Jam-packed active weekend

Wow where did August go? Did it even happen? It’s scary how quickly the year is flying by.

This weekend was jam-packed. Like non-stop. I love weekends like that but it doesn’t really give you time to relax and take stock. It started Friday night with me rushing home to meet up with some of my running club for a 20 mile bike ride. As usual I was the slowest of the group – and they weren’t even pushing it! I felt bad that I might be slowing them down but they were all lovely and waited for me if I got too far behind. This cycling business is tough work!

Then I got home, quickly showered, dressed and headed out with Ben to enjoy a nice night at the pub with Kyle (our sports massage therapist and running guru friend – he writes his own blog HERE) and his lovely wife, Sophie. As Ben and me weren’t going to parkrun the next day we decided to enjoy a bit of a drinking evening. We also had a cheeky Indian as well. Good fun!

The next morning we had a luxurious lie-in, had a lazy breakfast and then made our way to the swimming pool. Ben was going to do some lane swimming (he’s still injured) while I did my pool running. Ben’s a great swimmer and he does quite enjoy – unlike me who is a) rubbish and b) hates it.

Pool runningMy new flotation belt. It’s just not running :-(

Unfortunately the swimming pool was having a “float time” and was heaving with kids. We’re not particularly child-friendly people so this was a *bit* of a nightmare. Ben couldn’t even swim as there were no lanes (we had rung up to check we could swim…clearly“swimming” can be interpreted in different ways). It was screaming mayhem!

IMG_7803 Check out those hotties!

I had piled my hair on my head to keep it dry as your head doesn’t go under the water when you’re pool running – bonus! I had brought goggles though just in case (that’s what’s round my next in case you wondered).

Ben attempted to swim but it was tricky due to the sheer number of kids so he mainly kept me company while I splashed about. I have no idea if I was doing the pool running right so he checked out my form underwater for me bless him.

I’ve watched a few YouTube videos and read a bit about it. So I was trying to master and maintain the correct technique. It was very dull though so to jazz things up I decided to do intervals. I sped my legs up as fast as I could for 30 seconds and then went bit easier for one minute. Suddenly things were a lot harder! I was puffing and panting away. It was tough but in a weird way. It was hard effort to keep my legs moving fast and my arms going, but there was no impact. All in all a good 30 minute work out I think. Some children started jumping in the area where I was floating and splashed me. I gave them the death stare and they never came back ;-)

I’ll keep you updated how the pool running continues as I plan on doing it as much as I can in order to replicate normal running. When I get back into running after my mini break I’ll keep at it to supplement my gentle come back. Well that’s the plan anyway!

I did think this was slightly ironic in the changing rooms on the lockers…

IMG_7798Come on! Seriously? Mock me at every turn why don’t you, universe!

Anyway it didn’t feel like the hardest workout of my life but it felt like something at least.

Later we had a lovely meal at Ben’s mum’s that evening. Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I love spending time with my family and it was nice catching up. And the food was so good! We had a lovely choice of puddings as well – fruit, ice cream, meringues and homemade rhubarb crumble. Ben went for everything.

IMG_7827 Underneath the mass of ice cream and meringues there is a HUGE slice of rhubarb pudding I assure you.

The next morning we met up with our friend, Nathan, and went for a 41 mile ride on the bike. This is my longest ride to date! I did find it really tough from the start – my legs felt like lead and I had no energy (could this be from the pool running..??). The route wasn’t easy and it was really warm.We’d decided to not eat breakfast before going so half way we could stop for something to eat in a little cafe and then continue to the end of the ride.

Annoyingly I’d somehow started my Garmin 10 minutes before we actually started cycling and only realised when it told me my first mile was 14 minutes long. So I had to restart it.

It was a nice cycle as we’re all reasonably the same speeds so there was no pressure and no worries. There were a fair number of hills but we kept each other going. At 21ish miles we went to Lilly’s in Wickham (where I’ve previously been for afternoon tea a few times) and we had breakfast (at about 11am…).

The boys had waffles with bacon and maple syrup but I went for a full English as I was starving (no photo, too hungry sorry). Slightly regretted that decision though when I got back on the bike. I was so full! Thought I might be sick as we hit some up-hills. Foolish, Anna!

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We didn’t break any speed records but it was hard work for us newbies. Definitely a tough long workout!

To keep our Sunday working hard we got showered and dressed and met back up with Nathan to go for a long walk in the New Forest with Alfie.

IMG_7835We were all feeling pretty knackered but it was a nice walk. The route said 10k but in the end it was almost 7.5miles!!

