8 down, 4 to go

Right, the day of the race is getting really close now! But I’ve had a great week of running, and I’m looking forward to the big day.

Two Dogs Running

On Tuesday I tried something new.  My big dog, Max, is my usual running mate.  Except for parkruns, where the crowds freak him out.  But I also try to exercise my little dog, Mini.  She’s allowed at parkruns as long as the weather’s good.  I can just about walk them both together, using head collars, but the thought of running with them together is just a bridge too far.  But I chose a shortish route, and ran it twice, once with each dog.

Thursday morning was a bit damp, but I did my run round the river before breakfast.

Saturday dawned dry and sunny, so it was looking good for Mini to accompany me to Wallace Park.  Having broken the 30 minute barrier last week, I put all thoughts of speed and pace out of my mind, and instead just ran for the sheer joy of it.  The sun was shining, Mini behaved herself impeccably, and my shuffle gave me Daft Punk’s Harder, Faster, Stronger, which I think is my fitness theme song.

When I started Parkrunning 10 weeks ago, I was very despondent that out of a field of 33 runners, I was 30th, and was finding it really difficult to improve my time even by seconds. Today I finished 51st out of a field of 107 runners (ie in the top half), was the 7th lady, and once again broke my previous best time, coming in at 28:46.  It did occur to me that the more I run, the less I weigh, and the less I weigh, the faster I can run.  So being a stone lighter than I was at Christmas is undoubtedly bringing benefits.

I know an old lady…

Sunday was Max’s turn to come with me on my distance run.  I chose the same route as I’d done the past 2 times, as it’s basically the last section of the race route, and added on an extra loop at the end to take me past the finishing line.  It was lovely.  I was running without my usual jacket (same as yesterday) so instead my little pouch came in handy, holding phone, house key and poo bag.m&s food 001

I had a huge grin on my face as Taio Cruz’s Higher was playing.  But I had to stop singing along, as all that lovely burgeoning spring wildlife means there’s lots of flies around, which managed to get in my mouth, up my nose, in my hair….and yes I know insects are full of protein, and could be the answer to the world’s food shortages, but bleurgh!

Anyway, that’s 3 Sundays that I’ve run about 10 miles.  Following my training plan, I have a 6 mile run to do next week, then the longest run pre-race, or 12 miles, and then we’re into a taper week.  Still time to donate to a great cause!


5and2: False lows and false economies

Why are people so hard on themselves? I think it was the Mumsnet lot (they are particularly self-critical) where someone wouldn’t record a new low weight seen on the scales after a fast because “it was a false low”.


Weight varies up and down during the day. It will increase depending on what food you’ve eaten and how recently, what kind of food it was, what exercise you’ve done, what clothes you’re wearing. But the lowest weight will be your empty and naked weight. To me, that’s the sensible one to measure and record – so that’s first thing in the morning, no clothes, after a pee. If that’s lower than the last time I measured, I’ll record it. If it’s not, I’ll ignore it.

And another thing – debates about where your waist is? It’s the smallest distance around your middle. Again, why all the angst about measuring such and such a distance from your belly button etc – go with the smallest. That’s not cheating. Sometimes it’s as if people are deliberately trying to find ways to fail.

New lows for me this week – 134 pounds, and a waist size of 28 inches.

And after last week’s enthusing about M&S, this week they’ve disappointed me:

Following recommendations from other forums  for the Delicious and Nutritious range, I’d enjoyed the tuna mooli wraps for lunch last week. But I felt they were expensive at £3.50. On Saturday, shopping for something else in the Lisburn store, I got a voucher for £1 off the D&N range. Great, I thought, I’ll have something nice for dinner on Thursday! I couldn’t find any calorie info about the range online, but during the day I’d left  200-250 calories for my meal. So here’s what happened next.

  1.  I went out of my way to go to the Forestside store where I thought there’d be the largest range.
  2.  It wasn’t easy to find the D&N range, seemed to be in several places.
  3. None of the main meals came in at under 350 calories, and most were 400-500 and above.
  4.  I went back to the mooli wraps, and chose a beef one. At the till, it transpired that the £1 off did not apply to salads and wraps. Just how petty a decision was that!
  5. The barcode when scanned into MyFitnessPal came up as the pork ones, not beef.

This was a thoroughly disheartening experience, and I will not be rushing back, even to utilise that £1 off voucher. To be fair, I emailed the above complaints, and they replied within 24 hours, but the whole frustrating business has left a bad taste.  I reckon I’m better making my own meals, rather than relying on ready made ones.

