31 March 2016

Running Diary {Blue skies and illness}

Today I am sat inside whilst outside the sky looks like this...
Running Diary {Illness and the runner} // 76sunflowers
Beautiful isn't it? I have peeked at it through the open patio doors before quickly grabbing another tissue to wipe away my dripping nose and eyes for I am ill. And I don't do illness. As Sod's Law dictates illness has crept upon us just as we started to relax and enjoy the holiday away from the stresses of work and school. It weedled its way in getting my girl first and now it has me fully in its clutches.
I am peeved on a number of levels; it is the Easter holidays and we should be having days out and making memories - I am trying not to look at everyone's social media posts and images of happy families beneath sun streaked skies or runners out in the sunshine racking up their miles but obviously I take a peek and feel more sorry for myself. On a selfish level I am peeved as it has screwed up my running plans for the end of the month and I have missed my long run this week, which I was really looking forward to. This has now put me in panic mode; my fitness levels will drop, my legs will forget how to run, I have lost mileage this month rather than increasing it, my Hackney Half training plan is screwed. Tapering for the Bath Half earlier in the month stressed me out enough with the worry of lost mileage in my legs but realising that this month's mileage is less than January and February has played havoc with my competitive streak; I am meant to run more and more each month!
Running Dairy - March miles // 76sunflowers
Miles for March - 73
January - 78
February - 84
Miles so far in 2016 - 235

I need to look at the positives here:
I have ran 235 miles SO FAR this year.
My running jar is totting up the pounds nicely.
I have proven I can run a half marathon in sub 2 hours.
I have over 5 weeks until the Hackney Half so plenty of time to get better and get back out there.

In the meantime my mind hasn't been far from running and last night I devoured the e-book No Run Intended by Hannah E Phillips. Just 99p from Amazon and I can highly recommend it. I've also been thinking about a bigger challenge following the half marathons I have planned this year; Ben Smith is currently running 401 marathons in 401 days and he is running fairly local to me on the day before I turn 40 - I may be adding one more thing to my 40 things to do before 40 list!

But for now I am chugging on Berocca, consuming hot drinks, topping up my water levels and hoping that the husband and my boy can avoid the illness and we can enjoy the second week of the holidays.

x x x


26 March 2016

Project 366 2016 #12

Week 12 of Project 366 for 2016 saw the end of another term at school, the start of the Easter holidays and mostly blue skies.

Project 366 2016 day 80 - Homemade sausage rolls // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 81 - Daffodils on the lane // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 82 - Caen Hill Locks, Devizes  // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 83 - Garden plans // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 84 - Simple Things magazine // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 85 - Avebury Easter Egg Trail  // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 86 - Feeling inspired // 76sunflowers

Day 80
A deceiving blue sky at rugby made me think it was warmer than it was. Two hours and a few frozen fingers later it was back home to homemade sausage rolls for lunch.
Day 81
A gorgeous day for the walk to school. The daffodils at the end of the lane are now fully out.
Day 82
Back to training again, for May's half marathon, following a relaxed week of running. Today I ran from home along the canal to Devizes which finished with a nice incline up the famous Caen Hill Locks. Ten chilled out miles not worrying about times so I stopped to take photos - and it felt good.
Day 83
Back home from work and the husband is making plans at the end of the garden.
Day 84
A lazy day. My daffodils, given to me by one of my boys at work, were in full bloom and the latest edition of the Simple Things arrived.
Day 85
Good Friday and a beautiful one at that. We headed over to Avebury to meet the Grandparents for the Easter Egg trail and a wander around the stones. It was lovely to see the kiddos working together to find all the clues and they even carried on the good relationships back home whilst playing in the garden and den building rather than sitting in front of a screen. The sunshine is doing them good!
Day 86
Rubbish weather today so I obviously took myself out on a run. 5 miles today and my mind was filled with thoughts about getting in a marathon run before I turn 40. I'm feeling inspired by Ben, who is running 401 marathons in 401 days, and the day before I turn 40 he is not that far away from me!

x x x
TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

21 March 2016

Musing on a Monday {Spring Dreams}

So yesterday saw the first official day of Spring arrive, I just wish someone had informed the weather Gods as it was cold, cloudy and not Spring-like at all stood out for two hours on a rugby pitch.
Fast forward 24 hours and the sky painted a very different picture.
Sat in my back room earlier, with the door open, the sunlight poured in highlighting the petals of the daffodils that fill the jars and bottles on the table - I can't get enough of daffodils at this time of year.
Musing on a Monday {Spring} // 76sunflowers
In the other rooms of the house the sun was probably catching cobwebs and dust layers in its beams of light but I am turning a blind eye as for now the Spring cleaning can wait. 