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By the time we got home it was almost 6pm and I’d only had two apples since my brunch. Needless to say I was starving. Ben and me had lunch/dinner (?!) and collapsed on the sofa. Exhausted! Even Alfie was worn out bless him.

IMG_7847 Usually he hates car journeys but he was so tired when he got into the car he just laid down and chilled.

It’s funny because usually if I don’t run at the weekends it can seem a bit empty and not that ‘epic’, if you know what I mean? I adore running and I love my long runs, but it was really nice to do something completely different. The long cycle was epic and we felt so good afterwards. I fell into bed before 9pm and was asleep straight away. I had the beautiful exhausted feeling that my body had been worked hard in a good way. Obviously I don’t need running or cycling to make my weekends good, but I’m an active person and can’t just sit on the sofa all day long. That’s not how I relax.

And in terms of the impending marathon? Ben and me have agreed to take each day as it comes without thinking to far ahead. I can’t think about what ifs at the moment. I haven’t decided if I will do it or not yet. It’s very much up in the air, but I’m only thinking about the day I’m on at the moment, not the weeks that are coming. Otherwise I might be sick with panic…

How do you like to spend your weekends if you got to do everything you wanted?

Have you done a long bike ride before?

Do you enjoy going to the swimming pool?

Ice bucket challenge and fitness trackers

Winter is coming. It definitely feels like it anyway. Blimmin’ freezing, intermittent rain, darker evenings, darker mornings.

Perfect timing for my ice bucket challenge one evening after work after being nominated by my lovely husband. I sat outside and I was so cold before it had even begun. We’ve both donated to the Motor Neurone Disease Association (find out how to donate HERE – or text ICED55 to 70070 ).

Ice Bucket Challenge It was absolutely freezing and one of the worst experience I’ve had in a while. But I’m glad I did it. I squealed like a girl and ran inside straight away.

I think these challenges are brilliant for raising so much money and awareness for MND, ALS (the US version of the charity) and other charities too. Though I agree that millions of people (myself included) throwing perfectly good drinking water over their heads is a bit of kick in the teeth to the water charities trying to get sustainable and clean sources of water to developing countries. I think Matt Damon’s ice bucket challenge was a good example of raising awareness of this and watching it made me feel bad afterwards. Perhaps I should have run into the sea like I’ve seen quite a few people do? Either way, money is being raised and that’s something at least.

I am trying not to panic too much about the marathon at the moment. I’m living in a little bubble of apathy. I have about 4.5 weeks to go. The furthest I’ve run is 13.1 miles. I’ve run this quite a few times and feel good in terms of endurance. I only ran a few 13 milers (and one 15 miler weeks and weeks) before the Paris marathon. My concern though is that I’m banking too much on how good my experience was for Paris…surely I can’t be that lucky again right?

I can’t run for 10 days (well less than that now) and honestly I don’t even know what to think. If I dwell on this too much I get very sad. Why does running hate me so? Maybe I should have had a long time off after Paris? Probably. But I can’t dwell on what I should have done at the moment. I can’t dwell on it at all otherwise I will get very down – and I sound like such a broken record I’m sure. One thing for certain is 2014 has been an epically bad year of running for me so far.

I’m keeping my fitness up by cycling, using the dreaded cross trainer in our gym at work at lunchtime and have just purchased a floatation belt for…aqua running. I have no idea how that’s going to pan out but I plan to find out at the weekend. My physio said it’s a great idea as it’s still running but without the impact. I can run as much as like in the pool with no ill effects on my shin. Hurrah. I’ve also bought a waterproof iPod holder because I’m pretty sure it’s going to be about as exciting as watching paint dry. And I’m under no illusion that it won’t be hard work either.

On a more exciting note…Ben and me bit the bullet and bought the Garmin fitness tracker the Vivofit.

Garmin Vivofits

We originally had the Fitbits but Ben’s started to play up and there were different things about it that we disliked. For example, you can’t see how many steps you’ve actually done without looking at your phone (though there are lights that give you some indication of how close to your goal you are). You can change your goal but it’s a manual process. Normally it’s 10,000 steps. It does track sleep and it has a nice little vibrate on it for an alarm that you can set.

The Garmin is just so much more superior though. It actually has the time on it, the date, how many steps you’ve done, how that equates to miles, how close or over your goal you are and how many calories you’ve burnt (which I guess is taken from your personal data and steps). It auto updates your goal so if 10,000 is easy for you it bumps it up, or bumps it down if you’re  not hitting your goal. You don’t have to charge it every week which was so annoying about the Fitbit. The battery for the Vivofit lasts a year and then you buy another battery. I also use a Garmin watch to track my runs so it uses the same Garmin Connect app which is nice.

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And it tracks your sleep as well.