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The chicken souvlaki I mentioned last week were rather tasty, at 70 cals apiece.  I’d planned to eat all 4, but husband thought they looked tasty too, so I ended up sharing with him.  With a large salad, probably 150 cals for the whole meal. These can’t be too hard to make myself, surely!

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I cannot pass by a bargain, and these little smoked salmon appetisers were reduced to 99p – 25 calories for 3 miniature bites of deliciousness.

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Next week I think I might dig out those miracle pasta sachets, and try them with some home made bolognese I have in the freezer.



7 down, 5 to go

OK, one month to go before the race. For the first time, I didn’t manage to get all 4 runs done, as I was out every evening, and on my day off I was at the Balmoral Show. But the 3 runs I did manage were good.

a pair of Nubian kids at the Balmoral Show

Tuesday morning – 3 miles round the river. It’s so lovely watching the signs of spring burgeoning, the colours and smells of the trees and flowers never fail to put a smile on my face.

Saturday Park Run. My best time had been 30:12, and I was getting my head in the right place to shave off those 12 seconds. It had been raining, so the ground was a bit wet, although thankfully the showers stayed away while I was actually running. I set off strongly, and tried to keep up with some of the faster guys. I did my usual approach of slowing down for the hill (3 times) before sprinting along the flat section to the duckpond (3 times). I leaped for joy when the official results were emailed that afternoon – 29:57, 6th lady overall!

For Sunday’s long run I chose the same route as last week, with a little extra loop added at the start.  This was to make sure that I’m increasing the distance of my long runs each week, and also to minimise any running on the same section of road.  It was slow, especially near the end where I was tiring, and suffering form some digestive problems, but I’m confident I can run the 3 additional miles that would take me to the half-marathon distance.

Over £100 raised so far for Clic Sargent – still time to donate!


5and2: M&S ready meals

I had Monday and Wednesday as my fast days this week, as it was full on busy every day!

On Monday I was struggling to go completely without food, so I had Ryvita with low-low cheese during the day, and some Bovril and miso soup. For dinner I had some leftover boiled ham, along with a salad of cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pearls and a pesto dressing.  I’d bought some of the new Nakd bars with added soya chunks for protein (they’re much tastier than that sounds!) and had one of those as a very satisfying 100 calories sweet tooth calmer.

I was taking Thursday off to go to the Balmoral Show with my sister, so I didn’t really want to have that as a fast day.  Which left Wednesday.  But I was going straight to a governors meeting after work, and didn’t want to be too rumbly in the tumbly.  So I decided to try out the highly recommended Marks and Spencers delicious and nutritious mooli ribbon meal.

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This comes in duck, beef, or tuna varieties – I chose the latter as it had the lowest sugar content.  It also came with  edamame beans, which I love.  It was pretty tasty, filled its purpose for a mere 150 calories, but at £3.50 I balked at the price.  Luckily I’ve since picked up a £1 off voucher, so I may try another selection from the  range next week.

Another find was the little souvlaki chicken kebabs, at only 70 calories per skewer – very tasty indeed!

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It feels good to be fasting 2 days a week – I can tell that my body likes this approach.  My weight is still creeping down slowly – the afternoon girly shopping trip with my sister netted a lovely size 8 jacket (also from M&S, I really should buy shares in the place), and I’m currently wearing a pair of size 12 jeans which are decidedly baggy and which will be going in the charity shop bag after they’re washed.

Oh, and lovely surprise of the week – I received a phone call from my old University that I’d won an iPad in a draw, so I had to go over there and get my photograph taken being presented with it.  So I took the opportunity to wear an outfit I’d bought recently on the half-price rail at – yes, you’ve guessed it – from their Per Una range: indigo linen trousers, and ice-blue Tshirt with draped neckline, and a blue grey Chanel style edge to edge jacket.  I was pretty pleased with the published photo, the shininess of the jacket looks great.  And my son is delighted that he’s inheriting my old iPad.

iPad win

5and2: fishy stuff

Really pleased with how my shape is developing – loved picking up some size 8 clothes last weekend. The Bank Holiday Monday was spent with DH downtown, including a rather lovely lunch, so Tuesday became fast day instead. I’d defrosted some of my chicky-leeky soup for dinner, but then husband requested the mussels that we had in the fridge, and they turned out to be very 5:2 friendly.