For now I sit and relax.
For now I hope that today's Spring sunshine will continue ready to fill the upcoming days of the Easter holiday with its gentle warming glow.
For now I await the longer days filled with the extra warmth that allows a cup of tea to be drank comfortably outside.
For now I want to fill each upcoming extra minute of daylight with memories.
For now I want to dream.

x x x

19 March 2016

Project 366 2016 #11

I have loved this week 11 of Project 366 for 2016!
It started with sunshine and personal goals met and continued with a positive happy me - hoorah!

Project 366 2016 day 73 - Great Pulteney Street, Bath half marathon // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 74 - Sunshine and walk to school // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 75 - Bath half finisher's t-shirt // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 76 - Spring flowers // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 77 - Daffodils and sweet peas from seed // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 78 - Healthy dinner // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 79 - Devizes ginnel // 76sunflowers

Day 73
Half marathon day arrived after a week of stressing over every sniffle, ache and tired day. The sun came out for an absolutely amazing day in the beautiful city of Bath, starting on Great Pulteney Street, where I achieved my goal of a sub 2 hour run coming in at 1:56:49. I've written about my experience here
Day 74
The Spring sunshine continued today for the walk, well more a hobble, to school and back. The kiddos stopped to check on the horses at the end of the lane.
Day 75
Tentatively I set off for my recovery run proudly wearing my finishers t-shirt. I managed two and a half slow miles to wake the legs up again.
Day 76
Back to work and the sun was still shining. The gardens around my classroom are looking beautiful with an array of flowers.
Day 77
Another good work day and back home the latest bunch of daffodils are in full bloom and the husband's sweet peas from seed are coming up.
Day 78
Sport Relief day so Superhero fun and fitness at school. I tried to undo the Friday cake day sugar overload with a healthy dinner.
Day 79
The car needed its MOT today so off to Devizes we went where we wandered through the town exploring markets and hidden ginnels. All good with the car too!

x x x
TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

14 March 2016

Running Diary {Bath Half Marathon 2016}

Running Diary {Bath Half Marathon 2016} // 76sunflowers
Finally, after months of planning and training and a couple of weeks of dodging bugs and illness, the day of the Bath Half Marathon 2016 arrived.
And what a beautiful day it was.
Bath was blessed with clear blue skies and bright Spring sunshine which, having trained through countless cold, wet and windy days and not having planned for a shift in the British weather with Spring arriving overnight, threw my planned running outfit into complete mayhem.

Other worries ensued; fueling, toileting and hydration.
Fueling: The race started at 11. I usually run at 9. My solution? I had a pre-breakfast of two slices of toast with Marmite at 6am followed by my usual breakfast of muesli and soya milk at 8am. That still left three hours so the obligatory banana was consumed at 10am with a nervous chomp on my Nature Bar at 10.20am.
Toileting: I usually visit my bathroom, pee and shoot out the front door. Race day obviously throws that routine into disarray. As I had reentered my estimated finishing time a couple of weeks ago I had been moved up to the white starting pen which is known to be less hectic to get into thus leaving more time to hang around in the running village and visit the toilets. Which I did. Twice in succession. Just because.
Hydration: In training, in the cold, I had reached 12 miles consuming no extra water en route. Race day was significantly warmer and having hydrated well in the days running up to Sunday I was still a little panicked. I don't particularly enjoy taking on water whilst running but knew that the increase in temperatures meant I would probably have to.

After arriving at the Race Village with my family in tow at around 10am I visited my charity tent, the RUH Forever Friend's Appeal, to relax and have a runner's photograph taken with Ted himself. Then it was time for the aforementioned fueling, toileting and hydration and it was a quick goodbye to the family, with a double check of where they would be on the course, and it was off to the starting pen on the beautiful Great Pulteney Street.
Great Pulteney Street - Bath Half Marathon 2016 // 76sunflowers
Bumping into a work colleague on the way in helped to settle my nerves and the time flew before the starting horn went off. Within three minutes I was over the start line and the TomTom was set to track my run.

