Petting Zoo!

Petting Zoo!

As I wrote in my last C25K post, I spent last weekend in Portsmouth with my family. It was my best friend’s boyfriend’s birthday on Bank Holiday Monday so we went to the Petersfield Festival.

I don’t get to see my friends that often as we live about 3 hours apart. We spent the first couple of hours in the pub having some food and catching up. The Square Brewery does really good nachos and onion rings if you’re ever in the area!

As more and more of the birthday boy’s friends turned up, we decided to give up our seats in the pub and head into the sunshine. Despite living about 20 minutes from Petersfield for most of my life, I couldn’t remember ever having been into the town centre. I know I’ve been to their swimming centre, the Teddy Bear Museum and the Heath but the centre was brand new to me!

Our first stop was of course the petting zoo. I’d found out this was there a bit earlier in the week when I was looking for parking information and it caused the longest, most excited Facebook thread I’ve been involved with in a long time. Sadly, they didn’t have the skunk they’d promised on the website but there were plenty of other cuddly animals! As you can see, I got to hold a ferret, a rat and a snake and also won a dance-off against a parrot.

We then had a wander around the other stalls, culminating in me and Rob buying £14 worth of olives and stuff from a very enthusiastic salesman. He gave us a mix of some kind of ginger, sun-dried tomatoes and raw garlic which sounds vile but tastes delicious. He reckoned it would last a week in the fridge, but we’ve eaten most of it in two sittings.

We had to leave relatively early as we had to drive back to Nottingham, but not before we got to see said best friend Becky perform on stage. She sang songs from her last album and a forthcoming one as well as a sea shanty duet with her friend Chris Ricketts. Becky sounded excellent as always and got lots of laughs during “Weird Nerdy Crush”. The large crowd was more attentive than I was expecting and one guy even heckled the MC at the end asking him to get her back on!

The only downer on the day was getting back to find one of our gerbils had had an abscess burst on his tummy and he was covered in blood. After a call to an out-of-hours vet, we managed to get the bleeding to stop and gave him lots of treats. We saw a vet in the morning who gave us some antibiotics we have to mix with Ribena and give to him twice a day, as well telling us to give him a little salt water bath twice a day. Luckily he seems to be pulling through, but he’s getting wise to the Ribena mix!



Couch to 5k – Starting Week 2

The day after I wrote my last C25K post, I had my annual asthma review. On the good side, my preventer inhaler has gone down a step so I’ll be taking less steroids. On the bad side, I had a pretty bad reaction to the pneumonia vaccine I was given.

I was alright for the early part of the day, but by the evening my normally high pain threshold had disintegrated and I was curled up in tears on the sofa. By the following morning when I was due to run again, my arm was so sore I couldn’t lift it and I ended up spending half the day in bed because I felt so rough. Most of my upper arm was swollen and red, and there was no way I could run.

I had the jab on Thursday morning and it was Sunday before I could move my arm and get running again. I went down to visit my friends and family about 3 hours away in Portsmouth for the weekend and had dragged my gym bag with me to make sure I’d go. It was nice to run in a different place for a change of scenery, but the wind was pretty strong which didn’t help! Having an inhaler with me that wasn’t eight months out of date did though! Not sure how I didn’t notice that one.

Yesterday I started week two, which takes you from running 60 seconds and walking for 90 to running for 90 and walking for two minutes.

Despite the beautiful weather we had at the weekend, it chucked it down yesterday. If I wasn’t doing C25K, there’s no way I would have gone out. The benefit of the programme to me is that it really does give you the motivation to carry on. If you miss a day, it makes it harder to progress and you could end up having to start over as I’ve seen a few people do. Although I was soaked, the path where I run was covered in slugs and my normally straightened hair had gone back to its natural frizzy ways, I’m glad I did it. My legs were feeling heavy by the end which was probably a combination of wearing soaked clothes and not having run intervals like that since I went to the gym!

Hope the weather picks up this week!

Couch to 5k – I’ve Gained A Fan

Today’s run felt a little easier than the first one. I didn’t have to take my inhaler more than once on my way round which can only be a good thing. I’ve conveniently got my yearly asthma checkup tomorrow so I’ll ask the nurse whether she thinks I need to change the way I take it during exercise.