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All very interesting. I love stuff like this as it honestly encourages me to walk and move more. As I can’t run I’m very conscious of the activity I do and take Alfie for longer walks and move more at work.

I’d really recommend the Vivofits if that’s your thing. I’m a data geek so it really appeals to me! I could hook my HR monitor up to it as well (more data!) but I’m still nursing my sore chest (least that will heal nicely before I ravage it again running!)

Have you done the ice bucket challenge? What are your thoughts?

Have you ever done aqua running? Any tips?

Do you own or want a fitness tracker?

Eggcellent food ideas

Forgive me, that pun is terrible… Today I’m teaming with British Lion Eggs for some egg-inspired meal ideas.

We all have go-to meals when you’re tired and can’t really be bothered cooking a ‘proper’ meal. Mine are normally eggs-based meals (or take-away when it’s been a really bad day). It’s funny because I know in the US (correct me if I’m wrong) eggs are seen fundamentally as a breakfast food so having eggs for dinner might seem a bit odd to those across the pond (more like ‘brinner’). But I think in the UK eggs are fair game for any meal really. Scrambled eggs, fried eggs, omelettes, etc. are all seen as a normal non-breakfast specific meals.

Anyway my go-to quick meals tend to help out with left-over sad veggies in the fridge as well so it’s a win-win situation (not for Ben though, veggies are never a win-win situation for him). I’ll literally just throw a load of vegetables (courgettes, chopped onion, tomatoes, mushrooms) in the pan, fry away in coconut oil and then throw in three eggs and maybe a bit of tuna or cream cheese, let it all set together and dinner is done and dusted. It’s sort of my take on an omelette but it tends to turn into a bit of a scramble if I’m rushing (British Lion Eggs website has a great list of omelette recipes that will far outdo mine!)

IMG_2675 Maybe with a side of Brussels’ sprouts…

For Ben it’s fairly simple: three eggs scrambled on two buttered slices of toast (brainwashed now into wholemeal bread rather than white). At the weekend he’ll usually have a sandwich for lunch and it’s usually tuna mayonnaise. But his absolute favourite is egg mayonnaise (really not my thing at all as I despise mayonnaise).

Another easy egg-inspired meal is a salad. Salads will always win my heart. And it’s all about the toppings.

Obviously the Caesar salad is my favourite. The best have boiled eggs, grilled bacon, chicken, Caesar dressing and anchovies (lots of great protein). I could literally live on this salad. I’m not sure what it is…maybe the amazing creamy dressing that’s like 100,000 calories, shhh! but it just rocks my world. This was one of my favourite ever Caesar salad meals in a restaurant (Trents in Chichester):

IMG_3049 Sadly this was a few years ago and since they’ve lost the egg. Devastating!

For salads at home it really depends what we have in the fridge to what else we throw in the salad: lettuce, chopped onions, roasted courgette, grated carrot, cherry tomatoes, fruit, beetroot, mushrooms, roasted sweet potato if I can get myself in gear…really anything.

This cheeky salad has figs, feta and peach in it and (obviously) a fried egg on top.

Mozz salad 12.10 My favourite thing is breaking the yolk and using the yellow ‘goo’ as dressing.

This one is all about the hummus and eggs.

IMG_2694 Maybe my combinations are a bit strange but I just love salad. I love that pretty much anything goes. As long as there’s a good amount of protein in there I’m happy. And eggs are pretty perfect protein!

Eggs are just a great easy meal addition. Great source of protein, a powerhouse of nutrition and damn tasty – however you cook them!

What’s your favourite way to eat eggs? As long as the filling is good, I love a good omelette. But fried is always perfection too.

What’s your favourite salad toppers?

Do you like dressing on your salads? I’m usually not fussed but with a Caesar salad obviously I need that dressing!

Visit to North Wales

Hey, hey, hey. I am back from my long weekend in North Wales and back to the blogging world. I’m very behind on all my blog reading as well…this both stresses me out and makes me happy as I love reading blogs but hate getting so behind.

Last Thursday Ben and me were off work as we were heading up to visit my grandparents again in North Wales, Llandudno. Though the weather didn’t look to be amazing we were really looking forward to the trip. I decided to get a longish run in before we went (13.1 miles to be exact). It went OK and I was happy enough. I tried to keep the speed down but I wanted to try a faster finish.

