What I’m loving lately – January

Even during Lockdown 3.0 I’m trying to keep positive and find things to make me smile, though it can definitely be quite trying at times.

Being pregnant is all well and good and there’s definitely a constant low level of excitement and anticipation, but it’s quite a long time away before I actually give birth (July-ish) and I’m actually more often feeling impending doom and waves of fear. Fear of being a parent, fear of Big Life Change, fear of lack of sleep, to name a few. All the things basically.

But anyway I DO have things that I’ve been enjoying lately so thought I’d share.

First thing’s first, having Kyle come downstairs to inform me proudly he’s learnt how to swaddle a baby is pretty damn cute.

Especially considering the “baby” in question was none other than our baby Yoda cuddly toy.

It’s fair to say that both Kyle and I are entirely clueless with anything baby related so even these titbits of knowledge are gold dust for us. I feel very overwhelmed when I try and think about all the things I don’t know (let’s not even consider the “unknown unknowns”!). I know I need to be reading books, blogs and building a solid base of knowledge but at the moment I just feel it’s too much.

I also know that there are certain strong opinions on different subjects and if I read one book am I residing myself to that opinion? Or do I read everything?? Like best ways to feed your baby, getting them to sleep, routines… argh so much! So I bit of light relief from Kyle was lovely.

And speaking of baby stuff… I was recently sent an amazing piece of art from the lovely Mary (her blog http://www.ahealthiermoo.com/).

She’s started a business creating gorgeous pieces of running art (check it out here https://www.instagram.com/runnerprints/) which she was kind enough to send me one. I love it! Definitely be going up in the nursery (currently Kyle’s study). Thank you, Mary! Perfect gift idea for a runner 🙂

Something else I’ve recently been sent was a collection of bars from Human Food.

They’re basically an organic plant-based snack bar that contains no nasties, refined sugar, artificial ingredients and (which I love) their packaging is very environmentally friendly. They don’t use plastics and it’s all recyclable and biodegradable. Not only this but throughout their organisation, they pride themselves on fair treatment and fair wage of staff. Good stuff indeed!

So what were they like? I’m not a big fan of cereal or protein bars, but these were dense chewy, relatively sweet bars that I quite enjoyed.

They advise you can just eat them as a bar (very nice, I enjoyed it with a cuppa in the afternoon), or you can even break it up and add it to smoothies or even your porridge. Love this!

The ingredients are super healthy as well so you know you’re getting a powerhouse health snack (and as pregnant woman, this was so handy when I was suffering from nausea and really need to ramp up my nutrition in easy ways when I found so many other fruits and veg unpalatable). Each bar contains things like maca, ginseng, cacao and hemp seeds, along with other goodies like turmeric, spirulina, nuts and a whole host of vitamins and minerals. So a solid, quality snack that leaves a good taste in your mouth in more ways than one.

On a slight less healthy note… we’ve also been enjoying doughnuts from the a local Southsea small business (find on Instagram @southseadonutco). For £9 they delivered three homemade vegan doughnuts to us.

They were incredible. Unfortunately due to a confusion during ordering (probably my fault to be fair) we got the wrong order. But they were more than happy to deliver us our correct order the next day to make up for it – which is incredible!

So in the end we had four salted caramel doughnuts, a Biscoff one and a cinnamon sugar one. They were SO good. I especially loved the cinnamon and Biscoff ones. If you’re local, I heartily recommend these guys. We will definitely be ordering again. Soft, melt in the mouth and vegan!

We’ve also been seriously enjoying the influx of Easter chocolate that is now in the shops. Especially the Mini Eggs Bar that has just been released. This is such a moreish and delicious chocolate bar. We have literally been buying all our local shop’s stock. One of my favourite snacks in the evening is a few rows (*cough* few being subjective) of the chocolate with a decaf black coffee. It hits the spot I tell you.

We also managed to find the Easter Egg version of it so we have that ready to go for Easter (if we can avoid the temptation of scoffing it before that is). So it’s a thick egg with Mini Eggs in it with a bag of Mini Eggs (my favourite, so so dangerous though). This Easter we’re definitely not holding back – we need good stuff like this to keep us going with all things considered.

