The Pages and the Miles: 10th November 2019

The Pages

You know when you have a couple of weeks where you don’t seem to be reading quite the right things and it makes everything drag a bit? I’ve had one of those fortnights.  It started out pretty well. I loosely took part in the 24 Hour Readathon a couple of weekends ago and picked up a YA title I’ve had on my shelves for about 6 years – The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan. It was the second book in a zombie trilogy that I started back in 2013. I read the first one, really enjoyed it, promptly bought the next two and then ignored them. The second wasn’t quite as good as the first but it was a quick read full of zombie attacks to get your heart racing and just the right amount of philosophising about the nature of humanity and a dash of vaguely angsty romance. Not lofty literature but good fun. It was an easy 4 stars for keeping me completely entertained for 24 hours.

The ending was a cliffhanger and a half so I decided to make the most of being swept up in the momentum and immediately picked up The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan. That was when the wheels fell off. The perspective changed from the second novel and the angst increased beyond my patience levels. The new narrator has been badly scarred in an accident and spends the whole novel rambling to herself about how ugly she is and generally being an angry person pushing everyone away. There’s a terrible love triangle of sorts and the threat of zombies increases so much that it almost gets boring. I ploughed on for two weeks though and then the last 50 pages just became all kinds of ridiculous. I know that sounds stupid for a post-apocalyptic novel full of zombies but it all became farcical and far too melodramatic. 2 stars for at least having some clever moments about how all round awful people can be and hope in the face of that.

I then started on Non-Fiction November. I read very little non-fiction because reading is so important to me as a way to relax and unwind but I own a lot and I could do a better job of balancing out my fiction and non-fiction reading. I started with Conan Doyle for the Defence by Margalit Fox, all about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s involvement in the case of Oscar Slater, a Jewish immigrant imprisoned for a murder he didn’t commit. Given my job, I was all up for a tale of the famous author’s wrangling with the law and the man at the heart of the scandal. In part, the book was that but I gave up after about a third so I can’t tell you how it pans out. It’s the first book I’ve DNF’d this year so it’s not something I’d usually do but the narrative and the structure just drove me crazy. It was repetitive and winding but, more irritatingly, it felt as though the author was telling me literally everything she’d learned while researching. Mentioning a person in passing? Why not tell me about the history of their surname and how they used to be called something different but changed it? Someone on a boat? Please do tell me about the ultimate fate of that boat in World War II. It was distracting and just not for me. The first book in 2019 that’s really made me think “life is too short for this book”.  Onward and upward.

Currently reading: Eat Up! Food, Appetite and Eating What You Want by Ruby Tandoh and The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

The Miles

I haven’t been updating on running for ages. Predominantly because I haven’t been running. I found out I was pregnant a few weeks ago, which has sapped both my energy and has had me too nauseous for even contemplating the jiggly momentum of running. I’m gradually starting to feel better and although I have bad days sometimes, I also have days where I feel mostly normal and I really want to get back to my usual routine. So from now on, this section won’t chart miles covered (because that number would be LOW) but will be somewhere to keep track of the exercise I’m managing to get in and generally the world of exercising while pregnant. Niche perhaps but the best I can do for the next few months!

Wish me luck…

The Pages and the Miles: Sunday 17 February

This week has been a bit of a downer. I was away for work Tuesday evening which was incredibly busy and then managed to catch a cold that wiped me right out towards the end of the week. I’m feeling much better now but it meant that Thursday and Friday were pretty frustrating.

The Pages

Being ill has actually helped on this front as I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to rest!  I finally finished my reread of Lord of Chaos (Book 6 of the Wheel of Time), which at 1,011 pages has taken me a while.  I’ve been reading it on and off since last August.  Since finishing that, I’ve read two books in the last week alone: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson and An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. I loved both.

The writing in We Have Always Lived in the Castle was stunning and eerie and haunting. I preferred The Haunting of Hill House personally but I’d forgotten how tightly Jackson weaves a story. I have a short story of hers still so I’m glad I can have more Shirley Jackson in my future without having to bust my book-buying limit. An Anonymous Girl was a pure plot driven page turner. I started it yesterday morning and I finished it this evening. I heard about it on a recent Book Break video recommending thrillers and it was 99p on Amazon so I picked it up and started it almost straight away. I wanted something fun, something with twists and turns to keep me reading, and this absolutely delivered. The writing was surprisingly good too, so just a great weekend read all round.

The Miles

As might be expected between being so busy and ill, I only managed one run of a paltry 4km in the last week. I did manage to clock a 15.7km last Sunday though, which I’m fairly proud of.  It means that I’m currently fit enough to run a half marathon, which is comforting. I’m also currently injury free so now that I’m feeling better again, I’m going to rack up some miles. Onward and upward and all that!

