Goals and future races

I’m currently puttering around with my running not really doing much in the way of actual training (though some could easily argue this is no different to normal anyway..). What I mean though is I haven’t mentioned any upcoming races or goals.

Obviously I’m still aiming for the six World Marathon Majors (just Chicago and New York left). This is an ongoing goal and realistically won’t be completed that soon sadly. Though the temptation to book onto a tour company and do New York this year heavily pressed on my mind, I’ve decided to be sensible.

As a side note, in general, I’m quite good with managing my money. I keep an eye on it using my “Money Master Spreadsheet” (basically Excel) which keeps track of all my bills, monthly expenditures and general spending. I don’t tend to randomly buy things or go outside my means (random legging purchases aside). Credit cards are paid off at the end of the month (hello extra Tesco points using my Tesco credit card!) and life is quite easy for me, not having any children or crazy overheads. I know that I’m currently very fortunate.

However, where I tend to be a bit more “laissez faire” is when it comes to holidays. Memories and experiences are always something I’m happy to spend money on. However, as tempting as doing New York this year would be, it’s not entirely sensible in the great scheme of things.

There’s no rush for me to complete the Majors within a certain time period and though I look longingly at people on social media who have achieved that incredible Six Star medal I need to remember my time will come and I don’t need to do everything IMMEDIATELY.

So the New York Marathon is likely to be next year. Or the Chicago Marathon (they’re a month apart). It depends where I’m at in life and money. Either way the intention is to be getting my medal in 2019 (hopefully). So, no rush indeed!

Though obviously I still love marathons and always like to have one coming up… so the plan for this year is to do the New Forest Marathon, September 10th.But I’ll be running it with my friend, Mike, who’s aim is to get a sub-4. He’s missed out twice sadly. By rights he really should get a sub-4 but for whatever reason it never translated on race day. So I’m hoping I can help him out and help pace him to that target.

Obviously a marathon is still tough, whatever time you do it in, so there are no guarantees (well, there are no guarantees I’ll even make it to race day with my track record but wishful thinking and all that). But the intention is to run it with him and help him get there by keeping his pace in check and chatting to him on the way round.To add a little bit more complication to it, the New Forest Marathon is somewhat undulating. But, on the plus side, a lot of our club will be there as it’s where our club championships will be happening. The whole weekend is full of different race distances so hopefully a good crowd will be there to support and cheer.

And if this goes well… I’ve also signed up to do the Bournemouth Marathon a mere four weeks later. The idea for this (blue sky thinking here) is that I will be able to pace Mike to his sub-4 for New Forest and then run Bournemouth however I fancy.

I feel like I have unfinished business after getting injured during this marathon a couple of years ago. So another decent shot at it would put some demons to bed. Bournemouth is relatively flat so attempting a ‘good’ time might be on the cards, though I’d just like to get through that finish line actually running this time!

That said, this is me we’re talking about. I’m probably biting off more than I can chew so what actually happens in the autumn is anyone’s guess. But the intention for now is that I’ll be training for the New Forest Marathon to run with Mike and then judge how I feel afterwards about Bournemouth.

So that’s the plan. I’ll start marathon training proper in June I think but I’m already hovering around 10-11 miles for my weekend long run so I’ll probably keep around 10-13 miles for a bit and then begin to build them up towards the end of June. But it’s all very relaxed right now. Hey, I might even get on that speed training wagon at some point!

Until those marathons, I have a couple of 10ks *shudders*. I really wanted to do the 5 miles Beer Race I’ve done three times before but I was too slow in signing up. So instead I’ve signed up to the 10k D-Day race in Portsmouth at the beginning of June. I’ve done it before…I didn’t enjoy it because it’s quite a boring course but it’s super flat so might be a good place to get a good speed session in and see where my fitness is at. And then in July I have another 10k (the Newham Great Run). For someone who vowed not to do more than one 10k a year, I seem to be doing a few of them!!