What has been so difficult (and I know pretty much everyone feels ecavtly the same right now) is not seeing our family that often. It’s so hard. Especially being pregnant, I want to be doing all the things with them like going shopping for baby items and just not having limits to seeing them. But it is what it is and we just have to live with that right now.

But I was lucky enough to see my mum for a walk down Southsea on Sunday – no hugging, no touching, but just walking and chatting. It was lovely but also so sad. My mum works in a hospital and she knows first-hand how bad it is right now and how we just have to keep going with being safe and sensible. But it doesn’t make it easier.

We got a takeaway coffee and she enjoyed one of the salted caramel doughnuts I brought for her, which she very much enjoyed.

Next weekend I hope to do the same, but with my dad. Tag teaming the family basically! It’s all we can do right now, and it’ll just have to be enough.

How are you coping in Lockdown 3.0?

Are there any new snacks you’ve been enjoying?

** Full Disclaimer: I was sent the Human Food for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones**

Our trying to conceive journey

I actually feel a bit of a fraud saying our trying to conceive “journey” because it happened so quickly. I can’t stress enough that we know how lucky we are.

After we’d decided to crack on with getting pregnant, we decided to tell friends and family we’d begin trying next year so there was no pressure. And because I wanted to ask questions without arousing suspicion. Most of my friends have had babies (most more than one) so suddenly they were a fountain of information I’d never really paid attention to before. I guess selfishly I’d never asked detailed questions about how their “trying to conceive” journey (called TTC – got the lingo down). So between my friends, family and the Internet I had A LOT of information about the best ways in improving your chance to conceive.

I mean, I pretty much went from 0 to 100% in a short number of weeks. We were taking all the right supplements. I was using the app I’d previously used to track my period as my guide to ovulation. I had my copper coil removed (I can’t recommend this form of contraception enough by the way – no hormones, no remembering anything and no issues). And I even purchased 30 One Step ovulation tests (FYI very cheap on Amazon – they also come with cheap pregnancy tests too). We were good to go.

So I would say around September/October we officially began trying. Handily just after the Goodwood Marathon. I could take my foot off the pedal a bit in running. I would still run, but I now didn’t have any races or goals (*cough* until my friend Emma tempted me to run a marathon with her at the end of October!).

So when my period was expected and it didn’t come I got very excited very quickly. But a false pregnancy test quickly scuppered our hopes. Now my periods in general have been somewhat irregular in that I tend to have longer than usual cycles and when I have a stressful month or push my body too hard it can delay things. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I lost my period for a time (I wrote about it HERE and HERE) and since then my body is quite sensitive. The past few years though everything has been more or less fine. I’m healthy, things were regular (long cycles and sometimes irregular depending on things happening but mostly fine).

So now I was worried. Had I broken myself again? Had running Goodwood and then the marathon in all that rain and cold stressed me out too much? Work had been very stressful too and the pandemic didn’t help. I was getting ill more often than I had before as well. I was angry at myself. Had I taken my eye off the ball and not looked after myself? My weight hadn’t changed but I did feel stressed. And everyone said stress is the WORST for trying to conceive.

Another week went by and I took another test… nope. Kyle was lovely and supportive and kept trying to chill me out. I ran the marathon with Emma and enjoyed having something else to think about. We decided the Friday after that we’d go out to a pub, get a bit tipsy, eat a giant burger and get an Uber home and just forget about it all for a weekend. Perfect! Then Lockdown 2.0 happened and so our pub visit instead became a plan of G&T’s and Budweiser’s at home.

In myself though I didn’t feel right. I felt like I was about to start my period. I kept saying to Kyle, it LITERALLY feels like it’s going to happen any day. I had lots of my usual symptoms (spots, boobs a bit bigger and uncomfortable, general moodiness). My running had taken a nose dive. Every run felt hard and I was tired. I swapped my morning workouts to lunchtime so I could sleep more. I just felt pretty rubbish. I started taken iron supplements as I was convinced it was that. I said to Kyle how I wish I could just feel normal again.