Mile 1
Heading out of Great Pulteney Street and down the gently sloping Pulteney Road was the perfect start with a great crowd setting us on our way. I knew my family were along this stretch so kept scanning the crowd and it was so lovely to finally spot them as I turned the bend. My boy had the Run Mummy Run banner clutched in his hands whilst I yelled, "Hello babies!" The husband 'encouraged' me on with his words, "Not long to go!"
Mile 2
Here was the first incline on the course, approaching Queens Square, made easier to take hearing the amazing steel drum band at the top. Then it was round the square, down a welcome stretch and onto the Upper Bristol Road.
Mile 3
A gradual incline took us to Newbridge Road which saw lots of families armed with bowls of Jelly Babies and 'Power Up Here' placards.
Mile 4
The crowds began to thin as we left the city behind us for the loop back over the river. A quick look at my watch told me I was running at an 8:35 minute mile pace - far quicker than I had trained and I knew I couldn't sustain that but was happy to kill off the miles quickly.
Mile 5
Back towards the city centre along the Lower Bristol Road. Here there were limited crowds so I was glad of the Battle of the Bands stationed at this point to give us a boost.
Mile 6
The amazing crowds were back again and at this point I was feeling fantastic! It was also along this stretch of the race I found myself awestruck as the elite racer, who went on to set a course record of 1:01:44, Robert Mbithi came flying past us all ready to head back to the finishing line.
Mile 7
Approaching the 10k marker I peeked at my watch, looked at the race timer and with some quick maths realised I had just done a 10k PB. Possibly not the best time to do it running your first half marathon so I thought maybe I should slow up a little now to conserve some energy for later. I was desperately scanning the crowd again for my family as they had planned to be along here somewhere and I mentally slumped a bit as I thought I had missed them. Then I heard my husband shout, "Run Mummy Run!" to send me on smiling again.
Mile 8
Back onto the second loop and the incline up to Queen Square was a damn sight tougher this time! As I ran down the exiting hill I had my first moment of doubt knowing I was heading out of the city again getting, geographically, further away from the finish line. Letting out some kind of gargling hurumph noise I caught the attention of a passing 118118 runner who asked if I was okay. The sight of them all, and the fact that someone thought to check on me, perked me up straight away and with a few high fives from the spectators I was on a high again.
Mile 9
It was getting really warm now but I was happy with my stride and glad that my mind had been, mostly, positive for this long. My TomTom was saying my pace had slowed up to 8:49 but I was still under the 9:05 minute mile pace I had set myself in order to try and finish at a sub 2 hour time. With that in mind I dug in knowing I was heading towards my least favourite stretch.
Mile 10
This loop back over the river again felt never-ending and even the smiley local radio girls and the Battle of the Band contestants couldn't make me grin. I now needed a drink and was so glad to hear a race marshal shouting, "Drinks station ahead." Approaching it my heart sank. It was Lucozade. Which is lovely but having never drunk it whilst running it didn't appeal so I held off recalling a water station further up from the first lap round.
Mile 11
I was now hitting the wall with huge doubts creeping into my mind. My knee was beginning to niggle and my pace had dropped to a 9:04 minute mile. My inner voice was talking to me; "This is it. I can't do it. I'm not doing the Hackney Half. Why on earth did I book another two halves having not even completed one? What will I do if my knee goes? I can't cry in front of all these people." Then I heard a lady shouting to everyone in a really calming voice; "You can do it. Come on!" I wished I had shouted back, "Yes I can, thank you!" I didn't quite have a renewed spring in my step but her words definitely shut up the voices in my head. I grabbed some water, as I had finally made it to the station, took a few sips and tipped a load over my hands and arms to cool me off.
Mile 12
I didn't enjoy this mile at all. That's all I need to say.
Mile 13
The crowds seemed to have doubled from this point on but they didn't make me go any faster. That lovely gently sloping Pulteney Road on the way out was now a drag of pure hell. My TomTom was telling me my pace had now slumped to 9:19 and I felt that I couldn't muster up any more energy to drive home. Then Greg James ran past me carrying me an inflatable boob on his back in support of the charity Coppafeel and that was the spur I needed. If he could do it carrying a blow up tit then so could I. I passed the 13 mile marker and turned the last corner back onto Great Pulteney Street. Seeing the gun time ticking past 1:59:00, and even though I knew I had a couple of minutes spare on my chip time, I thought to myself, 'Sod it, I want a sub two hour gun time.' I dug in and kicked strong and with one knee telling me I would regret it in the morning I crossed the line with my watch pace starting with a 7.
I then leant against a fence to try and stretch.
And promptly cried.
Running Diary {Bath Half Marathon 2016} // 76sunflowers
Gun time: 1:59:36
TomTom time: 1:56:50
Official chip time: 1:56:49
Running Diary {Bath Half Marathon 2016} // 76sunflowers

