dinner party on NYE and should really crack on with the planning! I’ll be back tomorrow with a long-run recap and Sunday Stats.

Jx

The Marathon Adventure Begins

Christmas Eve is upon us! When I was a child it always felt like this day took so long to arrive. Now that I’m a ‘grown up’ it seems to come around so quickly, I don’t know where October and November went. Anyone know??!?

Christmas Eve means a number of things for me this year:

1. A(nother) lazy sofa day with Danny. And Bella who is snoozing under the tree.

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2. Drinks with friends at our ‘local’.

3. Midnight Mass with carols and communion at church.

And…at long last:

4. MARATHON TRAINING BEGINS

Who starts marathon training at Christmas?? Um…well, that would be me!

The Marathon Schedule

I’m running the Virgin London Marathon on Sunday 21st April 2013. This will be my second marathon, having completed the same race back in 2011. I won’t lie – the first time was tough and I uttered those two words many times during the race…Never.Again. But then I got a ballot place, so now I’m in, I’m up for it, and I’m determined to train hard and enjoy the day.

If you watch the London marathon on the TV each year you will notice that it’s full of C-list celebrities and charity runners. As a result of this, I think many people now assume that completing the marathon is not a significant achievement and in fact it can be done on little to no training. I remember meeting a guy on my way to the 2011 race and chatting to him whilst we waited for the tube. He asked if I trained. What!?! what kind of question is that?? of course I trained! The idea that some people attempt this distance without giving it the respect it deserves baffles me. It’s bound to result in injury and a miserable experience on the day…but still, some of those ‘runners’ probably beat my 5:05 time. I don’t mind…I worked hard and I did my best.

In 2011 I used the Runner’s World basic beginners schedule. This year I’ve gone for the basic intermediate schedule. I’m still very much a beginner but I wanted a more focused schedule with higher weekly mileage. Here is my schedule…it’s 16 weeks but I’m giving myself 17 because I wanted to build in a spare week in case I get sick / injured or just want a rest during my holiday in January. I’ll move that week around as and when required.

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Marathon Training: Day 1

I’m switching things around this week, taking tomorrow and Boxing Day as my rest days. Today I did Tuesday’s workout – 4 miles steady with a few strides. I ran to and from the gym and did an additional half mile on the treadmill to get to 4 miles (miscalculation means I messed that goal, ha!) and then did some core work on the gym mats.

Run to gym: 1.72 miles @ 9:14 pace

Run on treadmill: 0.5 miles @ 8:38 pace

Run home: 1.73 miles @ 9:40 pace

Total: 3.95m @ 9:16 pace

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!!! Thanks for stopping by…I always appreciate your comments and your views. I’ll be back with more marathon training and pointless chit chat / shoe love after the big day.

Jx

Sunday Stats

I’m writing this whilst watching Songs of Praise on the BBC. I can’t say I’m the biggest SoP fan, but I can’t help myself at this time of year!

I hope everyone is enjoying the last weekend before Christmas. When the clock stuck 5pm on Friday I was giddy, knowing that I was free for what my husband later told me was 16 days! I packed up my laptop and set to work, making the house festive and inviting, ready for DP’s arrival home from work. I popped out to buy ingredients for a Thai green chicken curry along with some cheap red plonk to make the mulled wine. When I returned, I lit a beautiful bay candle and let the festive aroma fill the house as I made the mulled wine and admired the lights twinkling on the tree. I pulled an old Christmas Crooners CD off the shelf and enjoyed the soothing sounds of Frank Sinatra singing carols.

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Ping. ping ping ping ping. What noise is this, interrupting my perfectly thought out Christmas atmosphere? Oh…it’s work. A sales person needs my urgent assistance (when isn’t it ‘urgent’?!) but has received my out of office. A flurry of emails then fly over to my boss help help urgent assistance required we can’t get hold of Jodie. It’s the holiday, I’ve officially left the building. I’m drinking mulled wine and singing along with Frank, but I cannot resist. I respond. I copy the world and his wife so they know not to panic and not to bother anyone else. Crisis averted, we find a resolution and go back to our Friday night plans.

Danny and I had a lovely evening. We watched a Christmas episode of Gavin & Stacey – forgot how funny that was! Plus we enjoyed wine, good food and each other’s company. That’s what I love most about this season, and this weekend has involved plenty of quality time together. We got up late this morning and enjoyed a cup of tea in these amazing mugs, which we got from my mother in law a few Christmases ago:

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We then wrapped all the presents whilst watching The Proposal, before demolishing a huge pile of cheesy nachos, YUM!

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Jimvitation

In other exciting news, I received this through the post…hello Choo Mail!