Friday morning I woke up ridiculously early and laid there. My heart was thumping. Usually my resting HR is around 49-53. Lying in bed doing nothing it was almost 70! I checked back in my Garmin app and could see my resting HR had been slowly creeping up that week. Weird. Anyway I went to the loo and decided the most responsible thing to do was to take a pregnancy test because while I was 99% it would be negative I didn’t want to drink that evening without being certain.

I took the test, put it on the side and carried on washing my hands and all that jazz. Before heading back to bed I glanced at the test, not thinking I’d see anything, and was shocked to see a little second line had appeared. WHAT.

I stared at it in complete and utter disbelief. I started Googling the brand of test and false positives. Nope. False positives don’t happen.

I went back into the bedroom and gently woke Kyle up. It was 6.30am (well over an hour before we had to wake up) so he was a bit confused and groggy. I asked him to take a look at something and tell me what he saw. Well, that quickly woke him up! The rest of that day was a blur of happiness, excitement, fear, disbelief and three more pregnancy tests – all of which came up positive.

We were just absolutely gobsmacked. How did this happen?! I mean obviously I know how but it just seemed crazy. What I think happened is that the stress I was feeling pushed back my ovulation and we just happened to catch it without realising (I only took one ovulation test the night before the pregnancy test just out of interest – the irony). It suddenly made so much sense why I felt so rubbish. When we took the test I was 4 weeks and 4 days pregnant. Side note: technically I ran a marathon when I was over 3 week’s pregnant – I know this is a cheat as it’s such early days but I will take it haha!

We decided to wait until the next day to tell our parents… we also wanted to take one more test first thing just to be certain. The next day happened and another positive pregnancy result. I went from thinking I was broken to suddenly being miraculously pregnant! I went from thinking I was going to cut out running and anything stressful to being PREGNANT.

The next day we went to my parents to surprise them with the news and then to Kyle’s mum’s straight after – neither families having any idea.

Needless to say both sets were over the moon (I mean my mum literally screamed and jumped about the room!).

And we Facetimed Kyles dad too.

We decided to tell all our family straight away because I knew that if something sad were to happen I wouldn’t mind them knowing and would want their support regardless. So Kyle’s and my parents, our siblings, my grandparents… they all knew and were super excited for us. We were terrified but surrounded by so much love that I know everything will be OK whatever happens.

So thats that! Its been so hard not telling close friends but we eventually cracked at about eight weeks. I’m now 12 weeks and just glad to be heading out of the dreaded first trimester (more about that and how my running has been in a later post).

We’ve been keeping a secret…

Well, this is not a post I thought I’d be writing this year but here we go.

I’m pregnant! Wow even typing it feels weird. I’m actually writing this long before I posted because I wanted to accurately reflect on and document my experiences. I didn’t want to actually post it early days because of all the reasons, of course.

So where do I begin?

Firstly, this was planned. Weirdly not hugely far in advance though. Kyle and I moved in together in June (during the first lockdown) and enjoyed setting up our home, buying furniture and getting used to the eb and flow of life with each other and our new surroundings. Luckily being locked down together and both working from home – literally being around each other 24/7 – wasn’t hard (whew).

We began chatting about the future more and more. I’ve never been a maternal person and many times I’ve considered not having children. It’s not been a “goal” of mine or something that has greatly excited me. But being with Kyle… something changed. I didn’t have a maternal switch suddenly go on, but I felt more safe and comfortable with the idea of having a family with Kyle.

So we started talking more about it, like when we were thinking about having a family, fun baby names and how we’d tell our parents when we did get pregnant. Initially we’d agreed later next year to start trying but we were just talking about it so much and getting excited that Kyle turned to me and said “do you want a baby sooner?”.