What races do you have planned?

Do you have any unfinished business with any races?

Have you ever paced someone at a marathon?

A weekend of running and vegan food

I know, vegan food and me. I’m like the biggest meat-eater and meat-lover alive…but first let’s start with parkrun.

I was back at Netley parkrun this Saturday which was nice. The weather was lovely, though there were some loitering dark clouds overhead which thankfully didn’t come to anything during our time there.I helped with set-up as usual. We were on the summer course…three laps with three hills, oh joy. I actually don’t mind this course as it breaks up the running monotony that can come with a flat course.I’ve recently been sent some SIS products to test out so I thought it the ideal occasion to test out their new caffeine shots. I gave one to my friend, Mike, as well for him to try. We toasted to a good parkrun and downed the 60ml shot.I had the tropical flavour, which has a very sweet and sour flavour to it. It contains 150mg of caffeine so a hefty dose for such a small bottle. I really like the taste of these (though they are quite sour) and I’m keen to test it out in other scenarios, like pre-races and pre-early morning gym sessions when I need a kick up the backside.

Photo credit: Chris Stapleford

I did feel, whether psychologically or physically, ready to hit the ground running at the start. I gave it my best but it was tough having become so used to the flatter courses. The hill kind of breaks your flow a bit but I do prefer a three lap course and mentally it’s a lot more interesting.My time was 21:30. I gave it a good effort and with the hills I’m quite happy with this time. Though looking back the last time I was on the Netley summer course I got 21:38 so the progress isn’t that great! I’m not too bothered about parkrun times in general but it’s nice to keep track of my times and see progress being made. I do feel that my running has become somewhat lazy recently though. I will run the majority of my runs all the same pace. I need to get back into doing some speed work if I do want to get a bit faster. Maybe once every two weeks? That’s the intention anyway.After parkrun, and scoffing down half a large slice of cake that my friend’s daughter was eating (she needed help, I was more than happy to assist!) I headed home to get ready to head out to have coffee with my mum, dad, sister, her fiance and my nieces.We had a lovely coffee and then mooched around the shops. I got some nice pieces from H&M, including a £7 leather jacket! I don’t actually understand why it was so cheap and thought it was marked up incorrectly. There’s nothing wrong with it but I won’t argue with the price! I now have a good outfit sorted for my birthday trip to London next month with my girlfriends. Whoop whoop!

I’d planned to do a long run from my parent’s house the next day, around 10-13 miles, but then via my running club Facebook group I heard a couple of people heading out at 9am for around 10 miles which sounded perfect. It’s always nicer to run with other people so I tagged on with them.

I’m so glad I did as the miles just fly by when you’re with company as you’re chatting away. Also I didn’t have to think about the route as they already had something planned. It was a lovely route through Manor Farm, which is a local park/woodland area with lots of off-road trails and a couple of hills.

Unfortunately one of the guys felt ill and decided to stop at 4 miles. After checking he was OK and him pushing us to carry on, we continued on. It was just the two of us then, a lovely lady from the running club and myself, and it was just such a nice run, both in company and the route.

After the run I rushed back home to shower and get ready to head out to meet my lovely friend, April. She’s a fellow blogger who’s mum lives in Southampton so was down for the week. We’ve been meaning to catch up and she knew of a very cool-sounding vegan restaurant, Off Beet in Wickham. I’ve seen her numerous Instagram posts for this cafe but have never been myself so it seemed like the opportune moment.Located in the old mill, it’s quite hidden away. It’s a small set-up, with only a few tables so booking is necessary, and the menu is quite small but everything is home-made and beautifully presented. I was quite hungry by this point so I was won over by the beetroot burger with polenta chips.

It was really tasty. The burger was made up primarily of beetroot with lots of vegetables and salady bits in a portobello mushroom “bun”. There was also cashew cheese on the burger! The sauce was a home-made sugar-free BBQ sauce with polenta chips.It was very tasty (like like the plate tasty) but I wasn’t quite full afterwards. You know me, big appetite and all that. Thankfully April is the same so we decided pudding was a necessity.