Despite stinging my hand on some very tall nettles within the first minute, it all went pretty smoothly. It was a bit warmer than Monday  so I didn’t have my jacket on. I think that helped keep my temperature down meaning I wasn’t feeling as tired and gross at then end. That’s why I always liked swimming; no matter how hard you go, you can’t really feel yourself sweat.

I went out at about 3.45 this afternoon which wasn’t a great idea as the paths and streets were crammed with kids from the two local schools. At one point it was a bit like The Gauntlet from Gladiators.

I did have one highlight, though, which makes me smile every time I think of it. I was just getting into the very first of the 8 one-minute runs when I spotted an elderly man walking towards me. As I got up to him he actually stopped and applauded me! I said a slightly breathless thanks and flashed him a smile. That little moment kept me going for the rest of the run!

It’s amazing that such a small thing can keep you buoyed up for the whole day. If ever I feel like I’m struggling during one of my runs, I’ll think of him as my little cheerleader willing me home.

Baking Time – Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal and Raisin cookies

My boyfriend and I recently invested in a teapot and have started trying out some leaf teas. At the moment we’re on Whittard’s Afternoon blend which is delicious!

But as we all know, you can’t have tea without a bit of something sweet, so I’ve been making these delicious oatmeal and raisin cookies to go with it. It’s dead simple and there’s not too much fat and and sugar in them. Plus the raisins must be one of your five a day.

The recipe source is here, but I tweak it by adding a bit of vanilla.

  • Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF, gas mark 4)
  • Cream together 85g of room temperature butter (I tend to melt in the microwave to make it easier) and 115g light muscovado sugar.
  • Blend in a beaten egg and a teaspoon of vanilla essence.
  • Sift in 115g of self raising flour and fold it in until combined.
  • Fold in 55g of porridge oats and 170g raisins.
  • Splop teaspoon sized dollops onto a tray and bake for 10-15 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

Our oven’s a bit mental so I bake them at 150ºC and turn them round halfway through.

The cookies are lovely straight from the oven but they’ll last for a good few days if you can stop yourself from eating them all at once!

Couch to 5k – Getting My Run On

When I was a kid, my parents were really keen for me to be active. My main sport was swimming, training up to five times per week until I was about 12, but I also did gymnastics, trampolining and badminton. The main problem was that I wasn’t particularly good at any of them and I hated PE lessons at school. One particularly memorable lesson was when my group of friends who were equally unenthusiastic had to play basketball against a team made up of girls taking GCSE PE and we ended up just passing them the ball each time to get it over with.

Needless to say, my fitness levels went down and my dress size went up. As my sixth form college was much further away from home than my senior school, I took the bus every day and did very little walking. This meant that by the time I went to Uni in 2005, I was a size 18. I managed to get it down to a 16 by walking a bit more and eating more healthily than I had done, but when I moved into the world of work and sat on my butt answering phones all day, it didn’t get any better.

Finally, my boyfriend and I decided to join a gym in 2011, thanks to which I lost a good two stone and got down to a size 12. Most of it was down to Funkalates – a blend of lots of different styles of exercise created by a guy named Leroy. You can read more about it here. When we moved to Nottingham at the end of last year, we quit the gym and haven’t really exercised since.

Now I’ve decided to get back into the game and follow a couch to 5k programme after hearing so much about them over the past few months. You are essentially given a 9 week plan that will get you from being a complete novice to being able to run 5k or 30 continuous minutes. As we’ve got lots of flat green areas around our house here, I figured this would be a much cheaper option than joining another gym. We’ve got a Roko literally over the road, but their prices are extortionate.

A C25K programme should work well for me. Where I’m freelancing now, money is more uncertain and although I’m comfortable, I never quite know where my next pay package is coming from. The benefit of this line of work though, is that I can do it when I want. If I want to take half an hour out of my day to go for a run, it doesn’t matter as long as my work gets done.

There are many different versions of the programme out there, but I’ve decided to go for the one made by the NHS, available here. Once I’d found the charger for my iPod shuffle I’d lost in the move, I was away! I was pretty knackered at the end of it as I’m really out of practice, and I’m glad I took my inhaler with me (asthma’s a killer y’all), but I’m going to stick with it and hopefully update the blog with my progress.

Wish me luck!