Turns out we both did! I’m 32 (Kyle is 26) so there is somewhat of a ticking clock for me and while having a baby still seems terrifying and I have fears of my freedom and lifestyle being dramatically, well, locked down… The thought of having a baby with Kyle didn’t feel that scary or like our life as we knew it would be over. I’ve never felt maternal and I never envied my friends having children all around me. But Kyle made me feel very safe, happy and like it would be something amazing. Something we would do TOGETHER as a team.

Having a baby in my eyes has always seemed like it would change everything about my life in a bad way and my identity would change to be being “just a mother” without anything else interesting about me. While I do realise having a baby will change our whole world, I became to realise that I could still be myself as well. We could still enjoy our lives as we were (yes with sacrifices and compromises) and that a baby would add to us rather than take away from us. This shift in thinking was largely due to Kyle’s reassurances and seeing how close friends had babies that slotted into their lives rather than becoming the centre of their universe.

It’s funny because I’ve never had a rose-tinted view of having a baby. It’s mostly been all the negatives and focusing on all the hard bits. The sleepless nights, no time to yourself, the finances involved, living a less selfish life, my body changing completely outside of my control. But I never considered all the good stuff. This baby would part of us, we would be making so many amazing memories, and we would have a lot of help from family and friends. We wouldn’t be alone. Yes it’ll be hard, but hard for good reasons. Good reasons I had never considered before.

Holidays and races… two big things I love in my life which I knew would take a backseat if we did decided to have a baby. But if 2020 has taught me anything it’s that I don’t need these things to make me happy. And actually I’d achieved what I wanted to achieve for the moment in terms of running. Yes of course I want to run more marathons, especially all over the world, but having a baby doesn’t mean this will end forever. I realise it won’t be happening for a while (COVID aside) but I can still run marathons later in my life if I want to. It’s a shame that COVID has meant we couldn’t do what we wanted this year in terms of marathons and holidays and we probably can’t squeeze many holidays abroad (if at all) before the arrival of the baby in July but it just means our focus will be elsewhere for the time being. And we can still have little holidays and day trips for the time being, which I adore doing.

So we decided to start trying. Amazingly (and I know we are so, so lucky with this) it happened very quickly. More quickly than we expected and to be honest it was quite the shock. Shit got real very quickly, pardon my French. I’m going to do another post about this because it’s quite a funny story and I want to share it.

But basically I am now 11 weeks pregnant and while I can’t see any bump yet (though my boobs are gigantic it’s incredible!), I wake up every day knowing my body is doing incredible things and a constant reminder that the future is looking very different indeed…

So that’s it! I’m preggers. Up the duff. Bun in the oven. Mit baby.

I’ll be doing some more posts about how I’ve been finding the first trimester and my experiences with running, if anyone cares 🙂

How we’re surviving Lockdown 2.0

My blog has been a little neglected recently. It’s hard to find things to consistently post about when realistically nothing is happening.

I’m sure we’re all feeling this. In the running community, there are no races and no parkruns. And in the wider setting, with lockdown 2.0, you can’t go anywhere or do anything (again).

(I will stress that I’m hugely grateful that the lockdowns haven’t personally affected me in a big way and my complaints are very much “first world problems”).

For running, it’s hard to create any goals when we still don’t know what 2021 is going to look like. Since my first lockdown marathon in April, I’ve just been running intuitively in that I run what I fancy when I fancy. I mean arguably this is generally how I run anyway as I’m not a big PB hunter and never follow any firm and hard plans. However I do usually have a marathon in the plan to aim for so tend to have a build-up of miles and then a peak, then recovery and then we go again.

I’m very grateful that during this year I’ve managed to run three marathons, one official. I mean I know I am very lucky to have achieved these, but now it’s hard to know what to do. What to aim for. I thought I’d definitely have the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon at the end of December but as that’s been cancelled I’m now a bit lost.

Each weekend I seem to just randomly pick a long run distance and see how I feel… I feel good? Run a bit more or run a bit faster. Don’t feel as good? Slow it down or run less. There are minimal pressures in my running life right now other than slight feelings of mediocrity and lack of purpose. Injury-wise its pretty good because I’m not trying to squeeze in another marathon or pushing the mileage. And I’m being super consistent with my strength routines, despite not being at the gym anymore. Because I don’t spend as long on my strength workouts as I would have done at the gym I prioritise the stuff that I know works and keeps injuries at bay (touch wood).