We both had the brownie cheesecake (yes, still vegan!) and I went for a 70% hot chocolate made with almond milk. WOWZA. Rocked. My. World.It was so creamy and tasty. Not hugely sweet like a Cheesecake Factory cheesecake but sweet enough to be very yummy indeed. This certified meat-eater approves! See, I can forgo meat occasionally 😉

It was a lovely afternoon catching up with April (both of us discussing all things running and our wanderlust desires of travelling and seeing the world…). And the sun was shining which just made it perfect.

Do you enjoy vegan food?

Have you ever tried a caffeine shot?

Do you do intervals or speed work regularly?

Some raves I’m currently enjoying

After yesterday’s somewhat more heavy post, I thought a lighter post was required about fluff and nonsense (some might say my speciality…). But I really appreciate all the comments and Tweet conversations that were generated in response to it. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone and that I wasn’t weird, so thank you 🙂

I cannot believe we’re past half-way through May. Time is flying by. I can believe, however, that the weather has taken a turn for the worse. Of course it has. One tiny step towards sunshine and warmer weather and then four steps back to rain and gloom. Such is life! Good for the gardens they say (I don’t have a garden…).

So fluff and nonsense, let us commence with a rave party.

Rave: when is a rave a big rave? When it’s about LEGGINGS. If you’ve read this blog for, oooh I don’t know, a month you might be aware of my love of leggings. I actually counted how many leggings I currently own and it’s over 20 pairs (OVER 20!). I could do a review post on different leggings (Lululemon, Fabletics, Forever 21, Nike, Tesco, ASICS, Brooks, etc.) but I’m not sure if that’s a particularly interesting post for anyone but me 😉

But ANYWAY, new leggings. I recently splurged on another pair of Fabletics leggings (my 3rd pair). I’m signed up to their VIP scheme and though I hate the premise behind it I do actually love the Fabletics gear. It’s not too much of a hassle either to “skip the month” when I don’t want to spend any money there and it is really good quality (for both running and the gym) and not as expensive as similar items from Lululemon or higher end sports gear. For £44 (yes, this is after the VIP discount. Seriously) I got these bad boys:They’re the Fabletics Brogan Mesh Leggings and, if I do say so myself, rather fetching. They’re too thick to run in (though I suppose you could but I prefer shorts 90% of the time when it comes to running) but for the gym they are PERFECT. And when I say the gym, I obviously mean the gym AND general life. Because if you know me, you know most of the time I’ll wear leggings if I can (I have often been banned from this attire at some occasions with friends and family).They’re not high-waisted but they sit comfortably above my hips and are oh-so flattering for the derriere and legs. They have mesh panels just above the patterns which looks gorgeous. They are squat proof and don’t slip down. 10/10.

And, *cough*, onto another pair of leggings I’ve recently acquired. My lovely parents dropped into Lululemon while they were in the States and picked up a pair of the Align II pants (in Bosenberry colour) as a thank you for house-sitting/early birthday present.

Shrewd readers might realise these are the same pair I almost bought in Covent Garden the other week but wasn’t entirely sold. Well after browsing online for ages and finding nothing else really fitted what I was looking for (and realising they’d be a similar fit, albeit different style, of a pair I already own) I decided I’d bite the bullet and go for them. Everything about them was perfect, from the material and colour, but I wasn’t sure about the high-waisted nature of them. I wasn’t certain it was very “me”.However, I’ve revised this opinion as they just fit like a glove and actually the high-waisted fit is just different rather than hideous (what a compliment eh). But seriously, sometimes you need to go for a different style and move outside of your safe bubble. And they’re Lululemon! (Yes, I fully admit to being a label whore, but in my defence Lululemon are such good quality and good fit. The price tag is painful but something I can rationalise).Right, whoops. That first rave went on for a decade.