So that was my first half and another thing ticked off my 40 things to do before 40 list.
I loved it, I then liked it, I then hated it and finally I loved it again.

Roll on Hackney!

x x x

12 March 2016

Project 366 2016 #10

It has been a week of nerves and worry for week 10 of Project 366 2016!

Project 366 2016 day 66 - Mother's Day // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 67 - Morning clouds  // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 68 - Run Mummy Run snug // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 69 - Stik canvas // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 70 - Race banner // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 71 - Bedtime reading // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 72 - Bath Half kit // 76sunflowers

Day 66
Mother's Day and I got a card, and some sweets, from the girl's expedition into town last week! The boy made me a card and finally won the man of the match / training session trophy!
Day 67
Looking out of my bedroom window today the weather looked rather ominous but the clouds soon went and it turned into a lovely day. I did a 5 mile run - my last proper run before next weekend's half marathon.
Day 68
My Run Mummy Run snug arrived today so my running kit is complete for Sunday.
Day 69
The husband picked up my canvas of my photo of Stik graffiti today from Wall Snaps as I had missed the delivery last week. I am really happy with it - you can read more about Wall Snaps here.
Day 70
I wasn't feeling so great and am paranoid about catching everyone's bugs from home and work. I am dosing myself up on paracetamol and berocca and keeping fingers crossed that I don't get ill for Sunday. When I got home tonight I found the husband and the girl had been busy making a banner.
Day 71
Early to bed following a horrendous day of Mother Nature giving me the worst cramps I have had in years - I read the magazine to keep my spirits up.
Day 72
Cramps gone but stuffy head so walked into town to do some errands then sorted out my kit ready for tomorrow. I am nervous as anything and feel I have forgotten how to run! But I have trained hard and importantly raised money for a good cause and that will hopefully get me round.

x x x

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

7 March 2016

Musing on a Monday {The rugby trophy!}

Last week at rugby the boy had a wibble.
He felt he had had a great training session, which included scoring a try in a tag rugby game, so he was ultra confident he was in for a shot for the player of the week trophy - something he has been working for since September.
Then his buddy got it.
His buddy from school who had only been going for a couple of weeks.
And that hit the boy hard.
The bottom lip wobbled and the self doubt started,
"I'm rubbish Mum. I'm never going to get the trophy."
These were hard words to hear. He has come on such a long way since starting rugby and still has dreams of playing for England, although we have said he should have a back up plan just in case that doesn't happen, but self doubt comes so quickly to him. We talk all the time about not giving up, showing resilience, demonstrating commitment and embracing the enjoyment that the game is bringing him.

My boy has grown in confidence immensely this academic year, alongside his move into KS2, and a super positive Parent's Evening on the Monday really boosted his confidence with his teachers telling him he has progressed fantastically well at school academically and that his confidence was starting to grow too. Confidence has been an issue for a long time in a lot of things but the balance was starting to shift.

So onto this week. Yesterday was another training session with a lot of paired work on tackling and supporting each other with passing drills. Throughout their training the children are always reminded of the five core values; teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship, and this week the boy was held up as an example of someone who is always following them.

And he got that trophy!
Musing on a Monday {The Rugby Trophy!} // 76sunflowers
I may have cried a little.
Especially when he gave me the KitKat from the coaches for Mother's Day and said,
"Have a break Mum!"
Musing on a Monday {The Rugby Trophy!} // 76sunflowers
I think I need one.

x x x

5 March 2016

Project 366 2016 #9

Week 9 of Project 366 for 2016 and it was a good one from Sunday to Saturday!