So in way my running is generally been quite consistent with very few niggles. Compared to last year when I had two major injuries that knocked me out of the running game for months, this year has been pretty plain sailing. Maybe a few calf niggles here or there but nothing that has really stopped me running or caused me major issue.

But running is something which is helping me mentally. Keeping fit, staying healthy, getting outside, doing something I enjoy. It’s part of my weekly routine. And if lockdown has taught me anything it’s the necessity of a routine to stop me going slowly mad.

What also helps is that Kyle and I have something each week to look forward to. Or a few things. So Friday night is always takeaway night and we tend to get something a bit more exciting than the standard Indian or pizza affair.

Chicken loaded fries

We try and choose something local but a bit crazy (I say “crazy” lightly because in all honestly it’s not crazy at all but times are tough to reach the lofty pre-COVID excitement heights).

Crispy lemon chicken wings

We’ve been enjoying lots of hot dogs, chicken burgers, chicken wings of all varieties (of course) and loaded, dirty fries. While of course we’d love to actually go out for dinner or lunch, getting food delivered is the next best thing. And eating in your comfy clothes in the comfort of your own home is pretty damn good too.

Lockdown roasts on a Sunday help too 😉

Perfecting my roast potatoes…

Going forward? Well, I’ve run out of steam a bit for another lockdown marathon. I’m just going to continue to run whatever I fancy and just take each week as it comes. After all, a lot can happen in a few months! A lot can change.

How are you surviving?

Are you ordering more takeaways?

How do you stay motivated with your running?

Running a marathon just for the hell of it

During these weird times I’m grasping at anything to keep my running feeling fresh and to keep it from feeling samey.

So when my friend, Emma, said that she was going to be running the Virtual New York Marathon at the end of October and mentioned I could join her if I fancied, I jumped at it. My running lately has been feeling so meh and flat. It’s not that I’ve lost motivation it’s just that I don’t know what I’m doing, if that makes sense? What mileage should I be running? What goal am I aiming for? I’m not training for anything. Portsmouth Coastal Marathon in December has been cancelled and I’m a bit bereft. (As I’m sure so many others are as well).

On Friday evening after work I drove up to Reading and stayed with Emma and her family ready to run the marathon the next day. She had a route more or less planned and we decided to head out at 8am the next day. That evening she had chicken and pasta and I had a delicious vegetarian pizza. I know it’s crazy but I really cannot stand pasta!

The next morning we got up early. I had some porridge and a black coffee (my standard) and we waited a bit to digest before getting ready to start.

I wasn’t feeling that nervous. Without sounding arrogant or blasé, Emma was aiming for around a four hour marathon with a pace of 9-10min/mile, which is quite relaxed for me.

My training up to this point hadn’t really been optimal for another marathon but I felt confident I would be OK. Of course, the distance is always hard regardless of the pace you run so I knew not to be too chilled about it.

The weather was due to be pretty grim as well. It wasn’t raining as we set off but we knew it would come at some point. As we started, while it was quite windy, it was mild which was nice and made me wonder if my long sleeve jacket was a mistake (spoiler: it wasn’t). We had a few loops around the immediate location of where Emma lived, round some country roads, and we kept it nice and relaxed chatting away. It’s always nice to see Emma and while we catch up most weeks via phone, it was nice to see her in person and have a long chatty run. It was also nice to run in a very country-esque location and pretty much carless roads.

It was really quite easy to keep my pace nice and relaxed – something I had been a little worried about. I didn’t want to speed up and push Emma without realising. But we kept to the goal pace.

As we headed into Reading at around mile 11, Emma said she needed a quick toilet break so we popped into Costa (we’d brought our masks just in case we needed to do this thankfully).

As we came back out the rain had started in earnest and having stopped running for a few minutes my legs were a bit stiff getting going again and I was a little chilly. Thankfully as we got going I got warm again.

