Zero Waste Week 2015

Zero Waste Week is fast approaching and I need to start making preparations. I took part for the first time last year and loved it. I have since incorporated a lot of tips and tricks I learned through social media last time around, into our everyday lives. This year it runs from the 7th-13th September and I have the priviledge of being a Zero Waste Ambassador this year. Yay! Go and check out the names I am in with though. Talk about giving me an imposter complex lol! Big names in the Zero Waste/Sustainability category.

Last year I didn’t do very well during the week. You can read my pledge for last year here and how I got on here. On the upside, it wasn’t much after ZWW that we finally cracked the potty training and D has been an absolute star since. So proud of him and his efforts :D

This year the theme is Re-use. There have been a lot of pledges made already and as always there are tips and resources on the website if you were looking to join in. You can find the website here. Rae, the lovely lady behind all this has even given a list of ideas to start you off. They include:

 

  • Reuse shopping bags
  • Reuse foil for zero waste lunches
  • Reuse jars for storage
  • Reuse leftovers as ingredients
  • Reuse blank paper for notes
  • Use a refillable bottle

These ideas are so simple yet so effective. Here in Wales (and Scotland now too) we already have the 5p carrier bag tax charge so reusing shopping bags is second nature to most people here now. I believe the charge is coming to England in October so what a perfect way to prepare yourself than to practice during ZWW?

 

Race For Life 2015

One more running post then I’ll change the subject for a while. :D

Little Lady and I completed our 2nd RFL together recently. As I mentioned here we have been following a simple Couch 2 5k programme together while I also used the Kiqplan* programme alongside. This year Little Lady wanted to beat last year’s time and run a lot more of the route so that was our aim.

She decided that we needed to wear a lot of pink and a tutu if possible. :D So in the run up to the race I made 5 pink tutus and bought us all matching tops. Now the matching tops were not my best idea. I couldn’t get the top in a child’s size so Little Lady wore a different top anyway and after the race I swore I wouldn’t run in a cotton t-shirt again! I think I sweated more than at the Caerphilly 10k!! Not great for running in at all!

Do our bums look big in these? :D

When we got to the park a local radio station had DJ’s on the stage and Little Lady wanted to go to see them. We were right at the front and were able to see ourselves on the big screen. That prompted a friend of Little Lady’s to come and find us to say hi! That worked well as the two of them ran together and encouraged each other to keep going. We made it around with hardly any complaining from either of them which was amazing really as 5k is pretty far never mind when you are only 7!

Little Lady ran so hard she hardly had anything left for the sprint finish, which is her favourite part! She loves beating me to the finish line :D

But she did and we were 3minutes faster than last year. I am so proud of her. 3 minutes is huge. That’s a minute a mile she’s knocked off! She is amazing. Well done sweetie. I am so proud of you.

Oh and let’s not forget D who also had to take part as Hubby was working and both my mum and sister were taking part in the RFL as well. He decided he didn’t want to wear a tutu (lol!) he wanted to wear a cape! So he ran/walked dressed as Superman. He had so many comments from strangers saying how cute he looked. I could only agree ;)

You would be forgiven for thinking this is an “after” photo but it was actually taken before we had even set off! Good old Anti messing about with the kiddies :D
*I was given free access to the Kiqplan programme for the purposes of a review. You can find my review here but I am also mentioning it in this post for clarity of posting.

Caerphilly 10k

The Caerphilly 10k is in it’s third year this year and this was the first year I had entered. Ridiculous really as it’s right on my doorstep! Anyway this year was an important year for my running club as we have just been affiliated with Welsh Athletics and being a home race we were expecting a sea of blue. 

The club was not disappointed. After the race we couldn’t fit everyone on the stage for a club photo! 
The morning itself was overcast. I debated whether or not to wear a top under my vest as it wasn’t very warm. Thankfully I decided against that as by the time we had started the sun had come out and it was boiling! Sun burn was definitely a worry. 