Project 366 2016 day 59 - Rugby training // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 60 - Building site // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 61 - Cold, wet, long run // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 62 - Hail // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 63 - Bedtime reading // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 64 - Creme Egg // 76sunflowers
Project 366 2016 day 65 Town park // 76sunflowers

Day 59
It was a cold, cold morning at rugby today. My girl got very frustrated having to hang around for nearly two hours watching her brother. My boy got very frustrated with himself for not being good enough - even though he scored a try.
Day 60
A sunny, cold walk to school and I noticed an increase in activity at the end of the lane where a housing development is going up very soon.
Day 61
It was cold, it was wet and it was long run day. Today I ran 12 miles - my final long run before the Bath Half. I was happy with my run; good pace, strong legs and on track for that 2 hour finish! At the end of 12 miles I needed to have a cool down walk so wandered along to the end of the lane where the rain was dripping off the hedgerow.
Day 62
Back to work Wednesday and the drive in included rain, hail, thunder and lightening. I sat in the car for a while before it eased off.
Day 63
A bit of bedtime reading tonight!
Day 64
The end of a good week so Friday became the day for the first Creme Egg of the year!
Day 65
Today saw the turning of a page in the parenting journal when I let my girl go to town by herself with a friend. Armed with her purse and bag, and with instructions to not spend all the money on sweets, off she went without a backward glance whilst I gulped and had tea with my friend and squeezed my boy a bit tighter. We then walked through town but never saw her. All was fine; she got lunch at the Sainsbury's cafe and also bought me something for tomorrow - and obviously a load of sweets!

x x x

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

2 March 2016

Running Diary {Almost there!}

It's the end of another month and, even with the extra day this year, February flew by. Bath Half is now less than two weeks away and yesterday I ran my longest training run which has given me the goal to aim for a sub 2 hour finish!
Running Diary {Almost there!} // 76sunflowers
It was cold, wet and windy but my trusted runners kept me company with a reassuring rhythm of squelch squerch as I pounded the familiar route around town again. It was nice to see familiar faces, although due to the weather my usual cheer squad was thin on the ground, and it's amazing how a smile and a 'Good Morning!' can spur a runner on.
Running Diary {Almost there!} // 76sunflowers
Once again, fellow mama, blogger and runner, Sarah jolted my memory to check the miles with her February miles IG post. I knew my mileage was up this month, due to the increases in distances of the training runs, but it was still nice to see the total on the planner...

Running Diary {Miles for February} // 76sunflowers

84 miles for February.
162 miles for 2016.
£36 in the running jar! (£1 a run and £1 per mile for a race)

Now it's time to taper and relax and ignore my boy who asked me the following question after we were discussing perseverance and not giving up; "Mummy, are you going to run a marathon next?!"

x x x

 photo bath 1_zpsazttsaeg.jpg

1 March 2016

Framed Prints & Canvas from Wall Snaps {Review & Discount Code}

Having been a happy customer of Square Snaps in the past I was over the moon to be asked to review a framed print and canvas from their new site, Wall Snaps. As with Square Snaps, the Wall Snaps concept offers an easy user experience; just go to the site, select the style of print, upload your photo - I recommend you check the guidance for pixels quality, play around with sizes, select your framing option and then order - safe in the knowledge that express shipping to the UK is free.
Wall Snaps {Review & Discount Code} // 76sunflowers
Today my framed print safely arrived having ordered it on Sunday. The print was well packaged within bubble wrap and secure card wrapping and the frame was great quality.
Wall Snaps {Review & Discount Code} // 76sunflowers
Wall Snaps {Review & Discount Code} // 76sunflowers
Wall Snaps {Review & Discount Code} // 76sunflowers
I had selected a photo from a summer trip to Glastonbury where I had snapped a lot of the town's graffitti.
Wall Snaps {Review & Discount Code} // 76sunflowers
Cropping the image to fill the frame did not impact on the quality of the print and it now sits on my mantel piece alongside the framed paper I bought on the same day trip!
Wall Snaps {Review & Discount Code} // 76sunflowers
If you like the sound of this service then Wall Snaps have given me a discount code for my readers to use.
Spend over £30 and get £5 off with code: WSSF5
Spend over £60 and get £10 off with code: WSSF10
These codes are valid for two weeks.

This service would make a great Mother's Day gift too - order by March 2nd for delivery!

x x x

Disclaimer: Wall Snaps sent me a framed print and canvas to review. As always, all words and opinions are my own.
© 76 sunflowers

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