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Sort of anyway! Annoyingly my left shin has been niggling me. It’s been niggling for a little bit, hence why I have been lighter on the running side of things and not racking up any great mileage. But after attempting to run again on Saturday (3 miles) it just felt bleurgh. I saw my physio today and he’s not worried but he says it’s inflamed and I need to let it rest. I can bike and swim to my heart’s content but the pounding of running isn’t letting it rest and heal sufficiently. Not ideal at all during marathon training but I’m trying not to stress too much about it. I’ve come to realise that running and me is a bit of a messy relationship. I just need to get through Berlin and then I’m going to have a bit of a break to let everything in my body that feels the urge to niggle settle down.

Anyway back to Wales. Our journey was 5 hours of being in the car which was boring and stressful for my teeny tiny bladder. We did however see a giant dalek in Chesire.

Chesire DalekRandom!

We arrived and caught up with my grandparents and had dinner. The next morning we were up to do a gentle bike ride (just under 10 miles) with them. I love how cool my grandparents are – along with their mountain bikes that they often take out to the surrounding hills and mountains they have their Boardman road bikes as well! So we all had a bike.

IMG_7705  The weather was a bit dubious but then the sun peeped out and we all got very warm. We stopped for coffee and a nice walk in the RSPB enclosure.

IMG_7712There were lots of birds to see but I honestly couldn’t tell you what we saw as I am no bird watcher! But it was a lovely walk in the beautiful scenery. IMG_7716 Then we cycled back home, while having a bit of selfie fun on the way of course…

IMG_7769 We’re fairly pleasant people I assure you

Then we had some lunch. My grandparents are quite health-focused so we had a delicious salad for lunch (you know I love my salads). Ben and me quite fancied another walk as the sun was shining and I wanted to have a little mosey around some of the local little Conwy shops so my granddad gave us a route on a map and sent us on our way – he’s very good at devising routes being a retired mountain guide!

IMG_7722Ben point out the sheep

It was a bit of a trek up some hills but we saw some beautiful views and I got my retail urge out of the way, though I bought nothing. IMG_7725 The next day I got up early and went out for a 3 mile run in the pouring cold rain and it was just terrible. My legs felt tired, my shin felt niggly, the rain was AWFUL and I was soaked. But I had a lovely hot shower and breakfast and was ready for a nice long walk with Ben and my grandparents. The walk was going to be very long and would basically find seventeen lakes (yep, seventeen). We started together but my grandparents sent us on so we could find our own way using our map navigation skills following a route my granddad had once again written.

IMG_7736The weather was strange. It rained a bit, it got sunny, it rained a bit more. But otherwise it was a lovely cool temperature, perfect for walking up very steep hills!

The first half of our walk went well and lasted about an hour and a half covering 3.8miles. We met up with my grandparents and had a packed lunch in the sunshine on a bench which was lovely. Then we went off again for the second half. We didn’t do quite as well this time…we missed a turning and got ourselves a bit lost.

IMG_7776 This was the ‘path’ we missed – doesn’t look much like a path does it!?

In the end it worked out fine as we met up back with my grandparents and we all decided to cut the walk short as we were feeling a bit tired (3.6miles in just over an hour and half).

IMG_7735 Serious navigation going on here

But we did get to see some very beautiful lakes.

IMG_7741 That evening we headed out for an Indian. Can’t beat a good Indian! The family loved that I was happy to be the designated driver and they could enjoy a pint (or three). I was just happy tucking into copious amounts of tasty food!

The next morning we had a shortish walk planned, then lunch out and then Ben and me would make the long drive home. We drove to Parys mountain, in north east Anglesey. Parys mountain used to be a very large copper mining area, which was quite clear as we were walking around.

IMG_7743 Huge quarry area

Sadly Ben’s leg had been quite painful the whole weekend but he was soldiering on. Looks like we’re both off running for a little while. Least we can mope together! What are we like??

IMG_7754 We made it to the summit. Our walk was under an hour and 2.1miles, with lovely views and lovely company of course.

We’d worked up a fair appetite by this point so headed to Anglesey to a fantastic restaurant, Dylans. I loved it! It reminded me a lot of Jamie’s Italian with it’s decor and food options. They mainly specialised in fish and pizza but did a wide range of different meals. Ben and me shared a huge sharing platter called the Forager’s platter which had roasted vegetables, olives, bread, goat’s cheese and cheddar. I let Ben have most of the bread and cheese so I could have all the veg (we work well together in that respect).

Dylans Restaurant I had Caesar salad…what do you expect really? It was lovely. Good thick Cesar dressing, crispy bits of bacon, nice chunks of chicken and crispy lettuce. However, no anchovies (not that they were on the menu). Point deducted.

Ben got a fiorentina pizza (spinach, mozzarella, egg & parmesan). He loved it.

Pudding though…ohhh pudding. Originally I was like “nah, nothing really calls to me”. But Granddad and Ben were ordering pudding and the blueberry pancakes sounded quite nice.