In the run up to this race I kept saying I wanted a sub 70mins. I had told everyone in my running club my desired time and I was determined to do it. I had recently broken sub 30 5k and I knew I could break the 70minute mark for 10k. On paper it should have been easy for me to beat it. I regularly run 5k in 32-33mins. Double it and add a bit extra on and it still comes under 70mins. But I just couldn’t do it when I run 10k. I’d end up having to stop or I’d convince myself I was no where near and slow down. Every time I sabotaged myself. :(

I was determined this wasn’t going to happen this time. I worked out the pace I needed which is pretty easy to work out really. I just needed to keep each km under 7mins. Maths isn’t my strong point but I do know my 7times table well enough to be able to work out each km as I’m running. 

I set off at the gun and ran the first km a bit quick really. The first part is uphill and I wanted to get that out of the way as quick as possible. Trouble was I’d gone too fast. I almost blew it before I’d started. I gave myself a good talking to and slowed down a bit. I told myself to go at my own pace and not worry what everyone else was doing. 

I met up with two other runners from my club and ran with them for a while before they went off in front. Normally that would have finished me off but I kept telling myself it didn’t matter. I continued to run at my own pace and it really paid off in that I actually got a half decent action photo kindly taken by a member of the running club. Thanks Rich x  

My hair is doing a mad thing and I look thick around the waist but I actually really like this shot. I look exactly how I felt at that point. Strong, happy and able. :D

The council had advertised water stations at 4km and 8km so I didn’t take any water with me! Big mistake. Due to a council mess up there wasn’t any water at 4km or again at 8km. Massive fail. Thankfully the course double backs on itself at the 8km mark and the water station is at the turn around point. As I was running up the hill I spotted 3 ladies from the club running down the hill. They practically forced a bottle of water in my hand. Not knowing there was no water I almost didn’t take it but it was so hot I decided to take it anyway. As I got to the turn around point and saw the empty table I realised why they were so keen for me to take the bottle. I was so grateful to them at that point. Running down the hill I kept an eye out for another blue shirt and passed the bottle on to another club member. At that point who cares about germs! Lol! So many people who had been lucky enough to get water were passing them on to other runners. Good job we are all a friendly bunch! ;)

I started to lose it towards the end and had to walk. Another talking to though and I picked the pace back up. As I turned the last corner I saw one of our club coaches standing there. I knew he would have finished already (he does 10k in approx 35mins!) He was stood there looking for me! He ran the last part with me, forcing me to pick up the pace. The picture of me at that point is not as flattering as the first one!!

So….time? Did I get my sub 70? 

I did :D  

I treated myself to an ice cream that I didn’t have to share with the kids! Bonus!

 Apart from the water mess up, which to be fair is inexcusable as they know how many people have signed up, I really enjoyed this race. The medal was pretty cool too. One of the nicest I’ve had and I got my sub 70. So a good day all round.  

Sub 65 next lol!  
  

RFL #3

This is my third year of doing Race For Life.   

I have written about both the 2013 and the 2014 RFL races and how different my training for them were. For my first RFL I followed the Couch 2 5k programme to be able to run the whole distance, while for the 2014 RFL I hardly trained at all as I was “running” it with Little Lady. 

This year I will be running with Little Lady again but our training has been different again. I was offered a Fitbug Orb* and free access to the Kiqplan Race For Life 5k plan* in order to help my RFL training.   

I have used the Fitbug Orb a lot to be fair but mostly as a pedometer. It does track sleep too but I find it very fiddly to first off switch it to sleep mode and then to switch it off sleep mode. I was also under the impression that the app sent all data to the kiqplan app but that doesn’t seem to be the case even though I have synced them. That makes it pretty time consuming manually transferring data from one to the other. :(

The kiqplan app has a lot of good advice from nutrition to getting a good night’s sleep and the training plan is a good one for beginners. Personally I haven’t stuck to it religiously as Little Lady and I are doing a loose version of the Couch to 5k as she wants to run more of it this year.  I have been following the exercises part of it though and am enjoying that.  