On Wednesday, I experimented with a recipe that had appeared in the Guardian, shared on the Facebook forum.  It was a roast broccoli and garlic soup.  DH doesn’t really like tomato based soups and sauces, so I’m always keen to try out alternatives.

The ingredients weren’t complicated – broccoli, veg stock, garlic, chilli, lemon.

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Roast the broccoli in the oven for about 20 mins until starting to char. If using garlic cloves, put them in beside the broccoli – I just used ready squeezed garlic in a tube. Blitz in a blender with stock  and chilli (this was the trickiest bit for me, had to try several vessels till I found one that didn’t spurt everything all over the kitchen).  Before serving, add lemon zest and juice.

I thought it was rather nice – DH wasn’t impressed.

On Thursday, I tried going without food as long as possible, but was seduced by a little Graze box.  Only 95 calories! it promised.  So I succumed.  And set off a massive sugar craving, which was hard to control for the rest of the day (lesson learned there!)  I had that chicky-leeky soup for dinner, but the nibbly biscuits I had took me to about 600 calories for the day.

Friday weigh-in – 135, same as last week.  No surprise, no big deal.

Went shopping on Saturday and found a lovely freezer standby – 24 calories per skewer – so 4 skewers is still under 100 cals!  Perfect for keeping in the freezer, ready to serve with a salad on fats days.

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6 down, 6 to go

My goodness, half way through the training plan!

Quick and Dirty

I was a day out of synch this week, after delaying my long run last week from its usual Sunday slot to the Bank Holiday Monday.  So I had Tuesday as a rest day and started on Wednesday with my favourite 5km run round the river.  My shins were really sore afterwards, and I was feeling a distinct lack of support from my shoes.  Do I have time to switch to new shoes and get used to them before the race in 6 weeks?

On Thursday I took myself down to the lovely people at Pure Running in Wellington Place, and having had my gait measured while running on a treadmill, and a selection of 6 different makes to try out including being able to run on the treadmill in them, I settled on a rather gaudy pair of KSwiss trainers.

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I also bought myself a little belt – ostensibly for gels, but its got a handy waterproof pouch for my phone, if I’m ever running without my jacket.  The weather hasn’t been great this week, but we live in hope of sunnier days!

Thursday’s run was a very quick 3 km round the block to try the new shoes.

On Saturday I was full of confidence for breaking the 30 minute target at the ParkRun, but when I arrived at Wallace Park it was full of vehicles and stalls getting ready for the Lord Mayors Show.  I’d checked the ParkRun newsletter for amendments, but not the actual Wallace Park page, which would have told me that the event was cancelled this week.  I quickly changed plans, got R to drop me at the back gate of Hillsborough Forest with Max, and we did the same circuit of the lake that I’d done last week in 19 minutes – this time in just over 15!  So I was really pleased with my pace, though R was less impressed with the mucky state of Max and me when he picked us up.

Sunday was my long run.  I pored over maps, anxious to avoid the problem I’d had last week of not choosing a long enough route.  I also wanted to run some of the actual race route, in the right direction.  It was raining, but I didn’t let that put me off, and I mentally got into the zone, and ran, and ran.  15 km later ( almost 10 miles), I was delighted with my longest ever run.  The shoes had performed well, my legs felt good, and I’ll probably run this route again to get more familiar with some of the notorious hills.

Many thanks to those who’ve generously given me sponsorship monies this week – it’s all mounting up!


5 down, 7 to go

Gosh, I’m nearly half way through this training programme! Running 4 times a week has just become a way of life for me now. This week, I have been mostly Running in Beautiful Places.

Tuesday: Run, (through the) Forest, Run!

I had Tuesday off, so I had the luxury of taking the time to drive to nearby Hillsborough Forest, and running with Max there.  It was a cracking day, the only other people about were fellow runners and dog walkers, and I thoroughly enjoyed my run around the lake. I rather underestimated how long it would be though, and I did a mere 3 km in 19 minutes.  I discovered recently that bluebells are rare outside of the western shores of Europe, so I was feeling very privileged to be able to run in such colourful splendour.

Thursday: In the gym

My usual Thursday run on the treadmill in the gym – I felt I was getting in the zone, and was able to run at my target 10 kph for longer periods of time.