Rave: OK this is a bit random, but deodorants. What’s your kind? Now I’ve previously always been a roll-on kinda lady. I just find it keeps me fresh and smelling good all day long, even with running. I was given the opportunity to try Soft & Gentle’s spray-on deodorant and thought “eh, why not”.

I was sent two products. The first was the 0% Aluminium Care dry deodorant.From the website:

  • % aluminium
  • 0% parabens
  • 0% alcohol
  • Suitable for very sensitive skin
  • Recyclable packaging
  • Vegan-friendly

I’m a big fan of being environmentally friendly and this is actually the best thing about this product in my view. I’m not one to buy skincare products that don’t contain certain chemicals or that are organic (*cough* assuming I do buy skincare products at all… I buy shower gel and that is it. Any moisturiser I use is either stolen indiscriminately from hotels or my mother). BUT I appreciate that it’s vegan-friendly and that it doesn’t contain nasties.

The most important thing (being an antiperspirants) is: does it hold against body odour and sweat? Well, yes I think it does. I’m not a huge sweater though so it’s debatable about how strong it is but for me this lasted all day. And it smelt of coconut which was very nice indeed.

I also received the Soft & Gentle Coconut and Jasmine ‘flavour’.This, according to the website, helps moisturise while also ensuring 48 hours of dryness and protection. I mean, I don’t know why you’d need 48 hours worth of protection in normal life but I can see how this would be handy for festival-goers or multi-day running events. Mmm lovely.

Both products smelt great, kept me nice and dry and, SO important, didn’t leave those pesky white marks on my clothes (even black clothes). So I have been converted to a spray from a roll-on!

And lastly, this coaster I love. It makes me smile every time I use it:

What’s making you smile this week?

Roll-on or spray for deodorant?

What’s your favourite brand of leggings?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the Soft & Gentle products for free. I wasn’t asked to write about them but I quite liked them so!**

Feeling left behind

I’m 28 years old (29 in June) and I realise this is not very old at all. And I won’t sit here and complain that I feel old and creaky, don’t worry.

I might not be a spring chicken anymore but I am not old (SOCIETY, DO YOU HEAR THAT!?). Yes I can see the fine lines on my face and the odd grey hair springing up, but I am not old. I am, however, in the minority among my friends now.

I have more pregnant friends, or friends with children or friends thinking about getting pregnant than I have friends who are not. In fact, I only have one close friend my age who is in similar position to me (i.e. unattached and childless).

I’m at that age when this is inevitable. Weddings have come and gone and time is a’ticking. My mum had my sister before she was 30 (I mean, I know it was a different time back then but still). Does this bother me? Well no not really because honest to God the thought of having children scares the living daylights out of me and I’m quite enjoying the way my life is right now. The freedom, the disposable income, the flexibility of booking holidays whenever I want, the lie-ins.

But whenever I tell my mum about a couple who’s gotten pregnant I can see a little part of her die inside. She’ll deny this but it’s true. Mother, I know you too well. And I do feel a little like I’m being left behind. I can’t join in with pregnancy conversations about morning sickness and the first trimester tiredness. I’m awkward around my best friend’s little ones. I stare in amazement at how she’s able to be a fully functioning adult, make amazing cakes and crafts, go to work and still be able to bring up two beautiful children. And she still looks amazing (Louise, you truly do).

But I’ll say it again, I’m happy with my childless life. Who knows, I might never have children. And that’s OK too. I never grew up wanting children or wanting to be a mum. I can count on my hand the times I’ve looked at a child or baby and thought, “it might be nice to have one myself”. I only have to see the Facebook statues, the Tweets, and hear the mums at the running club talk about how tired they are, how they can’t fit in a run because of Child One or scheduling conflicts or being too tired/stressed to realise that I think myself lucky to not have children.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that a part of me will feel like I’ve failed as a woman or that I’ve missed out on something crucial if I don’t have children (I know this is entirely incorrect and purely my own thinking), but right now that’s not how I think.