 Kiqplan have a lot of different programmes so if 5k isn’t your thing then it is still worth having a look. My Fitbug will be getting a lot of use in the coming weeks too as I use it to try to keep my steps over 10k everyday in the school holidays. 
Look out for another RFL update soon as it’s not long til we run it. 😀

*I was sent the Fitbug Orb and given access to the Kiqplan 5k programme free for the purpose of a review. All opinions are my own and I wouldn’t recommend anything unless I truly liked it. 

Sub 30

In 2 weeks time I will be running in my local 10k race and I have high expectations for it. Lately, as you know I have been feeling down with my times and it took a look back at last year’s posts to see how far I have actually come. I run once a week with a friend and it’s always a pretty slow one as we spend the whole time gossiping, whinging and putting the world to right! She has recently found a lot of speed in her running and smashed the sub1hr 10k she was looking for back in March. I was complaining to her about my lack of speed and she told me how she had only found her speed since she dropped a stone in weight. It really made me think as I know I have put on weight recently and after weighing myself I was really shocked by the fact I had put on a stone!

I haven’t joined any fat clubs or started any faddy diets but by using an app on my phone to track every thing I eat I have already lost 5lbs in a month. :) It hasn’t been easy as I do like to snack on biscuits when I am at home with D but it also hasn’t been that hard either if you see what I mean? Basically I’ve just tried to make better choices at mealtimes and lower the amount of snacking I do.

Alongside this I have tried to up my running. Between Hubby who works shifts, Little Lady and all her activities, work meetings and various life stuff, I don’t run as much a I would like to. Hubby has been really supportive and has offered to look after the kids while I go out for a run if he is home early. I know that may sound a bit funny but I do feel guilty if I run out of the door the second he gets home so I don’t always go unless he suggests it.

I’ve been doing a lot of speed endurance sessions, run by my running club and I have been improving. Not always time wise but the coach has told me that I run stronger and regulate my breathing a lot better now than I used to. So that’s good too.

At these sessions I’ve been running 5k at 31-32 mins on a hilly course. I have been working hard as my goal for the Caerphilly 10k is to get below 1:10mins. I’ve been so close before (1:10:23) but I can’t get under it!

I then heard read on twitter that Cardiff parkrun was putting on a pacer day and I was really tempted to go. They were pacing even numbers and as I have been getting low 30’s on a hilly course I decided to just go for it and see if I could get a sub 30 on a flat course. Hubby and I juggled arrangements for Little Lady’s swimming lesson so that I could take the car and off I went.

Once there I found the sub 30 pacer and stalked her until the start. I was so geared up for this. I was determined not to give up. The gun started us off and it all went wrong. There were over 700 people trying to run down a narrow path, people were weaving in and out and stopping dead in front of other people. The pacer had to keep the pace so she weaved in and out of people to keep her time. Unfortunately that made it hard for the group to keep up with her as there were so many people and it was so narrow. I had lost her before the 1km marker! I was gutted. I had decided beforehand that if I could keep up with her most of the way around and I struggled near the end and had to drop back then I would accept that as I would have tried my best. But to lose her so early on, and through no fault of my own? Gutting!

We passed the 1km marker and my runkeeper app reported a split time of 5.02min/km! I could have fallen over! For perspective a fast run for me is low 6min/km. I don’t think I have ever had a split that started with a 5 never mind a very low 5!! I decided to keep going as fast as I could just to see what would happen. The second km split was a bit slower but was still a low 5 (5.21min/km) I couldn’t believe it. I was wearing both a long sleeved top and a vest and the sun had decided to make an appearance at this point so I had to stop to take off the long sleeved top. I was boiling! This stop meant that the 3rd km was my slowest at 6.18min/km (usually a fast time for me).

I gave it my all and I honestly don’t think I could have given it anymore. I could barely pick up the pace for a sprint finish and I stood squashed up in the finisher funnel wondering how I was going to be sick without getting it on anyone! Thankfully I wasn’t sick but my legs were like jelly walking back to the car. I had to sit in the car park for awhile before I felt safe enough to drive home!

