Weekend Wind Down: C25K Completion, Lots of Goodbye's and Scones in Chester

As you can imagine, the past couple of days have been manic. While I spent the majority of last week saying heartfelt goodbye's to good friends (this trend will continue to carry on throughout our last week), I did manage to bake a cake order for a sweet old woman (who turned 105!!), organize a couple of clothes piles ready for Monday morning packing, complete graduate from my C25K program (yay!), watch Mr. Poppers Penguins with Carl, enjoy one last girly day out in Chester with my MIL, eat my final jam and clotted cream scone, purchase (on sale! Boom!) my very own Downton Abbey-Lady-Mary-esque-dress for mine and Carl's homecoming party in a few weeks (pictures to come soon), stalk the Weather Channel's Live Hurricane Sandy Feed and devour not 1, not 2, but 3 bowls of soup. 

All in all, it was productive, enjoyable and g0-g0-go kinda weekend. 

Friday morning Carl, Lynne, Garry and I woke early and headed out the door dressed entirely in black as a sign of respect for Carl's best friend Rob's mum, Gill, who passed away from cancer on the 17th. As I sat in Gill's funeral service I smiled as friends spoke of her love for fancy dress costumes and annual family holiday's to Turkey. I also felt my throat burn as I tried desperately not to cry when the room echoed with Gill's mums uncontrollable sobs for the loss of her daughter. After the service I offered my condolences to Rob in the form of hugs and kisses and couldn't help but feel guilty that Carl and I are leaving at a time when he needs his best friend most. But Rob reassured us all, once again, of his strength and bravery with his ability to smile at such a sad time. It also gives me comfort to know that both Rob's Mum and Dad are together again, no longer suffering and in heaven, looking down proudly on their son. A man who is one of the strongest people I know, and although the sadness and loss he must feel at this time is daunting and overwhelming, he continues to smile and look forward to the future. And while it breaks Carl's heart to know he'll be so far away from his best friend, I have every faith that, regardless of the distance, their friendship will stay as strong as ever. Their idiotic inside jokes that only they understand will continue to thrive. Their love of Battlefield and Radiohead and meat covered pizza's sprinkled with sweet corn will never die. Their childhood stories, like the time Rob passed out after a drunken old guy kicked a football that hit him in the head soon after his operation, will still crop up from time to time and issue endless laughter. Regardless of the Atlantic Ocean, they'll still be two peas in a pod, Bevis and Butthead, Dumb and Dumber...best mates. Bobert already has plans to visit us in Vermont in April, and I'll look forward to seeing him again as the best man (for a second time) at our Vermont wedding next October. 

I spent the remainder of Friday afternoon completing a cake order for a woman who's sister is turning 105. Yes, you read that correctly, 105!! The little old woman was a long-time customer at a local bakery called Satterthwaites where my mother-in-law worked prior to it closing on the 13th of October (after over 100 years of business). She'd always got her cakes from Satterthwaites and was in an awful frenzy worrying about where she'd be able to find a nice cake for her sisters birthday this year. Thankfully I was able to help, and although her requests were simple (just ribbon and piping - no fondant ballet slippers and pearls on this cake!) I did get the opportunity to learn and practice my fondant rose making techniques. For a first attempt, I don't think they turned out too shabby! And more importantly, the customer and her 105 year old sister were very pleased :)
Saturday morning was my big running day - Week 9 Day 3 of my C25K training - the final run before I could officially call myself a "Couch-to-5k graduate." And as I laced up my Nike's that morning I felt good. I was excited, full of energy and oozing enthusiasm. There was no fear as I pulled my hair up into what some might constitute a pony tail (it's approximately 1.5 inches long and because it's so small looks like one of those half-assed lame pony tails found on the heads of butchered Barbies in the homes of scissor happy little girls around the world) and made my way to the coffee table in the living room where my beloved banana's live in a brown wicker basket. It was then that my heart sank and from no where the evil dun dun duuuunnnnn sound boomed.  The Anderson household was banana-less people, and that could only mean one thing - a disastrous cramp-filled run was ahead. After 10 weeks of running I know my body well and I know what it needs in order to produce a stellar run: plenty of fiber in my diet, a good nights sleep, hydration, a kick-ass running playlist, good supportive running shoes, and nothing more than a banana in my tummy prior to my run. If I frig with anything on that list I can guarantee you shit will hit the fan, my friends. So, I'm sure you can imagine my horror when the imperative banana was awol. But as it was my last day, I was stubborn and determined not to let one phallic yellow fruit destroy my C25k happiness.And so on that fateful morning I ventured out the door with all but one 1 tick on my checklist - praying for the best.   

For the first 2.5 miles all of that praying paid off and I was thanking my lucky stars I got away with abandoning my banana. I ran at a 9:27 pace, I wasn't at all winded, my legs were as light as air, and I had Florence and the Machine encouraging me to run fast for my mother, father, children, sister and brothers. It was wonderful and as I turned onto the golden tree lined Victoria Street for the last leg of my run I arrogantly smiled to myself thinking "you got this shit, girl! Let's Forrest Gump the rest of this thing!" But then it all went wrong. The absence of my beloved banana was frantically gobbling up any and all of my confidence and spitting it back out in the form of sudden throbbing pain in my right abdomen. With each step the pain grew stronger and stronger, and within 30 seconds I was doubled over on the sidewalk wondering if one of my lungs had collapsed or if I'd been mysteriously shot by a sniper hiding in the trees. And although I swore like a sailor, cried from frustration and disappointment and walked 75% of the remainder of my run, I still finished. The truth is that it wasn't by any standards a run I'd brag about, I know I'm capable of so much better, the fact of the matter is that I still did it. That bananaless, cramp-ridden run signified a massive personal goal and running achievement of mine. One that for so long I only dreamed of happening. On Saturday I, the big-boobed girl who always hated to run, completed the C25k program - cramps and all - and in doing so discovered a whole new passion. I've become one of those mad bastards you see running down the side of the road in the peeing down rain and wind. I wake up on my weekends and look forward to lacing up my running shoes. I read running magazines and get excited about future races in VT and use my Endomondo App more than my Twitter one. Ladies and gentlemen, I've become a runner. Man, does it feel good.

Monday this chica is starting the 5k-10k training plan.  Bring it on!
Sunday morning Carl had a date with his buddy Loll to go to his final football (soccer) match - a derby between Liverpool FC (boo!) and our boys in blue, Everton (two local Liverpool football clubs). As the boys were out for the day Lynne invited me to accompany her on a final girly day out in Chester. 
Chester is one of my all time favorite places in England and it was wonderful to spend all of yesterday there with Lynne. We window shopped from store to store (stopping in one to buy my previously mentioned Lady Mary-esque dress) until we eventually made our way to Katie's Tea Room (a favorite of ours). Between constant girly chat we enjoyed a nice light lunch (I had broccoli and Stilton soup - it was to DIE FOR!) endless cups of tea and, or course, a massive warm homemade fruit scone each smothered in none other than British butter, raspberry jam and Cornish clotted cream. They were absolutely heavenly (scones are one of my all time favorite things about England) and it was a perfect meal to signify my final visit to Chester. 

On our way back to the train station we quickly popped into Starbucks in order to satisfy our Pumpkin Spice Latte cravings, and discussed how lovely it'll be to visit here again next time Carl and I are in England - hopefully with a little one in tow. It was the perfect end to a busy weekend.


Leave me some love and make me smile!