We then started running alongside the Thames River and the rain properly started hammering down. The more stable pathing turned into more of a trail route and the rain and leaves on the ground made that a little precarious.

I had visions of slipping and falling into the river – thankfully this never happened! As we ran alongside the river we saw several people getting ready for what looked like a boat regatta with their bibs on.

While running through the wind and rain I was certainly more happy to be running through the rain than rowing through it on the water! It just looked so grim. We did get some grim smiles from the few supporters along the bank. Everyone just looked so thoroughly soaked – as we were too of course. But looking at this point we weren’t cold.

So we continued running alongside the water until we got to the end of the road, as it were, where a gate blocked our way. And so we turned around and headed back the way we’d come. This had always been the plan but I think Emma thought that the path might have gone on a little longer. At this point we were almost at 17 miles. My legs felt a little tired but otherwise I was OK. I did have a slight dip in motivation when I considered how much longer we still had to run and be wet in the rain. The rain was just so relentless it really was quite tedious.

As we headed back down the path we’d come down, the rain had created more and more puddles and we had to do some strategic running and jumping to get through. We continued running further down the Thames to get to around 20 miles and Emma started to struggle a bit with some pains in her hip.

I tried to keep her mind off it by talking about stupid things but it was a struggle as the weather was really killing our vibe. Emma stopped a few times and I started to get colder. I needed to keep running to stay warm, but equally I didn’t want to put pressure on Emma, especially if she was in pain. She kindly said I could run ahead for a bit.

As we got to 22 miles we stopped again and Emma was clearly struggling a fair amount – the rain, the wind, her painful hip and general fatigue – and we needed to find four more miles. We decided to keep running loops around the area we were in – up and down the Thames, round near to the shops a bit and back. It was a little tedious but every mile ticked off the end got closer.

In terms of how my legs felt, they were good. They were tired but no niggles and I didn’t feel that tired in myself. I wanted to stretch my legs out a bit but I knew increasing my pace wouldn’t help Emma finish any faster. I did run ahead a few times so I could sprint back to her to allow my legs to stretch a bit – as my cadence was slower than if I’d been running my usual pace. It helped keep me warm as well. I had to check with Emma a couple of times regarding how much she had left as obviously my watch wasn’t accurate due to my extra running ahead and back.

We got near to where her parents would be picking us up (I was now over 26.4 miles so stopped my watch), Emma was almost there and I ran ahead so I could cheer her in to the imaginary finish.

Then we were done. Soaked and tired but done!

Emma’s parents were incredible. The car was lovely and warm, they had towels for us and big hoodies for us to get into and it was just GLORIOUS. I was so cold by this point and utterly, utterly drenched through I was just glad to be out of the rain.

Emma’s watch time was 4:18:52. I’m not sure what her official time was (we did stop our watches when we stopped – I know there are several  opinions about this). But anyway, she was very happy with her time – as she should be.

I had the most gloriously hot (scalding really) shower and a cup of tea and felt a million times better. The marathon itself wasn’t hard per se as the pace was very comfortable for me. But running for longer than I’m used to did make it fairly tiring. I found at times that I wanted to run faster to stretch my legs and it was mentally tough trying to support someone who was struggling a little at the end. Like there’s nothing you can say to help them but just be there and push as much as you can. You wish you could run the miles for them and seeing Emma in a bit of pain at the end was hard. This makes it sound like I’m being smug and that it was easy. It wasn’t easy. It was just very different and hard in different ways.

Emma and I celebrated with a delicious lunch at a little garden centre café. I opted for the rather delicious (and different for me) lentil salad with another pot of tea. So tasty and warming.

And of course later we had a Doughnut Time doughnut to really celebrate 😉 They were the Halloween specials and very tasty. Then it was an Indian takeaway for dinner and a very early night!

I thoroughly enjoyed running the marathon with Emma. And just before Lockdown 2.0! Not sure what next is planned for my running though…

Have you ever run a marathon with a friend?

What’s your celebratory food of choice?