But it was all worth it. My time? 29.26 :D Oh yeah! A sub 30 woohoo!! I know I couldn’t keep up that pace for 10k but my sub 70mins is edging closer. Let’s hope I’ve got the pace in a fortnight’s time.

  

Tea for two?

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Can you believe I found this post in my drafts folder, unfinished? This post is actually from last October!
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Item number 21 on my Day Zero List is to raise £500 for charity and this ties in nicely with number 78 – Organise a Charity Coffee morning at home.
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I chose a date and sent out invites to everyone I knew. I cleaned the house from top to bottom. I made some cakes, and bought some cakes, and then I cleaned the house again! Having people round makes me very nervous. I feel that they are judging me and the house. I feel that the house has to be magazine perfect. I get myself worked up and so stressed that I hardly invite anyone around to the house. And this time I had invited a lot of people. :/
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In reality I had no need to worry as people were coming for tea and cake not to see the house (although I’m sure some did come for that reason ;) ) I decided to keep the “coffee morning” theme going and arranged flowers in tea pots despite the eyebrow raising from hubby. I thought it all came together pretty well and I managed to raise quite a bit towards my £500 target.
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Rainbow Ripple

This post has been a long time coming.  But after months and months of rippling my Rainbow Blanket is finally finished 😀 

One of my favourite crochet blogs is attic24 If you haven’t read it I do recommend you pop over, Lucy is so talented with a hook and yarn. It was there I first came across a ripple and got it into my head to make a rainbow ripple throw for the settees in the front room. 

 
I tweeted this picture back in July last year. I was so excited that I had managed to actually make it ripple 😀But the first row was so hard!! I completed the first row and put it away – in the bottom of my knitting basket never to be seen again. I was gutted. I had seen so many people on Twitter say how easy it was but I found it took so much concentration that I didn’t want to think about it anymore 😞

The ripple stayed in the basket until April this year. We were offered the use of a friend’s caravan over the Easter weekend. While packing I had a look in my knitting basket to see if there were any unfinished projects I could take with me to do in the evenings. Can you guess what was staring back at me? Yep! I decided to give it one more chance, so I packed my hook and wool and off we went to the seaside. 

Once I got past the first row of the ripple, it was much much easier. The ripple, I assume, is established by then and easier to follow maybe? Whatever it was by the end of the weekend it looked like this:

  
How fab does that look? I was so impressed. However, it is so wide it was taking over half an hour per row! I kept thinking to myself “I’ll never finish this!” But then Jen came to my rescue when she tweeted about the 100 Day Project. I read about it and decided I would like to sign up for it. But what was I going to do for the 100 days? Yes I am a bit slow and it took me about an hour before I realised that I could combine both problems (what to do for 100days Project and Will I ever finish my Blanket?) and ripple one row every day. 

I used the hashtag #100daysofrippling on Instagram and started rippling. 

I rippled in the house and I rippled in public. 

  
I rippled around the kids

 
And I rippled while snacking (oops!)

  
I rippled sitting in the car, while waiting for Little Lady to do her swimming lesson, up my parents’ house. I literally took my blanket everywhere with me. I had so many lovely comments while out and about. I even inspired one swimming mummy to finish her crochet blanket 🙋🏻*high five*

By the end of the blanket I was crocheting each row a bit quicker and I was managing more than one row a day on some days. Eventually (due to running out of wool) I came to this:

 
The very last stitch! 

Ta-da

 I still have all the ends to weave in but the whole family loves it and so do I. To be honest I was so afraid that as it had taken so long that I wouldn’t like the finished product! 

The blanket took me about 5 weeks to make (once I actually got going) and cost me £16.47 in wool. I used 8x100g balls of Stylecraft Special DK and I used almost every single scrap of yarn I bought. 

Would I do it again? Yes definitely! 

As long as someone else starts me off 😉