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Saturday: Portrush Park Run

Having recorded a PB of 30:12 at last week’s parkrun, I’d remarked to my husband how it was a shame I’d miss this week’s as I was at a Scottish dancing weekend school on the north coast.  He suggested I check and see if there was one nearby, and lo and behold, there’s one on Portrush strand!  I believe it’s the only one run on a beach.  My nephew, who lives nearby, was doing a leg of the Belfast Marathon on Monday, so I invited him to join me, and we were made to feel very welcome by the volunteers organising the run.  There was even someone dressed up in Star Wars gear, as it was May the Fourth.  The lack of hills was a relief, and the view was stunning – golden sand stretching to the white rocks, the Skerries out to sea, the waves lapping the shore, a group of horses thundering past – I could almost hear the strains of Chariots of Fire as the 107 runners pounded over the hard sand.  On the down side, to get to hard sand, you have to cross some soft sand, which eats into the time terribly, and the sea breeze on the return leg was strong.  No PB, but a reasonable 31:21, and my nephew recorded a brilliant 25 mins.

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Monday: Long Run

I’d usually do my distance run on a Sunday, but having been dancing at a ceili on Friday night, done the Parkrun on Saturday morning, followed by a dance class, and then a Scottish dance evening , punctuated by an afternoon of serious shappin’, I thought it best to have Sunday as a rest day, and do my long run on the Bank Holiday Monday.  I have 4 loops that go from my house, each about 3-4 miles long, and I planned to link 2 of them to give me a 7 mile run.  In fact, it was a bit short of that, at 6.72 miles, but I incorporated some of the actual route, and managed to achieve the impossible – tire Max out!

Why do I run?

There are many reasons that I’m getting more into running.  I love the extra calories it gives me (for wine….), I enjoy the runners’ high that follows as the serotonin is released, I really like the lean muscles I’m building, but I’m also fund-raising for Clic Sargent.  My fundraising page is here:


Monday and Thursday again this week, which worked really well.

I’ve been playing with some of the yoghurt-like products, and so my breakfast was fromage frais with berries.  FF is ok, but it tastes a little grainy for me.

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The nutritional content for Fromage Frais, quark, and 0% greek yoghurt is very similar  100g of each gives about 60 calories, 10g protein and 4g carbs, with very little fat.  Differences come into play with the higher fat  or flavoured varieties, but it’s good to experiment nd see which texture and sharpness you like best.

I remembered I had a meeting mid-morning, so I allowed myself some Ryvita and low-low cheese. I’ve switched from rice cakes to Ryvita – although the rice cakes have slightly less calories, (less or fewer?) they are a higher GI food. I skipped lunch – went downtown to return the iPod Shuffle which I’d bought on Sunday but which wasn’t what I needed at all, and also had my now long and strong nails done properly at the Nails Inc stand in Victoria Square.

I’m not a coffee drinker – I only consume it on fast days. Ordered a regular black coffee to go at a cafe, and was astonished at the volume of it! Kept me going till mid-afternoon.

Dinner was with husband – we have GOT to stop buying so much food. We had to eat a couple of breaded cod loin steaks or they’d be thrown out. I scraped most of the coating off mine, and had it with microwaved courgette cubes. Husband had his with a Rice fusions pyramid. Scottish dancing – had one digestive.

Thursday fast – liquids only all day. Lemon water, tea, bouillon, Bovril (I’d forgotten how much I love Bovril!), coffee, ginseng tea, more Bovril….. I ate a satsuma about 4 pm, as I was heading out to the gym later on. When I got home, husband was cooking some fresh pasta parcels stuffed with pine nuts and basil, with a spinach and ricotta sauce. Again, needed to be used before its sell-by. Thank goodness I had plenty of calories to spare – I enjoyed 2 of the delicious pillows with a little sauce, before my treadmill session. Actually, I got a stitch about half way through the run, which may have been from eating too soon beforehand.

Post gym, I made a snack wrap – discovered these new mini wraps at under 100 cals each, which are a sensible size. Spread with a blob of salsa, a handful of spinach, and 50g cooked turkey, it was the perfect post-workout food. I snuggled on the sofa with husband enjoying a diet shandy and feeling really positive.

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My good mood continued on my Friday weigh-in at under 135 pounds, with a bmi now under 25!  And it was really exciting to go shopping on the Saturday, and find that I now fit into a size 8 in many stores.

I intend to continue with the “liquids only as long as poss” approach next week. Bank Holiday Monday, so I may try Tues-Thurs for a change.