Yes I realise I am only 28 years old and I’m not exactly running out of time in the great scheme of things, but I defy any single woman to not have these little niggles and concerns in the back of her mind as she creeps towards her thirties.

Though I don’t want children right now, and I’m not 100% certain I’ll ever want them, I do feel like the odd one out. I’m running out of friends to turn to and chat about how good not having children is. Meet-ups and dinner dates are harder to schedule as babysitters are required or pregnancy makes things a bit more tricky. And I still get those side-eye pitying looks, almost apologetic smiles, when all things babies are being discussed when I’m there…

I don’t know where this post is going or what this post was for. To reassure myself I’m OK? To reassure my mum I’m OK? To sound like I protest too much? I don’t know.

What I do know is that something does need to change in my life. I’ve let things become a bit stale and stagnant. I need to do something to change things up. I need to embrace my single life and do something a bit more crazy than sign up to another marathon or go on holiday (and run a marathon). I just need to decide what and whether I’m brave enough.

Do you want children/have children?

Do you ever feel like you’re missing out on something?

Lee-On-Solent parkrun and a kebab fuelled long run

This weekend I was still at my parent’s house. I thought I’d hate this week of living at my parent’s but actually, aside from not being able to go to the gym in the morning and the 30 minutes extra on my commute (1.5 hours to work!) it’s actually been really nice.

I can’t exactly put my finger on why. Perhaps it’s the ease of walking Alfie (just walk out the front door rather than go up and down two flights of stairs), the larger space and more rooms, the garden and I suppose the general familiarity and comforts of my childhood home.

That said, I am looking forward to going back to my flat though. There is something so lovely about having your own space and independence. And a shorter commute…As my parent’s live in Stubbington the closest parkrun is Lee-On-Solent so I decided to go there on Saturday as a bit of a change. It was their 100th parkrun birthday as well so it seemed quite fitting. A bit of a lie-in as well was nice as it meant I didn’t need to leave as early as it’s so close.I decided to park 1.5 miles away so I could run there as a bit of a warm-up to wake the legs up. Clearly LoS parkrun is a popular one! The start area got very busy as 9am drew closer. Gosport Road Runners had “taken over” for the week so there were lots of yellow shirts all over the place. There was also a pacing event. A friend I knew through social media, Ben, was running 21 minutes and had suggested I run with him as I wanted to break it again this week, like I had last week.

I’m in the red t-shirt

I wasn’t entirely sure whether sticking with a pacer was a good idea as I like to run at my own pace. I tend to start slower and get faster and I wasn’t sure I wanted to give over my pacing control to someone else, as nice as Ben is!

I lined up near him anyway, fairly near the front as it gets ridiculously busy at the start and as I was aiming for a particular time I wanted to give myself the best opportunity. It worked out well as, though it was busy, I was able to have no issues at the start with dodging round people or being hemmed in.

I lost Ben immediately. He started so quickly. In my opinion, far too quickly! I was looking at my watch and it was between 6.40-45min/miles so I can’t imagine how fast he was running to suddenly be quite a distance ahead. I was glad I hadn’t stuck with him. I’m not even sure I could have anyway. (I spoke to him afterwards and he says he always tries to start quickly…).