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Oh how I wish I could take up their very kind offer…but alas I shall be enjoying Christmas Day number 2 with my parents and 66.6 % of my siblings (one will be with his girlfriend’s family sadly so I will have to catch him another time 😦 ). I’m sure I can get away with a little Internet sale browsing whilst I’m there though! Jokes aside I really can’t wait to see my family and my inlaws.

Saturday’s Session: 8 miles @ 10:08 pace
Splits: 9:34, 10:16, 10:49, 10:16, 9:44, 10:04, 10:15, 10:03.

I can’t say I enjoyed the run. I found it really hard; every hill felt like a mountain and everything seemed to ache. My left hip was pulling and my right calf and ankle area was also bothering me.

On the subject of training, my stats from the week are below. It’s been a low mileage (and low effort!) week but I’m trying not to get too upset about it. I had a lot on with work and getting organised for Christmas, plus my marathon schedule starts tomorrow. No, I cannot believe it either. I’ll let you know how I get on!

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Apocalypse Now???

In case you were wondering…YES I am still alive. I did not perish in the Mayan apocalypse, I’ve just been really busy finishing off at work and getting ready for the most wonderful time of the year! This is why I have been so quiet in blog-land, sorry.

I have failed to post updates on training this week so here is a quick snapshot of what I’ve been up to:

Monday: 3.5 miles @ 10:08 pace

Easy post-work run outside. Splits: 9:46; 9:59; 10:25; 5:18

Tuesday and Wednesday…I cannot remember what I was doing but according to my trusty training app, it did not involve running.

Thursday: 3 miles @ 9:57 pace

Post-work treadmill session

Today: I’d like to pop to the local gym for a speed session before DP gets home from work tonight but there are so many other things that I would love to do! Perhaps if I complete the speed sesh I will treat myself to an evening that looks like this:

– Home made mulled wine

– Puff pastry mince pies

– Nice smelly candles

– Home Alone. Or The Proposal. Or both. Maybe have Miracle on 34th St on in the background whilst cooking…

I listened to Mariah Carey’s Christmas CD this morning in the car on the way to work. Love singing along to carols (although hers are so high I was really struggling)!!

I’m afraid that is all from me for now..but I’ll be back soon, hopefully with some Christmassy pictures and festive cheer! I cannot wait to post a picture of my Christmas present…I know what it is (because I bought it, how sad) and it is REALLY EXCITING for a geek like me! But much more exciting...is the prospect of spending this Christmas period with my amazing husband, our fabulous friends and our loving families. CHEESE but so so true. I’m so grateful to God for all the people I love and the fact that we get to take a couple of weeks out to remember and celebrate what He did for us by sending us his Son. YAY!!!

Jx

Bananas In Pyjamas…

…are coming down the stairs. Bananas in pyjamas are coming down in pairs.

Yes I have this song stuck in my head! If you have no idea what I’m talking about and you want to spend 28 seconds of your life investigating it – check it out on this YouTube clip.

The reason for the song? This weekend I did something that I NEVER do. I baked banana bread. I don’t bake. Ever. I had to go to Waitrose to buy a baking tin…and by tin, I mean a lovely red silicon loaf pan as you can see on the left hand side of this pic:

Baking + bubbles = domestic bliss!
Baking + bubbles = domestic bliss!

And yes…I may have had a glass of bubbly whilst baking…I’m totally getting in the celebratory Christmas spirit!

I spent some time Googling recipes for banana bread / cake and decided to try the following one from Sophie Dahl. The batteries died on my scales so I needed a recipe with measurements in cups (this one has cups and grams) and without too many ingredients because I didn’t want to buy anything – the plan was to use up my over-ripe bananas using whatever I could find in the cupboard. I don’t have a cake mixer so it also had to be one that could be mixed by hand.

Banana Bread Recipe

As you can see, it is pretty simple! After exactly an hour in the oven, I removed the loaf and left it to cool on the side before popping it on a plate for slicing and serving.

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I must admit that I am thrilled with the result! The only thing I have EVER baked before now is cookies, so I expected this to flop…but it is delicious. It passed the hungry husband test too..whoooop whoooop!

I served the cake with butter (naughty but nice) but I’m sure it would be equally delicious on its own as the loaf is nice and moist without being stodgy.

Earl Grey and Banana Bread. Get some of this in your life!
Earl Grey and Banana Bread. Get some of this in your life!

Alternatively you could make some chocolate icing (you could…I wouldn’t know where to start!?) and ice the loaf. This is what my Mum does and it’s AMAZING. Or, you could add some water to icing sugar and drizzle it over the top of the loaf. Yum yum yum.

A training/running related post will follow later!

Jx