How has your week been? Hopefully less scrappy than mine! Share what you’ve been reading and where you’ve been running in the comments!

The Pages and the Miles: Sunday 20th January

I thought it had been a while since I’d done a pages and miles update but hadn’t realised it had been a whole month!  To be fair (because if I can’t be fair to myself on my own blog, where can I?), it was Christmas and then I’ve been busy back at work so a few weeks is easy to lose.  I’m not going to go way back to my last update and keep it to a fortnight or we’ll be here all day!

The Pages

It’s been a good few weeks reading wise. I finished the first book on my Series to Finish challenge list, The Extinction Trials: Exile by S. M. Wilson and I read my first five star book of the year, The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin.

I was a little bit disappointed with Exile because I loved the first one so much.  The first one really was like The Hunger Games with dinosaurs, set in a dystopian world where humans have bled one continent’s resources dry and are looking to expand to a neighbouring continent, only before they can do that they have to work out how to eradicate the dinosaurs that live there. They send some carefully chosen candidates over to explore and steal eggs from the dinosaurs for them to analyse and all sorts of manic shenanigans ensue. The downside is that the second book is like Catching Fire – a lot of the same characters with a little bit of development but also a substantial rerun of the plot of The Hunger Games. There are more dinosaurs and the overall plot nudges along but it felt a little rushed and the bits featuring the dinosaurs that were so tense and atmospheric in the first felt scrappy this time around. I’ll read the last book in the trilogy when it’s out later this year but feel less excited about it than I did before.

But then came The Wicked Cometh! Oh, this book. It was beautifully written and had a relationship at its heart that made my heart hurt. It’s a dark (and I do mean dark) story set in the gritty streets of 1830s London, following Hester White as she tries to work her way out of poverty. The gothic atmosphere is incredible – one of those books where you can just feel the fog and grime seeping off the pages. It’s a wonderful book that I’ll hopefully write more about soon.

The Miles

I had a really positive week in the week commencing 7th January, running a total of 31.38km and absolutely smashing my usual pace. I ran 5km during on run in less than 28 minutes, which compared to my usual 6 minutes 15 per km is quick.  I felt really strong and really positive all week and for the first time stopped feeling daunted about marathon training.

Then came Monday 14th.  After running a 12.68km long run on the Sunday, I took a rest day and noticed that my left foot was niggling. There was a pain on the top of my foot that was noticeable when I walked and was concerning.  I chanced a 5.33km on the Tuesday but my foot definitely felt off. I was in a meeting all day Wednesday so I took another rest before trying a lower impact treadmill 4.5km on Thursday, at which point I knew for sure that I was injured.  Turns out I’ve given myself extensor tendonitis, basically caused either by overtraining on hills or by tying shoes too tight. Could have been either really given that on the Sunday I did a long run that involved many hills and much running into the wind, and I do tend to tie my shoes quite tight. So I haven’t run since Thursday. Which I know doesn’t seem a lot but is grating on me already. My foot is getting better but it’s still not 100% so I’m going to keep taking it easy.  Perhaps keeping up distance but making a conscious effort to run more slowly.  I don’t know.  Any suggestions gratefully received!

The Pages and the Miles #3: Monday 17 December

I usually post these on a Sunday (in that I want to post them on a Sunday and have done so twice so far…) but yesterday I ended up completely tied up in finishing my book and didn’t want to break away from it to write about the fact that I’d rather be reading it!  It was a generally busy week in which I was away for work again so it was nice to have some down time over the weekend to finish up Christmas shopping and just spend time at home around seeing friends.

The Pages

I didn’t get a lot of reading done during the week but I had a storming reading weekend! I’ve finally finished Kingdom of Ash and my goodness was it an emotional ride. I was full on crying at one point and my heart hurt. It was too long overall and there were definitely some bits that were repetitive and could have been cut but by the end I’d forgotten all of that. I read over 300 pages yesterday because I just couldn’t put it down. An ending worthy of the series. Reading that ending made me realise just how infrequently I actually do finish series, or perhaps how rarely I stick with stories that are years in the telling. Another goal for 2019 – finish some of the series I’ve started.

As well as my physical book, I also got another hour or so into The Book of M, the dystopian story of a world where people are losing their shadows and with them their memories that I’m currently listening to on audiobookThe voice acting on it is absolutely fantastic and I’m glad that I chose it to listen to rather than buy in physical copy. I’m a relative amateur when it comes to audiobooks but I find this one easy to get swept up in and I never feel like I’ve forgotten where I am when I pick it back up again. I’ve got about 10 hours still to listen to I think so I need to get cracking and find out what’s going to happen.