Dylans puddings

Honestly the best pudding I’ve had in a while. Perfectly fluffy, good amount of blueberries and the best butterscotch sauce EVER. I could drink that stuff. Ben had a rhubarb sundae and he was equally impressed.

And that was our long weekend in Wales. I love spending the time with my grandparents. They’re such good company, so easy-going and so very active! I’m sure I’ve said this before, but we hope we’re like them at that age. Such great role models. Use it or lose it!

Do you enjoy active mini-breaks and holidays?

Is your family active?

What’s your favourite pudding?

Foods and Alfie lately

It’s Wednesday and amazingly I’ve just got today left at work and then Ben and me have five days off. We’re heading to North Wales tomorrow to visit my grandparents again and (hopefully, weather dependent) do lots of hiking and walking.

I’ve had to shift a few runs around but I’m hoping to get my long run done tomorrow morning before we go. It’s a four hour car journey so it’ll be nice to sit and nap chill (Ben loves driving) after completing a long run. I’m hoping to do between 10-13 miles just to keep my body getting used to that distance before going any higher. Caution is my best friend right now.

I was recently giving the opportunity to review some Beet It sport products: the Pro-Elite Bar and the concentrated beetroot shot.

Beet It Sport

I haven’t used them yet as I want to save them for Berlin. Though I will test drive a few shots before my next half marathon (7th September – Pharmalink in Maidenhead). I’ve heard some really good things about the product so I’m really excited to try it out. And I love beetroot…The goodness in these products is all down to the nitrates from the beetroot which have been shown to help with stamina and performance (source; source).

I’m considering having one of the bars as breakfast before the Berlin marathon (obviously I’ll trial this first! I’m not crazy). For the Paris marathon I took the little oat pots and made it up in our hotel room with hot water…but I’m wondering if one of these bars and a banana might be more beneficial? I think I’ll test it for the Maidenhead half. I’m just worried it might not fill me up. It’s 235 calories which seems a little low for breakfast – but with a banana as well? Any advice would be welcome!

On the topic of food, I’ve been enjoying some really random but tasty meals lately.

Sausage and Sweet Potato Hash (serves one)

Sausage and sweet potato hash 

  • Small sweet potato, grated (I leave skin on)
  • Half white onion, diced
  • Couple of mushrooms, chopped
  • Half a small courgette, chopped
  • Good handful of kale
  • Two sausages, chopped into chunks
  • Large tablespoon of cream cheese
  • Spices (I used a Cajun spice mix which had a nice kick)

(I think I might have had the scrag ends of a stir fry mix in there as well – basically any sort of veg goes!)

- Fry the onion in oil (my favourite is coconut oil), then add sweet potato (add a bit of water if it starts to stick to pan) and allow to soften for about 5 minutes with occasional stirring. Then add courgettes, mushrooms and kale.

- Add the spices along with the sausages.

- When the sausages are cooked add the cream cheese, heat through and then serve!

Everything Salad (serves one hungry Anna)

Chickpea and sweet potato salad I won’t patronise you with a recipe as it’s fairly self-explanatory. In the mix is a whole lot of veg (carrots, courgette, salad leaves, beetroot, mushrooms, roasted sweet potato) and in that mound hidden away are chickpeas. And then covered in my favourite Caesar dressing of course ;-)

Feta Chicken

Feta chicken meal Feta chicken is always a normal meal during the week at ours. Sometimes done in the slow cooker, sometimes just the normal oven. I’ve written the recipe before (find it HERE).

And here is Ben’s dream meal which he’d eat every night if he had the chance…

Bens Carb FestThis is actually leftovers from his pizza meal the night before. To be fair to him, he had run 18.5 miles (this was a few weeks ago…pre-injury). He ordered a large pizza, chicken dippers, garlic bread…and then consumed the leftovers (with toast of course) the next day. Jeeze. Who said runners were healthy, eh?

So like I said, we’re off to North Wales tomorrow. I’ll be saying good bye to this furry chappy tonight as he’ll be holidaying at my parent’s house while we’re away.

Dog Selfie Alfie selfie

I’ll miss him so much. Gives me hope that when I eventually have a baby it’ll be similar feeling – finger’s crossed, eh?? ;-)

IMG_7618Ben’s Alfie Snapchat he sent me while I was upstairs

Hopefully my parents will send some Alfie Snapchats as he loves them so… ;-)

If you get the Bank Holiday off, how are you spending long weekend?

Have you ever tried the Beet It products? Or heard about beetroot as a sports supplement?

What’s your dream meal you’d eat all the time if health didn’t matter? BBQ ribs, sweet potato fries and a whole lotta cake.