So I kept to myself and focused on keeping my legs going. I felt strong but it was tough. This was proper full effort being put it. The wind was somewhat favourable on the first mile, but as we turned around it was slightly against us so this added to the pain. Somehow I was able to gain a little bit more speed as the parkrun continued and when we made the other turnaround to head back to the finish I was able to push on, now with the physically and psychological help of the wind. There’s one ramp you have to run up and down and as you come down the other side you can see the finish ahead. I looked at my watch and saw 20:30. I knew I’d never get to the finish under 21 minutes. It was just too far. But I kept up the pace and sprinted to the end. My time was 21:15 and I’m happy with that. I couldn’t have pushed any harder.Though it wasn’t a sub-21, I do think I ran faster than last week at Netley. When I compare my splits I run slightly faster each mile. As with all parkruns this could be due to the courses being slightly different lengths. Alternatively it could be GPS error on either one so who really knows! Either way I’m more than happy with my fairly consistent running right now.After finishing and chatting with some people I knew (and a lovely and speedy blog reader – hello Graham!), I headed to the tail runner to walk with my friend, Rebecca, who was doing her first ever parkrun. Rebecca actually has volunteered like a zillion times but only recently decided to give doing one a try. She did amazingly! She was chatting away as she was walking and looked quite comfortable. I told her it would only get harder now as the next time she did one she’d need to beat this time 😉 Huge well done to her, she’s a star and a lovely, lovely person.

Then we surveyed the cake selection… of which was SO impressive.There were so many different kinds of cakes, from cup cakes, to brownies, to lemon sponges, Victoria sponges… And the amazing parkrun cake!As much as I wanted to fill my boots with ALL THE CAKE, I decided to play it sensible and not have anything as I still needed to run 1.5 miles back to the car. I know, I know, who even am I!?The run back felt harder than the run there, for obvious reasons, but it was nice to shake my legs out a bit. As I got closer to the car rain started to drip down and I literally just made it into the car before a downpour began!

After a day of odd jobs and a lovely coffee catch-up with a friend, I headed to my friend’s house for a girl’s evening. I had my second take-away of the weekend…! I hadn’t planned on two take-aways but I’d promised myself an Indian for Friday night and the girl’s night with a cheeky take-away was only planned at the last minute. So I switched it up and had a kebab. I haven’t had a kebab in YEARS.And as takeaways go, it wasn’t the worst thing I could have had. Pizzas and fish and chips tend to rank quite badly in terms of “overall unhealthiness” due to their carb and fat content, not to mention salt. Fair enough the quantity of kebab I had was not what you’d class as a healthy meal (go big or go home…always my mantra unfortunately) but if I’d have gone for a slightly smaller one, my chicken shish and kofta kebab with a pitta bread and salad was actually a fairly OK meal in the great take-away universe. Though it was still fairly salty and the meat quality probably wasn’t that great. It tasted insanely good though.

But anyway, we enjoyed a nice evening in with food, chatting and a good film. It was a late night but I decided to treat myself to a lie-in the next morning. I actually slept until 9.30am! (Though I did have to get up at 5am to let the dogs out…).

I woke up not feeling like my long run at all but decided to just head out for six miles and see how I felt. Ideally I wanted 10-12 but I felt so lethargic and unmotivated that I didn’t think that would happen.

Heading out after 10am on a very sunny and warm day wasn’t entirely wise, but I tucked a £2 coin in my sports bra just in case I needed water. I listened to a new favourite podcast (My Dad Wrote A Porno… if you haven’t heard it, you really must. It’s literally laugh out loud funny). The first few miles were about as horrific as I’d envisaged. I had heavy legs, I felt overly hot and I just wanted to be at home. But as I hit the fourth mile I started to get into it. I lost myself in the podcast and found the miles flew by. I did need to stop at a petrol station for water but otherwise I felt pretty strong. I finished with 11 miles and feeling good. Mind games really do work 😉Strava tells me I last ran this route in January 2016 and depressingly I ran it a lot quicker (7:51min/mile average compared to my average of 8:17min/mile). But it is what it is. Progress to be made! I felt good at the end and that’s what counts in my eyes. Afterwards I attempted a selfie in the garden, which kind of didn’t work as the dogs wanted to get involved 😉It did make me laugh though!

Hope you had a nice weekend too 🙂

What did you get up to?

What’s your take-away of choice?

How do you get yourself motivated for a long run?