The Miles

Since my last update on Sunday the 9th, I’ve run 27.6 km over 4 runs so actually a fairly good week.In no small part because I finally made space in my suitcase to take my trainers away with me when I travelled for work and didn’t “lose” those days in my training schedule.

The downside to having been away and staying in a built up environment I don’t know is that almost all of this week’s running has been on a treadmill. Including this morning’s 13.5km. This morning I actually was at my home office but I wanted to start my run at 7am and I usually run along a canal towpath that at that time would have been both very dark and pretty deserted, which doesn’t seem like a smart route for a woman running alone! So I braved the boredom and hit the fully lit, busy gym. To be fair, it wasn’t too bad as I’d remembered to download a film to watch while I was running but I much prefer fresh air to the stuffy gym. It does mean I can fit in runs that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to though so won’t complain too much!

How’s your week been?  What are you reading or where have you been running? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

The Pages and the Miles #2: Sunday 9 December

The closer we get to Christmas, the busier I seem to be! This week has flown by and I’ve mostly worked so not much to report this week.

The Pages

This week I’ve only read from Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas.  Given that it’s 980 pages and I’m still really busy at work, I expect that this will be a common paragraph for the next couple of weeks.  I am really enjoying it but it’s just so long!  I’m no stranger to long books but at the moment, this one feels like it doesn’t quite need to be as long as it is and it feels a little bit repetitive. I’m now about 300 or so pages in so things are starting to liven up!

The Miles

It’s been a terrible week for running too! I was away with work for the first half of the week and didn’t have space for my running kit in the case I hastily pulled together.  I was then hoping to go for a long run yesterday evening but it was very dark and the weather was utterly terrible so I wimped out! I might do a post to try and garner tips for running in the cold and wet but I suspect the main thing to it might just be “stop being a wimp”.

I managed a single run of 4.2km, which is borderline embarrassing…it was at a quicker pace than I normally run but even so, not a good weekly total. It leaves me with more to do next week but I’ll catch up!

Onward and upward!  Let me know what you’ve been reading and if you have any tips for runs in dire weather!

The Pages and the Miles #1: Sunday 2 December

One of my main goals for this site was to have somewhere that I could chat about what I’m reading and where I’m running without getting too tied up in writing ‘proper’ book reviews and the like.  I will still write them from time to time but they take a lot of time and if there’s one thing I’m often short on, it’s time.  These ‘pages and miles’ posts will be weekly updates with some book chat and some running chat.  Simple stuff.

The Pages

This week I finally started the last book in Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, Kingdom of Ash. I’ve read 130ish pages of the 980 page chunkster so it’s really too early to say how I’m finding it but so far there’s been a lot of battle chat and a fair amount of set up. There’s something sad about knowing that this is the last I’ll see of these characters but after four years I’m looking forward to seeing how their stories end.

On Friday, I found myself on public transport without a book (a disaster) so I downloaded a graphic novel that I’d bought a while ago and not got round to reading yet, Descender: Volume 1 – Tin Stars. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I really enjoyed it! It’s set in a world where most of the population were killed by giant robots seemingly without reason a decade earlier, prompting the remaining people to dismantle all remaining robots. The story is about Tim-21, a companion robot who survived the cull in a remote mining colony. It’s pretty dark and a bit violent but there’s something charming about the remaining robots and I was constantly surprised by how emotionally invested I was in Tim-21 and a driller robot and a sort of dog robot. I’ve bought Volume 2 already and I’ll be reading it soon.

Last but not least, I listened to a good few hours of The Book of M while driving. It’s a dystopian novel telling of a world where people have started losing their shadows.  Within days of losing their shadows, victims also lose their memories, eventually forgetting how to breathe. It’s unsettling how losing something as insignificant as a shadow throws the whole world into disarray but somehow it all seems so accurate. Another one I’m really enjoying so a good week in all!

The Miles

My training plan features four runs a week at the moment. I’ve been busy this weekend so I squeezed those four runs into the five days of my working week, which perhaps wasn’t the best plan with hindsight.

I ran 24.4km during the week, with my longest run being 11.01km.  I felt pretty good during the early part of the week but the long run on Friday felt a bit of a struggle. It was one of those runs where I could feel my legs constantly and I never quite seemed to hit my rhythm properly, counting down every kilometre in my head. I don’t think squeezing it in before work helped as I’m never at my best early on but I managed a 13km the week earlier much more easily in the same circumstances so who knows? Maybe it just wasn’t my day!

I’m away a lot this week so I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to fit in but hopefully I’ll manage a better long run.  I’m scheduled to run a 14.5km so hopefully it’ll be less of a chore!